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An Epidemic of Fear

Wired Magazine has written an excellent piece summarizing the current vaccine controversy. They take the exactly correct editorial stance – unreasonable fear surrounding vaccines, stoked by an ideological anti-vaccine movement, is hurting vaccine compliance, reducing herd immunity, and putting us all at risk.

We criticize bad science reporting often, so we also make a point to praise good science reporting when it occurs. I also hope this article represents a trend – mainstream journalists realizing where the real story is – unscientific hysteria causing harm.

The article does give a good overview of the evidence as well, although that part was a bit thin. It focused extensively on the personalities involved and less on the science, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Anti-vaccine trolls, of course, are inhabiting the comments to the article, and they were quick to point out that the article did not provide links to the evidence referred to. While this is a legitimate point – I am often frustrated when mainstream articles do not provide a complete reference or link to a study – they are overplaying this card. They are pretending as if they don’t know what studies the article is referring to – “let’s see the evidence and let the debate begin.” Right – the studies are already out there and have been picked over by both sides. Stop being coy.

But for those who are not as familiar with the debate, at science-based medicine we are building a thorough list of all relevant studies in the vaccine-autism debate, complete with a summary and full reference. No one is hiding anything – science is all about transparency.

I also have one pedantic nit to pick – the article correctly makes the point that correlation alone is insufficient to establish causation, but they wrote: “correlation does not imply causation.” Well, it does imply causation, it just doesn’t prove causation. Sometimes correlation results from a specific causation, but more evidence is needed to determine if a correlation is real, and what the lines of causation are.

In any case – there is no real correlation between vaccines and autism or other neurological disease, and there is no causation either.

So kudos to Wired Magazine for an overall excellent article, drawing attention to what is really going on with the anti-vaccine movement.

1 comment to An Epidemic of Fear

  • The Blind Watchmaker

    It was a good article. As it was geared to the general public, the author took the approach of illustrating the abuse that Dr. Wakefield has getting. This generates sympathy and that’s all well and good, but relevant only in that it demonstrates the mindset of the anti-vaxers.

    Hopefully, some day, an article to the general public will considered persuasive by presenting the data alone.

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