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(random riffs on topics medical)

rahul k. parikh

rahul k. parikh
Location
Walnut Creek, California,
Bio
Physician & Writer www.rahulkparikh.com www.twitter.com/docrkp The information here is not direct medical advice.

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 30, 2010 9:46AM

Jenny McCarthy vs. Jenny McCarthy

Rate: 11 Flag

It can be hard to keep track of your own opinions.  Just ask Jenny McCarthy, who can't quite seem to keep her rhetoric about autism and vaccines straight,  often in the span of one interview!

 

On the concept of vaccines

"I think vaccines are one of the greatest things ever invented."  

From Cookie, 2009 

"She has backed off of her most heated rhetoric saying she is now not against all vaccines...."

From Time, 2010

On the other hand:

"Time magazine's article on the autism debate reports that the experts are certain "vaccines don't cause autism; they don't injure children; they are the pillar of modern public health." I say, "that's a lie and we're sick of it." 

From Huffington Post, 2010 (after the 2010 Time piece)

Later in the same essay 

 "Almost all kids get vaccines -- injected toxins -- very early in life."

On whether she is "anti-vaccine" 

 People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines. Please understand that we are not an antivaccine group. 

-From Time, 2009 

But, then, in the same interview

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. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's s___. 

On the false choice between infections and autism

"If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it.  It shouldn't be polio versus autism."

-From Time, 2009

But measles is ok? 

"If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we stand in line for the f___ing measles."

(that quote, again, is from the same 2009 Time interview)

                                 On the tone of her rhetoric

"For all her bravado, Mccarthy prefers to cast herself as a voice of moderation.  she claims her goal is to move the debate toward what she sees as the middle..."

-From Time, 2010

On the other hand, see above! but also,

"We get that [vaccines are] saving lives, but the increase is ridiculous, you guys. Look, it's plain and simple. It's bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). 
 

-From Larry King Live, 2008

"During appearances on Oprah, 20/20, Good Morning America, Larry King Live and other televsion shows, she decried what she claimed was a vast and profitable conspiracy to vaccinate children, which she said was responsible for the great upsurge in autism diagnoses...she glibly and with irate dismissal of the scientific evidence accused pediatricians of poisoning children and then witholding treatments that could save them."

-From Time, 2010

 

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In Dec., 2008, McCarthy said "Without a doubt, in my mind, I have met up to 60,000 women who all told me the same story. After vaccination, their child developed a fever, started having seizures and slowly lost all language and eye contact."

McCarthy first claimed that her son has autism in May, 2007, and she joined TACA the following month, so presumably that is when her anti-vaccine activism began. That means McCarthy "personally spoke" with 60,000 mothers over an 18-month period. That's 570 days, or 105 mothers every day for 19 months. If she missed a day, then her make-up day would consist of listening to 210 mothers. That would mean back-to-back mothers for ten straight hours, allowing three minutes for each mother.

In May, 2009, on "The Doctors", she said "We are the first-hand witnesses of something that shifted so quickly - sometimes over a few months..."

Conclusion: "Without a doubt", 60,000+ mothers have told McCarthy that their children changed "quickly" after a vaccine, except when the changes were not quick, so McCarthy must have doubt as to an approximate number. Her conversations took place in 3-6 minute listening sessions, during 8-10 hour days when McCarthy did little else but listen.
There was a study of home movies taken at the first birthday of children later diagnosed with autism as well as normal children. The first birthday is before the MMR and many other vaccines are given.

Neurodevelopmental specialists could identify, quite accurately, the children who had autism, showing that, regardless of the parent's recollection that the change occured in their child after the vaccine.
Jenny McCarthy is: an airhead who thinks she's an "indigo mom" and her son is a "crystal child." Jenny McCarthy is not: a scientist or a physician. And from what I've read, there's even doubt as to whether her son actually suffered from autism or from another neurological syndrome.

Nonetheless, she's entitled to her own theories and opinions about her own situation. What I can't fathom is why so many people actually ascribe credibility to her wacky, scientifically unsound ideas and -- god forbid -- use them to make decisions about their own children's lives.
Thank you for writing this. Jenny McCarthy, more than anyone else I can think of, has complicated my life when it comes to people understanding and accepting my son, who was formally diagnosed with autism two weeks ago.

