The claim of being “educated” about vaccines is the surest sign of ignorance

Closeup portrait of arrogant self important uppity stuck up woman with napoleon complex, short man syndrome, isolated on gray wall background. Human emotion facial expression feelings.

What does it mean to be educated in a particular discipline?

Whether that discipline is architecture, anthropology, or law, being educated generally means years of study, thousands of hours of experience, and intimate acquaintance with the specialist literature.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When a layperson claims to be “educated” about vaccines you can be sure that a stream of absolute nonsense will follow.[/pullquote]

Medicine is like that, too. It involves four years of college, four years of medical school, 3-5 years of hands on training for 80+ hours per week, countless textbooks and intimate knowledge of the relevant medical literature. No layperson is educated in medicine. A PhD in immunology or a related science involves four years of college, 5 years of postgraduate work, a dissertation and intimate knowledge of the relevant scientific literature. No layperson is educated in immunology. The idea is simply ludicrous.

When a lay person proudly and arrogantly claims to be “educated” about vaccination, she certainly doesn’t mean that she went to medical school or graduate school, has hands on experience caring for thousands who have been vaccinated and unvaccinated, or has read the immunology literature.

So what does she mean?

She means that she has adopted a cultural construction of “education” that has little if anything to do with actual knowledge of the topic. It means that she has ignored those who have actual education and training and crowd sourced her decisions by reading books, blogs, websites and message boards written by other lay people who are often equally ignorant.

Why have anti-vaxxers confused defiance for education?

The paper ‘Trusting blindly can be the biggest risk of all’: organised resistance to childhood vaccination in the UK explores cultural construct of being “educated.” When an anti-vax advocate claims to be “educated,” she is not talking about actual scientific knowledge. Rather she is referring to her defiance of professionals are educated.

Clear dichotomies are constructed between blind faith and active resistance and uncritical following and critical thinking. Non-vaccinators or those who question aspects of vaccination policy are not described in terms of class, gender, location or politics, but are ‘free thinkers’ who have escaped from the disempowerment that is seen to characterise vaccination…

This characterization of anti-vaxxers can be unpacked even further; not surprisingly, anti-vax advocates portray themselves laudatory and other parents as fools and “sheeple.”

…[I]nstead of good and bad parent categories being a function of compliance or non-compliance with vaccination advice … the good parent becomes one who spends the time to become informed and educated about vaccination…

…[Anti-vaxxers] construct trust in others as passive and the easy option. Rather than trust in experts, the alternative scenario is of a parent who becomes the expert themselves, through a difficult process of personal education and empowerment…

In the anti-vax world, trusting experts is a mark of credulity, while ignoring expert advice is a sign of independent thinking and self-education. But, of course, since anti-vaxxers don’t really know anything about the topic, they are inevitably forced to rely on the advice of charlatans and quacks.

The person who proudly claims to be “educated” on vaccination offers as proof the fact that she ignores the expert advice of pediatricians, immunologists and virologists and embraces the teachings of … washed up Playboy Playmate Jennifer McCarthy. In her delusion, she fail to appreciate the irony: far from being “educated,” she is shockingly credulous. Consistent with the Dunning-Kruger effect (described in the aptly named paper Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments), the anti-vaxxers who think they know the most about vaccines actually know the least.

If the goal of being “educated” isn’t acquiring knowledge, what is it? The ultimate goal is to become “empowered”:

Finally, the moral imperative to become informed is part of a broader shift, evident in the new public health, for which some kind of empowerment, personal responsibility and participation are expressed in highly positive terms.

So anti-vax is about the parent and how she would like to see herself, not about immunology, medicine or public health. In the socially constructed world of anti-vaccine advocates, parents are divided into those (inferior) “sheeple” who are passive and blindly trust authority figures and (superior) anti-vaxxers who are “educated” and “empowered” by taking “personal responsibility”.

A lay person’s claims to be “educated” about a health topic is nothing more than defiance. When someone tells you she is “educated” about vaccines, beware! There is no surer mark of ignorance on the topic of vaccines than the arrogant claim of being “educated.”


Adapted from a piece that first appeared in August 2009.

  • FormerPhysicist

    My oldest did a camp last summer on infectious diseases. Was really cool, wished it was longer. (Penn State, Science-U)

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    “Natural” kills, folks. Just because it came from a plant doesn’t make it safe.

