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Autism's false prophets : bad science, risky…
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Autism's false prophets : bad science, risky medicine, and the search for… (urspr publ 2008; utgåvan 2008)

av Paul A. Offit

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1749119,665 (4.58)29
A London researcher was the first to assert that the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine known as MMR caused autism in children. Following this "discovery," a handful of parents declared that a mercury-containing preservative in several vaccines was responsible for the disease. If mercury caused autism, they reasoned, eliminating it from a child's system should treat the disorder. Consequently, a number of untested alternative therapies arose, and, most tragically, in one such treatment, a doctor injected a five-year-old autistic boy with a chemical in an effort to cleanse him of mercury, which stopped his heart instead. Children with autism have been placed on stringent diets, subjected to high-temperature saunas, bathed in magnetic clay, asked to swallow digestive enzymes and activated charcoal, and injected with various combinations of vitamins, minerals, and acids. Instead of helping, these therapies can hurt those who are most vulnerable, and particularly in the case of autism, they undermine childhood vaccination programs that have saved millions of lives. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence clearly shows that childhood vaccines are safe and does not cause autism. Yet widespread fear of vaccines on the part of parents persists. In this book, Paul A. Offit, a national expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them. Offit recounts the history of autism research and the exploitation of this tragic condition by advocates and zealots. He considers the manipulation of science in the popular media and the courtroom, and he explores why society is susceptible to the bad science and risky therapies put forward by many antivaccination activists.… (mer)
Medlem:bness2
Titel:Autism's false prophets : bad science, risky medicine, and the search for a cure
Författare:Paul A. Offit
Info:New York : Columbia University Press, c2008.
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:*****
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure av Paul A. Offit (2008)

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This is the first book since my first encounter with Carl Sagan's work that stirred such a powerful, visceral emotion in me.

Autism's False Prophets is a thorough and detailed look at the vaccine debacle regarding autism, with an explanation of the research and history that caused the argument in the first place as well as how and why it is incorrect. It also looks at some related and equally ineffective other fad treatments for autism.

Overall, I can't say that I 'enjoyed' the book. It is like reading about any other great American tragedy. The sheer number of children harmed by people misrepresenting science is boggling and infuriating. However, I did appreciate the book for its message and intent.

The evidence in the book is well-referenced and clearly cited. Despite the author's clear passion for helping those with autism and clearing the dangerous and incorrect belief that vaccines are harmful, there is no embellishment or fabrication here, just clear hard facts. The back of the book is replete with the references, all well-documented events and studies from peer-reviewed, respected hard science journals.

Not only does the author prove beyond a doubt that vaccines do not cause autism, he also goes over the rationale behind the use of vitamin megadosing, difficult fad diets, expensive barometric chambers, and wildly dangerous chelation therapy. The heart-wrenching failure of facilitated communication is also debunked.

Let it be known: VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM. AUTISM IS PRIMARILY GENETIC.

I have three criticisms for this book:
1.) The book is fantastic for pointing out what not to do, but glosses over the effective treatments, such as applied behavior analysis, that do work and should be pursued.

2.) The writing of the book is still a bit advanced for its target audience. The people that the author seeks to persuade---needs to persuade---are most likely not going to be completely familiar or comfortable with scientific methods, rationale, or terminology. 'Translations' would have been helpful to include to keep this book from sounding like technobabble.

3.) The deplorable treatment of Dr. Israel's treatment. In the book, the author decries Israel's use of shock as part of his therapy. To support this, the book uses a completely out of context quote on how the shocks must hurt. However, the author does not go over, or indeed, seem to even know, the rationale behind the shocks.

I am familiar with Israel's school and find his mis-representation to be a knee-jerk reaction and totally out of place. For those unfamiliar, Israel runs a facility for children with severe behavior disorders, including those with autism. More often than not, these children have been kicked out of any other program. Israel focuses on the use of reinforcement---Positive rewards---to improve behavior. If this does not work and the behavior is severe enough, he uses electric shock to punish the behavior. Yes, the shock hurts. No, it does not cause permanent damage. A judge, lawyer, and physician oversee the use of shock---which is fully monitored at all times---and represent the interests of the child against the school. The shock is effective and it saves lives. Examples of its use include extremely violent behavior towards caregivers, starvation, and self-injury severe enough that the child was going to lose their eyesight or even their life. I've heard a 'victim' of this shock treatment speak about his experiences, and he admitted that while it hurt, it allowed him to learn appropriate behavior. It saved lives. Many, many lives. It is a last resort. And to have the author smear Israel's methods without looking into them is deplorable.

TL;DR: While perhaps a smidgeon over-technical, this book is a must-read and contains crucial information for parents and professionals alike. ( )
  kaitlynn_g | Dec 14, 2020 |
I actually read this book quite awhile ago. Didn't realize I never took it off the "to read" shelf. It's a really good book that sheds a lot of light on a lot of the hysteria & misinformation that's been spreading like wildfire about autism and it's causes. I highly recommend it. ( )
  merrittfamily1990 | May 2, 2018 |
This is not going to be a fair and balanced review.

That's because there is nothing to be fair or balanced about. Vaccines don't cause autism -- if anything, they prevent it (there are some hints that prenatal inflammation causes autism, and vaccines will prevent the mother from passing pathogens to her fetus). This is not controversial in the scientific community, and I haven't noticed much controversy about it in the autism community either (that is, among those of us who have autism, as opposed to those parents who want to cure their children of a condition that some of us are perfectly content to have, thank you very much!). The study by Andrew Wakefield that claimed vaccines as a cause of autism was too small, improperly conducted, unethical -- and has never been replicated. Junk science.

This book makes that clear enough. But, in a way, it misses the point. It points most of the blame at the media. But -- like too many books about scientific controversies -- it misunderstands the media's problem.

It's true that the mainstream media like to create controversies. And, of course, they don't like telling the truth when it might cost them readers.

But this isn't the media's real problem. It's "balance." Truth doesn't matter to them; if a sufficient sector of the population believes something, they give it equal time. Doesn't matter if it's false ("vaccines cause autism"), deliberately misleading ("evolution is only a theory"), or information that makes no difference to anyone ("so-and-so was the secret murderer of so-and-so"). I can speak to this from experience; I had an ongoing row with a newspaper editor saying that his coverage of science was false (which it was) and he arguing that it was his duty to present both sides. He told me that he knew I was right about the science, but his job was "balance"!

As a scientist and a person with autism, believe me, I could not have made that up if I tried!

And this book just doesn't get into the mass media's obsession with balance. But, as long as balance is treated as more important than truth, then we have a problem.

So: This book tells important truths. If you don't know the facts about the matter of autism and vaccines, you will learn a lot (although the fact that the book was written in 2008 means that it is now rather dated; we've learned a lot about autism since then). But it won't teach you how we can fix the problem of these anti-scientific myths. I don't know the answer myself, but just arguing against the media doesn't help. Yes, they're wrong -- but they're wrong for a different reason than is described in this book. Which makes it all sort of irrelevant. ( )
1 rösta waltzmn | Aug 20, 2016 |
A solid dissection of the anti-vaccination movement and the search to find someone, anyone, to blame for the surge in autism. The author has encountered a great deal of recrimination, and has even had to suffer death threats, but he continues to speak out against those who would turn science on its head. An important book. ( )
1 rösta Devil_llama | May 11, 2011 |
I am a somewhat crunchy mother of an autistic 6 year old. When I joined autism support groups to better help my son, I was confronted with a dizzying array of treatment options, many of which sounded offbeat or just plain dangerous. Many of the other parents of autistic children were strongly encouraging me to stopping vaccinations for all of my children. I took two months to read everything I could about both sides of the debate regarding vaccines and any possible link to autism, and I could have saved all that time by starting with this book.

Offit outlines the history of the vaccine issue in a way that is easy to read and understand. He gives detailed and pertinent examples of similar issues in recent history. I found it facinating to see how the anti-vaccine movement soon had a life of its own involving not only vaccines, but also chelation and the gluten-free/casein-free diets. While the focus is on the vaccine debate, Offit does explore these other very risky and dubious treatments.

This book has been extremely valuable to sort through what I have been hearing and where these ideas may have come from. Having read Autism's False Prophets, I now feel like I have made an informed decision about vaccines and I can give a solid and educated answer regarding other fringe autism treatments. Every parent with an autistic child should read this book before engaging in time consuming, difficult, and expensive treatments. ( )
2 rösta FrozenFlame22 | Jan 1, 2011 |
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men mistook magic for medicine.
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men mistake medicine for magic.

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To Kathleen Seidel, Camille Clark, Michael Fitzpatrick
Peter Hotez, and Roy Richard Grinker:
some of the real heroes -- and true prophets -- of this story
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A London researcher was the first to assert that the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine known as MMR caused autism in children. Following this "discovery," a handful of parents declared that a mercury-containing preservative in several vaccines was responsible for the disease. If mercury caused autism, they reasoned, eliminating it from a child's system should treat the disorder. Consequently, a number of untested alternative therapies arose, and, most tragically, in one such treatment, a doctor injected a five-year-old autistic boy with a chemical in an effort to cleanse him of mercury, which stopped his heart instead. Children with autism have been placed on stringent diets, subjected to high-temperature saunas, bathed in magnetic clay, asked to swallow digestive enzymes and activated charcoal, and injected with various combinations of vitamins, minerals, and acids. Instead of helping, these therapies can hurt those who are most vulnerable, and particularly in the case of autism, they undermine childhood vaccination programs that have saved millions of lives. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence clearly shows that childhood vaccines are safe and does not cause autism. Yet widespread fear of vaccines on the part of parents persists. In this book, Paul A. Offit, a national expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them. Offit recounts the history of autism research and the exploitation of this tragic condition by advocates and zealots. He considers the manipulation of science in the popular media and the courtroom, and he explores why society is susceptible to the bad science and risky therapies put forward by many antivaccination activists.

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