Fight harder for vaccination!

By Phil Plait | January 2, 2009 3:00 pm

Well, this is sweet, but ultimately I can’t help but think it’s bad news: actor Jim Carrey has given his girlfriend Jenny McCarthy a $50 million trust fund.

It’s sweet because you don’t see that kind of devotion in general in Hollywood couples.

It’s bad news because Jenny McCarthy is a walking antiscience disaster of the first order. She claims vaccines cause autism and that her son was cured of autism by changing his diet. I’m not sure if this money will be used to promote her nonsense or not; one assumes she had access to this kind of money before, but now it’s in a trust where it’s essentially hers and her son’s.

However, it’s sure to get publicity for her over the next few days, like she needs it. I see her all over the place, basically telling people to stop vaccinating their kids. I seriously see her as a major public health threat, and it’s up to us in the reality-based community to keep our voices loud and make sure we are heard. It is not an exaggeration to say that our kids’ lives are at stake here.

Tip o’ the surgical mask to Fark (NSFW language in that thread).

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Skepticism

Comments (86)


    My late father once said: “The whole problem with this world is that those with big ideas have little money, but those with big pots of money have little idea!”

  2. Badger3k

    Carrey is right up there with her in the woo department, so it should be no surprise. Maybe Jenny can start an Institute for Indigo Children and be laughed out to the fringes of society where she deserves to be, but I doubt it would happen. People want to see weirdness from their stars, for some reason.

  3. e=mc hammer

    It is only a matter of time before an outbreak of preventable disease kills children in numbers. Then, women like Jenny McCarthy will have blood on their hands.

    The measles outbreak amongst anti-vaxxers in San Diego proved that it will happen, now it is just a matter of when.

  4. She claims vaccines cause autism and that her son was cured of autism by changing his diet.

    Wait, how does she get her brain around the idea that the first part of that is basically negated in importance by the second? If you can cure autism and vaccines do unquestionable amounts of good, why would you worry about the chance of getting autism with a vaccine (assuming, erroneously, that that chance were real in the first place). Isn’t it a bit like saying, “Papers can give me a paper cut. I can put a band-aid on it and it will heal, but I won’t take the risk of a paper cut so I don’t handle paper”?

  5. quasidog

    Maybe it’s just over your way but I hadn’t really even heard about her in this light until seeing it here. I do agree with one point you make : “…it’s up to us in the reality-based community to keep our voices loud and make sure we are heard.” I know that is paraphrasing your comment but I think that should be the focus. I don’t really agree with focusing on her as much because that just adds to her publicity. Negative publicity is still publicity. I am aware that she will get huge amounts of publicity outside of this blog, but I don’t see why we need to add to it.

    I am vaccinated and I will vaccinate my children and if pressed I will explain why, I will always attempt to explain the proven scientific advantages. My god-daughter just got vaccinated for whooping cough, and it is going around our area at the moment, so I am resting easy. If you have ever seen the effects of whooping cough it will make you tear up. Some kids die.

    I however will not do so (explain my reasons for vaccination or some other scientific issue) in the same instance as focusing on some celebrity that disagrees with it .. just because that person is a celebrity. They don’t need more publicity, they needs less. I truly think in cases like this the best defense is to just cry out about the scientific advantages, rather than why someone else is wrong. I know Phil you disagree and I respect that, and others that feel this way, but I have had countless experiences with using this tactic and I truly believe it works.

    For example rather than talk to a bunch of ignorant people regarding aliens possibly visiting us, and focusing on all the crackpots that publicise it, I will instead just talk about all the scientific reasons why it isn’t really possible. That does 2 things: it teaches people the truth, and takes the limelight of the crackpots. People love crackpots and will listen to their words even if they suspect they are not true, so I just feel it is best to subject people to a more tactful truth.

    Again, I see your point, and yes she is dangerous, but I just don’t see how adding more focus on her helps. This whole article would have been awesome if it just talked about why vaccination is good, and backed up with some scientific scrutiny. I am not attacking your writing style though. I wouldn’t read it if I didn’t. However I have to say what I think, even if you think I am a tool for saying it.

    Please don’t take this comment as an attack. I love these blogs and read most of them everyday. However we all have different viewpoints. I have just had success with mine and am pointing it out as an alternative. I understand if you don’t agree.

  6. realist gun nut

    She claims vaccines cause autism and that her son was cured of autism by changing his diet.

    How is this different from the view formerly held by a large number of highly educated people that ulcers are caused by stress?

    John Weiss asks:

    Wait, how does she get her brain around the idea that the first part of that is basically negated in importance by the second? If you can cure autism and vaccines do unquestionable amounts of good, why would you worry about the chance of getting autism with a vaccine (assuming, erroneously, that that chance were real in the first place).

    Hmmm, something in vaccine knocks out cells that produce a critical enzyme but you can get that same enzyme from a strange diet.

    I am not claiming that that is what is happening, but you are seriously lacking in thinking power if you can’t see that as a possibility. Nor am I claiming that she understands the details of the view that she is putting forward …

  7. Elliott Roberts

    You don’t hear about this kind of thing unless you watch the dumb dumb box every day.

  8. quasidog, I couldn’t agree with you more, and I don’t think anyone would possibly be able to take your informed, intelligent response as an attack. The only way someone would take it as an attack would be if they were close-minded or not open to new ideas.. and judging from what I’ve read Phil is certainly not that.

    Well spoken, sir (or madam)!

  9. realist gun nut: because when tested, ulcers were shown to be bacterial. Science has also tested for any link — anything whatsoever — between vaccines and autism, and has shown none. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    So that’s a pretty big difference.

  10. quasidog, I don’t feel attacked. :-) But in the link I provide in the post (click on her name) you will find copious references to why vaccinations are important, how we know they don’t cause autism, and why people like McCarthy are promoting outbreaks of dangerous diseases which can kill kids.

  11. Heidi Anderson

    I am as pro-vaccine and anti-Jenny/Jim as they come, but the comments on that FARK site were ridiculous. I have yet to understand how most things involving women gets boiled down to her f***ability. As a newbie in the skeptic community, (and I recognize FARK is not part of that community), I am glad that there seems to be less of that here than other places.

  12. quasidog

    @modern rocko. Some people misread stuff the way they want. I am sure many will disagree, and I am not saying my line of reasoning is completely correct. I am open to correction. It’s just a viewpoint, but thanks :)

  13. quasidog

    Yeah I have read most of them Phil :) Cheers.

  14. Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    “Proven science” claims that vaccines do not cause autism? Proven by who? The Big Pharma corrupted researchers like Dr. Offit? Show me a study that has not been influenced by greed. Follow the money trails and look at the evidence. The FDA, NIH, the CDC are not institutions protecting the public nor are the professional organizations such as the American Pediatric Association. All stink of Big Pharma money! If Vaccines are “safe” why has over a billion dollars been paid out by the unconstitutional Vaccine Recovery Fund that cherry picks what vaccine injuries that they will compensate for? Anyone who is stupid enough to vaccinate there child and smugly deny reality when children are dying is a fool. Senator Grassley has exposed corrupted researchers such as Charles Nemeroff and Harvard’s Dr. Biederman who took federal funds and failed to report Bib Pharma bribes. Academic honesty has been sold out to the highest bidder. We do not have objective science, we have corruption of enormous proportion sponsored by the billions in drug sales. In every way our children are being exploited, from vaccine injuries, Ritilin, and SSRIs and junk food our children are being destroyed. The “crack pots” are those who repeat the mantras of propagandized reality, “vaccines are safe”. Jenny is telling the truth.

  15. Elmar_M

    Oh dear, now she is also a well financed crack pot!
    Why does noone give the money to me instead? I am at least not doing any harm with it 😉
    I even make medical software for a living…

  16. JoeSmithCA

    Hmmmm…if stupidty has a playboy bunny, imagine if someone were to get Hugh Hefner promoting vaccinations :)

  17. James Dillon

    Is there any evidence for the proposition that celebrity couples are less devoted than non-celebrity couples? Or is it just that the fighting and infideliyt that millions of couples go through on a daily basis doesn’t make the front page of People magazine?

    Bit of a skeptical skip-up I think, Phil.

  18. James Dillon

    Er, slip-up, even.

  19. Elmar_M

    The things you list are all either hearsay or circumstancial evidence for the matter at best. Also it is the Antivaxxers that have to proof their claims not the pro vaccination people.
    To give you some food for thought: Here in Europe we have the same or higher rate of vaccinations as you have in the US. Noone here believes any of this. There is no reason to believe it. The connection between the two things is just not visible. It might just as well be the starch in the US beer that is responsible for this (trying to come up with something really stupid here).

    Anyway, the goverments here pay for the vaccinations (public healthcare you know), so it is in their interest that they get what they pay for. Pharmazeutical companies here are by far not as powerful as they are in the US. Prices for medication is strctly regulated as is resaleof them.
    Here the government is actually trying to interfere with the doctors on what medications they prescribe (cheaper or less medication if possible)to save money for the system. Of course this caused some outrage among doctors that see this as a possible reduction in the efficiency of their treatments, but that is a different story.
    In our government and the public health organisations there are thousands of medical doctors employed, many of these responsible for validating treatments (Chefarztpflicht) to make sure no money gets wasted (there are still some things payed for by the system that should not be but that is a different matter). Anyway, with all this, noone in this big system here, has ever suggested something like that.
    There is NO (read: none, nada, nihil, niente, rien) evidence here that even vaguely supports this idea. This idea so far has been strictly restricted to the US and a bunch of people there that have no education on the subject or anything to show that gives them credibility.

    One more food for thought: I dont know any medical doctor here that would not vaccinate their own child without hesitation. If they were just payed by the big evil pharam corporations to sell these “lies” as you and McKarthy seem to believe, then they would not do that (unless they are nuts).
    Then there are of course the people that work at the pharma- companies themselves. They too are parents and there are hundreds of thousands of parents working there. They would not be so happy about this situation if it was true and someone would talk and let it all out. But noone does. It is just hard to believe that all these parents would risk the lives of their children for this. Sorry waaay unbelievable.
    So this clearly is just another of these conspiracy theories that need impossible, fictional circumstances to exist in order to work (like millions of people are involved and none of them ever talks). The world does not work that way, sorry.

  20. quasidog

    @Elaine McKillop,Esq… everyone at my school got vaccinated. I knew a lot of people, and I know a lot of people that didn’t get the diseases they were vaccinated against. I also know those people did develop autism from it.

    It is true that any scientific study cannot be 100% accurate, but on the whole, in nearly all cases, there is no study that has confirmed that vaccination actually caused, nor triggered autism. It is also true that the scientific scrutiny regarding the issue continues.

    The point that we need to remember here is that the diseases the majority are being vaccinated against, and in turn protected from, are many and extremely dangerous. Autism is one thing; whooping cough, meningococcal, (the list is staggerring) .. before vaccination or immunisation programs were started previously claimed the lives of MILLIONS …that’s millions … of children’s lives every year.

    Now they don’t. Immunisation works.

    Stopping it would bring all this disease back into out society. I for one don’t like that idea. In fact if I jumped on the bandwagon and fought to stop immunisation, I feel I would be contributing to a large amount of children, and adults, dying a painful and debilitation way. Would that not make me contributing to mass manslaughter? It is debatable but we need to consider the big picture.

    If for some small chance a vaccine helps trigger autism in some (which is unproven and if so is extremely rare) it is far,far less destructive than what vaccines are helping stem.

    Stop vaccination and all these diseases come back and we plunge back into a world were kids cough themselves to death (have you ever seen a baby with whooping cough ) .. or various other disgusting diseases and tragic deaths. Even though there may be some small chance (and at the moment science has not discovered it) that immunisation triggers autism is very few people, it is the lesser of 2 evils.

    A few children possibly developing autism from a vaccine (which has not been proven) does not equal millions dying from other diseases, painfully. (which has been proven)

    Rather than focusing on autism all the time, it might be wise to invest some time researching all the terrible diseases that immunisation has helped to combat. If you ignore that … well …. how is that thinking critically ?

  21. e=mc hammer

    @Elaine McKillop, Esq: as an attorney you should be ashamed of bringing forth an argument like the opne above. It is full more staw man fallacies than what’s seen in an average year from a high-school debating team.

    To wit:

    Point: no credible studies have shown a causal link between autism and vaccination.

    Your argument: “Show me a study that has not been influenced by greed. Follow the money trails and look at the evidence. The FDA, NIH, the CDC are not institutions protecting the public nor are the professional organizations such as the American Pediatric Association. All stink of Big Pharma money!”

    Note: This is textbook Straw Man Fallacy. I wouldn’t try that in court, counselor, because if your opposition is at all competent, they would shred you limb from limb.

    Point: Vaccines are safe when used as directed and under proper medical care.

    Your argument: “If Vaccines are “safe” why has over a billion dollars been paid out by the unconstitutional Vaccine Recovery Fund that cherry picks what vaccine injuries that they will compensate for? Anyone who is stupid enough to vaccinate there child and smugly deny reality when children are dying is a fool.”

    Note: interesting that neither a Google or a Wikipedia search turns up any “Vaccine Recovery Fund.” Perhaps you should re-name it the “Secret Vaccine Recovery Fund” or use its correct name. Until you do, your statement is ruled out of turn as unprovable.

    Now comes your big summary:

    “In every way our children are being exploited, from vaccine injuries, Ritilin, and SSRIs and junk food our children are being destroyed. The “crack pots” are those who repeat the mantras of propagandized reality, “vaccines are safe”. Jenny is telling the truth.”

    After re-reading and wading through that first sentence a couple of times in order to make sure I missed no meaning in that sea of bad grammar and misspellings, I took it as simply your opinion. Colloquially, we all know what opinions are like.

    Moving on to the second sentence, end the sentence at the comma and you have a perfect reflection of your own argument. I’ll repeat it to you: “The “crack pots” are those who repeat the mantras of propagandized reality.” Like Jenny McCarthy?

    Let’s boil this down to its essence: You may choose to allow children and adults to be at a high risk of death from diseases like polio, rubella, mumps and measles, all because of anti-corporate paranoia, but the simple fact is that vaccines have saved lives and continue to do so. You simply change that established fact.

    Like I said, Counselor, you would lose this case in a court of law, and it is quite unlikely you will be able to prove it here with “evidence” comprised of logical fallacy and rantings of wild opinion. Good luck though.

  22. Knurl

    @Elliott Roberts:

    Yes, but a lot of people do. I know quite a few people who are aware of this so called controversy. A few of them are intelligent enough that they should be able to sort it out and make sense of it, but being new parents they’re afraid for their children, and they work in fields where understanding science and the scientific process is something they’re not familiar with.

    People today are busy enough that they rely too much on the media. A media which only wants high ratings in order to increase their market share so they can have higher advertising rates – make more money. With few exceptions, journalism today is untrustable. People really should just shut off the TV and do some investigation of their own.

  23. Jimmy

    How about the fact that an actor has $50m to give to a playboy bunny. Your average researcher will not make that kind of money during there entire life. Perhaps movies save more lives than vaccines :-)

  24. skepticalmom

    First, I vaccinated all four of my kids. I keep my own up to date. Having said that, though, I will note that:
    1. The vaccination schedules have become increasingly crowded. I’m not clear on why immature immune systems need to have so much stimulus in so little time. The only real excuse is that they have the babies in the office. That’s not science, that’s convenience. When is the best time? Do we know? Are we acting on that knowledge? Why isn’t that data in the volumes of crap information you get when you get a shot?
    2. Medicine isn’t always science based. Although Phil rightly noted that ulcers have been shown to be caused by bacteria, my teenage daughter was told to lower her stress levels. I have been told all sorts of things I had to research for myself by doctors that were simply not true. Go and see the junk science being distributed by eye doctors with competing claims for various supplements for dry eyes as just one example.
    3. Some things won’t or can’t be known until later….the chickenpox vaccine is preventing maybe 200 deaths a year, but we won’t know for many years yet what the effect will be on the development of shingles for millions. More? Less? Meanwhile the vaccine seems to help prevent or lessen shingles in older adults who had natural chickenpox. We are conducting large scale experiments that are not well controlled and whose results may not be known for decades. This isn’t science as much as guessing and hoping. Look at the drop in breast cancer rates caused by reversing an approved medical treatment… hormones for post-menopausal women likely caused lots of early deaths.
    4. Why aren’t we vaccinating adults? Slowly we are apparently finding out that many shots don’t confer lifelong immunity. For example, doctors were not and are not recognizing cases of whooping cough in adults. We have laughably lousy data. The CDC now recommends pertussis boosters for teens and adults. When is the last time your personal antibody response was checked? For all I know, vaccinating babies against diseases that are primarily STDs will only result in a population that thinks they are protected, but are not. We want pets done every year in many states. Why? Should your employer be required to keep your immunization records like schools do? Who let you out of the house without your shots? I am being slightly facetious….but only slightly. There is a lot more to this issue than “vaccination good” “antivax bad.”

    If you are going to flame at people who have a very limited science education for their gut feeling that medicine isn’t really science, then maybe admit that more science needs to go into medicine. Be honest that many approved treatments are good for only a little more that a placebo. Maybe 60% is good…but you can be in the other 40%. Much of medicine is done by anecdote and “well it seemed to help” that is not any better supported than flaky statements by idiot actresses. I don’t see how it is helpful to try to frame the argument as medicine=science therefore only idiots don’t “believe” in it. I see way too much of that in this blog. Much of the commentary on both sides in hardly better than the old Saturday Night Live Point/Counterpoint.

    Please instead support real science education in this country so that adults know enough to ask questions, think skeptically, and know when the doctor or the media is selling science or snake oil. We should always ask for and present the data. Not just take cheap shots at ignorance.

  25. Knurl


    You really need to be skeptical in a rational way, and check out in regard to the vaccination situation. Phil does post on the subject and is somewhat harsh at times. But this isn’t really the expert forum on antivax. Please do follow the link I have provided, read the posts, and then rant. Please do.

  26. andyo

    That fark thread is hilarious though… “strumpet”… ha ha.

  27. Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    I stand by my position that vaccines cause autism, death and a host of other childhood ailments. You who accept the propagandized version of reality have abandoned your intellects and are to lazy to believe anything but what is fed to you by the corporate owned media. The big picture is that we no longer live in a free society. The Constitution, including the Bill of Rights has been abandoned. Corporate control exist over every realm of our lives. Why did congress take away our right of redress for vaccine injuries when pressured by drug lobbies? Congress claims that vaccines are such a “national importance” that manufacturers should not be allowed to be sued. Why should the issue of vaccine injury not be fought out in a court of law with a jury of our peers? The auto industry started making safer cars when they faced litigation. Isn’t the safety of vaccines that we give our babies just as important? When you look at the lawsuits brought against Big Pharma in other areas you will see that rules of litigation have been changed to shield Big Pharma. We have the Daubert standard that have taken the jury’s right to decide the validity of an expert witness and has made the judge the final authority on weather testimony is admitted. Dr. David Healy, a world renown expert on SSRI’s was not allowed to testify because he believes that SSRI’s induce individuals to commit suicide and violent acts including murder. Big Pharma continues to deny and hide these facts while thousands of people die. Then there is another tool that the Big Pharma lap dog FDA has gotten behind called preemption. The argument is that if the FDA approves a drug and the label, the drug company can not be required to warn of an adverse reaction any further then that. That means if the the FDA says a drug is safe when it is not, and you die from it, too bad. Big Pharma has rigged the Courts. Certainly all of the rigging and denial on the part of Big Pharma would not be necessary if they played by the rules. The vaccination talking head, Dr. Offit is in the same category as the Big Pharma bribed Dr. Biederman from Harvard that wants to label babies bipolar for profit and greed. You don’t have to corrupt a system of justice if your product is “safe and effective”. We have a corruption in academics, corruption in government agencies, we have corruption in professional associations, and corruption in our judicial system and then you want to trust the guys that are doing the corruption? I trust the mother that goes to the doctor with a healthy baby and gets a vaccine injection, her baby cries a sharp piercing cry as their little brain swells, and dies shortly later in their crib, I trust that mother who knows what killed her baby and the the rest of you idiots can go to hell!

  28. Julian

    from ‘skeptical’mom-

    “Much of medicine is done by anecdote and “well it seemed to help” that is not any better supported than flaky statements by idiot actresses.”

    You obviously don’t know anything about Phil if you think he supports doctors who use that level of proof for their treatments. Try looking up the people you are going to flame before flaming.

  29. cthulhu


    You shouldn’t conflate the antivax idiots with the diet cure stuff. There are so many subtle food allergies, vitamin deficiencies, micronutrient deficiencies, etc., that we need to keep our eyes open on the relationship of diet to medical problems of all types. Remember that autism is a spectrum disorder – there are lots of different types, with significantly different effects; it is not unscientific to postulate that diet may have some relationship to some portions of the spectrum. You might recall that we had been told for 20 years that low-fat diets are the best, and it was only this past year that the scientific community finally showed conclusively that low-carb diets have substantial advantages over low-fat diets. We are still pretty ignorant of a lot of the effects of diet.

    You were also way too flip about the ulcer parallel – doctors and reputable scientific researchers stated unequivocally for decades that “stress causes ulcers!” before a maverick doctor drank H. Pylori and proved that stomach ulcers are caused by bacterial infection. Your comment made it sound as if only crackpots had believed that stress causes ulcers, and that is grossly incorrect.

    Waiting to see how many people misinterpret this post…

  30. Ms. McKillop, Esq.

    Waving around a Conspiracy Theory does not substitute for evidence.

    It is just a lame excuse for the absence of evidence, and a common woowoo tactic.
    You are not fooling anyone.

  31. Elmar_M

    Elaine, did you read my last post directed at you?
    If not, you should reread it! I am not from the US, I do not care about mass media at all (I pretty much despise them). The pharmaceutical companies dont gain anything from lying to me. They would actually make a lot more money from so called “alternative medicine products” (like homeopathy) since these are NOT payed for by the government and therefore more expensive (price not regulated). DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS, OR DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS MORE CLEARLY?!
    Also this is not a matter of believes. I do not have to believe that vaccination is good, I know that vaccination is good. It is a fact. Also if you had even the most rudimentary knowledge of microbiology, you might understand how vaccines work and then you would be a lot less affraid of them.
    However, YOU seem to be blindly following something that a hand full of (rich an popular) people promote. That makes YOU the one who is blindly believing something.

  32. Charles Boyer

    @Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    First of all, have you ever heard of a paragraph? Also, look into a spell-checker. It might make reading your rants a little easier.

    Googling your name makes your history quite clear — you are a crackpot. You seem to find conspiracy theories where-ever you turn.

    You are not findable in any national law databases. For example, comes back with “No results found.”

    Perhaps this is you?

    Elaine McKillop

    HIGH-FLYING Elaine is an air hostess with Thomas Cook.

    The 22-year-old, of Dalmuir, Dunbartonshire, jets all over the world but reckons her favourite destination is Canada.

    She said: “I love my job and I’m lucky I get to travel so much. We fly to all the usual holiday destinations, but I just love Canada. It’s brilliant for shopping.

    “When I’m not working, I dance R&B to keep fit.”

    Elaine would love to win Miss Scotland. She said: “I’ve always followed the contest, but I was never in at the start so I didn’t know how to enter until this year.”

    Honestly, I believe you are a fraud, and a dangerous one at that.

  33. @Heidi Anderson,

    There’s a reason I stopped linking my Fark profile to my blog, and I want people to visit my blog. I like Fark, but the comments threads often leave a lot to be desired. It’s seems like people always have an issue with anything you say, no matter how innocuous, unless it’s a joke or hotlinked image.


    As for the trust fund thing, I clasp my hands together tightly and hope that it’s all meant to go towards her son’s future. I think she has plenty of money to spread her brand of goofiness on her own though.

  34. Steve Cooperman

    One of the things I wonder about it whether there is an epigenetic component to autism. If the scientific evidence shows that there is no link between vaccination and autism, I believe it.

    But what if, a generation ago, that generation did something that turned off critical protein production in this generation? They might not find that link by looking at only what’s occurring with the kid now.

    I’m thinking mainly of the recent NOVA show:

    It would make for a much more difficult detection, and simple correlations might not do it.

  35. Elmar_M

    The time and money people are spending on spreading these unfounded conspiracy theories is quite enormous me thinks. These people should spent the time and money on actually learning and studying medicine, or micro biology or biochemistry. Then they would proabably already know that what they are saying cannot be true long before they receive their PHD. But if they still believed this after that, they might at least have the means and understanding to do their own scientific investigations on this. To do research and reading with a chance of understanding what is going on.
    Instead they are throwing arround wild and completely unfounded accusations.

