Kids are dying — and that’s a fact, not a belief.

February 17th, 2011 → 8:35 am @

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…)

Post Categories: Blog post

Let me state very simply: HuffPo publishes dangerously ignorant dreck

February 7th, 2011 → 11:05 am @

Last night, AOL finalized a deal to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million. From my perspective, the biggest news is that Arianna Huffington will, according to The New York Times, “take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The arrangement will give her oversight not only of AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefone.”

Much of the hand-wringing about Arianna’s ascension has focused on her liberal political views. (The headline on the Fox Nation website read, “AOL veers hard left, buys Huffington Post.”) I’m more worried about whether The Huffington Post‘s history of publishing baldly inaccurate stories about science and medicine will now infect the rest of AOL’s content. (more…)

Post Categories: Blog post

Salon retracts “Deadly Immunity,” RFK Jr. keep it on his site…as does Dr. Jay

January 17th, 2011 → 11:23 pm @

On Sunday,’s editor-in-chief, Kerry Lauerman, did something that’s far too rare in the media: He acknowledged his publication had made a mistake in judgment and he took steps to correct the damage. The piece in question was “Deadly Immunity,” an error-laced story by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that initially appeared in both Salon and Rolling Stone. It was filled with outright errors, embarrassing misquotes, and clumsy mischaracterizations. From Lauerman’s statement: (more…)

Post Categories: Blog post

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…)

Post Categories: Blog post

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…)

Post Categories: Blog post

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…)

Post Categories: Blog post