Is Bill Maher really that ignorant?
I missed Bill Maher's HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher because I was away at my meeting. However, I have heard that he said that vaccines don't prevent disease and that Pasteur recanted on his deathbed. I'd like to see what he actually said before going off on him too much, but unfortunately the transcript for the show doesn't appear to be up yet, assuming it was the March 4 show. Did anyone else see the show? Did he say this? Was he being ironic or serious? Is there any way Skeptico could have misinterpreted what he said? Inquiring minds (like mine) want to know!
In any case, I've always found Bill Maher to be a bit too smug a bastard for my tastes, even back when he did his Politically Incorrect show, although he is at times quite entertaining. However, if he did actually say that vaccines don't prevent disease, I will have to move him from the category of "smug but entertaining curmudgeon that I usually disagree with but sometimes find entertaining anyway" to just plain "crank." Anyone who can seriously believe that vaccines don't prevent disease and actually say so to a national audience has moved from the realm of curmudgeonly skeptic into the realm of the fruitloop, as far as I'm concerned. If, further, Maher truly believes the myth that Pasteur recanted on his deathbead (a common myth promulgated by credulous alties to make it seem as though the father of germ theory decided before he died that he had been incorrect), I don't think I can watch his show any more. (Peter Bowditch did a fine job of debunking this particular myth about Pasteur last year.)
For someone who bills himself as being so rational and skeptical, proudly trumpeting his atheism and claiming that religious people have a "neurologic disorder" because of their belief in things that can't be proven, Maher certainly seems to be rather credulous about other things that fit into his own world-view. Certainly, his close affiliation with PETA and his rather uncritical acceptance of its claims argues for this. Money quote from an interview from a few years ago:
To those people who say, "My father is alive because of animal experimentation," I say "Yeah, well, good for you. This dog died so your father could live." Sorry, but I am just not behind that kind of trade off.I will wait until the full transcript is out to see if Bill Maher really is that credulous about the lies of the anti-vaccination movement, but it's disappointing to see a self-proclaimed rationalist and "politically incorrect" skeptic spew such nonsense, if spew it he did.