Bill Maher

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Bill Maher : biography

January 20, 1956 –

On August 24, 2009, Maher was a guest on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. On the topic of getting health care reform legislation passed, Maher stated that Obama should forget about trying to get 60 votes for it, "he only needs 51." "Forget getting the sixty votes or sixty percent — sixty percent of people don’t believe in evolution in this country — he just needs to drag them to it, like I said, they’re stupid; get health care done, with or without them."

Maher has expressed the view that most illness is generally the result of poor diet and lack of exercise, and that medicine is often not the best way of addressing illness. In an episode of his show about the 2008 presidential candidates’ health plans, Maher stated that poor nutrition is a primary cause of illness, and that "the answer isn’t another pill."Real Time with Bill Maher; September 28, 2007; HBO He also has said:" If you believe you need to take all the pills the pharmaceutical industry says you do, then you’re already on drugs!"

He has expressed his distaste for the pharmaceutical and health care industries in general, on the grounds that they make their money out of curing people who are made sick by consuming unhealthy food that corporations urge upon the public. He maintains that mass consumption of high-fructose corn syrup is a contributor to the rise in frequency of obesity in the United States.; CNN; September 13, 2004

In a discussion with Michael Moore about the film Sicko, Maher said, "The human body is pretty amazing; it doesn’t get sick, usually, for no reason. I mean, there’s some genetic stuff that can get to you, but, basically, people are sick in this country because they’re poisoned. The environment is a poisoning factor, but also, we gotta say, they poison themselves. They eat shit. People eat shit, and that’s, to my way of thinking, about 90 percent of why people are sick, is because they eat shit."; Kerry Trueman, The Huffington Post; May 30, 2007

On October 9, 2009, on his HBO show, Maher debated the effectiveness of flu vaccinations with Bill Frist and stated, "Why would you let them be the ones to stick a disease into your arm? I would never get a swine flu vaccine or any vaccine. I don’t trust the government, especially with my health." Maher also expressed skepticism about the seriousness of the swine flu and whether completely healthy people could die from it.

Maher’s comments on medicine have generated criticism from the medical and skeptic communities, and his remarks have been called unscientific and even harmful. Infectious diseases expert Paul Offit has written that misinformation about vaccines from celebrities like Maher have put children at unnecessary risk. Offit notes that celebrities like Maher are seen as "less credible" and would still be considered just "great entertainment" if they weren’t joined by the former Director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Bernadine Healy and influential pediatrician, Dr. Robert Sears. Oncologist, David Gorski has also criticized Maher’s beliefs about vaccines several times in ScienceBlogs, and when Maher received the Richard Dawkins Award in 2009, Gorski wrote it was inappropriate. Skeptics, including mathematician and science writer Martin Gardner, neurologist Steven Novella, and magician Jamy Ian Swiss have also strongly rebuked Maher, characterizing him as anti-science, uninformed and potentially endangering the health of fans who take his "non-medical" advice.

Maher responded to the criticism, saying, "What I’ve read about what they think I’m saying is not what I’ve said. I’m not a germ theory denier. I believe vaccinations can work. Polio is a good example. Do I think in certain situations that inoculating Third World children against malaria or diphtheria, or whatever, is right? Of course. In a situation like that, the benefits outweigh costs. But to me living in Los Angeles? To get a flu shot? No."Slotek, Jim (October 28, 2009). . Winnipeg Sun.