An open letter to Oprah

To me, it is clear that a significant number of people look up to you, and trust your advice and judgment. That is why it is such a huge mistake for you to endorse Jenny McCarthy with her own show on your network.

Fairly recently Shirley Wu posted a letter to Oprah on her blog. While I am not the first and certainly not the most prominent blogger to share this, I felt the passion, reason, and worthiness of topic are not combined this well often enough.

While the letter may seem critical of Oprah in some respects, to me it comes across as a clear, concise, heartfelt plea for Oprah to listen to rationality and reason.

Surely you must realize that McCarthy is neither a medical professional nor a scientist. And yet she acts as a spokesperson for the anti-vaccination movement, a movement that directly impacts people’s health. Claims that vaccines are unsafe and cause autism have been refuted time after time, but their allure persists in part because of high-profile champions for ignorance like McCarthy.

So to all my readers, please share this as far and wide as you can… This is a topic worthy of spreading…

And to Oprah:

You reach millions of people everyday and your words and endorsements carry an incredible amount of weight. If you say to buy a certain book, people will buy it. If you do a segment on a certain charity, people will contribute. And if you say that what Jenny McCarthy is saying has merit, people will believe you.

<snip>

Jenny McCarthy could be considered responsible for a significant number of these; you can imagine what might happen if you give her influence over your audience of millions.

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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11 Responses to An open letter to Oprah

  1. republicofhealth says:

    Well, since you so heavily endorse vaccines, do you even know any of the ingredients of any vaccines?

    Let me tell you, vaccines contain such toxic substances as formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, and genetically modified tissue from aborted fetuses. These toxic substances cause an auto immune response that can lead to such ailments as diabetes, autism, seizures, and death.

    Sound like something you want to inject into your bloodstream?

    • Rodibidably says:

      Except for the fact that you’re either intentionally lying or misinformed, that would be a frightening “fact”…

      If you’d like I can provide you may resources where you can become educated on the science behind childhood vacinations, but for now I’ll direct you to one post from Dr Harriet Hall on the subject: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-06-03

      Pay close attention to the following:

      The other vaccine ingredients that have been questioned include formaldehyde, aluminum, ether, anti-freeze, and human aborted fetal tissue. Scientists have explained over and over that these ingredients are either not present in vaccines or are harmless, but activists ignore the facts and keep making the same false claims. Formaldehyde is harmless in small amounts and is even produced naturally in the human body. Aluminum is an adjuvant used to increase the efficacy of vaccines, and is not harmful. Ether might be used in the manufacturing process but is not present in the vaccines. There is no ethylene glycol or even diethylene glycol in vaccines. (Anti-freeze is ethylene glycol.) And to obtain enough virus to make a vaccine, the virus must be grown in tissue cultures that were originally derived from monkey, chicken, or sometimes human fetal cells; but there is no human or animal tissue of any kind present in the vaccine itself. Apple trees grow in soil, but there is no soil in applesauce.

  2. republicofhealth says:

    All right buddy, keep believing the vaccine corporations that have their roots in nazi germany. I’m lying to you. The vaccine manufacturers love you and your babies.

    • Rodibidably says:

      Impressive, you are able to post an anti-pharma conspiracy and a Godwin in only 2½ lines…

      Do you know the facts surrounding the Andrew Wakefield study, and how he faked the data, even after rigging the study to show a positive result (which it did not until he fudged the data).

      I’m curious, can you show me even ONE study that shows any link between vaccines and autism (or to make it even more broad, vaccines and ANY developmental disorder) other than the discredited Wakefield study.

      Do you understand how many lives are saved each year by these vaccines? The numbers really are staggering…

      Have you read the actual science in regards to vaccines, or do you prefer to only read the misinformation from fear-mongering websites that reinforce your beliefs?

  3. republicofhealth says:

    Ha, I was being facetious…

    Here’s a study published data by Dr. J.
    Barthelow Classen in The Open Endocrinology Journal about the hep b vaccine linked to diabetes
    http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS88745+04-Apr-2008+PRN20080404

    Study links vaccines containing mercury with autism
    http://www.healthsentinel.com/org_news.php?id=082&title=Study+Links+vaccines+containing+mercury+with+autism&event=org_news_print_list_item

    A Link Between Thimerosal Vaccines And Autism
    http://www.pharmalot.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/thimerosal-vaccine-study.pdf

    But I know you probably won’t look at the studies and if you do, you’ll still believe the vaccine companies love you.

    Do I know how many lives vaccines save?

    Check this out…

    Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have Three Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu, Study Suggests
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519172045.htm

    But really. I’m lying to you. The TV is telling you the truth, even though they depend on advertising from vaccine manufacturers to survive.

    See, just believe the TV… Mercury is good for your brain, two studies show…

    Remember, mercury is good for your brain. Keep injecting your children with mercury for improved mental performance and behavior. The TV would never lie to you.

    • Rodibidably says:

      I will check out the links you provided this ASAP, unfortunately I’ll be leaving for a business trip shortly, so it may take a few days before I have adequate time to do more than give them a cursory glance.

      But, I would like to quickly ask you a couple of questions, unrelated to the links.

      Do you try to intentionally come off sounding the way you do?

      Do you understand what a “straw-man” is, and how you’re guilty of that logical fallacy?

      Do you understand there are multiple forms of mercury, and that one of them is harmful while the other is benign?

