More embarrassing anti-vaccine reporting from CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson

For years, CBS News’s Sharyl Attkisson has been one of the least responsible mainstream journalists covering vaccines and autism. Again and again, she’s parroted anti-vaccine rhetoric long past the point that it’s been decisively disproved. To take but one recent example: In January, she posted (and then removed) a story claiming that a study in the Archives of Neurology said almost precisely the opposite of what it actually reported.

She’s at it again: A few hours ago, she posted a story under the heading, “CBS News Investigates.”  The piece starts out thusly:

For all those who’ve declared the autism-vaccine debate over – a new scientific review begs to differ. It considers a host of peer-reviewed, published theories that show possible connections between vaccines and autism.

This “new scientific review” is a piece titled “Theoretical aspects of autism: causes–a review.” It was written by Helen Ratajczak and appeared in the Journal of Immunotoxicology. I haven’t had time to go through the entire study that Attkisson cites, but this is what I came up with in four minutes and 28 seconds (yes, I timed it).* (After I wrote the rest of this post, Emily Willingham pointed out that it was published more than a month ago; in fact, Huffington Post stalwart David Kirby and anti-vaccine standard-bearer Age of Autism wrote about the study in early February, and Left Brain/Right Brain explained its worthlessness on February 11.)

* According to PubMed, this is only the second time that Ratajczak has been the primary author of a published study in the past decade, and it’s only the fourth study she’s been associated with in any capacity during that time.

* The study’s citation for the claim that “the United States government…[says] that autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination” does not point the reader to an article; the citation reads, in total, “Child Health Safety. 2010. June 30.” That same citation is given to back up the statement, “It has been determined that autism can be caused by an underlying predisposition to mitochondrial dysfunction.” This, apparently, is one of the “peer-reviewed, published theories” that Attkisson is referring to.

* Child Health Safety is one of the most virulently anti-vaccine websites out there. Don’t believe me? One whole section of the site is devoted to the argument that the drop in infectious diseases like measles and smallpox is not due to vaccines but modern sewage systems and better hygiene. Included among the site’s “Top Posts” are “Japanese & British Data Show Vaccines Cause Autism,” “MMR Causes Autism – Another Win in US Federal Court,” and “Autism Increase Environmental Not Genetic.”

Attkisson’s fealty to the anti-vaccine movement has been an embarrassment to CBS News for years. That she continues to advocate for their cause is nothing short of remarkable.

* If you want to read a PDF of the study, it’s available here, courtesy of Rescuepost, which is maintained by Generation Rescue, the autism organization headed up by anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy.

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53 Responses to More embarrassing anti-vaccine reporting from CBS News's Sharyl Attkisson

  1. Jake Crosby says:

    “In January, she posted (and then removed) a story claiming that a study in the Archives of Neurology said almost precisely the opposite of what it actually reported.”

    The paper Sharyl Attkisson was reporting on was not the H1N1 study from Archives of Neurology, Seth, but this paper in the journal Epilepsia which includes the quote she put in her CBS article:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2010.02906.x/full

    Also, if you ever studied public health, you would know that it is generally accepted that it in fact was not vaccines or other drugs but sewage systems and improved hygiene that primarily caused the reduction in infectious disease deaths we have seen. By your corporate fringe standards, the whole public health community is “virulently anti-vaccine.”

    Looks like the Error Virus is still with you Seth.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/03/seth-mnookin-and-the-error-virus.html

    And Bob’s your uncle:
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/03/seth-mnookin-bobs-your-uncle.html

    • Todd W. says:

      @Jake

      Also, if you ever studied public health, you would know that it is generally accepted that it in fact was not vaccines or other drugs but sewage systems and improved hygiene that primarily caused the reduction in infectious disease deaths we have seen.

      A couple things wrong here. While deaths may have decreased, in part, due to improved hygiene and sanitation, improvements in medicine also played a significant role. But Seth said “the drop in infectious diseases”, not “the drop in deaths of infectious diseases”. Vaccines were, demonstrably, responsible for the decreased incidence of disease. But that also translates to fewer deaths: if not as many people get the disease to begin with, not as many die from it. Further, hygiene and sanitation don’t mean much when it comes to diseases like smallpox or measles, which are transmitted through the air.

      @Child Health Safety

      Don’t have time to go through all of your claims, but point E) about autism not being caused by genes is very likely wrong. There has been research in both mice and humans that identify several genes, such as the SHANK2, SHANK3 and RAB39B genes, that are strongly associated with and/or causal of ASDs.

      • Todd W

        You said regarding the statements in evidence to the US Congress of one of the world’s foremost geneticists, Dr Michael Collins:-

        “point E) about autism not being caused by genes is very likely wrong. There has been research in both mice and humans that identify several genes, such as the SHANK2, SHANK3 and RAB39B genes, that are strongly associated with and/or causal of ASDs.”

        You do not understand causation. And the correct terminology for causation is we believe “internal” vs “external” in relation to causation of any human condition. You confuse the presence of genes as a necessary condition for all human disorders with necessary and sufficient conditions. Genes are no more a necessary and sufficient condition than roads are in the causation of road traffic accidents.

    • René Najera says:

      “Also, if you ever studied public health, you would know that it is generally accepted that it in fact was not vaccines or other drugs but sewage systems and improved hygiene that primarily caused the reduction in infectious disease deaths we have seen.”

