Nobel prize in medicine here I come!

From Sense about Science comes Celebrities and Science Review 2008.

This article in The Independent explains it in more detail (originally linked on Instapundit).

The Sense about Science report looks at the dumbest things celebrities have said over the past year—on the subjects of physics, medicine, and so on. Medicine is the one area in which it is easiest to make a fool of oneself.

For the top example, we have the world’s biggest celebrity saying something stupid about autism. Ladies and gentlemen, our very own Barack Obama:

We’ve seen just skyrocketing autism rates. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.

John McCain backs Obama up, so this is not a “D” versus “R” thing.

Contrast what the big boys are saying with the statement by actress Amanda Peet, who showed us her awe-inspiring talents in The Whole Nine Yards:

Fourteen studies have been conducted (both here in the US and abroad), and these tests are reproducible; no matter where they are administered, or who is funding them, the conclusion is the same: there is no association between autism and vaccines.

Wait…an actress knowing more than about-to-be and an almost-was president? Strange world.

The real reason autism rates are rising is that people are more aware of the disease and so it is diagnosed more often. According to Michael Fitzpatrick, a guy who actually studies this stuff:

The presidential candidates are correct in that there is an apparent increase in the number of cases of autism. However, authoritative studies confirm that the apparent rise is attributable to increased public and professional awareness of the condition and to widening definitions of autistic spectrum disorders.

So how about my Nobel prize?

Well, we’d all like to see the rates of diseases decrease, right? One sure fire, guaranteed method to accomplish this is to ban all advertising, public service announcements, and public discussions of health problems!

Yes! Once people don’t know what they might have, they’ll cease going to the doctor to find out if they really do have it. It’s sublime! It’s genius!

No other medical treatment or public health measure will ever have the effect my scheme will. Disease rates will plummet across the board; every major and minor disease will show tremendous drop offs.

My brilliant idea, developed using the same logic as our esteemed leaders, since it will cause disease rates to fall to all time lows, will surely win me the prize.

See you in Oslo (or wherever it is they hand those things out).


  1. Tomas S

    The medicine prize is handed out in Stockholm, only the peace prize is handed out in Oslo (thank god for that by the way, let the norwegians take the blame for some of those choices :D).

  2. Ari

    I have to really wonder about Obama and McCain, though. See, I tend to believe that politicians play the pandering game (constituents like being pandered to, after all.)

    I doubt either man is truly bonkers enough to believe the whole vaccines –> autism thing.

    But my faith in humanity has been put through worse tests. Like reading this site for about five minutes:

    (Don’t say I didn’t warn you)

  3. Ray

    Rates of diseases can be increased at will simply by changing the definition.

    For instance, the definition of obesity was changed and overnight we had an epedimic of obesity. This epedimic requred government intervention to protect the public of course. The bureacrats will now tell us what we can and cannot eat or drink. Next will be forced exercise for the overweight.

  4. stan

    This is how the French reduce crime. Story about the “youth” involved in the nightly rioting in France (from about a year or so back) had an interesting tidbit on the police and their refusal to do anything when people are assaulted. It seems that the police supervisors get bonuses when crime is down. So the cops on the beat can’t arrest anyone lest the crime stats go up.

  5. Ari


    Just out of curiosity, when and what was the change? This is interesting.


    The Japanese engage in somewhat similar behavior.

  6. Jan F


    That is also what Michael Fitzpatrick said: … and to widening definitions of autistic spectrum disorders.

    If I was a child today I would have been diagnosed with ADHD but almost 50 year ago the GP called it ‘to much energy’. Now I have a good life without help of any medicine, it only took me a bit longer to get there.

    It looks like ‘normal’ is now a very narrow band and all outside this band is due to some disease.

  7. When you initially start counting things, the number of things has a tendency to increase.

    Stop counting things.

  8. The Git has a number of confessions to make:

    * He spends more time involved with objects and physical systems than with people;
    * He communicates less than others do;
    * He tends to follow his own desires and beliefs rather than paying attention to, or being easily influenced by, others’ desires and beliefs;
    * He shows relatively little interest in what the social group is doing, or being a part of it;
    * He has strong, persistent interests;
    * He is very accurate at perceiving the details of information;
    * He notices and recalls things other people do not;
    * His view of what is relevant and important in a situation often fails to coincide with others;
    * He is fascinated by patterns and systems in the world — visual, numeric, alphanumeric, etc;
    * He collects things: books and records (music) mainly, but also certain types of information;
    * He has a strong preference for experiences that are controllable rather than unpredictable;
    * He has an IQ that places him in the top 2% of the population;
    * He’s happier in his own company than with crowds;
    * He is naive;
    * He has a strong sense of justice;
    * He takes what people say literally; that is, he’s relatively impervious to irony, double-meaning, subtext etc.

    Stated in this fashion (after Simon Baron-Cohen), it might seem a little ho-hum! However, most experts in the field of psychological disorders refer to The Git’s behavioural features as Asperger Disorder (an Autism spectrum disorder). You will find his maladaptations listed in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), and in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

    Are our numbers increasing? If they are, sounds good to me. Finding someone other than telephone sanitisers, hairdressers, documentary film makers, security guards and management consultants to converse with has always been a pleasure.

  9. ad

    “We’ve seen just skyrocketing autism rates. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

    The bit “This person included” was when Obama was pointing at an interjecting member of the audience, he wasn’t talking about himself.

  10. PaddikJ

    “. . . actress Amanda Peet, who showed us her awe-inspiring talents in The Whole Nine Yards:”

    William, I pray that crack wasn’t in reference to Peet’s brief bit of nudity, because it was probably very unpleasant for her. Male actors go into the movie business with the expectation that they may have to do the occasional nudity; for actresses, it’s a given – a sad given.

    Let’s instead stay focused on the remarkable fact that a film actress has shown more critical acuity than both presidential candidates.

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