The Pencil Today:

Crazy, Man!

Honestly, who doesn’t like Willie Nelson? Anybody?

I’m figuring the Willie Nelson-phobes are outnumbered a thousand to one. Good ol’ Willie is one of those people — of which there are a precious few — who can be described as definitively American. In the good way, that is; not in the Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian way.

Anyway, the old bird turns 80 today.

Here’s WN at his finest:

Yep, he wrote it. Here he is talking about meeting Patsy Cline (on Letterman):

Bullshit Detector

As you know, I love the I Fucking Love Science site.

Here’s is a recent post from the IFLS folks that will help you distinguish magic from reality:


Celebrity “Science” Kills

A little baby died in Florida last week. Tragic though it is, this kind of news usually is not, well, newsworthy.

But this is big news. The kid died of whooping cough, AKA pertussis, which has long been though to be a dead disease. The reason whooping cough had essentially disappeared in Florida as well as every other state of the union is the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccine.

Listen to a child with whooping cough.

Note I typed had. Whooping cough has been making a comeback. The Orange County (where the death occurred) health department reports growing numbers of cases of whooping cough and measles. Measles also had been thought to be wiped out due to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination program.

So, what’s going on? Simply this: many parents are refusing to let their kids be vaccinated because of a debunked study that purported to link vaccines to autism and a celebrity-driven campaign to stop the compulsory vaccinations.

In other words, people who have taken on the responsibility of creating and raising new human beings are putting those new human beings — as well as hundreds or thousands of other new human beings — at risk of death because they’ve bought into the preachings of those eminent scientific researchers Jenny McCarthy and her ex-husband Jim Carrey.


Eminent Authorities

And to think taxonomists have dubbed our species Homo Sapiens sapiens (wise, wise man).

Back in 1998 a British researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a paper claiming that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Naturally, many parents panicked, especially considering that cases of autism have been on the rise in recent decades. Then in 2007, former Playboy magazine playmate and B-list actress McCarthy wrote a book called “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism.” In it, she repeated Wakefield’s claim that certain vaccines trigger autism. McCarthy had written a foreword for a Wakefield book on the topic.

McCarthy went on Oprah and Larry King to spout her (and Wakefield’s) bullshit. She even was interviewed on a PBS Frontline episode about the “controversy” between the scientific community and anti-vaccine activists.

From PBS

Next thing you know, according to at least one public opinion poll, a quarter of American parents “trusted” McCarthy’s (and other celebrities’) ravings about vaccines. What followed was a growing number of parents who refused to allowed their kids to be injected with the DPT or MMR vaccines.

I put controversy in quotes because there is absolutely no such thing in regard to the practice of universal vaccinations. See, Andrew Wakefield’s seminal study has been thoroughly discredited. It turns out he and his co-authors (he was the lead researcher) had committed fraud.

Investigations by the London’s Sunday Times and Britain’s General Medical Council (the national physicians registry) determined that Wakefield had jiggered test conditions and results, that his results had never been replicated by other researchers, and that the findings were compromised by Wakefield’s plan to start a worldwide business that would capitalize on a “vaccine scare,” a business that he privately predicted would net him some $43 million per year.

The British medical journal Lancet retracted and apologized for running Wakefield’s original paper and his medical license was withdrawn. Journals which had published several other papers by him also retracted them, due to his now-tarnished rep as a researcher.

So, fine, justice has been done, right? Ixnay. News of retractions and license withdrawals aren’t as sexy as Jenny McCarthy.

And more and more people are refusing to have their kids vaccinated. And now kids are dying.


I’m thinking perhaps our species should be renamed Homo Stultus stultus.

One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. dave paglis, illiterate, racist homophobe and now, dumpster diver says:

    A great one today Mike. When I was Pharming people would ask me if these hair loss treatments would work; I used to say “If they did, would Donald Trump look like he does?” The best ones of all are the “fat burning breakthroughs ” that just so happen to occur every Spring.

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