Jenny McCarthy lies about vaccines. Surprise.

Jenny McCarthy is the erstwhile MTV drunk college dating game hostess, and current “journalist” on The View, an American daytime talk show on the ABC television network (owned by Disney). This transformation, of sorts, occurred despite widespread condemnation from scientists, journalists, and yours truly about her loud and annoying antivaccine rhetoric. Clearly, no one of any note supported her being hired on the View, except for websites like the Age of Pushing Nonsense To Harm Children.

This is old news. If you didn’t know, Jenny also has a newspaper column at the Chicago Sun-Times, where, I suppose, she can comment on anything she likes. I have never read it. Until I did. In her column of 12 April 2014, she wrote:

I am not “anti-vaccine.” This is not a change in my stance nor is it a new position that I have recently adopted. For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, “pro-vaccine” and for years I have been wrongly branded as “anti-vaccine.”

Wait! What? She said she is not anti-vaccine?

Again. Again. And again. Thanks Bill Nye.
Again. Again. And again. Thanks Bill Nye.

She then continues with:

Blatantly inaccurate blog posts about my position have been accepted as truth by the public at large as well as media outlets (legitimate and otherwise), who have taken those false stories and repeatedly turned them into headlines. What happened to critical thinking? What happened to asking questions because every child is different?

Inaccurate blog posts driving media outlets? Critical thinking? Does Jenny even know what constitutes critical thinking? This sounds like the ranting of any number of conspiracy pushers who say “I’ve been misunderstood,” yet when one looks into it, there’s no misunderstanding. Remember, the internet doesn’t forget.

I don’t mean to be picky, but it’s not going to take me much work to refute this “I am not anti-vaccine” claim. I’m not going to break sweat doing it. Because the internet really doesn’t forget anything.

She’s made some incredibly ignorant comments about vaccines and her son’s “autism” (scare quotes, because many physicians are not convinced her son has any type of Autism spectrum disorder):

Let me see if I can put this in scientific terms: Think of autism like a fart, and vaccines are the finger you pull to make it happen.

Let me see if I can put this in real scientific terms: vaccines don’t cause autism. Period. This is not in dispute with anyone that uses real evidence published by real researchers in real journals. 

There are just so many quotes from Jenny about vaccines that I could spend days discussing it. So, what else has she said:

  • People are also dying from vaccinations. Evan, my son, died in front of me for two minutes. You ask any mother in the autism community if we’ll take the flu, the measles, over autism and day of the week. I think they need to wake up and stop hurting our kids.
  • Without a doubt in my mind, I believe that vaccinations triggered Evan’s autism.

Of course, I’ve already refuted the trope about vaccines causing autism. But the lies about vaccine safety are outrageous. For example, over one billion children have been vaccinated against measles. If even 0.01% died from the vaccine, we’d see hundreds of thousands of deaths from vaccines. Unless you really want to put on the tin foil hat and claim that Big Media is hiding this story, there is no story. Because the number is so small, that’s it’s nearly 0, mainly because it’s impossible to show causality (or because of other contributing factors like not getting immediate treatment for allergic reactions to the vaccine) when a particular adverse effect is so rare, it becomes hard to detect from background adverse effects of normal living.

But vaccines, despite being responsible for nearly 0 deaths a year, saves about 6 million lives a year. Let me repeat: six million lives are saved every year.

How did develop her world-class thinking skills? Did she go to college? No. Did she get a Ph.D. in say immunology? No. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2007, excerpted from Seth Mnookin’s book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, Jenny describes her education on vaccines, autism, treatments:

McCarthy: First thing I did—Google. I put in autism. And I started my research.

Winfrey: Thank God for Google.

McCarthy: I’m telling you.

Winfrey: Thank God for Google.

McCarthy: The University of Google is where I got my degree from. . . . And I put in autism and something came up that changed my life, that led me on this road to recovery, which said autism—it was in the corner of the screen—is reversible and treatable. And I said, What?! That has to be an ad for a hocus pocus thing, because if autism is reversible and treatable, well, then it would be on Oprah.

Yes, Jenny admitted that her “opinions” about vaccines aren’t based on knowledge derived from a Ph.D. in a basic biomedical science or based on 20 years of scientific research in a world class laboratory, it’s constructed from a few minutes of Googling, without any indication of critical thinking skills to understand and analyze the quality of anything that shows up in a Google search. A real critical thinker (and she chose to accuse bloggers of not being critical thinkers) looks at evidence, using it to lead to a conclusion based on the amount and quality of said evidence. She thinks critical thinking is coming up with a conclusion, that vaccines caused her child’s issues, then find anything, of any quality, to support that belief.

