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Jenny McCarthy drives the stupidity to ever higher levels on–where else?–The Huffington Post

Way back on May 25, 2005, I first noticed something about a certain political group blog. It was something unsavory, something vile, something pseudoscientific. It was the fetid stench of quackery, but not just any quackery. It was anti-vaccine quackery, and the blog was Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post, where a mere 16 days after its being unleashed upon an unsuspecting world I characterized the situation as Antivaccination rhetoric running rampant on The Huffington Post. It was the start of a long running series that rapidly resulted in parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in the course of a mere month before I gave up counting. Now you can just search for “Huffington and vaccine” on this blog and pull up dozens of examples of HuffPo’s support for the most insane varieties of anti-vaccine nuttery. Dr. Jay Gordon? Check. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.? Check. David Kirby? Check. Bill Maher? Check.

Jim Carrey? Extra double triple check. (Man, the level of burning stupid in that one was beyond anything I had seen before.)

Through it all, I had noticed that there was an anti-vaccine activist missing from the pseudoscientific roll of shame that regularly appeared on HuffPo. As you may have guessed, for some reason, in the three years or so since she became a “mother warrior” anti-vaccine loon, Jenny McCarthy hadn’t blogged for HuffPo, even though she’s an ideal candidate. She’s a celebrity. She’s anti-vaccine. Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete. She seemed to be perfect. On the other hand, I speculated that maybe–just maybe–even HuffPo has standards, and, as McCarthy has shown on Twitter,without a ghostwriter coauthor she appears unable to handle stringing even a mere 140 characters together into a coherent thought. Trying to produce a full 1,000-word post with such thin gruel would strain even HuffPo’s woo-friendly readership.

I guess I was wrong. Yesterday, there appeared on HuffPo a post under Jenny McCarthy’s name entitled Who’s afraid of the truth about autism? Yes, the stupid continues to burn, except this time it’s metastasized to HuffPo, to add to its already existing flame of burning stupid.

Somehow, I can’t help but get a picture of Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup shouting at Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” Except that it isn’t supporters of science-based medicine who are constantly trying to swat down the lies of anti-vaccine propagandists like Jenny McCarthy and the organization for which she and her boyfriend Jim Carrey have become spokescelebrities who can’t handle the truth. It’s anti-vaccine loons like Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, and the organization they represent who can’t handle the truth, which is that there is no scientifically credible evidence to support their belief that vaccines are a major cause of autism. Jenny McCarthy goes on to demonstrate just that from the very first sentence:

Parents of recovered children, and I’ve met hundreds, all share the same experience of doubters and deniers telling us our child must have never even had autism or that the recovery was simply nature’s course. We all know better, and frankly we’re too busy helping other parents to really care.

How many quacks dismiss criticism, excuse their inability to provide scientific evidence, and justify their use of anecdotes and pseudoscience by saying they’re all “too busy” helping others to bother with little things like evidence, science, or reason. They just know. They don’t need no steekin’ science!

Of course, as Kev points out, Jenny’s track record with regard to the truth isn’t so hot. In fact, it sucks. She and her boyfriend have spread egregious misinformation about vaccines, in particular the “toxingambit, and her knowledge of science is so risibly lacking that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I watch this video. She keeps spreading lies about there being antifreeze and “fetal parts” in vaccines. Nothing she says about vaccines, autism, or science can be considered the least bit reality-based, as we see with McCarthy’s question:

Who’s afraid of autism recovery? Perhaps it’s the diagnosticians and pediatricians who have made a career out of telling parents autism is a hopeless condition.

Actually, no one’s afraid of autism recovery! At least no one that I’ve ever seen. Certainly scientists aren’t. As Prometheus points out, as many as 19% of autistic children recover. As Kev points out, Helt et al report that between 3% and 25% of autistic children recover. Even if it’s only 3%, that’s still a heck of a lot of “recovered” children, and almost none of them received any “biomedical” intervention. It’s impossible to know if any of the “biomedical” quackery that people like McCarthy promote does any good except through randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Absent a finding of a higher percentage of “recovered” children in the treatment arm of the trial, there’s no reliable basis to claim a benefit from any of the “biomedical” woo that McCarthy has been selling since 2007.

Not that that stops Jenny from spewing yet more anti-vaccine lies:

The idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism’s 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling of the US vaccine schedule.

With so many kids with autism, the environment has to be to blame, and vaccines are an obvious culprit. Almost all kids get vaccines — injected toxins — very early in life, and our own government clearly acknowledges vaccines cause brain damage in certain vulnerable kids.

Actually, yes, the idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism is a crackpot idea, a classic case of confusing correlation with causation. It’s an idea that has been refuted time and time again through scientific and epidemiological study, and there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism. That’s why people who think that vaccines are a primary cause of autism are…well, crackpots–like Jenny McCarthy. Also note how the crackpot Jenny McCarthy characterizes vaccines as “injected toxins.” Clearly, the many attempts of proponents of science-based medicine to point out that (1) many of the “toxins” that Jenny believes to be in vaccines are in fact not in vaccines and (2) the dose makes the poison and that the “toxins” in vaccines are not toxic at the doses present in vaccines. None of this stopp Jenny from proceeding to lay down a swath of flaming stupid so intense that it threatens to cleanse the entire surface of the earth of anything resembling intelligence above that of a paramecium:

Time magazine’s article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain “vaccines don’t cause autism; they don’t injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health.”

