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Katie Wright on NYT Review of Panic Virus

Good_boy_biglogo By Katie Wright

Last month's  cloying review of “The Panic Virus” HERE reads as if it were written by Seth Mnookin’s Mom.  Truly it is the kind of “review” I give my 7 years old’s work “unbelievable! You are the smartest boy in the world! I love this picture! It should be hanging in a museum!” OK, sometimes I go overboard with praise but I am a Mom and I make no apologies for not being objective.

But why does the NYT’s columnist Dr. Abigail Zuger ‘s review of this book read like a love letter to a precocious child? Zuger’s article is rife with inaccuracies and falsehoods. She is blinded by her adoration for the medical community, fellow doctors and her powerful all encompassing disdain for dumb parents who just don’t get it. Can’t the NYT’s afford a fact checker for Pete’s sake?  Wakefield’s work has been replicated. Why is Zuger so hysterically hyper defensive regarding the public’s demand for adequate vaccine safety research? Why in Zuger’s discussion of this book does she make zero effort to speak with a parent of a vaccine-injured child? Dr. Abigail’s review is not journalism. It is vaccine company advocacy at best and vaccine marketing at worst. It is an advertorial.

So than I thought to myself, “who is Zuger? What is the source of her nutty anti- consumer militancy? Why her serious hostility to ASD parents and why this need to characterize them as stupid saps?”  Zuger’s quotes are priceless. Here she describes why Mnookin is right and millions parents are wrong to express the smallest concern about vaccine safety. “Mnookin explains how scientists are trained to think about causation and how profoundly this measured approach is bound to infuriate a distraught parent.” What is she talking about? It is the parents who want the “measured approach” to research.  ASD families, not doctors, who want independent research done precisely because existing research is so poorly done and or paid for by the vaccine companies themselves.

Zuger has got to be one of the most anti consumer doctors in all media. Zuger’s arrogance knows no bounds. I swear, get ready, I couldn’t make this stuff up no one would believe me.  I barely know where to start!

Dr. Zuger’s fan base includes an also lot of old cranks like Dr. Stephen Novella at Yale and the extreme end of the nuerodiverse spectrum. You know their spiel. Autism isn’t a problem, it isn’t rising, it is all genetic and parents who say otherwise believe the earth is flat and/or wear tin foil hats to ward off government mind control. Blah, blah, Zuger fans are so weird.

Zuger has enjoyed a long career writing about the brainless, dimwitted patient population. Her impatience with pesky lay people and their silly question asking is almost tangible in her writing.

Take this Zuger quote: “Doctors learn, over the years, to let the patient see what they see. It helps, sometimes, to descend part of the way down from the sky and give a smaller version of the big picture.” Whoa…descend from the sky! Who does Zuger think she is? God in heaven?

But wait it gets better. Zuger is annoyed when so many doltish and obviously intellectually inferior patients refuse to heed her advice: “sometimes there is no convergence of views. The patient only sees from the ground, the doctors from only the sky and they may simply have to agree to disagree.” Zuger explains this is because “doctors are not trained to think like ordinary people!”

Zuger also reserves disdain for patient who dare to write memoirs about their experiences with medical science and disease. Again with these fools, why don’t they leave all medical writing to doctors! What is wrong with them? Don’t they know they can only think in ordinary ways, they have no medical super powers!

Zuger scornfully reviews patient memoirs: “the books are filled with clichés; the dialogue stiff and unreal; the pacing is off…A fraught debate addresses the question of whether writing about an illness has actual therapeutic value, brings not just a little flush of accomplishment.” Oh, these poor little people trying to be real writers, how silly and sad. But maybe they will feel better about themselves for accomplishing something, no matter how poor the quality? Although Zuger admits that not all doctors are great writers either, she admits a “soft spot for them.” Zuger raves about the work of two neurologist writers whose “tone is appealing and their prose readable, their anecdotes give a dead on description of the ridiculously difficult struggles to do right by patients.” Ahhh, the struggle of doctors is truly never-ending! How do they do it? If only those moron patients would listen and obey her commands from the sky!

Not content to disparage garden-variety patients, Zuger also goes after survivor advocates of rape and sexual abuse. Zuger is wildly enthusiastic about the book “The Trauma Myth.” Unlike Zuger and the author of that piece of dreck I have actual experience treating survivors of sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is an atrocity resulting in severe trauma. For a doctor to minimize or utterly dismiss the pain endured by sexually abused children is inexcusable and repellent.

Always the ardent anti-consumer, Zuger argues that those dislike “The Trauma Myth” are part of  “a whole academic and therapeutic structure (afraid that this book will) undermine a host of expensive treatment and prevention projects.” Yes, clearly treatment for sexual abuse survivors as well as autism research has been breaking the banks of our nation. It is has been a huge financial drain on the taxpayers, right up there with the war in Iraq.

OK, so full circle. Zuger loves “The Panic Virus” just like she loved “The Trauma Myth.” Zuger hates patient memoirs and positively abhors consumer advocacy efforts.  Zuger lives in the sky. We (mere mortals) live on the ground.  She is up there, we are down here, lest there be any confusion. Zuger has trained herself to “think differently” than we do. I agree with that! So to the end I am thrilled Zuger absolutely adored the “The Panic Virus.”  It only proves how far removed from reality this self-aggrandizing and compassionless woman is.

So thanks Dr. Zuger for giving “The Panic Virus” a rave review, the autism community is proud not to be associated with you.

 Katie Wright is a contributing editor for Age of Autism.


Alec B

Please read the conclusions
"No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study"
"the data provide evidence that no correlation exists between the prevalence of MMR vaccination and the rapid increase in the risk of autism over time.
"We found no evidence of an association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism in children who received thimerosal-containing vaccine compared with children who received the same vaccine formulated without thimerosal."

jersey joe

Thanks for this article. I was disgusted by her arrogant, pathetic review. Zuger is an example of all that is wrong with medicine today and very full of herself to boot. She seems to be completely clueless as to the many conflicts of interest affecting medical research. She takes everything as a given, like a good little well-trained drone from Prestigious Medical School. Oh brother.

Cherry Sperlin Misra

A very nice article, Katie, but I have a correction and a suggestion- Firstly, its a small point, but I think you have misspelled the reviewer's name. I believe it is not Zuger, but Zeus, as in the name of the Greek God.
And then I was sort of thinking that the English language needs a new adjective, implying something like arrogantly stupid, in a medical context. Thus, in the future when we have to hear ourselves called hysterical parents, we shall have just the right retort for the doctors. Etymologists may note one day that this word emerged during the age of autism as a response to doctors who had destroyed the lives of millions of children yet insisted till the bitter end that they had done no wrong, and were so inteligent that they could never have made such a mistake.

Jenny Allan

Gatogorra makes a good point about Amazon book buying.
When I went there to purchase the excellent 'Vaccine Epidemic' book, up came Offit's 'Deadly Choices' looking suspiciously similar in terms of cover design. Even the title 'deadly choices' is misleading for parents wanting to 'wise up' on vaccine choice, or-heaven forbid, parents looking for answers about possible vaccine damage to their own children.
I think Habukus and Holland should complain to both Amazon and 'Basic Books', publishers of 'Deadly Choices'.


I will always remember RFK Jr's account of meeting with the N.Y. Times:

Women without MDs

Katie - I would go further. I think it is sexist as well, besides clearly paternalistic. So as another woman without an MD, I guess I'll scurry away to my hole in the ground.

Jake Crosby

Dr. Zuger is on the editorial advisory board for the journal, "Clinical Infectious Diseases."

The journal has a section on vaccines co-edited by Dr. John Modlin who was chair of the ACIP back when Offit was on board.

Bob Moffitt

Katie .. thank you for taking the time and making the effort to alert "discerning and informed" readers of AoA to the latest example of the decline of the NY Times.

My friend .. imagine how desperate the NY Times .. once proud of their historical standard of publishing "all the news fit to print" .. is forced to rely upon a "sock puppet" like Dr. Zauger .. who has no "scientific gravitas" .. in the only court that matters .. the "court of public opinion" .. where common sense and truth will ultimately prevail.

Unhappy Hipsters

Mama's bestest boy-- too funny.
He's even got the symbolic ironic nerd look going these days.

Adam M

Seeings this divine dr zucker thinks she is God like maybe she can follow his example and come all the way down from heaven and serve us with humility and kindness. It seems to me that if God can leave heaven to help man she can leave her ivory tower to do the same.

This is the real rub with elitists. They don't want to admit to the shame that their foolishness has brought so much destruction to western civilization. They are all part of the problem and they know it. It is too humbling for them to admit that for all their knowledge they have forsaken wisdom. It's a wonderful truth that some of the most beneficial treatments for our children and prevention of disease have nothing to do with commercial pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not to to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.


Dr. Zuger sounds like one of those gimme-the-check-&-get-out-of-my-office doctors who tells parents that their pre-diagnosis ASD children will "just grow out of it."

Martha Biera

Raising child with Autism and she is teen. We have good day and bad . She have sister old and young hard for them understand some of why she does thing.

Donna L.

Thank you, Katie - that explains an awful lot.
No wonder they won't do jack-sh*t to help our kids after they damage them...they're all hangin' out somewhere up in the sky. Pathetic.


It would be great if would use Zugor to format their reader preference algorithms. "If you liked 'The Panic Virus', you'll love Susan A. Clancy's 'The Trauma Myth'!"

