Newsweek slams Oprah

By Phil Plait | June 3, 2009 9:30 am

As you may know, Oprah recently stepped from the realm of pseudoscience firmly into the realm of dangerous antiscience when she decided to support antivax advocate Jenny McCarthy. The blogosphere went, well, nuts, condemning her for this. That includes me; I’m pretty ticked Oprah would put so many children in danger by giving McCarthy a platform from which to spew her nonsense.

And while the blogosphere does reach a lot of people, it helps a whole lot when the mainstream media pitches in. Usually the MSM is really credulous when it comes to the medical field, uncritically discussing "alternative" medicine usually without mentioning any actual science or testing of these ideas… and it makes us all sicker.

So this is why I am so happy that Newsweek has not only tackled Oprah’s prolonged New Age nonsense, but they came on strong. They not only printed a 6-page long dissection of Oprah’s ridiculous assertions, they made it their front page story this week!

It’s a very critical look at the sorts of medical claims made by Oprah’s guests and endorsed by the iconic talk show host. Of course, McCarthy is discussed:

In 2007, Oprah invited Jenny McCarthy, the Playboy model and actress, to describe her struggle to find help for her young son. When he was 2½, Evan suffered a series of seizures. A neurologist told McCarthy he was autistic. “So what do you think triggered the autism?” Oprah asked McCarthy. “I know you have a theory.”

McCarthy is certain that her son contracted autism from the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination he received as a baby. She told Oprah that the morning he went in for his checkup, her instincts told her not to allow the doctor to give him the vaccine. “I said to the doctor, I have a very bad feeling about this shot. This is the autism shot, isn’t it? And he said no, that is ridiculous; it is a mother’s desperate attempt to blame something on autism. And he swore at me.” The nurse gave Evan the shot. “And not soon thereafter,” McCarthy said, “boom, soul gone from his eyes.”

[...]

But back on the Oprah show, McCarthy’s charges went virtually unchallenged. Oprah praised McCarthy’s bravery and plugged her book, but did not invite a physician or scientist to explain to her audience the many studies that contradict the vaccines-autism link.

As has now been conclusively shown, vaccines have nothing to do with autism. Moreover, we are now seeing a scary rise in diseases preventable with a simple vaccine shot, and we are also seeing people — infants — dying from nonsense like McCarthy’s.

And Oprah’s helping her shill it.

I strongly urge people to read this article, because the mainstreaming of dangerous crap like McCarthy’s has and will continue to kill kids. With Oprah merrily stoking it, this fire will consume far more than just people who watch her show. It will affect all of us, because without the herd immunity provided by having enough people inoculated against diseases, we’ll see even more tragic and wholly preventable deaths.

And I’ll leave you with this; even Stephen Colbert has jumped in (the Oprah stuff starts at about 4 minutes in). Some NSFW language, perhaps, but a whole lot of mockery that is extremely well-deserved.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death – Cheerios, Soda Paralysis & Oprah’s Crazy Talk
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Keyboard Cat

Comments (107)

  1. For those who are think that vaccines are bad, please read the site linked by my name before commenting.

  2. Or http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

    Has additional info on DEATHS cause by lack of vaccines, why it isn’t coincidence, etc.

  3. Geoff

    For my fellow Canucks:

    http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/#clip178531

    It’s about 7:38 in (guess that’s the Canadian time exchange)

  4. Ryan

    I can’t stand Oprah. I’m glad to see she is finally getting the criticism she deserves. If it turns into widespread ridicule I’d be even happier.

  5. Dana

    I have to wonder exactly how many children’s lives are at risk from measles, mumps, and rubella? How many die each year as this article so blatantly states that we are putting children at the risk of death by these diseases?

    Instead how many babies have adverse effects to the massive amounts of drugs pumped into their week old bodies. It’s fine if you don’t agree with me or Oprah, but we all have the right to voice our opinions and views. Feel free to critize.

  6. Rowan Bulpit

    I really hope the ridicule catches on, if only to stop people from harming their children, or wasting their money on rubbish.

  7. Richard

    Think this meme can spread? “Oprah: The Great Shepherd of the sheeple.”

    Yeah, it kinda denigrates her audience. But I guess that’s their problem.

  8. Jason

    “And boom, soul gone from his eyes.” Man, if there is a vaccine out there that can drain my soul, where do I sign up to buy it in bulk?

  9. OtherRob

    Hey, Todd W, does Phil give you the heads up before posting his vaccination entries so your comment is always the first one? ;)

    Seriously, though, thanks again for the work you put into gathering that information and all your tireless work on Phil’s various vaccination posts. I’m sure you’ll have plenty to do on this one soon…

  10. Mena

    It is amazing that people take opinions from a person who got famous for being naked in a magazine more seriously than they take people who went to medical school and are practicing medicine, isn’t it? What a strange world this is…

  11. dumb guy

    We are just experiencing a new kind of natural selection. This has more to do with cognitive ability and decision-making than random genetic mutation. If only there were some way to protect our children while they allow theirs to die. Not to sound heartless, but the evolution of mankind as a species is at stake, here.

    The gene pool is shallow. Let’s dredge it out a bit.

  12. IBY

    Suddenly, I feel like the sky is falling. I don’t know, it feels like mainstream media slamming Oprah is a dream. Seriously, a piece of the media actually doing bits of critical thinking. If this is real, the world must be ending…

  13. Jo

    It’s heartening to see the anti-anti-vax movement gain momentum. I feel like we’re getting somewhere.

    Anyone know the air date of the Colbert clip? I need to look it up on a canuck-friendly site.

  14. @OtherRob

    Nope. I just keep an eye on the blog.

    And I’ll second Larian’s post about FactsNotFantasy.com.

  15. Dana, how about you do some research? I have links in that post that take you articles where you can get just that info. And you can also do a web search on Dana McCaffery, a one-month old infant who recently died from whooping cough.

    People have the right to voice their opinions, but what Jenny McCarthy is voicing is not opinion. She’s yelling fire in a crowded theater, and the results are pretty much what you’d expect.

  16. dumb guy

    @ Dana – Kids don’t die from those diseases very often….

    …because most of them are vaccinated!

  17. @Dana

    Here are some risks for you, from the CDC (www (dot) cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm#risk):

    Measles and Rubella vs. MMR Vaccine

    Even one serious adverse event in a million doses of vaccine cannot be justified if there is no benefit from the vaccination. If there were no vaccines, there would be many more cases of disease, and along with the more disease, there would be serious sequelae and more deaths. But looking at risk alone is not enough – you must always look at both risks and benefits. Comparing the risk from disease with the risk from the vaccines can give us an idea of the benefits we get from vaccinating our children.
    DISEASE

    Measles
    Pneumonia: 6 in 100
    Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
    Death: 2 in 1,000

    Rubella
    Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)

    VACCINES

    MMR
    Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:
    1 in 1,000,000

  18. Kurt_eh

    Last night on my local CBC Radio drive-home show, they discussed a recent whooping cough outbreak in Canada, and the anti-vax movement to a lessor extent.

    It’s at: http://www.cbc.ca/homestretch/doctor.html

    Or direct-link (real media – when will they ever learn the mp3 is the standard now?)
    http://cbc.ca/calgary/media/audio/homestretch/20090602house_doctor_june_02_135102_CGY.ram

    Links are W/F safe.

  19. IVAN3MAN

    @ OtherRob,

    Maybe Todd W. is just goofing off at work while waiting for Phil to post something. ;-)

  20. Geek Goddess

    @dana is not going to read this info. People who feel that their opinions and views (ie, anecdotes and feelings) trump science, facts, and decades of research with hundreds of thousands of data points (the kids who were vaccinated and did not become autistic), will not be persuaded by factual information.

  21. Geoff

    @dana thinks she has the right to her own facts. That’s the problem with this type of person.

  22. Jake

    While I don’t think Oprah should allow guests like Jenny McCarthy create unneeded hysteria, I think it would extremely difficult to completely rule out the idea that vaccines play some role in autism and any scientists who had such evidence would be reluctant to publish their studies because they’re not willing to risk losing funding, losing status in their corporate funded universities, not to mention risk being publicly ridiculed, and risk causing anti-vax hysteria all to publish a study they’re not all that confident in.

    McCarthy is arguing that the ingredients in some vaccines might be one of only many, many variables that contribute to autism; she’s not arguing they’re the sole cause or even a major cause. The contribution they may make could be so small that it would require an incredibly large sample to reject the null hypothesis with 95% certainty and getting large enough samples when autism is so rare may not be feasible; and even if it were, the study could still incorrectly fail to reject the null hypothesis (Type II error) because of uncontrolled dosage levels, uncontrolled vaccination schedules, unreliable and uncontrolled methods of diagnosing autism, and non-random assignment of people to experimental and control groups (following a correct experimental design may not even be possible for ethical reasons).

    Because Type II errors are so hard to avoid it often takes the scientific community decades to get to the truth, with large bodies of empirical literature being overturned when subtle systematic flaws in the research are later discovered.

    To be clear, I’m not saying McCarthy’s right. She might be every bit as crazy as you say. I am simply cautioning against an over reliance on the conventional scientific wisdom because the great thing about science is that it’s constantly correcting itself.

  23. @IVAN3MAN

    I do not “goof off” at work. I take occasional mental health breaks.

  24. Chris

    Dana said:

    “It’s fine if you don’t agree with me or Oprah, but we all have the right to voice our opinions and views.”

    This isn’t about agreement or opinions. It’s about evidence. See Phil’s links above for evidence.

  25. Charles Boyer

    Unfortunately for anti-vaxxers, they are going to get an up close and personal view of natural selection as the weaker members of the herd are felled by preventable diseases.

  26. @Charles Boyer

    Unfortunately for anti-vaxxers, they are going to get an up close and personal view of natural selection as the weaker members of the herd are felled by preventable diseases.

    And unfortunately for the rationally-minded, a lot of innocent people who could not be vaccinated will be taken along with them.

  27. I am not certain that we each have a right to espouse our opinions without regard for what they are. If I go around saying that “Rome fell because of rampant homosexuality” (which was a theory put forth waaayyy back in the early 1900′s and late 1800′s) rather than exploring the intricate details of an agrarian economy supporting a vast infrastructure with a deteriorating client-state system, a rising mortality rate amongst male property owners, and a huge variety of other mitigating factors, I’d be guilty of voicing a ridiculous theory disproven as social hyperbole by contemporary research for nearly a century.

    To say that “we all have the right to voice our opinions and views” ignores the responsibility that comes with free expression and, indeed, with any power thinking beings exercise. The crux of the anti-vaccine argument is that there are ramifications to these treatments that people are not considering when they treat their children. But the same, general argument can be applied to the expression of that view or any view, including this.

    Saying that everyone has an unfettered right to espouse any viewpoint is not the end of an argument but an invitation for evidence in support of the speaker’s statement. Without the follow up of that evidence, there is no argument.

    I understand your passion, Dana, and I can respect a drive to defend others but your position is not borne out by any scientific evidence. If you have any, please post it. Mr. Plait and those who read his blog are reasonable skeptics: reputable, scientific evidence is what all of us, here, desire. If you have anything to add, everyone here would love to see it.

  28. [facepalm] @Jake

    Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good argument.

    I see the copy/paste functions work well for you. Can you try something original that kind of sticks with the context of the original post? Otherwise stop wasting our time with your diversionary tactics.

  29. alfaniner

    @Dana: “I have to wonder exactly how many children’s lives are at risk from measles, mumps, and rubella?”

    Answer: ALL of them.

  30. Sir Eccles

    Just read on the BBC that a debate is starting up amongst doctors regarding compulsory vaccinations to enter school.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8078500.stm

  31. ChemBob

    Jake (@22)

    The experiment has been done sans ethical considerations. All you have to do is compare the rates of contracting, and deaths from, these diseases before vaccinations were available and after. I’m old enough that I actually remember people with polio, I had measles and mumps; it really sucked and the antivax movement is a movement that is lethal to children.

  32. sheep

    “It is amazing that people take opinions from a person who got famous for being naked in a magazine more seriously than they take people who went to medical school and are practicing medicine, isn’t it? What a strange world this is…”
    __________

    hmmm…advice from a mother who did “research” OR advice from an HMO doctor…

    I’M SCREWED EITHER WAY

  33. @Dana

    Oh, another bit about measles risks. In 2006, there was a measles outbreak in Germany. One town that was hit pretty hard, Duisberg, had about an 86% vaccination rate. Here is a little info on how the people affected fared (from a WHO study, “Further efforts needed to achieve measles elimination in Germany: results of an outbreak investigation” available in full at http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/2/07-050187/en/index.html):

    All interviewed patients fulfilled the clinical case definition for measles. Otitis media [inflammation of the middle ear] was reported by 91 (19%) patients, pneumonia by 35 (7%), and encephalitis by three (0.6%), of whom two died. Measles-related complications were more common in younger children: otitis media (22% in infants, 21% in 1–14 year-olds, 10% in > 14 years; P = 0.008) and pneumonia (17% in infants, 7% in 1–14 years, 4% in > 14 years; P = 0.015). The two patients with encephalitis who died were aged 2 months and 2 years; the patient who survived was aged 19 years. Antibiotic treatment was reported in 32% (112 out of 353) of patients for whom information was available. Overall, 77 (15%) interviewed patients were hospitalized for a median duration of 6 hospitalization days (range 2–97) and a total of 693 days. The Duisburg outbreak resulted in 2854 school days missed (311 schoolchildren with measles) and 301 work days lost (30 employed adults with measles).

  34. Colby

    This made my day.

  35. Newsweek gets Stephen Colbert as a guest editor and they take on queen Oprah. Awesome.

    The comments over there do have some of the expected tripe (the article is racist, vaccines are one cause of autism, etc) but there are a surprising (to me) number of people that think it was a good, informative article.

    Calling on Jon Stewart for a segment follow up…..

  36. I recently came across Wikipedia’s article for the Nirvana Fallacy and this seems to apply to some of the recent McCarthy anti-vax claims. Basically, someone falling for the Nirvana Fallacy won’t accept a flawed solution because they’re waiting for a perfect, ideal one.

    Jenny claimed that she’d be in favor of vaccines if they were 100% safe. (See her quote in “A few shots at vaccines” from April.) They’re not* so she advocates not using them. She refuses to approve of vaccines until 100% safe ones are developed. It doesn’t matter if vaccines are 90% safe, 95% safe, or even 99.99% safe. If there’s even 0.00001% chance of her kid having some sort of adverse reaction, she’s against the vaccine.

    Ideally, it would be be nice to have 100% safe drugs/vaccines. In the real world, however, there are always going to be unforeseen reactions and side effects. The best we can do is reduce the occurrence of them so that the risks of taking the drug/vaccine are outweighed by the risks of not taking it.

    It would be bad enough if Jenny McCarthy falling for the Nirvana Fallacy only harmed her own kids. By spreading the fallacy around, however, she is risking the lives of possibly millions of children – both of people who fall for the fallacy and kids who are too young to be vaccinated and happen to pass near the unvaccinated children.

    * That they aren’t 100% safe is true even though they don’t have the autism-causing side effects she’s claiming.

  37. @sheep

    hmmm…advice from a mother who did “research” OR advice from an HMO doctor…

    I’M SCREWED EITHER WAY

    You’re forgetting advice and research from: independent university researchers, FDA, CDC, WHO, researchers outside the U.S., etc.

  38. Bill

    Jake said: “McCarthy is arguing that the ingredients in some vaccines might be one of only many, many variables that contribute to autism; she’s not arguing they’re the sole cause or even a major cause.”

    But she started out by claiming that she was an Indigo mom, or her son was an Indigo child, or whatever the new age terminology was. Then she shifted to saying that vaccines caused autism. Then that the thimerisol preservative IN the vaccines caused autism. THEN that the accelerated vaccine schedule caused autism. NOW it’s a combination of the accelearated schedule and some complicated combination of vaccine ingredients tossed in with possible environmental (and maybe genetic) factors.

    The goal posts just keep shifting with her, and every time reputable medical institutions speak up against her, she fires back with the Big Pharma conspiracy charges.

    The saddest thing about this to me (besides the resurgence of preventable diseases, of course!) is that the level of publicity that she’s getting has allowed her to turn many of the desperate parents of autistic children against the very medical researchers who are trying to solve the issue of autism.

  39. Jake,

    “she’s not arguing they’re [ingredients] the sole cause or even a major cause.”

    I’m sorry but you are simply dead wrong. She, in fact, is arguing that vaccines are a major cause [in the ingredients and schedule]. What other cause have you heard her mention? In fact, she goes around saying that some more kids are going to have to get sick and die until vaccines can be made safe (they already are, so its really a stupid point).

    “I think it would extremely difficult to completely rule out the idea that vaccines play some role in autism and any scientists who had such evidence would be reluctant to publish their studies because they’re not willing to risk losing funding, losing status in their corporate funded universities, not to mention risk being publicly ridiculed, and risk causing anti-vax hysteria all to publish a study they’re not all that confident in.”

    I see so, you buy into the entire conspiracy theory required thousands of doctors, scientists and medical workers to all be in collusion to harm the population [to what end]. That is ridiculous from so many angles, the largest one being simply that conspiracies only work (and its so rare that they do) with few people, not large amounts of people. Most doctors administering medicine do not have to worry about losing status in “corporate funded universities” (as if that is the major funding source, ever hear of tuition, government, private and non-profit organizations and endowments?).

    It has been pointed out dozens of times to deaf ears, that corporations would make tons more money treating diseases, not preventing them.

    As for your entire second paragraph you are simply ignoring decades of research. Its not like it hasn’t been looked into. Its not like Wakefield and others weren’t taken seriously at first. The issue is that folks like you and mcCarthy (as rational as you are attempting to sound) keep pretending that a study of 12 people (even if it wasn’t fraudulent) plus the demonstrably biased opinions of parents around the country without the slightest education is science, somehow trumps multiple studies, over decades, that covers populations of hundreds of thousands of children in controlled studies.

    Never mind that the cause and effect has already been demonstrated to not exist.

    Never mind that genetic influences have not only been identified, but symptoms of autism have been found as early as 6 months old.

    Never mind that it is a truly rare instance where science makes a 180 degree turn around. The new hypothesis has to accomodate all the old data.

    Why did McCarthy think her child was an “indigo child” before he got the “autism vaccine”?

    Because her brain is just as dumb, biased, and anachronistic as everyone elses, except rigorous, honest people admit it, so we demand controlled studies the wean out the information. Her child was always autistic AND she noticed it! Her horrid description of her childs soul dropping out all of a sudden, is crass, ignorant and an outright lie.

    If by now, you haven’t caught on, you never will. There will never be enough data to show that you, McCarthy, Gen Rescue, DAN and all the others are wasting their time. Instead of barking up what has clearly been shown to be the wrong tree, they could be helping with behavioral treatment methods that have shown some improvement and stop promoting ridiculous treatments (unending chelation, hyperbaric chambers, diets that remove specific nutrition) based on disproven theories.

    At this point you are asking the scientific community to keep open the idea that the sun revolves around the earth.

  40. Autumn

    My favorite (meaning it made me throw-up in incredulous disgust) is the bit where Mrs. Sommers says that she has spent “thousands of hours studying” and is therefore “informed”.
    Let’s see. . .
    If a student spends around ten hours a day studying (not too fanciful an inference), then Mrs. Sommers has spent. . .
    HUNDREDS OF DAYS STUDYING!!!

    Wow, why would I ever listen to a person who spent four years as an undergrad, four years of med school, internships, residencies, various vettings by peer-review groups in order to be published enough to be taken seriously. . .
    I’ll listen to the Sommers and McCarthys of the world instead.
    Hundreds of days of intense internet studying.

  41. sheep

    @Todd W.
    “You’re forgetting advice and research from: independent university researchers, FDA, CDC, WHO, researchers outside the U.S., etc.”

    If I were doing “research” on the subject, I wouldn’t forget about them …I’d take all into consideration…my point is that we have to do research on our own and decide for ourselves…and not to blame anyone (Jenny, or the doctors) if our choices are incorrect.

  42. Bill

    > Hundreds of days of intense internet studying.

    And only on the sites that we agree with. :)

  43. @sheep

    Point taken.

  44. Jake

    TechSkeptic, please calm down. No one is suggesting that there is any kind of conspiracy, all I am saying is that scientists are human too, and thus sometimes experience social and financial pressures to not reach certain conclusions.

    Research suggests that while autism is mostly genetic, there is still some environmental contribution. Because environmental effects are so small it is extremely difficult to isolate them scientifically, as environmental effects on mental traits tend to consist of a great many diverse and uncorrelated micro environmental effects that differ even among full siblings raised in the same family. Each environmental effect explains such a small portion of the variation in the phenotype that many may never be identified. We know so little about autism that it just doesn’t make sense to be dogmatic about what the causes are, though it is important to avoid creating hysteria.

    I hope Jenny McCarthy takes all her energy, passion and resources and uses it to help fund more research on autism in peer reviewed academic journals. That would be more productive than speculating in the media.

  45. theinquisitor

    Sorry is this Colbert supposed to be funny? Maybe I’m just too english to get it. Try Chris Morris and then tell me if you think Colbert is funny.

  46. rumleech

    Just read the Newsweek piece and I’m bang beside you on attacking her woo-ish tendencies. As an aside I notice the piece claims she has a personal fortune of $2.7 billion and as a life long socialist I have only one response to this,,, Nationalize Oprah Winfrey and put her under the democratic control of her staff. That way she’ll not only help the economy support those less fortunate than herself but we might be able to lessen the deleterious effects of her less reasoned ramblings.

  47. zar

    Research suggests that while autism is mostly genetic, there is still some environmental contribution. Because environmental effects are so small it is extremely difficult to isolate them scientifically, as environmental effects on mental traits tend to consist of a great many diverse and uncorrelated micro environmental effects that differ even among full siblings raised in the same family.

    Fine, but why focus on vaccines then? It seems very arbitrary. There are so many possible environmental factors; why get so nervous about vaccines rather than, say, television or cigarette smoke or high-fructose corn syrup or one of the zillion other possible environmental factors?

    As for financial factors: just because a some scientists or doctors may occasionally do unethical things doesn’t make the entire medical profession as well as the scientific method corrupt. That argument is very commonly used and it’s completely irrelevant. Again, if medical researchers are so corrupt, why only disbelieve them on vaccination? Why not be skeptical about their claims related to diet and exercize, or germ theory, or antibiotics? Again, it seems like an arbitrary choice. It seems like people are picking and choosing what to believe based on what they want to believe, not based on the actual evidence.

    Dr. Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, never patented his creation. Never. He refused. He could have made a huge profit off of it if he had, but he wanted the vaccine to be cheap and widely available. Where is the greed here?

    Additionally, the anti-vaxxers do in fact have a financial incentive to do what they do. Many offer expensive, dangerous and pointless autism “cures” like chelation therapy. Andrew Wakefield was getting paid by lawyers involved in a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers; if he could prove that vaccines cure autism his benefactors would make lots of money.

    I hope Jenny McCarthy takes all her energy, passion and resources and uses it to help fund more research on autism in peer reviewed academic journals. That would be more productive than speculating in the media.

    That would be wonderful, but it will never happen. The antivaccination crowd doesn’t actually contribute money to helping autistic people; they just divert resources away from research that could actually be of some benefit.

  48. Now please don’t think I’m an antivaxxer, but I wonder if these posts too often stoop to the level of the antivaxxers in their one sidedness. Shouldn’t we be encouraging scientific debate instead of simply shouting down another view point (however dangerous that view point might be)

    I’ve posted a more thorough response on my blog:
    http://www.lightandreason.com/2009/06/dance-of-wonder-and-skepticism.html

  49. “No one is suggesting that there is any kind of conspiracy”

    really? then what exactly did you mean by:

    “and any scientists who had such evidence would be reluctant to publish their studies because they’re not willing to risk losing funding, losing status in their corporate funded universities, not to mention risk being publicly ridiculed, and risk causing anti-vax hysteria all to publish a study they’re not all that confident in”

    You are trying to claim that this is widespread otherwise it would not be a problem. That my friend is a conspiracy.

    zar said the rest of what I would have said, in particular the bit about focusing on vaccines. how about other causation fallacies? Ultrasounds! Flash Photography!

    I will not calm down. We had an outbreak of pertussis around here because people are calm and “tolerant” of antivax idiots. I’ll calm down when people like you move the conversation forward and stop falling back to the same canards we that were pulled out 20 years ago.

  50. WeirdFish

    The. Autism. Shot.

    Yep, Jenny, you’re right — it’s a syringe FILLED with autism. See that floating in there in the liquid autism? That green speck? That’s parsley.

    That right there confirms what I already suspected. It’s not that McCarthy does/does not have the right to do anything. It’s the shrill level of paranoia that she’s launching and other people are feeding that’s the problem.

    If it was “hey, there’s a POSSIBILITY that the MMR shot may be linked to some cases of autism, so please be skeptical,” that’s one thing. The fact that this is “ZOMG TEH SHOT COZED TEH AUTIZMS EVRYBODY STOP GETING TEH SHOTZ!!!1!11!!!!!eleven!!!!!” is just pushing mass hysteria.

    THAT is my biggest problem. The topic is, if you think about it, really secondary. That McCarthy is allowed to preach hysterics is the problem. The topic could be creationism, whether “teh gays” chose their “lifestyle,” or that Coke is better than Pepsi. Doesn’t matter because if it’s pushed the same way, it’s still promoting mass hysteria based on anecdotal evidence that puts lives at risk.

    She reminds me of the stereotypical blue-collar guys surrounding me in suburban Michigan, the huntin’-fishin’-truckdrivin’ who speak too loudly and gesticulate too wildly and get mad about something they HEARD in passing, and then want everyone in the bar to know how mad they are.

    I’d be more ashamed of my stereotyping in the previous paragraph if it wasn’t so flippin’ true, however.

  51. CC Hall

    Readers Digest also slams “Celebrity Science” in this article:

    http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/celebrity-science-bioidentical-hormones-childhood-vaccines-and-going-glutenfree/article134604.html

    Page one has Oprah and hormones; page 2 has Jenny and her antivax movement.

  52. I am just happy that this side of the argument is coming out in the mainstream media. I am so tired of the celebrities thinking they know better than people who have studied these topics for years using the scientific method and their medical expertise. I even had to get my own family to admit that they believed Oprah’s advice, and hopefully I have at least given them enough scientific information to look at what she is promoting before they buy it. It will take time to get them to pay more attention to the science, but it is something all of us critical thinkers have to encourage our friends and loved ones to do.
    My kids are vaccinated, and healthy. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the safety of those vaccines and the doctors who recommended them. I will be getting my medical advice from qualified professionals, not Playboy models and talk show hosts.
    Thanks Phil for keeping us updated on all this info too, and for reminding us to all keep talking to folks about this stuff, so they don’t fall prey to the stupidity of celebrities either.

  53. Jake

    I assume they are focusing on vaccines because that theory has been backed by the subjective observations of thousands of mothers. Of course subjective observations are no substitute for science, but since a study in the 1990s backed the vaccine theory in gained traction despite the other studies later debunking it. I understand your point that it’s dangerous to blame vaccines because anti-vax hysteria has deadly consequences, however I do believe Jenny McCarthy means well, and as I suggested above, there might be more productive outlets for her passion on this topic (i.e. funding actual research in peer reviewed journals, rather than contributing to media speculation-if she believes the current funding is corrupted, she should fund a study of her own)

  54. Mena

    Autumn@42:
    You beat me to it, and did it better than I probably would have.
    It makes you wonder about the converse though, doesn’t it? I’m middle aged and have taken many, many showers. I may have, in fact, have spent thousands of hours naked. I should pose for Playboy! Asking the husband would reinforce my belief that I’m qualified for that, I hope…

  55. I laughed till I cried this morning when I saw that & -HAD- to twitter about it!
    Since antivaxers have trouble with causality, here’s another causal sequence they haven’t thought of:

    A. Autism starts, though it’s not noticeable, not clinical yet, hidden from view/diagnosis.
    B. MMR/HiB shots happen.
    C. Autism advances to the clinical stage and is diagnosed.
    Therefore Autism causes vaccinations!

    There you have it, case closed!

  56. asenathwaite

    “Boom, soul gone from his eyes.” WTF?
    Her son is a human being, not a living tragedy. The way she exploits him is disgusting.

  57. tjm220

    I am curious to see what form of response Oprah will take as a result of this but I doubt she will listen and then change her behavior.

  58. truthspeaker

    Jake:
    I do believe Jenny McCarthy means well

    That is completely and entirely irrelevant. You know what the road to hell is paved with, right?

  59. 50. Mike Says: “Shouldn’t we be encouraging scientific debate instead of simply shouting down another view point?”

    Sure, except only one side has evidence. In fact, it has 50 + years of evidence. The other side has celebrities.

    If you have no evidence to support your case, but are, in fact, causing harm, then you deserve to be shouted down.

    - Jack

  60. truthspeaker

    #50. Mike: “Shouldn’t we be encouraging scientific debate instead of simply shouting down another view point?”

    We already had the debate. The issue is settled. We’re not shouting down “viewpoints”, we’re shouting down lies.

  61. 47. theinquisitor Says:
    Sorry is this Colbert supposed to be funny? Maybe I’m just too english to get it. Try Chris Morris and then tell me if you think Colbert is funny.

    To USAmericans he’s funny because we have to suffer through the rantings of such ‘commentators’ as Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Michael Savage (who is banned from the UK), Pat Robertson, et al.

    Colbert’s satire of them is dead on.

    Context makes the difference.

    J/P=?

    PS… personally, some of my favorite satires from the UK include Black Adder and Yes, Minister/Prime Minister… and of course Monty Python.

  62. #61 Jack Hagerty, and #62. truthspeaker,

    I too think that the case for vaccinations has been made over the past 50+ years. My concern is that in defending vaccinations using the same types of arguments that the antivaxxers use (arguments from authority, arguments from adverse consequences, etc), you are doing a disservice to science and the scientific method in general. I encourage you to read my blog post, and most especially the referenced essay by Carl Sagan.

    Carl Sagan was a skeptic, but he also noted, “The least effective way for skeptics to get the attention of these bright, curious, interested people [believers of pseudoscience] is to belittle, or condescend, or show arrogance toward their beliefs. They may be credulous, but they’re not stupid. If we bear in mind human frailty and fallibility, we will understand their plight.”

    It’s not as simple as stating that your side has the evidence, and the other side doesn’t. When you say that, the other side will bring out reams of “evidence”. You must instead show that their evidence lacks credibility, because the methodology to acquire that evidence is flawed. You must teach the fundamentals of the scientific method, and of logical thinking, only then can you convince people. That is the burden science requires we shoulder. Instead here we see ad hominem attacks. If you maintain the mindset that you are totally right, and that the other side “deserves to be shouted down” or they are simply “liars”, you are not being skeptical, you are being condescending.

    Phil, it’s this type of anti-scientific thinking that your posts are generating, and it’s truly doing a disservice to science in America. Any scientists knows the debate is never over (the debate must involve sound experimental data, logic, and control for human prejudice, of course). However, to espouse otherwise is to remove a fundamental tenant of the scientific method.

  63. Moxiequz

    ” If you maintain the mindset that you are totally right, and that the other side “deserves to be shouted down” or they are simply “liars”, you are not being skeptical, you are being condescending.”

    So what happens when the other side not only continues to ignore the mountains of evidence you present but also continues to spread dangerous lies and delusions (that’s what they are are this point) that puts children and others at risk?

    What if Oprah had given the same deal that she gave Jenny McCarthy to a AIDS or Holocaust denier? There’d be a massive uproar (at least I hope there would be) and rightfully so.

    Sorry Mike – McCarthy and Oprah brought this on themselves. They’re the ones who are pushing anti-scientific thinking and they absolutely deserve to be called out for that.

  64. #65. Moxiequz says

    “So what happens when the other side not only continues to ignore the mountains of evidence you present but also continues to spread dangerous lies and delusions (that’s what they are are this point) that puts children and others at risk?”

    That’s an excellent question. What does happen? Do you believe you will eventually win the debate by shouting louder? You will only get more mountains of “evidence” piled upon you, and at the same time you will lose the layperson to McCarthy and Oprah. They will say “Scientists are close-minded curmudgeons. McCarthy and Oprah are open minded and understand me.” …and then children *will* die.

    To win the debate, you must elevate it, and elevate society. Those people who listen to McCarthy and Oprah are not stupid, they are not simple-minded; they simply have not been given the tools to evaluate both sides of the debate logically. *Give them the tools!*

    I really can’t communicate it as succinctly as Carl Sagan did in his essay. I’ve found an HTML version posted here: http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/saganws.htm Please do read it, it’s really quite pertinent, and well worth the time.

