Attempting to answer the enormous frustration and unhappiness of parents "tired of watching their autistic children improve at rates so slow it's hard to tell if they are improving at all," pediatrics professor and vaccine researcher Offit explores purported causes and cures. Examining false approaches like facilitated communication ("a massive, nationwide delusion") and secretin injections ("no better than salt water"), and mistaken theories of origin (the MMR vaccine, thimerosol), Offit pleads with journalists to resist the lure of "dramatic headlines, advertising dollars, and ratings" rather than report an unconfirmed or untrustworthy study. The only worthwhile studies, Offit purports, are those meeting three criteria: "transparency of the funding source, internal consistency of the data, and reproducibility of the findings." Overall, Offit's text seems unbalanced: though he takes on the "$40-billion-a-year" alternative medicine industry, he's largely silent on the much larger pharmaceutical industry; and after 10 chapters of debunking the "false prophets," there's just one brief chapter on what is known about autism causes and cures. A thorough and convincing debunker, however, Offit will likely leave parents still hunting for information, albeit better armed to find it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the
Every child has a right to be vaccinated against deadly diseases. We started Every Child By Two to protect children from diseases. It didn't occur to me that I would also have to protect them from misinformation about life-saving vaccines. Paul A. Offit's book sets the facts straight.
(Rosalynn Carter, former first lady, cofounder of Every Child By Two)
Autism's False Prophets is a compelling story of heartbroken parents, understandably desperate for an explanation of autism, being taken in by false hopes unsupported by genuine science. This book goes to the heart of a question that affects every aspect of American culture and political life. Are public policies to be determined by evidence and reason or by emotions that, however intense they may be, have nothing to do with reality?
(Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason
A definitive analysis of a dangerous and unnecessary controversy that has put the lives of children at risk. Paul A. Offit shows how bad science can take hold of the public consciousness and lead to personal decisions that endanger the health of small children. Every parent who has doubts about the wisdom of vaccinating their kids should read this book.
(Peter C. Doherty, Ph.D., St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and Nobel Laureate in Medicine for fundamental contributions in Immunology)
In his latest book Paul A. Offit unfolds the story of autism, infectious diseases, and immunization that has captivated our attention for the last decade. His lively account explores the intersection of science, special interests, and personal courage. It is provocative reading for anyone whose life has been touched by the challenge of autism spectrum disorders.
(Susan K. Klein, MD, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve Hospital, and Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Case Medical Center)
[A] thoughtful and readable study.
(Library Journal (starred review)
Enlightening, highly readable and... timely.
(Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. Salon.com
Arguably the most courageous and most knowledgeable scientist about vaccines in the United States.
(Robert Goldberg New York Post
[Dr. Offit] has done a huge public service by exposing the tragic and dangerous place the anti-vaccine hysteria has taken us.
(Huntly Collins Philadelphia Inquirer
An invaluable chronicle that relates some of the many ways in which the vulnerabilities of anxious parents have been exploited.
(Linda Seebach Wall Street Journal
A good read and an important piece of work.
(Lisa Jo Rudy About.com
More than a book about a disease, it is an ode to uncorrupted science and a cautionary tale that data alone is never enough.
[Offit] provides important insight into the fatal flaws of the key arguments of vaccine alarmists.
A very good read.
(Dom Giordano The Bulletin
A sobering indictment.
(Isabelle Rapin, M.D. Neurology Today
A fascinating read... Eloquently and clearly written.
(Stan L. Block, MD Infectious Diseases in Children
A very helpful book for both medical personnel and parents.
(The New England Journal of Medicine
The book is a fantastic read. I recommend it to all physicians and their patients and families.
(Brian Alverson, MD Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine
This is a powerful book which should be read by all professionals working in the area ofmedicine.
(Michael Fitzgerald Social History of Medicine
Paul A. Offit is one of the most respected scientists and clinicians in a field of vital importance to public health.
(Patricia M. Rodier BioScience
[This] book doesn't just show that the anti-vaccine activists are wrong; it attempts to explain why, in our culture, they tend to win.
(Jason Fagone Philadelphia Magazine
Detailed but easily readable... should be required reading for any parents who are considering denying vaccination to their children.
(Communication: The Magazine of the National Autistic Society
Arguably the most detailed and thorough history available of the current anti-vaccine movement.
(Roy Richard Grinker Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[A] must-read... it will keep pediatricians and pediatric neurologists awake over the nightmarish possibilities of pseudoscience in the 21st century.
(Roger A. Brumback, M.D. Journal of Child Neurology
The vast range of professionals who may be enriched, professionally, by the book's contents extends to: psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, neuroscientists, speech pathologists, pediatricians, primary care physicians, geneticists, virologists, immunologists, vaccine experts, nurses, infectious disease experts, internists, gastroenterologists, epidemiologists, public health professionals, special education teachers, bioethicists, biochemists, biologists, biostatisticians, endocrinologists, pharmacists, pharmacologists, pharmaceutical industry professionals, health policy makers, journalists, politicians, and trial lawyers.
(Leo Uzych Metapsychology
Seeking to help readers realize the truth about Autism, Autism's False Prophets is a much need read, not to be missed.
(Midwest Book Review