Dear Oprah: Some thoughts on your credibility.

Discuss

109 Responses to “Dear Oprah: Some thoughts on your credibility.”

  1. Daemon says:

    Oprah has credibility? I’ve only seen her show a few times, and every time has had me shaking my head.

  2. Layne says:

    Good post – my wife and I have this debate frequently. she sees Oprah’s influence in a whats-the-harm sorta way, as long as people are happy. However the way she’s brought attention to the Secret and the anti-vaccination camp shows just how dangerous her breezy integrity can be. Not only is she giving these morons a huge platform to advertise, she’s exposing her all-too trusting audience to health and financial ruin.

    There’s a surprising amount of weight behind the anti-vaccine proponents. Some lawyer out of Miami is bankrolling their influence to the tune of millions.

  3. airshowfan says:

    But it IS possible to change your electromagnetic frequency! Reading about stuff like this makes my face noticeably shift towards lower, redder frequencies.

  4. Slightly Askew says:

    This is an ugly discussion right now over on GeekDad (Wired). If you’re going to bring up the topic, prepare yourselves for the deluge of Internet-copy-pasting, logic-deficient, ignorant-of-the-scientific-method, statistics-are-hard vaccine-haters. As for me, I think I’ll exit stage left before they show up and give me a migraine or Autism.

  5. egoVirus says:

    My incredulity with the fact that Jenny McCarthy is the spokesperson for anything other than prostitution, being a very public idiot, or breast implants leading to an undeserved celebrity status, could run a small city, if only it’s tremendous power could be harnessed.

    Do 1st amendment rights really cover creating a public health threat? I mean, it’s not like you can yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. American scientific ignorance never misses an opportunity to break my heart…

  6. Anonymous says:

    And Moron begat Moron who begat Moron who begat Moron….

  7. Anonymous says:

    > Specifically, the author claims that an individual can “change their electromagnetic frequency,” so as to change outcomes in their life… this phrase is entirely nonsensical

    Not entirely. We can sense a electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 400 to 750 trillion Hertz, which emanate from object all around us, and there is much peer-reviewed material to demonstrate that there is a definite link between the frequencies re-radiated and all sorts of life outcomes – wealth, education, involvement in gang warfare.

    Specifically, these electromagnetic waves are visible light, and one could change the frequency of the waves they re-radiate with various makeup.

    I doubt this is what they meant.

  8. Tim says:

    Gah, wrote too quickly.

    Meant to say “Telling people to think critically can make someone too critical of any advice…”

    Sorry for the confusion; ’twas a mistake made in haste.

  9. Keith says:

    Tdawwg:
    It’s that “depriving gullible readers of $20,” that gets problematic. This is known as fraud and is illegal.

    And that initial $20 is just the entry fee for the much larger world of fraudulent pyramid schemes, which cost people thousands of dollars, and sometimes their livelihoods and careers. That’s a pretty stiff price just for being gullible.

  10. gmoke says:

    I predict that Oprah is going to look more and more tarnished as she disappears from the daily TV scene. The trial of the sweat lodge guru who also was part of The Secret team is going to muddy her up a little and I’m sure that a few of her expert talk show talents on OWN will stray from the straight and narrow.

    Oprah has also played fast and loose with politics. She lost me for good when she had on Arnold a few weeks before the CA recall gubernatorial election. Shouldn’t have done that. It was a campaign commercial pure and simple. If she wanted to interview Arnold, she should have waited until after the election. Of course, Jay Leno did the same thing even earlier in the cycle. It pays to have friends with talk shows.

  11. Mujokan says:

    “The Secret” teaches you to hunt for coincidences and selectively interpret evidence in order to maintain the belief that you’re influencing the Universe with your internal monologue and actions like spending money freely. It’s not harmless. It encourages distorted thinking and bad decision-making.

    People who’ve not looked much at the Law of Attraction stuff think it just means being optimistic in order to maintain your motivation and openess. No sir, it’s very pernicious magical-thinking garbage.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I noticed a dramatic improved in my mood after I changed my frequency to a station with an ok mix of music. Before I had accidentally left it on talk radio.

  13. LogrusZed says:

    on Oprah:

    I just spent the weekend visiting my mother who, like many people of a certain age, are real Oprah devotees and apologists. I just can’t understand why people are so in to her. I had the “pleasure” of watching an episode that was about the reunion of The Color Purple cast and the entire episode was a display of Oprah making Oprah into a martyr and center of attention while also taking every opportunity to get some kind of shitty payback for every 30 year old slight she thinks she remembers.

    Two examples really stick out. The first is her going on and on about some nonexistent feud with Whoopi Goldberg. She keeps going back and forth saying “There is no feud” and then “I don’t know why we don’t get along” (not exact quotes), always remarking “Why do people thing we don’t get along?”. I dunno’, Oprah, maybe because you keep bringing it up?

    The other example was her inviting some casting agent who was a dick to her when she went out for her role in TCP; but the agent himself does not recall being the kind of dick Oprah claims he was. It’s just her really taking full advantage of being one of the most powerful media personalities in the world to make this guy squirm. Now bear in mind she got the job, he actually did cast her; so regardless of weather he as a dick or not he got her in the movie. And even if he were a douchebag, that kind of pettiness might be fun for someone not in power to have a fantasy about, whet it’s actually enacted by someone of her might it just comes off as bullying.

    This is all just on top of her long history of promoting wingnut, and sometimes outright dangerous, medical, personal, and financial advice to her viewers who are apparently too simpleminded to question her. And when it comes to light that her fleet of advisors are full of shit how many times has she gone on and said “Stop doing that thing I implied you should do by promoting a person giving you what turned out to be bad advice!”

    Fuck Oprah.

  14. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I say we take off and nuke Ms. McCarthy from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never understood the deification of Oprah. It has to be a result of exposure to daytime TV. Or potentially the circumstances leading towards the viewing?

    • Anonymous says:

      I also have never understood the Oprah phenomenon. Most of her guest advisors seem to have been discredited. I can only conclude it has something to do with her wealth that makes people think that there is something worthy there.

      if your friends or family rand out all this rubbish on a daily basis you would think they suffered delusions or irrationality of thought.

