The birth of the Anti-GOOP
August 13, 2015 10:25 AM   Subscribe

With Celebrity Lifestyle Sites proliferating like an algal bloom as of late, actress and neuroscientist PhD Mayim Bialik raises the bar with Grok Nation.

Mayim Bialik previously 1, 2
posted by romakimmy (84 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Anti-GOOP? So far as I know, neither of them vaccinate their kids. That's too high a woo for me.

Columbia grad and awesome person Amanda Peet is my anti-Gwyneth.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:32 AM on August 13, 2015 [21 favorites]






I thought this said anti-GOP.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


"i would like to dispel the rumors about my stance on vaccines. i am not anti-vaccine. my children are vaccinated. there has been so much hysteria and anger about this issue and i hope this clears things up as far as my part."

She's far worse than anti-vaccine. She has ..... dun duh ... AN EDUCATED AND NUANCED OPINION ON THE TOPIC!

Thank god she stopped trying to share it. I don't know what she was thinking.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah, thanks for that link, leotrotsky. I remember reading her Beyond the Sling book and (it was a couple years ago) had the impression she was anti-vaxx. But I don't remember entirely.
posted by jillithd at 10:41 AM on August 13, 2015


Wouldn't the anti-GOOP be more just not really falling for the celebrity lifestyle endorsement crap in the first place?

Not so simple: Is Mayim Bialik an anti-vaxxer? It’s complicated...

Yet even more complicated than that.
So did she really change her mind and her stance? If so, why? Or is she just jumping on the “I’m not anti-vaccine” bandwagon like Jenny McCarthy and others who claim not to be anti-vaccine, but at the same time spew vaccine fear and misinformation? Are her kids fully vaccinated, or did they only have the ones she mentioned previously (such as polio for international travel)? Is she walking back statements that are basically anti-vaccine talking points, and removing her support of anti-vaccine doctors like Bob Sears and Lauren Feder (or her own pediatrician, Jay Gordon)?

I really hope so. But I won’t hold my breath, and take her statements that she’s “not anti-vaccine” with a big grain of salt. After all, that statement, itself, is often an anti-vaccine talking point.
Blossom, I am disappoint.

She's far worse than anti-vaccine. She has ..... dun duh ... AN EDUCATED AND NUANCED OPINION ON THE TOPIC!

There's no such thing as an educated and nuanced opinion on this issue. There's the settled science, and people who are trying to undermine it. It's like having a ~nuanced~ opinion on climate change or evolution.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2015 [89 favorites]


Here's another one: Has Mayim Bialik changed her stance on vaccines?

I'll stop now, but it'd like to pre-emptively argue that this particular hobby horse is not a derail. When someone steps into the public eye so fully that they begin to market their own lifestyle through a 'Celebrity Lifestyle' site, the lifestyle choices for which they advocate become legitimate subjects of conversation. Bialik's past ambiguity (and arguably dissembling) on this topic is completely on point.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:43 AM on August 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Her equivocations notwithstanding, Bialik is down with the homeopaths and the anti-vaxers. Hers is what she calls a "non-vaccinating family", and she used Jenny McCarthy's vaccination-denialist pediatrician. She also continues to be associated with the homeopathy-promoting Holistic Moms, gracing the front page of their web site.

A PhD in neuroscience doesn't make her an expert on pediatrics, nor does it confer automatic proof against New Age woo.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Just read the "It's Not That They're Too Cool For School" entry, and the reasons she gives are pretty much exactly what she just said the weren't. It is that she is a privileged person who thinks her kids shouldn't be in school with the masses... disappointing.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


"Mayim Bialik raises the bar with Grok Nation."
No. She has thrown the bar away
posted by Postroad at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was unaware of her ambiguous vaccinating stance, and there was no articles about it on the fledgling site else I sure as fuck wouldn't have posted it. My bad for breaking my non-posting streak.
posted by romakimmy at 10:50 AM on August 13, 2015


Ugh, she also has an anti-formula baby-feeding. No thanks, lady.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:51 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was unaware of her ambiguous vaccinating stance, and there was no articles about it on the fledgling site else I sure as fuck wouldn't have posted it. My bad for breaking my non-posting streak.

Hey, don't worry about it. It's not you we have a problem with.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:53 AM on August 13, 2015 [47 favorites]


A PhD in neuroscience doesn't make her an expert on pediatrics, nor does it confer automatic proof against New Age woo.

A lot of contemporary neuroscience is itself woo. Just not New Age woo so much as re-engineered old-age phrenology coupled with shitty conceptual understanding of statistics and big expensive intimidating machines. Don't overestimate the competence of people in the field until you see the horrible conceptual and statistical mess that it is.
posted by srboisvert at 11:05 AM on August 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


The word "grok" just raises my hackles.

AFAIK, it was coined by Robert Heinlein for Stranger in a Strange Land. It's all just so hippie to me and I doubt she even knows what the word means.
posted by janey47 at 11:13 AM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


She made me click by using the word "grok", and name checking Heinlein over at her Kveller announcement, but it was all downhill after that.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2015


Yeah, she's smart and has interesting things to say (I've found her discussions about being in Hollywood as an observant, fairly conservative Jew who adheres to particular modesty rules particularly interesting), but when it comes to parenting, this lady is on the crazy train w/r/t granola-crunchy-woo parenting. I'm pretty crunchy and crunchy-sympathetic, but she definitely is friendly to anti-vaxxing; homeopathy; and not suuuuuper safe "family bed" practices. (She also did extended breastfeeding until the younger was 4 -- to each their own -- and did a home birth, but hasn't advocated for DUMB home birth (i.e., for women in high risk pregnancies to do it) that I've seen, so that doesn't bother me either, but those two things also come up a lot when people criticize her parenting.)

Which is to say, hardly anti-GOOP, just a less glossy, more granola version of the same sort of woo.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


What the fuck is "GOOP"?
posted by benito.strauss at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, nevermind, it's Gwenyth Paltrow's blog. I googled 'anti-GOOP' so that didn't find it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:22 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, it's not often that I disagree with Eyebrows McGee! At least it is just on one small point about family bed practices. So I'm just going to leave this Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines link here.
posted by jillithd at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


GOOP is Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle magazine.

Current articles:

"Detox friendly summer popsicles"
"The secrets of the pelvic floor"
"Sara Jessica Parker's book club"

I actually have no particular wish to bash it, from a quick glance it seems way better than, say, Cosmo. As you'd expect, it is very Gwyneth Paltrow-y.

That said "Why Yawning Is Important - And How To Optimize The Reflex" is perhaps a bridge too far for me.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


benito.strauss: "What the fuck is "GOOP"?"

Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle site. It's sort of like celebrity-meets-Pinterest, or maybe a younger, health-conscious Martha Stewart. Also she is very into unscientific lifestyle/health claims. It draws a lot of ire between the lifestyle/health claims and its ... clueless tone. Like, Gwyneth Paltrow is maybe not the headliner for frugality, but spends a lot of time telling us how to save money? And a lot of it is kinda pretentious? If you think she is actually making SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR LIFE it's pretty much the worst thing ever. But if you read it as a celebrity lifestyle magazine that you might pick up in the supermarket checkout line, it's much less irritating and fairly entertaining.

(Also people find it a little less-excerable now that it's got traction as "GOOP" and not JUST as "Gwyneth Paltrow's vanity lifestyle site" because it's easier to "hear" the editorial voices of the staff now, which makes the "regular people" features less annoying.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


But she likes Weird Al. Can we forgive any other shortcomings?
posted by DanSachs at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, nevermind, it's Gwenyth Paltrow's blog. I googled 'anti-GOOP' so that didn't find it.

Is it? Why are we stylizing it with uppercase letters here? It's lowercase on the site? I am so confused.

