Autism's False Prophets

Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure

Paul A. Offit, MD

CUP

Autism's False Prophets

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Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231146371

328 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: September 2008

ISBN: 9780231146364

328 Pages

Format: Hardcover

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Pub Date: September 2008

ISBN: 9780231517966

328 Pages

Format: E-book

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Autism's False Prophets

Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure

Paul A. Offit, MD

CUP

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 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.

Introduction
1. The Tinderbox
2. Lighting the Fuse
3. The Implosion
4. A Precautionary Tale
5. Mercury Rising
6. Mercury Falling
7. Behind the Mercury Curtain
8. Science in Court
9. Science and the Media
10. Science and Society
11. A Place for Autism
Epilogue
Web Features:
Watch a video of Paul Offit discuss Autism’s False Prophets



CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2009

Honorable Mention-2008 PROSE Award in Biological Sciences, Association of American Publishers

About the Author

Paul A. Offit, MD, FAAP is the chief of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has received numerous awards, including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. An international expert on rotavirus-specific immune responses, Dr. Offit is the coinventor of the rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq, for which he received the Jonas Salk Award from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the Gold Medal from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Stanley A. Plotkin Award in Vaccinology from the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. He has donated all royalties from sales of this book to autism research.