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Seth Mnookin and the Error Virus

Bat boy By Dan Olmsted

Seth Mnookin is a stickler for accuracy. In his new book “The Panic Virus – A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear,” Mnookin discusses Robert F. Kennedy Jr., “the eldest son and namesake of the former attorney general and New York senator.” Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and a fierce critic of the use of mercury in vaccines, and Mnookin notes that a press release for the Green Our Vaccines rally “appeared to confuse Kennedy with his uncle, Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy: ‘Having Senator Kennedy as part of the supporters for the Green Our Vaccines Rally is an honor.’”

What possible purpose does this snarky observation serve? It serves to suggest that these fringe vaccine-autism types are hopelessly “confused” at the most basic level – that they can’t get anything right, even the title of the speaker at their own goofy rally, let alone the cause of autism. But wait a second – literally -- before laughing off the whole thing based on Mnookin's exposure of the Teddy-Bobby flub. Mnookin has his own Kennedy problem: Bobby Kennedy Jr. is not, as Mnookin writes, the eldest son of Robert F. Kennedy. That would be Joseph P. Kennedy II. Oops.

It's an easy mistake to make -- if you don't know history (hometown history, in Mnookin's case), didn’t live through it, and never bothered to check – you'd naturally assume Bobby Jr. is the eldest son of Bobby Sr. How could he not be? The only problem is that he’s just plain not. 

Now, having co-written a book myself, I’m sympathetic to the idea that some errors are going to slither in somewhere when you put more than 100,000 words on paper. You’d think, however, that if you were going to mock people for making mistakes, and use that to try to eviscerate their credibility, you’d be a little more careful out there. Especially after the voluminous corrections to Mnookin’s last book, on the Boston Red Sox, ( HERE) you’d think Mnookin or at least his editors would have fact-checked this one to death. But that would be a Bill Buckner-size error.

Just the other day a blogger in San Diego wrote about a real howler – in the book, Mnookin pegged the cost of containing a California measles outbreak at $10 million, when the real cost was $176,000.

Mnookin rushed in to fix that mistake before the blogger did, explaining in the burgeoning corrections section of his own blog (Bettelheim was not a medical doctor, Freud was not a behaviorist …) that he had multiplied the cost of each case by the number of people exposed, 839, rather than the number who actually got measles, 11. In the book, he doesn't footnote his official-sounding $10 million figure, so the reader has no way of knowing it was just Mnookin Math.

Mnookin seems to take pride in acknowledging his errors, as if doing so is kind of a red badge of intellectual courage, like Washington admitting to chopping down the cherry tree (one cherry tree, not a forest). On his blog, he writes like a detached press critic about his $10 million mistake -- headlined "Dept. of corrections: The phantom $1o million measles outbreak " -- HERE explaining, “This is a significant enough error that I wanted to draw more attention to it to make sure word got out.” Happy to help!

Speaking of significant errors (compiled by myself and others), on page 12 Mnookin says that after coming to the issue with an open mind, he concluded  “there was no evidence supporting a link between childhood inoculations and developmental disorders.”  What about the encephalopathy that the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act covers?  Encephalopathy, or brain damage, often results in mental retardation, also known as a developmental disorder.  Mnookin never points out that the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out over $2 billion to over 2,500 claimants for vaccine injury, including over 1,300 for brain injury. 

Mnookin Then there’s his feeble hold on autism’s history and his obliviousness to its implications. The 1943 paper by Leo Kanner, titled “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact,” was a case series of eight boys and three girls. Mnookin writes, wrongly, that it was 11 boys. He says the paper was “the first to use the term ‘autism’” to describe such children; in fact, the paper never uses the term “autism.” He says Kanner’s report appeared in a publication called “Pathology.” In fact, it appeared in a journal called “The Nervous Child.” Pathology was the section heading. (That’s what you get for spending too much time on the University of Google and too little on PubMed or at the library copying the original – see photo.)

In the next footnote, Mnookin cites a Kanner paper as “Problems of Nosology and Psychodynamics in Early Childhood Autism.” In fact, the phrase was Early Infantile Autism.

Why care? Because autism is defined by its onset in infancy, the first three years of life, and because reading and retaining what Leo Kanner wrote is kind of basic if you want to mock people who disagree with you about the disorder he identified.

Mnookin asserts that vaccine “court had addressed claims for more than a dozen different purported injuries.  Autism was not one of them.”  Several early cases from the VICP, including the 1990 case Sorensen v. HHS, note that the claimants suffered from autism as well as other developmental delay and mental retardation. 

