Monday, February 8, 2010

Me, myself, and McCarthyism

"Dr." Andrew Wakefield, the "scientist" who was discredited last week by Britain's General Medical Council more than a decade after that same council legitimized him, has finally spoken about the rejection of his studies that supposedly link autism with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Well, that is if the doc has bleached his hair blond and grown breasts. Here is part of the statement issued in defense of Mr. Wakefield (sorry, I will not call him Dr.) from those world-renowned experts on medical science, Jim McCarthy and Jenny Carrey:

Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield's original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet's retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.

In related news, Bill Clinton admitting to an affair with Monica Lewinsky never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not that affair actually took place. Oh, and this little tidbit that was on the website of JennyJim's pet group Generation Rescue:

Generation Rescue believes that childhood neurological disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, ADHD/ADD, speech delay, sensory integration disorder, and many other developmental delays are all misdiagnoses for mercury poisoning.

Well, never mind. That statement isn't on the website any more. Generation Rescue now merely claims that autism was caused by exposure to Sarah Palin speeches. More from Dr. Jenny:

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England's General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal.

Vaccine makers have only one pocket between them? I just read a couple of great books on sartorial king Fred Astaire, and I know those English tailors make better suits than that. Maybe Jenny, or Jim or whichever press hack actually wrote the statement, meant to say pouch since they brought kangaroos into the discussion.

For the past decade, parents in our community have been clamoring for a relatively simple scientific study that could settle the debate over the possible role of vaccines in the autism epidemic once and for all: compare children who have been vaccinated with children who have never received any vaccines and see if the rate of autism is different or the same.

You know, she (he? it?) is absolutely right. We need one study to say once and for all whether there is a link. The Institute of Medicine has done only eight studies on the subject already, and the fact that those eight studies found no link between vaccines and autism shows just how desperately we need that one last study that isn't in anyone's pocket or pockets. Except the pocket that holds Mr. Wakefield's $270,000 annual salary from a non-profit; that pocket is a-okay. As for those dozens of other studies that haven't found any connection between autism and vaccines? Why, those should also be the impetus to let Mr. Wakefield do the scientific work that gets us the result that we want!! And while we wait for that study to come out, why don't you head over to our "non-profit" website and stock up on some $99 books and some gluten-free goodies that will wash that autism right out of your child's hair.

Jenny (kind of makes you have a Forest Gump moment when you say that, doesn't it?) goes on to argue that the only reason the medical council chose now to distance itself from Mr. Wakefield is that he and some other "scientists" are about to publish that one, definitive, "my research is bigger than yours" study involving monkeys. Never mind that the journal publishing the study, Neurotoxicology, is being criticized by many reputable scientists for publishing the work of someone who fraudulently obtained material for his previous "study." Oh, sorry. The journal is just about to publish the new study, as Jenny explains:

Dr. Wakefield and his scientific colleagues are on the brink of publishing their entire study, which followed the monkeys through the U.S. childhood vaccine schedule over a multi-year period. It is our understanding that the difference in outcome for the vaccinated monkeys versus the unvaccinated controls is both stark and devastating.

Jenny would have better luck gaining credibility if she tried to re-publish Peter Gabriel's hit "Shock The Monkey." I don't have to tell you that the first portion of Wakefield's monkey study published last October has already been discredited by a lot of people a lot smarter than me. But you have to give the guy credit. In his latest study, he used a grand total of 14 monkeys. That's two more monkeys than the number of kids Wakefield used in his original 1998 study designed to scare parents into paying him a boatload of money. I know that I would trust a study of 14 monkeys a whole lot more than I trust a study of 537,000 children published eight years ago that showed no link between vaccines and autism. That study, of course, found that the entire country of Denmark, at least the men and women doing that thing you do to bear children, were paid off by vaccine companies.

Speaking of being paid off, I am so glad that ripping Mrs. Fire Marshal Bill has bought me that yacht and that beachfront mansion on Tybee I have always wanted:

Led by the pharmaceutical companies and their well-compensated spokespeople, Dr. Wakefield is being vilified through a well-orchestrated smear campaign designed to prevent this important new work from seeing the light of day.

Being Californians, Jenny and Jim should by now have seen the work of ace consumer TV reporter Rick Romero, who has the greatest living mustache and is the poster boy for obvious statements (if you are a fan of, I needn't say more). I hope Rick sends the McCarthys one of those fancy, new electronic mail messages detailing his special report next week, "The Internet. How this new technology can help you spread the word about anything."

Thanks to the web, you can get a legion of folks to believe just about anything. Do you believe the president is a secret Muslim alien throat-wobbler mango? Do you think Glenn Beck is using poisonous gold underwear to get everyone to kiss his bootay? If you believe such blather, you can find those of like mind on the internet. You can say just about anything on the web and get away with it, so the only people with the power to silence Mr. Wakefield are whoever writes the paychecks from Jim and Jenny's account.

So despite losing another match to the truth, the crowd parroting the latest version of McCarthyism says it will continue to push for a "cure" for autism. I will leave that to someone else who is bit more qualified to speak on the subject than Jenny or I am, Dr. Temple Grandin. The autistic Dr. Grandin is a famous lecturer and professor of animal studies at Colorado State University whose life was just made into an HBO movie starring Claire Danes. When asked by MSNBC if there needed to be a "cure" for autism, Dr. Grandin replied;

I believe there’s a point where mild autistic traits are just normal human variation. Mild autism can give you a genius like Einstein. If you have severe autism, you could remain nonverbal. You don’t want people to be on the severe end of the spectrum. But if you got rid of all the autism genetics, you wouldn’t have science or art. All you would have is a bunch of social ‘yak yaks.’

Someone desperately needs to sell Dr. Grandin some of Jenny's "Nana's No-Gluten Cookies", as she is obviously out of control. How dare she refer to Jenny and Jim as yaks. They aren't nearly that hairy, at least as far as we know. They are simply intolerant of those who disagree with them, even when those who disagree have all the evidence on their side. They are McCarthyites in the truest sense of the word.

NOTE: This column makes several references to Jim McCarthy and Jenny Carrey (yes, I transposed their names on purpose) that might be confusing. Just so as to avoid this confusion;

Jim Carrey, formerly a very funny man and vastly underrated actor, is now the companion of Jenny McCarthy.

Jenny McCarthy, formerly nekkid in magazines, now believes she can cure autism and you can't because she has all of Jim Carrey's money at her disposal.

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