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Amanda Peet & the Ripple Effect: Actress Intensifies Vaccine Debate, Rather than Quell It

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I write my Huffington Post blogs in order to spark debate and commentary from other quarters about what has become -- like it or not -- the biggest medical controversy of our time: the potential link between vaccine ingredients and autism.

In that sense, my last piece, "Amanda Peet vs. the Medical Establishment," has done its job.

Reaction was predictably swift and furious to this opinion essay -- and that's what blogs are: this is not news reporting.

Many took issue with the title (of all things), not realizing it was a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat satirical, and deliberately provocative headline meant to spark the indignant outrage that it obviously did, (It worked for Jonathan Swift and that New Yorker cartoonist, too).

These critics balk at considering the US President, or Senate health committee members, or the Chairman of a House science subcommittee, or appointed members of the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, or many others like them, as part of the "medical establishment."

Fair enough. These are the people who, in a democratic society, control the medical establishment. They are not part of the establishment, in that sense, they are above it. They put the "over" in oversight. As a journalist, I value their opinion. As a citizen, I cannot imagine what this country would be like without them.

One of the critics was Dr. Steven Novella, academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine and president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society.

In his piece, "Celebrity Smackdown: Amanda Peet vs Jenny McCarthy," Dr. Novella refers to me as "that reporter who has made a career out of spreading misinformation about vaccines and any nonsense he can think of." In the same breath, he dismisses vaccine-related statements made by CDC officials because, "they were given in a political and not purely scientific context."

Dr. Novella takes issue with my characterization of the recent Hannah Poling case, in which a nine year-old girl was compensated by the US Government for a vaccine injury that lead to a diagnosis of autism.

Now, Hannah's father, Dr. Jon Poling, a respected neurologist and clinical assistant professor of the Department of Neurology, Medical College of Georgia, has responded to Dr. Novella, including his, "criticizing the journalism of Mr. David Kirby."

A copy of Dr. Poling's letter to Dr. Novella is posted at what ABC News.com called "the popular blog, Age of Autism."

It makes for some good reading, from deep inside the medical establishment!

PS: Here is a thought meant to spark more discussion: If parents who do not vaccinate their children are menaces (or parasites) to society, then what are adults who do not get all the recommended adult booster vaccines, especially those who travel abroad? Aren't we (yes, that includes me) just as guilty of putting small children at risk of infection here at home?