Mike the Mad Biologist

NY Times Declares Autism Reporting Policy…

…and it’s pretty damn good. So I got an email from ScienceBlogling Orac about an autism ‘hub’ he’s putting together, so, having belatedly checked my email, I’m moving this post up.

In the Sunday NY Times, Public Editor Clark Hoyt describes the Times‘ policy for covering autism-vaccination studies (italics mine):

On Jan. 23, Edward Wyatt, a culture reporter in the Los Angeles bureau, reported on the cover of The Arts section that the first episode of “Eli Stone,” a legal drama on ABC, was stepping into the debate over whether childhood vaccines cause autism — “and seemingly coming down on the side that has been all but dismissed by prominent scientific organizations.”

In the episode, the lawyer-hero of “Eli Stone” wins a big jury verdict for the mother of an autistic child by arguing that there was proof that a mercury-based preservative in a flu vaccine caused the boy’s condition. But in studies over the years, 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 have all found no evidence to support a connection between vaccines and autism. Thimerosal, the preservative in question, was removed from children’s vaccines in 2001, and autism rates have not gone down.

The pediatricians, fearing that the episode would cause some parents to stop vaccinating their children, appealed to ABC to cancel it. The network refused, but added a disclaimer directing viewers to a government Web site that discredits any link between vaccines and autism.

Wyatt’s article made clear that there is a debate but did not give equal weight to the two sides. The Times has not since 2005, when two reporters investigated every scientific study and thousands of documents from parents convinced of a link between autism and vaccines, and came down pretty clearly on the side of the scientists.

Wyatt said he relied on that report and read extensively about autism when he got the first hint of what the “Eli Stone” episode would say. “The show seems to portray it as, ‘No one knows,’ ” he said. “My conclusion was that that is not the case.”

Indeed, the door on this controversy seems to be closing, but the Centers for Disease Control is conducting one more study, expected to be published next year.

I noted previously that the Times had done a good job: it’s nice to see that this is an official policy.

Now if they would only do something about the pseudo-everything that is Bill Kristol’s columns….

Comments

  1. #1 Cort Wrotnowski
    February 18, 2008

    My reaction is still the same. There is a ton of evidence suggesting a connection. “They” refuse to consider it and instead focus on shoddy tick sheet studies called epidemiology to draw their phony conclusions.

    There is a history to this debate, and it is a history that includes a CDC that, at one point, was doing everything right in terms of how to conduct research into autism clusters. Suddenly, midstream, they turned. They clammed up and put up barriers that exist to this day.

    All you are left with to explain such bizarre institutional behavior is a conspiracy theory. We are the ones being tagged as kooks, but they are the ones that suddenly stopped asking the right questions. They are the ones that created all sorts of weird excuses and explantions that had nothing to do with the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face facts. They are the ones that manufactured all sorts of phony complexity about how to analyze the phenomena and the data.

    There is a paper trail of the CDC stopping or blocking investigations that were producing undesirable results. So, you have to conclude they are not being objective.

    So, all we have is the usual PR garbage from the mouthpieces for these organizations that refuse to look the causes of autism in the face. The truth will out.

  2. #2 Christie
    February 18, 2008

    @Cort: [citation needed]

  3. #3 Jeff Knapp
    February 19, 2008

    OK. Cort, If you are so sure of this, show us your evidence for the great conspiracy. Show us this paper trail you talk about. What are these “right questions?” What are these “plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face facts?” What exactly is this “phony complexity about how to analyze the phenomena and the data?” Show us something concrete that can be examined and falsified that supports your claims. Show us this “ton of evidence” you claim exists.

    Until such evidence can be produced and verified, I, for one, will come down on the side of the published studies that ALL show there is no link between Thimerosal and autism. It’s about the evidence and ONLY about the evidence.

    In case you are wondering, I have mild autism, my son has similar autism, my nephew is autistic. I have a real stake in this and have no patience for groundless claims and wild accusations that come with no evidence to back them up. Unless you can produce the goods, do us all a great big favor and shut the hell up!

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 19, 2008

    All you are left with to explain such bizarre institutional behavior is a conspiracy theory. We are the ones being tagged as kooks, but they are the ones that suddenly stopped asking the right questions. They are the ones that created all sorts of weird excuses and explantions that had nothing to do with the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face facts. They are the ones that manufactured all sorts of phony complexity about how to analyze the phenomena and the data.

    There is a paper trail of the CDC stopping or blocking investigations that were producing undesirable results. So, you have to conclude they are not being objective.

    I’m going to need to see your evidence for the above.

  5. #5 Christo
    February 19, 2008

    We will not be told how autism occurs because the answer includes information on how to biologically alter intelligence. It cannot be otherwise. And the fact against the dogma will disrupt power again.

  6. #6 Makro
    February 22, 2008

    The facts are:
    There is something that we sense as [autism]
    It involves the brains processing ability (better or worse)

    What about the answer to how autism occurs?
    It is pretty scary.

  7. #7 sex shop
    March 25, 2009

    thanks for all

  8. #8 magic
    August 21, 2009

    very thanks for article