View Full Version : Perpetuating a Myth

2008-Jan-29, 03:09 PM
Pediatricians: New TV show perpetuates myth (http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/29/pediatricians.tvshow.ap/index.html)

The nation's largest pediatricians' group on Monday said ABC should cancel the first episode of a new series because it perpetuates the myth that vaccines can cause autism.

Amazing... a tv series that perpetuates a myth. I would have never guessed.
Apparently; there is some straw that broke the camel's back.

- The pediatricians have good press or clout?
- it's "for the children"?
- ABC used this letter to gain press exposure?

Infinity Watcher
2008-Jan-29, 07:00 PM
d) all of the above plus a few more?

Without knowing too much about the series I obviously can't comment on whether it should be cancelled or not however I can comment on a few things: like it or lump it the media are in a position of authority, much of what they say will be taken as true.

Secondly reinforcing the vaccines-autism myth is downright dangerous. The big one of course is the recent MMR scare. People think of measles and mumps as mild childhood illnesses like chickenpox which you have feel miserable and go back to playing soldiers, for many this what happened but for others who developed complications, they died or were left severely disabled especially immunocompromised children. The WHO (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/) list encephalitis as occurring in 1 in a 1000 cases although they note that with appropriate treatment severe complications can be avoided . The problem is just how infective the virus is and also issues with heard immunity especially for those children who are immunocompromised. I have to confess I don't know how large an outbreak we have capacity for

I think the paediatricians could well be right to protest after all at BAUT many members do stuff in case a fence sitter comes along. Given that (certainly with the MMR) vaccine there is demonstrated efficacy and no evidence of a link with autism despite repeated studies and bearing in mind the authority that the media wield it does seem reasonable that the be called upon to act responsibly especially since vaccine scares have lead to drops in vaccine uptake (as noted in the article).

I don't wish to appear as though I'm saying that broadcasting this show would be the end of the world as we know it, For starters I am considering the effects of acting in such a way as a "policy" (policy in quotes to avoid implying that such a policy must be intentional it might merely occur accidentally on the basis of what makes a good story), I consider scaremongering to be as irresponsible since it means that people won't take warnings seriously when they come, I'm talking in general terms about the potential dangers associated with conveying the wrong impression about vaccines from a position of authority could present regardless of who does the conveying if it leads to decreased uptake of immunisation. I admit that whilst encephalitis and death is a worst case scenario in a country with a modern health system, I personally consider the risk serious enough that it could not be safely disregarded in the event of an outbreak.

That still sounds like I'm on a bit of a rant doesn't it, I don't mean it that way, all I'm trying to say is that a measles outbreak has the potential to be severe with a distinct possibility of disablement and death resulting and acting in a way that potentially encourages people to act in a way that increases the risk of something similar occurring could be irresponsible if done knowingly or in circumstances where the group doing so should be aware especially when taking into account immunocompromised persons who must rely on herd immunity to avoid contracting the disease.Finally I'll add that I'm picking on measles and the MMR vaccine since that is the incident I am familiar with, I don't know which vaccines are portrayed in the episode.

2008-Jan-29, 08:40 PM
Well, at least somebody's telling the truth about this awful and prevalent myth.
I was vaccinated as a kid, and I'm fine. (Well, a little anti-social, but certainly not autistic.)

2008-Jan-29, 11:16 PM
Well, if you can't trust a fictional lawyer to teach you about science and medicine, who can you trust?

2008-Jan-30, 02:38 PM
Well, if you can't trust a fictional lawyer to teach you about science and medicine, who can you trust?
A fictional doctor? :think:

Dave Mitsky
2008-Jan-30, 02:48 PM
An "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" doctor?

2008-Jan-30, 02:52 PM
A fictional doctor? :think:
what would Perry Cox have to say about this?

Ronald Brak
2008-Jan-30, 04:00 PM
Is the actual TV station doing anything such as having their friendly anchor face appear for 30 seconds before the show and explain there is no connection between vaccines and autism? I mean we had Fat Cat appear on TV for perhaps over a decade and tell children that it was time to go to bed, so it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask TV stations to do that little service in the interests of children.