Note to Barack Obama

What are you doing spreading the lunacy about a link between vaccination and autism?

When you agree with John McCain on a scientific issue, you’re probably wrong.

On the supposed “autism-vaccine link” you’re definitely wrong, and helping to spread that false suspicion among parents will lead to deaths and crippling injuries.

Time for a quick statistics lesson and a quick backtrack.

Update Sigh. Turns out that HRC has said much the same thing. I suppose it would be undemocratic to make scientific and statistical literacy a pre-requisite for seeking the Presidency.

Second update

A reader asks:

When someone at a town hall says “My son has autism. What do you think of the thimerosal lawsuit?”, what is he supposed to say?

To which I answer that he’s supposed to say “I think that your son should have the best care money can buy without worrying about whose fault it was that he got sick. And I think it would be a terrible shame if some other kid was blinded by measles because his parents were afraid to give him the vaccine.”

A large part of the vaccine scare has to do with our lack of a decent social safety net. In its absence, the disabled children of non-wealthy parents can’t get all the help they need unless someone with deep pockets can be found to be at fault. That makes reasoned discussion nearly impossible. We need to disconnect care from fault-finding. Then we can talk sense. People will still be eager to find something external to blame, but at least that desire won’t have a financial support and a bunch of ambulance-chasers and their paid “experts” to stir it up.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: