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Bill Maher: Anti-Vaxxer? In Bizarre Interview, ‘Real Time’ Host Sides with Cuckoo Crackers Anti-Vaxxer Robert Kennedy Jr.

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On Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher, noted anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. came on to talk about the link between vaccine and autism. Maher took Kennedy’s side

Marlow Stern writes: It was a very Beasty episode of the HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher.

On Friday night, The Daily Beast contributors Ana Marie Cox and Liz Mair joined Maher and some bald guy from The Weekly Standard to discuss the latest current events topics.

But prior to all that, Maher conducted a sit-down interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who came on the program to promote his book Let the Science Speak, as well as the full-page ad Kennedy recently ran in USA Today claiming that thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccine medications, causes autism.

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It’s a stance Kennedy’s taken for quite some time.

Back in 2005, Kennedy made an infamous appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for an “autism” special. There, Kennedy preached his anti-vaxx stance, claiming not only that vaccines cause autism, but also The Apple Store Soho Presents Meet The Filmmakers: "The Last Mountain"that there’s a wide-ranging conspiracy to cover this fact up involving the government, academia, and Big Pharma. Stewart, who’d later rip anti-vaxxers a new one in a February 2015 Daily Show rant, just nodded his head and said, “I appreciate you getting the word out.”

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

And just last week Kennedy apologized for a statement he made calling the number of children injured by vaccines “a holocaust.”

“Obviously some minority gets hurt by this stuff. I don’t understand why this is controversial? Why we have this emotional debate about something that—there is science there.”

Maher opened the interview asking him about the USA Today ad, and his anti-vaxx stance.

“I got dragged into the vaccine issue kicking and screaming because I was going around the country suing coal-burning power plants and talking about the dangers of mercury coming from those plants, and almost everywhere I stopped or I spoke there were women there—very eloquent, articulate, grounded people—who said, ‘You have to look at the biggest factor of mercury in American children now, and it’s vaccines, and we need you to look at the science,’” Kennedy said.

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“And I resisted for a long time but I started reading the science after a while, and I’m very comfortable reading science,” continued Kennedy. “I’ve brought hundreds and hundreds of successful lawsuits, and most of them have involved scientific controversies. I’m comfortable reading science and dissecting it, and discerning the difference between junk science and real science. When I started looking at it, what I saw was very alarming, which is we were giving huge amounts of mercury to our children. A lot of it has been taken out of vaccines, but there’s still an extraordinary amount in vaccines—in particular the flu vaccine.”

Kennedy went on to answer Maher’s softball questions by explaining what he believes are the “unanimous dangers of thimerosal” and “the links between thimerosal and an epidemic of neurological disorders that are now afflicting American children: ADD, ADHD, speech delay, language delay, hyperactivity disorder, ASD, and autism, all of which began in 1989, the year they changed the vaccine schedule.”

Then, Kennedy made an interesting admission. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Important Health Message from Captain America

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[REWIND] Barack Obama 2008: ‘Americans… must know the health effects that are caused by the presence of mercury in vaccines’

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Posted by Orac on April 22, 2008:

Well, so much for Hillary Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s reputations for supposedly being well-informed about scientific issues. True, they didn’t sink as far into the stupid as John McCain didabout vaccines and autism, but what they said was bad enough. Let’s put it this way: If David Kirbythinks what they said about vaccines and autism is just great, they seriously need to fire all their medical advisors and get new ones who know how to evaluate evidence:Obama-2008

No matter who wins in Pennsylvania today, the next President of the United States will support research into the growing evidence of some link between vaccines and autism.

Senator John McCain has already expressed his belief that vaccines and the mercury containing preservative thimerosal could be implicated in what he has rightly termed an “autism epidemic.”

Senator Hillary Clinton, in response to a questionaire from the autism activist group A-CHAMP, wrote that she was “Committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.” And when asked if she would support a study of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children, she said: “Yes. We don’t know what, if any, kind of link there is between vaccines and autism – but we should find out.”

And now, yesterday, at a rally in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama had this rather surprising thing to say:

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

True, this is not quite as bad as John McCain’s incredible ignorance, but it’s pretty bad.

Obama’s statement, even if the interpretation that his saying “this person included” was referring to someone in the crowd and not referring to himself, is nonetheless particularly ignorant and egregious. The science is quite conclusive thus far that vaccines do not cause autism and becomes more convincing every year. Obama is just plain wrong about implying that vaccines have something to do with an “autism epidemic,” and he was wrong when his campaign supplied this reply to a questionnaire sent to the candidates by A-CHAMP. I’m not going to go through all of the candidates’ responses to the questions, mainly because most of them consisted of only the most vacuous and vapid of soothing political pander-language that looks like it’s saying something but really isn’t. For example, this is Obama’s answer to one question:

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Are you satisfied that the federal vaccine approval process is free of conflicts of interests, transparent and rigorous?

As President, I will conduct a thorough examination of all federal programs to ensure that they are effective and operating in the best interests of the American people. And I will ensure that sound and unbiased science, not ideology, guides decisions made in my administration.

That’s about as vacuous and controversy-free as a politician can make it, as is Hillary Clinton’s reply to the very same question:

I believe that we need independent, thorough, and comprehensive testing of all drugs, including vaccines, to make sure that they are safe and effective. I will ensure that the process of approving vaccines is based on science and research – not ideology or other motives. I will do everything I can to protect the health and well-being of American families.

Such boilerplate language doesn’t need a dose of Respectful Insolence™ because it says nothing of substance that is worth beating on for anything other than the fact that it says nothing of substance. However, this response by Barack Obama to the questionnaire does deserve a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence™:

Do you believe there is an autism epidemic in the United States?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United Sates and, perhaps the world.. One in 150 children is diagnosed with ASD. These numbers can not be explained solely by increased awareness or changes to the diagnostic criteria. It is a health crisis and I will act accordingly. There are many Americans with special needs. They will have a partner in the federal government under my administration. Read the rest of this entry »


The Weird Vaccine Panic: Rand Paul Joins the Santa Monica Left by Indulging Bad Science

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Mr. Paul is an ophthalmologist, so he should know he was broadcasting misinformation

On Tuesday we rapped Chris Christie for his odd doubts about public vaccines amid a dangerous outbreak of measles in California. But it seems this is something of an epidemic among potential GOP presidential candidates, so perhaps it’s time for some facts about science, liberty and public health.

“The claims about vaccine risks go back to a 1998 article in The Lancet in which British doctor Andrew Wakefield claimed to have found a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. But the real menace was Mr. Wakefield, whose findings were proven to be fraudulent and who was on the payroll of the plaintiffs bar.”

Rand Paul joined the vaccine follies Monday in an interview with CNBC. While acknowledging vaccines are a “medical breakthrough” and it is a “great idea” to raise “public awareness of how good vaccines are for kids,” Mr. Paul then gave credence to the conspiracy theories that have frightened parents. He suggested there is a health concern in giving “five and six vaccines all at one time” and explained that he had delayed his own child’s immunizations.

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The likely presidential candidate also claimed to have “heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” He pitched all this as an “obvious” question of “freedom”: “The state doesn’t own your children. The parents own the children.” Oh, my.

“A favorite theory of anti-vaccine activists is that too many shots at one time can overwhelm the immune system, triggering autism. Mr. Paul’s reference to mental “disorders” is a dog whistle (perhaps unintentional) to autism fears.”

Mr. Paul is an ophthalmologist, so he should know he was broadcasting misinformation. The claims about vaccine risks go back to a 1998 article in The Lancet in which British doctor Andrew Wakefield claimed to have found a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. But the real menace was Mr. Wakefield, whose findings were proven to be fraudulent and who was on the payroll of the plaintiffs bar. The Lancet retracted the article in 2010, and Mr. Wakefield lost his medical license.