    • JGC

      Whenever people bring up the benefits of ‘traditional medicine’ and/or herbalism, I suggest they google Aristolochia.

  • BeatriceC

    OT: I got the radiology report from my hand and wrist MRI on Saturday. I’m 90% sure I know what it means, but I have no idea what the treatment is. I think all the technical mumbo jumbo can be boiled down to “there’s some older damage to the cartilage and ligaments and the bird made it worse”. Now I just get to wait to see an orthopedist to find out what they do about it.

    • Mrs.Katt the Cat

      Hope they can get you fixed up soon! How are the birds resettling?

      • BeatriceC

        My ortho appointment is Tuesday. I’m pretty sure I know what’s in store, but I’m not a doctor so I’ll withhold my thoughts until an actual doctor sees me.

        The birds are doing okay. They are still not quite back to normal after Cookie’s passing. Goofy is super snuggly with me and will step up on my arm and let me carry him around the house. This is something he’s *never* done. Leo has gotten clingy with MrC, and Charlotte’s redoubled her clinginess with me. She has, however, stopped the worst of the self mutilation (digging holes in her skin) during her time with the vet, as they found a good balance of medications that chills her out but doesn’t keep her stoned. She’s still plucking though. That’s a difficult habit to break in large parrots.

        Last week was kind of crazy. MrC came home Wednesday night and both OK and YK had surgery Thursday morning. OK had hardware taken out of his wrist and an osteochondroma removed from his left knee. YK had his third attempt at rebuilding his right wrist to make it usable, and then had osteochondromas removed from both knees. They were both supposed to be outpatient but YK was having trouble with pain control so he spent two days as an inpatient and released Saturday afternoon. Poor MrC was running around like a headless chicken trying to be everywhere I needed him to be and still take care of OK at home while I was in the hospital with YK. Everybody is doing great now, so it’s all good.

        • BeatriceC

          I look like hell, but this is so remarkable I have to share. The Evil Attack Parrot ™ actually snuggling with me. Just two weeks ago he’d have happily ripped my jugular artery out of my neck given half a chance.


          • Mishimoo

            Awwwww! ^_^ (also, I love your spiderman hoodie/onesie thing)

          • BeatriceC

            It’s a hoodie, and it zips all the way up the face to be a mask. It’s the most awesome hoodie ever made.

          • Mishimoo

            That’s so cool!

          • mabelcruet

            Evil attack parrots would be a great name for a death metal band.

        • Mrs.Katt the Cat

          Glad to hear your birds and boys are on the mend!

    • Sarah

      You spelled chiropractor wrong.

      • demodocus

        Are you from outside the US? For some bizarre reason we call our genuine bone docs orthopeds. My boy’s spica cast was applied by one in the major local hospital that sees most of the trauma cases. Bea knows a lot more than the average lay person about bones and who to see for them because of her sons.

        • Sarah

          I am indeed, I’m British.

        • BeatriceC

          Orthopedics started out as a pediatric specialty. It was only after it had been around a while that it branched out into taking care of adult injuries and issues. The word actually breaks down into greek roots meaning “correct, straighten” and “child” (the “ped” part of the word is the same root as the “ped” in pediatrics). It’s kind of an interesting history.

        • yugaya

          We call the traditional equivalent to chiros in my language “bonebreakers”. Every village used to have one. A witch/midwife/DIY abortionist/fertility expert too.

          That was before the communists built the health clinic and life expectancy soared.

        • Mike Stevens

          We informally call our othopaedic doctors “Orthopods” this side of the pond.
          Also it makes more sense, etymologically speaking!
          Ortho-paed = Straight child
          Ortho-pod = Straight limb

          • Sonja Henie-Spinning Jenny!

            I have heard that term as well here in the US.

      • Charybdis

        No, she spelled ORTHOPEDIST correctly. Here in the US, we call our bone doctors/specialists Orthopedists.

        A specialist in orthopedics. orthopedics or·tho·pe·dics or or·tho·pae·dics (ôr’thə-pē’dĭks) n. The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention and correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments.

        Nice try.

        • Sarah

          I think you might have missed the point there. It’s a joke about the ubiquity of chiropractors amongst the crunchy crowd. Dr Amy has posted on the matter before.

          • Charybdis

            I’m sorry, I apologize. I’ve been snipping at trolls on a couple of other threads and forgot to turn off my snark.