Just makes it all so easy to navigate, let's you know who's who and what's what.

Instead, solely for the issue of vaccines, if you purchase, say, "Callous Disregard", Amazon will foist completely illogical recommendations for "The Panic Virus" and Offit's book. Go to any other category in Amazon and, say, look up books like Erwin Black's "War Against the Weak" on American eugenic sterilizations and you won't find Amazon recommending, for instance, "The Bell Curve" or "Mein Kampf" in the "customers who purchased this also purchased this" line up.


Here's causation:
Right after a vaccine my kids reached a temp of 105.
I told the physcians but were not concerned.

Here's causation;
A few days after a DPT shot, my kid has a heart murmur and a boot shaped heart from a swollen ventricile. The Peds are concerned enough to send us to a heart specialist - who is not concerned.

Here's causation;
Half an hour after a vaccine both of my kids are passing out and gasping for breath. But the peds are not concerned.

Here's causation:
Six hours after a vaccine my kid has a stroke. THe peds are not concerned enough to even have him come in to a doctor's appointment!!!!

Here's causation:
Both of kids get Kawaskis six weeks following a vaccine - it just happens!!!! Peds not concerned and it had nothing to do with the vaccines. It is febrile seizures, and that Kawasakis well nobody knows the cause aaaaaa maybe it is carpet cleaners? Yeah, that sounds good!

Here's causation:
The agreement I signed not to sue if my children reacted to the vaccine stated one child out of 1 out of 11,000 kids would react to a vaccine - that was in the 80's???? - This was during a time when autism, diabeties, astma, SIDS was on the rise. Autism I believe at that time increased to one child out of 250 to 300.

So when it comes to causation: Peds have to know what a vaccine reaction looks like to begin with.


NYT sucks.

Mary Holland

Thanks, Katie. Well done.
Mary Holland, Co-editor, Vaccine Epidemic

lj goes

Dreck, hyperbole, gibberish. It's all the same. Wonder if the esteemed Dr.Zauger will pony up some greenbacks for Poul's defense. This piece bautifully articulates the ginormous plank in the eye of mainstream medical business (formerly known as science).


Wow, Zuger is the poster child for narcissistic personality disorder:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.

Erik Nanstiel

Arrogance is not befitting a fool. Dr. Zuger's arrogance is stupifying... to herself, that is. One cannot claim to adhere to science by locking out the input of patients and their families. And to group all parents together into one moronic mass as she does in her mind... is inconceivable. She's assuming that none of us are MD's, or engineers, or lawyers (just for example) that have the intelligence to read peer reviewed journals and white papers... to network with scientists and parents at conferences... to learn about a field and body of research that is unrelated to their own profession.

I know some parents who have an astonishing command of the details of so many studies... and the biology and pathologies associated with regressive autism... whom I would be more than comfortable pitting against Dr. Zuger in open debate. I would LOVE to see a regular parent shoot her off her high cloud in debate!



A good litigator could rip her argument apart in hours, if not minutes.

Oh wait, vaccine injuries aren't heard in any traditional court of law. How convenient.

No liability - no mandates. Until that situation changes Dr. Zuger can slurp all over Seth Mnookin until the cows come home. She will not change thinking people's minds. Next.

Maurine Meleck

You are right Katie. Dreck describes the book review perfectly as does everything else this Dr. Zauger writes.
thanks. Love this piece. maurine

Jenny Allan

From Dr Zauger's book review:-
“Mnookin explains how scientists are trained to think about causation and how profoundly this measured approach is bound to infuriate a distraught parent.”

I'm sick of the way these patronising paid pharma proponents claim to have a monopoly on 'science'. Dr Andrew Wakefield was studying 'causation' but his observations and tentative hypotheses were 'bad science', because his research discoveries were potentially embarrassing for medical and political establishments, not to mention the potential litigation costs and loss of profits for the vaccine manufacturers. Wakefield's little Lancet clinical study had NOT even got past the hypotheses stage. Wakefield made it plain that it 'proved' nothing but did indicate the need for further research!!

Just to remind Dr Zauger. True science goes through three stages. 1. Observation 2. Hypothesis 3. Experimention designed to test the hypothesis.
Yes, scientists ARE trained to think about 'causation' and how best to find answers. But thinking about it is NOT enough, or WORSE coming to UNTESTED conclusions and presenting them as facts,(or designing the tests to obtain a predetermined result, VERY POSSIBLE with epidemiological data shuffling. Think Poul Thorsen).

Of course parents of possibly vaccine damaged children become distraught by this. They are NOT stupid. Many of them are scientists themselves. Thank you Katie for this expose of Dr Zauger's over hyped review of Seth Mnookin's 'Panic Virus' book.

Maybe they are panicking about poor sales!!

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