Seth Mnookin on The Panic Virus

Friday, January 07, 2011


This week the British Medical Journal concluded an extensive investigation into a study that claimed a link between childhood vaccination and autism. Their conclusion? The study WAS A FRAUD. And yet, after a decade of no convincing evidence of a link, the panic remains and vaccination rates are down. Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, explains why it’s so hard to dislodge misinformation and fear.

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Comments [54]

Micha'el from California

You might not have noticed that you allowed and supported Seth in establishing the difference between a study with 1500 scientists behind it and a study with 3 scientists behind it, WITHOUT mentioning that 500:1 is also roughly the same ratio between the scientists whose work is paid for by pharmaceutical companies and the scientists whose work is independent, non-corporate scientific research.

You might not have realized, also, that you allowed Seth, by intimation, to associate people who believe that vaccinations are unhealthy for children, with people who believe that President Obama was born in Nigeria. This is associative smearing. It does nothing to support your credibility. Rather reinforces the notion that you are motivated to continue to marginalize those with different positions. You may want to take note of that undertone.

Finally, the fact that your next guest right after Seth was the CEO of a vaccine company, on a show called "Biotech Nation," clearly shows the hemorraging of your objectivity and the actual interests that your time on the air aims to communicate.

Please take note and re-question you unexamined assumptions. I will continue to put health first and think very carefully before ever vaccinating.

Mar. 21 2011 04:14 PM
Matthew Chamberlin from Miami, FL

One of the most important points left out of this story was WHY would Wakefield take this position against MMR? Did he stand to gain financially? That's almost always the case, but if so, how?
This seems like a glaring error in reportage by OTM, and I wonder if anyone can shed light.

Jan. 16 2011 11:35 AM
Brandon Burroughs from Carolina del Norte - Raleigh

i think in this case the media is mostly to blame but England's Wakefield hospital is partially to blame because they gave the press and media the idea that if you got any vaccines then it would give you a higher possibility to catch autism and or a gut disease.

Jan. 14 2011 12:13 PM
Amy from NYC

To "Not a Chance": Vaccines work by exposing the immune system to the same bacteria that cause the disease (either killed or seriously weakened) or to fragments of those bacteria. This provokes a response from the immune system, causing it to "mature," to use your term, without exposing the child to the actual disease. Measles used to be a minor disease in most children, but still, many children used to die of it every year.

Jan. 14 2011 12:57 AM
Amy from NYC

Seth Mnookin said, “In 2010, there were ten children in California who died of whooping cough.” The bigger story about whooping cough is that it's made a comeback in the last decade or so. It's especially important to make sure babies get the DPT vaccine & in particular that the P (pertussis, or whooping cough) component is included (some versions of the vaccine are made without it). The patients most likely to die from whooping cough are babies who haven't received the full series of vaccinations (either because they're not old enough to have completed it or because their parents "spaced out" the inoculations).

Adults & adolescents should also continue to get boosters w/the pertussis component; the resurgence happened because the childhood vaccinations wear off, & the babies die because they catch whooping cough from close contacts who are older & caught the disease because they didn't get booster shots (they get it too, but they're more likely to survive it). The CDC has a page on this:

Jan. 14 2011 12:42 AM

Hi Twyla

Following John Siebert's excellent suggestion of doing your homework would mean you read the Aarhus and police statements and compare the facts with your links.
Has Dr. Thorsen been convicted, arrested, or charged with a crime?
Nope, nope, and nope.
The university isn't even sure if any money is missing.

Then simply googling his name demonstrates how the anti-vaccs have spent the last year lying about him.

Same thing with all your other links/arguments. Nothing stands up if you bother to do your homework.


Jan. 13 2011 08:08 PM
jj from Idaho

My sister is wildly mentally ill, and my parents vehemently denied that reality until their deaths; she was, instead, lazy, obstinate, cruel, selfish, moody, willful, manipulative, but not simply mentally ill. Their denial was pretty puzzling, but in it I see (perhaps) echos of the autism-vaccine parents: a desperate search for an excuse, *any* excuse, for why the child is ill or damaged. Any excuse, that is, except a genetic defect or deficiency (or variation, if you prefer): my parents preferred to leave my sister untreated rather than hear that their combined efforts created this sick person. This despite threads of mental illness--from depression to schizophrenia--that run in both sides of the family. Perhaps that's the same kind of denial that spurs on Jenny McCarthy: *I* can't have had anything to do with this tragic condition in my child, and instead I will seek out a cause that vindicates me.

