- Anything Passes for Evidence in Homeopathy These Days
- Dear Homeopathy, Can You Riddle Me This?
- The Faculty of Homeopathy “Answers the Critics”. Scientific basis of homeopathy?
- Tong Ren – Acu-Voodoo.
- Paraskavedekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday 13th. Are people right to fear today?
- More PR Blunder For Team Barnett – Just Hide Under The Duvet, It Will Eventually Blow Over.
- Jeni Barnett, LBC, Stephen Fry, MMR Vaccination – Can We Milk This?
- The Jeni Barnett MMR Fiasco Goes Mainstream – We Have Fry On Our Side.
- Jeni Barnett Has Removed All Comments To Her Blogposts Concerning The MMR Drivel And The Aftermath.
- The MMR and Autism Link Should Be Binned For Good Now.
A couple of pro-homeopathy blogs, as well as several homeopathy resource websites which I follow have hailed a publication by Dr Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Laureate which allegedly proves homeopathic remedies are active. The paper in question is here (PDF). Dr Montagnier was credited with co-discovering the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Big name attached to homeopathy again, like Professor Magdalene Ennis. I have already discussed her 2004 publication with regards to the effects of homeopathic dilutions of histamine on basophils previously. The abstract of the Montagnier _et al_ paper describes a new property of DNA, whereby _high aqueous dilutions_ of some bacterial DNA sequences can induce electromagnetic (EM) waves. It is not my intention in this article to criticise this particular publication. In fact, I found it quite interesting. I will not attempt to give technical opinions on this paper regarding methodology, since I do not have much background in EM waves. I hope physicists who happen to stumble across this article can give a more balanced opinion on the methodology involved. However, one point which has to be made is that the paper is published in Interdisciplinary Sciences: Computational Life Sciences, a non-peer reviewed journal. The findings of such articles have to be taken with caution. Another point about the article is that it appears to be a preliminary study. Results were simply reported as either "positive" or "negative" with no attempts at quantification or statistical verification. The main finding of the paper was that bacterial DNA sequences diluted to between 10-5M to 10-18M give off specific EM waves at a different frequency which would be expected of background "noise". At higher dilutions, nothing above background was recorded. May I point out that at 10-18M there is still DNA left? It is by no means homeopathic. In fact the authors acknowledge that at higher dilutions, the EM signals were indistinguishable from background. The findings of the paper raises interesting questions about the properties of specific DNA sequences, and is certainly an area worth pursuing. However, it is not a paper that bears any relation to homeopathy. It seems like any paper with the phase _high aqueous dilutions_ written anywhere will pass off as evidence that homeopathy works these days. Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties! Arrrrrrr.
In light of classic physiology and pharmacology, we know the action of endogenous or exogenous ligands is via interactions with a specific type (or types) of receptor. The receptor then changes shape and illicit a predictable functional effect. The extent of this effect typically depends on the concentration of the ligand. Homeopathic remedies are substances diluted well beyond the Avogadro's constant, and as such can reasonably be expected to contain no active ligand. The basis of homeopathy assumes that the solvent in which the original ligand was diluted in retains some sort of memory of the original ligand, and as such, the more times the dilution is performed, this memory is strengthened. That is, this memory is transferrable between solvents during the process of succussion or violent shaking. As a result, homeopathic remedies claim to have a larger effect the more times it is diluted or succussed. However, this claim has not yet been demonstrated in rigorous scientific studies. Another problem which has not been reasonably addressed is the fate of these solvents once it enters the human body, which is a vast aqueous environment. Under normal circumstances, i.e., when "normal" or non homeopathic solvents (such as water) are ingested, it would be expected that the solvent molecules diffuses and become homogenous with the body's aqueous environment. In other words, these water molecules are indistinguishable with other water molecules in the body. The memory of the solvent in homeopathic remedies is believed to be due to specific interactions between two or more solvent molecules. I therefore have several questions: *
Do the solvent in homeopathic remedies not conform to the laws of diffusion? That is, do they retain their interactions with neighbouring solvent molecules after they enter the body?* If they don't, there is no reasonable mechanism of action, regardless of whether dilution and violent shaking can confer "memory". *
If the memory of solvents is indeed transferrable by shaking, would this memory then be transferred to the aqueous environment in the body, given the turbulent flow of blood in some areas?* If they do, would homeopathic remedies not essentially act as vaccines – the patient would not get ill with the same ailment ever again? * Would the taking in of more water during, say drinking, "potentise" the effects? If so, homeopathic remedies should be self sustaining in the body. There is no need for repeated dosage. I believe these are important considerations if supporters of homeopathy want to be taken seriously.
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of debates about the effectiveness of homeopathy. The tired arguments of quoting poorly conducted clinical trials, cherry picking data and downright baseless statements have culminated in the Faculty of Homeopathy (FoH) to release a statement yesterday titled "We Answer the Critics" (PDF here). You would think there will be some meat in this 5-page document. The first two points deals with clinical effectiveness and whether homeopathy is beyond the placebo effect. There has already been a lot of discussion as to the lack of positive data regarding homeopathy in clinical trials. It is not my aim here to discuss clinical trial data for one simple reason: There is no scientific basis for homeopathy and without this, in my view, I don't think homeopathic remedies should even be tested in a clinical setting. Clinical trials that allegedly favour homeopathy, has already been debunked elsewhere. It is considered unethical in some cases to use a placebo in some randomised clinical trials, because there should not be a group of patients who are denied treatment, particularly when they are selected because they carry a certain disease. Without basic scientific proof that homeopathic remedies exert any biological effect, they are in fact water, ergo, placebo. Therefore, I have always been bewildered at the number of clinical trials conducted with homeopathic remedies, when the scientific basis is non-existent. The process of drug testing has always involved basic science research into the mechanisms, targets, efficacy, and dose response relationship. This means, we know the cell type(s) and receptor(s) with which the drug interacts with, as well as the functional effects that this drug produces on the cell, then the system, and finally the whole organism. We also know how much drug would produce a given level of effect (dose-response). We also know the amount of drug which may be fatal. Homeopathic remedies seem to bypass all these basic science research and head straight for clinical trials. Which brings me to the third point in the FoH statement: That there is a scientific basis for homeopathy. I am interested in basic science, so this will be the focus of my rant. THE SO-CALLED SCIENCE Before I start, a quick recap of the "science" behind homeopathy. The basis of homeopathic remedies lies with 2 key points which flies in the face of all science: * The dilution of a substance beyond Avogadro's constant retains its biological effects. * The more dilute, the more effect. Point #2 needs more clarification. A substance diluted to the point where no molecule remains could not be diluted further. It is plain water (or solvent). Subsequent dilutions result in _hypothetical concentrations_. Since the experiments of Jacques Benveniste and the Nature fiasco in 1988, many attempts to replicate Benveniste's original findings or the effects of ultra-dilute solutions have failed [1, 2]. Belon _et al_  found something though, and this is one of the papers the FoH cited in their statement. Homeopathic concentrations of histamine (<10-30 M) significantly inhibited anti-IgE mediated activation of basophils. Bit of quick background: Addition of anti-IgE activates basophils. The cells then release histamine as part of the allergic response. Activated cells can be stained blue by Alcian Blue, which acts as a marker for activation. The histamine released acts on specific receptors on the basophils to stop activation. This is called a negative feedback process. So theoretically, if we add anti-IgE together with histamine, we should get lesser activation than just anti-IgE alone. In fact, we already know that. The difference here is they are testing ultra-diluted histamine – also known as - no histamine. Second bit of background. Histamine concentrations of <10-30 M are exactly what I mentioned above. They are hypothetical concentrations. Nothing is left but water by this point. In fact, at dilutions beyond 10-23 M, we are already entering the realms of there being one single molecule of histamine left. THE BELON _ET AL_ EXPERIMENTAL SETUP The Belon et al study was done at 4 separate locations, France, Netherlands, UK and Italy. Basophils were purified from human blood (with all the ethical clearance). They took the basophils and separated them into two groups, one would have 3 concentrations of anti-IgE (1 µg/ml, 0.2 µg/ml, and 0.04 µg/ml) tested with water diluted to different hypothetical concentrations (from 10-30 M to 10-38 M). So these lot are the controls. The second group would have the same 3 concentrations of anti-IgE with histamine diluted to the same hypothetical concentrations. So to visualise the different experiments performed, the two sets of experiments could be grouped into a table like this:
CONCENTRATION OF ANTI-IGE
CONCENTRATION OF WATER
CONCENTRATION OF HISTAMINE
Table 1 So the water column acts as controls, and the histamine column is the test. Arranging the data like this means that they are also testing increasingly dilute histamine at various anti-IgE concentrations. It is good, I'd love to see some "reverse dose response". I didn't. Shame. BOTCHED CONTROLS First up, simple science. If the experiments were set up correctly, we would expect that in the control group, nothing would happen in increasingly dilute water. But, we would expect that in varying concentrations of anti-IgE, there would be a dose dependent effect. That means there would be more activation of basophils at 1 µg/ml, lesser at 0.2 µg/ml, and least in 0.04 µg/ml. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE. From the data in 3 out of 4 labs, there were clearly no changes in activation between the different anti-IgE groups _IN CONTROL CONDITIONS_. To me, that means that the controls were already botched. The basophils were not responding in a predictable, physiological manner. Dodgy cells, or dodgy anti-IgE preparation, I don't care which. This was not a rigorous experiment as the authors claim. To be fair, this paper is already not worthwhile pursuing. Actually, the journal itself has lost a lot of credibility, since their peer review process didn't even pick up something this obvious. But lets plough on with another point, because in one of the labs, there was the expected dose dependency in controls. Before I even get into what they actually found, there was another strange occurrence. MOVING THE GOAL POSTS They clearly went through the trouble to test _increasingly dilute_ water and histamine by knocking up 5 different concentrations of the stuff. But they presented and analysed their data by lumping together all 5 different concentrations as one – called "+histamine". So the groups now look like this:
CONCENTRATION OF ANTI-IGE (µG/ML)
[% activation values]
[% activation values]
[% activation values]
Table 2 Suddenly much simpler eh? You assume differences with varying concentrations of histamine, then put them together as one variable? Are they retrospectively assuming that "Ah there is nothing in them anyway, just lump them together"? You cannot do that. Still, putting this aside, only the lowest concentration of anti-IgE tested showed what you would expect of histamine, a significant reduction in activation. And this was only by around 12%. At the highest concentrations of anti-IgE, there was actually a _significant increase_ in activation. The complete opposite to what you would expect. Of course, in the discussion, the authors just glossed over this. MISSING DATA Looking at some of the raw data revealed an issue which may explain why different dilutions were lumped together to be analysed, and also the significant reduction in activation at 0.04 µg/ml anti-IgE. The authors stated in the paper that some 30% of data points were discarded because of either "lost" data, or "censored" data, where the basophils did not respond to anti-IgE treatment. This is hardly surprising, considering the gaping problem with their control data. But missing and/ or discarded data is not uncommon, so long as there is a good justification for it. Within the raw data, the only times where ultra-diluted histamine seemed to have an effect was when the N number was exceptionally low, i.e. very few measurements were recorded. At some dilutions, only 3 or 6 repeats were available, where the rest of the groups were composed of between 15 to 40 measurements. Incidentally, the low number of repeats were where the dilutions had a large effect. So when the different dilutions were averaged together, erroneously, a significant effect is not too surprising. And even then, the difference was only small. The rest of the paper shows some anomalous effects here and there, with no correlations to anything. Given the controls were not adequate, this is hardly surprising. One graph showed that the effect of histamine at 10-10 M is similar to that at 10-40 M. At 10-10 M, there is still histamine in the solutions. If anything this graph clearly shows that the more dilute a substance, there is no more effect. Something to bear in mind considering homeopathic remedies get more expensive as they get more dilute. It bewilders me that the authors described the data as "highly significant". It is highly significant if the controls were done right. WHEN THE METHOD IS RIGOROUS, WE SEE SOMETHING DIFFERENT The same experiments were performed in 2005 (a year on) by a second group in Switzerland . The conclusion:
We were not able to confirm the previously reported large effects of homeopathic histamine dilutions on basophil function of the examined donor. Seemingly, minor variables of the experimental set up can lead to significant differences of the results if not properly controlled.The Belon _et al_ study showed nothing. There is still no scientific basis for homeopathic remedies. _I maintain my view that with no physiological basis that the remedies have any biological effect, it is unethical to test them on patients in clinical trials._ Now back to writing my thesis… REFERENCES 1. Hirst, S.J., et al., _Human basophil degranulation is not triggered by very dilute antiserum against human IgE._ Nature, 1993. 366(6455): p. 525-7. 2. Ovelgonne, J.H., et al., _Mechanical agitation of very dilute antiserum against IgE has no effect on basophil staining properties._ Experientia, 1992. 48(5): p. 504-8. 3. Belon, P., et al., _Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation._ Inflamm Res, 2004. 53(5): p. 181-8. 4. Guggisberg, A.G., et al., _Replication study concerning the effects of homeopathic dilutions of histamine on human basophil degranulation in vitro._ Complement Ther Med, 2005. 13(2): p. 91-100.
You can't make this stuff up. As though the world is not filled with enough quackery and woo, we now have a "hybrid-woo". Let's start with this Fox News report. (Warning: Contains stupid. DBH will not be responsible for any loss of intelligence caused by watching this clip.) The website Tong Ren World (no link provided here – I refuse to contribute to it's google ranking) has this description:
Developed by Tom Tam, and an integral part of the Tom Tam Healing System, Tong Ren is a form of energy therapy for restoring health and vitality. Tong Ren is based on a belief that disease is related to interruptions, or blockages, in the body's natural flow of chi, neural bioelectricity, blood, or hormones. Tong Ren seeks to remove these blockages, restoring the body's natural ability to heal itself, even when illnesses are chronic, debilitating, or otherwise untreatable.
Tong Ren combines western knowledge of anatomy and physiology with the ancient principle of "chi," or life force energy, to create what many consider to be a powerful new healing modality. Drawing on the Jungian theory of the "collective unconscious," Tong Ren is believed to access energy from this universal source and direct it to the patient. Because no physical contact is involved or necessary, Tong Ren is often practiced as distance healing.So there you have it. Acupuncture points, a doll and a hammer. Bang specific acupuncture points on the doll and healing energy will be emitted which can cure anything from end stage cancer to AIDS. This is a combination of acupuncture and voodoo. The usual canards are there: interruptions and blockages of chi, ancient principles, the ability to treat the untreatable, lack of side effects. But there's more. No physical contact necessary and most often done as distance healing. Well the commercial potential of this thing is endless! And the distance healing part has not gone unexploited. Mr Tam has set up a website for conference calls! The site is imaginatively named Tong Ren To Go. Calls are not free, of course. And here is the kicker, it is a modality of healing whereby the more people joins and practices, the bigger it's healing effect.
The greater number of people who practice Tong Ren, and the frequency with which each person uses it, increases its strength as a tool for healing.The key point I want to bring up here is not the "the more the better" part, it's the participation bit. As it turns out, anyone can sign up to "guinea pig" (the name for these Tong Ren classes. Touche!) classes and become a healer. Of course, you need to buy the kit first. There is a dedicated website called Tong Ren Shop. The doll comes at USD 35.00, the hammer at USD 35.00. Then there's the "TENS machine", such that an electrical pulse can be applied to specific acupuncture points for more effective healing. That comes in at a whopping USD 85.00. It is not over though, as there is more, and this one takes the cake for me – a laser (USD 30.00). This is what they say the laser does:
We aim the laser at specific points on the Tong Ren to allow the mind to focus on gathering energy into these areas. In general, the laser is used for tonification while the hammer is used to remove physical and energetic blockages.As I was typing this, Microsoft Word flagged the word "tonification" because it is not in the dictionary. Well I am not surprised. It is a made up word, another characteristic of quackery – the use of jargons which makes no scientific sense. In fact, typing the word "tonification" into google returns a barrage of woo. As it turns out, it is a buzz word in acupuncture. One last nail in the coffin for classing this as quackery (as if that was ever in any doubt) is the evidence. For the quack experts out there, this is dead simple. It's success (using this word very loosely) has been measured solely by anecdotes. All Tong Ren websites are littered with "testimonials" of how it has improved, or in many cases, even cured diseases where conventional medicine was stumped. Most of these people have had conventional treatment for, say, cancer. These treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) are not pleasant and takes a while to work. During these times, patients get fed up, upset and seek alternatives. They have woo practiced on them and around the same time, they experience improvements (because of the conventional treatments). The credit then goes to woo. The woo-practitioners then chalk this anecdote as n+1 data point that the technique works. And Tom Tam himself actually admits there is no evidence, from his website:
For any healing system, there has to be a supporting theory, no matter where the theory comes from or whether it makes sense. The theory of the collective unconscious is the basis for Tong Ren Therapy. Without proof all theories are merely conjecture. Proof may be found in research or empirical data. Tong Ren has not been proven by any expert research. This type of research involves financial support, political support, development of modern science, and case studies by a qualified practitioner. The proof for all of my theories is only through the experience and results of my patients and myself. Of course I have no doubt that Tong Ren Therapy works. No one can deny the work we have done or the results we have achieved or argue about it."Collective unconscious" is continuously being floated as the basis of Tong Ren. What does Mr Tam think it is?
