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.
A couple of years back, Oprah Winfrey offered notorious antivaxxer Jenny McCarthy her own show on Oprah’s health network. Needless to say, a lot of people were unhappy about this, including me. Ms. McCarthy’s ideas about health and medicine are not only demonstrably wrong, they are what I consider to be a public health threat. She actively promotes people not taking medicine known to work, and to try things we know don’t work. That link above has copious examples.
So I was semi-delighted to hear that she will not be getting a show on Oprah’s network; apparently, she was unhappy with the negotiations and walked away.
Why only semi-delighted? According to that article McCarthy is being wooed by NBC, so she’ll still be able to sell her wares on TV, and she’ll still be getting the imprimatur of a network backing her. That’s too bad. Her beliefs about medicine are clearly contrary to what we know to be true scientifically, and people’s lives are actually impacted, hugely, by the kinds of misinformation that’s already far too prevalent out there.
Tip o’ the syringe to Fark
The long-running comic strip Doonesbury does a lot of political humor of course, so it was no surprise he went after J. McCarthy today. After all, McCarthy used an environment of fear to terrify people into behaving contrary to their own best interests, ramping up an imaginary problem into a national concern, and putting thousands upon thousands of lives at risk of being destroyed.
No no no. Not Joseph. Jenny.
Tip o’ the syringe to the eight gazillion people who sent me that link, including my brother Sid.
How do you define irony?
I’ll note that all the press for this has talked about how it was at the Playboy mansion, but missed the connection with McCarthy. Coincidence, surely, and seriously, my sympathies to the victims and I hope everyone recovers fully… but I certainly hope those folks sought out actual medicine instead of relying on McCarthy for advice.
[Update: I had originally written a line in there about comparing real medicine to McCarthy's nonsense, and some folks interpreted that as being snarky toward the victims. That wasn't my intention, of course, and to make things clearer I rephrased that last line. Also, it's come to my attention that the source of the illness hasn't been confirmed yet; the hotel where people stayed is being investigated as well. If I hear more I'll post an update.]
Tip o’ the syringe to Koos van den Hout.
Geez, a ton of vaccination related news came in the past few days:
Dr. Wakefield has been shown to have used absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits, he created a fake paper, the journal allowed it to run. All the other studies were done, showed no connection whatsoever again and again and again. So it’s an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids. Because the mothers who heard that lie, many of them didn’t have their kids take either pertussis or measles vaccine, and their children are dead today. And so the people who go and engage in those anti-vaccine efforts — you know, they, they kill children. It’s a very sad thing, because these vaccines are important.
This is a very delicate situation, with parents making heart-wrenching decisions about their kids — and as a parent, I know how tough those decisions can be. But a huge number of people against vaccinations out there believe in it for the wrong reasons, thinking there are toxins in the vaccines, or they cause neurological disorders, or a host of other provably wrong ideas. As we’ve seen with most alt-med related topics, this is not really an intellectual issue, it’s an emotional one. And ironically, people like Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loe Fischer, and Andrew Wakefield can talk about evil conspiracies trying to hurt your kids, but when we on the side of reality point out that low vaccination rates results in children dying, we are the ones castigated as uncaring and unfeeling.
Baloney. Last Friday would have been Dana McCaffery’s second birthday. Read that, click the links, and tell me how uncaring we are.
Bill Gates is right. Low vaccination rates result in children dying. If you’re the parent of an infant, talk to your doctor and get the facts.
2) One vaccine fear that’s been around a while is that they can cause a nervous disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome. A new study has been released which shows no connection between the two, at least for the seasonal flu shot.
3) Wherever I go shopping I see those bottles of vitaminwater for sale. They claim to have all sorts of vitamins and also claim your body needs them, which may or may not be true, but when they claim you can drink this stuff instead of getting a flu shot, they’ve crossed the line. I know the ads are supposed to be humorous, but with the huge push for alt-med nonsense in the media and health claim benefits from products that are clearly outrageous, this is simply too far.
4) More health organizations are speaking up against the antivaxxers, and I love it when they target specific promulgators of nonsense as a health columnist for Canoe.ca did. Jenny McCarthy’s claims are dangerous, pure and simple.
