On Autism's Cause It's Journalist MacNeil v. journalist Mnookin
During CNN’s lynching of Andy Wakefield, I was talking to one of Anderson Cooper’s producers, and she mentioned Seth Mnookin and his recent book The Panic Virus, and how it seemed to support the worldview that Andy was a bad guy and all of us parents are crazy and looking for someone or something to blame for our child’s autism. The conversation went something like this:
Me: What the hell does Seth Mnookin know? He’s a former garden-variety junkie turned writer with a book that simply repeats all of Paul Offit’s talking points?
Her: Seth has credibility with the New York media because he is really one of us, he’s an insider--so his words carry some weight.
* * *
Thinking back to that day and those comments, I have a simple game for you, I’m calling it, “Find the Trustworthy Journalist.” By the end of this game, we’ll have a winner and a loser. Unfortunately for you, I’ve stacked the decks in my favor: You get Seth Mnookin. I’ll take Robert MacNeil. On autism’s cause, we’re going journalist vs. journalist.
Let’s start with Robert MacNeil. Mr. MacNeil, age 80, has been a journalist for more than 50 years, having worked for ITV, Reuters, NBC, the BBC, and, most famously, PBS, where he won an Emmy for his coverage of Watergate. In 1975, he began hosting the Robert MacNeil Report, later renamed the world-famous MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, perhaps the most respected news broaccast in the history of television.
Mr. MacNeil is the author of 11 books. He is also Canadian and in 1997 he received Canada’s highest civilian honor when he became an Officer of the Order of Canada for being, “one of the most respected journalists of our time.”
Seth Mnookin, age 38, has been writing professionally since the age of 26, or roughly 12 years, in which time he has written three books, including one about the Boston Red Sox, one about the Jason Blair scandal at the New York Times, and the aforementioned book about vaccines and autism.
Before becoming a writer, Mr. Mnookin was fired from a “gopher gig” at Office Depot, worked as a day laborer digging ditches, and also worked at a coffee shop, a liquor store, and several bookstores “never lasting at any job for more than a couple of weeks,” according to Mr. Mnookin.
Soon after graduating from Harvard, Mr. Mnookin became a heroin addict, as he recounts:
“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…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. My parents agreed to front the money for the Renaissance Institute, a hard-core treatment center in Boca Raton that specialized in intractable addicts. I knew it was the last chance I'd get to try to start over and that if I didn't take it, I'd die.”
As Mr. Mnookin explains about his early career, “I was 25 and had spent the years since I graduated from college focusing all of my desperate energy on my career as an intravenous drug addict…At one point, I gave confused, occasionally incoherent English lessons to Japanese academics visiting Harvard…I hadn't done any real writing in years.”
His stay at the Renaissance Institute? It ended poorly:
“A little less than four months later, I was thrown out of Renaissance for having sex with an 18-year-old from Alabama who worked her doctor for prescription pain pills and her parents for second chances. I was given two black Hefty bags filled with my clothes and told I had 10 minutes to get off the property. I had no money, no credit cards, no place to live.”
* * *
Alright, I may be belaboring my point here, I admit it. Sure, some of you will criticize me for an “ad hominem attack” on poor Seth Mnookin. Shouldn’t we celebrate that Mr. Mnookin claims to be sober? Sure we should. Beating a heroin addiction is a laudable outcome. That being said, I sure wouldn’t hire Mr. Mnookin in one of my companies, let him watch my kids, or go to him for parenting advice. He was a garden-variety junkie who stole money from friends and family, sorry.
Does the messenger matter in the debate about autism? I sure think so.
So, what does Seth Mnookin have to say about Robert MacNeil, an Officer of the Order of Canada? He says:
“Robert MacNeil, however, is not a parent of a child he believes is vaccine-injured–and if PBS is going to let him commandeer a news program, both he and the network have an obligation to make sure he acts like a journalist. His work so far in ‘Autism Now,’ has been reckless and irresponsible–and any claim that he’s just presenting information and not at least tacitly endorsing his daughter’s views is preposterous…If it turns out to be MacNeil’s swan song, it’ll be an embarrassing coda to his career.”
Hmm…have you been watching the PBS Series? I sure have. It’s riveting. Particularly riveting for all the scientists MacNeil is welcoming onto the screen. Scientists who I have referred journalists to umpteen times, but never seem to appear in the stories we all get forced to watch, scientists who say things like this:
DR. DAVID AMARAL: … not to say, however, that there is a small subset of children who may be particularly vulnerable to vaccines if the child was ill, if the child had a precondition, like a mitochondrial defect. Vaccinations for those children actually may be the environmental factor that tipped them over the edge of autism. And I think it's -- it is incredibly important still to try and figure out what, if any, vulnerabilities in a small subset of children might make them at risk for having certain vaccinations.
DR. MARTHA HERBERT: I think it's possible that you could have a genetic subgroup. You also might have an immune subgroup. There are a variety of subgroups. But the problem with the population studies is they don't they aren't necessarily designed to have the statistical power to find subgroups like that if the subgroups are small.
DR. DAVID AMARAL: I think more importantly what the whole vaccine issue has done is has opened our eyes again to the idea that the immune system is an important component of autism.
DR. MARTHA HERBERT: The brain and the immune system and the gut are intimately related. The cells in those systems have common features. They work together seamlessly, and when you disregulate one, you disregulate all the others. And systems biology is a way of looking at how we work as an integrated whole. I think that's 21st century biology. Is the brain miswired, or is it misregulated? And I've come to think the brain is misregulated. And there are several reasons for that. Short-term, dramatic changes in the functional level of people with autism. One of them is the improvements you see with fever. A child who gets a fever will start to make eye contact, be interactive, will relate. A child who would have been really out of touch will become connected, and then it will go away.
DR. DAVID AMARAL: …I don't think there's enough research on environmental factors. Frankly, I think it's very expensive. It's difficult research to do.
DR. MARTHA HERBERT: When we were having this explosion of our chemical revolution, we didn't have any way of knowing the subtle impacts on cellular function. We thought if it doesn't kill you, it's probably okay. But now we're learning that it can alter your regulation way before it kills you.
How does Seth Mnookin respond to all these scientists? In the only way a shill, who happens to be a former heroin addict, would:
“Robert MacNeil opened himself (and Newshour) to charges that he’s actually promoting a scientifically disproven (and dangerous) theory. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this in the days to come.”
He goes on to critique Martha Herbert:
“Herbert fires off a number terms that all sound impressive — endocrine disruption, neurotransmitters, energy factories in our cells — and then alights on two of Andrew Wakefield’s favorite argument of the past several years: 1. The number of children ‘vulnerable’ to vaccines might be so small that it’s literally impossible to study, and 2. The brain, the immune system, and the GI system operate in unison and when you ‘disregulate’ one, all of the others fall out of whack.”
For the record, Seth, Ms. Herbert’s words don’t sound “impressive” to me. As the parent of a child with autism, her words sound “horrifying,” and thank God Martha Herbert, a Harvard professor, is willing to speak up.
Critiquing MacNeil again, Seth writes, “he shouldn’t have come out of retirement. The series has been an embarrassment.” It has been an embarrassment, Seth. An embarrassment for you and the ridiculous book you wrote.
Thinking back to the CNN producers quick to identify Seth Mnookin as one of their own, his heroin-chic background somehow a stamp of street-cred in an oddly P.C. world, I really wonder how they are absorbing a true lion of the journalism world, Robert MacNeil, and his expertly-produced series.
Perhaps the journalists will do with MacNeil what they have done with the rest of us – write him off as a desperate, gullible grandparent, eager to believe anything his depressed daughter tells him about his beloved grandson? In his desperation in looking for an answer, MacNeil’s somehow lost 50 years of journalistic integrity and jumped on the crazies bandwagon with the rest of us!
Either that, or MacNeil knows what he’s talking about and Seth Mnookin’s book will end up rumpled in the corner of one of the bookstores or coffee shops where he used to go to get high.
Which journalist should parents believe? My game is over, this is real life, and Robert MacNeil is doing our kids an enormously good turn.
Author’s Note: Here’s the Panic Virus current ranking at Amazon and Barnes & Noble: 4,986 and 22,221, respectively (I guess Merck doesn’t buy books at B&N) – I’m thinking Seth Mnookin is experiencing the “How do I pay my New York City rent?” panic virus right about now.
J.B. Handley is co-founder of Generation Rescue and a Contributor to Age of Autism.
I would say that the cause(s) of autism are extremely relevant to parents who are fighting for services, because more children with autism will only mean spreading existing services even thinner. It's worth everyone's while to prevent healthy children (even other people's children) from becoming sick.
...and of course a regular reader of AoA would know that this site explores every possible avenue that comes up, like coal-fired power plants (http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/olmsted-on-auti.html), auto emissions (http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/12/living-near-freeway-autism-risk.html), and XMRV (http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/the-potential-importance-of-the-xmrv-retrovirus-to-autism.html). Frequent commenter Eileen Nicole Simon regularly posts about perinatal interventions and their connection to autism (http://www.conradsimon.org/).
Not to mention the powerful advocacy that Kim and others do with respect to the health and safety of individuals on the spectrum (http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/04/tell-judge-no-accelerated-rehab-for-evelyn-guzman-texting-special-ed-bus-driver.html) (http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/03/keep-americans-with-autism-safe-from-wandering-related-injuries-and-death.html) as well as highlighting the need for medical professionals to take comorbid conditions seriously and treat them (http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/03/the-bruising-reality-of-autism-and-lack-of-preparedness-and-medical-knowledge.html)
So... in light of all that, I don't think articles on vaccines' role in the autism epidemic are out of place at all. Thanks, AoA and JB Handley, for bringing us another great one.
Posted by: Theresa O | May 01, 2011 at 07:30 AM
It is an interesting question at the end of Autism Political Smugness and Complacency Month what could possibly be gained by playing it the government's way?
Posted by: John Stone | May 01, 2011 at 05:28 AM
You are still trying to play the agenda that those concerned about vaccine safety are in some way obstructing progress on other fronts. Whatever our faults we are not promoting complacency "more awareness etc" like Autism Speaks has done over the years, and leaving families high dry. The situation is urgent, and every organ of government has proved deficient, duplicitous and complacent. We continue to pose the question why for our governments is the spread of autism (costing in brute terms hundreds of billion of dollars a year) a much smaller matter for concern than a few cases of measles. It makes no sense, and we continue to point it out.
Posted by: John Stone | May 01, 2011 at 04:50 AM
Mom of two kids with autism, sure you "have every right to have an opinion" and agreed that no one should "bully me out of that." But if you come on here yelling in capital letters about "MORE BULLSHIT ARTICLES" etc. do you expect to be greeted with open arms? And the "MANY PARENTS ARE ANGRY AT YOU FOR CLAIMING TO SPEAK FOR ALL OF US JUST BECAUSE YOU GREW UP IN PRIVILEGE, OR ARE HOLLYWOOD STARS" doesn't apply to the people posting here, many of whom are struggling financially, and no celebrities here that I'm aware of.
Some people (including me) believe that vaccines are one of the primary causes of the huge increase in autism we have seen over the past 20 years. Understanding vaccine causation well enough to prevent cases of autism would reduce the competition for scarce services as well as helping individual children and families. As someone else has pointed out, the same organizations which advocate for more research on an autism-vaccine link (such as TACA) also provide information and help in a variety of areas, including education, therapies, and more. The TACA web site also has advice on doing the GFCF diet on a budget, even on food stamps.
Not sure why you think the news is all about autism and vaccines. The recent PBS NewsHour series, for example, touched on vaccines briefly, but had episodes on other topics such as education and services for adults. Other than a few recent Wakefield-bashing stories there's really very little coverage of vaccine issues, and just about no in depth coverage.
If you are not interested in autism and vaccines, go to the Autism Speaks site. Age of Autism actually fills a need that is not met anywhere else by providing important information every day on the vaccine-autism controversy.
Or start a web site or a support/advocacy group yourself. Instead of knocking the hard work of people who are focusing on the issues which in their experiences are of the utmost importance, go ahead and work on what you feel is most important.
