Stop Jenny McCarthy

By Phil Plait | October 20, 2008 4:02 pm

My attitude about Jenny McCarthy is well-documented here. She is a leading spokesperson for the antivaccination antiscientific movement. These are people who think vaccines cause autism, despite no evidence at all showing this to be the case, and a tsunami of evidence clearly showing there is no relation at all.

I will have more to say about Ms. McCarthy soon — oh, do I — but for now I want to alert you to a new website called Stop Jenny McCarthy. It has information about her claims, and links to where you can find more and better information. It’s only just started, but I imagine it will have plenty more info as time goes by. The people who put it together are skeptics themselves, and, like me, feel the need to alert the public about known cases of uncritical thinking, especially when it represents a major health risk.

Others have already linked to it, including Skeptic Dad (who interviewed the creators of the site) and Pharyngula. If you have a site or blog, show them some link love too.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking, Science, Skepticism

Comments (67)

  1. If they handle things the way Robert Lancaster has handled StopSylviaBrowne.com, they should be very successful.

  2. Your next book, Phil: “Death From The Lies”

  3. Byron

    Ha! There was a numerology banner ad at the top of the page when I read this post. Perhaps you could talk to the Discover advertising people about what is not appropriate for your blog?

  4. Viewer 3

    You know, I always wonder “what if” when it comes to things like this. And not just this, but also things like “psychic powers” and things that have pretty much no scientific basis. Like what if suddenly some scientific breakthrough actually shows definitively that vaccinations DO directly cause autism?

    I know that all evidence says otherwise, but how would we respond to the overwhelming “I told you so”s? We’ll say “Yeah but you were wrong because there was absolutely no evidence, you just got lucky. We were basing our views on evidence, not guesses”, but they wouldn’t listen. Obviously us critical thinkers wouldn’t feel stupid or foolish, as there is nothing foolish about choosing the side of evidence and logic. But I can imagine how difficult it’d be to have credibility with the groups of similar extremists, and how much our greatest weapon that we use against then, science, would ultimately empower their foolishness. All it would take is one completely random breakthrough, after which many would start believing all kinds of crazy things with no evidence under the slogan of “See, it can happen!”

    But of course nothing like that has ever happened, and it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Still, I have a hard time imagining what I’d say to people if some experiment someday showed that 1 + 1 actually equals 3.

  5. Robert Krendik

    I find it hilarious that there was a web ad for physcics on this site.

  6. Here is an anti-McCarthy article from a rather unusual source: http://thesuperficial.com/2008/10/jenny_mccarthy_claims_magical.php

    The article is called “Jenny McCarthy claims magical healing powers”. The website is generally centered on pictures of attractive celebrities.

    -Derek

  7. Edweird

    all of this antivax nuttery from celebs screams scientology to me…

  8. kitty

    THANK YOU!

    I was just in the check out line at Target and there SHE was on the cover of US magazine. Several of my friends have children with autism, and one of them said to me that people wonder why she hasn’t “cured” her child like Jenny did! It’s like, if your kid is still autistic it’s your fault.

    Just think if she put all her celebrity and that of her famous boyfriend to the cause of finding out the REAL cause or some really great treatments. Yes, it is an epidemic. Let’s research and find out some good treatments and what’s behind it all. But she is just wasting her time and ours right now.

  9. Derek, that’s one of the few non-science or politics blogs I read. :-) I almost linked to it, but it has some, um, NSFW language!

  10. my mommy likes sharp objects

    I really dislike that because my daughter’s vaccinations are delayed (I delayed them a month, until she reached that actual age, where she was a month early) that people think I am apart of the anti-vax “movement.”

    I let my daughter chew on her cousins shoes if it keeps her happy and she’s not you know climbing into the fireplace. A cough or cold is much less of a worry if you ask me. But yeah … not vaccinating because someone down the line there thought HEY MY KID GOT A NEEDLE NOW THEY’RE AUTISTIC … pfft.

    This will come off as rude, but this is why I moved back to eastern Canada and away from Portland Oregon. :P

  11. Daffy

    “Yes, it is an epidemic.”

    Is it really? Or are they just labeling more kids with that tag who used to just be called “daydreamers” or some other such? Not being flip…I really do wonder about that. I am not saying the condition does not exit; I am just wondering if there are more diagnoses than there used to be, rather than a higher percentage of actual cases.

  12. Hugo

    I know this is unrelated, but is anyone else getting numerology ads up the top? Just thought I’d mention it.

  13. But disinformation is so much easier. It requires no proof. Just a feeling, and maybe some guts and truthiness. Remember, this is a society of instant gratification junkies we’re dealing with. Sadly, I foresee a day when “Idiocracy” resembles the truth… Hopefully people who do have intellectual integrity will have found someplace else to live and advance.