Although Detox Popsicles would be an okay name for a band.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like my celebrities with dogs and wearing horse masks while watching hockey. Everything else is all "My latte is too foamy" territory.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Goop.com is Gwyneth Paltrow's vanity project website (and magazine?). My girlfriend and I like some of the recipes (the fish tacos are pretty good, just use any old whitefish instead of $20/lb. halibut - there's your celebrity entitlement right there), but I can't speak for rest of the content.
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2015


Wow, it's not often that I disagree with Eyebrows McGee! At least it is just on one small point about family bed practices. So I'm just going to leave this Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines link here.

So bottle-feeding moms can't safely cosleep, but fathers can safely cosleep? Fascinating.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:28 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


jillithd: "Wow, it's not often that I disagree with Eyebrows McGee! At least it is just on one small point about family bed practices. So I'm just going to leave this Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines link here."

Oh, no, I think the methods Bialik has advocated for in particular are not the safest.

I am not in favor of co-sleeping (notwithstanding that I know Dr. McKenna from your link, respect him, and bought his fine sidecar bassinet for my babies!), but there are definitely safer and less-safe ways to go about it, and Bialik has advocated some less-safe methods.

If people ARE going to co-sleep, I suggest they discuss it with a knowledgeable pediatrician and reference James McKenna's excellent work on the practice, and not take tips from celebrity moms.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:30 AM on August 13, 2015


A PhD in neuroscience doesn't make her an expert on pediatrics, nor does it confer automatic proof against New Age woo.

Further proof that other sorts of STEM degrees aren't immunization against Engineer's Disease.
posted by bonehead at 11:31 AM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


So bottle-feeding moms can't safely cosleep, but fathers can safely cosleep? Fascinating.

(I was referencing part of the article you linked and know that you weren't necessarily asserting that)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:32 AM on August 13, 2015


Although Detox Popsicles would be an okay name for a band.

It would be an okay name. But Deep Pop Toxicles would be better.
posted by The Bellman at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


(Current articles in GOOP):

"The secrets of the pelvic floor"

One the worst-received stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I believe.
posted by nubs at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2015 [53 favorites]


Bialik has a PhD. Paltrow briefly attended university. But mainly, they are celebrities, using their celebrity to expound on their own beliefs and practices. If you take medical advice from someone who plays a researcher on tv, and/or is a pretty, well-regarded actress, you need to re-evaluate how you get information. but, sigh, you probably won't. You'll buy Honest products from Jessica Alba, and accept Jenny McCarthy as having some credibility. But I likely wouldn't go see my doctor in a movie.
posted by theora55 at 11:39 AM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dibs on "Tips from celebrity moms" as sockpuppet name...
posted by symbioid at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2015


Don't know what everyone's on about. Goop is great! (The smell, especially.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2015


Just read the "It's Not That They're Too Cool For School" entry, and the reasons she gives are pretty much exactly what she just said the weren't. It is that she is a privileged person who thinks her kids shouldn't be in school with the masses... disappointing.
This is a uniquely uncharitable reading of the post. Clearly shitting on her is a win in this thread, but please try harder.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a guiding light, your mileage with Blossom will vary. I've met two neuroscientist Ph.D's in my life.

One of them is super-smart.

The other is among the dumbest motherfuckers I've ever run across, a Dunning-Kruger posterboy who couldn't logic his way out of a wet paper sack.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:08 PM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you take medical advice from someone who plays a researcher on tv, and/or is a pretty, well-regarded actress, you need to re-evaluate how you get information.

I don't know about anyone else but I'm not about to give up on Amber Valletta; she brings me on all the important recent news regarding the dangers of mercury poisoning in seafood.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:09 PM on August 13, 2015


So bottle-feeding moms can't safely cosleep, but fathers can safely cosleep? Fascinating.

I agree that it kind of sounds like that's what he's saying there, but if you look at the picture at the top of the article, you'll see that baby is next to mom and mom is next to dad. So, dad is safely cosleeping with baby but is not right NEXT to the baby. And, similarly, for bottle-feeding mothers, he states that baby should be on a separate sleeping surface but can still be next to the parent.