      I realise she has done many good things, and good for her but I don’t understand why people continue to think of her as some sorty of diety.

  16. solidmercury says:

    A couple of thoughts from reading the articles and the comments.

    As far as the vaccine issue goes, and regardless of the clearly fraudulent studies, it seems to me that the entire debate would calm down if you were to spread out the immunization schedule… Many people believe that, as it relates to Autism or not, a very large dose of weakened diseases in a very short amount of time has less than ideally understood effects on the immune system. If this were different, my wife and others would have almost no fears about vaccinating.

    However, really, no child should ever be left vulnerable to a disease that can kill them. Beyond that, what does our ridiculously irrational fear of social/communication development disorders say to the souls who actually have them? “You are not whole, and I’d rather my baby die than be like you.”

    Anyway, on to the real topic here… I wince nearly every time I have the unfortunate opportunity to watch Oprah. When she isn’t stomping all over a topic with a brute force effort to hide ignorance of the issue, she is sensationalizing another. Why we subject ourselves to watching anyone who hasn’t scientifically, or at least respectfully, studied an issue in depth, trying to “enlighten” us on the issue, is beyond me. At least some of the baser talk show hosts make no pretenses regarding sensationalism.

    • Anonymous says:

      “it seems to me that the entire debate would calm down if you were to spread out the immunization schedule…”

      “However, really, no child should ever be left vulnerable to a disease that can kill them.”

      You’ve contradicted yourself here.

      Why leave a child ACTUALLY vulnerable to a disease for a few more weeks or months, under the theory that, hypothetically, maybe, there’s a slight possibility that giving all the shots at once is bad for you (even though the amount of total, virtually harmless, viruses in them is small compared to the number of virtually harmless viruses the child is exposed to in regular life).

      • solidmercury says:

        “You’ve contradicted yourself here.”

        I do that all the time. :)

        “Why leave a child ACTUALLY vulnerable to a disease for a few more weeks or months, under the theory that, hypothetically, maybe, there’s a slight possibility that giving all the shots at once is bad for you”

        Only wondering at a more reasonable option than abstaining. If the logic were simply “why wait a week or month?” then why wait two months to throw in the big 5 hit dose we give them? What is it that makes hep okay at birth, but wait 2-3 months to start a schedule on the others? My guess is because immediate immunization is considered “bad for you.”

        I don’t actually know the answers to those questions though, and my personal stance would be to stick ‘em on the way out if you could.

  17. C12 says:

    If I would be cynical, I would say:
    Let natural selection do the dirty work…

    But, sadly, most probable the children and not their parents are affected, when measles go bad (lethality 1:1000-1:20000 in industrialized countries, worse in the third world; vaccination: complications less than 1:1000000, lethality ~0)

  18. pho says:

    So, I honestly don’t know which side is right, but I’m curious, what evidence do you need to see for you to change your position? Are you open minded?

    I’ve always had an insecurity complex. As a kid the smurfs told me that being a nerd, being smart and into video games & D&D is embarrassing and for losers. When I was in college, I was a avid pot smoker. I was tired how people told me (except for my pot smoking friends) I was a loser and stupid for smoking pot. I know it’s not true, and I know it’s beneficial for lots of people (anecdotal evidence). Now that I’m a parent and have kids, I’m tired of hearing that anti-vax people are stupid. It feels much like the old days when people were labeling pot smokers as stupid losers. It makes me tend to believe the anti-vax people than not.

    I guess what I’m asking is can we have discussion without bashing the other side and calling names?? Jenny is kind of a strawman. If Jenny McCarthy was arguing for total vaccinations, would you avoid vaccinations because you hate Jenny.

    Here’s an idea, there are millions of kids taking/ not taking vaccinations each year. Can we track a large amount of these kids for 5 years, 10 years or whatever and see?

    • Deidzoeb says:

      “Here’s an idea, there are millions of kids taking/ not taking vaccinations each year. Can we track a large amount of these kids for 5 years, 10 years or whatever and see?”

      I’m pretty sure this has been done, conclusion has reasonably reached, and it disproves Jenny McCarthy’s claims. The question of whether vaccines cause autism is not one that needs more research just because some people scream that it does. And people are reasonably angry when McCarthy and anti-vax crowd keeps trying to convince people of their dangerous, discredited claims.

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to think people think Jenny McCarthy is wrong because they hate her.
      In fact, people hate her because she is wrong.

      (In a self-centred way which endangers vulnerable people)

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Can we track a large amount of these kids for 5 years, 10 years or whatever and see?

      Funnily enough, we’ve been tracking vast numbers of children for decades. We’ve seen. Vaccines work. Not vaccinating kills children.

    • Mister44 says:

      re: “I’m tired of hearing that anti-vax people are stupid. It feels much like the old days when people were labeling pot smokers as stupid losers. It makes me tend to believe the anti-vax people than not.”

      It sounds to me like you have issues with what you think other people think about you. You feel like a loser and thus are prone to come to the defense of others deemed losers. I’ll tell you what I learned in high school that will make you happier once you accept it: Do what you like and be yourself and don’t give a fuck what others think about it.

      Anti-vax people are stupid because they are making wild and dangerous claims with nothing to back them up besides anecdotal evidence and one thoroughly trashed study.

      This is the same with most homeopathic and alternative medicines, but in most of those cases you aren’t hurting anyone, and some times the placebo effect makes it actually work. But with vaccines you are gambling with your kid. Now they may not die from a childhood disease, but they could be permanently damaged. That and it would put them through completely unnecessary pain.

    • mark zero says:

      “I’m tired of hearing that anti-vax people are stupid. It feels much like the old days when people were labeling pot smokers as stupid losers. It makes me tend to believe the anti-vax people than not.”

      You find them more believable because they’re ostracized? Do you think that’s rational? Seriously, now: do you also believe white supremacists? Scientologists?

      • pho says:

        Yes, Mark Zero, I tend to take the side of the team that’s losing. That’s just what I made out of. I make friends with the loners, and slow down when I’m winning.

        What I’m trying to say is that it’s not just about the vaccine vs anti-vaccine, but also all the other issues that people fight about, abortion, gay marriage, etc etc, This is not a gang fight on the streets where you win by beating up the other side. The two sides need to get together and understand each other, otherwise the fight will never resolve.

        Do you know Robert Anton Wilson?? Try these exercises from his book (forgot name of book): Pick a side of an issue, then try to see the whole world through those lenses for a week. Then pick the other side and spend a whole week seeing the world through those lenses.

        Look I am the same as you, I get extremely angry frustrated when people see things opposite as me, but I try to see things from they’re shoes too.

        So back to the vaccines, I’m still trying to figure this out. Antonio, where is the data you said “we’re tracking”. Why is it so hard to find the data. When will they put journals freely available on the internet so everyone can read???

        • donncha-m says:

          I can understand rooting for the underdog, or questioning the vilification of a minority opinion. It’s always good to be critical, no matter the topic.

          But the important concern with groups isn’t always “Who’s the underdog/who’s the status quo?”. It’s “What are the agendas of each side?”
          Scientific/medicinal inquiry is often worth listening to because it has no agenda. All it wants is to know.

          And if you’re unsure about what the scientific community says, definitely go investigate yourself. Because individuals can be selfishly motivated, or companies can be rigging the supposedly fair studies, or arrogance or professional comfort can cause unwelcome facts to be silenced. It’s always smart not to just accept what people tell you.

          But I think the impatience of the commenters’ here is because the scientific community in this case has been marvelously unbiased and scrupulously methodical. It’s a very important question to answer, and many lives could possibly be at stake.
          And so what’s annoying is that if anyone questions things for themselves (as they ought) and goes off researching the case, what they’ll still unquestionably find is:
          1) That there is only one study in defense of the anti-vaccination point of view.
          2) It sparked many more studies, none of which added any evidence to it; most of which contradicted its claims.
          3) Further investigations into the first study that returned to the children involved or the background of its author have shown it was an enormous fabrication and distortion of fact, and that there were many selfish motivations for it being so and for its subsequent media explosion.

          Is it possible to defend Jenny McCarthy’s side after that? Or what would it take for you to still do so?

        • sabik says:

          Antonio, where is the data you said “we’re tracking”. Why is it so hard to find the data.

          Actually, it’s not so much that the data would be hard to find as that there’s so much of it, it’s difficult to point you to it all. Perhaps if you specified the disease or vaccine, century and continent you’re most interested in? You could even look it up yourself, once you have that in hand…

          When will they put journals freely available on the internet so everyone can read???

          Actually, scientists have been wondering that too… Like the record companies, publishers of scientific journals (who are not themselves scientists, in general) don’t like the idea. They find the status quo quite profitable. If you’re interested in this, the keyword to look up is “open access”.

          • Mister44 says:

            See if your city has a Science oriented library. For example we have one call the Linda Hall Library. They have journals you can read and check out.

        • bklynchris says:

          Dude, why are you eating the troll meat? Its weird they throw this f*cker out every 4-5 months. I keep screaming at them asking, well essentially what I said above in comment#29. We know. We know! you hate the anti-vax movement. We get it. Hell, I even vaccinated my kids twice in the hopes they’d stop hatin’ on me.

          Essentially, the anti-vaccine group represents something bigger than fear of autism. Someone referred to Jenny McCarthy as the strawman for the movement. Indeed, I say that the anti-vaccine group is the strawman for an increasing distrust of “science” in America, or at the very least, medicine.

          Anyway, don’t ever question vaccination on this board, it is just askin’ for a whole lotta frustrating hurt. Anti-vax + BB=hate f*ck.

          Also, I think the article was more about Oprah and her influence rather than vaccinations, or at least, that’s what I really hope god it was about.

        • Ernst Gruengast says:

          A propos of listening to the other side:

          http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=608256A446123276E4E72A5351322186

          Not that one should agree – listen, then judge.

          This article does anything but.

          Linking to Brian Deer’s hitjob and calling it good is scientifically and journalistically inadequate.

          There is no connection between “The Secret” and the debate about vaccines apart from that it provides fuel for a straw man attack on Andrew Wakefield.

          Oprah is a TV entertainer and all opinions represented on her daytime TV show do not constitute a unified perspective through which one person’s opinion can be demolished by connecting it to another.

          Oprah also did a 3 hour interview with Jill Bolte-Taylor, but I don’t imagine Mr. Ng will use the Secret to trash her too!

        • kevinsky says:

          “The two sides need to get together and understand each other, otherwise the fight will never resolve”

          No, this is like saying you should teach creationism alongside evolution in a science class.

          You can’t teach the controversy when there is no controversy!

  19. Dave Ng says:

    Thanks for the comments! Meanwhile, twitter is going nutso with folks gushing over her Oscar special. Talk about a jolt of perspective!

  20. Anonymous says:

    despite the secret being a load of crap,
    our current ‘accepted’ knowledge of electromagnetism is full of holes
    and I would not discount the possibilities of changing one’s ‘frequency’

    but some will obviously ignore this, get angry about it, or discount it because they flat out refuse to believe anything of the sort is possible

    c’est la vie

    • Scixual says:

      What does that phrase even mean? It’s not that they say it’s not possible — it’s that it’s actually a meaningless statement, like “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”

  21. Anonymous says:

    Imagine a horrific murder is committed in a city. Everybody’s worried. Suddenly, there’s a break in the case. Somebody says, “I happen to have proved John Smith (pillar of the community) did it.”

    Everybody’s at least relieved that progress is being made. Everybody spits on John Smith, because he hasn’t yet been arrested, just accused. People refuse to do business with him, even when doing so would help them.

    Then, the police say, “Yes, we’ve investigated it, not only did John Smith NOT commit this crime, we’ve proven that the person who accused him of it lied and has motive for smearing John Smith.”

    At this point, the rational response of the townspeople would be to apologize to John Smith, and keep looking for the murderer based on the evidence of the crime itself.

