Jenny McCarthy infects Chicago

By Phil Plait | October 22, 2012 10:43 am

Splash, a style magazine in Chicago, is reporting that they’ve hired Jenny McCarthy to be their new daily blogger.

Yes, you read that right. But it gets better. And by better, I mean worse.

Besides a daily blog, she’s being given a weekly advice column called "Ask Jenny", where, among other things, she will "tackle parenting".

Tackle, indeed. Body slam is more like it.

As someone who strongly advocates parents to get their kids vaccinated – y’know, to keep them from contracting potentially debilitating or deadly diseases, because I’m funny that way – I am not exactly a fan of Ms. McCarthy. I’ve written about her many, many times, because of her tenuous grasp of medical reality. She has for example repeatedly and fallaciously linked vaccines to autism, and has spouted inflated propaganda about toxic ingredients in them.

If you want the truth about vaccinations, and why they are critical for our public health, then go to the Immunize for Good website. Or talk to your board-certified doctor (good advice under any circumstances). But don’t talk to Jenny McCarthy. When it comes to medical advice she’s as wrong as wrong can be, and people who listen to antivax propaganda are putting lives at risk.

As you can imagine, there are some questions for her "Ask Jenny" column it would be interesting to see her answer. Why, despite the vast and overwhelming evidence against it, do you think vaccines cause autism? Do you know the difference between ethylmercury and methylmercury? How many babies die of pertussis every year? How big a number is acceptable to you?

Let me leave you with this. Guess what the slogan is for Splash magazine. Go ahead, guess.

"Chicago’s Dose of Style, Society, and Celebrity." Emphasis mine. But still.

You can’t make this stuff up. But antivaxxers make up lots of stuff about vaccines. Too bad people pay attention to them.


Related Posts:

Jenny McCarthy: spreading more dangerous misinformation
Jenny McCarthy still thinks vaccines cause autism
Why you should listen to celebrities
…but how do we recover from Jenny McCarthy?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Piece of mind

Comments (66)

  1. Jeff S.

    such a superficial society, with the facial beauty allowing people to be spokespeople. I do not respect this society. I respect the classes I’ve taught because I withheld standards. Rest of society, I challenge you to uphold standards and don’t let the likes of these beauties influence discourse in this country.

  2. Dan

    While I can’t disagree with the post at hand, I can’t help but think it’s misplaced on “Bad Astronomy,” a blog I keep returning to for great scientific insights, explanations, and attractions regarding the world BEYOND Jenny McCarthy, not the world OF Jenny McCarthy.

  3. Cz-David

    Jeff S: Beauty ?

  4. Dan O’Brien wrote a great article about her a couple of years ago on Cracked.com:

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/dont-listen-to-jenny-mccarthy/

    He originally called her “The Perfect Storm of famous and stupid.”

  5. Frost Bite

    20 children die per minute on this rock. People need to wake the hell up.

  6. Felicia

    “But don’t talk to Jenny McCarthy.”
    “…there are some questions for her ‘Ask Jenny’ column it would be interesting to see her answer.”

    So, do talk to her or don’t talk to her?

  7. thetentman

    Her fame is because she looked good naked. No brains necessary. She is perfectly qualified.

  8. Matt

    Interesting to read this not even an hour before I go to take my son for his first round of vaccines. The only thing I feel remotely concerned about in this process is the pain he’s likely to feel from the heel sticks, but I know it’s best for him and I’d much rather have him be in pain for a few hours after the shot than contract polio.

  9. Dan (#2): I suggest then you read this, which is broadly applicable.

  10. Gus Snarp

    Interestingly they killed comments on this story on Splash last week after getting inundated with comments calling them out on the irresponsibility of giving a platform to McCarthy’s dangerous pseudoscience.

  11. Timmy

    Board certified doctors sometimes are no help. When it was time for our first to get his MMR, we had heard about the controversy, and asked about getting the separate vaccinations. Our doctor laughed in our faces and didn’t even bother to explain the issue and why the MMR was safe. So we got another doctor.

    And Jeff S. as a member of the rest of society, I say you need to get out of the classroom and off your white horse a little more.

  12. Unsettled Scientist

    > I can’t help but think it’s misplaced on “Bad Astronomy,”

    You must be fairly new to BA then. Phil is a well known skeptic and this blog has a long history of critical analysis. Vaccines have been a topic of his site for a very long time. The content of your post is also extremely common every time a non-astronomy post is made.

    Keep up the good fight Phil. And since I’m here I might as well leave my usual link…

    A Broken Trust: Lessons from the Vaccine–Autism Wars
    http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000114

    From a scientific standpoint, the hysteria of the anti-vaxxers have driven us to essentially rule out vaccines as a cause of autism. It is time to spend our money on research for real treatments and solutions.

    Llemmingtron, parents reading the internet is not “REAL” science.

  13. Chris Winter

    @Cz-David:

    Yes, beauty. Let’s give Jenny McCarty her due; she is a physically beautiful woman.

    That doesn’t say anything about her intelligence, and it certainly doesn’t mean she’s right about vaccines; she isn’t.

    And, as Jeff S. says, beauty in our society often confers influence.

  14. If I wanted to learn about posing for nudie mags, or the finer points of masturbation, I’d probably go to her as an expert in the field.

    However, to me, it defies explanation that she would be given a public forum to expound on something for which she has no expertise at all beyond what any regular person would have. It’s one thing if she set up her own blog to rave at the world. It’s another when someone attempts to give it a professional air. That’s lipstick on the pig.

  15. Dan

    Thank you for taking the time to post the link Phil; I’m sorry I didn’t refer to that right away. You could have been much more stinging in your treatment of my comment since you likely get those all the time, so thank you for what I imagine must be your considerable patience. Incidentally I greatly appreciate your blog so please keep up the good work.

  16. Anyone who would consider taking medical advice from from a “Chicago Style Magazine” is already so far beyond help that a little wingnuttery from McCarthy won’t have much effect.

    It’s certainly irresponsible of the magazine to spread her opinions, but beyond that it’s irresponsible of them even to express opinions on medical issues and irresponsible of their readers to listen to those opinions.

  17. Jefe Loco

    @Dan,

    You should have seen Phil’s special where he politely, yet ineffectively, substituted an “asteroid” impact for his rage at Sydney for the the BS that the Australian people put up with and propagate. It was terrifying, with liquified organs and explosions.

    I really appreciate Phil’s unique perspective on skeptical issues as much if not more than his take on astronomy :)

  18. I’d apply for a job as their newest sports blogger, but I’m guessing that Splash is only interested in ludicrously ill-informed opinions from famous people.

  19. Chris2

    Llemmingtron, both of your links are classic examples of “cherry picking.” They do not represent the consensus of the science, especially the one from 1958. And several of those papers were poorly done. Go to Respectful Insolence at Scienceblogs and plug in the titles into the search box. One of the more amusing ones relates to “homologous recombinaltion tiniker.”

  20. DanM

    @llemmingtron:
    If I found three living breathing people who were calling themselves ‘experts’, and who all claimed to have scientific proof that the earth was not spherical but actually doughnut-shaped, would you believe them? Because that is approximately the logical equivalent of what you’ve done here.

    I am sure it is possible to find one, two, maybe even a handful of researchers who have some kind of evidence that may lend support to the position that vaccination causes autism (that is, when the so-called evidence is not investigated too closely). Maybe a couple of them even have medical degrees or PhDs. Let’s suppose you can find those handful of people. Now, let’s compare that to the OVERWHELMINGLY HUGE number of highly qualified experts who believe otherwise. As a non-expert, would you be more clever to believe the tiny minority fringe, or would you be more clever to believe the vast overwhelming majority of experts? Or do you take your medical advice from bloggers with no credentials whatsoever?

    Ask yourself: how often is the tiny minority fringe ever proven to be correct? Well, ok, probably not “never”. But damned close.

    Words to live by: when you find yourself thinking there is a vast shadowy conspiracy among thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world to suppress the so-called truth… you need to rethink your position.

  21. VinceRN

    I think McCarthy should be banished to Italy. A perfect fit given their mutual stance on Science, especially the related ruling on vaccines and autism back in May.

    This latest science news out of Italy is even better:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20025626

    Despite all the wonderful history there Italy keeps moving higher up my list of places not to go.

  22. Chris2

    Oh, and to add to the Llemmingtron pile on… I saw your twitter feed. Just so you know, all comments with web links are put into moderation.

    VinceRN, our daughter really wants to visit Venice. But we have told her that we are very unsure about their legal system, and would prefer to avoid going.

  23. Anyone know who the advertisers in Splash Magazine are? I feel like writin’ some letters.

  24. VinceRN

    It’s not all bad on the vaccine front. We are having a serious Pertussis epidemic here in Washington, especially the the county I work in, and both the state and county are doing a pretty decent job of educating the public. Where I work we see quite a few people that don’t get their kids immunized and I’ve had three cases in the last few weeks of people that have changed their minds about it when told the tetanus shot now contains pertussis vaccine.

    It’s very encouraging to see, and giving a previously unimmunized kid a DTaP is pretty cool.

  25. Unsettled Scientist

    Wow. Victoria Goins’s (llemmingtron) twitter feed is really classy. I won’t bother to repeat the profanity she slung at Phil there.

    Victoria, just to repeat, you and other parents reading on the internet is not science. The vast majority of parents lack the training and expertise to perform a proper analysis, regardless of the condition of their children. Please read the link I provided about A Broken Trust. We make bones about the mistakes made by the medical community in dealing with this controversy.

