The one debate between scientists and deniers that I don’t relish is the argument vaccinations cause autism. Maybe as I parent, I understand the need, the desire to find answers to questions that remained unanswered. Earlier this week, three separate rulings determined that vaccines — specifically thimerosal —are not linked to the cause of autism in children. One ruling said the following:
This case . . . is not a close case. The overall weight of the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the petitioners’ causation theories.
Conversely and predictably the antivax community responded with:
Government attorneys defend a government program, using government-funded science, before government judges.
Obviously there is still a long way to go to convince the antivax parents that they are fighting a losing battle. Scientific blogger Phil Plait summarizes the problem succinctly:
This [antivax] movement is doing serious damage in two ways. One, it’s scaring parents unreasonably into not vaccinating their kids, putting these children and others at risk for contracting preventable diseases. But second, this whole debacle is distracting researchers against looking for the real causes behind autism. In other words, these people are fighting against their own cause.
We need real answers about autism, and the antivax movement is wasting tremendous resources that could be far, far better spent looking at the reality of the situation. Instead, they rail against phantoms, and the real victims are children, theirs and everybody’s.