Pseudoscience Watch: Anti-Vaccine Propagandist Jenny McCarthy Goes to "The View"


Jenny McCarthy

Over at USA Today, I explain why is is a shame that the executives at ABC Television have given actress and vaccine disinformationist Jenny McCarthy the bully pulpit of the popular day time show, "The View" from which to peddle her propaganda. From the USA Today column:

Vaccine misinformation peddler actress Jenny McCarthy has just been named co-host of the popular ABC day time television show, The View. This is really bad news for America's children. Why? Back in 2007, McCarthy helped stoke the anti-vaccine campaign when she asserted on the Oprah Winfrey show that an MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination caused her son's autism. "I have a very bad feeling about this shot," she claimed she said to her doctor, "This is the autism shot, isn't it?"

McCarthy told Oprah's millions of viewers that she noticed changes in her son almost immediately. "And soon thereafter — boom — the soul's gone from his eyes," she said. Whatever afflicted her son, extensive research shows that it was not the result of being vaccinated.

Because some parents have been bamboozled by McCarthy's scientifically bogus claims, infectious diseases like whooping cough and measles are now on the increase. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year saw the biggest outbreak of whooping cough since 1955 and 18 children died of the disease. Vaccine refusniks misled by McCarthy and others are not just endangering their own kids. For example, the majority of cases of whooping occur in infants, who depend on herd immunity — the broad protection that comes when enough members of a population are protected by vaccine or other immunity — because they are too young to be vaccinated.

In 2011, a committee of experts from the Institute of Medicine convened by that National Academy of Sciences analyzed more than 1,000 research articles and "concluded that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines." More specifically, the IOM committee agreed the scientific evidence shows that "the MMR vaccine doesn't cause autism." Vaccines are not perfectly safe. Nothing is. But overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that their health benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Consider that up to 30 percent of people who get bacterial meningitis die.

It's too bad the executives at ABC Television are giving McCarthy a bigger platform from which to promote her harmful pseudoscientific nonsense.

In Reason's 45th anniversary issue Jenny McCarthy is number 28 on our list of the 45 enemies of freedom over the past 45 years. Her entry reads:

A second-string actress who has managed to stay in the limelight by promoting the bogus theory that vaccines cause autism, McCarthy traffics in pseudoscience and fear. Partly as a result of her widely publicized yet scientifically ignorant pronouncements, hundreds of thousands of fearful parents have needlessly endangered the health and lives of their children.

Liberty is not advanced by misinformation and pseudoscience.