    Instead, what happens is, some of town says, “Well, John Smith might not have committed THIS murder, but he’s awfully shifty… he’s been a person of interest in a murder investigation! He must have done SOMETHING. Maybe he’s a thief, or a pedophile, or involved in the mafia. Let’s keep the scrutiny up, maybe we can get him to break and confess, and until then, keep away from him just in case.” Meanwhile, a second group says, “Okay, so you’ve proven John Smith didn’t do the murder. But what about the other John Smiths? John Smith’s a common name in this town. Maybe one of them did it. Or maybe the name was wrong, and it’s actually his wife, Jane Smith, who did the foul deed. Now that I think of it, I’m almost certain I saw at least one Smith in the neighborhood the week of the murder. Let’s investigate them all. We still have a murderer to catch.”

    Even though the evidence linking John Smith to the crime has been disproven, they’re not experts in forensics, and it’s the only thing they remember having certainty about, so they desperately want to hold onto it.

    That’s pretty much how it is with autism and vaccines (hint: Autism is not John Smith.)

  22. robulus says:

    “If you’re going to bring up the topic, prepare yourselves for the deluge of Internet-copy-pasting, logic-deficient, ignorant-of-the-scientific-method, statistics-are-hard vaccine-haters.”

    They always seem to take a while to get here, like they’ve got some sort of google alert set up.

    You wait, this thread will come to life again in 24 – 48 hours.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Superstition is indeed harmful:

    http://www.whatstheharm.net

  24. bklynchris says:

    Ahhhh, I see that Corey has passed the torch. Congratulations! It could have been interesting to discuss the recent Measles exposure by an adult airline passenger on 3 different flights this last week. What does this mean for adults and vaccine compliance, or international visitors and compliance?

    Vaccination is a much bigger story than those who connect it autism. Why are these individuals so inclined toward being anxious about vaccination? Is it really only those who fear autism? Alternative medicine appears to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the medical economy. Why? I think most westerners would be gobsmacked to find out how many Rx’s they are taking for which there was no double blind placebo, especially for drugs that are being used off label.

    Getting a handle on public health misconceptions requires much more than blaming nay saying celebrities (although, granted celebrity “endorsements” are one of the strongest motivators, medical or otherwise). Indeed, as a scientific literacy expert, it is important to understand why they choose to be “illiterate” rather than they are just not literate by default.

  25. Mister44 says:

    We received the first two books on being a mom by McCarthy as gifts when we had our little one. I liked them. They were funny, I really could relate to her and honestly felt like a ‘friend’.

    Just before her anti-vaccine movement, I found her on a forum (dedicated to Indigo children, of all retarded things). This was the pre-twitter era, but I posted (and got a reply) that though I am sure she is looking for answers, new-age indigo isn’t the way. I guess they promote gluten-free and some other things that helped her kid some. Which is fine – working with diet makes sense. But the poor girl was just crushed and latched on to anything that held out a hopeful branch. :o(

    She owes me 5 hours of my life or the essay I had to write my wife to answer all of her questions McCarthy and others put in to her head about vaccines and mercury levels etc.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I’m old enough to remember the fear that gripped the country when Polio was epidemic. We went from 55,000 cases a year to none in 1979 because of vaccination. Likewise the scourge of Small Pox was vanquished. The irony here is that many parents now arguing against vaccination (for the oddest reasons) were vaccinated themselves. As previous comments have noted, it’s a community issue because a few people opting out can threaten the “herd immunity” of the whole. For example, to protect against the most virulent form of Measles – the one that can cause retardation – a community must be 85% vaccinated. In liberal, Ashland, Oregon the number is now about 75%. Frightening, as many of those opting out are liberals with higher educations. What’s up with that?

    • Wally Ballou says:

      Anon @ 32:

      Frightening, as many of those opting out are liberals with higher educations. What’s up with that?

      It’s possible to have received a “higher education” without having spent one college hour in a math or hard science class, I know a number of such folks who are highly susceptible to the Cherokee Hair Tampons Effect.

      If vaccines were kettle-cooked using locally grown ingredients and sold at a street fair I imagine -that- subgroup of “liberals with higher educations” would be clamoring for them, but vaccines made by entities with “Inc” and “LLC” after their names are a different thing entirely.

    • kevinsky says:

      “Many of those opting out are liberals with higher educations”

      That’s only a sub-group, I think the bulk of vaccine opt-outers are in the fundamentalist religionist camp. Yes, I know, [citation needed]. I don’t have one, but that’s my understanding of the situation.

      But I’m a liberal with higher education who is a vaccine supporter. (Liberal in the Canadian understanding of the word, it’s a bit different from your US definition. I think you’d call me a moderate…?)

  27. Micah says:

    Newsweek (of all publications) published a rather scathing piece on this very subject a couple years ago that earned them the ire of the anti-vax crowd. It’s worth a read.

  28. hancocks says:

    It seems as if pretty much everyone (as in, almost) agrees that those who are anti-vaccine are dangerous, misguided, endangering not only their own children but all the rest of us as well. “Shame on those parents”.

    And pretty much the only ones who think otherwise are the parents who have watched their perfectly healthy and beautiful child crash, sometimes horribly, following a vaccination. Parents have a very good instinct for what’s what with their own kids with respect to cause and effect. Seems to come with the territory.

    So, what we have here is a vast majority/much smaller minority game: if you’re one of the great vaccine-unaffected (in the negative sense), you get to play “shame on them”. If you have the very bad luck to be a parent of a child who is crushed by a vaccination (and if anyone believes that this has never happened to anyone’s child, ever, then you’re not paying close enough attention, and boy, are you so fortunate that it wasn’t your kid or kids), then you’re on the other side. You know, the side with the terrible parents who don’t care about their own children or anyone else’s or public safety or any of that crap.

    Personal experiences will color your judgment every time. Jenny McCarthy had a horrible one; she just happens to be a celeb, and has the public ear (some of it, anyway). Oprah? Won’t even discuss. I went to a presentation once on global warming/climate change once by a man named Dr. Steven Schneider. It was titled “Can Democracy Survive Complexity?” Think about that. I have my doubts; the single soundbite rules today. Few have the inclination to put in the time and energy to really look behind the curtain.

    This situation is no different. The modeling is so much more complex than “All vaccines are safe and those who deny this need to be forced/drawn/quartered/etc” vs. “All vaccines are bad and no one should ever have them, ever”. Both positions are profoundly ignorant.

