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Court Rules Against Vaccine-Autism Claims Again 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-were-any-court-members-in-playboy dept.
barnyjr writes "According to a story from Reuters, 'Vaccines that contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal cannot cause autism on their own, a special US court ruled on Friday, dealing one more blow to parents seeking to blame vaccines for their children's illness. The special US Court of Federal Claims ruled that vaccines could not have caused the autism of an Oregon boy, William Mead, ending his family's quest for reimbursement. ... While the state court determined the autism was vaccine-related, [Special Master George] Hastings said overwhelming medical evidence showed otherwise. The theory presented by the Meads and experts who testified on their behalf "was biologically implausible and scientifically unsupported," Hasting wrote.'"
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Court Rules Against Vaccine-Autism Claims Again

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  • by religious freak (1005821) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:39PM (#31457904)
    Not only that, but why should the parents be entitled to "reimbursement" even if the immunization did cause the autism? Yes, the product should be immediately pulled, but do they have a right to get rich because of some hitherto unknown side-effect of a well intentioned vaccine? I don't think so.
    • by TwiztidK (1723954) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:45PM (#31457956)
      The parents shouldn't be given enough money to become rich but, in the case that the vaccines did cause the child to be autistic, they should be given money to assist with treating their child's autism.
      • +1. If you sell a product and it causes a medical problem you didn't warn them of, I feel like you should at the very least pay the expenses. From what we know the manufacturer had no reason to think, and still has no reason to think, that the vaccine caused autism, so if it were actually proven later, I don't think the manufacturer should be fined as punishment, making the parents or rather their lawyers rich, but if it were causing autism, medical expenses covered would be expected.

    • by jfengel (409917) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:47PM (#31457980) Homepage Journal

      If the government is going to force people to get vaccinated (and they do; you can't go to school without it), there is at least some burden on them to pay for the negative effects, no matter how well intentioned.

      In the US there is a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to handle precisely this sort of thing. Some people genuinely are harmed by those well-intended vaccines. They do help out everybody (herd immunity), and everybody pays into the compensation fund, to the tune of 75 cents per shot.

      Clearly, that's a tempting pile of money, and desperate parents of autistic children are willing to ignore the data that says quite clearly that there's no connection in order to get to it.

      • by v1 (525388)

        If the government is going to force people to get vaccinated (and they do; you can't go to school without it),

        I thought the government required you to send your kids to school? So if you don't want to send your kids to school you just need to skip the vaccinations?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Surt (22457)

          Nowhere in the us are you required to send your kids to school.

          • by Martin Blank (154261) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:25PM (#31458454) Journal

            You are required in all US states to provide your child with an education that meets state guidelines. This is usually done via public and private schools, but some choose to home-school their children. In some states, home schooling is allowed only by persons with teaching credentials, meaning that parents must get such credentials if they wish to be their child's teacher, or hire a tutor.

            • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:31PM (#31458534)

              You have made an informative and unbiased post. Report immediately to the /. reeducation facility.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Martin Blank (154261)

                Aw, dammit... The scars--I mean, educational beauty marks just healed from the last time that happened. :(

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        If the government is going to force people to get vaccinated (and they do; you can't go to school without it), there is at least some burden on them to pay for the negative effects, no matter how well intentioned.

        In a town near me, 1 in 6 kids is skipping vaccination, due to the religious exemption. That's crazy, and I expect a wave of something really nasty to hit the town soon, killing some kids. I wonder if those parents could be sued for the public health risk they're creating?

        It's a very liber
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by guytoronto (956941)
        If the government is going to force people to get vaccinated (and they do; you can't go to school without it), there is at least some burden on them to pay for the negative effects, no matter how well intentioned. Why? Look at seatbelts. Required by the government. What if it jams in an accident, and you can't get out of your car, and you are severely burned. Does the government owe you compensation because they required you to wear a seatbelt? Maybe you were burned badly, but if you weren't wearing a seat
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by geekmux (1040042)

      Not only that, but why should the parents be entitled to "reimbursement" even if the immunization did cause the autism? Yes, the product should be immediately pulled, but do they have a right to get rich because of some hitherto unknown side-effect of a well intentioned vaccine? I don't think so.

