Ï The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear (English Edition) Å Download by ✓ Seth Mnookin

Ï The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear (English Edition) Å Download by ✓ Seth Mnookin INTRODUCTIONOn April , , Kelly Lacek Looked Around Her Dinner Table And Smiled Dan, Her Husband Of Thirteen Years, Was There, Along With The Couples Three Children, Ashley, Stephen, And Matthew Kellys Parents Had Also Come Over There Was A Father Daughter Dance At The Local Church That Evening, And Kelly And Her Dad Were Double Dating With Dan And Ashley As The Four Of Them Were Getting Ready To Leave, Kelly Couldnt Resist Needling Her Mother Youre Stuck With The Boys, She Said But Dont Worrywe Wont Be Out Too Late She Kissed Stephen Goodbye, And Then Bent Down To Say Good Night To Matthew He Was Three Years Old, And Kelly Marveled At How Quickly He Was Growing Up It Seemed As If It Was Only Moments Ago That Hed Been An Infant, And Now He Was Already Being Toilet Trained Dan And Kelly Both Agreed That It Was Adorable How Proudly He Announced That He Had To Go To The Bathroom For A Brief Moment, Kelly Says, She Wondered If Matthew Was Okayhe Seemed A Little Out Of Sorts, And Earlier That Afternoon, Hed Complained Of A Sore Throatbut Then She Figured Hed Probably Just Tired Himself Out Wrestling With His Older BrotherKelly And Dan Returned Home That Night Around Eight Oclock Theyd Barely Walked In The Door When Kellys Mother Rushed Over Its Matthew, She Said Hes Running A Feverand His Breathing Seems A Little Shallow The Laceks Realized Right Away That Something Was Seriously Wrong He Was Just Sort Of Hunched Over, Kelly Says We Didnt Know What To Do Since There Was No Way To Get In Touch With Matthews Doctor, They Decided To Make The Ten Minute Drive From Their Home In Monroeville, About Fifteen Miles East Of Pittsburgh, To The Forbes Regional Campus Of The Western Pennsylvania HospitalWhen The Laceks Arrived At The Emergency Room, The Attending Physician Told Them There Was Nothing To Worry About In All Likelihood, He Said, Matthew Had A Case Of Strep Throat Worst Case Scenario, It Was Asthma Regardless, Theyd Be Home In No Time Two Hours Later, They Were Feeling Much Less Assured Matthews Fever Was Still Rising, And When A Doctor Tried To Swab His Throat, He Began To Choke By Eleven Pm Matthews Temperature Had Risen ToDegrees And His Breathing Seemed To Be Growing Shallower By The MinuteIt Was Around That Time That A Doctor The Laceks Hadnt Met Before Walked Over He Was Olderprobably In His Sixties, Kelly Thoughtand As Soon As He Saw Matthew, He Began To Suck Nervously On His Teeth He Turned To The Laceks Had Matthew Received All His Shots Actually, Kelly Said, He Hadnt Matthew Had Been Born In March , Several Years After Rumors Of A Connection Between Autism And Vaccines Had Begun To Gain Traction In Suburban Enclaves Around The Country That May, Kellys Chiropractor Warned Her About The Dangers Of Vaccines He Asked If We Were Going To Get Matthew Vaccinated And I Said Yes, Kelly Says And Then He Told Me About Mercury He Said, Theres Mercury In There Kelly Had Already Heard Rumors That The Combined Measles Mumps Rubella MMR Vaccine Was Dangerous, But This Was Something New He Was Really Vocal About It Causing Autism He Said There Was This Big Report Over In Europe And Blah Blah Blah And I Thought, Well, Im Surrounded By People Who Have Autistic Children What If This Happened To Matthew If Kelly Was Unconvinced, The Chiropractor Said, She Should Make Matthews Pediatrician Prove To Her That The Vaccines Matthew Was Scheduled To Receive Were One Hundred Percent SafeSo Thats What I Did, Kelly Says I Asked My Doctor If She Could Give Me A Label That Says Theres No Mercury And She Said, No She Said She Wouldnt Give It To Me It Was As If, Kelly Says, Her Pediatrician Was Hiding Something The Doctor Tried To Tell Kelly That She Would Be Putting Matthew At Serious Risk By Not Immunizing Him, But, Kelly Says, I Dont Think I Heard Anything Else She Might Have Said, Quite Honestly At That Point I Had Lost FaithFrom That Day Forward, Matthew Didnt Receive Any Of His Scheduled Vaccinations, Including One For A Bacterial Disease Called Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, Or Hib Oftentimes, A Hib Infection Is Not Particularly Threateningif The Germs Stay In The Nose And Throat, Its Likely The Child Wont Get Sick At Allbut If The Infection Travels Into The Lungs Or The Bloodstream, It Can Result In Hearing Loss Or Permanent Brain Damage Hib Can Also Cause Severe Swelling In The Throat Due To A Condition Called Epiglottitis, Which, If Not Treated Immediately, Results In Infected Tissue Slowly Sealing Off The Victims Windpipe Until He Suffocates To Death As Recently As The S, Tens Of Thousands Of Children In America Had Severe Hib Infections Each Year Many Of Those Suffered From Bacterial Meningitis, And Between Five Hundred And One Thousand Died After The Hib Vaccine Was Put Into Widespread Use, The Disease All But Disappeared In The United States In , ApproximatelyIn , Children Caught Hib Today, Fewer ThanIn , Do In Fact, The Immunization Had Been So Effective That Out Of Everyone Working In The Monroeville ER, The Doctor Whod Asked Kelly Lacek About Her Sons Vaccine History Was The Only One Who Had Been Practicing Long Enough To Have Seen An Actual Hib Infection In A ChildUntil That Night, Kelly Had Never Given Much Thought To The Potential Repercussions Of Her Decision Not To Have Matthew Vaccinated I Must Have read Somewhere That After He Turned Three, He Would Have Been Okay For Many Of Those Diseases, She Says I Thought He Was In The Clear She Was Wrong I Have Never Seen A Doctor Panic So Quickly, She Says If, As The Doctor Was