More stupid from the Huffington Post

In a new apologia for Jenny McCarthy and the mercury militia, Alison Levy, writing for HuffPo, wonders what all the fuss is about.

When I watch Jenny McCarthy on CNN or when I read the blogs (and comments) on autism, I keep wondering: What is this debate about? Yes, the parents of autistic kids are more “emotional” than the aloof doctors before them. But why are they met with anger, rather than compassion? If their concerns are heard, how does that harm other citizens? As a health journalist, and recent newcomer to this issue, I’m trying to understand the passion on the “pro-vaccination” side.

She wonders what the debate is about? After all that reading? How dense is she?

The underlying fear and anger towards these parents suggests that it’s somehow heretical to question any proffering of scientific “proof” even when it squares off with experience–in this case, parents’ tragic and oft repeated experience of watching hundreds of thousands of children immediately deteriorate upon vaccination.

There are several logical fallacies here…

First, she assumes that we haven’t already proved ad nauseum that vaccines are beneficial, and that they do not cause autism. Second, she assumes that there are hundreds of thousands of parents watching their kids become autistic immediately after being vaccinated. In other words, she moves the goalposts of proof, and then assumes that there is a crisis that may or may not exist.

As these two different and valid kinds of evidence collide, the collision should awaken the spirit of scientific inquiry. Instead it’s viewed as a threat.

Two different kinds of valid evidence? Who is she kidding? Remember, folks, the plural of anecdote is not “data”. Collections of anecdotes are not as valid as real scientific research. We do research because our own judgment and common sense is so fallible, missing important patterns, and finding others where none exist.

Leading material scientist, Rustum Roy, currently co-launching the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, maintains that throughout the history of science, most discoveries originate in similar circumstances, in the need to explain evidence not understood by current scientific theory. The dilemma of autism leads us to that threshold.

What the fuck is she talking about? Now she is begging the question—she is assuming that science hasn’t yet disproved the autism-vaccine link.


Unfortunately, there’s much that this research focus fails to address. The totality of the human being, the complexity of human health factors, the wide range of health stressors, the multiplier effect when all of these variables interact, not to mention the biochemical individuality of each human being. Yes, each of us is unique.

Oy. Once again, the writer, who claims to be a “health journalist”, betrays her ignorance of biology. Scientists already know about complexity, multivariate analysis, and biochemistry. That’s what scientific studies do—they account for the complexity of real life. Does she really think the scientific community just “guesses”?

Well, since all the old canards are almost used up, what else can she come up with? How about a false analogy?

Testing single vaccine ingredients to refute vaccinations as a major autism contributor is inconclusive, especially given the poor nature of the studies. Vaccines are not single agents.

Imagine consuming several different type of cocktails at once. Each cocktail contains multiple infectious agents, microbes, and metals acting together and creating new and unexamined synergies in interaction with each individual. Our research model doesn’t assess those synergies or predict which individuals are vulnerable.

Vaccines aren’t cocktails—their ingredients are not mysterious. The fact is, vaccines have been tested in their actual formulation. We don’t test vaccine ingredients, we test vaccines, and have found them not only to be safe, but to save lives.

So when science repeatedly proffers findings that “No, it isn’t this single agent,” rather than proving that vaccinations don’t precipitate autism, what’s demonstrated are the limitations of the modern reductive research approach.

WTF?? So, when science doesn’t prove your point, then science got it wrong. Of course it’s not you.

As is usual with idiots like this, she starts with the false premise of, “I don’t have a horse in this race, I’m just interested in the facts.” If she were interested in facts, she would have spoken to vaccine experts, scientists, physicians, or autism experts.

Look, I’m actually a fan of a lot of the politics in the Huffington Post. But they have become a worthless broadsheet for poorly written, poorly researched, and poorly reasoned health columns. God forbid they ever try to start up a science and health section.

Woo cares not for Left or Right. Woo infiltrates anywhere people are willing to be led. People use these ideas to their advantage—they use them to piggyback other causes. Both parties in the upcoming election should work on putting science back on track. After the Bush administration’s evisceration of science in favor of politics, lets try to separate the two and get back to work.