            Sometimes people will confuse orthopedists with osteopaths and the latter can certainly lean towards the woo.

          • Sarah

            No problem. FWIW people have misunderstood my jokes a few times on here before, I think maybe British style of humour doesn’t always translate in writing.

          • guest

            Well, FWIW, I did get the joke before the explaining started, and I’m American. But I did spend a year living the UK.

  • JM

    OT: I suffer from chronic tension headaches that no doctor has been able to help me with. I’m so desperate that, despite my skepticism, I think I’m going to try acupuncture. I recently saw a doc (not a neurologist) who told me I might want to try the GAPS diet– which sounds totally insane. (The lady who invented it thinks diet can cure schizophrenia and autism, among other things). I have no intention of following this crazy diet, and I’m starting to wonder if I should get a new doctor. Reading about GAPS is starting to make me think she’s really kooky. Thoughts?

  • Amazed

    But do you give advice like, “Do not let them poison her with vaccines?” Because those who work in the field you do usually refrain from crying for my niece’s sad plea of being burdened with parents who don’t understand how evil they are for vaccinating her. This far, SIL hasn’t encountered any relevant working experience among those who criticize her. And they usually don’t ask about qualifications. You know, pharma shills and so on.

  • Roadstergal

    I get that turned into ‘pharma shill’ pretty quickly. Except for my immediate family – I’m still the baby there, even though I turned 40 in September. 😀

  • KQ not signed in
    • Heidi_storage

      In other news, scientists report that water is wet.

      • Roadstergal

        And you just blindly trust scientists, SHEEPLE??

  • painedumonde

    I’ve used this comment/quote more than any other: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ”

    – Isaac Asimov

    The link is here with a PDF to his entire article.

    • Roadstergal

      Sarah Vowell traces some of the origin and development of that very idea in The Wordy Shipmates.

      • painedumonde

        Very nice. But American ignorance is the best. The. Best. 😉

        • MaineJen

          We have the best ignorance. No one has better or classier ignorance than we do, believe me. Our ignorance is yuge.

          • painedumonde

            Our ignorance let’s us grab anything. We are stars, after all! 😉

          • Roadstergal

            I know ignorance better than the ignoramuses.

  • VikingAPRNCNP

    The more I havelearned the less I know. Thinking requires analysis research implementation and evaluation. Most of the antivax literature I have read is woefully lacking in context.

    • Yup.

      “A little learning is a dang’rous thing; / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.””

  • You know, it’s interesting:

    The people who on the internet who claim to be educated on vaccines and how dangerous they are never seem to manage:

    -counting from 0 to 100
    -9th grade chemistry
    -how consistent reasoning works
    -Some idea of critical thinking
    -5th grade maths
    -Biology, immunology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry, bare fundamentals

    Yet the people who argue against said people and don’t claim to be educated on vaccines can manage all of the above, I’ve noticed.

    Why is that?

  • Amazed

    As SIL tells all the educated people educating her on the dangers she places her baby in by pumping her full of toxins, What do you do for living?

    The Intruder isn’t so nice. He asks, Who are you to tell me I’m poisoning my kid? Shoo off!

  • Inmara

    OT – fun experiment to show bacteria growth in raw vs. pasteurized breastmilk (or why you shouldn’t obtain it from other sources than milk banks)

  • Madtowngirl

    I’ve studied enough biology to know 1) vaccines are important, 2) the basics of how they work in our immune systems. I’m educated enough to know to that I don’t know nearly as much as an immunologist or doctor, and that I should defer to their expertise.

    It really grinds my gears when lay people claim to “be more educated” about medicine than doctors.

    • What if I restrict it to being more educated than doctors like Tenpenny for example? Peer-reviewed publications of hers? Zero.

      • Madtowngirl

        If you’re talking about a specific doctor, particularly one who is an established quack, then yea. But the comments I am referring to are the ones I see in mommy groups all the time, like “doctors don’t know anything about this subject! They don’t have to keep up on vaccine information to keep their license!” Etc, etc.

        • Oh yeah, sure. I was just … I dunno…doing some bizzare twist on playing devil’s advocate for the sake of humour?

          • Madtowngirl

            Gotcha. 🙂 I have sinus infection brain, so it appears my humor/reading comprehension buttons are broken.

  • Mel

    This post made me think about various people in my life who were primarily self-educated.

