Autism and Vaccines: Does A Correlation Exist?


I decided to look further into the debate on the correlation between vaccines and autism in children. I reviewed the following articles, looking at what evidence they used to support their claims, and commenting on any logical fallacies, or praising the solid evidence found within the article rather than unsupported claims.

This article doesn't really give a clear answer to whether vaccines cause autism. However, they do bring up points that support the idea that vaccines do not cause autism. For example, it is believed that thimerosal, a chemical in vaccines, is the cause of autism. However, Denmark removed this chemical from it's vaccines in 1992 and they still see a rise in their autism rates. There have also been studies that have been deemed frauds relating the link of vaccines and autism such as Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study in 1998, where he was found to have falsified data. Interestingly enough, the article discusses the confirmation bias on the last page, and how many people believe that vaccines cause autism because they will only believe information that supports their viewpoint, despite the evidence supporting the hypothesis that vaccines do not cause autism.

This article holds the point that vaccines do play a role in the increasing autism rates. The article is rather non-specific and lacks connections to research. For example, "A U.S. study found that children who received vaccines containing a preservative called thimerosal, which is almost 50 percent mercury, were more than twice as likely to develop autism than children who did not. " This quote doesn't, unlike the previous article, have a study name or the people that ran the article, leading the reader to believe that it is a fact without having any solid evidence to support it, while just having a very hazy explanation. The article is trying to show that since autism rates are rising, and thimerosal is being injected into children at higher levels due to more vaccinations, that the rising rates cause autism. This is an example of what we have learned to be careful to believe, just because there is a correlation does not necessarily mean that there is a causation between the two.

The third article that I found interesting because the author is deeming that people who are afraid that vaccines cause autism have an irrational fear. He doesn't support his claims with much evidence, other than that he did quite a bit of research that he doesn't conclude. But he touches on the believability of all people, and how the cause is a pseudoscientific belief. An interesting example that he included in his article was how a past playboy playmate wrote a book about how she had a "mommy instinct" that her son's autism was caused by a vaccine, and how that was a New York Times Bestseller. I think that this demonstrates how easily persuaded the public is and how easily it is to fall into the claims of others without any solid evidence supporting their claims.


First of all, I think this is a very interesting topic to investigate. If, in fact, there was efficient evidence to support the claim that some vaccines caused autism, it would definitely be alerting to all families with young children. It looks to me though, after reading your summary of the articles, that much of the hypotheses and claims do not have substantial evidence backing them up. This, in turn, leads me to assume that while there may be a correlation between vaccines and autism in children, it is very unlikely that vaccines actually cause autism, just like you said. I almost wish that more people would be aware of the concepts we are learning in psychology, the difference between an actual scientific hypothesis or just a "pseudoscientific" claim. Most likely, there would be far less misunderstandings and we would have more intelligent and independent people.

This is a really interesting topic and I have always been under the impression that there was a correlation between vaccines and autism but from what you have found it seems like there is not much strong evidence to support this idea. I think there needs to be a lot more research done before I make any further assumptions.

This is a topic that has been of great debate in the past years, personally I've never really believed that they were correlated, however I do understand why many people would fall into the trap of believing it since it is something that has been portrayed to be true in the media. The fact that there is no solid evidence of the correlation between vaccines and autism makes me believe that this is just an illusory correlation. More research has to be done before we can know for certain if there is any correlation between vaccines and Autism, although at the moment it seems like there isn't.

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This page contains a single entry by fries126 published on January 30, 2012 6:55 PM.

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