Former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy has been invited to join The View, raising eyebrows among some doctors, scientists and concerned parents. They’re worried that McCarthy’s unscientific viewpoint on vaccinations could cause a major spike in childhood death and illness. McCarthy is an anti-vaccination evangelist, and her belief that vaccines cause childhood autism has gained thousands of followers in recent years. Could her presence on The View cause more children to die from lack of vaccination?
ABC News contributor Ronald Bailey is worried this could be the case. In an article about McCarthy’s new job, he reports:
This is really bad news for America’s children… Because some parents have been bamboozled by McCarthy’s scientifically bogus claims, infectious diseases like whooping cough and measles are now on the increase. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year saw the biggest outbreak of whooping cough since 1955 and 18 children died of the disease.
Bailey asserts that McCarthy’s refusal to accept the scientific evidence about vaccination has caused an increase in many kinds of infectious diseases because parents have been taken in by her claims. McCarthy has an autistic son, and she believes that his vaccination caused his disease despite widespread evidence that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.
In her book about her struggles with her son, McCarthy points to “evidence” in the form of a study published by Doctor Andrew Wakefield. However, Dr. Wakefield’s study was famously debunked and discredited by investigative reporter Brian Deer, who began looking into the claims after realizing that no additional studies corroborated Wakefield’s conclusion that vaccinations and autism were linked. Shortly after Deer’s report, the journal in which the study had been published fully retracted it, a panel of experts concluded that much of the study information had been purposely falsified, and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.
Despite this very public and widely published debunking, thousands of “autism activists” had already jumped on the autism-vaccine connection train and refused to get off. Many articles and reports since then have questioned and criticized McCarthy’s claims. Regarding her views, the LA Times reports:
This is quackery begotten of fraudulence, exacerbated by mistrust of science and panic over a disorder that upends parents’ lives and their hopes for their children. Add celebrity to that already combustible mix, and you get a fiasco that has already opened the door to the resurgence of preventable childhood diseases such as measles and pertussis.
The diseases listed above are scary as well as potentially deadly. Since McCarthy’s book was published, preventable illnesses and deaths have spiked in certain areas. The website jennymccarthybodycount.com has very detailed charts showing the jumps in illnesses and deaths from the time McCarthy’s book was published to 2013. The website sciencebasedmedicine.org blames McCarthy for the extreme spike in measles in recent years as well. It is notable to point out, however, that correlation does not prove causation in this case.
Whether or not McCarthy’s book is causally related to a spike in preventable deaths, the scientific evidence is clear: children should be vaccinated, and there is no link between vaccines and autism. As Jenny McCarthy joins The View, let’s hope there is no further increase in children dying from lack of vaccination.
By Rebecca Savastio
Source: USA Today
Source: LA Times