Salon Retracts Controversial Article by Robert Kennedy, Jr., Linking Vaccines to Autism
Back in 2005, Salon published ‘Deadly Immunity,’ an article by Robert Kennedy Jr. in which he claimed that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, which was used in vaccines until 2001, was ‘dangerous,’ and in which he stated that he was “convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real.”‘ Yesterday, Salon‘s Editor-in-Chief, Kerry Lauerman, wrote that the online magazine has retracted the article:
The piece was co-published with Rolling Stone magazine — they fact-checked it and published it in print; we posted it online. In the days after running “Deadly Immunity,” we amended the story with five corrections (which can still be found logged here) that went far in undermining Kennedy’s exposé. At the time, we felt that correcting the piece — and keeping it on the site, in the spirit of transparency — was the best way to operate. But subsequent critics, including most recently, Seth Mnookin in his book “The Panic Virus,” further eroded any faith we had in the story’s value. We’ve grown to believe the best reader service is to delete the piece entirely.
“I regret we didn’t move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link,” says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh, now editor at large. “But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do.” The story’s original URL now links to our autism topics page, which we believe now offers a strong record of clear thinking and skeptical coverage we’re proud of — including the critical pursuit of others who continue to propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.
Commending Salon’s decision to retract ‘Deadly Immunity,’ Chris Mooney at the Discover blog, points out that, while Rolling Stone has removed the article from its website, it has not reported that it has done so, according to Seth Mnookin, the author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear. His book, and the new book by Dr. Paul Offit, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, offer further proof of the harm caused to public health—to you and me—by the now-discredited study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in which a claim of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism was made. Wakefield’s study was ‘deliberate fraud,’ as reported in a recently published series of articles in BMJ (British Medical Journal) by journalist Brian Deer.
One wonders what ‘articles’ and even ‘studies’ will be retracted next: Autism, Vaccines and the CDC: The Wrong Side of History, a January 2007 Huffington Post piece by Robert Kennedy, Jr., and journalist David Kirby, whose 2005 book Evidence of Harm claimed that mercury in vaccines caused an epidemic of autism? Everything on various websites that allege that we live in an age in which autism has become ‘epidemic,’ due to vaccines or something in vaccines?
One thing’s for sure: The notion that vaccines might ’cause’ autism is slowly, gradually, thankfully, being debunked in public circles and being consigned to the history books as a peculiar, and harmful, chapter in the history of autism.
Photo by joeflintham.