Anti-vaccine activist Jessica Biel is a case in point.
For instance, Biel teamed up with antivaccine movement leader Robert Kennedy jr. to lobby against California’s SB 276 bill, which protect children by limiting medical exemptions from vaccinations without approval from a state public health officer. Though she didn’t for a long time officially declare her position, Biel did apparently “feel that vaccination could cause complications” and has “friends who have been vaccine-injured who would be forced to leave the state” if the bill came into effect. Biel’s feelings are really not much by way of data here, insofar as those feelings contradict everything we know about vaccines and complications, and she does not have friends who have been vaccine-injured. We suspect we’ll be accused of invalidating her feelings by pointing that out.
And yes, some California lawmakers – at least legislative staffers – decided to meet with and listen to them, rather than evidence and expertise, entirely because of their celebrity status. (And others followed in their wake and provided Biel with a microphone who spew bullshit) It’s instructive that Biel, despite Kennedy’s assurances that she had done her research, was mistaken about what bill she was protesting, confusing it with the earlier SB 277. Here is a guide for legislators to make better decisions about who to listen to next time.
Of course, Biel claimed to not be antivaccine. She’s just afraid of the power of Big Pharma, which would indeed benefit greatly if people didn’t take their vaccines. Then she went on parroting antivaccine conspiracy theories about the MTHFR gene and how vaccines really aren’t effective. She also more or less admitted to going doctor-shopping to find a doctor who would validate her own choice not to vaccinate her kid – which is exactly the kind of behavior that SB 276 would curb. There is a decent and even-handed analysis of Biel’s rhetoric here. And yes, Biel actually claimed to be making “educated medical decisions”. No, really …
Biel is, as we have had ample opportunities to demonstrate, not alone. There is a 2019 list of some celebrity antivaxxers here.
As of 2022, “Jessica Biel” is apparently the “most dangerous” celebrity search name when it comes to the chances of contracting malicious software. We cannot quite help putting forth the tentative hypothesis that there could be a connection here.
Diagnosis: People are dying because of antivaxx conspiracy theories, and self-centered celebrities like antivaccine conspiracy theorist Jessica Biel are doing their worst to contribute to that death toll. That’s the score.