By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D.
Published: July 1, 2013
When Dr. Paul A. Offit published “Autism’s False Prophets” in 2008, he elected to skip the usual round of book signings. His defense of childhood vaccinations so enraged some people who consider them a cause of autism that he was getting credible death threats.
Sonny Figueroa/The New York Times
Others might have chosen to flee the public arena after that, but not Dr. Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, whose appetite for the good fight seems only to have grown. Over the last decade he has become a leading debunker of mass misconceptions surrounding infections and vaccines, and now he is taking on the entire field of alternative medicine, from acupuncture to vitamins.
This territory is not all that far from his usual stomping grounds; some of vaccination’s rabid opponents are enthusiastic supporters of unconventional medical interventions. Nor has Dr. Offit’s own stance changed: He speaks for rational, scientific medicine (and medicines) whose efficacy has been confirmed in impartial, reproducible clinical trials. Everything else, no matter how venerable, highly recommended or self-evidently 100 percent terrific, he places on the spectrum between unproved and dangerous…..