  65. Angelica

    While I have always and will always have respect for Oprah as a business woman (which is what she is), she is not a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or child health specialist. Neither is McCarthy.

    McCarthy claims that she had done a lot of research, I would love to know her sources (can anyone say wikipedia). McCarthy is not a licensed professional and anyone listening to advice from her is obviously dense (read: crazy, uninformed, bad parent/guardian/care giver).

    I believe that what happened is that McCarthy is a good mother who is also very observant. She noticed that something was wrong with her child, and like many people, could not accept that sometimes FATE deals a bad hand and bad things happen to good people. So, she is coping by putting the blame to a tangible entity that she can find. (Also, she might not want to face the idea that her child’s autism may stem from her genetic codes). I think she is in denial, and Oprah allowing her to air her views unchallenged has not helped.

    She needs to accept that her child is autistic, and thus take all steps available (including bahavior therapy and early schooling (to make sure the child does not fall behind his peers)) to help her son. McCarthy is a mother greiving for the oppurtunities she envisioned for her son and Oprah should not have given her a public forum that allows her to stay in denial.

  66. Were any of you there in the room with Jenny McCarthy and her son? So why are you discounting her experience? It’s an additional piece of data. Why are you trying to get rid of her perfectly valid data in favor of other data that shows different results? It doesn’t make her results any less true.

    If all the financial geniuses on Wall Street can completely destroy the entire banking system (in the space of about 8 years), isn’t it possible that a greed-driven pharmaceutical company could screw up something like this? Pharmaceutical companies screw up vaccination programs in the third world all the time — with expired doses or improper protocols — isn’t is possible, indeed likely, that they might also screw up vaccines in the U.S.?

    Why was the MMR put together into one vaccine in the first place (if you said profit, you’re our big winner, if you said “for the health of children” then you got played). Where is MMR manufactured? Puerto Rico? China? We can’t seem to keep contaminants out of our food supply, toothpaste, and baby formula — isn’t it possible that contaminants are getting into these vaccines too. For the last 8 years (and probably longer) there has simply been NO health and safety system in the U.S. The FDA is a complete mess. Doesn’t it seem, at least POSSIBLE, that a lack of oversight could lead to a public health disaster along these lines?

    Look I don’t know the answer. But neither do you. So how about cutting Jenny McCarthy a break until we have more information. Thanks.

  67. Gonzo

    @ #47: First you have to be familiar with the right-wing lunatics Colbert is mocking. See: Bill O’Reilly. Colbert’s schtick is pretty much spot on.

    Also, thanks for the post Phil, when I read the Newsweek article, it put a big ol’ smile on my face all the live long day.

  68. So, how soon until Oprah directs her minions to take down Newsweek?

  69. 64. Mike Says: “My concern is that in defending vaccinations using the same types of arguments that the antivaxxers use (arguments from authority, arguments from adverse consequences, etc), you are doing a disservice to science and the scientific method in general…It’s not as simple as stating that your side has the evidence, and the other side doesn’t. When you say that, the other side will bring out reams of “evidence”. You must instead show that their evidence lacks credibility, because the methodology to acquire that evidence is flawed.”

    But isn’t that exactly what this site is doing? A large number of the readers here are scientists, engineers and other folks who use the scientific method. They don’t use arguments from authority, they link to peer reviewed studies and summary sites of those studies. There are dozens of such links every time this topic comes up.

    They point out, voluminously, the flaws in the other side’s arguments. The problem is that most of the opposition either doesn’t have the basic training in critical thinking to understand what these sites are saying, or they are being deliberately deceitful to further their own agenda.

    - Jack

  70. sophia8

    Toby@68: “Why are you trying to get rid of her perfectly valid data in favor of other data that shows different results?”
    Follow the links in Phil’s post, read them, then come back and argue that McCarthy’s data is just as valid as the huge amount of data that show that she is completely wrong about vaccines.
    “Why was the MMR put together into one vaccine in the first place (if you said profit, you’re our big winner, if you said “for the health of children” then you got played).”
    MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, Rubella. Putting three vaccines into one shot means that the kid only has to get one vaccine instead of three; keeping them as three separate shots means there’s a greater chance that children will miss one or more shots. As for one shot making more money – please, just apply some thought to that. Three shots are going to make the doctors/medical companies three times as much money as one shot. Therefore, if profit is all they’re concerned about, then they’d be keeping the shots separate!
    “For the last 8 years (and probably longer) there has simply been NO health and safety system in the U.S. “
    Toby, look on a world map sometime and you just might notice that there are several other countries in the world besides the US. Quite a lot of them of them vaccinate their populations and even manufacture their own drugs and vaccines. You really think that drug safety is all screwed up everywhere?

  71. Meg

    All of this self-congratulatory patting yourselves on the back for knowing more than the stupid, hysterical, unscientific moms out there. “A large number of the readers here are scientists, engineers and other folks who use the scientific method. ” Good for you. But you don’t get why Ms. McCarthy is upset.

    Yes, the scientific studies show overwhelmingly that being vaccinated is good because it keeps many, many, many kids safe from disease and comparatively, very few kids end up in the autistic spectrum. And the data shows the shots are safe. So you infer that the best thing to do is pat mothers on the head, say “trust me (Stupid), they’re not dangerous” – and stop asking questions. (That really does seem to be the tone of this thread.) I really wonder how many of you have young children? I was raised by medical professionals and never questioned whether I’d vaccinate my son….so his reaction to the first MMR was shocking. His leg swelled like a balloon. He screamed for nearly seven hours, hoarse and pathetic. He couldn’t be put down. He wouldn’t nurse. And I am telling you, in the weeks after the shot, he went from a gurgly happy baby to a quiet, passive baby and he would *not* make eye contact. I panicked. I spoke to him, danced with him, sang with him, held his face and *forced* him to look at me. Slowly he recovered.

    Look, I’m not a moron. I’m not saying “my baby got autism and I cured him in just a few weeks.” I’m only saying, the reaction of his small body to that shot was immediate and dramatic. It was more than a swollen leg. And it didn’t disappear overnight. This was MY baby and I was there, you were not. I now have questions. I proceeded with the rest of his shots, and did them all with my second son, but my questions remain.

    If you are so convinced of your own scientific abilities that you can’t respect one mother – with one son – asking the medical community to query why reactions like this might happen, and what lasting impact they might have – then you’re living in a world of false confidence in science. If things were that hard and fast, we could simply have machines make diagnoses and prescribe treatment. We still need doctors with human brains and creativity to ponder, ask questions. Always ask questions.

  72. Chris

    Toby:

    Were any of you there in the room with Jenny McCarthy and her son? So why are you discounting her experience? It’s an additional piece of data.

    She has said that her son got his MMR when he was 15 months old (which is the normal schedule). Then as you can read in the quoted part above when “he was 2½, Evan suffered a series of seizures.”

    Please explain carefully why we should believe that a vaccine caused seizures more than a year later.

  73. ndt

    McCarthy’s son was never diagnosed with autism by a doctor. She just assumed that’s what he had sometime after she stopped believing he was an “indigo child”.

  74. @ndt

    Actually, McCarthy said that she was an indigo mom, and that her son was a crystal child.

  75. @Meg

    But you don’t get why Ms. McCarthy is upset.

    Actually, we do. She is upset that her child is not perfect and healthy, that he’s been afflicted with a disorder about which not a whole lot is known, and she’s looking for something to blame. At first she wouldn’t accept that he had a disorder, opting to believe that he was a “Crystal” child – a purportedly advanced stage in human evolution. From there, she stopped with the crystal child/indigo mom bit and said that he had autism. That in itself must have been a difficult thing, finally accepting that something was wrong, and that he did not have special powers and extra sensitivity to the universe. Once she understood that, she needed someone, something to blame. For her, that was the MMR. My guess is that she read something online about a vaccine-autism link, and from there, that was her mantra.

    Even after scientists have spent lots of time and resources investigating a potential link and concluded there is none, she still goes on saying that vaccines cause autism, that they are not safe at all. She has closed herself off from anything that contradicts her worldview, anything that threatens what is keeping her afloat in dealing with her son’s condition. It’s the same thing we saw from people who thought facilitated communication actually worked. They were angry and furious at those who dared to show that it was the facilitator, not the child, doing the communicating.

