There is a type of “vaccine injury” story promoted by the antivaccine movement that is particularly pernicious, a narrative I call “death by Gardasil.” The stories, which use tenuous connections between vaccination against HPV to prevent cervical cancer and the unexpected death of a teen or young adult, are always tragic, and you can’t help but feel incredible empathy for the parents. However, none of these stories constitute compelling evidence that Gardasil kills young people. Basically, antivaxers exploit the grief of these parents and their understandable desire to find a cause for their child’s demise to demonize HPV vaccinations as dangerous and deadly.
Parents Magazine published an article in which it listed what various celebrity moms think of vaccines. Unfortunately, it was an example of false equivalence. Indeed, it was one of the worst examples of false equivalence I’ve ever seen.
Science advocate and Goop critic Dr. Jen Gunter managed to infiltrate Gwyneth Paltrow’s quackfest In Goop Health by hiding in plain sight. (Actually, she just bought a ticket and attended.) What she found was a wretched hive of scum and quackery, plus a psychic who claims that death is not real. In addition to the nonsense, there was a dark side, as well,with quacks promoting the idea that you can cure cancer with thought alone and don’t need medication to treat depression.
Oprah Winfrey gave a rousing acceptance speech while accepting the Cecile B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, sparking talk of her running for President in 2020. It’s time to throw some cold water on that idea by reminding everyone that Oprah is not a force for reason and evidence. Quite the contrary.
The Pathological Optimist is a recently released documentary by Miranda Bailey about Andrew Wakefield that I got a chance to see. In interviews and in the film’s promotional materials, Bailey takes great pains to emphasize that she “doesn’t take a side” about Wakefield. Unfortunately, her film demonstrates that, when it comes to pseudoscience, “not taking a side” is taking a side, and that a film’s bias is often more evident in what is not shown and told than in what is.