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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

What changes are in store for Generation Rescue?

9 Apr

If you haven’t read the celebrity gossip news you may have missed it (and good for you!). Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have split. As an aside, in classic Hollywood fashion, news also just came out that her ex husband is in a new celebrity relationship. I’ll never understand the way Hollywood uses relationships for image promotion.

That said, this is not an easy thing to blog about. First, there is the fluff component. This isn’t a celebrity gossip blog. Second, Jenny McCarthy’s kid is only seven. He doesn’t deserve to lose another father figure. I wish him well.

One question this poses is whether Jim Carrey will continue with Generation Rescue?

It appears not. Generation Rescue has revamped their website. The picture of Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy and Evan McCarthy is gone. GR is now just “Jenny McCarthy’s autism organization”. Jim Carrey is no longer on the page of the Board of Directors.

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey were the wealthy celebrity couple that revitalized Generation Rescue. And, let’s face it, Jim Carrey is the part of the couple with most of the celebrity and wealth.

The Generation Rescue website is probably in flux so we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about what is missing as of now. That said, consider this:

Not only is Jim Carrey missing, but Dr. Jill James is no longer listed as a part of their science advisory board.

Mention of Desiree Jennings is gone. (She is the person who claimed that a flu vaccination caused dystonia, a claim that didn’t appear to hold up to scrutiny ). I don’t think this signals anything other than it was a convenient time to quietly pull support for someone who was, well, a liability.

On the main page for Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy is pushing hard to get a $250,000 grant from Pepsi. Is this prompted by the loss of Jim Carrey’s financial support? If you haven’t seen the plea from Ms. McCarthy, consider it. At least the first 20 seconds. That way you can hear her state that Generation Rescue “…helps and Treats thousands, millions of children with autism”

Yes, millions of children are supposedly helped by Generation Rescue. That would be more autistic kids than in the entire U.S..

I remember when Jim Carrey first hit the scene. He paid for a full page ad for Generation Rescue in USA Today. Just up and paid for it. Those ads cost over $200,000 as I recall. Now GR is pushing hard for a grant of that size.

Jim Carrey was a bit of a lightweight when it came to autism and disability issues. He demonstrated that clearly at the Green Our Vaccines rally. But, he was an asset to Generation Rescue. His leaving can’t be helping GR.

Jim Carrey Jenny McCarthy Definitely not anti-vaccine

6 Feb

In the recent statement released by Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy regarding Andrew Wakefield, the twosome made a number of references that clear up once and for all how they feel about vaccines. Because as we all know they’re not anti-vaccine.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers…

Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers…

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England’s General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers…

The fallout from the study for vaccine makers and public health officials could be severe. Having denied the
possibility of the vaccine-autism connection for so long while profiting immensely from a recent boom in vaccine sales around the world, it’s no surprise that they would seek to repress this important work.

No, definitely not anti-vaccine.

Is Wakefield being shut up, or are Jenny and Jim trying to get publicity for his research?

5 Feb

In a public statement, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey claim that “Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published”. Readers of LeftBrainRightBrain are already well aware that Dr. Andrew Wakefield was recently found to be “dishonest” and to have acted in a manner against the clinical interests of the children who were his research subjects. This recent statement is in support of the now discredited doctor.

Or, is it? A cynical mind might consider that this is a public relations ploy to get Dr. Wakefield’s current research in front of the media. His last paper was much hyped by Jenny McCarthy’s organization, but got little if any actual press coverage. But now, with the media focused on Dr. Wakefield, what better time to promote his research in hopes of getting some play in the media?

Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey are prominent members of Generation Rescue (“Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization”) and have posted their statement on the Generation Rescue website with the full version on the blog sponsored by Generation Rescue, the Age of Autism.

This reader is somewhat amazed at the language used and the ignorance of the history of the General Medical Counsel proceeding that Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey have shown.

The language puts the team well into the world conspiracy-theory:

It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues

We are to believe that the news reporting on the retraction of the paper in The Lancet is orchestrated by vaccine manufacturers. That’s worth considering a moment–two actors, people who depend on their public image for their livelihood–are claiming that the reporting on a major news event is “engineered by vaccine manufacturers”.

The fact is that Dr. Wakefield thrust himself into the limelight with a press conference to publicize the paper. This and the fact that he has kept himself in the public’s eye for 12 years appears to have been lost on the McCarthy/Carrey team. After over a decade of promoting his research well beyond its importance or scientific merit, of course the media would take to the story that Dr. Wakefield had been found guilty of misconduct and that his paper had been retracted.

If there is any doubt as the conspiracy-theory theme of the statement, phrases like “Kangaroo court” and “in the pocket of vaccine makers” should put that to rest:

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England’s General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury.

The article goes on:

Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield’s original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet’s retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.

This is a very strange statement to have made by representatives of Generation Rescue. Generation Rescue states on their own website, in reference to Dr. Wakefield’s paper in The Lancet, “”This study demonstrates that the MMR vaccine triggered autistic behaviors and inflammatory bowel disease in autistic children”.

Much more to the point, the press release for Dr. Wakefield’s press conference on the release of his study in The Lancet states that “Their [Wakefield et. al] paper, to be published in The Lancet 28 February, suggests that the onset of behavioural symptoms was associated with MMR vaccination”

If the defense now is that there is a difference between “proven” and “associated with” in the minds of the public, the importance of that is lost on me. Dr. Wakefield himself put the idea in the public’s mind that the MMR was causing autism.

In a video interview about his 1998 study, Dr. Wakefield stated that the link was not proven. However, he went on to claim that the “risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combine vaccine”:

Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.

If there is rampant misreporting of the notion that Dr. Wakefield’s study in The Lancet promoted the idea that vaccines cause autism, then it is the fault of Jenny and Jim’s own organization, together with Dr. Wakefield himself.

Much of the trouble resulting from Dr. Wakefield’s work (and by that I mean trouble caused to the world and the autism communities in particular, not trouble to Dr. Wakefield), stems from Dr. Wakefield overplaying the importance or the quality of his research. Even had the study been done as claimed in the publication, it was not a very strong study. It has been reported that four referees recommended rejecting the paper before publication. I don’t know the policy at The Lancet, but often 2 or 3 referees total are used to screen a paper for a journal.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. In this case, overplaying the importance of research well beyond its scientific merit. In their statement, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey promote Dr. Wakefield’s ongoing research as though it is so earth shattering that it must be stopped at all costs. They discuss a series of studies Dr. Wakefield’s new group is undertaking. This research has been discussed by Medical Researcher David Gorski in an article Monkey business in autism research.

We are to believe that there is a media campaign afoot to keep Dr. Wakefield from making his new research public. In the internet age, there is no way to keep information from the public. Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues are even editors of a new pseudo-journal for autism research.

At no point to Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey address the ethical violations that Dr. Wakefield was found guilty of. No mention of whether it is appropriate for medical researchers to perform invasive procedures on disabled children when there is no clinical reason to do so.

In other words, Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey never actually defend Dr. Wakefield for his actions. They never address the serious ethical lapses found proved by the General Medical Counsel.

I am left thinking that this is in reality a pre-release promotional event to get press coverage for Dr. Wakefield’s upcoming paper. The study is “on the brink” of being published. In other words, it is likely already in-press. The faux outrage that his work is being suppressed in light of this is painful to read.

Forbes on “Stars Vs. Science” once again the autism community looks bad

15 Jan

Forbes Magazine has an article, Stars Vs. Science, From Jenny McCarthy to Tom Cruise, some Hollywood hot shots are leading a war against modern science. The opening paragraph is pretty telling about the tone:

When the medical journal Pediatrics released a consensus report early this year concluding that autistic children do not benefit from special diets, ABC News’ Diane Sawyer knew just whom to call. Jenny McCarthy, former MTV game host, nude model and now mother of an autistic son Evan, enthusiastically denounced the study. “Until doctors start listening to our anecdotal evidence, which is it’s working, it’s going to take so many more years for these kids to get better,” she opined

Or, you can just take a look a the URL–science-jenny-mccarthy-business-healthcare-hollywood-autism.html

Once again, the Autism community takes it on the chin that our representative in the public eye is, well, in a league of her own when it comes to understanding science. Even though the story is about celebrities and science in general, autism plays a big part in the story as a whole. Take a look at the celebrities that were selected for the “slideshow”

Of course, there are Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey (click to enlarge and read the caption):

Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Carrey have been trying to shake loose the anti-vaccine image for a while. It doesn’t appear to be working. From the article:

But some of the best-known celebrities use their soap boxes to spread scientifically dubious–and potentially harmful–messages. Jenny McCarthy believes vaccines cause autism, despite numerous studies to the contrary. She campaigns against child vaccines that have been shown to save lives. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control reported that measles outbreaks had spiked because more parents were deciding to leave their children unvaccinated, thanks to the burgeoning anti-vaccine movement.

Others who made the cut? Arriana Hufffington, of the Huffington Post, (again. click to enlarge):

It is worth reading the caption to that one. Dr. Rahul Parikh is quoted from his Salon.com piece, The Huffington Post is crazy about your health, Why bogus treatments and crackpot medical theories dominate “The Internet Newspaper”.

The quote:

But Huffington has distorted science and facts…fairness and accuracy in health and medicine take a back seat to sensationalism and self-promotion

In his piece, Dr. Parikh had noted the Huffington Post blogs by “David Kirby, Jenny McCarthy’s pediatrician Jay Gordon and detox advocate Dierdre Imus” and also spends a considerable amount of time discussing a piece by Jim Carrey.

