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Medicine Science

Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'" 588

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she's been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. 'People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,' McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. 'Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.' But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: 'If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles.' That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don't cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism. Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: 'I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,' said McCarthy. 'If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.' Kluger finishes with this: 'Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it's just too late to play cute with the things you've said.' For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. 'She can claim all she wants that she's not anti-vax,' concludes Plait, 'but her own words show her to be wrong.'"
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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

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  • by ExecutorElassus (1202245) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:09AM (#46745853)
    Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with people celebrating human sexuality or whatever, but isn't it a bit ... overindulgent to be treating a former Playboy Playmate as an authority on much of anything, or really caring at all what she says? I get that debunking anti-vaxxers is a good cause and all, but why are we bothering with this anti-vaxxer?
  • Bloody Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:11AM (#46745859)
    Speaking as someone who contracted measles before I was inoculated and suffered mild brain damage from the same I can only say this woman is a fucking idiot. Personally I was lucky just to survive! When measles go bad they KILL!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:17AM (#46745875)

    Because she's loud and obnoxious, and ignoring her doesn't make her go away.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:20AM (#46745893)
    Habitually, we elevate the opinion of someone unqualified because they are a household name for, well, being famous.

    Mademoiselle McCarthy has as much right as the next parent to be wrong about something, but her point of view should have no more weight attached to it.

    This occurs in politics too, as both sides of the US Congressional aisle have been guilty of courting Hollywood. Seemingly, the entertainment class is more likely to be unbalanced than well informed, and yet, here we are.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:22AM (#46745903)

    I agree. People who get their medical advice, especially for their kids, from celebrities are destined to have Darwin knock at their door sooner or later.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:24AM (#46745917) Journal
    I don't remember exactly when the move started; but 'mainstream' anti-vaxers switched to the "green our vaccines"/"reduce the toxins"/"too many too soon" line some years ago to help distinguish themselves from the fringe 'Vaccines sully the bodily purity and weaken the vital essences with Aborted Fetus cells and zionist NWO population control schemes!!!' anti-vaxers.

    Shockingly, this move has not led them to embrace any of the vaccines that have been reformulated by popular demand to reduce or eliminate whatever originally had them worried, nor has it led to any apparent interest in working with the toxicology people to determine what level of 'greenness'/'reduced toxins' is acceptable. Nor has there been a rush of interest to vaccinate according to some sort of reduced-pace schedule(though some individual doctors have various ones that they prefer).

    Obviously, it would be hugely unethical and pointlessly cruel to advocate the use of vaccines whose risks outweigh their benefits (and, since vaccination for a selection of potentially-serious childhood diseases, as well as less common but more serious diseases, if we have the vaccine available and you are in a suitable risk group, is so enormously common, this is an area of medicine where studying safety both before and after approval is money well spent); but, despite their rhetorical shift, there appears to be no evidence that the 'We don't hate vaccines, we just want safe ones!' groups are actually at all interested in even setting goalposts that vaccines would have to meet to be accepted, much less reviewing evidence as to whether or not existing vaccines do meet those standards.

    Honestly, I liked them better before their shift. There is a certain intellectual honesty to embracing a position that others see as lunacy and then fighting like a rabid weasel against all evidence. Not a...healthy...kind of intellectual honesty; but a kind of intellectual honesty. Mealy-mouthed disingenuous bullshit, though, lacks that virtue, and aggressively so. Even more cynically, it uses the cause of actual epidemiology, toxicology, and medical monitoring, safety standards, approval protocols, and other (vital) elements of keeping medicine honest and more useful than it is harmful as camouflage for a load of anti-scientific nonsense.

    If they were willing to actually come out with some some sort of target (even if it seems pointlessly low according to current data), they'd just be the cautious wing of an actually scientific exercise in epidemiology and toxicology. As it is, no goals are defined, no data accepted, no improvement is ever good enough. It's pure smokescreen.
  • by flintmecha (1134937) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:27AM (#46745933)

    It doesn't matter if she used to be a Playboy model, or if she used to build skyscrapers, or if she used to be a circus performer: the only thing that's relevant is that she's not and never has been a medical professional. She's just as wrong as any other anti-vaxxer, the fact that she posed naked for a magazine doesn't make her more wrong and doesn't specifically have any bearing on what she knows or doesn't know.

