No, Virginia, there s still no vaccine-autism link

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vaccThere seems to be new excitement in the world of vaccine-autism conspirators. As explained in a masterful debunking essay by Dr. David Gorski on the blog, Science-Based Medicine, the Internet abounds with new evidence that the CDC purposefully hid evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and an increased risk of autism in African-American boys.

Dr. Gorski presents a scientific analysis of claims by conspiracy theorists, in particular the supposed confession of a CDC whistle-blower that supports this claim. Their evidence includes a nearly 10 minute video, narrated by none other than Andrew Wakefield whose Lancet article on the supposed link got the ball rolling back in 1998. Of course, that paper has since been retracted and Wakefield s co-authors have also removed their names from it.

Supposedly, the video presents the whistle-blower s laments about his guilt in taking part in the cover-up; but we never see him speaking about it. Instead, a Dr. Hooker quotes him, and is shown speaking with someone on the phone about the issue. Further, Dr. Hooker says that he re-analyzed data from a 2004 paper published in the journal Pediatrics that demonstrated the lack of a vaccine-autism link. And Hooker said his analysis showed a significant link, but only in African-American boys.

In fact, Gorski says, Hooker s analysis was incorrectly performed, using inappropriate statistical methodology, and proves nothing. And there s more, much more, about the individuals involved in this hoax.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava comments It s truly amazing how far these folks will go to substantiate a worthless hypothesis. David Gorski s analysis is surely a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how misleading information is promulgated and becomes part of the supposed evidence for those who wish to mislead the public.