Tip o’ the syringe to Joe Abietz, Robert Tapp, and Robert Estes
Last week, I wrote about how the martyr of the modern antivax movement, Andrew Wakefield, is being openly accused of fraud by journalist Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal — with tons of evidence, I’ll add. Seeing as how Wakefield has been promoting the outright dangerous and potentially deadly antireality antivax idea for years, this news was welcomed by the skeptic community.
But that was only Part 1. The BMJ has just published Part 2: how Wakefield stood to make not just millions, not just tens of millions, but actually hundreds of millions of dollars by promoting the false link between the MMR vaccine with autism and Crohn’s disease.
He was paid quite a large sum of money by a lawyer, Richard Barr, to find that connection. We’ve known this for a long time, in fact; Deer wrote about this a while ago (as well as Wakefield’s vast conflict of interest involving developing his own version of the vaccine to replace the one being used). But this new article is important because it goes into a lot of detail — and, like his first article, is meticulously referenced and footnoted — providing an ironclad link between the money and Wakefield’s actions.
As Orac points out, antivaxxers love to accuse those of us who defend reality of being in the pay of Big Pharma (or whatever Big Nebulous Organization they can tenuously link us to), and many of them are outspoken about following the money. Will they do that here, and realize that by their own logic they have to abandon and even repudiate and censure Wakefield?
So with Jenny McCarthy still spouting dangerous nonsense, Meryl Dorey saying stuff so obviously wrong that a radio interviewer shut her down, and so many other antivax organizations willing to expose babies and the population at large to potentially fatal but preventable diseases, what can you do?
Please, please, please: if you know anyone at risk of being affected by antivax propaganda, send them to Immunize for Good. There is a wealth of factual information there, especially in their Fact or Fiction section.
That simple act can save lives. It’s that simple.
How? Through vaccination.
Yup. The first reports of polio were confirmed in April — 413 of them. However, that ended in late June, when no new cases were reported. That is credited to the thousands of doctors and nurses who not only vaccinated at least 97% of the children in each region of the mountainous country, but also flooded the area with multi-lingual informational leaflets, posters, and banners.
And they succeeded! With no new reports, it appears this outbreak was stopped cold.
And with the AVN in Australia getting hammered repeatedly in the press, I can now have some hope that the movement here in the United States, spearheaded by Jenny McCarthy, will die off as well. Vaccinations work, and they save a lot of lives.
This is, quite simply, brilliant. The Vaccine Song:
I have a hard time disagreeing with anything in that song*. I really wish everyone knew that at the same time Jenny McCarthy is railing against vaccines for their toxins, she was injecting botox — which contains botulin, one of the deadliest substances known to mankind — directly into her face.
Two things vacciney:
1) While it’s not due to antivaxxers, it’s still important: measles is making a comeback across the world. According to the article, the lack of funding is making vaccines hard to come by in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and measles is very opportunistic. With the antivaxxers still spreading their lies in America, Australia, and elsewhere, it’s all too easy for this awful disease to spread wildly anywhere it gets a toehold.
2) It’s a delicate task, talking about someone’s kid when it comes to autism and vaccinations. It’s a social minefield; you’re dealing with an innocent kid, but you’re also dealing with a parent who may be gravely misinformed and doing a lot of harm by spreading misinformation. Jenny McCarthy, though, put her son Evan front and center in the nonsense she spouts about autism, and is doing considerable harm to the public health. Skeptico has taken on her claims, and shows that her version of events seems to shape-shift according to her needs.
Tip o’ the syringe to my brother, Sid for the measles link.
I’ve written about the misdeeds of Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern antivax movement, in the past — the links in this post will give you an idea of this guy. But I’m smart enough to know that I can write until I’m blue in the face about him, and the poison antivaxxers spread will still be accepted by people.
That’s why I’m glad there are different ways of getting the truth out there. One of them is in the form of comics; somehow, adding art to the discussion makes it easier to understand, and easier to absorb.
On his LiveJournal page, Tallguywrites has created a comic book style deconstruction of the Wakefield affair. I urge you to read the whole thing, and keep it in mind when some mouthpiece like Jenny McCarthy praises what Wakefield has done. What they tend not to mention is what the antivax movement has really done: erode deserved confidence in the medical system, help cause outbreaks of measles and pertussis, and put us all in danger of contracting preventable diseases.
Tip o’ the syringe to sydk.