Third rate movie stars and the anti-vaccine lunatic fringe

It’s ironic that those who discuss the benefits of vaccines are world-class scientists and physicians. Dr. Paul Offit. The good doctors at Science Based Medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, of course, mountains of scientific evidence.

The anti-vaccine crackpots have Jenny McCarthy, the ex-playmate loudmouth. And Amy Farrah Fowler. Or Charlie Sheen. But now, Rob Schneider, whose career seems to have peaked 10 years ago playing misogynist roles in movies targeted to teenage males, a notoriously thoughtful group, has stepped into anti-vaccine pontificating. His particular brand of ranting is against California’s AB2109, which will allow parents to exempt their children from life-saving vaccines only after consultations with a healthcare provider. Right now, all a parent has to do to get a philosophical exemption to a vaccination is sign a letter. That’s it. No informed consent as to the risks to their child from these childhood diseases nothing. AB2109 does nothing more than require a signature of a physician that they discussed the exemption with the parent. I’m sure the anti-vaccine movement will publish lists of physicians who are opposed to vaccines who will gratefully sign the document for any parent who wants to put their children at risk.

As AB2109 moves through California’s legislative process, Schneider decided to provide his pseudoscientific, google-based, uneducated opinion about vaccines (sorry, can’t embed the video). Here are some of the more salient points:

  • He claims that mandating vaccines is illegal. The Supreme Court upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws for the common good. I guess Schneider not only isn’t an attorney, he probably wouldn’t play a very good one on TV.
  • He invokes Godwin’s Law by mentioning the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, which makes no sense. It would take some twisted logic to get from vaccines to Nazi laws that stripped citizenship from Jews. He might have meant the Nuremberg Code, which establishes the set of ethical principles for medical experimentation that arose from Nazi treatment of individuals in concentration camps during World War II. It is a Strawman Argument to compare vaccines, which are only approved through ethical clinical trials, to Nazi horrors. Give me a break.

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  • Oh, he didn’t mean the Nuremberg Code, he really meant Nazis. And the California legislature hasn’t passed the law yet, it just passed through committee. He can’t get any facts right!
  • Next, Schneider brings up another strawman fallacy that Big Pharma doesn’t tell the truth. And that kids get 70 vaccinations (I had to listen twice, because I thought I had that wrong). The actual number is half that many, and the fact of the matter is that there are no safety issues with that number of vaccines spread over 5 years.
  • Schneider then claims there are no safety or efficacy studies for vaccines. Oh really?
  • The next thing that Schneider states almost made me shut off the video. He wants a clinical study that has one group unvaccinated vs. another group that is vaccinated; he claims that pharmaceutical companies are blocking this type of trial because they are frightened that the side effects in the vaccinated group would be much larger. No, it’s because pharmaceutical companies realize that that type of trial is unethical, and a trial of that design would never be approved by ANY institutional review board. Medical researchers would never intentionally expose a group to risk of a disease (talk about violating the Nuremberg Code). 
  • He brings out that old canard about vaccines containing mercury. (This is like evolution deniers bring up the old “evolution is only a theory” argument that has been so thoroughly debunked that even most deniers quit using it.) Not only do most vaccines not contain mercury, there’s also no link between the extremely low levels and any neurological issue.

I personally do not get why people listen to celebrities for anything important like medical care. I do appreciate individuals, such as Amanda Peet, who vaccinates her children and who has lent her name to a pro-vaccination group. And she’s doing it with facts and evidence, with links to real information. But Peet does not expect you to choose to vaccinate your children based on her word, but on the word of scientists, physicians and real research.

Rob Schneider is not exactly an Academy Award winning actor, yet his babbling about vaccines seems to be getting some coverage these days because anyone that yells and screams about the dangers of vaccines, even if they irrationally claim it’s a Nazi conspiracy gets a hearing in the internet. If your vaccine decisions are based on the rantings of Jenny McCarthy or Rob Schneider, I feel bad for your children, because their lives are being put at risk because of third rate actors and actresses. That’s just plain dumb.

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!