    None of us here are saying that parents should just be quiet and listen to the “experts”. No one is saying not to ask questions. Parents should educate themselves, read the inserts and talk to the doctors – discuss any concerns they have. The problem is when they accept bunk like that spewed by Jenny McCarthy, David Kirby, RFK Jr., Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, the National Vaccine Information Center, the Geiers, DAN! and others as valid, science-based information.

    Over at skeptic.com, Dr. Harriet Hall has written a very informative article on the history of the anti-vaccination issue. I strongly advise reading it.

  76. lilkunta

    how do i make idents and italics & bolds and quotes ?

  77. Todd : Even after scientists have spent lots of time and resources investigating a potential link and concluded there is none, …
    THAT is the problem. Scientists HAVENT spent time/resourced researching the lik btwn mmr/autism/ Y? Bc the vacc companies are PAYING THEM NOT TO. All research studies have to be funded. Vacc companies arent gonna fund research that shows their product to harmful.

    she still goes on saying that vaccines cause autism
    Not just Jenny but MILLIONS of parents WW [Holly Robinson is another mom. She has twins. Her son RJ iss autistic but his twin sis Ryan isnt]. These parents had normal kids who were hitting all the milestons on time. Then after get shot up they changed. So all those millions of parents are delusional?

    If the CDC & vacc comp rally gave a dance, what they have 2 do is easy. U not just change the schedule & give the MMR shots seperately instead of all @ once. Then is autism diagnosises/incidences dont decrease I’ll join u all inbashing Jen.

    that they are not safe at all
    WRONG. Jenny is for vacc. What she wants is for them to be scehduled more apart. Y shoot up kids with 3 virus at once? That does make the immune system work overtime.

  78. @lilkunta

    Bc the vacc companies are PAYING THEM NOT TO. All research studies have to be funded. Vacc companies arent gonna fund research that shows their product to harmful.

    There are other sources of funding, y’know, such as private foundations, NIH, university funds, etc. Also, the studies have not only been done in the U.S., but by researchers around the world. Perhaps you have some proof of your accusation that vaccine companies are paying every single researcher not to publish studies questioning vaccine safety?

    So all those millions of parents are delusional?

    First off, I believe your “millions” figure is a bit exaggerated. Please provide substantiation for that number. Second, we are not saying that they are delusional. Misinformed, yes. Misled by people like Jenny McCarthy and the others that I listed? Yes. Of course, I don’t know every single detail of each of those cases, so it’s hard to argue against any of them. All we have is the parents’ word, which is not scientifically valid, more’s the pity.

    not just change the schedule & give the MMR shots seperately instead of all @ once. Then is autism diagnosises/incidences dont decrease I’ll join u all inbashing Jen.

    First off, why break the MMR up into separate shots? The whole basis for the MMR-autism link is that Andrew Wakefield published a (fraudulent and flawed) study saying that measles virus resided in the gut, causing it to leak some protein which went to the brain and caused autism. If the measles virus causes it, then how will breaking the vaccine into three separate shots be any better? And a question for you, if what I just described is not the mechanism by which MMR supposedly causes autism, then how does it do so? Please provide citations to studies which support you explanation.

    WRONG. Jenny is for vacc. What she wants is for them to be scehduled more apart.

    Not quite. She wants vaccines to be 100% without any risk of any adverse reaction whatsoever. Until then, she is against every current vaccine and thinks that it is a good thing if preventable illnesses return.

    And even if that were not true, calling for them to be scheduled further apart does nothing to increase the safety of already safe vaccines. Rather, it puts kids at increased risk of infection, because it leaves them susceptible to infection for a greater period of time.

    Y shoot up kids with 3 virus at once?

    So they only need to come in 3-4 times instead of 9-12. Also keep in mind that kids are exposed to millions of antigens on a daily basis. The breathe them in, absorb them through their skin, swallow them. The vaccines represent a miniscule percentage of what they are exposed to each day.

    That does make the immune system work overtime.

    Wrong. And even if this were true, the amount of virus they are exposed to through the vaccine is significantly lower than if they contract the disease “naturally”. Vaccines allow kids to develop antibodies without the full-blown, and sometimes quite serious, effects of a wild infection.

  79. Todd:
    List the other funding. Tha majority is from Big Pharma which wants every1 shot up.

    The # is millionss. Do the research. Parent’s word beats science. Parents are the 1 interacting with their kids daily. If they say after their kids were shot up they changed, that is what I believe.

    Did u read what I posted? If the CDC & Big Pharma really gave a damn, what they ahve to do is easy. Change the schedule & give the MMR shots seperately instead of all @ once. Then if autism diagnosises/incidences dont decrease I’ll join u all in bashing Jen.

    I ‘m not basing anything off Wakefield. I belive the millions of parents whose kdi changed after the MMR shot.

    No. Jen isnt against vaccines.

    And even if that were not true, calling for them to be scheduled further apart does nothing to increase the safety of already safe vaccines. Rather, it puts kids at increased risk of infection, because it leaves them susceptible to infection for a greater period of time.
    Not even , it is true. Seperata shots will then either show yes their is a lik or no there isnt. Y not try it? It doesnt increase infection risk. If that were the case y even wait until age 2? Y not shoot em up right after they’re snatched from the womb?

    So they only need to come in 3-4 times instead of 9-12. Also keep in mind that kids are exposed to millions of antigens on a daily basis. The breathe them in, absorb them through their skin, swallow them. The vaccines represent a miniscule percentage of what they are exposed to each day.

    I bet u all parents wont mind coming 9x if that will make autism not a factor. O come on. If the millions on a daily basis antigens r more dangerous than those toxis needles we;d all live in bubbles.

    WRONG. Again, Y shoot up kids with 3 viruses at once? Y risk it? There is all this negative reaction & affects to out children yet still the CDC & Big Pharma dont care bc they ‘re makin millions.

  80. Chris

    lilkunta:

    I ‘m not basing anything off Wakefield. I belive the millions of parents whose kdi changed after the MMR shot.

    Science does not depend on beliefs, but on data.

    The MMR has been used in the USA since 1971. If you are an American under the age of 40 you may have had been vaccinated at least once with the MMR. Can you please point to the evidence that shows that millions of Americans have been disabled by the MMR in almost forty years?

    Why would a small amount of attenuated virus in a vaccine be worse than the hundreds of viruses and bacteria you breathe in, eat and have other content with through out a typical day?

    If you believe Ms. McCarthy is not against vaccines, can you explain to me why she is claiming a vaccine her child received at age 15 months, can cause seizures more than a year later (see quote in blog post at top of page).

  81. @Chris :
    Which is exactly y science is flawed. Until Science is with children from the womb to the tomb, it is just guesses. A mother knows. A father knows. I do understand that this is doubted, but mothers/fathers across the world! It sint just a coincidence. These parents know of what they speak.

    & Since 1971 autism has increased. Point 2 evidence, r u serious? WE R TALKING ABOUT AUTISM. THAT is the disability. [Unless u mean diability like paralysis or blindess or deafness].

    I dont know y the toxins/virus in MMR r so worse but they r. Until kids start getting autism by just going out & breathing, THAT is y the MMR shots r worse than the bacteria in the air we breathe daily.

    I belive Jen isnt anti vac bc on LKing she said she isnt. Your quote is from when (date?). She coulda done more research then changed her stance. 4 ex, she 1st didnt belive Evan was autistic; she said he was a crystal child & shee an indigo ma. Now she accepts that Evan is autistic. Thus @ 1 pt she may have been 100% anti all vacc, but now in the most recent interview I saw ( she was on LKL w her boyf JimCarery & Evan’s Dr ) Jen said she is for a diff scehdule of the shots 2 be given: she doesnt want kids shot w 12 diff things @ 1ce; she wants parents 2 be able 2 say ‘Dr my kids is sick so I want to postpone the shots bc her/his immune system isnt @ 100%’.

    Also, Jen isnt claiming. When Evan got shot she said after it he wasnt the same.

    I dont know y Jen is saying that Evan started seizing @ 2 when he was shot @ 1.5. Seizures rnt the sole part of autism. In the meantime, btwn 1.5yrs when he was shot & 2yrs when he started seizing Im sure there were other symptoms & behaviours.

  82. Chris

    lilkunta, how much science have you had? I am assuming you are still in high school, so I am going to encourage to think outside your limited experience (plus, please try to take some science and math past the basics before you graduate).