I say, “that’s a lie and we’re sick of it.”

My retort: Jenny McCarthy is lying, and I’m sick of it. I’m particularly sick of straw men like this:

How do you say vaccines don’t injure kids, when a government website shows more than 1,000 claims of death and over $1.9 billion paid out in damages for vaccine injury, mostly to children?

Perhaps its better to say vaccines have both benefits and risks? Who’s afraid of being honest about the good and the bad of vaccines?

No one in the medical establishment, Jenny McCarthy’s straw man argument notwithstanding, claims that there are no risks to vaccines. No responsible scientist or physician denies that vaccines have risks, as do all medical interventions to some extent or another. What McCarthy’s dim intellect cannot fathom is that it is a question or risks versus benefits, and the benefits of vaccination far outweight its tiny risks. Once again, the nirvana fallacy (a.k.a. the fallacy of the perfect solution) rears its ugly head. To Jenny, vaccines must be absolutely, positively, 100% safe or they are far too dangerous to use. Binary thinking. Either or. No shades of gray. It’s fundamentalism at its finest, although not so fundamentalist that McCarthy can’t proclaim just how much she loves to inject a real toxin into her skin in order to stave off aging. Apparently for the sake of maintaining a youthful appearance McCarthy can understand the concept of risk-benefit ratios, but when it comes to protecting children against infectious diseases even a one in a million risk of serious adverse reactions is too high for her to accept.

She doesn’t even know the real story of Andrew Wakefield:

In the recent case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, why did the press constantly report that his 1998 study said the MMR caused autism when anyone could read the study and know that it didn’t? And, why did we never hear that the actual finding of Dr. Wakefield’s study — that children with autism are suffering from bowel disease — has been replicated many times?

Does Jenny mean “replicated” the way that Mady Hornig replicated Wakefield’s findings? Oh, wait. Hornig tried to replicate Wakefield’s study and found exactly the opposite of what Wakefield reported. She found zero correlation between vaccines and GI sypmptoms or measles virus in the gut. Zilch. In fact, the only “replications” of Wakefield’s study have come from groups associated with Wakefield or the anti-vaccine movement and have all been just as bad in terms of science.

Of course, it’s also highly amusing that McCarthy would wonder why the press reported that Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper showed that vaccines caused autism. It is true that the study itself didn’t explicitly say that vaccines cause autism, most likely because peer reviewers wouldn’t let Wakefield conclude something like that from the incredibly thin gruel of “data” from 12 children reported in Wakefield’s case series cum study. As I’ve pointed out before, Wakefield was out and about giving press conferences and interviews to any bunch of dupes reporters who would listen around the time his study was released. With no evidence to support him, he proclaimed to anyone who would listen that the MMR vaccine was too risky for children and instead recommended that children receive the three component vaccines of the MMR separately. Thanks to Wakefield’s fear mongering and his credulous, sensationalist lapdogs in the press, soon the message was being spread far and wide throughout the U.K. that the MMR vaccine causes autism and/or “autistic enterocolitis.” Soon fear of the MMR vaccine drove MMR uptake rates in the U.K. to dangerously low levels, as low as 50% in some regions. The result was predictable. Measles came roaring back with a vengeance to the point where it is once again endemic in the U.K.

Seeing the utter idiocy that is Jenny McCarthy’s latest post in HuffPo, I am left with questions. First, did Jenny MCarthy really write this post? I highly doubt it. She has shown no evidence of being able to write coherently before and a lot of evidence that she can’t string two sentences together. Despite spreading anti-vaccine propaganda for nearly three years, she has never blogged for HuffPo, even though I’m sure HuffPo, seeking yet another celebrity anti-vaccine pseudoscience maven for its stable of celebrity anti-vaccine pseudoscience-loving bloggers, has almost certainly invited her many times. That leads to two more questions: First, who actually did write this bit of idiocy? Who in Generation Rescue is stupid enough to fall for the “toxin” gambit but still able to string together the occasional article that is semi-comprehensible? David Kirby is much too clever to use such obvious and easily debunked tropes. Mark Blaxill might have written it, as it echoes much of what he wrote just last week, and the writing style seems potentially consistent. Yet doubts persist because, although not as slippery-clever as Kirby, Blaxill isn’t as rock dumb as Jenny McCarthy. That’s why I’m not sure. It could be J.B. Handley too, although the writing style seems too restrained, insufficiently vicious, and lacking in testosterone-laced braggadocio to be J.B. On the other hand, the post does repeat J.B.’s frequent talking point about the MMR vaccine.

Whoever wrote this tripe, the second additional question that comes to mind is: Why now?

That’s a tougher one to answer. Why would Jenny McCarthy, after two and a half years as a “mother warrior” anti-vaccine activist finally decide to write for HuffPo, either herself (unlikely) or through a ghost writer (far more likely)? My guess is that Wakefield’s fall has hurt the anti-vaccine movement more than they’re willing to admit, in particular Generation Rescue. After all, all within less than a month, Andrew Wakefield was found guilty of ethical lapses in research, had his 1998 Lancet paper revoked, saw his last hope for scientific “redemption” (his “monkey study”) withdrawn, and was then fired from Thoughtful House. GR had staked its reputation on Wakefield, even going so far as to liken him to Galileo and the General Medical Council to the Inquisition. Wakefield’s collapse threatened GR’s ability to agitate for the pseudoscience that vaccines cause autism; so they brought out their big guns.

Sadly, Jenny McCarthy appears to have sunk so deeply into anti-vaccine woo that she may well be beyond redemption. Thanks to Oprah, she has her television show, which, from what I read, seems to be on track for debuting in the fall. Backing away from her anti-vaccine views would take two things she clearly doesn’t have: integrity and brains.

As for HuffPo, it is the most hilariously hypocritical of venues, and Jenny McCarthy is a perfect fit for its anti-vaccine propagandizing. My only remaining question is: What took HuffPo so long? Of course, what’s even more amusing is this notice from HuffPo when its editors removed a post by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who had posted a conspiracy-laden article agreeing with several of the lies of the 9/11 Truther movement:

Editor’s Note: The Huffington Post’s editorial policy, laid out in our blogger guidelines, prohibits the promotion and promulgation of conspiracy theories — including those about 9/11. As such, we have removed this post.

In response, Alex Pareene at the Gawker noted drily that there is another post that HuffPo should remove using the same policy:

Because today, the very same Huffington Post published this wonderful post from dangerous nutcase Jenny McCarthy about how autism is caused by vaccines and can be cured with experimental treatments that the established medical community doesn’t want you to know about. We can only assume that as soon as the editors discover this conspiratorial nonsense, they will promptly remove it.

Good luck with that Alex. Given that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories were ingrained into the DNA of HuffPo from its very beginning and Arianna Huffington herself is a big fan of woo, there’s about as much chance of that happening as there is that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by cruise missiles disguised holographically as airplanes. Come to think of it, there’s about the same chance that (1) Andrew Wakefield is a competent, honest scientist; (2) vaccines cause autism; or (3) Jenny McCarthy will ever understand science as the “no plane” conspiracy theory for 9/11 has of being true. Ditto the chance that McCarthy will ever learn the error of her anti-vaccine ways through science and reason. Why should she anyway? It’s so much more profitable to be a “mother warrior” against vaccines.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

160 replies on “Jenny McCarthy drives the stupidity to ever higher levels on–where else?–The Huffington Post”

Interesting post. I had no idea she had never written there. After hearing about all the other crazy article, and Carrey writing there I thought she must have written a few articles in the past. But I just cannot handle a visit to that site to read these things so I never went looking.

BTW: There seems to be a bit of a runaway blockquote.

You’ve made a serious error in that post. You’ve overestimated Jenny McCarthy’s brainpower by a factor of two or so.

My neighbor, whose (vaccinated) children, 5 and 9, attend an LA charter school, told me 45 percent of the children there are unvaccinated. I’m guessing McCarthy has had a substantial part in influencing this idiocy.

Well there you have it. Serves me right for thinking she might have changed her mind in the tabloids.

Prepare for inevitable quote-mining, Orac.

Orac wrote,

(2) vaccines cause autism

“What McCarthy’s dim intellect cannot fathom is that it is a question or risks versus benefits, and the benefits of vaccination far outweight its tiny risks.”

I think this touches on a bigger issue in the whole alternative medicine universe – the obsession with the side-effects of mainstream treatments, all the while ignoring the condition they treat. I know a homeopath whose mother was in hosptial with a superbug urinary tract infection. The hopsital had her on Meropenem which, being an ultra-broad spectrum antibiotic effective against resistant strains, will also go to town on intestinal flora. The daughter was going on about how awful this treatment was because of the diarrhea and kind of implied that the doctors were using it to punish her mother for getting the infection.
For me, given the choice between a superbug urinary tract infection or temporary bout of diarrhea, it isn’t exactly the money or the box.

I love how she talks about “injectible toxins” being so bad while at the same time she goes on about how much she loves, er, Botox injections.

Apparently for the sake of staying young-looking McCarthy can understand the concept of risk-benefit ratios, but when it comes to protecting children against infectious diseases even a one in a million risk is too high.

If by that you mean protecting EVERYONE, of course.

Quoting Orac “the truth, which is that there is no convincing evidence to support their belief that vaccines are a major cause of autism.”

Some of the general public will read the word “convincing” and conclude that there is evidence of some kind. Creating doubt and an opening for the anti-vaccine rhetoric to be effective.