Also ignoring the heterosexual language in there, too. Better language might be to say that non-breastfeeding parents can safely cosleep (with all of the extra caveats and conditions laid out in the article), but only breastfeeding parents should be sleeping directly next to the baby on the same sleep surface (still with all of the extra caveats and conditions described).

It could definitely use an edit for clarity (and typos) and non-heterosexual-focused worldview, but the jist is mostly that there ARE ways to safely cosleep and there are more links on the page that help delve into the details better. Too often I just see ABSTINENCE ONLY stuff out there for pregnancy, parenting and child-rearing, and I just wanted to make sure for those who NEED or want to cosleep (or have children who NEED to have an arm AND a leg thrown over mama, and a fist grasping dearly to mama's hair in order to get some sleep in the night *cough*) that they know there is information out there that can help them make an informed choice.
posted by jillithd at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Although Detox Popsicles would be an okay name for a band.

Hmm, I want to make a blend but it's hard to decide between Detopsicles and Detoxicles. The latter, I think.

But Deep Pop Toxicles would be better.

Deep Pop Chopricles?
posted by The Tensor at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is a uniquely uncharitable reading of the post

I dunno; her points that she paints as "socially conservative" are pretty much about the hoi polloi tainting her kids. I mean, granted, the idea of "social conservatism" (and that one would claim the label proudly) makes me gag a little bit, so maybe I'm reading it wrong.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Let's see: Both are celebrities with websites and a history of faddish anti-science health interests, and both are related to important Jewish figures.

So Grok Nation is more a parallel-GOOP than an anti-GOOP.
posted by maxsparber at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a uniquely uncharitable reading of the post.

Actually, it feels slightly on point to me. The conversation about privilege is centered in control (i.e. who has it). Her points are framed and bookended by comments about her ability to control what her kids are exposed to and on her terms.
posted by Stynxno at 12:23 PM on August 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bialik has a PhD

She does. She also as far as I can tell never published anything while pursuing that PhD, which is very unusual for someone graduating from a quality program. I've commented about this previously; I've updated my previous comment below...


I was curious if her research background included any immunology, etc. So I did a pubmed search. She does appear as BIALIK M in a couple of interview/opinion pieces that seem based on her role as a TV personality. All BIALIK M's on scientific papers are other people.

Her dissertation is available at ProQuest (if you're at some place with access). It contains a list of "Publications and Presentations". They're all presentations, except second authorships on a paper and a book chapter that were published before she began her PhD work in 2000 (i.e. something from her work as an undergrad).

In other words, Bialik's graduate work appears to have produced no peer-reviewed publications, yet she received a PhD from a major American research institution in a STEM field. This is irregular.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:24 PM on August 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


I'm always defending the value of expertise in this ignorance-besotted world, but a PhD who strays outside their field of expertise is just an interested party whose opinions are no more (or less) valuable than anyone else's.

And in addition, good grief, why in the world does homeopathy keep cropping up everywhere, as if it was a real thing in the world? Is there any reason for that, aside from the supplement laws that protect it from effective oversight? Laws which, I'm told, we have Oren Hatch to thank for.
posted by Flexagon at 12:24 PM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The secrets of the pelvic floor"

One the worst-received stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I believe.


"Dear Messrs;

Though I had previously believed, with a certain sad ardor, that unspeakable, undreamt-of pleasures could never tumble unexpectedly into my path, I nevertheless must relate with perfect honesty" etc etc
posted by clockzero at 12:25 PM on August 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


"The secrets of the pelvic floor"
One the worst-received stories of Edgar Allen Poe, I believe.


Quoth the Raven "Kegel more!"
posted by Kabanos at 12:26 PM on August 13, 2015 [81 favorites]


As one of the only homeschooling parents here (well, retired HSing parents at this point)...

