• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

      Columnist
    • February 6, 2015 in Columnists

    Sorry, Dr. Mommy Blogger — measles vaccines don’t cause autism

    The right wing has its climate change deniers and the left has its anti-vaxers. Regardless of which end of the Red-Blue spectrum they’re on, they have this in common: They don’t believe in science. But there’s a big difference: Climate change deniers are mostly just an embarrassment. Anti-vaxers are harming others.

    For me, that’s the tipping point. You can worship a green space bunny and believe that walking backwards reverses time, and I’ll just shake my head, feel a little sad for you, and move on. But when your fantasy thinking starts harming others, particularly children, I am compelled to clear my throat and holler.

    Throat clearing now… 3… 2… 1… and we have ignition.

    Parents: Get your heads out of your asses and vaccinate your kids. Vaccines don’t cause autism. They just don’t. This is not merely my opinion. This is the position of everything from the World Health Organization to Autism Speaks, and all their associated doctors and scientists.

    Or, you can listen to Jenny McCarthy, who has an M.D. in… what… lipstick? She admits that her degree comes from Google University, and if you’re still listening to her beyond that, please stop and question your sanity.

    Besides Jenny, the medical resource of choice for anit-vaxers is soccer moms with blogs telling anecdotes. Hey, Mommy Blogger heard of someone who knows someone who read on a blog that this one kid became autistic after getting a measles vaccine! Scientific method, be damned! It must be true!

    Case in point: “The Thinking Mom’s Revolution,” which I discovered while becoming acquainted with Larry Wilmore’s “The Nightly Show,” which features rapid-fire, witty banter between guest commentators. On the Jan. 27 show, the topic was measles vaccinations. Among the guests were CBS News medical and health contributor Dr. Holly Phillips, and one Zoey O’Toole, representing The Thinking Mom’s Revolution.

    Wilmore, noting that the main study linking vaccinations to autism has been discredited, asked Phillips, “Is that door just completely shut on that?” Her response: “No one ever wants to say never, but it’s just overwhelmingly improbable that there is this link. It’s not my opinion, that’s the opinion of the N.I.H., the Institutes of Medicine, C.D.C., World Health Organization, countless autism research organizations. The measles vaccine is not new. It’s not an experimental treatment they’re throwing out there. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of doses have been given and we know that it works.”

    OK, that’s a wrap. Next topic.

    But no, O’Toole opened her pie-hole in response to Phillips, and out gurgled a babbling stream of nonsense.

    “We all want to do what’s best for our children” and “We all want to protect our child.”

    Seriously. That was her rebuttal.

    Later on, she pounced on the fact that vaccine manufacturers turn a profit, and AHA! that proves that measles vaccines cause autism!

    Gaahhhh…. the stupid… it burns…

    Astounded by the sheer idiocy emanating from one mere person who, for reasons I can’t fathom, was propelled to the national stage, I visited “The Thinking Moms’ Revolution” website to investigate their academic, scientific or medical credentials. I found only their “About Us” tab, which said, “The Thinking Moms’ Revolution: What began as a collective journey of stories across the globe from Autism to recovery, and with whatever happens in between; a tight-knit group of parents were drawn to support each other traveling the Autism journey while learning, identifying, laughing, crying, celebrating – experiencing a full spectrum of life and emotions; creating a Revolution along the way, not for the weak, always with hope in sight. We walk together and invite you to join us to do the same.”

    Hey, slap an M.D. on that!

    Bloggers. They’re going to be the death of us. Literally. People don’t recognize the difference between a blogger and a reporter.

    As compared to a news story, a blog is a random, unfiltered spewing of “information” without any editorial control. What’s the big deal about an editor? Plenty. An editor isn’t merely a proofreader. An editor analyzes a story and says, “You need more research” or “Tighten up this paragraph” or “I found an error in your facts,” or maybe, simply, “This is a load of horse shit. Start over.” A reporter usually has professional journalism credentials or, at the very least, is supervised by an editor who does. A blogger’s credentials are knowing how to turn a computer on and start typing.

    It’s comes down to accountability. A blogger has none. S/he can blather on about anything, hit “post” and a thousand people will gulp it down. But read a well-researched NPR piece? Oh, whine and moan, that’s so boring, and the words are so big, and it makes my brain feel all thinky and sad. I’d rather gobble up Dr. Soccer Mom’s mind candy!