My belief in Tong Ren healing is associated with the philosophy of the collective unconscious and the power of the mind. Many people accept the idea that there is an unconscious and that the mind is powerful. These philosophical views can be found in many books. When a group comes together to form a collective unconscious, as in healing meditation, this collective mind can become healing power. A leader is required for this type of healing power. When we form a group with a collective unconscious mind, we need a, just as a computer needs a font to show a letter on a monitor.Collective unconscious is a term coined by Carl Jung. It is a metaphysical notion not testable empirically. It is therefore pseudoscience. It is not surprising therefore that a quackery which is based on pseudoscience, is itself too, pseudoscience. The hammering of a doll with a magnetic hammer to emit healing energy is as un-scientific as the statement "amethysts emit high yin energy", and therefore cannot be taken seriously. It carries the usual danger of woo - It detracts patients from vital diagnosis and treatment from conventional medicine. In other words, it is wasting the time some patients just simply don't have. There is one piece of publication on Tong Ren which concluded:
This first study documenting self-reported effects of TR shows subjective benefits and no adverse effects. Further research on this approach is warranted.The "investigation" sent out questionnaires to participants of the guinea pig classes. They asked people who already believe in Tong Ren to answer questions about the effectiveness and safety of Tong Ren? They published a paper by collecting anecdotes! It begs the question – What is the point of this study? Nevertheless, I do have a message for Tom Tam, the "creator" of Tong Ren – Two wrongs do not make a right. And the woo-fusion does not stop there. There is a new one – applying Tong Ren to Astrology! I'll close with this report in the "Tong Ren International Times":
Tong Ren and Astrology By SHARON MULLEN I have been an astrologer for 20 years, and I have studied with Tom Tam for about the same length of time. While I have long noted correlations between astrology and Tom's methods, it is only in the last year, that I have begun to actually combine the two together. Astrology, basically, is the study of the connections between the objects of the cosmos, especially including human beings and the celestial bodies of our solar system. Nearly every ancient culture, apparently independently, observed the relationships between events on Earth and the movements of the celestial objects. Perhaps the most obvious example involves the tides of the oceans, which are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. The tides at the new moon are the highest, followed by those at the full moon. The lowest tides occur at the quarter moons. As our own Tom Tam has observed, modern physics has proven that all objects in the universe are interconnected. If the position of the sun and moon change, which they, of course, do every day, the earth and all on earth also change. At a person's birth, the planetary energies which exist at the time and place of birth connect with the person's own energy and become part of the person's mind and body. It is not clear exactly how the energies come into the person. It has been suggested, however, that they enter the body through the acupuncture points. In the ancient world, astronomy and astrology were linked, and considered parts of the same study. Ancient astronomers, who observed the motions of the heavenly bodies, always included information about the likely affects of planetary positions on human lives. The most refined form of astrology was developed in areas which are all now in modern-day Iraq (Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Babylon). Astrologers use charts to depict the planetary positions for a particular time and place. The birth, or natal, chart is for the time and place of a person's birth. Not unlike Chinese writing, glyphs are used to represent the planets and other astrological information. All the planets revolve in a counterclockwise manner around the sun, within a band of energy called the zodiac. The zodiac is divided into 12 sections, known as signs. The moon revolves around the earth, also traveling through this zodiac. The sun does not actually move around the zodiac, but it appears to do so, because of the motion of the earth itself around the sun. Because the planets are moving at different rates of speed, their relationships to each other change. (Mars, for example takes about 2 Earth years to go around the sun. Jupiter takes about 12.) As they revolve around the sun, the planets come into different positions relative to each other. These planetary positions are known as 'aspects'. Some planetary aspects are stressful, difficult. To me, these aspects are very similar to the blockages we speak of in Tong Ren. Just as bioelectricity is blocked, so can the 'cosmic energy' be 'blocked'. (Most astrologers do not actually use these terms, but they seem to fit, nonetheless.) Generally, when two planets are on opposite sides of the zodiacal band from each other, or at right angles to each other, these aspects are difficult. Often, there are difficult aspects within the natal chart. Much of astrology concerns itself with aspects in the natal chart, or between the charts of individuals, which may also present difficulties. Astrology also studies 'transits', or planetary positions which occur after the birth (or event) being studied. While the planetary positions in the natal chart will remain the same, the physical planets keep moving, or transiting. As transiting planets make difficult aspects with planets in the natal chart, stressful energies result. I should note that astrology is not deterministic, as is sometimes supposed. Certain outcomes are not pre-determined from planetary aspects. We can predict areas and times of stress quite precisely, but we cannot absolutely predict the outcome. Most people, at least in our society, have some choice as to how to handle their aspects. Interestingly, the same difficult aspect in a chart may manifest in completely opposite ways. For example, a person with his/her Sun at a ninety degree angle from Saturn at birth may be either a bully or one who is bullied. This is because the Sun represents the self and Saturn represents authority figures. While we may be able to guess from other aspects in the chart which type of behavior is likely to manifest, we cannot really know for sure. This is like the Tong Ren concept that a blockage along the C-6 and C-7 areas could cause either hypothyroidism, or hyperthyroidism, either over-activity or under- activity. I began my own 'guinea pig'-like experiment last year. I have now incorporated astrology with Tong Ren when working with dozens of people. After identifying the astrological difficulty, the planetary blockage, if you will, I tap along the glyphs for the planets involved with the Tong Ren hammer and then tap the doll (usually at least at the Liver 3, Kidney 1 points, to ground the energies). Everyone I have worked on has reported a deep level of release when the chart is incorporated with the Tong Ren treatment. Sometimes, the results have been very striking, with symptoms resolving more quickly. For instance, in one case, persistent pain levels improved with use of the incorporation of astrology and Tong Ren. In other cases, persistent depression was helped. In an MS case, one symptom which just would not resolve did indeed resolve, when astrology was incorporated. Astrology is a complicated study, but basic information about the planets and their relationships is not too difficult to learn, especially if a person concentrates only on his own chart to start with. Hopefully, this guinea pig experiment will expand, with more people trying out the combination of Tong Ren and astrology.An un-holy trinity of woo! My head hurts!
Superstitious people up and down the country and all over the world are staying indoors today. Why? Because today is Friday and the thirteenth day of the month. A special day for the superstitious, because today… is… Black Friday. *Cue thunder and lightning* But is there really something happening when the 13th day of the month falls on a Friday? As it turns out, I was not the only person to have asked this question. A quick search on PubMed with the keywords "Friday 13th or Friday 13″ came up with 11 relevant results. These are what some of the studies concluded. Scanlon _et al_  concluded the following after comparing driving and shopping patterns with accidents on Friday 13th and Friday 6th:
Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended.Nayha  looked at daily deaths (by age and sex) in Finland from 1971 – 1997, and obtained risk ratios for deaths on Friday 13th versus other Fridays and concluded that women are generally at risk.
Friday the 13th may be a dangerous day for women, largely because of anxiety from superstition. The risk of traffic deaths on this date could be reduced by one-third, although the absolute gain would remain very small: only one death per 5 million person-days.Could it really be Finnish women are causing more accidents on Friday 13th? Radun _et al_  published this paper in the same year:
Females do not have more injury road accidents on Friday the 13thThey looked at road accidents from 1989 to 2002 on Friday 13th and compared these to the preceding Friday (6th) and following Friday (20th). Specifically they also looked at the male/ female responsibility for the accidents and concluded:
There is no consistent evidence for females having more road traffic crashes on Fridays the 13th, based on deaths or road accident statistics. However, this does not imply a non-existent effect of superstition related anxiety on accident risk as no exposure-to-risk data are available. People who are anxious of "Black Friday" may stay home, or at least avoid driving a car.So the key message from these publications were - stay at home on Friday 13th. I didn't follow this rule today and ventured outdoors. It was a mistake – I left my phone at home. Disaster. But it all doesn't matter. Because in 17 years time, we will all be screwed anyway. Apparently, the population of Earth would approach infinity  on _Friday 13th_ November 2026. References: 1. Scanlon, T.J., et al., _Is Friday the 13th bad for your health?_ BMJ, 1993. 307(6919): p. 1584-6. 2. Nayha, S., _Traffic deaths and superstition on Friday the 13th._ Am J Psychiatry, 2002. 159(12): p. 2110-1. 3. Radun, I. and H. Summala, _Females do not have more injury road accidents on Friday the 13th._ BMC Public Health, 2004. 4: p. 54. 4. Von Foerster, H., P.M. Mora, and L.W. Amiot, _Doomsday: Friday, 13 November, A.D. 2026. At this date human population will approach infinity if it grows as it has grown in the last two millenia._ Science, 1960. 132: p. 1291-5.
First up, it appears Ben Goldacre has received a letter from the LBC lot regarding some personal and abusive emails that Jeni Barnett has received. As Ben Goldacre puts it, don't send personal and abusive emails to Jeni Barnett. It would not help. It portrays us as a bunch of thugs. We're not. We are rational people with common sense. I will take this opportunity to unreservedly condemn those who felt it was necessary to send personal and abusive emails to Ms Barnett. However, given how this whole matter has been handled by both Ms Barnett and the LBC, I am not all too surprised as to the level of outrage this has caused. Here's more. In an article in journalism.co.uk, Robert Common, Ms Barnett's agent, provided an explanation was given as to why the blogposts and comments on Jeni Barnett's website have been taken down:
"[The comments] do not address the debate about the use of MMR and that is the reason for taking the comments off Jeni's website," Common said.Oh hell no! Did they think that the comments were really deleted from human records for good? As the saying goes, "The internet never forgets". The Quackometer and Quixotic Quisling as well as myself have the deleted blogposts and their associated comments. The statement that the comments "do not address the debate about the use of MMR…" is so far from the truth. My rendition of "the truth" would go something like this if I were Ms Barnett's agent: _"The truth hurts and that is the reason for taking the comments off Jeni's website"_. Nevertheless, as I mentioned yesterday, I don't believe hounding Jeni Barnett would do much good. If anything, it will eventually earn her a lot of sympathy votes from neutrals. She said something stupid, we called her on it, made a big deal out of it (it _is _a big deal, mind) but now is the time to let her go and turn the momentum this fiasco has generated into something which will actually make a difference, such as some activism as Ben Goldacre mentioned. The measles situation is not going away on its own. We should use this Barnett/ LBC fiasco as an example of irresponsible media reporting of healthcare issues. One such thing to do is to drum up some support for this Early Day Motion, tabled by Norman Lamb, shadow health secretary of the Liberal Democrats, which deals with this issue:
That this House expresses its support for the use of the combined MMR vaccine; notes with concern the re-emergence of measles and the loss of life and long-term health problems which will afflict children as a result of the decline in the vaccination rate which followed Dr Andrew Wakefield's now discredited research paper suggesting a link between MMR vaccine and autism; expresses its disappointment that ill-informed comments by presenters such as Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show will continue to cause unfounded anxieties for many parents and are likely to result in some parents choosing not to vaccinate their children; recognises the right of Jeni Barnett as a parent to make her own judgement about vaccinations for her own children but implores her and others in the media to act more responsibly when making comments in the public domain; and further expresses its hope that in the future reporting the issue of MMR will be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.The number of this EDM is 754. Please get your local MP to sign it. You can easily do so my sending your local MP an email via this website. I have sent the following message to my local MP, Gavin Strang:
Dear Gavin Strang,
Measles have become endemic within the UK once more and this is due to the low uptake of the MMR vaccine. The uptake of the vaccine is less than 80%, which means we have lost herd immunity for this disease, thereby putting the health of children at risk. The low uptake can be blamed on the MMR scare, which links the vaccine to autism. The original studies publicising these links have been widely discredited.
The overwhelming scientific evidence is that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Jeni Barnett, a radio show host on LBC 97.3, has recently broadcasted a show voicing her opinionated and ill-informed views against the MMR vaccine. Her show has a wide reach and for parents who have been undecided as to the safety of the MMR vaccine, Ms Barnett's irresponsible (as well as factually incorrect) comments might well have tipped the balance against having their children vaccinated, thus contributing to the poor uptake rate of the vaccine.
Dr Ben Goldacre, a guardian columnist and junior NHS doctor, posted the offending clip on his website such that Ms Barnett's irresponsible comments could be more appropriately discussed. LBC has since flexed their legal muscle, threatening Dr Goldacre with legal action if he did not remove the clip. He has since complied with their demands. It is clear that LBC did not want the factually wrong content of one of their show to be discussed.
Ms Barnett's irresponsible comments as well as LBC's actions on Dr Goldacre have been widely discussed and condemned, such as by David Aaronovitch of the Times newspaper as well as Stephen Fry. Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrats shadow Health Secretary has tabled a Early Day Motion (EDM 754) imploring Ms Barnett's irresponsible broadcasting. I urge you to sign this EDM as it is important that a stop is put to irresponsible broadcasting in the media, particularly where public health is concerned.
Thank you very much for your time and if you require more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely,Support this EDM! And please, channel your outbursts in a civilised manner. The media is great for spinning over-enthusiasm into thuggery. Let's not give them an opportunity to turn the tables around on us.
The flurry of activity in the bad science blogosphere in the past few days, coupled with the overwhelming support for Dr Ben Goldacre, from bloggers, mainstream newspapers, as well as celebrity in the form of Stephen Fry, against the legal garbage LBC has thrown at him was nothing short of amazing. It goes to show that even with mighty legal muscle, you can't cover up bollocks from ignorant fools. The pressure built up in the blogosphere these few days has led Jeni Barnett to buckle under the pressure and subsequently delete all offending posts (along with their comments) from her blog. Big mistake and I am sure the eggs will be dripping for a long time to come. So what now? What is the next step from here? This whole fiasco has kicked up a little bit of a storm that it may well be wrong to not milk it for all it's worth. I have come across chatter in some forums that we should continue to hound Jeni Barnett and her whole series of cock-ups (ignorant and ill-informed views, defiant blogposts, censorship of comments, and ultimately, making them magically disappear and pretend nothing's happened). Hounding Jeni Barnett will, at best, only make her life a little bit more uncomfortable. Justified it may seem but in the grand scheme of matters, it won't do much other than a small win for sensible reasoning and common sense. It will quickly be forgotten. I think the developments in the past few days should be milked to reinforce the idea that the MMR vaccine is safe to the general public, as well as launching a general condemnation to the anti-vaccination camp. The ultimate goal should still be acquiring herd immunity for measles, thus kicking measles out of the country, such that we can pick up from where we left off – the 90s. The momentum is certainly there, on the back of the Barnett fiasco, David Aaronovitch's intervention in the Times, Stephen Fry's support, as well as the Brian Deer revelation regarding fabrications in Andrew Wakefield's Lancet paper, which provided the first (and only) indications of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In fact, I think Andrew Wakefield is a very lucky man. Brian Deer's article was published on Sunday (08 February 2009), right in the middle of the Jeni Barnett and LBC storm. In fact I think they have taken most of the flak for Andrew Wakefield. It would be great if Brian Deer would produce some sort of response regarding Wakefield's rebuttals to his accusations. This would put the "head" of the anti-vaccination camp back into the spotlight, which I think is important. He has been riding on the waves of the 1998 Lancet paper for a little bit too long now, in my opinion. Usually in the space of 11 years, I would expect a piece of dubious research to have come up with new, as well as more convincing evidence. Otherwise, it is time for it to be put to rest – for good. Now would also be a good time for the NHS to put out a better campaign for the MMR vaccine. The current one has no bite to it, as Dr Aust has talked about. This really is a good opportunity to quash anti-vaccination talk. It burns my brain to even think about how such talk could exist.
This is too delicious to not use my lunch hour for blogging purposes. The outrage towards Jeni Barnett's ill-informed and irresponsible advice against the MMR vaccine was originally confined to the blogosphere. Well not anymore. The Times has this report on Ms Barnett's on-air drivel and the subsequent legal chill on Ben Goldacre's Bad Science by Ms Barnett's employers – LBC. David Aaronovitch, from the Times, is rooting for Ben Goldacre, from the Guardian, a rival newspaper. Respect! After weighing up all that has happened, as well as going through some of the transcripts of the hour long drivel, he closed the article with the following.
That's why I'm passionately for Goldacre, and why I find myself wondering whether we can file a class action against LBC for permitting a presenter to inflict her preposterous prejudices on her listeners, to the detriment of someone else's kids.If there is indeed going to be a class action against LBC, count me in! Aside from this outrage reaching the mainstream news, Ben Goldacre also seemed to have acquired some celebrity muscle. Stephen Fry, who needs no introduction, has somehow come across Dr Goldacre's misfortunes regarding LBC's actions and has called upon his many followers on the social networking site, Twitter to support Dr Goldacre. He left this comment on Dr Goldacre's Bad Science page showing his support.
February 10, 2009 at 1:29 am
The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman's manner - her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps - all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn't really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I've tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We'll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matter. Love
Stephen xxx http://twitter.com/stephenfryI wonder if he will put some "Quite Interesting" facts about measles and MMR on his show. That'll go a long way to educate the masses about the importance of vaccination. And finally, before I sign off and scoff down my lunch, Jeni Barnett has removed both blog posts (MMR and Me & Bad Scientists) from her website. Is that a retraction? I am still waiting for an apology. Nevertheless, I am chalking this down as a win. *Update* And it gets better. There is going to be an Early Day Motion in Parliament on Weds 11 February 2009 tabled by Norman Lamb, which will criticize Jeni Barnett and her by now very well known verbal diarrhoea on the MMR vaccine:
"Suggesting that the MMR vaccine is dangerous in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary is massively irresponsible and could put children's lives at risk. "This kind of scaremongering has had a serious impact on public health in the last decade. "Cases of measles have risen dramatically in the last three years. Jeni Barnett's remarks could potentially affect the take-up of the vaccine, and I invite her to come with me to meet with a leading expert to learn more about the risks and advantages of vaccination."Yes, she needs to be educated. I urge all of you reading this to ask your local MP to sign the Early Day Motion. The easiest way to do this is to go to TheyWorkForYou and locate your local MP. The Early Day Motion will appear on 11 February 2009.
Just hopped by Jeni Barnett's homepage where she hosts her own blog. For those of you who have been following the aftermath of her ill-informed and ignorant views on the MMR vaccine, you would probably have already dropped by her blog to give her a piece of your mind. The two blogposts in question are "MMR and Me" and "Bad Scientists". Over the weekend, there have been a barrage of comments, the majority of which were very critical, and rightly so. Well not anymore. At the time of writing (09 February 2009 20:47) both blog posts have 0 (yes ZERO) comments. So after her shouting down of Nurse Yasmin and cutting her call short, LBC's legal chill on Ben Goldacre's Bad Science for posting this irresponsible and dangerous piece of broadcasting, Ms Barnett has gone ahead and censored all the comments on her blog. Clearly she has found the criticism a bit too much, but the correct thing to do was to issue an apology and retract the two blogposts (in which she was unrepentant as to her views and insists the scientific community, which she has collectively named "Bad Scientists", is on a witch-hunt). The incorrect thing to do is to censor all the comments and leave the blogposts. I have tried to rescue some of the comments by going onto the cached pages on Google. Unfortunately I was too late for the post titled "MMR and Me", which incidentally had the higher number of comments. As for the post titled "Bad Scientists", I managed to rescue some of the comments from the cache. I am posting them here (together with her blogpost) as a permanent record. Why? Because I don't believe in running away from your own screw-ups. *At the time of writing, I realised that The Quackometer has already done the exact thing. In the interest of not wanting to plagarise people's work, heres the link to The Quackometer's post on this matter.* But also in the interest of propagating the Streisand's Effect, heres the cached page anyway: _*UPDATE: Most of the comments from both blogs have now been recovered. Full credit to the Quackometer. BRAVO!*_ *UPDATE 2: Carl Morris of Quixotic Quisling has documented an even more comprehensive versionof the comments. Link here.*
MMR and Me
Posted by Jeni in | 5 February 2009
The reaction to the interview about the MMR jab is growing like a fungus.
I am not a scientist, I would not claim to be a scientist. When tested on the contents of the MMR vaccine I told the truth. I did not have the facts to hand. Was I ill informed? Yes.As a responsible broadcaster I should have been better prepared as a parent, however, I can fight my corner. I don't know everything that goes into cigarettes but I do know they are harmful.
As a professional should I have been better prepared - YES - but the discussion took off in a direction I hadn't expected when I received a vicious phone call from a Nurse I was utterly thrown. I won't get thrown again.
I find it interesting that the vitriol that comes out of the pro MMR lobby is precisely why Allopathic medicine is struggling. Most of us who seek alternatives allow others their position but often the 'others' have a real problem allowing us ours.
Doesn't change my mind though. The fact that I decided not to have my child jabbed was my decision alone. And it is a lonely decision. To be singled out and held totally responsible for a measles, mumps or rubella 'epidemic' is clearly ludicrous.
Single jabs on demand? Why is that a problem?
Injecting tiny babies with substances that may compromise their immune system needs to be looked at not shouted down.
And I do not accept that my position, as a radio broadcaster, is irresponsible if I should choose to share my own personal dilemma. I would like some of my critics to try and run a three hour programme.
I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt.
Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate, and if it gets too heated there is always the option of turning me off.
1. At February 5, 2009 2:35 AM Tom wrote:
_Injecting tiny babies with substances that may compromise their immune system needs to be looked at not shouted down._
It has. Research has shown over and over that, for patients without rare genetic abnormailities, vaccination is a very low-risk, high-reward choice. Additionally, the quasi-sympathetic position that a child's immune system may be "compromise[d]" by "substances" in vaccines is not borne out in controlled research and epidemiological data. The reality is that the immune challenge provided by a vaccination is fairly minimal compared to the daily immune challenge from the environment, particularly in young children that have recently gone from a sterile environment (the womb) into the outside world.
Are you singularly responsible for the measels 'epidemic'? No. But this is a straw man argument. Clearly, if your children are of appropriate health that they can receive MMR vaccination, the choice to leave them unvaccinated does make you potentially culpable: the risk of your children contracting and spreading these diseases is higher than it chould be and they cannot contribute to the herd immunity that protects _everyone_ from infection (especially those with immune disorders that cannot tolerate vaccination and can tolerate measles and the like even less).
If you're truly "interested in the debate not a witch hunt", you should pay attention to the scientific consensus on the safety and efficacy of vaccines-that debate happened years ago and the results are in. Vaccines work extremely well, better than enything else medicine has come up with. The continuing flood of information regarding vaccines overwhelmingly supports this general position.
2. At February 5, 2009 8:36 AM Hymie wrote:
Well said! I completely agree with all you say and good for you for being your usual 'honest' self. To point out the obvious, you're a mother as well as a broadcaster so you have as much right, if not more than the 'Bad S' people to voice an opinion.
Kind regards Hymie x
3. At February 5, 2009 12:40 PM JT wrote:
You made some utterly jaw-dropping claims on your show, claims that that some of your listeners might take to heart. That would be a shame. For example, your comment about how most people don't get measels, so we should "look at those 1 in 15 instead". That strikes me as absurd, for the obvious reason that we don't KNOW who will fall ill if they are not vaccinated. The fact is that vaccines are safe and well tested, and I urge you to read up on some of the many, many studies that have been done over the years.
4. At February 5, 2009 12:57 PM Richard Tomsett wrote:
I appreciate your concerns as a mother and with all the bad information flying around it's no wonder people are confused. However, I did note that on the two radio shows I've heard in which you discussed MMR, you seemed much more ready to agree with the champions of alternative medicines than you were with the doctors or nurses (who have actually had training in and seen the evidence for and against vaccination) that phoned in. This seemed unfair.
Tom is right regarding the evidence on vaccinations. It is necessary in cases like this to perform rigorous scientific tests and not to rely on anecdotal evidence or pleas from the heart (the heart is notoriously bad at making good decisions). Anecdotal evidence and "common sense" often lead us to wrong conclusions. That's the whole point of the scientific method - we often spot patterns that aren't really there, for example, and the scientific method helps us eliminate errors like these. This is why scientists can be so passionate about the results of their studies: they've performed incredibly in-depth, scrupulous research using the scientific method, and it can be very frustrating when people favour anecdotes or their uninformed gut feeling over this.
I agree that it is your right not to be vaccinated (or to choose for your children not to be vaccinated). If you choose not to have your children vaccinated (if they are adequately healthy in general), then you ARE putting them and other children at unnecessary risk. This is irresponsible if you are aware of the evidence.
Unfortunately it seems that it may be necessary to start offering single jabs as standard simply because all the unwarranted fuss over MMR has reduced its uptake, rather than because they provide a better solution.
I suggest that if you want to be better informed so that you can make better decisions for your children, that you either do some research into the medical literature, or just read the book "Bad Science" - you seem to be aware of the blog. It really is very good!
5. At February 5, 2009 1:40 PM Ann wrote:
I thank GOD everyday for my healthy Son's….both vaccinated against EVERYTHING!
6. At February 5, 2009 2:20 PM David wrote:
Jeni, Your article has two major contradictions. Firstly, 'I told the truth'. I am sure you are not a liar, but, there is a difference between the truth and your opinion (one is based on unequivicable facts and the other is based on interpretation of facts and knowledge etc). In this case the scientific research shows that the jab is safe and the scientist who created the stir about autism has scince been discredited and his work rubbished as inaccurate. Secondly, you mention cigerettes. I believe, like you, that they are not good for your health, but, why do you accept this research and not the MMR reasearch which shows that the jab is safe ?. Unfortunately, your minor celebrity status has given you extra weight behind scientific arguments that you have no grasp over with the public at large. How did you come to your conclusions ?, why do you believe one scientist against the many in one case and the reverse in another ?. I would invite you to tell us specifically why you do not trust the jab, and let people who know what they are talking about explain why you are wrong.
7. At February 5, 2009 3:11 PM Soryl Angel wrote:
We last discussed this 27 years ago when a certain young lad was born. He was not jabbed for pertussis, in no small part because of complications in his mother's neurological history. Fast forward 4 years and his sister, after lengthy discussions with the drug manufacturer, was jabbed and reacted to her measles shot with a mild case of same. Everyone survived but mom had sleepless nights and many arguments with Dad, a health care practitioner. A complicated and emotional topic, indeed.
8. At February 5, 2009 3:12 PM gimpy wrote:
If you truly want to present a balanced view of the MMR issues then you have to base that view on the best available scientific evidence. Like this Cochrane review that argues:
1. There is no credible link between the MMR vaccine and any long-term disability, including Crohn's disease and autism.
2. MMR is an important vaccine that has prevented diseases that still carry a heavy burden of death and complications where the vaccine is not used consistently.
3. The lack of confidence in MMR has caused great damage to public health.
4. People arguing for or against the use of any therapy need to make sure that they base their conclusions on carefully collected evidence, not just on biased opinion, speculation or suspicion.
9. At February 5, 2009 3:41 PM Andrew Ryan wrote:
Jenni, if you want to make the choice to leave your children more vulnerable to disease, then you should be able to make it. Why should doctors and the state take an interest in your kids' welfare - they're YOUR children and you should be allowed to do whatever you want with them, even if it damages their health. Right? Or have I gone wrong somewhere?
10. At February 5, 2009 3:56 PM Vince wrote:
Hymie, Jeni doesn't have the right to broadcast an opinion if she doesn't acknowledge the corresponding responsibilities.
That is, to ensure that it is based on provable fact, rather than on prejudice, emotion, hearsay and misinformation.
Tom, the first commenter, sums up the reality of the issue very well.
And while we're here: "Allopathic medicine is struggling. Most of us who seek alternatives allow others their position but often the 'others' have a real problem allowing us ours"
Allopathic is a word used to imply some sort of parity between tested and proven drugs and clinical methods, and unproven 'alternatives' like homoeopathy. There is no such parity; one is based on evidence and peer reviewed research, the other isn't.
And as for allowing others their position, why is it always proselytisers of alternative therapy who talk over rational arguments and disregard people who present facts?
Sorry, but that was exactly what Jeni did in her broadcast.
11. At February 5, 2009 3:56 PM Paul Hill wrote:
"Single jabs on demand? Why is that a problem?"
Why subject your child to three jabs (3x visits to the doctors) when it's not any safer than a single jab? Do you have any evidence single jabs are safer? I'm all ears.
12. At February 5, 2009 4:05 PM Jamie wrote:
"To point out the obvious, you're a mother as well as a broadcaster so you have as much right, if not more than the 'Bad S' people to voice an opinion."
Why? The Bad Science people know their science. Hence, they (and the scientists who researched the MMR vaccine) are more qualified to voice an opinion by virtue of being more informed about science.
This isn't some elitist conspiracy of ivory-tower scientists 'shouting you down' - the research can be viewed by anyone who cares to, often for free. To simply make claims about MMR without being informed about the science destroys the value of any debate.
And as you can see here, the scientific consensus overwhelmingly finds no links between MMR and autism or bowel disease:
It's also worth noting that Dr Andrew Wakefield is under investigation for professional and scientific misconduct, and that most of the authors of the Lancet MMR study (which, by the way, had a sample size of 12) have since retracted their interpretation of the data, and admitted it did not prove a causal link between the MMR jab and autism.
13. At February 5, 2009 4:48 PM Michael wrote:
There are many, many worrying comments in your blog entry and the bias and lack of preparation demonstrated in your radio show was seriously alarming.
For example, you claim 'I don't know everything that goes into cigarettes but I do know they are harmful.'. This knowledge is based on empirical medical research, the very same type of research that supports immunisation and MMR of which you are highly critical. The notion that it is okay to be so woefully misinformed yet still air your 'views' as a broadcaster is okay, because you are 'a parent' also, is basically ridiculous.
The 'vicious' phone call from the nurse is interesting since, to my ears, it was you who seemed most hostile. I was actually quite impressed that those with a medical background managed to keep their cool whilst phoning in - although you did your best to talk over them throughout.
I could go on. Instead perhaps it would be more valuable to point you to an informative website you might use in future before pontificating about medical matters: http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk
They actually have a hotline you can call for clarification on scientific issues when working in the media. They also have a page on MMR and link to a particularly informative article from the charity 'Sense' - who support those affected by rubella. It answers many of your questions, specifically why single vaccinations are not a viable alternative and the impacts of low-uptake.