Pure speculation, of course...

Jan. 13 2011 03:02 PM
Period 3 Catie Oscar and Zack T.

Seth Mnookin on The Panic Virus
January 07, 2011
To sum up this transcript its saying that Dr. Wakefield said that vaccines could cause autism and and was making up fake facts to prove him right. Bob Garfield was saying that it was not really tested and that it should be. Seth Mnookin was there so to give scientific explanations and correct information about the topics.
In this news report, Seth Mnookin, the persons being interviewed, was giving all the facts about Dr. Wakefield’s falsified report. Though Wakefield says otherwise in his report, the MMR vaccine does not cause children to have autism. Because if this misinformation, there was a measles outbreak in California because people were too scared to get vaccinated. The only reason people believed this was because of the media. In the media, the only people who got coverage were the skeptics about the vaccine. The famous actress Jenny McCarthy was on Oprah saying that she believed that this vaccine gave her child autism.

Jan. 13 2011 01:14 PM
Dominique Jackson

Everyone has to understand that over the past couple of years medicine has taken great advances. Doctors now know things that they once had no idea of. and in reality who can you trust when you get sick .

Jan. 13 2011 12:13 PM
joe dupont from towanda, pa

I just heard John Gambling or WOR Radio give Seth Mnookin his airwaves to say that there is NO link between Autism and vaccines.
No one seems to care about finding ANY link as to why this and other childhood diseases is on the rise. I would hope that GARY NULL contact John Gambling on the air about this show and offer to come on and talk about Mnookin's book..
I suppose all the crap in the vaccines is good for you right?
Gambling was inferring that we should MAKE ALL of you get what ever vaccine they are pushing that month!!

Jan. 13 2011 10:00 AM

That sounds good, W&N, except that it's pure fiction and has no connection with reality. Re-read John Siebert's comment -- he's making sense!

Jan. 12 2011 09:20 PM

Hi Twyla,

The exact point is that your disbelief requires the conscious decision to not look at the facts and see the lies about Dr. Thorsen.

Willfully turning a blind eye doesn't get rid of the fraud, lies, criminal conduct of the anti's.


Jan. 12 2011 08:25 PM
John Siebert from Chicago

Nobody likes a bully, Bob. The borderline-mocking tone of this segment (with the exception of the gratuitous sound clip from the Oprah show which was intentionally mocking and clearly included for no other purpose than to make McCarthy look foolish) was belittling and beneath NPR's high standards. Oversimplify this issue and insinuating to listeners unfamiliar with this it that it's now an open and shut case is not only irresponsible, but insulting to the millions of highly intelligent parents and researchers – many of whom are devoted NPR listeners – who believe otherwise. Don't be so gullible, Bob; do your homework next time.

Jan. 12 2011 10:48 AM
Ray Yurick from 191:United States

Great insight, Bob. People seem to be abandoning science and regressing to some kind of erstwhile tribalism. Just look at talk radio and Fox News for other examples. It's depressing.

Jan. 12 2011 08:39 AM

W&N, I completely disagree. Anyone who bothers to look can easily see that there are problems with vaccines, and that many highly intelligent conscientious ethical people are speaking out about it.

Jan. 12 2011 12:30 AM

Hi Twyla,
The essence of running multi-million dollar international fraud is lying.
Take Dr. Thorsen. All one has to do is to read the Aarhus statement to see how the anti-vaccs have spent the last year lying about him.
Same thing with all your other links--anyone that bothers to look can easily see their complete incompetence and dishonesty.

Jan. 11 2011 07:36 AM

Who is Brian Deer?

Jan. 11 2011 12:11 AM

A new book is coming out in February "Vaccine Epidemic"
"Featuring more than 20 experts from the fields of ethics, law, science, medicine, business, and history, Vaccine Epidemic urgently calls for reform."

