Seth Mnookin, Bob's Your Uncle!
How did Seth Mnookin go from writing about baseball and rock n’ roll to defending the vaccine industry? He has become pharma’s media darling, parroting all the standard corporate fringe talking points in his widely publicized but error-laden (see HERE) book “Panic Virus” as well as to mainstream media outlets – telling them outright not to report the other side. Not surprisingly, Seth Mnookin – a former drug dealer and burglar who bit a police officer –has undisclosed ties to the fake autism charity and vaccine industry front group, “Autism Science Foundation,” through his own uncle no less.
Robert Mnookin is a professor at Harvard Law School where he chairs the Program on Negotiation. Teaching under him is attorney Linda Singer – mother-in-law of Alison Singer – founder of the “Autism Science Foundation” whose stated purpose is to avoid and discourage vaccine-autism research. Co-teaching with Linda Singer during her 25 years at the law school is attorney Michael Lewis, who happens to be a board member of the Autism Science Foundation along with Singer's daughter-in-law and Paul Offit.
But Linda Singer, Robert Mnookin and Michael Lewis have more than teaching negotiation at Harvard in common – Singer and Mnookin served on the board of directors of the think tank called the “Consensus Building Institute.” Furthermore, Robert Mnookin is a member of the board of directors for the think tank, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution (alongside the Senior Vice President of Global Litigation for GlaxoSmithKline). Linda Singer is a member of the “CPR Panel of Distinguished Neutrals,” and her law firm, JAMS, is prominently represented on CPR’s board of directors. Michael Lewis is also consultant at JAMS, as well as a member of the Consensus Building Institute’s board of directors.
So here you have Michael Lewis who is on the board of directors for the Autism Science Foundation, Linda Singer who is the mother-in-law of the founder, Robert Mnookin, uncle of a bestselling author, and the prospect of a new book project from someone other than Paul Offit that can appeal to new parents. Although speculative, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see Seth Mnookin’s name coming up between these three close colleagues. Who else might be a strong candidate to write a book promoting the views of Alison Singer and Paul Offit?
As previously revealed HERE, Alison Singer’s husband and Linda Singer’s son, Dan Singer, has been an employee at McKinsey for more than 20 years and a director for more than 15. The firm has very strong consultation ties to the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine industry in particular.
From 2003 until 2009, McKinsey has been under the leadership of worldwide managing director, Ian Davis. Davis’ older brother Crispin sits on GlaxoSmithKline’s board of directors – a position he has held since 2003 - and was CEO of Lancet publisher Reed Elsevier, while Horton made his first allegations against Dr. Wakefield to the BBC back in 2004. Days later, appeals for a judicial investigation into the sudden cease of legal aid to claimants of MMR vaccine damage was killed by Ian Davis’ twin brother, Nigel – a UK High Court judge.
Shortly before Davis’ McKinsey leadership ended, Alison Singer resigned from Autism Speaks for the charity’s condemnation of the IACC’s backhanded plan to pull vaccine research from its agenda and started her own fake charity. Last January, McKinsey lent out its New York City office to Singer’s group to host a book-signing party for millionaire vaccine industrialist and ASF board member, Dr. Paul Offit.
This entirely undisclosed connection between Alison Singer’s mother-in-law and Seth Mnookin’s uncle would tie Seth Mnookin squarely to the pharmaceutical industry, including to some very powerful individuals with major stakes – financial and otherwise - in the outcome of this controversy.
The behavior of both Alison Singer and Seth Mnookin suggests that these connections go beyond a mere failure to disclose, but were actually concealed, which directly challenge a claim of Singer’s regarding Mnookin’s independence while reviewing his book:
“An accomplished journalist, Seth Mnookin takes an objective look at both sides of the vaccine/autism controversy and lands squarely on the side of science.”
They also challenge what Seth Mnookin said himself in a recent interview with Alison Singer’s “Autism Science Foundation” about his book, when asked the following question:
What drew your interest to this project?
SM: It started a couple of years ago when I started seeing the issue come up in the news. I started to hear and read about it for two reasons: It was around the time Jenny McCarthy was appearing in the media to discuss her books and her claims about what had happened to her son. And also this was a period in which a lot of my friends were having children, so there was a fair amount of thought going into decisions over child rearing.
As well as his response to this question:
How far into your research did you go before you made this determination for yourself, that there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines can cause developmental delays?