Mnookin on the same page asserts that there were no claims of vaccine-induced autism on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System by 1999.  This too is false; in fact, there were several such reports, easily searchable in the VAERS database.

Mnookin says thimerosal “was formally approved for use back in the 1940s.” That vague reference is unaccompanied by a footnote, and I’m eager to learn what formal approval he’s talking about. Citation, please.

If Mnookin weren’t so insufferably smug and derisive – insisting there “weren’t two sides” to the autism-vaccine issue and those who disagree with him should be banished from the discussion – it would be easier to let these things pass unremarked on. But reading that Bobby Kennedy Jr. is part of a “conspiracy of dunces” and that David Kirby is “spreading misinformation” and that people like us are morally and scientifically bankrupt is a bit wearing, considering the source.

In a Scientific American post mentioning Kirby, Mnookin combines all this in one tidy package, trying to make Kirby look bogus and unreliable but boomeranging himself rather badly:

“Kirby has been employing similar sleights-of-hand for years. On May 23, 2009, I heard him speak at a conference sponsored by AutismOne. … This conference was described by The New York Times as 'an anti-vaccine conference,' he said.

“Kirby's opening confused me: I'd been monitoring the Times for coverage of the conference and hadn't seen any. When he repeated his claim in a Huffington Post story, ‘Notes From the Big “Anti-Vaccine” Conference,’ I decided to dig into the archives to figure out what I had missed. To my surprise, the Times had never mentioned the organization or its conferences by name in any context. Kirby's reference, it seemed, was to a sentence that appeared in the 36th paragraph of a 41-paragraph March 17, 2009 story about the offer by one activist to pay for some Somali immigrants living in Minnesota ‘to attend an anti-vaccine conference.’”

Hey, Seth, there’s no sleight of hand here. The Times referred, though not by name, to a conference the Somalis were attending as "anti-vaccine."  That conference was Autism One. I know, because the Somalis shared the stage with us that year. Thus, the Times described Autism One as "anti-vaccine."

This is pure Mnookin – hunting down some imagined “sleight-of-hand” that has no bearing on anything, counting paragraphs in a New York Times story to make his critique seem erudite and scientifically precise, muttering “Gotcha!” under his breath when he’s actually got nothing, and making David Kirby and his ilk out to be a bunch of morally and scientifically bankrupt sleight-of-handers who have no standing to talk about something as serious as autism.

You know, the kind of people who can't keep their Kennedys straight.


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism




proof that wakefield is correct and that deer and mnookin are liars

Carolyn M

Michael Sadler -

Your theory amounts to maternal neglect as a cause for autism, and is very closely related to the "refrigerator mother" theory of Bruno Bettelheim. This theory was totally disproven by Dr. Bernard Rimland DECADES ago.

"Psychological reasons" do not explain the multiple dysfunctions which are seen in regressive autism. These dysfunctions include gastrointestinal dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and mitochondrial dysfunction. "Psychological reasons" do not explain seizures nor do they explain migraines. These are all physical issues and have nothing to do with "psychological reasons". They are also NOT a coincidence.

In addition, many mothers stayed home with their children after they were born - including the period when the children were learning to talk. Their children still developed autism. Your theory does not explain these children.

For a theory to be credible it must explain all of these factors. Your theory fails on all counts.

Jenny Allan

Their kids (and others) may get stuffed
into questionably-effective verbal learning environments--like with grandparents who
may simply play with or entertain them-

I am constantly AMAZED by the drivel that gets generated by so called 'experts'!! As a grandparent who has spent a great deal of time playing with and entertaining my grandchildren, I OBJECT to this being labelled a 'questionably-effective' learning environment!! Children have been communicating verbally with their parents and friends, long before so called human 'civilisation', (often less than civilised in my opinion!!)

I agree that young children learn to talk by observing and listening to adults and older children. It can also be 'unhelpful' if an environment has little verbal interaction, but unless a child has a fundamental problem with language acquisition, talking always follows eventually!!

michael sadler

Dan --

On April 19th I did a Google search for ‘Amish Autism’ and found your article.

After two-decades of verbal development research I knew
that the Amish would not raise children ‘into’ Autism. Needed only was the proof you published.

Amish children can observe both parents closely; they learn to talk by watching and
listening to Mom and Dad as ‘in-the-home/around-the-farm’ activities are performed.

Non-Amish children grow up in a different verbal world. Many mothers often leave the
home to make money before kids begin to talk. Their kids (and others) may get stuffed
into questionably-effective verbal learning environments--like with grandparents who
may simply play with or entertain them--or with sitters--or get taken to day care. (At
day care kids spend their time with other kids who can’t yet say much--if anything).

