“The Autism Vaccine Hoax”

January 9th, 2011 → 1:40 pm @

The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page has, over the years, been refreshingly outspoken on the subject of vaccines and autism. On December 29, 2003, it published a piece titled “The Politics of Autism” that took an unusually definitive stand on an issue about which most of the media was presenting as an “on the one hand, on the other hand” debate: (more…)

Post Categories: Blog post

The Panic Virus on NPR’s On the Media

January 9th, 2011 → 12:17 pm @

This weekend, NPR’s On the Media included a segment on my book, The Panic Virus, which will officially go on sale on Tuesday (although people who pre-ordered off of Amazon have reported already receiving their copies).

You can listen to the segment below — or, if you want to have your very own copy to hold own forever, you can download it from the show’s website.

Post Categories: Media alerts

WSJ on The Panic Virus: “Should be required reading at every medical school in the world.”

January 8th, 2011 → 3:22 pm @

Michael Shermer has devoted his life to truth-seeking and fact-finding, and his work has long been an inspiration to me. In addition to being the founder of Skeptic magazine, Skeptic.com, and The Skeptics Society and he writes a regular column for Scientific American and is a frequent blogger. The range and scope of Shermer’s work and interests is awesome, in the old-school sense of the word. (Here’s a sampling of some of the past speakers at the Skeptics Society’s lecture series at Caltech: Richard Dawkins, Leonard Mlodinow, Barbara Ehrenreich, Carl Zimmer, Alison Gopnik, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Pinker, and Daniel Dennett.)

Shermer reviewed The Panic Virus in the January 8 edition of The Wall Street Journal. It is an incredibly generous and humbling review: (more…)

Post Categories: Reviews

The problems with the BMJ’s Wakefield-fraud story

January 6th, 2011 → 11:42 am @

Yesterday, the news broke that the British Medical Journal was running a series of stories that labeled Andrew Wakefield’s infamous 1998 Lancet study that posited a link between the MMR vaccine and autism an “elaborate fraud.” Dr. Fiona Godlee, the BMJ‘s editor-in-chief, compared the MMR scare to the Piltdown man hoax, in which a series of fossilized remains found near East Sussex, England were claimed to be a previously unrecognized early ancestor of humankind. (I’m hoping that has more resonance in the UK than it does in the US, because when I first read that I had absolutely no recollection of the whole Piltdown mess.)

As someone who has spent two years doing nothing but looking into various vaccine scares, I found the way these latest revelations, which were based on reporting by Brian Deer, were packaged to be problematic. (more…)

Post Categories: Blog post

Boston Phoenix: Panic Virus a must-see reading of the winter

January 4th, 2011 → 5:50 pm @

On January 24 at 7pm, I’ll be doing a reading at the Harvard Book Store, in Harvard Square — which is particularly poignant for me not only because it’s been my favorite bookstore for the past twenty years but because my brief employment there back in 1998 was a bit, um turbulent. (I hope to see all you Boston folk there.)

Last week The Boston Phoenix‘s Eugenia Williamson listed that reading as one of 13 must-attend book events of the winter. (more…)

Post Categories: Readings & Reviews

Newsweek excerpt/essay posted online

January 4th, 2011 → 5:31 pm @

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.


Post Categories: Story alerts

Get a kiss, win a book

January 4th, 2011 → 4:14 pm @

(January 13, 2011: The contest has been extended for another week — see all the details here.)

Sheril Kirshenenbaum’s The Science of Kissing — a great book with arguably the cover/title of the year — was published today. For anyone who has ever made snap judgments based on the books people are reading on the train/subway/bus/plane — well, think of all the possibilities if someone saw you reading this: (more…)

Post Categories: Books