Heroin and ad hominem attacks

April 22nd, 2011 → 11:02 am @

On Tuesday, Robert MacNeil was on The Emily Rooney Show, which airs on WGBH in Boston. Rooney asked him about my criticisms of his reporting. This was his response:

Well, he’s entitled to his opinion and to sell his book.

It’s true that I expressed my opinion — but I assume what Rooney was asking him about were facts, like, for instance, the fact that he quoted his daughter saying that she believed her son had gotten autism from vaccines but didn’t quote a single scientist or public health official or epidemiologist or vaccine researcher or spokesperson from the American Medical Association or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

My opinion is that that is an important questions — and it’s my opinion that that’s an important question because of the fact that there is currently a measles outbreak in Minnesota that began when an intentionally unvaccinated child returned from a trip with this family infected with the virus. So far, 13 children have been hospitalized. Six of them were too young to have gotten the vaccine in the first place. It’s my opinion that that’s an important question because of the fact that over the last several years, children in this country have died of vaccine-preventable diseases like Hib and pertussis.

Instead of questioning my motives, I would have liked MacNeil to address some of these issues. And as someone who has been in the media industry for many decades, I think MacNeil probably understands that the likelihood of a post I write on my personal blog actually goosing book sales is somewhere between highly improbable and alternate-universe unlikely. (It’s true that I have earned a total of $1.04 from Amazon purchases referred from my website…but both of those were in January.) In fact, the chance that I will ever earn royalties off of The Panic Virus is roughly the same as the chance that I will one day beat Michael Phelps in the 200 meter butterfly.


This morning when I turned on my computer, I was greeted with an article on Age of Autism written by the founder of Generation Rescue, the group Jenny McCarthy currently runs. The article focuses on the fact that for the last thirteen-and-a-half years, I have been a recovering heroin addict. It implies that my credibility among other journalists is because my “heroin-chic background” gives me a “stamp of street-cred in an oddly P.C. world.”

Before becoming a writer, Mr. Mnookin was fired from a “gopher gig” at Office Depot, worked as a day laborer digging ditches, and also worked at a coffee shop, a liquor store, and several bookstores “never lasting at any job for more than a couple of weeks” … Soon after graduating from Harvard, Mr. Mnookin became a heroin addict … I sure wouldn’t hire Mr. Mnookin in one of my companies, let him watch my kids, or go to him for parenting advice. He was a garden-variety junkie who stole money from friends and family, sorry.

This is not a secret: The reason the author of the piece, or anyone else for that matter, knows about my past is because I have written about it several times over the years. In fact, all of the information that appears in Age of Autism about my personal life comes from articles written by me.

The comments on that post, and in comments on several posts I have written over the past several days, share that same tone. I’m a “shill” and “the industry’s biggest Whore and sell out,” I should “stay under the rock you occasionally crawl out from” and “climb right back into the hole,” in the years to come, “history will make a fool out of you. Just you wait. I for one won’t forget your cowardice.” There are also comments like this one:

You got Seth Mnookin all wrong, who could possibly be better qualified to advise parents on the safety of injecting stuff into their children’s bodies than a sell-professed former junkie?

And you know what? That stuff actually bothers me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does — both because it really is painful to read things like that about yourself and because it makes me despair about the direction this debate is going in the future.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the non-verbal daughter of an Age of Autism editor was abused on her school bus.

When I’m in the middle of the cross-fire, I need to be extra sure that I remind myself that the people who get angriest about my work and my book are, for the most part, parents who want nothing more than to do right by their kids. They are parents whose lives have been turned upside down — and in many cases, parents who have been failed by doctors and educators and public officials.

I’m trying to remember that. As a wise man once said, I’m trying, Ringo–I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd driven by charity and good will. And at the end of the day, as I’ve said many times n the past, I have no way to know how I would react if I believed my child had been harmed.

