A couple of weeks ago, after I published an article about new autism research, I got an email from a former colleague (at an earlier job — not here). She wanted to know if I had seen a particular news story about autism and included a link. I clicked on it and was taken to a shady-looking source that informed me that the Centers for Disease Control had withheld data from a 2004 study supporting a link between childhood vaccination and autism.
This conspiracy theory was new to me, but it’s apparently been making the rounds for a while. It annoyed Jeffrey Kluger, a science reporter at Time, and he put together a nicely done two-minute video debunking it. (Snopes has a more in-depth rundown of the rumor’s origin and history, if you’re interested.)
Given what we know about the psychology of conspiracy theories, it’s unlikely that hardened anti-vaccine folks will watch this video and see the error of their ways. But it’s still important to get this information out there as a means of inoculating (sorry) those who might come across “news stories” like the one my former colleague sent me for the first time.
Anti-vaccine hysteria has serious consequences, after all — just ask Los Angeles parents.