skeptism


A federal court ruled today in a case involving parents of autistic children who are seeking compensation through the government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.  These parents believe that their childrens’ autism was caused by vaccinations.  Health agencies as well as all but a few fringe scientists and doctors have maintained that there is no causal relationship between autism and vaccines.  The court stated that the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to the parents claim.

This case has been watched by many in the scientific and health care communities as well as many others.  More than 5500 claims have been filed by parents seeking compensation.  Additionally, there has been an increase in parents all over the country declining vaccines for their children because of autism fears.

Of course, this decision will not persuade most of the parents that their children’s autism was not caused by vaccines.  Several years of research from around the world hasn’t been able to do that so this certainly won’t.  In fact, the head of Vaccine Information Center (which promotes the idea) said “I think it is a mistake to conclude that, because these few test cases were denied compensation, it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism.”  She went on to say that more studdies are needed.

Just like any fringe or psuedoscientific belief, evidence is ignored unless it supports the belief, and believers claim that more research needs to be done.  In the case of autism and vaccines, more than enough research has been done.  The proverbial dead horse has been beaten to the point of turning to dust and yet it’s not enough.  The tragedy here is that so much money has been spent researching this link over and over, that it has reduced efforts that could actually determine causes, treatments, and a cure.  Think about that.  Obviously some people are not.

Of course, you have to feel for parents of autistic children.  It’s extremely difficult to deal with something like that and of course they want to know why it happened and what can be done to fix it.  It’s understandable that the answer they get from their doctor is not acceptable.  But the fact is that science has not got to the bottom of this tragic condition.  Genetic and environmental causes are being investigated but there is no answer yet.  Previous hypotheses, including those involving vaccines, mercury, and thimerosal, have been investigated and ruled out.  It’s time to devote more money and resources to research which may actually bear fruit.

source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29160138/

For more information, please visit the Science Based Medicine Blog

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Just when you think that the American school systems are failing (which they are in terms of teaching math and science), there are a few bright spots that indicate that all is not lost.  One such example is 18 year old Laci (gogreen18) from California.  If you haven’t heard of her of yet, consider yourself notified.  She has recently been featured on PZ Myers’ incredibly popular Pharyngula Blog.  PZ’s blog is read by scientists, skeptics, atheists, as well as many many creationists and believers who despise his views and the fact that he pulls no punches.  His readers have a reach that is far and wide and have a history of stepping up for good causes.  (Rather than cite examples, I’ll just recommend that you check out his blog.)

Anyhow, what is encouraging is that Laci is intelligent, articulate, and willing to stand up and state her  opinions in her own words.  (Being young, attractive, and charming doesn’t hurt either.)  To me, what is especially important is that she is engaging her peers using the media of the day – social networking sites like youtube & myspace.  Another encouraging thing is that the ratings and comments on her videos suggest that those very same peers are paying attention and not simply spouting the fundamentalist dogma and scripture that floods some sites.

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