14. At February 5, 2009 5:01 PM Robby Elson wrote:
How do you know cigarettes are harmful? Presumably because you trust the many scientists and doctors who have performed extensive, in depth research into their harmful effects; who have performed time consuming meta-analysis of data gathered by doctors and researchers all around the world; who have concluded that there is a causal link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer - not to mention other diseases of the lung and heart. These are, broadly speaking, the same people who have performed extensive studies and meta-analyses on the causal links between MMR and autism - amongst other things - and found MMR, and other vaccinations to be, on the whole, safe (though 'safe' is a relative term, debated endlessly by medical researchers). Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you are in a position of trust, influence and power. When your opinion is inconsistent, ill-informed and potentially harmful to others, it is quite right that you should be questioned on it. If members of the medical community - of which, I hasten to add, I am not one - seem vitriolic, I'm not surprised. If I heard you confidently talking nonsense and trashing what I do for a living, without any actual knowledge of what I do, and justifying it simply as 'opinion', I'd be livid too. But I suspect it's more to do with the fact that they spend their days having to deal with the results of media-spread misinformation. Also, perhaps, because they are a part of community of people trying to do their best to help others based on rational debate and scientific research, yet are continually under attack by the likes of homeopaths, who prescribe treatments without basis in anything approaching rationality or evidence, who refuse to publish their own research, whose research - when it is published - is nearly always fatally flawed, and who nearly always stand to make money from their prescriptions. Drug companies are not angels, quite the opposite, but that does not mean that the medical community, who are prescribe their wares, are devils too, or that so-called 'alternative medicine' is any better. Or even a viable alternative. You ask what seems to be a simple question: 'Single jabs on demand. Why is that a problem?' Well, I believe this has been answered elsewhere, many times, and many times better than I can do here. But as I understand it, there are a number of reasons. The first would be money. The NHS, unfortunately, hasn't an infinite pit of the stuff. We'd like them to, of course, but then we'd like to keep more of our wages each month, and the two desires are simply incompatible. As such, the NHS strives for efficiency where possible. Another reason is that, I believe, the single jab approach requires a number of jabs administered over a period of time for a child to be fully covered. Research shows that the more return visits a course of treatment or vaccination requires, the more likely the patient is to fail to complete that course. Which means more wasted time and money, and lots more people running around at risk of serious illness and ruining the herd immunity. Which also leads to a final inconsistency in your arguments. You don't want to give a tiny baby a single jab (the MMR vaccine) on the basis that you think it may compromise its immune system (though I can't see why it would - were we all immune to these diseases before vaccinations were invented? Why then the need for vaccinations in the first place?). Yet you demand the right to be able to give a tiny baby multiple jabs, which is what the single jab approach entails. I simply don't get it. Finally, I also don't get why 'as a mother' you have more right than someone else to voice your opinion. I'm a father, do I not have the same right? What about a woman who would love to be a mother but is sadly infertile because she caught rubella from someone who's parents refused to have them properly vaccinated as a child? We are all responsible for the society we live in, because we are the society we live in.
15. At February 5, 2009 5:26 PM Simon wrote:
Surely your responsibility as a parent outweighs your responsibility as a broadcaster? Lets leave the issues regarding your conduct as a broadcaster aside, for the sake of brevity. Now, as a parent I would seriously consider looking at the scientific 'facts' (actually scientists prefer the word 'evidence') regarding the MMR jab, as I would be highly concerned for the welfare of my child. You don't need to know what goes into the MMR jab to see that the evidence for its safety is pretty extensive. In addition, there is probably a slightly greater risk when using single injections of leaving the child open to infection, since these 'jabs' must be spaced apart. Using this (basic, yet rational) argument, the child is less likely to be harmed with the MMR jab over single 'jabs'. However, to be honest, I don't think that anything a conventional healthcare practitioner says to you, or any amount of scientific evidence, will make you change your mind. You have already decided what course of action to take, based on your 'gut instinct' which I've got to say is pretty irresponsible of you as a parent. Unlike a scientist, it appears you have already made up your mind what you believe before looking at the evidence. You have also decided that 'others' (I assume you mean those that accept conventional scientific theories and evidence-based medicine) aren't interested, or are somehow suppressing, alternative medicines. In fact, many alternative medicines (for example St John's Wort) have been extensively investigated and are realised to be efficacious. One final point. I completely agree, you should be allowed to voice an opinion (as does everyone) but surely you understand that your opinion is not as valid as, for example, the professional opinion of a doctor? You crave a debate, yet when people (with perhaps a slightly greater understanding of the evidence than you) disagree with your opinion, you describe them as 'vicious.' If everyone agrees, then it isn't a debate is it?
16. At February 5, 2009 5:28 PM Nick Iredale wrote:
I think you should take a look at this - good research should be taken note of, not dismissed out of hand if it doesn't fit in with one's view. One's views should be adapted to the facts. http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/12/mmr-vaccine-reduces-risk-of-as.html
17. At February 5, 2009 7:20 PM Tom wrote:
Hymie, why does a "a mother as well as a broadcaster" have possibly more right to voice an opinion than anyone else? This is curious to me…
Certainly Ms. Barnett has a _right_-not to mention the forum-to express an opinion, but the 'Bad S' people have a similar right to point out where Ms. Barnett's statements are potentially misleading, misinformed, and potentially dangerous. (Ms. Barnett has admitted in this post that she was "ill informed"…)
Because the statements in question deal with public health and the prevention of many dangerous diseases, it's not morally equivalent to expressing an opinion on the quality the latest movie or the superiority of one's favorite sports team. The reality is that celebrity opinions carry undue weight in the minds of the general populace. Therefore, such opinions given by celebrities should be _especially_ challenged when demonstrably wrong and potentially damaging. This should hold true no matter the subject.
As is the case with all opinions, they should be re-evaluated when new information challenges previous assumptions. It is my hope that Ms. Barnett and some of her listeners will take the time to review the relevant mountain of peer-reviewed scientific literature that has addressed and refuted almost every single anti-vaccinationist claim; take the time to discuss with physicians the individual and societal benefits of vaccination, and the risks involved as well. If Ms. Barnett is willing to put faith in the medical research establishment that has proven the danger in cigarette smoking, surely she can extend it to vaccination?
18. At February 5, 2009 7:50 PM Andy Wakefield wrote:
I would like to send you a pdf that may help you with any hostility from the MMR posting. Do you have a email adrdress that I can send it to?
19. At February 5, 2009 7:54 PM Cybertiger wrote:
The thing about the folk at BAD SCIENCE is that they are very BAD SCIENTISTS as well as flea-bitten disciples of a snake-oil salesman, name of Dr Benjamin Goldacre MD. Watch out for the flea-bites posing as viper-venom.
20. At February 5, 2009 7:55 PM Shan Morgain wrote:
"I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt."
Well said. But in Britain there is no real debate, it is suppressed. Only pro studies' results get to be funded/ publicised. There's plenty in the States that is anti - including court cases.
"I don't know everything that goes into cigarettes but I do know they are harmful."
The aggression of the other side defending MMR tells its own story of defensiveness on shaky ground.
WHY cannot we have single injections? Is it just money? Bec ause if soi that is criminal as it is putting babies lives at risk.
21. At February 5, 2009 7:56 PM Terry G Wilson wrote:
_"I trained as an actress and spent the first twelve years of my professional life doing just that."_
Go and act, madam. Don't try to outdoctor the doctors.
Hymie: honesty is not a virtue when it's supporting dangerous claptrap.
22. At February 5, 2009 7:57 PM Michael Knight wrote:
People spend their lives learning about research and vaccinations and you have your say, based on your "rights as a mother" and nullify all their work. This isn't a debate, its the facts established by the best qualified scientists, being denied by your opinion. Well done.
23. At February 5, 2009 8:07 PM John Stone wrote:
You may find this link interesting for Ben Goldacre:
Also, this one:
What is most regretable about the about the Bad Science mob is there attempt to win the argument by pseudo-moral indignation, and sarcasm rather then ever answering any awkward questions about where they are coming from.
By and large if something bad happens to your child as a result of the vaccine programme you are on your own.
24. At February 5, 2009 8:24 PM john wrote:
Goldacre (Bad Science) is an Allopath masquerading as a journalist, and Allopathy is a testament to 'bad science', and only keeps going due to medical politics, eg the antics of Ben. His 2005 'writing' award was given to him a Glaxo man, the maker of MMR. Go figure!
It is so easy to prove all vaccination is useless (and dangerous, just look at smallpox vaccination) and that MMR is killing way more kids than measles would be doing with or without vaccination (deaths declined by 99.4% before vaccination, so it didn't do anything, end of story).
"Are you singularly responsible for the measels 'epidemic'?"
I wish. But we all know who is responsible for the autism epidemic don't we. Far worse than measles side effects that the Allopaths could prevent with Vitamin C therapy, or just good practice.
Wise choice not vaccinating.
NB. Bad Science don't do 'debate', rabble rousing maybe. Allopaths are hardly likely to admit MMR is dangerous and useless, as one vax down the rest could follow, and Allopathy sits upon vaccination. When Hell freezes over maybe, or every other kid has a vaccine injury.
25. At February 5, 2009 10:46 PM Seonaid wrote:
Well done Jeni. To speak out about such a politically hot potato takes a lot of courage. Stay with it! My son is MMR damaged and it has wrecked his life and that of all the family. He and other children like him are denied medical exploration, as doctors are afraid of what they will find - and afraid of what might happen to them. Well - Dr Wakefield and his colleagues did their professional best to help children in pain and look what happened to them. Enough to scare any consultant away from examining children whose ailments may be the result of vaccines. Incidentally the GMC case involving Dr Wakefield and colleagues is far from over. Dont overlook the fact that Dr Wakefield is now in USA, treating and helping heal MMR damaged children. Proper tests were NOT carried out on those vaccines. Any studies trying to disprove a link between vaccines and ensuing chronic illness are mostly epidemiological. Figures on bits of paper. The humans who collate these figures are open to pressure from contemporaries and government policies. In USA they have already begun compensating MMR damaged children. How much longer will our government and medical fraternity be able to sit on THIS one I wonder? If you are happy to play Russian Roulette with your babies, well no one can stand in your way. But neither should you stand in the way of parents who seek justice and medical help for seriously ill youngsters which so far is being denied them.
26. At February 5, 2009 10:56 PM lynda preece wrote:
I'm so glad I had my kids vaccinated before the media got hold of MMR and created a misguided furore. My children are now protected - excellent. If there was a jab for meningitis I'd be in the queue for that too. You want choice? - you have it - it's your choice not to let your child have the MMR jab but you then live with the consequences if your child is that unfortunate statistic.
My choice is not to listen to you - I hope other parents do the same!!
27. At February 5, 2009 11:22 PM Elizabeth wrote:
Dear Jeni, Anyone thinking of vaccinating their child should read the vaccine manufacturers' websites. For the MMR try "Merck"+"MMR II" and read the lists of contra-indications and various adverse vaccination reactions. Why has this Government insisted on its "MMR or nothing" policy? How long will it be before the MMR uses inactivated rather than live, attenuated viruses? Will the WHO achieve its 2010 target of eradicating measles in Europe? All three questions deserve your research endeavours.
28. At February 5, 2009 11:22 PM Brian wrote:
Jeni, I'm gobsmacked, I really am. Do you think the earth is flat too?
29. At February 5, 2009 11:26 PM Stan wrote:
I find it a marvel that so many people on this thread seem to have taken the pronouncements of the medical profession at face value, and don't appear to have researched the other side of this story - about vaccines in general, and that of the MMR in particular. People: there IS another side to these stories. We are talking about extremely powerful vested interests here; and the medical-pharmaceutical-government complex is threatened by the complementary/alternative health care focus (CAM), so they are pulling all stops out to squelch the competition. The public isn't going to get the truth of health matters from them. They're going to get a smokescreen of propaganda.
Sense about Science? They are shills for the drug industry. (Try Science in Society for a better take on what's going down these days.) Ask your ped for info on the MMR? They only know what they're told; they don't have time to research the matter on their own. If they did, they would be likely to find - as I have (keeping an eye on this vaccine matter for nearly 20 years now; on the whole picture, not just the 'orthodox' one) - that antibodies for Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) have been found in association with the measles vaccine virus in the MMR jab in children on the autism spectrum. That means that the body is mounting an inflammatory reaction to its own MBP, as part of its response to the jab (apparently a contaminant from the chick embryo cells the measles virus portion is cultured on). This is known as an autoimmune response, which can result in such conditions as MS, and any other condition associated with neurological disorder. We're talking the likes of the whole spectrum of what are called Minimal Brain Damage/Disorder (MBD) conditions - including ASD.
Is the MMR jab alone responsible for this epidemic of MBD conditions going on in society these days? No. Many of them predate the introduction of this particular jab. But there are logical biochemical mechanisms for its involvement.
And don't look to epid studies to find your answers. They are notorious for being able to be manipulated. Look to case histories, and toxicological studies, and the like. And they ARE out there. They just don't get the coverage that the 'official' ones get.
Google the likes of Prof Richard Deth, and Drs Thomas Burbacher and Russell L Blaylock and Jill James and…and…
Educate yourselves, parents. You can't trust the experts these days. They have too much to lose, if the truth - the whole truth - about vaccines comes out. We have epidemics of the likes of arthritis/arthralgia, allergies/anaphylaxis/asthma, CFS/ME, convulsions/epilepsy/seizures, type 1 diabetes, - the list goes on, of chronic illness/ iatrogenic diseases & conditions, because the medical authorities chose to believe that the benefits of vaccines 'far outweigh' their risks, without actually checking the full extent of those risks.
As for replacements for various vaccines until they can be made safer, there are numerous natural anti-bacterials and -virals and immune boosters that can be taken, that don't have the damnable side effects to them that the vaccines have. But that's another story. So am I talking anti-vaccine? No. I'm talking safer vaccines. Which won't come about if the authorities continue to stonewall - and continue to be blindly supported by the public in their hubristic (and financial) position on this matter.Â
30. At February 5, 2009 11:29 PM Dr John Crippen wrote:
It is good to know that you realise the poorly researched and possibly damaging nature of the original broadcast which has already caused a furore amongst doctors.
Will you now ask LBC to make the broadcast freely available so that it can be properly discussed?
Dr John Crippin
31. At February 5, 2009 11:36 PM Doug Johnston wrote:
Anyone can hold an opinion. There are some opinions which one may regard as politically repugnant, some which may be seen as merely quirky or banal, and some which are unfathomable.
Where opinions become genuinely dangerous is when they are presented or interpretable as fact, especially when coupled with a forum for dissemination to individuals who do not have the ability or inclination to look into the matter further, just as one suspects many/most of Ms Barnetts listeners are.
Arguments such as "I am a mother gives me the right…" is just fatuous, posturing nonsense.
And for anyone who may be "pro-antivaccination", just follow the link from Johns post (24) above, for a scary and disturbing view of your allies
32. At February 5, 2009 11:47 PM anne coulter wrote:
HI JENI, PLEASE DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT HAVING HAD YOUR CHILD VACCINATED WITH THE MMR/MR VACCINE. WE LOST CHRISTOPHER OUR ONLY SON TEN DAYS AFTER HIS VACCINATION IN 1994.HE WAS A VERY HEALTHY FIFTEEN YEAR OLD WITH NO MEDICAL PROBLEMS AT ALL.THERE WAS NO HISTORY OF SEIZURES OF ANY NATURE IN THE FAMILY.AT THE SAME TIME ANOTHER BOY IN CHRISTOPHERS CLASS IN SCHOOL ALSO SUFFERED A SEVERE SEIZURE BOTH VACCINES WERE OF THE SAME BATCH NUMBER. WE HAVE DONE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH THE TRUTH.SADLY THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS COVERED UP WHEN THESE THINGS HAPPEN.THERE ARE NEVER ANY ANSWERS AVAILABLE. WE NOW KNOW WE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE BY HAVING OUR SON VACCINATED WE HAVE NO DOUBT HE WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY IF WE HAD REFUSED IT.WE WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE CLOSEURE AND I BELIEVE WE ARE INTITLED TO THIS INFORMATION.THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO GET CLOSEURE IS TO HAVE A JUDICAL REVIEW OF THE INQUEST INTO CHRISTOPHERS DEATH. I HAVE KEPT IN TOUCH WITH JACKIE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS SHE HAS ALWAYS GIVEN US A GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT.PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SPEAK TO JACKIE ABOUT CHRISTOPHER. ANNE COULTER
33. At February 5, 2009 11:54 PM Daniel Earwicker wrote:
Hi Jeni, during your broadcast I heard you repeat the following points:
1. It's cool to be different from the majority of people.
2. Here are some people who agree with me.
3. It's all just to do with companies making money.
4. Babies are tiny (see also your article above).
5. How dare anyone suggest I am not a fit mother?
6. We don't need jabs, because we've already got a natural immune system.
I didn't find any of these very persuasive:
1. A desire to differentiate yourself from other people is fine as long as you just give yourself a different hairstyle or something like that. It's not really a good reason to increase the risk of death or severe brain injury in your own children. You dramatize your own choice, making it out to be a heroic act of rebellion. Unfortunately, it's not your own health you're making a fashion statement with.
2. The stated aim of your show was to ask people to phone in if they had not immunized their children and their children had not yet fallen seriously ill. You might as well have asked anyone who had ever played Russian Roulette and survived to phone in, in an attempt to prove that Russian Roulette is perfectly safe. To find out the actual facts of a situation, it is vitally important NOT to filter the evidence so as to deliberately discard most of it. Also, as one of your callers stated, it is possible to find websites that tell you how poisonous vaccines are - but it is also possible to find websites that tell you in all seriousness that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were secretly planned by lizards from outer space disguised as Peter Mandelson, and that the planes were in fact holograms projected on to missiles. This doesn't make it true.
