Respectful Insolence

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While I’m on the topic, blog bud has proclaimed that he loves Jenny McCarthy’s new blog at the Oprah website, in particular her Poop Stories. Personally, when I first saw Jenny’s blog, my first thought was that a question I had always had ever since Jenny McCarthy became the chief propagandist for the antivaccine movement had finally been answered. I now know why that cesspit of anti-vaccine lunacy, The Huffington Post, had never invited Jenny McCarthy to blog. HuffPo may not have standards when it comes to science, but at least it has standards when it comes to writing, and Jenny’s writing, as shown on her blog, is so inane that it reminds me of a 15-year-old girl, except that would be an insult to most 15-year-old girls. However, after reading PalMD’s take on it, I can sort of understand why he likes it so much. Not only does it provide endless examples of burnin’, burnin’ stupid to provide blog fodder, but its language is almost self-parody, or some sort of highly warped version of e.e. cummings as filtered through the mind of a demented Valley girl.

I have to admit that Jenny supplies me with blog fodder at times, too. Mainly, it consists of my utter disbelief that anyone can be so consistently ignorant (and demonstrate so consistently the arrogance of ignorance), coupled with the need to counter the pseudoscience and anti-vaccine lies that she lays down so regularly. That’s exactly why, when SciencePunk showed me a video from the Generation Rescue website of Jenny McCarthy called Biomedical Intervention 101 (scroll down to the list of videos or use this direct link), in which Jenny walks families through the basics of Biomedical Intervention, I was morbidly curious to see if she was still laying down the same line of nonsense that she’s been laying down for nearly two years now. Is she still using the formaldehyde gambit? Did her son’s pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, having learned from his slapdown at my hands last year, tell her just how idiotic the “toxins” gambit is?

Apparently not. Actually, I’m not sure that Dr. Jay has even learned that lesson.

In any case, because it’s clear that Jenny McCarthy just won’t stop, I subjected myself to as much of her video as I can stand. Because the video is 15 minutes long, there’s just too much misinformation there to counter in one post, and I don’t even intend to try. Instead, I’ll emulate what antivaccinationists do with scientific studies and cherry pick the bits of Jenny’s “science” I want to mention. But, please, do feel free to chime in about anything I’ve missed. In any case, I’m quite sure I’ve lost neurons doing so, so intense is the black hole of stupid in the video, but I do it all for your education and entertainment. No, no, don’t thank me. Just link to me, baby. Link to me and drive my traffic through the roof. That’s all the reward I require.

The video starts out with happy, cheesy graphics and fades to Jenny sitting in front of–gasp!–a black Mac PowerBook! Jenny’s a Mac person. Oh, well, I guess it just goes to show that it’s not just the cool, smart people who use Macs. In any case, if you want to know the answer to my question, you don’t have long to wait. First, Jenny asserts disingenuously once again, “I am not anti-vaccine. I am anti-toxin.” (One wonders if, being “anti-toxin,” as she says, Jenny can counter snake toxin.) She then launches into that hoary old antivaccine lie, saying:

I want the mercury, aluminum, ether, anti-freeze, and human aborted fetal tissue to be removed.

Ah, yes, the “toxins” gambit strikes again. But I did notice one thing. Did you? That’s right! She didn’t mention formaldehyde! Maybe Dr. Jay did give her a lesson after all. Yay, Dr. Jay! Well, maybe not. Jenny continues to mindlessly parrot even dumber aspects of the “toxins” gambit. For example:

Mercury. The level of mercury in vaccines has been reduced to trace levels for all but the flu vaccine, and a thimerosal-free version of the flue vaccine is available. Mercury exposure due to vaccines among children is lower than it’s been in over 20 years, which, coincidentally enough, was a couple of years before the beginning of the “autism epidemic.”

Ether in vaccines. Really. I don’t understand why antivaccinationists keep repeating this misinformation, other than sheer ignorance of chemistry or for the same reasons they keep repeating the “formaldehyde gambit.” When chemists refer to “ether,” most of the time they are referring to ethyl ether, and there is not any ethyl ether in vaccines. What has confused the science-challenged anti-vaccine zealots whose propaganda Jenny McCarthy is parroting? The only “ether” I could find in the CDC’s list is polyethylene glycol pisooctylphenyl ether (Triton X-100), a common detergent agent used to make cell membranes permeable. Alternatively, the origin of this gambit may be similar to that of the formaldehyde gambit, as I have been able to find in the literature examples of papers in which virus is isolated and purified using the Tween-ether method of extraction, described thusly:

The procedure of Mussgay and Rott (10) for extraction of Sindbis virus with Tween and ether was followed closely for CHIK virus. Clarified virus harvest was mixed with Tween 80 at a concentration of 5 mg of the surfactant per ml of virus harvest and was shaken for 15 min at room temperature. An equal volume of diethyl ether was added, and the mixture was shaken for 15 min at room temperature. Ether was separated from extracted virus by centrifugation at 1,200 X g for 20 min. Residual ether was removed from the aqueous phase by aeration with nitrogen gas. This procedure was found to give the highest yield of hemagglutinin (HA) from live-virus harvests, resulting in a four- to eightfold increase in HA titer.

So, even if ether were used to extract virus, it’s completely removed from the final solution of virus particles by aeration with nitrogen gas. That makes the “ether” gambit at best the equivalent of the formaldehyde gambit, only stupider.

Antifreeze in vaccines. No. Quite simply, no. There’s no antifreeze in vaccines. There just isn’t. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol. Some vaccines contain polyethylene glycol, a polymer used in many personal care products, such as skin creams and toothpaste. Continuing to parrot the “antifreeze in vaccines” line is more than intellectually dishonest. It’s just plain dishonest. Either that, or it’s evidence of an ignorance so profound that nothing can penetrate it.

Human aborted fetal tissue in vaccines. More idiocy. There is not “aborted fetal tissue” in vaccines. It is true that the virus stock for some vaccines is grown in a human cell line derived from an aborted fetus back in the 1960s. That cell line has been propagated continuously ever since. There’s a huge difference between “human aborted fetal tissue” and a cell line that’s existed nowhere other than in tissue culture growing in tissue culture media. Moreover, when the viruses are isolated, the cells are removed. There are none left in the vaccines.

