Feb 04 2010

Desiree Jennings Follow UP

I was recently interviewed by Inside Edition for a follow up story on Desiree Jennings – the young woman who alleged to have dystonia as a reaction to the flu vaccine. (See here for my original post, and there are a few follow ups shortly after.)

Inside Edition initially broke the story nationally, and did not do a very good job  – they basically accepted the story at face value and did not consult appropriate experts to give proper context to the story.

Well, it seems that they are now willing to do a follow up report and even try to correct their prior reporting. The show in which I am interviewed will air tonight on Inside Edition. I am always interested to see how these shows turn out – it is almost impossible to tell from the interview itself. Typically a very small percentage of the on-camera interview is used and anything can happen in the editing room. But hopefully they will do justice to the story.

I can tell you, there have been some interesting developments they will reveal on the show (which I cannot discuss until after it airs). I will write a follow up tomorrow after I see the show.

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24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Desiree Jennings Follow UP”

  1. Donahueon 04 Feb 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve been looking for an update on this – her supporters have gotten rather quiet lately. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. markiion 04 Feb 2010 at 2:58 pm

    thanks for the heads up, dr. novella! i hope we can get a youtube link to it later.

  3. zen_arcadeon 04 Feb 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Glad they’re doing a follow-up and that you’re being consulted — I hope someone from the Johns Hopkins team is interviewed but obviously they wouldn’t be able to comment without her permission.

    Since the YouTube update at the end of October demonstrated the miraculous reversal of all of her signs and symptoms there’s been a curious lack of news about her to be found anywhere. Her website, desireejennings.com, has been offline for some time.

  4. erdrickon 04 Feb 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Will they be airing the stanky leg music video?

  5. bluskoolon 04 Feb 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Oh man, that’s just cruel. You’re going to make us watch Inside Edition to get an update. I guess I’ll have to suffer through it.

  6. JulianHon 04 Feb 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Excellent. As you now have a few years of interviewing people and presenting your views in public under your belt, it would be interesting to hear how you approached the interview.

    Were there things you did that seemed to help/hinder getting your point across, or perhaps left you open to misinterpretation/misrepresentation?

    Should people attempting to inject critical thinking into public debates be quite cautious about how they represent themselves (and risk sounding like politicians), or just accept that you’re gonna get shafted occasionally by a talented editor or interviewer, and that it’s better to avoid trying to pretend that there’s a simple sound-bite answer to everything?

  7. KathyOon 04 Feb 2010 at 4:08 pm

    @ bluskool

    No way! I’m just going to wait for Steve’s follow up after the show airs. I’m sure he won’t leave out the juicy bits.

  8. bluskoolon 04 Feb 2010 at 5:19 pm

    No way! I’m just going to wait for Steve’s follow up after the show airs. I’m sure he won’t leave out the juicy bits.

    If only I had that kind of patience.

  9. superdaveon 04 Feb 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Inside Edition —there can only be two ways they go about this, either report how the whole thing was a hoax or how she was miraculously cured. Still I am interested to see and read what you have to say. One my biggest pet peeves in journalism is a lack of follow up stories so i am glad that there might be some resolution here.

  10. Draalon 04 Feb 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Inside edition already has the story posted on their website:
    http://www.insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyId=3955

  11. Draalon 04 Feb 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Superdave, if you bother to read Dr. N’s previous posts on this case, you’ll see that psychogenic disorder does not mean hoax. He even predicted she would recover rapidly because it’s a known progression of psychogenic disorders.

  12. Draalon 04 Feb 2010 at 7:27 pm

    per my previous statement, Dr. N said, “Further, Jennings is now in the hands of the Generation Rescue anti-vaccine quacks. I predict that they will be able to “cure” her, because psychogenic disorders can and do spontaneously resolve. They will then claim victory for their quackery in curing a (non-existent) vaccine injury.”

  13. reparkeron 04 Feb 2010 at 8:45 pm

    It seems to me that Inside Edition misrepresented what it means to have a psychogenic disorder. As Draal reiterated, “psychogenic disorder does not mean hoax.” She could be totally sincere in her problems–however the added strangeness of the accent that weaved in and out and suddenly walking in a “dystonic” fashion does strike me as odd.

    Just because an issue is psychological rather than physiological does not mean that you have control over it, and they did not stress that point on the show. It seems that they are ready to roll with a story of fraud.