      Golly, Jake. I studied public health at the George Washington University, graduating with an MPH and a 3.9 grade-point average. I must have missed the hygiene class. That must be where my 0.1 for a 4.0 ended up. You over-estimate the power of sewage systems. Proof? The third-world countries where sewage has not been put in but polio has been snuffed out… THROUGH VACCINES.

      Then again, who would believe you, Jake? You call us all shills and minions, but who’s YOUR daddy? JB? Kimmie? Give me a break.

      “By your corporate fringe standards, the whole public health community is “virulently anti-vaccine.”

      Don’t include yourself among us, Jake. You are not a public health worker. By your standards, Handley would be a physician and Blaxill would be a scientist.

      • Sullivan says:

        René Najera,

        You didn’t study at the University of Google, Age of Autism campus, did you? Seems obvious by your attempt to stick to facts.

        • René Najera says:

          That’s a total “party university”, all they did was keggers and sit around making sh*t up. No academia. Being the geek that I am, I opted for a brick-and-mortar place with accreditation and professors and even a structured curriculum. Sure, it was more expensive than Google U, but, as you can see, my credibility is intact.

    • Jake, can you explain how improved sewage systems prevent airborne viruses (i.e., measles, smallpox) from infecting people? How do you explain the mumps outbreak that hit Japan in the 1990s? Was it because the combination MMR vaccine was unavailable for a time? Or because Japan is a third-world backwater hellhole riven with open sewers?

    • Liz Ditz says:

      Jake Crosby wrote:

      Also, if you ever studied public health, you would know that it is generally accepted that it in fact was not vaccines or other drugs but sewage systems and improved hygiene that primarily caused the reduction in infectious disease deaths we have seen.

      Mr. Crosby is spewing the “vaccines didn’t save us!” fallacy. Clearly, it’s time to play anti-vaccination bingo

      I don’t know why Mr. Crosby still clings to this fallacy. It’s so easy to refute. See (for starters):

      “Vaccines didn’t save us” (a.k.a. “vaccines don’t work”): Intellectual dishonesty at its most naked

      Nine Questions Nine Answers (this fallacy is #3)

    • Still waiting for Seth to answer anywhere. Silence from him on CHS, silence from him on Age of Autism and silence from him on his own blog.

      Interesting though that the usual suspects rush over to post thinking that is a substitute for comment from Seth. Journalists don’t like it when other people don’t answer their questions so there is no excuse for a journalist not answering for himself.

    • Sullivan says:

      Jake Crosby,

      Will Dan Olmsted correct his “Error Virus” piece? I haven’t done the full accounting, but Mr. Olmsted made many errors in that piece, comparable to the number he claims were made in an entire book by Mr. Mnookin. My guess is no correction will be made as the Age of Autism blog does not correct anything, even when they know the facts are incorrect.

      As to your “bob’s your uncle piece”. It is one thing to post that on you blog where the audience welcomes any hit piece and is rather uncritical. In the outside world, your piece falls flat. To paraphrase a much better writer than I, there isn’t any there there.

  2. Seth,

    We are posting this challenge on CHS today. We look forward to your reply. Journalists are meant to check their facts. [Looks like a Harvard education can be wasted in some cases.]

    We challenge you to deny that:

    A) the current President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding confirmed to CBS News when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that: “….. if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.“ [1]

    B) Autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination. The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) confirmed to CBS News that of 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in secret settlements: “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.” [2], [3].

    C) It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism. The first known cause of autism was rubella virus.

    … rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.

    rubella virus is one of the few known causes of autism.” US Center for Disease Control.
    http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/autism/autism-mmr.htm

    rubella can cause autism” The Pediatrician’s Role in the Diagnosis and Management of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children – PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001
    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;107/5/1221

    D) Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as held by the US Federal Court in the case of Bailey Banks [4].

    In his conclusion, US Federal Court Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:

    The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD [an autism spectrum disorder]. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was… a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.

    E) Autism is not caused by genes. And what does not cause autism?

    Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US$30.5 billion budget National Institutes of Health [nominated by President Obama: NIH News Release 17th August 2009 ] stated in evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006 when Director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute [5]:

    “Recent increases in chronic diseases like diabetes, childhood asthma, obesity or autism cannot be due to major shifts in the human gene pool as those changes take much more time to occur. They must be due to changes in the environment, including diet and physical activity, which may produce disease in genetically predisposed persons.“

    F) Autistic conditions affect approximately 1 in 100 US children. They affect 1 in 64 British children [1 in 40 are boys] according to a Cambridge University study [6].

    “Conclusions: The prevalence estimate of known cases of ASC, using different methods of ascertainment converges around 1%. The ratio of known to unknown cases means that for every three known cases there are another two unknown cases. This has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.”

    G) It is estimated to cost the UK £28 billion per annum [roughly US$42 billion]: [7]

    [1] HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET

    [2] CBS News Exclusive: Leading Dr.: Vaccines-Autism Worth Study Former Head Of NIH Says Government Too Quick To Dismiss Possible Link – WASHINGTON, May 12, 2008

    [3] Vaccine Case: An Exception Or A Precedent? – First Family To Have Autism-Related Case “Conceded” Is Just One Of Thousands – CBS News By Sharyl Attkisson WASHINGTON, March 6, 2008]

    [4] [Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007)]
    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/Abell.BANKS.02-0738V.pdf

    [5] Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006
    http://www.genome.gov/18016846

    [6] ESTIMATING AUTISM SPECTRUM PREVALENCE IN THE POPULATION: A SCHOOL BASED STUDY FROM THE UK
    http://imfar.confex.com/imfar/2008/webprogram/Paper2245.html

    [7] ["Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK" - London School of Economics - Study by team led by Professor Martin Knapp
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/PDF/EconomicCostsofAutism.pdf

    [Executive Summary]
    https://www.nece.gov.uk/nece/neceprojects.nsf/0/01771070ACD08B7680257420004F51C7/$file/Autism%20briefing.pdf

    • Sullivan says:

      “C) It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism. The first known cause of autism was rubella virus. ”

      First off, the statement is so gramatically poor as to be nonsense. “It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism”

      It is not “biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR contains live viruses”. It is a fact that MMR contains live viruses. A fact which has nothing to do with the second part of his sentence.