But I’m not quite as sympathetic to Robert MacNeil. He, too, is a family member dealing with autism — but as I wrote the other day, in his capacity as the host of a six-part, highly publicized series on Newshour, he’s primarily acting as a journalist. If he wants to discuss the merits of my criticisms or the substance of my critique, I’d love that. But to brush off everything I’ve said by attacking my motives is only a way of avoiding the issue.

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44 Comments → “Heroin and ad hominem attacks”

  1. Emily Willingham

    13 years ago

    People who have lived a life like Mr. Mnookin’s and who have managed a recovery as lengthy and successful as his are among the most compassionate, understanding, and empathetic people out there. I don’t think recovering from addiction makes you an angel, but it puts you in a place where you gain a depth of understanding that other people may never achieve. In my mind, Mr. Mnookin’s experiences explain a few characteristics I’ve noted about him in his writing and in person: His kindness, his compassion, his empathy, his ability to write without acrimony about all sides of an issue, to step back and see people as people, and to behave with a certain lack of what might be understandable arrogance and a good dose of humility and genuine self deprecation. I don’t recommend addiction as a way of acquiring these traits, but experiences like Mr. Mnookin’s have a way of grounding the people who make it through them.

    Seth…congratulations on this ongoing recovery. That’s an awesome achievement.

  2. Ira Stoll

    13 years ago

    Is it Robert McNeil or Robin McNeil? That NewsHour page you link seems to use them interchangeably.

  3. René Najera

    13 years ago

    We know that Jake Crosby and others from Age of Autism come here, read your stuff, and even comment. I’d like to see them write on here as to why your addiction seems to be the only way they can attack you. Why can’t they be civil? Why can’t they filter their most offensive comments like they filter comments that are pro-vaccine (though they’re not anti-vaccine)?

    My grandfather used to call people like them cowards. I agree. Cowards. Plain and simple. Despicable ones, even.

    Keep on fighting the good fight, Seth. They’ll try time and time again to get you to say something on which to unleash yet another attack. Continue being as strong as you have been. We all know who the cowards are.

  4. David Gorski

    13 years ago

    Don’t sweat it, Seth. That’s J.B.’s M.O. He can’t win on facts; so he resorts to ad hominems, intimidation, threats of lawsuits, and bluster. It’s all he has. You just happen to have a bigger, juicier bit of background than the average person for J.B. to glom onto and be even more vicious than he is with the usual journalist who has the temerity to criticize him, his organization, or the scientifically discredited view that vaccines cause autism. If you didn’t have the battle with addiction in your background, he would have found something else. It might not have been as easy a target; it might have forced J.B. to do more contortions to attack you; but, make no mistake, he would have found something.

    Either that, or he would have had one of his minions Photoshop you into a picture of a Thanksgiving meal where “enemies” of Generation Rescue are sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast of baby:


  5. Adam

    13 years ago

    I know you can’t be a robot about this but it doesn’t seem to advance anything when everyone has to make that caveat (these people are hurt, they are looking for answers, etc) over and over and over.

    It’s not like every parent of an autistic child has the right to mock your addiction because they’ve suffered. We all suffer. All our loved ones will suffer and die as will we.

  6. Todd W.

    13 years ago

    Seth, just wanted to say good on ya for getting over your addiction and for having the guts to speak in a very wide forum about it. The fact that Handley and Age of Autism focus on that, instead of addressing the facts and science you bring up, just speaks to their moral bankruptcy. When you don’t like the message, kill the messenger, as it were.

    The fact that they’re making character assassination attempts just speaks to how much of an effect you are having. Keep up the fight!

  7. Aslan

    13 years ago

    Seth: Congratulations on your recovery from a heroin addiciton. Your hostility to those most severely aflicted with autism and your hostility to vaccine safety sacience are thus especially puzzling, given your own struggles to overcome adversity. While vaccines ave lives and prevent disease, they also kill and cause disease. Your steadfast denial that vaccines can cause autism is also quite puzzling given that the Government has been quietly compensating and the Vaccine Court has been adjudicating vaccine-caused autism since 1990. It was the UK’s Professor Rutter, not Wakefield, who was first to report on vaccine-caused autism in his 1994 paper on the biological basis for autism. You claim that vaccine safety critics are baby-killers but it’s actually the other way round. It is the epidemic deniers and the deliberate ignorance from Government and vaccine zealots preventing vital research on the health of unvaccinated children thereby destroying public confidence and delaying a “safety first” agenda that are fueling the revolution against full vaccination. We have largely conquered death and disease from infection, so now the focus must change, and change quickly, to death and disease caused by vaccines. The public is revolting because of the denial and ignorance you and your zealous and often industry-backed colleagues are spreading. It’s not about whether your heroin addiction does or does not give you street credit or a certain chic PC status, it’s all about the harm your anti-science culture of ignorance and callous disregard for autistic children and injured vaccine veterans. Will you publicly support a study of unvaccinated children to either end this controversy or to support changes in the vaccine schedule to make it safer, prevent future injuries, and ensure justice for vaccine victims. Those calling for a “safety first” agenda are the heroes and eventually will save the vaccine program. Prophets of ignorance are the true baby-killers.

    • Morbillivirus Rubeola

      13 years ago

      “Will you publicly support a study of unvaccinated children to either end this controversy or to support changes in the vaccine schedule to make it safer, prevent future injuries, and ensure justice for vaccine victims.”

      God, I hope not. A study of un-vaccinated children is unethical, reminiscent of the worse medical experiments where a life-saving intervention was withheld from a group in order to assess the progression/regression/presence/absence of a disease. You know, like the Tuskegee Experiment? (http://n.pr/fSrJxH)

      How about a case-control study of children with and without vaccine-preventable diseases, assessing whether or not the cases had lower vaccine rates than the controls? Oh, wait… It’s been done.

      Okay, how about looking at surveillance records for vaccine-preventable incidence over the years and since vaccines for those specific vaccines have been licensed? Oh, wait… It’s been done.

      Well, what about non-randomly choosing 12 kids (some of whom went to a birthday party), submitting them to unnecessary medical procedures, and fudging the results in order to meet your anti-vaccine agenda, then generalizing the experience of those 12 kids to the entire population of the planet? Oh, wait…

      As an RNA virus that has been spread far and wide because people are choosing not to vaccinate (many of them because of the fears and misinformation spread by anti-vaccine groups like Age of Autism), you would think that I would *heart* JB. He’s done more to keep me, a virus whose only reservoir is humanity, spreading around than any other person I know of. Maybe closely followed by Andy “Jesus Mandela” Wakefield himself. But, alas, no. I dislike him. I dislike how dirty he plays.

      I’d rather dip myself in the rice-water-like excretions of a person with cholera than shake his hand.

  8. Liz Ditz

    13 years ago

    Seth, congratulations on joining an august club…no, not the recovery club, the club of those J.B. Handley has viciously attacked with personal smears. From pp 154-162 of Paul Offit’s Deadly Choices, a partical list:

    Paul Offit MD
    Travis Stork MD and “knuckleheads who went on to be doctors, and their still knucklehads”
    Nancy Minshew MD
    Amanda Peet, actress
    Geri Dawson PhD
    Nancy Snyderman MD
    Amy Wallace, reporter

    I’m pretty sure that Handley has also issued personal smears against Trine Tsouderos, but I can’t find a link.

    Breathe deep, hug your wife & your baby, and carry on.

  9. Emily Willingham

    13 years ago

    Liz has such good advice: “Breathe deep, hug your wife & your baby, and carry on.” Yes.

  10. Trine Tsouderos

    13 years ago

    As someone who has been portrayed as preparing to eat a baby for Thanksgiving by these folks, among many other attacks, all I can say is the refuge of those with no argument, no facts, nothing on their side is personal smears. You can not smear your way to being right. Either you have evidence to support your view, or you don’t.

  11. lance

    13 years ago

    Meta-conversation: I’m rather impressed the author was able to quote Pulp Fiction in such a way that does not distract from the pathos of his post.

