The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Oprah Winfrey Gives Platform to Anti-Vax Movement

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 7, 2009

Oh boy, this is not good news.  It seems that media mogul and daytime diva Oprah Winfrey has given a platform to the face of the anti-vaccination movement, Jenny McCarthy, by giving McCarthy her own show.  I cannot even begin to express how colossally stupid this is…

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Jenny McCarthy inks deal with Winfrey’s Harpo

McCarthy has inked a multi-year deal with Winfrey’s Harpo Prods. to develop projects on different platforms, including a syndicated talk show that the actress/author would host.

The first collaboration under the pact is a blog by McCarthy on Oprah.com, which launched Friday. Like other Winfrey proteges-turned-TV moguls, among them Rachael Ray and Dr. Phil, McCarthy has been a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

McCarthy talked to the chat queen about her struggles with her son’s autism in conjunction with the publication of her best-selling books “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism” and “Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds.” McCarthy also has participated twice in Winfrey’s Friday Live panels, most recently this past Friday.

This will likely result in McCarthy spreading even more broadly her ill-informed message that childhood vaccines cause autism (the don’t – and this Skeptical Inquirer article explains why not) and that the medical & scientific community is clueless about both issues.  What people really need to know is the anti-vaccination movement has spread a great deal of misinformation about medicine and because people are believing it, there are dire consequences.

For some examples of the problems with giving nutjobs like McCarthy an even bigger mouthpiece, take a look at the following articles & websites…

Jenny McCarthy Body Count – outlines the number of documented cases of preventable illness and/or death since the summer of 2007.  The site continues…

In May 2007 Jenny McCarthy announced that Evan was not a “Crystal Child” after all, but had been diagnosed with autism (there is a possibility that he may have been misdiagnosed).  She holds on to the mistaken belief that Evan’s alleged autism was caused by his receiving childhood vaccines.  Most anti-vaccination believers claim that the compound thimerosal led to an increase in autism cases.  The Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine is their usual target.  However, thimerosal was never used as a preservative in the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine.  All vaccines licensed since 1999, with the exception of a few multidose container vaccines (such as some HIB and Influenza vaccines), have not contained thimerosal as a preservative.  Autism has not declined since 1999, thereby scientifically disproving this connection.  In addition, Jenny McCarthy’s child, Evan, was not born until 2002, well after thimerosal had been removed from most childhood vaccines.

In June 2007 Jenny McCarthy began promoting anti-vaccination rhetoric.  Because of her celebrity status she has appeared on several television shows and has published multiple books advising parents not to vaccinate their children.  This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of vaccine preventable illnesses as well as an increase in the number of vaccine preventable deaths.

Some examples in the news of how the anti-vaxxers are detrimentally affecting the health of innocent people…

Vaccine refusals fuel jump in measles outbreaks
Immunization Could Have Prevented Fatal Measles Outbreak In Germany
Lack Of Vaccination Linked to Higher Measles Outbreak
The Australian antivax movement takes its toll

And this is perhaps the most heart-breaking story of all: a young Australian couple lost their daughter, who was four weeks old when she died. Too young to get vaccinated herself, she contracted whooping cough because vaccination rates in that part of Australia are too low to provide herd immunity.

Sceptic’s Book of Pooh-Pooh – A Guest Post from David McCaffery

If we are to avoid similar tragedies to these in the future, the nonsense spouted by the anti-vax crowd must be countered… now. For Oprah Winfrey to give a platform to this woman and the movement for which she speaks is to do a grave disservice to us all.  It’s time we took the gloves off with these clowns, because their pseudoscience is getting people killed.

8 Responses to “Oprah Winfrey Gives Platform to Anti-Vax Movement”

  1. […] Read more: Oprah Winfrey Gives Platform to Anti-Vax Movement […]

  2. john rael said

    Jenny McCarthy gets Skeptically pwnd!!!

  3. […] Science … on What is the Limit on “Re…john rael on Oprah Winfrey Gives Platform t…Birthers Conspire Ag… on […]

  4. Oprah is a woman with a big heart. I love her. Her talk show is legendary now and she was a real pioneer back then. She had a hard life but made something of herself, admirable!

  5. […] as safe time and time again. Still – their voices have been heard thanks to idiots like Oprah Winfrey and as a result we are seeing the return of preventable diseases. I love how Penn and Teller give […]

  6. Kana said

    One thing that is undisputed fact. Vaccines saves lives! It has for many years and will continue to do so if ignorance doesn’t prevail.

  7. […] like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, (and of course we can’t forget Oprah for providing them an international platform), vaccine rates are now on the decline.  Inaccurate tales based on misinformation and fear are […]

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