RSS

Daily Archives: October 16, 2014

Murder By Meme: Slender Man and the Wakefield Anti-Vaccine Hoax

Slender Man

We all know that viral illnesses can kill. Ebola would be an example. So would small pox and the 1918 Flu.

But can an internet viral hoax kill? An interesting article titled “Murder By Meme: Slender Man and the Wakefield Anti-Vax Hoax” by Travis Langley, Ph.D. in Psychology Today looks at this issue.

In June, 2009, Eric Knudsen (aka Victor Surge) posted a pair of black & white photos of groups of children in which he had inserted a thin figure in a black suit into the background. This was the birth of the Slender Man hysteria. It led to the attempted murder of a 12-year-old girl by two of her classmates, also 12. Why would they stab their classmate 19 times? Apparently to serve as “proxies” for The Slender Man and to show that he really existed.

Crazy is as crazy does.

And then there’s the 14-year-old who read about Slender Man and decided she needed to burn down her home—-with her mother and brother inside. Fortunately there were no injuries but the house and family car took a hit.

But such internet hoaxes aren’t confined to the world on teen angst. It has also entered the world of legitimate medicine. And has done great harm.

MMR

Ever seen a case of Whooping Cough? Diphtheria? Probably not. I’ve never seen diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) only a couple of times way back during my pediatrics rotation as a junior medical student. The reason these and other childhood diseases such a rubella and mumps are now not so common is a robust and widespread immunization program that has done a stellar job in keeping these illnesses at bay.

Enter Dr. Andrew Wakefield. He apparently created an entirely fraudulent research study that suggested that the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine caused Autism. Based on this scam, allegedly funded by an “ambulance-chasing” law firm, many well-meaning and fearful parents refused to vaccinate their children. This led to outbreaks of these uncommon diseases. Here in my own backyard, Orange County, CA, we had an outbreak of pertussis that could be traced for the most part to a single pediatrician who bought into this “bad science.”

The truth? There is not a single piece of legitimate evidence to suggest that MMR is in any way related to autism.

And Slender Man does not exist.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Medical History, Medical Issues

 

ORIGINAL SIN Review

OS 200X300

A good review of ORIGINAL SIN by Jon Land in the Providence Journal:

Dr. Doug Lyle puts his medical and forensics training to excellent use in the stellar“Original Sin” (Reputation Books, 238 pages, $19.95) that reads like Robin Cook’s “Coma” on steroids. Lyle treats us to not one, but two terrific heroines in Dr. Lucy Wagner and her friend, as well as ours, ex-cop Samantha Cody. It’s a classic riches-to-rags tale that starts when the famously successful Wagner loses a patient and then nearly everything else. Enter ex-boxer Cody. Never one to shy away from a fight, she encounters more than her share of opponents in trying to get to the bottom of a conspiracy at the hands of those who are about to learn to take a punch. Lyle adroitly balances spot-on medical science and technology with adroit plotting and masterful characters. A mix of Michael Crichton and C. J. Box that adds up to seasoned and savory brain candy.

This and other excellent reviews: http://www.providencejournal.com/features/entertainment/books/20141005-thrillers-novels-that-range-from-old-fashioned-to-cutting-edge-cliffhangers.ece

More Info on ORIGINAL SIN: http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Books-SCody.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Book Review, Writing

 
 
%d bloggers like this: