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Book Review: Vaccine Nation: America's Changing Relationship with Immunization

Vaccine nationElena Conis, Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014, $27.50, 353 pp.)

Jonathan Rose
    
On November 8 the on-line magazine Salon published an excerpt from this book, under the heading “Jenny McCarthy’s new war on science: Vaccines, autism and the media’s shame”.  The headline, however, bore no resemblance to the actual book, leading one to suspect the editors of Salon had not read it to the end.  When they do, they may realize, to their dismay, that in promoting this book, they scored an own goal.  For if their objective is to persuade readers to stop asking questions about vaccines, Vaccine Nation will have (happily) the opposite effect.
    
Elena Conis is a young historian of science at Emory University.  Her Vaccine Nation is a remarkably insightful first book, which is already causing a splash.  Another excerpt has been published in the Atlantic. In the book review section of Nature magazine, Vaccine Nation was rated one of “the week's best science picks”, and the Times Higher Education Supplement called it “a fine social history of an ongoing story”.  Prof. Conis clearly isn’t an “anti-vaxxer”, but she has produced a strikingly honest, fair-minded, and informed chronicle of the vaccine controversy in the United States.  She illuminates issues that others have obfuscated, and she opens up discussions that some have tried to shut down.  She understands that vaccine policy is determined not solely by objective science, but also by politics, profits, prejudices, and bureaucratic imperatives. She neither endorses nor condemns vaccine resistance: her aim is to understand the larger causes behind this growing movement.  But anyone who reads this book with an unprejudiced mind is likely to conclude that the skeptics had good reason to be skeptical.  
    
For those who say there is no scientific debate about vaccination, Prof. Conis shows that there has always been a debate.  She scotches the myth, repeatedly reinforced in newspaper stories, that nobody thought to question vaccines before Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy. Vaccine skepticism was rampant in both America and Britain a century ago, faded out (but never entirely disappeared) in the 1950s and 1960s, and then came surging back owing to a number of converging factors. After Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) raised public concerns about environmental toxins, first in pesticides and then in a host of consumer products, questions were inevitably asked about toxins in vaccines.  Starting with the volume Our Bodies Ourselves (1971), feminists charged that the male medical establishment didn’t listen to female patients and were not honest about the risks associated with many drugs and contraceptives.  Not all “Warrior Moms” were radical feminists, but they viewed vaccines and vaccine manufacturers with the same kind of fierce distrust.  The “natural childrearing” movement took off with the launch of Mothering magazine (1976), where vaccination was sharply debated in letters to the editor.  The wisdom of mass inoculation was seriously challenged in widely-read books by philosopher Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, 1976) and physician Robert Mendelsohn (Confessions of a Medical Heretic, 1979).  Then there was 1976 swine flu immunization fiasco and, in the 1980s, shocking revelations about tragic reactions to the DPT shot. One FDA bureaucrat frankly dismissed the idea of informed consent to the DPT: “If we told parents there was a risk of brain damage, there’s no question what their response would be.”  (121)  All that set in motion a broad grassroots movement for what Conis calls “the democratization of vaccine knowledge.”  (126)  And it all happened long before Dr. Wakefield and Ms. McCarthy got involved.  
    


Throughout the twentieth century, when new vaccines were introduced, scientists and public health officials often questioned whether they were safe or effective – and in fact, often their safety and effectiveness were largely unknown.  After the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that children be vaccinated against mumps, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet both doubted whether it was necessary.  A CDC epidemiologist conceded that scientists didn’t really know the prevalence of mumps, or whether it caused male sterility or impotence, or the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine.  
    
Measles, mumps, and HPV were once considered relatively minor diseases: they were only characterized as terrible scourges after vaccines for them were developed.  Maurice Hilleman, who invented a vaccine for mumps, repeatedly warned that the disease could be “permanently crippling when it involves the brain,” though Prof. Conis notes that “the relationship between mumps and brain damage or mental retardation was neither proven nor quantified.” (77) In 1978 a federal government brochure claimed that mumps could cause diabetes, though that link has never been confirmed.  But by then the transformation was complete: the media’s portrayal of mumps had “morphed from that of a childhood nuisance to that of a deadly crippler.” (82)
    
Merck’s measles vaccine, available in 1963, didn’t win immediate acceptance in the medical community.  In the pages of Pediatrics, one doctor questioned whether measles was “worth worrying about.”  A CDC committee worried that mass vaccination of children might confer only temporary immunity, so that “in the not too distant future, many adults…may become once again susceptible to such diseases as diphtheria, pertussis, and measles.”  (55)  In 1964 ACIP decided that, in the case of measles, “rarely would there appear to be a need in the United States for mass community immunization programs”. (52)  
    
The following year ACIP reversed itself. But though the CDC and Merck launched a hard-sell marketing campaign that rebranded measles as a deadly threat, the general public and many health professionals remained unconvinced. The CDC then revised measles mortality statistics upward by orders of magnitude, from 1 of in 100,000 cases to 1 in 10,000 cases (by 1967) to 1 in 1,000 cases (by 1989).  The alleged hundredfold increase looked suspicious to some observers. “Indeed,” writes Prof. Conis, “the calculated representation of measles as a dangerous infection began to seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  And, she adds, health officials were not paying much attention to the vaccine’s adverse effects.  (57)  In 1967 the CDC promised that, in a matter of months, measles would be eradicated in the United States.  Of course measles is still with us – as are hubristic assurances that vaccines can totally wipe out diseases.
    
In the 1950s McCarthyites applied the label “Commie” to everyone to the left of Dwight Eisenhower (and sometimes to Ike as well).  Today the epithet “anti-vaxxer” is likewise hurled at just about anybody who expresses any doubts about any vaccine – even at Elena Conis herself (check out the online comments on her Atlantic article).  Conis is careful to avoid that crude stereotyping.  She reserves the term “antivaccinationist” for those “who rejected all vaccines for religious or safety reasons,” while emphasizing that “the ranks of vaccine resisters also included those who discerned among vaccines, accepting some and forgoing others they deemed too risky or just unnecessary.” (11)  If you accept that definition, then the majority of Americans – including everyone who declines the flu or HPV shots, and all parents who don’t immunize their children according to the full mandated schedule – are “vaccine resisters”.  
    
As the twentieth century drew to a close, the vaccine debate was louder than ever and still wide open.  “The Lethal Dangers of the Billion-Dollar Vaccine Business” headlined Money magazine, which charged (writes Prof. Conis) that “health officials were systematically downplaying vaccine risks, medical experts with industry ties were setting policies that padded drug companies’ bottom lines, and parents were in the dark about all of it.” (203)  In 1999 a congressional committee conducted a public investigation into the hazards of the hepatitis B shot.  As Conis notes, the fact that, “in the hearings, scientists and citizens were given equal time and attention by the assembled lawmakers…is just one illustration of the degree to which scientific authority had been eroded over the previous quarter century.” (199-200)
    
When authorities feel seriously threatened, they often fight back by shutting down debate, rooting out heretics, and dogmatically proclaiming their own infallibility.  The Counter Reformation, the Soviet purges of the 1930s, and McCarthyite hysteria are a few of many examples.  Andrew Wakefield was certainly not the first to suggest a possible link between vaccines and autism, but his 1998 Lancet paper and the publicity surrounding it challenged at least four powerful authorities – the medical profession, public health agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, and vaccine scientists – and all of these establishments were already feeling beleaguered in the face of mounting vaccine skepticism.
    
In her chapter on vaccines and autism, Elena Conis begins to waffle a bit – forgivably so, given that she is an untenured professor entering a minefield.  Elsewhere in the book she subjects the pronouncements of scientists and bureaucrats to sharp critical analysis, but here she reports the charges against Wakefield without asking questions. She writes (on p. 204) that the autism-vaccine link was “disproven”, but then (on p. 211) she says that the eight epidemiological studies that “showed no association between MMR and autism…didn’t definitively disprove a causal relationship.”  She grants (on p. 212) that a few other studies “endorsed the plausibility of a link”, and mentions (in an endnote) that a 2001 Institute of Medicine report conceded that the MMR might cause autism “in a small number of children”.  When she portrays (on p. 218) arguments between scientists and autism parents as a “battle between allegedly rational and irrational actors”, the reader can’t help but notice the word “allegedly”.  And Conis clearly says that media depictions of nonvaccinating mothers as “selfish” affluent cranks are the stuff of “caricature”.  
    
This chapter leaves out a lot: it doesn’t mention the Gates Foundation or the Simpsonwood transcript or Hannah Poling, and David Kirby’s Evidence of Harm appears only in the bibliography. Vaccine Nation leaves the impression that parents based their belief in a vaccine-autism link solely on what they observed in their own children, when in fact quite a few published scientific articles suggested such a connection, as Helen Ratajczak  has documented. But even if Conis doesn’t necessarily agree with Jenny McCarthy and her supporters, neither does she dismiss or ridicule them.  Contrary to what Salon suggests, they come across in this book as sincere and passionate advocates who have raised important questions about “the nature of evidence and expertise”. (218)
    
Post-Wakefield, this debate was almost entirely shut down in the old media, but the reaction to Gardasil (licensed in 2006) suggests that public distrust of vaccines was stronger than ever, especially among the youngest generation.  Merck promoted the drug with a blizzard of ads targeted at teenage girls, who responded with their own fierce debate on Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and discussion groups.  Carrying on the feminist insurgency of Our Bodies Ourselves, many of those girls charged that once again an unsafe drug was being foisted on women in violation of their bodily autonomy.  Amidst the controversy Jenny McCarthy’s Louder than Words went to first place on the New York Times bestseller list.  And the popular outcry ultimately halted the campaign to mandate Gardasil for girls.
    
If you believe journalists who tell you that a Playboy bunny and a doctor struck off the register inspired (all by themselves) the rising tide of vaccine resistance, then the trend will seem crazy.  But it looks far more plausible if you know the long history behind this movement, which arose in reaction to vaccine failures, not-entirely-honest vaccine propaganda, and exposures of corruption on the part of vaccine manufacturers.  Elena Conis provides that historical context in rich and illuminating detail, and in crystal clear prose that any lay reader can follow.  Even if coping with autism takes up most of your life, set aside time to read this book. It will equip you well to discuss vaccines with friends, relatives, and doctors.  And give it to folks who have questions about vaccination: there are a lot of them out there.  

Jonathan Rose is a professor of history at Drew University.  His most recent book is The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor.

[1] Helen Ratajczak, “Theoretical Aspects of Autism: Causes—A Review,” Journal of Immunotoxicology, 2011; 8(1): 68–79.

Comments

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cia parker

I think that whoever said that the measles mortality rate was only one in 100,000 was incorrect. I've seen sources from the US, UK, and Europe with exact figures of incidence and deaths by year, and from at least 1960 on, the death rate from measles has been between one and three per 10,000 cases. A low death rate, but far more than one in 100,000. And that was the lowest mortality rate to date: measles was much more deadly in earlier generations, but evolved to become less virulent.

David Foster

I am very impressed with Jonathan Rose's review, in fact this is so much more than a bood review!

Regarding the book itself, I do have to agree with John Stone. I find it very troubling to see someone who is supposed to be tackling the very difficult and politicized history of the possible vaccine/autism connection, and then watch them neglect to mention some of the most seminal (and convincing) events in this history. I see three possibilities to explain these omissions...they were either: (1) intentional and meant to mislead; (2) an honest omission born out of lack of familiarity with this admittedly dense subject; or (3) again intentional but left out to appease those holding the author's puppet strings.

As relates to [#1], this reminds me of an essay in Commentary Magazine about the geopolitical history of the Middle East, by self-described historian Victor Davis Hanson, in which he completely neglects to mention the inconvenient fact of US support for Sadam Hussein and Iraq prior to them becoming our enemy. Mr. Hanson is a very political animal, he did this for a reason...he wants you to reach a certain conclusion, and you can tell this is the case by reading his response to my criticism:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/friends-and-enemies/

I am not familiar with Elena Conis so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that [#2] is the likely explanation, and simply suggest that she do some more thorough research before approaching this subject again. Perhaps then she could even mention Simpsonwood and now the CDC whistleblower, and maybe spend some time educating herself about what really happened to Dr. Wakefield instead of relying on someone else to reach her conclusions for her.

If instead this is a case of omitting certain facts for political expediency, as John suggests as a possibility, then we can only hope that others can fill in the gaps and convince Elana Conis to rise to the occasion.

I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed what Jonathan Rose included about the sordid history of vaccine safety issues, and how the reality differs markedly from common perceptions.

One of the most interesting things I have ever read about vaccines was from "What Every Parent Should Know About Childhood Immunization" by Jamie Murphy. The chapter "Measles in the 80's" covers how our health agencies portrayed measles prior to advent of the measles vaccine, and then the shift to measles suddenly becoming a deadly disease once the vaccine was developed and needed to be marketed to a terrified populace.

autism uncle

Anne, THANK YOU for your many years of exposing the deadly vaccine fraud. I think, however, we now have at least two entire generations hugely crippled (and dead) - not just our current generation. Thank you, again.