Jenny then launches into a discourse in which she pits her Google University “education” against actual science, dismissing the genetic basis of autism with a blithe statement that, “contrary to traditional medical wisdom,” autism is not genetic, her babbling on and on like a brook about how autism “can’t be genetic” because there’s no such thing as a “genetic epidemic” reminding me of the babbling bubbles that must be flowing through what passes for her brain. Clearly the concepts of expanding the diagnostic criteria for what is counted as autism and of diagnostic substitution are too much for her fragile eggshell mind. She then goes on to liken a genetic susceptibility to autism to that of a genetic susceptibility to type II diabetes that manifests itself if one gets too obese. This “susceptibility,” to Jenny, is to all the nasty toxins that she visualizes in vaccines. Unfortunately, the evidence just doesn’t support her. (So what else is new?) There is clearly a fairly strong genetic component, but it is multifactorial. No single gene has been identified yet, although through linkage studies candidate genes have been identified. Meanwhile, although there may be environmental factors, none has been convincingly demonstrated yet. Yet Jenny boldly proclaims that the “toxins” cause autism in “susceptible” children. And where do those “toxins” come from? Jenny tells us they come from not just vaccines but…pesticides! Her idea is that autism is a “toxic overload.”

And what happens when a child reaches a “toxic tipping point” from those vaccines and pesticides? All sorts of horrors other than autism. Oh, yes. There are food allergies and immune system “overload,” malnourishment, seizures, constipation, diarrhea, and sensory issues. Her answer? Food, supplementation (yes, indeed, lots of those expensive supplements), detoxification (of course!), medicine, and positive thinking (whatever that means; maybe she’s referring to The Secret). She then goes into each one. I won’t. It’s all woo. Again, I’ll cherry pick. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll take a more “wholistic” view.

First off, Jenny buys into the whole concept that casein and gluten result in “intoxication” and that casein-free, gluten-free diets are the answer to autistic symptoms. This idea has largely been discredited. The proposed mechanism was known as the “opioid hypothesis,” because the milk protein casein is known to break down to casomorphins, peptides that have opioid effects and release histamine, and (or so it was thought) these breakdown products of casein exacerbate the symptoms of autism. This was the hypothesis that launched a million quacks advocating milk-free or casein-free diets. It’s also the idea that launched the idea that gluten-free diets might alleviate autistic symptoms, based on the observation that casein has a similar structure to gluten. Indeed, a Cochrane review from last year concluded:

In the first version of this review we argued that exclusion diets are not without cost in terms of inconvenience and extra financial cost and limitations on foods of choice for the affected family member and that we could not recommend their use as a standard treatment on the basis of the limited data available. The only trial identified since the first review shows no significant difference between the intervention and control group and, again, we cannot recommend these exclusion diets as standard treatment.

These diets are also not without risk. A recent study suggested that such diets may contribute to bone loss in developing children.

Jenny talks about how much she really loved her marijuana when she was in college. While I’m not surprised to learn that Jenny really, really loved her pot (it explains a lot), I was very surprised to learn that she actually had gone to college. From this lovely background of understanding, Jenny explains about autistic children that “when they want that wheat you’re giving them a joint.” If only it were that easy to get high. Unfortunately, Jenny’s understanding of pharmacology is about as good as all of her other understanding of science. She seems to think that the canniboids in marijuana are the same thing as opiods. Really.

At around halfway to two-thirds of the way through the video (by which point, I think, blood was coming out of my ears), Jenny gives a discourse on neurology. I rather suspect the shock would cause poor Steve Novella to clutch his chest with crushing chest pain if he tried to watch it, as she describes neurons as the “kings” and the glial cells the “chefs,” which, according to her, can “morph into Rambo” and fight off Iran and Iraq. In fact, she even describes it and acts it out. Her analogy? Allergies change the “chef cells” into “Rambo cells,” and the “king cells” starve.

It wasn’t just my ears that were bleeding at this point. I think my eyes were too. Hell, if I had kept watching I suspect I would have started bleeding out of every orifice. It was at this point I had to stop watching. I couldn’t take it anymore.

This, my friends, is the face of the antivaccine movement, a woman so scientifically ignorant but so sure that she knows what she’s doing that she will pump her kid full of supplements, subject him to all manner of detox woo, and rant against “toxins” in vaccines, all the while piously telling us she is not “anti-vaccine,” even though she has admitted that children may die because of her efforts.

ADDENDUM:

Generation Rescue deleted the video, apparently in embarrassment. However, YouTube knows all, and here it is:

Comments

  1. #1 Paul Johnson
    May 15, 2009

    Umm excuse me, but everyone knows all the cool intelligent people run linux.

  2. #2 BigHeathenMike
    May 15, 2009

    I’ve said it before, Jenny McCarthy telling MDs they’re wrong about vaccines is like if she took six months of boxercise classes and then started teaching kids how to fight and telling them that Manny Pacquiao has no idea what he’s doing.

  3. #3 Mandos
    May 15, 2009

    Paul Johnson beat me to it.

  4. #4 DavidCT
    May 15, 2009

    Maybe you missed the part about why you don’t have to detox after Botox.

    The stupid may burn but the misinformation message is getting through. I have come across a fair number of people who have heard that vaccines are associated with autism. These are people from varying backgrounds.

    This is the sort of information that one hears then stores away without analysis. With repetition the information takes on a familiarity and gradually becomes a fact by default. All of us carry around these bits of information that we have never really taken the time to think about very deeply. When someone mentions one of these factoids we might think “oh yes I heard something about that”. The familiarity predisposes us to thinking the factoid might have some validity particularly if it has never been specifically challenged. As likely as not by the time the passively accepted information comes up in conversation, we have long since forgotten that the source was a complete idiot.