    There is no money in sorting out who should have what, and who is at risk and not at risk. There is no motivation for pharmaceutical companies to deal with this, because they have a guaranteed limited liability. And that may not be a bad idea, either, for several reasons – but that does not absolve them from the responsibility to invest in sorting out the immunology- and genetic-based science behind what really works on whom, what doesn’t, and who can get really hurt “when nobody’s looking”.

    Don’t tar and feather those who have had their children hurt. They’re not making it up. Also, don’t tar and feather those who feel that everyone should be vaccinated with everything for the good of all mankind. Consider the source, on both sides. We all get really uptight when we feel that our family is being threatened…

    • ocschwar says:

      And pretty much the only ones who think otherwise are the parents who have watched their perfectly healthy and beautiful child crash, sometimes horribly, following a vaccination. Parents have a very good instinct for what’s what with their own kids with respect to cause and effect. Seems to come with the territory.

      Bullpuckey and horsefeathers, with all due respect. When it comes to cause and effects, you are LESS suited to judge these things with your own kid than you are with other kids. That is why doctors are supposed to sanity-check their judgements with colleagues before diagnosing their own kids.

    • Micah says:

      Nobody is arguing that vaccines are risk free. If you have evidence of how to further reduce those risks, by all means share it. But if you don’t, please don’t go making up or spreading misinformation about the magnitude of those risks, because there are mountains upon mountains of evidence that show that skipping vaccines is exponentially more likely to cause harm than getting them. See robulus’s comment above.

      I’m a particularly big fan of the seat belt analogy. Seat belts aren’t without risks either. Lap-only belts caused “seat belt syndrome,” where the forces of an accident separate the vertebrae to the point of paralysis. The response wasn’t to recommend against seat belt use, however, but to mandate shoulder harnesses. Still, shoulder harnesses can in rare instances cause strangulation or trap a passenger in a car fire that they might have been able to escape if they weren’t wearing a belt. Yet we don’t go around recommending that people ride without seat belts to avoid these risks, because we recognize that these risks are tiny compared to the risks of going belt-less.

      Now let’s take it a step further into the ridiculousness that is the vaccine-autism connection and take a look at two charts.

      This one (from an anti-vax site) shows incidence of autism graphed against the mercury in vaccines, implying that the correlation means something:

      http://www.mercuryexposure.org/images/graph_incidence.jpg

      Now look at this graph:

      http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/SafetyBelt/Chart1_Graphik.gif

      Do you know what that blue line represents? Hint: it correlates nicely with the increases of autism incidence and mercury in vaccines from the first chart. Except it’s seat belt use, which has absolutely nothing to do with autism or mercury. Because correlation isn’t causation.

    • Halloween Jack says:

      Parents have a very good instinct for what’s what with their own kids with respect to cause and effect. Seems to come with the territory.

      Oh, bullshit. That sort of magical thinking is the first step down the same road that leads to “indigo children”, the same mass delusion/self-help scam that led parents of children who were autistic, ADHD or merely mildly eccentric to believe that their special snowflakes were basically the X-Men. Parents don’t magically get some parent-sense or even any particular knowledge or expertise in raising children; they either learn from their own parents or have to find some halfway-decent expert like Dr. Benjamin Spock to learn from. Parents who assume that post hoc, ergo propter hoc WRT diagnosis of autism following vaccination are guilty of the same thinking that led to women with a third nipple being burned at the stake because some villager got kidney stones after they moved to town.

      Am I being mean to parents who have had to deal with an autistic child? Maybe. But your right to stick out your fist ends at my nose (if not a bit before), and however a parent has to deal with a diagnosis of autism in order to keep from feeling guilty about it, they have absolutely no right to maintain their delusions in the face of contradictory evidence at the expense of public health, as McCarthy continues to do to this day.

    • William George says:

      “They’re not making it up.”

      You’re right, they’re not making it up.

      A money-seeking scumbag made it up. Out of a combination of fear, grief, and ignorance, a lot of parents bought into it by the boatload.

      Yet no matter how much their situation hurts them, facts remain facts and they are still wrong.

    • Stephen says:

      Parents are confused by unfortunate timing combined with an intentional fraud which has now been exposed. They are not to blame, unless they campaign to get others to not vaccinate, in which case they have a responsibility to check their facts before promoting their opinion to the public as medical advice.

      • hancocks says:

        William,

        Andrew Wakefield’s deeds aren’t the issue here…they are an issue, but not for all the reasons discussed.

        • William George says:

          Andrew Wakefield’s deeds aren’t the issue here.

          They are 100% the issue because it’s his fraud that created the current state of affairs. That ignorant people with influence over others continue to perpetuate his lies just makes it worse.

          Again: They are wrong. And they are killing children as a result.

          • wookiedingleberry says:

            http://www.badscience.net/

            Ben Goldacre has a chapter about this in his book Bad Science (which, you can guess, I’ve recently read and much enjoyed). He suggests demonizing Wakefield is not the answer because very many journalists ran with his story without doing any fact-checking. While it’s convenient (and fun) to cast him as the Villain of the piece, this oversimplifies the issues by ignoring media culpability and questions about how we as a society have become so aggressively proud of our stupidity.

            Or as I once heard: “fix the problem, not the blame”. We are still at least pretending to fix problems aren’t we?

          • sabik says:

            Indeed, if you actually read what Wakefield wrote in that withdrawn article… well, it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say much at all, really, and what it does say, it doesn’t say with much conviction. If it hadn’t been for the media beat-up, the sum total of damage from the article would have been negligible.

          • mark zero says:

            as I once heard: “fix the problem, not the blame”. We are still at least pretending to fix problems aren’t we?

            How do you solve a problem like a Jenny
            How do you shut her bad influence down?
            How do you recognize kids hurt by Jenny?
            (Those crystal-clutching indigo kids with Down’s?)

            Many a thing you know you’d like tell her
            Many a thing she ought to understand

            But how do you stop her crazay?
            Make her listen to what you say?

            How do you pull her head out of the sand?

            How do you solve a problem like a Jenny?
            The blood of many children’s on her hands.

          • wookiedingleberry says:

            I like your song. It suggests to me art is a worthwhile response to despair.

          • mark zero says:

            Sorry, I’m not that Mark Zero. :)

          • mark zero says:

            Oops! Just confused myself. Thought you were talking about a musical performer with a similar name.

            Thanks, I guess. :) Check out Mark Russell (political satirist on PBS, Youtube) if you like parody songs that are actually witty.

          • postjosh says:

            “They are 100% the issue because it’s his fraud that created the current state of affairs. That ignorant people with influence over others continue to perpetuate his lies just makes it worse.”

            In Wakefield’s defense, he has never recommended that people not have their children vaccinated. He is a proponent of using separate vaccines instead of the MMR. His own children were vaccinated. What he advocates is testing the real world vaccination schedule.

            Our children are forced to undergo a schedule of dozens of vaccines before they enter school and to my knowledge, no one is conducting any tests of the effects of this schedule on immune system health. Some of the vaccines that are given are not even for life threatening conditions. The MMR will soon be replaced by MMVR which will immunize against Chicken Pox. Since when is Chicken Pox a major health threat?

            Oh and by the way, if you are a nut like me who would prefer to give your kid separate shots for Measles, Mumps and Rubella, you can’t. Why? Because the separate vaccines have been pulled from the market in the U.S.

          • AnthonyC says:

            If a vaccine can effectively and safely prevent a disease, there is no good reason not to get it, whether the condition is life-threatening or not.
            Chicken pox is thoroughly unpleasant. In adults, it can be dangerous. There are possible complications, especially during pregnancy.

            Pure anecdote: my sister has an unusual condition- whenever she gets a cold sore, her body has an immune reaction caused by the virus involved, resulting in many more sores on many parts of her body. She must then take steroids to control this, or else it could become life threatening. She has never had chicken pox, but if exposed, there is a good chance it would have the same effect. If she were to have such a reaction while pregnant, steroids would not be safe, and so her lack of chicken pox immunity would be life-threatening to both her and her baby. As a result, she intends to get the chicken pox vaccine now, despite the (for her, elevated) risk, while the complications are treatable.

          • postjosh says:

            AnthonyC in reply to postjosh

            “If a vaccine can effectively and safely prevent a disease, there is no good reason not to get it, whether the condition is life-threatening or not.”

            It’s a subtle difference, but saying there is no good reason not to get something and having the government mandate it are not the same thing. Too many drugs & vaccines have been taken off the market after they have caused irreparable harm for me to take the findings of the FDA & the CDC at face value. I would rather wait to see the long term results of these therapies before I subject myself or my family to them. If I am not causing a public danger by using individual vaccines instead of the more convenient MMVR, I don’t see why my government won’t let me.

            If your sister is open to herbal treatment of cold sores, she should look into Coraphor. My outbreaks have been significantly smaller since I used it.

    • Deidzoeb says:

      “Personal experiences” = anecdotal evidence. No, I don’t feel all sad and snuggly for parents who rely on their instincts, who claim that the rest of us should also trust *their* instincts instead of proven, consistent, objective facts.

    • robulus says:

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that there is no risk from vaccination, just that:
      - The risks are very small, and orders of magnitude smaller than the risk of not getting immunised.
      - Spontaneously developing autism is not one of the risks, and any claim that it might be has been utterly destroyed along with the credibility of one Dr Andrew Wakefield.

    • Moschops says:

      @Hancocks

      “Parents have a very good instinct for what’s what with their own kids with respect to cause and effect.”

      And then you say…

      “Personal experiences will color your judgment every time.”

      You contradict yourself. For what it’s worth, humans have a terrible instinct for cause and effect, which is why we trust scientific experiment over superstition and vague feelings.

  29. MarkM says:

    The stupidest thing, IIRC, about Jenny McCarthy’s disastrous and
    inept participation in the anti-vaccination campaign is that,
    her own child “got better.” That is, it no longer suffers from autism.
    Which, any expert will tell you, probably means he didn’t have
    autism in the first place. So, this whole ridiculous self-
    important saga of hers is a figment of her fevered imagination.
    What’s not imaginary are the many people who’ve been sickened or killed
    as a side-effect of her breathtakingly unqualified medical advice.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_mccarthy#Activism_and_autism_controversy

    • hancocks says:

      MarkM,

      It’s all over the map.

      Neurological injuries are little understood, and there are many vectors. Can’t speak to Jenny McCarthy’s case. Autism is a spectrum. Some kids can be compromised for various reasons and bounce back a long way. Some can’t. It’s just not known.

      If autism was fully understood, few would get into these arguments, I think.

  30. Antinous / Moderator says:

    From Wikipedia’s main page today: Oprahization.

  31. Deidzoeb says:

    Could someone drop some links or brief explanations on what pseudoscientific claims have been advanced by Susanne Sommers, Dr. Oz or Christiane Northrup? I don’t have a predisposition to favor or disfavor them, but, you know, [citation needed]. I was aware of Jenny McCarthy’s discredited position. I’ll be kind of sad if Christiane turns out to be a quack too. The only halfway famous person who shares my last name. :(

  32. Anonymous says:

    B4C|< in the olden days of the 80s n early 90s, b4 there were interwebs, b4 there was blogs, b4 twitter, b4 facebook, there was Oprah, with her studio audience and her legions of eyeballs fixed on daytime tv screens. And Oprah came into her power.
    Way back then peeps didn't have computer screens and @smart@ phones to stare at incessantly!
    I watched her when I was trippin in the early 90s and figured her secret out. SHE HAD A BUDDHA FACE. Very balanced. She hypnotized masses with it. At some point her power corrupted, the interwebs took over, and she lost her buddha face. Google image search 'oprah early 90's' & 'Buddha' for confirmation.
    As 4 vaccines, science, extolling the benefits of positive thinking, blaming religion for the ill's of the world, saving the children, I DON'T KNOW. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBbk7t-mqDM I must say Ozzy’s face looks pretty buddha in there also, alas, he seems to have lost his buddha face these days as well and i’m not trippin.
    When they start chippin peeps in mass, it’s gonna be ‘to save the children’, I’m just sayin.

  33. MollyMaguire says:

    mmmm, pretty Jenny talky nice.

