Only the uneducated and gullible take medical advice from B movie starlets

I guess I wasted 8 years in medical training. Four years of medical school and four years of residency were over-kill (pardon the expression). It seems that in 2012 the most important requirement for a medical authority is to be a former B movie starlet.

That’s right. Ricki Lake is evidently an expert on childbirth, Jenny McCarthy is an expert on immunology, and Susan Somers is an expert on chemotherapy (in the immortal words of Orac of Respectful Insolence, she has been carpet bombing the media with “napalm-grade stupid about cancer”).

What, you might ask, are the qualifications of these experts beyond their tawdry celebrity? Well, Ricki Lake completed two (count ’em, 2) semesters at Ithaca College; Jenny McCarthy dropped out of Southern Illinois University in favor of a career at Playboy; and Suzanne Somers dropped out of Lone Mountain College after 6 months.

All three had advanced training as well. Ricki Lake has actually given birth to two children. Jenny McCarthy has a child she believed was afflicted with autism. And, Suzanne Somers actually had cancer. If that’s not enough to make you a medical authority, I don’t know what is.

It’s hardly surprising that celebrity has gone to the heads of these women and made them think they are medical experts (look at Kate Gosselin if you want to see what celebrity can do), but what is the matter with the millions of people who appear to believe the drivel fabricated and spouted by these women? What has happened to us, America?

How can anyone believe anything they have to say on any medical topic? Does anyone seriously think they are qualified to dispense medical advice? Aren’t homebirth advocates, vaccine rejectionists and cancer conspiracists embarrassed to be consulting actresses for information on sophisticated medical issues? No? they ought to be.

The sad fact is that instead of being embarrassed, homebirth advocates, vaccine rejectionists and other health conspiracists are actually proud of themselves. You have to be pathetically ignorant to be proud of your own ignorance.

Is this part of the dismaying strain of anti-intellectualism that has longed plagued our country? Do people honestly think that those smarty-pants doctors don’t have any knowledge that couldn’t be acquired on “Three’s Company”?

Or should we blame this farcical behavior on the American penchant for conspiracy theories, the more outlandish the better? Do people really have so little faith in organized medicine that they consider Suzanne Somer’s cancer advice more likely to cure them than medical treatment?

I am a cynical person, but really folks? The government is paying for and recommending the distribution of injectable poisons? Big Pharma wants to create of generation of autistic people? Chemotherapy is a plot to keep you from the real cure for cancer? That’s not cynicism; it is credulousness.

Inquiring minds want to know: How can anyone claim with a straight face to believe that Ricki Lake knows anything about childbirth? How could anyone possibly believe that Jenny McCarthy knows about immunology simply by dint of having a child who she thought was autistic. And Suzanne Somers? Does anyone seriously believe that the purveyor of the “Thigh-Master” just happened to discover the cure for cancer in her spare time?

Someone please explain it to me, because for the life of me I, like other doctors, cannot figure it out.

A version of this piece first appeared in October 2009.


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