Respectful Insolence

Well, well, well, well…

I always wondered about this.

As I pointed out the other day, former NIH director Bernadine Healy died of a recurrent brain tumor. As regular readers know, over the last three or four years, she had become a convert to the vaccine/autism cause, as evidenced by her having been named Age of Autism’s “Person of the Year” in 2008. Over the last few years, it puzzled me why she had abandoned science in this area. I also suspected, but couldn’t prove, that she had been receiving her lines of nonsense that she had started promoting from the anti-vaccine movement. As a result, I wondered who was feeding her talking points.

Now I know:

I talked to her many times on the phone. She was so passionate about our cause. I had no idea she was sick in any way. She was a warrior. Knowing her she will continue to help us fight for truth. She just has more angels to help her now.

So…who talked to Dr. Healy many times on the telephone? Who is this commenter on AoA?

Jenny McCarthy.

That’s right. If this commenter is indeed Jenny McCarthy, then it looks as though Dr. Healy was getting her anti-vaccine talking points right from the top of the anti-vaccine food chain. More’s the pity.

Comments

  1. #1 Composer99
    August 11, 2011

    More’s the pity, because Ms Healy is exactly the sort of person who ought to have known better than to be taken in by Jenny McCarthy’s nonsense.

  2. #2 augustine
    August 11, 2011

    The ethics of vaccine injury, informed consent, and government coercion seems to baffle this group. They are just dumbfounded by it all.

    They can’t grasp why anyone would fight for informed consent of a medication that can and has caused death. This is a glass half empty group of people. And they’ll fight until they’re dead to make sure you only see it as one sided. They use rhetoric like “you’re entitled to your own opinion but you’re not entitled to your own facts”. But this isn’t a black and white science issue. There are ethics involved. And that’s why you’ll NEVER be able to end this argument.

    The glass is also half full, no matter how much you want the “science” to say it is ONLY half empty. Until you make a 100% safe and effective vaccine(which is a paradox) and until ALL people who don’t vaccinate die horrible deaths (meaning the vaccine is necessary because their own immune systems can’t handle a natural microbe)then you will continue to have “scientific” holes in your arguments.

  3. #3 BA
    August 11, 2011

    Up next? Informed consent for drinking water! Water can kill. I’m not anti-water, I’m pro-safe water drinking!

  4. #4 JohnV
    August 11, 2011

    So what examples do we have of things that are 100% safe and effective?

  5. #5 Todd W.
    August 11, 2011

    @JohnV

    So what examples do we have of things that are 100% safe and effective?

    Ooh, ooh! I know! Killfiles for trolls! It’s a mental health product, right?

  6. #6 René Najera
    August 11, 2011

    I’d love to have on Jenny McCarthy. I really would. But I’ve been trying to keep up my promise to myself and my profession that I wouldn’t do much name-calling. I mean, seriously, do we have to resort to calling people by insulting names, or worse… Racial slurs?

    Anyway, the only advice I’d take from Ms. McCarthy would be with regards to beauty tips through “enhancements”, or how to trick the world into thinking your child has autism and then outright saying he doesn’t while still promoting the vaccine-autism myth. Yep. That’s about it.

  7. #7 Composer99
    August 11, 2011

    Ah, nothing like a false dichotomy fallacy, conveniently laying bare a certain someone’s inability to understand the real world.

  8. #8 lilady
    August 11, 2011

    Well here we go again the old tired “Informed Consent” argument from the person who has come out of retirement (or “moderation”) to post here. This is the same person who thinks that parents sign for informed consent on the VIS (Vaccine Information Sheet)…because when you have “imaginary” children you invent “imaginary” VIS(s).

    @ Rene Najera: I recall that Jenny first stated that her son was an “indigo child”…a pseudo-scientific theory used by parents who think their child is intellectually gifted or has supernatural powers. She then made an astute business decision to “change” careers… from fading fast, financially depleted third tier celebrity to autism expert by declaring her son was diagnosed with autism.

    Her “beauty tips” (enhancements) would only be followed by those looking to achieve the plastic Barbie Doll “look”.

  9. #9 Binny
    August 11, 2011

    Dr healy was a brilliant woman at the start and middle of her career. She spoke at my college graduation and was eloquent and powerful and straightforward.

    I wonder where in her brain the tumor was, and if it possibly affected her reasoning.

  10. #10 augustine
    August 11, 2011

    Binny

    I wonder where in her brain the tumor was, and if it possibly affected her reasoning.

    Specifically where does her argument and reasoning skills break down. You haven’t shown any errors in reasoning on her part.

    Jealous liladay

    Her “beauty tips” (enhancements) would only be followed by those looking to achieve the plastic Barbie Doll “look”.

    See, Lladay, Jenny enjoys the benefits of Science Based Medicine.

  11. #11 lilady
    August 11, 2011

    @ Augustine: allow me to fix that statement for you:

    Her “beauty tips” (enhancements) would only be followed by those looking to achieve the plastic Barbie Doll “look”…and followed by those who get their “jollies” by viewing enhanced plastic Barbie Dolls.

  12. #12 augustine
    August 11, 2011

    and followed by those who get their “jollies” by viewing enhanced plastic Barbie Dolls.

    I’m certain nobody would EVER pay to see you bikini clad in a magazine, even in what you considered to be your prime. (shudders). I think I just puked in my mouth.

    You should make a skeptic bikini calendar and go door to door selling it. Put Harriet Hall on the cover. You can’t lose with that beautiful smile. And no, David Andrews Md.csi,PHd., you can’t be in it.

  13. #13 TBruce
    August 11, 2011

    Nice comments, Augie. I see that you haven’t learned anything from your short exile.

    Well, what the hell did I expect? Ugh troll has never shown a sign that he has the capacity to learn a thing in his pathetic life.

  14. #14 lilady
    August 11, 2011

    @ Ugh Troll: Uh, your “mommy” fixation is manifesting again….

    Sorry to disappoint you but your “mommy substitute” is not a toothless old hag.

    Regarding your plastic Barbie Doll, I quote from TV Judge Judy Scheindlein, “Beauty fades but dumb is forever”.

  15. #15 a-non
    August 11, 2011

    You should make a skeptic bikini calendar and go door to door selling it. Put Harriet Hall on the cover. You can’t lose with that beautiful smile. And no, David Andrews Md.csi,PHd., you can’t be in it.

    The skepchick calendar was pretty hot.

  16. #16 lilady
    August 11, 2011

    @ a-non: The skepchick calendar was pretty hot…why thank you.

    I expect that David Andrews has already been approached to pose for the “skephunk” calendar.

  17. #17 kb
    August 11, 2011

    There are plenty of smart people who do not have brain tumors but who have gotten sucked into the vaccine/autism stuff. It seems to be a manifestation of having never learned to evaluate the scientific literature in the first place rather than having lost the ability.

  18. #18 Wade
    August 11, 2011

    Um, maybe I’m missing something here. Where in the quoted comment does it say that the commenter (Ms. McCarthy) provided information to Dr. Healy? I talk to many people all the time about topics of shared interests. That doesn’t mean I rely solely on those conversations to form opinions. But adding two and two to reach a sum of thirteen seems to be a favorite tactic by some in this debate (as does belittling opinions–no matter how well-informed–that just might threaten one’s own worldview.

  19. #19 Argaman
    August 12, 2011

    Well-informed opinions like Augustine’s – who has decided to resort to childish insults rather than using reason and facts?

  20. #20 meg
    August 12, 2011

    @Lilady, #14

    Just popping out of lurkdom to say: Beautiful comeback.

  21. #21 lilady
    August 12, 2011

    Well informed opinions and Augustine mentioned in the same sentence…?

    Hit and run poster visits to pester us, pulls factoids out of its nether world, throws the factoid out there to see what sticks. He gets re-educated about its fallacies, turns vicious toward our esteemed host and posters, then dishes out the bigoted remarks and runs away hoping we forget that he hasn’t answered a question…or gets himself banished…yup that would be Augustine.

  22. #22 lilady
    August 12, 2011

    @ Meg: Well I did attribute the remark to Judge Judy…it is the title of one of her books. She also wrote another book, “Don’t Pi** On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining Outside”…which could also apply here.

  23. #23 puppygod
    August 12, 2011

    @Todd W.

    Ooh, ooh! I know! Killfiles for trolls! It’s a mental health product, right?

    Almost. Mental health, yes. 100% safe, yes. 100% effective, no. Sadly, it does not protect against sockpuppetry.

    Still, against static trolls like augie – works like a charm.

  24. #24 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 12, 2011

    Where in the quoted comment does it say that the commenter (Ms. McCarthy) provided information to Dr. Healy? I talk to many people all the time about topics of shared interests. That doesn’t mean I rely solely on those conversations to form opinions

    So, is it your contention that if Jenny McCarthy provided Bernardine Healy with any information, that automatically means Healy relied on those conversations to form opinions? And by extension, if Healy didn’t rely on those conversations to form her opinions, it means poor Jenny McCarthy is being falsely accused of discussing anti-vaccine talking points with Healy in the multiple conversations that McCarthy herself states the two women had? Sorry, that’s just a straw man argument.

  25. #25 herr doktor bimler
    August 12, 2011

    Like Wade at #18, I am loath to condemn Bernardine Healy as being directly influenced by ‘Age of Autism’ in the absence of more reliable testimony than that of Jenny McCarthy.

  26. #26 Beamup
    August 12, 2011

    I also agree – there’s no particular evidence that she got “talking points” from Jenny, as opposed to getting them elsewhere and Jenny simply liking her because Healy agreed with Jenny’s position.

    It’s certainly true that the approval of Jenny on such matters should fill one with great shame, but that’s a different point.

  27. #27 AgainstYourOwnField
    August 12, 2011

    Interesting how when it suits you well you don’t trust the people in medicine and science. It is reasonable to assume if you don’t trust certain ones then you also don’t trust the ones who hired them. I suppose the hiring process is only rigorous for some Orac? Really? Nonsense.

    This Dr. Healy bashing is another weak attempt at minimizing the anti-vax movement. Silly, silly distractions ~ but fortunately those with their heads on straight see this within seconds of all the arrogant commenting that goes on here.

  28. #28 Bronze Dog
    August 12, 2011

    AYOF, has it ever occurred to you that Orac and the rest of us don’t operate on the idea of argument from authority, or the false dichotomy of “camps.” You’re throwing up a straw man so that you can distract from the science of the issue.

    Do you have any good evidence to support Healy’s assertions about vaccines or not?

    Of course you don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be resorting to fluffy fallacies, you’d be citing meaty studies.

  29. #29 Todd W.
    August 12, 2011

    @AgainstYourOwnField

    The NIH position Healy held is a political appointment. The ones doing the hiring may not necessarily be of a scientific mindset. Sometimes they pick someone who is pretty good. Sometimes they don’t.

    At any rate, the reasons for questioning Healy were because the things she said were not based on science, but rather on the meat of the anti-vaccine movement: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

    What should be obvious is that a person’s position means little when it comes to the arguments they use. What matters is the substance.

  30. #30 lilady
    August 12, 2011

    “It is reasonable to assume if you don’t trust certain ones then you also don’t trust the ones who hired them.”

    Gee, I see no comments about Dr. Healy being “hired” by anyone in the anti-vax movement and only comments about her choice to become a spokesperson for a crank pseudoscience movement.

    And, of course you don’t have to be on the “payroll” to derive benefits by associating with a crank pseudoscience movement; just a few who have benefited:

    Jenny McCarthy: Whose “Generation Rescue” group was started by J. B. Handley and his wife in 2005 with the premise that “environmental” (vaccines…it’s always about the vaccines) factors caused her son’s autism and the autism epidemic. Jenny now is a wealthy entrepreneur because in addition to her many speaking engagements and TV appearances, she hawks a product line of supplements and has written three books about her son’s autism and how he was recovered from autism.

    Andrew Wakefield: The disgraced and fraudulent doctor who struck from the rolls of the BMC and found a home within the anti-vax community. He was hired by Thoughtful House in Austin Texas an autism “treatment center” because some wealthy benefactors believed in his “gut theory” (based on a scientifically fraudulent study of 12 children with autism). His study was determined to be totally fraudulent and “skewed” because of his conflicts of interest…a corporation set up offshore to manufacture a single antigen measles vaccine and his “deal” with lawyers to be the hired gun professional plaintiffs’ witness in lawsuits against the manufacturers of triple antigens MMR vaccine. Following his dismissal from Thoughtful House he still has a huge following, due to continually hero worship by the editors of Age of Autism and other crank anti-vax websites.

