Monday, June 11, 2007

Landmark Autism Case Ignores Science

Five thousand families of autistic children are attempting to raid a fund held by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The only problem is, when it comes to a cause for autism, "numerous scientific studies have ruled out vaccines as being to blame," according to an AFP report.

Basically what's happening here is parents believe it's more than a coincidence that their children showed signs of autism after receiving certain vaccinations. I can see where they're coming from, but I think they're wrong. Consider this. The FDA forced vaccine manufacturers to remove a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal from their products in 1999. So autism rates should have crashed, right? Wrong. After thimerosal was removed, "autism rates continued to soar, with between 10 to 17 percent new cases a year," reported the AFP article.

Despite this, there's a good chance the families of autistic kids will win their suit. That's because "the court's ruling will depend not on the weight of scientific evidence but on a legal standard of plausibility." One lawyer representing an autistic child's family seemed particularly excited by this apparent flaw in the legal system. Said lawyer Kevin Conway, "There is a difference between scientific proof and legal proof. One is a 95 percent certainty and the other is ... 50 percent and a feather."

I'm all for finding an answer to the recent outbreak of autism, but you can't sue one up. There may be a ruling in favor of the families with autistic kids, but this won't give us a cure.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.