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Pseudoscientists Win Prizes When Pigs Fly
April 7, 2009 5:54 PM   Subscribe

On April Fools Day 2009, the James Randi Educational Foundation announced the Pigasus Awards for 2008 for the worst in pseudoscientific irrationality. The Scientist award was given to Dr. Colin A. Ross for his claims that he can shoot electromagnetic energy beams from his eyes. The Funding Organization award went to Walt Ruloff and his co-producers for bankrolling the Intelligent Design documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The Media award went to cable channels such as Comedy Central that still run ads for Enzyte even though the company's owner is now serving a 25-year sentence for fraud. The Perfomer award was typically awarded in the past to cheesy psychics such as Uri Geller or Sylvia Browne, but this year the (dis)honor goes to actress/spokesmodel Jenny McCarthy for her antivaccination activism, a stance that inspired the Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Finally, a new award for "most persistent refusal to face reality" was presented to infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau, who continues selling his books on "natural cures" despite a judge slapping him with a $37 million fine for false claims.
posted by jonp72 (78 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
A veritable cornucopia of crackpots! A plethora of psychos! Dare I say, a surfeit of screwballs!
posted by dersins at 6:02 PM on April 7, 2009


I guess they had already given out the "3000 dollar cables will vastly improve your listening experience" award, then.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:03 PM on April 7, 2009


Between the Enzyte ads and the Girls Gone Wild ads, late night on Comedy Central is pretty unpleasant.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:06 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Why single out Jenny McCarthy? Both she and RFK, Jr. deserve this award equally. They should be bundled together with twine, stuffed inside a burlap sack with rocks and concrete, and slipped off the side of a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan.
posted by billysumday at 6:06 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


dersins may be thinking the same sort of thing I'm thinking - James Randi is cool and all but isn't this stuff just basically how he makes his living? With due respect to jonp72, who often has good posts, this one kind of looks like a press release. But it may be just be my jaded eye.
posted by XMLicious at 6:09 PM on April 7, 2009


Our eyes are all jaded, we have all seen Jenny McCarthy before.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:13 PM on April 7, 2009


They should be bundled together with twine, stuffed inside a burlap sack with rocks and concrete, and slipped off the side of a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan.

Better yet, transport them back in time to the middle ages before all that evil corrupt modern medicine started meddling with its stupid cures for diseases and let them experience the true natural joy of losing half your offspring to childhood diseases before the age of 5.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


So Jon Stewart recently made news denouncing CNBC for cheerleading the overrated stock market, in between fraudulent Enzyte commercials?
posted by Brian B. at 6:19 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Perfomer award was typically awarded in the past to cheesy psychics such as Uri Geller or Sylvia Browne, but this year the (dis)honor goes to actress/spokesmodel Jenny McCarthy for her antivaccination activism, a stance that inspired the Jenny McCarthy Body Count.

YES
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:21 PM on April 7, 2009


Wow. Reading some of the comments on the discovermagazine.com blog, I've become truly aware that it is absolutely not allowed to be a playboy model and then go on and do other things. Because apparently everyone will think you're a self-centered moneygrubber.
posted by redsparkler at 6:22 PM on April 7, 2009


I say thank you orac.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:23 PM on April 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the Jenny McCarthy Body Count:

"even one vaccine preventable illness or vaccine preventable death is too many."

Why? We accept a certain number of child deaths from parents who are bad drivers. Why not from parents who are anti-immunization crackpots? There are tons of kids who aren't immunized and grow up fine.

I am giving my child the full schedule (nearly) of immunizations, but I recognize parents' right not to immunize if they so choose.

There are risks for and against immunization. To me and most rational parents, the pros outweigh the (known) cons. From what I've read, any autism-vaccination connection is very dubious at best. I do think that the levels of aluminum in some shots should be an issue of concern, although I've read the literature and realize how hard it is to test (since there's no normalized non-vaccinated test group).

Anyway, I agree with the pro-vaccination parents, but what I don't get are the "these anti-vaccine folks are the scum of the earth and deserve to die" crowd. I realize that if a critical mass of parents stop vaccinating, certain diseases could come back into prominence and that would be bad for everyone, but it's a free country. I don't consider actively opting out of immunizing your children as child abuse or neglect or anything that the state needs to enforce by law and/or vigilante justice.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:27 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh god let's do vaccination again
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:29 PM on April 7, 2009 [18 favorites]


@brian b -- That's a bit harsh, no? I doubt Jon Stewart is consulted about which ads run during his show.
posted by bpm140 at 6:38 PM on April 7, 2009


Did you know that almost every deck on every house in America contains and exudes substantial quantities of arsenic because it's made of pressure-treated lumber? Parents who let their children play on the deck should die.
posted by XMLicious at 6:41 PM on April 7, 2009


Did you know that almost every deck on every house in America contains and exudes substantial quantities of arsenic because it's made of pressure-treated lumber?

Only if they were made before 2004.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2009


Also come to think of it, Stewart is on at 11, and the Enzyte and softcore ads don't start till midnight.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:47 PM on April 7, 2009


Why not from parents who are anti-immunization crackpots? There are tons of kids who aren't immunized and grow up fine.

The parents' responsibility is to the child, yes, but also to the herd. Every kid they don't vaccinate puts every elderly, HIV patient, and infant in their community at risk.

To my mind that is criminally negligent.
posted by birdie birdington at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


let them experience the true natural joy of losing half your offspring to childhood diseases before the age of 5.

You mean two-thirds. Prior to the 18th century in England, the recorded mortality rate for under fives was two-thirds. It dropped to 'only' one-third by the beginning of the 19th.
posted by rodgerd at 6:54 PM on April 7, 2009


According to federal prosecutors the scam involved preying on customer's reluctance to admit that they had ordered the "male enhancement" pills. Customers ordered the pills, but were unable to cancel or get a refund. A former VP of the company testified that Warshak required customers to provide notarized documents from a doctor proving that they had small genitals in order to get a refund.

The part about the notarized doctor's note is hilarious. It's really wrong and a felony, but it's hilarious.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:57 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


James Randi changed my life.

My first exposure to skepticism was reading The Magic of Uri Geller when I was in high school. I wrote Randi a letter asking about faith healing, as I had no other resources that I could think of to research such an arcane subject. This was the 1970's; the pre-Internet stone age. Surprisingly, I got a post card reply! He directed me to a book entitled Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle.

But it would be years before access to to skeptical resources became easy because of the Internet. Some years back my own interests veered into Bigfoot, and I ended up co-authoring a book review that appeared in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

But belief in monsters that probably don't exist pales in comparison to believing in what Jenny McCarthy promotes, and Randi should be commended for performing a valuable service in a humorous way.
posted by Tube at 6:58 PM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Only if they were made before 2004.

Well, the parents who own houses made after that date can be suffered to live.

I did know the law was changed, that's why I said "almost" every deck ;^) It's just that when I hear things like "parents who don't vaccinate their kids should die!" or "parents who expose their children to second-hand smoke should die!" the first thing I think of is the arsenic in almost every deck, or the benzene everyone breathes when you stop at a gas station to fill up your car, or the irradiated dead fecal bacteria that's in every hamburger fed to a kid, that I wonder exactly how scrupulous the person calling for a fatwa is with their own children about exposing them to the same level of risks in less popular-to-disparage forms.
posted by XMLicious at 7:08 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


birdie birdington: The parents' responsibility is to the child, yes, but also to the herd.

