Thursday, 10 November 2011

Oh Chuck...

Remember how great we all thought Chuck Norris was? Remember all the jokes and posters? Remember how we laughed that "Chuck Norris is so tough that..."

Well it turns out that it's all a big sham and Chuck Norris appears to have been beaten around the head and left bruised and bloodied by the Andrew Wakefield stupidity stick. In his column for the 'Human Events' website which boasts "More powerful conservative voices" Norris seems determined to drag up the link between vaccinations and autism yet again. Despite the fact that it has been over ten years since this idea first hit the headlines. Despite the fact that Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of serious misconduct and using un-scientific methods in his findings and struck off the medical register. Many people still believe that there is a strong link between the MMR (or all) childhood vaccinations and the onset of autism. It begins to feel a bit like Groundhog day every time some celebrity who doesn't have two brain cells to rub together weighs in.

I'm not saying people shouldn't be questioning and sceptical about what they or their children are being vaccinated with. I'm the complete opposite I think a good dose of healthy scepticism would keep people on the right track. What I have a problem with is someone taking Chuck Norris' word over people who are qualified to to their jobs and reams and reams of data from experts in cell biology, biochemistry or toxicology. Chuck Norris may be a master in martial arts but he is no doctor. A wise man once said "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and Norris, like Jenny McCarthy has just enough knowledge to be very dangerous. Norris maintains that Mercury in Thimerisol used in vaccines is what can cause disorders on the autism spectrum. I'm not going to go in to the ins and outs of why this is not the case. Even if it were many states in the US have removed Thimerisol from their vaccinations and yet instances of autism continue to rise.
This is scaremongering to a most dangerous degree. With every medical procedure we have to take a risk however big or small. If you have a tooth pulled there's a chance that your jaw may get broken, if you have an anaesthetic you risk nerve damage and if you have a vaccination the same stands there's risks involved. BUT with every medical procedure we weigh up the minuscule chance of something bad happening versus the good that will come of getting the procedure done. In the case of MMR the child has a small, completely unproven risk of developing autism or has the much bigger and more dangerous risk of developing a lethal disease. The current generation has little experience with disease because the majority were vaccinated in the eighties. In the last number of years diseases like measles, mumps and rubella are on the rise in a big way. The way we have obliterated many of the world's diseases is through vaccine and now it looks as if some people want to bring them back again.

As I said a healthy dose of critical thinking and scepticism is a good thing but I would prefer if people looked to legitimate sources rather than a self professed "Martial arts master, actor, and concerned citizen" with no medical training whatsoever.

The Chuck Norris article is here: and for further reading on the MMR/Wakefield/autism debate, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure by Paul Offit.

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