  12. Trine Tsouderos

    13 years ago

    I should also add that Seth’s book is brilliant. Period. It is based in reality, facts, evidence. And not a personal smear among its pages.

  13. Cedar Riener

    13 years ago

    Keep fighting the good fight.
    This post, and your other writing on this topic, speaks with empathy and integrity, and it may not be acknowledged by your wounded enemies, with their misplaced aggression towards you, or make your book being a bestseller.
    But you should know that your inspire like-minded people (like myself) to do more, and in your kindness and restraint, convince more people than you know. At some point, people will look up and see that the leader they think is fearlessly attacking authority is actually just a bully.

  14. Daniel Higgins

    13 years ago

    No kidding, I was just looking online for examples of ad hominem attacks to show my freshman writing students, who are writing persuasive essays on the topic of ethics. I think I’ve found Exhibit A. Have read you for years, Seth. Keep up the good work. Remember that, as a journalist, you’ll never hear anyone scream louder than when you’ve shone a bright light on hypocrisy, dishonesty, or other assorted bunk.

  15. David Gorski

    13 years ago

    Hey, what about me? 🙂

    J.B. has done at least three posts attacking me personally that I can remember. Last summer, J.B.’s Mini-Me Jake Crosby did a downright libelous post about me claiming I had a conflict of interest that I in fact did not (and do not) have based on a truly brain dead “six degrees of separation” sort of conspiracy argument; his post resulted in AoA minions e-mailing and calling the Board of Governors at my university trying to get me fired for a nonexistent COI:


    However, I’m still envious of Steve Novella, Paul Offit, Trine Tsouderos, Amy Wallace, et al. I’ve never been Photoshopped into a cannibalistic Thanksgiving dinner scene before. Some people get all the appreciation for their efforts.

    • Liz Ditz

      13 years ago

      My apologies, Dr. Gorski, for the oversight. I also overlooked Dr. Novella. It just makes the club Seth’s joined more illustrious.

  16. ChildHealthSafety

    13 years ago

    But Seth,

    Complain all you like but you still have not answered why the following 8 points were not covered in your book and why you have still failed to answer the previous challenge we set you to deny the following 8 points. Not many Seth – just eight – and you claim to be an investigative journalist – so investigate your way of this:-


    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.

    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

    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

    [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

    [2a] [see text of email exchanges between US HRSA and Attkisson – attached]

    [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]

    [4] [Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007)]

    [5] Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006


    [7] [“Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK” – London School of Economics – Study by team led by Professor Martin Knapp

    [Executive Summary]

    • Morbillivirus Rubeola

      13 years ago

      Dude, why not just link to your comment today over on Age of Autism? Do you need to expose us all to your napalm-grade stupid so many times over?

  17. JB Handley

    13 years ago

    Seth: That’s really terrible that your feelings are hurt. I’d feel bad for you, but I’m currently feeling bad for the 1 million+ kids in America who have autism. But, you mention 13 children in MN who were hospitalized for measles, which certainly highlights your grasp of the relative amount of suffering kids are experiencing right now.

    13 vs. 1,000,000

    It would be nice if vaccines were the perfect drug and had no side effects. Unfortunately, they are a drug, and all drugs have side effects. Like brain damage. To a million kids.

    If you are too big a baby to handle some criticism, step off the stage, amigo.

    JB Handley

  18. JB Handley

    13 years ago

    I’m sure its also difficult for you to grasp that Robert MacNeil, who is perhaps 1,000x the journalist, thinker, and writer that you’ll ever be, has reached a conclusion or has a POV that makes all the things you have publicly said and written complete bullshit. You may be experiencing something we call cognitive dissonance, which is causing you to publicly attack one of the all-time great reporters in our history. It’s somewhat akin to me, a decent high school hoops player, criticizing D.Wayde for his offensive skills, and expecting anyone to listen to me or care.

