The real science is obvious and overwhelming. Vaccines don't cause Autism. Mercury in vaccines didn't cause Autism. Jenny McCarthy's son was vaccinated after mercury was removed from the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Autism rates haven't dropped as a result of mercury being removed from vaccines. Autism rates are the same in vaccinated and non-vaccinated kids. There are big studies around the world showing this to be true. They are the best science we have and science is our only hope in solving this. Chip Denman said it best, (Forgive my paraphrasing) "Science is not a smorgasbord. You don't pick and choose what you want to believe. You sit down and take what you're served."
Autism rates won't be changed by Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy but there will be dead and injured people as a result of their anti-vaccine campaign. Some people claim there already are: jennymccarthybodycount.com Read about measles, mumps and rubella and the damage they did before vaccines. We've forgotten the damage these diseases and others brought before vaccines. Ask your grandmother. If we stop the vaccines the Center for Disease Control thinks we'll have 2.7 million deaths worldwide annually from measles alone.
That said, we can't blame the parents of autistic children for their frustration. Having a child with these problems is incredibly difficult. It's heartbreaking. It's maddening. It's not fair. You really want to blame someone or something. I know, (Cue the violins) I've got a son with Autism. Cut the violins. I'm crazy for him. He's the greatest kid ever.
As for the movie trailer: Personal anecdotes are not science but they sure look compelling on screen. It's exciting to see people mad and yelling and trying to save their kids. Most of them have nothing but the best intentions but they've fallen for a scam. Oddly enough, there IS a conspiracy. The vaccine scare is a known and well documented scam started by people wanting to make money off the growing Autism panic. It's not hard to find the names of the people who started this and you can read about their motivations. It's somehow funny to me that there is a conspiracy and that the people shouting about the conspiracy are standing on the wrong side but that's probably just me.
You see that part towards the end of the movie trailer where parents are talking about the improvements they're seeing in their children? That's my kid's story too. He is in a regular school, in a regular 3rd grade class, and he's keeping up with the other kids. He laughs and plays. He tells us he loves us. We didn't change his diet or put him through dancing witch doctor cures. We spend a lot of time teaching him the things he needs to learn. We taught him to look at people when they talk to him and a zillion other things that kids should do naturally. The improvements are amazing. We're lucky that way. Diet and detox be damned, I'm pretty sure this is the one thing all of those parents in the film who are claiming the great improvements did.
I need to say that I don't think I love my kid more or spent more time than those people whose children haven't improved. Autism is weird and complicated. I think we're no closer to understanding why some kids improve and others don't than we are to knowing what causes it.
We need science to help these kids. It's going to take a lot of money and scientists and those "oh so evil" drug companies to pay for the studies. I hope they find a pill that helps and that they get rich off it.
Michael Goudeau is writer, executive producer, and all of the big head costume characters for Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Goudeau was also part of the Penn Jillette radio show and is a relatively well known comedy juggler but really, how far can you ride that?