Then there are radio, TV and computer games--none of which can teach anyone to talk.
If watching TV taught children how to talk ‘verbal’ Autism might not exist, and most
anyone could become a reporter, a novelist, or a playwright.

All newborns grow into a baffling world of ‘words, actions and expressions’ which are
difficult to link together. Lucky ones eventually learn to talk--others don’t pick it up.

Is it possible that we’re all born into an ‘expressionless shell’ but leave it as we learn
to talk. And do some retreat back to that shell (or remain in it) for certain time periods
and/or psychological reasons?

The above outlines an Autism cause. Still, the last five years of my work was spent in
development of a verbal training method to prevent the syndrome from starting or continuing. A companion method teaches verbal skills; said work is on an 850-page
website with captioned photographs and illustrations on every page.

I will share my findings and training systems if we talk.

Mike Sadler Medina OH 330-461-1489 2:00-2:15 E.S.T any day except Wed. May 4.
(No E-mail please Dan).

Below are recent Autism stats on Wikipedia; U.S. and Canada numbers compared to
the rest reveal much. All supposedly have a 4.3-1: male to female ratio.

U. S.: 1 per 110 Canada: 1 per 147 France: 27 per 10,000 Saudi: 18 per 10,000
U.K.: 3 per 10,000 Japan: 1 per 10,000 Israel: 190 per million

John Jr.

I want to thank you for posting this Dan.

I want to bring another issue to your attention.

Today, I went to my favorite restaurant. When I arrived at home, it began to rain. Before that it was a perfectly sunny day! I then went on the internet, and found that several other people had the same experience!!!!!

I wanted to know if you could find a law firm for me that will sue my favorite restaurant. Clearly this restaurant caused the bad weather as it was sunny before I went and raining after.

What? You say my fears are ridiculous? Truly you must be paid by big restaurants and the weather establishment. I have no idea how you could reject reason and science!!!!

Let me see, maybe you did something embarrassing years ago. THAT'S why you don't believe me!!! It has nothing to do with actual facts and studies disproving my belief. My favorite restaurant caused it to rain. I've seen it!!!

I also want you to know that just because you have a study showing no causal link between the weather and my eating habits does not mean that there isn't.

My favorite restaurant should close. Don't even bother spending money and time to find the real cause of the bad weather.

Oh? Will some people be harmed because they didn't have a meal at the restaurant any more? Maybe but who cares?!?!?!

There is a link between the rain and this eating establishment. I don't care if there is actual proof or not.


It's hard to resist mocking the history of drug addiction, especially when someone's views are so repugnant. But to me, that's hitting below the belt. Just because the other side often hits below the belt, that doesn't mean we should. I can't imagine how hard it must be to kick a heroine habit, and my hat's off to anyone who has done so. I say, stick to ridiculing or debating his present views, not his past drug habit. Let that go. Let it stay in the past; it should not constantly haunt him. He is now married with a baby. It's hard to resist wishing obviously vaccine-induced autism on his baby just to teach him a lesson, but I really don't wish that -- I wish him and his family all the best, and I wish that he change his limited ignorant judgemental perspective. Is he making money off this? Being paid by pharma? If there were evidence of that, it would be fair game. If not, I really can't imagine what his motivations are, how he has come to such strange conclusions, which are truly inconsistent with science and reason.
P.S. Great article, Dan!

Ted Van Oosbree

Maybe Seth M is back on the smack?

Donna L.

Does anyone else find it interesting that Simon and Schuster published Mnookin's book, and they also show up on this list:
(or maybe this has already been discussed and I just missed it)


I wonder if Mnookin has read this paper by V.K. Singh et al.

"In recent years, the immunization-autoimmunity topic has gained quite a bit of public attention. This is quite possibly because autoimmune diseases are the commonest manifestations of immunizations. The MMR has been insinuated as a culprit of gastrointestinal problems in some children with autistic characteristics. Approximately one half of the parents with autistic children reported autistic regression after the MMR immunization. Moreover, a serological association of MV [measles virus] with autoimmunity was found in autistic children who did not have a wild type measles infection but they did have the MMR immunization. And, as described herein, autistic children showed a serological correlation between MMR and brain autoimmunity, i.e., over 90% of MMR antibody-positive autistic sera also had autoantibodies to brain MBP [myelin basic protein]. This is quite an intriguing observation in favor of a connection between atypical measles infection and autism; an atypical infection usually refers to infection that occurs in the absence of a rash. An atypical measles infection in the absence of a rash and unusual neurological symptoms was recently described to suggest the existence of a variant MV in children and adults. In light of these new findings, we suggest that a considerable proportion of autistic cases may result from an atypical measles infection that does not produce a rash but causes neurological symptoms in some children. The source of this virus could be a variant MV or it could be the MMR vaccine."