That is one of the most ridiculous, disgusting things I've heard all day.
posted by nightchrome at 7:12 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah. What do you want to bet that the responsibility to the herd doesn't quite extend to not sending your kid to day care where they can hang out with a bunch of other snotty-nosed disease-infested kids, which I bet serves as a larger "risk to the herd".
posted by XMLicious at 7:16 PM on April 7, 2009



mrgrimm: "but it's a free country. "

No. Freedom has limits, it stops when you start fucking around with other people's lives. Parents do not have the right to unnecessarily endanger others with their unvaccinated disease-radiating offspring.
posted by aerotive at 7:31 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, taking any medical advice from someone with areolas bigger than her cerebral hemispheres would imply some sort of inborn cretinism, yes? But JFK? That guy is fucking loony and shat his credibility regarding anything environmentally sound straight into space the day he started in on mercury in vaccines.
posted by docpops at 7:32 PM on April 7, 2009


Yeah, whenever I'm unfortunate to be listening to a parent tell me why they're against vaccines I imagine them behind the wheel, drinking a highball, smoking with the windows up, while Junior peers over the dashboard pretending to captain the ship fully unrestrained. Because kinetic energy and tobacco are equally controversial.
posted by docpops at 7:34 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, taking any medical advice from someone with areolas bigger than her cerebral hemispheres would imply some sort of inborn cretinism, yes?

Those areolas are specifically there to prevent us from doing anything other than nodding our heads yes at anything that she says while wiping flicks of drool from our dirty little faces.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:54 PM on April 7, 2009


I love the ads for pills that make you "bigger down there" or "enlarge a certain body part." What I love most about them is that their claims are always in that coy, winking style that never, ever explicitly mentions the body part in question. The claims are so vague as to be utterly meaningless.

All we know is that Ron Jeremy is known for having one that is notably large. Maybe it enlarges your beer-belly? Or perhaps your nose?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 PM on April 7, 2009


The parents' responsibility is to the child, yes, but also to the herd.

That is one of the most ridiculous, disgusting things I've heard all day.

Whaa? Maybe I haven't got my sarcasm filters adjusted properly - how on earth is this a disgusting thing to say? birdie birdington is referring to Herd Immunity, pointing out that by not immunizing their children anti-vaxxers are putting the rest of the population they come into contact with at risk.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 8:20 PM on April 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


Kids these days ought to just harden up.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:31 PM on April 7, 2009


I doubt Jon Stewart is consulted about which ads run during his show.

But there's still X amount of hypocrisy in the situation (where, for me, X is a fairly large number), which demonstrates the limits of Stewart's corporate court jester schtick. Those Enzyte ads are fraudulent. That Jon Stewart's bosses take money from them while Stewart goes after other networks for non-skeptical coverage of corporate greed is flat-out obnoxious.
posted by mediareport at 8:39 PM on April 7, 2009


The most ridiculous, disgusting thing I have heard today is that we should be nice to the elderly. What are we, saints?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


All we know is that Ron Jeremy is known for having one that is notably large. Maybe it enlarges your beer-belly? Or perhaps your nose?

It's re-labeled off-brand Russian Rogaine, and it makes your mullet HUGE.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:39 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


James Randi tells some really great stories in his podcast, including the time he almost suffocated inside a safe.
posted by Camofrog at 8:49 PM on April 7, 2009


I love the ads for pills that make you "bigger down there" or "enlarge a certain body part."

"Now, Mr. Jones, we said our product would enlarge a "certain part of the male anatomy." and you understood that when you made your purchase. I mean, we say that many times in the ad. How can you be upset with us because your right hand and forearm are four times larger than your left? We certainly did not deceive you; our product performed splendidly.

Your what? You thought we meant your penis? Sir, that is disgusting. I will hear no more of your filthy-talk. GOOD DAY."
posted by louche mustachio at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


LOL SCIENCE AMIRITE?
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:54 PM on April 7, 2009




That Jon Stewart's bosses take money from them while Stewart goes after other networks for non-skeptical coverage of corporate greed is flat-out obnoxious.

Okay, so you're Jon Stewart. How do you respond to the situation?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:24 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


the irradiated dead fecal bacteria that's in every hamburger fed to a kid

Sure it sounds scary, but in case no one told you, the radiation in no way inheres in the food. Meanwhile, I'll take these over live fecal bacteria any day of the week.
posted by 7segment at 10:25 PM on April 7, 2009


Sure it sounds scary, but in case no one told you, the radiation in no way inheres in the food. Meanwhile, I'll take these over live fecal bacteria any day of the week.

Sorry, you're right, I left out a word there: that should have been "hopefully-dead fecal bacteria". I wasn't trying to suggest that hamburgers are sources of radiation but to point out that they're a significant possible disease vector in the same way that not vaccinating might be. You quite possibly are ingesting live fecal bacteria many days of the week.

My understanding from Fast Food Nation and things I've read in that genre of books and articles in the last decade is that the meat processing industry pretty much completely relies on irradiation as the means of preventing disease as opposed to cleanliness: lots of fecal matter actually gets into the meat and so if irradiation misses something and then the meat is accidentally undercooked or mishandled, which happens not-so-infrequently, you ingest some baaaad stuff.

A friend of mine is a food safety and HACCP inspector for Sysco Foods and he says that he often has to practically hide his eyes when he goes into a restaurant with a visible kitchen and cooking area like a diner (i.e., so he can still stand to eat there) because meat and other food gets so visibly mishandled. I'd assume that it can't be all that much better in households, and it's probably worse in restaurants without kitchens visible to the public, so I really do believe that this is a substantial disease vector that deserves far more attention than this vaccination thing.

From the CDC website:
We estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year.
Not entirely from problems with meat, I'm sure, but I bet a significant proportion of it is. So I think these valiant protectors of the herd courageously calling for the stoning to death of non-vaccinating parents are full of shit, both literally and figuratively.
posted by XMLicious at 11:02 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So Skeptics don't believe in capacitive coupling? Amazing. ("Amazing," heh.)

But Ross has hit upon an excellent plan: get Skeptics to underestimate their victim, then use it against them. To win big bucks from JREF, first make certain they see you as a loon. Then just submit a "Randi Challenge" which relies upon simple conventional physics which the JREF doesn't understand. They, for example, then ridicule the perfectly conventional capacitive coupling between eye surface and nearby electrode. After all, in order pick up a signal from a salt-water conductor, a probe wire must touch that conductor, right? If the electrode can pick up the signal from a few millimeters away, that's a sneer-worthy impossible paranormal event! Right?

My only question is whether Ross' lawyer's fees during the huge fight over his prize winnings will wipe out the prize money he's pretty much guaranteed to receive.
posted by billb at 11:18 PM on April 7, 2009


Freedom has limits, it stops when you start fucking around with other people's lives.

Can MetaFilter stop reporting school shootings and suicides, then, please? This leads to copycat activity.
posted by alasdair at 12:03 AM on April 8, 2009


Man, I saw Johnny Cage take on Dr. Colin A. Ross at the Warrior Shrine. Way out of control. No fatality though.

Actually, seriously, I saw Kevin Trudeau a bit back. Standing there in a men's room, he's at the urinal and I'm thinking: "Sh...should I kill him?" I mean I could have slammed his cabesa right through the tile. He's got his back to me. I've got loose pants on.
I think he's thinking I'm checking him out, which could only work to my favor really. My buddy comes out of the stall, looks at me, looks at him, looks back at me, says "Smed, are you thinking of killing that guy?"
I said "Yeah, that's Kevin Trudeau."
My buddy says "Kevin Trudeau! The mega memory guy? My moms is in a psycho ward cause of that shit. Drooling all over her self, can't remember a damn thing."
So he's zipping up and heading out. I'm laughing, 'cos, y'know, that was pretty funny. And much later I'm thinking did I do the world a disservice by not drop kicking him from behind while he was taking a leak?
I dunno man, morality's a bitch some times.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:17 AM on April 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


According to federal prosecutors the scam involved preying on customer's reluctance to admit that they had ordered the "male enhancement" pills. Customers ordered the pills, but were unable to cancel or get a refund. A former VP of the company testified that Warshak required customers to provide notarized documents from a doctor proving that they had small genitals in order to get a refund.

Wasn't this part of the plot of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels? I recall a mention of a similar scam that involved some kind of sex toy, based on the idea that customers would be too embarrassed to ask for their refunds.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:50 AM on April 8, 2009


JustAsItSounds: Whaa? Maybe I haven't got my sarcasm filters adjusted properly - how on earth is this a disgusting thing to say? birdie birdington is referring to Herd Immunity, pointing out that by not immunizing their children anti-vaxxers are putting the rest of the population they come into contact with at risk.

"You have an obligation (nay, a duty!) to do something everyone else is doing (which you don't want to do) because everyone else is doing it and might benefit if you did it also."

That's essentially what it sounded like to me.
The words "responsibility" and "criminally negligent" were used rather forcefully, if you ask me.
posted by nightchrome at 1:43 AM on April 8, 2009


"You have an obligation (nay, a duty!) to do something everyone else is doing (which you don't want to do) because everyone else is doing it and might benefit if you did it also."

Um, yes? Do you also consider it your right to drive the wrong way up a one-way street because you want to take a shortcut and you don't mind taking the risk?

Not vaccinating your children is irresponsible and selfish - you're relying on the herd immunity of others to protect your children, and you're putting others at risk such as the elderly and those unable to take the vaccine, because of science that has been proven to be wrong. Yes, there's a very small risk of side effects from vaccines (not autism though), but the risks both to your own child and others from diseases such as polio are far greater.

France has an interesting approach; if your children aren't given certain vaccines, they're excluded from school by law, to protect the other students.

Polio has been almost entirely eliminated from the western population through widespread vaccination - cases of infection worldwide have been reduced 99% from 1982 levels, and we may well eliminate it altogether with sufficient effort. Refusing to take part in that due to crappy advice IS selfish and negligent.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:49 AM on April 8, 2009 [13 favorites]


And here I thought the Enzyte company's defense was just going to hinge on the fact that the body part they advertised would grow bigger already naturally grows and shrinks on a regular basis. Kind of ingenious though to require a doctor's note stating that the penis size was subpar. Probably should have had an escape plan anyway.
posted by explosion at 4:03 AM on April 8, 2009


Somehow, I find male enhancement ads on Comedy Central easier to spot as a fraud than ads for brokerage firms on CNBC. Or that's how it used to be.

We'll make a certain part of your portfolio --nudge, nudge, wink, wink -- grow larger. Oh, did we mention it was the "quarterly losses" number?

I go back and forth on this stuff. Sometimes I think anyone stupid enough to order quack medicines deserves the consequences and the lost money.

As for the anti-vac crowd, they have no socially redeeming qualities. Unlike Enzyte ads, they aren't even funny when you're stoned.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:57 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You have an obligation (nay, a duty!) to do something everyone else is doing (which you don't want to do) because everyone else is doing it and might benefit if you did it also."

That's essentially what it sounded like to me.
The words "responsibility" and "criminally negligent" were used rather forcefully, if you ask me.


Sing it, sister!

Also, traffic regulations are for conformist sheep, progressive taxation is a Marxist ploy to steal our precious bodily fluids, and advocates of handgun licensing are doddering schoolmarms, am I right?

On preview: damn, ArkhanJG beat me to it
posted by Mayor West at 5:21 AM on April 8, 2009


dersins may be thinking the same sort of thing I'm thinking - James Randi is cool and all but isn't this stuff just basically how he makes his living? With due respect to jonp72, who often has good posts, this one kind of looks like a press release. But it may be just be my jaded eye.
posted by XMLicious at 6:09 PM on April 7


He's a world-famous professional magician who performed all over the globe for decades. This is what he does because it's important to him. There's no money to be made in telling people to not buy stupid shit that doesn't work.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:36 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's something I've never understood: Why would anyone ever assume that Jenny McCarthy knew more about medical science than actual, you know, physicians?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why? We accept a certain number of child deaths from parents who are bad drivers. Why not from parents who are anti-immunization crackpots? There are tons of kids who aren't immunized and grow up fine.

This is an incredibly dumb analogy. The purpose of vaccinations are to, you know, prevent the spread of diseases. If you choose not to put a seat belt on your child, you're a fuckwit of a parent, but you're not risking infecting other people with "not wearing seatbelts."

Great, there are a ton of kids who aren't immunized and grow up fine. There are also a ton of kids who aren't immunized and give other people cervical cancer. Exactly how many of those cases do you consider "acceptable" because the star of Scary Movie 4 believes in miracles?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:25 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]




Statistically speaking, the data regarding DPT-vaccinated infants is absolutely frightening.

The death rate is eight times greater than normal within only three days of receiving a DPT shot. The dreaded Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) clusters very strongly around the typical time frame of DPT shot administration.

DPT vaccinations are usually given at age's two months, four months, and six months. SIDS occurs mostly during the same time frame (85% from one to six months), with the largest incidence occurring at two and four months, in a bimodal fashion. This means that most of the SIDS cases actually cluster directly after the injections, and not in smooth fashion over the entire time period. One study showed that of 103 infants who died of SIDS, 70% had received the DPT vaccine within three weeks.

As of 1975, Japan began deferring pertussis vaccinations until two years of age. A significant drop in serious reactions to the vaccine (of which there are many, the worst of which is SIDS) was noted immediately. The United States has refused to be deterred by such data, however, and some DPT shots are administered here as early as six weeks of age. Often this earlier injection occurs only because it better meshes with the pediatrician's schedule for a ''well-baby'' check-up.
posted by Zambrano at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2009


Bob from the Enzyte commercials is J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, for those of you who haven't noticed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:39 AM on April 8, 2009




I was going to say: "Cites, Zambrano?"
but Optimus Chyme put it so much more eloquently.
posted by Floydd at 8:57 AM on April 8, 2009


Why would anyone ever assume that Jenny McCarthy knew more about medical science than actual, you know, physicians?

Sometimes you see someone naked and can't help but think "Now there's a vulva I can TRUST."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2009


Total bullshit zambrano. Hook line and sinker.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:22 AM on April 8, 2009


Perhaps we could leave Jenny McCarthy's appearance and for heaven's sake, her primary and secondary sex characteristics out of things when discussing why we disagree with her views on vaccination.
posted by padraigin at 9:54 AM on April 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


I didn't know Cubs pitchers knew so much more about medical science than medical scientists.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:04 AM on April 8, 2009


Here's something I've never understood: Why would anyone ever assume that Jenny McCarthy knew more about medical science than actual, you know, physicians?

Shall I assume you've never been to a GP?

I think one big reason people have so little trust in the medical establishment is that oftentimes their only contact with said medical establishment comes in the form of a "jack of all trades, master of none" who couldn't diagnose a case of the sniffles if his life depended on it--whose job seems to consist of nothing more than shoving that ear thingy a little too deep, pushing all the trendy new pills he's just seen ads for, charging $30 for a doctor's note, and giving referrals to specialists who might actually know about things.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]



Perhaps we could leave Jenny McCarthy's appearance and for heaven's sake, her primary and secondary sex characteristics out of things when discussing why we disagree with her views on vaccination


As far as I can tell she has no other distinguishing features other than a startling lack of insight.
posted by docpops at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2009


I think one big reason people have so little trust in the medical establishment is that oftentimes their only contact with said medical establishment comes in the form of a "jack of all trades, master of none" who couldn't diagnose a case of the sniffles if his life depended on it--whose job seems to consist of nothing more than shoving that ear thingy a little too deep, pushing all the trendy new pills he's just seen ads for, charging $30 for a doctor's note, and giving referrals to specialists who might actually know about things.

I haven't seen a case of sniffles since Penicillin was invented. Snuffles, well, that shit will kill you dead.
posted by docpops at 10:28 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are snuffles as bad as zuffles?
posted by homunculus at 10:42 AM on April 8, 2009


GPs work harder and longer than anybody else with an MD, and for less pay. I've lived with one; he got up at 5 and was out the door by 6.30, and didn't get home most days until after 8, and all that for far less money than he could've made as a specialist- or, for that matter, as an 8-5 dentist.

Just sayin'.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 PM on April 8, 2009


GPs work harder and longer than anybody else with an MD, and for less pay. I've lived with one; he got up at 5 and was out the door by 6.30, and didn't get home most days until after 8, and all that for far less money than he could've made as a specialist- or, for that matter, as an 8-5 dentist.

So we agree: GPs are idiots.

I keed, of course. They're expected to know everything, which is the problem; they simply can't. Patients detect this inevitable front-end ignorance, apply it to all areas of medical science, and then wonder if their kid has scarlet fever because he's eating too much gluten.

GPs are bad PR, is what I'm saying.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on April 8, 2009


Patients detect this inevitable front-end ignorance, apply it to all areas of medical science, and then wonder if their kid has scarlet fever because he's eating too much gluten.

GPs are bad PR, is what I'm saying.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:11 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


yes, that is what you are saying, and why you would be a dumbass if it were actually an opinion that were anything other than the most asinine sort of projection. But next time you can't lift your left arm or you pee funny or shit blood I bet there's a good cardiologist or Ophthalmologist near by who would be glad to try and help.
posted by docpops at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2009


heh, my GP sucks too. his only purpose is to collect my $20 copay and refer me to somebody who knows something or schedule a nurse to do something. good living.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:21 PM on April 8, 2009


yes, that is what you are saying, and why you would be a dumbass if it were actually an opinion that were anything other than the most asinine sort of projection.

It's called speculation, but yeah, my bad. It probably is just because of the tits. That makes tons more sense.

But next time you can't lift your left arm or you pee funny or shit blood I bet there's a good cardiologist or Ophthalmologist near by who would be glad to try and help.

Well, first of all: Emergency room. Then: Did I say we should abolish general practitioners? Did I say they were, on the whole, a bad thing? A detriment to society? No. I merely implied they were as human as their patients; that both parties are capable of staggering ignorance. Shall I take your wonderfully human comment as confirmation, docpops?

If anything, we need millions more GPs, for a lot of reasons. (#1: The ones that haven't already retired are currently stocking up on bermuda shorts and metal detectors.) But even in adequate numbers, they're still not going to know every last thing, and their patients will still have whole volumes of internet baloney to print off and bring to every appointment. The cycle continues!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:55 PM on April 8, 2009


Well, doctors give facile answers for two reasons, generally. A lot of people presume the doctor is an ill-trained dumbass if they can't explain their innocuous symptom. Some doctors lack the personal confidence to tell the patient that conventional medicine isn't going to be able to tell them why they periodically feel a certain ephemeral pain/tingling/odor/visual change but that hey, life goes on. You would be amazed at how many people are furious that we fail them in this realm. It baffles me, as if patients would rather hear they are suffering from a defined malady. Now, if you are indeed going in to see me for routine viral respiratory symptoms, then I will happily take your money to tell you you have a cold. I could tell you that most of us are taught to identify a simple virus by the time we're ten or eleven, but that would offend, no? Then I can get on with the day and actually see some sick folks.
posted by docpops at 4:18 PM on April 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Perhaps we could leave Jenny McCarthy's appearance and for heaven's sake, her primary and secondary sex characteristics out of things when discussing why we disagree with her views on vaccination.

Nope, because the only reason anyone would ever care about her views on vaccination is because she initially acquired some celebrity by wobbling her fake boobs around and airing out her pudenda for photographers. I don't see anything wrong with noting that her only real qualification to publicly speak on this issue is that she spent the mid 90s standing around naked.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2009


To be fair docpops, I think a large part of the problem may be that the same medical professionals who lack the confidence to say that conventional medicine isn't going to be able to solve their problem often have an abundance of confidence for implying to people that they can't successfully analyze any medical problem themselves at all, whether or not the approach involves conventional medicine.

I've been surprised at how often I'm told something to the effect that "everything you read on the internet is wrong" even when I've made it clear that it's things like articles in medical journals and surgical textbooks that I'm reading on the internet. I can appreciate that lay interpretation of information should be qualified but there is an extremely established reflex towards being patronizing in some parts of the medical profession, the effect of which is often to solve problems for the medical professionals rather than accomplish anything for the patient.

But I certainly agree that "doctors are idiots" is itself a stupid and pejorative attitude. Many doctors are obviously assholes but they certainly are not idiots.
posted by XMLicious at 5:53 PM on April 8, 2009


I don't see anything wrong with noting that her only real qualification to publicly speak on this issue is that she spent the mid 90s standing around naked has a child on the autistic spectrum and has familiarized herself with the anti-vaccination argument well enough to act as a spokesperson for it, whether or not that stance has medical merit.

Fixed that for you. Be less gross.
posted by padraigin at 9:56 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


has familiarized herself with the anti-vaccination argument well enough to act as a spokesperson for it

She's a spokesman because she's a celebrity. No other reason. If she had not become moderately famous for showing people her junk followed by doing toilet humor, nobody in the media would pay her ravings about vaccines any attention. Her ravings about vaccines gain attention only because she already had some degree of attention.

In cases like this, noting the reason for her celebrity is a relevant part of pointing out how miserably unqualified she is to speak on the matter, or, if you prefer, how her speech on the matter carries essentially no informational content owing to her profound ignorance of the underlying physiological processes as they are currently best understood and her complete lack of training that would enable her to actually remedy that ignorance.

The relevant factor here is not her appearance. It is her virtually total lack of achievement in anything not involving the cruder appetites of the lowest common denominator, much less in medical science.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:49 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


If she was campaigning for the pro-vaccination side instead of the anti-vaxxers, would her old job disqualify her or make her unworthy of listening to? I would hope not, since really the measure of whether we support what someone is saying should rest on whether or not they're right, not how many people have seen them nude before now. She's wrong, and is harming society with her anti-vax campaign. That's reason enough to disrespect her.
posted by harriet vane at 4:00 AM on April 9, 2009


If she was campaigning for the pro-vaccination side instead of the anti-vaxxers, would her old job disqualify her or make her unworthy of listening to?

Of course, though it's not just her old job, it's the lack of any other reason to listen to her. Not only would she still be unworthy of listening to, the mere act of bringing her forward instead of someone who knows something would discredit the scientific and medical community.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:42 AM on April 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I can't agree - a celebrity giving the correct facts about an issue doesn't discredit anything. The people who need to be convinced on the issue may already be suspicious of scientists and doctors, or have friends/family who are suspicious of them. Having a celebrity speak up on the issue can be useful for capturing the attention of those people. We don't live in a world where science gets the respect it deserves, and I'm not willing to wait until we do to get everyone vaccinated.

But it's a hypothetical situation anyway, because McCarthy ain't that celebrity.

The fact that McCarthy is wrong is worse than the fact that she's a celebrity or a porn star, in my opinion. If we could leave her nipples and vulva out of the conversation, that'd be nice. She's a spectacularly badly-informed person, not a collection of body parts.
posted by harriet vane at 2:31 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


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