In a 2002 NYT article by journalist, author and vaccine historian Arthur Allen, Dr. Neal Halsey, Director For The Institute of Vaccine Safety, lost confidence in his previous position that ingredients in vaccines did not cause brain damage (autism.)
This article was published 14 years ago. (I am only addressing this moment in time, here.)
Here’s my question: How did the thought leaders, the propagandists, eliminate all this sober middle ground, in subsequent years, and collapse all objection to any and all vaccines, into a stigmatized, totally illegitimate position, when as recently as 2002 the NYT was running article like this?
How did they make the search for truth so detestable in the zeitgeist?
The extreme bullying by trolls, “science” bloggers, attack journalists, and some celebrities, is a recent phenomenon. Post Brian Deer, would be one way to put it.
It’s illuminating to see what professionals were thinking and saying before the violence was formalized:
“Halsey, 57, has green eyes, a white beard that makes him look like a ship’s captain and an air of careful authority. As chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases from 1995 through June 1999, he often appeared in the media administering calm reassurance. ”Many of the allegations against vaccines,” Halsey said in one interview, ”are based on unproven hypotheses and causal associations with little evidence.”
And then suddenly in June 1999, during a visit to the Food and Drug Administration, a squall appeared on the horizon of Halsey’s confidence. Halsey attended a meeting to discuss thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative that at the time was being used in several vaccines — including the hepatitis B shot that Halsey had fought so hard to have administered to American babies. By the time the dust kicked up in that meeting had settled, Halsey would be forced to reckon with the hypothesis that thimerosal had damaged the brains of immunized infants and may have contributed to the unexplained explosion in the number of cases of autism being diagnosed in children.
That Halsey was willing even to entertain this possibility enraged some of his fellow vaccinologists, who couldn’t fathom how a doctor who had spent so much energy dismantling the arguments of people who attacked vaccines could now be changing sides. But to Halsey’s mind, his actions were perfectly consistent: he was simply working from the data. And the numbers deeply troubled him. ”From the beginning, I saw thimerosal as something different,” he says. ”It was the first strong evidence of a causal association with neurological impairment. I was very concerned.” ”
Allen, Arthur, “The Not So Crackpot Autism Theory.” NYT Magazine, Nov. 2002