Jonathan Rose

Thank you all for your supportive comments. John, remember that Emory University is (like any university) a collection of fiefdoms with differing agendas. The History department (which of course receives no money from drug companies) seems absolutely delighted that one of their junior faculty has published a book with a first-rank scholarly press and is getting so much public attention. The department's webpage prominently posts a link to an op-ed that Prof. Conis wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, in which she clearly states that mothers have legitimate concerns about vaccines and should be listened to:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/public_health/Blaming-moms-for-vaccine-trends.html

Of course the Emory School of Public Health is probably less enthusiastic about the book. We can only hope that they have no influence over Prof. Conis's tenure decision. (They shouldn't, and it would be unethical if they did, but such things are not unheard-of in academic politics).

While I agree with White Rose that the Guilty Men should be exposed, I think "Vaccine Nation" will prove more valuable to our cause. After all, there are a lot of concerned but undecided parents out there who would be put off by a harangue against vaccines. They will find Prof. Conis's measured, dispassionate, reasonable treatment of the issue far more persuasive -- and more subversive.

For precisely that reason, the Dark Side will find it difficult to deal with "Vaccine Nation". If Nature magazine and Salon and the University of Chicago Press all think it's a great book, how can anyone write it off as the work of a kook? The CDC will probably ignore it for as long as they can.

Anne J.

@ White Rose,
I LOVE the idea of a book that documents time-lines and directly names those involved! It's truly stunning how they have been able to get away with everything for SO long now.
Great idea!

John Stone

White Rose

I think there are lots of books, and I would not care to speculate in detail on the motives of the people making the bureaucratic decisions, as opposed to recording what they do. Yes, I fear that the long term consequences of the ever increasing toxic burden is likely to be genocidal. It may be that some people are just making money and serving their masters. Some, somewhere may be secretly relishing the destruction - some people like to watch car crashes. Fundamentally, it is the objective of the pharmaceutical companies to inflict an ever increasing range of their products on the public and deny any responsibility for their negative effects, and from the commercial point of view this is inevitable. What is so appalling about the present situation is the privileged position granted the industry through the Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which means that they have a captive market and immunity from prosecution. Although it only pertains to one country it is perhaps the central pillar of the global industry. The biggest thing in my opinion is that they just don't care what happens. Indeed, if you were to leave a multitude of chronic illnesses and impairments in the wake of such a program it just leaves many opportunities for the industry to clean up once again.

White Rose

@John Stone

I believe there is gap in the market for a new book .
I would like to see a book that brings together all the timelines & key events . I want to see the guilty individual's named and their compromised backgrounds exposed in this "dirty war". And record the names of the brave people who defiantly opposed & exposed them .

The aim of the book would be to record this heinous crime for the future . We need the masses to be aware of who did what and when , and who needs to be prosecuted (and of the guilty parties , their families cast down for the sins of their fathers & mothers) . It has greatly surprised me recently how many women are involved in this holocaust (Gerberding, Boyle , Allsopp and the rest) .

We need to record the inaction of the politicians who did nothing .
We need to record the censorship of the media (Murdoch desrves a mention)
We need to demonstrate the collaboration of the doctors .
They think they are going to walk away from us , free men . Think again .

John Stone

Part of the risk or the problem with such a book is that by handling part of its task with forensic care it may even help to disguise further what it is omitting. If you did not have the background of the readers of these columns you might see the things reported with objectivity and fairness and mistake that it is an objective and fair book. Reading history I have often fallen for this - the mastery of the topic, the precision of writing is always likely to lend a sense of authority. If you do that part well you could disguise many things (even from yourself?)

It might also suit the institutional objectives of Emory University to have a more realistic account to hand of "the enemy" than the one they are publicly nurturing through enterprises like Voices for Vaccines. It will certainly be an advantage to them in this dirty war to remember for two seconds that we are not all stupid.

I remember reading 'The Dawn of MacScience' a book review by Lancet editor Richard Horton in New York Review of Books in March 2004 - a critique of industrial encroachment on the conduct of science - only to then find it turned round in a book 'MMR Science and Fiction' less than 6 months later as an attack on Andrew Wakefield: as it were the man threatening science. If we really considered it injecting citizens with innumerable processed diseases is the actual "MacScience". My guess is that one of the key reasons why Wakefield was so intolerable was not that he attacked vaccination - which he did not - but he attacked the multi-vacs which were seen as the future of the industry.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

Such an excellent, intriguing, and interesting review. I had only heard about this book in passing, now I am very much looking forward to reading it.