“Some of the general public will read the word “convincing” and conclude that there is evidence of some kind. Creating doubt and an opening for the anti-vaccine rhetoric to be effective.” -gski

That to me seems reason enough to put forth campaign to explain to the general public that science doesn’t deal in absolute truths and certainty. As Orac said, there are shades of grey and we really ought to be teaching people to how to thoughtful apply their cynicism rather than swallow this crap simply because it deviates from the established medical practice.

Does anyone know of a resource that SIMPLY and GRAPHICALLY demonstrates the benefits of vaccines?

I’m thinking of perhaps a one page document that lists each disease, indicates how many people were killed or disfigured by the disease (perhaps with a picture that shows a victim) before a vaccine was developed and then indicates how many people suffer from that same disease today. It might also include testimonials from people who lived at the time such diseases were prevalent and personally experienced the horrors involved.

Ideally it would be short and simple enough to be pasted into a blog comment (such as the one this post refers to), and emotionally striking enough that it might get the attention of simple-minded, ignorant people such as Jenny McCarthy or Oprah’s viewers.

In the 1970s when my children were vaccinated all of them experienced febrile seizures w/temps averaging 104-105. Like other ‘warriors’ with give birth, I ‘knew’ the steekin science was not right. And lo these many years later we find the FDA does only spot checking at best on production of medications, medicines we take for every type of illness including vaccines that are produced in multiple plants in multiple countries outside the US. Laugh as you like as the unscientific knowledge of mothers trying to protect and find answers to destroyed and limited lives they had great hopes and dreams for, but know as we do, its not a simple matter of beneficient science and governments and dumb bunny moms.

@TimonT

Another interesting idea would be something like the truth.com folks have done. Short videos of two groups of people. One group represents a non-vaccinated population and the other represents a vaccinated population. Someone with a bullhorn tells the groups to raise their hand if they represent someone who would suffer complications. Then asks them to keep their hands raised and those who represent people who would die from the disease to fall down.

Orac — Delivering the Insolence so you don’t have to!
but, I think I’d have said “There is no credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link, instead of no convincing evidence.

Wakefield, McCarthy and Handley or Larry Moe and Curly.
I’ll take the original stooges.

@15 – So basically, getting HIB Meningitis and suffering a seizure from a massive increase in intercranial pressure and pending herniation of the brain stem is better than having a febrile seziure that is mostly benign and temperatures that are easily controlled by NSAIDS, Paracetamol, and passive interventions?

Oh, and I highly doubt that “ALL” children had seizures because of a vaccine, but you’re more than welcome to present proof. While febrile seizures as a result of fever are a known side effect of many vaccine, they’re often benign. You’re more than welcome to present proof of your arguement.

I had a 104 fever from getting the vaccine cocktail the army gives. Yet, somehow, I never had a single seizure.

I hate to say this, but I’ve seen more dumb moms, expecially the ones who are educated at the University of Google in the aspects of Diagnosis, in my line of work than anything else. The last time a mom told me it was a febrile seizure, it turned out to be meningitis. (Yes, I know. I’m a bitter healthcare professional)

“Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete. She seemed to be perfect.”

Ouch. That line alone made me snort my morning coffee.

Oh, and I highly doubt that “ALL” children had seizures because of a vaccine, but you’re more than welcome to present proof

I was just reading a page with side effects for the MMR vaccine, and 3/10000 having seizures is what I saw. 20% will have elevated temps (103 or more). That means that about 1 in a thousand _who have fevers_ have associated seizures. And only 1 in a million have life-threatening complications, which means that 1 in 100 _with seizures_ are life-threatening.

“There is no credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link, instead of no convincing evidence.

How about “There is no scientifically credible evidence for a vaccine-autism link,” which is what I changed the sentence to?

I read Kev’s open letter Jenny McCarthy yesterday and found it superb, concise and spot on. Orac’s expansion and detail are informative (as always) but the original letter is excellent. Kev might consider doing this up as a poster for pediatrician’s waiting rooms.

I NEVER think in absolutes, and am not a Sith in any way.

Although I did play one in a movie once….

Funny – I saw that article yesterday and I immediately thought “JB Handley.”  Mainly because “McCarthy” wrote this:

How do you say vaccines don’t cause autism when only a single vaccine — MMR — has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism?

While last week, Handley wrote this in a comment on your blog:

Meanwhile, only one vaccine has been studied for its relationship to autism (MMR)

Of course, one could have easily copied from the other. 

The interesting thing will be in another 5-10 years when people are truly able to do studies of the current unvaccinated population. What happens when these studies show no difference in autism (or perhaps even an INCREASE in autism rates) for the unvaccinated? Will these studies be ignored also? There must be vastly increasing numbers of children in whacko communities who are getting autism despite not being vaccinated – what do these parents blame? “Toxins” from non-organic food?