    I’d be embarrassed for you, but your doing enough of a job embarrassing yourself that I don’t need to,

    JB Handley

  19. John Stone

    13 years ago


    Why do you think it is that the defence of the vaccine programme has been left in your hands? Is it just possibly because a journalist who could really sort out information would encounter too many contradictions: like the fact that the case has already been conceded by the US government in the vaccine court, and by Julie Gerberding – the fact that we are not dealing with something which is a scientific hypothesis but which has already been recognised.

    How can you unwrite the documented facts that I and CHS have repeatedly put before you.


    PS I am afraid no one’s feelings in this game matter. You should see the things Brian Deer has said about me, although it has only been a matter for my continued amusement.

  20. JB Handley

    13 years ago


    A final piece of friendly advice before I leave the warm confines of this commercial establishment:

    Stop vaccinating your son, now. Autism rates are higher in boys, children of ultra-bright parents (presume Harvard didn’t admit you for their “future junkies” program), and addicts – something to do with a missing enzyme in the liver, which means your son is at a higher risk for autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc. if you inject a bunch of toxins into him before he’s prepared to handle them.

    Glad to see Orac here defending you. You guys are similar, both complete whiny wimps.

    JB Handley

  21. Todd W.

    13 years ago

    @JB Handley

    So, Seth’s credibility is in question because he’s a recovering heroin addict, but recovering heroin addict Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s credibility is not in question because…?

    I can’t seem to follow your logic, here.

  22. Todd W.

    13 years ago

    By the way, JB, do you feel pride in the fact that you are largely responsible for the measles outbreak in Minnesota? I mean, almost singlehandedly, you managed to decrease herd immunity by sowing fear of the MMR vaccine, so that the families of 18 children could experience the wonder and magnificence of dealing with measles, not to mention the utter joy of hospital bills for the families of 13 of those children. You’re such a swell guy, JB.

    • ChildHealthSafety

      13 years ago

      Do you feel proud Todd W that in the 21st Century there is no measles pill? There is no effective treatment for measles. Do you know why that is? Its because of vaccines.

      No one will research an effective treatment because there is too much money in vaccinating everyone rather than treating just the very few who get really sick.

      And if we had an effective treatment for measles, the 75% of third world kids who still die despite vaccination could be saved from death. Those are millions of lives Todd. Millions and millions.

      Or don’t poor malnourished foreign kids with different colour skins count?

      • Todd W.

        13 years ago

        What are you smoking?

        There are treatments for the symptoms of measles. The only thing that would treat measles itself would be an antiviral, which would, like all drugs (including vaccines) have side effects.

        But you know what? If folks like you pulled your heads out of the sand and actually put a few neurons to work, you’d realize that the fastest way to stop any need for the measles vaccine would be to get everyone vaccinated. Then, the virus would die out, as it were, and we wouldn’t need the vaccine ever again!

        Now, I have to ask, why do you prefer to allow a disease to occur and manage the fallout rather than prevent the disease in the first place? Oh, and do you have any citations showing that vaccines net more money for the medical industry than treating the disease?

        Finally, do you know why there are so few who actually get the measles? Because of vaccines. Want to see what happens when people stop vaccinating? Look at Minnesota. Look at Utah. Better yet, look at Europe, specifically France, which has, so far this year alone, had over 5,000 confirmed cases of measles.

        • ChildHealthSafety

          13 years ago

          Todd W,

          Not according to the official position of the UK Department of Health. There is no effective treatment for measles.

          You refer to treating the symptoms. And what is the treatment for death which we are all told constantly measles will cause if we do not risk our kids developing autistic conditions from vaccines?

      • Bennett

        13 years ago

        The truth is, vaccination is far far cheaper (i.e. there is less money involved) than coming up with a pill. There is very little money in vaccines, compared to traditional pharmaceuticals. To say otherwise demonstrates extreme ignorance of basic economics (one-time dosing versus multiple courses e.g. of an antibiotic) and of the revenue sources of the pharmaceutical companies.