All But Certain Was The Case, Matthew Had Been Infected, Then Everything That Had Been Done To Him In The Hospital That Nightthe Examinations, The Swabs, The Breathing Treatmentshad Served Only To Further Inflame His Throat It Wasnt Until Kelly Saw Her Sons X Rays That She Realized Just How Dire The Situation Was It Looked As If Matthew Had A Thumb Lodged In His Throat I Started To Shake, Kelly Says There Was Just A Tiny Bit Of Airway Left For Him To BreatheWithin Minutes, The Entire Emergency Room Was Thrown Into A Frenzy Kelly Heard Someone Shout Out, Page Childrens Then She Heard A Second Command Get Life Flight Here Right Away Finally, A Doctor Pulled The Laceks Aside And Explained The Situation To Them If We Dont Get Matthew On A Helicopter To The Childrens Hospital In Pittsburgh Right Now, Your Son Is Probably Going To Die, He Said It Could Be Within Minutes While They Were Waiting, The Doctor Said, Kelly Had To Make Sure Matthew Remained Calm I Do Not Want You Crying, The Doctor Said I Do Not Want You Reacting To Anything If You Are Upset, Matthew Will Be Upset, And That Will Make His Throat Close UpIf That Happens He Will Suffocate As If In A Daze, Kelly Went And Picked Up Her Son It Wasnt Until She Heard Her Teeth Chattering That She Realized She Was Shaking She Focused All Her Energy On Trying To Remain StillWhile Kelly Was Holding Matthew, Dan Lacek Was Conferring With The Hospital Staff It Had Rained Earlier In The Evening, And Now The Entire Area Was Covered In Fog, Which Made It Too Dangerous To Land A Helicopter Matthew Was Going To Have To Make The Trip To Pittsburgh In An Ambulancebut Before He Could Be Moved, Hed Have To Be Intubated If That Didnt Workif There Was Not Enough Room In Matthews Throat For A Breathing Tubethe Doctors Would Try To Perform A Tracheotomy, Which Involves Cutting Into The Windpipe In An Effort To Form An Alternate Pathway For Air To Get Into The Lungs The Procedure Is Not Without Risk The Physicist Stephen Hawking Lost His Speech When The Nerves That Control The Vocal Cords Were Damaged During An Emergency Tracheotomy Once Again, It Fell To Kelly To Keep Her Son Calm Fortunately, The Tube Slid Down Matthews Throat Unless It Closed Up So Much That The Tube Was Forced Out, Theyd Bought Themselves A FewhoursIt Was Almost Four In The Morning When The Laceks Arrived In Pittsburgh Matthew Was Immediately Placed In A Medically Induced Coma All The Doctors Could Promise Was That Hed Live Through The Night They Said Something About Not Catching It Quickly Enough With The Antibiotics, Kelly Says Even If He Did Recover, There Was A Good Chance He Would Have Permanent Brain Damage, Or, Best Case Scenario, He Would Have Hearing LossFor Forty Eight Hours, Dan And Kelly Laceks Son Remained In Stable Condition Youre In Shock, Kelly Says You Never Let Your Guard Down Youre Just So Focused On Him Getting Better Then, On Tuesday, Just As They Were Growinghopeful, Matthews Blood Pressure Plummeted The Only Thing The Laceks Could Think To Do At That Point Was To Ask Their Friends To Pray For ThemWhen Kelly Laceks Chiropractor Told Her That Vaccines Had Been Linked To Autism, He Was Repeating The Most Recent Of Hundreds Of Years Worth Of Fears About Vaccinations The Roots Of This Latest Alarm Dated Back To , When A British Gastroenterologist Named Andrew Wakefield Claimed To Have Discovered A New Gut Disorder Associated With The MMR Vaccineand With Autism Wakefield Based His Conclusions On A Case Study Of A Dozen Children Whod Been Brought To His Clinic At The Royal Free Hospital In London Almost Immediately, Wakefields Research Methods And His Interpretations, Which Had Been Published In The Medical Journal The Lancet, Came Under Fire Wakefields Response Was To Appeal To The Public Rather Than To His Colleagues The Medical Establishment Was So Determined To Discredit Him, He Said, Because He Threatened Their Hegemony By Taking Parents Concerns Seriously The Media Took The Bait, And Despite Wakefields Lack Of Proof And His Track Record Of Dubious Assertions And Unverified Lab Results, They Began Churning Out Stories About How A Maverick Doctor Was Trying To Protect Innocent Children From Corrupt Politicians And A Rapacious Pharmaceutical Industry Within Months, Vaccination Rates Across Western Europe Began To FallThen, A Year Later, The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention CDC And The American Academy Of Pediatrics AAP Publicly Recommended The Removal Of A Widely Used Mercury Based Preservative Called Thimerosal From Childhood Shots The Move Had Been Hotly Debated In The End, One Of The Factors That Had Tipped The Balance Was A Concern That Following The Wakefield Brouhaha, Any Connection, Real Or Rud, Between Vaccines And Neurodevelopmental Disorders Had A Chance Of Unraveling Public Confidence In VaccinesThat Fear Proved To Be Well Founded, In No Small Part Because Of The Growing Hold Autism Had On The Publics Consciousness In The Half Century Since Infantile Autism Had Been Defined As A Discrete Medical Condition, It Had Gone From Being A Source Of Shame For Parents, Who Were Blamed For Their Childrens Conditions, To Becoming A Seemingly Omnipresent Concern, Especially Among Those Well Educated, Upper Middle Class Families For Whom Child Rearing Had Become An All Encompassing ObsessionIn Spite Of This Increased Attention, Researchers In The S Were Barely Any Closer To Understanding Autisms Origins Or Devising Effective Therapies For Its Treatment Than Their Predecessors Had Been Fifty Years Earlier For Parents Of Autistic Children, This Lack Of Reliable Information Resulted In Feelings Of Hopelessness And Frustration For Parents In General Trying To Determine The Best Course Of Action For The Future, It