Monday, August 16, 2010

Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! attacks antivaccination

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It’s about 4:30 AM as I type this and I’m seriously a few minutes away from falling out of my chair and snoozing right there on the floor, but I must resist slumber’s dulcet embrace and instead bring a hefty dose of reality crashing in. Here’s the video of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! episode tackling the antivaccination movement. It’s a satisfying watch. (Two warnings: 1) Includes plenty of NSFW language, notably a liberal use of “fuck”s; and 2) be careful to click directly on the “play” arrow as to not open a second window instead of playing the video itself.)

A typically badass episode of Penn & Teller debunking. I especially like the intro scene where they use a chillingly effective method of showing the effects of vaccination vs. non-vaccination on children. Let’s just say I’m quite glad of being behind my plexiglass wall. And as Penn points out, even if vaccines did cause autism in 1/110 children – which they don’t – then vaccines would still be a worthwhile risk to save countless more lives. It’s all about the risk-benefit ratio. It’s indisputable.

There is one potential problem, though. Orac at Respectful Insolence reports that Dr. Jay Gordon, anti-vaccine crank and pediatrician for celebrity airhead Jenny McCarthy, is claiming that Penn & Teller apparently played fast and loose with the editing and possibly cut out part of his quote thus (allegedly cut words in brackets):

[I’m certainly not saying that] children should not be vaccinated. This is very much at odds with the mainstream medical point-of-view, which says that there’s no connection between vaccines and autism. I think that that is a flat-out lie.

I would be quite disappointed if it were true that Penn & Teller – or at least, the show’s editors – actually did this, which isn’t much better than quote-mining in terms of cheap tricks. However, there is a good reason to believe that he may simply be lying about it; first, he is Dr. Jay, a known spreader of thoroughly-debunked falsehoods about vaccines, which already decimates his credibility; and second, if he did say that he was not promoting anti-vaccination, then why would he then add that such views were “very much at odds with the mainstream medical point-of-view”? Last I heard, the medical consensus was that vaccines are good, not bad. Either way, someone is making crap up, and I think it’s fair to assume that it probably isn’t Penn & Teller.

Bad boy, Dr. Jay, along with every other crank and falsehood featured in the clip in a way that makes it clear that they live up to the show’s basic premise: They’re all bullshit.

(via Respectful Insolence)