The first of many statements yoking Robert MacNeil to the vaccine-autism canard

April 19th, 2011 → 12:02 pm @ // 5 Comments

Exhibit A in why Robert MacNeil’s “Autism Now” series has been reckless and irresponsible is a press release issued by Alison MacNeil and SafeMinds* titled, “Daughter of Journalist Robert MacNeil States that Son Regressed Into Autism After Vaccines.”

Notice that it does not say “Alison MacNeil believes that son regressed into autism after vaccines,” or “Family member featured on Newshour believes son regressed into autism after vaccines.” Instead, it invokes a trusted, even revered, newsman and links his name to the “statement” that a child’s autism was called by vaccines.

The rest of the press release contains a drum-beat of half-truths presented as fact (the U.S. has the most aggressive vaccine schedule in the world, the U.S.’s vaccine schedule is a “grand experiment”), either-or fallacies and rhetorical sleights of hand (“are we trading the elimination of childhood disease for a lifetime of disability?”), non sequiturs (“one-fifth of all U.S. children take at least one prescription medication”), and scare tactics (“I have never met a family willing to sacrifice their child for the good of the herd”).

Obviously, any group (or person) has the right to release a statement that makes all sorts of claims. The problem here is that by framing the first hour of his autism special the way he did, Robert MacNeil opened himself (and Newshour) to charges that he’s actually promoting a scientifically disproven (and dangerous) theory. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this in the days to come.

* SafeMinds is an acronym for Sensible Action For Ending Mercury Induced Neurological Disorders. It is a parent-advocacy group founded in the wake of fears that an ethyl-mercury based preservative used in some childhood vaccines was causing autism. That preservative, thimerosal, was shown in numerous studies not to cause autism; it was also removed from childhood vaccines a decade ago.


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5 Comments → “The first of many statements yoking Robert MacNeil to the vaccine-autism canard”


  1. Nora

    3 years ago

    Seth,

    You are wrong. My grandson had a similar reaction as that of Mr. MacNeil’s grandson. Seth, there are too many of us to dismiss what we are saying. You are not protecting the herd, but rather subjecting a whole generation of children to dismal medical conditions that were unheard of in children twenty years ago.

    http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Doctors-See-More-Children-with-Inflammatory-Bowel-Disease.aspx

    Reply

    • Tom

      3 years ago

      I read your link and there is no mentioned or implied link to vaccines or autism. If I didn’t know the history of the anti-vax movement and Wakefield I would have no idea how that link could be a response Seth’s article above. In fact, since I do know the history I know also that there is no such link.

      Reply

  2. Jake Crosby

    3 years ago

    “That preservative, thimerosal, was shown in numerous studies not to cause autism”

    By researchers like Poul Thorsen, who has just been indicted for fraud.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/13/us-crime-research-funds-idUSTRE73C8JJ20110413

    I wonder how many times you yoked your “personal yoda” Kurt Andersen to the canards such as the “science” manufactured by the likes of Thorsen, Seth. Surely you can’t blame Robert MacNeil for his reporting on public television given the very different state of public radio – with your fingerprints all over it.

    Reply

    • Andrew

      3 years ago

      Jake

      I thought you liked fraud – your employer just admitted to worshipping a fraud-committing doctor as a God. If you start criticizing, you may be expelled from the cult for heresy.

      Reply

  3. ChildHealthSafety

    3 years ago

    “Obviously, any group (or person) has the right to release a statement that makes all sorts of claims.”

    True Seth. What is your position on these ones? You do not seem to have covered these in your book. We asked before but you have gone silent on them so we thought we would ask again:-

    US GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND AGENCIES CONFIRMED VACCINES CAUSE AUTISTIC CONDITIONS

    A) the current President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding confirmed to CBS News when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that: “So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines. And if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.” [1]

    B) Autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination. The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) confirmed to CBS News that of 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in secret settlements: “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.” [2], [2a], [3].

    C) It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR [which] contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism. The first known cause of autism was rubella virus.

    … rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.

    rubella virus is one of the few known causes of autism.” US Center for Disease Control.
    http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/autism-mmr.htm

    rubella can cause autism” The Pediatrician’s Role in the Diagnosis and Management of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children – PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001
    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;107/5/1221

    D) Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as held by the US Federal Court in the case of Bailey Banks [4].

    In his conclusion, US Federal Court Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:

    The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD [an autism spectrum disorder]. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was… a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

    E) Autism is not caused by genes. And what does not cause autism?

    Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US$30.5 billion budget National Institutes of Health [nominated by President Obama: NIH News Release 17th August 2009 ] stated in evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006 when Director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute [5]:

    “Recent increases in chronic diseases like diabetes, childhood asthma, obesity or autism cannot be due to major shifts in the human gene pool as those changes take much more time to occur. They must be due to changes in the environment, including diet and physical activity, which may produce disease in genetically predisposed persons.“

    F) Autistic conditions affect approximately 1 in 100 US children. They affect 1 in 64 British children [1 in 40 are boys] according to a Cambridge University study [6].

    “Conclusions: The prevalence estimate of known cases of ASC, using different methods of ascertainment converges around 1%. The ratio of known to unknown cases means that for every three known cases there are another two unknown cases. This has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.”

    G) It is estimated to cost the UK £28 billion per annum [roughly US$42 billion]: [7]

    [1] HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0803/29/hcsg.01.html

    [2] CBS News Exclusive: Leading Dr.: Vaccines-Autism Worth Study Former Head Of NIH Says Government Too Quick To Dismiss Possible Link – WASHINGTON, May 12, 2008
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml

    [2a] [see text of email exchanges between US HRSA and Attkisson - attached]
    http://childhealthsafety.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/attkisson-cbs-hrsa-email-exchanges-autistic-conditions-vaccines.pdf

    [3] Vaccine Case: An Exception Or A Precedent? – First Family To Have Autism-Related Case “Conceded” Is Just One Of Thousands – CBS News By Sharyl Attkisson WASHINGTON, March 6, 2008]
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/06/eveningnews/main3915703.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody

    [4] [Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007)]
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Abell.BANKS.02-0738V.pdf

    [5] Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006
    http://www.genome.gov/18016846

    [6] ESTIMATING AUTISM SPECTRUM PREVALENCE IN THE POPULATION: A SCHOOL BASED STUDY FROM THE UK
    http://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2008/webprogram/Paper2245.html

    [7] ["Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK" - London School of Economics - Study by team led by Professor Martin Knapp
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/PDF/EconomicCostsofAutism.pdf

    [Executive Summary]
    https://www.nece.gov.uk/nece/neceprojects.nsf/0/01771070ACD08B7680257420004F51C7/$file/Autism%20briefing.pdf

    Reply

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