Fueled A Sense That Medical Experts And Health Authorities Couldnt Be Counted On To Look Out For Their Families Well BeingTogether, These Reactions Prepared The Ground For New Hypotheses To Take Root, Regardless Of How Speculative Or Scientifically Dubious They Were In The Year Following The CDC AAP Recommendations Regarding Thimerosal, A Small Group Of Parents Decided That Some Of The Symptoms Of Mercury Poisoning Seemed To Match The Behavior They Saw In Their Autistic Childrenand They Suddenly Realized That Their Children Had Appeared To Be Fine Before Theyd Received Their Vaccines These Parents Began Posting Their Observations Online, Sparking Hundredsparents To Confirm That Theyd Noticed The Exact Same Thing With A Network Of Nontraditional Doctors And Alternative Health Practitioners Urging Them On, They Becameandconvinced That The Common Threads That Ran Through Their Stories Were Too Odd And Too Widespread To Be Mere HappenstanceThethese Newly Politicized Parents Learned, Theoutraged They Became Why Were Children With Weak Immune Systems Injected With Vaccines Just As Potent As Those Used On Children In Perfect Health Why Was Everyone Instructed To Receive The Same Number Of Inoculations, Regardless Of Their Medical Histories Or Family Backgrounds Why, For That Matter, Wereandshots Being Added All The Time Was A Chicken Pox Vaccine Really Necessary Or One For The Flu Just As Had Been The Case With The MMR Vaccine, There Was No Concrete Evidence Linking Thimerosal To Autism, And The Anecdotal Corroboration Often Seemedimpressive Than It Actually Was To Take But One Example Despite Superficial Similarities, The Motor Difficulties Exhibited By People With Mercury Poisoning Bear Little Resemblance To The Repetitive Movements Typical Of Autistics That Didnt Stop The American Media From Reacting Much The Same Way Their Colleagues Across The Atlantic Had When Andrew Wakefield Had Published His Assertions, As The Emotional Pull Of Stories Featuring Sick Children And Devoted Parents Outstripped Anything As Boring As Hard Data Or The Precautionary Principle In A Matter Of Months, An Ad Hoc Coalition Of Mercury Moms Transformed Itself Into A Potent Political Force Senators Spoke At Their Rallies, Public Health Officials Tried To Assuage Their Concerns, And Federal Agencies Included Them In Discussions On How To Spend Tens Of Millions Of Dollars Soon, Vaccination Rates Began To Fall In The United States As WellBy The Beginning Of The New Millennium, Wakefields Supporters And The Proponents Of The Thimerosal Link Had Joined Forces To Create An International Cadre Of Vaccine Skeptics Whose Message Had An Undeniable Appeal Parents Trying To Do Nothing So Much As Raise Their Children Had Been Taken Advantage Of By A Society They Had Trustedand Now They Were Determined To Make It Right Over The Past Two Decades, The Instant Accessibility Of Information Has Dramatically Reshaped Our Relationship To The World Of Knowledge Five Hundred Years After Gutenbergs Introduction Of The Printing Press And Martin Luthers Translation Of The Bible Let Common People Bypass The Priestly Class, The Vernacular Of Twenty Four Hour News Channels And Internet Search Engines Is Freeing Us To Take On Tasks That Wed Long Assumed Were Limited To Those With Specialized Training Why, After All, Should We Pay Commissions To Real Estate Brokers Or Stock Analysts When We Can Find Online Everything We Need To Sell Our Houses Or Manage Our Investments And Why Should We Blindly Follow Doctors When We Can Diagnose Our Own Ailments One Of The First Effects Of This Hyper Democratization Of Data Was To Unmoor Information From The Context Required To Understand It On The Internet, Facts Float About Freely And Are Recombinedaccording To The Preferences Of Intuition Than The Rules Of Cognition Mercury Is Toxic, Toxins Can Cause Development Disorders, Mercury Is In Vaccines Ergo, Vaccines Cause Autism Combined With The Self Reinforcing Nature Of Online Communities And A Content Starved, Cash Poor Journalistic Culture That Gravitates Toward Neat Narratives At The Expense Of Messy Truths, This Disdain For Actualities Has Led To A World With Increasingly Porous Boundaries Between Facts And Beliefs, A World In Which Individualized Notions Of Reality, No Matter How Bizarre Or Irrational, Are Repeatedly ValidatedTake The Birther Movement, Which Contends That Barack Obama Was Born In Kenya And Therefore Is Not Eligible To Be President In The Summer Of , Orly Taitz, A Russian Born Dentist Lawyer Real Estate Agent, Almost Single Handedly Turned Her One Woman Media Blitz Into A National Preoccupation Taitz, Who Believes That The Federal Emergency Management Agency Is Building Internment Camps To House Anti Obama Activists And That Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez Controls The Software That Runs American Voting Machines, Makes For Undeniably Good Television She Looks Like A Young Carol Channing, Sounds Like An Overexcited Zsa Zsa Gabor, And Has The Ability To Make Absurd Accusations With A Completely Straight Face By Midsummer, Taitz Was Appearing Regularly On CNN, Fox News, And MSNBC, A Decision The News Channels Justified With The Risible Pretext Of Needing To Be Fair To Those On Both Sides Of An Issue About Which There Was Nothing Up For Debateat Least Not In The Real World Before Long, Mainstream On Air Personalities Like Lou Dobbs Were Pimping The Story As Hard As Taitz Or Any Of Her Allies Were, To Equally Comical EffectThis Type Of Cognitive Relativismor Truthiness, As Fictional Talk Show Host Stephen Colbert Termed Ithas Become The Defining Intellectual Trend Of Our Time Colbert Coined Truthiness As A Way To Define Former President George W Bushs Disdain For Those Who Think With Their Head As Opposed To Those Who Know With Their Heart Its Pervasiveness Was Most Tragically Illustrated In Iraq By Inventing A Set Of Facts To Support The Overthrow Of Saddam Hussein, The Bush Administration Changed A Discussion Of Whether Iraq Had Weapons Of Mass Destruction To Whether The Theoretical Presence Of WMDs Was Sufficient Justification For War In The Fall Of , After Both WMDs And Easy Victory Were Revealed As Mirages, A Presidential Aide Made An Astounding Admission To The New York Times Magazine The White House, He Said, Didnt Waste Time Worrying About Those In What We Call The Reality Based Community Who Believe That Solutions Emerge From Your Judicious Study Of Discernible Reality That, The Aide Said, Is Not The Way The World Really Works Any When We Act, We Create Our Own Reality Orly Taitz Couldnt Have Put It Any Better HerselfMy Interest In The Controversies Surrounding Childhood Inoculations Began InMy Wife And I Were Newly Married, And Though We Didnt Yet Have Children, We Found Ourselves Initiates In A Culture In Which People Obsessed Over Issues About Which Wed Previously Been Unaware, Such As The Political Implications Of Disposable Diapers And The Merits Of Home Births Another Common Preoccupation, We Discovered, Was The Fear That Widespread Fraud Was Being Perpetrated By The Medical Establishment These People Were Our Peers They Gravitated Toward Fields Like Journalism Or Law Or Computer Programming Or Public Policy They Lived In College Towns Like Ann Arbor And Austin Or Sophisticated Urban Centers Like Boston And Brooklyn They Drove Priuses And Shopped At Whole Foods They Tended To Be Self Satisfied, Found It Difficult To Conceive Of A World In Which Their Voices Were Not Heard, And Took Pride In Being Intellectually Curious, Thoughtful, And RationalAnd, We Soon Learned, A Good Number Of Them Didnt Trust The American Medical Association AMA Or The American Academy Of Pediatricsor At Least Didnt Trust Them Enough To Adhere To Their Recommended Immunization Schedules, Which Included Vaccinations For Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Hib, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Pneumococcal, Poliovirus, Rotavirus, Rubella, And Tetanus, All In The First Fifteen Months Of A Childs Life This Caught Us By Surprise The AAP Wasnt High On The List Of Organizations We Thought Likely To Be Part Of A Widespread Conspiracy Directed Against The Nations ChildrenThat Fall, We Were At A Dinner Party When The Subject Of Vaccines Came Up For What Felt Like The Millionth Time I Asked The Parents At The Table How They Went About Making Decisions Concerning Their Childrens Health Did They Talk To Their Pediatricians Other Parents Were They Reading books Poking Around Online One Friend, A Forty One Year Old First Time Father, Said There Was So Much Conflicting Information Out There He Hadnt Known What To Do In The End, He Said, He And His Wife Decided To Delay Some Shots, Including The Ones For The MMR Vaccine, Which Hed Heard Was Particularly Dangerous I Dont Know What To Say, He Told Me It Just Feels Like A Lot For A Developing Immune System To Deal WithAt The Time, I Had No Idea What The Evidence Supported Still, I Cringed When My Friend Said Hed Made His Decision Based On What He Felt Rather Than By Trying To Assess The Balance Of The Available Evidence Anecdotes And Suppositions, No Matter How Right They Feel, Dont Lead To Universal Truths Experiments That Can Be Independently Confirmed By Impartial Observers Do Intuition Leads To The Flat Earth Society And Bloodletting Experiments Lead To Men On The Moon And MicrosurgeryTheI Pushed My Friend, Thedefensive He Grew Surely, I Said, There Had To Be Something Tangible, Some Experiment Or Some Epidemiological Survey, That Informed His Decision There Wasnt I Was Eventaken Aback When He Said He Likely Would Have Done The Same Thing Even If Hed Been Presented With Conclusive Evidence That The MMR Vaccine Was Safe Lets Say That There Havent Been Any Studies That Have Uncovered A Problem, He Said That Doesnt Mean They Wont Find One Someday He Was, Of Course, Technically Correct It Is Always Impossible To Prove A Negative Thats Why Gravity Is Still A Theoryand Why You Cant Prove With Absolute Certainty That I Wont Wake Up Tomorrow With The Ability To Fly As Einstein Said, No Amount Of Experimentation Can Ever Prove Me Right A Single Experiment Can Prove Me Wrong Finally, He Offered Up This Rationalization If Everyone Agreed That Vaccines Are So Safe, We Wouldnt Even Be Having This Discussion By That Point, My Wife Was Kicking Me Under The Table I Let The Subject DropBut When I Got Home That Night I Couldnt Stop Thinking About That Conversation The Issue Didnt Affect Me Directly No One Close To Me Had A Personal Connection With Autism And I Didnt Know Any Vaccinologists Or Government Health Officials What Nagged At Me, I Realized, Was The Pervasiveness Of A Manner Of Thinking That Ran Counter To The Principles Of Deductive Reasoning That Have Been The Foundation Of Rational Society Since The EnlightenmentI Began Work On This Book The Next Day After Reading Hundreds Of Academic Papers And Thousands Of Pages Of Court Transcripts, I Couldnt Help But Agree With A Federal Judge Who Presided Over An Omnibus Proceeding In Which Thousands Of Families With Autistic Children Requested Compensation For What They Claimed Were Vaccine Injuries This Was Not A Close CaseOnce Id Arrived At The Conclusion That There Was No Evidence Supporting A Link Between Childhood Inoculations And Developmental Disorders, I Had To Confront A Set Of Issues That Get To The Heart Of Social Dynamics And Human Cognition Why, Despite All The Evidence To The Contrary, Do So Many People Remain Adamant In Their Belief