Earlier today, Fox News took the bait about the new autism/vaccines “study” and ran a piece titled “Probe to reveal link between vaccine settlements and autism.” Anchor Alisyn Camerota introduced the segment by advertising a “Fox News exclusive.” (I’ve been getting press releases about tomorrow’s press conference since last week.) “We have breaking news over the debate over autism and vaccines,” she said. “A group of families…are set to announce the results of a major investigation.” She then called on Trace Gallgher, who, after referring to Andrew Wakefield as a “prominent scientist,” said the report…
…will present^ evidence that the federal government, through this Vaccine Court, has given dozens and dozens of children multi-million dollar rewards, and these kids are autistic — the question being if there’s no cause and effect, why the muti-million dollar rewards? … This same group says they will come out and present evidence that is indisputable that there is a link between autism and vaccines.
Missing from their dispatch was any context about the substance of this new “study” — how the Vaccine Court works, what this data might mean, etc. — which, as I tried to point out, only requires a basic understanding of epidemiology.
Also missing was any background about the study’s four authors — none of whom are research scientists (or epidemiologists).` They are Mary Holland, a lawyer who wrote the chapter defending Andrew Wakefield in the recent book Vaccine Epidemic; Louis Conte, the father of two boys he believes are vaccine injured and the former director of something called the “Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Justice Project”; Robert Krakow, who is an attorney who represents clients who have filed Vaccine Court claims and who has filed his own claim on behalf of his son; and Lisa Colin, one of Krakow’s colleagues.
This doesn’t mean any of them are bad researchers. It is, however, important context. I first met Krakow at a seminar he helped lead in which the American government’s vaccine policies were compared to Nazi eugenics. Conte has for years been writing about how the CDC’s “annual propaganda session” about vaccines is designed “to insure that Americans continue to poison themselves.” And Holland’s publisher asked me to participate in a live debate with Andrew Wakefield at an event promoting the book’s launch. (I declined.)
^ Edited 5/10/11 9:38 am from “preset” to “present” because of typo.
` Edited 5/10/11 10:45 am to clarify backgrounds of study authors.