  • Re:Bloody Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:29AM (#46745943)

    And speaking as the parent of someone who is autistic (and who knows many other parents of kids with autism and also as someone who is likely autistic as well albeit undiagnosed): Even if they proved tomorrow that vaccines cause autism (and that's a very BIG if), I'd still line up for the measles shot. A child with measles might die or have permanent brain damage. A child with autism is still alive - they just have trouble dealing with the neurotypical world and might need more assistance than an NT kid does.

    To paraphrase Penn and Teller: Even if vaccines caused autism - WHICH THEY DON'T - not vaccinating in order to avoid autism would still be stupid.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:30AM (#46745947) Homepage Journal

    I agree. People who get their medical advice, especially for their kids, from celebrities are destined to have Darwin knock at their door sooner or later.

    What celebrity did this Jenny person get medical advice from?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:32AM (#46745971)

    Boobs.

  • by gtall (79522) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:41AM (#46746039)

    And we have studies detailing the risk for vaccines and none of them implicate autism. The woman refuses to accept them. This is akin to the World Trade Center nutjobs who claim a conspiracy...which would only involve several hundred people who all managed to keep their mouths shut due to some mystical influence from...choose your hobgoblin: The Illuminati, the Jews, the Government, the Man, the Aliens, the Republicans, Ronald MacDonald, the Gecko on the insurance commercials, Gordon Gekko, former President Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Sasquatch, etc.

    The woman is either a liar or too dim to understand the implications of what she's saying. In either case, she's a menace to the other dimbulbs who believe her and society which relies on vaccines.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:50AM (#46746119)

    McCarthy is being highly deceitful when she says the only wants "safe" vaccines. What she means by safe is: 100% effective with no side effects and no unexpected reactions in anyone. No medicine ever attains that level of "safe." Not even the aspirin you take for a headache. No, vaccines aren't 100% safe, but they are about 99.999% safe. They are certainly much safer than getting the diseases they prevent. If she wants to wait until something is 100% safe before using it, she would have to avoid all modern medicine. That includes the botox that McCarthy loves getting injected with. (Vaccine toxins are bad but botulinum toxin fights wrinkles so it's good!)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:51AM (#46746133)

    I have kids, who are both fully vaccinated. However, you can't simply appeal to authority. The medical community is often wrong. Consensus has often been wrong. Historically and recently. The pharmaceutical industry has sold some utter crap to people. It routinely does bad things in the name profit.

    You should not trust or distrust the medical or pharmaceutical industry blindly or frivolously. Of all Ms. McCarthy's flaws inherent distrust of the medical industry is not one of them in my opinion.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:52AM (#46746143)

    And, sadly, because too many people seem to listen to her. Call me crazy, but I get my medical advice from medical doctors, not someone whose claim to fame was removing her clothes. I just wish more people were "crazy" like that.

  • Re:Bloody Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:07AM (#46746247)

    We tried the "more discipline" thing and here's the weird thing about autistic kids, you can't just "threaten/punish the autism out." More discipline didn't work and was, in fact, making the situation worse. So we got a child psychologist to evaluate our son. She spent three hours in his classroom (observing him but pretending to observe the entire class so he wouldn't act any differently). Then, another day, he went to her office and she talked with him for three hours. She produced a detailed report on our son that diagnosed him as having Asperger's Syndrome/High Functioning Autism. We put supports in place to help him and, surprise surprise, they worked. Whereas before he would have daily hour-long meltdowns in school, he is now having them much less frequently and with much less severity.

    My own (admittedly) self-diagnosis came later as we were reading up on Autism to try to better understand our son. I realized that all of these books were describing my own life. I could get a diagnosis, but that would spend money we don't have and wouldn't help either me or my son. So I'm content to remain "undiagnosed" for now.

