The Roots of the Vaccine Panic

17 Mar

Peter Bearman reviews both The Panic Virus and Deadly Choices at The American Prospect. In The Roots of the Vaccine Panic Prof. Bearman

Prof. Bearman has published a number of papers analyzing the data from the California Department of Developmental Services. His group has so far accounted for about 50% of the increase in the autism counts in that state. So, this is a guy who has taken a long hard look at the very data many have used to claim vaccines cause autism.

Do vaccines cause autism or other neuro-developmental disorders? Scientists know that vaccines don’t, but the idea lingers everywhere — on talk shows and blogs and in conversations between parents and their child’s pediatrician. It lingers because many people in this country and elsewhere think that vaccines just might not be good for us.

He does refer to Panic Virus as “a bit breathless for my taste”, but in general the critiques are favorable of the books. Prof. Bearman refers to autistic regression as “the descent into autism” which I am sure will make some readers here cringe.

One quote from Prof. Bearman that I would particularly call out is this:

Science needs to speak with a stronger voice to overcome both the assault on reason of anti-science crusaders and the indifference to reason of journalists who train the public to believe that every issue has two sides.

I think this says a lot about the two books and, more importantly, how we got into a place where good science is denied, bad science is promoted and a vaccine-induced-autism-epidemic survives as an idea long after it was disproven.

2 Responses to “The Roots of the Vaccine Panic”

  1. Brian Morgan March 18, 2011 at 19:29 #

    This programme has been trailed by BBC Radio 4.

    Science Betrayed

    Episode 2
    Next On:
    Thursday, 21:00 on BBC Radio 4
    Science Betrayed: Part 2 – Andrew Wakefield and the MMR scare.

    In the second and final part of this series, Dr Adam Rutherford tells the extraordinary story of one of the most contentious cases of medical misconduct of the last few decades, and the serious public health consequences that followed.

    Andrew Wakefield was the doctor at the centre of the MMR scare that dominated the public health debate at the beginning of this century. His research, published in the Lancet in 1998, argued that there is a link between the triple vaccine MMR and the onset of autism in some children.

    What followed was a public health scare that led to a dangerous drop in uptake of the vaccine, and the biggest outbreak of measles in this country for 20 years. Almost 13 years later, Andrew Wakefield has been found guilty of dishonesty and serious professional misconduct on several counts by the General Medical Council, and has now been struck off.

    But the consequences of his misconduct live on. Why did it take so long for the extent of his deception to be revealed? Adam Rutherford talks to the key players in this incredible saga, and asks whether there are lessons to be learned about how scientific misconduct is investigated, and who is responsible for making sure scientists tell the truth.

    Producers: Alexandra Feachem and Roland Pease.

    The trail said both Dr Andrew Wakefield and Brian Deer speak. It’s listed for Thursday 24th March 2011.


  1. Why Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Panicking over the Measles Outbreaks? – VAXOPEDIA - January 30, 2019

    […] The Roots of the Vaccine Panic […]

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