Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Blink 6: Beaten to it.

I was planning a nice short entry in my "In the Blink of a Sceptical I" series to start me back after being MIA in Essayland - this one about the preposterous claim that vaccines cause autism. They don't. The "rise" in autism is a statistical anomaly caused by broadening definitions, greater vigilance and improving detection methods.

However, while reading through my week's worth of RSS updates, I found that I had been beaten to it on this score. Rebbecca Watson of Skepchick.org - a woman with whom, it seems, I am more deeply enamoured every time she blogs - explains it all on her parody Crap-Based Medicine blog:

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

She has such a way with words.

Substantial post to follow sometime in the next few days.


sm_rusconi said...

"The "rise" in autism is a statistical anomaly caused by broadening definitions, greater vigilance and improving detection methods."

Yikes, I never thought about it like that before. Thanks for that. Haha

Andrew said...

I remember the Skeptics' Guide where she mentioned she was single. I think half the male audience started calculating travel times to Boston.

Asclepius said...

Online fantasies aside. Another factor in the 'rise in autism' is simple growth of population. Very rarely do I see statistics that account for this. Usually its just 'there were x cases of autism in the UK in 2000 there are now x*y'. The statistics are unrealistic. if you vaccinate 1000 more babies this year and a random number of them develop autism how does that relate to the MMR vaccine? surly there must be other common factors between these babies. hell basic genetics would explain it.

Darkwinter said...

@Asclepius: I was unaware that the stats hadn't taken population growth into account - if this is the case it's a shocking example of bad data interpretation. You'd think it would be a fundamental consideration built into their formulae.

@Andrew: The thought crossed my mind. Then I remembered my girlfriend is at least as awesome as Ms Watson, and laughed a cheerful and hearty laugh.

@sm_rusconi: I'm finding it hard to interpret your comment in regards to sarcasm. The lack of tone in text-only communication is a constant niggle. Also, your profile's claim that you have a broad mean streak suggests to me that sarcasm may have been present. I do hope not - it would be nice to have another commenter on here who's not just going to shout "boo!" from the cheap seats.