He's 4-and-a-half and I've known, since he was born, that he was "normal" (according to current developmental parameters). Three years ago, after some research and curiosity, I figured it was autism. It's as well I did, as the three years since then and now, getting the diagnosis, have been a constant struggle that has seen me accused of everything from neglect and abuse to making it all up to just being a terrible mother.

This, however, is NOTHING compared to angry I get when random people I'm talking to (and mention my son's autism to) say things like:

"You had the MMR?"
"Have you read about Jenny McCarthy?"
"You know, you can cure it these days."
"Oh, but at least he's not hurting anyone."

While the MMR nonsense predates the McCarthy Witch, she has given it credence without any basis in fact, science or even anecdotal evidence. And all because she played the suffering mum fiddle - however, her son suffered seizures which aren't part of any kind of autism that I've ever read about anywhere in the last three years.

It is almost impossible to undo the enormous damage she has done to us parents who like to rely on science and actual medicine when it comes to our kids - she should be gagged, muzzled and shot, frankly - just look at her website if you want to see why this woman is a fucking charlatan:

"Autism is reversible"

"In addressing physical ailments like leaky gut, candida, bowel disease, and food allergies — as well as behavioral disorders like ADHD and OCD that are associated with autism — we find that once you treat those physical ailments, the autism either gets better or goes away."

So, wait, "leaky gut?" What the fuck is she even talking about there? And thrush? Bowel disease? Which one, Jenny, come on, you're the freakin' expert. My son is lactose intolerant - wanna come up with a cure-all for that one so his autism goes away?

She's a dangerous woman because she speaks not from a position of authority and knowledge but from a position of using this as a way to keep herself in the fucking limelight. She is undoing years of precious hard work when it comes to protecting children and getting essential immunisation programs underway and, worst of all, she's getting media attention for it. Fucking TIME. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

Meanwhile, us rationalists who understand that the most like cause of autism is going to be up to 16 genes which trigger from as early as the 46th day of pregnancy don't get any media representation at all because we don't have some hot, airhead, bimbo celebrity speaking on our behalf. Mainly because we're quite capable of speaking for ourselves, ta.

Actual autism isn't sexy. It's hard to understand, doesn't involve astonishing savantism and isn't caused by anything other than genetics and chance. And all the people who say others, who blame the MMR, who try to sell us cures and get us to join their idiot-led foundations are charlatans who are not only taking resources away from where they're so desperately needed at the moment, but, worse, actually undoing what precious little understanding of autism there is already in place.

Jenny McCarthy is a charlatan, simple as that. And yet when I try to explain it to people in the street who tell you that she's found a cure! or that Jenny McCarthy says I'm a bad mum for having the MMR or that I should consider myself "lucky" because my son isn't violent I'm reacted to either as if I'm babbling cheerfully away in a foreign language or, worse, as if I WANT my son to be autistic.
Another excellent post, Rahul, and so glad Salon picked it up.

And Ken: goon on ye for the math. I think 15 mins minimum tho, plus meal and potty breaks., so at least 2 years of straightforward listening. And how as it recorded? if note taking then she has carpal tunnel, if electronic add 30% more time for setup and tape changes, plus a lot $. Either way, written or recorded, can we see this anecdotal data please?

I know of at least a dozen rational skeptics here on OS who simple haven't and might not chime in here. But there are far too many on OS who feel mild to rabid sympathy for the anti-vaccine hoax. Tragic.

Thank you, Rahul, for your support of science and good critical thinking.
sheling,
thank your for you comments on this issue--I wish more parents in your situation would speak out more strongly against the ideas that McCarthy espouses. I believe there is a large but quiet majority of parents who don't believe her.

rahul
Greg,
thanks for your supportive comments,
Rahul
Nice post, Rahul.
Welcome Back!
I've just published a book, "Making Sense of Autistic Spectrum Disorders," that debunks many of the myths alluded to in this thread. More details here: http://www.DrCoplan.com or any of the usual bookstores.
"In God we trust. Everyone else bring data."
James Coplan, MD
Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics of the Main Line, PC
Bryn Mawr, PA
does anyone on this website have any sense. Vaccines are horrible.But the uninformed just don't get it.. inform yourselves. Main reason why US is in debt and going to hell in a hand basket.. plain ignorance!