May 4th, 2011 → 7:40 pm @ Seth Mnookin
With the exception of Andrew Wakefield, there are no more infamous anti-vaccine “researchers” than Dr. Mark Geier and his son, David.
Last week, the Maryland State Board of Physicians suspended Mark Geier’s license to practice medicine. (As far as I can tell, this doesn’t affect Geier’s ability to practice in the other states in which he’s licensed, including California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington.) That this move comes years too late for scores of children does not mean it is not incredibly welcome.
May 3rd, 2011 → 12:45 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Almost three months ago, a writer named David Kirby wrote a 3,800-word piece for The Huffington Post titled “The Autism-Vaccine Debate: Why It Won’t Go Away.” It was not an impressive piece of reporting. As I wrote in Scientific American at the time,
By obscuring the difference between anecdotes and evidence, fomenting unfounded fears, and disguising tendentious tracts as objective analyses, he might be influencing public opinion, but he’s not helping the search for verifiable truth. (more…)
February 17th, 2011 → 8:35 am @ Seth Mnookin
Yesterday morning I was a guest on ABC Radio National’s “Late Night Live” program (audio link) in conjunction with the release of the Australian edition of The Panic Virus. (Coincidentally, I also received my copy of the AU edition yesterday afternoon.) It was an interesting program: A little more talk about 9/11 conspiracy theorists than I’m used to, but clearly vaccines were of much interest to the host and the audience.
When I got off the line and checked my email, I saw a message from David McCaffery, whose four-week-old daughter, Dana, died in March 2009 after being infected with pertussis. The McCafferys live in New South Wales, and I got to know them while working on my book (their story is included in the preface to the Australian edition). “Sad news, Seth,” David wrote, before pointing me to a story about a newborn baby in Melbourne who died last week of whooping cough. (More information about vaccine awareness efforts in Australia can be found on Dana McCaffery’s Facebook page.) (more…)
February 11th, 2011 → 6:49 pm @ Seth Mnookin
I haven’t hid my feelings about The Huffington Post‘s track record when it comes to responsible science reporting, and earlier in the week, I speculated as to what effect AOL’s purchase of the site would have on the combined entity’s future coverage. (As part of the deal, Arianna Huffington will assume editorial control of AOL news operations.)
If today’s HuffPo story by David Kirby is any indication, the site will continue to run misleading and inaccurate stories about vaccines and their supposed connection to autism. Kirby is a more felicitous and intelligent writer than many of the site’s other contributors, but his conclusions are no less irresponsible or off-base. Earlier today, I unpacked a handful of the problems with Kirby’s effort in a Scientific American guest blog. (more…)