The 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award (a.k.a Bill Maher) “doesn’t believe in” vaccines or “Western medicine”

No màs! No màs! I surrender!

I give up!

I tried. I really, really did try. I tried really, really hard not to look at the flaming idiocy of Bill Maher again, much less comment on it again. Here I am, in Chicago at the American College of Surgeons annual meeting, taking in all sorts of surgical goodness, trying to take a break from blogging. It’s not so much to ask, is it? I didn’t think so, anyway.

Then, exactly a week after he accepted the Richard Dawkins Award, Bill Maher couldn’t help it but let his freak flag fly! In fact, he started out an interview with Bill Frist by asking:

“Conservatives always say about health care, especially, you know, are you going to let the government run health care? They screw everything up. So why would you let them be the ones to stick a disease into your arm?”

After Bill Frist interjected to ask whether Maher was talking about the swine flu vaccine Maher continued, “I would never get a swine flu vaccine or any vaccine.”

That’s right, the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award is an anti-vaccine wingnut, and he couldn’t even wait a week to spew even more pseudoscience to dishonor the name of Richard Dawkins. Look for yourself:

But even that wasn’t enough. I decided to try assiduously to avoid this latest bit of antivaccine lunacy from the idiot known as Bill Maher, a.k.a. the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award, courtesy of the Atheist Alliance International. After all, it’s just par for the course. It’s nothing that those of us who have followed Maher for the last four years hadn’t known about for a long time. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before. So, even though the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award was there spewing his anti-vaccine nonsense on his HBO television show, initially I didn’t see much point in dredging this up again. After all, as I had already listed multiple examples of Maher doing exactly the same thing in a post in which I suggested that people ask Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins some questions.

But, you, my readers wouldn’t relent. You kept sending me links to the video, beginning Friday night, and you didn’t stop. Even then, even though the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award was spewing his usual brand of anti-vaccine nonsense, the same sort of nonsense that he had been spewing for years before he received the Richard Dawkins Award and which anyone who had clue one about Maher would have easily discovered before giving him the Richard Dawkins Award, still I held back. After all, I was in Chicago, having a good time, and looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends and colleagues whom I only get to see maybe once a year. Maher could wait. Or I could just let this latest idiocy pass. After all, there’s sure to be more idiocy from his lips sooner or later. It’s inevitable, because the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award is a complete and total flaming wingnut when it comes to medicine. In fact, I’m surprised that the NVIC didn’t invite him to its latest conference to be the entertainment. Either that, or next we’ll be seeing him blog for the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism before long.

Then it was pointed out to me that P.Z. Myers had referred to Maher as a “moron on medicine,” which is, of course, completely true. Even though it seemed that the universe had turned inside out, with PZ blogging about anti-vaccine loons and me blogging about evolution and showing Richard Dawkins trying to wade through the burning sea of stupid that is Bill O’Reilly, still I held back.

Then I was told that there was a post on that repository of antivaccine pseudoscience and lies, The Huffington Post, calling Bill Maher out for his anti-vaccine rant at Bill Frist.

Now that, I couldn’t allow to stand. The repository of all medical woo and anti-vaccine lies all the time called out the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award for his dangerous anti-vaccine pseudoscience, and I hadn’t? Oh, no, no, no, no, no! That’s my territory! So out of my blog break I now come for the moment.

Let’s just put it this way. The flu vaccine doesn’t give you the flu; diet and exercise will not make you somehow magically immune to the flu; and Bill Maher’s advice is potentially deadly to anyone who listens to him. In comparison, Bill Frist looks like the epitome of science and reason, and that‘s saying something. In fact, I did so love the part where Maher said to Frist, “You say that as though I’m a crazy person,” and Frist replied, “Well, here you are.”

The look on Maher’s face was priceless. So was the smirk and shrug Maher did when Frist told him point blank, “You’re wrong” and “look at the science.”

After that, Bill went on to rant about how he cannot believe that a “perfectly healthy” person died of the flu, and things deteriorated from there. into the purest nonsense. Here’s a hint for Bill: Reality doesn’t care what you do or do not “believe.” Really. It doesn’t. Worst, Maher tried to twist evolutionary arguments to claim that vaccines are useless because “viruses are always mutating,” after which he went on to give highly dangerous advice, namely that pregnant women should not get the swine flu vaccine. Most pathetically, Maher also quoted Jonas Salk about live virus vaccines having the potential to cause the disease they are directed against, showing clearly that he doesn’t understand the difference between an attenuated live virus vaccine and a killed virus vaccine–or, these days, a vaccine made of recombinant viral protein antigens.

And the AAI gave this wingnut the Richard Dawkins Award.

You know, I’m not going to let the AAI forget it, either. From here on out, each time I blog about Bill Maher’s support for quackery, his science-free hatred of vaccines, or his claims that healthy living will magically protect people against deadly infectious diseases, I am going to refer to him as the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award.

Because that’s what Bill Maher is.

He’s an anti-vaccine, quackery-supporting font of flaming moronicity every bit as bad as Ken Ham, Michael Behe, or any flak from the Discovery Institute. His views on medicine are every bit as much ideology driven as any view on evolution from a creationist. Indeed, the vitalism from which Maher’s germ theory denialism derives is every bit as much a mystical, religious viewpoint as that of the worst hard core young earth creationist. And he’s the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award.

Good going, AAI.

ADDENDUM: Yes, as has been pointed out in the comments, this is the perfect description for how I felt having to blog about this again:

Actually, I’m sure I’ve used this clip before. At least twice. But it fits, so I’m using it again.