Seth Mnookin would have us believe that this controversy is over, but it is not. He would have us belive that all the science is on one side, and on the other side are only irrational parents, but that is not so. I hope that NPR reporters will read book "Vaccine Epidemic" when it comes out. I am so disappointed in NPR's one-sided coverage of vaccines. You need to understand that there is another side to this story.

Please also read David Kirby's book "Evidence of Harm", Dr. Andrew Wakefield's book "Callous Disregard", and Dr. Bryan Jepson's book, "Changing the Course of Autism: a Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians".

Jan. 11 2011 12:09 AM

All I have to say is where do you guys get these experts. When I heard these segment I just couldn't believe my ears. The man flat out said there is no evidence that can be used to argue the connection between vaccines and autism. At what point to people get the point humans are a suicidual speicies. We make things that kill us and sell it to our selves. We set up authorities to mandate we use those things, everything representing modern life is an example. I close by saying gary null, gary null, gary null. Look him up...

Jan. 10 2011 03:20 PM
ayana g from united states

The revolt against vaccines isn't about one study or one doctor. It is about distrust of the medical-industrial complex. Remember these are the same people who originally told us there was no link between cancer and tobacco smoke. Now, they're telling parents that despite the increasing anecdotal evidence, there is no link between too much, too soon vaccinations and autism. Carl Elliott's WHITE COAT, BLACK HAT: Adventures On The Dark Side Of Medicine explains more about the corruption and collusion within the ranks of the medical-industrial complex. This is going to go beyond the issue of vaccinations. When people begin to question cell phone radiation as the epidemic of brain tumors explodes, we're going to see the same denial of a link from scientists. Just you wait and see.

Jan. 10 2011 02:18 PM
ayana g from united states

The revolt against vaccines isn't about one study or one doctor. It is about distrust of the medical-industrial complex. Remember these are the same people who originally told us there was no link between cancer and tobacco smoke. Now, they're telling parents that despite the increasing anecdotal evidence, there is no link between too much, too soon vaccinations and autism. Carl Elliott's WHITE COAT, BLACK HAT: Adventures On The Dark Side Of Medicine explains more about the corruption and collusion within the ranks of the medical-industrial complex. This is going to go beyond the issue of vaccinations. When people begin to question cell phone radiation as the epidemic of brain tumors explodes, we're going to see the same denial of a link from scientists. Just you wait and see.

Jan. 10 2011 02:18 PM

Dr. Poul Thorsen, who was a key author of some of the Danish papers exonerating vaccines, recently absconded with $2 million in research dollars. And his university in Denmark, Aarhus U, found that he was simultaneously holding a full time teaching post at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia, without disclosing his employment to Aarhus.

It’s absolutely amazing that this has not received attention from the mainstream press, especially compared with how the Royal Free doctors have been vilified simply for investigating the health issues of a group of patients and writing a simple “case series” paper.

Jan. 10 2011 01:14 PM

Epidemiology is not the only kind of science. Epidemiology can only provide clues -- these studies can show correlation or lack thereof. It's odd that the same people who keep telling parents "Don't confuse correlation with causation!" also seem to revere epidemiology as the highest and most definitive form of science.

Autism is most likely multi-factorial. It is defined by behaviors, not by etiology or biological markers. It is a broad spectrum and may actually include distinct subtypes. Genetics, environmental pollution, and vaccines may all play a role. Various vaccine ingredients may be factors, and may affect different children differently. So it can be difficult for epidemiology to tease out causation factors.

There is research on both sides of these issues, and flaws in some of the studies often held up as evidence of no vaccine-autism link (see links in my comment # 20). In addition, we need research on the vaccine injured children!

We also do need an epidemiological study on health issues in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children (retrospective) and animals (prospective). A study on monkeys is actually in process at the University of Pittsburgh, and it’s existence is probably the motivation behind the current wave of Wakefield-bashing.

Jan. 10 2011 12:52 PM

Reporter Sharyl Attkisson said that, "CBS News has learned the government has paid more than 1,300 brain injury claims in vaccine court since 1988, but is not studying those cases or tracking how many of them resulted in autism.

"The branch of the government that handles vaccine court told CBS News: 'Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries…may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but we do not track cases on this basis.'

