It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

A while back several people sent me this awesome video from The Beaverton.

If you haven’t seen it, please enjoy. If you have, please watch it again!

It is a very on point skewering of the dangers of medical misinformation and the “natural”movement. And how society gives so-called “natural” therapies a pass. It also touches on the absurdity of getting health information from celebrities who are trying to sell you worthless junk under the guise of wellness!

The idea the industrial wellness movement or Big Wellness somehow isn’t here for your cash is fascinating. Americans spend over $30 billion/year on complementary and alternative medical practices. Very few have shown any benefit. Many actually worsen outcomes. And not one has been cleared by the FDA. That means not only are the studies sparse, but in the case of supplements you could be getting dirt, antidepressants, rice powder, or lead. Sadly, all of these have been identified in supplements.

After watching the video I was convinced someone must have made it for me.

And then I heard that Jocelyn Geddie from The Beaverton did!

Can you imagine!!!!

I have never felt so seen (or honored).

I was fortunate enough to be able to connect with the amazing and talented Ms. Geddie and ask her some questions about the video, so I thought I would share! (I’ve edited our conversation a bit because I asked her a lot and she was so gracious to answer it all).

Jen: Did you really write this with me in mind? 
Jocelyn: YES! I talked about you often in the Beaverton writing room as we pitched ideas
for the second season of the show, and especially in relation to this piece. I harboured a faint hope that you might see the video — so the fact that you actually have is pretty bananas. Just, in general, on behalf of women/also everyone, thank you for taking your time and using your knowledge to cut through the bullshit and provide sensible, accessible medical advice to all. It is sorely needed and greatly appreciated.
Jen: Can you tell me a bit about how this came to be? Was there one particular news story I was involved with that triggered it or was it just general GOOP fatigue?
Jocelyn: The Beaverton, in both its website and television incarnations, creates fake news stories to comment on real-world issues. Because some of the pieces from last season were written and produced over the summer, we needed to touch upon evergreen issues that would feel relevant and timely whenever they aired. To my enduring sadness, anti-vaccination sentiment remains VERY prevalent, so I knew it would work for the show’s timeline. (Seriously, I pitched and wrote the piece in March of 2017. The fact that it still feels relevant is good for the piece’s longevity/devastating for society as a whole). It’s such an emotional and personal issue for so many people, so I felt it’d be perfect for a cathartic release through comedy.
The exact article that kicked it off was this piece. {Jen here, that is my Jade-eggs-are worthless post”] I love your work and think it is so important: funny, accessible, empowering pieces designed to help people navigate the minefield of absolute nonsense you can find online. But as I read it, I got to thinking about what a ludicrous position doctors are currently in: to have to, in addition to managing an overwhelming workload with diminishing resources and support, try to convince people that the scientifically based methodologies they have studied for YEARS in order to safely and effectively practice on humans are safer than the snake oil being hawked by various celebrities.
Something that I think hasn’t been explored in this entire discussion is the emotional cost to doctors: how upsetting it must be to see people who are dangerously ill with something completely preventable, how frustrating it must be to swallow your annoyance and anger over trying to prove that vaccines are safe for the eleventy jillionth time when you have waiting rooms full of patients who really need to see you, how impossible it must be to try to figure out how to get people to believe… frankly, the truth. When I read that vaccination rates in Canada were on the decline, I felt this could be a great thrust for a piece.
Jen: Have you had any negative feedback?
Jocelyn: Some! Some parents have responded by saying that they’ve found the piece glib– that it undermines how scary it is for parents to receive a wealth of information telling them that vaccines are dangerous. (Some people have also responded to the piece thinking that it is real, and I’ve seen a few comments outraged that doctors would lie to their patients). I think that there is definitely always the potential in satire, or in comedy, to ruffle people’s feathers, so you have to be very clear in your intentions and focus. And while I understand people’s feelings, in this case, I really wanted to point the finger at people who have NO BUSINESS giving advice on health and wellness (cough cough GWYNETH PALTROW cough cough), and how it’s put us in a situation where people don’t feel comfortable taking a vaccine that has been studied, monitored, and safely administered for years, but DO feel comfortable taking silver colloid pills because they’ve read something vague online about what it does.
Jen: How long does it take to produce something like this?
This piece was written in March 2017 and filmed in August 2017, but all in all, I would say it took about a month of that time to actually produce. I wrote about a two-three drafts of the script before it was ready to go– then our genius, champion actors Marilla Wex and Supinder Wraich and our lovely crew nailed it on filming in August.
Jen: Can I buy you a drink next time I am in Canada?
Jocelyn: Drinks are squarely on me. I would also attend any GOOP conference with you ANY TIME, as long as we are allowed to bring beer helmets full of wine and heckle the event organizers.
So there you have it. My brush with The Beaverton!
I am hoping I can pitch Jocelyn a game show about beavers where I give a fact and she and Marilla Wex have to guess beaver or, well, beaver.
Maybe we can call it Roughing It In the Bush?
P.S. Get your flu shot. The real one. And it can’t give you the flu.

