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  • Writer's pictureZack Kulm

Bill Maher Reopens Anti-Vaxxer Conversation with Controversial Doctor

Bill Maher addresses the crowd on Real Time with Bill Maher

  • Dr. Jay Gordon, controversial pediatrician who questions vaccinations, appears on Real Time with Bill Maher.

  • The topic of vaccinations has become exceedingly controversial in recent years. Both Maher and Gordon discuss the idea of just questioning its effects has proven a massive point of contention.

  • Other publications have outright stated Maher supports anti-vaxxers; however, these claims contradict what Maher and Gordon actually discuss. Both articulate the need for vaccinations but also suggest an idea where vaccinations should cater to the individual rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Maher cites discredited medical procedures that he had received, such as mercury inserted in his teeth and the prescription of Accutane, while Gordon adds in the effects of Tylenol on the liver and Ibuprofen on the kidneys.

  • The World Health Organization refutes the anti-vaxxer movement and reports that measles have risen by 30 percent in several countries that were previously close to eliminating the viral infection.


“Maybe is my whole point with this — is maybe — is that we just don’t know so much.”

This past Friday on Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher reopened the anti-vaxxer discussion to much controversy by inviting Dr. Jay N. Gordon to talk medicine and vaccinations.

“He’s a noted author and pediatrician who gives vaccines to children, to adults, and to himself, but who has been called an anti-vaxxer. Here to explain how that can be possible, Dr. Jay Gordon.” — Bill Maher

Dr. Gordon took to the stage and timidly agreed as Maher largely breathed fire against modern day medical practices. For those who haven’t heard of Gordon, he’s a Santa Monica-based pediatrician who gained favor among the anti-vaxxer movement, signing hundreds of personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements.

Dr. Gordon examines a young boy.

To many, giving Dr. Gordon a platform to espouse his personal beliefs on vaccinations was a highly dangerous move — a move Maher is all to familiar with. Real Time is no stranger to facing criticism when it comes to some of its guests. Just look at Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Roger Stone, to name a few. In many ways, that’s what gives Real Time its edge, Maher is not afraid of discourse and debate — or tearing into his guests. That’s why we tune in, right?

Well, depending on who you ask, the subject of anti-vaccinations is a topic uniquely deadly. Do you want to face a measles epidemic, unlike anything America has seen in decades? Or, is it fair to allow some children exemptions for certain vaccinations that would put fellow classmates at risk?

These aren’t easy questions because, to put it bluntly, someone’s going to get screwed no matter which way you turn.

Despite the criticism, Maher argues that the vaccination question has grown into one that requires more attention. He even goes so far as to say, “It’s one of those things in our culture where there is the ‘one true opinion,’ but we don’t play that game here.”

This alone has publications like Business Insider reporting that the politically incorrect late-night host agrees that vaccines can cause autism. To be perfectly honest, this isn’t true and actually does a disservice to their credibility. By following the interview, Maher actually argued that we just don’t know.

Maher starts off the discussion by addressing the controversy around Gordon.

“To call you this crazy person, I mean… Really, all you’re just saying is slower, right? Maybe less numbers, and also take into account individuals. People are different. Family history, stuff like that. I don’t think this is crazy.”

Dr. Gordon discusses medicine with Bill Maher on Real Time.

The anti-vaxxer question then becomes less about whether we definitively vaccinate ourselves or not, and considers patients on an individual basis. Gordon was careful in the way he articulated himself, stating outwardly that he is merely posing questions, while providing circumstantial anecdotes along with his own professional experiences.

“Regarding a lot of conditions and diseases, there’s a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger that National Institute of Health used to have a poster you could buy that said, ‘Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.’ And they were talking about diabetes, they were talking about arthritis and a lot of other conditions. Maybe that’s true about autism. But again, I talk much more quietly because I have no proof.”

However, Maher used quite a few now-discredited medical practices to build upon his larger point: medicine is not the all-knowing entity we would like to believe it is. He then relents saying “of course vaccines work” describing them as “a great tool in the medical kit.”

Maher continues:

“Yes, they work. So do antibiotics, work. Statins work. Chemotherapy works. I’m concerned with what happens down the road.”

Gordon responds with how nothing you put into your body is free or side effects to the agreement of Maher. He furthers his argument by comparing the detrimental effects of Tylenol on the liver and Ibuprofen’s impact on the kidneys.

The idea of questioning physicians shouldn’t be taboo, according to Maher, becoming more animated as he recounts medical procedures he had undergone. For example, the time he had mercury drilled into his teeth, or when he was prescribed Accutane, which has since been pulled off the market.

By comparison of medicine, the conversation turns its sights on diet where outdated concepts of the food pyramid, fats versus sugar, Harvard professor payoffs, and the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter scandal are laid to waste.

“Vaccines like every medicine, right? — have side effects. So, let’s not deny that or pretend it doesn’t happen. So, we’re just talking about which ones, how much, how do we manage this… This is not crazy talk.”

Gordon argues that the medical field could approach vaccines much better, relating that the same polio vaccine he would take as a 180-pound man is the same given to a 12-pound baby. One size, he continues, does not fit all.

The larger point of the segment, which made Gordon’s controversial appearance arguably worthwhile, is the idea that if you stand rigidly on either side of the argument, you’re in danger of being let down.

In our recent history alone the medical field has been disproved time and again, and yet we put our faith into our doctors like priests during the Inquisition. Many scientists are under the impression that science should change, which doesn’t always jibe with sales.

This just may be one of those times when it’s best to identify as Agnostic.

Dr. Gordon on Real Time with Bill Maher.

“Everybody who writes newspaper columns and pundits on television ridicule the pharmaceutical industry. […] $311,000 medication for children for cystic fibrosis, the fact that we pay ten times more for medications than in other countries. They make fun of the pharmaceutical industry, they don’t trust the pharmaceutical industry, except for this one sacrament. And they’re — nobody’s doing honest reporting about this. And it drives me crazy.” — Dr. Jay Gordon

The World Health Organization has publicly refuted the anti-vaxxer movement, even going so far as to label it a global health risk to watch out for in 2019. The WHO reports a 30 percent rise in measles worldwide, which have not all been due to the anti-vaxxers movement; however, the disease has undergone a resurgence in several countries where it was nearly eliminated.

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