Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

Don’t unintentionally fund an antivaccination front organization

Sometimes large corporations try to do the right thing, and I’m willing to give them credit for the good works. Many companies contribute to charities and organizations for which executives or employees have a special feeling.

Not an adverse event from vaccines.

Not an adverse event from vaccines.

But sometimes that doesn’t turn out so well. Last year, the fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A got into hot water when it was found contributing to same-sex marriage hate groups. Although it caused a firestorm amongst progressives and decent people, the right-wing religious types flocked to the restaurants to show their support. Eventually the CEO of the chain, S. Truett Cathy, decided to “shut up” about same-sex marriage, he still thinks it’s wrong. I’m not sure any of the kerfuffle about Chick-fil-A had a lasting effect, but people tried.

Recently, it has come to my attention that another restaurant chain is going to make a rather large donation to another group. It actually seemed like a laudable effort, but several people dug down below the surface, and found the effort a lot less praiseworthy.

On April 7, Chili’s, a chain of sit-down restaurants, is planning to contribute 10% of each guest’s check, across the USA, to an organization whose mission is to support the needs of the autism community. The reasons that Chili’s has chosen to do this are both noble and heartfelt, based on a viral story involving one of their restaurants. As opposed to what Chick-fil-A did, Chili’s seems to have their corporate heart (they must have hearts, cause they’re actually people) in the right place.

Unfortunately, this is where Chili’s went off the figurative rails. The money is all going to National Autism Association, whose website states, in the section that discusses causes of autism, the following:

While mainstream science discounts vaccinations as a cause, members of the National Autism Association feel vaccinations have triggered autism in a subset of children, and that an overly aggressive vaccination schedule coupled with toxic adjuvants in vaccines could affect individuals who have a family history of autoimmune disorders specifically. As with any medication, adverse events do happen, and vaccinations are no exception. Research to investigate, and reduce, adverse events in immunized individuals is currently nonexistent.

The National Autism Association believes: Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions.

There isn’t anything truthful or factual in that statement. The scientific consensus, the scientific fact is that vaccines are totally unrelated to autism. In study after study, researchers confirmed that there is no correlation, let alone causation, between immunizations and autism.

  • There is no known subset of children that can have autism triggered by vaccines. There is no evidence.
  • There is no evidence that an “overly aggressive vaccination schedule” leads to autism.
  • There is no evidence that “toxic adjuvants,” which are not toxic because the dosage is millions of times lower than what would be considered toxic, have an effect on the rate of autism.
  • In fact, there has been literally hundreds of studies that report research on the safety of vaccines, specifically with respect to autism.

Unless the science denying, ignorant fools at the National Autism Association have some secret study not based on anecdote and junk science, here’s the net effect of their lies–parents will read these fabrications, and decide not to vaccinate their children. Then more children will suffer from vaccine preventable disease. Which leads to more children dying of these preventable diseases. You connect the dots from the National Autism Association to a child dying of whooping cough–there aren’t that many dots.

There are several autism advocacy organizations, some run by autistic individuals, that either explicitly denounce any link between vaccines and autism, or completely ignore it: Autistic Self Advocacy NetworkAutism Women’s NetworkGRASPAutism Science Foundation, and Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. Of course, this is just a few, and if there are others that I missed, please leave me a comment or use the contact page, and I’ll update as necessary.

Giving charity to organizations that support research or advocate for autism is wonderful. I think it’s a great idea for Chili’s to do this. And I’m sure some Public Relations geek at Chili’s headquarters in Dallas, TX looked through various autism organizations and thought that the National Autism Association was as good as any other. But I guess that PR person didn’t know anything about the lies spread by some about vaccines. Or didn’t care. Or is actually antivaccine. Who knows? But this is a major mistake, and I won’t be going to Chili’s on April 7, and I hope anyone who reads this account will also refuse to do so. Then take 10% of the cost of whatever you eat on April 7, and send it to one of the groups above, they need it. And they won’t waste your money on trying to prove the scientifically ignorant belief that vaccines cause autism.

Visit the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.

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