Autism's False Prophets

Autism's False Prophets

Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for A Cure

Book - 2008
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A London researcher was the first to assert that the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine known as MMR caused autism in children. Following this "discovery," a handful of parents declared that a mercury-containing preservative in several vaccines was responsible for the disease. If mercury caused autism, they reasoned, eliminating it from a child's system should treat the disorder. Consequently, a number of untested alternative therapies arose, and, most tragically, in one such treatment, a doctor injected a five-year-old autistic boy with a chemical in an effort to cleanse him of mercury, which stopped his heart instead.

Children with autism have been placed on stringent diets, subjected to high-temperature saunas, bathed in magnetic clay, asked to swallow digestive enzymes and activated charcoal, and injected with various combinations of vitamins, minerals, and acids. Instead of helping, these therapies can hurt those who are most vulnerable, and particularly in the case of autism, they undermine childhood vaccination programs that have saved millions of lives. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence clearly shows that childhood vaccines are safe and does not cause autism. Yet widespread fear of vaccines on the part of parents persists.

In this book, Paul A. Offit, a national expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them. Offit recounts the history of autism research and the exploitation of this tragic condition by advocates and zealots. He considers the manipulation of science in the popular media and the courtroom, and he explores why society is susceptible to the bad science and risky therapies put forward by many antivaccination activists.
Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, c2008.
ISBN: 9780231146364
Branch Call Number: 618.9285882 O32
Characteristics: xxi, 298 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.

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t
taskgurl
Jan 29, 2013

From NYT article:

"But there will be no book tour for the doctor, Paul A. Offit, author of “Autism’s False Prophets.” He has had too many death threats.

“I’ll speak at a conference, say, to nurses,” he said. “But I wouldn’t go into a bookstore and sign books. It can get nasty. There are parents who really believe that vaccines hurt their children, and to them, I’m incredibly evil. They hate me.”

Dr. Offit, a pediatrician, is a mild, funny and somewhat rumpled 57-year-old. The chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, he is also the co-inventor of a vaccine against rotavirus, a diarrheal disease that kills 600,000 children a year in poor countries.

“When Jonas Salk invented polio vaccine, he was a hero — and I’m a terrorist?” he jokes, referring to a placard denouncing him at a recent demonstration by antivaccine activists outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/health/13auti.html?_r=0

Sad.

m
mmoghada
Feb 05, 2011

This is a thorough account of how a few individuals, some misguided and some opportunistic, created doubt and confusion about vaccines especially the MMR vaccine.

It is well-researched and presented with no bias (in the back inside cover of the book there is a small note that states that all profits will go to autism research).

The last few chapters of this book are fascinating. The author explains the global context for the anti-vaccine movement.

Dr Offit is also a gifted writer - he is clear and direct.

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