@TimonT
The CDC has an online book called “the Pink Book” which describes each vaccine and within each chapter are great graphs that show the number of disease cases for each disease agaist dates and you can quickly see once a vaccine is introduced the number of cases begins to drop and then flatlines. They are wonderful graphs based on actually numbers. The link is http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/default.htm
The content of the book is for health care professionals but the graphs are very clear.

Interestingly, Jenny may actually say *something* of value here: she informs us that the doctors who dreamed up these so-called treatments leading to “recovery” have children with autism. In other words, their desperation may have led them down the path of irrationality.At AutismWatch,James Laidler,a doctor, details his own descent into woo, following the diagnoses of his two children: he even shilled for some who offered these treatments. Fortunately,Dr. Laidler “recovered” his reason, as he clearly explains, and became an advocate for SB treatment.(BTW, where is Deirdre Imus? My SO hasn’t heard a single word about vaccines lately on Imus’ so-called Sports Radio Show.Her “Dierdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology @ HUMC” is actually in my neck of the(non)woods.Haven’t heard a peep.)

How do you say vaccines don’t cause autism when only a single vaccine — MMR — has ever been looked at for its relationship to autism?

God she makes me want to slap her.

Assuming it’s true (and I don’t know and don’t care), why might it be that MMR is the only vaccine that has been looked at for its relationship to autism? Because for 10 FRIGGIN YEARS after Wakefield’s paper came out, all we heard was how MMR caused autism and the horror stories of how my kid was perfectly normal, got the MMR vaccine and that afternoon turned autistic!!!

Moreover, I’ve mentioned this many times, but at least for MMR, there is a reason to believe there COULD be an association. Most visible autism symptoms do show up near the same times that kids are getting their MMR vaccines, and so it does make sense to ask the question of whether there is any relation.

Of course, now that it has been established that there ISN’T a relationship, the loons have abandoned the MMR ship faster than Severus Snape when threatened with shampoo, and tried some other shit, hoping that we won’t notice the fact that they have suddenly abandoned all their friends who say their kids were fine until they got the MMR shot. Ironically, this even includes JB Handley. Then again, Handley has suddenly changed his tune to where that child of his that was healthy and happy until the MMR shot is now reported as having suffered serious health problems when he was 2 months old.

The reason science has focused on MMR is because 1) scientifically, it is the best place to start, and, in fact, the only one that has any reason to study in the first place (studies of other vaccines are no more indicated than are studies of any random feature you can think of), and 2) because that is the vaccine that the autism folks have been attacking!

You can’t sit for ten years and bitch about the problem of MMR, and then once it is addressed, complain that no one has looked at anything except MMR.

First it was thimerasol. That got taken out, so it moved to MMR (which never had thimerasol). That got covered, so now they move onto something completely unrelated again. Bah.

@ Pablo
“You can’t sit for ten years and bitch about the problem of MMR, and then once it is addressed, complain that no one has looked at anything except MMR.”
Oh yes they can and that is their MO…shift the goalpost at anytime they feel like it because they are not confined by facts or reality. Its a total free for all with them.
Also nice geek/nerd reference in your post…i love those

@Pablo and DrKnow

The antivax movement takes 1984 as a prophetic text. They look and see agents of the Ministry of Truth making things disappear and history rewritten. What they don’t realize is that they are looking in a mirror.

@ Pablo: Exactly.Right now they’re looking for other things to blame- some possibilities: Russell Blalock: Fear the Aspartame! In a press release for Janine Roberts’ book,”Fear of the Invisible”:”Thus it’s not just the mercury- there are thousands of things in vaccines”, such as grotty monkey kidney cells.Deirdre Imus: Coal tar used to make carpets?(HuffPo,11-26-09)that your bebe crawls on!Adams and Null have harped on other vaccines as well(flu,H1N1) as relating to autism.

Frankly, this article has really piqued my interest in one specific kind of intervention; people, we need to gather the funding to research and develop a viable McCarthy Vaccine.

Once developed, this vaccine will effectively block messaging from a significant percentage of the McCarthy cohort. Sadly, unintended side-effects may include the muzzling of my neighbour, Bob McCarthy, but that’s a burden I’m willing to suffer if it means making the world a measurably less McCarthic place for the generations of the future.

So, which makes more sense: should we vaccinate the general population with this miracle drug once it is ready for human use, or should we just cut to the chase and vaccinate Jenny directly?

…Come to think of it, we don’t need a cutting-edge vaccine to mitigate Jenny’s harm. How about a good old fashioned ball-and-duct-tape gag?

Food for thought.

Yours,
CBB

Sadly, Jenny McCarthy appears to have sunk so deeply into anti-vaccine woo that she may well be beyond redemption.

I think that is a sign of someone who is a fundamentalist and no longer a reasoning member of reality. When one is so sure of being right that they are immune to any evidence of the contrary.

