Friday, February 01, 2008

Berate, Guggenheim and ABC: three slimy entities

There's no good reason today to believe that autism spectrum disorders are related to immunization.

Science in general, and clinical science in particular, is very imperfect. Even so, it's all we've got. There are no credible competitors to science for guiding health care and health related decisions.

The answer from the best science we've got is that there's no connection. The strong beliefs of many people has meant that the topic has been very well studied -- probably to the detriment of more promising investigations. Today what was once a plausible hypothesis has become a waste of time and resources. We have better things to do now.

Maybe that situation will change, but today that's what it is.

So, like all scientists and most clinicians, I was very annoyed when I heard about a television show promoting an autism/immunization link. Still, that's what one gets from television. There's a reason I don't watch it.

What took me from annoyance to blogging, however, was this quote from the creators of the TV show:
ABC defends show against outcry by pediatricians: Scientific American:

....ABC said it plans to broadcast the episode without changes, but would run a disclaimer at the opening of the show stating the story is fictional. A message at the end will refer viewers to a CDC Web site for information about autism.

The show's two creators, Greg Berate and Marc Guggenheim, disputed the notion that their show would frighten parents away from vaccines.

'We actually share the concern of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We believe that children should be vaccinated,' Berate told Reuters. But he also said, 'We hope that people do watch the episode and draw their own conclusions.'...
That's slimy. If they really believe that immunizations lead to autism, they should have the courage to say so. If they believe otherwise, then they're cynical slimeballs to have created the show. "Disputing" the notion that the show discourages immunization makes my head explode.

Whatever the explanation, whether they're believers or not, they are definitely slimy -- and so is their network.

I'd boycott ABC, but I already mentioned I don't watch television. Maybe I should watch NBC so I can say I'm boycotting ABC, but that's too terrible to consider.

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