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Cookie Mag talks to the expert (not plural)

18 Jul

Cookie Magazine has found itself getting a lot more traffic than normal as of late. Amanda Peet was featured and spoke out for vaccines.

Lock the doors! How could someone say vaccines are good!

Well, we all know how people can jump on that subject. All too well. Amanda Peet got her information by talking to an expert of vaccines, Dr. Paul Offit. She was pretty darned lucky to have a connection like that, in my view.

Long story short, after statements, an apology (but not backpedaling!), lots of internet discussion, a threat here and there, Cookie Magazine now has posted some interviews with Dr. Offit (vaccine expert) and, huh?, Dr. Jay Gordon.

Oh, Kay. Dr. Jay, on the same level as Dr. Offit?

Actually, I think I’ll print out the Dr. Offit interview for people with questions. As for Dr. Jay, well, here’s the final quote:

How do you reconcile the notion of not vaccinating with the public health benefit that you mentioned earlier?
I think that the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated. I think that if we spent as much time telling people to breastfeed or to quit eating cheese and ice cream, we’d save more lives than we save with the polio vaccine.

People seem to think there are two sides to this discussion. Yep, there’s preventing disease and stopping people from eating cheese.

Amanda Peet Aplogizes…

17 Jul

…about the word parasite but at the same time, she holds her ground on the issues surrounding vaccines.

She notes that the term “parasites” was “mean and divisive”.

I wanted to address my comment in Cookie magazine that “parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.” I believe in my heart that my use of the word “parasites” was mean and divisive; I completely understand why it offended some parents, and in particular, parents of children with autism who feel that vaccines caused their illness. For this I am truly sorry. Since my mom has Parkinson’s Disease, I know what it feels like to want a concrete cause, and a concrete cure, as soon as possible.

Cookie Magazine deserves the click-through, so go ahead and read the entire statement. Here’s another taste, though:

However, I still believe that the decision not to vaccinate our children bodes for a dangerous future. Vast reductions in immunization will lead to a resurgence of deadly viruses. This is as indisputable as global warming. I know a lot of parents who secretly use as a justification, “Well, enough other people are vaccinating, so therefore, we don’t have to.”

Unfortunately, the apology is not being met well in some circles. I’ve already read people comment that she couldn’t have written that herself. Just a thought here: she graduated from Columbia, not Google U.

I’ve been told recently that it’s really neat how both sides of a story can be told. So, in that spirit, here’s a link to Jenny McCarthy’s apology to Dr. David Tayloe of the AAP and Dr. Harvey Karp, for shouting “bull****” at them on TV. I promise to put it up when I get it. Maybe I missed it.

In searching for a possible Jenny McCarthy apology, I tried a search for jenny mccarthy apology. What I got was a lot of hits to the Amanda Peet apology. Including AutismVox.

Amanda Peet and the Streisand Effect

16 Jul

I had never heard of the “Streisand Effect” until a few months ago. That’s when Clifford Shoemaker subpoenaed.

The basic idea is simple: someone tries to censor or remove some piece of information from the internet, and, instead, the actions cause the information to be much more widely spread than it would have been otherwise.

In the case of the subpoena, many (MANY) people heard about the neurodiversity.com site and, especially, some of the actions of Mr. Shoemaker, than would have happened had the subpoena not been issued.

I was reminded of this phenomenon today when I found that the Amanda Peet story has started to catch on big. Amanda Peet was quoted in Cookie Magazine with a very pro-vaccine stance. She had been scared by…

….the amount of misinformation floating around, particularly in Hollywood

So, what did she do? She asked a medical professional for advice. Dang, what a concept! She was very fortunate that her brother in law is a doctor and, even more luckily, he works at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where Paul Offit works.

Dr. Offit knows vaccines. Not in the, “I’ve read a ton in the internet” version of “knows” vaccines. No, He researches and develops vaccines. He is also a vocal spokesperson against the idea that vaccines cause autism. That, as you can imagine, makes him very unpopular with some segments of the autism community.

So, you can imagine what happened when Amanda Peet came out pro vaccine, against the vaccine-autism connection and stated that she got information from Dr. Offit. Yes, she got the usual hate-filled reception. And make no mistake, I am not downplaying that. I would not be surprised if she, like others before her, have had to forward emails or phone calls to the authorities because they seem threatening.

But, as time goes on, the message isn’t getting quashed. Salon.com picked up the story today and stated,

Now, Peet vs. McCarthy is the celebrity smackdown du jour. Sure, we’d all be better off taking our medical advice from doctors and nurses rather than celebrities. Yet, everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics to Salon columnist Dr. Rahul Parikh has tried to reassure parents that vaccines don’t cause autism. Meanwhile, public health officials worry when public confidence in vaccinations continues to erode, in part because of high-profile celebrity advocacy, like McCarthy’s Green Our Vaccines march and rally held in Washington, D.C., in June.

And, what was that “smackdown du jour”? Looks like E! picked up the story as well.

All these web stories give the usual crowd an opportunity to add comments. The forums and comment sections for those stories are filled with people trashing Amanda Peet. I wish those people would catch a clue–have someone outside the autism community read what they write. The comments are strident, rude and, in general, really make the autism community as a whole look bad. It’s one thing to rant away in a closed yahoo group or in the comment section of the Age of Autism blog, but the public doesn’t know (and I wish they didn’t) just how mean and nasty these “advocacy” groups can be.

This story isn’t going away. Amanda Peet is now a spokesperson for Every Child By Two, a pro-vaccine organization founded by former first lady Rosalynn Carter. (as an aside–the Carters are one of the best ex-first-families the U.S. has seen).

Now that Amanda Peet has come down against the idea that vaccines cause autism, pretty much everything she says will be picked apart and analyzed. One comment that is giving a lot of ammunition to her detractors is this: “Frankly, I feel that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.”

Read the comments and how many people try to make it sound like Amanda Peet is calling autism parents “parasites”. (Hint, she didn’t).

Let’s take a quick look at that term, parasite.

a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

Now, let’s take a look at what Dr. Sears, one of the people often quoted by vaccine rejectionists, has to say about the MMR vaccine:

“I also warn them not to share their fears with other neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

So, he appears to this reader to be telling parents who don’t give the MMR vaccination to their children to keep mum, or the herd immunity will be compromised and the advantage to those parents will be lost.

Sweet. That doesn’t sound like “receiving advantage” without giving anything useful in return, does it?

Don’t get me wrong. For people with real reasons to avoid some or all vaccines (one regular commenter on this blog comes to mind). But, “I am scared of MMR causing autism so I am not going to vaccinate my kid, but I’ll hide in the herd immunity” doesn’t sit very well.

Also, where is the compassion for those who really need the protection of herd immunity? Where is the “Consider that your neighbor’s kids could use the advantage of your child’s immunity”?

But, to bring this back to where we started: Amanda Peet has hit the scene. She has jumped in with both feet, and appears to be staying for a while. A lot of voices appear to be trying to shout her down. Instead, they just seem to be giving Amada Peet’s message more coverage.

Age of Autism get annoyed at Amanda Peet

15 Jul

Remember last week when actress Amanda Peet gave a few people some home truths?

Once we had spoken, I was shocked at the amount of misinformation floating around, particularly in Hollywood,” says Peet, who quickly boned up on the hot-button controversies surrounding the topic, including the unproven link between certain vaccines and autism; the safety of preservatives like mercury-based thimerosal; and the fear that the relatively high number of shots kids receive today can overwhelm young immune systems. Her conclusion? Well, not only is Frankie up-to-date on her vaccines (with no staggering), but her mom will soon appear in public-service announcements for Every Child by Two. “I buy 99 percent organic food for Frankie, and I don’t like to give her medicine or put sunscreen on her,” says Peet. “But now that I’ve done my research, vaccines do not concern me.” What does concern her is the growing number of unvaccinated children who are benefiting from the “shield” created by the inoculated—we are protected from viruses only if everyone, or most everyone, is immunized: “Frankly, I feel that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.”

Well, today, Age of Autism posted a blog entry that gave full vent to their response:

…you have no idea who you are messing with. You have never seen the power of our numbers, our anger, our commitment, and our conviction. At present, you really have no dog in this fight.

Quite apart from the overtly threatening tone, I would like to remind these people that of _course_ Ms Peet has a ‘dog in this fight’. Everyone does. The collective health of us all clearly affects everyone. Parents who blog on Age of Autism and who blog about Gardasil have ‘no dog in that fight’ according to AoA logic.

The blog post contains one amusing little faux pas:

Ms. Peet’s decision to work with them [CDC] is analogous to the scientists in the 1950s who chose to assert that cigarettes do not cause lung cancer and work closely with Philip Morris to do so…

This is the same blog that continues to trumpet the opinion of Bernadine Healy who actually _did_ assert that cigarettes do not cause cancer and worked closely with Philip Morris to do so. Its either stupidity or a purposeful attempt to obfuscate the truth, I couldn’t possibly say.

The blog post closes with the contact details of Ms Peets advisors, along with the further threat:

…your client has chosen to align herself with him [Paul Offit]. In doing so, Ms. Peet puts herself directly in the line of fire.

If you wish to support Ms Peet’s stance, which I believe is a good one for both public health _and_ which will have a positive impact on autism in terms of moving on from this increasingly desperate and nasty campaign to convince the world vaccines cause autism, then please leave a comment in the comments section of this post, or email me (kevleitchATgmailDOTcom).

I can assure you that unlike the emails that will be sent using the details provided by the AoA blog, your comments will definitely be seen by Ms Peet.

Additional: There’s a nice piece on Amanda Peet and vaccines in Salon.com today.

Amanda Peet says it like it is

10 Jul

From Cookiemag.

Peet’s analytical urges are comical when she’s talking about kids’ gear, but not when she’s discussing a subject she feels is among today’s most pressing public-health issues: infant vaccinations. “As soon as I was pregnant, the neuroses kicked in,” says Peet, 36, who is married to screenwriter David Benioff. She began calling her older sister’s husband, a Philadelphia pediatrician, “every five minutes” with all kinds of questions, especially about shots. “I asked him, ‘Why are all of these necessary? Why are some people staggering them?’?” Eventually her brother-in-law arranged a series of phone calls between Peet and his own mentor, Paul Offit, M.D., who is chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, and a board member of Every Child by Two, a pro-vaccine organization cofounded in 1991 by former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

“Once we had spoken, I was shocked at the amount of misinformation floating around, particularly in Hollywood,” says Peet, who quickly boned up on the hot-button controversies surrounding the topic, including the unproven link between certain vaccines and autism; the safety of preservatives like mercury-based thimerosal; and the fear that the relatively high number of shots kids receive today can overwhelm young immune systems. Her conclusion? Well, not only is Frankie up-to-date on her vaccines (with no staggering), but her mom will soon appear in public-service announcements for Every Child by Two. “I buy 99 percent organic food for Frankie, and I don’t like to give her medicine or put sunscreen on her,” says Peet. “But now that I’ve done my research, vaccines do not concern me.” What does concern her is the growing number of unvaccinated children who are benefiting from the “shield” created by the inoculated—we are protected from viruses only if everyone, or most everyone, is immunized: “Frankly, I feel that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.

Amanda Peet