…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….