Write some thoughtful articles about your experiences fighting for services, and what you think is most important for your kids. Don't knock other parents for fighting for what they perceive as most important for their kids.
Posted by: Twyla | May 01, 2011 at 02:10 AM
I wish all of you the best. This is the first time I ever posted a comment on any website. What a revelation into the ugly schism in our community! How sad that someone can't question or an opposing opinion without being attacked.
Posted by: Mom of two girls with autism, AKA Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 09:54 PM
The big picture is not clear. Why must you insist that it is? It is was not a cheap shot, but a real feeling. There is nothing sarcastic in what I wrote. Do you ever read the literature that disagrees with your point of view? I read both and I am studying everything. What I come back to is the fact that we DON'T know why this is happening. And as long as we are so attached to only one theory, and argue about that, we will never find out why this is happening. Also, I am not wealthy, and I know many parents like myself who are tired of the whole "autism" discussion being ruled by the privileged, and focused only on vaccines when we have so much more to say. The entire topic has been hijacked by a few who claim to represent all of us, and who are myopically focused on vaccines. I realize now this site is only for those who believe that vaccines cause autism, and believe there is a conspiracy covering that up. I thought it was a resource for all people affected by autism. I am so sorry I was wrong.
Posted by: Mom of two girls with autism, AKA Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Mom of two girls with autism-
You avoided answering my comment and that is telling. You compliment Kim - now- then come back with more insults and sarcasm for the rest of the comments. I have seen this approach before. It goes no where and helps no one. Your approach and attitude to autism is "the enemy"- I wish you and your girls much good luck - honestly. There is no bullying here -- just the truth.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 30, 2011 at 09:17 PM
First of all, Thank you to Kim for responding to me with grace and honesty. To the other people I have angered, I now realize that this is not a public site, but "your" site as you have all informed me. I apologize for intruding on what I thought as a public forum where views were shared. I am upset that when I watch television the story is always about vaccines, and not about the families who are struggling and the lack of adequate funding in communities and schools for children with autism. I am also incredibly tired of seeing Jenny McCarthy as the voice of autism for the whole country. She who has the money for hyperbaric oxygen and home schooling through tutors has nothing in common with me. The sad thing is what I had read elsewhere seems to be true: intolerance for anyone who questions or has an opposing experience or point of view. The irony is I work with kids every day, and have for over 12 years. I know not only my own sweet daughters, but hundreds of others. How many of you have that experience on a personal level? I will not be on here again. Please find another enemy. I am just a mom of two girls with autism, trying to figure it as best I can. I have every right to have an opinion, and you will not bully me out of that. I find my girls to be sweet and amazing, too bad the world isn't.
Posted by: Mom of two girls with autism | April 30, 2011 at 09:01 PM
My goodness! To: Mom of two girls with autism who is also Eileen,
Your approach on our site was very odd. You start off with all capital letters signifying anger and attack mode then come back as Eileen trying to explain your stance yet still attacking - especially Kim, who is SO not deserving of your wrath.
It seems to me that you may not know or understand the very BIG picture OR you do and decided for a cheap shot to detour the journey. Sorry, Eileen but the buck stops here and if you don't like hearing about vaccines, the damage they do and those who know and continue to deny -- well- go to ABOUT.com
You said stop talking about the "BULLSHIT ARTICLES AND MONEY WASTED ON CHASING THE VACCINE GHOST!!!!!!! "- so YOU started with provocative language and caps- what's that about?? And you have the nerve to call Kim -- angry?
How about this- there is NO vaccine ghost as it is still quite alive and harming MANY. The real monster here are the many people who "get it yet deny it" and "don't get it and deny it"-- not sure which camp you are in but please educate yourself as those precious SERVICES that you claim to be YELLING about will continue to evaporate as THOUSANDS of children regressing into autism after vaccination, continues.
For us here, Eileen, it is MORE than SERVICES we desire. Of course we need safety and medical care BUT we seek to STOP the rising numbers and remind the world that this is a MORAL issue and one that necessitates INTEGRITY and RESPONSIBILITY to those injured.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 30, 2011 at 08:13 PM
The trouble is that very same people who deny vaccines cause autism also deny that autism is rising (or have done for many years) or that autism is linked with other health concerns. They might have seemed minutely more credible on part 1 if they hadn't also insisted on part 2 & 3. When I was first in touch with UK Department of Health in 2000 I didn't mention vaccines, I mentioned that autism was rising, so they sent me a paper by Taylor et al which documented that autism had risen by 24 times over 13 years where I lived, but because this wasn't correlated precisely with MMR it hadn't really risen at all - the logic was as baffling then as it is now. They were not only not interested in vaccines, they weren't interested in uncovering any other potential causes. Actually, all they wanted ever so politely was for me to go away and not bother them.
Then we get to the point in 2009 in which they publish a completely bogus study showing that autism runs at the rate of 1 in 100 in the adult population: only trouble is that they can't find them, so they project them on the basis of 19 possible Asperger cases found in their survey (which aren't proper cases with proper diagnoses), while our local services have to plan for an influx of ASD adults for which they have neither the funding or the infrastructure (50 this year where there was perhaps 1 a decade ago).
It isn't to our advantage to pretend that nothing is happening: it wasn't in 2000 and it isn't in now 2011.
Posted by: John Stone | April 30, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Ok, everyone, set your phasers to "chill." Eileen, thank you. And yes, I agree we need more services for those here - We also need to know what is causing the epidemic and that includes looking at vaxes - as David Kirby's post today points out. I apologize for using the A word. But I'm human too, and I'm no Mother Teresa...
Posted by: Managing Editor - Stagmom | April 30, 2011 at 05:52 PM
NEVER call any parent an 'asshole' UNLESS you wish to be bracketed with a certain Mr Mnookin.
Here endeth the lesson!!
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 30, 2011 at 05:44 PM
We are always talking about the denial of services, only we take a broader view of the issue than you do.
Posted by: John Stone | April 30, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I meant that we are too often not talking about the services our kids need. Not sure what you mean, except that I am obviously unwelcome here. Best of luck to you.
Posted by: Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 05:27 PM
You are making a completely specious point. There is no way that the vaccine issue is any obstruction to public services responding supportively to families. Except of course that they want to pretend our problems aren't there, or much less than the reality.
We are prepared to talk about many issues on Age of Autism and you are trolling.
Posted by: John Stone | April 30, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Meant to say I see programming cut. Lots of cuts to Sped, but none to sports.
Posted by: Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Kim, I am sorry if I offended you; that was not my intent. I am just as frustrated at the state of affairs as you are. I see programming in New York State, esp. Special Ed, every day. While we are arguing about vaccines, Rome is burning. I see people still afraid of kids with any special needs, when they are just sweet people who want friends and love and acceptance. I have worked with autistic kids since college; little did I know I would have two. The Lord works in mysterious ways. We may disagree about what causes autism, but we both live it every day. I was a single mom for four years when my girls from the time my girls were 6 and 8 until they were 10 and 12. Had to return to work full time when their dad bailed. I get it. I wish you the best as well.
Posted by: Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Honestly, you came in guns blazing with the " the Staglianos are proof autism isn't caused by vaccines." Caps locked mode connotes screaming anger. A hostile attitude provokes a hostile response. I wish you and your girls well. Kim
Posted by: Kim Stagliano | April 30, 2011 at 04:48 PM
And also, you made your daughters public knowledge in your book. So you cannot become angry when people mention them in public. I hope for only the very best for your daughters, as I do for my own. It seems like terrorism that anyone who disagrees with you or Jenny McCarthy is attacked. Truthfully, it is scary.
Posted by: Mom of two girls with autism | April 30, 2011 at 04:16 PM
I did read your book, cover to cover. And you are the angry person. You seemed to expect a perfect life, full of privilege and notoriety. I did not grow up like that. I am sure you a loving mother, and your daughters are beautiful. But you did not include much of anything about how miraculous and sweet they are. You make autism scary. I have two daughters with autism, and I am a teacher. I am working towards acceptance. Sure our kids do some less than appealing things at times, but they do plenty of amazing things too. You are crude in how you speak of our kids. And you language shows your anger. You do not own autism. You are a bully. Your site allows for no disagreement, or a person is called an asshole. You admitted to being a bully as a kid, and you still are.
Posted by: Eileen | April 30, 2011 at 04:11 PM
MY MY YOU SOUND SO ANGRY AND SCARED AND NASTY TOWARD ANOTHER MOTHER OF KIDS WITH AUTISM -
No one has ever said vaccines cause all autism - and my daughter is really none of your nasty business, unless you've read about her in my book, which you seem to have NOT. After all, my book doesn't let you off the hook completely, does it?
By the way, the same orgs (our sponsors) looking at vaccines are also some of the ONLY groups in the country directly helping struggling families. You won't find more direct help than from NAA, GR and TACA in terms of direct family help. The genetics orgs help themselves first.
I'm usually pretty nice to other parents, but you've just come in and been a real asshole to me. Go play somewhere else. Whoever you are. Ha ha.
Posted by: Managing Editor - Stagmom | April 30, 2011 at 01:53 PM
IT IS NOT THE VACCINES! OTHERWISE WOULD WOULD KIM STAGLIANO'S THIRD DAUGHTER, NOT VACCINATED, ALSO HAVE AUTISM. STOP WASTING TIME AND MONEY THAT WE COULD USE FOR RESEARCH AND PROGRAMMING TO REALLY HELP OUR KIDS. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PARENTS ARE ANGRY AT YOU FOR CLAIMING TO SPEAK FOR ALL OF US JUST BECAUSE YOU GREW UP IN PRIVILEGE, OR ARE HOLLYWOOD STARS? THERE ARE MANY OF US WHO ARE JUST STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE IN THIS ECONOMY, AND NEED BETTER PROGRAMMING AND SUPPORT, NOT MORE BULLSHIT ARTICLES AND MONEY WASTED ON CHASING THE VACCINE GHOST!!!!!!!
Posted by: Mom of two girls with autism | April 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Parent, not to my knowledge, but sometimes we do turn "off" a thread to keep the comments running smoothly if they are veering down a particular road.
Posted by: Managing Editor | April 29, 2011 at 06:43 AM
Am I now being censored?
Posted by: Parent | April 29, 2011 at 12:27 AM
These days there is a lot of information on the internet -- a few short years ago there wasn't even an internet! Yet even today there is still so much strong spin in the news saying that vaccines are safe, that all are necessary, that the autism-vaccine link has been disproven, that parents don't understand science. Any parents of vaccine injured children should forgive themselves if they trusted the CDC and AAP and NY Times and LA Times and Dr. Paul Offit and their pediatricians above parents yelling, "caution!"
Posted by: Twyla | April 28, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Thank you so very much for all your kind words of support. That helps.
My husband and I were just speaking about this issue this morning; that is, how much responsibility, if any, should parents accept (or deny) when it comes to what we didn't do - perform the research we should have, prior to blindly accepting our peds' advice re: vaccination.
How many of us on this board have researched the type school we send our children to? Montessori? Public? Private? Homeschool? How much research do we do when looking to purchase a new home? How much research do we perform when buying a new car? How many of us have been willing to seek out a second, or perhaps even a third medical opinion on some sort of medical procedure we've been told we need?
There was a time and day, when looking back on my own life, that I can state that yes, there really wasn't all that much information out there regarding vaccine safety/efficacy issues for parents to find. Oh, it was there alright, but you had to know where to FIND it.
But the research that I and my husband performed was AFTER our son's vaccine reactions - not during, not before. Those same peer reviewed articles we found in our local, medical and legal libraries, was also there, BEFORE and DURING our son's vaccine reactions.
Truthfully? I had PLENTY of well honed, articulate advice and caution come my way regarding vaccine safety issues. A dear friend of mine spent hours telling me what she'd found out about vaccine efficacy and safety; her own son had suffered vaccine reactions. She went from being essentially a mainstream Mother to her first born, to a homeschool, home-birth Mom with her second son. HUGE difference in the two children; the first son struggled in school academically, the other, the second son - 165 IQ, graduated with top honors from college, and holds a wonderful high paying position with a major company, at just the age of 21 years.
