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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Stars of Reality

By Phil Plait

Y’know, it’s easy to make fun of celebrities who endorse ridiculous nonsense. Certainly Jenny McCarthy has earned the wrath she’s received over vaccines, and Rob Schneider says things that make McCarthy look like an icon of reason. Even Bill Maher, praised on many topics by critical thinkers, says things about vaccinations that make me cringe.

But I think it’s just as important to praise celebrities when they do the right thing. I’m a big fan of Amanda Peet, who is an outspoken supporter of actual, true vaccine information, and of Sarah Michelle Gellar as well.

And now I can add to that list actress Kristen Bell. I’ve always liked her, but now I can add her to my cadre of celebrities I respect. Why? She said this:

When [my daughter] Lincoln was born, the whooping cough epidemic was growing, and before she was 2 months old, we simply said [to friends], 'You have to get a whooping cough vaccination if you are going to hold our baby.'

Nice! Simple, straightforward, and makes the message clear. And if that weren’t enough, bless her reality-based brain, she went on to say,”

It's a very simple logic: I believe in trusting doctors, not know-it-alls.

Heh. A bit more snarky than I would’ve phrased it, but the sentiment is understandable. I always want to be clear that I distinguish carefully between parents who are being misled, and the ones who mislead them. When I use the word “anti-vaxxer,” overwhelmingly I mean the latter, especially those vocal few who willingly or otherwise grossly distort reality to fit their own views.

It’s easy to be confused by doubt-sowers, especially if it’s in a topic with which you’re not that familiar. And Google will fail you there; leading you many times to the very pages of the anti-vaxxers themselves, instead of more reliable sources (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  Harpocrates Speaks, Voices for Vaccines, the Autism Science Foundation, and Every Child by Two). And a lot of those anti-vax groups produce dangerous information, ideas that are a clear threat to the public health.

So again, I will continue to praise people in the public eye who take a stand for reality. Good on you, Ms. Peet, Ms. Gellar, and now Ms. Bell. Count me as a fan.

Addendum: Parenting magazine has a list of other celebrities who support vaccination. 

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