      I'm sorry, but you must be new here.

      And no, I don't mean new here, but new to the last decade or three. Dunno if you know this or not, but there have been radical developments in greed and corruption over the last couple of decades, which in turn have flooded our court systems and practically gave birth to a whole new breed of Government. It's sickening, really.

      It can all be solved and summarized in two simple words; loser pays. That would likely flush out 80% of the crap clogging the system today.

      • by sjbe (173966) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:13PM (#31458288)

        Dunno if you know this or not, but there have been radical developments in greed and corruption over the last couple of decades,

        People are just as corrupt as they ever have been. If you think people are more corrupt now than in years past you are either very naive or very stupid. Go pick up a history book. The methods (sort of) change but people don't.

        It can all be solved and summarized in two simple words; loser pays. That would likely flush out 80% of the crap clogging the system today.

        And your evidence for this is what exactly? Because it sounds vaguely logical? Yes loser pays would solve some problems but it would create others. It would reduce some of the more frivolous lawsuits but it would also make some needed lawsuits too risky to attempt. Loser pays strongly tilts the playing field towards those with the most money - even more so than it already is. I don't necessarily have a problem with the general concept of loser pays but please recognize that it isn't something that is going to cure every ill in our legal system.

        Frankly if you want to reduce the load on our legal system, stop the ridiculous "war on drugs" - at least the portion related to user and possession charges. The US incarcerates a percentage of the population on minor drug charges that is way out of proportion with other industrialized nations. The war on drugs has FAR more to do with our clogged legal system than frivolous torts.

      • by Surt (22457) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:14PM (#31458294) Homepage Journal

        Problematic given that lawyers of differential quality have differential cost. So if I try to sue a big corporation, and they decide to run up the court costs into the millions, I'm screwed if I lose? I may as well not sue, no matter how legitimate my claim.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          So if I try to sue a big corporation, and they decide to run up the court costs into the millions, I'm screwed if I lose? I may as well not sue, no matter how legitimate my claim.

          "Loser Pays" only makes sense to people operating under the bizarre delusion that the "winner" and "loser" in a court case are always going to be the same as the one who was right and wrong. Frivolous lawsuits will result in the litigant losing their shirts, and just lawsuits will still prevail.

