The last dozen years have seen a massive transnational mobilization of the legal, political, and research communities in response to the worrisome hypothesis that vaccines could have a link to childhood autism and other developmental conditions. Vaccine critics, some already organized and some composed of newly galvanized parents, developed an alternate world of internally legitimating studies, blogs, conferences, publications, and spokespeople to affirm a connection. When the consensus turned against the autism hypothesis, these structures and a committed membership base unified all the organizations in resistance. This article examines the relationship between mobilization based on science and the trajectory of legitimacy vaccine criticism has taken. I argue that vaccine critics have run up against the limits of legitimate scientific argument and are now in the curious position of both doubling down on credibility-depleting stances and innovating new and possibly resonant formulations.
Anna Kirkland; The Legitimacy of Vaccine Critics: What Is Left After the Autism Hypothesis?. J Health Polit Policy Law 1 February 2012; 37 (1): 69–97. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-1496020
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