Just the Facts, Please

12 05 2011

Usually, the facts are the facts, right? Maybe not. Everything depends on the language we use to frame a given issue. That might sound kind of dry, but take a look at this:

Who would hire THAT babysitter?!

The same thing happens sometimes when people talk about vaccines. Even real facts can look alarming when they’re not presented in an accurate context. Watch how it works.

CBS News: “Ratajczak also looks at a factor that hasn’t been widely discussed: human DNA contained in vaccines. That’s right, human DNA.”

Notice how the reporter repeats “human DNA,” suggesting there’s something shocking about it. Yes, there is human DNA in vaccines that are cultured using human cells. They are a biological product that can’t just be cooked up out of inert materials, and if being exposed to foreign DNA were dangerous, it’d be baaaaad news for anyone who’s ever breathed around an animal.

Also, if it were this easy for one organism’s DNA to hijack the biology of another, kindergarteners could do gene therapy.

Fox News, on how the Court of Federal Claims is dealing with cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding now that all of the vaccines-cause-autism theories have been conclusively rejected: “It sounds like they’re making these families jump through almost impossible legal hoops. They want them to go out and somehow drum up their own medical expert, pay for it themselves, come up with a new medical theory…why are they making it so tough?”

Yes, the families who had cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding are now being asked to speak up if there’s any reason to believe their child’s case is different from the six test cases the Court heard. And yes, it is almost impossible any of them will prevail. Why? Not because, as the reporter insinuates, there’s some dark conspiracy to suppress information. It’s because the Omnibus Autism Proceeding was exhaustive. If there were any possibility that the vaccines-cause-autism theories held water, the test cases provided every chance in the world to prove it—but they couldn’t.

See how easy it is? Start with something harmless, pour on some spooky music, whip to a frothy doomsday conclusion, and . . . voila! You’ve got yourself a delectable morsel of Pernicious Urban Legend! Unfortunately, many consumers don’t know to beware before digging in.

Patients’ Rights

10 08 2007

Although no parent can bear to think of their child being terminally ill, we know it does happen. When it happens, each of us wants the right to use any drug available to save our child.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided that a terminally ill patient does not have a constitutional right to experimental drugs, even if those drugs could potentially save that patient.

In a dissent written by Judge Judith W. Rogers, she said that courts have established the right “to marry, to fornicate, to have children, to control the education and upbringing of children, to perform varied sexual acts in private, and to control one’s own body even if it results in one’s own death or the death of a fetus…but the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life.”

Parents of terminally ill children should have access to experimental drugs that have undergone preliminary safety testing but are not yet FDA-approved. Period.