Saturday, June 25, 2005

How to lose credibility in scientific discourse

Dan Burton, Representative from Indiana, is a champion of the alleged link between thimerosal -- a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines -- and autism in children. His first mistake was to call a series of hearings to test a theory that had zero scientific backing and has, in fact, been flatly contradicted by pretty much every reputable scientific institution. I'll let the New York Times describe his second mistake without a trace of irony:
In a series of House hearings held from 2000 through 2004, Mr. Burton called the leading experts who assert that vaccines cause autism to testify. They included a chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky who says that dental fillings cause or exacerbate autism and other diseases and a doctor from Baton Rouge, La., who says that God spoke to her through an 87-year-old priest and told her that vaccines caused autism.
For more on the whole autism story, see here.

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