Are you a student looking for a great health studies course? I'd suggest steering clear of the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus. The school has recently become the laughingstock of the scientific community for a course that includes materials on the dangers of vaccines. Jenny McCarthy would be so proud.
The health course was taught by a homeopath (yes, really) named Beth Landau-Halpern who insists that vaccines are toxic and that the measles helps children grow. After the course raised eyebrows, the University conducted a review which was completed in March but only made available this week. Amazingly, they found that the course was perfectly acceptable, despite the fact that, "many of the readings in the course are from secondary sources on the internet."
Course materials included videos like Vaccine's Safety: A Crime Against Humanity, and information from the widely discredited anti-vaccine activist Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield's infamous 1998 paper claiming that vaccines cause autism was retracted in 2010, with the journal calling his actions an "elaborate fraud." Wakefield was subsequently stripped of his medical licence and barred from practicing medicine in the UK.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines are safe, the University of Toronto seems to position the issue as one that needs "balance." You just gotta hear both sides!
As the Globe and Mail reports:
The university's review, conducted by Vivek Goel, U of T's vice-president of research and innovation, stated the material was not unbalanced because students "have already seen the other side" of the vaccine debate in other courses. According to the review, Ms. Landau-Halpern told Dr. Goel that students are "able to have a discussion from all perspectives."
We can't wait to see the geology classes that teach the "other side" where the Earth is just 10,000 years old. Or the physics courses that teach the "other side" of gravity, which is just a theory after all.
Oh, and did we mention that Landau-Halpern is married to the dean of the University? I'm sure that had nothing to do with their findings. It's unclear whether Landau-Halpern will teach the course in the future, but it's amazing that a major North American university ever let her teach anything at all.
As a reminder, homeopathy is the belief that water has "memory" and that highly diluted mixtures of magical potions can cure myriad diseases. It can't.
Picture: Associated Press