My friend - Teri - gave me a Mothering Magazine subscription as a gift when I found out I was pregnant with Ryan.
But I CHOSE not to listen to my heart; I CHOSE not to listen to my gut instincts, about vaccines. I stopped vaccinating Ryan after we fired our first pediatrician and I was absolutely not being pressured into vaccinating him, after we started using our second pediatrician. Eventually, I allowed my own fears to take hold and going against my own intellect and gut instincts, I held that kid down when that nurse proceeded to jab him three times - blood dripping down his legs all over the place. I'll never forget it. Ryan fell into complete somnolence before I even got back into our car.
It took me one more time, at Ryan's six month well baby visit; I STILL allowed them to jab him one more time with just the DT vaccine that time (he'd been exempted from the pertussis component), but Ryan still reacted with complete somnolence. No high pitched screaming, but still, somnolence which lasted for well over a day and a half.
I've been asked by a very well meaning former veterinarian at the NVIC seminar, held in 2009, why I continued to vaccinate our son, after having received so much in the way of information, from my friend. I told him that quite honestly, I think it's a 'human' condition. We are conditioned to not trust our God given instincts for almost the entirety of our lives. We've been taught/conditioned that our pediatricians, nurses, medical professors and the like, know more than we do simply by virtue of a few more years of schooling.
So maybe that's the lesson with all of this; maybe we DO have to accept a modicum of responsibility, here. Learning to trust our instincts is the lesson.
But I will say this: There is so much information out there these days, that for any parent to blindly accept that vaccines carry no risk and no harm, is simply foolhardy. For pediatricians to continue to hide their faces in the sand and continue to deny the untold damage our U.S. vaccine schedule is causing to so many infants, is equally, foolhardy.
Don't get me wrong - I still feel these peds, Big Pharma, and our medical universities carry the brunt of the responsibility, here. But parents have got to learn to spend more time researching a known health risk, ever so much as they would in deciding which new car or home they're going to purchase.
It's buyer beware - only with vaccines, your child's life and health could be at risk.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 28, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Bayareamom, don't blame yourself! Blame the CDC, the AAP, the pediatrician, the press. We had every reason to believe that we could believe the experts, the people with advanced degrees whose chosen profession is public health. On the day my son was born my pediatrician told me that the CDC was now recommending the hepatitis B vaccine for all newborns. I said, "Sure!" without thinking twice. I had complete faith in the CDC!
Posted by: Twyla | April 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Don't waste another second blaming yourself. I do not know how old you are - I just turned 55 and I spent a decade and a half blaming myself for being so what ever.
Well I was and so is everybody else.
You pay for the very best medical advice, and you are deemed a fool if you do not follow said medical advice.
We are trained from childhood with cute fairy stories of Edward Jenner and how he risked his own son's life to bring us all the cure for small pox. It was a lot more complicated than that, but I fell for it. Then if you are educated at all, and esp in the sciences it is pounded into you like a religion.
What idiots are some parents to claim that their children was hurt by vaccines, how can they think that? That was what I was getting for my money from my professors.
Well hell, you get the vaccine and it may take awhile, so the parent does not get it, and the next one and they are stroking out.
Don't you blame yourself - not for a second - it rest on other people's head that puts out cute little articles in health magazine that they lay around in the waiting room.
Immunization of any kind are good, talk to your pediatrician they say, vaccines are safe, studies and research has come out and there are no link between vaccine and autism. Then the word autism got all mixed up in this too,and well what is autism to begin with anyway- why a genetic disease of course.
That is what we have to fight againest.
That is why we go into a University medical center and leave leaflets, that is why we write on the immunzation literature - slogans like: there are vaccines for autism available now!
If you were given any heads up you would have looked a little more, as would I, but we are truthful, honest, trusting people. We trusted and we were betrayed.
That is not your fault - all people that are betrayed feels guilty - that is why betrayal is given the deepest place in Hell.
Posted by: Benedetta | April 27, 2011 at 08:46 PM
You make a good point about taking responsibility, Bayareamom. What you say about the comparative amount of research on mechanics vs. pediatricians ... it's depressing, but it's true.
I read an interesting book called "Gut Feelings" about when our so-called intuitions fail us (and one of the cases is blindly trusting "white coats"). For those of us who are not natural skeptics, it's probably good to train ourselves to question everything (particularly whatever we read in the NYT).
You sound like such a great mom. I am so sorry for what you and your son have had to go through. I don't know how much comfort it is, but stories like yours are making it harder for even the unskeptical to blindly obey doctors' orders. The word is getting out.
(And I'll bet my homeless guys wish they had an Uncle Bob!)
Posted by: Theresa O | April 27, 2011 at 08:36 PM
If one of your homeless guys had an interesting family name and/or connections to certain people/places, I'm sure he'd have found a niche in the working world soon, thereafter. The reality in this world: it isn't what you know, it's more often, 'who' you know.
My question is, at what point do parents accept responsibility as to what happens to their kids after vaccine damage? This has been my own regret; I was warned, repeatedly, by a good friend of mine, about the risks associated with vaccination. I CHOSE not to listen to her; I chose to do absolutely no research whatsoever. Little did I know at the time of my own family history of ADD (a cousin), milk allergies, other allergies, chronic autoimmune disorders, etc. My husband's family had a fairly similar history, only my husband's allergies were far more serious than anything I'd seen in my own family.
I didn't interview our new pediatrician right after Ryan's birth; I went on the advice of a 'friend' who was using him and swore by him. Of course, she was a mainstream, vaccinating Mom; what was good enough for her kids, was good enough for mine - or so I thought.
The upswing? I almost killed our son, because of, in part at least, my LACK of due diligence. Why in God's name didn't I do my research BEFORE I allowed them to inject my son?
So -- while I can see blaming the likes of the Seth Mnookin's out there for all the trash they're spewing in their books, etc., at some point, parents out there have got to take some responsibility and perform their own research before subjecting their children to anything that has a known risk. We can blame the Mnookins of our society for their ill behavior, but on the other hand, there is a plethora of information out there on this subject, both pro and con. Most of us spent more time researching the best garage to take our cars for a tune up, then we do on this subject.
My mistake almost cost our son's life. As it is, the quality of his life has certainly been diminished; to what extent, we won't perhaps ever know. What I DO KNOW, is that I am partially to blame and accept full responsibility for not having had at least the foresight to perform just a little needed research BEFORE my son had to suffer those horrendous reactions.
For that, I cannot blame Mnookin.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 27, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Yeah, Seth's behaving like a jerk. The "total assholes" comment (about parents declining vaccination) shows him to be pretty disgusting, and quite frankly, not capable of intelligent argument.
My only point about the drug addiction was to say that bringing it up isn't necessarily an ad hominem attack. Considering someone's life choices and mistakes is a valid way of determining someone's ability to make good decisions. I find it interesting that my homeless guys couldn't get jobs, but Seth gets lauded as "one of us" by the NY media.
So... Bayareamom, I didn't mean that we should be nice to Mnookin, or to imply that he is as likable as my homeless guys. (He's clearly not.) I just meant that *even if* we never say anything in a mean-spirited tone about Mnookin, his past drug addiction *is relevant,* because it gives some insight into his (poor) decision-making skills and (in)ability to make good judgments.
On the other hand, I'm unaware of anything about Robert MacNeil that would make me distrust his judgment.
Posted by: Theresa O | April 27, 2011 at 02:59 PM
The difference between one of 'your' guys and Seth Mnookin is that your guys (or one of them) didn't take on a job and potentially put at risk tens of thousands of children's lives and health, because of that 'job.' While Seth may feel he deserves credit for overcoming his addiction (and he does), his loutish behavior after the fact, doesn't score him any points in my view. He's really sort of an anomaly; he suffered the affects of his own addiction, but that addiction was of his own doing. Autistic kids suffer with the affects of toxic vaccines, but it wasn't of their own choosing. Babies are held DOWN when they are given their vaccinations; I'm quite sure Seth wasn't held down when he injected those needles of heroin into his veins.
For an addict to truly overcome the ravages of addiction, requires a degree of humility and open acceptance of one's own frailties. Not only do I NOT see any degree of humility in Seth's words and behavior, on the contrary, there's a degree of venom and outright self-righteousness in him, which strikes me as a very odd thing, given Seth's background. A lacking in some sort of moral fiber. Normally, someone who has suffered through all the steps of addiction and then is able to overcome that addiction, puts a truly repentant addict on a path to enlightenment toward others. There's a true humility in spirit when you watch those individuals in action; they have a sense of purpose, and almost a genuine NEED to want to reach out to others and help them on their own road to recovery.
I don't see any of those traits in Seth Mnookin. You cannot serve two masters; you're either on one side of the fence, or the other. Seth still has some personal demons to overcome, quite clearly. Attacking others who are true victims, isn't going to win Seth Mnookin any points with most, no matter what he's managed to overcome vis-a-vis his former addiction.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 27, 2011 at 02:32 PM
What John Stone is saying about Mnookin, in his diplomatic way, is summed up by another well used UK proverb:-
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!!"
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 27, 2011 at 10:37 AM
Theresa O, Twyla
I just think perhaps Mnookin was the wrong guy to call Bob MacNeil irresponsible and expect to escape all comment.
Posted by: John Stone | April 27, 2011 at 08:44 AM
As far as the actual tone of the criticisms of Mnookin and his struggles with drug addiction, I'm not going to comment.
I will say one thing, though, that I think JB's piece highlights. Years ago, before my daughter was born, I volunteered at an overnight homeless shelter in Manhattan. Ten men came every night to stay in a church auditorium on foldout cots because they had no home. Some of the men were very open about how they became homeless, and for most of them, the story included alcoholism and/or drug addiction. Every morning, the men would take the bus back to the city-run drop-in shelter to shower. Then they'd go out to try to find work, either as day laborers or at the unemployment office. In the three "seasons" (November through April) that I volunteered at the shelter, only one of "my" guys ever got a job.
Now, I believe we should support those struggling with addiction. I believe that many factors play into employers' hiring decisions. However, it seems highly likely that part of what kept these men homeless--even though they were clean and sober every day, as that's a requirement for staying in a "faith bed" at a church--is that potential employers did not feel comfortable trusting even the most basic tasks to someone who had previously been addicted to drugs.
My homeless guys were trying to get jobs as maintenance men and mailroom workers, and all but one were turned down, time and again--yet Seth Mnookin is somehow deemed worthy of trust on an issue that affects the lives and health of babies and children.
What bothers me is the double standard. Would the New York Times hire one of my recovering-from-addiction homeless guys to drive its delivery trucks? How about to write a column on children's health?
Posted by: Theresa O | April 27, 2011 at 08:28 AM
"Seth has credibility with the New York media because he is really one of us, he’s an insider--so his words carry some weight." – JB quoting one of AC’s producers
We are never going to change the opinions of hard-core vaccine defenders such as Orac, but what about people such as the above producer and the others she is referring to as “us”? Someone reading this article who didn’t know much about autism and vaccines, and maybe likes Seth Mnookin’s other books, would simply see us as mean and Mnookin as a victim.
Nobody is suggesting that “we should all be meek little children, and deferential” (JS) nor that we should “feign calmness” (Leona). Yes, it “makes sense to convey the anger and outrage” (Leona). But it’s not only a choice between meekness and personal attacks -- there’s something in between.
Bayareamom said, “I don't think the other side is going to listen up, unfortunately, unless those voices heard are loud, angry and righteous.” A lot of people on the other side are not going to listen regardless of what we say or how we say it, but some who might listen will be alienated by so much hostility.
“Parent” may very well be just a sincere parent, not a troll, and most likely she is now alienated. One less.
The other argument made is that Mnookin is so terrible that he deserves to be treated terribly, and the pro-vaccine blogs are so mean that we should be mean. I still think that no matter what we should hold on to simple human decency.
Robert MacNeil said it well tonight: “the trouble with autism and the communities of autism is that a lot of them are locked into a kind of zero tolerance for any point of view that isn't precisely their own, and they sort of sit in their trenches and hurl missiles at each other.” I can actually agree with zero tolerance for Seth Mnookin’s views, but I still think the proper response is to argue argue argue rather than hurl missiles -- argue with anger, but not vitriole. If you alienate everyone who disagrees with you, you’ll never convince anyone. Not just talking about Mnookin here, but about other readers who come here with an open and unconvinced mind.
P.S. to Bayareamom – thanks for your clarification – I understood how you meant that.
To change gears, a comment I agree with very much: “A very interesting question is why we are still debating whether vaccines cause autism three year after the US government agreed that they do, and even Bob MacNeil hasn't got round to stating this self-evident truth.” – John Stone
Posted by: Twyla | April 26, 2011 at 11:56 PM
So, Mr. MacNeil is Canadian? Thanks for looking up his biographical info. I was "coincidentally" watching an episode of a favorite old TV series where some crazy "freedom fighters" trafficking in nerve gas and nuclear Russian submarines were surrounded by these wonderfully polite, but armed Canadian mounties with instructions like, "Gentlemen, cease firing. You are surrounded." and "Sir, please lower your weapon." I love the politeness which may just be TV fiction, but Robert MacNeil seems to embody much of the same. I hope we soon have more like him, armed with the truth, though not through the tragedy of personal experience.
Personally, I judge Mr. Mnookin more on his current level of "politeness" and "research."
I decided to look into something else. I wonder if Mr. Mnookin has researched the history of heroin addiction. This substance apparently used to be marketed by Bayer as a non-addictive morphine substitute and an over-the-counter cough suppressant--something no one ever mentioned during the "Just Say No" campaigns in my high school.
Isn't it possible that even the "greatest medical advancement of the 20th century" might also be less than accurately represented in terms of benefits and risks? They are considering adding doses 71 & 72 to the childhood vaccine schedule. Is it reasonable to call anyone, um, what-Mnookin-said if they decide at some point this is too much?
Is it reasonable to call parents who want to provide the injured with the aid they've found through a painful realization of what has happened to their children and to also prevent similar injury in others what-Mnookin-said?
Is this a reasonable label for parents who've looked at the "science" and realize that, no, the science does not actually demonstrate what is claimed by the MSM (Main Stream Medicine & Media) and then continue to tirelessly warn others? Thanks, JB, for your work for ours and others' kids.
Posted by: JenB | April 26, 2011 at 06:47 PM
When I made the statement, 'if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen,' I was referring to Seth Mnookin. Hope that was clear; I never meant to disparage anyone else here who may have a differing viewpoint.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 25, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Twyla, and other tender hearts (I mean this in a good way!)
I made an earlier comment to Dr. Gordon that we come to expect a certain tone in JB's writing. There are many other writers on this bog that "elevate the quality of discourse" and this is good. We can all choose which writer we read. I personally do NOT want JB to "elevate the quality of discourse" in his articles because that is not what I want to read when he writes. I want the "pure JB". Anyone can simply choose not to read his work if they wish.
"Seth Mnookin wrote a very personal revealing account of his drug addiction. To bring this up may be a satisfying “bitch slap” but it serves no purpose except venting anger. It will not win over anyone who doubts that there are problems with our vaccine program."
Search AoA and you will find hundreds of articles, thousand upon thousands of comments where we parents have "wrote a very personal revealing account of" our lives and our children's lives. Mnookin spits in our face with his piece of crap book. I am supposed to feel sorry for this a$$hole?? (trying to keep it civil for the tender hearted - not working tonight).
Again, I reiterate, there is a UNBELIEVABLE level of discourse on AoA, far greater than you will find on many blogs.
JB has gone on national television in support of our kids, sometimes sitting right with Dr. Gordon. He knows exactly who JB is as a man, a father and and powerful voice for all of us. I find it surprising Dr Gordon would even expect anything less. We as readers can accept JB for what he is or pass on his next article, but please do not ask him to change one damn thing.
Posted by: Tim Kasemodel | April 25, 2011 at 09:11 PM
..."If I could get the message through to even one parent, then one or more children could be spared from my son's dreadful experience. I visited numerous forums like this one, and endured unbelievable personal attacks from people I had never met. Through those attacks, I realized that many of the attackers had no interest whatsoever in the truth."
Most likely, all of us have gone through this. Years ago, when our son was just under two years of age, I joined several mom's club playgroups. Conversations would inevitably lead to vaccines. Cannot begin to tell you how quickly I learned how nasty those other moms could be. They actually tried to boot me out of one of their groups; I guess our son was deemed to somehow be a health risk to the other vaccinated babes. I've debated M.D.'s on forums and other pro-vaccine crowds. It can get very ugly and intense.
I can honestly say that in all the some 18 years of my own research and involvement in forums, speaking before school boards, newspaper interviews, etc., I don't think the other side is going to listen up, unfortunately, unless those voices heard are loud, angry and righteous. When I passionately wrote to Mr. Orac himself about what happened to our son (nothing slanderous towards him, just a heartfelt plea for a listening ear), he turned on me like a bad rash. That's when, I think for me, anyway, I realized how nasty some of these folks are. They will defend to the DEATH their vaccine program, no matter how many kids they are damaging and killing.
I certainly don't advocate violence, but neither do I think for one brief moment that a polite and civil discourse is going to cause a huge paradigm shift with their mentality. This is a monster we are up against, here. A monster backed by millions, if not billions, in profit line margins.
I agree with J.B. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. There is a huge angry swell of parents out there who KNOW what happened to their children and are very well aware of the massive cover-up going on.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 25, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Will/can you share with us what your story is re: autism? What happened to your child? What steps have you taken to help him/her? How, specifically, is this impacting your life?
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 25, 2011 at 07:30 PM
In the interest of supporting fellow, GENIUINE AoA commenters, I too believe that the comments from 'parent' are those of a troll.
One of my biggest goals after realizing that my son was damaged by his vaccines, was to spread the word to anyone who would listen. If I could get the message through to even one parent, then one or more children could be spared from my son's dreadful experience.
I visited numerous forums like this one, and endured unbelievable personal attacks from people I had never met. Through those attacks, I realized that many of the attackers had no interest whatsoever in the truth. In fact, they were often careful to avoid facts at all cost. And it seemed the closer I would get to the truth, the more viscous those attacks would become. It was all about discrediting me, and I remember thinking how little sense that made, coming from people who should never have possessed the motivation to do such a thing. I later came to realize, that this was the unmistakable behavior of trolls.
I wasn't quite sure about "parent" in the beginning, but when he/she wrote the phrase "... It feels like you don't want a cure, you want the other side to suffer for causing the pain....", then he/she removed all doubt for me.
I don’t think it’s possible to make a comment, that could be further away from what this battle is about.
Posted by: Barry | April 25, 2011 at 07:26 PM
With regard Dr Jay Gordon’s earlier comment, suggesting that Seth Mnookin deserves our respect for kicking his heroin habit.
Seth Mnookin is currently attacking one of the only living, main stream reporters with the courage to tell the truth on this issue. And as the parent of vaccine injured child, an injury that should never have been inflicted on such an innocent, helpless and undeserving little boy, I disagree with you on the need to afford any respect to a parasite like this Seth Mnookin.
It today’s society, the highly addictive nature of heroin should hardly come as a surprise to anyone. While Seth Mnookin has reportedly kicked his heroin habit, that habit was the result of a conscious decision to ignore the known risks of addiction, in favor of satiating some self indulgent need for self pleasure. While I agree that it’s usually an accomplishment to pull yourself out of a ditch, I reserve my respect for the people who didn’t actually CHOOSE to jump into that ditch
Look, this guy is bedding down with big pharma, and he’s doing it for no other reason than money. He is once again choosing to ignore known risk factors, except this time the consequences will be borne by other people.. very little, innocent people. He is intentionally leading people away from the truth about the dangers of vaccines. And every day that he does this, he is consciously protecting the perpetrators of an unspeakable crime, while at the same time placing more innocent children at risk of severe vaccine injury.
What Seth Mnookin really deserves is prison time, not respect.
Posted by: Barry | April 25, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Twyla, sometimes you've got to fight fire with fire.
When our adversaries are demonizing us, destroying researchers' careers and poisoning babies, you don't simply respond with "I beg to differ. Allow me to enumerate the reasons why."
If we're arguing that a generation of children has been (and continues to be) harmed by the medical establishment/U.S. government, then it makes sense to convey the anger and outrage that accompanies such a message. To feign calmness as young lives around us continue to be destroyed is disingenuous, and does not make our message believable or convincing.
Occasional displays of raw anger are appropriate in light of the charges we're making and the constant attacks we endure from people like Mnookin, and an effort to suppress those emotions (and the kinds of words that flow from those emotions) will only make us seem weak and invisible.
Also, please see Ginger Taylor's post on why Mnookin's severe drug use is pertinent to what he writes about and should not be swept under the PC rug.
Posted by: Vaxes are for the little people. -Leona | April 25, 2011 at 03:16 PM
You write: "Both sides claim the other is crazy, both in a race to the bottom with scare tactics and threats"
Can you give me one example of a safe vaccine advocate calling those who defend "one size fits all vaccine policy" crazy?
Can you give me an example of "scare tactics" used by safe vaccine advocates?
The truth is what safe vaccine advocates use. If that is a scare tactic, then maybe we should be scared.
Posted by: ottoschnaut | April 25, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Twyla- I disagree that people who enable this travesty of iatrogenic autism need be, or should be, dealt with politely. Hopefully at some point in the near future I will see them all in the dock at a Nuremburg type judiciary process.
Seth Mnookin is an enabler to a barbaric medical procedure that maims and kills thousands of children every year. He is the moral equivalent of an SS guard rounding up Jews to be taken to Mengele for human experimentation.
How polite exactly do I need to be to his ilk? Please let me know what level of discourse is appropriate.
Posted by: ottoschnaut | April 25, 2011 at 02:20 PM
"Parent" doesn't sound like a troll to me. S/he just sounds like someone who is asking for civil discourse.
If I thought that calling someone "an ignorant, self absorbed, smug, ass wipe" would help our children, I would be all in favor of it. But all that does is fulfill the stereotype of us as an irrational angry mob.
Whenever I read what Seth Mnookin writes or see him speak, I get angry. But IMO what is needed is to point out what is wrong with everything he says. If we discovered that he is being paid by pharma, that would be relevant. Whether he had sex with an 18-year-old years ago is irrelevant (and was legal too, as 18 is the age of consent).
Yes, we could add "that former drug addict" every time we talk about him, which would be lowering ourselves to the level of our adversaries. I'm not saying his past should be completely unmentionable, but IMO this article goes too far in dredging up the past.
Reading his mom's and his accounts of his childhood moved me. He used to wake up with night terrors. He reminds me of some of our kids -- a bundle of nerves. Modern medicine has no way of treating this kind of anxiety except for drugs with bad side effects. Who knows what caused him to crave the soothing of drugs. Once started, drugs drive some people off the deep end.
We have plenty of good arguments and information on our side and IMO that is what we should be focussing on. Our goal is not just to preach to the choir, but to those who have not had experiences causing them to already understand that there is a problem. An uninformed reader reading this would just think that we are mean spirited and acrimonious. I say this with all due respect to JB, who is one of my heroes.
I'm not saying we should never express anger and always wear kid gloves, but there is a middle ground somewhere and it seems to me we should be making every effort to reach out to those well intentioned readers who may not already be on our side.
On the one hand, Seth Mnookin might be a completely heartless jerk who will never listen to us. I don't know him well enough to say whether or not this is the case. On the other hand, what if his baby has a serious vaccine reaction leading to autism? Would he then reach out to our community? Not if we have completely alienated him. I say, don't demonize our opponents -- just argue with them.
Posted by: Twyla | April 25, 2011 at 11:36 AM
I like the blog name
"vaccines are for the little people"
How so very true!
Parent you are in our beloved Jone Stone's words - a troll!
