It has also been said that if you put a group of idiots in a room, allow them to exchange ideas, they will all come out of the room more convinced with the validity of their idiotic views than ever before. Rubbish in, rubbish out.
There were crusades, alchemists, witch hunts, and more recently, market bubbles. The most recent example of such madness is this: The vaccine/autism scare - people have stopped their children from getting vaccine shots due to fears of autism developing in their children.
Excerpts from the DISCOVER piece " Why Does the Vaccine/Autism Controversy Live On? "
How it all began
"The decadelong vaccine-autism saga began in 1998, when British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues published evidence in The Lancet suggesting they had tracked down a shocking cause of autism. Examining the digestive tracts of 12 children with behavioral disorders, nine of them autistic, the researchers found intestinal inflammation, which they pinned on the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Wakefield had a specific theory of how the MMR shot could trigger autism: The upset intestines, he conjectured, let toxins loose in the bloodstream, which then traveled to the brain. The vaccine was, in this view, effectively a poison. In a dramatic press conference, Wakefield announced the findings and sparked an instant media frenzy. For the British public, a retreat from the use of the MMR vaccine—and a rise in the incidence of measles—began."
The evidence against the link
"The strongest argument against the idea that thimerosal poisoned a generation of children does not emerge from the body of published studies alone. There is the added detail that although thimerosal is no longer present in any recommended childhood vaccines save the inactivated influenza vaccine—and hasn’t been, beyond trace amounts, since 2001—no one is hailing the end of autism. “If you thought thimerosal was related to autism, then the incidence of autism should have gone down,” Harvard’s McCormick explains. “And it hasn’t.”
In 2005 David Kirby stated that if autism rates didn’t begin to decline by 2007, “that would deal a severe blow to the autism-thimerosal hypothesis.” But as McCormick notes, despite the absence of thimerosal in vaccines, reports of autism cases have not fallen. In a 2008 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry, two researchers studying a California Department of Developmental Services database found that the prevalence of autism had actually continued increasing among the young. Kirby concedes that these findings about the California database represent a “pretty serious blow to the thimerosal-causes-autism hypothesis,” though he does not think they thoroughly bury it. In an interview, he outlined many problems with relying on the California database, suggesting potential confounding factors such as the state’s high level of immigration. “Look, I understand the desire to try to end this and not scare parents away from vaccination,” Kirby says. “But I also feel that sometimes that desire to prove or disprove blinds people on both sides.”"The effects of the scare
"Disease, however, is the greatest danger associated with holding back vaccines amid the ongoing investigation of dubious claims. Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated populations are placed at greater risk. Given enough vaccine exemptions and localized outbreaks, it is possible that largely vanquished diseases could become endemic again. (That is precisely what happened with measles in 2008 in the U.K., following the retreat from the MMR vaccine in the wake of the 1998 scare.) The public-health costs of such a development would be enormous—and they would not impact everyone equally. “If vaccine rates start to drop, who’s going to get affected?” Peter Hotez asks. “It’s going to be people who live in poor, crowded conditions. So it’s going to affect the poorest people in our country.”"
"The Internet has become a haven for a number of autism support groups that continually reinforce the vaccine-autism argument. This has led to the radicalization of some elements who have denounced scientists as “vaccine barbarians,” “pharmaceutical and medical killers,” and so on. And after all we have heard about environmental and chemical risks—some accurate, some not—people are now easily persuaded about all manner of toxin dangers."