Singling Out people who talk through their asses

Hey, world, guess what: if you stake your children’s lives on medical advice from these people:
This is how I always picture Jenny McCarthy: hard at work squeezing out her next book.I really tried to find one of the butt-talking shots, but my Google-fu is weak.
Then congratulations, you’re a giant moron. Somehow, you’ve decided that the word of two celebrities whose popularity averages out to C-list (at best) trumps the mountains upon mountains of actual scientific evidence from actual scientists.

I can hear the cries now: “but Jenny and Jim have scientists on their side!” Yes, and so do the flat-Earthers, the Creationists, and (to co-opt the antivax crowd’s favorite example) the tobacco companies. What Jenny and Jim and Generation Rescue and Age of Autism and the other pro-disease groups don’t have is anything resembling a preponderance of evidence to support their hypotheses. They don’t even have enough evidence to make their hypothesis seem like a worthwhile and plausible research avenue. After the MMR/Autism link was demonstrated to be the result of an interest-conflicted researcher gaming the data from small poorly-controlled studies using analysis from a compromised lab, the antivax crowd changed the hypothesis–now the connection was proposed to be the mercury in thimerosal, not the measles virus in MMR. So the real scientists rolled up their sleeves again, the legal process bent over backwards to accommodate the antivaxxers’ suspicions, and thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines while scientists tested the hypothesis. Study after study, data set after data set, have refuted the purported link between thimerosal and autism, and oh by the way, there’s no proposed mechanism for such a link anyway, given what we already know about how ethylmercury compounds like thimerosal interact with the body. Now the antivaxxers have shifted the goalposts again, retreating to that refuge of scoundrels and charlatans, the vague and unscientific notion of “toxins.” They throw out terms designed to baffle and frighten the chemistry-illiterate public and intentionally fail to understand the important role of dosage in determining a substance’s toxicity. And despite this failure to comprehend basic things like measurement, they augment this toxin gambit with a mantra of “too many, too soon.” Yes, curse those doctors for giving our children too many attenuated viruses and viral protein fragments before they can be exposed to the real things. I mean, surely nature, which is fluffy and nice and clean and wonderful to all living things would be much more forgiving with its exposure schedule. How well we remember those halcyon days of tooth enamel-destroying fevers and iron lungs. If it weren’t for the fact that “toxins” is sufficiently vague and untestable and unfalsifiable as a complaint–so much so that it’s ubiquitous among woo-woo garbage–I would expect the next antivax meme to be about the “energy” of the vaccines causing autism.

This constant goalpost-shifting is not a hallmark of a scientific hypothesis. It’s not the sign of rational examination of claims or a desire to actually determine whether or not one’s convictions are true. It’s the tactic of the true believer, the unsinkable rubber ducks whose certainty insulates their beliefs from criticism, evidence, and any harsh contact with reality. Good science has invalidated each of their hypotheses in turn, demonstrating that their proposed causal link is borne out of fallacious post-hoc thinking and unscientific ideology. The scientific method is to abandon mistaken hypotheses, not to make them vaguer and less prone to falsification until they lack any explanatory power at all. This is what the antivax crowd has done; this is emphatically not scientific.

Jenny McCarthy trusts her “mommy instinct” and her Google-based research, but neither of these are reliable sources of truth. The Internet is wonderful in that it gives everyone a voice, and terrible in that it lacks any quality control or fact-checking requirement. “Mommy instincts” are great for skinned knees and stormy nights, but they aren’t reliable sources of truth–just ask any geeky kid whose mom says he’s the handsomest boy in his school, or any mom who thinks her college-bound daughter is pure and virginal as the driven snow. If “mommy instinct” were as reliable as Jenny seems to think, then there would be no need for pediatricians.

But she is a celebrity, and so is her boyfriend, and so they have the means and prestige to promote their arrogant, dangerous ignorance to a humongous audience of credulous people, and they are given equal standing with actual scientists, their ignorance pitted against actual evidence as though the two had similar claims to the truth. I’m all for celebrities having and sharing their opinions; what they shouldn’t be doing (and what our media shouldn’t be complicit in allowing them to do) is pretending that their SAG memberships make them authorities on anything more complicated than method acting. I applaud celebrities like Amanda Peet for standing up and giving the side of reason and science a voice, but I deplore a system and a society where the side with the most famous people on it is commonly believed to be the side with the truth.

So go ahead, put your kids at risk for dozens of debilitating, easily preventable diseases by putting your trust in this asshole:That's right, Batman fucking Forever.
Me, I’ll stick to science.

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4 Responses to Singling Out people who talk through their asses

  1. Akusai says:

    Yeah, but he’s doing science in that picture! And he rescued Snowflake!

  2. sunnyskeptic says:

    They both can eat it. Stupid shits.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn't be hassling creationists if I were you. After all you've fallen for the most irrational creationist story yet invented. That is the Big Bang. You even once went so far (you complete idiot) to describe the background warming as evidence for the big bang.Yeah right. There's a solid piece of inferential logic right there. Leave the hassling of creationists to me. Because you are one of them.

  4. Doubting Tom says:

    After all you've fallen for the most irrational creationist story yet invented. That is the Big Bang.Yes, that's absolutely true. Except for the tiny detail that the Big Bang Theory says absolutely nothing about the creation of anything, and isn't really a story. Aside from that, totally right.You even once went so far (you complete idiot) to describe the background warming as evidence for the big bang.I think you fail to understand science. I'll take this as a teachable moment. See, we observed some time ago that the various galaxies are all moving away from each other, which suggests that in the past, they were closer together. This suggests that if we run the clock backward far enough, things will keep getting closer and closer until they are all compressed into a very small space. So we drew a logical conclusion based on clear observations, and we came up with a model. If this expansion model–dramatically dubbed the "Big Bang Theory"–were true, we would expect other things to be true as well. The measurement of a good theory is its ability to make verifiable predictions of future observations. So, one prediction of the model was that, at a point in the expansion, the hot morass of the early universe would cool off enough to allow the first atoms to form, which would thus cause the radiation and matter to become decoupled. This would leave behind a sort of snapshot of low-energy radiation spread across space, painting a picture of the early universe. Decades later, that background radiation was discovered, and it fit the predictions spectacularly well. It thus provided strong support for the theory, as any verified prediction supports any theory. When general relativity predicted that we'd be able to see light being bent by gravity during a solar eclipse, we made that observation, and it supported the theory. This is pretty basic science, Anonny, and it isn't the only case where the Big Bang has had predictions borne out. Yeah right. There's a solid piece of inferential logic right there.More words you don't understand. But go ahead, Dr. Cosmology, and give us your alternative which explains all the observations and makes testable, verifiable predictions. I'm waiting.

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