        There are some antivirals that are effective against measles, but a course of these would be far more expensive and difficult to administer than a simple vaccine shot. Ribavarin for instance is used to treat the often fatal complication of measles SSPE, but there’s little evidence it works well, has to be given IV and is not a particularly nice drug. It costs about $400 a gram, so for a typical 3yo kid (15kg) at a dose of 10mg/kg/dose daily for a week you’d use about $400 bucks worth. That doesn’t include the costs of giving the drug (nursing etc). In contrast, the measles vaccine given out by the WHO costs less than a dollar.


        You see, viruses use the host proteins a lot of the time – to kill the virus you often have difficulty avoiding hurting the host when you use drugs. The same is not true of vaccines.

        So you can either chose to use highly expensive, toxic medications…or very cheap safe vaccines.

  23. Kev

    13 years ago

    “You guys are similar, both complete whiny wimps. ”

    Much like yourself JB. Didn’t you threaten to sue someone as you didn’t like what they were saying about you? Isn’t that what you’re accusing Seth of here?

  24. David Gorski

    13 years ago

    So, Seth’s credibility is in question because he’s a recovering heroin addict, but recovering heroin addict Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s credibility is not in question because…?

    I can’t seem to follow your logic, here.

    Oh, that’s really easy. Colossal hypocrite that J.B. is, it’s because he loves what RFK Jr. says about vaccines and autism and hates what Seth says about vaccines and autism. If I’m wrong, I expect to see a post by J.B. about RFK Jr. making vile attacks against him similar to the ones he made against Seth.

    Next question.

    • ChildHealthSafety

      13 years ago


      Kennedy is not telling millions of American parents who want to make their own vaccine decisions are “total assholes.” – Seth Mnookin, American University, “Communicating to the Public”.

      Kennedy is going out on a limb against the mainstream to act in the public interest.

      And while we are about it, it is not just JB Handley or Jenny McCarthy or Kennedy saying there is a problem. US government health officials and agencies and the US Federal Court have confirmed vaccines cause autistic conditions. The details are posted about. Here is the link to the comment:-

      Julie Gerberding was Head of the US CDC when she admitted vaccines can cause autistic conditions. She is now Director of Merck’s vaccines division.

      But you keep on claiming there is no problem and making nasty snide attacks against allcomers who say they watched as they lost their child to regression into autism.

  25. David Gorski

    13 years ago

    A final piece of friendly advice before I leave the warm confines of this commercial establishment:

    Stop vaccinating your son, now.

    But J.B. is not anti-vaccine. Oh, no. He swears up and down that he isn’t. He just thinks vaccines are toxic and that no one should vaccinate. Yup. That about sums it up.

  26. John Stone

    13 years ago

    Todd W

    The question is just as for any other category of pharmaceutical: is it safe? Is it as safe as it could be?

    Actually, when Cochrane reviewed MMR safety studies in 2005 it came to virtually the same conclusion as Wakefield, the studies were “largely inadequate”, riddled with methodological error and bias (and they didn’t even touch on the absurd competing interests, frequently undisclosed).


    Of course, this was not how it was spun for the media and the public, but the real situation which was that science was too poorly conducted to know whether MMR was safe or not, and there was absolutely no basis for the abuse of families who reported serious adverse consequences, or turning them into public enemies as a matter of government policy.

  27. David Gorski

    13 years ago

    By the way, JB, do you feel pride in the fact that you are largely responsible for the measles outbreak in Minnesota?

    I’d be willing to be he does. J.B.’s all about taking credit for driving down vaccination uptake rates:


    • ChildHealthSafety

      13 years ago

      But Gorski takes pride in helping to maintain a position where there are 1 million plus American children who have autistic conditions and the other 3 million or so members of their direct family who are affected and then their friends and the grandparents and the aunts and uncles and the nephews and nieces of the parents.

