It’s a fascinating example of motivated reasoning. Bill Maher has been raked over the coals on his irrational, anti-scientific attitude towards vaccines; his own guests have scorned his views on his own show; he’s been confronted repeatedly with the evidence and the rebuttals. He’s got to know by now that there is no rational justification for claiming that vaccines or thimerosal cause autism, or that the drug companies are profiting hugely by including poisons in their vaccines (which makes no sense, even if you do believe in greedy pharmaceutical mega-corporations).
So what does he do? He invites anti-vax crank extraordinaire, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to sit around and commiserate with one another about how they’re called cranks and liars for merely denying the scientific consensus.
There’s a reason they’re called kooks: because they are. Another indication that they’re crackpots is that they’re so refractory to learning — rather than look at the evidence, they’re digging into their little bunker of denial and having a pity party.
Don’t take my word for it. David Gorski does a thorough dissection of the lies and conspiracy theories.
After this season of incredibly embarrassing anti-science rants by Bill Maher, my retort to his wounded indignant cries that he’s “not antivaccine,” is simply to say: If you’re not antivaccine, then stop repeating long discredited antivaccine talking points as though they were scientifically valid and stop doing credulous interviews with antivaccine activists like RFK, Jr. That’s what antivaccinationists do, and if you continue to do such things, then you shouldn’t be surprised when people conclude that you are antivaccine. It’s a reasonable conclusion based on your own words and failure to be educated over the course of many years.
As far as I’m concerned, Bill Maher is just an atheist Vani Hari, and needs a similar kind of exposure.