"'What we’re seeing in the bulk of the population: vaccines are safe,' said [Dr. Bernadine] Healy. 'But there may be this susceptible group. The fact that there is concern, that you don’t want to know that susceptible group is a real disappointment to me. If you know that susceptible group, you can save those children. If you turn your back on the notion that there is a susceptible group… what can I say?'"

Jan. 10 2011 12:36 PM

Joe says, "I guess they all are brainwashed at med school." This video of Dr. John Poling (father of Hannah Poling) being interviewed by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is interesting:
Dr. Gupta mentions how "startling" it is to hear that Dr. Poling's daughter was found to have vaccine-induced autism, and that as doctors they have been taught for so long how good vaccines are, and of course they are so important in preventing life threatening illnesses. Dr. Poling says, “I wouldn’t have believed it until it happened to me… As a doctor, until it happened to me, until I saw the regression, until I saw a normal 18 month-old toddler descend into autism I wouldn’t have believed it was possible.”

This is exactly what parents of vaccine-injured children experience: hardly anyone believes it until they witness it in their own children.

There is so much talk about "science" and how science has spoken, and parents don't understand science. But science should start with observing evidence in an unbiased manner. Parents tell stories of adverse reactions to vaccines followed by regression into autism, and their accounts are summarily dismissed as "anecdotal" without their children being studied. That is not science; that's just prejudice.

Jan. 10 2011 12:34 PM

Note comment # 15 is from a doctor and the only one that rubber stamps the Mnookin interview. I guess they all are brainwashed at med school. The only logical reason to put 25 micrograms of mercury in every human vaccine would be to lobotomize the entire population for the purpose of control. Ditto for fluoride in the water. Maybe this is why there have been no revolutions in the developed world in the last 50 years.

Jan. 10 2011 09:11 AM
G from Tampa, FL

It entirely saddens me that NPR joins the legions of media outlets that oversimplify and misrepresent arguments presented by those who question vaccine safety.

What about Hannah Poling? The Department of Health and Human Services special vaccine court ruled that vaccines aggravated her mitochondrial dysfunction which led to her severe autism. This is a big deal. According to a study just published last month in JAMA, children with autism have a higher incidence of mitochondrial dysfunction. Vaccines do have a role.

I believe, as do many well educated and respected individuals in the scientific community, that a genetic predisposition (mitochondrial dysfunction) is triggered by an environmental factor. There is NO such thing as a genetic epidemic.

I am appauled NPR continues to take such a limited view on this subject. I suppose I am one of the emotional "hysterics." My 10 year old brother has autism. Yes, I do get emotional when I realize he will miss out on so much I cherished in my childhood and will work so much harder than everyone else only to get less. I am only human. But, oh, NPR. Please, oh please, do not tell me I am incapable of rational thought and "hysterical." Do not patronize me!

Jan. 09 2011 11:20 PM

A earlier poster claims
"Japan does not vaccinate until age 3. They have NO SIDS OR AUTISM. Humm! "
But Japan does have autism. The Wiki article
cites Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005;46(6):572–9. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01425. and concludes
"A 2005 study of a part of Yokohama with a stable population of about 300,000 reported a cumulative incidence to age 7 years of 48 cases of ASD per 10,000 children in 1989, and 86 in 1990. After the vaccination rate of MMR vaccine dropped to near zero, the incidence rate grew to 97 and 161 cases per 10,000 children in 1993 and 1994, respectively, indicating that MMR vaccine did not cause autism."

Jan. 09 2011 09:52 PM
John from Austin

I agree with Not a Chance, who posted above. The only worthy scientific argument against SOME vaccinations is that maturing immune systems depend on certain more benign illness during childhood in order that the adult immune system learns to cope with more serious illness later in life. I read a very convincing study years ago about this, and exposure to illnesses like measles are crucial to the full development of the human immune system. If I remember correctly (iAdmittedly, I may not), such illnesses even help certain glands and such to fully mature. I think Not a Chance has it right when he states "billions of years of evolution has created symbiosis among all life forms that science is only just beginning to understand... sometimes nature's course simply has to be understood as knowing what it's doing for the benfefit of all involved."
For example, do a search on Inflammatory Bowel Disease, like Crohn's, and whipworms. We protect ourselves against such parasites these days, but some researchers believe these parasites, though unpleasant to ponder, may be crucial to a healthy human immune system. Here's the first article from a search I just made to provide a post:

I agree most vaccines are beneficial AND SHOULD BE USED against SERIOUS illness, but maybe we should think twice before turning to pharmaceutical companies to thwart every single thing nature does to our bodies.