  5. #5 BB
    May 15, 2009

    Unfortunately, most of the US populace is as dismally ignorant as McCarthy. That’s how she gets the following she has.
    Forget No Child Left Behind; seems every child is left behind when it comes to good science ed.

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 15, 2009

    I’ve said it before, Jenny McCarthy telling MDs they’re wrong about vaccines is like if she took six months of boxercise classes and then started teaching kids how to fight and telling them that Manny Pacquiao has no idea what he’s doing.

    Wow, that’s actually pretty good. Though I wouldn’t equate Jenny’s “knowledge” to six months of boxercise classes.

    I would say it’s more like renting the boxercise dvd and watching it a few times.

  7. #7 LAB
    May 15, 2009

    You can run Linux on a Mac.

  8. #8 kathleen
    May 15, 2009

    She makes my “king cells” hurt.

  9. #9 Ramel
    May 15, 2009

    “You can run Linux on a Mac”

    True, but you could get the same performance for less money by not buying a mac. Damn things are nothing but fashion accessories these days.

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    May 15, 2009

    It is true that the virus stock for some vaccines is grown in a human cell line derived from an aborted fetus back in the 1960s. That cell line has been propagated continuously ever since.

    So, cells descended from cells which were once in a foetus are, by McCarthy-logic, foetal tissue. Oh. My. God. We are all aborted foetuses now.

  11. #11 notmercury
    May 15, 2009

    Fascinating. I wonder if some glial cells nourish their kings like Jacques Pépin and fight like Barney Fife while others are metaphorical deep fry chefs that go postal when enraged by allergens.

  12. #12 LAB
    May 15, 2009

    @Ramel
    The comment wasn’t about saving money, it was about “cool” computer hardware. Macs are “cooler” than PCs, and if you’re extra cool, you can run Linux on your Mac.

  13. #13 Magnus
    May 15, 2009

    Biomedical 101, huh? What’s next? A Physics 101 lecture about how to contact your quantum angel?

  14. #14 ababa
    May 15, 2009

    Sitting in front of her Mac, huh? Did she also wear her “smart person” glasses that she uses to try and differentiate herself from the bimbo ditz image she crafted over the past 15 years? I swear she acts like the world can’t tell the difference between Clark Kent and Superman because of the glasses.

    I refuse to lose the brain cells it would require to watch it and find out.

  15. #15 Ramel
    May 15, 2009

    @LAB
    That’s why I said “Damn things are nothing but fashion accessories these days”, and quite honestly I think they’re about as cool as the rocky horror show is kinky.

  16. #16 BB
    May 15, 2009

    I thought we’re here to knock McCarthy, not Macs.
    I use one; actually several in lab, office, and home.
    So what?

  17. #17 catgirl
    May 15, 2009

    It’s so funny. Why is Mac vs. PC (vs. Linux) more controversial than almost every other topic on the internet?

  18. #18 DLC
    May 15, 2009

    wow. Jenny’s off the wall. More like, she’s off the wall and halfway across the ceiling. Biomedical 101 ? right. Say Jenny, do more indigo children wind up needing “biomedical interventions” ? Your B.S. is from Google U, we know, but where did you do your master’s thesis ? Is either that or your doctoral dissertation published somewhere I can read them ? I’d be intensely interested.

  19. #19 AM
    May 15, 2009

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/dont-listen-to-jenny-mccarthy

    Do you moonlight as a Cracked.com columnist, Orac?

  20. #20 Blake Stacey
    May 15, 2009

    catgirl (#17):

    Oh, I’m sure we could mix it up with other topics and make it even worse. For example, Richard Dawkins uses a Mac.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    May 15, 2009

    “The level of mercury in vaccines has been reduced to trace levels in all but the flu vaccine.”Right.A few weeks ago, I heard anti-vaxers complaining about the minute traces of various substances that remained.Suddenly, it *dawned* on me(correction:make that,”I realized”)that reducing the amount of mercury could be seen as *increasing* the dosage *if* you believe in homeopathy.(And I’ll bet that most of them do).

  22. #22 Paul Johnson
    May 15, 2009

    Blake Stacey, that was epic… and totally uncalled for

  23. #23 Rational Jen
    May 15, 2009

    Okay, I had to do it. I had to read the article at the Poop Stories link. Now that I know way more about Jenny McCarthy’s elimination habits that I wanted to, I just have two comments. First, if she’s making sure Evan’s poop has no bacteria in it, he’s in a world of hurt. Guess it goes with having an idiot for a parent.

    Second, Jenny’s constipation problem makes sense in light of her fear of one of the “toxins” in vaccines, namely the polyethylene glycol. Not only is it not antifreeze, it’s the active ingredient in Miralax! Perhaps if Jenny ingested a little of it once in while, she’d think more clearly.

  24. #24 MPG
    May 15, 2009

    It’s so funny. Why is Mac vs. PC (vs. Linux) more controversial than almost every other topic on the internet?

    Have you ever heard of Sayre’s Law? It goes: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the stakes at issue”.

  25. #25 jen
    May 15, 2009

    reducing the amount of mercury could be seen as *increasing* the dosage *if* you believe in homeopathy

    Nah, we’re safe as long as it wasn’t shaken the prescribed number of times while the correct prayers were chanted over and virgin chickens were being ritually slain ….

  26. #26 jj
    May 15, 2009

    While I’m not surprised to learn that Jenny really, really loved her pot (it explains a lot)

    Hey, I find that offensive, not all pot heads are brain dead like Jenny… They are usually coke heads (and that wouldn’t surprise me about Jenny)

  27. #27 Michael Simpson
    May 15, 2009

    Mac vs. PC is much more fun than Science vs. idiots, because, in general, no one dies if they choose to use a Mac. PC users tend to have a higher mortality rate because they keep hitting their heads on the screen because of various crashes. :)

    Catgirl, the reason that Mac vs. PC makes for such irrational writing is that Mac users are smug, self-confident, intellectuals. PC users aren’t. :)

    Sorry, way off topic.

    Jenny McCarthy is an idiot. Shouldn’t we have a list somewhere of all of her inane, anti-scientific, uneducated comments so all bloggers can easily reference it for future use?