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  1. Okay. So I love that you’re calling out people for selling bullshit amulets and trinkets to rid the body of evil spirits. And I like that you draw attention to the male privilege and misogyny in our society that relegates all things female to the background. But this blind trust in medical science makes me very nervous. Science is in constant evolution and everyday we’re learning new things about the body and discarding old ideas. And I’ve been to enough quack doctors to know that some of them are snake oil salesmen too, (unnecessary medical testing, for example, over prescribing antibiotics and prescription medication in general, over diagnosis, etc.).

  2. I got influenza this September from an unvaccinated Mennonite woman who sneezed right next to me. The community here is pretty extreme and is anti-vaxx because a lot of their kids are home-schooled. I got last year’s shot, so we think it was a strain not covered by last year’s vaccine. Supposedly this year’s is better..The Mennonites supposedly don’t vote, either. Then i had secondary problems, but for the flu my case was pretty mild.

    This year’s vaccine is out of stock at my pharmacy here, too.

  3. I literally can’t get my flu shot because it’s out of stock. Like probably everywhere else, the flu season hit hard last year, and now everyone wants their shot.

  4. Back in the 1950s the boy across the street from us contracted polio just prior to the discovery of the vaccine. He spent several months in an iron lung. He was 13. Now in his 70s, he suffers from post polio syndrome and is in a power wheelchair and receives oxygen through a tracheostomy. He has been a pro-vaccine crusader all of his adult life. Too many people don’t have any understanding or appreciation for what it was like back then and how good we’ve got it now.

  5. I felt awfully tired and cold for a couple of days after this years´s flu shot but that´s a LOT better than getting influenza, or worse still: passing it on to the frail elderly folks I work with.

  6. I’m in a risk group (kidney failure) so I always make extra sure to get the flu shot and it hit me hard this year. I felt really sick, shivers, aches, everything. Still, better than the real flu.

  7. For even more success make it gluten free. And if it’s egg based make sure they are free range eggs.

    1. No, you are spreading nonsense. Only 2-5% of the US population has celiac disease–the only legitimate medical reason to restrict gluten consumption. Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is still a controversial issue. Free-range eggs offer no protection at all against diseases spread by eggs. None. They are actually more dangerous because backyard hens are exposed to raccoon roundworm, one of the most horrible diseases you will ever see, and a range of other really bad viral and bacterial risks. Sit down and stop spouting nonsense.

      1. I’m not spreading nonsense because it should be obvious that the objective wasn’t medical, but fad healthwords to make it more appealing to the idiots.

        After all, I doubt any vaccine contains gluten and since it’s not going into the digestive tract it would make no difference to a celiac anyway.

  8. Love it!!! I’m constantly fighting with ignoramous antivaxxers online as well as other people who think real medicine is somehow some kind of evil kabal. When did people get so stupid?

    1. They always were. It’s just that we see them more nowadays. The Internet allows for them to congregate in large numbers and talk each other into a frenzy. The web has made it easier for minorities for all kinds to meet and support each other and, well, one minority is the minority of stupid.

  9. Terrific post! This discussion is so important. My son was profoundly immune compromised for months following a bone marrow transplant to cure his second round of leukemia. All of his vaccinations were nullified and he couldn’t have them redone until his new immune system gained enough strength. Any infection could have been fatal and we had to hope that “herd immunity” would keep some of the worst possibilities at bay. So it saddens and infuriates me when I hear that vaccination rates are dropping because people are listening to nonsense. Thanks as always for being the voice of reason. Btw, we’re almost five years out and my boy is happy & healthy, so to use your phrase, Dr Jen – thank you, science.

    1. The same idiots who believe the fake facts about vaccines would probably also scold you for taking your child for legitimate medical treatment for his leukemia! If you had tried homeopathy or any other quack medicine they love so much, your poor son would have passed away by now. I’m so glad he’s doing well!

  10. I always get my shots. And I have little patience with those who act like something is bad just because it is “unnatural”. I say, “So is eating cooked meat…”
    You folks win the day. I read somewhile back about a guy who used homeopathic medicines and one day he forgot to take them–and died of an overdose.

  11. For all those people who are opposed to vaccinations, I strongly recommend growing up in circles where vaccinations aren’t done. My older siblings still remember my parents’ fear during the 1992 polio epidemic. It’s absolutely awful, but sometimes I think that the whole secular movement would collapse if such a thing happened. Unfortunately, the victims would be innocent children.

  12. Great post as always. This topic happens to be one of my pet peeves! That video is hilarious. There’s also a very funny YouTube video on Jimmy Kimmel‘s channel with a bunch of doctors speaking about vaccination. Check it out!

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