“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

— William Wilberforce

Front Page » Media » Editorial Bias » Ethicist Arthur Caplan Boorishly Attacks Jim Carrey on Vaccines
Editorial Bias
Text size:

Ethicist Arthur Caplan Boorishly Attacks Jim Carrey on Vaccines

On July 1, 2015, NBC News published an article titled “Ethicist: Why Jim Carrey is Wrong About Vaccines”1 by Arthur Caplan, PhD, who is a professor of bioethics at New York University Medical School’s Department of Population Health, Division of Medical Ethics.2 The opinion piece was superficially to applaud the signing into law of SB 277 by Governor Jerry Brown of California. The law eliminates all religious or philosophical exemptions to vaccines for children who attend public and private schools, including daycare centers, in California.

Caplan writes:

The new law is all to the good. No major religions have heartburn over vaccination. Most see it as an obligation in order to help the community. And philosophical exemptions were nothing but an open door for those who are ill-informed, addicted to misinformation on the internet or just plain selfish.1

He continues:

Liberty is a key value for Americans, as critics of the law now are noting. But they ignore the fact that liberty has to yield when using it puts others at risk. So, just as speed limits protect you and me from reckless drivers, and mandatory car seats and seatbelts protect kids careless parents, mandating vaccination protects kids from lousy parental choices.1

But the primary aim of the Caplan’s article is to denigrate actor Jim Carrey or anyone who dares to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines and offers their opinions on this evolving national debate. Caplan opines:

The actor Jim Carrey is one of a small number of anti-vaxxers who is beside himself at the passage of the tough new law. He has tweeted out to his 14 million twitter followers that the decision to protect the community from measles, mumps, whooping cough and flu is fascism. Not only is Carrey ignorant when it comes to vaccines, he is a fool when it comes to using terms like fascism.1

It’s not exactly the kind of high brow language one would expect from someone who teaches bioethics at a major university and has a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science. But then again, few of the attacks lobbed by the guardians of the one and only true vaccine science are what you would characterize as articulate or of substance. Mostly, they are demands for dissenting Americans to just hush up and drink the Kool-Aid. Mostly, they’re rants.

Another case in point… an article by TIME magazine editor-at-large Jeffrey Kluger creatively titled “Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines.”3 In that piece, Kluger paints Carrey and other actors as nothing more than “board-certified jesters,”3 as if their chosen profession defines them entirely and somehow precludes them from being intelligent, thoughtful human beings.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Kluger’s rant:

The anti-vax crowd has never been about reasoned argument or a cool-headed look at clinical science. They’ve been all about rage, all about echo-chamber misinformation. For every sensible action to boost vaccination rates, they have long been there, like a sort of perverse bit of Newtonian physics, with an equal and risible reaction.

Maybe that’s the reason they roll out pratfall comics [like Carrey] to plead their case—a bit of misdirection to hide the tragicomedy of their message behind the larger comedy of the messenger. Or maybe they’re the best they’ve got.3 

Then there’s Amy Zimmerman’s piece in The Daily Beast titled “Jim Carrey’s Descent into Madness,”4 filled with yet more personal attacks and not a lick of substance. Are these people really reporters at all. Zimmerman cuts Carrey down to size by accusing him of hating dictionaries…

Misusing both “Cyclops” and “blue ball” in one rant was the most stupidly impressive thing Carrey has done since convincing himself that vaccines are bad for you. Carrey, who hates dictionaries but loves opposite day, is also an artist. Don’t believe me? Just ask Jim Carrey’s art, which includes huge Fiberglass sculptures, videos, projected twitter conversations, Pop portraits of Pamela Anderson…4

But back to Caplan. In his reference to the word “fascism,” Caplan is referring to Carrey’s June 30, 2015 tweets on his Twitter account branding Governor Brown as a “corporate fascist” for his signing of SB 277. To his 14 million Twitter followers, Carrey wrote, “California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped. Fascism is when a government imposes its will upon the people by fiat.”5

Caplan thinks that the branding is unfair and inaccurate. According to Caplan:

Nothing like that has happened in California—not even close. The legislature heard testimony, debated and then voted through the law to end liberal exemptions. Passing a law through the legislature and having the governor sign it is called democracy!

