Eli Stone: ABC Chooses Drama over Science in the Mercury-Autism Debate

Just when I thought we were turning the corner on the vaccines-autism debate, a new television series, Eli Stone, revolves around the increasingly discredited hypothesis that mercury in childhood vaccines causes autism....

Yes The New York Times this week reported that ABC's new drama will debut on January 31st at 10 pm. So much for science. Hello hype. Hello drama. Hello conspiracy theorists. The drama features a young lawyer, played by Johnny Lee Miller, who has "visions," well, nightmares, about working for a pharmaceutical company - and thus as happens in all good theater, does a moral 180 and champions the parents of children damaged by the vaccines. The New York Times had the good sense to mention the growing body of solid studies discounting mercury's role in autism. And this tidbit - the drug companies involved in thimerosal (mercury) vaccines (i.e., Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis) spent $138 million on ads at the network last year - and had no idea about the new show until the reporter called them.

Now, it's not that I have anything against autism, but I cringe when we dismiss science so readily, especially on an issue that has created so much fear, so much anxiety and so much confusion among parents. It's irresponsible of ABC to perpetuate a discredited theory of such importance. There are real consequences. We do not need any more drama. Nor this drama. Not on this issue.

1 comment:

Emily Monosson said...

Hi Dr. Polly,

Just read your comments on Eli Stone. Last Thursday while seeking out one last Scrubs, I found Eli Stone. I had a similar reaction - thinking it was too bad that the producers/writers decided to reduce the autism - mercury issue to one of "faith" rather than science.

Had they included the whole controversy and some of the science it may have made a more compelling show - although I suppose it wouldn't have gotten Eli to where they wanted him to be!

On another note - I like your blog. I blog at theneighborhoodtoxicologist, and at sciencemoms.wordpress.com (where you may want to join us - it's new but I hope to create a forum for science moms)and am just now gearing up to teach a class about writing science for the public. I'll point them to your blog as an example.