Jake Tapper has this to say about John McCain's position on the relationship between autism and thimerasol:
At a town hall meeting Friday [February 28, 2008] in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that "there’s strong evidence" that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. -- a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.
and (again quoting Tapper)
McCain said, per ABC News' Bret Hovell, that "It’s indisputable that
(autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s
causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that
indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines."
McCain said there’s "divided scientific opinion" on the matter, with
"many on the other side that are credible scientists that are saying
that’s not the cause of it."
Divided scientific opinion? On what planet? The only people who believe that there's a connection between autism and "preservatives in vaccines" are the anti-vaccination hysterics and conspiracy theorists.
McCain needs to replace his medical and scientific advisors forthwith and find some who understand science and clinical trials. I suppose I should have seen it coming when he agreed to give the keynote address for the Discovery Institute last year. Credulity towards one form of pseudoscience is, sadly, often accompanied by credulity towards other forms of pseudoscience. This is worse, though, than pandering to creationists. Presidents don't have much power to determine how evolution is taught at the local school lever, but he does have enormous power over the public health apparatus of the nation in the form of the CDC, FDA, and NIH. Encouraging antivaccinationists can lead to a public health disaster in the form of the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases.
ABC got good ratings. Some unknown and unknowable number of people will surely avoid useful vaccines. It is depressing how low the penalties are for unethical corporate behavior. John Grisham, I have an idea for your next book.
Pollock also mentioned Elaine Showalter's Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture (ISBN-13: 978-0231104593), regretting that Showalter's book appeared to early to cover the issue, because:
the vaccine-autism controversy provides a great illustration of how
hysterical epidemics are spread through an interaction of families in
pain, underlying cultural anxieties, issue advocates, and the modern
Earlier this year, Kristina Chew wrote about the great urban myth (that vaccines are implicated in autism) and
Perhaps if more stories of how “a vaccine didn’t cause my child’s
autism” were heard, we could start to tease apart the vaccine-autism
link and show what strange bedfellows these two have been all along.
That would be a start.
Previous Posts Here on Vaccines and Autism, and Vaccines and Public Health Benefits