I earned my Ph.D. from Emory University. I'm delighted to see a young professor there doing such thoughtful and important research on such a controversial topic.

Benedetta

Jenny I had two kinds of measles with a month apart in the second grade -- it has been flooring me for a long time the way they are acting about it.

Jenny

Yes, the bit about changing how measles was just another childhood illness everyone got into some kind of hugely dangerous disease caught me eye. I had the opportunity to be in a building that housed many encyclopedias sets once, dating back to the early 1900s. I went around and read the measles articles in all of them. I was floored at the change, needless to say.

cia parker

Yes! I've been reading this book, and told Dr. Mike I didn't even know where she stood on the vaccine question, which spoke well for its being objective and unbiased. But after reading the chapter on how in the '60s, no one, not parents, not most doctors, thought the measles vaccine was necessary, even though 99% of children got it, and how the measles mortality rate was changed from one in 100,000 to one in 10,000, I thought the objective facts establish that we have been jerked around for pharma profit. It's really interesting, and effectively evokes the social climates of earlier decades, with many trends influencing the dominant VPD/vaccine memes.

Linda1

"The CDC then revised measles mortality statistics upward by orders of magnitude, from 1 of in 100,000 cases to 1 in 10,000 cases (by 1967) to 1 in 1,000 cases (by 1989)."

Thank you, Dr. Rose, for the true modern history, including how it was revised.

Anne McElroy Dachel



Thank you, Jonathan for this very insightful review.

I saw the Salon.com piece when it first came out.

Jenny McCarthy's new war on science: Vaccines, autism and the media's shame
The vaccine/autism conversation has been abetted by a media determined to pose everything as a conflict

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/08/jenny_mccarthys_new_war_on_science_vaccines_autism_and_the_medias_shame/

Here's their excerpt from Vaccine Nation:

"On a deeper level, the debate also evoked tension because it wasn't just about science or medicine-it was a contest of values. Its core features included disagreements over the nature of evidence, the battle between reason and emotion, and impossible-to-settle disputes over the kinds of risks that parents should assume and the kinds they should avoid. These themes had deep cultural resonance-as did the trends and stereotypes with which they connected. . . .

"The vaccine-autism debate also persisted because it was, in many ways, the perfect story for what sociologist Ulrich Beck dubbed the "risk society." Concern with risk, Beck argued, is our modern condition. Americans and citizens of other affluent nations are at once acutely conscious of risk and pessimistic about the state's and institutions' abilities to manage risks. They are, as a result, plagued by uncertainty; since risk can't be dependably identified or avoided, one has to assume it is everywhere. This mentality is connected to the increasingly protective form of child rearing prevalent in countries such as the United States, where the economic and emotional value of children continues its upward climb; safety gear and safety precautions for children-from car seats to organic baby food to flame-retardant pajamas-are ubiquitous and ever growing in number. In such a society, the media is a critical venue for identifying, communicating, and evaluating risks. The media certainly embraced this role in the debate over vaccines, covering it attentively, staying focused on the vaccine-autism link long after scientists had dismissed it, and giving voice to parental fears that spoke directly to a lack of confidence in government's-and industry's-ability to protect their children from omnipresent risks."

WHAT? READ THAT LAST SENTENCE AGAIN....

"The media certainly embraced this role in the debate over vaccines, covering it attentively, staying focused on the vaccine-autism link long after scientists had dismissed it, and giving voice to parental fears that spoke directly to a lack of confidence in government's-and industry's-ability to protect their children from omnipresent risks."

This is fiction. Conis seems to be saying that the media has covered the autism-vaccine controversy in a fair and balanced manner. That has never been the case.

Other than Sharyl Attkisson (CBS) and Alisyn Camerota (FOX) news people are nothing more than flunkies for health official/pharma.

Universally they ignore the money ties of doctors and health officials to the drug industry.

The glaring conflicts-of-interest were talked about by Leslie Manookian (The Greater Good) on this recent video.
http://www.greatergoodmovie.org/video/vaccine-beat-4-living-the-american-dream/

Unquestionably the media set this debate up as one between desperate, misled parents and the entire medical/scientific community.

The story of the concession by medical experts at HHS in the Hannah Poling case received a great deal of coverage for a couple of days in 2008, and then it was buried. Never to be talked about again.

Only Fox News covered the 2011 revelation that the NVICP has been regularly compensating vaccine injury cases involving autism for more than twenty years.

No reporter has ever asked why there is no official comparison study of vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

No reporter ever asks how the government can defend the use of mercury in vaccines when thimerosal was never tested or approved by the FDA.

No reporter followed up on what the late Dr. Bernadine Healy said on CBS in 2008, namely that we can't dismiss a link between vaccines and autism because we've never looked at the children who were normally developing and who suddenly and dramatically lost learned skills and regressed into autism.

No reporter giving us yet another official study that shows no link ever asks who funded the study or what the conflicts of the researchers might be.

No reporter is EVER concerned when another new jaw-dropping increase in the autism rate is announced. Each and every time they happily tell us that it's probably more better diagnosing of a condition that's always been around.

No reporter ever expresses concern over the fact that the autism rate is always based on studies of children--never adults.

No reporter talked about the fact that Julie Gerberding went from heading the CDC, where she adamantly defended the safety of vaccines and denied a link to autism, to a well-paid position as head of the vaccine division at Merck.

No reporter ever interviews the well-credentialed experts at leading universities whose research does challenge vaccine safety claims.

No reporter who routinely trashes Andrew Wakefield ever interviews any of the parents of the children he worked with or discusses anything he wrote in his book, Callous Disregard. (This was especially true in 2011 at CNN and the other major networks.)

The truth is, if the media didn't have Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy, they'd have to invent them.

If the press couldn't lay the blame for the link between vaccines and autism on a defrocked doctor and an ex-Playboy bunny, the debate would be much harder to dismiss.

The American public must be seen as really, really stupid and gullible. If Jenny McCarthy's comments and a study in a British medical journal back in 1998, can cause this much fear and controversy, we're in big trouble. Why won't moms and dads out there believe Paul Offit and all the other experts cheering for vaccines?

It all boils down to making autism into a normal and acceptable part of childhood. The same people who report "studies show no link," can't wait for April each year. Then they can pretend that autism is something to celebrate. Autism is a reason to turn on blue lights and hold walks. They show us happy, engaged children with autism--ones who look just like typical kids. Autism isn't such a bad thing and it's easy to believe that it's always been around like this.

(Of course the media doesn't show us a mother with a nonverbal teenage son in a diaper wearing a helmet. There's not much to celebrate there.)

The truth is, autism will continue to be downplayed and lied about until the cost of all these disabled Americans simply bankrupts us. We are doing nothing to prepare for the massive onslaught headed our way as these young adults with autism age out of school. And when the weary moms and dads out there can no longer care for them, it's the taxpayers who will have to take over. I can't even imagine what autism is going to cost this country. But there's no way we can avoid this disaster.

I can't wait to see how the same reporters who talked about all the better diagnosing will cover the economic crisis that's ahead. I can't wait to see them "covering it attentively," in the words of Elena Conis.

Conis: "On a deeper level, the debate also evoked tension because it wasn't just about science or medicine, . . . "

That's right. It's also about who will be held responsible if it's officially recognized that an unchecked, unsafe vaccine schedule has injured a generation of children. There's a subject no one wants to cover.

Anne Dachel, Media

John Stone

Jonathan

Thank you for this informative review. I think the important thing to note is the very unpleasant political means used to suppress dissent which is diguised by labelling. What people are actually being asked to do is to defer irrationally to an orthodoxy, and this kind of politics does not have a good history of revealing the truth, and of course everyone is scared. It is actually deeply troubling that such a history has to omit direct mention of Simpsonwood, or take the accusations against Wakefield at face value. It shows that in 21st century America (or the UK for that matter) even a conscientious history has to be coded just as much as by a liberal member of the Communist Party in the latter days of the former Soviet Union: some lies run too deep.

This morning I was leafing in a London bookshop through the recently published anthology of the repulsive "science" journalism of Ben Goldacre. Goldacre is a fake liberal and his polemics are invariably about attacking people in the guise of scientific objectivity. Beneath the cultivated "nerdy" exterior is an intolerant purveyor of hard line orthodox opinion. I guess he is a typical false flags operation in a phoney debate.

http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/12/leveson-inquiry-submission.html

It is interesting to see someone from the CDC's own university begin on a partial revision of the propaganda history to which we have all been subjected. I wonder what they will do about it.

Jerald H

What a pleasure to read such a thoughtful review about an exciting new book - it's now on my reading list.

Jenny

Now that is one awesome book review, for so many different reasons.

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