New York Times Reviews Greater Good Documentary, But Did They See It?

This week, The Greater Good – a documentary about vaccine safety issues that we have blogged about here – is playing in New York City. (If you are in the area, we highly recommend you go see it – it does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the issue!)

The New York Times duly published a review of the film, in which the reviewer got so many points wrong that we really have to wonder if they saw the movie at all. The reviewer claims that the film does not present the horrors of diseases that have now been mostly eradicated, such as smallpox – whereas the film does, in fact, do so (and a correction has been added to the review about that). Not only that, but the reviewer argues that “most of the scientific water” in the movie is carried by Dr. Paul Offit, completely ignoring the fact that the opinions of other medical doctors are also included in the film – including that of the doctor of Gabrielle Swank, one of the victims of vaccine injury featured in the film.

The reviewer also reduces the entire movie – which features three families with three different reactions to three different vaccines, as well as assorted health professionals from both sides of the debate – to a film about autism and childhood vaccination; probably because it is easier to dismiss that way. The very first paragraph categorizes the movie as “a look at the purported link between autism and childhood immunization.”

The reviewer seems to completely miss the point of the movie, claiming that the film does not present a cost-benefit analysis. In fact, the cost-benefit analysis is the whole point of the movie – the very title raises the question of how much we are willing to sacrifice for ‘the greater good.’

The stories of the families in the movie – even the bare possibility that some may be, in fact, suffering because of vaccinations – do not seem to bother the reviewer at all. Age of Autism puts it fairly succinctly in the title of their response to the review, which says that the New York Times Review Tells Vaccine-Injured Children to Drop Dead. Rather than hyperbole, this is pretty much what the reviewer writes:

… while the film acknowledges that science has so far been consistent in its refutation of a vaccine-autism link, it fails to point out that even were such a link proved definitively, all that matters is that its victims number significantly fewer than those of the diseases vaccinations are designed to prevent.

In other words, the reviewer is fine with some children ‘falling by the way side,’ so to speak, if most children are fine. But the reviewer is not okay with parents and others being aware of this possibility. In fact, she even seems angry that the stories of individuals are presented at all, writing:

…this emotionally manipulative, heavily partial look at the purported link between autism and childhood immunization would much rather wallow in the distress of specific families than engage with the needs of the population at large .

The biggest problem with the New York Times review of The Greater Good is not that it misrepresents the content of the movie – which it does. The biggest problem is that the reviewer honestly does not understand that where there is a “greater good” there is also individual suffering, and that perhaps we should all have a right to be informed about the risks we undertake when we try to achieve that good.

In fact, the argument for vaccinating everyone ‘for the greater good’ has resulted in injuries for individuals across the country. By having a one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to vaccination, our government ignores the fact that people are genetically different from each other, and some people are more likely to suffer harm from vaccines. Refusing to develop the necessary screening tools to protect those who are at risk makes these people less safe. The Food and Drug Administration should be conducting studies to determine which populations are more likely to be at risk. They should be ensuring that safety studies look at children of varying health conditions, and not just the healthy population. They should definitely monitor the use of reactive placebos that understate the risks attached to vaccines. Added together, this cumulative understated risk means that doctors end up playing Russian Roulette with each individual patient, having no knowledge of how a vaccine will in fact impact that person. The people who are excluded from safety studies because they are not 100% healthy are not excluded from government mandates of that vaccine. In other words, the government requires the vaccine to be taken by people who they themselves have acknowledged may be more at risk of adverse effects from that vaccine.

In other words, vaccine safety science as it is currently conducted is junk science. The Greater Good points this out through the expert opinions of doctors and scientists who have largely been ignored in media depictions of the vaccine safety debate, which is consistently presented as one between distinguished scientists and hysterical moms. The film exposes the reality that many scientists and medical professionals are beginning to develop a desire to understand how vaccines really impact different populations.

And all of this, according to the New York Times, is something that people just shouldn’t know.



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