READ OUR COLLECTIVE LIPS: IT AIN’T OVER
Dr. David Perlin, Director of the Public Health Research Institute at New Jersey Medical School, was one such doctor. He wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times, which is discussed paragraph-by-paragraph below.
I empathize with the thousands of parents who struggle to raise children with autism and desperately seek answers to its cause. But I am outraged as a scientist and infectious diseases specialist that a vocal group of media personalities and politicians, latching onto a badly flawed vaccine-link hypothesis, could have so wrongly influenced society.
Speaking only as one parent, I would like to thank Dr. Perlin for his empathy, but I’d like to suggest that what we’d really like is for him to understand that this our hypothesis is not the product of media personalities and politicians. First of all, if he would take the time to actually look at the issue fairly (if we are to give Dr. Perlin the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is expressing an honestly-held-albeit-sloppily-arrived-at opinion), he might understand that there is not a single hypothesis at issue here, but several hypotheses that are all subsets of a large and very broad hypothesis.
It is gross oversimplification to speak (or write) as though this was simply a question of blaming thimerosal, in and of itself, the MMR, in and of itself, or even a simple combination of thimerosal-containing vaccines and the MMR. That oversimplification has been the weapon of distraction that many of the more disingenuous defenders of the status quo have used. By resorting to that oversimplified thinking, Dr. Perlin is “latching onto a badly flawed” argument.
Next, Dr. Perlin writes:
By casting doubt on vaccine safety and dismissing extensive scientific evidence to the contrary from a wide spectrum of experts, they instilled fear in parents and detrimentally disrupted vaccine practices worldwide. The consequences of this action may have harmed many more children and adults than they had hoped to help.
Puhleeze! I’ve seen no evidence that vaccination rates are appreciably lower than they ever were.
And just who are this “wide spectrum of experts?” Is he talking about the assembled group at the Simpsonwood conference, who managed to take a study showing a positive connection and convert it to a neutral study (and for some reason, people like Dr. Perlin seem to interpret the word “neutral” as meaning absolute proof of there being no connection). Or maybe he’s talking about our friends in Denmark who realized that the best way to study the impact of thimerosal would be to change the criteria for inclusion in the two populations they supposedly were trying to compare. Dr. Perlin’s right; there are soooo many scientific studies against the hypotheses we cling to. If only any of them had an ounce of scientific integrity, we might actually be convinced.
Next, we get another glimpse of the empathetic Dr. Perlin:
Equally important, it diverted scarce resources away from getting at the true underlying causes of this devastating disorder, leaving the parents of autistic children without the answers they deserve.
Okay, is it just me, or is anyone else thinking about OJ looking for the “real killer” on golf courses all over America? Hey, maybe that’s where they’ll find it ⎯ you know, the gene (the one that’s solely responsible for all cases of autism without the slightest environmental influence).
Finally, Dr. Perlin leaves with this little nugget:
We need to learn that engaging in amateurish science makes for bad public policy.
I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I choose to be highly skeptical of all of the “science” used to validate the safety of the vaccine schedule that’s currently being shoved down the throats of the American public.