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Vaccine anxiety is most common in privileged communities of the liberal elite

Yet the virus of fear was released, and it infected and was carried by the likes of celebrity Jenny McCarthy and former GOP Member of Congress Dan Burton. A favorite theory of anti-vaccine activists is that too many shots at one time can overwhelm the immune system, triggering autism. Mr. Paul’s reference to mental “disorders” is a dog whistle (perhaps unintentional) to autism fears. Read the rest of this entry »


The Devastating Impact of Vaccine Deniers


Commentary: ‘I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back’

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The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

90Andrea Martin writes: As a mother, I put my parenting decisions above all else. Nobody knows my son better than me, and the choices I make about how to care for him are no one’s business but my own. So, when other people tell me how they think I should be raising my child, I simply can’t tolerate it. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I fully stand behind my choices as a mom, including my choice not to vaccinate my son, because it is my fundamental right as a parent to decide which eradicated measlesdiseases come roaring back.

“The bottom line is that I’m this child’s mother, and I know what’s best. End of story. Politicians, pharmaceutical companies—they don’t know the specific circumstances that made me decide to breathe new life into a viral infection that scientists and the nation at large celebrated stamping out roughly a century ago.”

The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

“It’s simple: You don’t tell me how to raise my kids to avoid reviving a horrific illness that hasn’t been seen on our shores since our grandparents were children, and I won’t tell you how to raise yours.”

Say what you will about me, but I’ve read the information out there and weighed every option, so I am confident in my choice to revive a debilitating illness that was long ago declared dead and let it spread like wildfire from school to school, town to town, and state to state, until it reaches every corner of the country. Leaving such a momentous decision to someone you haven’t even met and who doesn’t care about your child personally—now that’s absurd!

University Of Iowa Begins Vaccinating Students For Mumps

Maybe I choose to bring back the mumps. Or maybe it’s diphtheria. Or maybe it’s some other potentially fatal disease that can easily pass among those too young or too medically unfit to be vaccinated themselves. But whichever highly communicable and formerly wiped-out disease that I opt to resurrect with a vengeance, it is a highly personal decision that only I and my family have the liberty to make. Read the rest of this entry »


Paul A. Offit: The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic

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The pro-disease movement, championed by wealthy elites

Paul A. Offit writes: Almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported to California’s Public Health Department so far this year. More than 250 patients have been hospitalized, nearly all of them infants and young children, and 58 have required intensive care. Why is this preventable respiratory infection making a comeback? In no small part thanks to low vaccination rates, as a story earlier this month in the Hollywood Reporter pointed out.

“Who is choosing not to vaccinate? The answer is surprising. The area with the most cases of whooping cough in California is Los Angeles County, and no group within that county has lower immunization rates than residents living between Malibu and Marina Del Rey, home to some of the wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs in the country.”

The conversation about vaccination has changed. In the 1990s, when new vaccines were introduced, the news media were obsessed with the notion that vaccines might be doing more harm than good. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism, we were told. Thimerosal, an ethyl-mercury containing preservative in some vaccines, might cause developmental delays. Too many vaccines given too soon, the stories went, might overwhelm a child’s immune system.

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“These are the kind of immunization rates that can be found in Chad or South Sudan. But parents in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica see vaccines as unnatural—something that conflicts with their healthy lifestyle. And they have no problem finding fringe pediatricians willing to cater to their irrational beliefs.”

Then those stories disappeared. One reason was that study after study showed that these concerns were ill-measlesfounded. Another was that the famous 1998 report claiming to show a link between vaccinations and autism was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that had published it.

With fewer vaccinations, is your childs school safe?

Remember When We Thought We Had Functionally Eradicated Measles and Mumps?

Study: More Affluent Stupid Parents Opt Out Of Whooping Cough Vaccine

The study was not only spectacularly wrong, as more than a dozen studies have shown, but also fraudulent. The author, British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, has since been stripped of his medical license.

