Expert in the Field

The less you, dear reader, are informed about this particular subject of buzz across the web prior to this reading, the better.

An article in the Huffington Post addressed the old medical question of whether vaccines, as suspected, were responsible for the nation’s rising rates of Autism.  Here’s a segment:

“After a ruling by the ‘special vaccine court’ saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn’t found to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ autism, [CNN] and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe… But with all due respect to [CNN], a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won’t be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe.  This is a huge leap of logic by anyone’s standards.  Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer.

“With vaccines being the fastest growing division of the pharmaceutical industry, isn’t it possible that profits may play a part in the decision-making?”

The author, though not a “journalist” by profession, goes on to cite numerous court cases, legislation on the 36 different vaccines currently in production, and segments from a congressional invesigation’s report.  The article goes on to cite more of a diverse body of sources than a Senior Theses paper.  The person did more research than the writers of CSI do in an average season!  (This last part being speculation.)

By my own personal standards, the author here made quite a case at the end of quite a lengthy investigation.  His writing style may be more vernacular and less professional, and at times a bit clumsy, but the first-time editorial writer is convincing enough.  He does have a personal motive, however: as he brought to media attention at a “Green Our Vaccine” march on Earth Day, his son, Evan, is Autistic.

(To be absolutely sure that the author’s name identity is not disclosed accidentally to you by a pre-emptive scroll-down, his name has been typed at the very bottom of this article.  You can scroll down to it now if you wish to know, or not if you’d rather keep yourself guessing.)

But assuming you have.  It isn’t from his usual line of work.  It certainly stands out from his usual projected self-image that he’s held throughout his career.  But does it make this all a joke and a publicity stunt?

More to the point, consider the reverse: would he be any more credible of a source if he was a veteran on the news staff, and would his argument for autism-causation be more convincing?  Does the average reporter understand law or medicine, both of them fields that take years of additional study to obtain degrees in, better than him?  Unless that reporter has covered those things extensively before, no.

How much of his credibility hinges on his name and what we know him from, if not his title?  Imagine the name at the top has the prefix “Reverend” attached to it.  Imagine your lest favorite political activist.  Imagine a psychologist (adept in science but not that particular branch of it), or specifically a scientist exiled from the People’s Republic of China for voicing his conclusion on the subject.

He’s, besides his personal investment in the curing of his son, no more informed than any of us.  Or he wasn’t, until he did his homework.

So although it seemed like a paradigm shift to see him trying to be taken seriously, his career doesn’t disqualify him from the proper use of his noodle.  Whatever personal history we may subject upon him from the bits we know through hearsay, we can’t– or at least shoudln’t– challenge his ability to think. Even the funkiest of fellows and the grimmest of guys can’t be irrelevant or wrong with everything they say.

They should be read.  Read with a grain of salt, perhaps.  But, like any well-researched blogging college student, read.












[The Author Was Jim Carrey, In Case That Was Piquing Your Curiosity.  The article can be found here.]


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