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The Roots of the Vaccine Panic

Posted Mar 16 2011 4:34pm

Peter Bearman reviews both The Panic Virus and Deadly Choices at The American Prospect . In The Roots of the Vaccine Panic Prof. Bearman

Prof. Bearman has published a number of papers analyzing the data from the California Department of Developmental Services. His group has so far accounted for about 50% of the increase in the autism counts in that state. So, this is a guy who has taken a long hard look at the very data many have used to claim vaccines cause autism.

Do vaccines cause autism or other neuro-developmental disorders? Scientists know that vaccines don’t, but the idea lingers everywhere—on talk shows and blogs and in conversations between parents and their child’s pediatrician. It lingers because many people in this country and elsewhere think that vaccines just might not be good for us.

He does refer to Panic Virus as “a bit breathless for my taste”, but in general the critiques are favorable of the books. Prof. Bearman refers to autistic regression as “the descent into autism” which I am sure will make some readers here cringe.

One quote from Prof. Bearman that I would particularly call out is this:

Science needs to speak with a stronger voice to overcome both the assault on reason of anti-science crusaders and the indifference to reason of journalists who train the public to believe that every issue has two sides.

I think this says a lot about the two books and, more importantly, how we got into a place where good science is denied, bad science is promoted and a vaccine-induced-autism-epidemic survives as an idea long after it was disproven.

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