New Point of Inquiry Debuts

February 12, 2010

The Center for Inquiry today launched the new version of its popular podcast,  Point of Inquiry , featuring three new hosts : Chris Mooney, Karen Stollznow, and Robert Price.  The premiere episode features an interview with Paul A. Offit, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Debuting as host is Chris Mooney.

February 12, 2010

Dr. Paul Offit Paul Offit — The Costs of Vaccine Denialism

On February 2, there was a   major   upset for vaccine skeptics.  The British medical journal The Lancet took the dramatic step of retracting a 1998 paper that lies at the root of modern vaccine denialism.  Authored by a doctor named Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues, it was heavily touted as having uncovered a new cause of autism — the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Twelve years later, there are more problems with the paper than you can count — and yet somehow it managed to spawn a movement.

In this conversation with host Chris Mooney, Dr. Paul Offit discusses the state of the vaccine-skeptic movement in light of this latest news.  In particular, Offit explores why the tides may be turning on the movement — as well as the grave public-health consequences of ongoing vaccine avoidance.

Aside from his positions at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Offit is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety.  He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq , recommended for universal use in infants by the Centers for Disease Control.  Offit was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation, and is the author of five books, the latest of which is Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure .


Your host, Chris Mooney Chris Mooney is a 2009-2010 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and the author of three books, The Republican War on Science Storm World , and Unscientific America .  He is expected to host about half of the approximately 50 new shows per year, with the balance evenly split between Price and Stollznow.  Read expanded bios of the hosts online.

Point of Inquiry  has been the premier podcast of the Center for Inquiry since 2005, drawing on CFI’s relationship with the leading minds of the day, including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, prominent authors, and social critics and thinkers. Each episode combines incisive interviews, features, and commentary focusing on issues of science and public policy, pseudoscience and the paranormal, and religion and secularism.