          It's gotta be a lack of experience w

        • by uncqual (836337) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:18PM (#31459940)
          Ways to address some of the problems of "loser pays" include:
          • Limit the amount the loser pays in expenses to be the lesser of what the loser and the winner spent on the case. (This mitigates the "imbalance of resources" problem)
          • Allow any party to "opt out" of "loser pays" (and the expense reporting requirements below) but if they lose they still have to pay the full expenses of other parties that didn't opt out (even if those expenses are greater than what they would have paid if they had not opted out) and if they win, they get no reimbursement for their expenses. (This allows one party to mask their expenses and/or avoid the overhead of reporting - but at potential cost)
          • Require that each party file weekly "detailed expenses to date" reports electronically with the court and all parties can see the total (but not the detail) of other parties' reports.
          • If a lawyer charges their client any contingency fee, that party is ineligible for reimbursement of their legal fees if they win, but if they lose, the lawyer, not the client, pays for the winners' legal expenses. Each party must make an declaration in the initial filing if they will/will not be charging their client an contingency fee. (It should be possible to alter this decision later at the court's discretion, but some "pro rata" rules would need to be established to limit the % contingency and reimbursement based on what was spent before and after the change in this decision.) (This would discourage frivolous lawsuits where the lawyer is willing to spend his/her time in hopes of lucky jackpot)
          • Lawyers in "loser pays" cases can not charge their client anything if they win and the loser actually pays all the expenses filed with the court. If a loser defaults on their obligation to pay, perhaps the prevailing party's lawyer can, by prior arrangement, take part of the judgment. (This encourages accurate reporting by all parties).
          • Subject expenses to audit by a court approved auditor and limit expenses reimbursable to the winner to "reasonable and necessary" However, "unreasonable" expenses by the loser are still counted for the "lesser of winner and loser expense calculations" - they shouldn't have recorded or incurred any unreasonable or unnecessary expenses. (This will discourage unnecessary expenses and motions)
          • If expenses are not recorded in a timely fashion, they would be disallowed for "loser pays" calculations IFF the party that records them late wins (i.e., such expenses won't be reimbursed). (This discourages "late reporting" to game the other party's expectations of their risk).
          • Expenses that are recorded and later reversed would be counted (even though subsequently reversed) for "loser pays' calculations IFF the party that records them and reverses them loses. (This discourages reporting of charges "early" to intimidate the other party).
          • Parties that intentionally misrepresent expenses or manipulate the timing of their reporting would be subject to sanctions (including being found in contempt of court, fines, removal from the bar, etc).
          • If a party sues for $X and ends up being awarded $Y where $Y<$X, only $Y/$X of their expenses will be reimbursed by the loser. (This will discourage exaggerating claims)
          • The final "loser" is determined when the last appeal is resolved or the period for filing an appeal has elapsed - intermediate "wins" have no bearing on the final settlement of legal expenses.
          • If a defendant makes a financial offer to settle with no other restrictions (such as gag clauses) except that acceptance of the offer completely resolves all claims being litigated, the defendant's liability to pay legal expenses of the plaintiff (because the plaintiff prevails) will be limited. If any settlement amount offer made was greater than or equal to the amount of the final judgment, the defendant would only be liable for the prevailing parties' legal expenses up to the time the first such of
    • by drDugan (219551) *

      Medical treatments have risks. As a culture, we want everyone to be vaccinated to prevent communicable diseases.

      More explanation from the article:

      The families sought payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $2.5 billion fund built up from a 75-cent-per-dose tax on vaccines. ...
      More than 5,300 cases were filed by parents who believed vaccines may have caused autism in their children. The no-fault payout system is meant to protect vaccine makers from costly lawsuits that drove many out of the vaccine-making business.

      more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine_court [wikipedia.org]

      In my opinion, for any family that loses a loved one or experiences significant morbidity from a vaccine, money is a reasonable social method of reimbursement for them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spun (1352)

      It has been a central principle of legal systems world-wide, for several thousand years, that if one is wronged or harmed, one can expect to receive recompense from the perpetrator. When you buy a faulty product, do you expect to get your money back? If a drunk crashes into your car, would you not sue for damages?

      What you are advocating is not justice. You are advocating for a complete lack of responsibility for wrongdoers.

      • It has been a central principle of legal systems world-wide, for several thousand years, that if one is wronged or harmed, one can expect to receive recompense from the perpetrator.

        He didn't say otherwise. What he said was that the parents shouldn't be entitled to get rich off the deal. They should be compensated for a whole list of things, such as any and all medical treatments, special care needs, lost income, etc. No one has ever disputed that. But none of that adds up to the multi-tens-of-millions amounts that some people are suing for.

        My dad's idea - that I still haven't found fault with - is that you should be able to sue for all the punitive damages you want, but that you shoul

      • Yes, but in the US this concept has spiraled out of control. It's gone beyond mere protection for the wronged into a massive chilling effect on society. But Philip K. Howard says it far better than I: Four ways to fix a broken legal system. [ted.com]

      • The difference is simple, negligence. Is a drug company that develops a vaccine --and spends decades testing it-- negligent because it had a hereto-unknown side effect? I don't think so. Is the drunk driver negligent? Absolutely. Is the manufacturer of a car negligent if one tire blows at highway speed and injures someone? A lot harder of a question. Was it caused by a defect in design or defect in manufacture? If not, it wasn't negligence. If so, did they know about it or --and this is the key poi
    • by sjames (1099)

      For the same reason that if you start your new car one day and it explodes due to a design flaw crippling you for life, the manufacturer owes you damages. Because they're supposed to test against that possibility before they start selling them.

