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Jim Carrey, you are part of the problem for us in the Autism Community

15 Jul

Years back Jim Carrey was and autism were mentioned together regularly in the news.  This was at the height of the vaccine misinformation campaign of his then partner, Jenny McCarthy.  Mr. Carrey went so far as to be a speaker at the “Green Our Vaccines” rally in Washington.  That was 2008. Since then the Green Our Vaccines as a movement has died, Jenny McCarthy has tried to distance herself from her very vocal stance on vaccines, and given that Mr. Carrey and Ms. McCarthy split, it seemed like we had seen the last of Mr. Carrey.

Until recently.

You see Mr. Carrey took offense to new legislation in California.  A bill that will roll back vaccine exemptions to where personal belief exemptions will no longer be accepted in the schools here.  In other words, for the most part one will now need an actual medical reason to avoid vaccination in order to register for public school.

Mr. Carrey took to twitter with his complaints about the new law.  All well and good, free speech and all.  But Mr. Carrey went too far. He decided to take pictures of kids in distress and the implication that this is what happens when you vaccinate your kids. One tweet read ““A trillion dollars buys a lot of expert opinions. Will it buy you? TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST!”” and included a picture of an autistic kid (the other pictures he used appear to have been stock images). The story is discussed by Emily Willingham as Jim Carrey Unwittingly Brings Attention To Something Actually Linked To Autism

And Time Magazine in Jim Carrey Apologizes for Using Photo of Autistic Boy in Anti-Vaccination Tweet.

Because, to give him credit, Mr. Carrey did apologize to that family. (Ironically, it turns out that the kid was unvaccinated when he was first diagnosed autistic).

I harken back to Mr. Carrey’s time with the autism community (remember when Generation Rescue was tagged as “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization”?). At one speech, probably the Green Our Vaccines Rally, Mr. Carrey made the pseduo-profound statement, “We are not the problem. The problem is the problem.”

So while I do appreciate Mr. Carrey stepping up and apologizing to one family, I do want to point out: Mr. Carrey, you were one of the problems for the autism community. And you apparently still are.

Ms. McCarthy introduced you to a closed group of people, a small sampling of the autism community. You likely came away thinking that they *are* the autism community, because that’s how they think of themselves.

They aren’t.

Most of us autism parents don’t subscribe to the vaccine causation idea. I can provide the links to multiple studies if you like, but it’s just the way things are.

And autism parents are not the autism community. One thing that Generation Rescue and like organizations have done is act like autistics are some sort of second class citizens in the community. Who do you think the community primarily is, autistics or parents?

Here’s the thing: the vaccine-causation idea is probably the most damaging notion to have hit the autism community. Did you hear about the “refrigerator mother” theory during your time at Generation Rescue? It’s second to the vaccine causation theory. Telling generations of disabled kids that they are less than they are, that they should be someone else, is damaging. Mr. Carrey, did you attend any of those parent conventions, like AutismOne? Perhaps you look at alternative medicine favorably. Well, the vaccine causation idea is used to sell “therapies” that aren’t close to being “alternative”. They are just wrong. And, frankly, abusive. Chemical castration of disabled children? This was promoted multiple times at conventions where your former partner was a keynote speaker. Fake diagnoses of mercury poisoning, followed by chelation? Same. And even a major promoter of chelation has a new study showing it doesn’t work. Did anyone tell you why the NIH autism/chelation trial was stopped? Because if you chelate test animals who do not have mercury intoxication, they go down cognitively. If the same happens in humans, tens of thousands of autistic children lost some IQ due to chelation. Think that one over, since GR started out as primarily an org promoting chelation. Daily bleach drinks and bleach enemas? That one is probably new since you dropped out. But, yep, that gets sold as a cure for “vaccine injury”. Shall I go on? Because I can. The autism=vaccine injury idea sells junk medicine which is subjected upon disabled children.

And you added your voice to the vaccine-causation idea.

You’ve apologized to one family. That took guts. Now step up and start making amends to the rest of us. Parents and, especially, autistics.


