The Instigator
surfride
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
Spaztoid
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points

Vaccines do not cause autism.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2010 Category: Health
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,405 times Debate No: 12204
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (4)

 

surfride

Pro

My basic position is this: vaccines do not cause autism. Since no evidence has ever been presented to support the supposition that they do cause autism other than the severely flawed studies of the now ex-doctor Andrew Wakefield, it must naturally be assumed that there is no connection until one is proven. Conditions for this debate: I do not want an opponent who is just going to rattle off a ton of second hand anecdotal evidence about someone whose child went to the doctor and now is autistic. Sources should be cited and reputable, published papers are great, newspaper articles are fine if they cite a reasonable source. No editorials, please please please do not link to the Age of Autism blog or whale.to. I will literally cry. That is all, good luck!
Spaztoid

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for this debate, it will be a good debate.

Before I begin, I would like to preface all of my arguments with the knowledge that I do not believe in anyway that vaccines do cause autism, and that I do not have a son/daughter or sibling that has supposedly contracted autism from vaccines.

=====Arguments=====

The resolution, as stated, is "Vaccines do not cause autism." It is my opponents burden of proof to demonstrate that vaccines do not cause autism and that they can not cause autism. My opponent has yet to provide any evidence supporting his position, therefore his position is negated until he can provide any information to support his position.
Debate Round No. 1
surfride

Pro

Thank you for accepting. Unfortunately for my opponent, the burden of proof in fact lies upon him to present evidence to the contrary. Let's say for example that I were to say that orbiting between Pluto and Neptune is a china teapot, that cannot be observed by any instruments we currently have on earth or by any of our satellites. Is the burden of proof on me to prove that it does in fact exist, or on those who may be skeptical to disprove? Of course, the burden of proof is generally on the person seeking to positively prove something, because to actually prove a negative is impossible.

Let's explore this further. Let's say that I am arrested in a country where I am assumed guilty until proven innocent, on the crime of being a drug dealer. The prosecutor asks me to prove that I am NOT a drug dealer. Naturally, there is absolutely no way to prove this. I don't have video of every moment of my life, nor a transcript of my every action or conversation. In short, there is no way for me to thoroughly disprove the fact that I am a drug dealer, because even though I may know that I have never dealt drugs in my life, I cannot show evidence that proves I have never done it.

Burden of proof does not necessarily lie with the person making a claim. Rather, it is on the person that makes a positive claim. To argue that vaccines cause autism and then demand that vaccine makers prove that no vaccine causes autism is a faulty argument. Since no POSITIVE evidence has been produced in favor of the theory, it cannot be considered valid. Although accepting the status quo is absolutely not part of science, it is good science to demand that claims be supported by evidence, rather than making claims and demanding that others provide evidence where you have none.

To restate in brief: A negative is impossible to prove, and thus the burden of proof lies with con to provide positive evidence of a link between autism and vaccines.
Spaztoid

Con

=====Rebuttals=====
While I thank my opponent for his hypothetical scenarios, they are non-topical and therefore irrelevant. This is a debate, one in which my opponent made a claim which he has not backed up. It is his burden of proof to show some evidence stating that autism is not caused and cannot be caused by vaccines. It is my burden, as Con, to simply negate my opponents claim. Until my opponent brings forth evidence backing his claim his claim is assumed invalid, and thus I win.

However, to indulge my opponent's previous round, I will address a few errors in his arguments.

My opponent's first two arguments are equivocations, and thus they are logically flawed. Furthermore, my opponent's first provides an example in which he claims it is impossible to disprove the existence of an teapot, and then proceeds to eliminate all potential methods for disproving its existence.

My opponents last argument is his weakest point, as it flawed in a great number of ways.

First, in a debate setting, Pro has the burden of proof in affirming the resolution.

Second, I have made no positive claim, and nor am I required to. In a debate, Con simply must negate the arguments brought up by Pro. If Pro does not bring forth any arguments, Con wins by default.

Third, my opponent states, "To argue that vaccines cause autism and then demand that vaccine makers prove that no vaccine causes autism is a faulty argument." I have made no such argument or demand. I, as Con, am not required to make an argument, but rather to negate Pro's arguments.

