Jenny McCarthy (yes, that Jenny McCarthy) wrote an op-ed on CNN.com today about her autistic child, and how her and husband Jim Carrey are helping recover from his condition. Then they drop the hint that childhood vaccinations caused or contributed to his autism. With all our thoughts and prayers with their child, and with all due respect, we have to say that this is absurd.
You may have missed this, but there is a growing trend among people-who are in no way medical professionals (and who count Jenny McCarthy as one of their most vocal members)-to link vaccinations with autism. This is, of course, totally made up. There is no scientific evidence for it. One of the made up hypotheses is that a mercury-based preservative in vaccines was causing the problem. Then they took it out of vaccines. No change in autism diagnoses. Oh well, there must be something else then.
Sadly, a federal court that exists specifically for vaccine cases recently awarded money to the parents of an autistic girl, in some way admitting that the vaccines may have had something to do with her condition. And so, more and more crazed parents everywhere are preventing their kids from getting vaccinated, which is a severe public health hazard, and has already resulted in things like serious measles outbreaks that should not be happening in the 21st century. Here is a pretty clear-eyed Times op-ed from by a doctor (i.e., not by Jenny McCarthy) about how the entire theory is bunk.
The real question is, why does CNN think its ok to run this drivel? We understand that it's an op-ed and that "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer." If, say, Carmen Electra wanted to write an op-ed saying that the U.S. government was behind 9/11, or that the moon is made of cheese, they wouldn't allow it. This is on the same level of demonstrably false arguments that shouldn't be being put into a public forum, unless it's by doctors well-equipped to present serious scientific evidence to the contrary. ABC really got a lot of heat for letting the vaccines-cause-autsim drivel on to the execrable new show Eli Stone, and hopefully CNN will hear it for this, too.