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Questions for WXYZ

July 12th, 2008 · 7 Comments · Careless sourcing

There’s a great comment by Dr.JohnDo, written in response to Action Investigator Steve Wilson’s pseudoscience reporting on vaccines and autism:

Steve, just out of curiosity, did you receive vaccines? And if you did, why did you not develop autism? And if you don’t have autism, and all your vaccinated friends don’t have autism, and the vast majority of those who you know who went to school and were vaccinated don’t have autism, is there some massive resistance thats out there, or should we question the alleged causal relationship. Do you know the difference between ethyl mercury and methyl mercury in terms of its pharmacokinetics (biological effects) and poisoning potential, as that has significance to the discussion? This concept, as well as 11 other articles that you said did not exist investigating any possible causal relationship between vaccines and autism where reviewed by the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics which showed that the relationship does not exist. Is there a science reporter who may be able to put some of this in better perspective? I’m going to e-mail the article to you, please let me know what you think. I too am a parent of an autistic 2 year old and have the same vested interest in coming to the true mechanism and treatment. And while a quick and simple explanation to a complicated, multifactoral and likely genetic disorder is very appealing, I would serve my son and my other two kids far better by finding the truth and not sacrifice the known benefits that modern medicine has given western civilization by significantly decreasing Hepatitis A and B, smallpox, measles, polio, rubella, diphtheria, rotovirus, mumps, typhoid, Haemophilus, and tetanus among others saving more lives worldwide then any other medical advance in history. I get concerned when a careful scientific consensus that has been made is ignored and turned into a pop culture debate ignoring the valid scientific conclusions in favor of inconclusive anecdotal evidence, poor understanding of science, and implausible conspiracy theories.

So to recap Wilson’s mistakes, which the station has yet to correct:

Wilson wrongly reports that there are no peer-reviewed studies disputing the link between vaccines and autism. In fact, there are at least 11.

Wilson ignored the increase in autism diagnoses, despite the fact that most of today’s five year olds have been exposed to far less vaccine antigens and thimerosal than children born ten years ago.

Wilson wrongly assumes that autism rates are “skyrocketing” without explanation or evidence.

Wilson erroneously cites a four-year-old error-riddled UPI story as a “study”, to tell viewers that the Amish don’t vaccinate, and that autism is rare in that population. Nothing if further from the truth.

Wilson erroneously reports that the US government has conceded that vaccines caused autism in Hannah Poling. This is categorically, demonstrably false.

But Steve Wilson’s greatest mistake is closing himself off to the scientific consensus. This is not journalism – it’s hackery. A real journalist would carefully consider both sides of the story, and weigh evidence using best available sources before coming down on one side of the other. So far, Wilson shows no such interest. Instead of answering questions, such as the ones asked here, Wilson suggests that people who think vaccines don’t cause autism are no different than politicians who say there is no recession.

Orac notes that some medical bloggers caught wind of Wilson “investigation” more than six weeks ago, before Jenny McCarthy’s Green Our Vaccines rally. “He never responded, and now I know why,” says Orac. Wilson isn’t interested in an informed, skeptical point of view. It’s just not scary enough.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Science-Based Medicine » When “investigative reporting” becomes anti-vaccine propaganda // Jul 14, 2008 at 6:20 am

    [...] Questions for WXYZ [...]

  • 2 isles // Jul 14, 2008 at 10:52 am

    You hit the nail on the head when you observed: “This is not journalism – it’s hackery.”

    It’s sad when people who think they’re doing journalism fall in love with the idea that they have discovered a hidden truth told only by wild-eyed mercury mommies and thanks-be-to-tenure nutty professors.

  • 3 Liz Ditz // Jul 14, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Please be sure to read David Gorski’s Science-Based Medicine post on Wilson’s inaccurate, irresponsible “Investigative Report”

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=71

    You may, if you wish, craft a letter of your own to send to the station manager,

    Bob Sliva
    Vice President/General Manager
    WXYZ-TV
    20777 West Ten Mile Road
    Southfield, MI 48037

  • 4 Jessica // Jul 31, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Every vaccinated child may not develop autism, but is there a non vaccinated child that did develop autism? Autism didn’t come about until the 1930′s when vaccinations started, why doesn’t someone do a real study on these ingredients that American parents are blindly guided by doctors to put in their young children before they take a chance of them getting autism. I myself would rather not have the mercury containing ingredient put into my child, and not take the risk of autism, which is 1 in 150. I have seen 2 friends watch their children develop autism after vaccinations, parents should at least be aware and educated before making the decision.

  • 5 autblog // Jul 31, 2008 at 9:44 am

    You’re contention that “vaccinations started” in the 1930s is incorrect. What are you blaming for autism – all vaccines or just ones with thimerosal?

  • 6 Philip Upleger // Apr 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    What is breaking news? How can breaking news still be breaking news still one hour after it was reported by you? It reminds me of the little boy that cryed wolf. After while nobody lisened to him.

  • 7 Chris // Apr 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Philip Upleger said “What is breaking news?”

    Are you a spam bot? There was nothing about “breaking news” in this posting, and you certainly aren’t very timely by commenting over nine months after it was posted!

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