      In this case, though, the evidence does not support the theory that vaccines caused the problem.

    • by jdcope (932508)
      This will get more interesting in the future. Wait until federal healthcare gets fully underway and vaccines are a requirement of health coverage.
  • This won't stop... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgreco (1542031) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:40PM (#31457910)

    This won't stop the paranoid from preventing their children from being immunized because some of these same people have interesting theories about how the vaccines are deliberately nefarious in other ways (going as far on out there as mind control, etc). These people and their little theory have done more to damage public health in a short amount of time than a lot of other things...

    • by martas (1439879) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:54PM (#31458056)
      darwin award, perhaps?
      • Nah, you only get a Darwin award if you do society a favor by killing your dumb self off _before_ reproducing (thus taking your genes out of the pool). Not only does this situation, explicitly, require them to have had children, it also means that they have, directly, done society a dis-service by increasing the chances of other children getting sick because they're too stupid to get their child immunized.

        • by martas (1439879)
          allow me to explain - if their idiot offspring doesn't get to reproduce, then their genes are out of the pool anyway.
          • by ashridah (72567)

            Except they may not even kill themselves, they may kill other, innocent random people who can't get vaccinated for legitimate reasons: eg: Immuno-compromised (transplant, chemotherapy, genetics, other), too young (just recently born, see Dana McCaffrey in Australia), etc.

            That pushes them over into the category of criminally negligence, IMHO, but we just aren't at that level yet.

      • by thms (1339227) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:18PM (#31458342)

        That is the mean thing here, the vaccination system can support a certain number of freeloaders, so on an individual level these do not select themselves out of the genepoop. They can rest their hands and still reap the benefits from those who actually take the really really small risk of complications stemming from an inoculation. Risk of catching and dying from an infection c*X%, risk of vaccination complications Y%. But after a vaccination quota of Z% the c modifying the X% outweights the Y% - so you are an egoist and don't go, perfectly logical!

        Classical game theory, the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org] subtype to be precise. The fact that rational individuals all acting in their own self interest (which you can show mathematically) can ruin it for everyone is a very good for cause for government to step in and fix this if the egoism becomes too prevalent.

        Now, back to Darwin, on a larger level this can of course endanger an entire species, but also drive selection towards a new species which has the rules of cooperation, i.e. altruism, written into their genes, voilá, social animals!

        • by martas (1439879)
          i agree, 100%. though i'd like to add that altruism is none other than a more intelligent way of calculating one's expected utility. i.e., in many cases an action that benefits the group also benefits the member. unfortunately, this isn't always true, because i'll die in, like, 60 years, and anything that happens after that doesn't affect me at all - hence a perfectly intelligent selfish agent should use fossil fuels, pollute the environment, cause global warming, etc etc, because most of us will be dead be
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      To paranoid people this sort of thing is only more proof that the government is owned by corporations and drug companies. These sorts of people never stop to consider evidence to the contrary, it just flies by their head without ever entering. Dangerous state to get into.
    • by eln (21727)
      Some day it will be discovered that autism is actually caused not by thimerosal itself, but by the way thimerosal interacts with certain proteins present only in children whose parents are predisposed to excessive paranoia. This discovery will cause parents' heads to explode.
    • I agree. The paranoid parents are going to ignore this, not get their kids immunized, and thereby put them at real risk for neurological damage from measles.

      Sadly, this won't even balance out the recent discovery that Poul Thorsen, one of many scientists disputing the link between autism and vaccines, was a fraud. Figure one: a random blog post on the subject reheadlined "The vaccine autism link is real" [cafemom.com].

      So one study and one researcher disputing the link has been invalidated, there are many more that rema

    • by pz (113803)

      This won't stop the paranoid from preventing their children from being immunized because some of these same people have interesting theories about how the vaccines are deliberately nefarious in other ways (going as far on out there as mind control, etc). These people and their little theory have done more to damage public health in a short amount of time than a lot of other things...

