“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…)

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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…)

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Oprah smackdown: Will Jenny McCarthy’s vaccine nonsense top Suzanne Somers’s vagina injections?

January 3rd, 2011 → 10:52 am @

As you might have heard, Oprah Winfrey launched her own TV network on New Year’s Day. OWN (the initials stand for Oprah Winfrey Network) took over Discovery Health Channel’s slot with cable providers, and will offer around-the-clock programming designed to teach viewers how to “live your best life.” As Winfrey recently said in the pages of O, her glossy magazine, “My goal in life is to live out the truest expression of myself as a human being.” (more…)

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Dr. Jay: Still confusing the issue. Plus: Corrections via comments

December 30th, 2010 → 12:09 pm @

In one of his responses to yesterday’s post on his Twitter feed, Jay Gordon writes:

Seth, only a very small percentage of formula used is not the “standard” variety. Hypoallergenic formula is almost always a last resort. Infant formula increases the incidence of many childhood illnesses and this Pediatrics story adds to that verified list.

I’m assuming this is true — I have no idea what the ratio of hypoallergenic to standard infant formula is, but I’m guessing it’s small — but it is also completely beside the point. (more…)

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Blog commenting, availability cascades, and the autism-vaccine debate

December 30th, 2010 → 11:49 am @

In his blog, the Sports Illustrated writer and all-around genius/great guy Joe Posnanski frequently refers to his commenters as “brilliant readers.” His point is that they often prompt him to look at issues from a different perspective, which improves his ability to create a thought-provoking blog, which prompts more reader comments–you get the idea.

My hope is that the same type of community can be established here. That will undoubtedly be a challenge. Having written a book about baseball, I know sports are a topic about which people can get very emotional…but it’s nothing compared to child-rearing/health-care/vaccine safety/autism. I’ve thought a lot about the best way to oversee/moderate comments — more on that later — but for now, I’m incredibly happy to see that there is already some real dialogue going on. (more…)

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Q: What do Paul Offit and infant formula have in common? A: Jay Gordon's Twitter feed

December 29th, 2010 → 1:42 pm @

Earlier this morning, Jay Gordon, who is perhaps best known as the pediatrician who supported Jenny McCarthy in her belief that the MMR vaccine had contributed to her son’s autism, posted the following tweet: (more…)

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Jenny McCarthy: An enemy of rational discussion

December 23rd, 2010 → 12:27 pm @

Earlier this morning, Jenny McCarthy’s re-tweeted to her 225,354 followers the following message: “Pertussis vaccine (whooping cough) legal cause of epilepsy/death of boy. This will NOT make news during ‘outbreaks’ http://bit.ly/i20hmR.” That link brings the reader to a post on Age of Autism (one of whose editors was the source of the initial post, which has already been re-tweeted 50 times), which states unequivocally that a young boy named Elias Tembenis “died as a result of a reaction to his DTaP (P = Pertussis/Whooping Cough) vaccination.” Before I get into the multiple problems with such a statement, here’s some background: (more…)

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