“Green Our Vaccines”: Celebrity antivaccinationist ignoramuses on parade. Or: I didn’t know that Dumb & Dumber was a documentary

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(Note: In the photo above, the guy in the sunglasses behind Jim Carrey is our old friend Dr. Jay Gordon, Santa Monica antivaccinationist-sympathetic pediatrician to the beautiful people. He’s the one with his tongue sticking out.)

It’s worse than I thought.

In seeing the first bits of video last night from the “Green Our Vaccines” rally led by celebrity useful idiots Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. I had been thinking of trying to be “nicer” to them, given that their fans who have shown up here seem to think I have been very, very mean to her and that I lack compassion. I also realize that it can’t be easy to be the mother of an autistic child, even one who by all accounts is not severely affected, and that she truly believes that she is doing what is best for her son in pursuing all manner of autism quackery to “heal” him and blaming (in part) vaccines for his condition. However, Jenny routinely squanders whatever empathy I and other science-based physicians might want to have for her by saying outrageously ignorant things with depressing regularity and by having the ignorant arrogance to think that studying at the University of Google and hanging out with antivaccinationist cranks make her somehow qualified to shout down real doctors and scientists when it is obvious that she doesn’t have clue one about science or medicine. She can wave the “mother talisman” in front of her all she wants, but it won’t (nor should it) protect her from criticism when, based on pseudoscience and emotion, she goes as far to organize a march on Washington to “protest” vaccine policy. That’s why in looking at any videos that came from the rally I just had to start with Jenny. However, in doing so I got a bonus video of Jim Carrey giving a speech as well. As I watched Jim Carrey speak, contrary to some of the credulous, star-struck coverage of this march, I realized three things:

  1. In his understanding of science, Carrey is a very good comedian.
  2. In Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy has definitely found her soulmate and intellectual equal.
  3. I had never realized that Dumb & Dumber was a biographical documentary about Jim Carrey, but seeing his speech makes such a conclusion almost inescapable.


Follow along with me for a moment, and you’ll see why. The CNN video (which is clearly edited) can be found here, and an amateur video taken at a bit of a distance can be found below:

In the CNN video, the first thing we see is Jim Carrey asking the CDC, “How stupid do you think we are?” I can’t speak for the rest of the crowd or anyone else there, but if the rest of Carrey’s speech is any reliable indication of his level of knowledge and intelligence, my answer would definitely be in his specific case: “You’re pretty freakin’ stupid, Jim.” I have no way of knowing if Carrey had crank tendencies before he ever met Jenny McCarthy. Guessing from the level of paranoia in his speech, I’d guess there was a pre-existing affinity for conspiracy theories coupled with little or now knowledge of how science works. After all, it’s pretty hard to go from completely rational to this level of dumb in a mere year or so. Whatever the case, it’s clear that since he fell in love with McCarthy and formed a relationship with her son Evan Carrey’s definitely gone completely over to the dark side and become a full-fledged antivaccinationist himself. Since Jim also mentioned one of his more famous movies, Dumb & Dumber, the utter vacuousness and ignorance embodied in his remarks led me to wonder one more time whether that movie was non-fiction and Carrey was not acting. Indeed, his statement that “nobody is that stupid” was immediately and dramatically belied by what came out of his mouth during the rest of his speech. For instance, note how his statement that he is “not against all vaccines” and that “vaccines can do a lot of good” was immediately followed by this gem:

…but many of us believe that in the last few decades corporate influence has turned the vaccine program into more of a profit engine than a means of prevention. It’s time to make the people who make them, the people who insist that we take them, know once and for all that it’s too many, too soon.

Yes, I know, it’s just standard antivaccinationist big pharma conspiracy-mongering. Par for the course, and it’s not the lowest that he sank. This is:

If on the way to a burning building a fire engine ran people over, we wouldn’t stop using fire engines. We would just ask them to slow down a bit. Well it’s time to tell the CDC and the AAP that it’s time to slow the fire engine down. People are getting hurt on the way to the fire.

