Science hasn't told us what causes autism. However, it told us without question that the vaccine myth wasn't real. Secondary research brought up many questions. This is peer review at its finest, serving its role in filtering out questionable results. Other researchers were unable to reproduce his results, because they were not scientifically sound. Because one team published false results, there is a threat out there that we must examine with fresh eyes. It is better to hold out for the right answer than to accept the wrong one out of fear or impatience. By working together and circulating peer-reviewed knowledge instead of conspiracy theories that don't hold up to scrutiny, we can play our part in helping. The scientific community can then battle the disease and stop taking time out to break it down for people who are unable or unwilling to do their own research. Their job is to save the world, not boil it into a user-friendly diagram for public consumption. We have an obligation to be savvy enough to interpret their findings and analyze them on our own. That's why they taught you all that sciencey gobbledygook in school.
The media and people seeking fame have pandered to those who wanted to hear "you were right all along" and "here is secret knowledge that others don't have" because it gives people false empowerment when worried. It tempts them to take the answer that's in front of them instead of risking it all to get the answer that holds up to testing and review by the world's most brilliant minds. It is a seductive lie that promises everything and delivers nothing, because until a solution passes the scientific community's standards it cannot be implemented in medicine and used to improve lives. The anti-vaccine movement has misled millions. There's nothing we can do about that except renew efforts to discover truth and facts that move us in the right direction. Scientifically. Not through John's Conspiracy Blog or Martha's Underground Information Center. I've seen those emails. They make me shudder.
"Science once told us the earth was flat," some people inevitably say as ass-backwards justification for ignoring science (while telling you about how they are scientifically correct). Not so. People once told us the earth was flat because they wouldn't listen to scientific observation. People once told us that sneezes were demons and that our planet was the center of the universe. Science told us about why we sneeze, shown us the depth and measurable dimensions of our planet and its relation to the universe, and has explained the rules that govern how planets orbit their stars. Science triumphs over man's false assumptions because one is law and the other is rumor. It hurts our pride occasionally, but in the end we come out knowing the truth of how something works, and mankind benefits from that knowledge. Galileo had an epic neener-neener moment that surely felt great, but don't underestimate the benefit to the generations who were able to take that knowledge and run with it, and not have to recreate the wheel every few decades. That is the power of science and knowledge.
People test scientific principles in classes and labs every day. That's how it should be. That's the point, and when it weeds out a conclusion and the author admits he is a liar, that's a sure sign that we need to continue looking and not be hasty in declaring something as fact. This debacle is a cautionary tale that will haunt science for centuries.
Someday, if we get out of its way and listen to what it is trying to tell us, science will tell us the truth about how we can really lower the risk of autism and better treat the people who suffer from it. The truth won't do us any good if it's lost in a hysterical babble of urban legends and invalid theories.
To believe an admitted liar over thousands of professionals whose livelihoods depend on their accuracy is insane. Right now the denial and ignorance of some are hindering the scientific community's ability to confront and eventually diagnose the problem. It's not like scientists won't continue to explore the possible links between autism and vaccinations, but since there are huge flaws in the theory let's not jump to conclusions and tell people the world is flat, thereby hindering the very people who are working to save us.
With billions of lives at stake, we can't afford to let ego and fear outweigh reasoning and knowledge. If a person can't understand that the world is at risk from outbreaks and mutations of diseases we once all but eradicated, they are an enemy of the issue. As we overcrowd and travel we have created the perfect storm for a global infection. That should keep us awake at night, not fears based on a lie that fell apart upon examination.