Let me answer that for you

USAToday poses a question (hat tip to the man who uses the computer to my left):
Are celebrities crossing the line on medical advice?

Allow me to answer that question with a hearty "Sometimes!"

I don't think it's any secret that I take a dim view of American celebrity. (Well, it's no secret to our teeming throng of readers.) On the other hand, while it's pretty apparent that lots of people are too weak or stupid to handle the pressures and excesses of fame, celebrities are not necessarily stupid or weak by definition. It would be ridiculous to dispute that many celebrities have parlayed their fame into wonderful good.

So, it's a mixed bag. As the article makes pretty clear. For example, on the plus side:
Colorectal cancer screening. The number of colonoscopies rose 20% in the year after TV news anchor Katie Couric, who lost her husband to the disease, had an on-air screening in 2001, according to a study in the Archivesof Internal Medicine.

While I found the idea of an on-the-air colonoscopy to be a bit disconcerting, I think the benefits in increased public awareness of the need for screening are clear.

On the minus side? Oy:
Vaccines. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,017 adults found that more than half were aware of McCarthy's warnings about childhood shots. More than 40% of adults familiar with her message — 23% of all adults surveyed — say McCarthy's claims have made them more likely to question vaccine safety. The Nov. 20-22 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Pardon me for a moment while I choke on my own rage. Forty-freaking-percent?!?! And where has McCarthy gathered sufficient expertise to call into question the opinion of the assembled masses of the world's doctors, epidemiologists and public health officials, with their studies and labs and fancy book learnin'?
In her book Mother Warriors, McCarthy, who declined to be interviewed for this story, says she learned about autism from "the university of Google."

Ah, yes. Where her dissertation on the Power of Stupid was very well-received. I think we can all agree that the University of Google offers nothing but the very best in scientific thought.

At least, to their credit, the good people at USAToday are making it pretty clear that McCarthy and her ilk are doing genuine harm. If, bit by bit, the lunacy of the vaccine refuseniks and their famous friends can be exposed for the genuine harm they are doing, then bring on the softball journalism.

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