  28. #28 jj
    May 15, 2009

    PC users tend to have a higher mortality rate because they keep hitting their heads on the screen because of various crashes…self-confident, intellectuals
    Really didn’t want to get into this one, but I feel i must. As an IT professional, administering 30+ PC’s and 7 Macs, I can tell you I spend as much time troubleshooting Macs as the PCs, and there are less in the office (and that’s not because I don’t know Macs, I do, very well)… XP is as stable as OSX, as long as you are not an idiot opening every piece of spam you get.

    As mentioned above, the real “self-confident intellectuals” use Linux.

  29. #29 Orac
    May 15, 2009

    Alright already. Enough’s enough.

    I’d really appreciate it if you’d all knock it off with the Mac-PC stuff. If you just can’t help yourselves and must keep it up, I’ll post a separate post called “Mac vs. PC” with the admonition for everyone to knock yourselves out. Then I’ll completely ignore every single comment made after that post.

  30. #30 Pareidolius
    May 15, 2009

    Macs have fewer toxins in them, right? PCs cause autism. I’m sure there’s potential book deal in this . . . I need to whip up a “study”.

  31. #31 jj
    May 15, 2009

    Blockquotes – As a techie, I still can’t get tags right… Just lost all my credibility.

  32. #32 Ramel
    May 15, 2009

    I don’t normally get involved in the Mac/Windows/Linux argument, I just hate it when mass produced commertial products get treated like cultural icons. Macs have an adaquate OS and decent tech. But they are over priced, and loved by irritatingly smug and trendy asshats. Windows on the other hand is produced by the second most evil company in the world (after Disney), and Linux is great but too much like hard work for most people. No one can win the argument, but it will keep geeks occupied for the foreseeable future and distract us from world domination.

  33. #33 Ramel
    May 15, 2009

    Sry got distracted, so the post went up after you told us to stop

  34. #34 Stu
    May 15, 2009

    the stakes at issue

    What’s wrong with my stakes?

  35. #35 jj
    May 15, 2009

    What’s wrong with my stakes? Over cooked, poor cut of beef. You need a better butcher…

    I guess I have nothing insightful to add to the topic :( , other than that is mind-numbing idiocy

  36. #36 cicely
    May 15, 2009

    It is true that the virus stock for some vaccines is grown in a human cell line derived from an aborted fetus back in the 1960s. That cell line has been propagated continuously ever since. There’s a huge difference between “human aborted fetal tissue” and a cell line that’s existed nowhere other than in tissue culture growing in tissue culture media. Moreover, when the viruses are isolated, the cells are removed. There are none left in the vaccines.

    Maybe this is some kind of quasi-homeopathy? “The vaccine remembers”? Or, alternatively, the “Law of Contagion”, straightforward magical thinking? Or both? I’d suggest that homeopathy is the Law of Contagion, updated to the 19th/20th/21st century, trying to disguise itself as “science” in an attempt to avoid all the laughing and pointing.

  37. #37 ba
    May 15, 2009

    On topic, the “dietary approach” to autism is currently in clinical trial. Funny thing is they can’t keep kids on the diet and some of them have been losing weight and manifesting other health issues beyond the predisposition to decreased bone density associated with the diet.

    I’ve placed many kids with autism on diets while treating pediatric feeding problems. Thus, not treatment for autism but related to true food allergies. It certainly is the case that a child with a food allergy looks, acts, feels better when the problematic allergens have been eliminated from their diet. That said, there does not seem to be any evidence that there is a higher incidence of food allergy in persons with autism relative to typically developing persons.

  38. #38 drksky
    May 15, 2009

    Thanks, Orac, for causing me to get that whole poop stories in my head. Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!

    I just noticed that her blog doesn’t allow for comments. Can you imagine the bloodbath if it did? Any blogger who doesn’t allow comments on their posts are way to insecure about their opinions to allow any criticism.

  39. #39 Interrobang
    May 15, 2009

    The whole gluten/casein autism diet thing really ticks me off. It’s hard enough sometimes for people with genuine food allergies to be taken seriously (whether by family members or restaurant staff or medical professionals — who are generally the best of the lot, actually) without having food allergies getting bound up with (more) quackery in the public consciousness.

    I’ve personally already had one person tell me that if I’d buy Hulda Clark’s book, I’d learn how to cure my lactose intolerance! (That’s aside from the millions of people who seem to think that if only I started eating dairy again, I’d somehow relearn to tolerate it after losing the ability at about 1 year of age…)

  40. #40 D. C. Sessions
    May 15, 2009

    I’ve personally already had one person tell me that if I’d buy Hulda Clark’s book, I’d learn how to cure my lactose intolerance! (That’s aside from the millions of people who seem to think that if only I started eating dairy again, I’d somehow relearn to tolerate it after losing the ability at about 1 year of age…)

    And I’ll bet you had some vaccinations around that time, too.

    Since we now know what causes it, you should be able to clear it up with a course of chelation. Well, maybe with a gluten- and casein-free diet too.

  41. #41 Kimbo Jones
    May 15, 2009

    she describes neurons as the “kings” and the glial cells the “chefs,” which, according to her, can “morph into Rambo” and fight off Iran and Iraq. In fact, she even describes it and acts it out. Her analogy? Allergies change the “chef cells” into “Rambo cells,” and the “king cells” starve.

    I’m simultaneously 1) laughing my arse off at the mental picture (hardy har) of 300-style battles among my brain cells over arbitrary territory disputes and sect divisions and 2) choking on the sheer level of disbelief that these are actual words that someone, anyone, actually said.

    It’s like one of those spam email random word generators. I cannot palm my face nearly hard enough to express just how epically stupid all of that is. I mean, wow. Just wow.

  42. #42 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    May 15, 2009

    Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. Add some clips of her pseudo-scholarly google research to some of her going all ‘mama bear’ on the hapless pediatricians and set it to music. The ‘kings and chefs’ soundbyte is comedy gold.

  43. #43 ???
    May 15, 2009

    There’s no antifreeze in vaccines.