That Vaccines Are Responsible For Harming Hundreds Of Thousands Of Otherwise Healthy Children Why Is The Media So Inclined To Air Their Views Why Are So Many Others So Readily Convinced Why, In Other Words, Are We Willing To Believe Things That Are, According To All Available Evidence, False In An Effort To Answer Those Questions, I Interviewed Scientists And Doctors, Healers And Mystics, Government Appointees And Elected Officials I Also Spoke With Dozens Of Parents Who Watched Helplessly As Their Autistic Children Were Enveloped By Worlds Outsiders Could Not Penetrate Some Of These Children Were In Obvious Physical Pain, Some Were Sullen And Unresponsive, Some Were Violent And Uncontrollable, And Some Moved From One Extreme To Another The Suffering Of Parents Who Feel Unable To Protect Their Children Is Almost Impossible To Describeand Helplessness Only Begins To Cover The Range Of Emotions They Endured There Was Guilt Despite Everything They Were Told, It Was Impossible For Some Parents To Fully Rid Themselves Of A Feeling That Somehow Their Childs Condition Was Their Fault There Was Resentment Many Were Tired Of Having Their Lives Taken Over By A Disease About Which So Little Is Known And So Little Can Be Done There Was Bitterness How Could A Society That Propped Up Foreign Governments And Bailed Out Failing Banks Not Pay For Adequate Services For Disabled Children And There Was Anger Surely Someone Or Something Was To Blame For The Ways In Which Their Lives Had Been UpendedButthan Anything Else, Parents Spoke Of Their Isolation Those Split Seconds Of Synchronicity That Freckle Peoples Daysthe Half Smile A New Mom Gives A Pregnant Woman On The Street, The Glance Shared By Two Strangers Reading The Same Book On The Subwaythose Are Missing From A Lot Of These Parents Lives Those With Children On Theextreme End Of The Autism Spectrum Tend To Feel The Most Alone There Are No Knowing Winks When A Child Wont Stop Screaming, No Ive Been There Grins When He Defecates In Public No One Thinks Its Cute When A Child Scratches His Mother Until She Bleeds And Strangers Dont Chuckle When A Ten Year Old Wants To Know Why The Woman Who Just Got On The Bus Is So FatThis Sense Of Being Cut Off From The World Helps To Explain Why Tens Of Thousands Of Parents Have Gravitated To A Close Knit Community That Stretches Around The Globe The Fact That The Communitys Most Vocal And Active Members Believe That Vaccines Cause Autism And That Autism Can Be Cured By Biomedical Treatments Like Gluten Free Diets And Hormone Injections Is Of Secondary Importancewhats Paramount Is The Sense Of Fellowship And Support Its Members Receive Every Spring, Between Fifteen Hundred And Two Thousand Of These Parents Travel To Chicagos Westin OHare Hotel For The Annual Conference Of A Grassroots Organization Called AutismOne, Which Claims To Be The Single Largest Producer Of Information About The Disorder In The World For Those Three Or Four Days, The Dynamic That Shapes Many Of These Parents Lives Is Turned On Its Head Here, Its People Whose Lives Havent Been Affected By Autism Who Feel Out Of PlaceIn Order To Protect This Space, AutismOne Discourages Outsiders From Attending In Incidents Over The Past Several Years, The Organization Has Barred Journalists Identified As Unsympathetic, Kicked Out Parents Who Were Perceived As Being Impertinent, And Asked Security To Remove A Public Health Official This Gatekeeping Is Severe But The Worry Behind Itthat Only People With A Vested Interest In The Organizations Survival Can Be Trusted To Take A Generous View Of Its Beliefsis Not Misplaced Even After I Was Granted Permission To Attend One Of The Groups Conferences, I Always Had The Feeling That My Temporary Visa Did Not Come With The Right To Ask About The Apparent Contradictions Highlighted By The Weekends ProceedingsThe Most Obvious Of These Is The Insistence By AutismOnes Founders That They Promote A Pro Science And Not An Anti Vaccine Agenda, A Claim That Is Hard To Reconcile With The Groups Mission Statement The Great Majority Of Children Suffering From Autism Regressed Into Autism After Routine Vaccination Autism Is Caused By Too Many Vaccines Given Too Soon If Anything, The Conferences Speakers Have Becomeextreme As An Ever Growing Body Of Evidence Disproves Their Claims Included Among ThePresentations At The Conference I Attended Was A Four Hour Long Vaccine Education Seminar, A Lecture On Autism And Vaccines In The US Legal System , An Environmental Symposium On The Toxic Assault On Our Children, And A Presentation On Down Syndrome, Vaccinations, And Genetic Susceptibility To Injury During Her Talk, Barbara Loe Fisher, The Grande Dame Of The American Anti Vaccine Movement, Explained How Vaccines Are A De Facto Selection Of The Genetically Vulnerable For Sacrifice And Said That Doctors Who Administer Vaccines Are The Moral Equivalent Of The Doctors Tried At Nuremberg That Parallel, She Said, Had Been Pointed Out To Her By Andrew Wakefield, In Whose Honor TheConference Was Held One Night, There Was The Premiere Of A Documentary Called Shots In The Dark, Which Examined Current Large Scale Vaccination Policies In Light Of The Onset Of Side Effects Such As Autism Or Multiple Sclerosis This List Could Go On For PagesIf You Assume, As I Had, That Human Beings Are Fundamentally Logical Creatures, This Obsessive Preoccupation With A Theory That Has For All Intents And Purposes Been Disproved Is Hard To Fathom But When It Comes To Decisions Around Emotionally Charged Topics, Logic Often Takes A Back Seat To What Are Called Cognitive Biasesessentially A Set Of Unconscious Mechanisms That Convince Us That It Is Our Feelings About A Situation And Not The Facts That Represent The Truth One Of The Better