28 November 2012

Good call from an Aussie judge

Here’s a fine example of scientific literacy, or at least a proper respect for medical science, in our legal system. An Australian judge refused to accept a mother’s belief in homeopathy and ordered that her 8-year-old daughter be vaccinated with real vaccines.

From the news report:

A doctor in homeopathic medicine told the court that homeopathic vaccination was safe and effective, whereas traditional vaccination had short- and long-term risks, including a link to ADHD and autism. 
But Justice Bennett accepted the evidence of a doctor at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, who said there was insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathic immunisation to justify its replacement of traditional immunisation. 
The links to ADHD and autism had been disproved by studies in Scandinavia, France and the United States, the doctor said. 
Justice Bennett said the risks associated with traditional immunisation did not outweigh the risks of infection. 
“It appears to me that the efficacy of homeopathic vaccines in preventing infectious diseases has not been adequately scientifically demonstrated,” she said.

Science = 1. Woo = 0.

I do have one quibble though: the reference to “traditional” immunisation makes it seem like vaccination is merely a ‘tradition’ passed down uncritically, rather than the scientifically proven practice that it is.

Even though a poorly-designed government scheme makes taxpayers subsidise anti-vaxers, the judge’s decision gives me hope that Australians are generally unsympathetic to anti-vaccination ideology. The poll included in the article and the comments below it are also encouraging. Great to see so many people showing strong critical thinking skills and an understanding of epidemiology and immunology. Homeopathy also gets the drubbing it deserves.

It’s sad that the legal system has to intervene in order to protect children from their own parents. But when those parents swallow dangerous ideas hook, line and sinker, this intervention becomes necessary.


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