By Matt Carey

Green Our Vaccines: science, slogan or smoke screen?

5 May

In June, 2008, Jenny McCarthy of Generation Rescue led the “Green Our Vaccines” rally in Washington. The stated reason for the rally was to “Demand Congress take action to Green Our Vaccine Supply while reassessing our current vaccine schedule.”

They weren’t anti-vaccine, they were anti-toxin.

How sincere was this movement?

Consider this question and answer from Jenny McCarthy’s interview for Frontline:

Tell me about “Green Our Vaccines” and what you want to happen.

I don’t think there is a green vaccine. The purpose in our statement of Green Our Vaccines really is: Let’s take a look at our environment. Let’s take a look at some of these toxic ingredients and pull them out. Let’s take a look at a safer schedule. I mean, our motto was “Too many, too soon” with the Green Our Vaccines march. And like I said, it’s not like I’m looking for a Whole Foods version of a shot. We’re looking for just a smarter and safer one in that title of Green Our Vaccines.

Repeated for emphasis–“I don’t think there is a green vaccine”. Sort of vague there. Is she saying there can be no green vaccine? That’s how I read it at first. Considering that Jenny McCarthy considers the active parts of vaccines (bacteria and viruses) to be “toxic” ingredients, I’m not sure if she can believe in a green vaccine.

So, was it really about “too many too soon”, the vaccine schedule? No. It’s still mercury. Consider Generation Rescue’s mission statement from their tax form (dated 2009-11-16). (click to enlarge)

Mission Statement for Generation Rescue

My own rough transcription:

Generation Rescue, inc. has a four point mission. Gather information that exists about mercury toxicity and publicize the truth so parents can make the best decision to help their children heal. 2. Organize doctors to treat the millions of affected children through education and conference sponsorship. Sponsor research to further the understanding between mercury and neurodevelopmental and other health disorders and to help organize the cure for mercury poisoning. 4. Support legislation to ban the use of thimerosal in medicine on a worldwide basis.

The mission statement has nothing about “green vaccines” or “too many too soon” or any of the talking points. Just mercury.

Why bring this up? Is anyone surprised that “Green Our Vaccines” and “Too Many Too Soon” are just slogans?

Well, it is worth bringing up from time to time. Generation Rescue would like you to believe that there has been a big fail by the public health establishment. They would like you to believe that the government has been avoiding looking at “the schedule” and has only looked at “one vaccine and one ingredient”.

Well, one ingredient is exactly what Generation Rescue’s mission is all about.

As long as the tax form is available, take a look. Jenny McCarthy seems to be good for generating new revenue. GR brought in $1,185,255 in 2008. Pretty respectable. That’s up from $424,698 the year before.

Generation Rescue’s expenses went up to. They spent $229,213 fund raising alone. This was part of total expenses totaling $745,238.

Let’s break that down a bit. Of the total expenses, $220,654 went to “MARKETING &AWARENESS COSTS”. Let’s consider that to be part of GR’s mission, spreading the word.

What does that leave? Expenses of $524,584. Or, about 44% of the donations.

Another way to look at it: if you donate a dollar to Generation Rescue, 44 cents goes to overhead.

Of course, one could compare Generation Rescue to Autism Speaks, who takes in $66,000,000 in order to put out $27,000,000 in grants–or about 41 cents on the dollar goes to the mission. Autism Speaks has about $14,000,000 in fund raising expenses and about $18,000,000 in salaries.

Ah, but I am getting off topic.

Generation Rescue has a single mission. The same mission they’ve always had. They appear to expanding to “too many too soon” but, in reality, it is just about mercury.

Age of Autism Abandon Pretence

9 Dec

To many of us who have been following the online ‘careers’ of the various people and factions behind Age of ‘Autism’ for many years (at least 7 in my case) this will be no surprise but it still needs pointing out once more:

The Age of ‘Autism’ blog is a repository of and a flag waver for anti-vaccine quackery.

Easy to say and growing easier and easier to demonstrate every day. As of the time of publishing of this post, the latest *six* posts from Age of ‘Autism’ have absolutely nothing to do with autism. These posts are (in reverse order):

1) Counting Offit’s Millions: More on How Merck’s Rotateq Vaccine Made Paul Offit Wealthy
2) Is One Man to Blame for the WorldWide H1N1 Panic?
3) $300K to Banyan Communications from Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines?
4) Harvard and CNN Report on Lower than Expected H1N1 Vaccine Uptake
5) Oops. Flu Pandemic May Be The Mildest since Modern Medicine Began Tracking.
6) Kickin’ the Tires of the Green Vaccine Initiative

*All* the above have no relationship to autism. *All* the above have a direct relationship to anti-vaccine beliefs.

One or two stories every now and then that don’t touch on your blog’s core subject is routine and only to be expected – but six in a row? Thats only routine if your core subject is drifting. Or if your *real* core subject is slowly being revealed.

A quicker guide to the ‘Green Vaccines’ Initiative

30 Nov

Some music to accompany this entry.

Over at AoA, Kent Heckenlively must be making the rest of the crew nervoous. Maybe you haven’t read his brand new idea for making the ‘green our vaccines’ initiative a political…um…’force’. To whit:

We’re not going to get anywhere with our current legal system because everything gets funneled into Vaccine Court. We’re not going to get far with the current media because they’re so heavily funded by pharmaceutical drug ads. We’re not going to get far with the medical community because they’re part of the machinery.

And don’t even get me started on the politicians. On one hand you have pharma handing out millions of dollars to politicians, and on the other you have parents of children with autism who are slowly bankrupted by this disease. Who do you think is going to have more money to ‘support’ the politician of their choice?

So Kent wants to tackle the legal system, the media, the medical community and politicians. And how?

In the months leading up to this announcement I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the necessary ingredients for a successful rebellion. Reading books on our own American Revolution has given me some guidance…

Cool. Nifty idea Kent. Tackle the legal system, the medical system, the political system and the media by reading a few books on the American Revolution. I think this is definitely a winner.

I’ve carefully scanned the article a few times (whilst wiping the tears of laughter away) but yep – that seems to be about it. And really, if we (god save us) look at this seriously for a moment what is it? Its a tacit admission that Kent doesn;t like the fact that these systems he wants to change don’t agree with him and his loon friends that vaccines cause autism. In fact, take a look at the comments and you’ll see its moved beyond autism to outright anti-vaxx. Is Kent proposing the very first anti-vaxx based political party? Some choice comments:

…thank you for the opportunity your statement gave us to refine the expression of our opposition to any form of vaccination.

I will never vaccinate again…

I no longer think any vaccine is safe…

There are no green vaccines. I am convinced.

I am in the camp that you can’t make vaccine safe ever

Finished listening to Pink Floyd yet? Good isn’t it?

Fallout of the vaccine-autism scare: Measles in Wales

24 Apr

Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield…what do these people have in common? They have all helped promote fear of vaccines–especially the Measles/MumpsRubella (MMR) vaccine–by claiming there is evidence vaccines cause autism.

To be fair, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy relatively new to the scene, unlike Dr. Wakefield, whose flawed research really fueled the fear. Perhaps the actors could learn from the doctor’s lesson: you claim MMR causes autism, that reduces the number of people getting immunized and people get sick. Pretty simple logic.

Measles was considered basically wiped out in the UK until a few years ago when it returned, sickening thousands and killing a few. Last year, measles returned to the US, and it’s back this year. Now we see that the UK isn’t being spared int he 2008-09 season: Wales has approximately 60 cases of measles suspected or confirmed.

Nineteen cases are in Llanelli–that’s in the lower left corner of this map:

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

That’s a short ride from Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol…lots of high density population centers. Any reasonable person would find that scary.

We in the autism communities need to stand up against misinformation that leads to people being sickened and, in some cases, killed. The MMR-Autism link never had good evidence, and now there is good evidence that MMR does not cause autism Even people like the autism-is-vaccine-injury proponent Rick Rollens admitted it’s time to look beyond MMR (and here).

