The Sciences

Alison Singer: autism hero

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJan 17, 2009 6:42 PM


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As I have pointed out time and again, vaccines do not cause autism. The evidence is overwhelming that vaccines have no connection with autism. But the antivaxxers are loud, well-funded, and get a lot of media sympathy. That's why Alison Singer is such a brave woman: she was the executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, a group that seeks to raise awareness of autism and look into its causes. From looking over their website, they seem to try to appear to be supportive of science, but over and over again they point toward investigating vaccines as a cause or trigger of autism. And that's why I said Ms. Singer was their VP: she just resigned from the group because they won't stop investigating vaccines, long after the science is in. In a Newsweek interview with her, she said:

In general, I disagree with a policy that says, "Despite what this study shows, more studies should be done." At some point, you have to say, "This question has been asked and answered and it's time to move on." We need to be able to say, "Yes, we are now satisfied that the earth is round."

Cut! Print! That is precisely right. Antivaxxers are not basing their conclusions on reason; it is a religious belief with them. Anything showing they're wrong -- and they are wrong -- is ignored, or downplayed, or distorted. I will take reservation with one of Ms. Singer statements, however: if there were unlimited funding, she said, then we should study vaccines more. Since the funding is limited, it should be spent on other things. I disagree strongly with that. It's equivocating; it doesn't matter how much funding there is. If the science is conclusive, it's conclusive.Throwing more money at a problem that doesn't exist cannot solve it. So I'm happy with Ms. Singer's brave decision to resign, and very happy she states so strongly that the scientific research shows no causal link between vaccines and autism. I wish she hadn't backed down from that somewhat, but her other statements and her actions show what needs to be done to fight antiscience, and to expose the people and groups that are so vehemently putting our children at risk of deadly diseases. Tip o' the needle to BABloggee Danny Chamberlin.

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