I’m posting about this because I want Orac‘s head to explode. Apparently, the first episode of the ABC legal drama, “Eli Stone”, involves the protagonist taking up the mercury militia, anti-vax cause:
While police and legal dramas often use ripped-from-the-headlines topics as the basis of episodes, rarely do broadcast networks allow themselves to stray into the middle of heated debates that contain such emotional touchstones for large segments of their audience, if only because another big segment of a network’s audience is likely to be on the other side of the debate.
With “Eli Stone,” however, neither ABC nor its ABC Studios production unit has expressed any qualms about the story, according to Greg Berlanti, a co-creator and an executive producer of the series, who said he believed that the script showed both sides of the argument. “I think they wanted us to do our homework about all of it, which we did,” he said.
But the script also takes several liberties that could leave viewers believing that the debate over thimerosal — which in the program’s script is given the fictional name mercuritol — is far from scientifically settled.
At least the NY Times reporter discredits this bullshit right up front:
For the last decade some parents and advocates for autistic children have championed the theory that a mercury-based vaccine preservative called thimerosal, developed in the late 1920s and used in many childhood vaccines until about seven years ago, is a primary cause of autism in young children.
Autism often is diagnosed in children between their first and fourth years, during the time that many children begin receiving regular rounds of vaccinations.
But reams of scientific studies by the leading American health authorities have failed to establish a causal link between the preservative and autism. Since the preservative was largely removed from childhood vaccines in 2001, autism rates have not declined….
Among the organizations that have studied possible links between autism and the preservative in vaccines are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each of them has largely dismissed the idea that thimerosal causes or contributes to autism, and five major studies have found no link.
Since 2001, no vaccine routinely administered to children in the United States had more than half a microgram of mercury, about the amount found in an infant’s daily supply of breast milk.
The show will also raise the public’s understanding of jurisprudence to new highs:
“Is there proof that mercuritol causes autism?,” Eli Stone says to the jury in summing up his lawsuit against the vaccine maker. “Yes,” he says. “Is that proof direct or incontrovertible proof? No. But ask yourself if you’ve ever believed in anything or anyone without absolute proof.”
And here’s how the show’s producers justify their decision to treat anti-vax woo seriously:
Both of the producers also said that they wanted “Eli Stone” to provoke conversation.
“A lot of TV these days is not talking about the same things that the nightly news is talking about,” Mr. Berlanti said. “As a show, we want to keep the conversation going after people turn off the television.”
Ok, here’s how I envision the post-show conversation:
Anti-vax proponent: Even though there is no evidence whatsoever that thimerisol causes autism, I think it’s worth convincing people not to use life-saving vaccines.
Mad Biologist: You’re a fucking moron.
So, when does the show discuss both sides of the creationist controversy?