    Viewer 3, you may as well contemplate the earth suddenly reversing its rotation and orbit at the same time. Sure, there is a statistical probability that it will happen, but not worth wasting the mental energy on it.

  14. defectiverobot

    It’s a strange world when you look at Denis Leary and think, wow, a voice a reason.

    Personally, I still can’t fathom why people take Jenny McCarthy seriously. Then again, I can’t fathom why people worship crystals, kiss their crucifixes, and pray to the four corners.

  15. SkepticofSkeptics

    So known neurotoxins (i.e. mercury) are suddenly not bad for us? Injecting poison into babies’ growing bodies is now suddenly an ok thing? We wouldn’t tell pregnant women to take a shot of mercury, why would we allow her child to do the same? You see, I know all about how they lowered thimerosal levels, etc. etc. And the FDA is working hard on debunking every “autism” myth out there. After all, what do they have got to lose — besides multi-billion dollar contracts with the pharmaceutical companies! Thimerosal was added to make vaccines cheaper and more profitable. They may have bended to pressure in the States to keep the mercury content low to almost zero, but they still gladly ship the offending vaccines overseas to developing countries. Instead of taking the hard-lined skeptic stance, we need to study this issue more closely as well as the children who are possibly effected by it. Kids in the 80’s vaccinations were much “lighter” than those in the 90’s to early 2000’s. It’s too early to say they aren’t the culprit; the population has hardly aged.

  16. GrammaKnows

    What a bunch of fools! you have nothing better to do than show your ignorance of what is really happening to the children of this generation?

    Get away from the computer screen long enough to stop speculating about stupidity.

    More than a half a million (mostly boys) children in this country are being crushed under the pain and illness of autism and you sit here patting each other on the back, trying to one-up each other’s ignorance.

    Robot – you really are defective if a man who makes his living saying insulting things is your hero.

    Mr Plait – time for you to actually find some science instead of the mutual admiration gig you have goingwith those who get paid to talk and never see a child who HAS autism. Just because they managed not to flunk out of med school and thus are carring some initials after their name – perhaps you should consider the fact they don’t actually PRACTICE medicine when you give credence to their paid performances.

    Perhaps you should also take some time to peruse some back issues of Discover. There’s autism science there…and it agrees with Jenny.

  17. SkepticofSkeptics

    I posted a comment in criticism of this blog and it is NOT being posted…someone else’s comment went through after mine, which is still awaiting moderation.

    So much for listening to the other side of the story.

  18. Davidlpf

    So SkepticoodSkeptics, so people are suppose to die because a bunch of people do not like vaccines. I do not want to die because someone else thought 30 years ago I did no need a vaccine because the vaccine had the smallest amount of mercury in it. The thing about antivaxxers that piss me off is that it is not your health and not just your childs health it is everyones else health your gambling with.

  19. Greg in Austin

    SkeptcofSkeptics said, “So known neurotoxins (i.e. mercury) are suddenly not bad for us?”

    You may want to get your facts straight. Nobody said mercury is not bad for us. If you would take the time to read the information on the Stop Jenny McCarthy website, you will find this testimonial from T. Gill, Canada

    “First, falsely written is that babies received 100x the daily exposure to mercury. That could only happen if a child received many years worth vaccines all at once. In fact, at the time when the mercury containing preservative was still used, a child received up to only 1.9 µg/kg body weight per week when receiving vaccinations, which is well below the World Health Organization’s limit of 2.8 µg/kg per week. (That recommendation is for methylmercury, but the ethylmercury in thiomersal-containing vaccines is cleared by the body, and not accumulated the way methylmercury is. The half-life of ethylmercury is less than a week, and doesn’t compare to methylmercury’s 1.5 months.)”

    What this is saying, is that the dosages of mercury in the vaccines were well below the limits. If you read more on that site, you will also see that the real affects of mercury poisoning are nothing like the symptoms of autism.

    Finally, if you don’t believe this information, try doing a bit of research yourself, and tell us what your conclusions are.

    8)

  20. Corey S.

    SkepticofSkeptics-

    Looks like your post went up just fine. Which isn’t a good for you, because there is no good autism science. Phil has no vested interest in this fight, other than the health of children and adults alike. You seem to have a vested interest- your hero worship of Jenny McCarthy.

    Who would you rather side with- McCarthy or science? This IS a choice between two mutual exclusives.

  21. Corey S.

    Damn. “Which isn’t a good for you?” I feel dumb. Correction:

    *”Which isn’t a good thing for you, because … “

  22. Greg in Austin

    @GrammaKnows

    You said, “More than a half a million (mostly boys) children in this country are being crushed under the pain and illness of autism and you sit here patting each other on the back, trying to one-up each other’s ignorance.”

