Taking Sides: Is There a Link Between Vaccination and Autism?

  1. 1.      What is the major thesis, or point, of the Yes side?

The major thesis of the yes side is that immunizations can cause autism. When a group of officials gathered at the Simpsonwood Conference Center in Norcross, Georgia they discussed recent findings that vaccines containing mercury based preservatives, thimerosal, was responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and other neurological disorders among children.

  1. 2.      What is the major thesis, or point, of the No side?

The major hypothesis of the no side is that immunizations cannot cause autism. The author things the correlation of the two is simply a coincidence. The author believes the evidence against the government is just a conspiracy theory and they are basically trying to scare people. He believes that mercury is harmful to humans but does not have any correlation to autism.

3. Briefly state in your own words two facts presented by the Yes side.

What the yes side said about the estimated number of autism cases seems to be factual. On the first page it says “the estimated number of cases of autism has increased fifteen fold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in every 166 children. It also seems factual that studies have shown that mercury tends to accumulate in the brains of primates and other animals after they are injected with vaccines.  It includes that fact that infant’s brains are even more susceptible to the mercury poisoning than the animals are.

  1. 4.      Briefly state in your own words two facts presented by the No side.


The author states science has proven that mercury is bad for our bodies. In sufficient doses, mercury kills cells that it contacts causing neurological damage in humans and other animals. Another fact that the other article fails to mention is that ethylmercury, which is a breakdown product of thimerosal, is not the same thing as methylmercury. High doses of methylmercury can produce renal and neurological damage. Ethylmercury is expelled quickly from the body and it does not accumulate like methylmercury.

5. Briefly state in your own words two opinions presented by the Yes side. The major thesis cannot be used as one opinion.

It is an opinion when the author says “In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children’s health.” It is also opinion when the author says “the story of how government health agencies colluded with the pharmacy companies to hide the risk or thimerosal from the public is a chilling case study of institutional arrogance, power and greed.” He is really trying to make the companies look like they didn’t care if the public got sick or died as long as they made money.

6. Briefly state in your own words two opinions presented by the No side. The major thesis cannot be used as one opinion.

When the author says, “Despite these negative findings and the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, parents, politicians and health professionals remain alarmed that children are at risk” it is his opinion.  He is saying that parents should not be alarmed because there is no problem. He does not have proof that it is not a problem so that is his opinion. It is also his opinion when he says, “It could very well be that any relationship between vaccination and diagnosis is purely coincidental.” He does know for a fact that it is a coincidence.

7. Identify a fallacy, or a misleading statement, on the Yes side. Explain why you think it’s a fallacy or misleading statement.

It is really misleading and maybe even a fallacy to say that the executives at Simpsonwood spend the next two days trying to figure out how to cover up the findings. Again this makes it seem like the government doesn’t care if people die or get sick. The author is trying to scare the public into believe his side.  It is also misleading to say that Bill Frist slipped another provision into an anti-terrorism bill that would deny compensation to children suffering for vaccine-related brain disorders. He is still trying to scare the people that the government is out to get them. These statements may be factual but is using them in a way that makes them very bias and misleading.

8. Identify a fallacy, or a misleading statement, on the No side. Explain why you think it’s a fallacy or misleading statement.

It is misleading when the author says that there are ongoing class action lawsuits against the manufactures of vaccines. He says “These lawsuits could potentially endanger the production and distribution of effective vaccines…” This might scare people into thinking they may not get the vaccines they need if they protest against the companies, which is misleading. It is also misleading when he says that one study even shows benefits of thimerosal. That is just one study out of many. It could also not be a very reliable study but he is using it as fact and that can be misleading.

9. Which side (Yes or No) do you personally feel is most correct now that you have reviewed the material in these articles? Why?

Overall I feel the no side is the most correct because I believe the yes side uses a lot of scare tactics and doesn’t have very solid facts. The no side presents good facts and takes away some of the scary accusations that the yes side presents. The no side was more logical to me even though it did have its flaws.

10. Overall, which author impressed you as being the most empirical in presenting his or her thesis? (That is, which author appeared to rely most on scientific findings, as opposed to unsupported statements?)

Overall I was most impressed by Normand and Dallery. They seemed to have more logical information without trying to scare the public into believing their side. I really didn’t like how Kennedy kept bringing up government cover-ups because it made his story sound like he was trying to prove a conspiracy theory. The no side had facts that it seemed like the yes side ignored and they also addressed most of the issues the yes side had with the vaccines. When the no side brings up the different kinds of mercury it really showed me that the yes side neglected some facts.

11. For the author that you think relied more on unsupported statements and less on scientific findings, (that is, the less empirical author) please describe a possible reason for why they may be biased in their opinion.

The author may be bias in their opinions because they know a child with autism or have some other issue with the drug companies. The author also may have just wanted to present his data in a way that proved serious consequences so it would get noticed. He really seemed to be pushing a conspiracy theory and that really made the information less reliable to me.


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