Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You can be a reporter for the New York Times . . .

... or you can get an honest job.

One Jill P. Capuzzo reports on a proposal in New Jersey to require children who attend pre-school to get flu shots. If you have been a regular reader here, you can probably guess the next part of the story: an uprising of angry parents who claim that vaccinations will make their children autistic.

Capuzzo evidently went to journalism school, because she knows that it's her job to assiduously avoid actually informing us about this issue, especially if the truth might make one side appear to be, you know, wrong. Nope, her job is just to write down what people on both sides say, and treat the sense and nonsense exactly the same. Capuzzo writes, "But not all the family and community members who attended the meeting agreed. Some parents of autistic children have argued that the vaccines already required of school-age children may be linked to autism, although many experts say that no solid evidence supports this view."

No Jill. It is not "many experts" who disagree, it is virtually every expert. And they don't say that "no solid evidence supports this view," they say there is no evidence for it whatsoever, solid, liquid, or gas. In fact, there is overwhelming and completely convincing evidence against it. The earth is not flat. Flu vaccines do not cause autism.

But for the rest of the article, we just get a he said, she said, with the she said being far more compelling -- the terrible travails of the mother of an autistic child who blames the whole thing on vaccinations. “Try having a child bite chunks of skin out of herself, or tell you she’s going to chop your head off, or smear feces over the wall,” said Ms. Downing, referring to the acts of her daughter and her best friend’s son, who also suffers from autism. “Something’s going on with these vaccines, and we don’t want any more mandated.”

It would be journalistically irresponsible, of course, to point out that however much sympathy we feel for Ms. Downing, she is mistaken. Jill Capuzzo's job is to tell us the facts, but not the truth.

No comments: