Friday, 3 April 2009

As A Parent, I Just Know Chemical X Isn't Safe

I'm not sure why people should care what Jenny McCarthy thinks about autism or parenting, but they do care. I disagree with how she views autism. She talks of healing, of recovery, as though autism were in some manner analogous to a physical or mental disease rather than, as I view it, a kind of human mind that is not well accommodated for in a society in which it was once rare. If that were all she had to say, then I suppose we could consider this a strong difference of opinion. But of course there's more.

Jenny McCarthy on Autism and Vaccines
I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f___ing fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's s___. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.
All I can do is sigh. Jenny McCarthy is a high-profile human being, so her views carry weight. The least she could do is honour the responsibility that carries and keep up with the scientific evidence, the expert views. But instead she continues to push the tired old vaccines = regressive autism canard, whilst suggesting that parents should be prepared to accept the resurgence of diseases which kill and maim people. McCarthy feels secure enough in her knowledge of vaccination and autism biology that she can make that undoubtedly harmful claim. She's basically making herself an expert opinion, without having to do the hard work that would really require.

I have a radical suggestion. Jenny McCarthy should present herself as an expert on things in which she is experienced. So parenting, sure. We may disagree with her, but she can certainly have that. Parenting with an autistic kid? Same deal. Virology? Vaccination? Autism biology? Cohort studies? Meta analyses? Risk factors? When she starts citing the studies, the analysing the data that back her up, rather recycling the anti-vaccination nonsense, I might start listening to her views on those.


Owlfarmer said...

One of the major problems with focusing on a single cause ("bad vaccines") for medical phenomena--especially those as puzzling as autism and that seem to be increasing in frequency--is that other explanations go unexplored.

We're dumping tons of chemicals and other pollutants into the air, filling our waterways with other junk, eating chemically infused foods (and far from healthful ones at any rate)--so why should vaccinations (which have otherwise saved millions of lives) be the only possible culprit? The logic itself is problematic, because it's so selective.

Single causes are rare in science and in the history of human endeavor. What people don't seem to want to think about are possibilities like genetic mutations and other factors that are harder to pinpoint and less simple to blame. I am fully aware that in another world (my grandmother's for example) my own genetically induced heart disease would be incurable and I'd most likely be dead by now. I'm pretty sure there are quite a number of children who could say the same thing about the vaccines they received in their infancy.

benv said...

well said. great blog.