@toddW
1984 pfff shows their depths of delusion…when we all know it’s the lizard men under Mt Shasta that have signaled the way and control the infosphere. or was that the illuminati…big pharma? I don’t know I get confused.
Sorry Orac I digressed in my commenting
Vaccines are unquestionably the BEST public health triumph …ever
There made up for my digressions
I feel like I just asked for absolution from Orac
hummm

There appears to be some sacred cows there on HuffPo for whom certain comments don’t go through in response to. Namely, Kim Stagliano and Kelly Ann Davis. I wonder why they won’t venture outside of their echo chambers and engage in uncensored debate; I would happily volunteer to be part of the pro-science side.

Matt @ 26:

Kim Stagliano at Age of Autism has three autistic children, the youngest completely unvaccinated. Ms. Stagliano blames her own childhood vaccinations for the “toxic load” that she passed on to the youngest child during pregnancy, resulting in autism. So it’s still all vaccines, all the time.

Coal tar used to make carpets?

LOL!!!!

When I teach gen chem, one of the things we talk about is how important crude oil is in terms of all the things we get out of it. It’s not just gasoline and motor oil, but it serves as feedstock for almost all our drugs and other synthetics, like plastics.

The plastic that makes your keys on your keyboard was likely obtained from a barrel of oil, as are the nylons and dye in the paint on the wall and your ibuprofin you took for a headache last week. And, yes, your carpet.

Things like coal tar and crude oil are very important, and used massively in our society.

@Rae #15

Has anyone else noticed that the only people who have been saying that parents are stupid is the anti-vaccine crowd? I’ve never heard Orac or any other source talk about “dumb bunny moms” or disparage the sincerity of the parents in any way. Being susceptible to a logical fallacy or heuristic thinking is not at all the same thing as being “stupid”. Stupid is recognizing all the evidence and STILL making the wrong decision, which is why the GR gang qualify.

There’s nothing wrong with being scared, and while it may be a little suspect to go to only one source for information before making a potentially life-threatening decision, I might even be able to forgive that. Nobody’s accusing parents of being stupid, or evil, just woefully misguided.

Then again, recognition of this fact would require a level of self-examination that I’m sad to say seems completely impossible to Truthers of any kind.

@DrKnow To recap:We are employed by an esoteric cartel variously referred to as “the Masons,the Illuminati,Big Pharma,the Bilderberg group”, etc. This is the human facade we present for our *draconian* Overlords( who are _not_ *actually* lizards, but similar) who are nowhere *near* Mt. Shasta but are known to sometimes alight in Sonoma redwood groves.However, it is important to point out that the entire scenario is a joke, just sport,parody, mockery.It is by no means *real*.I repeat: a joke.

he claimed that the MMR was too risky and recommended that children receive the three compoentent vaccines of the MMR separately.

Wakefield being a fruitcake aside, is there anything wrong with vaccinating measles, mumps and rubella separately? Or is the issue that people avoid the MMR vaccine, then don’t bother with the individual vaccines either?

“Who’s afraid of autism recovery? Perhaps it’s the diagnosticians and pediatricians who have made a career out of telling parents autism is a hopeless condition.”

I wonder how those wicked diagnosticians and pediatricians could make even MORE money out of autism?

Oh, I know! Open clinics offering cures for autism. Special tip: Don’t accept insurance reimbursement–those insurance companies really cut into your profits. Heck, you don’t even have to be an MD to get in on this cash cow.

njk, I’m not sure if anyone has done any studies comparing the MMR versus three separate vaccinations. However, assuming the two choices are equally effective I would personally go for the combined – two fewer injections for the child is preferable IMO, considering kids usually hate getting shots.

@njk

Well, there are a few cons to separating the vaccines:

1) Most obviously, it requires 3 times as many punctures with a needle.
2) All those “toxins” that antivaxers are worried about being in the MMR would, then, be injected at greater amounts.
3) Compliance to a vaccine schedule with separated, individual vaccines is likely to be lower, resulting in poorer vaccine uptake and, subsequently, immunity.

One thing that always puzzled me about Wakefield’s claims that the MMR caused a gut disease due to measles taking up residence in the gut is how his patented to-be-developed single measles vaccine would be any better.

@njk

They either don’t bother at all or they don’t finish the course. The MMR is generally one shot (maybe a booster later I can’t remember) but to do them separately can involve half a dozen or more separate visits to the doctor as each is given one at a time followed by boosters. You then leave yourself vulnerable for a long period of time until the full course has been completed.

Not to mention that if you are concerned about additives (e.g. by listening to the libelous claims of a playboy model) you’ve just multiplied the amount of those additives by a huge factor.

@njk

Additionally, there are real honest-to-spaghetti-monster risks associated with vaccines, so the fewer shots that are necessary to give efficacious protection against potentially debilitating/fatal illness, the better.

Please note that this should not be interpreted as a call for “fewer shots”. If there are indeed unnecessary shots on the schedule then that’s something, but I don’t know that this is the case. I’ve heard chicken pox cited as an “unnecessary vaccine”, but Shingles is a real thing and it’s painful as all hell. Preventing that seems like it’s worth the risk.

Also, from a cost-effectiveness perspective, 3 shots are more expensive in terms of physician time, supplies, shipping, etc. so a combination shot that is equally efficacious/effective is preferred.