3. The fact that companies can make money from the drugs they develop is what allows them to attract investment (from the people who run all of our pensions and ISAs) and so continue to develop drugs. We do in fact already spend aid money on vaccines for the world's poorest countries. Perhaps you yourself contribute to charities that support this effort. Incidentally, the paralysis-causing disease Polio is on the rise again in Nigera because conspiracy theorists (just like you) have spread a rumour that the Polio vaccine is a Western plot to make Africans sterile.
4. Babies are indeed tiny - all the more reason, I'd say, to make a genuine effort to learn the facts in order to better protect them.
5. Luckily your children were not harmed by your decision to not have them immunized. It will be a difficult thing for you to do, but it's time for you to acknowledge that you took an unnecessary risk with their health by not having them immunized. It's clear that you want others to justify your mistake by repeating it. It would be a very public spirited (indeed, heroic) thing for you to admit that you did the wrong thing then and that other people should not repeat your mistake by taking an unnecessary risk with their own child's health.
6. Perhaps the single most important bit of research you should have done before this programme was to find out what vaccination actually is. In simple terms, it is a process whereby the body's natural immune system is given the information it needs to become able to fight off a specific disease. So it works in concert with the body's natural defenses. By not having your child immunized, you are denying his or her immune system the information it needs to be able to fight a disease. If you have an immunity to a disease, you can pass it onto your child through breastfeeding them - so in fact, breastfeeding is another way of doing the same thing. It's just that medical immunization is a more reliable and certain way of doing it.
The single worst moment in the show for me was when you said to a caller "It's not my job to say to people 'Don't do it [have children vaccinated]'… but you're allowed to have your say. What you say to people, as a mum of eight little lives that you are deeply responsible for, what would you say to people who are in two minds about it?" Thus prompting the caller to recommend to your listeners to not have their children vaccinated.
Essentially you told your listeners to not have their children vaccinated, but hid behind a facade of a call-in show. This was evidently the purpose of the entire show, but it was made most horribly obvious at that moment.
If you made another show where you invited people who know what they're talking about to explain the facts to your listeners, then that would probably be a truly great achievement - both because it will be very difficult for you to face up to, and because of the benefits it will have for other people's children.
34. At February 6, 2009 12:05 AM zeno wrote:
You seem to know little about vaccines. But don't feel bad or embarrassed about this. There are many others like you in the same position: people who just don't have the knowledge, experience, education and training to understand the complexities of medicine or science.
However, to make up for this general ignorance, we take our most capable school children, educate them for several years in medicine at Universities, train them for a few more years and then only let them practice if they are registered with the General Medical Council. We should listen to what doctors say and we should take their advice: they really do know what they're talking about. They really do know more than most mothers and they certainly know more than a lay person, like yourself.
That's why someone who does not have that knowledge has to be careful what they say when those opinions contradict what doctors say, particularly when it is said to a large audience of people who may be swayed by what you say. The overwhelming consensus is that vaccines are safe and there is absolutely no link between MMR and autism - despite whatever you think Andrew Wakefield has said.
You have to admit that what you said was wrong and _highly_ irresponsible and you need to properly inform your audience about vaccines. For the sake of our children, I urge you to do this at the earliest opportunity.
35. At February 6, 2009 12:39 AM Nicholas Grundy wrote:
Single vaccines should not be provided on the NHS for the simple reason that they decrease the likelihood of a given child being immunised. In the country as a whole, three times the number of appointments means fewer children becoming immune and more cases of some seriously nasty illnesses. In addition, you have to leave a gap between the immunisations, giving a window of opportunity for whichever ones you don't do first to infect the child (refs: Halsey & Hyman, Pediatrics 2001; Leitch et al, Pediatrics 2002; Miller, J Infect 2001).
Put simply, lower numbers of vaccinated children means more children getting the diseases. That means more children getting the serious complications of the diseases, and that means more children suffering the lifelong effects of meningitis, encephalitis, infertility, pancreatitis, and that's just to pick some of the commoner ones.
So, Jeni, it's actually those 1 in 15 that doctors are thinking about when we advise everyone to vaccinate their children. Yes, we're biased - because it's the ones who get sick from not being vaccinated that we deal with and we are exposed to the long-term consequences in severe cases. One child with lifelong brain damage from one of these illnesses is one too many, and for that reason I think your broadcast was shameful, and I hope you will retract it at the next opportunity.
36. At February 6, 2009 1:03 AM Jee Bee wrote:
Given the vast quantities of scientific research out there that has shown that the MMR is perfectly safe, that there is no link to autism, and so on, to actually go ahead with this show in the first place was grossly negligent and irresponsible.
For each parent that doesn't get their child vaccinated, the herd immunity is weakened. This can lead to epidemics, and the children who can't be immunised for medical reasons are the ones that get hurt the most.
I really think that you need to step back and actually analyse the situation. You aren't a scientist, yet you decided that you were qualified enough to make statements in public about scientific matters despite knowing nothing. You say that you don't know the situation, but your doctor has all the information to hand.
Why do you hate scientists? Why do you hate the opinion and facts that professionals in other fields supply to you? Why are you such an unfit mother to not even do cursory research in order to provide the best for your offspring?
Are you going to go on air and admit that you were entirely incorrect and in the wrong to make the statements you made?
I'm sick of emotional, uninformed people on the air. The modern media has no controls, no checks and balances, and it allows these situations to occur. You lambasted a poor nurse who was trying to let people know how safe it was because of your hate filled petty opinion about the situation. A real adult listens, learns, and adjusts their viewpoints as they learn new things.
37. At February 6, 2009 1:13 AM Alexa wrote:
Jeni I appreciate that you are allowing the full gamut of comments to be posted and not shutting down those with differing opinions as you seemed to do in your broadcast.
I'd like to briefly address those of you who point out the potential side effects of vaccines. Guess what. Almost all modern medicine has small incidences of bad reactions. Did you know that 1 in 250,000 people who go under general anaesthesia for surgery die from the anaesthesia? Yet far more lives are saved by undergoing surgery with anaesthesia than are lost from it. Heck, plenty of people undergo cosmetic surgery and put themselves at that risk just for their looks. Yet would you speak at length for 40 minutes in a broadcast that youâ€™d refuse to give your child surgery simply because of the 1 in 250,000 risk that the anaesthesia would end their life?
You could claim it's all a conspiracy, that doctors are hiding the risks from their patients, that Big Pharma makes bundles of money from conducting surgeries. Or you could acknowledge that as with many things, we weigh the risks on either side and choose the option that is most likely to reduce harm.
38. At February 6, 2009 6:32 AM Sue wrote:
_____________________________________________ Support UK radio broadcaster Jeni Barnett who went public on London, England's LBC News Radio about not wanting her children vaccinated with MMR. Any UK journalist who touches this topic needs support because the UK Department of Health and others pile on the pressure to stop comment.
You can listen here:-
Jeni Barnett's Radio Broadcast - [mp3 audio file - open in Windows Media Player or equivalent]http://badscience.net/files/Jeni_Barnett_-_MMR_Section_Full.mp3
You can post comments on her blog in support. She posted on this just today:- MMR and Mehttp://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/mmr_and_me.php
39. At February 6, 2009 7:39 AM KDE-Gnome wrote:
I have no clue about how computers work, but I'm absolutely sure it has something to do with faeries - and if we don't keep 'em happy they crash the computer.
Some people tell me they're based on something complicated that has something to do with electricity - but there's no way that electricity could paint all these graphics on the inside of my screen. Ever see a lightning bolt work in a straight line?
I think we just can't be sure until those close minded scientists quit hiding the facts from us all. I demand scientific experiments that study the effect of putting bowls of milk next to our computers!
I put a bowl of milk next to my computer and I experienced an immediate speed-up in my spreadsheet calculations! It even fixed my spelling errors!
Science doesn't know everything!
40. At February 6, 2009 8:17 AM John Stone wrote:
I just wanted to point out something about the way this debate is conducted by the government and medical establishment. The tone never shifts from the authoritarian or patronising, but the actual body of evidence is never open to discussion with them. If something adverse happens to your child the attitude is between the dismissive and abusive - do they want to investigate it? do they listen carefully to parents telling about their children's clinical history? - do they meticulously record adverse events? The reality is that if something goes wrong they simply adopt the brutal line of "prove it!"
About this, there is an environment of overwhelming bureaucratic bias (scientific you could not call it).
41. At February 6, 2009 8:18 AM Just Another Witness wrote:
The trouble with all this is that we don't hear just one parent saying their child reacted badly to vaccines. We don't hear hundreds of parents saying that their kids suffered permanent damage from vaccines. In fact we are hearing thousands upon thousands of parents saying that their children were hurt by vaccines, we are hearing thousands upon thousands witnessing the same tragic thing over and over and over and over.
And no one has EVER studied those very children, no one has ever looked into what exactly made those thousands sick children so sick. Until the science has the real answers to WHY those many many children are so very very ill indeed, you (and you know who you are) can keep on dismissing those parents as hysterical and their children's downfall as 'coincidence' over and over and over and over, but until the day you can come up with real answers to real personal tragedies you will not be trusted. You can forever and ever and ever and ever cite every epidemiological study under the sun, you can forever and ever cite every biological study under the sun that claims that vaccines are safe and don't hurt anyone, but until the exact and scientific answers are given in each individual case on why not one, not a hundred, not a thousand, but tens of thousands of children regressed into autism at the exact time of their vaccinations, your science will be worth nothing.
42. At February 6, 2009 8:41 AM M Al-Fariq wrote:
I respect the fact that you are allowing all these comments on your site which have been very critical of you.
My newborn daughter has not yet received the MMR but she will when she's old enough. That is a decision based on facts and not emotion. Until then, if she catches measles from a child whose parent has not vaccinated them (after listening to your show) and she then becomes brain damaged or dies, whose fault would it be? (1) The other parents? (2) The drug companies? (3) Mine? (4) Yours?
43. At February 6, 2009 3:09 PM P Peron wrote:
Although I respect your opinion not to vaccinate your own children; It gives you no right to scare others into doing the same.
What interests me is this, Why are you trying to continue the debate while your (or LBC's) lawyers doing anything they can to shut up your opposition?
It does seem rather underhanded, don't you think??
44. At February 6, 2009 3:20 PM Isjois wrote:
The MMR insert discloses that at least one of the virsuses "sheds". So, Al-Fariq, your daughter may be exposed to measles, mumps or rubella viruses from any recently vaccinated individuals that she comes into contact with. It would seem that since most people are vaccinated and continue to vaccinate their children, your daughter will more likely be harmed by those people who are vaccinated. In terms of the unvaccinated, they must actually have one of the diseases and be in the contagious stage to expose your daughter to any "virus".
Jeni - thanks for speaking up about the MMR! For those of us who have been harmed,or who have had children harmed by the MMR, we're grateful when someone is brave enough to speak out about vaccine concerns. Many of the vicious comments you are receiving sound very similar - almost like the same people are logging in under different names and repeating the same arguments over and over.
It's frightening to believe that there would really be so many people that refuse to look at vaccine risks. We have epidemics of numerous childhood diseases - I am continuously shocked when people refuse to look into a link to vaccines.
45. At February 6, 2009 3:26 PM Anthony Berrow wrote:
Instead of setting your lawyers on Ben Goldacre because he dared to criticise what you had to say, why not allow Dr Goldacre to come on your show.
He can :
a) explain why vaccination is so effective
b) explain why the work of the critics of MMR has been discredited
c) allow you to stop being a laughing-stock among those who'd rather listen to scientists than to people who believe in faeries
46. At February 6, 2009 3:56 PM Edward Dixon wrote:
A few facts on measles:
The Measles virus does no lasting damage to most healthy people; however, even with the best treatment, it kills one in three hundred previously healthy people.
Among people who aren't healthy or well-fed (undergoing chemotherapy, say), it kills almost _one in three_.
An unfortunate lack of vaccination in northern Nigeria illustrates the point - a reluctance to vaccinate killed several hundred children there.
Being a mother yourself, I'm sure you don't want a repeat of the Nigerian disaster - so please, do some research, find some experts on vaccination, and do a second show - but please, don't broadcast until you are familiar with basic facts - like what causes measles, how likely it is to kill a given child, how it can be prevented, how safe the vaccine is.
47. At February 6, 2009 4:03 PM Graham wrote:
You say in your article "I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt. "
In that case will you call of the legal team who, according to "The Ministry of Truth" are threatening Dr Goldacre with a copyright infringement suit?
48. At February 6, 2009 4:09 PM Fred wrote:
Your main professional responsibility ought to be to not promulgate ignorance.
If you are not familiar with the research, and are going only on your personal experience, STFU.
The toxicity of ill-informed advice is much higher than that of the health professionals recommendations.
49. At February 6, 2009 4:10 PM Xavier Kreiss wrote:
You write:"Allopathic medicine is struggling. Most of us who seek alternatives allow others their position but often the 'others' have a real problem allowing us ours"
The "others" you refer to rely on products and treatments that have been put to rigorous scientific testing. Non-"allopathic" medicine, ie: "alternative" medicine, in 99% of cases, has not been tested, or when it has, no proof has been found that it works.
The proponents of "allopathic" medicine will "allow you your position" the day this position can be shown to be supported by credible data.
50. At February 6, 2009 4:14 PM Nicky Ransom wrote:
I am writing to give you my wholehearted support, Jeni. I am mother to four lovely children, two fully vaccinated, one part-vaccinated and one completely unvaccinated, as I gradually became more educated and less intimidated by "health professionals". Our second child we are adamant is vaccine damaged by the MMR, when his behaviour changed virtually overnight, and he was ill for several months following the pre-school booster, when we were "strongly advised" (bullied, really), into accepting that he have the DTP booster in one leg and the MMR booster in the other, on the same occasion. He went on to develop dispraxia and associated behavioural problems, which continue to colour his life.
You are to be congratulated for speaking out on this issue. Many thanks, Nicky Ransom
51. At February 6, 2009 4:32 PM Lynne wrote:
Vaccination is big business and there are many vested interests in maintaining the status quo. The trails are designed, run and published by those with the most to gain - the pharamceutical industry. Health policy and protocols are set according to these. There seems also to be another "industry" emerging to support the cause of big-pharma - the rather dogmatic approach of "science" and media manipulation being used to justify or prove what those interests want to be the case or to re-prove what we think we already know. Surely good science is about an unbiased and fair exploration of the world in which we live to find out what it is that we don't know?
Pharmaceuticals is effectively a self regulating industry with the MHRA apparently unable to protect the general public from some of the worst excess of one of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesses - to name but a few: Seroxat, Vioxx, TGN1412. Reading the Financial Times would also give you glimpses of past, current and on-going pharmaceutical industry issues in terms of efficacy, pricing and safety.
To me the evidence suggests that the "gold standard" of pharmaceutical trials is an illusion. Questioning safety and efficacy rocks the boat and well done for being prepared to do just that.
Just in case you or any other open minded souls haven't come across it there is a wonderful organisation called The Informed Parent:
Another interesting source of information on the background and approach of the big-pharma support lobby is Martin J Walker's e-book "Cultural Dwarfs and Junk Journalism" - although his approach could be considered rather blunt and his language quite choice at times, he gives some interesting information on the arena we find ourselves in and some of the more dogmatic protagonists. Happy reading.
I send you my support and good wishes. Lynne
52. At February 6, 2009 4:32 PM Chris wrote:
It is about the second "M" in MMR.
53. At February 6, 2009 4:45 PM Phil wrote:
"Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate"
Ah, legal threats, the very finest tool for stimulating a debate.
54. At February 6, 2009 5:02 PM Commonly Sensible wrote:
There is no evidence to suggest that MMR is harmful, the 'research' was flawed. The media employs idiots who don't bother getting their facts right before getting up on their soapbox and in this particular case a broadcaster who has been irresponsible and potentially harmful is using lawyers to try to cover her tracks. I don't believe that Jeni was malicious in her comments, just ignorant. Taking a stand for her own right to harm her children personally is fine but a responsible broadcaster would not encourage listeners to make the same stupid choices.