  34. pb says:

    “”Except that when you look a bit deeper, you find other instances where her brand chooses to ignore a very simple and sensible idea: that “claims,” especially claims that operate best under scientific ways of knowing, should only be supported when there is robust evidence to back them up. “”

    This is not at all a sensible idea from the point of view of someone who makes money from a daytime TV show.

    The most sensible idea in such a case is to support claims that people want to see supported. This will increase ratings and profits.

    • teapot says:

      This is not at all a sensible idea from the point of view of someone who makes money from a daytime TV show.

      1) Oprah doesn’t need more money
      2) Your assertion suggests that media personalities have no responsibility to tell the truth. If a newspaper reports something wrong they are obligated to print a correction. If a TV personality dispenses lies, they should be held accountable for being more interested in ratings than honesty.
      3) Thanks for taking Oprah back. Her presence in Australia was disastrous for local journalism as even decent news outlets wasted airtime covering her every day.

      • pb says:

        1) People want more money than they need. For some people that gap is small. For others its infinite. The sort of person who can accumulate a billion dollars is usually the sort of person who is never satisfied.

        2) They don’t have any responsibility to tell the truth, especially in the US where the First Amendment lets people say more or less whatever they want. Newspapers rarely publish corrections, and then usually on the back page in fine print months after the original story. Maybe they should be held more accountable, but the point is that they aren’t so they make decision based on that reality.

        3) I’m Australian and I’m glad to see her gone too. Although I’d like to see the taxpayer’s money that was spent subsidising the visit back.

        • teapot says:

          1) That’s what makes her evil

          They don’t have any responsibility to tell the truth
          2) Not true. They don’t have legal obligation to tell the truth, but they are expected to. I agree that is no guarantee.

          3) While it seemed a huge waste of money, I think the jury is still out as to whether it will pay off. This article from this week suggests WA is already reaping the benefits of Oprah-madness.

          http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/oprah-boosts-wa-tourism-20110223-1b5k2.html

          I was just mostly annoyed that SBS and ABC wasted so many news minutes with entertainment ‘news’ when she was around. At least what-his-face smashed his face. That was the only newsworthy moment of her trip.

  35. Jesse M. says:

    On the general issue of Oprah’s credibility of picking “experts”, Jezebel recently had a good article on this:

    Oprah’s Long History Of Sketchy “Experts” And Endorsements

  36. Scixual says:

    Anyone remember the “Satanic Abuse” scare in the 80′s? You can’t blame parents for being scared, but that doesn’t make the thing real.

  37. Mitchmaster says:

    People who take medical advice from movie stars and daytime TV deserve the horrific results they are bound to get. That being said, I saw a recommendation on Dr. Oz of an herb called Feverfew that cured my longstanding migraines overnight. Go figure.

    • Alvis says:

      Are primetime TV actors OK? I’d trust Ken Jeong for medical advice.

    • mccrum says:

      “People who take medical advice from movie stars and daytime TV deserve the horrific results they are bound to get.”

      I concur. Additionally, and while there isn’t much I can do but feel sorry for their kids, the real danger is when their kids interact with other children who, for actual, real, scientific, proven reasons cannot take vaccines. Or children in whom the vaccination just didn’t take. Those kids deserve to be protected.

      If your kid has no proven reason to not take a vaccine, they need to get poked when the parent isn’t looking. This close to wiping out polio, let’s go all the way.

  38. Neural Kernel says:

    Umm… didn’t she also go on and on about how great the Kindle was pretty much right before they made 1984 an “unbook”?
    Probably best if I don’t go into the autism issue… lets just say I don’t want a cure, I want respect.

  39. demeanor says:

    It is telling that some who tout the supreme virtues of ‘objective’ medical research are at the same time incapable of controlling themselves from presenting overly-emotional attacks upon the Hollywood anti-vax team. Laugh, swear and scream at Oprah for whatever reason you wish. Oprah and her guest are selling another brand of snake oil and therefore fall right back into the same camp as the entire medical industry. The only difference is that the medical industry itself is a virus for which a cure is certainly imminent via the harmonic convergence of feminine electromagnetic love juice that you all have blindly and eagerly consumed.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not being emotional, it’s stupid to against the vaccination for yourself and others. Believe it or not, there is a science to vaccinations and it doesn’t just pertain to protecting individuals. Vaccinations are important to protect public health (see: herd immunity). Recently there’s been an outbreak of whooping cough in California, we haven’t had one like this in 50 years. Why? Because vaccines work and when people don’t vaccinate their kids they get whooping cough and can die and put others at risk by allowing a disease that should be all but gone to spread around.

      Please don’t mistake public health officials’ concern for an overly emotional outburst. They are doing what they are paid to do: educate, protect the public, and try the eradicate vaccine-preventable illnesses. Take a moment to remember that polio, a horribly debilitating illness that was prevalent not long ago has all but been eradicated or small pox which has been eradicated thanks to an aggressive vaccination program. You have you own opinion, that’s great I commend you for it. That’s ok, medicine will protect you and work for you even if you don’t believe in it. The beauty of science is that it works irrespective of human opinion. ;)

  40. jornin says:

    @pho

    Look at the link robulus posted there are 142 sources for that wikipedia article, or just learn to google.

    @Ernst Gruengast

    Really, you’re going to post Mike Adams site here? The same Mike Adams who said that the placebo effect invalidated double blind studies because of the power of the mind?

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/02/mike_adams_discovers_the_placebo_effect.php

    Naturalnews.com is a big ball of crazy that should only be read as comedy. “Big pharma is bad, they just want your money, buy my products instead”

    Face it, Wakefield was wrong.

  41. Tdawwg says:

    What “lines regarding safety” are being crossed by believing in the power of electromagnetic energy, positive thoughts, the Great Woo, etc., to change our moods and increase our wellbeing? Scientists may scoff, but what’s particularly unsafe about this? (As opposed to, say, not vaccinating one’s child, the risks of which are well-known.) Aside from incurring the scorn of the better-educated, or depriving gullible readers of $20, where’s the harm? Guess I’m a little confused here.