    There are other kinds of disability, and autism is mild compared to the one in a thousand who become deaf from mumps, or the one in a thousand who get measles who die! Are you in the silly group that thinks it is better to have a dead child than an autistic child? (if you are, become familiar with the folks at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, including Ari Ne’eman). You might try reading this paper called Impact of Specific Medical Interventions on Reducing the Prevalence of Mental Retardation.

    You trying to second guess Ms. McCarthy’s motivations (oh, and the quote is on the top this page, try reading it!). Don’t even try to tell me about seizures. My son had seizures when he was a newborn, less than a week after he was born (and no vaccines given), he also had seizures later when he was very sick with a now vaccine preventable disease. So don’t play the “oh, Jen’s boy had seizures… you don’t know what it is like!” card with me. It does not work, especially since my son is still disabled twenty year old who has other health issues that make him vulnerable to disease.

    Here is the science about the MMR (I would suggest you read the biography of the man responsible for it, Maurice Hilleman — it would be good for a book report when you back to school next fall), your local librarian can help you get access to read them (some are fully online):

    Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy:
    A Case-Control Study. Hornig M et al. PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9):
    e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140 *Subjects: 25 children with
    autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone
    (controls)

    Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Baird G et al. Arch Dis Child 2008; 93(10):832-7. Subjects: 98
    vaccinated children aged 10-12 years in the UK with autism spectrum
    disorder (ASD); two control groups of similar age: 52 children with special
    educational needs but no ASD and 90 children in the typically developing
    group

    MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative
    Results Presented from Japan. Uchiyama T et al. J Autism Dev Disord
    2007; 37(2):210-7 *Subjects: 904 children with autism spectrum disorder
    (Note: MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993.)

    No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear
    Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. D’Souza Y et
    al. Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75 *Subjects: 54 children with autism
    spectrum disorder and 34 developmentally normal children

    Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature. Doja A, Roberts
    W. Can J Neurol Sci. 2006; 33(4):341-6 *Literature review

    Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada:
    Prevalence and Links with Immunizations. Fombonne E et al. Pediatrics.
    2006;118(1):e139-50 *Subjects: 27,749 children born from 1987 to
    1998 attending 55 schools

    Relationship between MMR Vaccine and Autism. Klein KC, Diehl EB.
    Ann Pharmacother. 2004; 38(7-8):1297-300 *Literature review of 10
    studies

    Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Institute of Medicine.
    The National Academies Press: 2004 (w w w . nap.edu/books/030909237X/
    html) *Literature review

    MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-
    Control Study. Smeeth L et al. Lancet 2004; 364(9438):963-9 *Subjects:
    1294 cases and 4469 controls

    Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism
    and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study
    in Metropolitan Atlanta. DeStefano F et al. Pediatrics 2004; 113(2): 259-
    66 *Subjects: 624 children with autism and 1,824 controls

    Prevalence of Autism and Parentally Reported Triggers in a North East
    London Population. Lingam R et al. Arch Dis Child 2003; 88(8):666-70
    *Subjects: 567 children with autistic spectrum disorder

    Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination. Makela
    A et al. Pediatrics 2002; 110:957-63 *Subjects: 535,544 children vaccinated
    between November 1982 and June 1986 in Finland

    A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination
    and Autism. Madsen KM et al. N Engl J Med 2002; 347(19):1477-82
    *Subjects: All 537,303 children born 1/91–12/98 in Denmark

    Relation of Childhood Gastrointestinal Disorders to Autism: Nested
    Case Control Study Using Data from the UK General Practice Research
    Database. Black C et al. BMJ 2002; 325:419-21 *Subjects: 96 children
    diagnosed with autism and 449 controls

    Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental
    Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study. Taylor
    B et al. BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6 *Subjects: 278 children with
    core autism and 195 with atypical autism

    No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced
    Autism. Fombonne E et al. Pediatrics 2001;108(4):E58 *Subjects: 262
    autistic children (pre- and post-MMR samples)

    Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Other Measles-Containing Vaccines Do
    Not Increase the Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control
    Study from the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project. Davis RL et al. Arch Pediatr
    Adolesc Med 2001;155(3):354-9 *Subjects: 155 persons with IBD
    with up to 5 controls each

    Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California.
    Dales L et al. JAMA 2001; 285(9):1183-5 *Subjects: Children
    born in 1980-94 who were enrolled in California kindergartens (survey
    samples of 600–1,900 children each year)

    Mumps, Measles, and Rubella Vaccine and the Incidence of Autism Recorded
    by General Practitioners: A Time Trend Analysis. Kaye JA et al.
    BMJ 2001; 322:460-63 *Subjects: 305 children with autism

    Further Evidence of the Absence of Measles Virus Genome Sequence in
    Full Thickness Intestinal Specimens from Patients with Crohn’s Disease.
    Afzal MA, et al. J Med Virol 2000; 62(3):377-82 *Subjects: Specimens
    from patients with Crohn’s disease

    Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological
    Evidence for a Causal Association. Taylor B et al. Lancet 1999;353
    (9169):2026-9 *Subjects: 498 children with autism

    Absence of Detectable Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Inflammatory
    Bowel Disease Tissues and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes. Afzal MA et
    al. J Med Virol 1998; 55(3):243-9 *Subjects: 93 colonoscopic biopsies
    and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations

    No Evidence for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine-Associated Inflammatory
    Bowel Disease or Autism in a 14-year Prospective Study.
    Peltola H et al. Lancet 1998; 351:1327-8 *Subjects: 3,000,000 doses of
    MMR vaccine

    Exposure to Measles in Utero and Crohn’s Disease: Danish Register
    Study. Nielsen LL et al. BMJ 1998; 316(7126):196-7 *Subjects: 472
    women with measles

    Immunocytochemical Evidence of Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus
    Antigens in Crohn’s Disease. Liu Y et al. Gastroenterology
    1995; 108(5):1396-1404 *Subjects: Intestines and mesenteric lymph
    node specimens from 21 persons from families with a high frequency of
    Crohn’s disease

    ….

    You should get ahead by working on a summer reading program (for FSM’s sake, stay away from talk shows like Larry King, they will destroy your brain!). Some books that you should read include:

    Fiction:
    The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
    The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (who has a blog about autism, w w w . speedofdark-thebook.com/blog/ )

    Non-fiction:
    Unstrange Minds by Roy Grinker
    No Time for Jello by Berneen Bratt
    An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks

    And a bunch more here: w w w . neurodiversity.com/books_recommended.html

    Oh, and a reminder: The science has been done, the link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link… “It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!! ” (hat-tip to Monty Python and the dead parrot sketch)

  83. Chris

    Well, my comment with lots of references that went into moderation.

    In short, my son had seizures before he was a week old (he spent a week in the hospital, this was before both the HepB an Hib vaccines were available). He also ended up in the hospital after a seizure while suffering from a now vaccine preventable disease. He is twenty years old and still disabled.

    Here is a list of book that lilkunta should read:

    Fiction
    “The Silent Boy” by Lois Lowry
    “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon
    “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon (whose adult son is autistic, she has a blog which can be found by clicking on her website, which is her name with no spaces and www before it and com after it separated by dots).

    Non-fiction:
    “Unstrange Minds” by Roy Grinker (also has a website, “unstrange”… his high school daughter is autistic)
    “No Time for Jello” by Berneen Bratt
    “Anthropologist on Mars” by Oliver Sacks

    And my sitting in moderation ether comment ends with:
    The science has been done, the link between vaccines and autism does not exist. It is a dead link… “It’s not pinin’! ‘It’s passed on! This link is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-LINK!! ” (hat-tip to Monty Python and the dead parrot sketch)

  84. Jesse

    Thanks Geoff! (re: Canadian link to the clip)

  85. Even after their child dies horribly and they are both found guilty of manslaughter in the neglect death of their child, a homeopath and his wife still swear that homeopathy works and their daughter would have died anyway.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/parents-guilty-of-manslaughter-over-daughters-eczema-death-20090605-bxvx.html

    Its a very difficult thing for a parent to face the unknown when it comes to the safety of their children. It is human nature to grasp desperately onto what you “want” to believe in. In the case of vaccination it would be so simple and convenient if we could just stop vaccinating and the whole autism thing would just vanish. It is so compelling a desire for a simple solution for the thousands of parents dealing with an autistic child that to have a celebrity hand you the answer on a silver platter is enough to likely create a kind of exhilarated hope that we might be on our way to the final answer and cure.