    How many people (mostly men, women and children) would actually die (not just get sick) from a major outbreak of smallpox, or measles, or polio if children are not vaccinated?

    8)

  23. Greg in Austin

    Obviously that last sentence should not have been in italics.

    8)

  24. Andrew

    As a worker in the medical profession, involved within a scientific discipline, I encounter this kind of ignorance from the general public on a daily basis. I think we have to be asking ourselves, what is fundamentally wrong with the system, whereby people are turning to anti-science, psedoscience and non-critical thinking?

    Its all fair and well having a go at the so-called moon hoax theory, faces on Mars, UFOs, and all that nonsense. But actual lack of knowledge and ignorance towards medicine and it’s disciplines is a real concern.

    It is utterly astounding how much weight and influence celebrity can have on the population. They are almost worshipped as gods by some people, when its just a regular person who earns a lot of money simply for being on television.

    If any of the people knew just how much it takes to get a research project through an ethics commitee, then maybe they would think twice about making ad hominem attacks and spouting pseudo-scientific theory.

  25. Andrew

    P.S In relation to Miss McCarthy’s comments about critical thinking not being taught in schools (see website), then I wonder just what kind of school she attended, as I vividly recall being introduced to critical thinking from a very early age. Its one of the main reasons I chose science as a career!

  26. My doesn’t the odd antivaxxer post bring out the vitriol. GrammaKnows, you’re obviously the grandma to an autistic child. I can understand you frustration. I have a couple of autistic nephews myself but pull back on the insults a little because you only come across as a frothy mouthed lunatic and no-one will listen to you. Do some research and read something other than the agenda driven ignorance based propaganda that spouts from the likes of Jenny McCarthy.

    On a positive note I recently saw a brilliant Aussie movie about an autistic kid and his family, The Black Balloon.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0865297/
    If you have any interest in autism or have family affected by autism or you just want to see a damned fine flick check it out. I loved it. Very funny. Very moving. Highly recommended.

  27. This is one of the contributors of the Stop Jenny site. Thanks Phil for plugging the site. And if anyone has some links to reliable sources that address particular myths spread by Ms. McCarthy and her allies, please let us know. We could use all the support we can get to keep the site current and accurate with the best sources we can get our hands on.

    -Michael

  28. TheBlackCat

    @ SkepticofSkeptics: You do know that the childhood vaccines do not contain mercury, right?

  29. Re Mercury… “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
    – Joseph Goebbels

    No, I am not trying to Godwin anybody or compare anybody to Nazis.

  30. SkepticofSkeptics

    Oh, now I’m being blamed for “hero worship” because I have a different opinion. Nice try at poisoning the well but I’m not going to bite the bait. I had no idea about Jenny McCarthy’s opinions until I read this blog… nor do I care about your little celebrity. All I knew she had an autistic child and I passed NO judgment on her. Maybe you need to look at yourself and ask if you’ve done the same.

    Obviously Jenny McCarthy is not going to stop the vaccine industry, nor people who want to receive vaccines. But we need to raise serious issues on the over-vaccination of children and the side effects of such. In the 80’s, children weren’t vaccinated nearly as much as now. And last I recall, children from the 80’s are grown up and completely doing fine. So what’s the deal with MORE vaccinations? Honestly, it’s out of control, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s Big Pharma who’s reaping the rewards, not to mention the big government throwing their weight around. And you really expect the FDA to give us honest research? Have you ever heard of something called…oh, I don’t know…a *lobbyist*?

    I liken the vaccine fiasco to the HPV “antidote” Gardasil designed by Merck, which is responsible for many sudden paralysis and deaths from healthy young women (as young as 10, 11, 12!!) who received the ill-advised vaccine (that only protects against certain strains of HPV to boot, there’s far more out there). We must research first before injecting toxins into our children under the guise that it will save them. And I believe that vaccines should revert back to the 80’s lite, instead of the overbloated concoctions we have today. I’m quite surprised so many people are accepting the needle without question, when obviously it has changed a lot over the years only to pad the profits of the wealthy. Fear-based politics at its best.

  31. SkepticofSkeptics

    TheBlackCat, please don’t blatantly lie to me. I understand they are/have “phased out” thimerosal for the most part in the US (hmm..wonder why?) but it has been present in childhood vaccines for a long time. Thimerosal is approx. 50% mercury by weight. Let’s not forget that mercury builds up in the body, and that is where it has the most potential to do damage over time. Flu shots are a big culprit where the offending preservative lies, and flu shots are heavily promoted all over the country for young and old alike.