The Forbes piece also discusses Oprah Winfrey (click to enlarge):

Once again, autism is prominent in the description given by Forbes.

I’m sure some readers will assume I’m putting this up to embarrass these celbrities. Yeah, like being in Forbes is so low profile that LBRB is going to be the embarrassment for Oprah and company. No, this is just another vent of anger. Anger that the autism community is once again seen by the public as the home to people who are “leading a war against modern science.” Tell me how that helps us advocate.

One notable entry outside of autism is Bill Maher. (click to enlarge)

I bring this up because Forbes notes that Bill Maher has been discussed by “quack busting doctor-blogger David Gorski”. That’s the same guy you can find on Science Based Medicine,

The article does seem to be following a recent trend: they aren’t looking for “balance” by quoting groups from the anti-science side. Instead, qutoes are had by:

William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt School of Medicine:

“These are folks who really don’t have the best information, but because they are vocal and well organized their message has gotten out” [as a result] “around the country pediatricians and their staffs are having to spend more and more time persuading parents to have their kids vaccinated in a timely fashion. It is an enormous problem.”

Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch.org

“Talk shows don’ t pay any attention to whether the advice on their program will kill people. … Producers consider it entertainment,” he says, adding: “Never take health advice from a talk show.”

and

Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

Why do celebrities feel the need to spout off on medical or scientific matters? Because they’ve excelled in one field, stars “think they’re an expert in many things,” says the vaccine expert Offit. “That part doesn’t bother me. It’s the part that we listen that bothers me.”

I’m inclined to agree with Dr. Offit. It is the part that we listen to celebrities when they talk about things far outside their expertise that bothers me.

Jack Coleman talks back to Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy

12 May

Foxnews.com carries a story about Hero’s star Jack Coleman discussing autism and vaccines.

…in his belief the “autism/vaccine” link was unwarranted.

“My sister is a pediatrician and she is not beholden to pharmaceutical companies, which, I know, that’s the big conspiracy theory out there. They did huge research in Europe and they have not found any ties to it at all, there is no longer live mercury in any of these calculations,” Coleman told Tarts. “I just think that from what I’ve read and heard I don’t think it’s connected. I do know that there is a MMR that it makes your child extremely cranky and sick but I personally don’t it contributes to autism, but I am not a doctor.”

And despite McCarthy and her longtime lover Jim Carrey’s relentless lobbying to put pressure on the federal government to remove toxins from vaccines and fight for fewer childhood vaccinations prior to the age of 2, Coleman still supports immunization all the way.

“I have given my child every vaccination there is, but when you are related to a pediatrician, you tend to look much more kindly at vaccinations. As she says, ‘I’ve never seen a child die from an immunization but I have seen one die because of a whopping cough.’ What our grandparents would give to have those immunizations,” he added. “If five years from now, science says that it is the cause, then I will eat my words, but I don’t see that happening.”

A rep for McCarthy did not respond for comment.

Seems like there are maybe more smart celebs in Hollywood than I thought, Jennifer Garner, Amanda Peet, Jennifer Lopez and now Jack Coleman.

Liar Liar

24 Apr

Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy are very critical of vaccines. They assert that vaccines cause autism.

Criticising vaccines is a dangerous business. Vaccines are arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, medical advances in history. Anyone whose causes people to stop vaccinating their children runs the risk of being blamed for illness, permanent injury and death if/when the diseases return.

Mr. Carrey seems aware of this. In his recent blog piece he made a point of noting:

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

This statement bothered me enough that I discussed it in two pieces (here and here) about measles outbreaks in Wales and the US.

I wanted to highlight the fact that the website for Mr. Carrey’s organization (Generation Rescue) includes language specifically telling people to avoid the measles vaccine.

Even after blogging that, somehow Mr. Carrey’s statement statement still bothered me. Then I remembered why.

A year ago, Mr. Carrey’s movie, “Horton Hears a Who”, was in theaters. One group in New Mexico decided to offer a screening of Horton with an added benefit: free vaccinations for children who came.

This didn’t sit well with Mr. Carrey, who decided to put a stop to the free vaccination program. According to Lisa Akerman of TACA (Talk About Curing Autism, another group that has had Jenny McCarthy as a spokes-person):

Once word from the autism community (Who-ville in this case) got to the Carrey & McCarthy super team about this story of a New Mexico vaccination plot things got a brewing. After his morning coffee, Jim made a few calls this morning on behalf of the autism community.

Following a long discussion with his representatives at Fox Entertainment – Who-ville – once again through Horton – was heard. The New Mexico test market of drive thru vaccines while at the movies with your children was stopped. Halted by Horton himself…

So, Mr. Carrey doesn’t “argue” that people shouldn’t be immunized. He just stops them from being immunized.