    My grandpa never finished high school but read everything he could get his hands on. Ditto for a whole slew of people I’ve known both in the blue-collar neighborhood I grew up in and in the rural area I live in now.

    Many of them have a great deal of knowledge that they’ve acquired through second-hand books they’ve picked up along the way and are really quite learned in specific areas.

    Even these people, though, do not describe themselves as “educated” on a given topic. They may say that they’ve read up on the subject, but usually they simply allow the breadth and depth of their understanding of the topic stand alone. They also are more than willing to do some extra digging to suss out the rationales behind the information they learned and enjoy having a nerdy young woman occasionally give lifts over bits they struggled with. (It probably helps that the nerdy young woman appreciates the wisdom that they’ve acquired and is more than willing to take their advice in areas of practical application like “Oh, my son behaved like that in school. Try this” or “Hey, I heard that in Appalachia they used this method to fix soils kind of like that area you are researching. What do you think about…?”

    I guess that’s my problem with people who describe themselves as educated. Neither people who have gained information through the academic route or people who have gained information by methodically digging through every available book on the subject ever describe themselves as “educated”. Your actual knowledge stands as its own proof.

    • Amy M

      That, and that (probably) most truly educated people never stop trying to learn. It seems like these anti-vax types “learn” whatever confirms what they want to believe and stop there. Then they are “educated” and don’t need to learn anything else.

    • Roadstergal

      I don’t think I’ve ever, in my life, said I was ‘educated.’ Educated is the prerequisite in science – here’s my degree, I took the classes. We have intense discussions (even heated ones) all the time, and nobody ever says, “Well, I’m educated, so I’m right.” You bring out citations, you note relevant in-house data, you make reasonable speculation that leads to testable hypothesis. Saying “I’m educated” means diddly. That’s nice, you’re educated, we all are – make a good point.

      • sdsures

        When I graduated with my BA, I didn’t feel “educated” – I only felt how much more there was that I had still to learn about my major (Russian).

        • Linden

          After obtaining a MSc in Electronics engineering, and having worked 18 years in industry, I am confronted daily with stuff I do not know in my field.

          • sdsures

            That keeps life interesting in ANY field. 🙂

      • BeatriceC

        I’m educated. To me that means I had a thorough primary and secondary and undergrad liberal arts education that touched upon the basics of a broad range of subjects. I was taught just enough of the basic subjects to ask appropriate questions and decide if a given source is reputable. In addition to that, my secondary education focused on music performance, theory and history (boarding school for the performing arts), and my undergrad education included more intense coursework in mathematics, biology and chemistry. My graduate work focused on Mathematics with a concentration in statistics and probability theory, and that is the area in which I consider myself most educated, but by no means even in the top 5000 of the leading experts.

        That said, I do think laypeople can be quite knowledgable on a given topic in which they are not experts. For example, I am not a doctor, but two of my children have a genetic bone disease for which there is no cure. I have to make decisions on their behalf, and as such, I had to undergo a crash course in certain aspects of human biology and medicine. I relied heavily on both my children’s doctors and my own solid education in order to read, ask questions, and understand. Now, if you ask me anything outside the skeletal system and orthopedic surgical techniques (on a theoretical level, anyway), I’m gonna have to pass, but I am quite well educated for a layperson on that very narrow topic, if only because I have to be.

        All that to say this: It is possible to self educate to an extent. But that’s not what anti-vaxxers are doing. They are misusing the word to imply something that simply isn’t so.

        • MI Dawn

          I agree, that you, like most parents of a chronically ill or disabled child, are *highly* educated about your child and their needs. And you know what you don’t know. That’s the difference – you are well aware of what you don’t know and your limits. I’d happily come to you for information if I had a child with that genetic bone disorder, because you’ve lived and experienced certain things and have knowledge I don’t. But I’d still have to filter that through my own child’s needs.

          We don’t pretend to know what we don’t know. But we are willing to go out and study and research!

          • BeatriceC

            Exactly. I don’t pretend I’m a doctor and will never know as much about orthopedics as their actual doctors. I chose these doctors for a reason. There are some orthos who’ve never seen it out of med school or residency, if that, and my guide was “if I know more about the disease than the doctor, then he or she is not the right doctor”. Those doctors of course are far more expert in general orthopedics than I will ever be. I had to learn an awful lot in order to make reasonable decisions. One of the reasons I love their hip/leg doctor is he always talks to me like an intelligent adult and actively teaches me as we go along, and is always open to questions when I’m confused or unclear.