But the damage was done. Countless parents became afraid of vaccines. Read the rest of this entry »


Data Says Anti-Vaccination Kooks Mostly White; More Blue States Afflicted


Study: More Affluent Stupid Parents Opt Out Of Whooping Cough Vaccine

Higher income isn't an indicator of higher intelligence

Higher income: not associated with higher intelligence, social responsibility, civic participation, or common sense

VAN NUYS (CBSLA.com) — A surge in whooping cough cases reported in California two years ago may be linked in part to parents’ refusal to vaccinate their children, according to a new study.

KNX 1070′s Margaret Carrero reports the findings come amid new data from health officials that shows the California outbreak of pertussis in 2010 was among the biggest in six decades.

A study entitled “Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions and Pertussis in California, 2010″ published in the medical journal Pediatrics on Oct. 1 found a statistically significant correlation between areas with a high concentration of pertussis cases and areas where higher numbers of parents sought legal exemptions to opt out their children from vaccination.

Study co-author Dr. Daniel Salmon with the John Hopkins-Bloomberg School of Public Health said the decision not to vaccinate occurred most frequently among families considered to be among higher socioeconomic status. Read the rest of this entry »


With fewer vaccinations, is your childs school safe?

Too many parents are seeking exemption from California’s vaccination law.

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Elementary School in Los Angeles in 1957. (Los Angeles Times)

By Nina Shapiro

Across the country, preschools and elementary schools are declaring themselves nut free or peanut free, asking families not to pack lunch foods that could pose life-threatening dangers to highly allergicchildren. And the prohibitions are expanding beyond nuts. Some schools, for example, have prohibited powdered cheese products to protect children who are especially dairy sensitive.

These measures may be excessive, but as a physician, I understand the desire to protect students. Children with serious allergies really can have severe reactions to trigger foods, so it’s not that surprising that some schools have reacted aggressively.

But the great bulk of children face a far greater risk of harm from disease. If the goal is really to protect children, I’d like to see all schools declared “unvaccinated-free zones.”

The law in California mandates that students in public and private schools be immunized, but it also allows easy-to-get exemptions for personal beliefs.

Although some 90% of the state’s kindergartners are up to date on their immunizations, it is not uncommon for individual public elementary schools to report that more than one-third of their kindergartners are not.

And if you’re thinking this must be a problem unique to schools in low-income neighborhoods, think again. One of Malibu’s three elementary schools reported that just 58% of its kindergartners were up to date on their vaccinations, and some other affluent areas throughout the state have schools with similar compliance rates.

Private schools vary widely, but some have rates of less than 20%. Yes, that’s right: Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than 1 in 5 kindergartners has been immunized against the pathogens causing such life-threatening illnesses as measlespoliomeningitisand pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough). In order for a school to be considered truly immunized, from a public health standpoint, its immunization rate needs to be 90% or higher.

Parents have varied reasons for choosing not to immunize their children. Some are concerned that vaccinations raise the risk of autism, although study after study has debunked this myth. Others, concerned that small bodies can’t tolerate so many vaccines at once, have decided to spread out the schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though there is little evidence to support this practice. Some parents think that because some of the illnesses for which kids get immunized are extremely rare these days, there’s little reason to vaccinate.

But here’s the reality: These diseases do exist, and we’re already seeing some of them make a comeback.

Read the rest of this entry »


Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Anti-Vaccination Crackpot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr…. attorney, a radio host…environmental activist...also, as it happens, a full-blown anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist.

 

And I do mean full-blown.

“RFK Jr. has a long history of adhering to crackpot ideas about vaccines, mostly in the form of the now thoroughly disproven link to autism. He’s been hammering this issue for a decade now, and his claims appear to be no better and no more accurate now than they were when he first started making them.”

Contrary to reputation, the Kennedys aren’t particularly bright.

via Instapundit  & Slate