55. At February 6, 2009 5:52 PM Matt Williams wrote:
Have you decided not to have any vaccinations for your children? Or just MMR? I ask because essentially the issues are the same. You either believe the science or you don't with regard to vaccinations. The MMR scandal was based on an extremely poorly researched (and I hesitate to use that word) paper that had more to do with coincidence than fact. If you're happy to base your opinion on that then (which is your right as a parent) then surely it would be hypocritical to accept the BCG, tetanus, polio etc. vaccines? Or even the single vaccinations.
56. At February 7, 2009 12:54 AM Enlightened wrote:
As the mother of two vaccine damaged children I learnt about "scientific truths" the hard way. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of my children and all the ten of thousands of children around the world whose lives have been ruined by these poisonous vaccines.
57. At February 7, 2009 1:47 AM Stephen wrote:
It is crucial to remember that, although you are a parent of 3, you are also a broadcaster and the fact that you're a broadcaster means you suddenly have responsibilities to your listeners as soon as you speak into a microphone. That means being either unbiased, as you really weren't (what happened to that "vicious" homeopath who told her daughter to stay in the kitchen with strangers while her attention was elsewhere?) or well-informed. I don't think you did either - you speak from a position of authority when you're on radio no matter how much you tell people you're not an expert. As soon as you read out an unattributed email that claimed something off the wall many listeners would be immediately frightened. You owe them an apology for fear mongering.
Personally I think I was most stunned by your retorical question: "What I want to know is what's wrong with childhood illness?" I'd like to opine (that is give my own _personal_ opinion) that what's wrong with it is that it's a tragedy.
Measles (with its 1 in 15 the mortality rate) would kill one or two children in every single school CLASS if no one was immunised. After mass vaccination about 95-96% of people will be unaffected by the disease and the mortality rate drops dramatically.
Children don't die as much and more live to grow up to adulthood. That's incredible science.
Surviving without this artificial advantage is clearly possible - humanity survived long enough to invent the vaccine after all but the population figures (and death rates) for prevaccination times and postvaccination times make incredibly stark reading. Given the choice of protecting children from things that can actually kill them and not protecting children my thoughts become clear - we should do it. It doesn't really help to let children run in the garden all day long - people still died of diseases when they worked in the fields from dawn till sunset, fresh air is not a cure.
I would heavily criticise your advice to go online to find out about things. The Internet is a terrible source of research - you can find sites on the Internet that will confidently tell you that Bigfoot kidnapped Elvis and that aliens run the White House. I don't trust those sites and I don't think you do either - why then should anyone trust an anti MMR site which makes equally hard to verify claims instead of universities and professional researchers who dedicate years to building a case either way? The only way to know for sure about anything is to research (not Google search) for yourself. If you've not got the time to check for autism in thousands of children the next best thing is to ask someone who did and then wrote about it.
If 100 people say one thing and 1 person says another thing that you feel really strongly is true it might be time to look at the position you hold. I'm not saying that the lone voice can't be right, I'm just saying that if you're on the motorway and all the cars are coming from the other direction it pays to check if you're in the wrong lane.
58. At February 7, 2009 1:49 AM AuGrimm wrote:
You are to be singled out as a harm and danger to society as you are not only placing your children at risk, but mine and everybody else's. This is not opinion, but empirical fact. You are a danger to your children and your community.
59. At February 7, 2009 2:36 AM MF wrote:
It's because of uninformed people like you that we've gone from having record low numbers of measles cases to the verge of an epidemic in the space of a few years.
60. At February 7, 2009 4:04 AM Albert Kanobie wrote:
Jeni …. ever noticed how those who profess faith in alternative treatments always go to a real doctor when they are really ill? It is good science and clear thinking that advances our civilization … not superstition and acceptance of anecdote over genuine research by trained professionals … please don't cause any more suffering for children by spouting your nonsense onto the airwaves … they deserve much better … and yes, unvaccinated children DO spread disease
61. At February 7, 2009 4:37 AM shellity wrote:
Apparently being a mother qualifies me to state my opinion, so here goes.
I respect your right to choose whether or not to vaccinate your children.
However, if you choose not to vaccinate, you no longer have my respect.
Oh, and keep your unvaccinated children away from my kids forever, thanks.
62. At February 7, 2009 4:38 AM Dib wrote:
So, Bad Science site is down. Apparently some legal threats have been made. Way to carry on a debate. I wouldn't have even consider coming to such a blog as this, was it not that the author seems to be behind the silencing of one of the best scientific bloggers out there. Is it not enough to spread dangerous lies, jeni, that you also must have those who debunk you silenced? Shame on you.
63. At February 7, 2009 5:15 AM kinzuakid wrote:
"Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate, and if it gets too heated there is always the option of turning me off."
Ah, that, excepting the fact that we cannot "turn off" the very real and manifest risk to our entire population should these diseases continue to regain their foothold. With cases of measles at a near 20-year high in the UK and vaccination rates on the decline the facts and implications are simply indisputable. That they are disputed at all is frightening.
Perhaps I should opine on the Clothing Cabal and their profit driven motives for keeping us from the cold in winter. What's wrong with a little hypothermia, anyway? Haven't you ever considered the chemicals they use in the manufacture of winter coats and gloves? Don't you realize how dangerous those substances are to our children? They bite, chew and rub their noses on those synthetic fabrics made from PTFE the "experts" call safe, meanwhile our children ingest known carcinogens without a peep from the establishment because of their greed.
It would be a great analogy except for two things: hypothermia and frostbite aren't contagious and you will be arrested for child endangerment if you let your little ones out of the house in January with only shirtsleeves for clothes. Those are the rather unfortunate differences with the anti-vaccination movement.
This irrational movement against vaccination has put millions of the most vulnerable at risk unnecessarily and at a time when we had begun to eradicate these killers. We all suffer for the ignorance of the few.
64. At February 7, 2009 6:52 AM Biff wrote:
_I would like some of my critics to try and run a three hour programme._
That is no defence at all (although an enlightening admission). If you can't do your job in a responsible way then you shouldn't do it, and if you need help with research and analysis then I suggest you consider facts, not instinct or hearsay. Your _personal dilemma_ shouldn't be allowed to so tragically degrade your professional delivery.
65. At February 7, 2009 7:53 AM Henry wrote:
I'm really glad that you don't suppress replies from 'allopathic' points of view, so thankyou for that.
It is tragic that children are diagnosed with autism and that modern medicine hasn't been able to cure it yet. It is even more tragic that fear generated by ill-informed journalists has caused cases of MMR to reach increasingly higher levels (more than 20% increase last year) such that the UK has one of the highest rates in Europe.
In response to reply 51 from Lynne:
1) Yes, vaccination is big business but that doesn't make the people involved any more evil than book publishers.
2) Yes, drug companies run a lot of trials, but these trials have to be submitted to exceptional scrutiny in order to be published in a reputable journal.
Occasionally these respected journals will even retract articles when they discover that the author has a financial conflict of interest and the research is flawed, as the Lancet did with Andrew Wakefield's research.
3) Yes, there are is a growing online blog community of allopaths who often seem to come out in defence of Big Pharma. However they are trying to get across the message that looking at rigorous scientific evidence is the most important thing that you can do.
The fact that you mentioned Vioxx et c. only serves to prove that when a claim is made that a drug is dangerous that it is investigated, that the evidence is rechecked and that the drug is withdrawn. In the case of Vioxx it was shown that the drug was dangerous but the same has not happened for MMR - in fact as a result, MMR has been subject to even greater scrutiny and still shown to be effective and safe: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/homepages/106568753/PR_mmr.pdf
I should also point out that Ben Goldacre lectures to medical students (i.e. future medical doctors) on how to make sure that the information they get from the drug companies is reliable.
4) Yes, the 'gold standard' trial in medicine is a large multi-centre randomised controlled trial, but that is only one way in which drugs are shown to be safe. Research into science is a continuous and ongoing process which is extremely tightly regulated.
In order for a drug to be made available on the NHS it must be shown to be not only safe but also effective. Many drugs never make it past the early trial stages because they cannot satisfy these criteria.
On the other hand, alternative therapies only have to show that they are safe (to the same level that drugs are) and not that they are effective. Vitamin C for measles is an example of a safe therapy which is not effective for a potentially deadly disease which is infecting more and more children every year.
When smoking was shown by numerous scientific studies to be exceptionally dangerous in many ways the government and the medical establishment acted to make people aware of the dangers and to prevent the fatal cancers and other diseases caused by smoking.
Now that MMR has been shown by the same high standard of proof to be safe it is up to members of the public to decide for themselves, just as they can decide to buy a pack of cigarettes. All that I ask is that the people who use a radio programme to air their uninformed views keep these facts in mind.
Please don't take my word for it, look up the all the facts for yourself and come to an informed rational decision that is not based in fear.
After all, I could be a Big Pharma stooge* who gets paid every time an MMR jab is used. Or maybe I helped invent a story that smoking is dangerous so that Big Pharma can sell Niquitin on the NHS**
* I'm not. ** I have read enough evidence on the dangers of smoking to come to an informed decision that it does cause fatal diseases.
I welcome any corrections or comments.
66. At February 7, 2009 8:57 AM David Jones wrote:
_I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt_
Until you try to call the lawyers off I won't believe you.
67. At February 7, 2009 10:04 AM DavidJ wrote:
"when I received a vicious phone call from a Nurse I was utterly thrown."
This is really very, very poor indeed. I have both read the transcript and listened to the audio file and, really, your attacking this person as "vicious" is appalling. You talked over her, shouted her down and treated her and her ideas with ill informed contempt. To then try and protect yourself you attack her as "vicious"; this is the action of a bully. If you really welcome debate then treating her with the respect that you claim for yourself and treating her views with a measure of consideration would be the way to do it. Instead it seems that your aim is to win, whether you are right or wrong. Some advice: When you are wrong, aplologise. That way you may reclaim some measure of respect. As it is you have lost that respect from many.
68. At February 7, 2009 10:20 AM Magda Taylor wrote:
Thank you Jeni for having the courage to say what you truly believe. Those in the media and also in the medical world who chose to bury their heads in the sand or worse still choose to remain ignorant -shame on you! The measles/MMR propaganda that is hurled at us on a regular basis needs to stop! I would urge parents to start doing their own independent research, not just on MMR but the whole vaccination theory, which is based on the false germ theory and the false antibody theory. And learn about the true nature of disease especially acute childhood illnesses and what they represent. Vaccination can never protect because the germ is NOT the cause!www.informedparent.co.uk
69. At February 7, 2009 10:22 AM Cybertiger wrote:
Oh, Henry, what silly sophistry you do preach - that so artlessly started with,
"It is tragic that children are diagnosed with autism and that modern medicine hasn't been able to cure it yet."
Modern medicine hasn't cured it yet because modern medical science doesn't understand the causes of autism. Tragically, the great and the good in medical science (which does emphatically not include Salisbury, Goldacre, Horton or Meadow) are being prevented from finding the causes and hence finding preventions and cures for autistic spectrum disorders.
70. At February 7, 2009 11:23 AM Lynne wrote:
Isn't it amazing how aggressive the whole debate on this subject is? You are allowed to hold an opinion and to express it. We do still just about live in a democracy.
The conventional wisdom of the establishment can be so so so sure that it is right and anyone that dares to suggest otherwise, especially in public, is hounded. Each generation of "scientists" seem to be convinced that they are right, absolutely right and that anyone that disagrees is stupid, misinformed and dangerous. Those that challenge are usually attacked, marginalised and ridiculed - it is a fairly predictable response. Think of the reactions to those who thought that the earth might not be flat; and perhaps there were a few who suspected the safety of Thalidomide, one wonders how their views were received.
Just to respond to the points raised by Henry in post 65. Thank you for your thoughts, I suspect that we may have to agree to differ - my views are based not in fear but in clear, rational, independent thinking based on the facts as I see them.
Yes book publishers make money from book sales, but I think we are comparing apples and pears here. One has a choice whether or not to buy and read a book. Even some of the worst books, hopefully, do not have a health warning! Vaccines do carry a list of industry acknowledged side effects, even if we discount the ones under debate. We need to be able to decide what we are medicated with and whether the risks of side effects are acceptable to us.
I seem to remember that in the fairly recent past, editors of some medical journals have asked the pharmaceutical industry to submit trials of a higher standard - i.e. less biased trail design? I believe there have also been calls on the industry to be less selective about the trials they choose to publish. You may know more about this than me but I believe there are attempts, nationally and internationally for the pharmaceutical industry to be more accountable.
Meanwhile, the scrutiny and regulation offered by the industry's self regulatory body, the ABPI, and the government's MHRA failed to identify the risks and protect against the tragically flawed trail protocol for TGN1412, to prevent the delay from GlaxoSmithKline in releasing information as to Seroxat's potential risks in being used in the under 18s, or the licensing and sale of Vioxx.
The Yellowcard system for reporting side effects is known to be greatly under-used with a number of drug side effects going unreported and unacknowledged by the medical profession, the industry and the government.
Ben Goldacre teaching medical students does not reassure me - it just suggests that future generations of doctors may be less able to approach life, health and their practice with a clear and open mind. It also concerns me that the medical teaching establishment regard an aggressive, dogmatic and intolerant approach as an acceptable framework for teaching and practice.
I am sure Henry that we could to and fro for years and still neither of us agree, but I am grateful that we still, just about, live in a society where it is possible to live with different viewpoints and life choices.
Jeni - keep on rocking the boat! All best wishes Lynne
71. At February 7, 2009 11:25 AM Yvonne wrote:
Why are people so frightened and upset by someone having a different opinion from them?
Some people choose to vaccinate their children because they believe they are doing the best for their children
Some people choose not to vaccinate their children because they believe they are doing the right thing
Those children that are vaccinated should not be at risk from the non vaccinated children if the vaccines do all they say they are going to and those children who are not vaccinated should not be at risk from the vaccinated children.
Unfortunately both vaccinated and unvaccinated children get measles - there are no cast iron guarantees in life and sometimes vaccines are 'sold' to parents as the 'no need to worry any longer' option which is obviously not the case. Equally vaccines clearly harm some children and do good for others, when giving your child vaccinations you don't know which category your child will fall into. There is no substitute for keeping well with a good diet, exercise and fun, but this also comes with no certainties of a long and healthy life. That is 'life' - full of unknowns, we all take risks everyday, making decisions for ourselves and our children is a big responsibility but we are lucky if we live in a world where we do have the freedom to choose.
It concerns me that a day will come when we are all forced to do the same thing -just because some greater power says we should.
In the world today there are far worse things happening to children (think of poor baby P) than a parent choosing to vaccinate or not to vaccinate their children.
Jeni I believe you did the right thing to remind people that they do have a choice and they should not feel pressured either way.
Reading the comments so far reminds that this world could be a better place if there were a little more respect and tolerance for each others opinions and differences.
72. At February 7, 2009 11:45 AM Peter wrote:
Jeni - Kudos for having an un-moderated Blog, where comments are posted, not censored, and also for admitting you were unprepared for the direction the discussion took. However, your characterisation of your final caller as 'vicious' is beneath you, and deserves an apology. Similarly your defensive sarcastic entry on 'Bad Scientists' suggests someone who is more rattled than composed.
If you haven't heard of it yet, LBC's lawyers have created a 'Barbra Streisand' effect - where what is perceived at an attempt to suppress information is having the precise opposite effect - generating much more publicity for the broadcast - which is now available from multiple sites.
The topic of your original discussion, 'what is a lay person to do when confronted with (what appears to be) contradictory advice' is clearly very important - unfortunately, your personal perspective completely overwhelmed any attempt at a rational objective discussion, and you repeated, no doubt in good faith, some 'facts' which have been demonstrated to be false.
MMR is an important topic - why not host a discussion with people who know more about it than lay people like you or I?
73. At February 7, 2009 12:10 PM Anna of Arnica wrote:
Hi Matt Have you not heard of Hannah Poling whose Autism was put down to vaccines and was paid $6 in the US last year? No, probably not because there is a news embargo here … nothing can stop the immunization program!
Have you not heard that the only double blind placebo safety test ever on vaccines were in India, where those vaccinated with the BCG were more likely to get TB? The USA does not use this vaccine!
What about Hep B? One day French parents were liable to be imprisoned for refusal of this vaccine.. the next day a french health official was jailed for with holding information about the link between MS and the Hep B vaccine. It is no longer compulsory..
And would you accept all medical interventions or might it be wise to look into each one for your child?
Especially as death by medical and drug error,Iatrogenic, is one of the leading causes of death in the US.. http://ourcivilisation.com/medicine/usamed.htm
What science? It is not exact. Be responsible and let us openly discuss this. Where is the research which compares the health and disease incidence between the un vaccinated and the vaccinated?
Keep an open mind Well done Jeni Please check out the UKs Natural Immunity Network www.arnica.org.uk
74. At February 7, 2009 1:19 PM JW wrote:
I'm going to go slightly off topic here, but I think it's relevant. My mother was a state registered nurse, but also a practitioner of homeopathy and an ardent supporter of 'natural medicine'. About 10 years ago she self-diagnosed her type 2 diabetes. She then proceeded to 'treat' it with homeopathy supplements, naturopathy, you name it. She spent a lot of time researching these things online and in libraries and owned a veritable library of books. She was very well informed and sounded very plausible. Occasionally, when she was particularly tired or ill we would try and get her to see a medical doctor, but she refused, telling us she had it all under control. She was taking multiple supplements, homeopathic remedies and things like cinnamon (which I know is advised by many alternative practitioners for type 2 diabetes). We believed her and let it drop. Last summer she was admitted to hospital with possible heart block. This turned out to have been a major heart attack. Her blood sugar was 23 on arrival at hospital (it should be around 4-6). A few days later she had another major heart attack, was resuscitated, but then died of renal failure. The untreated type 2 diabetes had caused her arteries to be coated with a thick plaque, leading to the heart attack, and her kidneys were so damaged that they could not recover after the resuscitation. If she had been taking, for example, metformin, along with aspirin and an anti-statin she would still be alive and healthy now. Alternative medicine is not benign, nor is it a viable alternative to treat real disease.
In this case the focus by the alternative practitioners is on anti-vaccination. I would suggest to anyone who reads or listens to this type of propaganda that they should check the research. Smallpox has been eradicated in this country through mass vaccination, the same could happen with vicious diseases like measles if every child that could received the vaccination. Vaccination is free to all in the UK and clinically proven. Homeopathy, naturopathy, accupuncture etc are neither free nor proven.
75. At February 7, 2009 1:25 PM Wyrley Bonk wrote:
Jenni, I really think you should apologise for what was clearly a stunningly absurd and inaccurate piece of broadcasting and also for rudely describing the phone call from the nurse as "vicious". I know Yasmin and the last thing that she is is vicious. You, on the other hand, have behaved disgracefully. Saying sorry may be a good way to draw a line under it. I would praise you for only one thing - allowing people who disagree with you to post on your blog. Now I hope you take notice of them, and of their weight of opinion.
76. At February 7, 2009 1:35 PM Gazzer wrote:
Hi Jeni, As a mother then you will feel somewhat bad that uninformed comment about medicine - especially one as emotive as jabs - has real effects: It kills children. Make no bones about it, and I'm not here to accuse you of anything, this is the simple reality.
But you then repeat the mistake: "Injecting tiny babies with substances that may compromise their immune system needs to be looked at not shouted down."
It IS looked at. Children are given jabs because evidence based medicine has shown it saves lives. So when your choice not to give your child a jab raises his or her chance of dying it is not something as a broadcaster you want to be publicizing - keep your decision to yourself.
Rather than trying to justify your commentary with qualified apologies do something real about it: read the research Edzard Ernst or Ben Goldacre, and then publicize what you learn: if you don't give your child a vaccination they have a higher chance of dying through illness.
77. At February 7, 2009 1:50 PM Dr John Crippen wrote:
The controversy moves on apace but, whatever may be said, you are at lest allowing an open debate on your blog.
In the interests of fairness, would you now confirm that you will invite Ben Goldacre on your show for a proper debate, and make the transcipt of that debate free available for discussion?
That is the challenge from the medical profession. Full details thereof at:
Dr John Crippen
NHS BLOG DOCTOR
78. At February 7, 2009 2:15 PM Cybertiger wrote:
Peter, commentator No. 72 said,
"MMR is an important topic - why not host a discussion with people who know more about it than lay people like you or I?"
But what expert vaccinologists can be trusted these days?
Vaccination expert Dr David Elliman made an arse of himself at the trial of Dr Jayne Donegan,
And Professor Sir Roy Meadow, expert on everything including vaccinology, proved himself a fiendish arse over the trial of Sally Clark and many other shaking/smothering/murdering mothering trials. Go figure … on the quality of medical expertise available in this country today … and whether you can entrust your child's life with these experts.
79. At February 7, 2009 2:17 PM The Biologista wrote:
Yvonne: "Those children that are vaccinated should not be at risk from the non vaccinated children if the vaccines do all they say they are going to and those children who are not vaccinated should not be at risk from the vaccinated children."
This is where herd immunity comes in. If enough of a virus is flying around, even the vaccinated are at some (albeit smaller) risk of infection. Maintaining that level of immunity in the population requires (I think) above 75% vaccination. In parts of the UK that rate is not being achieved. It is probably no coincidence that the numbers of measles infections in the UK is not just increasing, but accelerating.
Perhaps more critically, the more of any given virus that exists, the higher the risk that it will undergo a mutation that allows it to get around the vaccine. If the vaccine is being administered to only a small population, it might even act as an effective evolutionary selective pressure.
That would be very bad news indeed, though it would ironically be good news for the Big Pharma companies who get to make and market a new vaccine.
80. At February 7, 2009 2:18 PM SH wrote:
Interestingly, my dog needs to have a vaccination certificate to go into the kennels, or even on training courses, whereas unvaccinated children are allowed into nurseries and schools.
Another example of people placing a higher value on animals than humans !
I also hear that the drug companies are influencing doctors with free mugs, pens and postit pads. They'll prescribe any old poison for a free mug !
81. At February 7, 2009 2:41 PM TM wrote:
I completely agree with you. Everyone is to eager to listen to whatever their doctors have to say instead of doing research on their own. My daughter is not vaccinated and she is extremely healthy. she is 3 and has rarely ever had a cold for more than 2 days. I made an informed choice and stand by my choice not to vaccinate. If everyone is so sure that vaccines are safe and effective then their vaccinated children should be safe and the unvaccinated should pose no threat. Recently in my area an outbreak of whooping cough broke out. ALL of the students were vaccinated. 11 student in the school were not vaccinated and none of these children contracted whooping cougn. Coincidence??? i dont think so. Good Job for being one of the people who speak out against vaccination safety.
82. At February 7, 2009 2:51 PM Mr B wrote:
Good for you Jeni for speaking out about vacations. Stand your ground!
83. At February 7, 2009 2:52 PM Bob Calder wrote:
Thank you Jeni for having the courage to say what you truly believe. If more people were exposed to random blathering, perhaps they would develop the thinking skills necessary to reject blather. I believe the skeptics should not urge you to keep quiet. They should encourage every imaginary causal fairytale to be published in order to help people develop the ability to filter nonsense.
The term "stupid" indicates willful disregard of knowledge. Facts with regard to the well-being of humans can be objectively measured.
Disregarding objective measurement for personal experience is subject to chance. An example of this would be one's ability to judge the odds of mortality due to malaria versus the bird flu. Sometimes we are scared to take ANY chance to the extent that we disregard a substantially greater chance because of unfamiliarity. The medical profession exists to familiarize us with risks. In particular the profession of public health doctors assumes this burden.
Stupid disregard of advice from persons who understand the complex interaction of systems is profoundly dysfunctional. Supremely dysfunctional because being faced with a complex system, Barnett and her fans choose to deny the odds by substituting a simple model based on a series of unconnected observations.
For some reason, many of the arguments here begin with a call to the law. Indeed we have laws preserving speech because unpopular speech sometimes benefits the corpus of humanity. This is however, rare since the percentage of any population that has anything worthwhile to say is small due to their lack of systematic experience. It is the duty of the rest of us to rail against stupidity.
There are of course outright lies. Correcting a random sentence from above: Hanna Poling's disorder was found to be due to a genetic disease. The court settlement was not a determination of fact, but based on economy. Reading the material published by researchers and pathologists rather than reporters can be enlightening.
84. At February 7, 2009 2:57 PM bsr wrote:
Not only did you by your own admission use your soapbox to pontificate on a topic you know nothing about and therefore spread dangerous misinformation about, you also lie.
"As a professional should I have been better prepared - YES - but the discussion took off in a direction I hadn't expected when I received a vicious phone call from a Nurse I was utterly thrown. I won't get thrown again."
That nurse was very polite and reasonable, the unreasonable rude person was you. Of course your doing your best to hide the evidence of that by suing the guy that posted an audio of your insane ranting.
85. At February 7, 2009 3:27 PM Helen wrote:
"Smallpox has been eradicated in this country through mass vaccination"
JW, I'm afraid this is just not true. If you look at the long-term charts of the deaths caused by all diseases, going back a century or two, in each case you will see that the incidence of these diseases and death rates dropped 80-90% before vaccination was introduced. Why? Because sanitation and diets improved. Vaccination had nothing to do with it.
86. At February 7, 2009 3:38 PM Tom Chivers wrote:
Yvonne: While it would be great if that were true, in fact vaccinated children are in some cases at risk from unvaccinated children as the vaccine onle works in around 90% of cases.
That's why the WHO recommends a minimum of 95% vaccination coverage, to achieve what is called 'herd immunity' - i.e. sufficiently widespread immunity to prevent the disease spreading around.
Tom Chivers London
87. At February 7, 2009 3:45 PM Another Henry wrote:
_Those children that are vaccinated should not be at risk from the non vaccinated children if the vaccines do all they say they are going to and those children who are not vaccinated should not be at risk from the vaccinated children._
Two words: herd immunity. Seriously, click on the link and read it.
88. At February 7, 2009 4:50 PM T wrote:
You have my support Jeni, although I do think that when entering into such a HOT debate we really need to be prepared and armed with scientific data that in fact is out there to support your argument.
This "debate" is so emotive and rarely accomplishes anything but visciousness. You are dealing with a very primal fear here…..a parents instinct to protect their child. Parents on both sides of the argument feel so very strongly about their chosen stance that they will do anything to defend it - and it can get ugly.
What about all pulling together to allow and hear all sides, and then to investigate thoroughly all claims - in the name of protecting our children???
I love living in this country because it means I am FREE TO CHOOSE whether I want to vaccinate my children or not. So let's at the very least support independent choice.
Dear Shellity who wrote:
"I respect your right to choose whether or not to vaccinate your children. However, if you choose not to vaccinate, you no longer have my respect. Oh, and keep your unvaccinated children away from my kids forever, thanks."
If you believe so wholeheartedly in the power of these vaccines, why are you concerned that your children will come into contact with unvaccinated children? Has the vaccine not afforded them immunity??
Let's keep talking!
89. At February 7, 2009 6:32 PM Keir Williams wrote:
Is she implying that scientist's don't have children?
90. At February 7, 2009 7:33 PM Peter wrote:
78 Cybertiger wrote:
"But what expert vaccinologists can be trusted these days?"
Cybertiger - that is the ENTIRE point of science - its not WHO says what (Jeni/Holford/Goldacre/Whoever) but what the EVIDENCE says. I fear our 'celebrity' culture has raised the profile of "Personalities" (and as the old saw goes, "being one is not the same thing as having one") - to the point of obscuring the evidence. Let the debate proceed on the basis of the evidence - that has been checked out by other experts - as the old Dilbert Cartoon goes "I don't have the data, but studies prove made up data is just as useful as real data" "How many studies" "87″……Jeni does not purport to be an expert - but has, unfortunately, repeated some of the falsehoods of some "so-called" experts
91. At February 7, 2009 8:08 PM Shay wrote:
1) Vaccinations prevent over 90% of childhood diseases, including measles. 2)Measles cases in the UK have risen 30-36% in the last year due to an increasing number of parents who choose not to vaccinate. 3)There is no evidence linking vaccination to autism or to compromised immune systems.
Discuss measles, mumps and rubella with someone who is old enough to remember life before childhood vaccinations for a true pictures of what these diseases can do. Then reconsider your claim to "responsible" journalism.
92. At February 7, 2009 8:10 PM Another Henry wrote:
_Let's keep talking!_
Yes, let's. It might be a good start if you had a look at some of the above discussion.
_If you believe so wholeheartedly in the power of these vaccines, why are you concerned that your children will come into contact with unvaccinated children? Has the vaccine not afforded them immunity??_
Please see the above comments on herd immunity (eg 79, 86, 87).
93. At February 7, 2009 8:12 PM Peter wrote:
"why are you concerned that your children will come into contact with unvaccinated children? Has the vaccine not afforded them immunity??"
No. Its not 100% - its about 90%. Unlike un-vaccination - which is a lot lower - and since immunocompromised children are not vaccinated (HIV/Cancer) - then those whose children are not immunocompromised should not be surprised if those who have chosen to vaccinate their children (or who cannot have them vaccinated) desire to keep their children separate from those who have chosen not to.
Life is about choices and accepting the consequences.
Your children have a much greater likelihood of spreading Measles, Mumps or Rubella….that is your choice.
Respect the choice of those who have chosen differently.
94. At February 7, 2009 8:27 PM gazzer wrote:
@T "I love living in this country because it means I am FREE TO CHOOSE whether I want to vaccinate my children or not. So let's at the very least support independent choice."
But your children are not free to choose their parents. And in your case, you are ignoring the results of evidence based medicine, thus endangering their lives.
To those who give their personal stories:
The plural of anecdote is not evidence. Anecdote is what we had before we had modern medicine. Remember those days when people died of what we now regard as minor ailments. The success of modern day medicine is obvious: we now live a long time and less children die. And for each parent who tells of the (probably unconnected) death, and it is tragic, of a child somewhat after a vaccine there are hundreds of children who die because their parents based their decision on emotion rather than science.
"Has the vaccine not afforded them immunity??" It works 90% of the time, and thus affords herd immunity - unless enough parent give vaccinations. So when parents don't vaccinate their children it may be other parent's children they are killing. Think about that.
95. At February 7, 2009 8:43 PM Richard Smith wrote:
It is a real shame that you broadcast on topics about which you are so poorly informed.
Please don't scare the public into making poor choices. Stick to celeb gossip or whatever it is you do well.
Best wishes Concerned of London
96. At February 7, 2009 9:36 PM AB wrote:
The crux of the issue is that you had a responsibility to make sure you'd researched the topic, and by your own admission you failed to do this. The question that inevitably raises is does this hold true for all the things you broadcast about?
As a broadcaster you will live or die by your creditability, and I fear you've completely blown it over this issue - sorry.
And it doesn't help that this particular issue has serious implications for people's health - it is really quite inexcusable that you used your position of responsibility to air your (by your own admission) ill-informed opinions.
And I've listened to your broadcast despite your employer's bully-boy legal tactics - as a media company I would have hoped that they would have realised what a futile and counter-productive act this was.
97. At February 7, 2009 9:45 PM Jamie wrote:
TM: "I completely agree with you. Everyone is to eager to listen to whatever their doctors have to say instead of doing research on their own."
So how exactly are your laboratories equipped? While today's media is sometimes too eager to put scientists (not always very good ones, either) on a pedestal, they are called scientists for a reason - they know more than you and me about science, and they study it for a living. They also use large-scale empirical research and analysis to draw verifiable conclusions, which is more than can be said for your anecdote about 11 children who happened not to have been vaccinated not getting whooping cough. I'm sure there were hundreds of children who were vaccinated who didn't get it either. Your story proves nothing.
Please, Jeni, have someone on your next show who's actually an expert on science. I agree that you're free to think what you like about MMR, but this kind of uninformed scaremongering about medical science is similar to yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre. OFCOM requires due accuracy in broadcasting, and your radio show misrepresented the scientific facts and made many wholly incorrect assertions. I know your motives are basically good, but misinformation about medicine is dangerous. Bringing a proper doctor on would correct some of the damage done, and help you salvage your reputation as a broadcaster.
98. At February 7, 2009 9:56 PM Enlightened wrote:
My unvaccinated grandson has just had measles. He caught it from the five vaccinated boys in his class who had symptoms long before him. He was treated with homeopathy and recovered fully in five days whilst the other vaccinated children are still off sick a week later. So much for the MMR vaccine.
