Do you remember Jim Carrey’s 2009 anti-vaccine writing in the Huffington Post?

September 30, 2014

Autism, Vaccination


In 2009, Jim Carrey was featured on Huffington Post’s blog with his piece, “The Judgment on Vaccines is in???” (See the piece here.) In his writing, he made scientific and medical claims that require investigation.

First, he referenced two legal cases regarding vaccines and autism.

1. We have the case of Hannah Poling (he misspelled her name as “Polling” in his piece), who began to show autism-like symptoms after receiving the MMR vaccine.

It is true, that Hannah Poling had adverse health effects from receiving the vaccine, and her family received 1.5 million in a settlement. However, the story is not as simple as Carrey portrays it.

According to WebMD, “federal officials conclude the vaccines, given to Hannah in 2000, aggravated a pre-existing mitochondrial condition that then manifested as autism-like symptoms.”

Autism diagnosis is not straightforward, so it is misleading to say she definitely has autism. Furthermore, the vaccine indirectly caused this because of a condition not present in most children. This evidence is misleading because we would be better off funding research for diagnosing mitochondrial disorders in children than discouraging them from receiving vaccines.

Hannah’s father, neurologist Jon Poling, MD, PhD, who investigates autism as part of his work, also spoke in an interview after the case was settled.

“I don’t think the case should scare people.”

“I want to make it clear I am not anti-vaccine,” he says. “Vaccines are one of the most important, if not the most important advance, in medicine in at least the past 100 years. But I don’t think that vaccines should enjoy a sacred cow status, where if you attack them you are out of mainline medicine.”

Every treatment has a risk and a benefit. To say there are no risks to any treatment is not true.”

“Sometimes people are injured by a vaccine, but they are safe for the majority of people. I could say that with a clean conscience. But I couldn’t say that vaccines are absolutely safe, that they are not linked to brain injury and they are not linked to autism.”

2. Carrey also references the case of Bailey Banks, whose family received a settlement of around $800,000. Once again, this case is not as straightforward as he portrays it.

This case was also the subject of another Huffington Post blog piece by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and David Kirby, which I will delve further into in another segment, which will be linked to here upon completion. In short, the case resulted in a ruling that said that a vaccine led to Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), which is not an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They are confusing it with PDD-NOS, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is an ASD. I will explain this in further detail later.

(I was hoping to check out Carrey’s link to a page showing how the Lincoln Memorial shows a link between vaccines and autism, but sadly the link is dead now.)

3. Carrey tries to revive the controversy over Thimerosal, suggesting that it is a deadly toxin poisoning our children.

Thimerosal, which does include about 50% lead, is used as a preservative in vaccines in minute amounts to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination during the production process. However, multiple studies have shown that there is no link between Thimerosal and autism.

Dr. Eric Fombonne, Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Center and lead investigator of the new study said: “There is no relationship between the level of exposure to MMR vaccines and Thimerosal–containing vaccines and rates of autism.”

The study, which looked at 28,000 children, found that rates of autism continued to increase even after Thimerosal was removed from the vaccine formula. (Source)

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine tested to see if Thimerosal caused other neurological damage to children outside of autism by looking at over 1,000 children from 7 to 10.

Their conclusion is as follows:

“Our study does not support a causal association between early exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immune globulins and deficits in neuropsychological functioning at the age of 7 to 10 years.” (Source)

4. Let’s see the actual role of other chemicals Carrey lists as toxic:

  • Aluminum – an adjuvant in form of aluminum salt (Source)
    • Strengthens and lengthens immune response to vaccine
    • Dose is less than 2 milligrams of the salt, less than 1 milligram of aluminum
    • Temporary increase in body, but disappears after a few days
    • No evidence that this causes risk to babies or children
    • Also naturally occurring in breast milk
  • Mercury
    • See Thimerosal above.
  • Ether (No chemical specified) (Source)
    • Maybe referring to polyethylene glycol pisooctylphenyl ether
    • Common detergent agent used to make cell membranes permeable
    • Not the same as diethyl ether used for anaesthesia
  • Formaldehyde (Source)
    • Used in production to inactivate toxins from bacteria and viruses
    • Stops poliovirus, Hepatitis B antigen, diptheria, and tetanus toxins
    • Breaks down quickly in water (and most of the vaccine is water)
    • Less than 0.1 milligrams in vaccine
    • 2-month old infant’s blood naturally contains around 1.1 milligrams
    • Pears contain about 50 times as much as a vaccine
  • Anti-freeze (Again, he does not specify a chemical) (Source)
    • There is no ethylene or diethylene glycol in vaccines!

Over and over people have ripped apart claims made by Jenny McCarthy, but Jim Carrey’s article doesn’t seem to have received the same attention, despite their close relationship.

Huffington Post, and news organizations in general need to be careful who they choose to make scientific and medical claims. Lay persons can make scientific and medical claims, but only if they have evidence to support those claims.

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About jslachman381

I'm a Yale graduate who majored in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health.

View all posts by jslachman381


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