Jan. 09 2011 08:38 PM
Brigette Bowler from Detroit

The coverage of Wakefield being debunked by the media and its psuedoscience cronies makes me sick. Are the Pharmaceutical companies funding your show? Have you seen the New Yorker Dec 13 2010 article by Jonah Lehrer
These reports saying there is no evidence of MMR and other vaccines being suspect in behavioral changes and damaging effects attributed to vaccines is abhorrent. The parents organized and Wakefield courageousl scientifically documented their first hand observations and the corporate hold over the media discounts it. Horrible. Seth sucks how much does he get paid to tote the ruling party line

Jan. 09 2011 07:37 PM

All vaccines have some risk of adverse affects, contamination, etc. It's one thing to take small risks in the face of serious prevalent diseases. It's quite another to keep piling on the vaccines even for illnesses that are either very rare or have very rare serious effects.

Jan. 09 2011 06:57 PM

K Habig, I do believe in vaccines for preventing serious prevalent diseases. But my autistic son received a heptatitis B vaccine on the day he was born, even though he was not at risk of this disease because I am not a carrier. The CDC had recently decided to give this vaccine to all newborns for the sake of the few whose moms are positive for Hep B but don't know it. I did not question this at the time. This is an example of serious problems with weighing risks and benefits. When a baby is born you do not know whether that baby has allergies or kidney or liver problems. Hep B is primarily spread like AIDS via exchange of bodily fluids, and the vaccine will wear off way before the child is old enough to engage in risky behaviors such as sex and IV drugs.

Another example is rotavirus. I hear that this is a problem in third world countries, but I have never ever known anyone in the U.S. who had a problem with rotavirus. I have read that in most babies rotavirus causes only a fleeting case of diarrhea -- no big deal. In worse cases, hosptitalization and IV fluids is called for, but this is extremely rare, and treatable. Yet the vaccine can cause a rare but serious problem -- intussusception, which can require surgery or even be fatal.

Our health authorities are adding more and more vaccines to the schedule, with the attitude that if there is the slightest risk of a disease all babies should be vaccinated, but if there are adverse reactions to the vaccines those are just a coincidence and "anectdotal". We really don't know what are the cumulative effects of so many vaccines, what causes some babies to be more susceptible to adverse reactions, how many vaccines can safely be given at once, and how to treat vaccine injuries. These questions need a lot more research.

Jan. 09 2011 06:56 PM

Even in this attempt to provide a definitive word on this subject your guest uses the word "fairly" when pressed by the host for an answer as to the certainty that there is no evidence for this link to autism.

This is exactly the communication that has been part of this problem all along. Many will hear "fairly" regarding the certainty here and dismiss the entire rest of the story.

Communication is a nuanced art and NPR, the media, this author, the host should know this and confront it. Otherwise this becomes another story that talks past those starting with a different viewpoint.

Jan. 09 2011 05:50 PM
K Habig from MN

Perhaps vaccinations could be administered differently, or later in childhood (which would depend on a social structure in which children could be kept at home, rather than being sent to daycare so that both parents could work), and I don't doubt that vaccines have detrimental effects on some children. However, it has been abundantly shown that disease rates have dropped since vaccines have been introduced.

It is only in societies in which most people are vaccinated that parents can have the luxury of choosing not to vaccinate. Exceptions to vaccination requirements for schoolchildren should be reserved for those who cannot be vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons.

Jan. 09 2011 05:38 PM

Dr. Wakefield has been given far to much credit for causing concerns over vaccines. Those concerns were there before him and will be there no matter how much he is villified. Parents of vaccine injured children have formed organizations with thousands of members such as SafeMinds, TACA, Generation Rescue, National Autism Assiciation, National Vaccine Information Center. This is a grass roots movement which is not going away.