  36. El Jefe

    OK, I’m just a part-time scientist, but all my 2-and-4-legged critters are current with their vaccinations simply because I don’t want to see them die from whooping cough, polio, feline leukemia, etc. Jenner should be ranked with those that are saviours of civilizations.
    There IS a side-effect to vaccinations of which everyone should be made aware; children and pets cease to understand English (or insert your mother-language here) afterwards! When asked to clean rooms, take out the trash, roll over, or sit, one gets the “thousand-yard stare”.
    I smell conspiracy! I’m sure when Elaine gets her online law degree she’ll start to circle:)

  37. Charles Boyer

    El Jefe,

    As a part-time scientist you probably have a greater grasp of the issues than anyone who makes unproven, wild claims meant to play upon people’s fears. Especially those who pose themselves as an attorney yet are un-findable in any national database or state bar search.

  38. Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    I am a member of the Florida Bar and have a Masters of Science degree if it interest anyone. I am not pursuing an online law degree, nor am I an air hostess. None of my positions are “conspiracies” but are based upon verifiable facts. The fool who claims that “Vaccine Court” does not exist is wrong. “Vaccine court is the popular term which refers to the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which administers a no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims. These claims against vaccine manufacturers cannot normally be filed in state or federal civil courts, but instead must be heard in the Court of Claims, sitting without a jury. The program was established by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA), passed by the United States Congress in response to a threat to the vaccine supply due to a 1980s scare over the DPT vaccine.” This kangaroo court has paid out over a billion dollars for vaccine injuries. It is obvious to me that the comments posted are not intended to produce intelligent debate but merely to attack and insult any opinions that is not in lock step with Big Pharma shills. I wonder if those of you who insulted me are getting paid or if you are really just plain stupid?

  39. Charles Boyer

    “None of my positions are “conspiracies” but are based upon verifiable facts.”

    Verify them, then. With FACTS, not your delusional and paranoid rants. Facts that have sources, facts that have survived the rigor of peer review. Someone with a Masters degree in “science” (whatever discipline that is) should understand that.

    Speaking of paranoid and delusional rants:

    “I wonder if those of you who insulted me are getting paid or if you are really just plain stupid?”

    Actually, no one pays me and I feel safe speaking for others in saying that they are not either. But thanks for including us in your vast conspiracy of evil.

    You are the one that does not want to debate. You want to bully people with your rants, your unproved allegations, your insults, your accusations of complicity and your feigned superiority.

    People like you put others in danger Elaine, and you will cause people to die because of your lies. I hope you sleep well at night with that blood on your hands. But then again, of course you do. You are an attorney, that particular subspecies that sucks on the blood of society.

  40. Elmar_M

    Elaine, you are always speaking of the US and all sorts of weird laws and conspiracies that are only possible on US soil (even if they existed). The MMR vaccination is performed in any developed country in the world! It was even performed in the former Soviet Union (where there were no pharma corporations at the time).
    It is amazing how some people are so closed minded to believe that the entire world consists of nothing but the US, or that the US government/corporations have some weird magical power over the entire planet as well.
    That pretty much is true for any conspiracy theory that is born in the US. They simply dont work anywhere else, but would have to, if they were true. It is that simple.
    However Mrs Elaine has done an awesome job at avoiding answering my previous posts. In fact she is behaving as if they did not exist. That means that she is either incapable of reading, or just purposely ignores my words. I assume that the second is the reason. This in return makes me believe that she is purposely trying to play over this for reasons I can only guess. One possibility is that she is very well aware of the fact that this conspiracy theory is bollocks and she has alterior motives. If this is not the case, then please answer me Elaine! I am very interested in your take on my previous posts.
    Also, I congratulate you on your science degree. What exactly is your degree? Is it micro biology, bio chemistry, medicine. Is it an advanced degree? I am just curious. Having a science degree does not necessarily make someone an expert in an unrelated field, so I would love to get some more details. If you want to provide them.

  41. Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    Charles and Elmar drop dead!

  42. TK

    Elaine, just so you know Esq. Is short for Esquire- a mans title, is this why you are so confused ?

  43. The Esq. thing confused me too. Is it some sort of US legal thing? I thought it was something you appended to your name to big note yourself, or it is on our side of the Pacific. Seriously though, if the title is legit, why use it?

    Funny how the anti-vax posts degenerate into name calling and abuse when a little bit of evidence is asked for.

    BTW, I have a Masters of the Universe.

  44. quasidog

    @Elaine McKillop, Esq.

    .. you said before… “I stand by my position that vaccines cause autism, death and a host of other childhood ailments. You who accept the propagandized version of reality have abandoned your intellects and are to lazy to believe anything but what is fed to you by the corporate owned media.”

    Look. Practically everyone I know has been vaccinated against something. I remember all the kids lining up at my school to get shots numerous times. Nearly every person in Australia is vaccinated against most commonly preventable diseases. None of the kids I know now or knew then developed autism. The media has nothing to do with it. I believe it because I can see the results. You however are jumping on the.. “The media is controlling your thought” .. bandwagon. In this case, that is absolute bunk, because I live in Australia and we don’t have the sort of media hype you do. I don’t even watch TV. Your argument is silly.

    If nearly everyone here has been vaccinated, why hasn’t everyone developed Autism ? Autism is extremely rare. Your statement has little if any value. You are just making things up. It seems to me based upon the rest of your comments you have some sort of issue with some secret government agenda. What!?

    Look … I will repeat .. if nearly everyone has been vaccinated, why is Autism so rare? There are many other reasons why children may develop Autism, so I don’t see why you need to link it with vaccination when the link clearly has no scientific merit. Repeat .. science can’t find a link.

    You are completely ignoring the fact that vaccination wards off boat loads of diseases from effecting our society. These diseases kill people too you know. Why are you ignoring that? What will happen when you stop vaccination, and we all get all these diseases again and kids and adults start dying from them? That’s a fact, because it USED TO HAPPEN! *sigh*

    I am really sorry but your argument is valueless unless you have some hard evidence, which you don’t. Everything you are suggesting is hearsay and guesswork. Really bad guesswork. You need to take that grudge you have against society or the government or whatever it is and do something useful with it.

    You say vaccination MAY cause Autism in SOME kids. No basis in fact.

    Not vaccinating WILL casue DEATH in MANY kids!

    Work it out! Weigh it up! ….. Which is worse!? Honestly.

  45. Allan

    The problem is that vaccines do not may you immune, but merely boost your immunity. So people who are not vaccinated are putting me at risk as well as themselves. This is another reason for the need for max vaccination.

    So Elaine, keep away from Charles or Elmar or they may drop dead at that…

  46. Allan

    typos gone wild… The problem is that vaccines do not make you immune, but merely boost your immunity. So people who are not vaccinated are putting me at risk as well as themselves. This is another reason for the need for mass vaccination.

  47. Gary Ansorge

    I really love the way Elaine responds to critical. effective input.

    Elaine McKillop, Esq. Says:
    January 3rd, 2009 at 9:55 pm
    Charles and Elmar drop dead!

    So succint,,,
    ,,,and totally indicative of a mis-managed mind.

    GAry 7

  48. Mark Hansen

    Elaine, do you have a source for your “Charles and Elmar drop dead!” assertion? What do they drop that is dead? Or did you actually mean “Charles and Elmar, drop dead!”?

    Whichever way you look at it, it is very peculiar behaviour from someone that is supposed to be a member of the Florida Bar. If you really are the Elaine McKillop of the Florida Bar, I am glad that:
    1) I don’t live in Florida and risk using your services and
    2) that you’ve given fair warning to other people here who may live in Florida.

  49. Charles Boyer


    I take it as a compliment that Ms. McKillop has asked me to drop dead. I can assure her that exactly that will happen one day, hopefully (for me) many years from now.

    Take the time to search for Counselor McKillop’s greatest hits in Google. They run many pages, each with direct links to her vast C.V. of Internet postings. Her claims of conspiracies are everywhere, ranging from Hilary Clinton’s acolytes funding Mike Huckabee’s presidential run to her favorite theme — those evil corporations bent on her idea of totalitarian control of us all. When the noted Counselor is cornered in the insanity of her “arguments” she resorts to the same childish insults that she has displayed here. To wit:

    “Megan, you CFR, One Worlder shill, you choose to insult one of the very few honorable men in American politics. Our movement isn’t about an election it is about a Revolution. It is not over until we win back our Constitution and the rule of law. Insipid pea brains like you are what is really irrelevant. The question is what kind of twisted freaks opposes Freedom, a right to your life, liberty, property and self determination, without “Big Brother” dictating your actions from the cradle to the grave?” (

    Sound familiar? It should. It was the same playbook she used here: she knows better, the Conspiracy looms, and should one disagree with her, well then, resort the childish name-calling. Over and over, this pattern repeats itself, through at least 90% of fifteen-plus pages of links.

