The Sciences

Jim Carrey loves the pro-disease movement

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitApr 23, 2009 6:00 PM


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Living with Jenny McCarthy must have infected Jim Carrey's brain, because yesterday he posted an astonishingly fallacious antivaccination propaganda piece for the Huffington Post screed. Carrey is the boyfriend of Public Health Threat Jenny McCarthy and has been an antivaccination advocate for some time. He is a funny guy and a movie star, but I don't think either of those things should give him a public voice wherein he can mislead people about vaccinations. The article Carrey wrote has so much wrong in it that it almost qualifies as self-satirizing. His very first paragraph is a textbook example of spin. Basically, a few months ago a special court looked at three cases of potential damage due to vaccinations, and found no evidence of any connection. About this, Carrey says:

...a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won't be adversely affected by the MMR, let alone that all vaccines are safe. This is a huge leap of logic by anyone's standards.

That last line comes dangerously close to an out-and-out lie on Carrey's part, and it's certainly dead wrong. The three cases that were presented to the special courts were chosen by the people presenting the cases themselves as the strongest of all their claims. And the courts did far more than simply find no link between between vaccines and autism; they called the antivax claims "speculative and unpersuasive." One of the special masters (the judge, essentially) in the cases also said that the parents of one child had "been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment." So that "huge leap of logic" Carrey complains about is actually a carefully reasoned and literally judicious step. His case gets worse from there, and in fact contains this whopper: "We have never argued that people shouldn't be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio." I suppose that all depends on who he means by "we"; if it includes Jenny McCarthy and their autism organization, well then it's not exactly the truth, as that is precisely and exactly what they been advocating. I won't go into anything more Carrey says; you can read the smackdowns at Skeptic Dad and Left Brain Right Brain [edited to add: and Opposing Views] to see many other things he says which are completely wrong. More will come, no doubt. It bothers me greatly that people with no scientific training and who are indeed ignoring and distorting scientific results have such a loud voice in the media, especially when it comes to the health of our children. I for one will never watch another Jim Carrey movie again, ever. I will make sure not a single dime of mine will go into his pocket, money that he will use to ultimately put the children of our nation and the world at risk of preventable diseases. Vaccines don't cause autism. But what Carrey and McCarthy are advocating will certainly cause more outbreaks of diseases like measles, Hib, pertussis, and mumps. The real health threat here is not vaccines, it's the antivaccination movement.

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