We constantly hear that this is a "parents vs. science" issue pitting ignorant emotional parents against rational disinterested scientists, but there is actually science on the side of the vaccine-autism link, and a lot of parents with medical and scientific degrees. And unfortunately there are a lot of special interests in the scientific/medical arenas.

For another perspective on autism science, see:

Jenny McCarthy has worked her butt off to advocate for autism causes and treatments, but she is not and does not pretend to be a scientist or doctor. She has used her celebrity to open doors and get attention from the media, which is great. She has raised awareness, but she is not the reason why parents believe in vaccine injury. She is not the scientific foundation for biomedical causes and treatments. We are not sheeple following a celebrity.

Jan. 09 2011 04:10 PM

For another side of the story on Dr. Wakefield et al's study, see:

Also, see the articles linked to here:

Dr. Wakefield responded to parental concerns by studying their children's serious health issues. He and his colleagues, including the world renowned pediatric gastroenterolgist John Walker-Smith, wrote a simple paper describing their gastrointestinal issues. They mentioned that most of the parents reported a link between onset of the autism and GI issues and the MMR vaccine. They called for further research.

None of the parents complained about their experiences with the Royal Free doctors. The majority of them signed a petition stating their support of Wakefield, Murch, and Walker-Smith. They said that their children needed treatment, that they approved the treatments and diagnostic procedures which were performed, and that most of the children felt better because of the treatments.
Please watch this video to get an idea of what the parents think and what Brian Deer is like:

Jan. 09 2011 03:57 PM

I am so disappointed in how NPR continues to repeat the formulaic responses of mainstream medical and govt regarding vaccines and autism. I am so dismayed that the evidence of parents' observations of their children continues to be summarily dismissed as "anectdotal" without investigation.

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the NIH, said that "when she began researching autism and vaccines she found credible published, peer-reviewed scientific studies that support the idea of an association. That seemed to counter what many of her colleagues had been saying for years. She dug a little deeper and was surprised to find that the government has not embarked upon some of the most basic research that could help answer the question of a link. The more she dug, she says, the more she came to believe the government and medical establishment were intentionally avoiding the question because they were afraid of the answer."

Important research has not been done, such as a study comparing longterm health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated childre (or animals), and study of vaccine injured children. I have written about some of this here:

Parental reports of children suffering vaccine reactions such as high fever, high pitched crying for hours, arching back, and/or seizures, followed by loss of language, social skills and eye contact and development of self-stimming repetitive behaviors, are too numerous and similar to be coincidence. Furthermore, they are consistent with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and encephalopathy (brain disease/injury) which are known to be possible effects of vaccines, based on the vaccine labels and the government's table of vaccine injury.

Jan. 09 2011 03:46 PM
Charles S from Millis, Ma

Wonderful story.

I hope that Jenny McCarthy wins a huge libel suit against that fraudulent doctor for ruining her reputation and good standing as a graduate of google university.

Jan. 09 2011 03:42 PM

Jan. 09 2011 03:40 PM
Dr. Lynda Ulrich from Vermont

I was so impressed with this interview's theme that I posted a link to it on my office's facebook page. If I had a quarter for all the items of misinformation that people come in with in my office... It seems that we hear one compelling story and then selectively hear ONLY things that support it. (I'm the first to admit I'm guilty too.) The Autism/Vaccine story that was discussed can be considered a metaphor for hundreds of similar "factually empty" urban legends that spawn dangerous behavior or belief trends that run through our culture. I encouraged my FiddleheadDental friends to be sure to do BALANCED homework before jumping on any health related band-wagon.