Known Of These Biases Is The Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance, Which Was Developed By The Social Psychologist Leon Festinger In The S In His Classic Book When Prophecy Fails, Festinger Used The Example Of Millennial Cults In The Days After The Prophesied Moment Of Reckoning As An Illustration Of Disconfirmed Expectations Producing Counterintuitive Results Suppose An Individual Believes Something With His Whole Heart Suppose Further That He Has A Commitment To This Belief, That He Has Taken Irrevocable Actions Because Of It Finally, Suppose That He Is Presented With Evidence, Unequivocal And Undeniable Evidence, That His Belief Is Wrong What Will Happen The Individual Will Frequently Emerge, Not Only Unshaken, But Evenconvinced Of The Truth Of His Beliefs Than Ever Before Indeed, He May Show A New Fervor About Convincing And Converting Other People To His ViewIn This Light, Another Seeming Paradox Of The Anti Vaccine Movementits Extreme Paranoia About Ulterior Motives On The Part Of Anyone Promoting Vaccination Combined With An Almost Willful Blindness To The Conflicts Of Interest Of The Profiteers In Their Midstalso Makessense In A Speech Delivered At Eight In The Morning Of The First Full Day Of The Conference I Attended, Lisa Ackerman, The Head Of A Group Called Talk About Curing Autism TACA , Ran Through A Long List Of Things Parents Need To Do For Their Children, Including Testing For Mineral Deficiencies, Installing Water Filtration Systems, Eating Organic Chickens, And Throwing Out All Flame Retardant Clothing, Mattresses, And Carpeting If You Buy Clothes And Pajamas From Target And Wal Mart, Almost All Of Those Have A Flame Retardant Applied, She Said If Youre Building Or Doing Home Improvement, Thats Like The Biggest Toxic Exposure You Can Give A Child New Carpets Are One Of The Worst Things You Can Do Sorry If You Just Did It Ackerman Also Talked About Supplementation And Nutritional Therapies, Including Vitamin B Shots In The Buttocks And Antioxidant IVs, And Described A Range Of Other Alternative Treatments, Many Of Which Were Available From The Eighty Plus Vendors Whod Set Up Shop In One Of The Hotels Exhibition Halls According To Ackerman, Twenty Second Treatments In One Of The Types Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber For SaleTheyre Not Just For People Like Michael Jackson Theyre Really Cool Had Transformed Her Son From A Caveman Into A Verbal Child Capable Of Having Normal Conversations The Following Afternoon, The Father Son Team Of Mark And David Geier Stood On Stage In The Same Lecture Hall For The First Of Their Two Presentations On New Insights Into The Underlying Biochemistry Of Autism The Most Recent Insight Of The Geiers, Whove Been Stalwarts Of The Anti Vaccine Movement For Decades, Involved A Treatment Called The Lupron Protocol, Which Is Based On A Theory So Odd It Sounds Like A Joke Autism, The Geiers Were Claiming, Is The Result Of A Pathological Reaction Between Mercury And Testosterone, And Lupron, An Injectable Drug Used To Chemically Castrate Sex Offenders, Is The Cure Before Determining Whether Patients Are Candidates For Their Protocol, The Geiers Order Up Dozens Of Lab Tests At A Cost Ofthan , The Treatment Itself, Which Consists Of Daily Injections And Bimonthly Deep Tissue Shots, Can Run Upward Of , A Year It Also Is Excruciatingly Painful In An Article In The Chicago Tribune, An Acolyte Of The Geiers Described Giving A Shot To One Child His Dad Is A Big Guy Like Myself, And It Took Both Of Us To Hold Him Down To Give Him The First Injection It Reminded Me Ofa Really Wild Dog Or A Cat At The Time Of TheConference, The Geiers Had Already Opened Eight Lupron Clinics In Six Different States Mark Geier, Who Calls Lupron A Miracle Drug, Told A Reporter That Was Just The Beginning Of Their Expansion Aspirations We Plan To Open EverywhereOutside The Conference Rooms Of AutismOne And Without A Child Suffering From The Disorder, It Can Be Hard To Fathom How Something As Bizarre As Lupron Ever Gains Momentum But When You Watch The Transaction Happening In Real Time Its Not Hard To Understand Its Appeal If Someone Like Mark Geier Comes Up To You At A Conference, And Hes Got Twenty Impressive PowerPoint Slides, And Hes Got A PhD And A Long String Of Letters After His Name, Youre Going To Listen To Him Because Youve Been Taught That Someone Like That Is Someone Who Knows What Hes Talking About, Says Kevin Leitch, A British Blogger And The Parent Of An Autistic Child And If This Same Parent Reads In The Guardian Or The London Times Or The New York Times That A New Study Has Been Published In Science About A Gene That Might Be Associated WithPercent Of Cases Of Autism, Hooray They Look At That And Think, Screw That One Of Them Is Mildly Interesting And The Other Gives Me A Load Of Hope The Vast Majority Of Parents, Of Course, Dont Bring Such Strong Predilections To The Topic Of Vaccines What Parents Do Want Is To Protect Their Children From Infectious Diseases While Also Being Conscientious And Informed About What Is Being Injected Into Their Bodies A Lot Of Parenting Decisions Come Down To Our Gut Reactionsscience Cant Tell Us Whats An Appropriate Curfew For A Sixteen Year Old Or Whether Its Better To Indulge Or Resist A Child Who Says He Wants To Quit Violin Lessonsand When It Comes To Vaccines, Most Of The Commonsense Arguments Appear To Line Up On One Side Of The Equation Vaccines Contain Viruses, Viruses Are Dangerous, Infants Immune Systems Arent Fully Developed, Drug Companies Are Interested Only In Profit, And The Government Cant Always Be Trusted The Problem, As Psychologist And Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman And His Longtime Research Partner Amos Tversky Demonstrated In A Series Of Groundbreaking Papers In The S, Is That In Many Situations Regarding Risk Perception And Data Processing, Commonsense Arguments Are Precisely The Ones That Lead Us Astray Because The Risks Associated With Foregoing Vaccines Feel So Hypothetical, And Because The Infinitesimally Remote Possibility That Vaccines Could Hurt Our Children Is So Scary, And Because Theres Nothing In Our Daily Experience To Indicate That A Little Fluid Administered Through A Needle Would Protect Us From A Threat We Cant Even See, Its Very Hard For Parents Working By Intuition Alone To Know Whats Best For Their Children In This SituationThis Leaves Us With Two Choices We Can Either Take It Upon Ourselves To Do A Systematic Analysis Of All The Available Informationwhich Becomes Ever Less Feasible As The World Growscomplexor We Can Trust Experts And The Media To Be Responsible About The Information And Advice They Provide When Theyre Not, Whether Its Because Theyre Naive Or Underresourced Or Lazy Or Because Theyve Become True Believers Themselves, The Consequences Can Be Severe Indeed A Recent Hib Outbreak In Minnesota Resulted In The Deaths Of Several Childrenincluding One Whose Parents Said They Do Not Believe In Vaccination In , There Werethan , Cases Of Pertussiscommonly Known As Whooping Cough In Australia, Which Is The Highest Number Ever Recorded Among Those Infected Was Dana McCaffery, Whose Parents Do Believe In Vaccination, But Who Was Too Young To Get The Pertussis Vaccine She Died When She Was Thirty Two Days Old Six Months Later, Danas Mother Got An E Mail From A Woman In Dallas, Texas, Named Helen Bailey Bailey Was Looking For Someone Who Might Understand Her Grief Her Son, Stetson, Died Of Pertussis When He Was Just Eleven Weeks Old If Anything, The Situation Is Getting Even Worse In , A Yearlong Pertussis Outbreak In California Was So Severe That In September Some Foreign Governments Began Warning Their Citizens Of The Dangers Of Traveling To The RegionThen Theres Measles, Which Is The Most Infectious Microbe Known To Man And Has Killedchildren Than Any Other Disease In History A Decade After The World Health Organization WHO Declared The Virus Effectively Eradicated Everywhere In The Americas Save For The Dominican Republic And Haiti, Declining Vaccination Rates Have Led To An Explosion Of Outbreaks Around The World In Great Britain, Theres Beenthan A Thousandfold Increase In Measles Cases SinceIn The United States, There Have Been Outbreaks In Many Of The Countrys Most Populous States, Including Illinois, New York, And Wisconsin A Recent Outbreak In California Began When A Grade Schooler Whose Doctor Supports Selective Vaccination Was Infected While On A Family Vacation In Europe In An Anonymously Published Article In Time Magazine, That Childs Mother Said She Felt Safe In Making The Choice To Vaccinate Selectively Because She Lives In A Relatively Healthy First World Country With A Well Functioning Health Care System Looking At The Diseases Mumps, Measles And Rubella In A Country Like The USit Doesnt Tend To Be A Problem, She Said Children Will Do Fine With These Diseases In A Developed Country That Has Good Nutrition And Because I Live In A Country Where The Norm Is Vaccine, I Can Delay My VaccinesThat Statement Could Not Befalse Measles Remains Deadly Regardless Of Whether You Live In The United States Or In Uganda Before The MMR Vaccine Was Introduced, Its Annual Death Toll In The United States Reached Into The Hundreds, And Each Year Rubella Infections Resulted Inthan Twenty Thousand Infants Who Were Born Blind, Deaf, Or Developmentally Disabled This Mothers Conviction Also Perfectly Encapsulates One Of The Most Vexing Paradoxes About Vaccines Theeffective They Are, The Less Necessary They SeemOn The Fourth Morning Of Matthew Laceks Coma, A Doctor Told His Parents That He Appeared To Have Stabilized From The Drop In His Blood Pressure The Day Before There Was A Chance, The Doctor Said, That The Antibiotics Were Winning The Fight Against The Infection That Had Taken Over Matthews Bodybut There Was No Way To Know For Sure Until He Woke Up For The Rest Of The Day, Kelly And Dan Sat By Their Sons Bedside Late That Afternoon, He Began To Breathe On His Ownslowly At First, But Thenregularly It Was Getting Dark Outside When He Blinked Open His Eyes The First Words Out Of His Mouth Were, I Want To Go PottyIn April , About A Year After We First Spoke, Kelly Lacek E Mailed Me A Picture Of Matthew And His Older Brother, Chins In Hand, Posing For The Camera Like A Pair Of Tough Guys We Just Celebrated Matthews Th Birthday, She Wrote It Takes Everything For Me Not To Cry Each Day, Let Alone His Birthday We Are So Blessed To Still Have Him He Had Strep ThroatTimes Since January And Each Time His Tonsils Swell Up, He Gets A High Fever And My Husband Dan And I Are Reminded Of That Day Kelly Told Me About Her Sons Little League Games And How Much The Whole Family Loves Board Games And Sitting Around Campfires I Hope That Helps, Seth, She Wrote Please Let Me Know If You Need Anything Else Its Important To Make Sure Families Are Making The Right Decisions, Based On Fact And Not By Fear Or Misinformation This Character, And The Subsequent Conversation, Is Drawn From An Amalgam Of Discussions I Had Over A Period Of Several Months These Quotes Represent My Best Recollection As A Rule, I Try To Avoid Taking Notes During Dinner Parties The Term Anti Vaccine Has Been The Subject Of Extremely Contentious Disputes Throughout The Book, I Have Used It To Describe Groups Or Individuals Whose Efforts To Discredit Vaccines Depend On Claims That Are Not Supported By, And In Many Cases Are Directly Contradicted By, The Available Scientific Evidence Its Worth