The latest edition of Science Blogs Book Club is up. This time the selected book is "Autism's False Prophets" by Dr. Paul Offit. The discussion panel includes Paul Offit, Kristina Chew, Kev Leitch, Orac and Bob Park.
I posed some questions for the panel:
In my microbiology class, I've fended questions from students regarding whether vaccines were "safe". Most students, although educated and worldly, were unaware of the studies showing no relationship between vaccines and autism for example.
The most disturbing issues for me (highlighted in Ch. 9 of the book) is the tendency of the media 1) to report only "sexy" stories 2) seek unwarranted "balance".
It is clear that the media attention given to reports that vaccines were unsafe far outweighed reports that vaccines are safe.
Moreover, reports of the safety of vaccines were often accompanied by contradictory opinions in the interests of "balance". I liken this to the Intelligent Design controversy where some believe educators should present "all sides" of the evolution "controversy".
So, my questions to the panel are "What do we do about it?" Can we create a media whose primary objective is to inform rather than to entertain, and, if so, how can we get people to pay attention to it?I look forward to exciting discussions.