          • Indeed.

            Of course, there is also a vast difference between “Nope, you’re not the right doctor.” and “Nope, 99% of all the doctors in the world have been bought off.”

        • mabelcruet

          In the UK we have the ‘Expert patients programme’. It’s run by various hospitals and clinics and set up for and by patients with chronic conditions. The sessions include teaching about the condition’s biology, physiological effects, treatments etc from physicians, but also more practical advice from patients who have been living with the condition, not only with physical or medical advice but stuff about navigating social services, goverment allowance, claiming for assistance, physical therapy and so on. Expert patients also meet with medical students to help then learn about the impact of chronic conditions.

      • Sonja Henie

        I like to say I’m educated because a lot of people still think of nurses as “trained” as if we were dogs or some other type of animal. Back in the dark ages, nursing school was sometimes called “training”, but it hasn’t been that way for at least 70 years (since the end of WW II). I recall really getting into it with a librarian of all professionals about “trainng” nurses to work with Ebola patients. I said that most nurses learned the principles of isolation in nursing school, and they just have to be adapted to the specific disease. She didn’t get it.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Weird. It’s just the opposite for us physicians. We almost always use the term train, as in “I trained at _____ hospital.” So, like your librarian friend, I guess I don’t get it either.

          • Sonja Henie

            People do hold doctors in much higher esteem than nurses. It’s a way to let people know we’re not dogs or seals or something. And what the librarian couldn’t understand was how a lowly nurse could apply her/his knowledge from one situation to another. She thought nurses needed complete training from ground level zero each time.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I see what you are saying.

            On the other hand, something about ebola *was* different. A typical education/training/whatever you want to call it in standard isolation procedures *didn’t* seem to do the trick when it came to ebola. Ebola was vexing because medical professionals would do everything to the very best of their abilities (much more carefully even than care for MRSA, VRE, cholera etc) and yet the illness was still passed on. It *did* take basically totally retraining with a different protocol.

          • Sonja Henie

            Yes, Ebola was different, and I wasn’t arguing that with this other person. I was saying that it wasn’t like these nurses had never taken care of an isolation patient before; didn’t know what to do from square 1.

          • mabelcruet

            I’ve always thought of education and training as being connected but not entirely equivalent. I’m a pathologist, so I’ve been educated in the different types of tumours that can develop in a baby. If I’m faced with a tissue sample of a tumour, I use my education to decide which one it is likely to be, but then my training to apply the practical skills and techniques to confirm my diagnosis. So I would generally say I studied (was educated at) X university, and trained at Y hospital.

          • Roadstergal

            That’s a good point. I think of ‘education’ as learning the principles and how to think about them, and ‘training’ as learning a more defined, stepwise process. My education is in immunology, I’m trained in the BSLs…

          • mabelcruet

            Education for its own sake i.e not being put to any use is pretty pointless, and training without a good basis of education is pretty useless. I definitely use the phrase ‘training’, although I do accept the connotation of ‘performing tricks’ like doggies! I think the repetitious nature of medical training is what makes us safe-we get schooled in the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and causes of various diseases, and then we see patients with that disease-that fixes it in your brain and reinforces the pathways, so if a patient presents like THIS, your brain automatically thinks THAT. And if the patient doesn’t have the ‘right’ symptoms, your neural networks will short circuit because the pathway isn’t there and you think ‘Hold up, that’s not right…’. And because we know the underlying mechanisms of the body, we can work out why they don’t fit.

            Older doctors often talk about having a sixth sense, or a little voice that tells them something isn’t quite right-it’s basically your brain making sub conscious deductions and trying to integrate what you know with what you’re seeing. This is what I love about pathology-it’s a visual diagnosis and I can show my trainees that the reason this is diagnosis X and not diagnosis Y is because those cells are the wrong shade of blue, and in the wrong place, and the nucleus is wrongly positioned, and look at those fluffy bits over, that’s not right at all for diagnosis X-its pattern recognition in practice but a bit easier to visualise than pattern recognition in a live patient with all the various blood parameters to fit together.

      • Amy

        Same. In my field (education) it’s a given that we have postgraduate degrees and ongoing professional development.

      • shay simmons

        When asked where I went to school, I can never resist the temptation to say “The University of SMC.”

    • sdsures

      Reminds me of two of my grandmas (I had 3). One took college classes but never got a degree. One AFAIK didn’t go to college, but I’d have to ask my mom to be sure. The third had a doctorate in Library Sciences. My favourites were the ones without formal post-secondary education. One of them made hand-made quilts for every single one of her grandchildren. <3 Another dabbled in acting. Neither of them were boastful, except when it came to their grandkids. 🙂 I miss them.

      • Sonja Henie

        They sound like great people. However I probably wouldn’t rely on any of them for vaccine advice. Just sayin’.

  • RMY

    Educated to some means read a book, by Dr Sears…

  • mdstudentwithkids

    OT: I intentionally answered a question incorrectly on a test today for our newborn nursery clinical skills class (I’m an MS2). Apparently “let the mom rest immediately after delivery” is not sufficient to “promote breastfeeding.” I think they wanted me to answer something about not taking the baby to the nursery between feedings. I hate that the other 200 students in my class are being indoctrinated with lactivism BS.

    • sdsures

      🙁 Does it say anywhere to treat the new parents like exhausted human beings and care for them well until they’re back on their feet?

      • Roadstergal

        Dad is supposed to get a good night’s sleep in a bed away from mom and the new baby so he can go back to work. Come on, he doesn’t have to be sleep-deprived, it’s not like he’s a woman or anything. :p

        Again, I know of no other area of medicine in which stress and sleep deprivation are supposed to increase the function of a non-essential biological process.

        • sdsures


        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          and this is why if my daughter ever gives birth I am going to do whatever I need to, to be there after she has the baby for a few days/weeks. This Baby Friendly stuff is for the birds, as my mother would have said.

          • Roadstergal

            Now _that_ is baby-friendly (and mom-friendly).

      • mdstudentwithkids

        Not at all. I just did the practical portion of the class and I think part of the problem is that only the Peds were teaching about breastfeeding. We had to read the 2012 paper on breastfeeding by the AAP and we received no perspective on that of the mom (only hard contraindications like being on heroin or being HIV positive in the US). Not that that excuses saying breastfeeding decreases rates of everything bad under the sun when the science isn’t there. I did not want to be confrontational so I didn’t speak up during the conversation for the most part. It was difficult.

  • Jen

    When someone says she’s “researched” something about birth or childcare, my brain now automatically substitutes the word “googled”.

    • Stephanie Rotherham

      I google stuff about haircare; to actually research and be educated, I’d have to go to college. I like haircare. I like sharing stuff about haircare. But I am not an expert and should not be listened to on certain aspects of haircare.

      So why should we listen to these ‘researchers’ on things far more important than hair? Use your common sense, people.

      • sdsures

        Common sense is becoming ever more uncommon. 🙁

    • Sean Jungian

      I don’t even think just that anymore, I think like this post states – “researched” = “ignored all actual evidence and got their information from quacks”

  • MI Dawn

    Nice post. You have clearly pointed out how the antivaxxers feel they are so superior to the “sheeple” who actually research and talk to those whose life work is in the applicable areas.

    However, I have issues with the Playboy Playmate tag on Jenny McCarthy. Yes, it’s true. And yes, she is washed up (at least she’s not doing very much in the major entertainment industry). But I still feel the tag is unnecessary. You can call her uneducated regarding vaccines, which is also true. The PP tag is just an ad hominum, and ruins the rest of your post, in my mind.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I disagree. I don’t think she used it to be slut-shaming, but rather to show how far Jenny McCarthy’s experience/education is from any relevant field of health care or science. She has done the same for Ricki Lake, calling her a washed-up talk show host.

    • Sean Jungian

      While I don’t think it ruins the post, I also think the Playboy Playmate tag is unnecessary slut-shaming.

      Whoops, sort of ninja’d by fiftyfifty1 – the thing is, while she got her start as a nude model, she’s mainly known for being a D-list actress and misguided anti-vax flame-fueler.

      I don’t think it ruins the post but I don’t think it’s necessary. Just because she took her clothes off doesn’t mean she’s dumb or uneducated (she is both, but not because of being a Playmate).

      • sdsures

        “While I don’t think it ruins the post, I also think the Playboy Playmate tag is unnecessary slut-shaming.”

        If it’s a true part of her (JM) story, why should it be eliminated?