      Assuming that the gentleman means that it is biologically plausible that the MMR could cause autism because of the Rubella component:

      This typifies the sort of poor logic that has created the vaccine scare. Congenital Rubella Syndrome has been identified as a cause of autism (and many other disabilities). The word “congenital” should suggest to the most casual of observers that this is due to a prenatal infection. More precisely, a prenatal infection of the mother, not the fetus. My recollection is that the infection must occur not only prenatally, but during a specific period of gestation.

      One can not logically jump from that to implying that it is biologically plausible that MMR (a vaccine given to infants) causes autism.

      One must further explore the logic. If the CRS is a cause of autism, then it only follows that autism has been with us as long as rubella infections. But we are often told by vaccine-causation proponents that autism is somehow “new”, appearing only after vaccination with thimerosal.

      • Sullivan,

        The person to answer is Seth Mnookin. You and your cronies have rushed over here from Kev Leitch’s “LeftBrain” blog to answer for him. Notwithstanding you are not doing a very good job of it, the reason you have done is because you know Seth will make an even bigger mess of it than you.

        And you say: “One can not logically jump from that to implying that it is biologically plausible that MMR (a vaccine given to infants) causes autism.”

        Explain? It is known that a live virus causes autism – rubella virus. It is therefore plausible that a live virus in a vaccine could also cause autism. The fact that MMR contains three live viruses makes it even more plausible.

        Thank you Professor Sullivan, but is it obvious you have no medical or scientific qualifications for anyone to take any notice of what you say.

    • Sullivan says:

      “The ratio of known to unknown cases means that for every three known cases there are another two unknown cases. This has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.””

      Strangely enough, vaccine-causation proponents usually shy away from this statement. If we are, today, still missing 40% of the autistic children, how can we claim these data as proof of an epidemic? Are we to assume that previous prevalence data missed no one?

      Clearly we have historically miscounted autism in our population. We are getting better at it, and we still miss 40%.

      • Sullivan,

        The Cambridge results of two undiagnosed for every three diagnosed autistic conditions in children has nothing whatsoever to do with getting better at diagnosis.

        You seem to choose not to understand and thereby sow confusion amongst those with less knowledge than you [probably a relatively small number - humour]. .

        There is a time lag between onset of symptoms and diagnosis. The average age of diagnosis of Aspergers is 9 years. 70% of ASCs in the UK are Aspergers. Work it out.

        How you can spin research results in this way and maintain any pretence at intellectual integrity is a source of constant amazement to us.

    • Sullivan says:

      “B) Autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination. The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) confirmed to CBS News that of 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in secret settlements:”

      Did you actually read what Ms. Attkisson wrote? More to the point, did you understand it?

      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20016356-10391695.html?tag=mncol

      “In fact, CBS News has found nearly 1,300 cases in which vaccine-related brain damage has been compensated in court over the past 20 years.”

      Point 1: HRSA did not “confirm” this, CBS news found it by checking the records.
      Point 2: Because CBS news found this by checking the records, clearly these aren’t “secret settlements”.
      Point 3: these were settled “in court” not “out of court” as you assert.

      Mr. Mnookin would be hard pressed to “deny” your statement as you have challenged. He could quite easily refute it.

    • Sullivan says:

      ChildHealthSafety,

      your reference #4 is titled “Non-autistic developmental delay; Acute * Disseminated Encephalomyelitis; Expert Credibility; Evidentiary Reliability; Scientific Validity; Burden of Proof; Causation in Fact; Proximate Causation”

      I’ve always found that one a very confusing decision, but I am also always struck by the title: “Non-autistic developmental delay”.

    • Still waiting for Seth to answer anywhere. Silence from him on CHS, silence from him on Age of Autism and silence from him on his own blog.

      Interesting though that the usual suspects rush over to post thinking that is a substitute for comment from Seth. Journalists don’t like it when other people don’t answer their questions so there is no excuse for a journalist not answering for himself.

      [REPOSTING THIS COMMENT HERE - POSTED IN ERROR ABOVE]

      • Sullivan says:

        Still waiting for you to respond here to your multiple errors in your challenge.

        • Sullivan,

          “Still waiting for you to respond here to your multiple errors in your challenge.”

          Already shown you either do not know what you are talking about or choose to sow confusion,

          Time for Seth to start answering the questions. He is a journalist and he is remarkably quiet in the circumstances.

          Go back to LBRB instead of trolling here. And notice that our comments are in the majority responses. Your’s are originating comments designed to provoke responses – and you are explicitly demanding responses.

          This all of course has the appearance of attempting to answer in Seth Mnookin’s place when he clearly seems to lack the knowledge to answer and/or cannot answer in any event. Amazing really that he has had the front to attempt to write a book on these matters.

          You are of course buying him time to try to get answers from others. We are waiting. It is his own blog after all.