    Which isn’t to say there aren’t some respectable, responsible, talented bloggers out there. We feature several right here at iPinion and, might I emphasize, they’ve been hand-picked because they stand out from the crowd and, ultimately, if one of them were to post something truly asinine, there’s an editor behind the wings to yank it. As for bloggers elsewhere in the Wild Wild West of unsupervised online opinion, before you start gulping down blog chunks whole, check that blogger’s “facts” elsewhere and verify his/her expertise. A “collective journey of stories” is not expertise. It’s a fluffy way of saying “anecdotal stories that knit a soft, safe, self-congratulatory womb of denial that will reinforce our own beliefs and shield us from reality.”

    If you want to take a fool’s journey, fine. But don’t drag your children down the merry path of delusion with you. Measles kills. Look up the statistics on the CDC or WHO websites. Those are facts, not a collective journey into All-The-Pretty-Unicorns-Will-Protect-My-Child-From-Disease-With-Magic-Rainbow-Glitter-Land.

    The anti-vaxers’ shortsightedness is the result of growing up in a measles-free world. They have no memory of disease and death. Why? One word: vaccines. But, thanks to the oxymoronic Thinking Mom’s Revolution and its ilk, diseases we’d defeated are roaring back – whooping cough, mumps, and now measles. And here’s the biggest irony of all: the very same parents who aren’t vaccinating their children against deadly diseases are wrapping their kids in bubblewrap and strapping on kneepads and helmets before they walk down the block because they might trip and skin a knee.

    It’s beyond “irony.” Beyond “stupidity” even. It’s child endangerment.



    • Tell it, sister.


      • Pam Storm Nida

      • February 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm
      • Reply

      Awesome read! My favorite line was… Dr. Soccer Mom’s mind candy!


      • Maya North

      • February 8, 2015 at 1:04 am
      • Reply

      It’s not just left-wingers who are anti-vaxers. I know a whole slew of right-wing conservative Christian evangelical types who are just as passionately anti-vaxers as the left-wingers. Not only is it a big dose of idiocy, it’s an arrogant assumption that they have the right to endanger all the people who cannot get vaccinated for genuine health reasons — they’re babies, they’re immunocompromised, etc. Their freedom to risk their children — and it is a philosophy directly related to those decorticates who want to pray the diabetes out of their kiddos — does not extend to risking everybody else. That’s the definition of our republic — pursue happiness as you will right up until it really screws with somebody else and then — boom! Boundaries, people. Measles and other communicable diseases of the like know no boundaries, which is why they are also known as contagions. Ignorance, apparently, is even more contagious than microbes…



      • Agreed! I think the right-wing bloggers who don’t vaccinate for religious reasons are coming from another angle, however. They believe that only God can heal – it’s a statement of faith (albeit misguided) rather than outright delusion.


      • Kim Arndts

      • February 8, 2015 at 8:50 am
      • Reply

      Excellent piece! I watched Zoey O’Toole on Nightly Show as well, and then went to the TMR Facebook page and left comments with links to WHO and Oxford University research conclusions. After about a day or so of back and forth with Zoey herself, she deleted my comments and then blocked me. The funny thing was, though, is she left her responses on the page, so now it looks like she’s arguing with nobody. That to me, says everything, that they don’t even want to listen to anything that might threaten their dogmatic beliefs. I feel very sorry for their kids – they really lost in the parent lotto.



      • Kim, you are right – it DOES say everything! Zooey and her TMR advocates want to live in a land of delusion, at the risk of their own children’s health – and everyone else’s. And I also feel sorry for those kids. Poor things, with such neglectful and irresponsible parents. As for Zooey herself on the Nightly Show – she is a real piece of work.


      • Kim Arndts

      • February 8, 2015 at 12:14 pm
      • Reply

      In a NY TImes article on the topic today, a pediatrician left this remark. hopefully this trend will grow. – “As a pediatrician that advocates full immunization of all children, I have found this measles outbreak to be enlightening. Anti-vaccination parents have been telling me for years that they refuse shots because of their fear of autism, aluminum levels in the diluent or their healthy life-styles make them non-susceptible. In the last few weeks, I have administered more MMR shots to this crowd than ever before. Why? These families have annual Disneyland passes and are being told to stay away. Also, a local high school with a case of measles in an employee, excluded non-immunized students for a period of time. Excluding children from desired activities has changed the minds of many non-vaccinating parents. Go figure!”



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