Parents everywhere ponder the question, what causes autism in young children? Since the early 1990s it has been debated whether or not vaccines are to blame for being the causal effect of autism. Numerous studies have been conducted to prove this theory true or false; however, many parents are still fighting the courts that vaccines caused autism in their children. Furthermore, more babies are not getting vaccinated due to the increasing scare being presented on the media about vaccines. The vaccine-autism controversy is the central issue in Jeffrey S. Gerber’s and Paul A. Offits’ article “Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses” as well as in Andy Coghlan’s article “Vaccines May Have Triggered Autism-Like Symptoms, US Court Rules.”
Gerber and Offits clearly argue that science proves vaccines are not the link to autism. They state three proposed hypotheses about how vaccines cause autism in their introduction and then follow up with numerous studies disproving each of the three hypotheses in their body paragraphs. Coghlan’s article does not come straight out and state that vaccines cause autism; nevertheless, he uses a real-life example of a two-year old girl who received multiple vaccinations, developed autism-like symptoms, and is now being compensated by the U.S. Court for her disabilities due to the vaccines.
In “Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses,” the title says a lot about the central issues in the article. The writers provide the three main hypotheses that are presented when arguing the vaccine-autism controversy, they are stated by Gerber and Offits as follows:
(1) the combination measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism by damaging the intestinal lining, which allows the entrance of encephalopathic proteins; (2) thimerosal, an ethylmercury-containing preservative in some vaccines, is toxic to the central nervous system; and (3) the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system (456).
The writers then talk about the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal to help readers better understand what is being injected into babies and children. Then, as their argumentative strategy the authors disprove all three hypotheses by discussing ecological studies, retrospective, observational studies, and cohort studies that have been conducted to show that vaccines are not the link to autism.
By presenting the hypotheses and then disproving each of them with scientific studies, the authors’ argumentative strategies are extremely strong. When using science to back up an argument it makes readers more trusting to that side of the debate. On the contrary, Gerber and Offits do not provide any studies where a child developed autism shortly after getting vaccinated. If they had used a case study to disprove why a vaccine was not the link to autism in the child in that study, it would have strengthened their writing that much more. Nevertheless, their argumentative...