When I teach gen chem, one of the things we talk about is how important crude oil is in terms of all the things we get out of it. It’s not just gasoline and motor oil, but it serves as feedstock for almost all our drugs and other synthetics, like plastics.

That reminds me of my favorite form of baiting extreme environmentalists. I’ll comment that “it’s really such a bad idea to have cars running on gasoline; they should all be switched to electric.” And they’ll be all “yeah, right on!” Then I follow up with “then we could run all our cars off nuclear power plants, and use the oil to make plastic instead!” The expressions are priceless.

On-topic: It’s also quite interesting to ponder the similarities between Jenny McCarthy and a certain Senator Joseph McCarthy. Particularly in how they respond to those who disagree with them.

Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents. Reducing the number of dates increases compliance (by the parents).

So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids? I have to admit, it seems like the urge to go vaccinate them would be overwhelming. Also, wasn’t there a time when vaccinations were required to attend school? Am I imagining that, or has it just fallen by the wayside?

“Interestingly, Jenny may actually say *something* of value here: she informs us that the doctors who dreamed up these so-called treatments leading to “recovery” have children with autism. In other words, their desperation may have led them down the path of irrationality.”

Quoted for truth.

I am almost always suspicious of anyone who has deeply vested interests, whether financially or emotionally, in the outcome of these sorts of things. So yes, listen to their input, but do not let them be the arbiter of the decision.

Man, I can’t believe you people are so clueless! She’s an actress, she’s just playing dumb. She probably deserves an Oscar for staying in character like that all the time. She’s like Keyser Soze: she controls it all. Oprah and Huffington work for her and don’t even know it.

Either that, or she really is just a raging moron.

Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

Seems like a lot of trouble to prevent the mumps. Glad I passed.

So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids?

Personally, I’m just happy I don’t have to. My sister’s in her right mind, my wife doesn’t have any siblings, so all the kids in my near family WILL be fully vaccinated.

Also, wasn’t there a time when vaccinations were required to attend school? Am I imagining that, or has it just fallen by the wayside?

They still are required, but (a) more and more states are allowing people to simply say “I don’t want to” (so-called “philosophical exemptions” and (b) antivax advocates also advocate parents lying that they have a religious objection where philosophical ones aren’t allowed, and provide precise instructions for how to go about doing so effectively.

Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

Seems like a lot of trouble to prevent the mumps. Glad I passed.

Talk about delusional. I’m quite glad my parents got me the vaccine. I didn’t have to worry about the dangers of going through all sorts of morbidity from mumps (and other diseases) like deafness or sterility. I was free to experience life with greatly reduced fear. All because my parents played the most favorable odds: One in a million of having relatively mild reactions versus one in mere thousands of being permanently crippled or dead?

I’ll take my chances with maybe a little fever and a painful prick. It’s a no-brainer as far as I can tell.

Let me rewrite Jenny:

The idea that basketball shorts are a primary cause of autism is not as crackpot as some might wish. Autism’s 60-fold rise in 30 years matches a tripling or more of the length of basketball shorts.

The simple fact is that logically unrelated time trends very frequently have whopping correlations (often greater than .90). Stephen Jay Gould once pointed out that the correlation between his age and the price of gasoline was almost .1. The mere existence of such a large correlation isn’t enough to arouse scientific suspicion (in legal terms, it wouldn’t even rise to the level of reasonable suspicion).

kelner: A lot of what’s going on there is a form of what a commentator called the “moral genetic fallacy”: it’s good if We do it, bad if They do it. A few years ago, when it came out that many Ayurvedic preparations being sold in the US were contaminated with large amounts of lead and mercury, one commentator asserted that the contamination was completely harmless because the “medicines” weren’t made by corporations.

@Rae: interesting that your kids had high fevers and febrile seizures in the 1970’s. That was the early days of the MMR. I remember getting my first MMR in the 70’s, although I had already had mumps and rubella (escaped measles by luck…went around the neighborhood but neither my brother or I was allowed out to be exposed, since my sister was an infant at the time.) Of course, back in the 1970s, there were a lot more antigens in the MMR vaccine. And, depending on WHEN in the 1970’s, if your kids got the smallpox vaccine (notorious for fevers), then it’s not surprising that they had fevers.

Did your children have febrile seizures before the vaccine? Febrile seizures are pretty common in some infants (IIRC, there tends to be a familial component with them).

I remember when babies got aspirin, but, since I was a child in the 1970s I don’t recall when Tylenol for babies came out. My mother dosed us with APC (aspirin, phenacetin and caffiene) tablets when we got any fevers, vaccine related or not. We also had cough syrup with tincture of opium for coughs, Merthiolate (thimerosol – horrors!) and goodness knows what else. Ah, the good old days when diseases were rampant.

“So, how do people deal with family members who for one reason or another won’t be vaccinating their kids? ”

I have a cohort of family members living in another state and one of their charming traits is refusal to vaccinate. That makes it easier for me to decide to not have anything to do with them.