    My recommendation to people concerned about autism is not to focus on vaccines. Focus on autism. Beyond the fact that it is a considerable public health issue, it is simply fascinating from a cognitive development standpoint. For those of us interested consciousness it highlights many aspects of our own selves (even without autism) that we may not have understood.

    Uta Frith revolutionized the study of autism, and developed an application of “Theory of Mind” for treatment of autistic children. It turns out you can teach theory of mind. Here’s a wonderful interview with her. Before her work, “refrigerator mothers” was a common thought of the cause of autism.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017w65r/The_Life_Scientific_Uta_Frith/

    Simon Baron-Cohen has taken her work and extended it further, and is one of the leading experts on autism today. If you can get past the ignorant “it must be vaccines” meme, autism is a truly fascinating disorder that is a window into the human condition. By coming to a greater understanding of it we not only lessen the suffering of those afflicted by it, but come to a greater understanding of our own minds.
    http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/people_baron-cohen

  26. Heh…

    http://splash.suntimes.com/2012/10/19/jenny-joins-the-splash-team/ is now returning a 404. Could it be they got a reasonable amount of bad exposure over this?

    Updated: Hmm… They’ve moved the URL. It’s now found here; http://splash.suntimes.com/2012/10/22/jenny-joins-the-splash-team/

  27. Patrick

    She WAS a beatiful woman in the singled out years where her claim to fame was a booty shake…and playboy. Now she’s just bleh

  28. Prof.Pedant

    Jenny McCarthy should go back to making movies, “Crazy Little Thing” in particular showed her to be an excellent comedic actress. She should return to comedy where her capacity for silliness is appropriate.

  29. @#4 David Dietle: Dan O’Brien wrote a great article about her a couple of years ago on Cracked.com
    Yet another reason I love that site. Some of the folks there (Dan O’Brien is one, David Wong is another) consistently go well beyond the territory of dick jokes and get into some very topical and insightful social commentary (often with a few dick jokes thrown in to lighten the mood).

    @12 Timmy: Board certified doctors sometimes are no help. When it was time for our first to get his MMR, we had heard about the controversy, and asked about getting the separate vaccinations. Our doctor laughed in our faces and didn’t even bother to explain the issue and why the MMR was safe. So we got another doctor.

    Good for you. As much as I can understand how many doctors must be sick and tired of repeated questions like this, it IS their job to answer questions on health issues, and it shouldn’t be hard to direct people to a few trusted sources on the topic. Some doctors are just a lot better at communicating with patients than others, and it’s a particularly important part of the job when dealing with children and parents.

    @18 Jefe Loco: You should have seen Phil’s special where he politely, yet ineffectively, substituted an “asteroid” impact for his rage at Sydney for the the BS that the Australian people put up with and propagate. It was terrifying, with liquified organs and explosions.
    I really appreciate Phil’s unique perspective on skeptical issues as much if not more than his take on astronomy

    Link please?? Sounds like something I really want to see :)

  30. And just a reminder: Ask your doctor about getting your DTaP booster if you haven’t already. I recently did, and it was a lot easier than I thought it’d be (almost no pain, no cold symptoms or anything like you sometimes get with flu shots).
    IIUC, a lot of victims of pertussis are infected by asymptomatic carriers. I interact with a lot of parents and very young children at my job, and it’s one less (very important) thing to worry about knowing that I’m not unknowingly putting babies in danger.

  31. Old Rockin' Dave

    “Chicago’s Dose” – they should have stopped right there. Taking medical or parenting advice from Jenny “Charlie” McCarthy is the mental equivalent of “catching a dose”.

  32. fred edison

    Jenny said:
    “But you can tell from my writing that I don’t write like an intellect (sic). I just write like girlfriends talk.”

    She’ll have no disagreement from me.

  33. Can’t one file charges against her?

  34. Tom

    One would hope that they’d add a disclaimer at the end of her posts saying that she’s not a medical or parenting professional and therefore nothing she writes is to be taken seriously.

  35. Anne McElroy Dachel

    It’s interesting that those criticizing Jenny McCarthy for her views on vaccines and autism neatly ignore the medical experts who back her up, especially her co-author, Jerry Kartzinel, MD. They’ve appeared together on CNN and CBS.

    Medical Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, an AutismOne Presentation Re-Cap From Dr. Jerry Kartzinel
    http://www.generationrescue.org/dr-jerry-s-blog/
    http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_Healing_and_Preventing_Autism_Jenny_McCarthy_Jerry_Kartzinel/content_467306122884?sb=1

    Jenny McCarthy tries to save children from autism – YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=341JA8l_688
    Actress On Autism Awareness – CBS News Video http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4913094n

    Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

  36. evilrizwiz

    On the (bright?) side, it looks like a mostly typical high-scale fashionista blog, in all it’s mundane glamour. Very little strays (thus far) from that, minus some cancer benefits. It’s also noticeable that as they’ve said.. the comments have all been disabled and removed, and chances are they (Splash) won’t let any.. propoganda on their site to prevent an equal outburst on -all- of their comments sections (one would hope)

  37. Chris2

    UnsettledScientist:

    Wow. Victoria Goins’s (llemmingtron) twitter feed is really classy. I won’t bother to repeat the profanity she slung at Phil there.

    I noticed that. She has probably not returned after dropping both of those silly links above to read the replies. It looks like she hangs out at both Age of Autism and the (non)Thinking Moms Revolution blogs. From what I hear neither are places of polite discussion or intellectual discourse. More like echo chambers full of poo.

  38. Chris2

    Oh, I should add that at Respectful Insolence one person does visit those blogs and reports her impressions. here is a recent observation (unfortunately recent changes have stripped both comment numbers and even time stamps, so I present most of the comment):

    As you may know, I trudge through the miasmic swamps of decaying intellectual detritus ( AoA, TMR, NN, PRN et al) on a near daily basis, searching- in vain- through the muck for a tiny shred of rationality or a spark of sympathetic human emotion. No such luck.

    Instead I am subjected to endless tirades of venom-drenched invective and self-congratulatory grandiosity targetting an audience of like-minded confabulators and fictionalisers. I have often referred to these enclaves as ‘group therapy gone wrong’:
    rather than rewarding members for realism, they do the converse, while skewed role models blithely disseminate mis-information.

    They continuously blubber about their tragic lives – of which they ritualistically attribute the causation thereof to outside sources- as they assiduously polish and display their own sterling characteristics They are ‘warriors’ and ‘revolutionaries’.. sure, they are!

    It sounds to me like a way to prop up flagging self-esteem and marginalise opponents’ achievements simultaneously.

    Today Ms Mama Mac ( Alison Mac Neil @ TMR) informs us that she wouldn’t care if a certain investigatve journalist ” got hit by a truck”. She is a child of privilege who also happens to be a social worker. I know people who lost a family member to a bombing who don’t say things like that.

    Unlike the folks over at AoA, I am not quick to toss psychiatric diagnoses around like confetti but I assume that several of the principals involved ( AoA, Canary Party, TMR) have what we psychologists often refer to as ‘a screw loose’ as well as other problems ( see Jake Crosby).

  39. Wow, Anne McElroy Dachel (#36): You’re from the Age of Autism group? The ones that posted that despicable cartoon of medical professionals eating babies?

    The ones who run which hunts against people with whom you disagree?

    And I assume you are talking about this Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, right? This one?

    I assume all of you over at Age of Autism really do care about kids with autism. If so, you should so what the Autism Science Foundation did – admit vaccines are not the problem, and focus on reality instead of shrill attacks on people you disagree with.

  40. Unsetttled Scientist

    > It’s interesting that those criticizing Jenny McCarthy for her views on vaccines and autism neatly ignore the medical experts who back her up, especially her co-author, Jerry Kartzinel, MD.

    We don’t ignore him. We take the total body of evidence into account. We cannot rely upon one single MD or even a handful of MDs. We must look at the medical community as a whole. Selecting to follow the doctors who tell us what we want to hear is called cherry-picking. There are many doctors out there taking advantage of the desperate parents of children with autism. When there is a very small minority refusing to accept the evidence that there is no link between autism and vaccines, and a vast majority who have done decades of research on this subject without finding a link, it is time to not ignore those doctors, but call them wrong.

    Science does not ignore the claims on the fringe. When cold fusion was reported it wasn’t ignored, scientists around the world tried to replicate the experiment in their labs. When claims that thiomersol in vaccines caused autism it was not ignored. It was removed from childhood vaccines out an abundance of caution while we investigated any possible link. None was found after many years of rigorous study but the nations top doctors.

    It is, however, interesting that people think we ignore them. Those who believe vaccines cause autism should take the time to consider the opposite, that they don’t. Just like the science-based medical community took the claims that vaccines cause autism very seriously and conducted countless studies looking to see if we could find anything in vaccines that did.

    Once again, I’ll reiterate, if we are serious about understanding, treating and perhaps curing autism, it is time to spend our money and time look elsewhere. Vaccines have been studied perhaps more than other cause at this point and no correlation (let alone causation) has been found.

    You are correct in that Jerry Kartzinel is perhaps more deserving of criticism than Jenny McCarthy. She is not educated enough to know better, he is.

  41. Chris2

    I see the BadAstronomer is being graced by the Dachelbot. This is how she is described in the most recent post of Orac’s Respectful Insolence:

    Right on cue, Anne Dachel and her Dachelbots have shown up to bury the comments with antivaccine talking points. Dachel, as you might recall, holds the dubious position of media editor at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism. Her job description appears to be mainly to set up multiple Google Alerts for vaccine-related topics, particularly Andrew Wakefield, and then to swoop down on any blog post, news article, or op-ed that defends science and calls out antivaccine pseudoscience along with her flying monkeys like so many Douglass SBD Dauntless dive bombers to bomb the comment thread, burying the comments with antivaccine nonsense. It’s what she does, and it’s obviously meant to perpetuate the manufactroversy. The good thing is, her talking points are so vacuous and her ability to defend them so nonexistent that all it takes are a handful of knowledgeable pro-science skeptics to shoot down her quackery. That’s why Dachel tends, having dropped her load on one article or blog post, to move on rapidly to other easier targets as her Google Alerts reveals them to her.

    Oddly enough, she avoids both Respectful Insolence on Sciencblogs and the Science Based Medicine blog.

  42. MI Reporter

    I’m newspaper reporter (we still exist) that did a story about local efforts to get flu vaccines to people, and a health official here was quoted as saying the autism “link” was a culprit in some parents not getting their kids vaccinated. In my story, I minced no words in establishing that any such links are false and unproven.

    Naturally, Dachel turned up in the online comments, blasting the story with nonsense. I did give her a chance, though; I asked for any links to evidence that showed a link between autism and vaccines, as that would be very big news and I’d like to break it. I mean, it would make my career.

    I’m still waiting, more than a year later, for her to get back to me.

  43. @#40 And Dr. Phil Plait nails it.

  44. Ah, the Dachelbot. She never ceases to amaze. She is so wedded to her PR duties for AoA that she completely misses just how lame her attempts at sliming vaccines are. And to so blatantly lie… It speaks volumes about her character.

  45. @41 Unsettled Scientist: Science does not ignore the claims on the fringe. When cold fusion was reported it wasn’t ignored, scientists around the world tried to replicate the experiment in their labs. When claims that thiomersol in vaccines caused autism it was not ignored. It was removed from childhood vaccines out an abundance of caution while we investigated any possible link. None was found after many years of rigorous study but the nations top doctors.
    It is, however, interesting that people think we ignore them. Those who believe vaccines cause autism should take the time to consider the opposite, that they don’t. Just like the science-based medical community took the claims that vaccines cause autism very seriously and conducted countless studies looking to see if we could find anything in vaccines that did.
    Once again, I’ll reiterate, if we are serious about understanding, treating and perhaps curing autism, it is time to spend our money and time look elsewhere. Vaccines have been studied perhaps more than other cause at this point and no correlation (let alone causation) has been found.

    Very, very well said. This is a point that bears repeating. And it seems to be a blind spot among pretty much all the anti-vaxxers I’ve seen. It’s odd; considering that these are people who claim to have done lots of research (if “research” means reading existing literature), most of them seem to be completely unaware of the mountains of studies that have been done on the subject. It’s not just that they dismiss the majority scientific opinion on vaccines – that’s bad enough. But they also seem to be permanently ignorant of the fact that anyone but their own pet quacks have ever actually done any research on this stuff!

    For spaghetti monster’s sake, just to cherry pick the few (usually flawed) studies that support their position, you’d think they’d have to at least be aware of the many, many studies that have shown a null result for vaccine-related illness, even if they do just ignore them. I’ve seen antivaxxers lament, without a hint of irony, the lack of independent studies done to try and determine, for example, if there’s a link between thiomersal and autism (they seem to think that only pharmaceutical companies ever do such research, and that they all fudge their own results, 100% of the time). If only there were people who cared! If only a few dollars could be scraped together to study this issue, just once!

    *facepalm*
    Seriously, it’s mystifying. It’s like someone walking into maze made entirely of flaming logs, somehow finding their way through it completely unharmed, and yet never having a clue that the whole thing is on fire.

  46. @Unsettled Scientist: Once again, I’ll reiterate, if we are serious about understanding, treating and perhaps curing autism, it is time to spend our money and time look elsewhere. Vaccines have been studied perhaps more than other cause at this point and no correlation (let alone causation) has been found.

    That’s not entirely true, in a rather perverse way. I recently read about some fairly credible studies that found that babies exposed to the Rubella virus in utero (due to the mother not having been vaccinated) had about a 10% chance of being diagnosed with autism (and this was way back around 1980, before the diagnostic criteria for the spectrum was expanded to its current inclusive state, so today it’d probably be more like 20%).
    In other words, for a mother, NOT being vaccinated for Rubella is one of the few choices proven to be a definitive and substantial risk factor for having an autistic child. To reiterate for the vaccine-phobic crowd, there’s more evidence that the MMR vaccine prevents autism than that it causes it!

  47. Robert Erb

    Help us! IU hospitals are forcing us to take the flu vaccine or NO job! How can this be happening!? Requiring that we be injected with a substance that will not protect me (or my patients) and could cause us a lifetime of debilitating illness in exchange for employment needs to be challenged in a Court of Law. First health care worker next you and I will be next..no vaccine no insurance will be next. Neurologicl complications that have been described after flu vaccines. Including Guillallin-Barre sundrome, optic neuritis ect. With more the 200 viruses known to cause flu-like illness,a person can get a flu shot and still become sick with flu like illness. According to CDC data, flu like illness is caused by an flu virus only abouat 14% of the time.A virus other then flu virus causes of illness 86% of the time! Vaccination of healthy adult only reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day.

  48. @Joseph G

    It isn’t that anti-vaccine activists are unaware of the swaths of research that has been done, rather, they simply dismiss it as being horribly biased or corrupt. Therefore, it isn’t research. In anti-vaccine land, if the study does not implicate vaccines or a vaccine ingredient, then it is completely invalid and should be ignored.

  49. Wzrd1

    I’m one who most certainly doesn’t need parenting advice, my wife and I *GIVE* parenting advice, as we’ve long ago raised our children.
    *IF* I never needed advice, the LAST place I’d go is to some has been centerfold.
    And to be more than blunt, I’d go to a tribal witch doctor for medical advice before I’d go to a centerfold.
    To be even more blunt, free speech has limits. When one is causing public harm or imminent lawlessness, said speech is no longer protected.
    The anti-vax folks brush with the latter unprotected category, but stand in the full spotlight of the former, for their deeds have literally caused deaths.
    As far as I’m concerned, they should be in prison for thousands of counts of manslaughter.

  50. Chris2

    Mr. Erb:

    Requiring that we be injected with a substance that will not protect me (or my patients) and could cause us a lifetime of debilitating illness in exchange for employment needs to be challenged in a Court of Law.

    Citation needed.

    Also for the rest of your comment. Colds are not the same as influenza. The IU hospitals will be greatly improved if someone who posts so much nonsense seeks employment elsewhere. Whether it is in Iowa, Illinois, Idaho or Indiana.

  51. @Roger Erb

    With more the 200 viruses known to cause flu-like illness,a person can get a flu shot and still become sick with flu like illness. According to CDC data, flu like illness is caused by an flu virus only abouat 14% of the time.A virus other then flu virus causes of illness 86% of the time!

    Holy crap! You mean the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against illnesses caused by other non-influenza viruses?

    Seriously, though, of course flu vaccine only protects against flu and doesn’t do anything against flu-like illnesses, since they are caused by different organisms. You may want to learn a little bit more about how vaccines and diseases actually work before you make comments like this.

    As to your bit about the hospital requiring you to get the vaccine or else lose your job, I’d be willing to bet that there are other options available (e.g., wear a respiratory) or that that requirement only applies to a select population within the workplace (e.g., only those who work directly with patients). Care to quote the exact language the hospital is using?

  52. Chris2

    Todd, I think this is it, with hints from his one note twitter feed (https://twitter.com/erbr1985) with creative grammar:
    http://medicine.iu.edu/faqs/flu-policy

    I really really hope he is not in charge of any patient care. I actually was glad that the two hospitals my son stayed at this year had strict vaccine requirements for employees.

  53. Unsettled Scientist

    > Vaccination of healthy adult only reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day.

    That’s not why it is a requirement. It saves lives. Did you even read the FAQ? It’s not about protecting a healthy adult from a week or so of illness, it’s about not being a vector of infection for those sick people you are seeing every day.

    http://medicine.iu.edu/faqs/flu-policy

    “Health care providers are responsible for delivering the best care in the safest environment. Influenza has the highest death rate of any disease for which a proven vaccine exists and can be fatal in hospitalized patients who are seriously ill. To help protect patients from flu and the serious complications it can cause, the IU School of Medicine is requiring mandatory influenza vaccinations for faculty, staff, students, fellows and residents considered employees, affiliated physicians, volunteers house staff,students, contactors and vendors at IU Health and Wishard Health Services.”

  54. @Chris

    I suspected that there was a bit more to the policy than what Mr. Erb was so frantic about. Why do these people feel such a need to distort and misrepresent the facts?

  55. @54 Unsettled Scientist: … Influenza has the highest death rate of any disease for which a proven vaccine exists…

    Weird. That doesn’t sound right to me. Higher than polio? Higher than tetanus? Higher than smallpox? I guess smallpox is technically extinct, but still. Am I missing something? Does “proven” mean something special in this context, like having a super low rate of non-immunity?

  56. @Joseph G

    I think what they mean is that there are more deaths each year due to flu and for any of the other diseases we vaccinate against, at least in the U.S. While that is technically true, that’s only because we have such good vaccines and broad coverage for those other diseases. If all vaccine efficacy and uptake rates were equal across the board, I don’t think the statement would hold up.

  57. Unsettled Scientist

    > Am I missing something?

    Yes. Look up how many people died of those diseases last year, and then look up how many people died from influenza in the same time period. BTW, those words were in quotes, from the IU School of Medicine and were not mine. Here’s another quote on the enormous death rate of influenza in today’s society from a well respected medical professional.

    Dr. Sonnenberg, PAFP President-elect, on getting the flu shot: “Inflenza is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States. More common than breast cancer. Unfortunately, we don’t have a vaccine for breast cancer.”

    Your parents got you vaccinated against polio, etc. As an adult, it is you who is responsible for stopping the spread of influenza to those who will die of it this year.

  58. @Todd & Unsettled scientist:
    I see. So death rate as in total deaths per population. I was thinking of the mortality rate for people who are actually infected, of which it seemed like polio or smallpox must be higher.

    @Unsettled Scientist: I know they weren’t your words, I just thought you might be able to clarify ‘em for me. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to argue against any sort of vaccination.

  59. @Joseph G

    Influenza is still pretty nasty, though. Depending on the strain of virus circulating, how well-matched the vaccine is, and the rate of vaccine uptake, influenza deaths range from, IIRC, around 12,000-40,000 every year in the U.S., usually due to secondary pneumonia infections and mostly among the elderly, immunocompromised or very, very young. Not sure what the actual case count is, but for comparison, measles has a risk of death of around 1 per 2,000 cases.

    On a side note, a study published back in January (caveat: it was in mice, so, grain of salt), researchers found that concurrent or very recent infection with pertussis increased the risk of severity of influenza.

  60. Unsettled Scientist

    @Joseph G,

    Yeah, death or mortality rates are expressed either as a percentage or perhaps more often as “X deaths per 1000 people” in the population. It is very difficult to know how many people have contracted an infectious disease. I could have been infected but not show up when you test me because I’ve already fought off the disease by the time you test me. When it comes to things like breast cancer, a prognosis is often given as a “five-year survival rate” for people with the same condition.

    PS – I didn’t take anything negative from your comment. I was just trying to clarify (for all readers) that I wasn’t making the claim personally, simply quoting those professionals far more educated and familiar with the diseases than I am. I try to write for the infinite (in time) audience that the internet presents. I was also speaking in the “royal you” if you will. It’s also my responsibility to make sure I am not a vector to infect my mother who has a diminished immune system. It is very important that I get vaccinated every year, I treat it as if her life depends on it, because it very well may.

  61. @60 Unsettled Scientist: I was also speaking in the “royal you” if you will. It’s also my responsibility to make sure I am not a vector to infect my mother who has a diminished immune system. It is very important that I get vaccinated every year, I treat it as if her life depends on it, because it very well may.

    That’s very good advice. I’m going to the doctor next week, and I had been on the fence about whether to get a flu shot, as I never get the flu anyway. Not that I’m leery of vaccines in the slightest, but it’s still a pain in the ass (er, arm). But, as you say, it’s not just about me. I’ll be getting that jab now, not because I’m personally worried about the flu, but out of civic duty. You’ve edumacated me :)

  62. Joseph G @ #63 said: “…it’s not just about me…”

    Rarely a truer word spoken when it comes to vaccines.

    I’m angry when people announce that they won’t get vaccinated, as though they have the power to choose not to pass on a disease they’ve caught.

  63. Llemmingtron

    I’ve been thinking of how to explain my irrational and overly emotional behavior for a while now and all I can say is this: if you lived my life, you’d have been ticked off as well. I mean, here I am, doing research ALL THE TIME to try and help my son. You’re going along, finding all kinds of hard evidence—peer-reviewed published studies—on how environmental factors and genetic pre-disposition are the cause of autism, and formulating protocols to help your specific child and then someone waltzes into your life and says, “Oh, so you listen to celebrities instead of doctors? How dumb you must be!” I tell you the truth, it’d been a year since I began my research when someone told me this and I had no idea what they were talking about.

    Then I learn about Jenny McCarthy—a mother whose child had intense GI and neurological issues in addition to autism—who used the Defeat Autism Now protocol to “cure” her son’s autism. I read her works, am unimpressed, and move on. Here’s the thing—she fell into the same trap that other moms have fallen into: a doctor comes along and says s/he’s got the answer to your child’s problems and here give me a lot of money and I’ll cure your child. It worked for her. Since she’s a celebrity, she promoted it. Now she has an organization (Generation Rescue) which pays for people who would not otherwise be able to afford it to get into a ridiculously expensive, inadequate, and not very scientifically based protocol which is now considered obsolete (and has actually made many children WORSE). If your child benefits, great—if not, you’re left where you were to begin with.

    Not impressed. Doctors who are doing the work necessary to develop sound treatment protocols do not advocate for this kind of thing. We want science—science that makes sense and has predictable outcomes. This is the frustration that the autism community at large has with Jenny McCarthy—even in the biomedical community.

    If you want to have a beef with the biomedical community, have a beef with THEM, not HER. She is not part of it. She is the late-night infomercial of biomedical treatment, seriously. It’s like purchasing pro-activ instead of seeing a dermatologist. Going on medi-fast rather than seeing a dietician. I hope this makes sense. However, I do not dislike McCarthy for one reason, which I’ll explain later.

    That being said, it is not scientifically sound to say that all vaccines are safe for all people. It’s simply not true. It’s also not true that people are NOT seriously injured or killed by vaccines. I mean, it’s just a fact that these things happen.

    If you read the full vaccine inserts you can see that these things are acknowledged as true and are part of the risk of getting vaccines. Combination vaccines are especially dangerous, as even the insert states that they have never been tested for safety. The individual vaccines, yes—combination, no. VAERS gets most of its injury/death reports from the two most common combination vaccines—dTap (Dtap) and the MMR. The third most troublesome vaccine is Gardasil with Cervarix behind it. The VICP tends to award most of its vaccine injury suits to children and people damaged by those vaccines.

    As for autism and vaccines, the science linking the two is sparse—I admit it. However, it’s there. When you cannot pinpoint what is causing it, it’s not generally a good idea to push aside what little evidence you DO have connecting a cause. After all, it’s not possible to prove what does not cause disease, only what DOES. When you are facing it yourself, you will take whatever science will give you and follow every lead. This is just part of the process of learning what something is, and how to treat it. Trial and error, based on the best scientific data you have AT THE TIME.

    So now we have the anti-vaccine movement. Enough evidence supports that a lot of vaccines at a very young age is detrimental that many first world countries have a vastly different vaccination schedule than the United States. Certain vaccines that are simply ridiculous to give to newborns are not even in the childhood schedule—like the hepatitis B vaccine. While the flu shot is given in other countries, it is generally not given to young children or pregnant women like it is here in the States. These are all good measures for preventing vaccine injury. But what to do with people who do not vaccinate at all?

    This leads me to what I DO like about McCarthy. She is not anti-vaccine, she is pro-sane-vax.

    You see, manufacturers do not have to use the adjuvants that they use. They use them because they are waste (aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde) and so they are cheap. However, these things are what cause most of the vaccine injuries which occur. I know most people erroneously assume that thimerisol (a type of mercury) is what people are upset about in vaccines. Not true. It’s only ONE thing that causes harm. Removing it from vaccines will not stop neurological damage. If we want vaccines to be safe, all of the harmful adjuvants will need to be replaced.

    To avoid injuries and increase compliance we will need to find adjuvants that do not cause harm. There was recently an article about the SV40 virus, which has been found in the guts of autistic individuals, contaminating most vaccines—scientists are now calling for a removal of the SV40 component which has been tied to childhood diabetes and gut disorders. Anti-vaxxers have known about this for over a decade and already have a protocol that kills SV40—but only now does mainstream science acknowledge it. We must learn what vaccines do to us and to our children—and we must strive to find safer alternatives.

    Science is the great equalizer. Science supports that vaccines are not safe and cause harm. Science can find safe alternatives—if it’s forced to. After all, medicine is a business and since it polices itself it has no motivation to find these alternatives unless the public refuses to consume it and profits fall.

    Of course, vaccines cannot be the only thing that causes autism. After all, unvaccinated individuals do sometimes develop autism. Other possibilities are antibiotic overuse, mercury amalgams (especially in the mother), vaccinated parents (especially mothers given the flu shot while pregnant—which contains mercury), unnatural food sources (like the recent study done on HFCS and autism), and soy/corn allergies (which are in most infant formulas). There is a large genetic component—the MTHFR and FragileX being the two we know the most about. There is also a type of autism caused specifically by the mother having an MTHFR mutation and being unable to convert folic acid to its usable form—which causes slight spinal cord defects in the child like Chiari Malformation and Tethered Spinal Cord. When children get these disorders corrected through surgery, their functionality is significantly improved.

    So hopefully you can see why I get ticked when someone says “OMG CELEBRITIES SHOULD NOT ADVISE PEOPLE ABOUT VACCINES!” Look, have more faith in humanity. Not only are most people who choose not to vaccinate or selectively vaccinate not doing it because a celebrity told them to, but the celebrity you’re bashing is not actually anti-vaccine.

    So my apologies for cursing. But as you can see, there is so much more to it. So much more. To get a good, accurate view on what’s really going on in the sane-vax community, you should actually do the research. Jenny McCarthy does not represent us, and she does not represent me.

    SCIENCE represents me.

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