Finally, my opponent states, "Although accepting the status quo is absolutely not part of science, it is good science to demand that claims be supported by evidence, rather than making claims and demanding that others provide evidence where you have none." Once again, I have made no claim, my opponent did. So my opponent is correct, in order to make an argument, you must make a claim supported by evidence instead of demand that I provide evidence against an unsupported claim.

"To restate in brief: A negative is impossible to prove..." Unfortunately for my opponent, a debate is a debate. Pro makes the argument, Con negates it. I am not required to provide any connection between autism and vaccines, but rather Pro must show that none exists. It is worth reminding my opponent that he was the one who set up this debate, and so he set him self for failure by his own standards. If my opponent believes that a negative resolution is impossible to prove, in the future he will be sure to avoid creating debates where he affirms a negative resolution.
Debate Round No. 2
surfride

Pro

My first contention with this rebuttal lies in this statement: "While I thank my opponent for his hypothetical scenarios, they are non-topical and therefore irrelevant." Although it is always tempting to dismiss arguments one cannot refute as irrelevant, my examples in this case are completely relevant, because they reveal where the burden of proof lies. These examples explain exactly how ridiculous it is to place the burden of proof on me to disprove the link between autism since as yet none has been observed, and so the link takes its due place among the invisible unicorns, teapots, and Flying Sphagetti Monsters of the universe.

However, since Con is extremely insistent upon my providing more evidence than he does, here are several studies that found no observable correlation between vaccines and autism.
http://nejm.highwire.org...

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org...

http://books.google.com...

There are three controlled, scientific studies that found no link. Since there is no evidence to support a link, and the only studies that ever did show a link were found to be flawed, it must be concluded that unless some proof positive of this connection can be established, it should be assumed that this link does not exist.
Spaztoid

Con

I would like to open again thanking my opponent for this debate. While I am sure it did not go as he originally pictured, it has been a fun debate.

Gratitude aside, my opponent opened up his argument to attack on several fronts in his last round, and so I shall try to capitalize on as many of those opportunities as possible.

=====Rebuttals=====

"Although it is always tempting to dismiss arguments one cannot refute as irrelevant, my examples in this case are completely relevant, because they reveal where the burden of proof lies."
Disregarding the presumptuous nature of this first statement, my opponent seemingly has yet to grasp the fundamental basics of the debate structure. Pro has the burden of proof unless the debate is specifically set up with other conditions. This debate was not set up with those conditions, thus my opponent must take on the burden of proof.

"These examples explain exactly how ridiculous it is to place the burden of proof on me to disprove the link between autism since as yet none has been observed, and so the link takes its due place among the invisible unicorns, teapots, and Flying Sphagetti Monsters of the universe."

Once again, no matter how "ridiculous" it may seem to place the burden of proof on the person making the claim, the burden remains the same. Furthermore, my opponent has brought forth a logically flawed argument on two fronts.
First, simply because a connection has not been observed does not negate the existence of such a connection. "In common usage, existence is the world of which we are aware through our senses and persists independently without them." [1] The classic example of my opponent's logic failing is the lack of knowledge in regards to the harms and dangers of smoking. For decades, the problems of smoking were not understood or ever realized. It was until further inspection that a connection was revealed.
Second, my opponent's connection from vaccination side effects to invisible unicorns and other such examples is equivocation in that they are not relationally the same, thus rendering his comparison is void making is initial examples non-topical.

Now moving away from the more semantical working of debate to the substance of the debate, my opponent presented three studies regarding the lack of observable link from vaccination to autism. While they are neat reports, my opponent's argument here is far from sound on many fronts.

First, my opponent's reports only address the MMR vaccination. This limitation in study simply underscores the lack of information in regards to the studies of vaccines and their potential link to autism. Due to this lack of information, no conclusions can be drawn from the existing information, rendering my opponent's arguments immaterial.

Second, assumptions are the single greatest flaw in any sound argument. "... it should be assumed that this link does not exist." Until it is scientifically proven that no link exists between vaccination and autism, it cannot and should not be assumed that there is no possible link.

