Today's NYT profiles Dr. Paul Offit, author of Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. His book is a fervent and detailed defense of childhood vaccination. For daring to challenge the "vaccines cause autism" crowd, he's been tarred a a "terrorist" and labeled "Dr. Proffit," which only shows how urgently his message was needed.
Dr. Offit's book, published in September by Columbia University Press, has been widely endorsed by pediatricians, autism researchers, vaccine companies and medical journalists who say it sums up, in layman's language, the scientific evidence for vaccines and forcefully argues that vulnerable parents are being manipulated by doctors promoting false cures and lawyers filing class-action suits.
"Opponents of vaccines have taken the autism story hostage," Dr. Offit said. "They don't speak for all parents of autistic kids, they use fringe scientists and celebrities, they've set up cottage industries of false hope, and they're hurting kids. Parents pay out of their pockets for dangerous treatments, they take out second mortgages to buy hyperbaric oxygen chambers. It's just unconscionable."
In addition to providing intellectual ammunition for vaccination advocates, Dr. Offit has also helped recruit celebrities to the cause. According to the NYT article, he helped convert actress Amanda Peet to the cause. (Take that, Jenny McCarthy!)