    It would be amusing if Ms. McKillop didn’t inspire people into dangerous acts that put innocent children at risk of dying a horrible and unnecessary death. Instead, she is horrifying.

  50. Elmar_M

    Elaine wrote:
    “Charles and Elmar drop dead!”
    Nope, still there and sitting upright 😉
    Sorry to disappoint you :)
    I think you are showing quite unprofessional behaviour here. Now I can do that too, pretty well actually (just ask anyone who watched me ween of my cigarette addiction), but I will refrain from this for now…

  51. Elmar_M

    For me it is just very interesting how people take the word of a former playboy bunny (I just looked her up, did not know that, thought she was just a bad actress), over the word of medical doctors all over the world.
    I have been wondering before about what it is that gives celebrities so much power over people. I mean the entire yellow press lives from that. It is one thing that I never understood, even when I went to school. I was reading and talking about nuclear fusion and the other kids about George Michael. When I then said that I know nothing about George Michael but that he certainly looks gay in the posters they put up everywhere, the other kids beat me up a lot (it took me a bit longer to adjust to certain odd behavioral “rules” in society). As it turned out later, he is actually gay, not that that is a bad thing in anyway (to each their own)…
    Why I am quoting this, is because it is real life example of the celebrity phenomenon that I have witnessed so many times in my life. People go through great lengths to gather knowledge about celebrities and then they will- often irrationally- defend their actions and take on their opinions on things without questioning them.

  52. Gary Ansorge

    Elmar M:

    Celebrity worship seems to go hand in hand with herd behavior(sometimes referred to as mob mentality). For those of us inclined toward unrestrained comments about the Emperors new cloths(or lack thereof), ostracism from the herd is a given. Which is one reason I adhere to training young skeptics in effective methods of self defense(or long distance running). I prefer both,,,hey, if they catch me, they still have to contend with the big muscles (LOL).

    I wonder if the aforementioned Esq is just trying to initiate a defamation lawsuit. Maybe that’s how she makes her(his, its???) living? I would attempt to defame her non-existent character but she’s already done that,,,go ahead, sue me. I’m an old hippy DeadHead with no assets to acquire.

    When the Jennys of the world succeed in killing enough children to arouse herd outrage, maybe we could initiate a class action suit for their irresponsible behavior. Hey, that $50 million trust fund is looking pretty tempting,,,

    Gary 7

  53. Todd W.

    Sorry to be late to the fun. It’s interesting how there is always one person that shows up claiming conspiracy and that vaccines actually do cause autism in these threads. Just a few thoughts and points of clarification:

    There actually is a Child Vaccine Injury Act that established a fund to reimburse families for injuries arising from vaccines and to move the jurisdiction from the general courts to the Office of Special Masters. The primary reason for doing this was that vaccines were recognized as a vital step to ensuring a healthy population. Were suits to be left to the regular courts, and the companies sued directly, there was a threat that companies would cease production of vaccines, thereby putting the populace at greater risk for communicative, preventable diseases. By reducing the risks to the companies, the act helps to ensure that vaccines continue to be produced, while still allowing legal recourse to families who can prove a causal link between a vaccine and subsequent injury.

    Elaine, you compared the legal situation of vaccines with the auto industry, but where your analogy breaks down is that autos do not contribute to the health of the populace, at least as compared to vaccines. If you wish to see what happens when vaccine rates drop, take a look at what happened in various areas around the world. In the U.K., shortly after the Andrew Wakefield “MMR-causes-autism” debacle, MMR vaccination rates dropped and the incidence of measles went up. I suggest taking a look at Brian Deer’s coverage of the Wakefield issue. Do a Google search for Mr. Deer’s name, and you should be able to find it easily.

    As I understand it, the “Esquire” title in the U.S. is taken by anyone, male or female, who completes their JD program and passes the bar.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on vaccines, I would argue that more than the risk of death from these diseases, we should stress the non-fatal, but still quite serious, complications from the diseases, even if they are treated.


    I stand by my position that vaccines cause autism, death and a host of other childhood ailments.

    Perhaps you can provide links to quality, well-designed and controlled studies that show, irrefutably, a link between vaccines and autism. Court cases do not count, as they have a much more lenient standard of evidential rigor. Further, while I (and the Pharma companies) acknowledge that death and other complications can result from vaccines, I assume that you also have access to quality studies showing that the incidence/risk of injuries from vaccines is significantly higher the the incidence/risk of injuries from the diseases that they prevent.

    On a final note, is there any particular firm with which you are associated, Ms. McKillop? I would like to forward some of your comments to the senior partners of the firm so that they may be aware of the image you are projecting on the internet. It may be of interest to them.

  54. Todd W.

    Oh, and for those who are interested, there is an Elaine McKillop who is a member of the Florida Bar. The Florida Bar web site has a profile for her, which can be accessed at (add a http and www at the beginning):

    She has been a member since Aug. 1993 and can be contacted directly at ermckillop (at), should you wish to do so, for example to verify that it really is her and not someone just using her name, though Google results do suggest that she is the real person.

  55. Mom

    What EXACTLY have you got against people making up their own minds about vaccines?

    This is a risk versus reward decision. While I believe some vaccines are very much worth the risk, known or unknown. Some definitely are not worth the risk.

    I don’t mind what’s-her-face pushing her stupid idea (and yes, I think vaccine = autism is stupid) because I’m glad someone is pushing back. I think the medical community is going WAY over board with stopping “preventable diseases.”

    Just because we can prevent them doesn’t mean we should.

    Polio. Ok yeah. I really get that one. Small pox, yep. Tetnus, well sure. Etc. All vaccines are not created equal.

    For example: chicken pox. I’m not afraid AT ALL of my kid getting chicken pox. And yes my child might die. But HELLO I put all my kids in the car REGULARLY and that has a much higher risk of killing my kids. Life is risk. Get over it.

    (Just like the Doctor said in season 3 when that lunatic tried to make himself young, death defines humans. The lunatic replied that avoiding death did. You sound like the lunatic. Sorry those aren’t quotes but paraphrases–who has time for quotes?)

    When my kids turn 10 or 12 if they still haven’t got NATURAL immunity, I’ll be happy to offer their rumps up to the needle. But chicken pox is pretty safe for young kids and the vaccine is NOT well understood yet.

    The mere fact you have to get a booster for the vaccine versus lifetime immunity from the disease is proof enough to me that they haven’t gotten it right yet. Why not let parents choose when to get the vax’s and which ones. Also, I’m really miffed that they (and you) think I should give my kid a vaccine for a SEXUALLY transmitted disease. First, since the disease isn’t transmitted by coughing or shaking hands or things like that it should NOT be required to go to school where, last time I checked, sex was a no-no. And second, I can, whether you believe it or not, know when my child is becoming sexually active. I am a competent parent and don’t at all appreciate the government deciding when my child is at risk of a disease. Back off.

    So I’m glad someone is pushing back against these laws that say we have to administer EVERY vaccine these over zealous, money grubbing pharmaceuticals can churn out. I DO have a brain and I can choose for myself which I want and which I don’t.

    Classifying everyone as anti-science that doesn’t think vaccines are god’s gift to humanity is insulting. You have made me more angry on this topic than I can really endure.

    I love your ASTRONOMY posts but your anti-science blather is redundant and boring. Yeah some people have their head in the sand. So what. There is nothing new about that. I’d like to keep learning and growing. I come here to learn about a love of astronomy which you clearly have in abundance and it is truly infectious.

    But your negativity about people who don’t see things your way is pathetic. See. You’re making me pathetic too. I’m insulting you. How low have I gotten? If you want this to be about vaccines, call the blog “Bad Vaccines.”

    You know, it is funny, I had NEVER heard of Jenny McCarthy before your blog. Never. And Jesus’s in cement missed my radar too. I usually stick to Daily Galaxy and Science Daily and the like but your love for astronomy was breath taking. Your detest of those less educated is nauseating.

    Speculating about what someone MIGHT do with a huge chunk of money is a waste of speculation. Don’t we have ANYTHING better to do with our neural capacity?

    Move on. PLEASE. I really don’t want to stop reading here. I mean it. I really love it here when you blog astronomy. Do this anti-science stuff some place else. I can deal with the Dr. Who yada-yada (mostly because I think everyone should wear wicked-cool, 20ft long, multicolored scarves and carry screwdrivers as their primary defensive weapon.) I just can’t take reading all the negativity you spew.

    I really really really mean it. PLEASE! I’ll knit you a scarf if you’ll stop! I don’t even know how to knit but I’d learn. Hell, I could maybe manage that sonic screwdriver too.

    Yours sincerely,
    SCIENCE PhD and Mom of 4

  56. Dr. Plait,

    I just tried searching your blog from some of your posts on McCarthy; however, when I try to view the second page of results I get a 404 error saying the page can not be found.

    Here is the link to my original search:
    And, here is a link to the second page of results (page w/ 404):

    Hopefully the hive over-mind can fix this for you. :)

  57. HCN

    Okay, Science Mom of 4… let us look at the McCarthy claim specifically blaming the MMR vaccine. Because of this and Wakefield’s very bad redacted Lancet article many people are not giving their children the MMR vaccine.

    This is a vaccine that has been around since 1971 (and many of those parents probably received it themselves), and never contained thimerosal or aluminum (the new “bad stuff”, or “heavy” element according to some). Because of this there have been outbreaks of measles in several countries. Two dead children in the UK, and several sick ones in the USA (and according NPR’s This American Life the other week, one 10 month old child had a 106 degree fever and there was difficulty getting an IV in him to help rehydrate him).

    Do you have a solution to this other than ignoring it?

    Also, to the lawyer in Florida (the “Esq” usually denotes unearned pretentiousness, especially seeing your conspiracy ridden posts). You said “Anyone who is stupid enough to vaccinate there child and smugly deny reality when children are dying is a fool.” Okay, show us the real science that children are dying after getting the DTaP. At the present time pertussis kills over a dozen real American babies each year, and that number is increasing. From … ” Among persons of all ages with pertussis, 33 cases of encephalopathy and 56 pertussis-related deaths were reported during 2001–2003. Fifty-one (91%) of the deaths were among infants aged <6 months, and 42 (75%) of the deaths were among infants aged <2 months."

    Also, a question to Science PhD mom, is your solution to this to just ignore it?

    Having a kid who required herd immunity that disappeared while he was vulnerable made this an important subject to me. You may have healthy children now, but all it takes is a throw of the fate dice for one of them to become ill and require protection from herd immunity from pertussis, measles, mumps, Hib and other vaccine preventable diseases. Even chicken pox can be deadly (before the vaccine was available the disease went through my kids' school, one child in the special ed. program my oldest son had been in was hospitalized and barely survived… yeah, sure… it used to kill over 100 people per year).

    Of course you can continue to ignore it… unless (fate forbid) something happens where it becomes important to you. Like to the parents of these two boys:

    (by the way, this is Phil Plait's blog, he can put whatever kind of stuff he wants on it, whether or not you like it or not)

  58. Davidlpf

    The thing Mom is that they are not deciding for themselves they are deciding for their children and putting their childrean at risk for nothing and other peoples children as well. Plus they say they have scientific proof of the link between autism and vaccines and is based off of bad science so another strike against Jenny McCarthy.

  59. Radwaste

    Mom, you might want to read up a little on risk management. Your post doesn’t clearly indicate that you know that changing a different risk has no effect on the one of interest.

    I’ll be bold and speak for Dr. Plait here in saying that this is not an issue of “not seeing things (his) way”. It is about people who improperly assume competence in fields about which they have no training – and apparently, no intention of acquiring one.

    Insisting that public figures know what they are talking about before they speak is hardly “pathetic”. If the public insisted on this, we would not have had such horrible choices for public office, to cite just one advantage.

  60. Elmar_M

    Well, someone has to speak up for reason and science. McCarthy has lots of followers that promote their believes. I think it is great that Phil and others are doing so much to keep the world sane. Chickenpocks are usually not vaccinated, at least not here. Having them once, does not prevent you from getting them again. You can still get an outbreak, though in a milder form. Same goes for other child illnesses.

  61. Mom


    Do you have a solution to this other than ignoring it?

    2 dead kids. Ok. Wow. Let’s turn the world upside down. How many kids die from car accidents? How many from suicide? How many from neglect and abuse? How many from guns?

    The list goes on and on. Kids die. It sucks. It totally sucks. But pretending that we are able to stop every possible death is not only unreasonable but insane. People die. My kids may die. I’m willing to risk my kid’s death from chicken pox and cervical cancer. Because I’m not vaxing my kids for that. Not until I have reason to think the danger from the disease is non-negligible.

    2 kids. 2. One two. Nope. Not enough to get me riled. Sympathy, oh yes but fear, not even close.

    “You may have healthy children now, but all it takes is a throw of the fate dice for one of them to become ill and require protection from herd immunity from pertussis, measles, mumps, Hib and other vaccine preventable diseases.”

    My kids are vaxed for those. I’m glad I have a choice to get vaxed for those. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want ALL the vaxes shoved down my throat.

    We can’t protect everyone from everything. All children are vulnerable. All adults are vulnerable. That is life.

    100 people a year. Out of how many? I’m not impressed. I’ve looked up the numbers. I’ve picked the diseases whose ratios I’m not comfortable with. And I’ve studied the ways in which the diseases are passed and compared them with our lifestyle. I’ve also learned what the symptoms of each and every one of the diseases are so that if it comes to pass my child has that disease I can react quickly and effectively.

    I’m fully aware Dr. Plait can put anything he likes in his blog. I didn’t tell him to stop. I didn’t threaten him to stop. I pleaded. I bribed.

    If there is anything I’ve learned in my life, is that if you never ask for what you want you are almost guaranteed not to get it. I asked. I’m quite confident I’m not going to get it. But it is worth it to me to let him know that I really would like him to stop.


    Putting their children at risk for nothing? Well I think that YOU are asking ME to put my kids at risk for nothing. I think that a natural immunity to chicken pox is BETTER than a vaccine induced immunity. And there are bad things that happen when you are not immune and contract it as an adult. And WHAT if my kids forgets to get his/her booster later? And then my son becomes sterile because of it. Or my daughter has a miscarriage because of it. Or they die then.

    Without natural immunity, I believe my kid is at risk. If they are allowed to get the disease as a child, as they should, they would have much smaller risk of having these issues. I don’t have a problem with the booster shots AFTER getting natural vaccination.

    I’m sorry but this whole “they are deciding for their children” is hogwash. Of course they are deciding for their children. They decide what food to cook, what schools to let them attend, what religion to study. IT IS THEIR JOB AND THEIR RIGHT. I personally think that it is child abuse to feed kids soda. They are poisoning their kids with sugar. But you know what, that is life. Their life. And don’t pretend like that is not going to affect me. PREVENTABLE diseases such as diabetes and heart disease will be the result and my kids will have to pay for that through higher insurance and medical bills. Every choice we make effects everyone. Don’t pretend like vaccination is some unique issue where my behaviors affect your life. They all matter.

    (Oh and before someone makes a comment that diabetes and heart disease is not always preventable–yeah I know that. But obesity is on the rise because we eat like pigs and if you try to deny that, you are oblivious.)

    I don’t know anything about Jenny McCarthy except the bad press she gets here and it seems I don’t like her means, but her ends (if accomplished) is ok with me. Choice. That is all I want. She may indeed be a total idiot. I don’t give a flying flip what she has to say. Or who she influences. I have my own brain and I’m not afraid to use it. Those people are responsible for their own kids.


    “Mom, you might want to read up a little on risk management. Your post doesn’t clearly indicate that you know that changing a different risk has no effect on the one of interest.”

    That sentence is poorly constructed and I have no idea what it means. I know plenty about risk management thank you very much.

    It is the PUBLIC’s responsibility to know what is going on. Sitting around and waiting for public figures to get things right is a futile effort. Public figures say what public ears want to hear. It is a RARE person who leads a group in a direction they don’t want to go.

    Yeah, someone does have to speak up for reason and science. That is true. But there are at least two ways of doing it. One is to lambaste those that don’t see it as you do. And one way is to just simply promote the truth.

    You are 100% correct that immunity from chicken pox is not guaranteed after contracting chicken pox. But the odds are lower after contracting the disease than after using the vax as far as anyone knows. I don’t have a problem with my kids getting the vax boosters AFTER they get the disease. I’m not afraid of the vax. I just want the natural immunity if I can get it.

    And here where I live, you have to have it to go to school. Or file an exemption.

