New on PLoS: The financial implications of the US measles outbreaks

May 24th, 2011 → 11:58 pm @

Earlier today, the CDC released a report about the measles outbreaks that have been occurring across the country since the beginning of the year. (Hat tip to USA Today‘s Liz Szabo for this story.) One reason measles outbreaks are so scary (and so difficult to contain) is that measles is the most infectious microbe known to man–it’s transmission rate is around 90 percent. It has also killed more children than any other disease in history.

Read the rest of this post on The Panic Virus PLoS Blog…

Post Categories: Blog post & PLoS

This week in PLoS: Manufactroversies, RFK Jr.’s revival, and the definition of a Mnooklear Attack

May 15th, 2011 → 8:53 pm @

Among the news I wrote about this week was a press conference in Washington DC ginning up the latest manufactroversy over vaccines and autism. (Perhaps not surprisingly, Fox News was one of the few news organizations to take the bait.) There are also highlights from a recent review on Blogcritics and a shout-out in the New York Post from Sarah Vowell. I also noted that Rolling Stone revived the error-filled Robert F. Kennedy Jr. story about thimerosal that the magazine ran in 2005 and disappeared sometime last year.

The most amusing post (for my money, anyway), was titled “In which my Seussian name is drafted in service of an Orwellian conspiracy,” and it deserves reprinting in full:

Back in late 2002, when I was a Newsweek media columnist covering the implosion of The New York Times, Mickey Kaus married my name with my employer’s and came up with Mnoosweek. It wasn’t quite a nonce usage — Kaus used it once more in Slate the following spring and Daniel Drezner referenced a Mnoosweek piece that summer — but that was pretty much it. It’s hard enough to spell Mnookin, never mind needing to turn it into a witty aphorism.

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?

Occam’s Razor it ain’t…but hey, with a name like mine, I’ll take what I can get.

Post Categories: Blog post & PLoS & sillyisms

New on PLoS: Evidence, herd immunity, and “total assholes”

May 9th, 2011 → 9:55 am @

My latest PLoS blog post went up on Friday; in it I discuss a comment I made back in January at American University in Washington DC. It begins:

If there’s any one thing I’ve stressed in my talks over the past three months, it’s that parents of children who believe that their children have been vaccine injured deserve compassion and understanding. (That doesn’t mean they should be pandered to or be allowed to dictate public health policy.) I’ve also said many times that I can’t pretend to know beyond any doubt how I would react if I was in their shoes.

I do, however, know what it’s like to be a parent who feels uneasy when a doctor asks you to take off your newborn’s pants so your child can be injected with a vaccine. It’s scary. I don’t know anyone in the world who likes needles or likes watching  needles pierce their child’s skin. However, the fact that something is scary does not convey a license to blithely deny reality — which is why I find the actions of parents who have simply decided for themselves that vaccines and dangerous and at the same refuse to acknowledge the potential repercussions of not vaccinating on those around them to be morally repugnant. This is not a new position of mine; I wrote about it at length in a chapter of my book titled “Medical NIMBYism and Faith Based Metaphysics”…

Click here for the rest of the post.


Post Categories: Blog post & PLoS