Sunday, June 15, 2008


In my last post, I touched on one of the many things I’ve found to criticize in Paul Offit and his ilk:
. . . using scare tactics and misrepresenting his opponent’s position is what Paul Offit does best. He is finally acknowledging that the debate is broader than just the MMR or just thimerosal. But he does so by sneering about “shifting hypotheses.” Maybe I’m just a layman when it comes to science, but I thought the entire idea was to keep exploring until you find the truth. What we seem to be finding is that neither the MMR hypothesis nor the thimerosal hypothesis were wrong per se, but neither were right in an of themselves. Both appear to be part of a broader process that we are only starting to understand. Understanding the problem, however, may not be in Paul Offit’s interest.

My criticism on that point is not restricted to Dr. Offit. It seems that a running theme we hear all the time is about “shifting hypotheses” and “moving goalposts.” I find it astounding that the ones who scream the loudest about adhering to good scientific principles are so quick to suggest that scientific knowledge is static, and that we should not change the focus of our inquiry.

We were not wrong to ⎯ and are not wrong ⎯ to demand full inquiry into the potential roles that thimerosal-containing vaccinations and live-virus vaccinations play in triggering ASD. The only mistake anyone made was focusing in on those problems in isolation of the broader questions of the interaction of all of the vaccinations our kids get, and of environmental issues in general. That we now recognize the need to look at those issues does not indicate that we were ever wrong.

Those who mock our willingness to re-examine our direction are clearly attempting to create the impression that we are hypocrites for not sticking blindly to ideas that were simply too narrow (albeit true). But who are the hypocrites?

J.B. Handley recently wrote a post on this subject at Age of Autism, entitled “Goalposts.” It’s a great rejoinder to our critics, and J.B. spends a little time giving a brief history of the “scientific” hypocrisy of those who would deny the problem. It’s a good read.

And lest I forget, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who make the extra effort to be involved in their autistic children’s lives, who work with their children on a daily basis to help them get through a not-always-so-kind world, and who never stop fighting for all of our children.


Blogger Mark said...

Happy Fathers day Wade.

6/15/08, 3:08 PM  
Blogger K. Langston said...

Hi, Wade! PLEASE keep on writing posts like this. I can't understand why people even print Offit's opinions.

Did you see the Washington Post (and Charlotte Observer) articles on vaccines?

You probably did, but here are the links in case not:

The original Washington Post article is at this link:

The Charlotte Observer edited reprinted is here:

Let me know what you think...


6/19/08, 7:27 AM  
Blogger K. Langston said...


You are an AWESOME Dad. Happy Father's Day!

6/19/08, 7:28 AM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

Always great to hear from Ms. Langston. And thanks for the link to a very balanced article. As for me, I take a pretty broad view when it comes to the propriety of religious exemptions, as stated here. Needless to say, it's another thing that Paul Offit and I disagree on.

6/19/08, 7:55 PM  

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