The fact that she has no authority in the area of vaccines is only part of the problem. She uses her celebrity status to actually misinform people about vaccines, supporting the suspicion that she has contributed to at least some of the vaccine preventable illnesses and deaths that are made prominent in the Body Count website. Here’s an excerpt of some her stupidity about vaccines in an interview with Time Magazine:

Time: Your collaborator recommends that parents accept only the Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) and tetanus vaccine for newborns and then think about the rest. Not polio? What about the polio clusters in unvaccinated communities like the Amish in the U.S.? What about the 2004 outbreak that swept across Africa and Southeast Asia after a single province in northern Nigeria banned vaccines?

Jenny: I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s shit. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.

Jenny is providing us with a false and dangerous dichotomy. Jenny wants us to believe that the choice is between preventing polio, a dangerous, sometimes deadly disease, and a vaccine about which no one has made any claim that it causes autism, let alone someone showing evidence that it does cause autism. She’s making a provocative statement that lacks any element of veracity. The choice is really between getting polio or getting the polio vaccination.

Jenny, in her recent column, is attempting to walk back from her ignorant comments about vaccines (first by claiming she never said them) by manufacturing a more nuanced argument antivaccine belief:

I believe in the importance of a vaccine program and I believe parents have the right to choose one poke per visit. I’ve never told anyone to not vaccinate. Should a child with the flu receive six vaccines in one doctor visit? Should a child with a compromised immune system be treated the same way as a robust, healthy child? Shouldn’t a child with a family history of vaccine reactions have a different plan? Or at least the right to ask questions?

Ignoring the fact that we combine more and more antigens into one “poke” (a word rarely used to describe vaccinations or immunizations)–for example, the new-ish quadrivalent vaccine, MMRV (mumps, measles, rubella and chickenpox) combines four vaccines into one. So, we’re working to reduce the number of “pokes” for babies, because frankly, the injection itself is what scares many parents. 

But more than that, what kind of physicians does she see? What doctor with any skill in medicine (which means all of them) would give a vaccine to a child with a diagnosed compromised immune system? Of course they don’t usually get vaccinated. So, even when Jenny is trying to claim that poor her, we’re all picking on her for what she says, her defense is a claim about vaccination that just doesn’t happen. 

Jenny probably can’t help being an ignoramus. Maybe it’s a lack of education or an innate inability to think critically. Maybe she assumes she can say whatever the hell she wants because she is a Grade B celebrity. But she is now lying about her past beliefs in being rabidly antivaccine. Moreover, her supposed argument that some vaccines are necessary are completely refuted by reality. In my opinion, she’s trying to reinvent herself into a more reasonable person, but the result is the same. She spouts nonsense about vaccines.

Jenny McCarthy is simply an attractive, occasionally funny lunatic proponent of pseudoscience about vaccines. She wants to blame something on what happened to her child, but there is not one tiny bit of real medical evidence that it has anything to do with anything. She’s inventing stuff using whatever fame she has (and unfortunately, it’s much higher than some of my fellow bloggers think it is) as the bully pulpit to push dangerous ideas that can eventually harm children. 

But let’s not stop there. Jenny McCarthy supports the delusional and fraudulent activities of MrAndy Wakefield who, in a retracted paper, alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. If you want to read all about Wakefield’s despicable deceit, you can read it herehere, and here, a series of articles published in the British Medical Journal, a respected peer-reviewed publication. There are numerous instances of Jenny supporting one of the most vile individuals in medicine, Wakefield, who has committed one of the greatest scientific frauds of all time. Once Jenny walked down the aisle with Wakefield, her opinions are tarnished until she gives a full-throated statement that Wakefield ought to be in prison. But alas, Jenny has not.

She’s a liar. And charlatan. And this blogger is not convinced by her ridiculous comments in her non-peer-reviewed column. 


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

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  • Suspicious Cough

    Funny thing. Jenny McCarthy is sponsored by SkinnyStix, a weight loss supplement known to contain quantities of lead which the state of California deams to be unsafe, especially for pregnant women, and may cause birth defects. Just saying….. Or maybe she feels that as polio may cause a patient to become cachectic it could be a new weight loss strategy. Logical deduction?

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