She didn't say anything that hasn't been said by tens of thousands of less affluent HSing parents before her. You don't need money and privilege to want to exert more control over what your kids learn than is available in a public school. That's pretty much the standard reason any conservative leaning HSer (so about 60% of them) chooses to homeschool. The only thing she is doing different than your standard middle class Christian HSer is she can afford to hire tutors for everything, where as most HSers (conservative or liberal) are more likely to depend on Khan Academy.
posted by COD at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


You don't need money and privilege to want to exert more control over what your kids learn than is available in a public school

You also 100% can send your child to public school and have them get the benefits thereof and also teach them things at home, so they don't have to be homeschooled.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:34 PM on August 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


GOOP is Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle magazine.

This is all very strange and confusing. The "anti-goop" looks exactly like what I would expect a Gwyneth Paltrow lifestyle magazine to look like, while "goop" itself looks like a department store catalog site.
posted by sfenders at 12:35 PM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


AFAIK, it was coined by Robert Heinlein for Stranger in a Strange Land. It's all just so hippie to me and I doubt she even knows what the word means.

She literally explains that the term comes from Heinlein in the press release. It seems kind of gross to accuse her of choosing a sci-fi term at random, without knowing what it means.

There are plenty of other things to accuse her of, as this thread shows.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:35 PM on August 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


> while "goop" itself looks like a department store catalog site.

Well, the first sentence of GOOP's self-description is "one of the rare places on the web where food, shopping, and mindfulness collide" [bolding mine].
posted by benito.strauss at 12:44 PM on August 13, 2015


Some background on the home-schooling thing for her might be tied to the fact that one of her kids had delayed speech, I believe. She talks about it in her Beyond the Sling book. Her then mother-in-law helped by saying that the kids' father was ALSO a late speaker. Homeschooling in her case might also be driven from this desire to meet the needs of her kid who was developing at a different pace. She touches on this a bit in #6 of that post.
posted by jillithd at 12:52 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


In other words, Bialik's graduate work appears to have produced no peer-reviewed publications, yet she received a PhD from a major American research institution in a STEM field. This is irregular.

It's irregular for someone who wants to pursue a career in the field, yes. I don't think it's surprising for someone who doesn't intend to work as a scientist. Although I support that in and of itself is a little unusual (pursuing a PhD in a STEM field without intention to continue in the field.)
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


i was home schooled for crazy conservative religious reasons. it sucked. i have a lot of friends who have chosen home schooling to save their kids from horrific bullying that the school wouldn't take care of. bashing home schooling just to bash it with no consideration of the reasons parents might pick to do that seems not great to me. and the groups aren't always even that distinct. i have a family member who home schools for crazy conservative religious reasons and because one of her kids is on the spectrum and his options for getting a real education, free of bullying, tailored for his strengths and weaknesses is pretty much impossible in the tiny midwest town they live in.
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I was homeschooled on and off, and also went to public school, and I think both can be valid options depending on your circumstances and your kid. I feel like the homeschool crowd is a little less exclusively crazy conservative now, but that's probably because I live in a university town.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:41 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


bashing home schooling just to bash it with no consideration of the reasons parents might pick to do that seems not great to me.

I wasn't doing that at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although Detox Popsicles would be an okay name for a band.

the real crime here is that they're not called detoxicles
posted by poffin boffin at 1:57 PM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Which is to say, hardly anti-GOOP, just a less glossy, more granola version of the same sort of woo.

So more GORP than GOOP!
posted by vespabelle at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


In other words, Bialik's graduate work appears to have produced no peer-reviewed publications, yet she received a PhD from a major American research institution in a STEM field. This is irregular.

It's irregular for someone who wants to pursue a career in the field, yes. I don't think it's surprising for someone who doesn't intend to work as a scientist. Although I support that in and of itself is a little unusual (pursuing a PhD in a STEM field without intention to continue in the field.)


Bialik probably didn't receive funding either, since she doesn't need it. If you're paying for a PhD because you are filthy rich (or any other reason), the standards and pressures are going to be considerably lower, from admissions to moving through the program.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:14 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that female celebrity anti-vaxxers are treated harsher than male celebrity anti-vaxxers. Jenny McCarthy and Mayim Bialik are often called out on their stance (and rightly so) but one of those male celebrity anti-vaxxers is running for President. But the laser beam focus of Science! isn't targeted on him.

(My daughter is fully vaccinated and I'm chronically ill, so I'm definitely not saying that anti-vaxxers shouldn't be called out.)
posted by Ruki at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


So more GORP than GOOP!

I AM THE GORFIAN CONSCIOUSNESS!
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


but one of those male celebrity anti-vaxxers is running for President.

Yes, no one ever criticizes Donald Trump.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:23 PM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ahahahhhahhhahhahhahaha! Woo hoo! lol.

This thread performed in front of a live studio audience.
posted by sfenders at 2:31 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where are the anti-vax daddy bloggers telling people they should "do their own research" on some of the most settled (and far too complex for a Google warrior to "research") medical science in existence? Mommy bloggers get a lot of flak because they can cause direct harm. She is missing the point when she encourages people to do their own research, as was Jenny McCarthy when she came out all "yo dog I Googled autism and vaccines and lots of results came up" years ago.

Meanwhile the dude who was involved in weaving the bullshit lies in a clinical research setting was thoroughly debunked, which is where all of the "I'm not anti-vax, just asking questions" stuff transitioned from outright misinformation to sealioning
posted by aydeejones at 2:37 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Deep Pop Chopricles?

Deepak Choprickles, surely?

> I AM THE GORFIAN CONSCIOUSNESS!

Bad move, space cadet ...
posted by scruss at 2:41 PM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


far too complex for a Google warrior to "research"

As a battle-hardened google warrior of some renown, I must object. Google quickly and surely led my web browser to this pdf, among many, which I think you'll find is an excellent introduction to the subject for those of us fortunate enough to have thus far avoided having the slightest idea what this "anti-vax" thing is about beyond it involving crazy people not liking vaccination in general for some inexplicable reason.
posted by sfenders at 2:59 PM on August 13, 2015


Not so simple: Is Mayim Bialik an anti-vaxxer? It’s complicated...

In my opionionation, ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:01 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Woah, Blossom!
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:26 PM on August 13, 2015


In my opionionation, ...

We should all buy up our pad and pencils and give her a piece of our mind

The future? Anybody's guess
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:33 PM on August 13, 2015


Where are the anti-vax daddy bloggers ... Mommy bloggers get a lot of flak because they can cause direct harm.

The kinds of fathers that are anti-vax aren't blogging about family matters. They're more interested in chemtrails, Operation Jade Helm and Obama's birth certificate.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:46 PM on August 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Eh, Jim Carey caught a shitload of flak last month when he complained about the new CA vax requirements.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


The pelvic floor doesn't have any secrets, just unfathomable mysteries.
posted by Chitownfats at 4:02 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


we'll see if jim carey continues to receive that flack years later (and also why did it take until last month when he was pretty vocally in support of his ex-wife's stance).
posted by nadawi at 4:09 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jim Carrey is Jenny McCarthy by association. And while there are plenty of things to mock Trump about, I haven't seen anything about his stance lately. It's kind of a big deal for a presidential forerunner, no? But this is derail-y, so I'll back off now.
posted by Ruki at 4:15 PM on August 13, 2015


I too have a neuroscience PhD (although I have published several papers in my field) and it annoys the CRAP out of me that she uses that to advance her batshit views. And I don't see her clarification as really walking back much -- it's similar to many other anti-vax talking points. Anyway, I don't barge into an immunology discussion group and spout off. And nor should she.
posted by gaspode at 7:46 PM on August 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Deepak Choprasicles
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2015


Although Detox Popsicles would be an okay name for a band.

It would be an okay name. But Deep Pop Toxicles would be better.


Toxic Pop Cycles
posted by nubs at 9:11 AM on August 14, 2015


Anyway, I don't barge into an immunology discussion group and spout off. And nor should she.

Personally I think she's a great example of why we need more women in STEM. I'm tired of the whole "the narrower the expertise the wider the expert thinks it is" thing being talked about as if it was just a male phenomenon.

It's science geeks, folks! We're all like that!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:20 AM on August 14, 2015


There's no such thing as an educated and nuanced opinion on this issue. There's the settled science, and people who are trying to undermine it. It's like having a ~nuanced~ opinion on climate change or evolution.

Here's what I would consider a nuanced opinion on vaccination:

Vaccination carries a risk of adverse effects, some of them quite serious (although none of them autism, as far as we can tell).

I acknowledge that it is individually preferable to free-ride on herd immunity.

But some groups (elderly, immunocompromised, etc.) are more likely to suffer these adverse effects, and only a limited fraction of the population can free-ride before herd immunity collapses.

As a society we reserve the free-riding for those vulnerable groups.

In effect, we demand that people bear the risk of adverse effects as a condition of participating in our society, just as we de facto demand that pedestrians bear the risk of being run over by automobiles.

On the bright side, the actual danger due to vaccination is considerably less than the danger due to automobiles, so if you're not outraged by drunk driving you probably shouldn't be that worried about vaccination.
posted by d. z. wang at 2:08 PM on August 16, 2015


Tell Me No Lies: "She's far worse than anti-vaccine. She has ..... dun duh ... AN EDUCATED AND NUANCED OPINION ON THE TOPIC!

Thank god she stopped trying to share it. I don't know what she was thinking."
She has apparently had many things to say about the topic, but they have been neither educated nor nuanced,
“Children today get about four times as many vaccines as the average 35-year-old did when we were kids. Besides visiting the CDC website and finding out who gets diseases the medical establishment vaccinates for (and why and where and when), here are the books we used to research each vaccine and discuss each with several doctors before deciding what was right for our family.

The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations: Practical Medical and Natural Ways to Protect Your Child, by Lauren Feder. Hatherleigh Press, 2007.

The Vaccine Book: Making The Right Decision for Your Child
, by Robert Sears. Little Brown, 2011.”

-Mayim Bialik in Kveller
This is a common canard of the anti-vaxx movement, and I've discussed it before, but the reasons why she as well as the other charlatans she is citing are dead wrong are incredibly important. What makes the concerns she is raising here about the much larger number of vaccines given early so dangerous is that they are intuitive and compelling without the specialized knowledge of immunology that she so conspicuously does not have but pretends to communicate. I'd like to give explaining why this profitable nonsense is bullshit a shot, and that will take some background in how the adaptive human immune system works as well as what its challenges are.

Our adaptive immune systems work in a really beautiful way that should, in theory, protect us from an infinite number of potential pathogens but has a few significant drawbacks. As the white blood cells that drive the adaptive immune response get made they each are born with a completely new antibody through a very randomized process that creates a very specific and very random molecular shape on the business end of the antibody that could, in theory, bind to anything.1 These antibodies are how our bodies recognize foreign invaders that have evolved some means of evading our innate immune systems, and in generally there are enough white blood cells running around our bodies that one of them will have an antibody that will be effective against functionally anything. One white blood cell though is not enough to meaningfully fight off an infection, and so whenever a mature white blood cell encounters something that triggers its antibody it immediately races back to a lymph node and starts dividing like crazy to make enough cells to eliminate the infection. Then, once the infection is cleared, almost all of the new clones of the white blood cell with the effective antibody will trigger themselves for death to make room for new white blood cells. One of the big draw backs to the fantastically complex process of the adaptive immune system is how long it takes to get going, needing cells to divide so much is a significant rate limiter, so a significant portion of them will change in such a way as to protect themselves from degradation and remain as a reservoir of memory cells waiting in case the infection ever comes back such that the process has a big head start the second time. This is the most common reason why when people get sick with infections they then get better, as well as why people don't tend to get sick from the same thing twice.

