Obama Wrong About Autism

Already? He’s not even in the White House yet and he’s already making idiotic claims that go against scientific evidence. That little image on my sidebar shows that I support Barack Obama in the 2008 US Presidential election. I’ve agreed with most of what he’s said… until now.

We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.

Oh dear. The evidence clearly shows that it is indeed a combination of increased awareness as well as new diagnosis criteria. When you broaden the definition of an illness you’re bound to find more cases. Here’s a nice simplified thought experiment.

Imaging there is an illness that causes headaches and runny noses. For years you only define the illness by the symptom of headaches. People with headaches have the illness. New evidence starts to show a connection with runny noses and the headaches. This new evidence clearly shows that the two symptoms are part of the same illness so you broaden your definition of the illness to now include both headaches and runny noses. In one fell swoop, you’ve increased the number of reported cases. Are there really more cases of the illness or just more people being diagnosed using the new definition?

My point isn’t to add fuel to the autism / vaccine debate because I don’t believe there is one. It’s a non-debate. The majority of respectable scientists agree that there is no link between vaccines and autism. My point is how numbers can be confusing and that it would do everyone a world of good to be a little skeptical. Our presidential candidates included. These candidates intend to run my country and I don’t take well to them being idiots who don’t do research before making public statements.

I also want to make the point that this is exactly what happens when select interest groups come down on the candidates with questions that pertain solely to their misguided and often misinformed causes. I’m sure Obama is only making attempts to stay neutral. He doesn’t want to shut the potential voters out by putting their idiotic cause in it’s rightful place. Saying, “I’m sure you have a legitimate concern, I’ll look into it.”, is far from admitting the validity of those concerns. But it’s also far from having the integrity to put misguided and misinformed causes where they belong. I believe the President of the United States should be informed enough to feel confident in putting ludicrous claims in the grave. I wonder if Obama would stand so neutral over James Watson’s claims that African Americans are less intelligent than Caucasians. A claim that respectable scientists rightfully refute. Something tells me he would have a somewhat stronger opinion about that non-debate.

UPDATE: After watching the video, I see the “This person included” remark was directed at someone in the audience. My point remains about being informed enough to stamp out dangerous notions when they’re presented.

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