Jenny McCarthy - Poster Child for the Stoopid

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Really, could Jenny McCarthy be any dumber?

When she was a younger woman, her vapidness didn't really hurt anyone - she just traipsed around, telling on herself every time she opened her mouth. From my perspective, this mattered not at all. She was just one more Hollywood starlet, famous for being famous, making no impact on the world.

Then she had a baby son.

Then her baby son was diagnosed with autism.

Then, because she is a famous person, her crackpot ideas and stupidity started to gain traction. And that's a problem.

Please understand - Ms. McCarthy, and all parents of autistic children, have my deepest empathy. Raising a child with this condition is extremely challenging, expensive, and frustrating, not least of all because medical experts do not know what causes it. The child's care frequently takes over the family's life, to the detriment of other children, and the parents' relationship. Many insurance companies do not provide help for therapies that are proven to work.

These are real problems, and these families need help addressing them. Help has been slow in coming, and I truly understand their desire to find a solution -any solution - to help them.

But that doesn't mean you need to turn off your brain.

Jenny McCarthy has become the poster child for non-scientific explanations and treatments of autism.

She claims her son became autistic because of vaccines. She claims her son is being "healed" of autism by diet and nutritional supplements. She claims she knows all this because of her "mommy instinct."

"Mommy instinct."

I have "mommy instinct," too. But I don't think it replaces the scientific method. Jenny's personal experiences with her child do not indicate she has found THE ANSWER. If diet and supplements have allowed her son to lead a better and more normal life, then more power to her. That doesn't mean it 'cures' autism.

Nor does her "mommy instinct" prove that immunization causes autism. In fact, there has never been a single piece of scientific evidence that immunizations cause autism. A good layman's explanation of this can be found here. The problem is that she is so sure that vaccinations caused her son's autism, and she actually has some credibility with the gullible and vulnerable. People believe her because she's famous, not because she has a clue about what she's talking about. This type of distraction actually hurts the cause of autistic people. It changes the conversation from something scientific and provable to something riddled with logical fallacy and emotion.

The plural of "anecdotal" isn't "evidence."

Further clouding the issue is her foray into mysticism. She's apparently convinced that she is an adult "Indigo Child," and that her son is something called a "Crystal." The thing I find laughable about this drivel is not the pseudo-scientific clap-trap, although that's funny, too, but the list that helps you to identify whether or not you're an "Indigo:"
  • "Are you always searching for your greater purpose in life but feel like the world isn't set up for your kind?
  • Do you sometimes feel wise beyond your years?
  • Do you have trouble conforming to the ways of society?Do you feel out of place in today's world?
  • Do you perceive the world very differently than most people around you?
  • Do you have strong intuition about certain things that most others do not?
  • Do you often feel misunderstood when you try to talk to people about what's real?
  • Are you a truth seeker?
  • Do you feel like you were born to accomplish a special mission in life?
  • Do you feel isolated and alone in your beliefs?
  • Misunderstood by family?
  • Do you feel anti-social unless you are with people of like mind?
  • Are you emotionally sensitive?
  • Did you have a difficult childhood?
  • Do you often feel disempowered by too much authority?"

Seriously, doesn't this list sound like something written by pretty much any angst-ridden teen on the planet? Everyone feels like this at one time or another - it's part of finding out who you are, and defining your place in the world. It's called growing up, not being an "Indigo Child." Get over yourself, Toby Alexander.

Really, could Jenny McCarthy be any dumber? I don't think so, but I've been wrong before.

7 comments:

Michelle K said...

As an antidote to Jenny McCarthy, I recommend Defective Yeti.

His son was diagnosed with autism and he occasionally talks about what it's like to raise an autistic child with compassion and humor.

Lots of humor.

Janiece Murphy said...

Thanks, Michelle. That did the trick.

Hee!

Tom said...

Oh no! I have too much authority. Please, take some of this authority away, so I can stop feeling disempowered!

Disempowerment: that strange feeling of helplessness that true helplessness creates, normally felt only by extremely helpless people at their most tragically helpless peak!

Cure: Do something.

Jeri said...

My oldest smug son was quite troubled in his early- to mid-teens. We had lots of tests, saw lots of professionals, one of the diagnoses was borderline Aspergers's (high functioning form of autism). He is much calmer and more functional now, I'm proud of him for pulling out of it.

During that time frame I read everything I could get my hands on, including an ill-advised book on 'indigo children'. Whoo baby, it was a load of quasi-metaphysical claptrap. The underlying thinking was 'my child is too special for rules or discipline'. I'm not sure if I finished the book, but it was bizarre.

Janiece Murphy said...

Yeah, clap-trap. Cause that's what most kids need - less discipline. Because THAT will lead to empowerment.

Meh.

Becca said...

Oh man, she really is short a few cicuits herself, it would seem. Sad that she sees life that way. I feel for her son, yet another generation being raised to be screwed up even more than his poor emotional brain already is. Mom sure is not helping the situation any.

Hey, I got the applebutter this evening. I tried to explain your comment to my husband why it is the Sh**!, but he might be thinking I am joking..men...skeptic..

Thanks! I am waiting for some really good english muffins to try this on!

Janiece Murphy said...

Becca, I'm glad it arrived safely.