  14. mgcoperon 04 Feb 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I contracted Myasthenia after a Hep VAX. I watched you spend an hour trying to debunk a theory of what you called mere skepticism. Then you finished the show saying how happy you were to join a skeptic movement against christianity. So we cant be skeptics towards vaccines, but because your mind cant imagine or believe in a God, then we should be skeptics of the notion there is a God. So let me ask you What has science proved that should make us beieve in it. You even suggested that if it wasnt for science we would think the world was flat? Man discovered the world was round via their own free will. Also, you said any report showing a coorelation between disease and vaccinnes are misleading. So I guess the only people qualified of making a sound jugement on that would be the makers of the Vaccinnes? Am I right. ……..Ever hear of a Vaccinne court, yeah there is money out there if you got a disease frpom a vaccinne. so obviously there is a correlation. But you Steve wouldnt know, your just going by what someone who is padding your pocketbook is telling you to say.

  15. superdaveon 04 Feb 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Draal, the facts as reported by Inside Edition and as reported by Neurologica need not be the same.

  16. Oracon 04 Feb 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Oh, goody. I was curious what had happened. The fact that Jennings disappeared so quickly and so thoroughly made me suspicious that event the anti-vaccine movement has realized that the case is a loser.

  17. krazy9000on 04 Feb 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Wow, an “Australian” accent. Didn’t see that one coming.

  18. Draalon 05 Feb 2010 at 7:31 am

    Desiree Jennings recovery must be a miracle attributed to Mary MacKillop; the accent is proof.

  19. Steven Novellaon 05 Feb 2010 at 8:52 am

    mgcoper – what are you talking about? Are you referring to some other interview? How about a link?

    First – the skeptical movement is NOT “against Christianity.” Science is agnostic toward faith, except to say that it is not part of science. And my approach to skepticism has been to focus on science, not faith. I am rather outspoken on that point within the skeptical community.

    What has science proven? Look around you. Science has doubled the human life expectancy, sent probes to planets millions of miles away, and transformed our world and our knowledge.

    Further – I do not make or dispense vaccines nor do I have any connection to vaccine manufacturers or regulators. Nobody pays me to say anything. You should be more careful before you casually slander people with whom you disagree.

    There are rare reactions to vaccines – as I have said and written numerous times. And the vaccine court is designed to expedite compensation for those reactions. They also have a low threshold of evidence – far lower than is typical within science – which is fine, but that’s a political/social decision.

    But thanks for once again demonstrating how intellectually bankrupt and sloppy the anti-vaccine movement is.

  20. Carlon 05 Feb 2010 at 11:23 am

    Steve, sloppy thinking is the hallmark of the anti-vaxers.

  21. davejmon 09 Feb 2010 at 12:22 pm

    mgcoper, even if your condition was the result of a rare reaction to the vaccine; are you seriously against the idea of vaccination programs? What is your point? The worldwide spread of disease is kept largely in check due to the inescapable fact that these programs exist. Where would we be without these vaccines?

    You should realise that millions of people are vaccinated annually, yet they don’t have any adverse reaction. Rare reactions do occur, but the risk is very small; which is the case with any medical intervention.

    It’s very selfish and illogical to take an anti-vaccination standpoint just because you’ve been dealt a bad hand. The life of those around you (family and friends) and society as a whole benefits from these vaccines.

  22. DFizzon 09 Feb 2010 at 7:52 pm

    The story seems pretty clear and pretty sad. The one thing I’d like to know more about, though, is why this current neurologist believes her symptoms to be vaccine-related. While I’m sure most of us find this unlikely, it does add a bit of weakness to the end of this post when we don’t have more information as to why a physician who has actually examined her believes that.

  23. Steven Novellaon 09 Feb 2010 at 8:29 pm

    DFizz – I held back on discussing the report because of confidentiality – but Desiree gave the report to Inside Edition so I guess she forfeited any expectation of privacy.

    I read the entire report. The details of the history and exam did not reveal anything new or surprising. The doctor pretty much paints the same picture I did above. But then at the end he throws out that it might be vaccine-related, just based on her story. He did not justify his opinion, and I think he was just giving his patient the benefit of the doubt.

    I was actually surprised when I read his conclusion because it seemed at odds with the rest of the report.

  24. DFizzon 09 Feb 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks, that pretty much covers my question. It’s too bad that his throwing that in at the end of the report will just lead to further speculation.

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