By Dan Olmsted
It’s interesting – in the sense that a train wreck that leaks toxic fumes and kills an entire town of sleeping souls is “interesting” – to watch the mainstream media descend deeper into denial about vaccines and autism.
The latest round of tut-tutting comes in the wake of a report that Americans are prone to believe in conspiracy theories, in particular that the government, corporations or both are trying to cover up the truth about some health information, USA Today reports.
Over on MSNBC, Chris Hayes blamed the recrudescence of measles in Manhattan (20 cases or so) on “purveyors of anti-science hokum” like Jenny McCarthy. “This kind of thinking, it spreads like disease.” The segment was dubbed “Anti-Vaccination Trutherism.” Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Salz, laughed off the vaccine-autism connection: "This is essentially a coping mechanism gone awry. It makes us tremendously anxious to feel that we have no control over the possibility that our baby could get autism, and to be life-ruining, it's terrifying. So that idea that we can identify something that makes us less anxious."
And this, apparently, requires belief in extravagant conspiracy theories. Well, what is a conspiracy after all? It’s more than one person working in concert, and in secret, to effect a desired and usually nefarious result.
Clearly, doctors and public health officials do know that vaccines can cause autism, because they couldn’t have missed the press accounts of awards in vaccine “court” for children who developed autism as a result of vaccination. Further, studies have found a much higher rate of autism and other developmental issues in boys vaccinated as newborns with the Hepatitis B vaccine.
There is a concerted effort to keep these truths from emerging and to replace them with the false idea that vaccines have been vindicated as never causing autism. That in effect is the “trutherism” right there.
What I find amazing is the credulity of the press – many journalists are too young, and some apparently too naïve, to run this idea through their Watergate filter. Here’s the truth: Public officials – and putting “health” in between those words doesn’t inoculate them – do conspire to create certain outcomes when their professional mission and personal reputation are on the line. And corporations are not immune, obviously.
I didn’t have to look far to be reminded of how complicit corporations can be in conspiracies. In the same Thursday issue of USA Today that reported on the health conspiracy beliefs, two stories caught my attention.
One – Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle a criminal case involving its handling of those deadly accelerator problems a few years back. “Today, we can say for certain that Toyota intentionally concealed information and misled the public about the safety issues behind these recalls,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Put simply, Toyota’s conduct was shameful.”
I love this part: Toyota, to save its corporate scalp, agreed to allow a monitor to oversee its “safety communications, its internal handling of accident reports and its processes for handling technical bulletins.” In other words, the government wants to prevent another conspiracy to hide the truth about unsafe products.
Two – GM President Mary Barra penned an op-ed in which she fell on her stick shift to apologize for the mishandling of safety recalls, delays that appear to have caused a handful of deaths.
“Everyone at GM regrets that it took so long to confirm the problem with the Cobalt and similar models and issue a recall. We are deeply sorry for the lives lost and the lives it has affected.”
She’s deeply sorry, in effect, for a conspiracy to conceal safety defects over many years.
What’s so crazy about all this is that drug companies are not held in terribly high regard in the first place, and for good reason (Vioxx, four hour erections, et al). Neither is government. Neither is the media. Yet these three groups team up to treat those with well-earned reasons to be suspicious as “truthers.”
Measles is inconsequential in the fact of the real truth – that the autism epidemic is driven by excessive vaccination. But anti-vaccine truthers get blamed for every illness this side of spring fever, and probably for that.
Take mumps. According to the Daily Beast, “Thanks to anti-vaxxers, mumps are back,” the headline said. “What’s next?”
“Like measles, mumps is another vaccine-preventable illness that’s already back in the news. In fact, there’s an outbreak at The Ohio State University right now,” writes pediatrician Russell Saunders. But he doesn’t do much to help the headline:
“Like some pertussis outbreaks, the clusters of new mumps cases that occur every few years (usually on college campuses) can’t be pinned entirely on vaccine-refusers. Reports from the Ohio outbreak indicate that most of those affected had received at least one mumps vaccine (though complete protection requires two shots), which shows that vaccines aren’t always 100% effective.”
Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The reason the mumps shot is not 100 percent effective is that the vaccine manufacturer, abetted by look-the-other-way public health officials, hid the fact that the mumps vaccine has lost effectiveness. Its own scientists blew the whistle, and the case is now in federal court. We’ve reported on this extensively, but the bottom line is that Merck tried every trick in the book to erase the truth, finally resorting to fake data, and directly triggering outbreaks like the one at Ohio State. Yet the media, the government, and drug companies blame anti-vaxxers for mumps?
Now that’s what I call trutherism.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.