Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FRONTLINE: The Vaccine War - Some Thoughts

Last night, April 27, 2010 at 9pm EDT, PBS ran their episode of FRONTLINE titled "The Vaccine War". The show introduced the issue involving vaccines and a purported autism connection, covering some of the arguments against vaccines, arguments suggesting a causal connection and detailing the medical and scientific evidence against such arguments. Orac at Respectful Insolence has a pretty good summary up, so I won't rehash what's already been done.

Overall, it was a very good program, which is to be expected from FRONTLINE. It had a decidedly pro-vaccine slant to it, again, to be expected, since they were reporting factual information and reality, rather than the emotional rhetoric, misinformation and outright distortions found from such folks as JB Handley and Jenny McCarthy at Generation Rescue/Age of Autism and Barbara Loe Fish at the NVIC. There were several shortcomings I felt should have been addressed, however:

* A parent brought up the question of why we give HepB vaccine at birth. The program never really addressed some of the reasons behind the recommendation.

* While the program pointed out that Barbara Loe Fisher was involved in the creation of the VICP and Vaccine Court, they should have pointed out how she, and others in the antivaccine community, is pretty actively against the program and court, now. Some even call for its elimination, which would lead to devastating consequences (longer, costlier court processes with higher standards of evidence for those claiming injury and the likely elimination of vaccine production in the U.S.).

* The social and political tactics of the antivaccine movement should have been mentioned, such as Wakefield's failed attempt to use libel law to silence Deer, Loe Fisher's failed attempt to use libel law to silence Offit et al., "outing" bloggers to their employers, censoring dissenting comments on their blogs, and other sundry underhanded tactics.

While the interviews allowed the antivaxers to portray themselves as somewhat out of touch with reality, the truly dark side of how they operate was not exposed. That, really, is the one down side. Otherwise, as I said, it was a good episode. If anyone missed it and would like to watch it, you can do so online here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Censored on Olmsted on Autism: Gone Gary Gone

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Show to Watch - FRONTLINE: The Vaccine War

Quite a number of years ago, in 1993, the PBS program Frontline took on the scam known as Facilitated Communication (FC), a technique by which a facilitator supposedly helps children with autism communicate via a keyboard, but in reality completely author the messages produced. FC had become quite popular in the autism community because now the children were supposedly composing poetry, writing essays and telling their parents, "I love you". However, it came under scrutiny when allegations of physical and sexual abuse began surfacing. The resulting fallout ruined many families, as parents faced jail time based on the messages written by the facilitators. Frontline exposed the sham in their episode "Prisoners of Silence" (Here is Part 1 of the program).

Tomorrow, they will delve into the autism world once again, this time focusing on "The Vaccine War". The episode is scheduled to air tomorrow, April 27, 2010. Others have already commented on the press release and video clips, so I'll just let them give you a taste of the preview. If Frontline's past reporting is any indication, this will certainly be an episode to watch.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Censored on Dr. Mercola Interviews Dr. Andrew Wakefield

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Victory for Free Speech

Those interested in free speech and rational critique of ideas probably already know about Simon Singh's case in the U.K. Singh was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for some comments he made suggesting that the practices they promote are, well, bunk. An initial ruling by Justice David Eady appeared to be a major setback to Singh's case. However, he appealed and won the right to defend his comments as statements of opinion, rather than statements of fact.

Well, it appears the BCA has decided that it can no longer prevail and has dropped its libel suit against Singh. You can read more about this at Sense About Science.

While this is a major victory against the BCA's attempt to censor scientific criticism, the British libel laws are still in place. If you have not already done so, join the effort to revise the law to end the practice of using the legal system to censor critics. These laws don't just affect those living in the U.K.; they everyone, everywhere, thanks to libel tourism.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Censored on Chicago Tribune Buys Award With CDC’s Help

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