    As far as why are so many being diagnosed now? It's because of better detection, plain and simple. In the past, many with autism were written off as being "shy" or "weird" or (worse) "retarded." (NOTE: Don't use that last word around a parent of a child with autism. I'm only including it as a reference of what was used in the past.) Furthermore, theories of what causes autism have changed. In the past, mothers were blamed. The so-called "refrigerator mom" theory said that moms who weren't loving enough made their kids autistic. This likely kept many from getting a diagnosis as it would be "proof" that they weren't motherly enough. Furthermore, many autistic individuals were simply hidden away and not talked about or referred to as "Crazy Uncle Joe."

    Nowadays, better diagnosis, more understanding, and available therapies can help people with autism to function in a neurotypical world. Sadly, we still need to deal with people who, in their ignorance of the true nature of autism, think we should just "be given more discipline" or that we'll "grow out of it" or that we're just "excusing bad behavior."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:10AM (#46746273)

    blah blah excuse blah, nope, she's simply a fucking idiot

  • That's bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:14AM (#46746323)

    I think she is wrong to connect vaccines to autism.

    That is her whole point. She claimed that vaccines cause autism. If you don't want to risk giving your children autism then do not vaccinate them.

    But attacking her personally is not necessary or relevant.

    Pointing out that she has NO medical training is NOT "attacking her personally".

    She is making specific medical claims. She is doing so without any evidence.

    Her general position that she is not against vaccines in general but only against un-safe vaccines is a valid position.

    Bullshit!

    If that is so then you should be able to show which vaccines she claims are "safe". AND what her MEDICAL evidence is for those being "safe" versus the "un-safe" vaccines.

    The only issue is: Are existing vaccines safe and could they be made safer?

    That is MORE bullshit.

    The issue is whether "existing vaccines" cause autism or not.

    So far, there is NO medical evidence to support her claims.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:17AM (#46746353)
    While you are correct, she is the reason that a lot of anti-vaxxers exist. They listened to her ridiculous claims of vaccines causing autism and they didn't vaccinate their kids. Regardless of what she believes, she has caused a huge amount of harm by using her celebrity pulpit to speak out about things she knew nothing about. The only thing she knew for sure was that it sucks to have a kid with autism. The rest was crap. She, and a few like her, caused most of the US anti-vax movement.
  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@NOspam.nexusuk.org> on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:21AM (#46746393) Homepage

    I think she is wrong to connect vaccines to autism. But attacking her personally is not necessary or relevant. Her general position that she is not against vaccines in general but only against un-safe vaccines is a valid position. Why bother nit-picking nuances or perceived contradictions in wording. It's all irrelevant. The only issue is: Are existing vaccines safe and could they be made safer? All else is nonsense.

    The problem is: what constitutes "safe"? You're never going to have something that's completely safe, so it all comes down to probabilities. This is comparing the chance of your child being harmed through your actions (getting the vaccine) vs. the chance of them being harmed through your inactions (not getting the vaccine). Rationally, if getting the vaccine reduces the chances of the patient being harmed then obviously that is the right course of action, but does this make the vaccine "safe"? I suspect a lot of people take the irrational line that they don't want to take any action that might harm their child, but never properly think about the consequences of inaction, so go down the inaction line even if that is the worse choice.

    Partly, there is a problem that diseases like measles aren't very common these days, to people perceive the risk to be very low. They ignore the fact that these deseases are uncommon *because* of vaccination.

    Secondly, she seems to have a failure to understand basic statistics by her comment "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles" - this argument is comparing a certainty (the child has autism) with an uncertainty (that the child will suffer lasting damage from the measels). Given the choice between a certainly autistic child and a child with a small chance of dieing (or other serious complication from measels), I might make the same decision and go with the measels, but that's not the choice the anti-vaccination crowd are making. If the argument had been comparing two certainties - "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the child to die from measles or have autism" - then I imagine the response would be very different.

    Whether or not you believe that vaccines cause autism (and there is absolutely no evidence that they do), the above rational arguments still apply - if the chances of serious injury or death from measels for unvaccinated people is higher than the chances of autism for vaccinated people then having the vaccine is a complete no-brainer.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:25AM (#46746443) Homepage

    She says she'd be OK with a "safe" vaccine.

    Fair enough, let's go with that for a moment:

    How will she decide when a vaccine is "safe"? What science will she use to make that decision...?

  • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:40AM (#46746589)

    Is culling of the herd necessarily a bad thing for humanity in the long perspective?

    You first.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:58AM (#46746791) Journal

    You will willingly buy into unsubstantiated claims [wikipedia.org] about dental fillings and ingesting mercury [wikipedia.org] even suffer pain and monetary cost because of it (and possibly even harming your health [wikipedia.org]) - but you will not vaccinate your children on an off chance that "something" might be wrong with the vaccines.

    You do realize, your actions there are guided by pure ignorance and fear, right? Much like Jenny's.

    You might want to have a chat with her. I had her number somewhere... Found it on the wall once.
    It goes something like 86753... Dammit I'll have to look it up.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:10AM (#46746955) Homepage Journal

    ...which is why we found out it was a fraud.

    I don't think you're making the case you think you're making ;-)

  • by dave420 (699308) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:13AM (#46746977)
    And found to be false. Your point? His data set was from experimentation he performed himself, so it's not as if the data could be shared and different conclusions made. When it comes to climatology, the data sets are shared all over the place, and anyone can check the methodology behind the collection of data, and the conclusions drawn from it. You comparing the two makes you sound as scientifically-illiterate as Jenny McCarthy. Are you happy now?
  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:22AM (#46747107)

    "Hello. I'm a famous person...and I'm for sale. Do have a product or a business that needs promotion? Do you sell something worthless? Something no one will buy because it's poorly built and doesn't work properly? Likely to come apart at high speeds? Perhaps with toxic side effects? Well, I'm here to help you. I'll take your product and I'll sell it to them because they trust me. That's right; they trust me because...I'm a famous person."

    Now will somebody please explain to me why people shouldn't listen to this particular celebrity but we should all listen to and shout hosannas to the rogue's gallery of celebrities James Cameron got to spout off in his global warming movie.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:22AM (#46747113)

    She has made specific claims about vaccines being unsafe. These claims are wrong, yet she's stuck to them. She's also given medical advice to millions of parents based on these demonstrably wrong claims. Regardless of what she claims her philosophical stance is, she's guilty of gross and willful negligence causing multiple deaths.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:32AM (#46747225)

    Yes. You should appeal to scientific evidence. Which is entirely on the side of vaccines. While the precise benefit of things like the flu vaccine in non-vulnerable populations isn't always entirely clear, the risks and benefits of standard childhood vaccines are well studied and well known.

    No, you shouldn't trust random doctors, whether they're on Oprah or not. And you certainly shouldn't trust random Playboy bunnies, whether they're on Oprah or not.

    McCarthy's most important flaws are that she feels the need to give medical advice to millions of people based on absolutely nothing but her own prejudices, which she clings to in the face of overwhelming evidence.

  • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:36AM (#46747271) Homepage Journal

    The only thing she knew for sure was that it sucks to have a kid with autism. The rest was crap. She, and a few like her, caused most of the US anti-vax movement.

    And she didn't even know that, because her kid does not have autism.

  • by MillerHighLife21 (876240) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:45AM (#46747367) Homepage

    The main issue in the entire discussion has always been absolutism on both sides. This idea that it's either no vaccines or all vaccines exactly as scheduled. There are times when a child can receive up to 6 vaccines at the same time and that's a little bit shocking. Many parents concerned with so many stories that specifically revolved around MMR asked to have the shots separated into 3 vaccines instead of all in one. They wanted their kids to get the shots, just wanted to do it a little bit slower. That's not unreasonable but the companies stopped producing the separate versions of the vaccines. For a while you could still get it but only if you purchased a 10 pack of each of them, which some parents were still willing to do.

    My kids are fully vaccinated but my wife also works providing therapy for kids with autism every single day and talks to a lot of parents. We hear all of the stories...and there are a lot. Real parents. Parents with masters degrees. Parents who are unwilling to tell you what happened because they don't think you'll believe them. I don't know if there is a connection or not, but there are enough stories from real people (read: not Jenny McCarthy) that it makes you concerned as a parent.

    When our doctor had the kids scheduled to get more than 2 vaccines at a time we got 2 and then scheduled the others for the next month. It meant more doctors visits but our kids got all their shots and it put our concerns at ease. That's not unreasonable. That solves both problems.

    If society in general could simply say, "Look, although we don't have any studies showing the connection between vaccines and autism, we understand you still have concerns. If that is the case, you can do your child's vaccines this way. It will cost more. It will mean more visits to the doctor but your child will get all their shots and it will let you spread things out."

    The current climate of simply yelling at parents and labeling them "anti-vax" for even being concerned is the problem. There is definitely a middle ground but there's a lot more people that seem to just want to insist they're right rather than find a reasonable compromise.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:51AM (#46747425)

    Essentially I believe that it could be harmful for young babies/toddlers to have too many vaccines administered at the same time - 3 vaccines during the same office visit, for example. I can only imagine how many adults would opt for several shots at the same time.

    I've traveled overseas extensively. Sometimes I need to get 3 or more vaccines for certain areas. I haven't died yet. They most serious side effect was I didn't feel 100% after getting multiple vaccines. I didn't get sick. The flaw in your argument is that you assume your child is the first human ever to get multiple vaccines at once and it hasn't been tested before. It has. The schedule has undergone years of testing before released.

    My third son went from talking and acting normal to non-verbal for years around the time of his 2 years vaccines. Now, it's likely coincidence. I'm not blaming vaccines - since there is no established link based on current research. But we need to find the cause for autism.

    The coincidence is that the vaccine schedule is close to the time when Autism can be first diagnosed in children. When Wakefield's paper first came out, many researchers looked at it because it was the first testable link. It turned out to be fraud though. How much time and research was wasted on chasing fraud? That research could have been spent on real research into the causes.

    I'm surprised the amount of negativity the community has presented on this subject.

    There have been many outbreaks of diseases that could have been prevented due to this nonsense. Some children have died. We should be negative.

  • by compro01 (777531) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:53AM (#46747451)

    Furthermore, if it's rubella and a pregnant woman gets it, the child is likely to have some of an array of birth defects [wikipedia.org].

  • by Theovon (109752) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:56AM (#46747497)

    It’s not mytical that some vaccines used to contain thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative. This was replaced with an aluminum compound, and aluminum is correlated with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Of course, we have no evidence that aluminum accumlation causes Alzheimer’s; it could just as well accumulate as a side-effect. Still, it’s cause for investigation. Some flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, which may be of concern to someone who has an allergy to eggs. In general, most preservatives aren’t a good thing to be putting into your body, although I’m at a loss how else you’d give vaccines a reasonable shelf life.

    As for autism, there is a growing but confusing and often conflicting body of evidence that it is associated with a variety of different things: Inability of the liver to keep up with metabolizing toxins, over-activation of the immune system, food sensitivities, and a number of things I can’t remember right off. Actually, the three I listed aren’t entirely unrelated. Food sensitivities can cause heightened immune response (depending on the nature of the sensitivity), some of which are auto-immune like celiac disease. As for the liver, I don’t fully understand its role, but there seems to be some issue with competition for a limited resource (which is why taking too much tylenol and/or alcohol can cause liver damage), and it’s involved in doing some cleanup during immune response, I think, and if your body is busy dealing with a pathogen (perceived or real) then it won’t deal with other brain-affecting toxins well enough. (If you want to spend the time to check this, please do.)

    One hypothesis regarding autism is that there is an accumulation of toxins in the system that the liver can’t keep up with, and those toxins impair brain function. If you eliminate foods you’re sensitive to, the liver has less work to do and can better keep up with the remaining toxin workload.

    So the reasoning seems to be that vaccines cause an overactivation of the immune system and that that response is somehow different from the normal one if you contract the real disease, that over-activation lasts a long time, and during that period, the liver is too busy to metabolize toxins that cause autism.

    Ok, fine. Let’s go with that. So vaccines may add ONE contributing factor that may, in some circumstances, overload liver function. Also, so do allergenic foods, polluted air, polluted ground water, BPA, pesticides, etc., etc. But the one thing they pick on is vaccines? Of course, because we HAVE to eat our shitty American diet and drive our gas-guzzling cars and blast our farms with neurotoxins. Oh, NO. We couldn’t possibly boycott those other things with the same vehemence (and possibly ignorance) that we do with vaccines!

    So my opinion is this. If you think that vaccines cause autism and you’re being a responsible parent by keeping your kids off vaccines, then you’re a moron unless you also:
    - Drive only solar electric vehicles or use horses
    - Use reverse osmosis and only glass containers for ALL of your water consumption
    - Eat a 100% organic paleo diet

    Just to name few. Because only then will you at least have any semblance of consistency in your reasoning. I can’t say for sure whether or not you’d be RIGHT, but at least you’d be CONSISTENT.

    As for me, I get my kids vaccinated but we also eat a mostly organic diet, high in nutrients, low in junk food, and we filter our water. Also, we live out in the country and get fresh air. So IF there is some kind of convoluted link between vaccines and autism, I think we’ve more than offset that risk by removing some of the OTHER potential environmental factors sometimes vaguely linked with autism. Also, we feel better because we eat healthier food, and I’ve lost 30 lbs (down from almost 190) since December 2013 by putting myself on the paleo diet (actually, it’s SCD, but you never heard of it). BTW, although I and my wife both have family histories of ASD, neither of our kids show any sign of it, despite the fact that they get vaccinated.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh&gmail,com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:06AM (#46747581) Journal

    I'm not totally against X in a way that would make me seem like a total loon to any sane person, I just have certain important qualms with X which may seem reasonable on the surface but, if you pick at it, amount to something indistinguishable from total denial of the issue.

  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:34AM (#46747889) Homepage

    The problem is that she's the face of the issue. She is not going on TV saying, "I'm Jenny the Playboy Playmate." She's saying, "I'm Jenny the mother who just knows that vaccines aren't what doctors say they are all cracked up to be." That makes her more pernicious than a crackpot who publishes a report saying that thimerosol causes autism. Basically, she's the Bill Nye the Science Guy of the anti-vaccination crowd.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:56AM (#46748083)

    However, you can't simply appeal to authority. The medical community is often wrong.

    Yes they are wrong with surprising frequency. That does not however mean that you cannot appeal to authority unless you have evidence that they authority is reasonably likely to be wrong. My wife is a doctor and has quite literally forgotten more about medicine than I will ever know. I would be an absolute fool to not take her opinions on any medical matter very seriously. Doesn't mean I have to turn my brain off or that she cannot be wrong but the vast majority of the time she understands the issues involved FAR better than I will. We trust doctors because by and large they have a very credible track record of actually getting it right more than anyone else. In the absence of other available data a trusted expert with a credible track record is a good source of information to listen to.

    The pharmaceutical industry has sold some utter crap to people. It routinely does bad things in the name profit.

    They also have produced miracle treatments that save lives and alleviate suffering. LOTS of them. Odds are very good that the big percentage of the people reading this are alive today because of the drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry. They also are closely regulated to ensure that opportunities for quackery are minimized. Just because there have been some criminals in the industry doesn't make the entire industry guilty by association. Microsoft has sold a lot of crap software in the name of profit but we don't blame the entire software industry for their actions. Doing so for the pharma industry is an equally illogical application of guilt by association.

    Of all Ms. McCarthy's flaws inherent distrust of the medical industry is not one of them in my opinion.

    It is when there is a HUGE amount of evidence that vaccines are largely safe, effective, have few side effects and save lives. You don't have to trust the medical industry but if you don't trust the mountains of credible data available supporting the use of vaccines and other demonstrably effective drugs then you are an idiot. The data is available if you care to look into it. Miss McCarthy plainly has never bothered and her actions almost certainly have lead to preventable deaths and illnesses from confused parents who avoided vaccines for no good reason. What she has done is functionally equivalent to shouting fire in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. I think her actions are borderline criminal.

    I have no problem with a healthy skepticism of any claim no matter how well accepted. Test any and all hypothesis you can. That's how science is supposed to work. But (falsely) claiming authoritatively that there is a link between vaccines and autism when literally none of the evidence supports that claim is irresponsible in the extreme.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:11PM (#46748193)

    "I've traveled overseas extensively. Sometimes I need to get 3 or more vaccines for certain areas. I haven't died yet. They most serious side effect was I didn't feel 100% after getting multiple vaccines. I didn't get sick. The flaw in your argument is that you assume your child is the first human ever to get multiple vaccines at once and it hasn't been tested before. It has. The schedule has undergone years of testing before released."

    Actually the flaw in your argument is that everybody reacts identically to all medicine. You read the part about this being my THIRD son right? The other two were vaccinated and had no problems.

    "The coincidence is that the vaccine schedule is close to the time when Autism can be first diagnosed in children. When Wakefield's paper first came out, many researchers looked at it because it was the first testable link. It turned out to be fraud though. How much time and research was wasted on chasing fraud? That research could have been spent on real research into the causes."

    I have a pretty good idea of when autism can be seen, as I raised my son from birth. He LOST the ability to speak - I'd like to find out what happened. I feel that any money or time spent researching any possible like is money well spent, regardless of the outcome. Ten years of seeing what autism is has led me to this.

    "There have been many outbreaks of diseases that could have been prevented due to this nonsense. Some children have died. We should be negative."

    The amount of negativity is interesting to me. Many vaccines are *optional*, others are mandated for public school. We have this choice in this country. The argument of "some children have died" is weak. I could just as well say "some children have lived".

    We should be understanding and helpful.

  • Opportunity cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:11PM (#46748195)

    McCarthy has a good point. We can't keep pumping our kids full of these old vaccines without doing regular studies, and using some of the profits to ensure safer versions.

    No she does NOT have a good point. There already have been copious studies of these drugs safety and efficacy. There also have been numerous (and ongoing) studies of the many theories of dangers presented by these vaccines, all of which have shown that her theories have no evidence backing them up whatsoever. Every time someone has to go and stomp out another anti-vax lunatic theory creates an opportunity cost. Those people could have spent their time and money and energy working on newer or safer vaccines instead of proving yet-another unsupported safety claim wrong.

    Personally I will selectively vaccinate my kids up to a certain age, depending on risk factor, then they can choose themselves. I had both mumps and measles, it was hardly a big deal. If the kids are old enough it's probably even better they get it naturally and get over it than take the vaccine.

    You are an idiot and a dangerous idiot at that. Mumps and measles can and do kill people and cause significant and lasting damage in many they do not kill. Furthermore you aren't just endangering your own children. You are allowing them to be potential carriers of the disease to other people who cannot be vaccinated against it whether due to age or medical conditions. Actions like what you propose demonstrably results in people dying when it could have been prevented. What you propose is incredibly irresponsible since every bit of scientific data we have says that the safest and most effective solution for both your children and society at large is to get vaccinated.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:11PM (#46748197)

    knowledge is not inherited.

    Sure it is, just not through DNA. The whole reason we have such long adolescence is to receive cultural inheritance.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:19PM (#46748287)

    I can only imagine how many adults would opt for several shots at the same time.

    I did. Why wouldn't I? It's not like actual pathogens act like mooks in a film and come at me one (type) at a time, so if I can't deal with multiple declawed versions at once, I'm dead already.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:50PM (#46748647)

    Actually the flaw in your argument is that everybody reacts identically to all medicine. You read the part about this being my THIRD son right? The other two were vaccinated and had no problems.

    No, that was your flaw. You presented an anecdotal example. I presented a counter example. That also belies what you said: "Essentially I believe that it could be harmful for young babies/toddlers to have too many vaccines administered at the same time - 3 vaccines during the same office visit, for example". You had no qualifiers like "For the most part . . . "

    In fact you even ask for if an adult would opt for multiple vaccines. I presented myself as an example because I've done it. In your statement, you also imply that somehow multiple vaccines at once are unproven or experimental. They are not. The vaccine schedule has been extensively tested. As a parent you don't have to follow it, but questioning it because you think there is no science or testing behind it is another matter.

    I have a pretty good idea of when autism can be seen, as I raised my son from birth. He LOST the ability to speak - I'd like to find out what happened. I feel that any money or time spent researching any possible like is money well spent, regardless of the outcome. Ten years of seeing what autism is has led me to this.

    What I'm saying is that before a certain age, diagnosing Autism can be problematic (as with any neurological testing of children). The time when symptoms start showing is right as the vaccine schedule starts to increase in the number of vaccines. The science behind the causes of Autism is pointing to an abnormal development of certain areas of the brain. The cause is not purely genetic but may be epigenetic as noted by the twin studies. Unfortunately the last ten years of research was hampered by Wakefield and his fraud.

    The amount of negativity is interesting to me. Many vaccines are *optional*, others are mandated for public school. We have this choice in this country. The argument of "some children have died" is weak. I could just as well say "some children have lived".

    The problem is that some of the children died not because the parents had a choice but because someone else chose not vaccinate. Herd immunity exists for a reason. It protects those that cannot be or have not been vaccinated. What do you say to a parent whose child died because of your choices? The negativity for me is that the science has long been established. McCarthy and her denialism has caused so much pain and yet she refuses to take responsibility for what she had done.

  • by SecurityGuy (217807) on Monday April 14, 2014 @12:52PM (#46748675)

    Essentially I believe that it could be harmful for young babies/toddlers to have too many vaccines administered at the same time - 3 vaccines during the same office visit, for example. I can only imagine how many adults would opt for several shots at the same time.

    This is exactly the problem. You believe that based on what? This adult would opt for several shots at the same time. Saves me another trip to the doctor and possibly another copay.

    I'm surprised the amount of negativity the community has presented on this subject.

    Irrationality can be very annoying. We have this amazing thing called science that lets us tease truth out of nature, and a vocal subset of the population wants to go back to the dark ages of superstition and fear. This is frustrating when the consequences are entirely predictable, and include helpless kids getting sick or dying.

    But we need to find the cause for autism.

    On that, I couldn't agree more. The Wakefields and McCarthys of the world have done incalculable harm in dragging us down this blind alley.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @01:44PM (#46749269)

    Chance of getting infected by Sabin (live) polio vaccine: 1 in 2.5 million
    Chance of getting infected by Salk polio vaccine: 0

    You understand that those numbers are a lot lower than your 5% that would be affected by polio right?

    They're even a lot lower than the roughly 1% of people who get polio who become to one degree or another paralyzed.

    Medical technology has come a long way from the scary articles Ms McBean quoted in 1957.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Monday April 14, 2014 @03:05PM (#46749963)

    The problem is herd immunity.

    I agree with you that the problem is "herd immunity", but not in the way you think.

    The problem is in people's perception of the risk vs. benefit of vaccines, and the phrase "herd immunity" does a lot to distort that perception. It suggests that perhaps the risk to an individual getting a vaccine is greater than the benefit to that individual, and the primary reason for the pushing the vaccine on people is for the greater good of the population. First, that isn't true: for pretty much all the standard vaccines people get, the risk to the individual by not getting the vaccine is greater than the risk to the individual by getting it. "Herd immunity" is really a bonus, in that getting a vaccine reduces everyone else's risk of getting the disease as well. However, no reasonable parent is going to subject their child to a risk of harm if the sole benefit is to other people's children, and so placing too much emphasis on "herd immunity" really could be doing more harm than good as it could distort the public perception of the benefits of vaccines for the individuals getting them.

    A second problem is the terminology itself. As anyone in advertising will tell you, word choice can have a profound psychological effect on people's perceptions. The word "herd" in all other usages of which I'm aware applies to livestock, such as cattle. When doctors talk to parents about "immunizing the herd", it suggests, even just subconsciously, that health care professionals see children as livestock, and not human beings. While this may not be true, if parents are already wary of vaccinating their kids, the phrase "herd immunity" certainly won't push them in the direction of wanting to.

  • by OneAhead (1495535) on Monday April 14, 2014 @03:07PM (#46749985)
    And for the lazy readers, here's the webcomic version [livejournal.com]. ;-)

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