How about forced mass vaccination in the U.S. with “franken-viruses”? The reality of vaccine "madness" keeps getting stranger by the day. There really is a lot that we can learn from the H1N1 Pandemic Flu Fraud and Hysteria of 2009. History could easily repeat itself, unless we educate ourselves. Dr A. True Ott, PhD, ND has looked into the subject in detail. At first, I was skeptical, but the more I read about these events, and the hemorrhagic pneumonic plague in the Ukraine, the less skeptical I became. I really do wonder what is more dangerous - the wild-type “germ”, the lab virus, or the jab?

“The scientists made 127 hybrid viruses by mixing genes of the H1N1 and the avian H9N2 virus in a laboratory, and eight of the hybrids turned out to be more virulent than either parents when tested in mice.”

““The possibility of novel pandemic strains being generated from reassortment between avian H9N2 and H1N1/2009 influenza viruses exists.”

“Flu viruses have eight gene segments and one of the segments is called the PA gene. Interestingly, all eight dangerous hybrids carried the PA gene belonging to the H1N1 parent virus. The eight hybrid viruses caused severe pneumonia, edema and hemorrhaging in infected mice, the experts wrote.”

“Experts believe that a classic way for hybrid viruses to form is when different viruses meet and “marry” inside a single host, swapping genes. Humans and animals, such as pigs, can be efficient “mixing vessels.”

“Novavax will develop new technology to make vaccines using insect cells. VaxInnate will develop technology that combines influenza and bacteria proteins to stimulate strong immune response against the flu.”

John Stone

With regard to the video clip of Mnookin (Robert Schecter's comment below) I think it falls somewhere below charismatic (probably I would perform about the same level if it was me). I even have the impenetrable dark eyes, though I never took drugs. However, the reality is with pertussis vaccination is that it is not only not very safe, it is also not at all effective as many studies testify.

Of course, the answer of the industry and officials is to just vaccinate more and more, although uptake is already very high for the target populations and at best it is probably making very little difference. What we should really be doing is having an informed public discussion rather than a hate campaign against intellectual dissenters (most of whom have witnessed the collateral damage at first hand).


Oh, wow. a former heroin addict? Why is this the first time I'm hearing this? One would think all news articles about his book would introduce him as, "former heroin addict, Seth Mnookin," just as they have done with Jenny McCarthy and her being a former Playboy model. Not that there is anything illegal or brain-frying about being a former Playboy model.

Could brain frying via heroin be an explanation for all his ridiculous factual mistakes?

A Friend

Just so we are clear... The former heroin addict Seth Mnookin wrote a book and I'm supposed to be impressed? Um, no thanks. I'll take a Autism Mom former playboy bunny any day of the week!!

He's going to be speaking @ Hospitals?!?! Lock up the medicine cabinets. :( How sad.

kathy blanco

Vaccine-Induced-Disease (VID) is an extremely effective socio-economic tool. It has the potential to generate BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF WINDFALL PROFITS, while permanently changing the social structures of large groups of people. By their own admissions, the NIH scientists in their various writings have declared that the level of potency of these REVERSE ENGINEERED VIRUSES show abnormal, almost RANDOM tendencies in their attenuated states. Nobody really knows what w...ill happen over time as the inevitable "genetic drifts" occur. It is a literal crap shoot. It is highly probable that even the HIGHLY ATTENUATED FRANKEN-VIRUSES can swiftly regain their FULL POTENCY even in the presence of ether and formaldehyde. (See Addendum Below) Secondly, the full-strength BOOSTER shot viruses could just as easily "DRIFT" into something much more deadly than the "original' recombinant virus that it is targeting.

I submit that the scientists responsible for this "pandemic" are not stupid. They have to know these facts as well as I do.

Therefore, I can only conclude that this entire affair is following the Modus Operandi of the medical elite since the 1920 engineered smallpox epidemics. It is all being ORCHESTRATED first and foremost for MONEY, and secondly, for social and geographical restructuring of the "human herd".

Also, it must be understood that this "Novel 2009 Influenza" is not easily nor readily transmissible between humans. (See published study in the addendum). If this report is accurate, how then did the "Pandemic" begin, and why the need for mass vaccinations at all?? Like the "study" shows, the only way the test ferrets could contract or transmit the 2009 "Novel Swine Flu" was by and through INOCULATION OF THE DISEASE!! Humanity demands an answer, and demands it NOW!!!