    Some people want to think the Earth is flat until a person comes around and gives them direct evidence it isn’t. But other people can see connections and clues. Let’s not discount these connections just because they aren’t “popular.”

    Face it, we hardly know a thing when it comes to the human brain. We may be able to map it and name receptors and fiddle with it through drugs, but do we have all the answers? Of course not. So who are we to say a neurotoxin in a growing child’s brain wouldn’t do any harm when we are one of the biggest dispensers of SSRI’s that have a hit-and-miss track record? We can’t even cure cancer or AIDS, or figure out why depressed people behave the way they do when antidepressants don’t work for them. What we need to solve this debate is time and studies that are not funded by lobbyists or anybody directly connected to the medical industry because it’s only going to serve their own interests. Statistics can be fudged. Why would you think they’d want to destroy their vaccine empire themselves? Do you really believe people are “honest” when their money or career is at stake, or perhaps their own dignity? There’s far too many questions to ask before we tout the neutrality of mercury inside our neurons.

  32. SkepticofSkeptics, what do mean by “over-vaccination” and “in the 80’s children weren’t vaccinated nearly as much”?
    So what? This is probably a good thing. It means that more diseases are now preventable. Fewer serious illnesses and deaths from preventable diseases. What part don’t you understand?

    Oh and the HPV vaccine causes death propaganda has been answered before but to save looking it up…

    From the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) on 2 deaths in Europe.

    The EMEA said: “In both cases, the cause of death could not be identified.
    “No causal relationship has been established between the deaths of the young women and the administration of Gardasil.”

    There have been 3 deaths in the US. I can’t find a link to a citation that Gardasil was a causal link to the deaths. Lots of blogs from anti-vaxers though.

    SkepticofSkeptics, all I see from you is scaremongering and the repeating of antivaxxer propoganda.

  33. SkepticofSkeptics

    shane, you should look harder than a swift Google search. And also look at who you’re quoting.

    I’ve never heard of the word “antivaxxer” before. How strange people love belittling others with differing outlooks through the use of petty labels.

    If there’s any propaganda we need to fear, it’s that of the industry vaccine giants. But people will eat their BS up because they’d rather not think about the implications for themselves. And don’t forget they’re the ones “scaremongering” and profiteering.

  34. Jeeves

    “Thimerosal is approx. 50% mercury by weight.”

    There’s a compound called sodium chloride, which is half sodium, a highly reactive alkali metal which explodes when it comes into contact with water, and half chlorine, an equally highly reactive halogen gas that was used as a chemical weapon in WW1. It is found in massive quantities in everyday food. This criminal practice, supported by the might of the sodium chloride producing industry must clearly be stopped.

    You may know sodium chloride as “table salt”.

    All of this goes to show that the claim “Thimerosal is approx. 50% mercury by weight.” may be true but is, at best, highly misleading.

  35. Jerzy

    The amount of tripe and personal attacks on Ms. McCarthy, who is addressing the real concern about the vaccination protocol and the damage it is doing to children is somewhat surreal here.

    But to be expected from our establishment, which has lost focus and needs to be overturned. On so many fronts. The society has become corrupt and our institutions are badly broken. The fact that the establishment and the mouth breathers on this site continue to corrupt, lie and misinform, rather than address the heavy metal toxicity and immune dysfunction which occurs in a large number of children from a too-aggressive vaccine protocol is all too familiar.

    It is symptomatic of our society at large. A society which poisons babies and disables them as a consequence of a defective vaccine protocol and can’t find the temerity to address the outstanding research which has already been done in this area to assist these kids is a society which has breached its fundamental relationship with its citizens.

    Unfortunately, our establishment has decided to corrupt and pervert this issue so as to confuse and malign. But like on so many issues, our citizens begin to understand and know and act on the truth.

    Fortunately, regardless of what the paid shill mouthbreathers on this website corruptly espouse.

  36. kaskadmom

    It is very sad to me that people like you have nothing better to do with thier time than to bash other people. My son was stolen from me by vaccine induced autism. My husband and I are on the road to recovery for him, we have researched every thing and found safe and proven ways to do this. Just like Jenny did, how dare you bash her, have you walked a mile in her shoes, or any parents shoes of a child with autism. You are not experts, the experts are the parents,researchers, doctors,therapists, and teachers who have seen these children can recover, once you remove all of the toxins. And these recovered children are the trump card to any of their scientific evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism, study the unvaxd study the recovered kids, they are afraid to do it because it will prove it, it is not a one size fits all,no other drugs are marketed that way, not everyone can take zocor, or ambien, or singulair, their are side effects it is half of the commercial, and reseasons some people cannot take them, same for vaccines. Let the parents choose and leave Jenny alone.

