Thank goodness for the internet. Only by ranting here, am I able to restrain myself from screaming in people's faces, waving my arms around like a crazy person.
Take today. I volunteer at a school for learners with autism (in South Africa, school-going pupils or students are called "learners"). During breaktime, while supervising the children, I chatted with two teacher's aides. We were talking about the best places to purchase books online. The one lady (who completed a psychology degree and should know better) said that she saw a book by Jenny McCarthy about autism and it was over R300 ($40) in the shops. I told her that I wouldn't buy a book by Jenny McCarthy about autism, it's a load of codswallop. She responded that she DID buy it, at that price!
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. How do I respond? The third lady didn't know who Jenny McCarthy was, so I delighted in telling her that she was a porn star who is now dating Jim Carrey and her son was diagnosed with autism. She had written a book about how he was cured through prayer, God and diet, mainly. The other lady confirmed that she believed in this, especially the diet part. I said that my main problem with McCarthy was her anti-vaccination stance
. Jenny-fan-crazy-person said that she was NOT anti-vax! That's a common misconception, but she saw her on tv recently and Jenny insisted that she has never been anti-vaccination. I guessed, "on Oprah?" and she said yes.
I don't know how you all feel, but I can't watch Oprah. My brain won't let me. I'm not kidding, I become physically ill when I hear about Oprah-related anything.
Jenny-fan continued to tell oblivious lady that Jenny had some great points about vaccinations, namely that they contain heavy metals and that parents should choose very carefully which vaccinations to give to their children. For example, she said, measles, mumps and rubella are curable diseases, so there is no need to give your child the MMR vaccine. I told her that she should search for Jenny McCarthy on Scienceblogs and just read what Orac
has to say about Jenny's advice. I doubt she will ever google for opposing views on McCarthy's nuggets of wisdom. The reason I doubt this is because the lady said that she believes that parents of children with autism know far more about autism than doctors.
Let's all take a break quickly just to digest that.
I said that Jenny said her child had been cured of autism, which is incurable and therefore she is either lying or the child was misdiagnosed in the first place. This caused McCarthy-fan great triumph. "Exactly!" she exclaimed, "you shouldn't trust doctors, they misdiagnose cases!" At this point my incredulity was starting to show on my face, so I changed the subject to how much the book cost online. She said after buying it, she saw it online for $13 and there was another book by McCarthy that she also wanted to buy.
I don't want to get into the facts about autism and vaccinations in this post, I just wanted to convey my dismay to a larger audience than my long-suffering partner. When researching any issue, consider the sources of your info. "Mother of child with disorder X" is not good. "Doctor who spent many years researching disorder X and published several peer reviewed papers in respected journals" is better. References at the end of articles = good. Photos of your boobs = not good. And if you're going to buy Jenny McCarthy books, it's cheaper to buy online.