    BTW, my kids are vaxed for most of the things on the list. I’m not worried about the vaxes doing damage so much as not having the choice to let our own biology, created by EVOLUTION, do its job–when the risk of our biology not working is tolerable.

    Vaccines are the lazy way of trying to pretend we have control over all these variables. Most these diseases PALE in comparison to the damage we do to ourselves everyday by the habits we have. When you are willing to stand up and fight so hard against french fries and soda and unending television watching, then I guess I’d give you some slack. Contagious diseases are only one way to lose our children, and for a few of them, a pretty unlikely way, even before vaccines.

    If you want to go ballistic about public health, start by going on a diet. Almost all of us, statistically speaking, could drop a pound or twenty. That would save FAR more lives and money.

    Ah, but that is hard. That means you have do more than put someone else’s butt under a needle. It means YOU have to sacrifice right here, right now. Parents have to say NO to their kids. Parents have to say NO to themselves.

    Since obesity in children is at EPIDEMIC proportions I feel safe to say that many parents that are up at arms about the danger their kids are put in by my desire to delay ONE vax for a few years don’t have the spine to do the right thing for their child. Watch them die in your arms, you couldn’t bear; let them suffer for years with truly preventable diseases as adults, eh, who cares.

    I don’t mind Dr. Plait keeping the world sane, or trying to. I just want my astronomy back.
    It is not like he doesn’t already have a blog for this topic. Why does he need two? Why can’t this one actually be about astronomy?

  62. Mark Hansen

    1) It’s Phil’s blog and he can post on just about any subject he wants. If you don’t like that, don’t visit.
    2) You don’t seem to post on threads that ARE about astronomy. Why?

  63. Mom said “Vaccines are the lazy way of trying to pretend we have control over all these variables”.
    Ah yes, the if it isn’t hard and people don’t suffer we shouldn’t do it argument. Green groups also turn up their noses whenever someone talks of technological solutions for global warming. Verges on luddism it does. God forbid something is easy.

    Mom said “But the odds are lower after contracting the disease than after using the vax as far as anyone knows”.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing a citation for this.

    Mom said “PREVENTABLE diseases such as diabetes and heart disease will be the result and my kids will have to pay for that through higher insurance and medical bills”.
    Whatever, but my kids aren’t going to contract obesity from the fat kid next door though.

    Mom said “Also, I’m really miffed that they (and you) think I should give my kid a vaccine for a SEXUALLY transmitted disease”.
    God forbid your daughter will ever have unprotected sex. Ever.

    Then Mom said “Or my daughter has a miscarriage because of it”.
    I thought your daughter wasn’t going to have sex?

  64. e=mc hammer

    It’s really simple as far as I am concerned: you can not vaccinate to your hearts desire.

    Society, however, should have the right to decline children admission to public hospitals, public schools and other public spaces because they pose a health hazard.

  65. Elmar_M

    I dont quite understand the idea that a vaccinated immunity is not as efficient as a so called “natural” immunity. In either case your body has had contact with something that caused your body to produce antibodies to it. Your lymph nodes then “remember” that and can produce the same antibodies in the future. Depending on the illness they will “remember” it longer or shorter times.
    I do not think that there is any difference between vaccinated and “natural” immunity here. Though I am not expert. If you have any literature that confirms your claims, please point me to it. Thanks.

  66. Charles Boyer

    Be forewarned, Elmar — “natural” vs. “vaccinated immunity” is simply a ruse.

    It’s really part of the old “if you cannot dazzle them w/ brilliance, baffle them w/ bulls__.”

  67. Elmar and Charles? I heard you were dead?

  68. Todd W.


    e=mc hammer brought up another point that I forgot to mention earlier. The vaccination program is not just about protecting your own children from these diseases. Sure, they probably will pass through them without any problems, but they pose a risk to the people around them: children too young yet to receive the vaccinations, transplant patients whose immune systems are compromised due to immunosuppressant medications, the elderly, for whom both natural and vaccination-granted immunity has worn off, AIDS patients, etc.

    Whiel I agree with your concern for wanting the choice of whether or not to vaccinate, the plain fact of the matter is that you already do have that choice. All vaccination laws across the country contain a clause that allows for any individual to file for an exemption on a variety of grounds. So, you have nothing to fear in that regard. What is dangerous about McCarthy’s position is not that she is keeping the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate in the spotlight, but that she is using scare tactics that have the result of people forgoing vacciantion, thus putting not only themselves and their children at risk, but other members of society, as well. So, your utilitarian stance toward McCarthy (the ends justify the means) is utterly misplaced.

  69. HCN

    Mom (showing her true colors) said “2 dead kids. Ok. Wow. Let’s turn the world upside down. How many kids die from car accidents? ”

    Those were vaccine preventable deaths. Except the two children could not be vaccinated due to medical issues. As was the case of the two young boys who became permanently disabled. They needed herd immunity. Wakefield’s lawyer paid research that was published by the Lancet is directly responsible for those results.

    It was not an accident.

    Just like the over a dozen babies who die from pertussis each year that you seemed to ignore.

    Also, I am mostly concerned with misinformation given by McCarthy and the ilk she hangs around with. She is blaming the MMR, and there are those who claim the DTaP, Hib and other vaccines are to blame. I just want the real data.

  70. Mom

    @ Todd W

    Sure, they probably will pass through them without any problems, but they pose a risk to the people around them: children too young yet to receive the vaccinations, transplant patients whose immune systems are compromised due to immunosuppressant medications, the elderly, for whom both natural and vaccination-granted immunity has worn off, AIDS patients, etc.

    My children do not pose a risk to these groups of people even if they have chicken pox.

    If the mother has had chicken pox and continues to produce high levels of antibodies against the virus , the baby is probably immune and may escape this exposure . This passive immunity ( from mom )tends to gradually disappear by 6-12 months of age.

    I got that from this website:

    Are you sure this is true if the mother had the vaccine and not the disease? I would SINCERELY doubt it you can find a study proving it does happen. I mean HOW would they know? This vaccine hasn’t existed long enough for kids to be old enough to have children (en masse.)

    I stay away from immunosuppressed people when I know who they are. Young kids are walking virus machines. Even a common cold is dangerous. My father and sister in law are cancer survivors. I know how important it is to protect these people.

    Chicken pox is transmitted by physical contact. It is really rare that people actually touch someone else’s child in public places with exception to doctors/nurses/etc. An immunosuppressed person should defend themselves appropriately and should stay away from random children.

    I don’t believe chicken pox is common in the elderly which suggests to me that the immunity DOES NOT wear off with age. However, it is interesting you should point this out. I have read a theory that I DO NOT OFFER AS TRUE but I think worth considering.

    It is hypothesized that shingles is less prevalent when regular exposure to active chicken pox occurs. The theory is that the immune system gets a “booster shot” (to borrow a phrase) against the disease. And if it were true, again, not that I have any idea, what if we are setting ourselves up for some really nasty cases of shingles because we don’t have active chicken pox keeping that under control? I’ve had shingles. I’m not really thinking that sounds like progress.

    With regard to HPV:

    My kids aren’t having sex with the elderly or with immunosuppressed people or infants. I’m really sure of that.

  71. Mark Hansen

    Mom, your kids do pose a risk to others if they have chicken pox. Transmission is not just through contact. It can be spread through sneezing, coughing, and aerosolisation of the virus from skin lesions. This information comes from the CDC and can easily be checked should you wish.

  72. HCN

    Chicken pox is transmitted through the air. From the CDC Pink Book on varicella, 1st page of the PDF file (page 175 of the whole book, easily found on Google): “VZV enters through the respiratory tract and conjunctiva. The virus is believed to replicate at the site of entry in the nasopharynx and in regional lymph nodes.”

    Many times kids are infectious before the poxes appear.

    All of my kids got chicken pox before there was a vaccine, including the fully breast fed six-month old baby (and yes, I had chicken pox as a child, about the time other kids in the neighborhood had measles, including one who had to switch from our school to the School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA). Not a fun time. Though better than the preschool kid in the school who ended up in the hospital.

    Still, Jenny McCarthy has blamed the MMR. This is her most dangerous delusion. Along with the refusal of all vaccines, including the DTaP, which is why more infants each year are dying from pertussis.

  73. Elmar_M

    Not all anitbodies are passed on from the mother to the child through the breast milk. I have to read this up again and I am not a medical doctor, but I think it is only lipophile ones? Again, gotta look this up again.

  74. Mark Hansen

    The other problem with your argument, Mom, is that we don’t always know who immunosuppressed people are. Sure, you can stay away from family members but does that mean you just don’t give a rat’s rear end about anyone else? Or should they have to walk about with sandwich boards on?

  75. Todd W.


    Others have already addressed a couple of these points, but I thought I should respond, as well. First, the main thrust of my argument was not about chicken pox or HPV, but rather the whole range of communicable, preventable diseases. I was trying to explain the issue as it relates to overall reduction in vaccination and how Jenny McCarthy is contributing to that. Also, thanks to Mark and HCN on the info about transmission of varicella.

    You said that you stay away from immunosuppressed people when you know who they are, but, as Mark mentioned, how do you know? They take public transportation, go to the doctor’s office, shop and do all the same kinds of activities that healthier people do. There are times that the need to be in the same areas that there may be “walking virus factories”. And even those who are healthy but do not have immunity yet (e.g., infants), they may be exposed to some of these diseases at their pediatrician’s office.

    As to the HPV vaccine, if I recall correctly, it is only indicated for teens or older. You may think that you know when your child is going to be sexually active, but kids can be sneaky and do things when you aren’t there to keep an eye on them. Now, I’m not saying that Gardasil should be required. Personally, I think it was rushed through the approval process and did not have enough safety data available. I just wanted to point out that even if it were the safest thing out there, your logic on that particular point is at best optimistic. I got away with things when I was a kid that my parents never knew about. Your kids may be perfectly well behaved and not do anything that they shouldn’t, but in general, kids do experiment with different activities, and they don’t always give their parents forewarning, especially if they think their parents would disapprove.

    One final note regarding shingles. Unfortunately, a boost to the immune system probably won’t do very much to keep a person from getting shingles. It might reduce the severity. The reason is that once a person contracts chicken pox, the virus moves into the nerves, where the immune system can’t reach it. Most people never have the virus reactivate, but some do, and the immune system just can’t do much to stop it.

    Like I said before, there are very strong reasons that are of a societal nature in favor of vaccination. That is something that people against vaccines, like Ms. McCarthy, don’t seem to consider.

  76. Todd W.

    I find it interesting that Ms. McKillop has not responded any further. It appears that she either does not care as much about the topic as she led us all to believe, or she does not have any evidence to back up anything she claimed. Maybe it’s both. :)

  77. quasidog

    … actually .. Mom makes a few good points .. it is highbrow city in here sometimes :) .. and a lot of people like to jump on the ‘anti-science people must be destroyed’ bandwagon. I know I have been guilty of it. A fair bit of self righteousness goes on in here, and a fair bit of it is just agreeing with Phil, because he is Phil. Come on admit it. How many people suck up in these posts?

    Don’t get me wrong, Phil is awesome :) Love the astronomy, and the science, but the self righteousness that seems to follow has to go. Like I said, I have been guilty of typing self righteous stuff at people in here too. I guess I will try to be a little more open minded in the future. Sometimes when you rethink something you find you missed a point or two, and the self righteous view you had before .. well … makes one look like an ass.

    I hear what you are saying Mom. I agree with most of your views….. hey … what are Mum’s for ? hehe

    Vaccines are awesome however. The world would be a worse place without them … just to clarify my view on vaccine.

  78. Outside of autism stats and studies which are still pending from the first independent researchers, the link between vaccines and other injuries like seizures and brain damage has been proved and those cases are the ‘statistical risk’ known in advance by the drug companies that are protected from liability by the Compensation Fund, requested by them in 1986 when they had over 250 law suits pending against them stemming from the imposition of mandatory vaccinations by the government in the sixties. I am not anti-vaccine, but there are doctors who use and propose a different vaccination schedule than the ‘mandatory’ one and the incidence of injury is lower in that group. Let us not forget the lessons of Agent Orange, the Ford Pinto, and the tobacco industry. My novel White Lies was inspired by one mother who lived for 20 years not knowing what caused her baby’s seizures and permanent complete brain damage while the doctors were referring among themselves to Danny as the DPT baby. If your child turns out to be the statistical risk, it’s not so easy to criticize the parents who want, at the least, the truth from their medical providers about the risks, and help when their child is the one who is injured. More at and the NVIC started by the mother of a child who was one of the statistical risks.

  79. Radwaste

    Cite the study showing the link, SCH.

    Reconcile the fact that vaccines are, essentially, the very biohazard they protect against. Show that measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and so forth cause autism.

    What an impressive bioweapon vaccines would be. We could cause autism in the enemy. Not.

    And leave out the straw men. The coverup here is by antivaxxers, who hide the studies showing that they have a genetic, not chemically-induced, affliction to deal with.

  80. Matt

    I’m trying to figure something out. Why is this a “public” health issue, at least after a certain period where information and access to a particular vaccine becomes widespread? In other words, how are “my” or “your” or “our” kids affected by someone else’s decision not to vaccinate their kids? If I or you or we vaccinnate our kids, they can’t get measles or whatever from the non-vaccinated counterculturists. So why isn’t this a private health issue, i.e., the health of those unvaccinated kids? Why should any privilege in society be conditioned on one’s immunized status? If my kid is the only one to get the MMR vaccine in a school of 1500 unimmunized kids, what do I care? How will all the measles those kids are getting affect my immunized kids? Thanks.

  81. Todd W.


    The issue is not how this affects your immunized kid, but how it affects those who, for age or medical reasons, cannot be immunized. Here are a couple examples:

    You have a newborn infant. You are taking that infant, who is as yet too young to receive, say, the MMR, to the pediatrician for a checkup. Also in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office are a couple kids with measles, a disease which is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the air. Your infant contracts the disease from these other kids and is now at great risk for serious injury, including pneumonia, encephalitis or even death.

    Suppose now, that instead of an infant, your child has to receive an organ transplant. The transplant goes well, but in order to ensure that the organ is not rejected, your child must take immunosuppressant drugs. This pretty much wipes out the immune system. Everywhere they go: to the store, to the movies, on the bus or train, on airplanes, they are at high risk for contracting a vaccine-preventable disease. And, for some of these diseases, the risk of serious injury is worse the older they are. If they live in a community where no one is getting vaccinated, it’s pretty much guaranteed that they will get a disease.

    Or, let’s make it even closer to home. You are getting on in years. Your immunity, either naturally gained or through vaccinations, to certain communicable diseases has worn off, leaving you susceptible to contracting the disease. Assuming you don’t get a booster shot (either by choice or due to medical reasons), all those kids whose parents chose not to get vaccinated are now putting you at risk of pretty serious injury.

    I hope these examples show how this is a public health issue, rather than a private health concern. There are members of society who, for one reason or another, cannot receive vaccinations. When people choose to forego vaccination for their kids, they are not only choosing to put their own child at risk for disease, they are also choosing to put people around them at risk for disease. Oh, and keep in mind that vaccines, while pretty darn effective, are not 100% guaranteed to work. Some need multiple administrations before immunity is conferred, leaving the child susceptible until the series is completed. For some, even when the series is completed, immunity still does not occur.

  82. Matt

    Thanks Todd. That’s what I figured–the public side is for people at the margins. But then it seems like those who are ardently pro-vaccination should just say that instead of casting the debate as about “our kids lives,” as the starting post does.

    Given that the danger is at the margins, I personally wish there was less state intervention and more education and outreach to get people vaccinated. Like, why can’t a 3-year old legally go to a private pre-school without getting the full gamut of vaccines? Seems a bit heavy-handed to me.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful response.

  83. Todd W.


    why can’t a 3-year old legally go to a private pre-school without getting the full gamut of vaccines?

    Liability? :)

    Seriously, though, they can. They can even go to a public school without the full gamut of shots. Every state has some manner of exemption clause. At the very least they have medical exemptions. Many have religious exemptions, and not a few have “conscience” exemptions. Part of the reason that states have laws requiring vaccinations is because of the enormous impact on public health, and that many people probably would not otherwise get the shots.

    And, as regarding the pro-vaccination people, it’s generally there that you will hear the arguments about the “people at the margins”. The anti-vaccine crowd almost never have anything to say about them, instead focusing on their own kids or only those receiving the shots.

    Lots of emotion wrapped up in this issue.

  84. Matt

    Here in VA you can’t send your kids to preschool unvaccinated, even a private preschool, unless you lie and say you have a religious objection to all vaccines. That’s my understanding, at least. Of course, enforcement is another issue.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar