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Medicine Science

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:09AM (#46745847)

    Is it because of her advanced medical degree? Her first hand knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry?

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


    • It's the blond and tits thing. For some strange reason these seem to hold mysterious powers over people. Frankly she's a retarded douchebag but then again so are about 90% of the celebrities out there.

    • Is it because of her advanced medical degree? Her first hand knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry?

      Because if you say ANYTHING, no matter how absurd, on television or any other public forum, someone is going to believe it. Doesn't matter if it is true or not. Doesn't matter if it is clearly a joke. Doesn't matter if you explicitly say that it isn't true. Doesn't matter if it is not supported by the evidence, or just clearly logically wrong to anyone with a functioning brain. Some non-zero percentage of the population will absolutely believe it if it is said out loud.

      Many people who have to deal with

  • 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?
    • 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 darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william@chuang.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.

  • Anti-vax zealots are coming.

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

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

      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 rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:20AM (#46745893) Journal
    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 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.
    • 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

      That's because their objections to vaccines were never based in logic or evidence. Mostly its a combination of conspiracy theory and scientific illiteracy with a bit of confirmation bias and save-the-children thrown in the mix. The same people that would think vaccines cause autism despite there being huge amounts of evidence showing no link whatsoever are the same sort of people who are gullible enough to think homeopathy and other so-called "alternative medicine" is something other than quackery.

    • I saw the "toxins" shift as more of a response to the rest of their claims being debunked left and right. Every time they claimed something specific (e.g. "mercury in vaccines causes autism!!!"), they would be proven wrong quickly and repeatedly. With the "toxins" claim, they are vague enough that they can't be disproved and yet "toxins" is scary enough of a word to convince some people not to vaccinate. After all, who wants to expose their kids to [scary voice] TOXINS!!! [/scary voice]

  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:40AM (#46746029) Homepage
    There was a recent survey among people who do not vacinate their kids and fear of autism was not high.
    Top reasons given were:
    Would prefer more organic items in the vaccine; or prefer a more natural method of having the kid catch the disease and natural immunization.
    That they were in a good area so the kids would not catch anything.
    Feat of what "big pharma" is doing, how they are misleading people, and cannot be trusted.
    • by Copid ( 137416 )

      Would prefer more organic items in the vaccine; or prefer a more natural method of having the kid catch the disease and natural immunization.

      They need to do what the beauty products industry has done so well: Now with natural coconut extract!

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:50AM (#46746113)
    She is not against vaccines. She just wants safe vaccines. The fact that no vaccine will ever meet her definition of 'safe' is your problem, not hers.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:50AM (#46746119) Homepage

    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 Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:20AM (#46746387)
    All I will remember her saying is "I am anti-vaccine" http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

    Over time, "negation tags" fall out of memory: "Saddam didn't plan 9/11" becomes "Saddam planned 9/11."

    Her only option is to state unequivocally that she's pro-vaccine and say it a lot.

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @09:25AM (#46746447)
    Meningitis and encephalitis are known complications of measles, and either can lead to permanent brain damage. Depending on the location and severity of this damage, the symptoms can be indistinguishable from "true" autism (which is mostly genetic).
    • the symptoms can be indistinguishable from "true" autism (which is mostly genetic).

      Please don't spread misinformation. The cause of, or relationship of Autism spectrum disorder to genetics is unknown at this time. The real research on the cause of Autism which started several years ago is just starting to come in. We won't know even speculatively what the relationship of autism with anything is until some point in the future and depending on the complexity of the relationship with genetics it could be far l

  • 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 FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:40AM (#46747317)

    This is a word, when spoken by anyone other than a respected and trustworthy medical professional or scientist, should put your bullshit meter on high alert.

    They throw this word around like a catch-all, as if it trumps any argument. Hell, it even *sounds* ominous. It evokes mental imagery of a skull and crossbones and attempts to sway you into someone's camp by suppressing the logical and critical thinking portions of your mind.

    What are these supposed toxins? They're toxins, duh! Toxins are dangerous! Are you stupid? You don't want people to think your stupid do you?

  • 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 Yakasha ( 42321 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @02:45PM (#46749785) Homepage
    But I might have one.

    Plait wondered:

    Also, botulinum is the single most lethal toxin known to humans. Yet McCarthy has enthusiastically praised injecting this toxin into her face. How can anyone possibly say that and also say vaccines have dangerous levels of toxins in them with a straight face?

    Partial facial paralysis. Duh.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel