Thursday, March 25, 2010
Autism-vaccine debate is very emotional
The autism-vaccine debate is one of the most emotional debates in American society right now. You find evangelists on both sides of the matter.
A few months ago, I lost a key employee because his wife was convinced vaccines had caused their child’s autism. Mississippi is one of a few states that do not allow parents to opt out of vaccines and still remain in public schools. So they moved to Texas.
There are huge numbers of parents who are convinced that vaccines are causing autism. I have personally listened to many of them. They are determined, motivated and involved.
This past week, yet another court determined that there is no evidence that mercury from vaccines causes autism. A child gets about the same amount of mercury in a tuna sandwich as he does from a vaccine.
This is not the end of the debate by any means. The truth will emerge eventually. That being said, I am not a convert to the vaccine theory, despite spending a considerable amount of time researching the issue.
There was a unique aspect about the ruling. The court was not a typical federal court. It was a special branch of the U.S. Court of Special Claims established to handle claims of injury from vaccines.
Because of this, the court was actually able to delve into the scientific proof and make judgments based on the validity of that proof. This is in contrast to the normal workings of our federal judiciary, where the judges wash their hands of science.
The perfect example of this is federal environmental law. The courts do not listen or even care about scientific evidence. The federal legal policy is to delegate scientific fact finding to the relevant federal agency, typically the EPA.
There’s a huge problem with this. The EPA is not an objective party. The agency is often a party in the suit. The EPA staffers are often environmental crusaders. After all, that’s why you go work for the EPA. You want to save the environment.
With the courts washing their hands of the nettlesome problem of deciding scientific facts, the EPA becomes judge and juror. Objectivity is thrown to the wind. Checks and balances cease to exist. Federal domination becomes complete.
You see this not only with the EPA, but with many other agencies. The Corps of Engineers is another example. The federal courts won’t overrule an authorized agency on matters of science, no matter how ludicrous the ‘science’ has become. That’s not their job, the judges say.
Fortunately, Congress saw the enormous potential for hysteria created by mass, forced vaccinations and created a special court that could actually look at the science. These rulings will stave off endless mass torts that could bankrupt the vaccination system.
If we had similar courts for medical malpractice claims, we could save hundreds of billions in tests designed only to fend off lawsuits.
Any applied engineering student must learn the fundamental ‘rule of significance.’ If you ignore it, the bridge you design will fall down. The rule states, “You may not express a result that is more accurate than the least accurate variable used to derive the result.”
In other words, your final model can’t be more specific than the inputs used to create the model. This is the fallacy of the global warming theory. It doesn’t follow the most basic elements of applied engineering principals. The variables on which the global warming models are based are far too vague to predict a one-degree rise in temperature at some specific point in the future.
Likewise, minute variations in mercury caused by a vaccine are insufficient to be proven to cause autism when there are numerous other sources of mercury in the environment - such as fish.
Autism is a mode of thought that is different than normal. I believe it is purely genetic. A little bit of autism is the key to genius. Too much, the child enters his own private world. No doubt, it is wrenching to parents who invariably want their children to be ‘normal.’ But without ‘abnormal’ thought, human progress would cease.
Just this Sunday, 60 Minutes did a special report on the mortgage bond disaster. It was typical herd mentality on Wall Street, except for one nerdy bond trader who marched to a different drummer. This trader, who as a child was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild form of autism) made $800 million in a year because he saw the world through a different lens.
Hundreds of studies have shown the link between genes and autistic thought. I know. It runs in my family. Out of curiosity, I recently took a test for Asperger‚s Syndrome. Out of 100 questions, I was one answer from being Asperger’s. Looking back, I always marched to a different drummer and never cared what others thought. Moderated by love and logic, this trait has served me well.
One study showed that families with a lot of pilots tend to have autistic streaks. Well let‚s see. I‚m a pilot. My father was a pilot. My father-in-law is a pilot. My mother-in-law is a pilot. My brother-in-law is a pilot. And my mother is a pilot. So I‚m not going to blame a vaccine if my brilliantly creative son happens to act a bit strange at times.
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