      This is at the same time Gorski knows that US government health officials and agencies and the US Federal Court have confirmed vaccines cause autistic conditions. The details are posted above. Here is the link:-

  28. Seth Mnookin

    13 years ago

    I’m going to shut down the comments for a few hours and let everyone cool down. I appreciate everyone reading the blog and making their points but I don’t want this to degenerate into name calling. Thanks.

  29. Margaret Toigo

    13 years ago

    JB Handley and the other anti-vaxers at AoA and Generation Rescue are nothing but bullies, trolls and muckrakers.

    Their conspiracy theories are not supported by facts, science or logic so they do the smearing, taunting and name-calling thing.

    But no amount of smearing, taunting and name-calling can alter the very well-established facts: vaccines are safe and effective and do NOT cause autism.

  30. Seth Mnookin

    13 years ago

    [Note: This comment was sent in by Ginger Taylor at approximately the same time I said I was shutting down the comments. Since she was unaware that comments were being closed when she was writing it, I will post it here.]

    Mnookin is complaing aboout this post. Says it is hurtful to him. I posted a comment, but don’t know if he will allow it, so I am posting it here too:

    “”I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd driven by charity and good will.” – Seth Mnookin

    Parents who want to make their own vaccine decisions are “total assholes.” – Seth Mnookin, American University, “Communicating to the Public”

    Mr. Mnookin, the idea that you have entered into a good faith relationship, as an objective journalist, to the public and to the biomedical autism/vaccine injury community, for which you can expect that you will be treated with generosity and be given the benefit of the doubt…. well that is just silly.

    The expectation that your very long history of serious IV drug addiction and accompanying anti-social and illegal behavior will not cut into your credibility on any topic, (much less one on the safety of injectables) is frankly, unreasonable.

    I began my counseling career doing outpatient drug counseling in the psychology department of Johns Hopkins and I have seen more than a few tragic stories. So please believe me when I say that I am very, very happy for you that you kicked your habit, that you have had some restoration with your family, and that you now have a career and a family of your own.

    But as a recovering addict, surely you have to understand that actions have consequences. Your formative years were spent… well… not forming a man of good judgement and good character. That is lost time that is difficult to win back. And while you may have kicked your habit, your judgment on these matters remains in question. Starting with the expectation that no one is going to hold against you severe drug use, which spans around half your life, when making judgments about your good judgement.

    Long term drug addiction causes a stunting of emotional maturation. I see it in you, as do many in our community.

    It may hurt to be called out for this difficult part of your life, but your contempt for these families you criticize has been evident from the time you began misrepresenting yourself to parents while you researched your book, up until today.

    If you want to be treated respectfully, you have to treat people with respect. Calling a significant percentage of parents in this country “total assholes” for trying to work in the best interests of their own children in light of an under researched and indiscriminate vaccine program (which all sides admit will kill some and injure others) betrays your contempt for them. Expect then to be treated likewise.”

    Posted by: Ginger Taylor | April 22, 2011 at 01:50

  31. […] are endangering herd immunity, journalists such as Trine Tsouderos, Amy Wallace, Chris Mooney, and Seth Mnookin, to name a […]

  32. […] is where you can see Gorski leaping to Mnookin’s defence: Heroin and ad hominem attacks.  In what seems some form of childish retaliation, which is typical of Gorski’s petulance […]

  33. […] are endangering herd immunity, journalists such as Trine Tsouderos, Amy Wallace, Chris Mooney, and Seth Mnookin, to name a […]

  34. […] But! I needn’t have worried: It turns out I’ve recently been conferred the status of my very own eponymous neologism: the Mnooklear attack, which, according to Urban Dictionary, is: The type of desperate attack in which public health officials and drug companies engage when trying to hide their causal roles in the the autism epidemic. Usually involves hiring drug addicts. The main goals of Mnooklear Attacks are to protect shareholders and to keep CDC staff out of jail. Ex: Did you see the Mnooklear Attack on universally respected journalist Robert MacNeil? […]

  35. […] brought up his past, of course. They harped on his heroin addiction over and over, writing about his addiction and how […]

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