      Do you realize that containing a substance (such as formaldehyde) and containing one ingredient in common with that substance are not the same thing?

      Do you realize that you have failed to respond directly to my previous criticisms on this issue, and it makes you look like you knew when you posted it that it was not an honest assessment of the facts?

      Do you realize that one of the links you provided (and this is gleamed from a quick scan of that link) includes the following, which makes it seem that you did not really read the article, but only the headline:

      While these findings do raise questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, they do not in fact implicate it as a cause of hospitalizations

    • Rodibidably says:

      I tried looking into the Classen article, but I don’t seem to be able to find any more information other than the press release (including the actual article or any reviews or comments on the original article).
      It’s hard to tell much of anything from a press release.
      Apparently it will take me a bit more research to find out enough information on that one to respond, since currently I can’t see any data about sample size, protocols, results, etc…

      Not that it takes away from the potential validity of his claims, but Classen’s website seems a bit odd, for somebody who is doing serious medical research. It seems he is trying to sell his “patents”, but does not clearly explain what he has created/designed/invented/etc…
      A bit of digging does show that his patent is related to testing vaccines and potential risk of diabetes.

      I did finally come across the articles on Classen’s site, but I can not verfiy that it is the same one submitted for peer review, or if his article has ever been peer reviewed.
      But given that, it seems that he states:

      There is a statistically significant correlation between the prevalence of obesity and the number of vaccine doses recommended. A similar trend exists for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

      As you may (or may not) know, correlation does not mean causation. There would need to be further study before any link is verifiable.
      I hope this is not the best of your links…

      I will look into the next link tonight, or tommorrow, and hopefully I can find a bit more detail on that one…

    • Rodibidably says:

      Your second link, from healthsentinel.com strikes me as a bit odd. The title seems to be talking about a possible link between Thimerosal and Autism, and yet the first four paragraphs are completely unrelated to either. It seems as if the author has a problem with all vaccines, and is using this article as a way to disparage all vaccine use.

      It also includes lines such as:

      While many parents of autistic children and activists believe that there is a link between vaccines containing mercury, government and other officials have rejected these claims. In 2004, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) stated that, “the committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”

      The article states that the Geiers performed a peer-reviewed double blind study, but at least as far as I read, it never discussed the statistical findings of that study.
      It does briefly touch on the fact that vaccines are given between ages 1 and 2, and autism shows it’s first signs between ages 1 and 2, which is a possible correlation, but it is certainly not evidence of a causal relationship.

      Then one of what I find to be the most important lines appears:

      The authors hypothesized that since thimerosal has been removed from many vaccines that this decrease in thimerosal exposure should be accompanied with a decrease in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. “Assuming a 3- to 4- year lag time between birth and diagnosis of an ND, the peak followed by a decline in NDs would be expected to occur around 2002 if thimerosal had a significant impact on NDs.”

      Now as I assume you are aware, the rate of autism had not decreased, and in fact has continued to increase (it’s a quick google search to see that the rates have continued to increase). Now if the hypothesis is that Thimerosal was responsible for the rates increasing, and it has since been taken out the rates have continued to increase, it seems that that hypothesis was a failed one.
      But you don’t need to take my word for it, take the word of the people who performed the study you pointed me to…

      I’m not sure what else you want me to gather from this article, but I will continue reading, just in case something suprises me…

      Oh, I found the final point I believe you wanted me to find:

      US health agencies have uniformly rejected the conclusions of the Geiers’ studies, and one of the Geiers’ articles was the subject of heavy criticism by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Geier says public health officials are “just trying to cover it up.”

      A complete rejection of the Geier’s study, and a persecution complex and massive government conspiracy…

      I’m curious, did you READ the links you sent me, or did you just google “vaccine autism link” and copy the first few links you came across, without looking at the actual articles?

    • Rodibidably says:

      Related to the claims of Classen:

      A friend of mine had read your comments, and she was able to dig up a bit of information that I had not come across in my search. From the Diabetes Care website (pg 17 of http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/23/6/872.full.pdf+html ) both of the Classens state:

      We would like to clarify several points pertaining to our research to which Graves
      et al. elude. We propose that immunization
      starting in the first month of life will lead to
      a decreased risk of type 1 diabetes when
      compared with immunization starting after
      2 months of life (3,4). We are not proposing
      that immunization be delayed until 2 or
      5 years of age but instead be administered
      earlier.

      So even your “experts”, believe that the MMR vaccine is not only safe from it’s non-existent link to autism (or perhaps you’ll now claim they are pro-autism?), but they recommend to administer it to children at an even younger age.

      There is no possible way you looked into the links you provided beyond a quick glance is there? Nobody would be stupid enough to intentionally provide links that disprove the claim they are making, would they?

  4. Tempest Spirit says:

    Do you know where I can find copies of the results from the double blind studies? I encounter a number of people that are adamant about the vaccine and autism link, but have spoken with professionals who have blatantly stated the link has been completely debunked. They hold firm to genetic variables being responsible for Autism. And I have personally concluded (albeit I am NOT a professional) that we have seen an increase in Autism Diagnoses, is because we have expanded the categorization of previously uncategorized developmental issues under the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and we are only now beginning to gain an understanding of how to address these developmental issues in a way that is helpful for the people that live with them. However I would be interested in any factual information you can direct me to. Thanks!

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