      And it won't stop me, as a parent making healthcare decisions for my children, or as an individual making decisions about my own healthcare, from refusing any injection that contains thimerisol. I take reasonable precautions to avoid ingesting heavy metals, including having them injected into my body. Every vaccine that I have been offered or required to take since I've realized that thimerisol contains mercury, is also available in single-use vials that are essentially mercury-free (and with a single-use

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by uglyduckling (103926)

        Then your pediatrician and physician need to get a better understanding of basic science. There's about 25 micrograms of mercury in 0.5mL of a vaccine preserved with thimerisol (see FDA & Thimerisol [autismcoach.com] under heading 'Thimerisol as a preservative'). The EPA recommendation is 0.1 micrograms/kg/day maximum mercury ingestion (see Mercury in Fish [pbs.org] under heading 'Step 1'.) That means for a 6 year-old child, their weight is estimated as (age + 4)*2=20kg. So 2mcg/day. That means a single dose of an average vac

  • "antivax" people (Score:5, Informative)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:41PM (#31457918) Homepage

    The use of vaccines is a public health necessity; vaccines are by far the most cost effective tool we have for preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

    There have always been controversies about vaccines: there is non-zero risk to individuals from any medical treatment, and significant benefit to the population as a whole. As a single individual, you remove the (very small) risk by not having the vaccine, and you gain most all of the benefits if most everyone else around you has been vaccinated.

    Spreading fear and misinformation about the safety of vaccines can cause direct, measurable and irreversible harm. Measuring the connection between a medical treatment and possible harmful effects is something drug companies can do very well, and the FDA approvals process (when it works) keeps the companies honest. We have solid, irrefutable and repeatable scientific evidence that shows vaccines do not cause these diseases, like autism.

    The best article covering this was in the Bad Astronomy blog from Discover, aptly titled Antivax Kills. [discovermagazine.com]

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      I think there is a valid question though of what diseases should you be immunized for as a society. Smallpox is wiped out, should we still immunize for it? Chicken pox also has a vaccine, but if you get it as a child you only risk a week at home, some itching, and maybe a scar if your parents can stop you from itching too much. With such minor risks I probably wouldn't have a kid get the chicken pox vaccine (hell, I'd probably go send him to play with the kids who just came down with it- get immunity th

      • Re:"antivax" people (Score:5, Informative)

        by Duradin (1261418) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:00PM (#31458126)

        "Chicken pox also has a vaccine, but if you get it as a child you only risk a week at home, some itching, and maybe a scar if your parents can stop you from itching too much."

        Actually chicken pox can lead to shingles later on, so it's not just an itchy week at home.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        Smallpox has not been wiped out. A live virus is needed for the immunization. Wiki [wikipedia.org]
        • by PCM2 (4486)

          It has been wiped out as a threat to public health. If you're in the United States, you're not likely to have been vaccinated if you're under 40. You don't need to be vaccinated, because there's no disease.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        You can still die from chicken pox. Despite the vaccine, about 100 Americans die from it per year.

      • Chicken pox also has a vaccine, but if you get it as a child you only risk a week at home, some itching, and maybe a scar if your parents can stop you from itching too much.

        Cellulitis, ataxia, encephalitis... yeah, I'll stick with the vaccine, thanks.

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:49PM (#31458808) Homepage

        Of course there's a question. It pops up semiregularly. Here in the United States, the most recent debate arose because some schools began to require vaccination for HPV (human papilloma virus). This was controversial because:

        1. Only girls can be vaccinated; there is not yet any vaccine for boys.
        2. HPV is vilified in our culture as the virus that causes genital warts. It's believed to cause a lot of other things besides, but this is the most widely known effect.
        3. Antivax people think vaccinations are dangerous.

        The fact that only girls can be vaccinated was an issue for some, but a very minor one. (If a medicine exists that can lower blood pressure but which only really works on people of African descent, that's not racism, no matter what anyone says.)