Posted by: To Birgit Calhoun | April 25, 2011 at 09:32 AM
I am afraid you are just trolling. It was Seth Mnookin who invited the comparison between himself and Bob MacNeil, and who has been trying restrict debate on the causes and treatments of autism, going round trying to declare everyone that he doesn't like out of order.
Mnookin is a bully who is trying to shut down legitimate debate and we are entitled to ask where he is coming from, what are his motives, what are his claims on balance and integrity. AoA covers many topics, and it also fights for its position (as it should).
Posted by: John Stone | April 25, 2011 at 05:39 AM
I do not usually comment on purely US issues; living in the UK I have never read or watched anything involving Seth Mnookin, other than those links and quotations supplied by AoA writers and commenters. I seldom visit any of those vile, pharma sponsored internet websites; they are full of lies, profanity and ad hominum slanders.
Again, Brian Deer et al's worst excesses get reported second hand in AoAs reports and comments, and that's enough for me, and if the 'bombing' of those recent books by Offit and Mnookin are anything to go by, they are enough for anyone else as well!! Offit's 'Deadly Choices' has been pulped in the UK due to its slanderous content.
Why am I writing this then? I am sure that all AoA 'regulars' will have recognised the comments from parent for what they are!! I doubt whether 'parent' and his/her child even exist. Those posts look like a disjointed narrative made up of 'useful quotations' from the pro vaccine pharma shill's manual.
If I am wrong, then I invite 'parent'(preferably with a name, not necessarily a real name, but we are all parents), to come back to AoA and tell us something REAL about his her child's OWN autism story, not something gleaned from a book or the media!! There's plenty of advice and sympathy here at AoA and links to organisations dedicated to helping and supporting both autistic children and their parents. I have NEVER seen any evidence of bullying parents of autistic children by AoA contributors, but there is plenty of media bullying of parents who are concerned about vaccinating their children. Mnookin recently called such parents 'assholes' and Bill Gates called them 'child killers'. That's just two examples; some others are so profane that I would not sully this website with them.
I have watched some of the Robert MacNeil programmes and they are balanced, informative and dignified. How refreshing, in comparison with those ghastly CNN Cooper interviews which annihilated Dr Wakefield and promoted the outrageous views of Brian Deer!! CNN will already be regretting this. It is hardly surpising that Mr MacNeil is now being targetted by an increasingly panicking pro pharma brigade. I hope that reason and honesty prevail.
Posted by: Jenny Allan | April 25, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Posted at Sethmnookin.com by JB Handley
"Seth: A final piece of friendly advice before I leave the warm confines of this commercial establishment:
Stop vaccinating your son, now. Autism rates are higher in boys, children of ultra-bright parents (presume Harvard didn’t admit you for their “future junkies” program), and addicts – something to do with a missing enzyme in the liver, which means your son is at a higher risk for autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc. if you inject a bunch of toxins into him before he’s prepared to handle them..."
JB, surely you jest. Do you honestly believe that Seth's wife - whose baby has at least four risk factors for autism (you left out 'older father') - strolls into the pediatrician's office, oblivious to all she's read about vaccine risks from her husband's critics, and subjects her precious baby to this?
I'll bet you dollars to dexies Seth Mnookin's baby is no more vaccinated according to the recommended schedule than Alison Singer's younger daughter or Tony Blair's son.
And Seth's child will never be jabbed with a Gardasil-filled syringe, you can bank on that.
Posted by: Vaccines are for the little people. -Leona | April 24, 2011 at 11:18 PM
Cry me a river? I'm naive? That's what you say to someone who is asking for civility, and whose family is being ripped apart by a common enemy? Thanks so much for the empathy. Again, name-calling and bullying. Is that how you tell your autistic children to react when they are bullied? That's not what I teach mine. You know the numbers, right? Suicides and divorces in families with kids diagnosed with autism? Why? Because we get on the internet looking for hope and we see this us vs. them fight to the death. Both sides claim the other is crazy, both in a race to the bottom with scare tactics and threats, both discrediting the others "facts." It feels like you don't want a cure, you want the other side to suffer for causing the pain. It must be easy living in a world of black and white.
Posted by: Parent | April 24, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Posted at Seth Mnookin dot.com
Seth: That’s really terrible that your feelings are hurt. I’d feel bad for you, but I’m currently feeling bad for the 1 million+ kids in America who have autism. But, you mention 13 children in MN who were hospitalized for measles, which certainly highlights your grasp of the relative amount of suffering kids are experiencing right now.
13 vs. 1,000,000
It would be nice if vaccines were the perfect drug and had no side effects. Unfortunately, they are a drug, and all drugs have side effects. Like brain damage. To a million kids.
If you are too big a baby to handle some criticism, step off the stage, amigo.
I’m sure its also difficult for you to grasp that Robert MacNeil, who is perhaps 1,000x the journalist, thinker, and writer that you’ll ever be, has reached a conclusion or has a POV that makes all the things you have publicly said and written complete bullshit. You may be experiencing something we call cognitive dissonance, which is causing you to publicly attack one of the all-time great reporters in our history. It’s somewhat akin to me, a decent high school hoops player, criticizing D.Wayde for his offensive skills, and expecting anyone to listen to me or care.
I’d be embarrassed for you, but your doing enough of a job embarrassing yourself that I don’t need to,
Posted by: NotSethMnookin | April 24, 2011 at 08:37 PM
A little caveat to my most recent comment: During our son's first few months of life, he suffered reactions to all his vaccines. During that time, we decided to no longer vaccinate him; it was during this time our first pediatrician told me I did not love our son if we would no longer vaccinate him. After-wards, upon working with our second pediatrician, I held off vaccinating Ryan - had second thoughts - and decided to continue vaccinating.
Which is ultimately my most profound regret to this day.
Words cannot convey the guilt I still feel to this day because of my ill-advised decision to continue vaccinating our son.
Believe me, I empathize with the enormous anger and guilt I know so many parents are suffering with...
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 24, 2011 at 06:02 PM
I have not read nor will I read Mnookin's book. Normally books such this cut down independent researchers who have actually performed the work. All of the criminal government studies that show no harm will be the ones Mnookin likes. I am sure this clown got paid well for writing this book.
Posted by: Mr T | April 24, 2011 at 05:59 PM
"Please save your sympathy for the thousands without a voice, and for the babies whose parents are currently being lured into reckless overvaccination by Mnookin's book of pharma lies. Defend the defenseless, not Seth Mnookin."
I must say, the above really resonates. Believe me, I believe in forgiveness. But I can only imagine the anger, pain and frustration by parents and families utterly devastated with the ravages of autism. I still struggle today over what happened to our son when he suffered horrendous reactions to all his vaccines. I cannot fathom the amount of anger and frustration incurred our family, had his reactions followed the course so many others have followed. I KNOW my marriage would not have survived; the financial costs alone would have been untenable.
Righteous indignation and anger does serve its purpose. And clearly, being able to vent one's own frustration and anger through an AoA blog/forum, serves a much needed place.
I can recall years back, when we were living in Denver, CO, a pediatrician telling me I "didn't love my son," if I would not vaccinate him.
I told him to go to hell. But that one man's ridicule served a much needed lesson; I vowed to never again walk blindly into a pediatrician's office w/o having done my research, first.
We interviewed our next pediatrician, unlike the first time, before we agreed to work with him. And, not coincidentally, following our son's horrific reactions thereafter, it was this new pediatric staff of whom readily acknowledged our son's reactions; they explained to us what we should expect academically with our son starting at Kindergarten age, and agreed to work with us when the decision was made to no longer vaccinate our already vaccine damaged, son. Years later, I can now 'sort of' smile when I remember the words of that first pediatrician in Denver -- the one who told me I did not love my son because I refused to vaccinate him.
HE DID ME A FAVOR. I shudder to think what may have happened if Ryan had been vaccinated by HIM when he suffered those horrific reactions.
Personally, I find no fault in someone venting outright anger and frustration through their various comments here. And quite honestly, for someone who professes to be dealing with autism - in the grand scheme of things - I fail to understand the LACK of indignation and anger in asking those who are dealing with this monster, to be 'more civil.' My anger is still extremely palpable; my guilt, even more so.
Unfortunately, most of whom preside in our medical institutions and are now calling all the 'shots' (no pun intended), will never listen to civility. Most will only HEAR those voices in the night when those voices are filled with righteous anger and indignation over what has happened to their loved ones. Those voices are getting mightier and stronger - THEY ARE BEING HEARD.
There are consequences to all behavior. Seth Mnookin has chosen his path; time will tell if he can handle the consequences.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 24, 2011 at 05:30 PM
I have thought hard about whether or not to enter this discussion, but I have to say that I can’t see any point in dragging Seth Mnookin through the mud other than the satisfaction of venting. I think that everything Mnookin writes about vaccines and autism is absolutely terrible. I can’t stand the way he summarily dismisses what parents of vaccine injured children have to say – including their experiences with vaccine injury and with biomedical treatments. I can’t stand the way he puts down Robert MacNeil and Dr. Martha Herbert – both such eminently qualified professionals and outstandingly intelligent human beings. I agree with all of JB’s non-heroine-related criticisms, and I wish he had stuck with those. I agree with Garbo that delving into Mnookin’s history of drug addiction diverts attention away from his journalistic shortcomings.
I completely agree with Dr. Gordon’s comment, and I even agree with “Parent”. We need to elevate the quality of discourse. Seth Mnookin wrote a very personal revealing account of his drug addiction. To bring this up may be a satisfying “bitch slap” but it serves no purpose except venting anger. It will not win over anyone who doubts that there are problems with our vaccine program.
I get the anger, I really do. How tiresome is it to hear over and over that our science is based on the views of a former playboy bunny? How much trash and garbage has been thrown at good parents and doctors and scientists who dare to raise questions? Even more importantly, some children are being seriously injured and then left with lifelong disability, inadequate treatment, and no recourse. Our govt and mainstream medicine are letting us down, and pharma is engaging in terrible shenanigans. What is Seth Mnooking's real motivation in this?
It’s terrible that, according to many he interviewed, Mnookin was deceptive and dishonest in how he characterized the book he was writing. There’s no question that “Robert MacNeil is an absolute lion of objective journalism and Mnookin is a… less reliable source.” I think there is so much criticism which can be leveled at Seth Mnookin without descending to such a personal level. When people manage to overcome an addiction, this is an accomplishment, and IMO should not be constantly thrown in their faces.
Posted by: Twyla | April 24, 2011 at 01:36 PM
Cry me a river. Vaccines cause brain damage. Sometimes in life, you really have to call out an ignorant, self absorbed, smug ass wipe as just that- an ignorant, self absorbed, smug, ass wipe.
Seth M. is a part of the matrix that defends human experimentation on children. He is an ignorant, self absorbed, smug ass wipe.
Posted by: Ottschnaut | April 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM
It is so much safer to be spoonfed garbage by Mnookin: you won't have the lobby on your back. When it comes to defending the reputation of vaccines and the vaccine industry absolutely no journalistic standards pertain. Anything will go. Anderson Cooper would rather face an angry crowd in Cairo than the phamaceutical lobby and its powerful cronies.
Posted by: Editorial Cowardice | April 24, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Doesn't that say so much about CNN and the consensus media that a persons addiction gives them added credibility? In many ways they treat parents vacca concerns as an addiction. "Observe them in their natural habitat." How many of the media profession, behind and in front of the camera, will still be around when it is time to observe the adult children of those parents now? You'll have to be sure to ask this CNN person to chart the addiction of her collegues to compare notes.
Posted by: FeFe | April 24, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Autism is a monster, but deflects attention away from the true enemy. Autism is the price our children pay to feed the appetites of this enemy, the predators that stalk them to feed their desires for reputation and riches. Innocent children are being disabled, and even killed, every day through the handiwork of this enemy and that there has been any polite and restrained resistence to this is testament to the integrity of those who have ventured into any discourse with this enemy, that has revealed itself to be more deceitful and vile than ever imagined.
