It’s a tragic day. I have lost respect for Chuck Norris. Despite the ‘fact’ that the Big Bang only happened because Chuck Norris kicked it in the face, it appears Chuck has challenged science to a second round. But since his only weapon is the assertion that vaccines cause autism, I’m thinking science will win.
Now as far as I’m aware Chuck Norris isn’t an expert on autism. The article he’s written on the subject gives his credentials as ‘martial arts master, actor, and concerned citizen’. But as a concerned citizen it appears he hasn’t considered the possible downsides of fuelling scare stories about vaccines – like deaths from measles or other preventable childhood diseases.
The vast majority of scientists agree that vaccines don’t cause autism. Chuck even quotes the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) website on this point: “to date, the studies continue to show that vaccines are not associated with ASDs [autistic spectrum disorders].”
It seems a lot of people love a good conspiracy theory, and although the controversy over the MMR jab and autism has blown over in the UK after no link was found, the widening vaccine debate continues in the States. Even the CDC say they’re continuing research in this area because ‘some parents and others still have concerns’. This does make you wonder how many studies showing no link are necessary before people (like Chuck) will be convinced.
The force of public opinion is clearly strong in the face of scientific evidence on this topic. There was a great article in science journal Nature last week profiling Alison Singer, who resigned from the large research and advocacy group Autism Speaks when they decided to put more funding into vaccine research. She’s now set up the Autism Science Foundation, which is ‘putting science first’.
If only Chuck would do the same thing. He’s not a scientist and he’s not an expert on autism, and although he’s entitled to his opinion I don’t think he should be using his influence to scare parents. Questioning vaccination isn’t striking a blow for free speech, it’s spreading a conspiracy theory that has already killed children. Chuck Norris needs to pipe down.