    The Geiers: Mark Geier, a physician and his son David (he only pretends to be a physician). They have profited big time by the acceptance of their treatment (chemical castration) by notorious anti-vax cranks and by Mark Geier testifying in many lawsuits on behalf of “vaccine-injured” children. In spite of the pending cases against Mark Geier which threaten his standing as a licensed physician and in spite of the action taken by Maryland against David Geier for “practicing medicine without a license”…they are still heroes in the anti-vax community.

    Then of course there are licensed physicians such as Dr. Mercola, who has a conglomerate business of supplements, food products and devices and is one of the “heroes” of the anti-vax movement.

    There are a pack of “nutritionists” “chelation specialists” and other snake oil salesmen who have been adopted by the anti-vax group and receive “free advertisement” for the wares due to their connections to anti-vax websites and the favorable articles that are written by the editors and guest columnists on those websites.

    It is such an incestuous group mainly because there is always room for another quack theory, another quack treatment and more quack supplements for gullible parents to waste their money on.

    Then too, there is the list of “dirty tricks” done by anti-vaxers leaders that include threats made against Dr. Paul Offit which results in his need to have guards protect him when he attends meetings and the letter writing campaign directed against Orac and others to have them fired from their positions…all because they speak out against crank pseudoscience theories about the genesis of autism and dangerous and useless “treatments” for autism.

    So, AgainstYourOwnField, where have you seen an allegation that we don’t trust “the ones that hired them”?

    I think a more appropriate statement is “we don’t trust the ones who “promote” them.

  31. #31 Wade
    August 13, 2011

    –> “So, is it your contention that if Jenny McCarthy provided Bernardine Healy with any information, that automatically means Healy relied on those conversations to form opinions?”

    Um no, I think I said the exact opposite, because it seemed that was exactly what my old pal, Orac, was attempting to say. And instead of trying to differentiate between the various classifications of fallacies (e.g., “straw man,” “red herring,” etc.), which exist for the sole purpose of winning debate points rather than to explore issues and seek the truth, I would prefer to use the catch-all fallacy category: “bullshit.”

    It always concerns me when I find people around this site agreeing with me, so let me clarify my comment. I did not intend to say anything that was either positive or negative about Ms. McCarthy. I merely thought one should give the later Dr. Healy a bit more credit than to imply that she would adopt talking points from one parent. I think she was bright enough to read the studies, etc. and draw her own rational conclusions.

  32. #32 redacted
    August 13, 2011

    @31 “I merely thought one should give the later Dr. Healy a bit more credit than to imply that she would adopt talking points from one parent. I think she was bright enough to read the studies, etc. and draw her own rational conclusions.”

    The same way she came to have supported real tobacco science… exactly!

  33. #33 Antaeus Feldspar
    August 13, 2011
    So, is it your contention that if Jenny McCarthy provided Bernardine Healy with any information, that automatically means Healy relied on those conversations to form opinions?

    Um no, I think I said the exact opposite, because it seemed that was exactly what my old pal, Orac, was attempting to say.

    Your accusations against Orac don’t make any sense, however, unless those two things are conflated.  Otherwise your argument is in the form “How dare Orac say that Healy did thing B, just because we have testimony indicating that she did thing A?  That’s completely irrational, because I’ve done thing A myself plenty of times and it never led to my doing thing C!”

    And instead of trying to differentiate between the various classifications of fallacies (e.g., “straw man,” “red herring,” etc.), which exist for the sole purpose of winning debate points rather than to explore issues and seek the truth, I would prefer to use the catch-all fallacy category: “bullshit.”

    If your understanding of logical fallacies is limited to ‘hurling accusations of them can win debate points,’ then I feel sorry for you that you lack such a crucial tool for critical thinking.  You might be under the impression that you already know how to “explore issues and seek the truth,” but telling the whole world that you don’t like to practice any sort of precision in that search… doesn’t make the impression that you think it does.  Oh, yes, I’m sure you do like to use the all-purpose claim “bullshit,” but the problem is, so do moon landing deniers, germ theory deniers … anyone who knows they want to disbelieve something but can’t construct an actual argument to support their claims.

