I started watching "The Shield" when the current season started a few weeks ago. It's a gritty L.A. cop story with lots of crack, tar, drive by shootings, crooked cops, gang bangers, and the thimerosal/autism connection. Say what?
That's right. Here's the scene. The series' star, Vic, and his ex-wife are interviewed by a plaintiff's attorney who tells them that there's evidence showing that the mercury in thimerosal, which was used in children's' vaccines since 1949, can cause autism. Apparently, Vic's two kids are both autistic. Vic asks "they're just now figuring this out?!" "Someone gotta pay," the ex-wife says emphatically. It has to be someone's fault, it couldn't possibly have come from the parent's gene pool.
That was last week. In this week's show, which aired Tuesday night, the lovely couple once again get a visit from the attorney who wants them to have the kids tested by a doctor of his choosing. But, the ex-wife is a nurse, so they try to persuade a friendly doctor to do the test for free. But, the friendly doc declines explaining that doctors really do care about people, at which point Vic chastises the doc for sticking up for other docs the way Vic sticks up for other cops.
My first reaction to this was to think that it was a clever product placement by some aggressive law firm. But, on second thought, it's unlikely that such an advertisement could ever get by the rules of all 50 state bar associations. So, it's the show writers trying to interject this issue, but for what reason? Is it possible that there's some personal gain to be had? Maybe some script writer is trying to taint the jury pool big time.
Or maybe it's yet another attempt to once again raise the conscienceness of the viewers to some issue personal to someone with influence. In either case, we don't need it. Here we are settled in for an evening of tv watching, and "The Shield" goes all "60 Minutes" on us giving us a dose of junk science.
I'm skeptical by nature, and there really needs some solid scientific evidence connecting the thimerosal with autism before I'm ready to get on that band wagon. If we need more studies, then let's do the studies and not confuse coincidence with causation. But, please, leave it out of the evening lineup.