Vaccinations Linked to Autism
These articles are written by medical journalists, politicians, and celebrities whose opinions, personal motives, and sources go unchecked and unquestioned by the general public. Educated reporters realize the public may take their words to heart and responsibly report on the event or issue in a factual manner. Other writers who are either uneducated or blinded by their ulterior motives report in ways that can confuse and misinform the public.
Due to the populations devote faith in the media, if an issue of health is being reported on, whoever is responsible for writing and/or publishing said media, since they cannot be censored, must be held liable for any injury individuals sustain by listening to their advice. Two articles pertaining to the cause of autism in children will show the differences between educated and unsupported reporting and how poor reporting can leave the public at risk and no one to blame.
Carrie Gann is the production assistant for ABC news’ medical unit and earned her undergraduate degree from Emory University in 2006, double-majoring in neuroscience/behavioral biology and journalism. The article she wrote titled “Autistic Brains Have Abnormal Number of Brain Cells, Study Finds” considers a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association comparing the amount of neurons in deceased boys brains to whether or not the boys were autistic. Gann’s article does not at any point express her opinion on any part of the study or the issue at hand.
She simply reports what the study concluded and states very clearly the many variables that could invalidate the study’s results. This style of reporting leaves the reader informed on the study interested in research that will follow and able to develop their own opinions upon it, the report could in no way misinform a reader at Gann’s fault. Gann obviously understands she is not a doctor although she is well educated she still has no right publicizing her opinion on a medical issue. Jenny McCarthy is a Playboy Bunny. Ms. McCarthy’s highest degree is a High School Diploma and has no involvement ever in medical research or study, except that of her own. McCarthy’s article titled “In The Vaccine-Autism Debate, What Can Parents Believe? ” speaks of how a recent publication of the British Medical Journal essentially ended the Vaccine-Autism debate. McCarthy expresses he opinion on this publication questioning the writer and his sources.
Her report contains no medically proven or unproven facts, The scatter brained 13 “paragraphs” she delivers could easily misinform an unwary reader to supporting or acting upon an idea that is medically proven to be fraudulent. Near the end of the article she even states that her son is autistic and she claims she saw him regress after his vaccinations proving her extreme biased which unwary readers would interpret as authority on the issue, and if she sees herself as such, she should be held just as accountable as a doctor the actual authority on the issue should be.
Unfortunately we cannot brush off McCarthy’s article because she is actually the president of an autism awareness organization Generation Rescue. Her fame and status as an “autism activist” makes many people consider her credible, even though the issue she and the rest of Generation Rescue is most active on (the results of Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 repot linking the MMR shot to autism) has been proven fraudulent.
Gann shows us how real reporting is done. When Gann first speaks of the study she is reporting on she says “In the study…scientists investigated the brains of 13 boys from age 2 to 16…” She blatantly states the study’s size and restrictions and later goes on to describe the study’s results as which she describes as “…very preliminary and don’t apply to children and families currently dealing with autism. ”(Gann 1).
Her article exemplifies how non-medical writers should report on issues knowing this we can conclude Gann’s motives as being informative and know her words are clearly not meant to persuade anyone. McCarthy shows us numerous times as we previously mentioned she is writing for no other reason than to try and rally people to her beliefs. She brings up the point “Dr. Wakefield did something I wish all doctors would do: he listened to parents and reported what they said” (McCarthy 2).
This shows that her argument is based her own personal thoughts and nothing else. If we consider what kind of an authority the average non- doctor parent is on autism, we realize that this statement by McCarthy reveals even more flaws in Dr. Wakefield’s report. No parent who is already emotionally compromised by the child’s condition should be considered a medical authority, any parent in such a state would agree with any statement that could give them some scapegoat for why their child must suffer.
This brings about my real problem with McCarthy, if a parent has been following only McCarthy’s side of the debate and decides not to vaccinate their child who is to blame when their child contracts or dies from the diseases said vaccination would’ve prevented? McCarthy would obviously be responsible for the child’s death or illness along with anyone who published her opinions on the topic but legally the blame would not come to them.
Since we as individuals are considered intelligent enough to question what we are reading and who is writing it the blame would fall to us, but the idea of not vaccinating our children wouldn’t have existed without McCarthy’s activism and opinions, especially since Dr. Wakefield’s study has been publically disproved, so how can our society not hold her liable? Gann as an intelligent human understands this accountability a writer should uphold for their words especially when speaking of medical issues.
Her motives are clearly to inform, her sources are well cited, and her opinions are kept to herself. McCarthy’s article is only opinions, her words are clearly out of anger and sadness and unfortunately she’s so misinformed that that anger stems from her strong belief in Dr. Wakefield’s study. Since she is so strongly devoted a fraudulent study she will do anything to get people rallied to her cause convincing the of things that are simply because she believes in them isn’t right all it is, is dangerous.