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Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Peet’

…On Celebrity Endorsements.

Posted by Steve on August 29, 2009

My previous post was about Blackwell v. Wyeth, a case arising out of the recent fad of having autistic children and blaming it on vaccinations*. Apparently, a driving force for this fad is the efforts of some celebrities, like Jenny McCarthy.

This mystifies me. Setting aside the root question of “Does there exist – and if so, what is it – a valid reason for allowing a non-expert celebrity’s opinion to sway your judgment on anything?”**, I have to wonder: what reason is there to give more credence to Jenny McCarthy’s belief that vaccination is good than to give credence to Salma Hayek‘s belief that vaccination is good, or Amanda Peet‘s belief not merely that vaccination is good, but that the refusal to vaccinate your kid is destructive anti-social behavior worthy of public censure. Sure, if you look into the available research (which Peet clearly did), you’ll find out that Peet and Hayek are right and McCarthy’s wrong, but before then… what is it that makes people say “My kid’s doctor, Salma Hayek, and Amanda Peet all say I should have my kid vaccinated, but Jenny McCarthy says I shouldn’t, so I just don’t know what to do.”

Really, in a field where neither has any expertise by dint of professional experience, rigorous education, or performing original research… what is it that gives one person more credibility than another?

*I’m really not sure whether I think the fad is having autistic children or blaming your kid’s autism on vaccination. You know the theme in Rain Man where nobody, not even the nurse at the doctor’s office, knows what “autism” is? That’s because until Rain Man, nobody who wasn’t directly connected to autism or an autistic person had ever heard of it – which was because it was rare. Kinda makes me wonder if it’s been overdiagnosed of late.

**As the memorable scene goes:
Kid #3: My Mommy says smoking kills.
Nick Naylor: Oh, is your Mommy a doctor?
Kid #3: No.
Nick Naylor: A scientific researcher of some kind?
Kid #3: No.
Nick Naylor: Well, then she’s hardly a credible expert, is she?

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