Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure

Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure

And the answers were very clear, and consistent, and reproducible. No, vaccines didn’t cause autism. And I give credit actually to the public health community and to the academic community for spending tens of millions of dollars to very quickly look at that to answer parents’ concerns. The problem is―and I think this was the motivation for writing the book―there just seems to be a deep and
abiding rift between the science that exonerated vaccines in this case, and the public’s belief in that science.

I mean not only just knowledge of the science, because I think many parents actually do have sort of knowledge of those studies. They just choose to hold on to this belief that vaccines were the cause, much as one holds on to sort of deeply-held religious conviction. They refused to believe the science. And I just found that frightening, actually. And I think a lot of harm has come from that notion― harm because people don’t vaccinate their children, and now we’re seeing a measles epidemic in 2008 that was the largest we’ve ever seen.




The question I want to explore is why, since the scientific evidence is so overwhelming, do we still face these claims that vaccines cause autism and other problems?


autism is diagnosed often between one and two years of age―that’s around the same time the children are getting their MMR vaccine―and so, certainly, there’s going to be at the very least a temporal association in many children from getting the vaccine and then having symptoms of autism.


the only way to answer that question is to have two large groups of children, one of which received the MMR vaccine and one of which didn’t, and to make sure that those two groups are similar in all other aspects―meaning their socioeconomic background, their medical background―so that you can isolate the effect of one variable. And that variable in this case is receipt of the MMR vaccine. And then, and only then, can you tell the effect of that vaccine.


And that study has been done actually now 12 times. And most recently there was another study by Eric Fombonne that came out in Lancet. Really at this point you’ve looked at millions of children who either did or didn’t receive that vaccine, and very carefully can look in a very powerful way as to whether the incidence of autism is greater in the vaccinated group. And the answer has been very clear, and consistent, and reproducible. No, that vaccine never caused autism.

そして、この研究は実際に12回も行われた。そして、また最近、「ランセット*1 にエリック・フォンボンの研究が発表された。ここまでして、何百万人もの子供たち、接種を受けた子供たちと受けなかった子供たちを診てきたのだから、ワクチン接種を受けたグループの方が自閉症の確率が大きいかどうかは、火を見るよりも明らかに診てとれる。そして、答えは、明確で、一貫して、何度でも同じ結果だ。いや、ワクチンは決して自閉症の原因とはならない。

it’s hard to make a statistical argument, or an epidemiological argument, to a parent who’s seen something that’s very emotional.



And one of the things we’ve talked about is how we have such a hard-wired pattern recognition system that we will actually see patterns that don’t exist. The tendency to see a connection between events that happen close together in time is very powerful, especially if there’s an emotional component.


if study, after study, after study shows that statistically there’s no association, I think one can say that although there’s not a proof, I think you can say with comfort that a truth has emerged. That’s certainly been true here. I think we can say with comfort that neither the MMR vaccine, nor thimerosal in vaccines, caused autism.


if you look at what you typically respond to in your environment every day, vaccines are nothing. When you’re in the womb you’re in a sterile environment. But when you enter the birth canal and the world you’re very quickly colonized with trillions of bacteria―literally trillions―that live on the lining of your nose, or your throat, or your intestines. You eat food that’s not sterile; you inhale dust that’s not sterile.


Vaccines are really literally a drop in the ocean which I think you typically encounter and manage every day.


The difference is it looks terrible. You lay the kid on the table, and you watch them get five shots. That looks awful. But if you really want to scare yourself, just take a cotton swab, put it on a microscope slide, and look at it under the microscope. It’s teeming with bacteria from a child’s nose, or throat, and to which children are making immune responses. That’s a far greater challenge than what one sees in vaccines. I think that just a single ear infection or a single cold is a far greater immunological challenge to a child than are vaccines. But vaccines just look bad.



Hang in there. Especially pediatricians―my wife’s a pediatrician―who have to hear that drumbeat every day of fear from parents, and popular books like Dr. Sears, The Vaccine Book, which basically says to separate, or withhold, or delay vaccines. I mean it’s tough out there, but I do think that the fact of the matter is that science is on our side, that vaccines do work, that vaccines are safe, and that if we choose to use them less, we’ll see―and are seeing―these diseases come back. And to just hang in there, and to try and fight the good fight. Because a good fight it is.



Children have already died from diseases that were preventable by vaccines because of parents deciding not to vaccinate their
children because of unfounded fears. I think it is vital that each of us help spread accurate information on this topic. The bottom line is vaccines save lives.


"EXTRA: Books and Ideas #25 Paul Offit, MD on Vaccine Safety"

Guest: Dr. Paul Offit, author of "Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure."

Brain Science Podcast Books & Ideas #25より抜粋

和訳 by 南の猫