Respectful Insolence

$50 million for antivaccine madness?

Over the last year and a half, Jenny McCarthy has been, unfortunately, a fairly frequent topic of this blog. There is, of course, a reason for this. Ever since she published her first book on autism back in the summer of 2007, she has become the public face of the antivaccine movement and autism quackery. Indeed, Generation Rescue, that reliable bastion of antiscientific antivaccine pseudoscience and autism quackery, has been–shall we say?–rebranded as “Jenny McCarthy’s Autism Organization.” In the process, she has demonstrated a level of burning stupid that defies description, a stupidity that burns so hot that it threatens to vaporize the planet. Indeed, she is known for claiming that she cured her son Evan of autism and could change him back to being autistic again if she ever let up her guard and let him eat the wrong foods and seeing all sorts of “toxins” in vaccines where they don’t exist, completely oblivious to the dictum that the dose makes the poison. Last year, she even led an antivaccine march on Washington with her boyfriend Jim Carrey, providing proof positive that Dumb and Dumber was not fiction.

It’s not for nothing that Steve Novella of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe has declared Jenny McCarthy to be the “worst skeptical douchebag” of 2008, an award she richly deserves. But it’s not just her. Her boyfriend Jim Carrey has completely fallen, hook, line, and sinker for the same antivaccine madness that Jenny McCarthy has fallen for. Indeed, he has become so connected with her that Age of Autism has named Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy the “Couple of the Year.”

Yes, truly, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy are in love. I don’t begrudge them that. I do, however, begrudge Jenny McCarthy her antivaccine madness and arrogance of ignorance, both of which lead her to think that her University of Google “education” trumps hard won expertise. I also begrudge Jim Carrey his new found idiocy towards vaccines and his conspiracy mongering towards big pharma. Before she met Carrey, Jenny McCarthy was a washed-up, D-list celebrity trying to hang on to her former fame as a Playmate Playmate of the Year and a popular hostess on various MTV shows, such as Singled Out in the 1990s, all the while peddling “Indigo Child” woo. After Carrey fell in love with her, she’s become part of his star, hanging out with the A-list again. Worse, via Bad Astronomy and Steve Novella, I’ve learned that Carrey has now guaranteed that McCarthy will now have the resources to do whatever she wishes to spread her special brand of antivaccine lunacy for as long as she wants:

JIM CARREY has vowed to give his longtime girlfriend JENNY MCCARTHY a financially secure future – after reportedly setting up a $50 million (GBP35 million) trust fund for the actress despite insisting they will never marry.

The actor, 46, has earned an estimated $200 million (GBP140 million) with his blockbuster comedies – and is desperate to make sure 36-year-old MCCarthy is set for life.

A source tells Star magazine, “He adores her and credits her with his better health and happier outlook on life. (He) wants her to have all the perks in life should anything happen to him.”

That’s a lot of money to support antivaccine madness.

I’m a bit torn. On the one hand, it is rather sweet that Carrey would show this level of dedication to McCarthy, although why he doesn’t just marry her if he loves her that much and wants to make sure she is taken care of if he meets a premature end escapes me. It’s also rather gallant that he would want to make sure that a child not his own never wants for anything, even to the point of giving up a third of his net worth. On the other hand, by guaranteeing that Jenny McCarthy will never want for anything, he has guaranteed that she will have the resources to continue to spread her antivaccine message to the masses and that she will also be able to continue to promote the quackery that she has become known for. Indeed, she’s already abused her “celebrity” status to rope in other celebrities, such as Hugh Hefner and Britney Spears, to raise money for Generation Rescue. She’s also managed to parlay her minor celebrity into deals with professional wrestling and celebrity poker to raise still more money.

It’s not surprising that Jenny McCarthy so easily fell for antivaccine pseudoscience. As I’ve discussed earlier, before she discovered autism quackery and antivaccine nonsense, she was very much into an even wooier woo, if you will, namely the whole “Indigo Child” movement. Perhaps the “depth” of her involvement in that movement was when she sold something that she called a “Quantum Prayer Wheel” while citing Deepak Chopra (who recently was very unhappy over some criticism) and even Dr. William Nelson, the creator of a device featured on Your Friday Dose of Woo, the EPFX-SCIO, complete with the most hilarious disclaimer I’ve ever seen:

The Quantum Prayer Wheel is not a Medical Treatment.

This program does not provide subscribers with any form of Therapy, Counseling, Medical Treatment or Diagnosis. If you think you have a medical condition, please see your doctor.

The QPW is a spiritual technology using advanced mathematics, fractals and prayers.

Of course it’s not a medical treatment. It’s a woo treatment. What I didn’t know, but am not surprised to learn, is that McCarthy was into that woo of woos, that idiocy of idiocies, that epitome of wishful thinking run amok, The Secret:

LIFE CHANGING!! read this from Jenny!

Hey girls,

I have just come across this dvd called The Secret. It is not a movie. Its gurus talking about The law of attraction and It was so incredible that I bought fifty copies and have sent them to everyone I know. Its starts off cheezy but thats just the opening. You have to order it and lets all talk about it because it has changed everyones life who has seen it. I cant wait to talk about it. go get it!

