Friday, February 4, 2011

Vaccines Don't Cause Autism

A mommy friend shared this blog post, "Vaccines Don't Cause Autism" with me. The blog is written by Maricella Piper-Terry. Piper-Terry is an antivax loon, so my initial response was "hooray, there is hope of educating these people", and then I read the post.

Let's look at her argument.

Okay. I give up.

Vaccines do not cause autism.

Well, that's refreshing. Someone that previously believed vaccines cause autism, finally admits that they don't. Oh wait, she was being sarcastic.

Autism is a behavioral diagnosis. In order to receive the diagnosis of "Autism" a child must exhibit a certain number of behaviors over a certain time frame. If he or she does not do so, the diagnosis of "autism" is not warranted.

There is no blood test for "autism."

"Autism" can't be confirmed or "ruled-out" by laboratory analysis. It's strictly a behavioral diagnosis.

OK, so far, so good. Then the logic train-wreck.

Therefore, anything that causes physiological damage cannot directly "cause" autism.

Just because we use the observation of behaviours to diagnose autism does not mean that those behaviours do not have an underlying pathology. Her conclusion does not follow from her stated premises.

And the wreck gets worse from there.

Ergo... vaccines cannot "cause" "autism."

Her underlying assumption is that vaccines cause physiological damage, which she has not established in her argument. She is also ignoring the scientific literature which states that vaccines don't cause autism because there is no correlation between vaccines and autism. In order for something to cause something else, the two things first have to occur at the same time. This was initially observed and reported by many parents. But temporal association is not enough and to thing that one thing causes another just because they are temporally correlated is another logical fallacy called "post hoc ergo propter hoc". So epidemiological studies were done to determine if there was any merit to this temporal correlation and the overwhelming verdict was no.

Vaccines cause encephalitis.

Vaccines cause seizures.

Vaccines cause immune system deficiencies.

Vaccines cause gastrointestinal problems.

These are pretty bold assertions, but are offered with no supporting evidence. Just because she says this is true, doesn't make them true. Can vaccines cause encephalitis? Yes, but at a much lower rate than the disease which they prevent. An example is measles. Measles causes encephalitis at 1:1000 cases. The vaccine causes encephalitis at 1:1 000 000 doses. Can vaccines cause seizures? Febrile seizures, yes, but not other types of seizures. Febrile seizures are associated with a rapid increase in temperature and have no lasting consequences. Vaccines cause immune system deficiencies. No. Vaccines work by boosting the immune system so that it can respond to an infection before the infection causes the disease. Vaccines cause gastrointestinal problems. No.

Next 3 paragraphs of her argument are irrelevant.

Gastrointestinal damage from vaccines causes diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal damage from vaccines causes nausea, reflux, vomiting, and the recently discovered "disease" now known as GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease).

Gastrointestinal damage from vaccines causes increased vulnerability to viruses and bacteria, which leads to increased administration of antibiotics, which leads to overgrowth of pathogenic yeast.

This is just crap (pun intended) she made up. Vaccines don't cause gastrointestinal damage.

Pathogenic yeast overgrowth leads to intestinal hyperpermeability ("leaky gut syndrome").

Pathogenic yeast overgrowth leads to constipation.

Pathogenic yeast overgrowth leads to food allergies.

Pathogenic yeast overgrowth leads to skin eruptions, "drunken, silly behavior," inattention and impulsivity, and cravings for bread, sugar, ice cream, milk, and carbohydrates.

More stuff she is making up. I bet she has a "cleanse" she sells to "cure" people of a "pathogenic yeast overgrowth". A quick Google search tells me she is a DAN! practitioner, so, ah, yup.

Technically, vaccines do not cause autism because techincally there is no such thing as autism.

Vaccines cause the underlying physical conditions that result in the pain, neurological damage, immune system disorders, gastrointestinal damage, and yeast overgrowth - all of which combine to produce the behavioral symptoms that result in the "autism" diagnosis.

Whoa, back up the train. Didn't she say in her first paragraphs that autism is a behavioral diagnosis that vaccines can't cause, but now autism doesn't exist and vaccines cause symptoms of this mysterious disease called "autism"? This argument is also totally bogus because her premises are wrong.

Gastrointestinal damage is the most obvious result of vaccine damage.

When a previously healthy child suddenly starts having multiple episodes of watery and extremely stinky diarrhea every day, and this happens shortly after receiving vaccinations, it is notable as a "vaccine injury."

Remember the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy? Marcella is very fond of it.

Why is Dr. Wakefield such a threat to the pharmaceutical industry?

Hint: Not because vaccines cause autism - they don't.

Vaccines cause gastrointestinal damage.

Gastrointestinal damage causes malabsorption of nutrients necessary for proper brain function.

Malabsorption of essential nutrients causes immune system disorders, seizures, encephalopathy, etc... and THAT's what leads to the ultimate diagnosis of "autism."

1. A guy that is guilty of fraud is hardly a threat to the pharmaceutical industry.
2. Vaccines don't cause gastrointestinal damage.

If Dr. Wakefield's obervations are correct, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE will eventually draw the connection between vaccines and the domino-effect that leads to the "autism" diagnosis. From the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry, better to "nip it in the bud" now, which means discrediting Dr. Wakefield to the extent that no one will look further into the science.

Yes, if Wakefield's observations are correct, but, not only was Wakefield wrong, he committed fraud. And then we have the conspiracy theory of how big pharma controls science. The studies proving Wakefield wrong were not done by pharma. Twenty-six studies have looked into the science. Nobody has been able to reproduce Wakefield's work, because, he made it up.

Has this ploy worked?

Not for me. And not for many of the very intelligent parents I know.

Well, of course not for Marcella, because she would be out of job is she acknowledged that what she is selling is crap. Her statement that intelligent parents are falling for her con makes me very sad and angry. Hope this helps intelligent parents see through her misinformation.

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