After Jenny and Oprah

23 Sep

And so, this was the week that the anti-vaccine/autism hypothesis got its first real airing in a public arena. Jenny McCarthy went on US TV and told her audience that her son was her science (quite possibly _the_ silliest thing on the show since Tom Cruise’s couch/brain malfunction).

I’m going to level with you here. I don’t really care too much about Jenny McCarthy spouting on about the evils of vaccines. She’s not the first and she won’t be the last. Despite the raptures the anti-vaccination people are having over her appearance she wasn’t on Oprah because of her vaccine ideas.

This is what bothers me: she was on Oprah because she was famous. It scares the _shit_ out of me that we can only apparently have a conversation about something after a celeb has let the light of their countenance shine down upon it.

The UK is just as ridiculous about this whole thing as the US. Its got to a stage whereby the subject under discussion doesn’t even seem to really matter to Joe Public – what seems to matter is that there’s a famous face pontificating on a subject that, in all honesty, they’ve probably only recently begun to get a firm grasp on themselves.

To put it another way, the Oprah show wasn’t about autism. It was about Jenny McCarthy. It was to sell copies of her book. Her appearance on People magazine is to increase book sales. Her upcoming appearance on Larry King is to increase book sales. None of it is about _autism_ . None of this will help the autism community. Even that subsection of the autism community who are anti-vaccine are kidding themselves if they think that after the dust settles on Jenny McCarthy’s book she will be around to lead them in their fight. Until its time for the sequel of course.

Is the autism community really so shallow that we are going into raptures because a celeb is speaking about a subject that vast majority of us could speak much more accurately and eloquently about? It seems some of us are.

In the meantime, whilst Jenny McCarthy is being lucratively controversial on Oprah, the vast majority of autistic kids are still not getting the right kind of educational placement. Whilst Jenny McCarthy’s Media Clean Up Crew are attempting hoover away every mention of her Indigo Children beliefs from the web lest they affect book sales, autistic adults are still struggling to get into appropriate work and living accommodations.

I would urge autism parents to spend the ten quid they were going to spend on Jenny McCarthy’s book on something that might actually help autistic people instead of helping line the pockets of Jenny McCarthy.

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192 Responses to “After Jenny and Oprah”

  1. JoAnn September 27, 2007 at 17:07 #

    My 11 yo daughter and I watched the Oprah show with Jenny. It did catch my interest to see what she had to write about and I did buy the book. I was blessed with a child that does not have autism, but has struggled over the past few years with a hereditary blood disease and complications from it. Her heart and mind want so much to help children. She has shown a huge interest in getting involved with autism and learning more about it. We will be participating in the Walk Now for Autism, as well as other fundraises.
    Well, back to the book. I am a RN and have been for 10 years. I have to say that as a nurse, I was not supportive of the behavior that Jenny speaks of that she had at the hospitals. However, as a mother, I completely understand and have/would probably have “some” similar reactions (she is a bit more foul-mouthed than need be with people). As I read the book, I had my ups & downs of feelings toward her writing the book and the story it was portraying. Then I got to the top of page 127, it reads “It was then time to give Jake his hepatitis C vaccine.”…Bummer Jenny, Dr. Feinberg, the publishers and anyone else that proof-read it – there is no hep C vaccine.
    Perhaps Jenny had taken one of her “legal narcotics” when she wrote that paragraph. She mentions that line a few times in her book.
    I hope and look forward to the day there is a reason found behind autism and that a cure is soon to be discovered.
    Everyone needs to keep supporting in everyway they can. Oh, did proceeds of her book go to help autism?

  2. Peggy September 27, 2007 at 17:21 #

    Sonny, in response to your comment…”Everyone wants answers, but no amount of data is going to shake the true believers who are desperately invested in the autism = mercury poisoning hypothesis.”

    YES! “Study after study” needs to be done, research dollars – money – needs to be raised – and independent studies done….whatever…. until they find the cause of these things. There is an actual reason why the numbers of cases are rising. When that CAUSE or cause(s) are found, individuals can draw their conclusions, based on that. And, protecting the health and well being of helpless children is never a waste of “research dollars.”

  3. Sonny September 27, 2007 at 18:04 #

    I never said we shouldn’t continue to look for a cause. I said we should not keep shaking the mercury tree, hoping something will finally fall out.

    Where should we look beyond vaccines?

  4. Kev September 27, 2007 at 18:11 #

    Cher – who meets your paycheck? The Alternative medicine movement is worth several billion dollars per year – are you a small pharma shill?