        Most of the vocal complaints tended to focus on the third point: that parents were afraid that more vaccines exposed their children to greater risks. While some dissenters actually believed this, however, this argument also tended to conceal the debate over the second point.

        HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. Vaccinating girls against a sexually transmitted disease is tantamount to implying they will be having sex. Vaccinating very young girls, therefore, is absolutely abhorrent and -- to conservative Christians, in particular -- only underscores the moral depravity of modern society.

        Now, just to be clear, the reason you want to vaccinate girls against HPV is not to keep them from getting unsightly genital warts when they go out having sex with strange men while they're in primary school. The reason you vaccinate them at a young age is because they're not having sex then, and a vaccine only works before you catch the disease. (Some studies suggest that up to 90 percent of the adult population carries some form of HPV.) And the reason you vaccinate them at all is not to enhance their sex lives, but because if they do catch a certain form of HPV it can lead to papillomas that can be very hard to detect until they turn into cervical cancer, which, if not detected, can kill them stone dead. In other words, this is a vaccine you give someone as a girl to aid her chances of living to become an old woman.

        The problem for some, though, is that removing the threat of sexually transmitted disease tends to undermine abstinence-only sexual education programs in the United States, which are a key component of the platforms of the Christian Right and anti-abortion activists. That's right; for some people, the real problem is not that vaccination gets you autism. The problem is that vaccination gets you abortions. They don't like to talk about that, though, because abortion is such a hot-button issue and many on the Left immediately tune out at any whiff of a religious undercurrent in politics. So instead they jump on the bandwagon claiming all vaccinations are "untested," "experimental," "have unknown side effects," etc. Even people who don't believe in religion can fall for junk science.

        This is just one example of how these issues can quickly become clouded by politics, but it also demonstrates why we must continue to emphasize the science and the science alone. Vaccines save lives. If you get vaccinated and it doesn't directly save your life, it still might have saved mine (through effects such as herd immunity). People shouldn't die young of any disease, be it mumps, measles, polio, of cervical cancer caused by HPV.

        Smallpox is wiped out, should we still immunize for it?

        Interestingly enough, in the United States we don't. So I guess the "pro-vax" folks aren't as crazy as the antivax folks want to believe.

    • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:52PM (#31458042) Homepage

      there is non-zero risk to individuals from any medical treatment,

      Yep, something to always remember about any drug you might take or any treatment you might undergo. But it's also worth remembering that there's a non-zero risk to eating food (could be tainted), driving a car, or sticking your face in a fan*. Life is all about balancing the risks, not eliminating them entirely. In some ways, we're victims of our own success at risk mitigation: we've come to view risks as optional rather than a matter of course. (Applies to not just medicine, but also space travel, the way we raise our kids, and pretty much everything else.)

      * With a tip of the hat to Frank Drebin, Police Squad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As a scientist I recognise the power and safety of vaccines, and I also recognise the logic in your arguments. Most of what you say I do agree with. However, I also recognise the implicit argument in your post--that vaccination should be mandatory and or the antivax crowd should be silenced--and as a human being I'm going to tell you to shove that point of view up your ass.

      If you don't like the antivax crowd, you're going to have to tackle them with argument and reason, not with the iron hand of majority ru

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajlisows (768780)

        As a scientist it is likely you work around other scientists. Scientists usually respond to reason.

        The types of people who are really against vaccination do not respond to reason. You can show them a scientific paper in a major peer reviewed scientific/medical journal and they will say either "This isn't really a reliable source", "Scientists don't know everything", "Scientists are IN ON IT TOO", or "This video that my friend Matt, who is like so smart, gave me said that this isn't true so it is obviously

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary.yahoo@com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:41PM (#31457928) Journal

    I can understand these parent's hurt and anger, and why they would seek to find a cause, a reason, someone to blame for their troubles. It's a natural human reaction in such a case, where so little is known of the real causes. And big Pharma has certainly proven, over and over, that it feels no responsibility towards it's customers and will choose 'making a buck' over 'doing the right thing,' pretty much all the time. But this is still ridiculous. At this point, you either have to buy into a full-blown whackadoodle conspiracy theory, or admit that vaccines do not, and never have caused autism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's not simply urge to blame, it's also the human tendency to believe something and then do anything possible to not have to change your belief.

