Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Do antivaccers play a social function?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 24, 2009

I received a comment on my last posting which directed me to a blog entry titled “The Social Function of Vaccine Resistors“, which makes an interesting claim, specifically that the Jenny McCarthy’s and Jim Carrey’s of this world play an important social function that they should be honored for? Puzzling, to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Physician Assistant and have had my own kids vaccinated.   Our vaccine system is incredibly safe and is still improving.  But it must always be remembered, that pharmaceuticals only have our best in mind as long as our best entails our purchase of their products and thus they are not to be trusted.

I don’t quite understand the argument here. I do not think for a second that Big Pharma has our best interest in mind. As any and all other corporations out there, it is in the business of making money. That’s its main purpose. It has its, and its shareholders, interest in mind. It’s job is to sell drugs, the point though is that these drugs won’t sell if they do not work. At the end of the day, doctors must prescribe which drugs a patient takes, so that’s why Big Pharma must make its due diligence to ensure that the science is right, or else doctors will not prescribe it’s medicine. This is the checks and balances that make the system work, not crazy anti-vaccine lunatics. And guess what, when Big Pharma goes bad, and do unethical things, it is not the anti-vaccers that expose the wrong doing, not ever! Being vigilant is not the same as making unwarranted statements, endangering people’s lives and spreading misinformation.  We need to be vigilant, yes, but not idiots!

Though these companies also are a huge benefit to our country, to safe guard from their dark side, our society has evolved several checks.  I feel that the vaccine resistors are part of that natural check system and should be honored as such.  Many of the safety checks in our present system exist exactly to appease the errors pointed by earlier resistors.  We never want to make laws to stop the resistors.

First, of course we do not want to make laws to stop the resistors, no one in their right mind would even entertain such a thought. Freedom of speech allows them to say whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous it may be. Secondly, and most importantly, no they do not deserve to be honored at all. You know who deserves to be honored? The scientists carrying out the research to address these crazy lunatics’ screams. They are the safety checks that we need, not Jim Carrey, not Jenny McCarthy. What’s there to honor about someone who refuses to accept the evidence? What’s there to honor about someone who thinks they know more than the scientific establishment, about scientific issues? I do not understand how we can honor ignorance and arrogance in any way?

I think it is wise to realize that though vaccine resistors may make bad decisions and harmed themselves or their loved ones.  Their resistance has helped you.

No they have not! There is nothing beneficial that is coming from the works of the anti-vaccers, no gains to be had whatsoever. These people are a peril to society and we must expose them as much as we can, not give them some medal of honor. Should we honor the flat earthers? The white supremacists? They are to be exposed and ridiculed at every opportunity not honored, and so deserve the anti-vaccers.

So, to answer the question asked in the title: NO, they play no useful social function at all, not anymore than a spreading cancer plays a useful biological function for the organism it has invaded.

Fire Marshall Bill discusses vaccines and autism on The Huffington Post

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on April 23, 2009

After writing about a new low of pseudoscience published in that repository of all things antivaccine and quackery, The Huffington Post (do you even have to ask?), on Tuesday, I had hoped–really hoped–that I could ignore HuffPo for a while. After all, there’s only so much stupid that even Orac can tolerate before his logic circuits start shorting out and he has to shut down a while so that his self-repair circuits can undo the damage. Besides, I sometimes think that the twit who created HuffPo, Arianna Huffington, likes the attention that turds dropped onto her blog by quackery boosters of the like of Kim Evans. Certainly, the HuffPo editors seem utterly untroubled that, among physicians and medical scientists, HuffPo is viewed with utter contempt and ridicule. Certainly, I view Arianna’s vanity project that way whenever it publishes the antivaccine stylings of ignoramuses like Deirdre Imus or cranks like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and David Kirby, especially now that HuffPo’s decided that antivaccine nonsense isn’t enough and that it needs to “kick the pseudoscience up a notch” with its latest quack recruits.

Apparently, HuffPo has decided that even Kim Evans is not enough to bury its reputation when it comes to any form of medical science so deep into the mud that it would require nuclear weapons to blast it out; that is, if you even accept the contention that HuffPo even has a reputation for medical science. What am I talking about? I’m sure many of you know; you’ve deluged me with copies of links to this article. No, no, don’t worry, I’m not annoyed. It tells me that you, my readers, feel that this article is something that so desperately cries out for a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence and that said Insolence is what you desperately want to see applied to it.

Never let it be said that I don’t give the people what they want.

In fact, I so wanted to give the people that what they wanted on this one that I decided to save the post as a web archive and write this on the plane as I was coming home from Denver last night, leaving only the addition of relevant links as necessary upon my arrival home. So, welcome the latest arrogant idiot to the Huffington Post’s merry band of antivaccinationists. No, it’s not Jenny McCarthy, although I’m surprised that HuffPo didn’t recruit Jenny McCarthy to blog for it long ago. Unfortunately, it did recruit her boyfriend, perhaps because his A-list celebrity (as in danger of fading to B- and C-list as it is) far outshines Jenny’s D-minus-list celebrity. Yes, I’m talking about Jim Carrey, who applies his “intellectual firepower” (such as it is) to an article entitled The Judgment on Vaccines Is In???

Oh, the stupid, it does so burn.

You know, reading this article, a horrific vision came into my head. What if Jenny and Jim actually had a child? What if they actually reproduced? What would their offspring be like? I fear he would be the Antichrist of Stupid, whose power would suck all intelligence, reason and science out of the world, the better to usher in an Armageddon of Stupid against which the armies of reason might not be able to stand. If that were to happen, it would usher in a new age of dumb, a dumb so deep and profund that it might be thousands of years before humans were able to rub two stones together and make fire again.

But I digress.


Thanks, Jenny McCarthy! Thanks for the measles!

Posted in Science Based Medicine by Skepdude on August 25, 2008

I would like to take this opportunity to echo my co-blogger Steve’s sentiment and thank Jenny McCarthy.

What? You say. Has Gorski completely lost his mind? (Or maybe you used another word besides “mind,” a perhaps not so savory word.) Not really. I just agree with Steve that accomplishment should be recognized, and there’s no doubt that in her year as the new celebrity spokesperson for the antivaccination movement, Jenny McCarthy has pulled off a major coup.

She’s helped reignite a movement that was until her entrance (and especially the entrance of her far more famous boyfriend Jim Carrey, who’s said some things just as breathtakingly dumb as Jenny has) more or less moribund, to the point where it’s now become so effective that measles is coming back far faster than I had thought possible. Between her tireless prosletyzing on Oprah Winfrey’s show that vaccines caused her son’s autism and that “biomedical” quackery can “cure it”; her organizing of a march on Washington, D.C. this summer to push an explicitly antivaccine agenda disguised under the deceptive and disingenuous (but brilliantly Orwellian) slogan “Green Our Vaccines“; her holding celebrity fundraisers (complete with Britney Spears, Hugh Hefner, and Charlie Sheen, yet!); and her fronting WWE events to raise money for Generation Rescue, she’s done it all in a little more than a year. And she’s not resting on her “laurels” (such as they are), either. This September, she will be publishing the followup to her previous book on “healing autism” (with quackery), Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds. No doubt she will again appear with Oprah to fawning acclaim to make the unfounded assertion that vaccines injured her son to make him autistic and that her favored forms of quackery have successfully “healed him.”

In light of these “accomplishments,” it’s only right that we all give Jenny (and Jim) the “thanks” they deserves for their role in bringing the measles back to the U.S.


Measles Outbreak – Thanks, Jenny

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on August 22, 2008

The CDC yesterday updated their report on recent cases of measles. In 2000, thanks to the aggressive vaccination program, measles was declared eradicated from the US. There continued to be on average 63 cases per year from 2001-2007 due to imported cases from outside the US. To ironically quote Jim Carrey from the aptly titled, A Series of Unfortunate Events – “Then the unthinkable happened.”

The anti-vaccination movement was given a boost by actress Jenny McCarthy, who was convinced that vaccines were responsible for her son’s apparent autism. She was later joined in her crusade by her boyfriend, Jim Carrey. The movement had already been gaining some traction over false fears that thimerosal in vaccines (although mostly removed by 2002) was linked to autism. Such fears had already caused a drop in vaccination rates in the UK with subsequent measles outbreaks. Now these irrational fears were coming to the US, helped along by scientifically-illiterate pretty-people.