    If science came forward with a treatment for autism this would go away overnight, in the absence of that we must continue to create a stark emotional “story” to sway those who have followed the route to a supposed easy solution. When Jenny McCarthy says heartless things about the soul leaving the eyes of her autistic child, she reaches deeply into the anguish of parents who have lost the precious intimacy of their child and who yet retain little if no hope of ever restoring it. Science offers more hope to these people if they could only see it.

    If they could walk away from believing that their anguished child is “soulless” and instead respond to them as beings terribly trapped inside their own minds, there are therapies and solutions under research that are already helping and more on the way. Yet another consequence of the “vaccines cause autism” belief system is to reject autistic children as systemically and permanently damaged, and liberating responsibility from parents and others for pushing forward with a genuine solution. How much more money should be wasted proving over and over that vaccines are NOT the cause? We can prevent and cure this disease, I have faith in science, over time, to liberate families from this tragic condition.

  86. @lilkunta

    Tha majority is from Big Pharma which wants every1 shot up.

    Your evidence for this? “Big PharmaTM” would stand to make significantly more money selling products that treat the diseases once people got them than they would from vaccines that prevent the diseases.

    Parent’s word beats science. Parents are the 1 interacting with their kids daily.

    Parents are also biased observers. Their observations are clouded by emotion and I’d wager that most do not have the skills to instate proper controls to rule out their own biases, not to mention the myriad of other variables that they probably aren’t even paying attention to, let alone being able to examine their kids’ genes. I’d also add that as a matter of ethics, scientists are not allowed to be on an IRB (Institutional Review Board) for their own studies, that using their own relatives on either the IRB or as subjects is questionable, that using the relatives of IRB members as study subjects is also a no-no. Why? Because it introduces elements of bias and conflicts of interest. The Geiers (maybe you’ve heard of them) are pretty notorious for such violations of study ethics.

    Oh, but if parents’ words beat science, then I can find several parents in past threads here on BA who have autistic kids who either did not have their kid vaccinated (and yet they still got autism) as well as those whose kids were autistic before any vaccines. Lots of parents of autistic kids understand that vaccines do not cause autism.

    It doesnt increase infection risk. If that were the case y even wait until age 2? Y not shoot em up right after they’re snatched from the womb?

    First off, the risk of infection does increase. Full immunity is unlikely until all doses have been administered. The longer you draw out the process, the greater the risk of infection.

    As for why not immunize them right out of the womb? For diseases like measles, the infants immune system is not developed enough to produce memory cells, so the vaccine would be useless for long-term immunity. Further, the infants gets some (not complete) protection through breast milk for short-term protection. The reason we give kids HepB shots right away is because the antibodies are not passed through the breast milk, so the child needs short-term protection, provided by the vaccine. Furthermore, if the mother is positive for HepB, she can pass the disease on to her child.

    I hope that clears up why some vaccines are given right at birth, while others are not.

    I bet u all parents wont mind coming 9x if that will make autism not a factor. O come on. If the millions on a daily basis antigens r more dangerous than those toxis needles we;d all live in bubbles.

    WRONG. Again, Y shoot up kids with 3 viruses at once? Y risk it? There is all this negative reaction & affects to out children yet still the CDC & Big Pharma dont care bc they ‘re makin millions.

    My point was to show that children are exposed to millions of antigens every day. Their immune system can tolerate quite a bit. And their systems (on average) can easily tolerate a few weakened measles virus, whereas the fully virulent wild virus would wreak havoc on their systems. The risk of encephalitis from MMR is 1 in a million. The risk of encephalitis from wild measles is 1 in 1,000. Risk of death from wild measles is 2 in 1,000.

    That aside, take a look at the studies that Chris provided. There’s a lot there showing that MMR does not cause autism, despite what parents might believe. What it shows is that when controls are put in place to rule out other variables that parents don’t account for, there is no link.

    You may also like to take a look over at skeptic.com and read Dr. Harriet Hall’s article about the vaccine-autism fallacy.

  87. Chris

    I would also highly recommend getting information from a real honest to goodness, with an extra dose of snarkiness infectious disease doctor and his infrequent but very fun to listen to podcasts:
    dub dub dub dot quackcast.com/page2/page2.html

    He also posts on ScienceBasedMedicine, and he has a very good post today:
    dub dub dub dot sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=516

  88. Joe

    Let Miss Favorite Things and the Blonde Fart Joke continue their mad tirade. I will vaccinate my children and encourage them to do the same, and when they hand out the Darwin Awards, we will be watching it on TV.

  89. I found your blog on my search engine and wanted to let you know that I like it! I just added you to my bookmarks. Really Impressive Stuff Here. I’m Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future. Thanks Again – Chuck

  90. Na

    @10. I think it’s because people are more likely to take advice (or want to take advice) from someone ‘like them’ (in this case the soccer mom/autism parent) than an anonymous person in a white coat. The more relatable and human they are, the more likely people will listen. (Obviously the above are stereotypes, but then, that’s how it seems to work in this case)

    PS Love the new edit feature. First time to test it, and it works great

  91. Na

    Also, people generally believe that ‘people like them’ won’t give bad advice/be ignorant, because they themselves don’t believe they would do it (as in the golden rule is in effect, do unto others, etc.), whereas an anonymous scientist in a white coat who has cold facts would be more likely to steer them wrong because they’re not ‘human’ – in the sense that all they care about is data and not the human face. Of course people completely forget that scientists are human too; and generally only bring up that point when they’re concerned about fallability and frauds or genuine mistakes.

  92. Na

    Whoops. I see #33 just proves my point:

    “hmmm…advice from a mother who did “research” OR advice from an HMO doctor…

    I’M SCREWED EITHER WAY”

  93. I used to like Oprah… I have not gotten a chance to watch this episode yet but this is pretty irresponsible of her to just let some statement like this go without verification by doctors or qualified people.

  94. khms

    >41

    It has been pointed out dozens of times to deaf ears, that corporations would make tons more money treating diseases, not preventing them.

    Well of course. You’ve got the wrong conspiracy theory.

    Try this one:

    Yes, Big Pharma(TM) makes more money treating diseases than preventing them. Now, Big Pharma(TM) knows this very well. So who are they going to pay?

    Right. Jenny McCarthy is a shill for Big Pharma(TM)!

  95. Connie

    so glad I am not a sheeple

  96. DDaB Warrior

    I’m extremely glad Newsweek came out and debunked this you horrible, dangerous pseudo-science that miss McCarthy was spewing. And intentions are not viewed the same when you’re in the public eye like a celebrity and you’re putting children’s lives at risk, especially when it’s been so debunked by hard fact. The danger is that much greater with such a larger audience and the responsibility is that much greater as well. But sadly today a large amount of celebrities think they deserve a pulpit and more annoyingly think we want to hear them preach.

    And yes, I’m extremely late to this post on this website and the topic. I found this website by searching with the term “why is Oprah bad for our country?”. I didn’t need the direct answer as I had my own opinion already of her being a dangerous out-of-control lunatic. I just thought I would see what she was up to recently, in her crusade to help others destroy the foundation of America.

    But all of my personal views aside and I’m not even porting them out there that much looking for a response really. I find I usually remain happier if I never read replies, haha!

    But, having never been to this site before, well, I was at once taken aback in awe by the fact that maybe I could actually have a conversation on this website! Similar to one you might enjoy in a setting with a person in front of you. I especially thought this after reading the one comment from (I can’t recall her named, I believe it was a she, “lul” something or other). Because while my eyes bled ad I’m sure did those who responded to her, giving well documented facts and information, they didn’t just attack the obvious baser glaring issue. At least not blatantly ;-) . And this was just so refreshing!

    I actually felt as if the people on this site were here to discuss and not try to find the most clever and vulgar combination of a response as a reply, while I of course paying no mind to facts or logic. I see that like any human gathering there were differing opinions, and the temperature raised maybe by one degree. But other than that it was civil for the most! I have goosebumps!! I could almost cry…I just thought there was no haven left for this sort of thing on the Net anymore (if there ever was to begin with). True I haven’t searched for it very hard. But I just wanted to drop a line and say I applaud those of you who acted like adults and humans. It made me want to stick around, and regardless of the topic I think I’ll have to venture this way again. Thank you.

  97. DDaB Warrior

    And ironically my slide keyboard and corrective text on my tablet, shows me as a hypocrite once again.

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