          You should go back to the one you run with Kev.

    • Liz Ditz says:

      Child Health Safety wrote

      We challenge you to deny that:

      F) Autistic conditions affect approximately 1 in 100 US children. They affect 1 in 64 British children [1 in 40 are boys] according to a Cambridge University study [6].

      Why would Mr. Mnookin possibly deny that? In his book he specifically discusses the changing number of children with autism diagnoses on pp 80-84 and 166-167.

      • Liz Ditz,

        Has Seth Mnookin got no voice of his own? He could quite easily come on his own blog and confirm he agrees the figures. You pop up trolling all over the internet. Why are you answering for him. This is his blog not yours.

        Still waiting for Seth Mnookin, New York based journalist and author to answer the questions.

  3. Liz Ditz says:

    Sharyl Attkisson wrote in the article

    “Why could human DNA potentially cause brain damage? The way Ratajczak explained it to me: “Because it’s human DNA and recipients are humans, there’s homologous recombinaltion tiniker. ”

    the last three words don’t make any sense. Wasn’t there an editor on the piece?

    • Twyla says:

      @ Liz Ditz
      “Homologous recombination is a type of genetic recombination in which nucleotide sequences are exchanged between two similar or identical molecules of DNA. It is most widely used by cells to accurately repair harmful breaks that occur on both strands of DNA, known as double-strand breaks. Homologous recombination also produces new combinations of DNA sequences during meiosis, the process by which eukaryotes make gamete cells, like sperm and egg cells in animals. These new combinations of DNA represent genetic variation in offspring, which in turn enables populations to adapt during the course of evolution.[1] Homologous recombination is also used in horizontal gene transfer to exchange genetic material between different strains and species of bacteria and viruses.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homologous_recombination

      Apparently this is being compared to the tinikling dance, which ANB has already described. It is a very descriptive metaphore. The point is, injection of human DNA into infants may have unforeseen consequences.

  4. “Tinikling” is a Filipino dance in which the dancer (traditionally a woman) steps between two long wooden poles (representing a bird-trap) held near the floor and drawn together and apart to the rhythm of the music. Perhaps Ratajczak is implying that vaccines are safe only when perfectly timed, otherwise crippling foot fractures may ensue.

    • René Najera says:

      I thought it was “tinkling” or maybe a misspelling of “tingling”, like tingling one gets from a stroke… Which is, in my opinion, something the writer of that “challenge” should be checked for. Grammar is all over the place, and some of those things aren’t even words!

  5. Liz Ditz says:

    Over at Age of Autism John Stone claims:

    Mnookin has also now posted CHS’s challenge on his own blog. Everyone should write to Mnookin at his blog demanding an explanation.

    Oh, oops, Mr. Stone. You have posted the challenge in a comment. Since Mr. Mnookin doesn’t throttle discussion in the dissent-throttling manner common at AoA, it’s here.

    • Liz Ditz says:

      Well that was an embarrassing editorial fail on my part

      What I meant to write was

      Oh, oops, Mr. Stone. You have posted the challenge in a comment. Since Mr. Mnookin moderate comments in the dissent-throttling manner common at AoA, it’s here.

  6. Sullivan says:

    Mr. Mnookin:

    Ms. Attkisson showed a distinct lack of professionalism when she forwarded a fax to the Age of Autism blog. One organization had faxed CBS in response to a piece she had done, and that fax was posted hours later on the Age of Autism blog. Clearly she is working together with that blog.

  7. Jake Crosby says:

    Btw Seth, on second looking, it seems you did not read the page on the website you are referring to, as it focuses on explaining the drop in infectious disease deaths, not infectious disease in general.

    Btw, the search results (fourth from the bottom), shows that the quote from Attkisson’s earlier report about seizures and autism was from the Epilepsia paper, not the Archives of Neurology study:

    “Jan 7, 2011 … *Correspondence: Address correspondence to Amy Brooks-Kayal, ….. in hippocampus that may contribute to the enhanced risk of IDDs and ASDs …”
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22may+contribute+to+the+enhanced+risk%22+brooks-kayal&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

    Perhaps it’s time for yet another correction Seth, not that you seem to be learning from your mistakes.

  8. Liz D says:

    [This comment has been deleted because the author was posing as another member of this forum.]

  9. Twyla says:

    Sharyl Attkisson is one of the MOST responsible mainstream journalists covering vaccines and autism.

    David Kirby is not “anti-vaccine”. For example, he wrote “Although some Park Slope parents refuse to vaccinate their children at all — an unwise and dangerous choice in my opinion… Parents who say the vaccine-autism link has not been debunked are, like me, hardly ‘anti-vaccine.’ Why on earth would anyone not want to protect children from dangerous diseases? That is the epithet hurled upon most of them anyway. And it’s what people will say about me as well, even though, as I said, I think parents should vaccinate their kids… The answer is not to stop vaccinating — that would lead to widespread disease and suffering. The answer is to find out which children might be particularly susceptible to which vaccines, vaccine combinations or vaccine ingredients, and devise a schedule that is individually tuned to their specific conditions. This will build parental trust and strengthen, not weaken, the national vaccine program.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/autism-vaccine-_b_817879.html

    Kudos to Helen Ratajczak for writing this article about the studies she has reviewed, and kudos to Sharyl Attkisson for publicizing it. I hope that Helen Ratajczak will write more, now that she is free from the restrictions imposed by her prior career.

    There are problems with vaccines. Serious problems which are adversely affecting many children. Those problems need to be studied and better understood, for the sake of both prevention and treatment — not just swept under the rug. Science has never disproven a link between autism and vaccines. A lot of evidence supports such a link. It’s not just a question of whether or not to do away with all vaccines.

    • Chris says:

      Yet, the vaccines have been studied extensively over the past decade. There has yet to be any real evidence that has revealed they pose a risk greater than the diseases. This is something that is very important to understand when babies are dying from pertussis, and kids are being hospitalized for measles.

      You not wanting to accept the results of the more than two dozen studies done in several countries does not alter the facts. Your own biases prevent you from actually looking at the data with an open mind, and has predisposed from every accepting results that differ from your preset conclusion.

      In the future when you say “A lot of evidence supports such a link.”, try to actually provide the evidence. Just make sure it does not come from former travel writers, lawyers or researchers paid by lawyers.

      • Twyla says:

        Chris, why are you telling me to provide evidence when you are not providing evidence? Your side loves to make vague statements about science proving vaccines are safe, don’t cause autism, and have less risks than the diseases — without providing any specific citations to studies. Fact is, the tracking of vaccine reactions is very poor, basic research has not been done by our govt agencies and mainstream medical organizations, such as studying the injured children to better understand vaccine injury, doing an epidemiological study comparing health issues in vaccinated and unvaccinated children, comparing animals who go through the standard vaccine schedule (adjusted for weight) with unvaccinated controls.

        But there are thousands of reports by parents of toddlers suffering vaccine injuries followed by regression into autism. These reports are consistent with the vaccine package inserts listing conditions such as encephalitis, seizures and diarrhea as possible reactions, and consistent with cases of vaccine induced seizures, encephalitis, and encephalopathy paid out in vaccine court, and listed on the HRSA table.

        And there are formal published studies such as those listed here:
        http://www.generationrescue.org/science/science
        Don’t tell me, “Aw, that’s just Generation Rescue — they’re anti-vaccine!” GR just listed these links to studies, they didn’t conduct the studies, which are from a variety of sources.

        • Chris says:

          Twyla: “Chris, why are you telling me to provide evidence when you are not providing evidence?”

          Be careful of what you ask for:

          Pediatrics. 2010 Sep 13.
          Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism.
          Price CS, Thompson WW, Goodson B, Weintraub ES, Croen LA, Hinrichsen VL, Marcy M, Robertson A, Eriksen E, Lewis E, Bernal P, Shay D, Davis RL, Destefano F.

          Neurotox Res. 2010 Jul;18(1):59-68. Epub 2009 Sep 16.
          Are neuropathological conditions relevant to ethylmercury exposure?
          Aschner M, Ceccatelli S.

          Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 May;29(5):397-400.
          Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.
          Mrozek-Budzyn D, Kieltyka A, Majewska R.

          Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study.
          Hornig M et al.
          PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
          *Subjects: 25 children with autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone (controls)

          Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
          Baird G et al.
          Arch Dis Child 2008; 93(10):832-7.
          Subjects: 98 vaccinated children aged 10-12 years in the UK with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); two control groups of similar age: 52 children with special educational needs but no ASD and 90 children in the typically developing group

          Geographic clustering of nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements and associations with geographic clustering of pertussis.
          Omer SB, Enger KS, Moulton LH, Halsey NA, Stokley S, Salmon DA.
          Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Dec 15;168(12):1389-96. Epub 2008 Oct 15

          MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative Results Presented from Japan.
          Uchiyama T et al.
          J Autism Dev Disord 2007; 37(2):210-7
          *Subjects: 904 children with autism spectrum disorder
          (Note: MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993.)

          No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.
          Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M.
          J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9.

          No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
          D’Souza Y et al.
          Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75
          *Subjects: 54 children with autism spectrum disorder and 34 developmentally normal children

          Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature.
          Doja A, Roberts W.
          Can J Neurol Sci. 2006; 33(4):341-6
          *Literature review

          Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations.
          Fombonne E et al.
          Pediatrics. 2006;118(1):e139-50
          *Subjects: 27,749 children born from 1987 to 1998 attending 55 schools

          Relationship between MMR Vaccine and Autism.
          Klein KC, Diehl EB.
          Ann Pharmacother. 2004; 38(7-8):1297-300
          *Literature review of 10 studies

          Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Institute of Medicine.
          The National Academies Press: 2004
          (w w w . nap.edu/books/030909237X/html) *Literature review

          MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study.
          Smeeth L et al.
          Lancet 2004; 364(9438):963-9
          *Subjects: 1294 cases and 4469 controls

          Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta.
          DeStefano F et al. Pediatrics 2004; 113(2): 259-66
          *Subjects: 624 children with autism and 1,824 controls

          Prevalence of Autism and Parentally Reported Triggers in a North East London Population.
          Lingam R et al.
          Arch Dis Child 2003; 88(8):666-70
          *Subjects: 567 children with autistic spectrum disorder

          Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination.
          Makela A et al.
          Pediatrics 2002; 110:957-63
          *Subjects: 535,544 children vaccinated between November 1982 and June 1986 in Finland

          A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism.
          Madsen KM et al.
          N Engl J Med 2002; 347(19):1477-82
          *Subjects: All 537,303 children born 1/91–12/98 in Denmark

          Relation of Childhood Gastrointestinal Disorders to Autism: Nested Case Control Study Using Data from the UK General Practice Research Database.
          Black C et al.
          BMJ 2002; 325:419-21
          *Subjects: 96 children diagnosed with autism and 449 controls

          Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study.
          Taylor B et al.
          BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6
          *Subjects: 278 children with core autism and 195 with atypical autism

          No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism.
          Fombonne E et al.
          Pediatrics 2001;108(4):E58
          *Subjects: 262 autistic children (pre- and post-MMR samples)

          Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Other Measles-Containing Vaccines Do Not Increase the Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control Study from the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project.
          Davis RL et al.
          Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155(3):354-9
          *Subjects: 155 persons with IBD with up to 5 controls each

          Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California.
          Dales L et al.
          JAMA 2001; 285(9):1183-5
          *Subjects: Children born in 1980-94 who were enrolled in California kindergartens (survey samples of 600–1,900 children each year)

          Mumps, Measles, and Rubella Vaccine and the Incidence of Autism Recorded by General Practitioners: A Time Trend Analysis.
          Kaye JA et al.
          BMJ 2001; 322:460-63
          *Subjects: 305 children with autism

          Further Evidence of the Absence of Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Full Thickness Intestinal Specimens from Patients with Crohn’s Disease.
          Afzal MA, et al.
          J Med Virol 2000; 62(3):377-82
          *Subjects: Specimens from patients with Crohn’s disease

          Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological Evidence for a Causal Association.
          Taylor B et al.
          Lancet 1999;353 (9169):2026-9
          *Subjects: 498 children with autism

          Absence of Detectable Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tissues and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes.
          Afzal MA et al.
          J Med Virol 1998; 55(3):243-9
          *Subjects: 93 colonoscopic biopsies and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations

          No Evidence for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine-Associated Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Autism in a 14-year Prospective Study.
          Peltola H et al.
          Lancet 1998; 351:1327-8
          *Subjects: 3,000,000 doses of MMR vaccine

          Exposure to Measles in Utero and Crohn’s Disease: Danish Register Study.
          Nielsen LL et al.
          BMJ 1998; 316(7126):196-7
          *Subjects: 472 women with measles

          Immunocytochemical Evidence of Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus Antigens in Crohn’s Disease.
          Liu Y et al.
          Gastroenterology 1995; 108(5):1396-1404
          *Subjects: Intestines and mesenteric lymph node specimens from 21 persons from families with a high frequency of Crohn’s disease

          Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
          Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D’Elia L, Chiarotti F, Salmaso S.
          Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82

          Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants after Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
          Pichichero ME, Gentile A, Giglio N, et al
          Pediatrics, February 2008; 121(2) e208-214

          Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism: One Controversy, Three Histories
          Baker JP
          American Journal of Public Health, February 2008;98(2): 244-253

          Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde
          Schechter R, Grether JK
          Arch Gen Psychiatry, January 2008; 65(1):19-24

          Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years
          Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team
          N Engl J Med, Sep 27, 2007; 357(13):1281-1292

          Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations
          Fombonne E, Zakarian R, Bennett A, Meng L, McLean-Heywood D
          Pediatrics, July 2006, Vol. 118(1):e139-e150

          Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Reporting Source: A Possible Source of Bias in Longitudinal Studies
          Goodman MJ, Nordin J
          Pediatrics, February 2006, Vol. 117(2):387-390

          Thimerosal in Vaccines: Balancing the Risk of Adverse Effects with the Risk of Vaccine-Preventable Disease
          Bigham M, Copes R
          Drug Safety, 2005, Vol. 28(2):89-101

          Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
          Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T
          National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, April 21, 2005

          Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
          Heron J, Golding J, ALSPAC Study Team
          Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):577-583

          Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Retrospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
          Andrews N, Miller E, Grant A, Stowe J, Osborne V, Taylor B
          Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):584-591

          Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Critical Review of Published Original Data
          Parker SK, Schwartz B, Todd J, Pickering LK
          Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):793-804

          The Evidence for the Safety of Thimerosal in Newborn and Infant Vaccines
          Clements CJ
          Vaccine, May 7, 2004, Vol. 22(15-16):1854-1861

          Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases
          Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F, et al
          Pediatrics, November 2003, Vol. 112(5):1039-1048

          The Toxicology of Mercury–Current Exposures and Clinical Manifestations
          Clarkson TW, Magos L, Myers GJ
          New England Journal of Medicine, October 30, 2003, Vol. 349(18):1731-7

          Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism
          Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M
          Journal of the American Medical Association, October 1, 2003, Vol. 290(13):1763-6

          Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data
          Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, et al
          Pediatrics, Sept. 2003, Vol. 112(3 Pt 1):604-606

          Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association
          Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, Simpson D
          American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2003, Vol. 25(2):101-6

          Impact of the Thimerosal Controversy on Hepatitis B Vaccine Coverage of Infants Born to Women of Unknown Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Status in Michigan
          Biroscak BJ, Fiore AE, Fasano N, Fineis P, Collins MP, Stoltman G
          Pediatrics, June 2003, Vol. 111(6):e645-9

          Vaccine Safety Policy Analysis in Three European Countries: The Case of Thimerosal
          Freed GL, Andreae MC, Cowan AE, et al
          Health Policy, December 2002, Vol. 62(3):291-307

          Mercury Concentrations and Metabolism in Infants Receiving Vaccines Containing Thimerosal: A Descriptive Study
          Pichichero ME, Cernichiari E, Lopreiato J, Treanor J
          The Lancet, November 30, 2002, Vol. 360:1737-1741

          An Assessment of Thimerosal Use in Childhood Vaccines
          Ball LK, Ball R, Pratt RD
          Pediatrics, May 2001, Vol. 107(5):1147-1154

          Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001
          Zhou F, Santoli J, Messonnier ML, Yusuf HR, Shefer A, Chu SY, Rodewald L, Harpaz R.
          Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1136-1144.

          An economic analysis of the current universal 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccination program in the United States.
          Zhou F, Reef S, Massoudi M, Papania MJ, Yusuf HR, Bardenheier B, Zimmerman L, McCauley MM.
          J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S131-45.

          Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.
          Chavez GF, Ellis AA.
          West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.

          Measles epidemic from failure to immunize.
          Dales LG, Kizer KW, Rutherford GW, Pertowski CA, Waterman SH, Woodford G.
          West J Med. 1993 Oct;159(4):455-64.

          Impact of universal Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccination starting at 2 months of age in the United States: an economic analysis.
          Zhou F, Bisgard KM, Yusuf HR, Deuson RR, Bath SK, Murphy TV.
          Pediatrics. 2002 Oct;110(4):653-61.

          Impact of specific medical interventions on reducing the prevalence of mental retardation.
          Brosco JP, Mattingly M, Sanders LM.
          Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Mar;160(3):302-9. Review.

          Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.
          Ray P, Hayward J, Michelson D, Lewis E, Schwalbe J, Black S, Shinefield H, Marcy M, Huff K, Ward J, Mullooly J, Chen R, Davis R; Vaccine Safety Datalink Group.
          Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.

          Childhood vaccinations, vaccination timing, and risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
          DeStefano F, Mullooly JP, Okoro CA, Chen RT, Marcy SM, Ward JI, Vadheim CM, Black SB, Shinefield HR, Davis RL, Bohlke K; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team.
          Pediatrics. 2001 Dec;108(6):E112.

          Pediatrics. 2010 Jun;125(6):1134-41. Epub 2010 May 24.
          On-time vaccine receipt in the first year does not adversely affect neuropsychological outcomes.
          Smith MJ, Woods CR.

          J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S210-5.
          Measles hospitalizations, United States, 1985-2002.
          Lee B, Ying M, Papania MJ, Stevenson J, Seward JF, Hutchins SS.
          Epidemiology Program Office, and National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

          J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S69-77.
          Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002.
          Gindler J, Tinker S, Markowitz L, Atkinson W, Dales L, Papania MJ.
          National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

          J Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;192(10):1686-93. Epub 2005 Oct 12.
          Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: more cases of this fatal disease are prevented by measles immunization than was previously recognized.
          Bellini WJ, Rota JS, Lowe LE, Katz RS, Dyken PR, Zaki SR, Shieh WJ, Rota PA.
          Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

          • Chris,

            Thanks. Your long list of papers supposedly demontrating vaccines cannot be implicated in causing autistic conditions demonstrates how corrupt the published medical journal evidence base is.

            As already pointed out above – and it is a matter upon which Seth Mnookin continues to remain silent:-

            - The US HRSA has confirmed vaccines can cause autistic conditions.

            - Merck’s current Director of Vaccines Division confirmed vaccines can cause autistic conditions – and that was when she was the Head of the US Centers for Disease Control.

            - Autistic conditions can be caused by multiple vaccines as was conceded by the US Department of Health and Human Services in the Hannah Poling case.

            - Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as held by the US Federal Court in the case of Bailey Banks.

            - The increase in autistic conditions, diabetes, childhood asthma and obesity can only be caused by enviromental factors as was confirmed by the current Director of the US National Institutes of Health and leading geneticist Dr Francis Collins in evidence to Congress when he was head of the Human Genome Project.

            - the rate in the USA is approximately 1 in 100 and in the UK it is 1 in 64

            - the cost to the UK has been estimated to be £28 billion per annum.

  10. John Stone says:

    Liz Diz

    Just to point out that it is virtually impossible to run a site like Age of Autism without heavy moderation. Back in 2007 I was frequent contributor to JABS Forum. JABS Forum was not pre-moderated and it was quite a placid place until one day I submitted a Rapid Response to BMJ about Dr Ben Goldacre and his competing interests.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/335/7618/480.extract/reply#bmj_el_176662

    Whether there was a causal connection or not, but virtually from that moment (and a whole week before BMJ got round to posting my comment) the site was over-run by people who were fundamentally trying to stop anyone saying anything that did not fit in with public policy and propaganda, and indeed a lot of them seemed to be connected with DrGoldacre’s Bad Science Forum. It was mostly aggressive, unreasonable, disruptive stuff, and I and others spent an immense amount of time for about a year trying to respond as politely as we could, but the situation did become impossible and Jackie Fletcher who runs JABS had to take the decision to pull up the drawbridge, as it were. Basically, it was mobbing in cyberspace and it was designed to stop free expression of opinion and inconvenient facts.

    But I have to say here that CHS has raised a substantive issue. Is Seth Mnookin suffering some kind amnesia about the statements of Julie Gerberding, and concessions made by the US government through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme, or did he never know? Either way it strikes at the very heart of his claim to be a popular authority on the subject.

    Also, if Seth wants to post his answer on AoA or CHS he will most likely be very welcome.

    • Chris says:

      Mr. Stone: “Just to point out that it is virtually impossible to run a site like Age of Autism without heavy moderation.”

      Because it is really difficult to continue the lies when people post those annoying facts.

      The the fact that the incidence of measles in the USA declined by more than 90% between 1960 and 1970. Or that Wakefield committed fraud, and there were questions about his study before 2001. Or that all pediatric vaccines have been available without thimerosal for ten years (even influenza!). Or that there have been vaccinated versus unvaccinated studies in the past with children being injured and killed (most of them were either disabled or in Africa). Or that chelation, stem cell therapy, and other bio-med quackery have injured children. Or that speculating on who certain bloggers are is incredibly lame.

  11. John Stone says:

    Chris

    You may be aware that I have different views on some of those subjects (and we could get very bogged down!!!) but I think it would be far better if focussed on the specific issues generated by this blog. Seth Mnookin criticised Helen Ratajczak’s citation of CHS, but CHS’s sources were impeccable and Seth should know that. Seth is supposed to be an expert on the subject, so why doesn’t he know (if he doesn’t)?

    • Chris says:

      Whatever, Mr. Stone. There is a collection of blogs created because you moderate out the inconvenient facts. These are in addition to Respectful Insolence at ScienceBlogs, LeftBrainRightBrain and ScienceBasedMedicine that have several articles deconstructing the misinformation of AoA. These in included SilencedbyAgeofAutism, kwomblescountering and the ever erudite JABSloonies.

      The CHS sources are cherry picked and completely misrepresented. Which is why they refused to answer why the incidence/morbidity of measles declined by more than 90% in the USA between 1960 and 1970. This is illustrated wonderfully here:
      http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/2009/03/lies-misrepresentation-and-abuse.html

  12. Science Mom says:

    @ Twyla; how nice, you can C & P a Wiki entry about homologous DNA recombination. Now tell me how that occurs with random fragments of DNA with IM injection into a human recipient. Tell me how this would always lead to autism/”inflammation”. Looks like Ratajczak left that part out, ooops. But surely you can fill in that gap for me.

    • Twyla says:

      No, science mom, of course I can’t. I was simply responding to Liz Ditz’s statement that “the last three words don’t make any sense” — simply trying to clarify what those words seem to mean — and I’m not even sure I’m interpreting correctly.

      But I can clarify that as far as I know nobody said that “this would always lead to autism/inflammation”. Nothing ALWAYS leads to autism. Not everyone becomes autistic from the same toxic exposures, vaccines, nor genetic anomalies such as MET and Fragile X.

  13. Twyla says:

    Seth, Helen Ratajczak’s paper has almost three pages of references at the end containing something like 150 references to all sorts of sources, including some that you would no doubt like. As John Stone pointed out, the reference to the Child Health Safety page was simply a verification of the statement that, “The United States Government and Dr. Geberding, Director of Vaccines at Merck & Co., Inc. say that autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination.” This CHS page includes a video of Dr. Gerberding making that statements, while she was still head of the CDC, and other references.
    http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/vaccination-causes-autism-%E2%80%93-say-us-government-merck%E2%80%99s-director-of%C2%A0vaccines/

    Pretty silly to focus on this one thing and try to brand the whole paper as “anti-vaccine”. This is not scientific argument, logic, reason, nor sharing information — it’s simply stating that anything tarnished with the “anti-vaccine” label should be ridiculed and not taken seriously. That’s just prejudice and spin.

  14. John Stone says:

    Chris

    Of course, if you are going to cite a website like ‘Jabsloonies’ which is pure personal abuse from start to finish you ought not to expect anyone to take you very seriously, but it is only distracting from the matter in hand. What is the point of saying CHS cherrypicked the sources. The fact is that these things were said and done, and then quietly buried – and Seth seems to be suffering from the collective amnesia – even to the point of pretending that they can simply be dismissed because the are quoted by CHS. Well, I think Seth need to address the fact that thing were said and done, and it affects his credibility as a reporter.

  15. Seth Mnookin says:

    Folks — I appreciate the robust conversation. I think after 50 comments everyone has had ample opportunity to make his or her point. At this juncture, I’m concerned the tenor of the discussion is focusing more on personalities and less on the actual issues involved, so I’m going to shut this down. There will be lots of chances for more debate in the future.

    This is also a good time for me to lay out my comment policy. I will allow anyone to comment on my site, and I do not edit or check comments for accuracy — not because I think that would be a Herculean/Sisyphean task (which it likely would be) but because I’d rather give people free rein to make their views known than to stifle discourse.

    There are three sets up circumstances in which I will exercise the right to pro-actively manage comment content. The first, and by far the most serious, is if a commenter begins making personal or ad hominem attacks. In this regard, I will operate on a two-strikes-you’re-out basis: The first time there is a personal attack, the commenter will get a warning; the second time, she or he will be permanently banned from the site. (There is one obvious exception to this, as anyone who has waded through the above can see: I’m much more lenient about allowing commenters to attack me than I would be if the target of the vitriol was someone else.)

    The second is for readers who “spam” the site with comment after comment, all of which say the same thing. As a rule, I will not ban these readers from making future comments; however, I will re-set their permission protocol so that each new comment needs to be approved by a site administrator — i.e., me. Again, to be clear, these comments will not be held due to their content but due to their waste of (virtual) space…and again, as can be clearly seen by the above, I’m fairly lenient when it comes to this regard.

    The third is exemplified by the current post: When it seems that a debate has run its course, I’ll shut down the entire discussion.

    Thanks again for all of the passion and interest.

    [EDIT: There is one further condition under which a comment will be deleted: If the commenter is trying to pose as another member of the forum in order to misrepresent his or her views, as was the case with one of the comments above. In those cases, the commenter is of course welcome to re-submit the comment under his or her real name -- or under any name or nick-name that is not an attempt to deliberately mislead readers.]

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