    • Anonymous says:

      The line regarding safety is in the anti-vaccination program. We’re talking about parents not getting their kids vaccinated. Not only are these parents putting their kids in danger, but they’re also putting anyone who vaccines are entirely effective for at higher risk. The more people un-vaccinated, the more likely it is there’ll be a disease outbreak. It’s a massive and unnecessary health risk.

    • CANTFIGHTTHEDITE says:

      What’s the harm? Because, as Christopher Hitchens would say about religion, it requires the surrendering of our mental faculties. Any time you do that, you walk down a dangerous pathway frought with perils to yourself and those around you.

    • Anonymous says:

      The lines of safety are those that prevent people from seeking proven effective treatments in favor of something that sounds ‘Cool’. Also the general loss of faith and understanding on issues of health

    • Anonymous says:

      I would argue that such ideas are harmful because they perpetuate scientific illiteracy, which makes things like the anti-vaccination movement possible.

  42. Catsidhe says:

    You know what’s worse? The likelihood that Oprah chose the side of reason on HIV/AIDS not by rational investigation, but by chance: that if a more persuasive shill had gotten to her first, she might also be talking about lemon juice and megadoses of Vitamin C.

  43. blueelm says:

    “What “lines regarding safety” are being crossed by believing in the power of electromagnetic energy, positive thoughts, the Great Woo, etc., to change our moods and increase our wellbeing? ”

    Well, if you think you can think your cancer away, for instance.

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s the harm? As David noted, Oprah is giving a platform to a *vaccine denialist* People who listen to that put at risk not just their own children, who aren’t old enough to make their own medical choices, but also those who no fault of their own are not protect by vaccines: those who are too young to be vaccinated, those who have allergies to the vaccine medium, those who are immune suppressed and cannot respond to the vaccine, and others I haven’t thought of.

      –Beryl

    • Anonymous says:

      and it ain’t thinking your cancer away
      the reality is more like ‘being’ it away

    • Tim says:

      I think what Mr. Ng was referring to in that line is that he’s fine with people being told that thinking positively will change the outcomes of their life (i.e. “The Secret”), but is not ok with people being told that vaccine’s can cause Autism (i.e. Jenny McCarthy).

      One is harmless (positive thinking) while the other is in fact very harmful (rejecting vaccination).

      • Catsidhe says:

        The problem then comes when thinking positively is thought to be a necessary and sufficient condition to recovery.

        Thinking positively on its own, not so bad. (Although there are also critiques that the very push to be Thinking Positive ALL THE TIME is harmful in its own right, because if you have life-threatening cancer, then by God you’re going to be scared and angry, and adding stress at not being able to force a mindless optimism does not help recovery).

        But when people think that positive thinking alone is enough, when they think that regular medical treatment is harmful in comparison, and reject that treatment; that’s when people die needlessly. And they do it, all too often.

      • jackalopemonger says:

        And yet, as blueelm originally pointed out, it’s not harmless if people are told to choose positive thinking (which has many benefits: free, minimal time commitment, no social stigma) over radiotherapy treatment for cancer (which has many drawbacks: expensive, time-consuming, physically draining, no guarantee of success, leads to loss of hair and other embarrassing bodily functions). Telling someone with cancer that they can wish away their sickness – and that if they don’t get better, it’s their fault for not wishing hard enough – is just as harmful as HIV/AIDS denialism, the vaccine/autism myth, or any other variety of medical woo. Especially since many people with cancer are already desperate and strapped for cash, and therefore willing to believe that sort of nonsense.

        • Tim says:

          And I agree with you and all the others who say that.

          But we must remember that there is moderation in this; think positively and hope for the best, but at the same time do everything in your power to help the results.

          Don’t believe that thinking positively will get you through school without going to class or doing homework. Don’t believe that thinking you have money or you’ll make money will suddenly put money in your bank account without you lifting a finger.

          The same can be true for any advice: it can be taken to an extreme to the point where it can be dangerous. Telling people to think critically to make someone to critical of any advice given that they refuse to believe anything they have not, themselves, verified, leading to them never trusting anything written or published in journals because they did not witness or conduct the experiments themselves and it’s possible, however unlikely, that the information was fabricated.

          Any advice can be taken to a harmful extreme; that doesn’t mean it’s not still good advice. It just means there are some very dumb people and Darwin was right. :)

  44. mxjohnson says:

    “People who take medical advice from movie stars and daytime TV deserve the horrific results they are bound to get.”

    Do their children?

    • Lucifer says:

      Children always receive the consequences of their parents’ shortfalls. That’s what makes cautious people terrified of becoming parents while stupid people embrace it over and over again with zero fear.

  45. lillyd says:

    I think spreading out the schedule is a reasonable option. The people saying the current vaccine schedule is so scientific are just as ignorant as the anti-vaxers. Receiving a Hep B vaccine the day you are born? The chicken pox vaccine is important? Really? Because, to me, the argument that it’s important to get the Pox vaccine because “one in a million may die from the disease, so get it” is the same as saying “one in a million may die from getting the vaccine, so don’t”.

    It is not about Autism. It is about the arrogance of the medical community that pretends like it is completely black and white. It is about risk versus reward. The reward for vaccinating a newborn for Heb B is what? The risk? Who knows…I’d like to see some data showing how there is no negative effect on the immune system long term. But, here’s the rub, you can’t really ever prove that can you?

    Health issues are long term. Not short term. Of course, not getting a disease is great, but you can’t prove that there are no tradeoffs. I hope there aren’t, but the rise in autoimmune diseases, autism, and cancer sure give me pause.

    The reason it is largely “college educated people” opting out, in my opinion, is because they are smart enough to realize that it is more complicated than either side admits. And there is no place to get information that respects that complexity.

    Oh, and I vaccinate my child, but not Heb B at birth. She’ll get the Hep B and Chicken Pox vaccines before school since they are required. Why not wait?

    • postjosh says:

      “It is not about Autism. It is about the arrogance of the medical community that pretends like it is completely black and white. It is about risk versus reward. The reward for vaccinating a newborn for Heb B is what? The risk? Who knows…I’d like to see some data showing how there is no negative effect on the immune system long term. But, here’s the rub, you can’t really ever prove that can you?”

      I wish I had written that because it sums up exactly how I feel on this subject.

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