Third, two of my opponent's sources are far from conclusive by their own admission. From my opponent's second resource; "No consistent significant associations were found between TCVs and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Conflicting results were found at different HMOs for certain outcomes. For resolving the conflicting findings, studies with uniform neurodevelopmental assessments of children with a range of cumulative thimerosal exposures are needed." [2] In the report's synopsis, it is concluded that more reports are needed to reconcile the conflicting data that was found. Then, in my opponent's third source, it is brought forth that autism and it's risk factors are not completely understood and that while genetics seem to play a significant role in the onset of autism, a number of other factors may also be involved. [3] Furthermore, the third study is a population based study, meaning that the data was collected from patients that devolved autism and their vaccination status. This again underlines the fact that no study has been undertaken to seriously consider the potential of vaccines causing autism. This lack of information and the conflicting information all serve to render my opponent's claim baseless and thus void.

Finally, from the Autism Society of America, "There is no known single cause for autism..." "...It also appears that some children are born with a susceptibility to autism, but researchers have not yet identified a single "trigger" that causes autism to develop." "Still other researchers are investigating problems during pregnancy or delivery as well as environmental factors, such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances, and exposure to environmental chemicals." [4] It is clear that despite our current level of medical science, we are still unable to determine the cause(s) of autism. It is again this lack of understanding that simply demonstrates that no conclusions can be drawn as to the potential link between autism and vaccination.

=====Conclusion=====

Disregarding the first two rounds in which my opponent begrudging took up his role as the affirmative in this debate, when the debate boiled down to actual information, my opponent was unable to present a solid argument to support his claim. It is the lack of information coupled with conflicting results and assumptions that prevents my opponent from creating a sturdy backing for his resolution. Due to the lack of support for my opponents claim, it is only natural for it to fail, and thus the resolution "Vaccines do not cause autism" is negated."

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org...
[3] http://books.google.com...
[4] http://www.autism-society.org...
Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
Still nothing here?
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
Wow, three votes, one of which was a complete tie.
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
surfride:

First, I thank you for the debate. While semantical, it was fun.

Second, in a scientific community, once a theory has been proposed, anyone who disagrees with the theory must disprove it because it is easier to prove a negative than a positive in such a case. The problem with your assesment is that it is too specific. It is easy to prove a negative against a claim, however it is near impossible to prove a negative when no claim has been made.

Lastly, you are still missing the structure of a debate. I didn't claim that vaccines could cause autism and therefore I don't have to prove a connection. Because you stated that vaccines cannot cause autism, in a debate setting you are required to prove your statement. That's just how a debate works.
Posted by surfride 7 years ago
surfride
Kinesis- I should have been more specific. If the set of all possible outcomes is not known, it is impossible to prove a negative. For example, there are exactly 2 outcomes for your statement, one of which would be automatically disproven if any part of the moon were not made of swiss cheese at this exact moment. However, since for most other statements such specificity is not given (i.e., you never hear atheists/religious proponents argue that "at this exact moment in time, god does (not) exist," the set of possible outcomes is not known. Same with vaccines; it's not necessarily a straightforward case of yes they do cause autism or no they don't; perhaps they make those more susceptible to it get it, perhaps they do the opposite, who knows?

Here's what I think about this debate after the final round though: Since I did provide sources that found no provable link b/w autism and vaccines, and since no link has ever been observed in a study with no major flaws, and since my opponent offered no positive evidence FOR such a link, I think at the end I proved my point more successfully. But that's just me.
Posted by Kinesis 7 years ago
Kinesis
'Kinesis- you cannot prove that it does not have some part of it made of cheese or that it never did in the past. . .'

Let me re-phrase it so you can't wriggle out:

'The moon, at this moment in time, is not composed entirely of Swiss cheese'

I repeat, are you seriously saying I can't prove that?
Posted by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
Thanks for the debate. Good luck.
Posted by surfride 7 years ago
surfride
Puck- yeah that's the one. . .
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Speaking of Wakefield ... another paper retracted due to improper methodology.

http://www.nature.com...
Posted by surfride 7 years ago
surfride
Although in all fairness it's more about the actual existence of things than about their substance with respect to the negatives.
Posted by surfride 7 years ago
surfride
Kinesis- you cannot prove that it does not have some part of it made of cheese or that it never did in the past. . .
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Spaztoid 7 years ago
Spaztoid
surfrideSpaztoidTied
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Vote Placed by jayjayhags 7 years ago
jayjayhags
surfrideSpaztoidTied
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Vote Placed by Yvette 7 years ago
Yvette
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Vote Placed by Shestakov 7 years ago
Shestakov
surfrideSpaztoidTied
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