Sunday, February 19, 2012

Autism and Vaccination

Reading "The Panic Virus" at the recommendation of a student,  I find myself recommending it to others - it is absorbing (with few scientific mistakes, those that are there are early on and involve how immune responses are generated at the molecular level, a complex subject.)

The issue of autism presents quite a disturbing case study of the difficulties faced by science educators in the context of serious real world (and deeply emotional) issues.  It raises questions about how to maintain an understanding of the value of vaccination in the absence of disease (because vaccination works), the idea of the social value of a treatment versus personal risk, the search for causes of a disease (autism) in the absence of clear data or plausible mechanism (is it one or multiple diseases?), and the proliferation of psuedo

Now there is a preliminary study that suggests autism's symptoms can begin quite early in life.  As usual in science, not to be taken too seriously unless it is independently replicated.