Ack! The stupid doesn’t just burn here. It’s far beyond that. The stupid is so concentrated that it’s on the verge of forming a black hole that will suck every trace of intelligence left on the planet into its maw and leave only ignoramuses like Jim Carrey standing, untouched and staring vacantly into the void. On the other hand, maybe Jim’s analogy could be hidden genius. Indeed, I’m still undecided whether this is the worst analogy ever or the best, albeit if it’s the best it’s the best in an unintentional way. On the one hand, consider this: A fire engine is going to save people’s lives and put out fires; if it hits someone on the way to its destination it would by definition be hitting someone who was not its intended target. For that analogy to hold with vaccines, the shots would somehow have to be killing or injuring kids who never got them. They’re not. They’re not even, as far as science can tell, causing autism. So Carrey’s analogy is quite specious. On the other hand, the analogy is unintentionally spot on. After all, if we “slow down” fire engines, it would take them longer to get to fires. Some people who might have been saved if the fire engine arrived faster would then be likely to die because the firefighters and rescue teams arrive too late. If we slowed down the vaccination schedule, as Carrey suggests, that would leave more children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases for a longer period of time, meaning that more children would certainly become ill and more might well die.

Lots to think about. Well, not really.

As hard as it is to believe, though, Jim Carrey then actually “topped” himself:

It’s time to tell them that we want real independent studies done on the effects of these vaccines. We are fed up with them trying to tell us that legitimate scientific research, court settlements that have been awarded for vaccine damage, and the overwhelming anecdotal evidence of thousands and thousands of parents and doctors do not constitute real science and don’t warrant their attention. I believe that history will prove that the moms and dads were right about autism. The sea of evidence and testimony can no longer be ignored, and those who refuse to acknowledge it now will take their place with the many learned men of the past who insisted that the earth was flat.

Perhaps “Professor” Carrey could point me to the “legitimate” scientific research that supports his view. After all, if the anecdotes are so compelling that the medical science concluding that vaccines do not cause autism should be relegated to the flat earth crowd, it should be child’s play, shouldn’t it? Perhaps “Professor” Carrey could point me to the “legitimate” scientific research that supports his view that there are too many vaccines given and that they are harmful. (Hint: The Generation Rescue telephone poll does not count. Nor does any “study” by Mark and David Geier. Nor does the recent Wakefield and Hewitson “monkey” study. Just sayin’.) Perhaps “Professor” Carrey can analyze the multiple large epidemiological studies that have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism and point out to me what makes them fatally flawed to the point that their conclusions are highly suspect and explain why he finds anecdotes more plausible than hard data.

Perhaps, but I won’t hold my breath waiting.

When I think of accusations against me of being “insensitive” or “lacking compassion” for holding nothing back when criticizing antivaccinationist nonsense, I’ll think of what Carrey said next:

And I certainly wouldn’t trust the drug companies to regulate themselves. God knows they’re far too busy fighting the terrible scourge of restless leg syndrome–also known as “lazy ass” disease.

You’ll note that if you compare the CNN video with the YouTube video it becomes immediately apparent that CNN edited out that last part about “lazy ass” disease. Nice going, CNN! Way to protect a celebrity from himself! In any case, I must point out that here we have a so-called autism advocate contemptuously mocking a whole group of people who suffer from a real syndrome that can cause real distress and is associated with real pathology.

Dumb and dumber, indeed. Why does Jim Carrey hate people with restless leg syndrome so? Does he think they don’t deserve effective medications to help them?

Enter Jenny McCarthy. I don’t want to spend a lot of time deconstructing her speech because it totally lives up (or down) to the level you would expect of her based on our past discussions of her ignorance of science. Here’s a sample:

Pediatricians, you know, take an oath, by the way, when they graduate from medical school. They really do. They take an oath to do no harm. Well harm has been done. If you take a look at the history of medicine, this lie has been told before. Do you remember when smoking was actually good for our health? Do you remember when autism was blamed on lazy mothers? We were known as refrigerator mothers, cold and uncaring to our children. Well take a look around. I believe science was wrong yet again.

Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is: It’s the bogus “science was wrong before” gambit, beloved of cranks of all stripes, be they quacks or cranks. Naturally, the implication of the “science has been wrong before” gambit is that her “science” is correct and the present scientific consensus is wrong. In other words, it’s also an implied Galileo gambit. Although Jenny’s right about the now discredited “refrigerator mother” hypothesis for the pathogenesis of autism and I can’t blame mothers for being royally ticked off at being blamed for their children’s autism in that way in the past, McCarthy is so incredibly, extravagantly, outrageously wrong in comparing the prior lack of concern about cigarette smoking to the science showing no correlation between vaccines and autism. Would it be imprudent of me to point out that the epidemiological science that demonstrated a bulletproof link between smoking and lung cancer and that smoking was associated with a number of diseases is the same sort of epidemiological science that has, despite trying in multiple large studies, failed to find a link between vaccines and autism?

