Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: "Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search For a Cure

I've been gearing up to write something about this book for a few months now, but due to a complete lack of free time, as always it took me a bit more than I anticipated.

There is one simple sentence to describe this book: every new parent should read this one!!!
I wish this book had been out when my son was born, and my wife and I had to battle misinformation and pure nonsense of the anti-vaxx movement. It is consoling to know that we made all the right decisions at that time, even when the level of propaganda from the anti-vaxxers was reaching its peak.
"Autism's False Prophets" gives your an amazing perspective from the best source: Paul Offit is the top pediatrician and infectious diseases expert in the world. He's also an authority on vaccines, having co-invented one that's credited with savings hundreds of lives daily (see more info). He's been involved with the whole vaccines/autism controversy (not a real one, but that's how it is perceived) from the beginning and knows the details first hand.

The original publication date of this book was in 2008, which makes it slightly out of date, especially in light of recent events (Andrew Wakefield's original MMR paper retraction by Lancet, his medical licence being revoked in U.K. and numerous studies further discrediting any link between vaccines and autism), but the real value of this book and all the information it contains is in the fact that it shows how the whole MMR and autism link (and later just general vaccine/autism link) was manufactured and how the real data kept coming, showing there is no link at all. It also shows the unseen links behind some of the people "on the other side". We are used to hearing that it's the "big pharma" that influences our doctors, and it's the corporate interest and profit seeking that drive our medical establishement, but it is very educating to see that money might be behind some of the people who claim they are fighting for us, the consumers.

Unfortunately, even today, I still encounter people who refuse to believe and cause more harm than good, by spreading misinformation and sometimes pure lies to benefit their own, misguided causes. As we all know, the era of information abundance on the Internet makes making decisions much harder for many of us. It is even more important to find the right sources, and this book is the perfect one!

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