  34. #34 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    There is a new study published today in the Pediatrics Journal about risks for autism in the younger siblings of babies diagnosed with ASD:

    Recurrence Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study

    The abstract is available on the Pediatrics site…full article behind a pay wall. There are additional articles about the study available at “Autism Speaks” and U.C. Davis websites, as well.

    Study results reveal a risk of 18.7 % for the baby with one older sibling on the Spectrum and are doubled for the baby with two or more siblings on the Spectrum.

    @ Venna: There is quite a good article on the “Wandering” survey you participated in, on the Autism Speaks website.

  35. #35 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    Well it seems that AofA, during its prolonged vendetta against Brian Deer, has assigned today’s smear article to Ace Reporter Boy Wonder Jake Crosby:

    Brian Deer’s Second Sward As Meaningless As The First

    Jake who is notorious for arguments that he won’t/cannot support and for his “dirty tricks” (letter writing campaign to have Orac removed from his position), has offered up his opinion of what “great or even good” journalism entails, with this gem:

    “The measure of any great or even good journalist must be his independence. Journalism awards are supposed to be based on independent assessments of reporters’ work, otherwise they are meaningless. Furthermore, it seems too perfect that Brian Deer was nominated for a Press Award (that he would later win) mere weeks after Age of Autism revealed he had only won one award.”

    (Also a little paranoia and conspiracy theories thrown in)

  36. #36 Orac
    August 15, 2011

    Yeah, I saw Jake’s little gem of a paranoid post. I notice how, while containing many howlers about the nature of journalism, also mines well-dug territory in that Jake can’t resist strongly implying that Deer won his journalism awards because the evil Murdoch and big pharma made sure that he won the awards.

    Poor Jake. Does he even realize how completely idiotic he looks with these posts? I suspect not, because all the “grownups” on AoA are so busy telling him what a brilliant, talented boy he is. Man, is he in for a surprise when he has to enter the real world.

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    August 15, 2011

    @ lilady:
    @ Orac:

    I ( and other commenters), sure tried to get through to him to consider alternate explanations.
    But as the late Amy warbled, he also said, “NO!, NO!, NO!”.
    However, where there’s life ….

  38. #38 Prometheus
    August 15, 2011

    Whether or not Dr. Healy was convinced about the “connection” (or, rather, the possibility of a connection) by Jenny McCarthy or someone else (or simply the “University of Google”, Jenny’s alma mater), it remains a fact that she (Dr. Healy) was a willing supporter of the “vaccines cause autism (in a way that we will disclose later)” movement. Dr. Healy’s musings on the “vaccine-autism connection” were not based in science but rather on her “feelings” about the matter.

    Jenny McCarthy’s claims she and Dr. Healy had several telephone conversations and that Dr. Healy was supportive of Jenny’s “cause” should, however, be taken with a grain of salt (or the entire shaker). Jenny has been known to “enhance” the truth on occasion, and the only other witness to these “conversations” is unlikely to contradict Jenny at this point.

    If the conversations happened exactly as Jenny McCarthy relates (a highly unlikely scenario, given what we know about Jenny), it is likely that they occured because Dr. Healy was already sympathetic to the “vaccines cause autism” mythos. I can’t see Dr. Healy spontaneously calling up an over-the-hill Playboy model to discuss vaccines and autism (or plastic surgery or cable television) and being swayed by whatever Jenny had to say.

    No, it is far more likely that Dr. Healy was already knee-deep in the nonsense before she talked to Jenny and that Jenny’s input merely synchronised their “talking points”. Or, Jenny is having another “Indigo” moment and making the whole thing up. Both seem equally likely to me.

    Prometheus

  39. #39 Andrew
    August 15, 2011

    Of course, a doctor was talking daily to Jenny McCarthy to get information unavailable anywhere else. And Darwin and Pasteur recanted on their deathbeds.

  40. #40 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    @ Denice Walter: Yes, I remember your postings directed at Jake. I too, posted at him about any positions he might apply for where the HR wonks always “Google” the name of the job applicant. Obviously, he still believes that his unique journalism skills on the AofA website, will wow prospective employers.

