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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Debate: Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

Posted by jlwile on December 4, 2010

The International Medical Council on Vaccination disseminates a lot of misinformation regarding vaccines. It claims to offer resources that will aid in “critical thinking for a critical dilemma.” Unfortunately, it does quite the opposite. It uses scaremongering and shoddy science in an effort to get people to stop giving critical medical care to their children.

They will be hosting a live debate on Monday, December 13th at 8 PM Central Time. The title of the debate is “Do Vaccines Cause Autism?” I have been asked to defend the scientific answer, which of course, is no. The debate is free, but you should sign up for it in advance. You can do that here.

If you have been deceived by those who want you to believe that vaccines cause autism, you might want to attend the debate so you can learn the actual science behind vaccination. If you know the science behind vaccines and therefore realize that they don’t cause autism, the debate might still be an interesting thing to attend so that you can see the shoddy science used by the anti-vaccination movement.

Comments

11 Responses to “Debate: Do Vaccines Cause Autism?”
  1. CalvinE says:

    Will the debate be recorded, so that it can be watched later? I won’t be able to listen in live, but would like to listen to the recording when I have time.

  2. jlwile says:

    I hope so, Calvin. If it is, I will post a link to the recording.

  3. Stephanie says:

    My husband and I listened to the debate. Despite the initial techical issues, it was a resounding vindication of the truth that vaccinations aren’t linked to autism. My husband has moved from a position of general disinterest in this topic to being quite fired up. Thanks for your careful preparation for, and incisive discourse in, that debate!

  4. Joanne Antonetti says:

    A neurotoxin is a neurotoxin is a neurotoxin. If neurotoxic thimerosal was found to be neuroprotective in your “studies”, and the children who GOT THE THIMEROSAL-CONTAINING VACCINES did better in the end, then why in God’s name do those countries not put the thimerosal back into the vaccines to benefit the children ?!?!? Because….the studies are bogus and….a neurotoxin is a neurotoxin is a neurotoxin, no matter how you manipulate the studies. HARD SCIENCE does not change and cannot be manipulated.

  5. jlwile says:

    Thank you, Stephanie. I do think the debate clearly showed where the evidence lies.

  6. jlwile says:

    Joanne, the only study in which thimerosal showed a weak benefit was in the study that was (in part) designed by those who think vaccines cause autism. In that study, thimerosal improved performance on 12 neurological outcomes and decreased performance on 8. For the other 22 outcomes studied, it produced no effect. Thus, on balance, the effect was positive, but that positive effect was VERY WEAK. In the end, medicine does not work when you base your decisions on very weak benefits. Vaccines have been so incredibly successful at saving lives because they are only recommended when the benefits are very large.

    The other thing you have to realize is that there is a public perception to all of this. Because of the lies of the anti-vaccination movement regarding thimerosal, some people refuse to get vaccinated. If a reasonably effective replacement can be used so as to remove that irrational fear, then in the end, there will be a strong benefit. In other words, even if thimerosal is weakly beneficial from a neurological standpoint, it is not worth that benefit if it causes people who do not understand the science behind vaccines to stop being vaccinated.

  7. Dewey Duffel says:

    Thank you both, Dr. Wile and Dr. Haley for a fine debate.
    I think we are asking the wrong questions here. The question of whether vaccines cause autism is answered by looking at a large population of unvaccinated versus vaccinated children. This has been done with the MMR in Denmark where the results were 48.6 autistic children per 100,000 in the group that received 6 vaccines in the first year of life while the group that received the same 6 vaccines plus the MMR in the second year of life had 61 autistic cases per 100,000. Because MMR does not contain mercury, this does not answer if thimerosal (mercury) causes a disease with the same symptoms as mercury poisoning. Comparing the autism rate of children vaccinated with vaccines preserved with one poison such as phenol versus vaccines preserved with thimerosal will yield small differences in autism rates but not answer the question about the contribution either preservative makes to causing autism.

  8. Terry John says:

    Yes, please *please* post a link!

    I first heard of this ‘debate’ from some anti-vax kooks who were frothing at the mouth when announced. None of their Facebook statuses were updated about the debate’s results.

    Wonder why… :)

    Science++ !

  9. jlwile says:

    Actually, Dewey, the MMR is not related to autism in any way. As Dr. Simon Murch, who used to believe in a link between the MMR and autism now says

    There is now unequivocal evidence that MMR is not a risk factor for autism – this statement is not spin or medical conspiracy, but reflects an unprecedented volume of medical study on a worldwide basis.

    I agree that a study that directly compares autism rates between unvaccinated children and vaccinated children would be very enlightening. Unfortunately, it would be very hard to do, because it is hard to find a large group of unvaccinated children and convince their parents to allow them to be a part of a study. In addition, it wouldn’t change the minds of the “true believers” in the “vaccines cause autism” crowd, since the unequivocal science so far has not done so.

    In actuality, even very small differences would show up in these studies, which is why they are definitive as is. Indeed, the old rotavirus vaccine was pulled from the standard schedule when researchers found a side effect that happened for 1 out of every 11,073 children. Thus, even small differences show up on these studies, and they simply don’t exist when it comes to autism and thimerosal.

  10. jlwile says:

    Terry, the link is posted. I expect the anti-vaccine people were definitely not happy about how it went.

  11. Terry John says:

    Fantastic! Thank you. This is being shared aplenty :)

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