Where he answered:
SM: I tried to get through as much of the research phase as possible without making any decisions, and leave determinations for the writing phase. I didn’t want to close myself off to hearing what people were saying. I wanted to talk to people on every side of the issue, and I didn’t want to decide that vaccines were safe and close myself off to the issue to those who thought they weren’t. I kept the reporting phase just as ‘information intake’ and then the synthesis and writing phase I tried to do my own analysis. That sounds sort of silly at this point, but separating the two wasn’t as hard as it might seem.”
Perhaps it sounds sort of silly because Seth Mnookin had made up his mind all along. He rambles on:
Paul [Offit] knows and understands things about science and medicine and the culture of medicine that I never will. I think he has a standing and a level of respect in the pediatric and medical communities that I don’t. They don’t know me. By the same token, people who are coming into this, who are skeptical might look at me as someone who is basically like them.
Perhaps they would until they find out that Seth Mnookin’s uncle and Alison Singer’s mother-in-law are colleagues.
This Mnookin quote is just funny:
“No one I know works for Pfizer”
Maybe not, Seth, but you do know someone who works with the mother-in-law of an industry front group founder and pharma-funded wife. His name is Bob.
And Bob’s your uncle!
Jake Crosby is a college student with Asperger Syndrome at Brandeis University majoring in History and Health: Science, Society and Policy, an intern at Northeastern University and contributing editor to Age of Autism.
My pleasure! Thank you all who've left supportive comments - definitely the fruits of my labor from investigating this guy, alongside shedding some light on his connections of course.
Posted by: Jake Crosby | April 11, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Thank you Jake Crosby and Age of Autism! It never smelled right from the start with this guy. Thank you for explaining why.
Posted by: Judy Converse MPH RD LD | April 10, 2011 at 10:33 PM
Well found Zed!!
(Paul Offit/ Trine Tsouderos chat show)
I always love to read the 'off the cuff' responses of those 'self appointed vaccine experts' like Paul Offit.
OFFIT “I work in a hospital with David Mandell, Hakon Hakanarson, and Bob Schultz, all excellent researchers in the field of autism. And the story of the cause or causes of the disorder is clearly emerging. There's been a lot of wonderful research in this area that involves specific genes, the proteins those genes make, when they make them, structural abnormalities in the brains of children with ASD and others that offers some real hope for the future. I look forward to the time when these stories are the main story, rather than the unfortunate focus on a dead-end hypothesis like vaccines. That discussion has only hurt children with autism, causing some to miss vaccines from which they would have benefited.”
ME (So, this genetic research is apparently aimed at proving 1% of Neanderthal's also had autism?? Come off it Offit!!)
OFFIT "Vaccines are well-tested before they're given to children in concomitant-use studies. Vaccines cannot be added to the schedule unless it has been clearly shown that the new vaccine does not interfere with the safety or immunogenicity of existing vaccines and that the existing vaccines don't interfere with the safety or immunogenicity profile of the new vaccine. Also, the immunological challenge from vaccines is pretty trivial when compared with the challenges babies typically encounters in the environment."
ME The MMR vaccine was the first to inject three live viruses into babies. It was VERY poorly tested beforehand. The first version to be used in the UK (Pluserix 1988) had already been banned in Canada. The UK Government ignored all warnings.
OFFIT "Four children died following receipt of pneumococcal or Hib vaccines in Japan. One within 3 days and three within one day of getting vaccinated. The Ministry has now determined that the vaccines were not the cause. Hard to know without seeing the full reports of the children. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is certainly a possibility. And while vaccines don't cause SIDS, they also don't prevent it. So some of these temporal associations will occur. Of interest, Japan only started to use these vaccines within the past year. Whereas many other countries have used these vaccines for one or two decades (hundreds of millions of children) without a problem. The Ministry's choice to temporarily suspend these vaccines was unfortunate (elevating a theoretical and arguably disproved risk above the real risk of pneumococcus and Hib)."
ME The 'expert' gives his verdict. Vaccines don't cause SIDS!!
National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC)
US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Calls for the study of adverse events following immunization (e.g., fever and seizures) to see if they increase autism risk.
Calls for the inclusion of autism as an outcome in the vaccine study.
Concludes that “public concern regarding vaccines and autism, coupled with the prevalence and severity of ASD, warrant additional study in well defined subpopulations.”
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Includes CDC, HHS, NIH and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Will fund studies of environmental risk factors for ASD, such as toxic exposures and "adverse events following immunization (such as fever and seizures), and mitochondrial impairment."
OFFIT "In the US we have recently seen a resurgence of some of these diseases: measles, mumps, pertussis. And it's exactly what you would have expected. The most highly contagious diseases come back first. Let immunization rates continue to fall and some of the less contagious diseases could come back: polio, diphtheria. One can only hope that history will teach us that children shouldn't have to suffer our choice not to vaccinate."
ME I actually agree with Offit about the resurgence of measles mumps and pertussis. This is happening in the UK too. However, I violently DISAGREE about the causes!! The pertussis 'epidemic'in California was in a well vaccinated population, and a recent mini-epidemic of mumps in Oban, Scotland also involved fully vaccinated teenagers. (The UK government is now talking about single mumps boosters for teens; they are all refusing to have the MMR vaccine!) My own daughter got measles two years after a single measles vaccination. That was 40 years ago, but it proves that vaccination is NOT 100% effective and that 'herd immunity' is just an unproven 'concept'.
A 'straw poll' on the programme was interesting. Only 2% were unvaccinated. This seems to reinforce the uselessness of 'herd immunity'. I also get 'mad' when Offit & Co call everyone who disagrees with them 'anti-vacciners'. For his information I was vaccinated. My husband was vaccinated, (too late for Diptheria; he caught it and survived in the 1940's) My children were vaccinated. All 6 of my grandchildren were vaccinated. Only one of them (younger sibling of the boy who is autistic), did not receive MMR. We spent a fortune and chased around the country getting single doses for him, not possible now since single mumps vaccine is no longer available.
Have you vaccinated your children?
( 63% )
( 2% )
No, I don't have children but I've been vaccinated
( 33% )
No, I don't have children and I haven't been vaccinated
( 2% )
Tuesday March 22, 2011 12:41
Paul Offit is very dismissive of parental 'anecdotal' evidence which he states is not 'scientific', but I am fed up of him banging on about the 1950's and all his hospital handwringing anecdotal accounts of children whom he claims are sick because they were unvaccinated. His complete lack of sympathy for those six poor dead Japanese children, (whose deaths were 'of course' nothing to do with the vaccines), shows the REAL concerns of this vaccine millionaire.
I am at least as old as Dr Offit and remember catching measles mumps rubella pertussis and chicken pox, in the 1950's, as well as several bouts of influenza. In those days these illnesses were 'no big deal' I survived, with an enhanced immune system, as did my 5 brothers and sisters. We were all very healthy. The 45+ children in my infant class in 1950 were also healthy. There was no asthma, ADHT or autism in those days for teachers to contend with.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | March 24, 2011 at 05:35 AM
Speaking of industrial/media nepotism, the transcript from this "chat interview" between Trine and Paul is included. Note the line-up of callers...if you have the stomach for it.
Posted by: Zed | March 23, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Dem bones ...Dem Pharma Ties
used to teach basic anatomy to children ..We should adjust it for the pharma conflicts and teach the children ..in the Uk along the lines of..
Godlee name connected to your Nigel Davis name
Nigel Davis name connected to your Crispin Davis name
Crispin Davis name connected to your GSK name
GSK name connected to your litigation name .
Litigation name connected to your Select Committee name. Select Committee name connected to your Lancet name . Lancet name connected to the Deer name. Deer name connected to your Mc Devitt name . Mc Devitt name connected to your MMR name.MMR name connected to Kumar name Now hear the work of the Pharma.
Posted by: Angus Files | March 23, 2011 at 04:54 PM
With all that nepotism, is the style of writing in the book the same as other articles & publications? or is it ghost written with his name on the cover?
Posted by: GrammaKnows | March 23, 2011 at 05:40 AM
Jake, Cannot thank you enough for the important work you are doing. I take copious notes on your posts for our work at the Misuta Project. Your attention to detail and thoughtful presentation of details is very much appreciated.
Posted by: lj goes | March 22, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Mnookin has an upcoming article on GQ because his wife is an editor for that magazine.
Not because he is an expert on baseball... nor an expert on anything else, as we all know...
Posted by: Erika | March 22, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Linda Singer, Robert Mnookin and Michael Lewis
A.K.A. Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows
Posted by: Angus Files | March 22, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Jake never brought up a diagnosis -that was Kev. In fact, Jake never brought up Seth's personal drug use. Jake said he was a former drug dealer. Kev lifted a comment from the comments here about Mnookin being a former Herion addict. Is that a secret? Is that disputable? Didn't he write about that for Salon? I'm sure he got paid for exploiting his own story. He's not hiding his past, so why is it off limits?