“Prepare for inevitable quote-mining, Orac.
Orac wrote,

(2) vaccines cause autism ”
Yes, and the Bible says, “`There is no God'”

I sincerely hope that Ms McCarthy gets the recognition she craves so much. They should name an STD after her!

Clay shoots…he scores!

And wins the thread.

I came across an interesting take on the cesspit that is the Huffington Post by the Quixotic Man over on the Gotham Skeptic the other day:

http://www.nycskeptics.org/blog/why-david-kirby-a-treatise-on-the-huffington-post/

If what you care most about is driving traffic to your site, you can discard any notion that your site is anything other than a firestorm intended to feed on itself.

Apparently there’s no journalistic integrity because there’s no journalistic intention.

Having just gotten two kids through the schedule, I can tell you that every vaccination leads to unhappy kid followed by unhappy parents

Just want to point out that vaccines aren’t a big deal for every kid. My son doesn’t love them, of course, but it isn’t a big freak out either. A few tears, a lollipop, maybe a slight fever the next day. Some kids are affected more than others, but c’mon, we’re talking a sharp pinch and maybe two days of discomfort. Not the end of the world.

Also, I’ve seen Jenny McCarthy in Malibu. She was walking up and down the beach on July 4th with fake abs spraypainted on her stomach, looking for the paparazzi. She found them, too, because I saw the photos the following day in the gossip blogs. This autism mommy warrior gig is a dream come true for her–not only does she get attention, but it’s Oprah-sanctioned attention. She’s never giving it up unless it’s pried from her cold, dead hands. Please.

@66 Vaccines aren’t a big deal for my son, either (after the first couple of months). I’d attributed it to the stickers he was given to eat afterwards.

What, stickers aren’t supposed to help with vaccine reaction? Huh, who’d’ve guessed…

If you make the vaccination a big deal with the kid, it will be a big deal. I’ve explained to my 6 y.o. daughter why it is important to get vaccinated. Even she understands that a little poke in the arm beats dying. Plus she understands how it helps protect her not-quite-1 y.o. brother.

Jenny McCarthy: not as smart as my kindergartner.

You are completely misunderstanding the problem. don’t you know the more you dilute additives and the more you dilute the disease the more effective they become?

Vaccines still lead to unhappy kid and unhappy parents for us. As much as we understand how beneficial they are, at less than 1 year old, all they understand is that they’re being poked with a needle that hurts. May not be better on her birthday (only a month away! Holy moly!) when she gets her MMR/Varicella vaccines, but hopefully by 18 mo, and definitely when she gets the boosters before she starts school.

The “doctors claim that vaccines are 100% safe!” statement is absurd. I have in front of me (that I had stashed away in my desk, mostly to be able to use against people who say doctors claim it’s 100% safe) a handout on the MMR vaccine that my daughter’s pediatrician gave us after her 9 mo appointment. The handout lays out all the side effects that can occur as a result of MMR. and it states the odds of each. Not only that, it actually talks about VAERS and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. And it’s distributed by the CDC!

FYI, my response to McCrackpot’s article yesterday never got posted. It was a rather innocuous criticism of HuffPo, their Living section, and it’s woo-fans’ seeming aversion to reason, … irrespective of a softer re-editing three times.

Orac states:

“Most importantly, her brain consists of two neurons connected by a spirochete.”

Are you positive that she hasn’t received penicillin recently? The connection between her two neurons seems to be getting more tenuous.

BTW, Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1 mm long nematode (worm), has 302 neurons (in the hermaphrodites), none of which require a spirochete as an interneuron.

However, having read much of what Ms. McCarthy has said about science and autism, I suspect that she is not using her entire complement (2) of neurons fully.

Prometheus

Can’t we just infect these people with a couple of vaccine-preventable diseases (the “light” ones, like measles and whooping cough)?

Then when they’re moaning about how wretched they feel, we can point out that they prefer that every child to go through this experience. It’s cruel.

Slightly off-topic, but on a positive note – Last year when I took my 4-year old to get her vaccinations (In Australia), I asked the staff there if they ever get any trouble from “Anti-Vax” parents and they said “No, Never”. I suppose an anti-vax parent would not normally go to a vaccination clinic, but nevertheless one might expect them to make a nuisance of themselves from time to time.

It seems that, like creationism, Anti-Vax is an American phenomenon, although both creationism and anti-vax are not unheard-of in Australia (and are quite possibly on the rise).

On the other hand, I do know someone who refused to vaccinate their toddler, and then took them to India, which did seem very irresponsible to me. The apparent reason for this is that there was another child in their extended family who had autism.

I found one good use for the anti-vax crowd – thanks to Crank Magnetism, if I am searching for information about some health-related issue on the Web and find information on an site with unknown credibility, I search the pages for information on vaccines. If I find the “vaccines are toxins and you shouldn’t get them” rhetoric, I know exactly what kind of site I’m dealing with and “file” the information accordingly.

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