A.True Ott, Phd, ND


The cost of autism for society.
Estimating that there are about 500’000 persons with ASD in the US now and the cost of caring for one autistic person is 3,2 millions for her life, it means that the current cost of autism epidemic in the US is 1,6 x 10(12), or 1,6 trillions. The cost of caring even for a few thousands children with measles or pertussis for a week is pennies in comparison to the cost of autism, which is growing.

Sandy Gottstein

While congenital rubella syndrome is thought to cause some autism, what do we really know about whether or not the vaccine can do the same? "Is Rubella Vaccination Playing A Role In The Rise In Autism?"


"...In an emetic sort of way." That made me laugh. Shall we nickname him "Ralph?"

He's allowed to spout lies and mangled facts because he says what a certain groups wants. He's like the Sarah Palin of the pro-vax at any child's health cost community. I know people like Sarah Palin, but no one could accuse her of being factually correct on the important issues. I wonder if Mnookin can see CHOP from his house?


Also at this link

a commenter named Catherine added this correction:

"While you are at it, Seth – on page 20 of The Panic Virus (which, btw, was a most riveting read) you state that 'each year rubella infections results in more than twenty thousand infants who were born blind, deaf, or developmentally disabled'
That only applies to the two epidemic years 1964/5 (with 20’000 CRS cases in total) but was not generally the case number in non-epidemic years."

Wasn't the treatment of choice for the "two epidemic years" of congenital rubella thimerosal preserved gamma globulin?

Sandy Gottstein

As one of my favorite tee-shirts says: "It's been lovely, but I have to scream now."

Robert Schecter

He's quite charismatic, in an emetic sort of way. If you watch this clip I'm sure you'll agree


oh man, I just looked at this "authors" press tour...

WHY ON EARTH is this person booked to SPEAK at the following:

"Pediatric Grand Rounds" at St. Petersburg, FL, Childrens Hospital

"Pediatric Grand Rounds, University of South Florida/Tampa General Hospital"

"The Children’s Hospital, Mt. Oxford Building (2nd floor), 13123 E. 16th Ave., Aurora, CO."

"University Memorial Center at The University of Colorado"

"Association of Developmental Disability Providers Conference, DCU Center"

"Informal Q/A with students from the University of Albany-SUNY School of Public Health."

"Harvard School of Public Health Risk Communication Conference"

"Dean’s Lecture, University of South Florida College of Public Health"

in the mix are the few and far between 'normal' type of book signing/press tours but nothing compared to the number of actual MEDICAL events...

Since WHEN Is this author a MEDICAL author? He wrote a sports book right? That was also full of misinformation and outright FALSE information?!?

So, what makes THIS book one that should take ANY time away from "Pediatric Grand Rounds" or ANY time away from ANYONE a ANY Children's hospital...

..what a dirty and sneaky TRICK to make people think that this is a book from a MEDICAL writer...someone with ACTUAL medical or even scientific background...or any sort of credentials AT ALL?!?!?

I know I am going to go borrow (not spending money for this fiction)....BUT i think we all need to outline , very precisely, what the FACTS that are WRONG are in this work of fiction...and send it to the RESPONSIBLE parties are at the various hospitals and medical universities , so at LEAST they know WHAT they are going to speak about and present to their students and their medical collegues.

I know that anyone has the choice to present any book at a signing/book tour, especially colleges, where there should be all sorts of kinds of work presented...HOWEVER, something like this with SO MANY OUTRAGEOUS MIS-statements, and WRONG FACTS, it should be presented as such, and NOT something that is a 'medical' or 'science' or presented as any sort of reference material...
...and without the knowledge of the actual FALSE statements within this book, it sure looks by the venues that they are meaning TO present this book to doctors and medical students as an ACCURATE history and a FACTUAL reference...

which, based on just these few statements presented here in this article should be MORE THAN ENOUGH to question the integrity of the information within the entire book, and therefore should NOT be wanted to be presented in THAT manor...

Regardless of ANY opinion about this issue, ANY side of this debate, OR ANY debate/issue/etc I am SURE that MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS would want to support and/or present a work like this that is SO FULL of PROOVEABLE FALSE information...

...and its not things that are 'opinions' or even 'skewed' information or 'small errors'...they are outright, easily prooveable FASLE statements PRESNTED as facts...

ANY professional in ANY career would certainly NOT want to have anything to do with promotion of a work that is NOT factual, right?

Sure, offit et al. have various falsehoods too, but they have been mostly personal attacks/opinionated statements...with an error here and there, but for the most part the errors have been sneaky manipulations of the facts and opinionated judgements about the facts, things like that...

this book seems to not only have THAT (which makes it still terrible that any professional would refer to something like that)...BUT it also has many outright lies and such..which makes it even WORSE...and boy, I am surely having a rough time with calling anything/something WORSE than any of offits publications/statements...argh!

Anyone else up for writing to these organizations?

mom to ethan, alex, and megan

John Stone


It is an interesting point. Its like the "mainstream" (and this is not the only case) have given up even pretending to be more than superficially factual. They can't - they would already have lost the game. So, we just have a rumour mill, and for that I suppose Mnookin will do.


Obviously anyone can publish any kind of incorrect, false and misleading information if it is regarding the subjects of vaccines and that MD blogger who wrote that "Jenny McCarthy changed her mind about her child having autism". Even experienced vaccine "experts" who should know better like Paul Offit can get away with lying all day every day. Whereas previously he had acknowledged various known dangers of vaccines, he turns around as a vaccine spokesperson and claims that "100,000 vaccines can safely be given to any child".

Dan Olmstead, Jake Cosby, JB Handley and others who post at AoA always catch them in their lies and publish the facts to prove it, but it is frustrating to realize that the average person who is listening to all of the BS doesn't read AoA and therefore doesn't realize they are believing LIES. Reminds me of that song "Dirty Laundry":

"Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
Love to cut you down to size, we love dirty laundry

We can do the innuendo, we can dance and sing
When it's said and done, we haven't told you a thing
We all know that crap is king, give us dirty laundry"


YIKES! I am only half way thru your FANTASTIC POST, and I had to post before I no longer had a free second too...

But, WHO in the WORLD is the publisher of this book?

Now, I have never professionally published and sold a book, BUT isn't it common place to have an EDITOR review the book and FACT CHECK IT? Even fiction books go thru EDITING...but you would THINK that something that is being published as FACT, as MEDICIAL/SOCIAL non-fiction, that it would ALSO BE FACT-CHECKED by someone other than the author?

Isnt THAT to make sure that there are not small errors here or there that might have been overlooked/skimmed over because the author themselves have read and re-read their writing and just 'didnt catch' a small number or factual detail????

And these errors arent even tiny errors? These errors are not even CLOSE to being ones that were missed because they were just overlooked/skimmed over...they are OUTRIGHT FALSE and OUTRIGHT incorrect...

And it seems from the first part of the article here that its not just 'one or two' misrepresenations, it surely pretty obvious that the very BIG POINTS he is trying to make are FULL OF FALSE statements, INCORRECT information and outright dangerous insinuations (sp? lol!)....

So, if this guy is 'known' for being super picky and super FACT based, I dont want to know what those people who think that of him think about someone who they call a 'liar'....ARGH!

I mean, gosh, these are pretty MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR issues, pretty telling of who and where he did any of his 'research'...

or did he classify this as FICTION?

Mom to Ethan, Alex, and Megan


Seth Mnookin = young, full of hubris. 'Nuff said.

See his bio at Vanity Fair. No science, medical, biochem, etc background anywhere. And...writes for Vanity Fair = 'nuff said) --

"Seth Mnookin became a contributing editor at Vanity Fair in 2005.

"Prior to that he was a senior writer at Newsweek, where he covered media, politics, and popular culture.

"His work has appeared in The New Yorker, New York magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and The New York Observer, among other publications.

"He began his journalism career as a rock critic for the now defunct Web zine Addicted to Noise,

and has also worked as a crime reporter at The Palm Beach Post,

as a city-hall reporter at the Forward,

and as a political reporter at Brill’s Content."

Birgit Calhoun

Thanks for the enlightenment. Not surprising. That Slate article makes you want to mnook, I mean that word that starts with p. After reading the article I wanted to know whether I should feel "sorry"? for him. Then I read the following wikipedia entry:

Here is a quote from it: "Mnookin was assigned the Jayson Blair story at Newsweek". If you'all remember Jason Blair made up stuff and plagiarised for The New York Times. Did Mnookin learn something from Jason Blair? I think he deserves more attention. Let's see where he got all his stuff.

tony bateson

Seth Mnookin's book described as a nonfiction story worthy of Michael Crighton is laughable. I have only read to page 19 where he asserts that measles cases in Britain have increased more than a thousandfold since 2000. This is pure fiction and diametrically opposed to the facts where reported cases of measles actually fell by 85% in the ten years following Andrew Wakefield's paper. Is this simple incompetence or is it with malign intent. Should I read further? Who paid Mnookin?

Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.


Thanks for spotlighting a few of Seth Mnookin's many sins of commission. He's also repeatedly guilty of sins of omission that unequivocally disprove his shaky position.

I agree with Carol -- he stumbles and bumbles because this much of the book's raw material was dumped into his lap by silent collaborators.


The graphic is perfect, Dan. What does Mnookin look like? Somehow the image of Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein comes to mind. Offit, Poland, Brown, Caplan, the AAP, et al. really are responsible for creating a whole generation of Frankenkids. Sadly, they show no sign of backing-off. It's getting worse.

Do these descriptions sound like anyone we know? How about the Dark Lords of the vaccine industry? How about the moral entrepeneurs in the Hall of Shame? This comment is only partly tongue-in-cheek.

“Vampires are imaginary, reanimated, blood-sucking human corpses whose origins are grounded in religious myth. The public knows them by their appearance in novels, horror films, comic books, TV programs, etc. They are very scary individuals. Fortunately, they don't exist.”

“Vampyres are real individuals who are certain that they have a condition requiring them to obtain additional supplies of energy in order to maintain their health. Some need to extract this energy from the blood of animals or humans. Others are able to obtain it from people by other means, or from nature itself.”

“Lifestyle vampires: Those who regard themselves as actual vampyres are often in a state of tension with others whom they describe as "lifestyle vampires." "Lifestylers" are viewed as individuals and groups who merely pretend to be vampyres and who have none of the spiritual, psychical, and physical experiences of real vampyres. "Lifestylers" are seen as attracting too much public attention to vampyrism. They also consume some of the supply of human blood which is always scarce.”


I need to know how to pronounce "Mnookin" if I'm going to start using the phrase, "It's pure Mnookin."


10 million vs 176,000 lol


Fantastic article Dan, thank you!

Anne Dachel- You read my mind, i also thought that from now on, every time one of those "well informed" doctors and journalist come up with something as 'fabulous' as what Mnookin claims, we should respond "That is pure Mnookin"!


Mnookin deserves a "Bruno" award.

Bob Moffitt

Dan .. it is not often that I get to laugh out loud while reading Age of Autism. So .. thanks for the opportunity.

To Mr. Mnookin .. if you are going to write books throwing stones at others .. you really ought to make certain your own house is not built of glass.


After many mistakes in his baseball book were brought to his attention, Mnookin blamed baseball fans for being "obsessive." He should know that vaccine safety advocates are also obsessive about the truth. When reading Panic Virus, perhaps we should head the advice he gave to a critic of his baseball book: "yes I think you should stop reading on page 35 if that makes you doubt the veracity of everything else in the book."

Anne McElroy Dachel

"Pure Mnookin" It could be the catch phrase for
unsubstantiated, biased and ridiculous junk science.

It would be a lot simpler just to say, "It's pure Mnookin."

I think I start using it!

Anne Dachel, Media

dan olmsted

Hi Minority View -- I clarified the Kirby - Autism One part at the end. Thanks for the feedback. Dan


Looks like Dr. Offit took his lap dog out for a walk:

"•March 1, Philadelphia PA, 6:30pm
Public lecture, “Vaccine Science, Realities, & Fears in the Public Mind,” with Dr. Paul Offit. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 South 22nd St."

Donna K

It is obvious to those of us that know the truth that the only ones engaging in sleights-of-hand are the vaccine apologists. I recently watched a clip of Mnookin being interviewed at some college on this issue and he really struggles to speak confidently and fluently on this topic in stark contrast to Kirby and Olmsted.

I can see how Mnookin's a fan of Brian Deer--Deer is clever and speaks confidently and without hesitation when he's working fast and loose with his facts, but though he may try, Mnookin will never come close to slaying a dragon with the dull sword he's swinging.


I wonder if his heroin addiction has anything to do with his susceptibility to error?

"It had been three years since I first tried heroin, snorting a bag by myself on a brisk Sunday morning the fall after I graduated from college. I was living in New York City, and within weeks I was using every day. It had been two years since I had moved back to Boston, ran out of money, and began shooting up. I had been almost laughably lucky—I had friends who brought me to hospital when I overdosed; I hadn't tested HIV-positive; no one I'd tied off had ended up dying on my floor. Now, after about a dozen hospitalizations, a handful of overdoses, more than $10,000 in credit card cash advances, and thousands of dollars stolen from my friends and lovers and family, I was cashing in my last remaining chip. " Seth Mnookin


I think you're being a little unfair here. You're assuming that Mnookin wrote _The Panic Virus_. I imagine that great gobs of it were handed to him. He probably added a little color commentary.