  37. Greg in Austin

    SkepticofSkeptics said,

    “In the 80’s, children weren’t vaccinated nearly as much as now. And last I recall, children from the 80’s are grown up and completely doing fine.”

    Please show your data that says children are more vaccinated now than in the 80’s, and that no children who grew up in the 80’s had any disease or illness such as autism.

    Also, did you ever look up any information on mercury, such as the levels used in vaccines vs. what the FDA says is a safe limit? Or what the affects of mercury are on the brain?

    Ever heard the phrase, “Mad as a hatter?”

    8)

  38. Curious

    It sounds like some of you are “sure” that vaccines don’t cause autism. Pray tell – what then DOES cause it? If anyone on this site can say with certainty that vaccines play no part in this disability, you have to have concrete proof of an actual alternative “cause”.

    People that stumble across this site should do their research about the alleged safety of vaccines. Check the Merck Vaccine Insert for the MMR: (http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/m/mmr_ii/mmr_ii_pi.pdf). Funny how this pharmaceutical company states that this particular vaccine MAY be linked to encephalitis, which mimicks the early symptoms of many young autistic children. From the insert: “Experience from more than 80 million doses of all live measles vaccines given in the U.S. through
    1975 indicates that significant central nervous system reactions such as encephalitis and encephalopathy, occurring within 30 days after vaccination, have been temporally associated with measles vaccine very rarely.” And – “the data suggest the possibility that some of these cases may have been caused by measles vaccines.”.

    Also from the “Merck Manual” online (http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec16/ch217/ch217c.html#sec16-ch217-ch217c-1004): “Encephalitis can occur as a secondary immunologic complication of certain viral infections or vaccinations.” And – (http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec06/ch089/ch089f.html) “Autoimmune Encephalitis: After certain infections or vaccines, the body’s immune system sometimes attacks the layers of tissue that wrap around nerve fibers (called the myelin sheath) in the brain and spinal cord The attack occurs because proteins in myelin resemble those in the virus.”

    With Merck noting a link between vaccines and adverse neurological effects, how can anyone on this site casually dismiss the link between vaccines and autism? Whoever wants to respond to me – please before you try to argue – share YOUR explanation for autism’s cause.

    God forgive us all.

  39. DGKnipfer

    Why do we keep bringing up Thimerosal? The antivax crowd got it removed nearly a decade ago. And they got 0 benefit out of it.

    And we had a ton of vaccinations in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They were mandated back then. More people were vaccinated in the 60s and 70s by percent of population by far than today when the antivax crowd is screaming at the top of their lungs and people are demanding religious exemptions. When I was growing up only the Amish and similar groups received exemption from vaccination. Vaccination was mandatory for school participation. Now anybody can refuse vaccination or home school their kids. The fall is coming folks. When Religion (Woo) ruled the world we called it the Dark Ages.

  40. Matt

    If anyone gets a chance, hit Fat Doctor’s site for a writing campaign to pressure Oprah to have a real show about the science behind these claims:

    http://fatdoctor.blogspot.com/2008/10/oprah-and-science.html

  41. Todd W.

    @SkepticofSkeptics

    A couple misconceptions you seem to have that I would like to clear up:

    Thimerosal was added to make vaccines cheaper and more profitable.

    Thimerosal was added as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria or other contaminants in multi-use vials of medicines. Such contaminants can have a very serious negative health effect on the recipient. The use of thimerosal, therefore, extends the usable shelf life of a medicine, a particular concern when using multi-dose vials. That is the primary reason for using thimerosal, to extend usable shelf life.

    Stemming from this is that it does happen to decrease the cost of the medicine for the consumers. I fail to see how decreased costs to consumers is a bad thing. Single-dose vials, without thimerosal and having a shorter shelf life, offer much more potential profit for a company.

    As to shipping thimerosal-laden vaccines off to other countries, again, I fail to see this as a huge issue. Many of the countries receiving these vaccines have poor or inadequate medicine storage facilities, so the use of multi-dose vials with preservatives like thimerosal is essential to proper medical treatment of the local population. Supposing that the mercury in thimerosal does cause autism, then a study of populations in third world countries should show rising/increased rates of autism, as compared to similar socio-economic populations who do not receive such vaccines. If you know of such a study showing these results, please share it with us.

    As to the mercury in thimerosal building up in the body, as someone else already pointed out, ethylmercury is eliminated from the body very quickly and does not build up, like methylmercury (a mercury compound found in a number of environmental chemicals). Note, the EPA guidelines for mercury exposure are for methylmercury, not for ethylmercury.

    Thimerosal has been used, IIRC, at least since the 1950s. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong on that. If thimerosal had as significant an effect as you suggest, then we would see many problems linked to its use since it was first introduced. If you have some studies that show such problems, again, please share them with us. Furthermore, if the mercury in thimerosal causes autism, then we should see a dramatic drop in the number of autism cases since 2001/2002, when thimerosal was eliminated from nearly all vaccines.

    I’m not going to get into all of the politics of the FDA, as I am not nearly as well versed in it as needed to properly argue either side of the story. Suffice it to say that the FDA does not have “contracts” with pharmaceutical companies. They do suffer from problems of lobbyist action and political machinations by the executive branch of the government. Some products do get approved when they should not be (I’m of the opinion that Gardasil was one product approved too quickly, though I am also highly skeptical of the numerous claims coming out against it. Thus far, there have been no conclusive, proven links between Gardasil and the alleged maladies. Rather, a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc anecdotes.), but significantly more products are denied entry to the market due to health concerns than are approved.

  42. Todd W.

    @Curious

    It sounds like some of you are “sure” that vaccines don’t cause autism. Pray tell – what then DOES cause it? If anyone on this site can say with certainty that vaccines play no part in this disability, you have to have concrete proof of an actual alternative “cause”.

    If someone says that there is significant evidence against vaccines causing autim, why do they have to have concrete proof of what does cause it? That’s like saying, “Well, since you know that Fred didn’t rob the bank down the street last Friday, you must know who did it.” The specific cause of autism is still unknown, but genetic factors are a very likely candidate. Research is still looking into this. Vaccines as a cause have been examined, and no statistically significant correlation has been found in the well-controlled studies that have been conducted (e.g., comparing rates of autism in people receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines vs. those receiving thimerosal-free vaccinse, comparing MMR vs. no MMR, comparing vaccines vs. no vaccines, etc.).

    Regarding Merck’s insert for their MMR vaccine. By law, IIRC, they are required to include in the labeling all effects that are associated with their product. So, out of 80 million doses since 1975, some recipients (we don’t know how many…it could be 3, it could be 1,000 or more) developed encephalitis, but it has been determined that it is very rare (so, probably in the realm of much less than 1%). Of those very rare cases, some could have been caused by the vaccine, but there is no distinct proof on way or the other. At any rate, it is believed to be a possibility, so it is placed on the label. This allows the consumer to make an informed decision as to whether or not they wish to receive the vaccine.

    Regardless of that, however, encephalitis is a distinct disease which is different from autism and has a different diagnostic criteria. The argument is not that vaccines cause encephalitis (there is evidence to suggest that some vaccines do cause it), but that vaccines cause autism (for which there is not evidence). Simply because it has neurologic effects does not mean that it causes just any neurologic effect. Does it cause disphasia (sp?)? That’s a neurologic effect. How about tics? Dyslexia, perhaps?

    Keep in mind, I am not arguing that encephalitis is a minor thing. It can be very serious, resulting in permanent brain injury. It may also result in no lasting damage, depending on how much swelling occurs. Also, again according to the labeling of the vaccine, it is very rare and may not even be caused by the vaccine itself.

  43. Dan

    @ SkepticofSkeptics, Curious and others.

    There is no such thing as “vaccine induced autism.” There is not credible, medical evidence of such a thing.

    Curious, one need not present an alternative to disprove something. Mountains of medical evidence show that vaccines do NOT cause autism.

    My brother has a rare-chromosome disorder (Internal deletion of the Long-arm of Chromosome 10) that causes multiple medical problems, including many that manifest as both Down’s syndrome and Autism. We have been contacted multiple times by the anti-vaxx crowd.

    I can tell you from personal experience that what has happened is very sad. Parents, wracked with guilt, undeserved but still there, are contacted by greedy lobbyists and lawyers and told “Vaccines caused this…you should SUE!” Thankfully my parents are intelligent, rational people and refused to listed. But many, MANY parents, who have a profound lack of understanding fall for this hook, line, and sinker.

    It’s the “give me the pill” syndrome. Many people, seeing the advances in modern medicine, are simply unable/unwilling to accept that there are mysteries we don’t understand (the cause of autism being one of the biggest). So you get a TON of this “Correlation equals Causation” reasoning that is just bad logic.

    As for Curious’ “The Merck Manual says…” have you ever READ the side-effect labels on ANY medication. Virtually any medication has “Death may result…” because is some test there was a death after taking the medication. Those “side-effects” are pure liability covers.

  44. Dan

    Meant to put this at the end…

    The anti-vaxx movement consists of guilt ridden parents searching for answers who have had those answers provided by unscrupulous lawyers, lobbyists and glory hounds who are basically con-artists. They are using the pain and confusion of these parents to get themselves face-time and money. That is all that is going on here and it is sickening.

