Thursday, November 8, 2007

News tips

Some things to keep in mind as you put your series together:

• Incidence is not a synonym for prevalence. The incidence of autism may change from year to year, and quarter to quarter, but there is no evidence the true prevalence has changed at all.

• Vaccinations have contributed greatly to public health, and saved untold numbers of lives. But unsubstantiated tales that vaccines cause autism needlessly scare parents, and as a result, doctors are seeing a resurgence in once rare diseases such as mumps and whooping cough. One-sided and misleading stories about vaccines scare parents into not vaccinating their children, and contribute to more needless death and injury. KOMU's responsibility goes beyond merely getting facts straight - it also needs to take a stand in favor of evidence-based medicine, and even more importantly, public health.

• Just because something is said to be "controversial" does not mean it has equal standing with an opposing point of view. White supremacy, holocaust denial, and creationism are also contoversial. They are also without factual basis. Tell your story accurately and without ambiguity.

• There is no good reason to believe vaccines cause autism, and no credible mechanism by which vaccines could cause autism. It doesn't matter that some parents "feel" the opposite is true. The plural of anecdote is not data.

• Just because someone has "MD" after his name doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about. The gold standard in science is peer review, not talking to a camera. There is no credible peer reviewed science that establishes a causal connection between vaccines and autism.

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