Jenny McCarthy was just offered a spot on The View, replacing Elisabeth Hasselbeck. McCarthy’s original claim to fame was posing nude on the cover of Playboy. Once she started becoming irrelevant, she began to pedal the idea that vaccines cause autism. She also claims to have cured her son of autism by using a glutein-free casein-free diet. Over the years, she has garnered support from Andrew Wakefield, the author of the now debunked study which supposedly showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, as well as many other parent and others in the autism community. Despite Wakefield’s study being debunked because of fabricated data and ethics violations, she still pedals this false idea, leading many to not vaccinate their children, or try other dangerous things, like chelation therapy. Although she is equipped with a Ph D. from the University of Google, many are upset by her appointment.
It makes me glad to know that people are aware of the danger of her ideas, but there are still many who don’t. There are many out there who will cling to her ideas because they are desperate to help their child and she seems to have a solution. However, her solution is not one that is backed by credible science. When told this, McCarthy respond’s “[My son] is my science.” I think we all know why that is a problem.
I realize there are many who say their child received the MMR vaccine and the “regressed into autism.” Although I don’t doubt their observations, they need to realize that correlation does not imply causation. There may be many other explanations for why a parent begins to observe more autistic traits from their child once they reach a certain age. It has been show over and over again that vaccines are not the cause. As of right now, the cause is unknown, but genetics seem to play a large role. Of course, McCarthy continues to ignore this and pedal whatever she wants.
McCarthy is also not the most neurodiversity-friendly person the autism world knows. She speaks of her son receiving the MMR vaccine and “Boom! The soul was gone from his eyes.” Her belief that autism steals people’s souls is highly offensive, and no one should be giving it credence. That type of fear-mongering has no business in any discussion about any population of people. If somebody were to say that about gay people, they would not be given such a large platform as McCarthy has.
One of the things that angers me about the United States is how poor our science education is in comparison to other developed nations. I believe that everybody should be able to read an analyze a scientific journal article (no, not an article in a magazine, like Psychology Today). I think everybody should know how to find credible journal articles on different subjects and, at least, gain a cursory view of what the scientists were trying to study, their hypotheses, their methods, their results, and their conclusions. Yes, a lot of journal articles are in very specialized fields and you’d be lucky to understand even 20% of what they’re writing about (believe me, reading studies on proteomics and biotechnology is really hard!), but 20% understanding is better than 0%. I believe all people should be exposed to journal articles at the High School level. A strong knowledge of science and the scientific method should not put you in an exclusive club of people. If the United Sates had a better understanding of science, people wouldn’t turn to a former playboy model with no scientific background for advice.
“If you won’t listen to reason, there’s always…Towanda.”