Anti-Science

The Antichrist has Arrived: McOprah

Nostradamus predicted this in Century 2, Quatrain 89:

One day the two great leaders will become friends,
Their great power will be seen to increase:
The new land will be at the height of its power,
To the bloody one the numbers are reported.

The day has come. All-powerful bullshit billboard Oprah Winfrey has just inked a deal with anti-vaccination lunatic Jenny McCarthy to create a monster of epic proportions. One can assume that Jenny is one of Nostradamus’ “two great leaders” as well as “the bloody one,” considering her already-too-large audience and her apparent joy at encouraging people to put their children at risk of death (see her current body count here).

Oprah previously foisted Dr. Phil and his facial hair upon an unsuspecting nation, so clearly she’s demented enough to make this happen and there’s probably not a damn thing we can do about it.

Well, okay, let’s try to be a little optimistic here. One thing you can do is warn your mother. I don’t know about you, but my mom is right in Oprah’s audience sweet spot: newly retired and possessing a kind of warm affection for Oprah and anything Oprah recommends. Therefore, our best bet may be to head this one off at the pass by sending a short, informative email to our mothers. Like this:

Dear Mom,

I know how much you enjoy Oprah, and I also know how much you enjoy children not dying. That’s why I’m sending you a quick heads-up that Oprah is about to make a big mistake by giving a lot of money and publicity to a terrible person: Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy model who is trying to convince people not to vaccinate their children because she mistakenly thinks vaccines are harmful. Her actions have directly led to injuries, deaths, and the spread of diseases like measles that were previously considered to be eradicated in the United States thanks to the vaccination program.

You may want to avoid McCarthy’s new ventures and maybe even let Oprah know how you feel about this.

Love,
Your loving daughter

I suspect that this will be more effective than writing your own letter to Oprah. I tried it ages ago and apparently it didn’t work.

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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23 Comments

  1. Oh, goody! It’s the end times! I’ll get the popcorn!

    Rebecca, I admire your skill as a journalist but, please stop quoting Nostradamus out-of-context. You might make him look bad or something.

  2. Funny, I just started talking to my mom about the antivax business last week. I’m not sure how much attention she pays to Oprah anymore, but enough apparently to have recognized Jenny McCarthy as a guest of hers.

    Mom seemed kinda “shruggie” about it, definitely pro-vax but struggling (I think) to figure a reason why people would deny vaccines without good reason. Then I made the point that people don’t see diseases like measles anymore, and they don’t realize how dangerous and serious they are. That seemed to strike a chord, both addressing the dissonance and appealing to the wisdom and memory of an older generation.

    Then she started asking for details that she could share with her pregnant and newlymom coworkers. I wrote her a long summary of some salient anti-vax issues the next day. Looks like I’ll need to do a follow-up.

  3. I just glanced as McCarthy’s blog. I see three posts about the horrors of sugar, and how things sweetened with fruit juice are better.

    …What, other than sugar, in fruit juice is a sweetener?

  4. Or how about Century 2 Quatrain 53?

    “The great plague of the maritime city
    Will not cease until there be avenged the death
    Of the just blood, condemned for a price without crime,
    Of the great lady outraged by pretense. “

    Nostradamus: Vague predictions for any occasion.

  5. Although conspiracy theories and horror movies more generally are usually on the Fallacy Side of The Reason, in this case I think the “antivax end-of-the-world” Armageddon could constitute a valid argument and, incidentally, great news (as a catalyst): the best way to debunk any piece of pseudoscience is for people to try it and see what happens (i.e. making science!). If all Oprah viewers suddenly stop vaccinating, the magnitude of the catastrophe will be ecstatic. Forget about hypothetical H1N1 bullshit, they will end up screaming and twisting for agreement with mainstream science.

    So, in this case, the predictable horror show resulting from widespread public health failure will be the best pro-science argument ever!

    Just make sure you have a reason to leave the country during the peak days.

  6. Personally the whole article was made by “All-powerful bullshit billboard ” after that I was laughing too hard to catch the rest. I would call COTW but I don’t think you are eligible.
    Keep up the good work but tone it down, I almost choked on my coke :)

  7. Thanks for the heads up. That said, I’m not certain describing Jenny McCarthy as “a former Playboy model” is relevant to the letter. Actually, I suspect this is a passive poisoning the well attempt.

    Does citing her professional credentials constitute poisoning the well?

    I mean, it was her years as a Playmate that made her an expert in the field, right?

    Or was it the MTV gigs?

  8. I like to think of it, not so much as poisoning the well, but rather as an additive acting as a preservative of Jenny’s proper place in the debate. And the best scientific evidence we have shows that it doesn’t actually cause any damage to the argument.

  9. @Aaron: I agree. I see no problem with spicing the whole thing with facts, as journalism requires. After all, Rebecca is only giving background on the people she’s talking about. It’s not her fault if Jenny has done nothing in her life other than exploiting her own process of biological maturation. I mean, if you were talking about Obama, you would say “Obama, the president of the USA”. So, if you talk about Jenny, that she was a playmate is the only meaningful piece of data you can provide. So, that’s it. Sad? Yes. But that doesn’t make it less of Jenny’s fault, so Rebecca is not to blame. It would be like trying to introduce Steven Spielberg in a discussion without mentioning movies.

  10. The headline for this post made me think McDonald’s came out with a new sandwich called “The McOprah”:

    Two all-woo patties, extra-special sauce, lies, cheese, psychics, onion on an indigo bun.

  11. What gets me is that when McCarthy goes on a talk show they can only let on what guests she agrees to! Then you also don’t dare question anything she says, or she’ll give ya wrath, the way she did Barbara Walters. And her medical advice is downright killing people. Might as well give every quack on the net their own show, since that is who McCarthy will be getting her information from. This really sets me off for so many reasons, if that wasn’t already obvious… GAH!

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