    No? Damn! All this time I’ve been cooling my engine with MMR. Oh well.

  44. #44 ???
    May 15, 2009

    I’d really appreciate it if you’d all knock it off with the Mac-PC stuff. If you just can’t help yourselves and must keep it up, I’ll post a separate post called “Mac vs. PC” with the admonition for everyone to knock yourselves out. Then I’ll completely ignore every single comment made after that post.

    Yeah! Besides, everyone knows that President’s ChoiceTM is better than McDonald’s anyway.

  45. #45 RockitQueen
    May 15, 2009

    Does anyone else think it’s totally weird that she claims to constantly monitor Evan’s (her own and probably Jim’s) poop, even going so far as to send it to a lab for testing?? I’m not a parent so I really don’t know, but isn’t that just bizarre, gross and completely over the top? And she seemed so proud of herself when writing about it. And given her background of fart-smelling and puke-eating I’m beginning to think she has some seriously strange fetish issues.

    In all seriousness, the more I read about her, the more my heart aches for Evan. I’m not sure how old he is, but eventually his little friends are going to be able to read and then some will surely discover what a kook his mom is and how she collects his poos. And that will be the least of it. The playground torture will be unimaginable.

  46. #46 Jim
    May 15, 2009

    R.Queen,
    As a manytimes parent i can testify that the sooner one gets to stop monitoring the anal output of offspring the better.

  47. #47 jj
    May 15, 2009

    RE: The “Dietary” Approach -
    I work for a “supplement” company (I know I know, I’m just the IT guy, but we’re pretty legit,as far a supplements go), but we get customer testimonials on our products, and we’ve had a few from parents of Autistic children who say that they were instructed by a doctor to give them Omega supplement, and in using our omega product, they see an ‘improvement’. I take this as it is, anecdotal, but does anyone know if there is any grain of truth, or even more, how this would effect autism? Anyway, we in no way say on our product that this is a use for it, but we do see a lot of parents using them, as recommended by their physician. Just looking to see how much BS such claims are

  48. #48 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    By the way, a little bit of good news:

    Reader’s Digest — which is about as mainstream and just-plain-folk-friendly as they come — has an article in their June 2009 issue titled “The Trouble with Celebrity Science.” There’s a big section on Jenny McCarthy, and the verdict is a pretty firm “the science is not on her side.” They quote a cancer doc who says “I worry that children are going to pay for this with their lives.”

    (They also come down against Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers for their bio-identical hormone advocacy, and agree with Elisabeth Hasselbeck that gluten-free diets are right for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but unnecessary if you don’t have either.)

  49. #49 idlemind
    May 15, 2009

    RockitQueen, I think that obsessing over your child’s poo is emotional child abuse even ignoring that writing about it sets him up for the jeers of his peers.

  50. #50 RockitQueen
    May 15, 2009

    idlemind, thank you…that is exactly what I thought.

    At first all her anti-vax lunacy was kind of mildly amusing (“Oh, look…Jenny’s trying to think!”), then it became annoying…now I think she’s legitimately mentally unstable.

  51. #51 D. C. Sessions
    May 15, 2009

    Reader’s Digest — which is about as mainstream and just-plain-folk-friendly as they come — has an article in their June 2009 issue titled “The Trouble with Celebrity Science.” There’s a big section on Jenny McCarthy, and the verdict is a pretty firm “the science is not on her side.” They quote a cancer doc who says “I worry that children are going to pay for this with their lives.”

    Srsly? That “cancer doc” wouldn’t be named David, would he?

  52. #52 TotoDad
    May 15, 2009

    You are so right DavidCT “This is the sort of information that one hears then stores away without analysis. With repetition the information takes on a familiarity and gradually becomes a fact by default. All of us carry around these bits of information that we have never really taken the time to think about very deeply. When someone mentions one of these factoids we might think “oh yes I heard something about that”. The familiarity predisposes us to thinking the factoid might have some validity particularly if it has never been specifically challenged.”
    So many woo-woowacky ideas we accept and it usually is also the case that we know very little about the topic and someone can take advantage of our ignorance. Like; chameleons changing color to camouflage themselves, or that the shuttle astronauts “float” because of no gravity. The average person has no idea about the physiology of chameleons or the physics of spaceflight, thus they accept these without any scrutiny. I think most people are just intellectually lazy and void of any curiosity.

  53. #53 Chris
    May 15, 2009

    D.C. Sessions:

    Srsly? That “cancer doc” wouldn’t be named David, would he?

    No, her name is Nancy… as in “says Nancy L. Snyderman, MD, chief medical editor for NBC News and a cancer surgeon affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.”

  54. #54 Dave
    May 15, 2009

    RockitQueen – One of things (of quite a few) that amazed me when I was a new parent was how aware and even focused on poop I became. Two people, whos total previous conversations about bathroom habits was a single argument over the position of a toilet seat, are suddenly having frequent discussions about the texture, color and consistency of poop. Ill also agree with Jim that for most parents this is something that must be done but the sooner we are done with it the better. But I suspect that non-parents would have difficulty understanding the how much poop becomes the focal point of the lives of new parents, particularly during the infancy of the first child. Given the “right” sort of obsessive mind, I can see how someone might continue this habit well past the point when it has any value.

  55. #55 Chris
    May 16, 2009

    Dave:

    One of things (of quite a few) that amazed me when I was a new parent was how aware and even focused on poop I became.

    And then how after changing a few diapers a normal parent gets over it.

    Though there were those few amusing times after a certain child consumed crayons, paint, clay and marker nibs. I had to keep his older sibling’s art supplies away from this kid until he was almost four years old… plus the little stinker refused to become potty trained until he was almost in kindergarten! (he grew out of both bad habits, he recently took the AP American Government, AP Comparative Government and the AP Calculus BC tests and is working a job to pay for living in the dorm next year when he goes off to college… oh, yeah he gets to pay for his own housing because we live ten blocks from the university!)

  56. #56 CulturalIconography
    May 16, 2009

    “No, her name is Nancy… as in “says Nancy L. Snyderman, MD, chief medical editor for NBC News and a cancer surgeon affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.”

    If I recall correctly, she’s one of the good gals. She did a segment coming out strongly pro-immunization. Emphatically.

    As for Jenny and Oprah, does the phrase “Nuclear-Powered Twits” even come close to hitting the mark?

  57. #57 Mike
    May 16, 2009

    Orac, much as I like the bashing, I sometimes feel a little guilty about it. In many ways, McCarthy is a victim here. She does have an autistic kid and, like many parents of autistics, is desperately searching for someone to blame. The real villains are the lawyers and “scientists” who have used the grief and anger of parents like her to make themselves undeservedly rich and famous.

  58. #58 DebinOz
    May 16, 2009

    Having being involved for years with families with a member with autism , I have noticed that the majority are not desperately searching for someone to blame. Usually there is a family history (as in my son’s case) or there are other medical conditions. The parents usually put it away at the earliest opportunity, and devote their energies to providing an appropriate education, skills development, love and acceptance.

    The very small percentage who are looking to blame, scramble around amongst all the wacky theories. I don’t know anyone who really goes to invasive ends to pursue the theories, other than pay good money for dodgy interventions or a half-hearted attempt at dietary changes. I certainly don’t know a ‘cured’ person!

  59. #59 Joseph
    May 16, 2009

    we get customer testimonials on our products, and we’ve had a few from parents of Autistic children who say that they were instructed by a doctor to give them Omega supplement, and in using our omega product, they see an ‘improvement’.

    @jj: With virtually anything, some parents of autistic children will report improvement. The most outlandish example is perhaps the thought screen helmet.

    I’m assuming that supplement you’re referring to is Omega-3. Well, that actually could plausibly be of some benefit. But there’s currently insufficient evidence (Bent et al., 2009).

  60. #60 wheatdogg
    May 16, 2009

    I had to visit Jenny-blog site just to see how bad it was. I tried to read some of what Jenny wrote (I am assuming that no one would actually ghostwrite that drivel).

    It hurt. I had to stop. I didn’t click on “read more.” I closed the tab in a hurry, fearing loss of intellect.

    I’ve taught high school. I teach ESL now. Jenny’s prose is worse than Orac describes. It looks like she is trying to act smart while talking “like one of the girls,” and failing on both counts. Oprah, if she had any sense, should be embarrassed to have Jenny’s drivel on her website.

    And therein lies the problem.

  61. #61 Marc Abian
    May 16, 2009

    The real villains are the lawyers and “scientists” who have used the grief and anger of parents like her to make themselves undeservedly rich and famous.

    Rich and famous scientists? Right…

  62. #62 Pablo
    May 16, 2009

    While it’s easy to dismiss Jenny McCarthy as clueless, it is worth noting that among the mistakes she is making is a very common one. Recall the exercise (usually brought up by someone like Martin Gardner) where you are given three cards, some face up and some face down, and asked to assess the hypothesis that all black suits have blue backs, or something like that. All together too many people chose the wrong card, and it is generally the one that can only support the hypothesis, and not disprove it.

    This is what Jenny (and that moron who constantly tests his daughter’s urine) are doing. By being fixated on what is in her son’s poo, she doesn’t learn what is in other kids’ poo. Thus, she sees something that she thinks is a toxin, goes batty, not realizing that it is a normal component. The same goes for the guy. How often does he send in his own urine, or that of a non-autistic child, to see what the aluminum content is? (after chelation therapy, of course) How often is Jenny testing normal poo?

    The sad thing is, if he did send in the urine of a non-autistic child, and it came back with the same type of aluminum content, instead of realizing that it was a stupid test, they would just conclude that the other child is ALSO autistic, and they didn’t realize it…

  63. #63 Danimal
    May 16, 2009

    Jenny uses a Mac? Hmmmmm… That must mean she knows what she is talking about. Not.

  64. #64 Kathryn
    May 17, 2009

    Apple should sue Jenny McCarthy for libel.

  65. #65 George
    May 17, 2009

    @Kathryn – or perhaps Apple could just send her a PC, along with the research demonstrating that Apple computers contain ingredients used in thimerosal (something used in the manufacture of an Apple must have trace Hg – and even if it doesn’t, as long as you really want it to be true, it’s a McFact)…

  66. #66 Mike
    May 17, 2009

    “Rich and famous scientists? Right…”

    I dunno. As a scientist myself, I think getting hundreds of thousands of pounds from legal interests sounds pretty sweet.

  67. #67 Dr. P
    May 17, 2009

    @65< blockquote>@Kathryn – or perhaps Apple could just send her a PC,most pc’niks have to be good at troubleshooting, so she’ll be in deep if that happens…..she’ll be in deep if she has to do anything other than push a mouse around.We don’t want her anyway( Sorry, no more pc comments, but as a pc guy, it was the obvious statement)

  68. #68 MC
    May 18, 2009

    According to Jenny McCarthy’s online bio, she was in college to study nursing.

    Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

    So, Orac, it could be worse.

    Orac: Scalpel.

    silence

    Orac: Nurse….Scalpel!

    silence

    Orac: Nurse Jenny, could you hand me that really sharp little knife that’s on the tray next to you…

    Jenny: Oh, were you talking to me?!?

  69. #69 Pete
    May 19, 2009

    What scares me is the fact that people actually watch this garbage and take it as legit information. Not only does this prove that our society is a massive disappointment, but it also clearly portrays that most of it doesn’t even want to improve our current lackluster state. Instead they want to tune into Jenny’s amazingly intelligent chemistry and biomedical lessons about not drinking milk because it’s basically smoking a joint.

    Ironically, they take advice from someone who doesn’t know how to pronounce any of the parts in her own body, and instead refers to them as (Iraq, Iran, Rambo, Kings, and Chefs.) Uh let me pawse wile my brane recuvers frum duh maccive waive uv stoopidity dat jus gone thru it.

    Actually, I don’t think I need to rant any longer, it’s just making me more angry.

    Kudos to society and Oprah for entrusting their youth’s now shitty future in Jenny’s hands.

