Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Wired Magazine’s Amy Wallace Endangers Our Kids:

Managing Editor's Note: Thank you to J.B. Handley for taking the time to review Wired Magazine's article in this meat and potatoes post.

By J.B. Handley

Wired Magazine’s recent cover story on autism, written by Amy Wallace, is titled “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All.” (HERE) For any reader hoping for an unbiased, objective discourse on the current state of autism research, the title alone tells you that won’t be happening.

Ms. Wallace’s piece is, in fact, a glowing portrayal of one man, Paul Offit, and his relentless pursuit of the idea that vaccines simply cannot have anything to do with the autism epidemic, since the autism epidemic doesn’t even exist, and vaccines have been proven not to cause autism, and vaccines are much more good than bad, so let’s get on with it already.

As someone who has studied Mr. Offit’s talking points closely for the past 5 years, I was struck by how closely Amy Wallace seemed to echo the points that Offit frequently makes in both the press and medical journals, not only on the specific scientific questions that have and haven’t been answered surrounding many aspects of autism, but even on the more psychoanalytical questions surrounding WHY parents do the things they do (like avoid vaccines). In fact, I can’t find a single original thought or idea in the article from Ms. Wallace that I haven’t previously heard Paul Offit say, nor a single case where her ideas appear to deviate or disagree with any of the positions he takes or has taken in the past: Amy Wallace and Mr. Offit appear to be in perfect harmony.

Ms. Wallace also violates, quite clearly, her own ruminations (which I have heard Offit discuss before) about the reticence required in discourse and debate by true “scientists” that us non-scientists don’t have to abide by: “But researchers, alas, can’t respond with the same forceful certainty that the doubters are able to deploy — not if they’re going to follow the rules of science.” As you will see in a moment, Ms. Wallace’s writing is in fact filled with this “forceful certainty”, starting with the cover of Wired Magazine that states, quite forcefully and most certainly, “Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism.”


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