HBO talk show host Bill Maher allowed the vaccination to be skeptical of vaccination to express his views on the discredited vaccine-autism link on Friday night, and at many points seemed to agree with him.
The skeptic, Dr. Jay Gordon, was the first guest on an episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher" and did not relish the repeated claim that vaccines could cause autism. Maher contributed to the conversation by sharing his own medical history and listing the errors of modern medicine.
"I'm just saying we don't know shit," Maher said. "We don't know much about how the body works. So how do vaccines fit in with, I don't know, all the new chemicals? There are thousands of new chemicals, pollutants, irritants. We didn't use all that corn syrup in our bodies, antibiotics. It can be any combination, so I'm a little cautious. "
Almost the entire medical community agrees that vaccines do not cause autism, as shown by a number of large studies. In the past year alone, the refusal of some parents to vaccinate their children in places like California and New York has led to an increase in preventable diseases that have alarmed public health officials and even led to some drastic measures: In a county north of New York, unvaccinated vaccines have been banned from public spaces for several weeks.
Although Maher acknowledged that vaccines work, he told his audience, which seems to largely support what he says, that the idea that they cause autism still deserves debate.
"You know, to call you this crazy man," he told Gordon, "really, what you're just saying is [a] slower [vaccination timetable] maybe a smaller number, and also people are different too. People are different. Family history, stuff. I don't think it's crazy. "
Then Maher gave credence to the anti-vaccination mood:" There are all these parents who say, "I had a normal child. "I got the vaccine." This story keeps popping up. It seems more realistic to me if we're just going to be realistic about it. Maybe this is what happens and rarely, but you can't say it happens one million times, because then someone might think, "Well, I could be that millionth." So you scare people so you can't say what Gordon, for his part, advises parents to approach the vaccines with caution, while acknowledging the lack of scientific evidence to support his position.
"I can't prove anything, so I speak softly," Gordon said in the national talk show.
Maher rounded out the episode by talking to right-wing figure Dennis Prager of PragerU, an online "university" that posts YouTube videos full of Prague's extremist opinions. He joins Christina Bellantoni, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, and former Obama administration official Richard Stengel for a panel discussion in which he falsely claims that Russia is not trying to "undermine our democracy" in the 201
If that looks unmarked for Maher, it shouldn't.
As noted by The Daily Beast and other media observers, in recent years, Maher has played host to an increasingly bizarre guest list, including right-wing demagogues Milo Yanopoulos and Ben Shapiro, now a vaccinated skeptic and right-wing popular propagandist.
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