News Flash: Jenny McCarthy Is Not, In Fact, a Scientist
All hail the chicken god!
This is the problem with observations and anecdotal evidence. They're not very scientific. Neither, say actual scientists, are Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey.
Leaders of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a nonprofit health care organization, accuse the former celebrity lovers of using shoddy logic and scattered horror stories to spread the myth that childhood vaccines cause autism.
Committee officials tell CBS News that vaccination rates in the United States declined almost 4 percent in 2009. They got those numbers from data collected from more than 1,000 health plans coverings 118 million Americans.
Meanwhile, they add, vaccination rates covered by Medicaid continue to rise. So poor children are getting vaccinated, but more affluent children are not? What gives?
Fingers are pointing at a certain former Playboy playmate and her rubber-faced ex-boyfriend.
McCarthy has a son with autism and apparently believes in a purported link between autism and diet, metal poisoning and childhood vaccines. When she and Carrey were an item, he joined her in making speeches and otherwise crusading against vaccinations.
The thing is, they're wrong.
Study after study, including one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fails to find any link between vaccines and autism. The consensus in the medical community is that original stories blaming vaccines were based on sloppy science.
A study recently published in Science Translational Medicine suggests autism may be a genetic condition caused by too many tight connections in frontal-lobe circuits and too few long-distance links between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain.
In other words, people with autism are just wired differently.
Evidence for this study was collected by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the types and strength of connections between brain regions.
Take that, Jenny McCarthy.
Seriously, though, is it fair to pick on McCarthy? What evidence do medical authorities really have that McCarthy, Carrey and other celebrities drive down the vaccination rate among middle- and upper-class families?
Plenty, it turns out. But it's all anecdotal.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.