  70. #70 Corina Becker
    May 19, 2009

    I watched all of the video. ow ow ow!

    I’m not a scientist, and I just managed to pass high school science class, but I can tell that what Jenny says is complete stupidity. That kind of says a lot.
    Also, notice how she couldn’t remember all that she was going to say, and kept having to look at the Mac’s screen? Several times, even, she was looking down and obviously reading. I’d make a blond joke about not even being able to remember her own drivel, but that’ll be an insult to blonds. (I even question whether she’s a real blond)

    Honestly, the only worthwhile thing she says in the entire video is to keep positive thinking. Which is true. In any sort of tough situation, it is best to keep a positive outlook, and for too long has ASD been surrounded by negative thinking.

    Wait. Evan had seizures? Seizures aren’t a part of autism. How is that explained?

  71. #71 James Sweet
    May 19, 2009

    @Corina Becker: Actually, she is not a real blond, and in fact if you check her blog right now, you will see that she admits putting “toxins” in her hair to achieve blondness.

    So if we suspend disbelief for a moment and accept the “toxins gambit”… the only conclusion we are left with is that Jenny McCarthy feels that having a stylish hair color is MORE IMPORTANT than preventing the deaths of children.

    Well. “Alrighty, then,” as her husband would have once said…

  72. #72 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    May 19, 2009

    Well, here’s an opportunity to influence Jenny’s content:

    https://www.oprah.com/plugform.jsp?plugId=1985511&referer=http://www.oprah.com/index

    I’m not overly optimistic, but it’s probably worth a shot.

  73. #73 Corina Becker
    May 19, 2009

    @James Sweet.

    Yeah, I saw that on her blog. It’s completely hypocritical of her.

    ick, this leads me to believe that Jenny McCarthy is proof of natural selection at work. Unfortunately, I’m sure that it’s going to harm a lot of people.

    @Danio
    Made a comment with that link. Thanks!

  74. #74 flim flam
    May 19, 2009

    i haz glasse & macbook now!. Iz not stoopid no more!. Iz know more dan der scientists. Iz all gud at swearings! Iz got new frend who did give me a show. iz not telling peeples to not vax but vaxxing is teh ebil and yur babies will die. yay!.

  75. #75 Corina Becker
    May 20, 2009

    @flim flam

    actually, she didn’t wear the glasses. See the picture above? No glasses. But her eye make seems to want to BE glasses.

  76. #76 Ryan Biggs
    June 3, 2009

    > autism “can’t be genetic” because there’s no
    > such thing as a “genetic epidemic”

    Wow. That really starts to sound like creationist logic. “there must be a problem with carbon dating, because we know that the earth is only 10,000 years old…”

  77. #77 H2N2
    June 8, 2009

    I watched up to the “I want *list of bogus “toxins”* removed!” bit. I think a circuit blew in my brain. Not so much from the misinformation and the obvious lack of anything even in the same galactic quadrant of common sense, but from the condescending tone of voice in which it was all delivered. My friend’s brother is SEVERELY autistic–like, as bad as you can get–and she would have a fit of apocalyptic proportions at this.
    Scientists are not so stupid that they would put heavy metals and antifreeze in vaccines. As for the ether, I’m not sure if she just has a vendetta against the sweet oil of vitriol or she’s upset because there’s too much light in the vaccines. [/bad obscure joke] Ether is merely an anesthetic, medical detergent agent, and something that is used as a solvent to remove fats, waxes, and resins.
    I find it hard to believe that…THING for several reasons. I won’t go into them, but I can’t shake the feeling that her makeup makes her look like either a demented panda or her significant other beats her.
    Buuut, that’s just my massively belated two cents.

  78. #78 Dr Hulda Clark
    August 22, 2009

    I cant understand jenny what you have said about the port or it is about the lenix.
    Purest Dr Hula Clark Cleanse Kits Here

  79. #79 susan
    November 2, 2009

    Jenny has a child with autism – that makes her an expert on autism.

    I have a mole – I guess that makes me an expert on melanoma.

    feh.

  80. #80 r.a.h.
    December 1, 2009

    yes, but she’s a babe. Say anything you want against her but she’s a babe.

    just kidding … she wouldn’t get the air-time if she were 300lbs.

  81. #81 Scientizzle
    January 6, 2010

    LOL @ comment 78 with the Hulda Clark spam…this ain’t your target audience, spambot.

    (If you choose to delete that old spam post, Orac, feel free to delete this comment as well!)

  82. #82 MeMe
    March 2, 2010

    Farm animals’ “poop” is definately watched, since changes can indicate poor health or even fatal diseases. And yes, gluten “intolerance” wreaked havoc on me and my family-it “poisoned” me to extent that I was very aggressive and sometime irrational-and now, after a few years recovery, I am “normal” (what ever that is!) again…but still gluten intolerant! However, many people in my family also do not tolerate vaccinations well-we get side-effects. We have learned, much to our sorrow, that the risks from the childhood diseases are less than the risks from the vaccines…and that is our choice. This is not yet a government run communist country, so if people don’t want to vaccinate their kids, that’s ok, since anyone who fears the disease is safe when they vaccinate, right? (And if you are not safe, then why vaccinate at all?) So just because science has not YET proven a point, doesn’t mean that we should criticize others for having a different viewpoint. You catch more…with sugar than vinegar, so don’t be rude.
    And remember, the U.S. is still a free country.

  83. #83 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @MeMe

    We have learned, much to our sorrow, that the risks from the childhood diseases are less than the risks from the vaccines

    You’re a bit unclear as to the effects experienced by you and your family. Are you saying that gluten intolerance is caused by vaccines? As far as I am aware, gluten intolerance (e.g., celiac disease) is genetic and is not caused by vaccines.

    Further, how did you assess the ratio between the risk from the vaccine and the risk from the disease.

    if people don’t want to vaccinate their kids, that’s ok, since anyone who fears the disease is safe when they vaccinate, right?

