Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thanks Jenny McCarthy: Anti-Vaccine Cult Taking Its Toll

If Bill Maher's or the Huffington Post's anti-science paranoia isn't irritating enough, how about John Kerry? Or Chris Dodd or Robert Kennedy? It's one thing when your David-Koresh look-alike neighbor is refusing to get his kids vaccinated, but when it's U.S. Senators? A parent's right to endanger his or her kid's health is anything but a clear moral right. How about their right to endanger your kid's health? That is clearly not their right.

Wired has a great (but infuriating) article about the anti-vaccine nutcases and a physician who's dedicated his life to eliminating lethal childhood diseases, only to be attacked by the anti-medicine fringe.

There are two contemptible things about the anti-medicine crowd. First is their stubborn inability to base their opinions on the actual data (or total lack thereof) - an important consideration, when it's the lives of children we're talking about. The second is their embarrassing inability to even begin to understand the business that they think is behind the conspiracy (big surprise there). As the article puts it, "...the suggestion that pharmaceutical companies make vaccines hoping to pocket huge profits is ludicrous to Offit. Vaccines, after all, are given once or twice or three times in a lifetime. Diabetes drugs, neurological drugs, Lipitor, Viagra, even Rogaine — stuff that a large number of people use every day — that’s where the money is."

What's most embarrassing about all this is that the nuttiness is contagious, and it's spread from the left to the conservative end of the political spectrum. At least, people who call themselves conservatives; time was when if you were a conservative, you were on the side of the facts and the cold hard science, not media talking heads and celebrity open mouths like Jenny McCarthy. As I write this, I'm imagining righteous emails from pretend-conservatives demanding "How dare you question (fill in name of Dr. Phil-clone)!"

For the anti-vaccine parents, I have my own theory about you: your argument boils down to nothing more than not being able to handle your kids crying when they get shots, and not wanting to have to explain to little Alec why it's still necessary. The anti-vaccine movement is bad parenting with spokespeople, period.

Unfortunately, no amount of reason or facts will change Ms. McCarthy's position - and why should they? A retired MTV hostess has gotten herself in a position where parents are ignoring expert physicians and listening to her. Backing down in the face of overwhelming evidence would cause her embarrassment and hurt feelings. And as we know, avoiding that - especially in a celebrity - is far more important than saving lives.


Anonymous said...


Thomas Paine Jr. said...

You're right. David Koresh took better care of his hair than your neighbor.