    This is nothing to do with closed minds. Its to do with decent science. Decent science is:

    a) Transparent
    b) replicable
    c) peer reviewed
    d) published in a decent journal
    e) takes stringent steps to be conducted as ethically as possible

    The quackery you promote has not met any of these criteria and thus is utterly useless in helping autistic people. Its sole use is to give scum bags a reason to sell snake oil to desperate parents who don’t know where to turn.

  5. Cher September 27, 2007 at 18:38 #

    I am not a scum bag and I do not sell snake oil and your anger and resentment and badge of pure science is shameful. Where is the divine source in your being? certainly not in your heart, and most definitely not in your intelligence. I will hold the space that your intellect finds it’s way back to your heart and your higher self. There needs to be a healing between both sides of the war (how sad is that) so that theory, studies, success stories, common sense, etc. can bring about a “cure”. It is why I work with MD’s, PHD’s, DCs, and many other decent people and why they love working with me.

  6. Gonzo September 27, 2007 at 18:47 #

    Yeah, Kev. Where’s your divine source? Where’s your inner light? Obviously your aura is just pure black. Why don’t you find yourself an Indigo child, light some incense and pray to the divine source for some kind of healing in your heart?

    [/sarcasm]

    Thanks for a really awesome laugh, Cher. That was frickin’ hilarious! Best I’ve had all day! Priceless!

  7. mommy~dearest September 27, 2007 at 18:51 #

    *applause* Well stated post.

    I just finished an entry on my own blog about her book. It was given to me this past weekend- if anyone would like to read it, don’t waste your money, I’ll mail it to you.

  8. Peggy September 27, 2007 at 18:56 #

    I am not a scientist, but common sense says don’t rule anything out. Isn’t that what scientists and medical science and research are there for? To find out what “trees” need to be shaken? Sometimes it’s when one tree bumps into another one, that an adverse result occurs. But you don’t just stand at the bottom of one or the other tree, and say, “it has nothing to do with this tree!” (The other tree possibly might be mercury…we don’t know…Though it may be something else.) If you do that, the chain of events that leads to the illness could never be discovered.

    When children have reactions – their parents are the only ones who are there to witness this. To them, the reactions are seemingly tied to the vaccinations, since the downfall happens soon after receiving a vaccination, when they then have symptoms of autism, or another biologically based disabling behavioral disorder…

    How can we logically discount their testimonies?

    It might very well be a suppressed immune system – followed by a virus – that causes a Does anyone know if tests have been done on autistic children to determine if their immune systems are compromised in some way? Before or after the vaccinations?

  9. Cher September 27, 2007 at 18:57 #

    The next time you hear from me will be when I do receive my noble prize and I bring these knee slapping, illuminating, mind expanding comments from the left brain right brain no brain crew!! Enjoy your laughs and continue to suffer in all that it masks.

  10. Peggy September 27, 2007 at 19:06 #

    In my last comment, I meant to say, “It might very well be a suppressed immune system – followed by a virus – that causes the reactions to the vaccines.

    Does anyone know if tests have been done on autistic children to determine if their immune systems are compromised in some way? Before or after the vaccinations?

  11. Steve D September 27, 2007 at 20:19 #

    Peggy –
    Your questions are valid, but indicate that you are somewhat new to this ongoing debate.

    When it was originally postulated that wether mercury in vaccines or the MMR vaccine (which has no mercury) causes autism, there was every reason to explore the possibility.
    Now, over 10 years later, after the idea has been reviewed and examined and tested and debated and discussed and studied, there is still NO evidence of any link whatsoever between vaccnies and autism. None.
    At some point, and we are way past that point in this debate, it becomes irresponsible to continue to funnel valuable research dollars and man-hours into what is obviously a filed hypothesis. That’s not to say other causes should not be looked at, and they are, with much more promise of answering the questions everyone has. Some causes of autism are known already.

    Another valuable aspect of scientific method is its requirement that we examine alternative explanations. You said, referring to anecdotal reports of regressive autism occurring soon after vaccines are given, “How can we logically discount their testimonies?” In the case of anecdotal reports of regressive autism occurring “soon after” a vaccine, numerous viable alternative explanations exist. And after 10 years of researching vaccine/autism correltaion, all of them appear to have more validity than vaccines actually causing autism.

    So, to further your analogy of shaking trees, I would submit that to stand beneath the same tree interminably, even though nothing has ever fallen out of it (by itself or in combination with other tree-shaking), is just plain dumb.

    Does that help you to understand the issue at all?