      Although we've been blessed with the power of rational thought that allows us to override such urges, most people seem loathe to use it in that way.

  • by silverpig (814884) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:41PM (#31457934)
    ...because Jenny McCarthy can't read.
  • That people are so quick to blame pharmaceuticals for everything that may happen post vaccination. I understand that a lot of it comes from people not knowing whats in the vaccination - they don't know what they are putting into their children and they realize "Hey this could be cause" after something harmful happens. Don't get me wrong, I agree that its a problem, I don't ever go and get my flu shot because the local health regional offices won't tell me what's in the vaccine. [tinfoilhat] How do I know th

    • Re:I find it funny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:26PM (#31458458) Homepage
      That people are so quick to blame pharmaceuticals for everything that may happen post vaccination.

      The parents in this case are suffering from the logical fallacy post hoc, ergo propter hoc, or, "after this, therefor because of this." That is, they believe that the fact that their child developed autism after being vaccinated is proof that the vaccine was the cause of the autism. This makes as much sense as saying that if you get hungry for breakfast after sunrise, the Sun's rising must have caused you to get hungry.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator (254554)

        Actually most parents of ASD kids, once they work through all of the denial and bargaining phases knew the child was different from day one; especially if the child wasn't a first child.

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:00PM (#31458124) Homepage Journal

    Let me be crystal clear about this, vaccines do not cause autism nor is there any decent study that is statistically and/or scientifically valid which shows such a provable correlation.

    And we're running studies of autism here, led by one of my colleagues who has an autistic child herself.

    You really need to move on.

    The problem is that, for most people, they grasp at straws and try to find some observable "cause" they can link with autism. It's quite possible that it has more to do with environmental and/or emotional stresses on the mother but people try to put the cart before the horse and "prove" that a vaccine - which may have been due to travel (hint - enviro/emo stress) or bad health conditions (same) - was the cause.

    Please, move on, you're just embarrassing yourselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by benjamindees (441808)

      You don't think getting jabbed with a needle constitutes environmental stress?

    • by hardburn (141468)

      Not to mention the opportunity cost. The more time knowledgeable people have to spend debunking obvious garbage, the less time they have to develop better autism treatments.

    • by Thorrablot (590170) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:56PM (#31459716)

      The problem is that, for most people, they grasp at straws and try to find some observable "cause" they can link with autism. It's quite possible that it has more to do with environmental and/or emotional stresses on the mother but people try to put the cart before the horse and "prove" that a vaccine - which may have been due to travel (hint - enviro/emo stress) or bad health conditions (same) - was the cause.

      OK - as a parent of a six-year old with "primary" autism (e.g. low-functioning), I'd like to clear the air on a few points:

      • "Most" of the parents of autistic kids don't buy into the vaccine-causes-autism bunk - only a very vocal minority, which unfortunately our media amplifies
      • The mechanism behind autism is, as you undoubtedly know, not well-understood. In the absence of a good understanding, this kind of uninformed speculation thrives.
      • Lives have been lost as a result due to botched "Chelation" therapies [skeptoid.com], and money is being made by the self-styled DAN doctors who tell desperate parents what they want to hear

      Please, move on, you're just embarrassing yourselves.

      I have met a number of other parents of autistic kids. Those that are desperate enough to by into these theories are (often) otherwise rational, intelligent people. They are desperate for hope, and feel they owe it to their child to attempt some kind of cure. Whether this is due to denial (of the permanent disability) or unrelenting hope and a moral code that says "anything is better than nothing", I don't know. I do know I can relate to this, to a point, and was frustrated at the limited medical treatments available for my own son. Please have some sympathy for these misguided parents, as the real culprits are the alt-medicine charlatans who claimed to have found the cure, and the DAN doctors who really ought to know better.

