Oh, Bill, I'm so disappointed in you. I love your HBO show, "Real Time with Bill Maher." But last Friday's episode showed me that you've gone bonkers over your obsession with vaccinations.
Which you said usually aren't needed, and are ineffective. However, you're wrong.
Dangerously wrong, as Michael Shermer ("Skeptic" columnist for Scientific American") says in an open letter to you -- which hopefully you'll take to heart.
Saying on your show that pregnant women and young children shouldn't get a swine flu vaccination is horribly irresponsible. The CDC says that pregnant women are at higher risk of serious illness and death from swine flu, and need to be vaccinated.
Yet there was Maher, spouting ridiculous crap about how vaccines are more dangerous than the problems they prevent, and that no healthy person has ever died from the swine flu (apparently if you've ever eaten anything not on Maher's approved food list, like jello, you're "unhealthy," so it serves you right if you croak from the flu).
What this shows is that while Maher is properly skeptical about unfounded religious dogma, he's got a huge blind spot in other areas that produces an equally delusional view of reality.
Blogger P.Z. Myers, an atheist biologist, talks about the Bill Maher conundrum. Maher is so right about some things, and so wrong about others.
Maher made a provocative movie about religion this year, Religulous, and that's the kind of thing we want to acknowledge and encourage, but at the same time…Maher is as loopy as they come on medical matters. He's a conspiracy theorist who blames Big Pharma for controlling health care, thinks modern medicine is a failure, and promotes 'alternative' therapies that don't work. It is a serious embarrassment.
More than that, as noted above -- a dangerous embarrassment.
It's one thing to spout nonsense about general issues that don't directly impact someone's health and well-being. But telling people they shouldn't get vaccinations because immunization isn't "settled science" -- that's super-irresponsible.
After watching last Friday's "Real Time," my feelings about Maher have changed.
Watching his closed-mindedness about the swine flu vaccine, I got to wondering what other unscientific views he harbors, and how this affects his positions in additional areas. We've got several Real Time episodes stored up on our DVR. I'm leaning toward deleting them unwatched as a protest against Maher.
Michael Shermer ends his open letter with a hope that I share.
One of the most remarkable features of science is that it often leads its practitioners to change their minds and to say “I was wrong.” Perhaps we don’t do it enough, as our own blinders and egos can get in the way, but it does happen, and it certainly happens a lot more in science than it does in religion or politics. I’ve done it.
I used to be a global warming skeptic, but I reconsidered the evidence and announced in Scientific American that I was wrong. Please reconsider both the evidence for vaccinations, as well as the inconsistencies in your position, and think about doing one of the bravest and most honorable things any critical thinker can do, and that is to publicly state, “I changed my mind. I was wrong.”
If you aren't convinced that Maher is wrong, this science blogger (a physician) should change your mind.