    Also, yes, lots of research has been done on immune systems of autsitic people. Some notable differences seem to be present. Still no link to vaccines, though.

  12. culvercitycynic September 27, 2007 at 20:27 #

    _”I am not a scientist [....] To find out what “trees” need to be shaken? Sometimes it’s when one tree bumps into another one, that an adverse result occurs. But you don’t just stand at the bottom of one or the other tree, and say, “it has nothing to do with this tree!””_

    really love your peaches
    wanna shake your tree

  13. Bink September 27, 2007 at 20:44 #

    God, this “medical intuitive” has made my day. Does she take intuitive payments?

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/46692

  14. Bo Knows September 27, 2007 at 21:17 #

    Holy sh*t this thread is hilarious.

    I do think I should point out that Sonny Bono really knows how to shake a tree. Trembling Aspen, if I’m not mistaken.

    Cher,
    I applaud your Noble pursuit but just remember, “It’s not all downhill from here. There may be a few bumps along the way.”

  15. HN September 27, 2007 at 21:51 #

    Peggy said “HN, do you know where a person could find information on studies done to prove what does cause these disorders? ”

    First learn how to use http://www.pubmed.gov . That is an index of medical journals from around the world. Sometimes you will be able to get a link to a full paper online (the Pediatrics journal does have several full papers online for free). If you do find a paper that is not available for free online, then go to a local library to see if they subscribe to the journal service to provide you with the full paper. Some municipal libraries have that service, and so do most college libraries.

    Another option is to check the organization that deals with a certain disability. For instance, since my son had seizures I availed myself of the information, including lists of research of the Epilepsy Foundation of America, http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/ .

    There are other organizations on disabilities, and you can find their websited, information on the disabilities and links to clinical studies at Medlineplus… That is where I started when my son was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I am at my two link limit, but I will tell you it is “medlineplus DOT gov”

    The interesting thing about scientific studies is that a GOOD scientist is willing to be proven wrong. The papers in these journals are often submitted to a review process and the authors need to defend their findings. Sometimes they find new things, or other times they find they were completely wrong. Science is not done in a vacuum.

    I just finished reading _Rethinking Thin_ by Gina Kolata. That has several examples where researchers thought they found a good way to control weight, only to find it was a total failure in practice.

    While I do not earn money from any pharmaceutical company, neither do I earn money from a book seller… I do have a list of books that show how science works or does not work (I am a big fan of libraries, presently I have sitting in front of me my library’s copy of _This is Your Brain on Music_ by Daniel Levitin):

    _The Emperor of Scent_ by Chandler Burr
    _Flu_ by Gina Kolata
    _The Great Influenza_ by John Barry
    _Postcards from the Brain Museum_ by Brian Burrell
    _Vaccine_ by Arthur Allen
    _Vaccinated_ by Paul Offit
    _Polio, An American Story_ by David M. Oshinsky

    Even though you are not a scientist, these are very entertaining reading. The John Barry book gets a bit bogged down, but I found it easier if you read Kolata’s book on the same subject first (it includes a retired scientist paying his own way to dig into tundra to retrieve samples of the 1918 flu virus!). Even though I get ill while reading on the bus, I was so much into Offit’s biography of Maurice Hilleman that I could not stop reading even after boarding the bus!

  16. HN September 27, 2007 at 22:10 #

    Oh boy, I missed this (something possibly with revelation that aluminum is a “heavy” metal), Cher said “Mercury is a known neurotoxin,
    you don’t have to be rocket scientist to know that. And, there are no safe levels considered for that heavy metal.
    You’ll be happy to hear about the study that came out a few weeks ago that said that people who had gotten three flu vaccines three years in a row had a significant increase in alzeimers.”

    Isn’t it convenient that I used to be a rocket scientist? Yep, that is true, before the birth of my disabled son I was an aerospace engineer and even worked on analyzing rocket noise.

    Now here you go, claiming to say there is a study that shows the flu vaccine increases Alzheimers. Care to tell what it is? Title? Author? Journal? Date?

    Is it with the papers that refute this study:
    http://www.chspr.ubc.ca/node/361 ?

    Or with the papers that explain how removing thimerosal from pediatric vaccines

  17. Peggy September 27, 2007 at 22:11 #

    Thanks for your answer, Steve.

    Okay – The final closing *question I have, since this blog has been turned into a bit of a circus — if anyone could answer it without being obnoxious… Is this – Could it be that
    IF, since the immune systems are different, as you said – as it was proven, that autistic kids immune systems vary from non autistic….

