On Vaccination And Autism: Don't Believe The Hype

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 8, 2009 10:07 am

Until today, I have not discussed the anti-vaccination hullabaloo because there’s not a serious argument from the dark side worth time and attention.  There’s no ‘debate’ on this–our children must be protected.  But the issue finally hit home last week when a good friend and new mom decided not to get her daughter immunized because she’s afraid the infant might contract autism.  I’m furious Jenny McCarthy and her entourage have been fostering a state of panic that promotes the resurgence of preventable infectious diseases.

Look, yes Jim Carrey’s a good actor and Singled Out continues to wow audiences in its latest incarnation: The Bachelor.  In fact, my former co-blogger Chris Hardwick at Wired Science was McCarthy’s on camera sidekick back then.  But parents, please, for the sake of our kids, do not confuse entertainment with the ability to provide sound medical advice.

I’m reminded of the 32nd President’s inaugural address. Make no mistake that with regard to autism and vaccination, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Embedded video from <a href=”http://www.cnn.com/video”>CNN Video</a>

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education, Media and Science

Comments (9)

  1. David

    This is a science magazine, where is the science of your argument? How is this not the same as “confus(ing) entertainment with the ability to provide sound medical advice”? I believe Bernadine Healy suggested this topic needs further research, I think her bone fides might just surpass the authors…

  2. Craig B

    You might be interested to see this new web site, which is as blunt as it can get.
    http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html

  3. David, I’m not an MD, but I do understand the very real dangers associated with not vaccinating children. As for medical expertise, a more comprehensive response here.

  4. And she’s been on Oprah several times. Have people already forgotten polio, for one?

  5. MadScientist

    I wouldn’t be so kind. I’d say washed up comedian + washed up nudie model = big zero. Carrey now joins Mel “Jew hater” Gibson on my list of actors whose movies I will not watch as a matter of principle.

  6. Thanks for posting your 2-cents on the issue. I hope you’ll consider addressing the anti-vaccinationists in future blogs because the more science bloggers address this misinformation head-on, the better, especially blogs with a large viewership. Keep up the great work guys!

  7. And Larry King is one washed up talk show host

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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