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Included in the opportunistic category are environmentalists such as the Environmental Working Group and individuals like environmental crusader Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Scaring parents over thimerosal in vaccines is intended to buttress their campaign against coal-fired power plants.
The farcical relationship here is that thimerosal comprises about 50 percent ethyl mercury, while the stuff from power plants that gets into fish that pregnant women are warned about eating is called methyl mercury.
Despite the difference of merely one letter (you know, like “cat” and “rat”), scientists say there is a drastic difference in how each is metabolized and thus their potential for harm. That said, the Maternal Nutrition Group, a coalition of nutrition groups and experts including several federal agencies, last October concluded a review of studies by recommending that pregnant women eat far more fatty fish than they do, citing in part a low risk even from methyl mercury.
But the driving force against sound medicine remains that angry paranoid universe that effectively opposes all vaccinations. Critics also fiercely target the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella), insisting it, too, causes autism — though MMR never contained thimerosal.
The most recent “expert” to weigh in on that is former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, who demonstrated her 38-C IQ in claims on Oprah and in her best-selling book. She’s part of the bizarre segment of our society that sees childhood vaccines as some sort of black magic and have latched onto the unquestionable rise in autism rates to make the point.
Indeed, the single group most affiliated with this branch of thinking, that published the Geier paper in its online journal, is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. It has its roots in the old really did consider fluoridation as Communist plot.
Yet the evidence has long pointed to genetics as being the overwhelming causation factor in autism, evidence strengthened by three studies published in the January 10 American Journal of Human Genetics.
As to the indisputably large increase in autism diagnoses, the so-called “autism epidemic,” “diagnoses” appears to be the key word. Over the years, the definition of the disorder been expanded. The increase in autism diagnoses in kids has paralleled a decrease in mental retardation diagnoses. Growing awareness of the problem has also led to identification and labeling of cases that once were missed.
One shouldn’t have to add that increased identification and proper diagnosis of a problem is a good thing.
ANTI-VACCINE ADVOCATES have scared parents throughout not only the U.S. but many other countries into refusing to vaccinate their children. These parents become free riders, relying on those parents who do vaccinate to keep diseases at bay through “herd immunity.” That means that immunization rates in the wider population are high enough (for example, 85 percent for diphtheria) to protect those not immunized.
But if enough people free ride, then herd immunity is lost and what follows is the return of childhood diseases we hardly think about anymore. Diseases like pertussis have made comebacks in countries as diverse as the U.K., the U.S., Australia, Japan, and Sweden after vaccination scares. Better known as “whooping cough,” pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. (Listen to it here.) Pertussis cases went from fewer than 8,000 in the U.S. in 2001 to over 25,000 in 2005.
Vaccine fearmongers won’t acknowledge any of this. Many even claim vaccines never brought these diseases under control in the first place and therefore play no role in keeping them in check.
Appealing to such people is impossible, but the damage can be limited by appeals to those susceptible to their vicious and false propaganda. The Public Health Service needs to start a public interest campaign to fight back. If only they could find a spokesperson with a 39-D IQ…
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online