Dr. Jay you fell for ND tactic 101. Find a small minute detail in an article and fake moral outrage. The article isn't about Mnookin's drug history..it's about his ties to the fake autism/real pharma front group- Autism Science Foundation and beyond (see Autism Grandma's post).
Maybe I am just a cold hearted person, but former drug users don't elicit nearly as much sympathy from me as say..."Billy" in today's feature post. Mnookin is married with a child working and writing living a seemingly great life. He is Doing A-Okay! Although, I question his productiveness considering the harm he is surely going to cause to susceptible infants who's parents believe him and his lies about vaccines.
If we are looking for apologies here... how about we try and get one from Mnookin for calling parents of children with autism who question vaccines...assholes....
Posted by: Dr. Jay's comment | March 22, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Obviously I have a long (thirty year) history of supporting more respect and funding for families affected by autism and have also stood firm in my belief that the way we manufacture and administer vaccines has increased the incidence of autism dramatically.
I loved the above piece if accepted in at least a semifacetious way, but I also understand the validity of LBRB's criticism: Seth Mnookin is a recovering drug addict, undoubtedly has significant emotional and psychiatric problems and deserves our respect for making a productive life for himself. Not only do I disagree with Seth, but I have great disdain for his hyperbole and inaccuracy in his discussion of vaccines, autism, and . . . all of us who disagree with him and Dr. Offit.
Nonetheless, just as Jake should never be attacked for being an "Asperger's author" Seth Mnookin's diagnoses can be left out of our criticisms of his inaccurate, biased and quite terrible book.
Posted by: Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP | March 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Apparently, when Mnookin isn't pretending to be an autism-vaccine expert he is pretending to know a lot about baseball. Check out his piece in next month's GQ magazine on Derek Jeter. Great investigative journalism. Riveting stuff...
Posted by: Switch hitter | March 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM
Jake, your new nick name is "Digger." Cause man you can dig.
Posted by: Ginger Taylor | March 22, 2011 at 09:37 AM
My God are you good! You have an incredible ability at flushing out the truth.
You need to go straight to Salon.com and Rolling Stone and get them to admit your findings regarding Seth Mnookin. Afterall, both removed the article published by RFK jr. from 2005 about Mercury and Autism due to Seth Mnookin's book.
Posted by: Nora | March 22, 2011 at 01:27 AM
Re: "More entries for the neopotism corruption flowchart."
Here's the condensed corruption flow chart:
"Oh What a Tangled Web"
Seth Mnookin [former drug dealer and burglar who bit a police officer] --> Robert Mnookin [Uncle of Seth Mnookin, Professor at Harvard Law School] --> Linda Singer [Attorney teaching under Robert Mnookin] --> Alison Singer [Founder and board member of Autism Science Foundation] --> Michael Lewis [Attorney co-teaching with Linda Singer and board member of the Autism Science Foundation] --> Paul Offit [Board member of Autism Science Foundation]-->Autism Science Foundation [fake autism charity and vaccine industry front group] -->
-->Dan Singer [Alison Singer’s husband and Linda Singer’s son, Director at McKinsey] -->McKinsey [Firm with consultation ties to the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine industry--> McKinsey lent out NYC office to Autism Science Foundation book-signing party for -->Dr. Paul Offit [millionaire vaccine industrialist and ASF board member] --> Ian Davis [Worldwide managing director of McKinsey]--> Crispin Davis [Brother of Ian Davis, Board or Directors GlaxoSmithKline, CEO of Lancet publisher Reed Elsevier] -->Horton [makes allegations against Dr.Wakefield] -->Nigel Davis [Brother of Ian Davis, UK High Court Judge ruled against legal aid to MMR vaccine damage claimants]
Posted by Goran: "Let us keep a list of all these names...and hold them accountable when truth finally emerges. It needs to be recognized what they have actually done to prolong the suffering."
Posted by: AutismGrandma | March 21, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Great expose yet again, Jake. More entries for the neopotism corruption flowchart. It's a small world, after all... how handy that prodigal son Mnookin had all those doting oldies funneling falsehoods. So much less to type.
This month McKinsey Quarterly published a chart showing "The huge impact of chronic conditions" -- costing about 75% of all health care spending in most developed countries.
Rather ironic, unless one views all that disease as a product marketing opportunity.