Love Jenny

It figures.

Yes, I think I must agree. Jenny McCarthy is the biggest and most credulous idiot of 2008. She richly deserves the “title” and also represents a major threat to public health in the U.S. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’s going away in 2009. After all, she has another book coming out.

Comments

  1. #1 DLC
    January 5, 2009

    So, Jenny McCarthy will have a big pile of money, which she will no doubt pay out to her friends in the anti-vax-o-sphere.
    So… now those of us on the side of science can ask anti-vaxers if they’re a Big Jenny Shill ? Will being paid by Jenny now be the new McCarthyism ? Or maybe she’ll just take her kid and go live quietly somewhere.
    :::shrug:::

  2. #2 Kemist
    January 5, 2009

    I hate The Secret. I hate it for what it does to sick and vulnerable people : make them responsible and guilty of their predicament. I’ve seen this sort of thinking seriously attack my best friend after she got a cancer diagnosis.

    It also made me much more miserable than I should have been when I went into mild depression because of hypothyroidism. I was told that thinking I was depressed was what made me depressed. Happythoughts would make me all right. Yeah, as if. Synthroid made me all right, thank you very much.

  3. #3 DrCogSci
    January 5, 2009

    Wishful thinking that she may go live quietly somewhere methinks.

    I haven’t seen any confrontational stuff with Carrey, perhaps we should send off a polite letter explaining how he might be mistaken… Snowball’s chance, I grant you, but he doesn’t seem as vehement…

  4. #4 Oldfart
    January 5, 2009

    Carrey loves that pussy, for a while at least, and will say or do nothing that chances separation from it. Being totally self-centered, the amount of damage he has been doing on behalf of that pussy doesn’t concern him at all.

    As for thinking yourself out of a depression, I do that all the time. I hate being depressed. I will go so far as lying to myself to avoid it. But I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone else because I have no idea how I do it or that my version of depression is anything like your version.

  5. #5 Kemist
    January 5, 2009

    As for thinking yourself out of a depression, I do that all the time. I hate being depressed. I will go so far as lying to myself to avoid it. But I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone else because I have no idea how I do it or that my version of depression is anything like your version.

    Depression can have different meanings. Being depressed for a while because bad things happen in your life is normal. Cheering up in that case can do wonders.

    But being depressed with suicidal thoughts, over months, for no discernible worthwhile reason is not. Depressed as in having no interest or motivation in anything (job or leisure activity) even in eating or cleaning up your room and yourself. I was told it became classified as “severe” when your suicidal thoughts began to include actual suicide plans.

    Add to that, in my case, the increase in sleep needs, muscle/joint pain and general overwhelming fatigue that hypothyroidism generates, and you feel very very crappy indeedy. Happythoughts can’t cure that.

  6. #6 abb3w
    January 5, 2009

    So… if we’re going to have these whackos insisting on not immunizing their children, wouldn’t it be of advantage to medical science to take advantage of this self-volunteered “control group”? Require all parents who elect to skip the immunizations for a child to provide some (anonymized) data about the child every FOO years thereafter, indicating which of the immunizable diseases the children caught, along with any other major medical developments in the child (autism, allergies, cancer, telekinesis…), so that these rates may be compared to the US baseline.

    Or does this fall under the same problems as using Mengele’s data? (Is this one of those “ethics” situations? …I’ve never been very good at those.)

  7. #7 MKandefer
    January 5, 2009

    Just to add to Kemist’s point. Clinical psychologists make a distinction between the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria for major depression disorder, and some other categories of depression, such as bi-polar disorder, dysthymia, and depressive disorder not otherwise specified (minor depressive disorder). I have also seen some textbooks toss around the word “blues” for minor cases of depression that are expected to temporarily follow certain social events; such as death, loss of job, etc. If Kemist was taking medication, he probably had one or more major depressive episodes, and not the blues, which is what some people denote with the term “depression”.

  8. #8 MKandefer
    January 5, 2009

    abb3w,

    Prometheus has covered this topic here, it’s an excellent post that really shows the difficulties of conducting studies with small sample sizes:

    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=154

  9. #9 IBY
    January 5, 2009

    Oh my lord, she threatens to melt my brain every single time. Now she has a whole lotta resources to spread the antivax lunacy. Hopefully, her fearmongering of the vaccines won’t spread too far…

  10. #10 kristina
    January 5, 2009

    And she was already unbearable enough before she became a “pro vaccine safety advocate”—- it’s going to be a long year…………

  11. #11 Aj
    January 5, 2009

    Jenny McCarthy is legally an adult.
    Jenny McCarthy makes demonstrably false medical claims.
    Jenny McCarthy has $50 million.

    I do hope some of that money has gone towards a retainer for a really good team of lawyers.

  12. #12 Prometheus
    January 5, 2009

    The point brought up by abb3w is an interesting one.

    While it would be interesting to see if the children whose parents refuse vaccinations have the same autism prevalence as the general population, there is at least one serious problem with that sort of study.

