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Sometimes the mainstream press actually gets it (mostly) right about vaccines

Sometimes, the mainstream press gets it (mostly) right, and Jake Tapper actually got it right in a report on CNN yesterday about Jenny McCarthy’s having been hired by ABC as a regular on The View. Although I don’t like how Jake Tapper describes Generation Rescue as an “autism organization” (it is clearly an antivaccine group), and he perhaps didn’t rebut Jenny’s ludicrous claim that she is “not antivaccine” but rather “pro-safe vaccine” (seriously, he showed McCarthy’s 2008 antivaccine protest in Washington and didn’t even pick the most inflammatory signs as a counterpoint to McCarthy’s disingenuous denials), he got it far more right than wrong. Yes, I can quibble about his not strongly enough rebutting McCarthy’s deluded self-view as somehow not being “antivaccine,” but this is probably about as good as it gets in a mainstream press report: Minimal false balance and a clear message that McCarthy is a dangerous crank more than just someone who holds “controversial” views.

Here’s the report. It’s 3 minutes long and well worth watching:

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

26 replies on “Sometimes the mainstream press actually gets it (mostly) right about vaccines”

What really makes me sad is all the poor animals that are routinely vaccinated without any say in the matter. I bet the rise in autistic dogs, horses, and cattle is dramatic and alarming (I deliberately leave out cats because there’s no way to tell if a cat is autistic).

@ORD – I usually substitute “psychotic” when talking about cats….especially my own.

We can’t tell if our Australian Shepherd is autistic, but after she got her vaccinations, her english language skills failed to develop. My vet totally denies that the vaccinations caused this but I know she’s lying.

@Denice Walter

Mr Tapper is right at the top of Jake’s list, second only to Mnookin.

This week.

@Lawrence – psychotic or sociopathic are the two default conditions of cats and, thus, hardly worth mentioning.

From http://dailyhumour.blogspot.com/2006/12/ruth-or-dimaggio.html :

A guy has a talking dog. He brings it to a talent scout. “This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent. “Okay, Sport,” the guys says to the dog, “what’s on the top of a house?” “Roof!” the dog replies.

“Oh, come on…” the talent agent responds. “All dogs go ‘roof’.”

“No, wait,” the guy says. He asks the dog “what does sandpaper feel like?” “Rough!” the dog answers.

The talent agent gives a condescending blank stare. He is losing his patience.

“No, hang on,” the guy says. “This one will amaze you.”

He turns and asks the dog: “Who, in your opinion, was the greatest baseball player of all time?” “Ruth!” goes the dog. And the talent scout, having seen enough, boots them out of his office onto the street.

And the dog turns to the guy and says “Maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?”

It’s a little off topic but not entirely, since we are talking about the mainstream press and their godawful excuse for science reporting: what do you all think of this little gem? My friend takes this crap and swears by it. It’s like a media trope drinking game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAG_dPzFazw

Your best bet, mediawise, is probably local media, and folks who are scientists need to actually contact them with what they’re working on, or the media is not going to know.

And scientists very rarely do this, whereas quacks do it all the time. I do agree there’s a lot of bad science reporting out there, but scientists need to be willing to publicize their work and contact reporters as well.

Develop a positive relationship with your local media. It’s not that hard; just pick someone’s stuff that you think sounds good and call him or her on the phone, or email them.

There’s a lot of bad science reporting out there, but there are also a lot of good reporters who want to do a good job with scientific stories.

I know this because I am one of them; science is actually one of my favorite topics to write about because it is very challenging, and done right it may not be sensational and sexy but it is always tremendously interesting.

“This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent.

One of the cats at Maison d’Etre — part-Maine Coon, I suspect — can say a few important words like “Moooorrre!” and “Nowww!” We frequently have conversations like “Did the Frau Doktorin remember to feed you?” “Nooo!”

Remember how Glenn Beck was eventually let go by Fox News when an online campaign persuaded his commercial sponsors to drop him? Is there some way we would organize a similar boycott until Jenny McCarthy leaves “The View”?

@SkepticalSlug – my lab started what can only be described as “stimming” after vaccinations she received at 18 months.. She started running round in circles and chasing her tail. She remained non-verbal, but for the words “No” and “Mam”, until her death at 15

Speaking as a non-professional who uses the Internet (which of course makes me more of an expert than anyone who like, studies that stuff, y’know), cats are neither psychotic nor sociopathic.

They’re narcissists.

My mom’s cat used to speak English. She would say “Feed me” when she was hungry. (Actually, it was more like “Feeeeeeeeeeeeeed meeeeeeeee”.)

Mrs Spat, being of the Maine-Coonish persuasion, is fond of sitting out in the rain. Eventually the moisture seeps though her many layers of fur coat, and she realises that this isn’t such a good idea after all, at which point she comes inside shouting for ‘Towellll Nowww!”

Nah…my mother’s cat, an albino, totally deaf, and with one blue eye and one brown eye, was psychotic. “Crazy Cat” was an attack cat who would taking flying leaps from across the room to attack everyone, including my mom

My husband always had a treat for Crazy Cat…some scrap of meat that he would toss into my mother’s utility closet to lock the cat away during out visits.

Actually, I think vaccination has the positive effect of neutralising some of my cats’ overtly psychotic behaviour for a while.
It’s either that or they’re plotting revenge for the indignity of a vet visit.

Reserve Cat likes to go to the vet. She gives him gushy food.

(Of course, Reserve Cat thinks he’s a dog, so I’m not sure he’s a valid example. Primary Cat *knows* she’s a cat, and conducts herself accordingly).

my lab started what can only be described as “stimming” after vaccinations she received at 18 months.

Cat the Younger is effectively nonverbal postvaccination. He can only croak out an “acch” once in a while.

lilady I wonder what it is about albino psycho kitties? My last cat was an albino (oddly not deaf) and his name was “Blitzkrieg.” It was not a comment on his colour.

Speaking of cats, my family used to own a grey tabby with black stripes. Her paw pads were black, so we think she was part wildcat. We called her “Mischief”. It was less a name than a descriptor.

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