Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Dose of Controversy Breezes Over Most Autism Vaccine Issues But Was Fair to Wakefield

I was actually pleased with the Matt Lauer/NBC coverage of the Wakefield/Deer and MMR/Vaccine Issues in A Dose of Controversy. I thought he was fair to Dr. Wakefield, giving him an opportunity to address allegations made against him. The program didn't go after Brian Deer for some of the allegations against him. While the program did give Paul Offit a free run to say what he wanted about vaccines and autism I thought he, of all people involved in the program, looked the most emotional and overwrought.

The coverage of vaccine-autism issues was light and glossed over many important issues including the "science disproving vaccine autism causal connections". The show did give Dr. Healy a brief spot to point out what is my main concern with the vaccine autism war - the obvious attempt to stifle scientific inquiry on vaccine autism issues that has been going on expressly since the IOM 2004 Report and the insufficiency of the scientific investigation to date of these issues. I don't know if Dr. Healy's sensible observations will make any impact on important audiences like IACC members but you never know.

A major criticism is the continuation of the characterization of parents as desperate, hysterical, dangerous, ignorant and unable to understand the issues or the science. It is a belief genuinely held by figures like Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Thomas Insel and it is a belief which prevents them from being able to make their case persuasively to parents.

These criticisms aside I was pleased that NBC tried to air both sides of the Wakefield/Deer MMR war instead of following recent trends and simply giving a one sided account based totally on the medical establishment position.

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Mark said...

Hi Harold
they really should have looked at Brn a little closer, he raised the original complaint against wakefield but now is free to report and profit from the case.
I would urge anyone who wants to learn more about deer to watch this film "Selective Hearing. Brian Deer and the GMC"

keep up the good work Harold

Autism Mom Rising said...

Matt Lauer said that no studies have been able to duplicate Wakefield's findings. This is untrue. While it is true that some studies have been unable to duplicate them, it is also true that Wake Forest University and NY University Medical Center also found live Measles virus in the intestines of Autistic study subjects. So, this hardly counts for no studies. Therefore, I think the issue, in terms of science, is hardly settled and should be considered inconclusive at this time.

M.J. said...

I wish the coverage had been a little more even.

It seemed like Dr Wakefield's answers were kept short but his two critics were allowed to go on a great length. I think there was also a slight attempt to portray Wakefield in a pseudo-cult role with all of the footage of those adoring "irrational" parent.

The questions that Matt Lauer had for Brian Deer were ridiculous though. Could he have made it any easier for him? Matt Lauer gave him one slow pitch after another.

I also wish they had made the distinction between the various issues clearer. They spent a lot of time jumping from MMR to thimerosal to vaccines in general and implied that all of the research applied equally to all of the issues. If you didn't understand the various issues going in you certainly didn't have a clear view coming out.

But I guess it could have been a lot worse than it was.

Unknown said...

MJ, I agree with you.

Given the recent wave of totally one sided media accounts of the vaccine autism issues I just felt this was the best that could be expected.

I was pleased Dr Healy was included albeit very, very briefly.

navywifeandmom said...

My mom thought Wakefield looked very even-keeled and level-headed, even when answering the tough questions. She thought Offit looked kind of stressed out and nutty. I got the same vibe.

I am glad they showed the Kasemodel's son and gave the viewers a good dose of autism reality in America. For once we see the dark side of autism - a preteen in diapers who self-injures, instead of a little savant or a concert pianist.