    The anti-vaxx movement is INHIBITING autism research because so many people either “Don’t trust” the doctors who want to find the REAL reasons or who are convinced the cause has been found and therefore there is no need to keep looking.

  45. DGKnipfer

    Somebody up above demanded that we walk in Jenny’s shoes before we speak. My daughter has Aspergers Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). My oldest son is also ADD as are two of my cousins (who are fully Attention Deficit Hyperactive (ADHD)) on my mother’s side. One cousin on my mother’s side has a daughter with sever Autism and sever Down Syndrome. Her daughter will never be capable of functioning independently. My father also has a cousin with Down Syndrome who has broken all the odds and survived into his 60s. He still lives with his parents who are in their 80s. He now suffers from Alzheimer’s as well as does his father.

    And speaking of Alzheimer’s, all members of my Paternal Grandmother’s family begin suffering Alzheimer’s starting at around 70 and lasting until they pass away in their late 80s and early 90s. All of them have lived with the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s for over 15 years before passing away.

    If you want to keep going, my sister was diagnosed with Lupus at age 11 and much later with Gluten Enteropathy. I’m very familiar with gluten free diets. One aunt and one great aunt also suffered from Lupus. If I dig, I know I can keep pilling it on.

    Do not presume that because we do not point out the disabilities within our own families that they are not there. I would wager that most people know somebody who has suffered from some learning disability or medical condition that inhibits their ability to function. Demands that we sympathize with Jenny fail to impress me.

  46. Law Mom

    In response to the argument that there are too many vaccines, I don’t get why we would allow ANY disease to run rampant when we can stop it. Take chicken pox, for example, a disease that only recently got its own vaccine.

    Years ago, when I first started practicing, I defended a doctor who was one of many medical providers named in a wrongful death case. The decedent was a young guy who caught the chicken pox from his infant daughter. He went septic, then lived in a vegetative state for a few months until he had complete organ failure and died. The photographs were horrifying. One of the issues in the case was whether he should have been treated with acyclovir, which, IIRC, was still pending FDA approval for herpes zoster treatment, and is the same drug used in the vaccine today.

    Had the vaccine been around back then, the baby, who was too young to be vaccinated herself, would not have been exposed to an infected kid at daycare; she would not have passed the virus on to Dad; and Dad would be alive today.

    Is this one of the “too many” vaccines that we give our kids?

  47. adhd mom

    Whatever the cause, autism is a real issue. I think that there should be more research on the gut/brain connection. The idea that many children with autism have physical problems relating to their stomach that are not being addressed horrifys me. There are may testimonies from parents that say when they try to get the stomache problemst addressed by their doctors they respond with” that is just the way it is with autism”. If you were sick all the time with a very painfull stomache and a fussy mind, would you be able to learn to communicate, or would you just want to give up?

  48. lisa

    Being mother of an autisitic boy, yes they need way more research on autism. But we will try anything for our children as any parent would, if your child had a problem. we are not lazy as some critics have said. who is to say what causes autism. we just need to find the answers. and if jenny mc carthy gets it out there and on the news “GOD LOVE HER” I HOPE SHE KEEPS ON SHOUTING!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. Mark

    I think the “Stop Jenny McCarthy” site has been hacked

  50. Eos

    Please change the link from site.stopjenny.com to just stopjenny.com

    Thank you again for this!

  51. Jennifer B

    Jenny McCarthy has found faith in her ‘opinion.’ Fine. She’s entitled. Where she should rightfully be held to task is when she states her ‘opinons’ as facts. BIG DIFFERENCE!

    My first child is autistic. My second is not. My husband and I vaccinated them both. Yes, that means I knowingly administered a vaccine to my second child when I knew my first was autistic. And I’m glad I did!

    Contrary to Ms. McCarthy, autism did not steal my daughter’s soul. Her soul, her personality, her life is intact. As are the souls, personalities and lives of all people with autism. The implication that those with disabilities are so flawed as to not be human is outrageous, especially coming from a mother of a disabled child.

    Here’s what I have experienced: there is a subset of parents who, for reasons of their own, cannot accept that, from the time their child’s cells first split, the child would be autistic. They need to believe that their children were born better/healthier/less disabled than they are, and that some outside (but unidentifiable) source ’caused’ all this trouble. There is a tremedous emotional attachment to this idea, and no amount of legitimate scientific research can dislodge it. In other words, these parents are no longer being reasonable ~ they are leading with their collective chins.

    But they should know this: you cannot wage war on autism without waging war on the child who has it.