    Of course, that is all in the future after he completes his MPH-Epidemiology…which was another topic of discussion on the thread.

  41. #41 herr doktor bimler
    August 15, 2011

    it seems too perfect that Brian Deer was nominated for a Press Award

    Evidently Jake has one set of standards for defining “journalism” which he prefers to the standards shared by journalists themselves. Who could have guessed?

    In his most recent comments to RI, Jake did drop a few foreboding hints that Deer was being “investigated”… he didn’t say it was an investigation for the suitability of further accolades.

  42. #42 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    @ herr doktor bimler: As I recall Jake took a powder, once you pressed him for citations about the (past) labeling of parents whose children were diagnosed with autism, as “homicidal”.

    I don’t recall foreboding “hints” about Deer be investigated… unless Jake meant the ongoing Deer “investigation” at AofA…another example of their bullshit yellow journalism.

  43. #43 Krebiozen
    August 15, 2011

    Some time ago I pointed out on AoA that Brian Deer has investigated pharmaceutical companies’ wrongdoings on several occasions. I sarcastically suggested that this must have been when he was recruited by Big Pharma. They took me seriously.

  44. #44 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    @ Krebiozen: Yes, Brian Deer did investigate Big Pharma and found many instances of commonly prescribed drugs including a widely used combined antibiotic, where the manufacturer secreted reports about its side effects and efficacy both before and after licensing.

    What the anti-vaxers are really upset about is Deer’s report about supposedly vaccine-injured children…in this case the DPT vaccine.

    Deer’s full investigation into the sordid details of client “recruitment” by (bottom-feeding) lawyers, the perjurious testimony in court by parents and other witnesses, the actual medical records of these children showing no link between DPT vaccine and injury and the resulting crumbling of the case are detailed in his report:

    DTP-The Vanishing Victims (November 1, 1998)

    The anti-vaxers needed another brave brilliant (and ethically challenged) doctor and found Andrew Wakefield to perpetuate another fraud against vaccine manufacturers. Same old story here; different lawyers different doctor, different plaintiffs and a different (MMR) vaccine. Fortunately, it was the same reporter who intently investigated the circumstances surrounding Andy’s research, his skewing of the results and his COIs…which led to the Lancet retraction and Wakefield being struck from the rolls of the BMC.

    Small wonder then, why the AofA has embarked on a vicious campaign against Brian Deer.

  45. #45 augustine
    August 16, 2011

    anon

    The skepchick calendar was pretty hot.

    If you like creamy white thighs and the cultish gothic look.

  46. #46 Anglachel the Common Sense Pagan
    August 18, 2011

    Really Augie? You really want to make comments about who’s women are hotter and have the best calendars on a thread that has nothing to do with that?

    And such language! “If you like creamy white thighs and cultish gothic look”

    So very Christian of you! How proud of you your church must be!! *rolls eyes*

    Now, off the topic of the bikini competition, I too wonder how much influence the tumor had on Healy in her later years. I have heard of a complete personality change for some with brain tumors before. Food for thought.

    On the topic of Jenny McCarthy, who in their right mind would ask what she thought on vaccines? She is a Play Boy Bunny. Modeling and acting stupid on camera in B movies is her area of expertise! I trust REAL doctors and scientists who spent years studying and a great deal of money to get in the position they are. But then, that would be logical…

  47. #47 Beamup
    August 18, 2011

    On the topic of Jenny McCarthy, who in their right mind would ask what she thought on vaccines? She is a Play Boy Bunny. Modeling and acting stupid on camera in B movies is her area of expertise! I trust REAL doctors and scientists who spent years studying and a great deal of money to get in the position they are. But then, that would be logical…

    Don’t you get it? She’s a MOM. She can’t possibly be wrong in any way about anything vaguely related to her child.

    Well, except that one time she claimed he was an alien intelligence sent to lead humanity into a new age…

  48. #48 Anglachel the Common Sense Pagan
    August 18, 2011

    Beamup, that was beautiful! Lolz! I needed a good laugh today!

    Why does anyone listen to that woman? Being a mom does not suddenly make you an expert in science! And when such a mom spouts off stuff like that… and then comes back a few years later and expects people to take her seriously….and some actually do… Wow!! I knew some people could be dumb but damn!!