I had a discussion with a colleague about a disclaimer I had added to the bottom of the review of the Pediatrics Thimerosal study. In that disclaimer I mentioned that the overwhelming evidence disputes the vaccine-autism relationship. Although most researchers agree with that statement, two things prompted me to delete that note from the post. First, with that statement I did not intend to declare an advocacy position. To the contrary, the statement was made in the context of a commentary regarding the role of “beliefs” in science. Specifically, I stated that what I believe doesn’t really matter, because “beliefs” rapidly turn into blind faith, even amongst scientists. Instead, good science only occurs when positions are flexible and reflective only of the status of the research (data) at any given time. Second, the addition of that particular disclaimer went beyond a discussion of the results and possible interpretation of the data presented in that particular study. This departed significantly from the spirit of the Translating Research Project, and for that I apologize (thank you to the 2 readers who brought this to my attention). Therefore, I’m committed to preserving the spirit and purpose of this blog: To review the latest findings in the nature, causes, and treatments of autism spectrum disorders and translate these findings into information that is useful to parents, educators, and clinicians; and I seek to do this while distancing myself, and all blogs belonging to the Translating Research Project, from any advocacy position.

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2 Responses to About Science and faith-based advocacy.

  1. A very helpful post. Everyone who comments on science and autism issues should read this.

  2. jprapp says:

    You may have a concatenation of reasons – ethical, research, personal preference, time constraints, policy-political, legal, philosophical/naturalistic divide – for reserving judgment or holding to neutrality on these matters. Composing predictions for cooperative praxis between faith and medical science is a notoriously hoary risk.

    Faith-based agents ought to take stock of the meaning of good-faith in interactions with science.

    But, neutrality is a slippery concept to apply in praxis. We’re all responsible for our convicted-positions. There’s no evading personal responsibility.

    Hopefully, enough generosity of inference/deference could be attained, so that faith-based and research agents could have constructive debates on policy, if not patient care, much like partners in a law firm have in-house sessions of robust, vigorous case-testing of their own cases (not just their adversary’s case) before taking cases to court. The ethic of case-testing protects the client: not practitioners’ egos.

    In the case of autism, the patient with the condition is the common client. And patient simultaneously.

    Which is a horrible irony, really, because the term “client” means to speak in such a way as to cause practitioners — all of them — to hearken.

    All the more reason to consider optimal efforts at collaborative praxis.

    Cheers,

    Jim

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