Junk Science and Betrayal

When I found out that my first child was a girl, I was relieved.

Boys have higher rates of autism; we dodged that bullet.

I had an overconfident self assurance that Cara was safe from this horrible, incurable disease.

Thankfully, Caroline is six days away from her second birthday and she shows no signs of autism.

When I found out that my second child was a boy, I freaked.

Boys have higher rates of autism; we’re screwed.

Just like pretty much every other parent in the civilized world, I’ve watched celebrities expound the horrors of vaccines and their purported links to autism.

I’ve seen the television specials with parents screaming and crying because their son or daughter has been “lost” and has gone into themselves – never to return.

I’ve read the alternate vaccine schedules, considered some for my kids and been horrified at others.

This is such an emotional issue and the issue isn’t just if vaccines cause autism. I believe it’s deeper than that. I think it boils down to a feeling of betrayal.

You trust your child’s doctor to know what is best for your child. You trust the medical researchers to do their jobs and release safe medicines/vaccines. You trust your government to provide adequate oversight to protect you and your family.

And the next thing you know, high profile doctors like Andrew Wakefield and congressmen like Henry Waxman are saying that the doctors had it wrong and instead of protecting children, they were actually causing autism.

Talk about a kick in the gut.

Dr. Offit is a controversial figure because he addresses these feelings of betrayal and basically says that parents are directing their feelings at the wrong thing. His life has been threatened numerous times. The life of his kids have been threatened.

…I got a phone call from a man who said that he and I shared the same concerns. We both wanted what was best for our children. He wanted what was best for his son, giving his name and age. And he presumed I wanted what was best for my children, giving thier names and ages and where they went to school. His implication was clear. He knew where my children went to school. Then he hung up.

One of Offit’s major problems is that he unapologetically speaks his mind.

He does not think that vaccines cause autism. Offit thinks that the supposed link between autism and vaccines is based on junk science. To that effect, Offit is tireless in his descriptions of the horrors that have been enacted on autistic children in the name of science [pg 35], the basement laboratories [pg 135] and of the parents who saw no other option than killing their children to “save” them [pg 5].

Offit brings light to the bad science that seems to surround this debate. Whenever emotions get intertangled with science, more times than not, you end up with bad science. Offit has a way of teasing out the basic point of some pretty difficult science. He writes in a no-nonsense style which makes this very technical subject accessible to people who have had no training in how to read a scientific article and have no clue about sample sizes.

Before I had gotten past the prologue of Autism’s False Prophets
, I remember telling Tucker that I didn’t know if Offit’s science was any good since I had just started the book but that I was enjoying Offit’s voice and his style of writing. If you’re going to read about autism and vaccines and tons of science then it should at least be written in such a way that it’s digestible.

I’ve purposefully avoided the meat and potatoes of this book because I think that this is a book about a subject that is so personal that you should read it yourself and then form your own opinions. This isn’t a book that has a clean beginning, meaty middle and tidy end. However, this is a book that will make you think and will hopefully give you some ideas on talking with your doctor and family.

I’m giving this book away in hopes that someone else can read this book and read a side of this debate that rarely gets media coverage. PBN is also giving away a copy of Autism’s False Prophets
and they supplied me with this book.

For this book giveaway, you must leave a comment on this post stating that you want to be entered in the contest. I’ll pick a winner via Random.org on Friday before 6pm CDT and announce it via a post after the winner is picked and via email sent to the winner. The winner will have until Monday at 6pm CDT to reply to my email or I’ll draw again for a new winner.