Jim Carrey seems to understand at least on some level that it is wrong to dissuade people from vaccination. He claimed (incorrectly):

We have never argued that people shouldn’t be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio…

Maybe there is some Clintonian logic about the words “We” and “argued”. But, on Larry King Live, Jenny McCarthy stated:

You need to find a doctor that can find an alternate schedule. Generationrescue.org has three of them on there.

Generation Rescue, aka “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization” has alternate schedules on their website. The “favorite” of the three alternate vaccine schedules states, very clearly,

One should avoid vaccines that contain live viruses. This includes the combined measles mumps and rubella vaccines…

You’ve talked the talk, time to walk the walk, Jim. Pull that schedule off your website. Get your organization to make a clear statement about the value of vaccinating against measles.

I realize that I have concentrated a lot on Jim Carrey in this piece. But, there is a man who can make a difference in the future. That future will see people in the US and the UK sickened by measles. The question is how many. What Jim Carrey says could make that number larger or smaller, it all depends on whether he makes good on his sentiment that measles is a serious disease worth immunizing against.

David Kirby – Thimerosal does not cause autism

29 Oct

In something of a jaw-on-chest admission, David has finally admitted that thimerosal does not cause autism:

David Kirby, a journalist and author of “Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy,” said he believed that thimerosal, which still exists in trace amounts in some childhood vaccines, was no longer the “smoking gun.” Several national studies have found no connection, and a California study found that, even after thimerosal was removed from vaccines, diagnoses of autism continued to rise.

I would go on to say then that the claim that mercury in vaccines ever caused a never-established autism ‘epidemic’ needs to be retracted also. I would further like to see David (who has appeared on TV, Radio and in the press speaking as if thimerosal was definitely the cause) question his previous belief that this was ever a medical controversy.

We need to be clear on this issue. In the US, the idea that mercury in vaccines cause autism is the reason so many parents are not vaccinating their children. David was the chief media spokesperson in this belief and whilst it is gratifying to hear him publicly admit thimerosal does not cause autism – it needs to be proclaimed widely and David needs be much more public than this.

However, its not all good.

But, he said, the links between vaccines and conditions like autism are still strong and more research is needed.

Conditions like autism or autism?

David seems to have moved from targetting thimerosal to simply targeting vaccines in general. Contrary to his statement that there are strong links between autism and vaccines, the fact is that there are none. No decent science supports this hypotheses and (with apologies to David) he has a now self-admittedly bad track record when talking about ‘strong links’ between vaccines and autism. David’s ‘strong link‘ between thiomersal and autism was CDDS data and we all know how that one turned out. I’d ask David to please consider very carefully his ideas about ‘strong links’ of today turning around to bite him in the future. Does international public health really need another three/four year gambol through the wilderness based on a non scientific ‘strong link’ which in reality is simply an opinion?

We all know the recent makeover the vaccine hypotheses has been getting. Generation Rescue now no longer claim that autism is simply mercury poisoning for which the cure is two years chelation resulting in a child 100% neurotypical, no different from their peers. SafeMinds – an organisation dedicated to Mercury in their very name – attack MMR, a vaccine that has never contained mercury. Jenny McCarthy is now on board and gives credence to the idea that an average parent (such as myself) knows more about the sciences of medicine, epidemiology, toxicology etc etc than specialists who have spent years in their field. Whilst at the same time Ms McCarthy simply cannot keep her story straight about incidents from her book or even when her son was recovered or not.

The inconsistencies mount and mount and whilst I am glad that David has admitted the non-role of thimerosal in autism causation this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Are Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, NAA, TreatingAutism, A-CHAMP queuing up to admit the same? Are these same organisation prepared to go back onto the same TV/Radio stations they first proudly proclaimed they knew the cause and had the cure and admit they were wrong? Or will it all continue to be held behind the Emerald City of the new ‘Green Our vaccines where we are urged to never, ever look behind the curtain in case we see the simple, obvious truth about the grand machinations?

