In response to Wired's slanted profile of Paul Offit

Shame on Amy Wallace and her editors both for their public rellatio (= PR fellatio) of the pharmaceutical industry, masquerading unconvincingly as journalism (Wired Magazine, issue 17.11, “Epidemic of Fear”).

Wallace comes relatively close to the target of actual journalism only once, when she writes, “There is no [conclusive scientific] evidence of a link between autism and vaccines”. But she veers away soon after, never to return again, with her statement that the claim “sounds like equivocation”. The claim actually is equivocation, and rightly so, for logic demands that any claim of scientific knowledge at a given moment also be considered as an acknowledgment of the limits of scientific research at that point in time. That Wallace and her editors ignore this reality is evidenced by the highlighted appearance of the words “Vaccines don’t cause autism” on the cover; had the issue instead hit the newsstands a few millennia earlier, the cover might have read, with equal contemporaneous scientific validity, “The world is flat”.

Having abandoned standards of science, Wallace proceeds to abandon as well that standard of journalism which calls for objectivity in sources. Quite to the contrary, most of Wallace’s sources stand very much to gain financially from the status quo, a fact which, bizzarely, Wallace goes to lengths to indemnify her sources against. But he drives a Toyota Camry, she declares! As though this state of affairs renders the “several million dollars” lump-sum payment plus annual royalties Merck has paid and continues to pay to Offit powerless to taint the man’s objectivity. Wallace might just as well have relied exclusively on interviews with investment bankers for an article on proposed Wall Street pay caps — and then similarly defended their predictable anti-cap stances (but they donate to UNICEF!).

Wallace’s status as Big Pharma fellatist par excellence is cemented by her ironically flaccid defense of the profits that Merck makes from Offit’s vaccine. But Pfizer makes way more money from Lipitor, she slavers! Clearly Wallace has never pondered the notion of a loss-leader (or, more accurately in the case of vaccines, a lower-profit leader): hit ‘em with a good deal (sweetened, of course, with mom-apple-pie-and-baseball marketing) to get ‘em in the store, then keep ‘em in the store for life — ‘cause we’ve got lots of much higher margin stuff to dump on ‘em once they’re inside. Here, of course, the model starts to falter, because most businesses that employ loss leaders keep participation voluntary. Medical and religious freedom be damned, Offit and his ilk hope to force all of us into his massive BigPharmMart, boosted by exactly the sort of dubious metaphors that the forced-vaccine camp employs every day (show me a single reputable public safety professional who doubts the wisdom of using seatbelts; I can refer you to a great many reputable public health professionals, many of them MDs, RNs, and DVMs, who advise their patients against all vaccinations period.)

Wake-up call to the fellatist: The anti-vaccine movement is merely a subset of a much broader movement that considers the symptom suppressing, chronic-disease inducing, profit-driven approach flogged by Big Pharma to be flat-earth science at its worst, perpetuated by an industry that feigns commitment to public health while defending its obscene profits with megabudget ad campaigns plastered with the exact inverse of the “images of sick kids” for which Wallace takes the anti-vaccine movement to task (before hypocritically employing such images numerous times in her defense of Offit).

The entire article begs the onerous question: If the requirements of logic bind science to equivocation in its assessment of the vaccine-autism relationship, then what’s the origin of Wallace’s unequivocal and therefore unscientific certainty? The answer can be found in a paraphrasing of the author’s own words: Pseudo-science and pseudo-journalism alike prey on well-intentioned people like Wallace who, motivated by love for kids, become vulnerable to one of the world’s oldest professions. Enter the medicine man.


Hi Rey - welcome to our world, I hope you'll stay awhile and keep writing!

The flat world fallacy

People who thought the world was flat were relying on anecdotal evidence, and their own flawed perceptions. When the Greeks applied mathematical reasoning they discovered the world wasn't flat after all.

Your vulgarity exposes how lame your response is

Actually, I thought the Wired article effectively took you dangerous psychos to town. I read it, came here to look around, and am pretty horrified at your wingnut assertions. I fear you'll end up hurting the rest of us.

Nicely done. Ironic, in some

Nicely done. Ironic, in some ways, that Trine Tsouderos and her fat-fingered friends at the Tribune will be too busy honing their "journalistic" skills over a box of éclairs to ever read your piece much less puzzle over their place in the overall scheme of things.

The icing is too rich, the long choux pastry filled with cream too dreamy to even contemplate articles of accuracy and merit. Better to quickly fill your belly and orally fixate on the new friends tomorrow may bring. Will it be an advertiser who like Trine, gets all weak in the knees thinking about the possibilities of fat-drenched bacon wrapped shish kebab while sticking it to those veterans who just won't stop demanding medical treatment. Waiter, can I see a desert menu, I’m on deadline.