Mwalkes's Reviews > Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure

Autism's False Prophets by Paul A. Offit
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Aug 13, 10

Read in August, 2010

I admit to reading this book with a bias. But my bias pales in light of this author's bias.

Some contentions in this book are just that; the implied preface is, "I am a doctor, what I say is right. No need for sources."

This book is referenced, but not when he casually dismisses topics such as the plasticity of the brain that many of his colleagues believe in and apply to their practice every day.

The reason I read this book was to hear the other side of the Andrew Wakefield controversy. Offit contends throughout the book that Wakefield's premise is "MMR CAUSES autism". IF Mr. Offit read the primary research, he would know that Wakefield's research did not attempt to SHOW or PROVE CAUSATION. He has stated that GI disturbance in autistic children is almost 100%. Campbell-McBride (neurologist-turned-nutritional authority (MSN) with an autistic child) took that information and ran with it. Why have so many others lost themselves in the blaming game?

How can we justify telling pregnant woman NOT to eat fish because of the mercury contamination, then deliberately inject their vulnerable children with mercury that goes directly into the bloodstream instead of having the chance to be eliminated through nature's plan to eliminate toxins - through the GI system??

We have collectively known since Hippocrates that "All diseases begin in the gut."

Western medicine has lost its way in the labyrinth of technology, greed, and arrogance. The sooner we acknowledge that, the safer we are.
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Braxton Wakefield's published research didn't imply causation of autism, you are correct on that count, but he did say to the press without any research to prove it, that the combined MMR causes autism. That was the start of the anti vaccination movement in the autism community. Also, there is a huge difference between the mercury in fish and the mercury in previous vaccine formulas. For one, they don't inject raw mercury. They inject a mercury based preservative. Big difference. Also the preservative, thimerosol, has been removed from all but the flu vaccine for a while now. Lastly, saying all diseases start in the gut is absolutely ludicrous, and goes against centuries of medical research. You have lost your way in a labyrinth of misinformation.


message 9: by Sally (new) - added it

Sally I am reading Offit's Deadly Choices, and I am also finding that he backs up data he believes relevant, but does not back up his "dismissals." Then there's the whole subject of Guardasil; he claimed, rightfully, in his 2009 book that there were no confirmed cases of paralysis or death. During 2009 they were confirmed. Just as the brain can be considered "plastic" so can the field of "vaccine safety." Nothing is absolute, either pro or con, and blindly keeping to one camp is a little short-sighted. It's a lot to process, that's for sure.


Douglas Wilson I am a pediatrician and I confront the parents almost daily who have been amazingly misled by the media hype on the unfounded and scientifically erroneous claims of harm from vaccines and especially with causing autism. Fortunately, the vast majority of the parents in my practice have the basic intelligence and open-mindedness to listen to reason and to understand that science, though not infallible, is nonetheless the best mode we have for dissecting our way through this morass of misinformation. Time and time again, well controlled scientific studies have shown no association of vaccines or, for that matter,
thimersol with autism or any of the other many adversities that uninformed and scientifically illiterate individuals have purported. In fact, the most naive and junior chemistry major knows that thimersol is ETHYL mercury and not the dangerous METHYL mercury which is the one that stores up in the body and the brain and causes neurological harm. Ethyl mercury is rapidly excreted from the body and when studies were done to check on mercury levels in children who received the vaccines with thimersol in the past and those who did not, the mercury levels were the same. This is, perhaps, a moot point as none of the vaccines except for an injectable flu vaccine that comes in a multi-dose vial contain any thimersol. And that contains an infinitesimal amount. Thimersol never caused any harm to begin with but was removed from the vaccines by individuals at the CDC who feared that the pharmaceutical companies would cease producing vaccines in fear of multiple law suits and this would seriously limit the supplies and many children would have gone non-immunized. Yes, I am a doctor, but I do not impose that on my parents but I have a dialogue with them and hope that my reasoning and the reading materials that I provide will convince them to immunize their children taking advantage of one of the greatest preventive medicine developments in history.


Andrew Sorry, I have to fervently disagree with you here. Nothing in this book says "Me right, me doctor." He merely points out that nearly everyone who has studied the alleged vaccination-autism link has found it to be unsubstantiated. Celebrities and non-scientific practitioners make dubious claims based on extraordinarily faulty methods. He actually takes a good deal of time to explain the science behind his ideas. But it sounds like you and your a priori drowned that part of the book out.


Cadmium Candy i don't think you can slur him with "I am a doctor, what I say is right. No need for sources." If nothing else, most of the people he refutes (Wakefield included) were also doctors.


Ashley Beisley You might have missed it, but his sources are at the end of the book when you finish reading it. Pages and pages organized chapter-by-chapter.


message 4: by Pankaj (new)

Pankaj Singh As a doctor who sees concerned parents every day, I feel that Offit is doing a great work fighting the misinformation started by Wakefield and co. Nowhere in the book did I feel he claimed that as a doctor he knows better. There's tons and tons of research that has clearly shown no link between autism and vaccines. I can definitely understand Offit's frustration, as he talks reason and people who have made up their minds just put their hands on their ears going nananana.


Mwalkes Does the recent CDC admission of omission of significant data related to autism and vaccines affect your stance?


message 2: by Pankaj (new)

Pankaj Singh It is not a CDC admission, but rather one scientist from CDC claiming so. The rest of the co authors of the paper stand by their initial result. Partial reporting of research papers and news has been a favourite of Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy fans, in this case saying "CDC admission" when it's one person's claims.
If a proper study (by CDC or any other team) does demonstrate a causal relationship between MMR and Autism, I shall definitely rethink my stance.


Mwalkes The authors Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bystrinnyk provide a much better synopsis of Offit's lack of references than I. I highly recommend their historical account of the facade of the construct, "vaccine safety:" "Dissolving Illusions."


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