  • From the summary and article:

    [blockquote]The theory presented by the Meads and experts who testified on their behalf...[/blockquote]

    Who are these "experts"? Are their identities in the public record? I want to know how these fools can possibly considered qualified, expert witnesses when they clearly lack the medical and scientific judgment to critically and objectively evaluate and analyze the facts in front of them. Really. How is it that these people still have jobs?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You'd be surprised. There's a lot of people out there with no knowledge on a particular subject area, but who are quick to come up with a 'theory' and pass it off as fact and themselves as 'experts' in that area. Financial advisers, anyone?

  • we had evidence based medicine. Now we have court based medicine?

    Remind me exactly when were politicians, judges and lawyers given a license to practice medicine again?

  • Blame the Lancet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:24PM (#31458446) Homepage
    The Lancet didn't retract that ridiculous paper from 1998 until last month [cnn.com] and it pretty much started all this ridiculous BS. It's absolutely unconscionable that they didn't retract it sooner. Ten of the original 13 authors retracted back in 2004. That should have been a hint.

    The problem with vaccines is that being vaccinated as an individual isn't what makes you safe. It's the vaccination of the herd that protects. That is, for a particular disease that you might be vaccinated against, let's say measles, it's safer to be the only person in a crowd who isn't vaccinated than to be the one person in the crowd who is vaccinated. Vaccines aren't 100% effective and what makes them truly effective, is having everyone take them.

    Back in 2006, some girl in Indiana [medpagetoday.com] got measles on a trip to Romania. She came back and shared that gift with the people in her church, simply by showing up. Roughly 10% of the 500 people present weren't vaccinated and 32% of those people developed the measles. One person who got the vaccine also got the measles, but 94% of the cases were unvaccinated people.

    The problem these days is that people don't bother to learn history. Anyone who's been to an old cemetery (I live in Arkansas, and we have tons of them) pretty much can't miss the fact that there are tons of kids aged 10 and under buried. Why? In the early 1800s, infant mortality was about 20%. Think about that. One in five infants (1 year old and younger) died. A lot more died before the age of 5. Not all of that is vaccines, but a lot of it is! Before the vaccine, smallpox alone was killing 400,000 Europeans a year.

    Personally, I think vaccines ought to be required by law because they're a public safety issue and people who won't do it should go to jail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by avilliers (1158273)

      The Lancet didn't retract that ridiculous paper from 1998 until last month [cnn.com] and it pretty much started all this ridiculous BS. It's absolutely unconscionable that they didn't retract it sooner. Ten of the original 13 authors retracted back in 2004. That should have been a hint.

      I heard a nice interview with the Lancet editor on this matter. I can't remember where--some podcast, probably AAAS or On the Media.

      Anyway, it wasn't unconscionable at all. It's actually a change in the role of scientific journals, and kind of a sad one.

      The idea that a scientific journal has a duty to retract a paper just because it's wrong is new ground. As all scientists know, a lot of papers are wrong. The most interesting ones are the most likely to be wrong. Being published by "The Lancet" (or "S

  • Has anybody actually done any research to figure out what causes autism other than vaccines? Has the whole epidemiological process been derailed by the vaccine connection controversy? This is a serious question that now seems to be have become one of these taboo science topics that nobody wants to investigate because its history has been so controversial.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by seebs (15766)

      Tons of research has been done, mostly pointing to combinations of environmental factors and genetics. Last I heard, the big interesting "cause" to look at was Vitamin D -- because while autism isn't more common in Somalia than it is anywhere else, it's much more common among Somalians in Oregon and Sweden than ... Which hints at Vitamin D issues.

      Keep in mind that there's no evidence at all that the incidence of autism is increasing, only the diagnosis -- which is to say, obviously, before the notion of "h

  • Perhaps widespread vaccination increases autism rates because the diseases vaccination prevents cause fever in children, and fever in children fights autism symptoms [time.com]. Or perhaps the children more prone to autism were also more prone to dying from childhood infections, and now, due to vaccination programs, more of them are surviving long enough to be diagnosed with autism.

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