Reality bites back II

2 Oct

Its all going wrong for the believers of the vaccine/autism religion. This was supposed to be the time of their Fall offensive, spearheaded of course by Mother Warrior Jenny McCarthy and her appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

So far though, the media seem markedly less keen to talk to her about her recovering/no, recovered/ah….recovering/no, recovered/oh whatever autistic child. And the science is beginning to get equal air time. Recently, Dr. Ari Brown, Dr Lou Cooper and our very own Ken participated alongside a couple of minor league celebs on a discussion regarding autism and vaccines on the US show Good Morning America.

Yesterday the Age of Autism exhorted its members to mob a website that had created a Jenny vs Amanda poll (because popularity contests will definitely help autistic people). When the Pharyngula blog got wind of this PZ, the blog owner, asked his readers to vote too. The outcome?

Yikes.

The world view of the autism/vaccine zealots was shaken mightily yesterday. They’ve always imagined themselves as a large group with considerable power. Yesterday, they got squashed like a flea on a windscreen over something as meaningless as a celeb poll. Imagine how they must’ve felt to read some of the comments there. In fact, I’ve been tracking a lot of the gossip websites who’ve mentioned Jenny of late. She’s not popular outside her own crowd. Parents of autistic kids are catching on. Here’s a quote from someone I do not know and have never heard of before today commenting on Hollywood Today:

I am a single father of an autistic child and agree that Jenny Mcarthy is doing more harm than good. Why do we put more credibility in an actress / playboy bunny than doctors and other more credible sources.

And a mother of two autistic kids says on Ecorazzi:

As a mother with TWO autistic children, I find McCarthy’s ignorance appalling. Don’t we have enough difficulty in dealing with and understanding the Autism Spectrum without letting fad pseudo-science sway our families away from proper health care for our children?

These are not isolated examples I am very happy to report.

Yesterday the mercury militia – who think we’re just a few people compared to their ‘tens of thousands’ got a great big wet fish slap of reality.

Mother Warrior McCarthy is now complaining the US Presidential candidates are snubbing her. For goodness sake, why on earth did you ever think they would listen to you? You’re a D-list celeb who can’t even get her story straight on whether her son is recovered or not.

Anyway, she says:

I literally flew to go see MCCain, his team agreed to it (meeting), I was prepped and then all of a sudden his campaign manager said, ‘We’re ahead in the polls and this is a very, very touchy subject. Let’s not give this interview right now.

Wow, McCain employs the worst PR people in the world. They tell someone that they’re not going to interview them as they’re too controversial. How convenient for Jenny!

I’m thinking the conversation went something more like this:

JM: Hi, I’m Jenny McCarthy, can I speak to John McCain?

PR Dude: Sorry? You’re who?

JM: Jenny McCarthy, I’ve appeared in films such as ‘Scary Movie 3’ and…uh…

PR Dude: Whatever…why do you want to speak to the boss?

JM: About vaccines and autism! They’re poisoning our kids! Except mine is now recovered! No, wait – I have a book coming out, make that ‘recoverING’.

PR Dude: The country – no, the world – is in a national financial crisis and you want to talk to the boss about some quacky ideas never supported by science. Go away lady.

JM: But…but…I’m JENNY MCCARTHY…BULLSHIT!….BULLSHIT!!! (Where’s the camera?)

Now Jenny is desperate to get ahold of Obama:

MCCarthy is now desperately hoping Barack Obama, MCCain’s opponent in the race for the White House, agrees to champion her cause and address the autism versus vaccines issue.
She says, “We are trying (to contact him)… We have sent numerous (requests).

This is the same Barrack Obama who has said:

I am not for selective vaccination, I believe that it will bring back deadly diseases, like polio.

He might see you Jenny. Me might even pretend to listen. You might even get your picture taken with him. Better yet, he might pass on the opportunity to see you and then you can tell people how its a big conspiracy. You might even manage to squeeze another book out of it.

None of that will change reality though. The tide isn’t changing just yet but there’s been a few signs that it might be on its way.