I can sort of see the logic in assuming that this process is all pretty stressful, and that maybe young children would have a hard time dealing with it, but you've got to understand that the moment that the child leaves the sterile uterus their immune system is suddenly surrounded by the functionally infinite number of antigens present on the 100 trillion bacteria found in the human gut and on human skin. The infant immune system is amazingly robust, the how of it all is truly beautiful if you've got the stomach for learning all of the four letter acronyms you've got to memorize to understand what we know of it, and the effort required for it to learn from the 14 vaccines delivered in 26 doses as infants is absolutely piddlyshit compared to the stress from learning the contents of a single sneeze. Just the exposure from the act of birth so dramatically dwarfs the full compliment of vaccines we would need to borrow metaphors from astronomy to compare the two. At the same time the benefits are amazing, instead of having to learn from a thing that is trying to kill it, the infant immune system gets to learn from target practice on something that is dead in the water or better yet a inert piece that happens to be the weak spot for the whole damn thing.

Whenever a baby is exposed to a new antigen, or a molecular shape that can be recognized by an antibody, it can go through the whole process I described above and the sheer amount of exposures that babies just handle like champs is truly astounding. How much stress each exposure to something new causes is entirely dependent on factors that we know very well and can manipulate easily in vaccines. For example, when your innate immune system sees one of a small set of very specific patterns embedded into our DNA that are associated only with pathogens in combination with something new, our immune system goes into overdrive, which can sometimes be dangerous. So, even though I could use these patterns in my lab to vaccinate rabbits for research purposes, no one would ever think to use them in human vaccines despite the fact that using them would make vaccines incredibly cheap and effective. Especially with infant vaccines, they are formulated to cause such a trivial amount of stress that the vast majority of babies notice nothing beyond the prick. The idea is just to make sure that the hundred or so most important antigens to have antibodies pre-made against are a part of the trillions and trillions that go through their systems on a daily basis. It is important to understand that vaccines are made from viruses and bacteria found in nature, and the process they go through in children is identical to the natural one in every important way except for the amount of control we are able to exercise over it to ensure safety and efficacy. They are generally made by killing the thing with heat leaving its corpse as a book the body can read and learn from, or growing the thing at lower and lower temperatures until it can't replicate effectively in you anymore allowing the body to learn from real but harmless infections, or in more advanced vaccines by providing only what we already understand to be the weak spot of the thing.

1One of the big problems with that strategy though is what happens when the antibody recognizes something that is actually us or for what ever reason actually belongs in us and shouldn't be attacked. Our bodies deal with this by immediately killing all of the white blood cells that are born with an antibody that recognizes a target within the first few weeks of being created, the idea is that if it sees something that quickly its probably something that should be there. Auto-immune disorders are what happens when this system fails for a variety of reasons and our immune cells start attacking things that are us.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:51 AM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


d. z. wang: "Vaccination carries a risk of adverse effects, some of them quite serious (although none of them autism, as far as we can tell).

I acknowledge that it is individually preferable to free-ride on herd immunity.
"
Something that is maybe not communicated so well is that inclusion of a vaccine on the recommended schedule is only considered ethical if its likely benefit to the individuals receiving the vaccine is greater than the risks associated with the vaccine to the individual. The vaccines on the recommended schedule are just so unambiguously good that they accomplish this in addition to their massive benefit to our community.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:06 AM on August 18, 2015


That's surprising! I was under the impression that it was always preferable to immunize everyone around you and free-ride. Although I guess realistic policy recommendations should consider that you're never going to get everyone else immunized, and lots of stuff have non-human vectors, and probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought of...

I unfortunately don't have access to a research library. Would it be hard for you to dig up any of the literature they'd use to show that some vaccination met this standard? I'm curious to see how the numbers work out.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:49 PM on August 19, 2015


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