Monday, February 9, 2009

Mis-representing science

While this post is not specifically about Evolution, it is about the consequences of mis-representing science.

About 10 years ago Dr. Andrew Wakefield published the results of a study that suggested there was a link between Autism and the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccinations. It prompted an anti-vaccination movement that has had both ordinary people and celebrities on each side of the argument. The result, inoculation rates went down! However why didn't autism rates also decline? Maybe because it appears that Wakefield falsified his results? "MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism" spells it our pretty clearly. Not only has NO ONE been able to duplicate the results and not only did 10 of the 13 authors of the study retract any interpretation of the vaccinations causing autism, but the Sunday Times did an investigation and found that Wakefield lied.

So what, no big deal, right? Well how about in the United Kingdom there were 56 cases of measles in 1998 and ten years later there are 1,348 cases with two children dead. Measles are on the rise in Australia and Switzerland as well. How about in Minnesota? "Invasive Haemophilus influenzae Type B Disease in Five Young Children --- Minnesota, 2008" The largest outbreak in over 16 years. Three of the five were not vaccinated, one started the series of shots but did not continue, and the fifth, while fully vaccinated, had an immunodeficiency problem. One of the un-vaccinated children has died.

In other words the mis-representation of science has caused the deaths of children! These deaths may very well have been preventable!

And supporters of the so-called 'academic freedom' bills want to keep on encouraging those mis-representations!

OK, am I overstating things a little? I don't think so. What happens when the medical profession is taught that an Intelligent Designer is responsible for life as we know it? What happens to research programs? What happens to vaccinations? What happens to cancer research? Since Intelligent Design has offered no testable ideas and the more garden-variety of Creationism stops the whole discussion and relies on prayer -- what happens? People and kids will be dying of things that are currently treatable and preventable! That is the crime! And folks like the Discovery Institute will probably tell us it's the "Will of the Intelligent Designer"! Sound familiar? Didn't we used to be right here a couple of hundred years ago? All the medical advances we have made are going to get tossed out the window! All based on lies and mis-representation!

Let's quit all water treatments, it's based on science. Let's stop prenatal care and God-forbid we actually perform surgery! Let's just gather around the hospital bed, hold hands and pray to the so-called intelligent designer and see how effective that is!

Folks, have your kids vaccinated! If you have an objection, do the research on the effectiveness of the specific vaccine. You might object to some of the numbers on the cervical cancer vaccine, but you certainly can't object to the success of the MMR vaccine. Base your vaccination decision on the real data, not the trumped up misinformation published by Wakefield or other anti-vaccination groups! Get the facts and make the decision! Don't allow a mis-representation to push you in a dangerous -- for your kids -- direction. How would you feel today if your child died from a preventable disease, and it was your decision that contributed?

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