Reporting on autism: wrong or dumb?

By Christopher B. Daly

What does it mean that the two sides of this graphic are so out of whack?

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 3.01.00 PM

What it shows (according to Princeton prof. Sam Wang, in an article in today’s NYTimes Sunday Review) is that journalists way over-report the wrong things about autism. Whereas most articles are about vaccines, the science suggests that most autism is a product of genes and/or prenatal and very early stresses on mother and child. Hmmm…..

I had never even heard about “injury to the cerebellum at birth,” which turns out to be a major added-risk factor. How are we supposed to understand issues like this and — god forbid! — formulate public policy when journalists present such a distorted view of the science?



1 Comment

Filed under broadcasting, Journalism, Uncategorized

One response to “Reporting on autism: wrong or dumb?

  1. David

    This is partly a result of the media/public worship of celebrity–Jenny McCarthy being attractive and willing to pose nude made her a celebrity, so her telling lies about vaccines is somehow newsworthy (and helps her get a job on The View). Note, too, that her fellow Oprah guest Dr. Oz witnessed her lies silently, lest he hurt his chances for his own show.
    It also reflects the similarly sorry state of politics and political journalism–Michelle Bachmann is well known for fabrications, but being both attractive and outrageous made her a celebrity and her lies about different vaccines somehow newsworthy.
    Recently a former Reality show contestant and wife of a quarterback repeated this nonsense and generated a lot of stories of her own.

    Will a media outlet ever say those caught lying will no longer receive a mention from us, or at least not a mention which does not reference that past lies and refusals to correct the record?


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