Monday, June 18, 2007

Vaccines and Autism: A Reader Responds

One of the readers of New-Think recently took the time to post a lengthy response to last weeks post entitled "New Thinking About Vaccines and Autism". I am pulling it up to the main page for you to review and comment on. I will be responding to this with a new post within the next few days.

I have a few comments about the autism article:1. Regarding vaccines and autism: Most of the "government required" vaccines have been administered widely to children since the 1950's--when the baby boomers were children. Why was the spike in autism not seen in their generation? I doubt that the manufacturers would have only relatively recently intentionally added mercury or other well known bad actors. See this link to a John Stossel report on vaccines and autism: the relatively recent increase in child autism diagnoses correlates almost exactly with the decrease in diagnoses of childhood mental illness. You mention the drug companies' interest in promoting childhood vaccinations. There is also obviously an interest by personal injury lawyers in keeping the autism/vaccination scare (factual or not) alive and well stirred.2. Regarding using material from aborted fetuses as a vaccine ingredient: This claim is fascinatingly similar to one that was going around 20 years ago that cosmetic companies were using collagen from aborted fetuses in their products. Since cattle, hogs, and chickens also contain collagen, and millions of them are slaughtered yearly it would seem to make a lot more sense that collagen from animals would be a lot more plentiful (as well as a lot cheaper) than the supply available in whatever "market" that might be in aborted fetuses. Turns out this was an urban legend widely circulated among some well meaning people. I suspect this may be one as well.3. The post contained some seemingly propagandistic language. When I see blame being ascribed broadly to "big oil" or "big pharmaceutical companies" or whoever, red flags immediately go up in my brain. I go into "on guard" mode. The writer is either assuming something about my beliefs or subliminally trying to influence them without discussion. While these large entities certainly have their interests, there is always another side to the story. I would gently urge Newthink to foster careful examination of all sides (or at least more than one side)of topics like this, and also to use more neutral language.

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