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

  • Title: Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
  • Author: Paul A. Offit
  • ISBN: 9780231146364
  • Page: 266
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Autism s False Prophets Bad Science Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure 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 mer
    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 treatA 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.

    • Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure - Paul A. Offit
      266 Paul A. Offit
    • thumbnail Title: Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure - Paul A. Offit
      Posted by:Paul A. Offit
      Published :2019-04-14T10:23:49+00:00

    About Paul A. Offit


    1. Paul A Offit, MD is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children s Hospital of Philadelphia Dr Offit is also the Maurice R Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine He is a recipient of many awards including the J Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics bestowed by the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.Dr Paul A Offit has published than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus specific immune responses and vaccine safety He is also the co inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recently recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC for this achievement Dr Offit received the Gold Medal from the Children s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Jonas Salk Medal from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.Dr Paul Offit was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the author of multiple books from paul offit


    552 Comments


    1. While this book is specifically about the story of the vaccine-autism scare of the 1990s and 2000s, it also does a good job of addressing the public's perception of science and medicine in general. The book is laid out chronologically, talking about all the false leads autism treatments have had in the past years, how vaccines and mercury got to be the scapegoat for autism, and the evidence on either side. The epilogue even includes some recent developments that couldn't be worked into the text [...]

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    2. I'm a pediatric RN, and I give immunizations every day at work. In addition, I'm the mother of two young children. So the issues of vaccines and autism is always on my radar. I read this book looking for the hard science of the issue, and I was not disappointed. Dr. Offit clearly lays out how any link between autism and MMR, thimerisol, and vaccines in general has been discredited. In addition, I learned some things about scientific method that I hadn't understood, which explained why the data c [...]

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    3. This is a close-to-home topic for me. I’ve spent many years working within the autistic community and I have an incredible appreciation for these kids (and adults!). It’s a devastating fact that children are still being exposed to dangerous treatments and procedures that proclaim a “cure” for autism. Parents with a little hope and a lot of money can purchase chelation therapy, dangerous drugs, expensive and restrictive diets, surgeries, and unproven alternative medications and therapies; [...]

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    4. 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 c [...]

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    5. I have to say, even after working with autistic children this book opened my eyes. I have a couple of quotes from the book that really stand out. "Fombonne reasoned that there wasn't an epidemic of autism; rather, broadening the definition of the disability to included mildly affected children, as well as heightened awareness among parents and doctors, had accounted for the increase." It makes me angry that celebrities and their "cures" think that scientist who have spent their whole lives worki [...]

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    6. Excellent read for anyone remotely interested in the autism/vaccine debate. Informative account of the progression of the research and why the controversy still has momentum, even though there really is no debate at all.Highly recommended!

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    7. Despite the fact that those researchers who initially perpetuated the myth of the link between MMR and autism had been found to be frauds, misinformation still continues to prevalent in the media/social networking. Though I never fully bought in, I was cautious vaccinated my youngest two children - using a slower schedule because in the back of my mind was always "what if vaccines do cause autism?" Everyone hates big pharma - they are an easy scapegoat. And I read this knowing Paul Offit is know [...]

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    8. Who should read this book?Parents. People with an interest in autism. People with an interest in public health. Politicians. Lawyers and students. Health professionals and students. Basically, everyone.But if I had to pick just one group of people, I would say JOURNALISTS and journalism students NEED to read this book. I know writing about science is hard when you don't have a background or formal training in science. I know many media outlets are getting rid of their science specialists to cut [...]

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    9. I look forward to reading something that confronts Jenny McCarthy, DAN, and Generation Rescue head on. Having tried the GFCF diet, considered chelation, and basically turned our lives upside down for the kid with alternative therapies and seen no measurable improvementsI think what these groups advocate as "cures" are mostly quackery. Yes, there may be some environmental causes for autism, but I don't think anyone has found the right one(s) yet. In the meantime I'm not going to get my hopes up a [...]

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    10. Damned statistics. For every study that shows there could be a link between vaccines and autism, there is one that appears to show no link. The truth (and cause of autism) is out there somewhere. I wish the two "sides" of the issue would just drop their differences and work on finding something genuine that could assist parents to help their autistic children.Offit's book is pretty much a response to Evidence of Harm and I found it to be quite snarky and condescending in tone. I really didn't ca [...]

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    11. An excellent book- I will be recommending this one to parents of children with autism. Although I knew a little about Andrew Wakefield's work, I had no idea about the extent to which he falsified his study- nor the damage it did to thousands of children who's parents decided not to vaccinate them as a precaution. As someone who has worked with parents who have put their children on starvation diets to cleanse their guts (and thereby rid them of autism)- I think this work is really important. As [...]

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    12. I started this book yesterday. It's interesting so far. The thing about Wakefield is he only had a handful of patients, 8 he supposedly found a link to the MMR vaccine and autism. BUT, other folks have studied hundreds of folks, they've studied millions of cases and haven't found any link to autism at all. So I continue to believe that autism does not come from vaccines at all and that emphasising this link that doesn't exist takes away from bigger issues like what do autistic adults need to be [...]

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    13. I couldn't put the book down and finished it within 24 hours. I found it interesting, both from the medical and public health perspective. I would implore everyone who is interested in learning more about vaccines and/or autism to make this book a must read in their search to become better educated. A lot of bad information is available, but this book helps puts things in a proper perspective. Bottom line - vaccines save lives.

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    14. Love it, a must read for any parent with an Autistic child. It makes me so glad that I didn't fall into the "Don't Vaccinate" trap. Comprehensive and full of information, it explains in detail the goings on with all the crazy treatments parents have put their autistic kids through

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    15. I fully admit to being predisposed to agreeing with and liking this book before I picked it up. Silly me, I'm partial to the scientific method as opposed to anecdotes as a more effective way to separate the fact from the fiction. That being said, I found it to be a thorough, well-articulated explanation of the scientific process in general and of the rise and fall of various scapegoats which have been erroneously blamed for causing autism. This wide-ranging book covers the history of class-actio [...]

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    16. There is a lot of information on autism being generated and circulated by rumors, the mass media, and the Internet. Critically evaluating this vast body of information is like trying to navigate a large ocean that is almost impossible to navigate. That is what it is like for most people when they try to understand autism in order to help their loved ones affected by it, mostly their children. This book acts as a compass and a radar to navigate the ocean of information in order to separate the fa [...]

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    17. Back in college, I did therapy with children with autism. I watched as parents tried one alternative therapy after another in the hopes of finding a cure, despite the fact that their children made little improvement and continued to be autistic. Even though their children did not make noticeable improvement, they would recommend enzymes, elimination diets and vitamin b12 supplements to each other as though it was the gold standard of medicine. Most were convinced vaccines caused their children's [...]

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    18. I get it, I get it. Avoiding vaccinations because of media-hyped fears in spite of good science makes for bad parenting. But I could have used a bit more understanding for those parents who, because of what they have experienced in the life of their child, don't give good science as much credit as Offit. A concluding chapter with news of any leads or scientific hopes in the future of autism research would have been welcome as well, but I guess Offit didn't want to set himself up as another "Fals [...]

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    19. Nonfiction 2This was an eye-opening, extremely factual book about the doctors and quacks that purport the cause and possible cures of autism. It is written from the 'goliath' side of the argument with the author defending the FDA and CDC. Rarely does the media go back and finish the sensational stories it reports.Because of this book, I am not worried about vaccines causing autism. The scientific studies done regarding thimerosal, MMR vaccination, and about the children that do claim vaccination [...]

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    20. The vaccine "controversy" is so frustrating. I have sympathy for parents struggling with autism, but the SCIENCE is overwhelming-vaccines do NOT cause autism. The MMR data was completely fabricated and never duplicated by another study and thimerosol has not been in vaccines since 2001 and autism rates have not declined, not to mention that no epidemiological studies find higher rates in vaccinated children. What science does show, however, is that vaccines are crucial for preventing childhood d [...]

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    21. Autism's False Prophets is an overview of the controversy surrounding the safety of vaccines and the contention that they cause autism. This controversy has caused a great deal of anxiety to parents of small children and has also engendered heated feelings on both sides. Offit is a doctor who helped to develop a vaccine, and does not attempt to conceal his own point of view -- that vaccines save far more lives than they harm, and that there is no scientific evidence that they cause autism. By no [...]

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    22. In my 6 years as a mother, I've taken a journey from sold-out believer in the medical establishment to skeptical and suspicious, especially of vaccines, medications and traditional treatments for children. But my journey has taken me full circle. At the beginning of that journey, I was shocked and amazed at all I hadn't been told about the dangers and drawbacks of modern medicine. However, as my research expanded, I discovered a lot of what was presented as fact by the "alternative" community wa [...]

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    23. I'm giving this four stars not for the writing (it was fine, but as with his other books, could get a little dry at points), but for the point-by-point explanation of the absolute lack of proof of a connection between autism and vaccines. Every possible shred of "evidence" claiming vaccines or their components cause autism is completely disproven in multiple ways. It's heartbreaking to read how alternative "cures" for autism not only do nothing but actually harm and in some cases even kill child [...]

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    24. Once again, another great book by Dr. Offit. I knew a little about the backstory of the whole vaccines cause autism thing, but this book goes deep into the controversy. I feel like this book should be given to any parent who is questioning whether or not to vaccinate their child. I find it ironic that anti-vaxers say that by vaccinating your child you are feeding into big pharma's plan to make money off your child, but the whole reason this whole vaccine/autism thing started was because some jer [...]

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    25. Among parents who have children with this life-claiming condition, there is a desperate desire for a cure, or at least for treatments that help. With that desperation, many ideas have come forth in an attempt to assign blame for the rising rates and to provide hope for these parents. We happen to have a son with autism and have had many people raise their brows in surprise when they find out that we have continued to immunize our other children despite the "supposed link" between autism and immu [...]

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    26. Jest mi bardzo przykro, że ta książka nie wyszła po polsku. Opowieści o cudownych terapiach na autyzm i "odkryciach" Wakefielda to jedno. Ale dla polskiego czytelnika śledzącego tutejsze dyskusje o morderczych szczepionkach najciekawsze będzie odkrycie, że narracja "szlachetni ekorodzice kontra wielkie korporacje" jest fałszywa; że histerię antyszczepionkową rozkręcali bogaci prawnicy, czasem za publiczne pieniądze, wspomagani przez firmy PR, stosując taktyki zaczerpnięte z kamp [...]

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    27. This is an excellent book. If you are at all interested in the vaccine/autism debate this is a must read. Dr. Offit does an excellent job of explaining the science in a way that is easy to understand to the layman and he does a great job explaining how people with an anti-vaccine mindset fell into it and keep falling for the misinformation. I highly recommend this book.

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    28. This book is amazing, and well worth reading. For those who want the quick and dirty, here’s the last paragraph: The science is largely complete. Ten epidemiological studies have shown MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism; six have shown thimerosal doesn’t cause autism; three have shown thimerosal doesn’t cause subtle neurological problems; a growing body of evidence now points to the genes that are linked to autism; and despite removal of thimerosal from vaccines in 2001, the number of chil [...]

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    29. Overall, I was pretty happy with the book. I’d read Offit’s 2013 critique of alternative medicine, Do You Believe in Magic, and I felt his work on Autism was much better. DYBIM was a bit scattered and included so many pot shots at wacko straw men that the whole book took on a bit of a derisive tone. At the same time, that book gave only a passing glance at fields like mainstream chiropractors (the ones who limit themselves to musculoskeletal problems), where most of us could really use a med [...]

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    30. "The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, it's that they know so many things that just aren't so." - Mark TwainFirst off, this is not a book on what actually might cause autism or how best to treat it. The latest research on autism's causes are left to only the final chapter of the book.The focus of Offit's book is really on the history of bad science, particularly framed around the debate about the connections between MMR/mercury/thimerosal/vaccines (take your pick) and au [...]

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