Bill Maher Falls Off the Wagon October 19, 2009Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Science.
Tags: Bill Maher, Michael Shermer, The Skeptical Inquirer
Bill Maher is usually smart and funny but last week on on his HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” he was neither when he advised people not to get their H1N1 flu vaccine.
In an interview with heart surgeon and former Republican Senator Bill Frist, Maher claimed that no one should let someone stick “a disease into your arm”, denied that healthy people could die from this virus, and continued to express skepticism about Western medicine and the health industry.
Aside from the factual errors—the vaccine is not a live virus and many otherwise healthy people, especially young people have died from H1N1—Maher’s skepticism about modern medicine is just bizarre.
Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic Magazine has the best take-down of Maher’s nonsense:
However, I believe that when it comes to alternative medicine in general and vaccinations in particular you have fallen prey to the same cognitive biases and conspiratorial thinking that you have so astutely identified in others. In fact, the very principle of how vaccinations work is additional proof (as if we needed more) against the creationists that evolution happened and that natural selection is real: vaccinations work by tricking the body’s immune system into thinking that it has already had the disease for which the vaccination was given. […]
Vaccinations are not 100% effective, nor are they risk free. But the benefits far outweigh the risks, and when communities in the U.S. and the U.K. in recent years have foregone vaccinations in large numbers, herd immunity is lost and communicable diseases have come roaring back. This is yet another example of evolution at work, but in this case it is working against us. […]
Vaccination is one of science’s greatest discoveries. It is with considerable irony, then, that as a full-throated opponent of the nonsense that calls itself Intelligent Design, your anti-vaccination stance makes you something of an anti-evolutionist. Since you have been so vocal in your defense of the theory of evolution, I implore you to be consistent in your support of the theory across all domains and to please reconsider your position on vaccinations. […]
As well, Bill, your comments about not wanting to “trust the government” to inject us with a potentially deadly virus, along with many comments you have made about “big pharma” being in cahoots with the AMA and the CDC to keep us sick in the name of corporate profits is, in every way that matters, indistinguishable from 9/11 conspiracy mongering. Your brilliant line about how we know that the Bush administration did not orchestrate 9/11 (“because it worked”), applies here: the idea that dozens or hundreds pharmaceutical executives, AMA directors, CDC doctors, and corporate CEOs could pull off a conspiracy to keep us all sick in the name of money and power makes about as much sense as believing that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their bureaucratic apparatchiks planted explosive devices in the World Trade Center and flew remote controlled planes into the buildings.
Finally, Bill, please consider the odd juxtaposition of your enthusiastic support for health care reform and government intervention into this aspect of our medical lives, with your skepticism that these same people—when it comes to vaccinations and disease prevention—suddenly lose their sense of morality along with their medical training.
Come on Bill. It’s time to join the Reality Based Community. Liberalism is not advanced by lunatic theories and nitwit contrarian stances especially when your advice can really harm people.
For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com