More "settled science"

vaccine.jpg

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, center, arrives with his wife, Carmel, at the General Medical Council in central London on January 28, 2010. A major British medical journal, The Lancet, on Tuesday retracted a flawed 1998 study by Wakefield linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism and bowel disease. (AFP/Getty Images photo by Shaun Curry / January 28, 2010)

I wince whenever I hear a politically motivated statement that we have to do such and such because we compelled by "settled science." We have to "believe" in global warming because it is "settled science." Even though it's not. We can't entertain even the slightest notion that having an abortion can be related to breast cancer because, again, it's "settled science," even though it's not.
Well, here's some more "settled science," the research that concluded that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are related to to autism and bowel disease. Now comes word that the study was so flawed that the British scientific journal that published it years ago is retracting it. But, in the meantime:

Since the controversial paper was published, British parents abandoned the vaccine in droves, leading to a resurgence of measles. Subsequent studies have found no proof that the vaccine is connected to autism, though some parents are still wary of the shot.


I don't know who is right; I'm not taking sides. It's a scientific question, although activists who don't trust vaccines have used the study for political purposes. And that's okay. My only point is that science isn't always as settled as liberal activists would have us believe in such matters as global warming and the abortion-breast cancer link. 

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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