Heck, “imprudent” is my middle name when it comes to blogging, so much so that I’m thinking of renaming the blog “Respectful Imprudent Insolence” and will live up to that name by quoting Jenny one more time:

People need to know that there has never been any safety testing on combinations of vaccines and yet doctors were giving eight shots at once.

This is, not surprisingly, another antivaccination canard. All new vaccines are tested in clinical trials against the background of the current vaccine schedule. In other words, if it’s a new vaccine not currently recommended, in clinical trials it’s merely added to the current schedule. If the vaccine is for the same disease as a currently used vaccine, then the trial looks at the new vaccine versus the old vaccine, all other vaccines in the schedule remaining the same. The reason we don’t do serial “one-at-a-time” trials is simple, but nonetheless antivaccinationists never seem able to grasp the concept: It would be extremely unethical to withhold protective vaccines from children in order to test them against no vaccines because it would leave the no vaccine group of children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. Of course, many antivaccinationists, at least the ones with some knowledge of how clinical trials work, know this. The reason antivaccinationists make this claim is in order to imply that every possible combination of vaccines need to be tested individually and that, if this isn’t done, there “has never been any safety testing of combinations of vaccines.” What utter twaddle! In reality, this is yet another thinly-disguised attempt to move the goalposts. More savvy antivaccinationists know that the kind of testing they demand is unethical, prohibitively expensive, and impractical, but demanding it allows them to claim (falsely) that there is no science supporting the safety of the current vaccine schedule and provide a complaint that sounds as though it has merit to those without a background in medicine and clinical trials. It’s every much a technique to move the goalposts as the “Green Our Vaccines” slogan is.

For all the negativity that I’ve been expressing of late, thanks to Jen & Jim’s antivaccination-fest in our nation’s capital this week (don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing this forever and can’t wait to take a break from blogging about antivaccinationists), all may not be lost. It turns out that Jim & Jen are so much the real life Dumb & Dumber, at least when it comes to vaccines and autism, that even those suspicious of vaccines may be starting to realize just how toxically ignorant they are:

I caught Jenny and Jim on the Good Morning America show this morning and listened for about half of the segment. I was struck at the statements they made and how clearly they did not understand the science behind vaccines, autism, and the Hanna Poling (sp?) case, which of course, came up. I called my sister and said with surprise, “you know, they’re not very smart, are they? You can tell, that they just don’t get the hard science, or they have chosen not to look at it.” She said, “Of course they don’t. Most people don’t get that stuff.” Unfortunately, she’s right.

The difference, of course, is that most people have the humility to realize that they “don’t get” this stuff. Jenny, with her University of Google “degree,” doesn’t. Whatever struggles she may have had to undergo as the mother of an autistic child do not give her a free pass when she not only spouts scientifically ignorant misinformation about vaccines and autism but never missing a chance to use her celebrity and that of her boyfriend to try to dazzle credulous reporters and persuade other parents of autistic children that she knows what she’s talking about. She should not get a pass when she glamorizes quackery, which could persuade confused parents desperate to do anything they can for their children to follow her lead in subjecting their children to dubious and unproven “therapies” to “heal” their child’s autism based on the mistaken belief that they are somehow “vaccine injured.”

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THE “GREEN OUR VACCINES” COLLECTION:

  1. The Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey rally to “Green Our Vaccines”: Anti-vaccine, not “pro-safe vaccine”!
  2. An Open Letter to Congress on Immunization
  3. “Green Our Vaccines”: Further skeptical reading
  4. “Green Our Vaccines”: Serendipity and schadenfreude as antivaccinationists go to war
  5. “Green Our Vaccines”: Best comment EVAH! Or: How to preserve biological diversity through not vaccinating
  6. “Green Our Vaccines”: Celebrity antivaccinationist ignoramuses on parade. Or: I didn’t know that Dumb & Dumber was a documentary
  7. “Green Our Vaccines”: “Pro-safe vaccine” or anti-vaccine? You be the judge!
  8. “Green Our Vaccines”: “Pro-safe vaccine” or anti-vaccine? You be the judge! (Part 2)
  9. “Green Our Vaccines”: The fallacy of the perfect solution