    The children will not be randomly assigned to the “vaccine” and “no vaccine” groups, so we wouldn’t be able to know if another factor – apart from vaccines – causes the results we’d find.

    Since the parents most likly to buy in to Jenny’s vaccine paranoia are those who already have an autistic child (or are related to one), it is probable that the “no vaccine” group would actually have more autism, since siblings of autistic children have a higher prevalence of autism.

    Ethically, it shouldn’t be a problem (not for the researchers, anyway), since the parents are making the choice on their own and without involving any of the research personnel. Any physicians (or “alternative healers”) involved in the decision to not vaccinate may have a liability issue.

    The data from this sort of experiment will be of little use to the general population of children. It would be more of an ecological survey than a study, since there are certain to be socioeconomic, racial, geographic and other differences between the “no vaccine” group and the general population.

    I suspect that all we would find is that children who don’t get vaccinated have a higher incidence of vaccine-preventable disease (and their sequelae) than vaccinated children.

    Unfortunately, we’re already done that “experiment” and we already know what the results will be.

    Prometheus

  13. #13 Texas Reader
    January 5, 2009

    I’m with AJ – some attorneys need to find a family with a child harmed by the anti-vaccine lies McCarthy is spewing and convince them to sue her. Let’s get some of that $50MM to such a family, and hope the jury also designates some funds to go to vaccine education.

    If I had a child with cancer or otherwise with an impaired immune system, I’d be furious that the anti-vax idiots were putting my kid’s life at risk.

  14. #14 Broken Link
    January 5, 2009

    When I read about that $50 million, my first thought was not that she’d go on spreading anti-vax lunacy (which she certainly will do), but that the money must mean that Evan is not as recovered as they like to make out. The money could really be needed to support him over a lifetime.

    Sometimes he’s recovered, and sometimes recovering, but lately he’s been referred to as “autistic” in the press.

  15. #15 Simon
    January 5, 2009

    So when can we set the autism woo nutjobs against the Scientologists? Apparently Hubbard’s lot believe that Autism is psychosomatic, which obviously isn’t going to please the vaccine damage lot. So what do you think? Celebrity deathmatch between McCarthy & Carrey, and Cruise and Holmes?

  16. #16 FreeSpeaker
    January 6, 2009

    With Jenny getting these bucks, and Kirby chortling over spending millions on useless research, I wonder if the readers of RI can come up with a list of useful things that this money could to directlyhelp the families dealing with Autism. Things like respite, better treatments, more available treatment, etc.

    Note to DLC, who said: So… now those of us on the side of science can ask anti-vaxers if they’re a Big Jenny Shill?

    No, we would refer to them as shills for BigBoob, pun intended.

  17. #17 peaveyd
    January 7, 2009

    It is sad to see money being uselessly wasted during such economic times. I don’t know what makes me sicker, Jim’s stupidity or Jenny’s brilliance and luck to have an idiot like Jim supporting a craptastic effort.

  18. #18 Liesl
    January 7, 2009

    Christ on a crutch! so not surprising.

    Kemist: Oh, it’s more than accusing victims of bringing their fates on themselves. Rhonda Byrne had this to say about the genocide in Rwanda:

    “If we are in fear, if we’re feeling in our lives that we’re victims and feeling powerless, then we are on a frequency of attracting those things to us … totally unconsciously, totally innocently, totally all of those words that are so important.”
    http://tinyurl.com/9p8hrq

    Nice lady.

  19. #19 Uh Oh Simon...
    January 7, 2009

    “So when can we set the autism woo nutjobs against the Scientologists? Apparently Hubbard’s lot believe that Autism is psychosomatic, which obviously isn’t going to please the vaccine damage lot”.

    Clearly Simon is a new convert to the ND movement. Simon, the “nutjobs” (as you call them) aren’t the ones with the issues with Scientology… You guys are the ones who overreact with the Scientology stuff …. Please follow along now.

  20. #20 anonimouse
    January 7, 2009

    I will hand it good ol’ J.B. Handley – dude knows EXACTLY where his bread is buttered. I’m sure that being a middling venture capitalist isn’t nearly as lucrative as being Jenny McCarthy’s mercury-militia pal right about now.

    Maybe Handley can just be on the boards of herbal/alt-med companies for fun instead of necessity now.

  21. #21 Enkidu
    January 7, 2009

    Gee, and I’ve already had to shoot down Generation Rescue-cited crap today on the parenting board I frequent. More money to promote their misinformation? *sigh* I need to be prepared to hear the words “antifreeze” and “vaccine” together in the same sentence more often.

  22. #22 tracyb928
    January 7, 2009

    Yeah, the one I am a part of has a full time anti-vaxer who apparently spends her days jumping from website to website to “enlighten” us with articles in which she always inserts little snide comments. For the most part we humor her, but there are a few that obviously give her quite a bit more credit than she deserves. She is a big time conspiracy nut, and even has her own little “organization” to make her “information” seem more credible – but it’s just a link farm to places like Generation Rescue.

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