Just a quick follow-up from our last two posts about Amy Wallace’s article, “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All,” in Wired magazine about vaccine developer Dr Paul Offit and the anti-vaccination movement:
Wired has now compiled Wallace’s tweets from the last two days into blog-readable narrative.
Only a week after Wired published “An Epidemic of Fear”, we’ve received more reader responses than any other story in memory. Journalist Amy Wallace has received hundreds of messages, weighing in on all sides of the issue, and posted some of those comments on her Twitter feed.
To be fair, putting Amy’s tweets together was originally the idea of Sydney-based IT blogger, Bastard Sheep (part 1, part 2; the illegitimate sheep also twitpic’d last night a screen shot of his blog traffic before and after these posts).
The timing of this episode is quite instructive given a cordial exchange I had on Twitter with Forbes magazine science and medicine reporter, Matthew Herper, following his tweet that bloggers could do well to promote good science journalism when it occurs in addition to pointing out flawed work. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Herper to the point that I have always pointed out on these pages the names of journalists whose excellent stories I quote.
In the context of the Amy Wallace story, it is notable that the most vocal public support for her work has come from science bloggers (physicist Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance, Orac here at ScienceBlogs, several writers at Science-Based Medicine) to the point that the blowback she has received is now getting the attention of the online arms of larger outlets such as TIME magazine. I’ve watched as Amy’s Twitter following has almost quadrupled since she began tweeting about her e-mails two days ago.
Interestingly, all of this has occurred in the absence of Ms Wallace having her own blog. But, Amy has also been very kind to acknowledge the support of bloggers (including yours truly) and non-blogging scientists with whom she has corresponded.
What we are witnessing is an interesting convergence of the scientific blogosphere seizing upon a superb work by a “traditional” journalist. These influences have contributed to a relative firestorm of attention that has more vocal members of the anti-vaccination movement showing their true colors and being roundly called to the carpet.
This is the best of both worlds, friends.
Good, accurate science writing for the good of public health is the common thread.
You may not yet be singing “Kumbaya” but I submit that we’re all on the same team.
Addendum: Amy Wallace was interviewed this evening by Melissa Blockfor NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Text and free audio of the 5 min interview is available here at NPR.