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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presidential Candidates Pander to Anti-Vaccinationists

Orac has the scoop.

Well, so much for Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's reputations for supposedly being well-informed about scientific issues. True, they didn't sink as far into the stupid as John McCain did about vaccines and autism, but what they said was bad enough. Let's put it this way: If David Kirby thinks what they said about vaccines and autism is just great, they seriously need to fire all their medical advisors and get new ones who know how to evaluate evidence.


Unfortunately, thanks to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's poorly thought out statements, David Kirby is actually correct when he says:

So there you have it, our next President will share the views of such radical fringe crazies as, well, me, Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr., Republican Joe Scarborough, former NIH and Red Cross chief Bernadine Healy, and several researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the Universities of California and Washington and elsewhere.
Well, not quite. I 'm not sure who those researchers at all those prestigious institutions are who think vaccines cause autism the way that David Kirby and the mercury militia do. As for Bernadine Healy, I remember seeing her disappointingly credulous article and was just too burned out on dealing with the stupidity being laid down in such copious quantities about vaccines and autism lately to comment on it. David Kirby is right, though, that he and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are radical fringe crazies, even though (I think) he meant it ironically. He may also be correct that the candidates "share their views," albeit only in a superficial sense. Kirby and RFK Jr., for instance, are very committed to their view that vaccines cause autism. I doubt the candidates gave it half a thought; they probably just signed off on a statement by their scientific advisors, which, if true, is strong evidence that they really need to fire their scientific advisors immediately.

I realize that Clinton and Obama are politicians. I realize that they didn't want to tick off the group that sent them the questionnaire. I further realize that politicians will pander, as they are no doubt pandering to the mercury militia here. The problem is that pandering to this group can have very real and very serious consequences in terms of protecting the health of the people of the United States. Let's just put it this way. If the nattering nabobs of antivaccinationism over at The Age of Autism and credulous antivaccinationists like Ginger like what all three candidates have to say with regards to the issue of vaccines and autism, no matter which candidate is elected, on this issue at least, those of us who support scientific medicine and accept what it has to say about the value and safety of vaccines are likely to be well and truly screwed. Worse, if antivaccinationists get their way in a new administration, it could be the nation that is well and truly screwed.

Go read the whole thing. The real problem with the vaccine hysteria, is that when people don't vaccinate their children, it means there is an increase in diseases like measles.


Leo Pusateri said...

It goes deeper than that. I have had two cases come up this year in which children who were normally developing up to the point of vaccination suddenly regressed into autism after the vaccinations.

Do I think that every child who gets vaccinated will turn out to be autistic?


Do I think that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks?


But at the same time we must understand that vaccinations are not 100% safe, and again, while most children will not develop adverse effects, in my practice it appears that there are children for whom it is a definite risk.