Jan. 09 2011 02:33 PM

Just listened to Seth Mnookin's utter whitewash of the Wakefield study and any notion of vaccine/autism connection. His Smug condisending nasal tone is typical of 'esablishment', as it tries to sooth the public and is the overwhelming voice of NPR these days, which as the last commentator states is owned by big pharma, which is part of the vast petrochemical industry, which makes most of the worlds money and buys most of its goverments, including NPR. Yet anyone can look at the list of ingredients in ANY vaccine as published on the manufacture's websites, or by the CDC or FDA, and see that they contain deadly toxins like Mercury,formaldihyde,arsenic,aluminum. Mercury is the most toxic element in the universe and destroys brain tissue after breaking down the blood/brain barrier. I personally have a friend who works in EMS, who became parylized for over a year immediately following a compulsory flu shot. A CAT scan revealed large holes in her brain. This condition is called Garrien Barre syndrome and supposedly affects one in a million people who get the vaccine. Now I don't know near a million people so was this just coincidence, or are the real figures being covered up. There is absolutely no dispute that childhood autism rates have risen in direct correlation to the rise in vaccination, my advice to the 'public', is not to belive anything you hear on the media period. Do your own rescearch, keep an open mind and come to your own conclusions.

Jan. 09 2011 12:43 PM
Not a Chance

As to any legitimate argument against SOME vaccinations, the only one worth its science is that some less severe illnesses are crucial in order for young immune systems to fully mature, and so perhaps some "rite of passage" illnesses like measles shouldn't be vaaccinated against. The idea is that without ever acquiring such relatively minor illnesses, immune systems are never bolstered enough to fight off more severe illnesses later in life.

It's natural for a parent to wish away any and all illness in their child, but billions of years of evolution has created symbiosis among all life forms that science is only just beginning to understand... sometimes nature's course simply has to be understood as knowing what it's doing for the benfefit of all involved.

Don't get me wrong, though... most vaccinations can and SHOULD be used!

People are plain dumb to think that the science of vaccination hasn't made the world better for humanity. Many horrible illnesses are much worse and more dangerous than any potential threat to the developing maturity of our immune systems.

Jan. 09 2011 11:53 AM
Not a Chance

Maybe it's time our government takes a queue from the rest of the industrialized western world and starts banning the thousands of "household" chemicals industry dumps on the public in the name of a quick buck.

Most Americans are insanely gullible to believe that all the crap they use around their homes is safe... from insecticides/herbicides to disinfectants/cleaners, people spray anything and everything into their immediate environment, poisoning themselves... then the particulate screws the ecology up for the rest of us who are smart enough to realize plain water cleans up almost anything (with a little elbow grease and maybe some Bon Ami thrown in).

Maybe people should look to the chemical sea first, for answers as to why diseased conditions are more prevalent than ever.

As to any legitimate argument against SOME vaccinations, the only one worth its science is that some less severe illnesses are crucial in order for young immune systems to fully mature, and so perhaps some "rite of passage" illnesses like measles shouldn't be vaaccinated against. The idea is that without ever acquiring such relatively minor illnesses, immune systems are never bolstered enough to fight off more severe illnesses later in life.

It's natural for a parent to wish away any and all illness in their child, but billions of years of evolution has created symbiosis among all life forms that science is only just beginning to understand... sometimes nature's course simply has to be understood as knowing what it's doing for the benfefit of all involved.

Jan. 09 2011 11:47 AM
Morris Townson from E. TN

Yep! NPR was bought by the Big Pharam Corps.
Vaccine injury is real.
Investigate before you vaccinate.
What are other countries doing with their vaccines? Humm!
Japan does not vaccinate until age 3. They have NO SIDS OR AUTISM. Humm!
Parents are not hysterical. They have proof.
Vaccine injury is real.

Jan. 09 2011 11:26 AM
LeeHouston from Houston

This isn't just about one shoddy bit of research or the coverage of it. The medical establishment lacks credibility and mustn't overlook their own shortcomings when it comes to using evidence. For years, any doctor or surgeon who suggested lifestyle changes to prevent and treat heart disease was blacklisted by the establishment. Dr. Ornish and others had evidence. It was ignored or discounted because the establishment was stuck in old beliefs. If you look back, you will see that the medical professionals often seem to be late adopters. A good example: surgeons and doctors fought the idea of having to wash their hands between patients for years, perhaps as long as 30 years. Having witnessed too many misdiagnoses by a sometimes careless medical establishment, I am not surprised people look elsewhere for solutions. And need I mention unethical ties to pharmaceutical companies? Medical professionals are on shaky ground. That needs to be addressed as well.