  52. Jennifer B–you said it brilliantly. I have been thinking about the motivation of these parents for a long time. They need someone to blame and something to fix. It is impossible for them to look at disability and see anything worth honouring. I agree with you about waging war on the child. How can you use words like crushing, eradication, victim, pain, tragedy, wasted life, etc., without devaluing that person’s life? This is not to suggest that this is always the easiest condition for the person to live with or easy for family members. But when it comes down to it, I basically side with the neurodiversity camp.

  53. disgusted

    Why do you all state that vaccines don’t cause autism? Because the FDA and other companies who stand to loose billions of dollars say there is no link between autism and vaccines? THATS your proof?! My proof is having a child and knowing others that have children with autism who were completely normal, functioning children of their age range; taking them to be vaccinated then subsequently watching their children regress to speachless and tantruming autistic children. You can quote all the research you want but the bottom line is this: I am not trying to make money on this and neither are the people who have watched first hand as the disorder stold their childs mind and live away within hours. The drug research companies stand to make money at every turn regarding the research and development of treatment of children with autism. That’s all the “evidence” I need to tell me that WE ARE ALL BEING LIED TO! Let’s ask this question: If the treatment of autism means not medications, but a simple diet changes, where is their profit then? You go on believing people who want to make money exploiting your trust if you want to. I will believe my experience and the experience of others who have seen first hand the damages vaccines can do to peoples lives and families.

  54. IceT

    Don’t all parents want their children to be “normal” physically and mentally? I find it hard to believe that a parent will EVER be able to except the fact that their child has Autism or any mental dibilitating disease. This is not waging war on the child because you love the child unconditionally; instead it’s a parent who knows that their child is stuck in mental pergatory and the parent feels helpless because they have no way of getting them out. My sweet cousin Cameron just turned 17, and we all know that in his mind he would love to interact with us. HE JUST CAN’T MAKE IT HAPPEN. I love him, always have and I always will, and I will ALWAYS pray that the day comes for his healing. If Jenny wants to tell the world about her miracle I will listen. Why not give it a try. Sounds like some of you are pissed because she is a celebrity and her son is recovering, while your children remain the same.

  55. Jeeves, you’re comparing table salt to the organic mercury in thimerosal… the most toxic form of one of the most toxic heavy metals proven to kill living cells in nanomolar concentrations??? That’s insanity.

    http://www.autismmedia.org/media4.html

    Erik

  56. Amanda

    as a mother of an autistic child i know the vaccines are what caused my sons autism! unless u have a child with autism u have no say as to weather or not the vaccines may cause it. i am not saying that is the case with all autistic children as some are born with it and the parents notice straight away as the child fails to reach normal milestones. my son however reached all milestones he even spoke about ten words until about 18 months when it al stopped and i couldnt get him out of his own world. so please understand that they have not researched all the ingredients given out in the vaccines so therefore it is a lie to say that vaccines do not cause autism. until u know all the facts keep yous nasty opinions and websites to stop jenny mcCarthy to yourself. you obviously have nothing better to do. i cant understand why it would bother people that we believe it may be the cause. how does it affect you if jenny wants to pursue research to get the truth. alot of people will be eating humble pie if the truth does come out and it will come out. it always does.

  57. Jennifer B. (#54) makes a good point when mentioning how it is wrong to state opinions as facts.

    Derek B. (#6) provided a link to a hilarious article that was definitely worth the click. Ha-ha!

    Speaking of Jenny M.’s claims: Well, celebrities often have more pull than they should, without having to prove their competence level towards the subject matter they spout off about. I’m just glad this wasn’t a newly found belief system or a New Age religion promo via a celebrity – there has been enough of that during the last several years.

    Anyway, back to the subject: one thing seems to be true, for whatever reason, autism is on the rise. I don’t know, maybe we should blame it on environmental changes and pollution issues instead…

  58. Guerrilla23

    Dear WhatsTheHarm,

    I have made an Animation that I believe has strong satirical value.

    “VACCINES”

    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=TheGuerrilla23#p/u/0/maTEmrQJ3K0

  59. dendrobium

    Amanda,

    “they have not researched all the ingredients given out in the vaccines so therefore it is a lie to say that vaccines do not cause autism.”

    It’s very simple. There’s no statistical correlation between vaccines and autism. Therefore vaccines don’t cause autism. Case closed. It doesn’t matter what the ingredients are, if there’s no correlation, there’s no causation. You might as well say that Jenny McCarthy causes autism. They haven’t researched it, therefore it’s true.

    “i cant understand why it would bother people that we believe it may be the cause.”

    Because the spread of misinformation causes people to die or become severely disabled due to preventable disease. Do you know what polio can do to a person? It’s not pretty. Do you really think we should kill thousands of people because of a scientifically disproven hunch that you won’t let go of?

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