Sunday, February 3, 2008

The height of reckless irresponsibility

'The height of reckless irresponsibility on the part of ABC and its parent company The Walt DisneyCo.'
Renee Jenkins, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

I didn't see it but ABC started a new show last week in which the storyline involved the hypothesis that autism is caused by a mercury-based preservative formerly used in common childhood vaccines. Despite the fact there is virtually no scientific data linking vaccines and autism and numerous studies have failed to find a link, the show treats the hypothesis as being credible and only presented a notice at the end to say "The preceding story is fictional and does not portray any actual persons, companies, products or events". The New York Times has an article about it.

Interesting issues here, do TV companies have moral obligations or are they simply beholden to their owners and/or shareholders? We have seen the effect of declining vaccine uptakes in other countries sparked by rumors so it would be naive to suggest that a TV show couldn't have an effect.

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