    *THEN, why wouldn’t it be probable that injecting antibodies to 32 viruses – sometimes 3 types at a time – into THOSE kid’s (the pre-disposed kids with the different immune system) – is sending their little bodies over the edge, into autism, or whatever other disorder?

    I am sorry, but this just doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. If the research dollars end up proving that it does more harm than good to inject THIRTY-TWO virus antibodies into babies before they’re 3 – Then there wouldn’t be as many research dollars to make the poisonous cocktail vaccine shots anymore. Because guess what – people will avoid them like the plague. Even if there’s only a small chance that each child has, percentage wise, of their entire lives going awry….due to vaccines. Even if there is supposedly a “greater good” in making everyone take them.

  18. HN September 27, 2007 at 22:12 #

    Stupid computer published my comment prematurely…

    What papers show a conclusive link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism? Why is it that even several years AFTER thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines that autism still goes up?

    Oh, and what causes more seizures… pertussis or the DTaP?

  19. Peggy September 27, 2007 at 22:22 #

    Thanks for the book list, HN. I appreciate your insights, as well. I just have a hard time reading non conclusive evidence. I want to know what DOES cause these problems. Because at this point, I am tempted to avoid getting any kids I may have at some time, vaccinated, at all. Vaccines may be innocent until proven guilty, as far as science goes, but sometimes, you have to go with what your gut says.

  20. Kassiane September 27, 2007 at 22:26 #

    MY gut says that having mumps and whooping cough, IN SPITE OF being fully vaccinated (you do know they don’t take for everyone, right?) sucked a HELL of a lot more than being autistic and epileptic. I’m both.

    Kev did a video once of the diseases that are coming back because of the mothers on a mission for hysteria. I think it should be required viewing for anyone who thinks vaccines are going to eat their baby.

  21. HN September 27, 2007 at 22:28 #

    Peggy said “I am sorry, but this just doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. If the research dollars end up proving that it does more harm than good to inject THIRTY-TWO virus antibodies into babies before they’re 3 – Then there wouldn’t be as many research dollars to make the poisonous cocktail vaccine shots anymore. ”

    I really love it when the “rocket scientist” bit comes up… because I used to be one!

    Okay, I showed you where to look at the actual research. It does exist. Vaccines are not cooked up and then used without research. _Vaccinated, the biography of Maurice Hilleman by Paul Offit, goes into great detail on how vaccines are created and tested. I would suggest that you check your local library for it.

    So go to the resources I gave you… and come back with an answer to this question:

    What vaccine in the present pediatric schedule is more dangerous than the disease?

    If your answer is the MMR (which never contained thimerosal)… then show the PubMed links to prove it. Show how the MMR causes more encephalitis than measles, or more deafness than mumps. List the paper.

    If your answer is DTaP… show us that the vaccine causes more seizures than pertussis, or more death than tetanus or diphtheria. The studies have been done… find them.

    The link you give should look something like this:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=16865547

    Here is a whole list of papers on the research between vaccines and autism (not updated with the stuff just released this week in the New England Journal of Medicine):

    http://www.immunize.org/autism/

    Now tell us which ones are wrong and why, with documentation.

  22. HN September 27, 2007 at 22:35 #

    Peggy: ” I want to know what DOES cause these problems. ”

    The research is pointing to genetics. Something that is already in the chromosomes that you and the father would provide to the child.

    The same reason that my kid has migraines (which is related to the seizures, see Oliver Sacks’ book _Migraine_) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

    If you skip vaccines for your children… be very very sure that they do not come in contact with any other children while herd immunity is being eroded. Because the diseases are coming back, and they still disable and kill.

    Two articles you need to read:

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm55d518a1.htm

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    Come back with the answers to my questions, and why you think it is a good idea to risk the actual diseases.

  23. culvercitycynic September 27, 2007 at 22:38 #

    Cher says she’ll be receiving a “_noble_ prize”. This may be so … but it is not to be confused with the _Nobel_ Peace Prize.

  24. Gonzo September 28, 2007 at 02:31 #

    The next time you hear from me will be when I do receive my noble prize

    BAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

    Oh dear. I seem to have spewed coffee all over my computer screen from laughing so hard. I really should try not to have any liquids in my mouth next time I’m reading these comments.

  25. 666sigma September 28, 2007 at 10:20 #

    You have thousands of Mothers telling you that vaccines have damaged their children. You have thousands of parents telling you that the GFCF diet has helped their child. The “scientists” say no.

    But what proof have they offered?

