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Ghostwriting in the sky? by Sandy Gottstein

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“Cornell University” recently posted the following pro-vaccine piece in R&D Magazine:

Why are Internet anti-vaccine messages dangerous - Cornell University

There are some interesting issues concerning this "Cornell University" post:

1)  Why did they sign it "Cornell University", giving it the imprimatur of the University, when it was a department staff member who allegedly wrote it?  How does being a staff member  give one the authority to "speak for" Cornell?  This is especially intriguing given that Cornell as an institution is not particularly "pro-vaccine", at least judging by recent top results from a Google search of  "Cornell University and vaccines":

a.  Feline Vaccines: Benefits and Risks - Cornell Veterinary Medicine - Cached
Nov 15, 2006 – Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine ... Deciding which vaccines your cat should receive requires that you have a complete ...

b. Vaccines and Sarcomas: A Concern for Cat Owners - Cornell ... - Cached
Nov 15, 2006 – Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine ...

c. Baker Institute : Animal Health : Introduction to Vaccines - Cached
Vaccines are scary, fascinating, and wonderful all at the same time. The ...

d.  vaccines - Cached - Block all results
The Cornell Feline Health Center College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University ...Academy of Feline Medicine Advisory Panel on Feline Vaccines ...

2.  It is not clear what qualifies Karene Booker to write about vaccination:

“Karene Booker Title and Affiliation: Extension Support Specialist, Human Development, Cornell University Mailing Address: G5 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 Email Address and Telephone:, 607-255-7735 Webpage Address:
Discipline: Organization Development Research interests: Risk taking and decision making; impulsivity
Obesity Foci: Treatment/prevention
Biography: Karene Booker is an Extension Support Specialist in the Department of Human Development. She manages Outreach & Extension initiatives designed to make lessons from faculty research more accessible to extension educators and other professionals, policy makers, and the public. She holds a M.S. in Organization Development from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She joined the Department in 2006 after working extensively in human services policy, planning, and administration.”

3.  Ms. Booker's boss, Dean Alan Mathios, has at least one serious vaccine-related conflict of interest:

"Alan (Mathios) is co-editor of the Journal of Consumer Policy and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Consumer Affairs and the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. He is also the project leader on the program Consumers, Pharmaceutical Policy and Health, funded by the Merck Company Foundation. He came to Cornell following six years at the Federal Trade Commission, where he served as a senior staff economist in the Division of Economic Policy Analysis and as an econometrics consultant to the Bureau of Economics.”

These KNOWN facts raise serious questions about the integrity of the “Cornell” piece, let alone the point  of view espoused or what we don’t know.  It is a good example of how alert we need to be when reading one-sided pro-vaccine (anti-vaccine informed choice and safety) articles on the Internet.

Sandy Gottstein


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“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran