Newsweek excerpt/essay posted online

January 4th, 2011 → 5:31 pm @ // No Comments

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.

Since the piece was posted yesterday, there’s been a fairly, um, robust discussion in the comments section. I’ve avoided getting involved myself, but there are some interesting points being raised. I’m curious to know what the reactions are of people who don’t already have strong feelings about this topic one way or the other.

* The headline wasn’t something I came up with. I actually have a brief discussion in my book on the pitfalls of reporters not writing their own headlines in regards to a 2002 New York Times Magazine story by Arthur Allen titled “The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory.”

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2 Comments → “Newsweek excerpt/essay posted online”

  1. Lisa

    13 years ago

    I am very disappointed and insulted by Mnookin’s faulty assessment and assumptions of those of us who hesitate to inject our children with the dozens of vaccines available. The latest trend is to scoff at those of us who question the veracity of for-profit drug companies. Mnookin claims that those of us who are choosing that our children not be “up to date” on all the vaccinations are doing so either based on Dr. Wakefield’s falsified scientific data, a celebrity’s (Jenny McCarthy) suggestions, and/or simply basing it on our emotions.

    My husband and I based our decision not to give every available vaccine to our children based on careful research and many discussions with our pediatrician. The greatest tragedy is that we even have to question vaccine safety in the first place. I am very sad to say that I have no faith in the for-profit drug industry and no faith that a poorly funded FDA will protect us. Too many times, a vaccine or a drug has been approved too quickly because, upon further study, it was discovered it was dangerous, sometimes deadly. For example, between 1955 and 1963, monkey kidney cells contaminated with SV-40 virus were injected into 30 million people in the polio vaccine. This virus, currently found to be present in some human cancer cells, is genetically identical to that virus that was injected all those years ago. Animal (chickens, cows, monkeys and guinea pigs) and human tissues and cells are still being used in numerous vaccines today.

    Why should I trust the drug companies? In 1991, Merck knew that their vaccines given to six-month-old babies injected them with mercury 87 times the amount that was thought to be safe (p. 206 Sears, The Vaccine Book).

    Another big problem that has never been addressed properly is that many vaccines today contain aluminum. Aluminum causes neurological harm. It may accumulate in bone, urine, and plasma and can build up to toxic levels in the bloodstream as well. As Dr. Robert W. Sears has pointed out in The Vaccine Book, “No one has actually studied vaccine amounts of aluminum in healthy human infants . . .” He further points out that there are no warning labels for aluminum on vaccines even though the FDA requires that they be placed on other injectable medications with aluminum. In your article, Mr. Mnookin, you likened my hesitation to inject my children with all of this foreign matter with “persistent untruths” and called my fears “irrational.” That dinner party guest of yours who said these vaccines “just feels like a lot for a developing immune system to deal with” may be right. The problem is, the FDA and the drug companies have ignored the fact that there was too much mercury in the vaccines. Today, there may be too much aluminum, but the drug companies and the FDA simply haven’t bothered to determine whether or not this is true. I think it is such a shame that in this day and age, given the wealth of our country, and the vast amount of scientific knowledge out there, that parents like me and your dinner guest even have to question the FDA and the drug companies. Mr. Mnookin, you go on giving your child whatever comes on the market and I hope, for your sake and your children’s sakes, history does not repeat itself. As for me, I want to know why is it too much to ask that all drugs, all vaccines and all the ingredients get thoroughly tested before going to market?


  2. Lisa

    13 years ago

    Mr. Mnookin, I checked back here to see if you would have a response but instead you took this off your site? I’d really like you to respond to my issues (and not set up another straw man like you did in your Newsweek article).


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