Jan. 09 2011 11:09 AM
F.A. Carroll from South Central Texas

interesting how the whitewash continues as ya'll seem to totally ignore that when the vaccines were given one at a time (as I received them) there was no problem. Since the 'combination' of giving the basic ones has occured, NOW there seems to be a connection.
So does the "scientific" community take a look at this, perhaps 'studying' the difference...NOPE! All they do is split each vaccine up & deny any connection. Big Pharm & Big Med's now leads you media people around by the nose....

Jan. 09 2011 10:43 AM
Linda Foss from Austin

The "vaccine theory" would have made little sense if it were better known that boys develop autism in a ratio of 5-1 to girls. This is rarely reported. A (male) human problem, not just a media problem.

Jan. 09 2011 10:39 AM

I think this piece is overall very well-done. But Bob, I am disappointed that you described the anti-vaccine movement with the word "hysteria." Yes, celebrity moms are the most visible part of this craziness, but hysteria is a loaded word for women.

Thanks for all the great work you do on the show!

Jan. 09 2011 10:35 AM
James Pizzadili from Alaska

When your guest compared people who recognize the damage that vaccines cause with those who believe that the earth is flat, it brought to mind the quote by Bertrand Russel: "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Don't expect to ever see a mainstream medical journal publish the connection between vaccines and autism, asthma, brain damage, seizures, and case you haven't noticed, science and scientists are for sale just like the media and everything else. To quote Andrew Wakefield, the BMJ article is part of "a ruthless, pragmatic attempt to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety." concerns." I find him far more credible than the author of the BMJ article, who also works for Rupert Murdoch. Wakefield's case also makes it clear what will happen to any other scientist who steps off the reservation. How about inviting Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center to comment on the vaccine issue?

Jan. 09 2011 05:07 AM
Jake from North Hollywood, CA

We put a lot of blame onto the news media for not telling the autism/vaccine story well, but the entertainment media has possibly done much worse. Look at Jenny McCarthy's appearances, she is constantly given a soapbox to rail against vaccines when she is clearly wrong about everything that she's saying and in fact putting forward false information that hurts kids. Oprah has no doubt been the worst of Jenny's enablers, we can also blame The View. We've also seen the story put forward in fiction. The short lived drama Eli Stone began with an episode where the lead character turned around and helped win the case of a woman whose child had been turned autistic by "Mercuriol."

The parents in the vaccine movement have an emotive story, and they use it well, and they are hard to argue with without appearing to be some sort of monster. But we have to remember, they are wrong and the misconceptions they spread about vaccines are leading to children being needlessly injured and killed. Childhood vaccines are perhaps the greatest public health measure around, outside of clean water. Those people who scare parents away from using them are doing the public a grave disservice.

Jan. 09 2011 02:12 AM
Mike from San Diego

It is easy to see how people searching for answers would look to anyone for an answer when the medical community has not put forward any consistent message on the autism rate climb, other than; "It's not the vaccines."

Jan. 08 2011 09:38 PM
OTM Listener from Boston

Maybe a minor factor in explaining parents willingness to believe the false link between MMR and autism: usually autism is not apparent in a baby until he/she reaches ages 1 to 3 years, and the baby may appear perfectly normal before that. This is also the time when the MMR vaccine is given. So some parents think their baby is fine, then later, after the vaccine, they notice the signs of autism, later receive a confirming diagnosis, and look back and wonder what went wrong or when did their child change. And the coincidental timing of the vaccine and the appearance of autism is taken as causal.

Jan. 08 2011 02:02 PM
Howard M Thompson

It seems to me that the failure here is the human desire to impose a narrative on a set of facts. We prefer anecdotes to epidemiological studies. We don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

There's a reason that a politician proposing a new program will point to one person who will benefit rather than making a statistical argument.

There's a reason items in the news are called stories.

Jan. 08 2011 08:00 AM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan Upper West Side

"... the blame, as it were, lies with...."

Curious how an otherwise forthright journalist needs to hedge his bets and cover his butt. An accused when asked "Did you do it?" who answers "I did it, as it were," or a child when probed by her parent "Did you smack Johnny?" who responds "I smacked Johnny, as it were" does not escape guilt or responsibility. Why should a journalist be allowed to get away with this avoidance?

Jan. 08 2011 07:47 AM

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