        • Sean Jungian

          i honestly think I was already pretty clear about my opinion on that.

          Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it’s relevant. YMMV, of course.

          • sdsures

            Pretend you weren’t, and try again for the benefit of those not inside your own head.

          • Sean Jungian

            I respectfully decline. I’ve already spent more time on this than it warrants. As I said, it doesn’t ruin the piece but hits me the wrong way. I gave my opinion, it’s my opinion, I’ve given a couple of small examples of why I feel that way, and that’s plenty.

            I’m not nearly invested enough in this to argue about it. You are free to accept my reasons as valid or to dismiss them as invalid and that is all A-OK.

          • Kq

            Fwiw I agree with you that it’s not necessary – and given the hideous “locker room talk” that now makes it impossible to watch the news in the hearing of my kindergartner, I think it might be better to just use “former model and d list actress” purely to avoid clouding the issue and providing a handy straw man for the inevitable antivaxx parachuters.

      • Roadstergal

        I agree that just because she took her clothes off doesn’t mean she’s dumb or uneducated. But someone’s background is relevant. Her major focus in her career was being a Playmate. If she had, in addition to modeling, gone on to get an advanced life sciences degree, that would be relevant. If she had started off with a life sciences degree and then went to modeling, that would be relevant. If she had paid for college while modeling nude, the college would be the focus. But an accurate summary of her career and life experience is ‘nude modeling’.

        If I wanted to learn about the ins and outs of modeling, I would go to her before I went to a life scientist, because she has relevant expertise that the life scientist lacks.

        • Sean Jungian

          I just think it’s a loaded way to describe a woman, that it has more weight than just the definition of the words. There’s a whole lot of extra baggage that comes with it. There’s an additional insinuation behind the words of having low morals.

          Anyway, I’m not interested in defending Jenny McCarthy, whose contribution to the resurgence of VPDs is, to me, indefensible. I just think it cheapens the message slightly when we throw in a little dig at her profession as if that somehow makes her opinions even more invalid than just being a clueless mom.

          Again, YMMV. I respect everyone’s opinions and perspectives on the topic, I was just relating my own.

          • Maud Pie

            Regarding the “extra baggage” and insinuation of low morals, I have a different interpretation.

            (Braces self for onslaught of brickbats)

            I don’t think it’s necessary to be a prude or a slut-shamer to regard McCarthy’s playmate career as a huge counterweight against her credibility and qualifications to comment on medical matters. All issues of morality aside, nude magazine modeling, in my opinion, is a frivolous career choice. If that were a person’s primary accomplishment or primary ambition, I would require substantial evidence to overcome the presumption that such person lacks the tools to study and comprehend medical information and offer an opinion worthy of consideration. I feel the same way about football players, professional wrestlers, beauty pageant promoters, and astrologers. I do not feel that way about nude models in a serious/artist setting (like Justice Stewart, I can’t precisely define porn, but I know it when I see it). I also do not feel that way about persons who did porn modeling with a detached mercenary purpose, or who did it out of financial desperation. AFAIK, playmating was not just something McCarthy did, but a vocation she wholeheartedly embraced. And she’s done nothing to overcome my presumption of frivolousness. So, IMHO, her Playboy career is fair game.

          • Roadstergal

            “I feel the same way about football players”

            Chris Kluwe has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and is a smart and prolific writer. That distinguishes him from the group overall, and those asterisks are important notes that need to be mentioned to effectively capture him as a person.

            Similarly, a model who has a degree and real knowledge and expertise would be – sorry – more than just a model, and would not be effectively summed up as ‘a former model’.

      • corblimeybot

        My first exposure to Jenny McCarthy was when she hosted Singled Out on MTV. When she became the anti-vaxxer she is now, I could only think in confusion, “Isn’t that the lady from the MTV game show?”

    • lilin

      I would argue that that’s what most people know about her, so it’s fair to state. It’s a little like when introducing others from the entertainment industry, people name their most popular movie to give people a sense of what they’ve done. Any other piece of work she’s done would make it just as ridiculous to take medical advice from her: Candies Shoes spokesmodel, Jim Carey’s bitter ex, rejected contributor to “The View”.

      • Roadstergal

        Jim Carry is anti-vax on his own, and if she had referred to him and called him a ‘washed-up dick-joke level actor,’ I would consider it to be a fair summary of his past and its relevance to his knowledge of the issue at hand. :p