Noting That Activist Groups Have Been Largely Successful In Pressuring The Media To Adopt A Standard That Relies On These Groups Own Beliefs About What Qualifies As Being Anti Vaccine A Correction That Appeared In The New York Times In AprilIs An Example Of This A Picture Caption On Tuesdayreferred Incorrectly To The Rally In Washington InAt Which The Actors Jenny McCarthy And Jim Carrey Were Shown Participants Were Calling For The Elimination Of What They Said Were Toxins In Childrens Vaccines And For A Reassessment Of Mandatory Vaccination Schedules For Children It Was Not An Anti Vaccine Rally Emphasis AddedOne Of The Case Studies On Which Festinger Based His Theory Focused On Dorothy Martin, A Housewife And Former Follower Of L Ron Hubbards Dianetics Movement Martin Claimed That Inhabitants Of The Planet Clarion Had Told Her That Chicago Would Be Destroyed In A Flood Just After Midnight, Early On December ,Festinger And His Colleagues Observed Martins Followers As They Quit Their Jobs, Left Their Spouses, And Gave Away Their Money In Preparation For Their Rescue By A Flying Saucer By Am On The Morning Of The St, Martin And Her Disciples Had To Acknowledge That Chicago Was Not Underwater And That They Had Not Been Rescued By Aliens At That Point, Martin Received A New Message The Apocalypse Had Been Canceled As Festinger Wrote, The Little Group, Sitting All Night Long, Had Spread So Much Light That God Had Saved The World From Destruction Over The Course Ofthan Two Decades, Judges Have Ruled That Mark Geiers Expert Testimony In Vaccine Related Lawsuits Was Below The Ethical Standards Required Of Lawyers, Intellectually Dishonest, And Not Reliable, Or Grounded In Scientific Methodology And Procedure The Geiers Counter Such Criticism By Insisting That There Are Mainstream Scientists Who Support Their Work One Person Theyve Cited Is A British Clinical Psychologist Named Simon Baron Cohen When The Chicago Tribune Asked Baron Cohen About The Geiers Protocol, He Said That Administering Lupron To Autistic Children Fills Me With Horror Virtually Anything Having To Do With Technology Provides A Good Example Of How Often Commonsense Assumptions End Up Being Wrong Think About How Recently It Would Have Sounded Ludicrous To Propose That An Invisible Worldwide Communication Network Would Be Capable Of Beaming Movies Into A Device Smaller Than A Deck Of Cards, Or That Shooting Lasers Into Peoples Eyeballs Could Improve Their Sight Politics Is Also An Area In Which The Fantastical Has A Way Of Becoming Reality Twenty Years Ago, A Scenario In Which The Terminator Was Elected Governor Of California Would Have Seemed Possible Only In A Science Fiction MovieSeth MnookinWith Rationality And Science Under Siege These Days, Seth Mnookin Has Produced A Riveting And Important Chronicle Of One Life And Death Realm In Which Passionate, Panicky Belief Has Dangerously Trumped Reasonand Put Millions Of Children At Risk Kurt Andersen, Host, StudioSeth Mnookin Has Given Us A Non Fiction Story Worthy Of Michael Crichtonan Absorbing, Disturbing And Scrupulously Researched Account Of A Contagion Of Human Unreason Run Wild This Time The Hysteria Was Over Autism The Next Panic Virus Could Be Evendangerous Jonathan Mahler, Author Of The Challenge And Ladies And Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning An Accomplished Journalist, Seth Mnookin Takes An Objective Look At Both Sides Of The Vaccine Autism Controversy And Lands Squarely On The Side Of Science With Humor And Wit, The Panic Virus Examines The Often Bizarre Events That Led Some Families To Become Distrustful Of Science And Erroneously Conclude That Vaccines Might Cause Autism This Book Will Leave You Scratching Your Head In Pure Amazement That This Issue Could Get So Out Of Hand When The Science Is So Clear Alison Singer, President, Autism Science Foundation In Plain Language, Seth Mnookin Provides An Excellent Narrative And Evaluation That Helps Clarify For Readers How And Why Vaccine Controversies Have Arisen Over The Years As Well As Sensible Ways For Readers To Understand The Science That Supports Vaccine Usage Vaccines Are The Most Effective Public Health Measure Since Clean Water Judith Palfrey, MD, FAAP, Professor Of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School And Author Of Child Health In America Seth Mnookin Understood There Was Somethingto The Cruelly Misled And Dangerously Misleading Vaccines Cause Autism Movement Than Just An Unhappy Group Of Parents With A Need To Blame Someone He Saw The Connection Between This Deathless Conspiracy Theory And The Proliferating Irrationality Of A Society That Has Supersized Its Information Diet While Starving Its Capacity To Think Straight For That Reason Alonenot To Mention The Deft, Often Charming Characterizations Woven Into Its Skillful And Fascinating Narrativethis Is An Important, Powerful, And Bracing Book Arthur Allen, Author Of Vaccine And Ripe There Have Been Hundreds Of Recent Outbreaks Of Ailments Like Whooping Cough And Measles That We Thought Would Be Eradicated By Nowand Might Have Been, If Not For The Anti Vaccine Obfuscation Bravo Seth Mnookin For Digging For The Truth And Telling Eloquent Stories Of What Happens When Lies, Half Truths And Self Interest Collide With Fear Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer And Author Of Betrayal Of Trust The Collapse Of Global Public Health Mr Mnookin S Passionate Defense Of Vaccination May Be Just What The Public Needs, In Equal Parts Because Of What It Says And Because Of Who Is Saying It Parents Who Want To Play It Safe, But Are Not Altogether Sure How, Should Turn With Relief To This Reasoned, Logical And Comprehensive Analysis Of The Facts Abigail Zuger, MD The New York Times