That you have any services or professional aide for your child is because of those steadfast and brave people who fought past battles against the ignorant discrimination of children diagnosed with autism, ignorance sown by the enemy. Your naivete of the reality of the ongoing struggle for our children is what the enemy is counting on. As well, your naivete led you to dish out a scolding to those in our community who courageously stepped into the ring anticipating a fair and honorable fight for our children, but who found themselves being hit below the belt and spat on at every turn over the years. Mnookin is just another of the predator's henchman charged with beating our truth down, which now includes disparaging a journalist who dares shine a light on the reality of autism.
When JB calls out those who not only stand in the way of appropriate treatment and justice for our children but who are also guilty of rubbing salt in their wounds, he does not mince words, and he speaks to them in their own language.
Posted by: Donna K | April 24, 2011 at 02:47 AM
I gotta say, manners aside I think Mnookin's background in drug addiction is irrelevant and to bring it up only distracts attention from his journalistic shortcomings. Anthony Bourdain kicked a drug habit, and he's a fantastic writer. The difference is he writes about stuff he knows about. Conversely, Mnookin is out of his depth, as evidenced by his whining at McNeil and the scientists featured in the show. McNeil used his bully pulpit to break corporate journalism's tacit code: Thou Shalt Not Implicate Vaccines. He happened to do it just after Mnookin's pharma hagiography got published, which makes Mnookin look like a schmuck. Hooray for McNeil. Hopefully he won't get the Dan Rather treatment as a result; hopefully he has opened the door for others to speak the truth. Honestly, instead of giving Mnookin any more publicity, wouldn't it just be better to organize informed hecklers to attend all his book related events?
Posted by: Garbo | April 24, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Seth Mnookin is not "deserving of respect" for "fighting his demons and winning." Teresa Conrick very articulately explains why, and Mnookin's Twitter addiction is further proof. He slings his arrows - in the form of tweets - at innocent targets, revealing his true character. When he's not counting cases of measles, he's ridiculing a farmer who couldn't afford corrective surgery for a devastating birth defect.
sethmnookin Seth Mnookin
Legit (albeit intentionally ha ha) headline of day: "Holy crap! Chinese dude lived 55 years w/out an anus." http://ht.ly/4lbbL
This former substance abuser even invites his 1500 followers to ridicule a 22-year-old woman who was arrested for driving under the influence - as in not sober - like he used to be.
sethmnookin Seth Mnookin
Yeow: Tiger's 22-yr old girlfriend arrested for DUI. The mug shot is...well, see for yourself. http://ht.ly/4l7Wp
But you ask us to respect Mnookin for conquering his demons? I've got news for you Dr. Jay. He hasn't conquered them. He's simply transferred his loathing from himself to us (the "assholes") and to those who suffer from afflictions he finds amusing. Mnookin has significantly lowered the level of discourse with no help from JB Handley.
Please save your sympathy for the thousands without a voice, and for the babies whose parents are currently being lured into reckless overvaccination by Mnookin's book of pharma lies.
Defend the defenseless, not Seth Mnookin.
Posted by: Tweet Tweet | April 24, 2011 at 12:27 AM
You are right. The people that they have put out there to defend the reputation of vaccine are absurd: a global industry, the scientific, medical and political establishment are hiding behind the most implausible characters. The reality is that they are defending the indefensible and it can't be done playing by the rules.
Posted by: John Stone | April 23, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I am rather in favour of good manners. It isn't good manners to call people "assholes" because you disagree with them as Mr Mnookin has. This is also very mild compared with the personal things journalist Brian Deer has posted on the web about me. But I would also point that at no time have the government, the collective medical profession or latterly the mainstream media treated parents with vaccine damage concerns with courtesy or respect: indeed we have endured a decade of a very dirty war.
The policy, bluntly, has been hit and run. If they knock your kid over with the vaccine the legal protection is absolute for the manufacturers and very probably for those who administer it. To have to prove it - when an ethically run profession would monitor and investigate as a matter of course - is a perversion of ethics, humanity and justice. And it is unmitigated bad faith.
Frankly, I don't believe you are what you say you are. Whatever, your views on the vaccine issue hundreds of thousands of families (millions worldwide) have been disgracefully let down by scietists, doctors and politicians who have no explanation, no remedy and no plan. To come on here and suggest we should all be meek little children, and deferential to people who have never bothered to be polite, have shown no care and indulged in constant evasions is absurd.
I point out once again that legal and scientific case that vaccines cause autism has already been conceded by the US government on a number of occasions, and faced with the challenge and the documentation Mr Mnookin just walks away.
Posted by: John Stone | April 23, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Forgive Mnookin, for he knows not what he does. If he has street cred, that is a career plus- Let him write books about the street.
If this is the best our opposition has to offer, they dont have very good cards in their hands. They are getting desperate . The medical- public health mafia had hoped to keep us working on the two thousand piece puzzle of autism until they could retire comfortably . Will they succeed or will TRUTH AND SCIENCE interfere with their yachts and golf?
Posted by: Cherry Sperlin Misra | April 23, 2011 at 04:08 PM
A response to "Parent":
"If a way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst." ~Thomas Hardy
"...there is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they may after all be the best key to life's significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth." ~William James
Posted by: AG | April 23, 2011 at 03:34 PM
I am a parent of a child with Autism and I am appalled. If you really want to help children like mine, change your tone, now. As I read what you write you are clearly more concerned with tearing down someone who disagrees with you than helping children. This sounds just like Scientology. The tone, the smears, the name calling. I admire and appreciate the time you spend on this issue. Autism is awful and clearly getting worse. But this, "I'm right, you deserve to be bitch-slapped" approach is so depressing. Aren't we supposed to solve problems by coming together? Autism is complicated. Very complicated. There is no obvious cause or remedy or treatment. It's not black or white. Yes, that is my opinion. But as someone who spends hours a day intimately involved in my child's upbringing and tries to read as much as possible I feel I'm entitled to one. I will not give my real name because autism is hard enough without being bullied and ridiculed. What is wrong with you people? When public safety, more specifically the safety of children is in jeopardy why would you think insults and snarkiness has any place in the dialogue? As you clearly understand this is an emotional issue, but in my opinion you are not advancing the dialogue, you are stunting it with insults and lawsuits. Enough. Go to some support groups for parents with autism, see how they suffer, and ask yourself if continuing to hurl insults at the "opposition" is the way to help these parents and their children. How pathetic that just like politics there are two "sides" in this thing. Don't we have the same common enemy? Autism? I have the stomach for the harsh realities and hard questions, but not for this shameful personal attack posturing. The progress my child makes every day is due to his hard work and the hands-on work of his parents and dedicated professionals. Your witty insults have not helped him at all. If you really give a damn about helping kids like mine I beg you to think about taking your energy and passion and re-directing it in a more positive way. Please. I'm begging you. There is another way to fight this monster.
Posted by: Parent | April 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Not sure what RI is?
Looking at Jay Gordon's site I note that a year ago the PBS took a lot of criticism for their stance on vaccines.
A year later Robert MacNeil gives a completely different image to PBS.
It appears that in a year the PBS has progressed from blind belief in PROPAGANDA to blind belief in OBSERVATION that is the HALLMARK of good science rather than ANECDOTE such as Offit puts in his book:
"I know someone who took his child for a vaccine, gave up waiting and then that child died in the night from SIDS."
Stating directly that the child was not vaccinated but "forgetting" perhaps that this appointment was for his umpteenth vaccine and "forgetting" that science tells us that after effects do not follow law that says any effect after 4 hours is NOT due to the vaccine.
Rubella SINGLE vaccines causes INCREASING destruction of platelets 45 days after the vaccine. Not that it concerned the vaccine maker one little bit. And that was for an adult and not the 1 year old that gets several other vaccines added to the MIX.
Posted by: John Fryer Chemist | April 23, 2011 at 09:56 AM
The Panic Virus has been given a high rating in public and if it worries me that such books detract from the notion that using a teratogen, carcinogen and mutagen at a level ten times less than that which kills most who have it applied externally to them then it must convince many who have no knowledge base on thimerosal, vaccines or people like the author.
My knowledge base of the author was ZERO and I had no reason to believe he was anyone but the WORLD EXPERT on viruses.
I know know the truth that he probably knows less than I did before I went to my first school.
Sadly those that refuse thimerosal injections that will definitely KILL them if it wasnt injected into them and at just ten times the concentration are also UNLIKELY ever to get to a school run by what was yesterday the worlds healthiest nation but today is the worlds unhealthiest nation.
That is using modern epidemiology where you take out 75 per cent of the sample of nations because they dont massively OVER VACCINATE, REPEAT VACCINATE or VACCINATE at DAY ONE.
Posted by: John Fryer Chemist | April 23, 2011 at 09:23 AM
The American parents do not have a choice. They must unite and do a revolution against tyrannical genocidal pharma mafia. They must stop vaccinating their children as vaccines are the ONLY proven cause of autism epidemics.
Posted by: veritas | April 23, 2011 at 01:42 AM
I really do not mean to be uncivil - but speaking of journalism:
I just read with interest at your website your comments regarding the retraction of Dr. Wakefield's - as you term it - STUDY and I must say, I was quite surprised.
I have studied and/or viewed several (if not all) of Dr. Wakefield's interviews and comments regarding that entire Lancet fiasco. I think I've viewed Dr. Wakefield's interview with Dr. Joe Mercola, some three times. I have read several commentaries on this entire issue as well, commentaries, I might add, from both sides of the spectrum. After each, I came to the undeniable conclusion that so many others have; this was not a STUDY performed by Dr. Wakefield. Labeling it as such, is to mischaracterize what Wakefield and the other physicians, did with these children. This was not a research project.
Dr. Wakefield gave an extensive interview with Dr. Mercola. He spoke very eloquently as to what actually transpired with the Lanceat issue, in Boulder, Colorado last October/2010 (did you see that?); he has provided a plethora of interviews, since.
May I ask if you have listened to ANY of the interviews and/or lectures Dr. Wakefield has provided? If so, how did you arrive at your opinion, may I ask?
I'm not nearly as up to speed on these type issues as the good parents are here, on this AoA board. Yet, even without the full benefit of all the knowledge I can clearly see others have on this board regarding Dr. Wakefield's work with these kids, it utterly astounds me to see your remark about this Lancet retraction.
I really do mean no disrespect, but after having spent an inordinate time, myself, reviewing many of Dr. Wakefield's interviews, lectures, papers, articles by journalists, etc., I find it truly amazing you've reached the conclusion you have.
I'm simply curious. I have admired much of what you've had to state about vaccines in general. I'm just rather stupefied about your comments regarding the Lancet retraction.
Posted by: Bayareamom | April 22, 2011 at 09:56 PM
While I respect your plea for a more respectful tone on AoA it is important to keep in mind the niche and tone of individual writers on this blog. We come to expect a certain archetype, a model of a person, personality, or behavior if you will, from each talented essayist at AoA. Teresa Conrick? Excelent research investigation. Katie Wright? Detailed accounting of meetings of the important autism committees. Cathy Jameson? Advocacy motivation and personal stories.
But JB is the best bitch slapper we got.
I agree that we should elevate discourse and avoid ad hominem attacks, but JB is only using Mnookin's own words. He also includes the disclaimer "Shouldn’t we celebrate that Mr. Mnookin claims to be sober? Sure we should. Beating a heroin addiction is a laudable outcome." I personally see this as good journalism myself.
Posted by: Tim Kasemodel | April 22, 2011 at 09:51 PM
To "James Ellroy Fan".
I agree with you. All pediatricians who treat parents badly because they question the 2011 vaccination schedule under which a 15 months old can simultaneously receive 9 different vaccines, should themselves be submitted to such regimen, and monitor how badly they feel. They might actuslly come down with GBS, or ADEM or TM or even MS. I have seen so many adults devastated after a single immunization with a Flu shot, or Hep B vaccine, or college students develop GBS after the Meningococcus shot, to document just a few.
Tje youngest pediatrician out there must have been born no later than 1982. The only vaccines mandated then were DTP, OPV, MMR.......At 15 months they were given a single and unique dose of MMR.
By the way, the FDA just approved a new meningococcus vaccine. In addition to the current 15 months dose, this new product will be given at 9 months and 15 months.
Soon they will give Gardasil to newborns on top of of the 9 year dose to girls and boys per the 2011 recommendations.
What a freak show!!
Posted by: Marie-Anne Denayer, M.D. | April 22, 2011 at 09:28 PM
"Her: Seth has credibility with the New York media because he is really one of us, he’s an insider--so his words carry some weight."
Then I wonder what she thinks of David Kirby?
And I agree with Dr Gordon, more civility.
"Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed"
Posted by: Dad2one | April 22, 2011 at 09:03 PM
It's been interesting hearing from a number of people today who were interviewed by Mnookin for his book (I was not). To a person, they claim that Mnookin was decepetive and dishonest with them in how he characterized the book he was writing, the angle he'd be taking, etc.
To me, that simple highlights my central point here: Robert MacNeil is an absolute lion of objective journalism and Mnookin is a....less reliable source. Yey, Mnookin is spending his time referring to PBS' series as an embarrassment to MacNeil's career.
It's patently absurd, Mnookin deserves a giant bitch-slap, so I've done my best to give him one.
Posted by: JB Handley | April 22, 2011 at 08:54 PM
As Ginger Taylor noticed, Mnookin posts in his blog what appears to be an attempt at a "subtle" double-edged threat. Is Mnookin trying to say he's endowed with untapped power to unleash the hounds of (hmm, state department? Industry? More of same in another book?) hell on us and it's only through sheer self restraint that he hasn't done so, that he's even dabbled in "mercy"? He cites every 12 year old boy's badass fantasy quote from Samuel L. Jackson's character in Pulp Fiction (a wise man, we are told). Go to 7:30 of the video for a reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMRi-gFeK-M&feature=related
"There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. 'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you.' Now... I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking: maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here... he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. And I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd."
This character has no business getting anywhere near our "lost children".
Posted by: not a movie | April 22, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. never dealt drugs and Mnookin's father and uncle weren't assassinated-- not that Kennedy ever cites that as an excuse. In fact, Mnookin's father and uncle are alive and well and doing business with Big Pharma.
When Mnookin's supporters were doing their frat boy victory roar in the Salon.com comments section after Salon's retraction of "Deadly Immunity", neither Mnookin nor editors stepped in to lecture the fans to stop citing RFK Jr.'s former addiction. Go read through the comments.
Posted by: Man of wealth and taste | April 22, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Having been an Addictions Counselor, I would like to answer that question you asked regarding Mnookin and Kennedy. Sobriety is more than just the stopping of an addiction - no matter what the "drug of choice" may have been and remember, that it does not have to be an actual drug but can be an addiction to an activity (sex, gambling, shopping etc). Sobriety is accepting: STEP 1- Step 12 and being a humble person who accepts their addiction while then making every effort to stay sober AND then continue that spiritual awakening.
If you see these two men in action, it is clear that Kennedy lives a life devoted to helping others and the environment. Mnookin does not give that impression and certainly calling parents of children who have vaccine injuries, GI illness and mitochondrial dysfunctions - "assholes" -- well, that does not seem to be the behavior of a humble man, compassionate and empathetic to their plight.
Here are the 12 Steps if you are interested. http://www.12step.com/12steps.html
I think a key factor in addiction is that just staying clean cannot keep one sober. One can become a "DRY Drunk", where they may not be using but their behaviors continue to show addictive narcissism. Listening and understanding others in pain and crisis yet lacking empathy is a sign. That is a big strike against Mnookin.
Posted by: Teresa Conrick | April 22, 2011 at 07:21 PM
I've spent too much time on RI and elsewhere dodging relentless ad hominem attacks on myself and you, JB. We can elevate our discourse above that.
Seth Mnookin is not only far from my favorite person but I would accuse him of having been deceptive in his discussions with me as he wrote his book. Robert MacNeil's presentation personalized the most important medical issue of our times and hit so many nerves that it was bound to trigger Seth's wrath. He has elevated himself to the position of expert and he is not; He's an author with an agenda.
Nonetheless, he has fought demons and won and is now deserving of respect for that accomplishment.
I am critical of his book, his ideas and his advocacy against parents who know that vaccines have adverse effects on their children. I have never looked dumber than when I've argued with a mother over her child and I think that Seth doesn't look too sharp doing it either. I'd just like to see the personal attacks confined to the RI and other nasty places and try to keep AOA more civil. Please.
Posted by: Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP | April 22, 2011 at 06:48 PM
J B, I think it's a bit incredulous of you to attack Mnookin for being a former junkie. After all a man you admire, RFK jr, is also a former heroin addict as well- he was actually sentenced to 2 years probation for possession in 1982, I believe- why he is trustworthy while Mnookin is not? I guess it's only bad to be a recovering addict if he or she doesn't agree with you.
Posted by: Caroline | April 22, 2011 at 06:16 PM
I'll feel much better when that name doesn't come up any longer. MacNeal is wonderful in this series. He knows how to ask the right questions and he has an excellent grasp of the subject. As opposed to 'what was his name again?' The subgroups mentioned in one of the segments got me to thinking about a study that was done on APO-E protein prevalence relating to various population groupings in the world. Since APO-E4 could be easily tested, it would possibly be a good starting point for figuring out subgroups.
What's interesting here is where the various grouping are found. The United States is not listed in the table presumably because there the population is too diverse.
Posted by: Birgit Calhoun | April 22, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Yo Reid, check it out--your little underwear-staining outburst was published! Since you clearly subscribe to your own logical fallacy of a non-questioning appeal to authority when it comes to so-called medical experts, why don't you go get a "catch-up" dose of childhood vaccines all at once and document it all on youtube if you're so zealous about this debate. Put some bite into your troll bark.
Posted by: James Ellroy fan | April 22, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Excerpt from Mnookin's 2006 article on the Black Dahlia for Bill Gates publication, Slate (http://www.slate.com/id/2149680/ ): "'All men hate women for tried-and-true reasons they share in jokes and banter every day. Now you know.' This is an exaggeration, but Ellroy does come closer to explaining the pervasive and perverse fascination with dead white women—their evocation of men's twisted desire to love, protect, fuck, and kill the women in their lives—than most. Sixty years after Elizabeth Short's mutilated, tortured corpse was discarded by the side of the road, this might be her ultimate legacy."
Mnookin is a sick twist and speaks for himself. BTW, that 18 year old girl Mnookin had sex with in rehab was nearly a decade younger than him. And where does anyone suppose Mnookin learned about her relationships with doctor and parents? In 12 Step group therapy. He uses a teenager's therapy confession to tell us that he didn't victimize anyone because the victim was "garbage" anyway-- even if she could have been his highschool student.
Posted by: Vlad the Inhaler | April 22, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Back in grade school, kids would characterize someone like Seth as someone who "could dish it out, but couldn't take it".
Man up or go home Seth.
Posted by: Sylvia | April 22, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Mnookin surely looks like a current opiate addict controlled by his drug dealers (pharma cartels), who inject him with opiates when he is in withdrawal. His mind is sick, hence to read his book and trust what he says one must be sick. It should be obvious to anyone.
Posted by: veritas | April 22, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Mnookin is complaing aboout this post. Says it is hurtful to him. I posted a comment, but don't know if he will allow it, so I am posting it here too:
""I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd driven by charity and good will." - Seth Mnookin
Parents who want to make their own vaccine decisions are "total assholes." - Seth Mnookin, American University, "Communicating to the Public"
Mr. Mnookin, the idea that you have entered into a good faith relationship, as an objective journalist, to the public and to the biomedical autism/vaccine injury community, for which you can expect that you will be treated with generosity and be given the benefit of the doubt.... well that is just silly.
The expectation that your very long history of serious IV drug addiction and accompanying anti-social and illegal behavior will not cut into your credibility on any topic, (much less one on the safety of injectables) is frankly, unreasonable.
I began my counseling career doing outpatient drug counseling in the psychology department of Johns Hopkins and I have seen more than a few tragic stories. So please believe me when I say that I am very, very happy for you that you kicked your habit, that you have had some restoration with your family, and that you now have a career and a family of your own.
But as a recovering addict, surely you have to understand that actions have consequences. Your formative years were spent... well... not forming a man of good judgement and good character. That is lost time that is difficult to win back. And while you may have kicked your habit, your judgment on these matters remains in question. Starting with the expectation that no one is going to hold against you severe drug use, which spans around half your life, when making judgments about your good judgement.
Long term drug addiction causes a stunting of emotional maturation. I see it in you, as do many in our community.
It may hurt to be called out for this difficult part of your life, but your contempt for these families you criticize has been evident from the time you began misrepresenting yourself to parents while you researched your book, up until today.
If you want to be treated respectfully, you have to treat people with respect. Calling a significant percentage of parents in this country "total assholes" for trying to work in the best interests of their own children in light of an under researched and indiscriminate vaccine program (which all sides admit will kill some and injure others) betrays your contempt for them. Expect then to be treated likewise."
Posted by: Ginger Taylor | April 22, 2011 at 01:50 PM
It's called ad hominem *fallacy* for a reason. Of course you won't publish this comment because you're not interested in actual debate, just despicable character assassination because you can't back up your arguments on their own merits.
Posted by: reid | April 22, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Please tell us in this week of all weeks why you and others have not been ramming the following information down the throats of the US media?
A) the current President of Merck’s Vaccines Division, Julie Gerberding confirmed to CBS News when she was Director of the US Centres for Disease Control that: “So if a child was immunized, got a fever, had other complications from the vaccines. And if you’re predisposed with the mitochondrial disorder, it can certainly set off some damage. Some of the symptoms can be symptoms that have characteristics of autism.” 
B) Autistic conditions can result from encephalopathy following vaccination. The US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) confirmed to CBS News that of 1322 cases of vaccine injury compensation settled out of court by the US Government in secret settlements: “We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism, or seizures.” , [2a], .
C) It is biologically plausible that a live virus vaccine like MMR [which] contains live viruses one of which is scientifically accepted as causing autism. The first known cause of autism was rubella virus.
… rubella (congenital rubella syndrome) is one of the few proven causes of autism.“ Walter A. Orenstein, M.D. US as Assistant Surgeon General, Director National Immunization Program in a letter to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer 15 February 2002.
rubella virus is one of the few known causes of autism.” US Center for Disease Control.
rubella can cause autism” The Pediatrician’s Role in the Diagnosis and Management of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Children – PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001
D) Autistic conditions can result from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) following MMR vaccination as held by the US Federal Court in the case of Bailey Banks .
In his conclusion, US Federal Court Special Master Abell ruled that Petitioners had proven that the MMR had directly caused a brain inflammation illness called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) which, in turn, had caused the autism spectrum disorder PDD-NOS in the child:
The Court found that Bailey’s ADEM was both caused-in-fact and proximately caused by his vaccination. It is well-understood that the vaccination at issue can cause ADEM, and the Court found, based upon a full reading and hearing of the pertinent facts in this case, that it did actually cause the ADEM. Furthermore, Bailey’s ADEM was severe enough to cause lasting, residual damage, and retarded his developmental progress, which fits under the generalized heading of Pervasive Developmental Delay, or PDD [an autism spectrum disorder]. The Court found that Bailey would not have suffered this delay but for the administration of the MMR vaccine, and that this chain of causation was… a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.
E) Autism is not caused by genes. And what does not cause autism?
Dr Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. the 16th and current Director of the US$30.5 billion budget National Institutes of Health [nominated by President Obama: NIH News Release 17th August 2009 ] stated in evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006 when Director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute :
“Recent increases in chronic diseases like diabetes, childhood asthma, obesity or autism cannot be due to major shifts in the human gene pool as those changes take much more time to occur. They must be due to changes in the environment, including diet and physical activity, which may produce disease in genetically predisposed persons.“
F) Autistic conditions affect approximately 1 in 100 US children. They affect 1 in 64 British children [1 in 40 are boys] according to a Cambridge University study .
“Conclusions: The prevalence estimate of known cases of ASC, using different methods of ascertainment converges around 1%. The ratio of known to unknown cases means that for every three known cases there are another two unknown cases. This has implications for planning diagnostic, social and health services.”
G) It is estimated to cost the UK £28 billion per annum [roughly US$42 billion]: 
 HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA – Unraveling the Mystery of Autism; Talking With the CDC Director; Stories of Children with Autism; Aging with Autism – Aired March 29, 2008 – 08:30 ET
 CBS News Exclusive: Leading Dr.: Vaccines-Autism Worth Study Former Head Of NIH Says Government Too Quick To Dismiss Possible Link – WASHINGTON, May 12, 2008
[2a] [see text of email exchanges between US HRSA and Attkisson - attached]
 Vaccine Case: An Exception Or A Precedent? – First Family To Have Autism-Related Case “Conceded” Is Just One Of Thousands – CBS News By Sharyl Attkisson WASHINGTON, March 6, 2008]
 [Banks v. HHS (Case 02-0738V, 2007 U.S. Claims LEXIS 254, July 20, 2007)]
 Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. evidence to US House of Representatives Committee May 2006
 ESTIMATING AUTISM SPECTRUM PREVALENCE IN THE POPULATION: A SCHOOL BASED STUDY FROM THE UK
 ["Economic Consequences of Autism in the UK" - London School of Economics - Study by team led by Professor Martin Knapp
Posted by: ChildHealthSafety | April 22, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Good point Joanna, Playboy spread = stupid. heroin addiction = street cred. That just doesn't make sense.
Posted by: Jen | April 22, 2011 at 12:07 PM
The other night I was researching books on the Amazon
website, when I came across Mr Mnookin most recent
publication. After reading the available excerpts, I
was appalled by the mean streak displayed in the book
and comments made by various admirers. I had to
relearse my anger and frustration on paper or more
accurately on screen.
In 1988, the fateful year my daughter faded away into
autism, the only vaccine she had received and that was
blamed for the high fever that ensued (as per our
pediatrician) and the progressive regression that
followed was the MMR (my daughter later proved to have
Lyme disease likely acquired on a vacation in RI the
week before the MMR).
Anyone who denies the existence of an autism epidemic
is like the ostrich with its head buried in sand.
Those chasing the autism gene, cannot explain the
exponential increase in the cases of regressive autism.
There is not a single genetic disorder the prevalence
of which could possibly jump from 1 in 10.000 up until
1981 to 1 in 100 in 2011.
Some claim that we are better at diagnosing it.
Nonsense as autism thus far is diagnosed based on young
children's symptoms and behaviors. There is no "test"
or approved "brain scan" or "blood test" to diagnose
Regressive autism was indeed unheard of in the early
1980's, whereas it now accounts for the steady
increase in the number of autism cases. Only an
environmental, an "outside" influence, could have so
dramatically induced an explosion in the number of
cases of autism among our children. The only obvious
variable in children's environment is the mind-blowing,
steady increase in the number of vaccines their immune
system is bombarded with, often up to 8 in one visit.
No one has conducted any reliable study, that is, a
study NOT supported financially by a vaccine (or one of
its ingredients) manufacturer. No one has conducted any
study establishing the safety of injecting multiple
vaccines simultaneously. Interestingly, the dosage of a
given vaccine is not adjusted to the patient's weight.
The flu-shot for example: Imagine a 6 lbs newborn, a 36
months old toddler and an adult in terms of their size.
Anyone younger than 36 months is injected with 0.25 cc
of vaccine, anyone older including the morbidly obese
adults is given 0.5 cc. Makes you pause.
Additionally, since the 1990s many toddlers in addition
to becoming autistic, develop an inflammatory type of
bowel disease causing severe abdominal pain, diarrhea,
Indeed, my daughter and her autistic contemporaries
never had the GI problems (aside from the toilet
training issues) that a later and current wave of kids
with autism are experiencing.
Just look at the vaccination schedules implemented
since 1989 culminating into the RECOMMENDED
IMMUNIZATION SCHEDULE FOR PERSONS AGED 0 THROUGH 6
YEARS-UNITED STATES-2011(FOR THOSE WHO FALL BEHIND OR
START LATER, SEE THE CATCH-UP SCHEDULE) found on the
CDC website. It does read like a bad horror story: at
15 months, american babies can receive simultaneously
HEP B, DTaP, Hib(H.Flu type B), PCV(Pneumococcal
Vaccine), iPCV(inactivated Polio vaccine),
Influenza(YEARLY), MMR, Varicella, HEP A(I dont
remember when this one was added...unlike Hep B, C,
etc... Hep A is a benign disease).
The clue to the GI component of this most recent form
of regressive autism might well be in this new string
of vaccines given as a cocktail.
Assuming someone in the medical establishment would
take the time to look.
Actually one investigator had begun looking and we all
know what the establishment has made him endure.
Has any of Dr Wakefield's critics actually picked up
the issue of the BMJ in which his observations were
reported? Of course not. Dr Wakefield never said that
the MMR vaccine causes autism. He is a pediatric
gastro-enterologist (not a neurologist or psychiatrist)
who described a novel inflammatory bowel disease
affecting children who happened to have autism. The
parents of Dr Wakefield's patients gave a history
eerily similar to that given by thousands of parents
since the mid to late 1980's: their babies had been
developing normally until their second year, often
their 15 months (on average) "vaccine visit" then
rapidly to gradually, lost previously acquired verbal,
social and often coordination skills.
It ia also likely that additional circumstances further
aggravate the situation. The preservatives and
adjuvants in vaccines are likely to contribute to the
problem. Thimerosal is not the only metal in the mix
of ingredients. Although Thimerosal was banned from
childhood vaccines (Note that there has not been enough
thimerosal-free Flu-shots to go around), other toxic
agents such as Aluminum are still listed among the
components. Lyme disease has been known-mostly to its
victims- to.aggravate the symptoms of autism. I know
too well what my daughter suffered through.
No one has the right to accuse a parent who raises a
child (or children) with regressive autism of being
"anti-vaccine". The research that is needed is NOT to
determine what does NOT cause autism. The research has
to be aimed at identifying the children who are at risk
of regressing into autism. Mitochondrial disorders
appear to account for some cases, although the
mainstream medical community has chosen to brush off
Some day, not soon enough, smart doctors will recommend
a vaccination schedule at last tailored to each
individual child, depending on its inherent risk of
To my colleagues, I often ask if they remember what
became of Professor Stanley Ben Prusiner. In 1982, Dr
Prusiner, a neurologist and biochemist at UCSF
announced that his team had discovered the previously
hypothetical infectious Prion (Prion proteins account
for Mad Cow Disease and its human counterpart
Dr Prusiner wad criticized, demonized, harassed by his
In 1997 after 15 years of being litterally made fun of,
he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or
Medicine for his research into Prion diseases.
I have no doubt that history will eventually repeat
To conclude, I will quote Sir William Osler.
First quote: " If you listen carefully to the patient,
he will give you the diagnosis". Thousands of us,
parents( dubbed "Mad Mommas" by pediatricians), have
described the same circumstances under which our
precious children regressed into autism.
Second quote and my personal favorite: "The greater the
ignorance, the greater the dogmatism".
We will never give up in our quest for
answers,otherwise the great U.S.A. will become the
United States of Autism.
Posted by: Marie-Anne Denayer, M.D. | April 22, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Veritas said: "I would bet Mnookin is still a junkie."
That crossed my mind too. What kind of backroom deals were cut between Mnookin and Pharma to make his book happen? What nerve Mnookin has to call Robert MacNeil "reckless and irresponsible"... why? because MacNeil listens, he gives the parents a chance to talk instead of censoring.
At the end of the day, when Mnookin no longer serves they're purpose, Pharma will discard him.
Veritas said: "It is however a shame that mainstream media support this despicable junkie rather than millions of parents of vaccine injured children and honest scientists, who try to tell the truths that vaccines can kill and cripple for life"
The mainstream media is bought and paid for by sugar daddy Pharma. Pharma keeps their sorry little boat afloat. NYT tries to distract the public by milking the Wakefield story meanwhile CDC hired researcher Poul Thorsen faces 13 counts of fraud and barely a peep. Such self serving phonies!!
Posted by: Sarah | April 22, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Mnookin attacking McNeil and Herbert brings to mind the famous Sean Connery line from the movie, The Untouchables, I paraphrase; "Isn't that just like a dumb-ass to bring a knife to a gun fight".
That dumb-ass is too stupid to know how far out of his league he actually is.
Posted by: Harry H. | April 22, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Since the population studies were done by people with an interest in not finding anything and are riddled with methodological errors, they should be ignored (with the exception of the original thimerosal study before Verstraeten used sleight of hand to alter the results). The good doctors on the program seemed to be unaware of the worthlessness of the studies and explained their failure to find a connection to thimerosal or MMR as a product of the rarity of the condition (although I would not describe a malady striking 1 in 64-110 children as rare).
Posted by: Theodore Van Oosbree | April 22, 2011 at 11:16 AM
If Dr. Martha and others would use the words "jabbing your baby for money" instead of "environmental toxins" it would help to get her point across.
Dr. Martha does say that epidemiology would "not pick up" a small subset of children sensitive to vaccines.
IS THAT NOT WHAT the hell WE ARE LOOKING FOR ????????
WHICH MEANS, at best... that epidemiology is elite bullshit in providing answers to what Autism parents are seeking.
The shit would hit the fan if the American public is ever informed about the Simpsonwood meeting, US vaccines pulled off the market the past 25 years, the vaccine court, vaccine compounds banned in other countries, 4 to 1 ratios boy/girl ratios of Autism & ADHD, & Autism rates of countries that only have 10 or 12 or no vaccines in their schedule.
Posted by: cmo | April 22, 2011 at 10:59 AM
Seth Mnookin says "endocrine disruption" and "neurotransmitters" are "impressive words." This shows what a fish out of water he is. Autism parents use these words all the time, without a second thought. That a Harvard researcher should use these words is a given.
Seth Mnookin is a clown. How can anyone take him seriously?
Posted by: First Do No Harm | April 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM
What more can I say - great article. Thanks so much for providing the key facts that are not widely publicized about Mnookin, and for organizing the key quotes from the scientists from MacNeil's Autism Now program.
I'd add that in Autism Now, Irva Hertz-Picciotto that one of the environmental explanations for the "phenomenal increase" in autism cases is "infectious agents", which she then repeated. What infectious agents that haven't been with us throughout our evolution? A smirk. Obviously she can't say out loud, which I understand. This says a lot.
Posted by: Sandy MacInnis | April 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM
I think it's hilarious that Jenny's playboy spread automatically means anything she says is wrong, but Seth's heroin addiction gives him street-cred. Just like Dr. W's saying that if you can't trust the researcher, you can't trust the research somehow doesn't apply to Paul Thorsen. What's good for the goose, people!
Posted by: Joanna | April 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM
GOOD GRIEF! Dr. Herbert's comment "that -- the subsets are small" is a totally inaccurate hedge, and then the despicable Mnookin seizes on her "small subset" to buttress his own incompetent opinions.
There 4 million babies born each year in the U.S. and experts put at least 20% of them, that's 800,000 babies and their families each year(!), are now in this toxic Age of Vaccination permanently damaged by the autism spectrum, asthma, deadly allergies, crippling autoimmune ailments, muscular dystrophy, lymphomas, Crohns Disease, and other intestinal destructions cited by Wakefield et al., thousanda of SIDS deaths by 6 months directly coinciding with the onslaught of dozens of injected toxic vaccine ingredients given at birth, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, on and on.
We have a Catastrophe, worse than the Japanese Tsunami happening EVERY week!
Some small "subset."
Posted by: david burd | April 22, 2011 at 09:58 AM
When the shit finally hits the fan, the Mnookin's, Witziner's and Offit's of the world will be hung out to dry by their supporters. Their ignorant and insensitive statements set themselves up to be the true 'crazies' of the debate, which I don't think is any accident.
Posted by: not a crackhead or drug dealer | April 22, 2011 at 09:55 AM