[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I can be counted as one of the biggest fans of Bill Maher. I used to watch his show “politically incorrect” religiously back in the day, and now I watch Real time just as assiduously.  He is a true liberal at heart, and speaks his mind without any fear of offending anyone. In fact, he relishes offending people, pissing off everyone on every end of the political spectrum. And I love him precisely for that reason. An epitome of reason and intelligence in the cesspool that is American politics. Even though I disagree with him on certain issues, his constant encouragement of drug usage for instance, and his frequent invitations to Anne Coulter, the truly despicable right wing personality to appear on his show. “You have to tolerate the minor irritations like these because of the overall nature of his show”, I tell myself. However, in the past few months, Maher has really started sliding on a slippery slope, and I am seriously beginning to question his mental faculties.

It first started with his blanket condemnation of the Muslim people all over the world. He doesn’t even try to hide his disdain for that religion, even though he, much like I, is an atheist.  I think Maher’s views about Islam are pedestrian and unsophisticated, and there can be an endless debate on what triggers middle eastern and African people to take up arms against the west in the name of God. I am not even going to go into that debate, but I want to draw attention to the fact that, some societies are intrinsically violent. There were abominable civil wars and associated genocides in Africa over the past fifty years, and the west never bothered to attribute that violence to a religion. It was always sectarian and tribal ( both sides in those wars were usually Christian) but all of a sudden, when the Muslims started getting in on the action, it became a religious problem. Far be it for me to defend a religion, but the fact remains that gun violence in America kills more people in one year, than all of westerners killed by terrorists in all these years. At the moment, it is true that all major terrorist violence is perpetrated by muslims, but it is also true that not all Muslims are terrorists, and its important for civilised societies to make that distinction.

Now, my real reason for disliking Maher is because of his constant non-sense about vaccines. Somehow, he bought into this bullshit propagated by some Hollywood dummies, and some elements of certain religious groups, and some really stupid smart people ( No, it wasn’t a typo). Maher thinks, vaccines are not really helpful, and its just a flight of fancy to think that they are helping us. He also said that there hasn’t been any evidence of vaccines eliminating diseases anywhere in the world. He conveniently forgets that the third world has gotten rid of deadly debilitating diseases like the polio, whooping cough, and measles in the span of a few decades. So effective are these vaccines, that almost everyone in the developing and the poor countries vaccinate their children, and that includes even children in the tribal areas of Afghanistan where the children may not get even primary education, but their parents get them immunized at least. When those words came out of his mouth on a recent edition of real time, my jaw dropped. Surely, he can’t be really thinking that, but apparently he does. He cites the example of flu vaccine, which  by doctors own admission is only about 30% effective. So Maher thinks its useless. Influenza is a particularly tricky disease to vaccinate against as the virus has a very short genetic mutation cycle, and the strains of flu change from year to year. So, the scientists make an educated guess as to what the next years strain will be and prepare vaccines for it. So, yes, it is not 100 percent, but 30% is still better than 0%.  I know how hard Bill and Melinda gates are trying to provide immunisations to the children of the third world, and knowing Bill Gates management style,  I guarantee Maher would be slapped hard by Gates if they find themselves in a room together.

Maher also rants about the medical profession that Steven Hawking is still in a wheel chair with ALS. Somehow its the fault of the medical community that the disease hasn’t been cured. Anyone with an iota of medical knowledge will claim that the fact that Mr Hawking is still alive as a testament to the wonders of modern medicine. Most people born with ALS don’t live to see their 30s, and yet, Hawking’s medical team has pulled off a miracle. Maher, in his trademark arrogance and new found ignorance, tries to rubbish those very people. Yes, it hasn’t been cured yet, just like Cancer, and other deadly diseases, but that’s the battle of entire mankind against nature. We are better than we were 100 years ago, and our future generations will be better than us.  I really wish Dr.Richard Dawkins were a guest on the day he spewed these opinions, for he would have corrected Maher and given him a dressing down, much like he did to ignorant blowhards on various occasions.

Knowing the circle he keeps, I am pretty sure Maher was admonished by people like Dawkins, because putting doubts in people’s minds about vaccinations is the most dangerous thing to do at the moment. It threatens to undo the decades of hard work put in by countries around the globe, those who look to the US for leadership in this area. Maher will be doing the world a disservice by siding against science and buying into the anti-vaxer bullshit.

I suspect all the pot he smoked over the years is finally showing its effect. It is one thing to have a healthy skepticism of things, but to start an argument about immunizations which has been done and dusted decades ago, and has been comprehensively proven to work, is an indication of failing mental faculties. I’ve stopped watching his show, and refuse to go back to it until he makes amends and corrects his position. No amount of Dawkins and Sam Harris’s appearances will convince me to change my mind until Maher himself admits his lack of understanding and puts his weight behind the vaccination programs both within the US and around the world.

 

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