Sunday, October 26, 2008

A FRIEND'S RESPONSE TO THE FALSE (PR)OFFIT

Paul Offit recently published his book on his belief that we have all been taken in by false profits when it comes to the potential link between the administration of vaccines and the rise in autism spectrum disorders. Predictably, the mainstream media has taken him very seriously, despite the fact that he has not actively diagnosed or treated autism. It’s enough that he is Paul Offit.

Of course, one part of the story feeding the media attention is the claim by Dr. O that he has been the target of death threats. I have no way of determining whether those threats actually exists, or if their existence is nothing more than the “victim’s” magnification of seriousness of the crap that all of us who have publicly debated this issue receive from one side or the other. I have said before that I find any personal attacks to be distasteful, and I gladly join in condemning threats of violence directed at anyone ⎯ even Paul Offit. Whether or not such communications are intended to be serious, they are potentially illegal and morally reprehensible.

No matter how sympathetic I might be toward Dr. O’s concerning the alleged threats made toward he and his family, however, I still find myself disgusted at his disingenuous arguments, and his cavalier attitude.

I have not read his most recent book, so I can only comment on what he is saying in his media blitz to promote the publication. But I would only be repeating the things I have written time and again because Paul Offit is saying nothing new. Instead, I’ll let someone else do the talking.

In connection with a recent fluff piece on Dr. Offit’s book, Newsweek posted a few videos on its website. In one, kindly Doc O talks about how sad it is that we’re all too dumb to understand science. In another, the blogger, Kristina Chew, explains why she does not believe vaccines had anything to do with her son’s autism. But Newsweek also posted the video I include below, consisting of an interview with Bob Krakow, a guy who gives lawyers a good name and who I am proud to call my friend. As always, Bob speaks for a lot of us, even when he is just talking about the singular experience of his own family.

ADDENDUM:

Please see the comments section to see what Bob Krakow has to say about this video. As could be expected, much wound up on the cutting room floor, and there was also a lack of communication about the nature of the story.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Wade,

Thanks for positing this. Thank you also for writing that I was speaking about my own experience, primarily. Newsweek advised me that this would accompany an article the controversy surrounding the possible link between vaccines and autism, but I was not advised that Paul Offit and his book would be featured. I did comment about Dr. Offit because the interviewer specifically asked me what I thought about him.

In addition, the editing unintentionally leaves the possible impression that I rely for support for my views on "anecdotal" evidence only. I did address the scientific evidence briefly but this was not included in the published interview. I would have like the opportunity to counter Dr. Offit's statements because, as you know, I believe there is substantial scientific support for the idea that vaccines can cause autism in some cases.

I emphasized "anecdotal" evidence at the point that was included in the video production because parents' witness accounts of the regression of their children is often dismissed as "anecdotal." I strongly believe that rather than dismiss credible anecdotal accounts science should investigate these accounts carefully to determine what is happening

I also believe, as I said, that anecdotal evidence is important, especially when corroborated by scientific studies. As I have discussed elsewhere in the magazine The Autism File, there exists substantial evidence - more emerges all the time - supporting the theory that vaccines cause autism, at least in some cases.

In addition, there is ample support for the idea that rather than divert resources the vaccine hypothesis has received relatively attention. Former NIH head, Dr. Bernadine Healy's recent statements about the deliberate avoidance by public health officials to conscientiously look at the theory corroborates this view.

I also was not asked to address the flaws and limitations of the epidemiological population studies on which Dr. Offit almost exclusively relies for his emphatic view that science has rejected a link between vaccines and autism.

I would have liked to address all these issues had I been aware of the Offit interview. My purpose was to articulate the experience of parents and not explicate the science. Again, had I been aware of the interview of Dr. Offit - not a parent but a polemicist on the issue - I would have focused more on the science supporting our position.

Even with these limitations, I think Newsweek did a reasonably good job of achieving some balance in their presentation.

Bob K.

10/26/08, 6:54 PM  
Blogger EdR77203 said...

There is one other case that never receives any attention, that of further losses after vaccination. In my son's case, he too suffered atonia. In fourth grade he had been writing legibly in cursive. He could no longer do so and his printing was barely legible. He would often lose hold on the pencil when he was writing. My son is not the only one to undergo losses after vaccination. I have heard of the onset of epilepsy, behavior regression and other issues. But my son's story is anecdotal with comments like "Post hoc ergo propter hoc." I agree with the detractors that it does not necessarily follow that my son's hepatitis-B vaccine caused his atonia. But it also does not follow that the hepatitis-B vaccine did not cause his atonia. These cases deserve mor than the flippant comment that it is just anectdotal.

12/20/08, 6:47 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home