60-Second Science

Celeb Vaccine Wars: Peet Beats Maher

Comedian Bill Maher advises against vaccinations. But actress Amanda Peet--and Dr. Bill Frist--have it right: vaccines are good. Steve Mirsky comments

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

In the celebrity vaccine wars, I’m siding with actress Amanda Peet. And comedian Bill Maher, well, I like your show, but when it comes to vaccines you don’t know a punchline from a clothesline.

Maher recently tweeted to his Twitter followers “if u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.” On his HBO program Real Time last week, Maher went head-to-head with former Senator Dr. Bill Frist, who patiently explained why vaccines were in fact good. But Maher wasn’t buying it. He advocates a healthy lifestyle over vaccines. But polio and smallpox outmatched many robust immune systems.

Actress Amanda Peet, meanwhile, has used her celebrity to encourage vaccinations, specifically in response to the alleged vaccine-autism connection, for which there’s no scientific evidence, but which has some parents afraid of childhood vaccinations. In a letter to a parenting magazine, Peet wrote: “It’s irresponsible to suggest that virtually the entire medical community, and the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics are behind a massive cover-up about vaccine safety.” See you in the line for the flu shot.

—Steve Mirsky

To watch the Bill Maher–Bill Frist conversation, see Bill Maher gets schooled on vaccines by Bill Frist

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