    There is no doubt that diary products have a negative effect on my child. We gave my son ice cream twice in the last month. Both times, he was bouncing off the wall the next day – stims, lack of focus, etc. We have done this several times in the past, each time we have seen the same result.

    You can mock the GFCF diet all you want, but it looks very real to me. It appears to look very real to thousands of parents.

    So who do you think is right?

    My guess is that parents know a lot more about what is happening to their kids than the scientists give them credit for. You don’t have to agree, but there is no harm in trying.

  26. Joseph September 28, 2007 at 12:26 #

    But what proof have they offered?

    Testimonials and anecdotes are not data, so there’s no need to counter with proof. The burden of proof is obviously on those making the claim, not on those doubting it. Even so, like I noted, there’s a small double-blind study on GFCF. A double-blind study, however small, obviously trumps anecdotal evidence.

  27. 666sigma September 29, 2007 at 00:54 #

    “The burden of proof is obviously on those making the claim . . .”

    What you mean is “The burden of proof FOR ME is obviously on those making the claim . . .”

    You don’t have to believe. That is your right. My experience says otherwise and I would invited any serious scientist to examine my child’s reaction to casein. I have all the proof I need.

    The developmental neurologist that removed the diagnosis from my child doesn’t believe in bio-med, but told us to keep doing whatever we are doing because it is working.

    One thing the scientists wlll tell you is that your digestive tract was never intended to consume cow’s milk or processed grains. That’s a fact. So cutting out these foods can only help.

  28. Matt September 29, 2007 at 00:56 #

    “Testimonials and anecdotes are not data, so there’s no need to counter with proof. The burden of proof is obviously on those making the claim, not on those doubting it”

    My “mommy instinct” tells me to avoid HBOT, B-12 injections, chelation…

    Why do people feel the need to try to counter that with crappy, half-baked “data”?

  29. Gonzo September 29, 2007 at 03:48 #

    We should also cut out chocolate. We clearly weren’t meant to eat that tropical food either.

    Uh….

    Wait…

    Oh crap. Never mind.

    *Gonzo grabs the nearest chocolate bar*

  30. mikki October 2, 2007 at 20:44 #

    Matt” My “mommy instinct” tells me to avoid HBOT, B-12 injections, chelation…”

    I love it!

  31. Sullivan October 3, 2007 at 05:26 #

    “After Jenny…”

    As in, already off the first page of news.google.com search for autism.

  32. culvercitycynic October 3, 2007 at 23:01 #

    _”Oprah is a human Wal-Mart, that crushes the life out of anything in her path.”_

    http://thefilmgeek.blogspot.com/2006/02/oprah-sucks.html

  33. Gypsie October 5, 2007 at 16:03 #

    IDIOTS!! I know that vaccines cause autism because I have a grandchild that I saw it happen to. Great for Jenny McCarthy to give us hope. Shut up about what you know NOTHING about.

  34. Kev October 5, 2007 at 16:23 #

    Gypsie: Shhhh, you’re making an ass of yourself in public :o)

  35. HN October 5, 2007 at 16:23 #

    Gypsie…

    Pot, meet kettle.

  36. Gonzo October 5, 2007 at 17:11 #

    Oh yeah. Jenny gave us hope alright.

    Hope in the stupidity of mankind and something to laugh at.

  37. Joseph October 5, 2007 at 17:58 #

    Don’t you love arguments like Gypsie’s? You guys know nothing. I know the truth! I’m armed with testimonials and anecdotes! Data? What’s that?

  38. happynurse October 7, 2007 at 05:28 #

    I was terribly disappointed in the interview with Jenny McCarthy!
    The whole business with Indigo children, vaccinations, DAN Dr’s totally turned me off to Jenny, so not credible as a resource for Autism. I did like Holly Robinson Peete tho!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Trusted.MD Network - September 23, 2007

    The celebritization of “expertise”…

    Estee Klar used that phrase in responding to Kev Leitch’s posts on the spectacle of Jenny McCarthy, on Oprah. Kev expressed a similar point:This is what bothers me: she was on Oprah because she was famous. It scares the sh1t*……

  2. Left Brain/Right Brain - September 24, 2007

    [...] After Jenny and Oprah » (9) Disgusted, Trusted.MD Network, wskrz, Leanne, Kelly S, Erica [...] [...]

  3. Jenny McCarthy and autism quackery « Action For Autism - September 24, 2007

    [...] After Jenny and Oprah (LB/RB) [...]

  4. Wow! Thanks, Jenny! « MommyHood - The Adventures of Kim and Alex - September 28, 2007

    [...] Left Brain/Right Brain [...]

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