The Link Between Vaccines and Autism…

… is non-existent.

Jessica Hagy, who always shows us the clever link(s) between various ideas on her blog Indexed via Venn Diagrams and line graphs, goes the simple-but-effective route on this one:

Nailed it.

  • Ron in Houston

    Yeah, but believers (really of any sort) aren’t deterred by the facts.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, but believers (really of any sort) aren’t deterred by the facts.

    Including celebrity pediatricians. Check this comment thread.
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/02/dr_jay_gordons_profound_misunderstanding.php

  • pirmas407

    Switch the X-axis to time, the y-axis can then show “Understanding of autism” (increasing) and “Availability of vaccines” (also increasing) and you can see why many people get this belief. However, it is still a fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc).

  • ff42

    Isn’t it more scientific accurate to write “No KNOWN Correlation”?

  • Eli

    Isn’t it more scientific accurate to write “No KNOWN Correlation”?

    Perhaps a better way to say it would be “Every paper published in the last 15 years has shown no correlation, but there is a proven correlation between the rise of the anti-vax movement and the resurgence of previously nearly-unheard-of diseases like diphtheria in the US.”

    I would like to enter the truly depressing evidence 1A:
    http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html

  • Tom

    Isn’t it more scientific accurate to write “No KNOWN Correlation”?

    Yes, but if you rigorously include all such qualifiers in an actual scientific paper, it’ll be about three times as long and completely unreadable; it’d be worse than legalese.

    Whenever any scientist says anything is or isn’t “true,” except for obvious cases of purely hypothetical or logical thought, it’s always basically shorthand for “All known studies to date have produced negative results and so we can say we know, to the fullest extent that anything can thus be known, that it is not so, unless and until such time as positive evidence is found.”

    As an analogy, consider what thermodynamicists call “rational efficiency.” It’s physically impossible (see why I’m using the shorthand? Imagine typing all that crap above out every time!) to build a heat engine with efficiency that exceeds a limit known as the Carnot efficiency, which invariably falls well below 1. Rational efficiency is not the absolute efficiency of the machine, but the fraction of the Carnot efficiency that it achieves; it is thus a measure of how close the machine is to the most perfect machine of its class that could ever be built.

    Consider this scientific shorthand, in the same manner as rational efficiency, to be “rational truth” – when creationists gleefully cry to scientists who announce that something is “true” or “false” that the inherent uncertainty in the scientific method means they can never say such things without doubt (and then proceed to shoehorn god into the ever shrinking gap of doubt that remains), it’s because they do not realise that in such rational terms, “true” is not taken to mean “absolutely true, for now and evermore” (i.e. the usage of the word typically found in any given religious creed) but “as likely to be true as it is possible to know at this time.” And if you want a consistent model of reality that isn’t, or at least is minimally likely to be contradicted by subsequent experience, you can’t reasonably ask for more certainty than is actually possible at the time of asking.