In Response to: Science Under Attack

Published online Oct. 23, 2017

You apparently chose not to print my letter criticizing what Seth Shostak ’65 has to say about autism (feature, March 22). In particular, he claims that “[t]here is overwhelming evidence that discredits any link between vaccines and autism.” On the contrary, a dramatic increase in autism diagnoses (from one in 5,000 to “estimates as high as one in 50”) corresponded with a switch by manufacturers from using animal cell lines to using human fetal cell lines in the manufacture of the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine.

The above is from the March 2015 issue of Dr. David Williams’ health newsletter, Alternatives. Dr. Williams is writing about a study by the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute in Seattle based on public databases. He cites the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology, September 2014, pages 271-86.

You identify Dr. Shostak as senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. While this sounds impressive, according to Eric Metaxas, “the odds of any planet being able to support life are one in ten to the fiftieth power.” Metaxas is writing in Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life (see pp. 43, 44).  The chapter is titled “Is Life a Miracle?” If Metaxas is right, Dr. Shostak is wasting his time and somebody’s money.

Hugh McPheeters ’64
St. Louis, Mo.