Democracy turned out to be very good for public health in California this week.1

Caplan did not address the democratic ethics of the substantial sums of money that the pharmaceutical industry invested in the political campaigns of the current members of the California Legislature, as well as the cash it spent lobbying the legislators and Governor Brown.

According to a June 18, 2015 article in The Sacramento Bee:

Pharmaceutical companies and their trade groups gave more than $2 million to current members of the Legislature in 2013-2014, about 2 percent of the total raised, records show. Nine of the top 20 recipients are either legislative leaders or serve on either the Assembly or Senate health committees. Receiving more than $95,000, the top recipient of industry campaign cash is Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat and doctor who is carrying the vaccine bill.

In addition, the industry donated more than $500,000 to outside campaign spending groups that helped elect some current members last year.

Leading pharmaceutical companies also spent nearly $3 million more during the 2013-2014 legislative session lobbying the Legislature, the governor, the state pharmacists’ board and other agencies, according to state filings.6

Neither did Caplan disclose the fact that his own employer, the NYU Langone Medical Center, has had a working relationship to develop a malaria vaccine with one of the top vaccine manufacturers in the world, Merck & Co.7 

Caplan did not mention that NYU Langone Medical Center has “Master Agreements” with numerous top pharmaceutical companies covering clinical trials—companies such as Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, and others.8 

Caplan failed to note that he was recently appointed by pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to establish a board to make decisions on requests by terminally ill patients to have access to drugs that have not yet been approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).9  In fact, it was Caplan and Kenneth Moch, the CEO of the biopharmaceutical firm Chimerix, who led the way to proposing the panel in the first place.10

Conflicts of interest? Fair and balanced reporting by the media? You decide.


1 Caplan A. Ethicist: Why Jim Carrey is Wrong About Vaccines. NBC News July 1, 2015.
2 NYU School of Medicine. Arthur Caplan, PhD. NYU Langone Medical Center, Department of Population Health N.d.
3 Kluger J. Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines. TIME July 1, 2015.
4 Zimmerman A. Jim Carrey’s Descent into Madness. The Daily Beast July 1, 2015.
5 NBC News. Jim Carrey Brands California Governor ‘Fascist’ Over Vaccine Law. TIME July 1, 2015.
6 Miller J. Drug companies donated millions to California lawmakers before vaccine debate. The Sacramento Bee June 18, 2015.
7 The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Merck, and NYU Langone Medical Center collaborate to research potential malaria vaccine. PATH Dec 14, 2010.
8 NYU School of Medicine. Master Clinical Trial Agreements. NYU Langone Medical Center, Office of Clinical Trials (OCT) N.d.
9 Thomas K. Company Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs. The New York Times May 7, 2015.
10 Kroll D. FDA Approves Merck’s PD-1 Inhibitor, Keytruda. Forbes Sept. 4, 2014.

16 Responses to Ethicist Arthur Caplan Boorishly Attacks Jim Carrey on Vaccines

  1. G. Cody Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 11:33 am

    An obligation to help the community. When it’s your child, that obligation disappears, or, when you come to the conclusion that sacrificing the few to save the many is not the way.

    • George Reply

      July 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Couldn’t agree more

  2. WarriorMama Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    It’s always fun to follow the money. I enjoy it immensely. While bio-ethicists like this clown cry the blues about us misinformed lazy-assed lousy parents, the truth is coming out in one fat loud voice. When it is finally revealed that vaccines are nothing more than a modern day eugenics experiment, I will have this guys name on a big list next to Dr. Pan and Paul Offit. Their financial alliances are so obvious it’s funny…except it’s not. Kids are dying, or damaged beyond repair while idiots like this guy sling insults at Jim Carrey. A-bravoooo!

  3. Pamela Samash Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I pray every child is taken out of all your schools, your govt is overthrown and the people and parents restore their freedoms and rights once again.

  4. S. Lane Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    It’s time for Mr. Caplan to come out from behind his letters and connect with real people. The trumped up measles crisis is what should be discussed with regard to medical ethics, not to mention the hidden agenda behind allowing manufacturers to avoid liability when it comes to vaccines. Let’s talk about how few injuries are reported because doctors don’t want to admit the vaccine flaws. Let’s talk about doctors who don’t even know that manufacturers have zero liability.

    That’s the ethics issue here and it’s clear, based on the loud and vitriolic voice of the (m)asses that money can buy you a popular opinion. Any person with whom I’ve discussed the real issues with on a one-on-one basis, walks away with an entirely new perspective.

    Seriously, I’m appalled that this guy calls himself an ethicist.

  5. Margaret Jaeger Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    This article revealing what Kaplan said and the the other 2 Shills of the pharmaceutical industry published made me SO Angry…at their collosal ignorance. Again, here are shills side referring to the parents and caregivers of children severely damaged by vaccines as idiots, unlearned unknowing causers of Tragedy. These ‘idiots’ are the ONLY people who DO know how dangerous the vaccines themselves and the scheduling, are. These writers are the idiots, they don’t really Know..anything about the issue, except being directed by their supporter chem companies to write smear jobs…uninformed smear jobs. They should ALL be Made to interact with the parents and kids at all the Autism conferences in the nation for just one year. They would definately hear Real truth but whether they’d take the risk of losing their paybacks or Learn Anything is..a Big Risk. I doubt they would admit it. Im the grandma of one vaccine damaged kid, been to only 3 conferences and they are eye openers, even when one has had the experience of seeing their child turned into a handicapped child. People who write such biased uninformed crap they did are guilty of causing the murders of M.D.’s who were helpers in the autism cirlce as surely as if they did it or ordered it themselves. Creeps. grandma peg

  6. Kyle McCormick Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm


  7. James D.C. Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Caplan, he did a great job at attacking Jim Carrey personally. You belittled his character, disqualified him as a human with an opinion. But the funny thing is, you didn’t provide any facts supporting safety and efficacy of the vaccines, the claims that vaccines have eradicated diseases, Norder to disclose your own vaccine history. Have you gotten all of your vaccines? Have you taking all of your booster shots? Do you get vaccinated every year for the flu? I would dare you to vaccinate yourself for all of the modern-day vaccines that our children get from month one and on. If you believe in their safety and they’re potentially poisonous ingredients will not hurt you and I say you should accident yourself again.
    And it’s pretty silly that you stand behind some old dead philosopher’s position that “it’s good for the many even at the expense of a few”.
    By the way Mr. bioethicist, how ethical is it that your posture yourself in this way even with your connections to big pharmaceutical companies such as Merck?
    As another famous philosopher wrote, “I can see your lips moving, but I can’t hear what you’re saying”.
    So SHUT UP Mr. Caplan!

    • James D.C. Reply

      July 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Correction: “Vaccinate”* , not ‘accident’

  8. Jocelyn Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    This is a great article. It does a great job of summing up all that is wrong and stupid about the Antivaxers and their misguided crusade.

    • Matt Reply

      July 8, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      You must have been vaccinated to be that stupid!

  9. joejoev Reply

    July 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Only a total moronic shill would come up with such a pro big pharma endorsed/funded rant.

  10. Setablue Reply

    July 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Jim Carrey like most of his colleagues should stick to acting and not start mouthing off his opinions on issues he is not qualified to comment on by a long shot.

  11. Robin Reply

    July 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    The fact remains that if vaccines work-why all the upheaval about me not vaccinating my kid? You do what you want and I’ll do what I want. Go, vaccinate to your hearts content, protect yourselves!!! Kudos to Jim Carey for standing up for what is right and not caring about public opinion. He is more of a man than I had given him credit for!! I would pay Big Pharma to leave my family ALONE and shut up their mouths!!!

  12. Susan McLean Reply

    September 20, 2016 at 9:03 am

    ”In no case should a collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.”

    Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights

    * Adopted by acclamation on 19 October 2005 by the 33 rd session of the General Conference of UNESCO

    1. Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.
    2. Scientific research should only be carried out with the prior, free, express and informed consent of the person concerned. The information should be adequate, provided in a comprehensible form and should include modalities for withdrawal of consent. Consent may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without any disadvantage or prejudice. Exceptions to this principle should be made only in accordance with ethical and legal standards adopted by States, consistent with the principles and provisions set out in this Declaration, in particular in Article 27, and international human rights law.
    3. In appropriate cases of research carried out on a group of persons or a community, additional agreement of the legal representatives of the group or community concerned may be sought. In no case should a collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.
    The last statement is well worth repeating:
    ”In no case should a collective community agreement or the consent of a community leader or other authority substitute for an individual’s informed consent.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>