"This crafty crowd of cross contaminators"... Love it, Maurine!
Posted by: nhokkanen | March 21, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Someone call Halliburton, we're going to need a bigger prison!
Posted by: 12AngryMoms | March 21, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Lol, Jake! I love that his uncle's name is actually Bob!
How do you find these things out? I think you have a great future in investigative journalism.
Posted by: Kristina | March 21, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I don't think I could have hand-picked a more unimpressive person to deliver a message of any kind than Seth Mnookin. He has the polish of a 7th grader and the charisma of a toll booth operator.
Posted by: Steve | March 21, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Another wonderful piece by Jake! Thank you!!!!
Posted by: Mary Hirzel | March 21, 2011 at 08:05 PM
This is plain Mnookin!
And you Jake? You Rock!
Posted by: Erika | March 21, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Amazing Jake- as usual. This is all going to come in handy some day... can't wait!
Posted by: casey | March 21, 2011 at 02:27 PM
I'm knitting as fast as I can....
Posted by: Madam DeFarge | March 21, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Creepy and spooky, mysterious and Mnooky...
Posted by: Puglsy watch | March 21, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Let us keep a list of all these names (not that many really!) and hold them accountable when truth finally emerges. It needs to be recognized what they have actually done to prolong the suffering.
Posted by: Goran | March 21, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Great job, Jake.
Posted by: Sandy Gottstein | March 21, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Very nice article Jake!
Posted by: Erin W. | March 21, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Geez oh Peet! Offit picks the lousiest spokespeople, doesn't he?
First Amanda "don't listen to me"Peet and now this former heroin addict.
Hey, speaking of Peet she has moved on to selling Crest white strips.
Posted by: smile! | March 21, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Let me get this straight. It's ok for Mnookin to spout his (apparently,greatly conflicted)view, even though he isn't a "doctor" or researcher or a scientist...just a normal guy who wanted to spread his "truth." And it's ok for "Dr." Kristina Chew (whose PhD is apparently her qualification for serving as an assistant prof of "Classics") to propogate the "fact" that vaccines don't cause autism, because Offit says so. But Jenny McCarthy (who has the support of both vocal and non-vocal scientists, doctors and researchers) should be muzzled? What? A double standard? In the lily-white world of evidence-based medicine?
Posted by: Zed | March 21, 2011 at 10:38 AM
There you have it; Seth is all set. Bob's your uncle.
Posted by: Bob's your uncle | March 21, 2011 at 10:17 AM
And I might add that JB Handley did a very nice take down of the "Autism Science Foundation," in his article, Dissection of the Hungry Lie. Those people should be embarrassed!
Posted by: Jen | March 21, 2011 at 10:09 AM
Or as Brian Deer once memorably put it about the Davis brothers 'The ruling elite remains surprisingly small'
Brilliant detective work, Jake. I fear that all these people take the risk because the worst that's likely to happen as things are is a little temporary embarrassment. The coincidence of family and business connections is by now truly boggling.
Posted by: John Stone | March 21, 2011 at 10:02 AM
Why would anyone take the word of someone who for all his purported study of the subject is, by his own admission, not an expert? Because he reminds them of themselves? Really? This must be Public Relations 101 or something. Maybe some course revision is in order.
Beyond serving as a ventriloquist's dummy for Paul Offit, what did Seth Mnookin bring to the party? Is there something original in the book?
Posted by: Carol | March 21, 2011 at 09:49 AM
AWESOME job digging up these insidious insider connections!
Posted by: Beth | March 21, 2011 at 09:05 AM
Why does that old song "I'm My Own Grandpa" always come to mind whenever I read one of Jake's recent articles?
Nice work, Jake!
Posted by: Donna L. | March 21, 2011 at 09:01 AM
Great post, yet again.
Is there anyone there who's legit?
Maybe it's time for a summary of all those revelations by JB and Jake.
Posted by: Vaccine.Explorer | March 21, 2011 at 08:51 AM
This crafty crowd of cross contaminators is a metaphor for the vaccines they promote. Jake, you investigative reporting could grow into a full time job. Love your work, Maurine
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | March 21, 2011 at 08:16 AM
Does Seth's uncle BOB spell his first name with one 'o' or two ?!?!?!?!?
Posted by: DownWitDaSickness | March 21, 2011 at 07:23 AM
GREAT DETECTIVE WORK, JAKE !!!!!
Posted by: DownWitDaSickness | March 21, 2011 at 07:19 AM