My essay/excerpt for Newsweek, titled “Autism and the Affluent,” is now online.* Here’s an excerpt from the excerpt:
Like other persistent untruths—the belief that Obama is a Muslim, say—the endurance of these vaccine scares is due to multiple, interconnected causes. The Internet, where no view is too outrageous to masquerade as fact, has played a role, as has the media’s habit of giving every story “two sides” long after one has been discredited. There’s also politicians’ instinct to pander to their most vocal and strident constituents, and public officials’ ineptitude at communicating with the public.
Since the piece was posted yesterday, there’s been a fairly, um, robust discussion in the comments section. I’ve avoided getting involved myself, but there are some interesting points being raised. I’m curious to know what the reactions are of people who don’t already have strong feelings about this topic one way or the other.
* The headline wasn’t something I came up with. I actually have a brief discussion in my book on the pitfalls of reporters not writing their own headlines in regards to a 2002 New York Times Magazine story by Arthur Allen titled “The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory.”