Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Inclined to agree

I basically had the same reaction to the thimerosal piece that Skeptico did:
When I first read Kennedy’s piece, I was shocked that there had apparently been some kind of cover up about thimerosal. It seemed I would have to re-examine my previous views on the subject as all good skeptics should when new evidence appears. And that was even though I have full knowledge of studies in Denmark and Canada that show autism rates increasing even though thimerosal has been banned in those countries for years. Even though I knew this, the article still sounded convincing. So I can well understand people reading this article and believing it and being livid with the vaccination industry, the CDC and everyone else involved.

But I now know Kennedy’s article is a shockingly dishonest piece of crap from beginning to end. Dishonest and manipulative.

The fact that we could both find the claims so credible is a black mark on the state of affairs in America these days. The fact that closer examination reveals that there was not a coverup makes me feel much better about things. Of course, those were the Clinton days.

I never really thought I'd be nostalgic for Bill Clinton. I liked him well enough, but a lot of his policies seemed so wishy-washy. In retrospect, I see how he was thinking creatively about long-standing problems.

My favorite example is the V-chip. When he was talking about it, I thought it was a dumb idea because I didn't want the feds messing with my TV. But that's exactly the point. The V-chip lets parents make policy choices for their own household. Instead of sanctimonious pricks deciding that I shouldn't be able to watch cursing, the V-chip lets me watch what I want, and ensures that parents can enforce their decisions (which will surely differ from mine) without interfering with me.

Ten years later, it was brilliant plan. At the time, I thought it was dumb. And today, I'd like to see Democrats out there insisting on a more sophisticated V-chip, rather than FCC fines. Or that FCC fines be raised for actions which circumvent the ratings scheme. Create a TV-R rating, and let new TVs come with TV-R disabled. Individuals could activate those R-rated shows, and everyone else could buzz off.

All of which is beside the point. I wouldn't have believed the Clinton White House colluded with industry to hide evidence that they had caused autism, but I find it credible on its face in the Bush years.