    If someone does not want to vaccinate their kid, that is their choice and they have a right to it. However, they should base their choice upon sound reason and science. For example, in the case of egg allergies, they have a justifiable reason. If the choice is based upon a belief that vaccines cause, for example, autism, then that is not sound reasoning and does not have a basis in science.

    As to vaccinated individuals being safe, vaccines, like any medicine, is not 100% effective. There are individuals for whom the vaccine just does not work or does not work as well. Further, there are individuals who fear the disease but who cannot be vaccinated (e.g., allergic to a vaccine ingredient, immunosuppressed, too young, too old, etc.). Those individuals rely on other people getting vaccinated to keep them safe. So, basing the decision to not vaccinate on vague, unfounded fears does demonstrably put others at risk.

    (And if you are not safe, then why vaccinate at all?)

    You seem to be taking the view that vaccines are either 100% effective or they are not effective at all. Neither is true. They are rather effective, but not perfect. The vaccine grants a greater chance of remaining healthy and disease-free (and avoiding all the potential complications from said diseases).

    So just because science has not YET proven a point, doesn’t mean that we should criticize others for having a different viewpoint.

    When the other viewpoints are based on vague fears, unsupported by any sound scientific research or even scientifically plausible hypotheses, and those viewpoints are being promoted and actively spread, thus affecting vaccination rates and having an impact on public health, then, yes, we should criticize those individuals. You are right in that we should not criticize them for simply having their viewpoint, but we should do so for their promoting that viewpoint. It is perfectly justifiable to criticize people like JB Handley, Jenny McCarthy, Joe Mercola, Barbara Loe Fisher, etc., for their actions.

  84. #84 Scientizzle
    March 2, 2010

    Perhaps this is too much vinegar and not enough sugar:

    MeMe, your comment is largely incoherent; what is comprehensible is political jingoism, scientifically ignorant and logically unsound.

    Please spend some time (on at least Wikipedia) reading about herd immunity, or investigating the contributions of successful vaccination programs in the dramatic reduction of disease prevalence, morbidity and mortality, and the corresponding rise in life span associated with these gains.

    And really think about the hypocrisy that you promote: the USA is free and you can do what you want, but I shouldn’t criticize your scientifically unsound ideas because it’s not nice? Astonishing.

  85. #85 Todd W.
    March 2, 2010

    @MeMe

    To follow-up on Scientizzle’s comment, pay a visit to AntiAntiVax and read over the information there. I especially encourage you to follow the links on that site, even if you don’t thoroughly read the page itself.

  86. #86 Prometheus
    March 2, 2010

    Much of the Jenny-based vaccination fear is rooted in two false assumptions.

    In Jenny-based “science”, since 1 in 150 (or 1 in 100) children get autism and only 3 in 10,000 get SSPE (a progressive, fatal neurological complication of measles), your child’s risk from the vaccine is greater than the risk from the disease.

    Does everybody see the two false assumptions? Let me help.

    The first false assumption is to use only the risk from one vaccine-preventable disease. In this example, I used measles and, in fact, only used one of the many possible complications of measles that lead to death or permanent disablility. A variation of this false assumption is to use the current number of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases.

    If you are to truly compare “apples to apples”, you need to assume that everybody will follow Jenny’s advice about vaccines, not just the select few, and you need to factor in the risks of all of the vaccine-preventable diseases, not just a few.

    In other words, you have to assume that all children will be unvaccinated and that the vaccine-preventable childhood diseases will return (with the exception of smallpox, which only exists in captivity) to the levels seen in “The Good Old Days” before vaccination turned our children into soul-less shells.

    Now, did anybody see the second false assumption? Let’s see a show of hands…..

    The second false assumption was that vaccines – any or all of them – cause autism. That’s right, the current data don’t support the putative link between vaccines and autism – not “Too many, too soon” and not any single vaccine. Granted, we haven’t studied all possible combinations to see if there is a small population that is sensitive to vaccines, but we also haven’t studied the possible impact of delaying or avoiding vaccines as a causative factor in autism.

    In fact, there are literally trillions of things that we haven’t studied as possible causes of autism. Yet we don’t hear cries to “Green our cell phones!” or “Too many televisions, too soon!”.

    Funny.

    Prometheus

  87. #87 Calli Arcale
    March 2, 2010

    Actually, I have heard those sorts of claims, but they are not currently as popular, and they’re more commonly linked to other things (cancer and ADHD, respectively). There are some quite respectable pediatricians and educators crying out “too many televisions, too soon”, arguing that too much television during early childhood molds a child’s cognition and behavior in ways which may not be desirable. I’m unconvinced. I think the TV watching may be a secondary effect, not the actual cause.

  88. #88 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 3, 2010

    This is not yet a government run communist country, so if people don’t want to vaccinate their kids, that’s ok,

    This would be what’s known as “the fallacy of the excluded middle”. You suggest that either it’s okay for parents to not vaccinate their kids if they “don’t want to” or it’s “a government run communist country” – no other possibilities. Here’s a possibility you may have overlooked: that even in democratic countries, parents still have moral and legal obligations to see to their children’s safety, and if they make decisions that put their children at unnecessary risk because they were careless and didn’t really do their homework, that’s not “okay.”

    since anyone who fears the disease is safe when they vaccinate, right? (And if you are not safe, then why vaccinate at all?)

    See, I would think you’d already know this. That is, if what you told us previously of your family’s history with vaccines was true. If I found out that I could not use the most effective method of disease prevention, vaccination, I sure as heck would do my homework to find out what was going to protect me. And if I did my homework, I would find out (it’s not difficult information to find!) that most people who cannot vaccinate are protected because other people who can vaccinate, do so, and thus prevent the infectious agent from getting transmitted to the people who can’t vaccinate. You know, if I went to fire-proof my house, and I was told “Hey, there’s something different about your house, it can’t be fire-proofed,” I would sure as heck not be trying to discourage the people who own the houses around me from fire-proofing theirs! The chances of my house burning down are immensely decreased if the house around mine are fire-proofed. Likewise, if you were really telling the truth that you and your family are unable to vaccinate, it seems you really should have realized by now that you’re being protected by others choosing to vaccinate.

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