Morality Check

Even Mnookin's own blog readers have to help him out:

"Mick: I think in the second to last paragraph you meant
'the Vaccine Court has no credibility and that its rulings can NOT be trusted '

Seth Mnookin: Indeed — nice catch. Thanks…"

Measles victim

I had the measles in 1962 and had to stay home from school for 4 whole days! Thank God for "Leave it to Beaver"! Of the 12 classrooms in my elementary school, most were half empty due to measles in May, 1962. Not one kid I knew went to the hospital (or even the family Doctor on main street). My mom got stuck with 3 of us at home. Drove her nuts! I wonder how my small town survived this economic nightmare ($179,000.00 times 150 = $26,850,000.00).


Mnookin isn't the only one getting basic facts wrong, Have a look at this analysis of just one of hundreds of errors in Paul Offit's latest tome:

Hate to be critical, but the last bit about Kirby and the anti-vaccine conference is utterly unclear. I cannot tell who said what about whom and when. Those damned pronouns!


I seriously doubt anybody with healthy mind would read a book written by a notorious ignorant and clearly big pharma propagandist, such as Seth Mnookin. Parents know the best. Once they have seen or heard about vaccine injured children, they will NEVER believe any pro-vaccine propaganda, no matter what kind of pharma hired “experts” promote it. They know that vaccines can kill and cause permanent injuries.

Maurine Meleck

Seth Mnookin,
King of dupe 'em

Only--you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
Love the article. Maurine

Jenny Allan

S Peterson says:-
"Mookin calls Deer's newspaper the Times (London), and given that Mookin is supposed to be a journalist you have to wonder."

'Wonder' no more. This is what the Sunday Times Legal Department has to say about Brian Deer's 'employment' with them:-

"It is quite clear that you do not understand English. Brian Deer is not a member of the Sunday Times staff. He is a freelance journalist who runs his own website and blog and is not under the control or direction of the Sunday Times. Mr. Deer should not represent himself as a Sunday Times journalist. He is not a member of staff, does NOT have a regular salary from us, is not on our pension scheme and pays his own tax as a freelance. If he says that he writes for the Sunday Times that would be correct. He is a contributor to The Sunday Times on an occasional basis but again we have no control over him ..."
- Alaistair Brett, Legal Manager, Sunday Times

Better tell Mnookin about another 'error' in his book!!

Media Scholar

Hey Dan,

Odds are high this below ties in with the so called Whooping Cough death wave.

It's easy to use statistics wrong. Un-pathological assumptions can finger Whooping Cough instead of the cough syrup(s). That way the panic increases DTP uptake, a known source of Autism Spectrum-like illness.

It's almost like telling America that "all the Thimerosal is out" when, in fact, you've approved not just one, but two doses of Thimerosal-laced influenza vaccine for infants, toddlers, and pregnant moms for the first time in human history.

About 500 products that had not been formally evaluated by federal regulators will be removed from the market, the Food and Drug Administration announced. The move is the latest in a series of actions by the agency to stop the sale of a variety of products that were being sold without government authorization.

Although the agency had received some reports of complications from the products, such as irritability and over-sedation, officials said they did not know how widely the products might cause problems or even how commonly the products are used.

"Like a lot of things that are related to unapproved products, the problem is what we do not know," said Deborah Autor, director of the FDA's Office of Compliance in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"We do not know if they are safe. We do not know if they are effective. We do not know if they are of adequate quality," Autor said during a briefing for reporters. "And we believe that poses an untenable risk to consumers."

Because many of the the products went on the market years ago, before stringent requirements were put into place, many doctors prescribing them might be unaware that they had not been carefully evaluated, she said.

Among the concerns are that some of the products, which contain 27 different ingredients, are labeled for use by infants and young children, Autor said. In 2008, the agency issued an advisory warning against the use of over-the-counter cough and cold products for infants and children under age 2 because of serious, potentially life-threatening side effects.

S Peterson

Given that Mr Mookin says in his book that he's a big fan of Brian Deer, it also interested me that he g0t Deer's newspaper wrong. Deer works for The Sunday Times, which is a different one to the Times and has its own staff and editor (although they are both owned by Murdoch and work our of the same building). Mookin calls Deer's newspaper the Times (London), and given that Mookin is supposed to be a journalist you have to wonder.


...and a pat on the back for 'ol Mnookin from the Allison Singer/Paul Offit fronted Autism Science Foundation...


What would a Paul Offit crony be without a token shot at Jenny McCarthy?

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