Well, I hear you. I was surprised to find out where he stands (or doesn't) on the issue which was the main reason I thought to post it. I always enjoyed his show and thought that he had a penchant for piercing through the BS. All the more disappointing to see him fail at doing so here.
During a question and answer session after a talk I recently gave, I was asked for my opinion about the vaccine/autism controversy. That was easy: my opinion is that there is no controversy. The evidence is in. The scientific community has reached a clear consensus that vaccines don’t cause autism. There is no controversy.
There is, however, a manufactroversy — a manufactured controversy — created by junk science, dishonest researchers, professional misconduct, outright fraud, lies, misrepresentations, irresponsible reporting, unfortunate media publicity, poor judgment, celebrities who think they are wiser than the whole of medical science, and a few maverick doctors who ought to know better. Thousands of parents have been frightened into rejecting or delaying immunizations for their children. The immunization rate has dropped, resulting in the return of endemic measles in the U.K. and various outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. children have died. Herd immunity has been lost. The public health consequences are serious and are likely to get worse before they get better — a load of unscientific nonsense has put us all at risk.
The story is appalling. It involves high drama, charismatic personalities, conspiracy theories, accusations, intimidation, and even death threats. It would make a good movie. It does make a good book: Dr. Paul Offit has explained what happened in Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure.1 I can’t tell the whole story here, but I’ll try to cover the highlights as I understand them. I’ll include some new revelations that were not available to Offit when his book went to press. As I see it, there were 3 main stages to this fiasco:
If the MMR scare can be attributed to Andrew Wakefield and the mercury scare to Neal Halsey, the next stage of hysteria is epitomized by Jenny McCarthy, actress and anti-vaccine activist extraordinaire.
Jenny’s son Evan is autistic. At first she subscribed to the fanciful notion that she was an Indigo mother and Evan was a Crystal child. Indigos are “difficult” children who are alleged to possess special traits or abilities such as telepathy, empathy, and creativity, and are said to represent the next stage in human evolution.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I wonder if this all has anything to do with hippies taking acid while they were pregnant ? It would fit the chronology age-wise for most of these loons.
I'd wonder if these people stole the idea off Stephen Baxter, who had a terrible cliche about a group of children being the next level of evolution (Manifold: Time). Weren't those kids all marked with an indigo circle on their clothes?
Dunno. Probably just another variation on the "human exceptionalism" cult, with distinct Übermensch / "master race" overtones. No one wants to feel common, especially not spooks. This is bleeding obvious in "past life regression" mumbo-jumbo - no one is ever a rat catcher in London sewers in a past life. This is why Tyler Durden is a seer -
"Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else."
Bill Maher struck precisely the wrong tone in his recent plea for 'forgiveness' for his anti-vax stand — it wasn't an admission that he had been wrong, it was a rather smarmy, self-righteous claim that he has been the open-minded one who just wants to ask the hard questions . It reminded me of nothing other than the sniffy, sanctimonious tone creationists take when they try to claim they're just interested in the free exchange of information on both sides of their issue. It's just another attempt to put crank pseudoscience on a par with real science.
I have to say, I'm not a fan of restricting basic human rights even in the name of science.
If anything is in the name of anything I immediately get a bad feeling and start questioning the necessity and purpose. I love the fact that there is enough random information about anything out here on the internet to be able to read up on differing facts and opinions on otherwise mainstream beliefs perpetuated by popular media.
For the record, I'm a non believer of global warming because of scientific facts I have read from the internet. It's one of the things above mentioned as being a victim of debate. I could go on but this would be off topic.
I find it quite scary when people argue against having alternative arguments and differing opinions on subjects. People should be bombarded with as much different information as possible and decide for themselves what they accept or reject, not be told what to think or just go along with popular belief because it is easy or makes them feel nice.