When I was young we were sent to Measles, Mumps, and Chicken-pox parties. The vast majority of us were only ill for a while before fully recovering with life long natural immunity. However there were a few children who did have a rough time with measles causing myopia but they were the children from the poor families who only had bread and dripping for tea and had outside toilets. The well fed kids were all fine. I am sure a good healthy diet and good hygiene is the answer. Of course many children will die of measles in Africa in the same way many there will die of TB, AIDS and Polio because they are starving and have nothing in their poor immune systems to fight infection with.
How many healthy well fed children have died of measles in England in the last ten years can someone please say? I suspect the answer is none. I think hundreds may have died from vaccines. For instance both of Sally Clark's babies who died were vaccinated just prior to their deaths. Discredited Prof. Sir Roy Meadow instead of investigating this gave false evidence imprisoning poor Sally Clark which eventually lead to her suicide.
Do I trust scientists - NO I trust common sense and the true facts which are hidden from us in non stop lies and propaganda.
99. At February 7, 2009 10:15 PM Daniel Earwicker wrote:
You have personally encountered a case where several vaccinated children caught measles. The problem with this is that it ignores the possibility that in the next classroom along, there may be some more evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion.
To find out if there is any kind of link, you need to do a study of thousands of children, and be very careful to avoid accidentally introducing biased selection. When this is done properly, the result is that there has been a big increase in measles cases in recent years, mostly in children who have not been vaccinated.
100. At February 8, 2009 12:21 AM chaz wrote:
This is an interesting debate. It seems to me that a lot of the anti vac lobby rely on media reporting. While a lot of the pro vac rely on evidence. I have been both on the media side (my old job) and the medical side (the new job). I do not believe in anything I read or hear in the media at all. I have seen the results of childhood illnesses. I have lived and worked in countries where they have widespread childhood illnesses that we have all but got rid of. I do not have children but if I did I would not hesitate to get them vacinated them.
101. At February 8, 2009 12:24 AM Gareth wrote:
Ms Barnett, an ill-informed piece of work, I hope it does not have the influence you intended. Luckily all the adverse commentary improves the PR for vaccination. The comment by one of your supporters that germs don't cause disease would be hilarious if I didn't share the air with them.
102. At February 8, 2009 1:01 AM druneknaof wrote:
From hearing your show on the internet (you're a big star now!), it does make me wonder if you've ever stopped to learn the side of the argument from the side of medicine.
I know it's hard, learning the basics of biology, chemistry, a bit of physics, then building on top of that- learning how the body works, how drugs work, and a fair bit of ethics, sociology and psychology too. But after all those years of study, medical doctors graduate and then have to do all their postgrad qualifications, and continual medical education guff for the rest of their careers. But these guys are in it to help people, and they are expert. You're not. You even repeatedly say "I'm no expert".
I get the feeling that actually learning how vaccines are made; how they work, and understanding the doses, component parts, exposure levels of the ingredients, and the risk vs benefit of it all is difficult for you. No wonder. You haven't spent your life learning this like medics have.
What I do suspect you have is met people that have strongly anti-vaccination opinions. Their explanations are far easier for anyone to grasp. Doesn't make them right.
Anyhow, there's the same MMR controversy in the USA as there is here. Funnily enough, there's money to be made in stirring up fear of vaccines, and some of it has been done rather more subtly that your radio show (where your first caller took about 10 mins to reveal that, actually, she's a homeopath [hmm-- no anti-conventional agenda with her then]).
Anyhow, American paediatricians wrote this:
It's fairly accessible, and it'll give you some idea of the medical profession's side of the story. If you consider yourself a journalist, or at least a fair and balanced broadcaster, you should make the time to read it, and think about it.
You'll then see why so many people took issue with your attitude, tone and behaviour on that infamous show.
103. At February 8, 2009 2:46 AM Ken W wrote:
Jenni You are allowing emotion to get in the way of the facts. I'm no scientist, but I worked as a journalist for 30-plus years and what I learned in that time is to understand the weight of evidence.
Seems to me the weight of evidence is firmly PRO-MMR.And the latest stats on the number of measles infections is scary.
You've had your say. Now do another show with the doctors and research scientists who really know the FACTS.
104. At February 8, 2009 3:55 AM The Biologista wrote:
"My unvaccinated grandson has just had measles. He caught it from the five vaccinated boys in his class who had symptoms long before him. He was treated with homeopathy and recovered fully in five days whilst the other vaccinated children are still off sick a week later. So much for the MMR vaccine."
If water or sugar tablets can retain a memory for something diluted in them to the point that no molecules of the original thing could possibly remain, why then do they not also retain an uncontrollable memory for everything they've ever been in contact with? In the case of water this would rather unfortunately include a homeopathic memory for a whole load of salts, minerals, fish and vast quantities of human waste.
It is fully possible to recover from measles in five days without magic water or sugar pills. This underlines the problem with anecdotal evidence. You applied a treatment and have absolutely no way of determining whether it did a damn thing.
At least we have evidence, you have a story. And a rather unremarkable one at that.
105. At February 8, 2009 4:02 AM Gazzer wrote:
@Enlightened Sorry, but in fact you are very unenlightened. So you trust 'common sense' about medical issues rather than controlled tests done by scientists using evidence-based methods. Well, what does your 'common sense' make of this:
Yearly Measles Cases: 05: 80 06: 700 07: 950 08: 1300
Have you seen the picture of a brain of a child killed by measles?
In fact, your post is so full of ignorance about even basic medical issues :("For instance both of Sally Clark's babies who died were vaccinated just prior to their deaths", apparently both children also slept in a room with pink wallpaper, so was that another cause?).
"but they were the children from the poor families who only had bread and dripping for tea and had outside toilets. " Haven't you just contradicted yourself? Surely, your 'theory' about exposure means that 'dirtier' children will be healthier in the long term because they were exposed to more infections at an earlier age.
But the points above are clearly moot, because it is clear from your post that you are a comedian deliberately acting the fool - a medical Alf Garnett if you will.
106. At February 8, 2009 8:44 AM Jeff Thomas wrote:
Your child did not recover because of homeopathy. And you are a confused, blinkered idiot.
107. At February 8, 2009 9:18 AM Stuart wrote:
I think you might usefully read this site, Jeni: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/ It contains this snippet: "'Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper's [Andrew Wakefields] impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire "herd immunity" from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.
Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease."
I thought your broadcast about this issue was calculated to frighten people away from vaccination. The results of loss of "herd immunity" are there for all to see in the figures quoted in that snippet.
Your anti-immunisation bias is clear to me in the broadcast, and it is undoubtedly based on an emotional, unthinking approach to public health. I think you really should take time to learn more fully about subjects before broadcasting such emotive stuff as you did on this issue.
108. At February 8, 2009 9:56 AM Justin Megawarne wrote:
Is anyone else sick of the completely fallacious argument presented by people like Jeni Barnett that they may not be scientists, but they ARE parents? And, no less, supporting homoeopathy, one of the most thoroughly debunked forms of treatment?
I would propose that Jeni Barnett's behaviour is essentially neglect, and Social Services should seriously consider removing her child from her.
109. At February 8, 2009 10:14 AM Anna of Arnica wrote:
HERE IS SOME 'SCIENCE' FOR YOU Does this process, of making the measles vaccine, really instill confidence ?
Janine Roberts, Investigative Journalist, writes…
"The fluid in the vaccines is never sterile. It is filtered straight from the bird cell culture incubators in which the measles virus is produced - and nothing the size of a virus or smaller than a virus can be filtered out before it is put into our children.
I have obtained previously unpublished NIH transcripts of the meetings of the top UK and US vaccine scientists in which they admit this. I quote them extensively in my new book -Fear of the Invisible. They state that the vaccines are both "crude" and "primitive," to quote our Dr Phil Minor of the UK Health Department, They are full of bits of dead cells - including DNA and RNA fragments that the doctors at this conference described as 'possible causes of cancer and autoimmune diseases', as well as bird proteins, toxins, bird viruses. A scientist from WHO also admits extraordinarily in these transcripts that the measles vaccine is extensively contaminated with 'Bird Leukosis Virus' and that they cannot remove it. None of this has been reported to parents. This is from a highly authoritative source - an NIH transcript of named leading scientists from the top scientific institutions and pharmaceutical companies in meetings that were not attended by parent organizations or by journalists. This is an extract from her new book
'Fear of the Invisible' is on the Reading List
'Since many parents have reported serious illnesses in their children after MMR, we have to ask: When measles virus is injected into our children, what else might be in the needle? How sterile is the procedure?
In a paper entitled 'Isolation and Identification of Measles Virus in Cell Culture,' the US Government's leading virus research institution, the CDC, currently lays out how isolation of this virus should be done. It instructs; first obtain from a patient suspected of having measles a small sample of urine or fluid from the nose or mouth. 
Next, states the CDC, prepare a culture of cells from marmoset monkeys by making these cancerous and giving them Epstein-Barr disease! Cells from this species of monkeys, it informs us, are '10,000 times' more sensitive to the measles virus than are normal human cells (i.e. they are much more likely to fall gravely ill in this experiment). The monkey cells are then settled into a monolayer (one cell deep layer) in a laboratory vessel. (The measles and MMR vaccine manufacturers are currently using instead cells from mashed chicken embryos rather than from very expensive marmoset monkeys.)
Next, using rubber gloves and splash goggles, add to the cells a dangerous toxin called trypsin. The CDC tells us to expect some of the cells to fall off the sides of the vessel as if they have been poisoned. They have been. It then instructs: add nutrients and glucose and leave the cells alone for two or three days so they can recover.
Next add to the cell culture the sample gathered from the patient and place the culture in a warm incubation chamber. After an hour, inspect these cells with a microscope to see if are rounded, distorted, or floating free as they were after trypsin was added. If they are, the CDC calls this proof that measles virus is present and causing this illness! If 50% of the cells are now distorted, the CDC tells scientists to put this cell culture in the fridge as an "isolated measles-virus stock!" This will contain many particles and toxins from terribly sick monkey cells – yet it is said to be an 'isolate' that may be used for a measles vaccine! In fact, no measles-like symptoms have been observed in the culture. The CDC does not even look to see if the measles virus were present. It is the fluid filtered off from such an incubator that is used as a vaccine.
When I read this paper, I was horrified by the inadequacy of the science. The child vaccinated would have to produce many antibodies against all the contaminants – irrespective of whether they were measles virus.
This led me to wonder how this virus was first discovered and used to make measles vaccines. I hoped it would be nothing like the faulty process used with the poliovirus. (See Ch. 3 in 'Fear of the Invisible') But, I found that John Enders, the scientist who developed the measles vaccine in 1954, said he had modelled its development on the work he had done to help make the polio vaccines. 
His team first obtained some fluid, 'throat washings and blood', from an 11-year-old boy with measles called David Edmonston. When this was added to 'human post-natal' cells, these cells fell ill. This was taken as indicating a measles virus might be present. This cell culture was then added to human cervical cancer cells (HeLa) and to 'human carcinoma cells'. The cells became still sicker. When the microscope then revealed 'giant multinuclear cells' in the cultures, they took this as a sign that the measles virus had distorted them, not that the cancers were becoming more malignant.
When they tested the resulting cell culture fluid in Cynomologus monkeys, they found some got a 'mild' illness that in 'some aspects' was like measles. This was taken as evidence that this toxic fluid was a 'measles virus isolate'. They called it the 'Edmonston' isolate after the name of the boy.
They then transfered this process over to using bird cells rather than monkey cells in order to save costs in making vaccines.
Enders at first failed in his attempt to grow the 'Edmonston' sample in cheap fertilized bird eggs. But then he thought – maybe the highly distorted cell culture produced after 42 passages through human and monkey cell cultures might be what they needed. He gave this fluid another 9 passages though amnion cells. It now contained mutant cells with 'fusiform and stellate' shapes.
He then added this to fertilised eggs. 'After incubating for 9 days at 35 degrees' in 'developing chicks,' some chick cells took on the same deformed shapes that he had earlier seen and blamed solely on the unseen virus. He and his colleagues then concluded that the resulting cell culture was 'the most suitable material for the preparation of vaccines' and that their method would 'also greatly reduce the cost of manufacture.' Thus the 'Edmonston strain' became the basis of our current vaccines.
This is also how the measles vaccine became as contaminated as is documented in the previous chapter. It is made from and contains mutated particles from poisoned bird cells, some of which, the vaccine safety experts confessed, might cause 'autoimmune diseases and cancers' in the vaccinated. Could this contamination also have a role in causing Autism Spectrum Disorders? Could injecting such a fluid into our children overwhelm the immune systems of some – or do some other long term damage?
It seems all the major live or dead virus vaccines were developed similarly. It is to this contaminated fluid that mercury or aluminium is sometimes added.
110. At February 8, 2009 10:57 AM Amanda Wheatland wrote:
Hi Jenni, I fully support you for speaking out. My children are not vaccinated, and it is a choice I have exercised after much thought and research, and in the face of huge opposition from my GP and Health Visitor and some friends. However, having worked for 5 years in the field of Autism I am utterly convinced that in some cases of autism the MMR is to blame, therefore I am not prepared to take that risk with my own children. I also believe that vaccination carries other risks, such as the poor family in a previous post whose 15 year old son died after receiving the MMR vaccination.
I find it shocking that people who are pro vaccination are so closed in their thinking, they blindly follow, like sheep the vaccination path because the Government and medics (who have a vested monetary interest)say its safe. They do not research the other side of the coin, the thousands of children damaged by vaccination in one way or another. Children whose stories are rarely publicly heard, even though their parents campaign tirelessly to be acknowledged and compensated. Why do the pro vaccine parents ignore this hard evidence? I can only think that they are unaware of the suffering many families have experienced after immunization.
Thank you Jo for daring to speak up on the subject, (I do think you could have prepared yourself better, but hindsight is a wonderful thing) unfortunately those who do dare to speak up are shot down pretty damn quick. I hope that you and the handful of other journo's that "dare to air" what seems to be a taboo subject, carry on doing so and keep the debate running for many years to come. Eventually the truth will out.
111. At February 8, 2009 11:29 AM milgram wrote:
If you want to continue a debate with Bad Science, maybe you ought not set lawyers on Ben Goldacre?
Just a thought.
And dismissing the views of a nurse isn't much of a win when talking about a medical issue, either.
112. At February 8, 2009 11:37 AM The Chiggler wrote:
I notice a Sunday Times investigation has found: "the doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism. Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients' data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition. The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children's conditions. However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children's ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.
Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper's impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire "herd immunity" from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated. Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease. With two professors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, Wakefield is defending himself against allegations of serious professional misconduct brought by the GMC. The charges relate to ethical aspects of the project, not its findings. All three men deny any misconduct. Through his lawyers, Wakefield this weekend denied the issues raised by our investigation, but declined to comment further."
113. At February 8, 2009 12:33 PM Andy Wilson wrote:
I'm afraid that I thought this broadcast to be difficult listening. I understand that LBC's lawyers have made an attempt to prevent further airing of this episode on "copyright" grounds. perhaps you could instruct them to make an exception is this case to keep the debate going.
What I would most like to say is how upsetting it was for me on a personal level to hear you talking down the nurse at the end of the segment. Terrible communication skills and clearly an attempt by you to reinforce your own position, of which battle you must have been feeling tired, without actually accepting any of the points she raised. Is this the lady you describe as "vicious"? You were incredibly rude to her as she stated her truth and tried to challenge your proposition.
Your defensive stance made me think "she doth protest too much", though I make no claim this is an accurate shakesperean quote.
At the very least, don't you think you should be humble enough to admit that there is an opportunity for a more scientific debate? Your personal opinions asa mother are valid when you are at home, talking to your friends and family. In this instance you have used your public persona to defend your personal agenda to too high a degree. If you fail to accept that, I think it's shameful.
Good luck with your reputation.
114. At February 8, 2009 1:16 PM Ken W wrote:
Now that the truth about Wakefield has emerged can I suggest that you do one of two things:
Vow never to speak on air or anywhere on this subject; OR
Invite someone like the chief medical officer or another real expert to take part in your programme.
115. At February 8, 2009 2:03 PM Nick wrote:
I thought attitudes like your existed only in history. It is people like you who are undoing all the good work that had taken place to eradicate those diseases in the UK.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
116. At February 8, 2009 2:45 PM The Chiggler wrote:
So, what does the balance of evidence really say about the safety of MMR?
immunize.org provide a very helpful summary of the evidence. It lists, "25 studies that refute a connection between MMR vaccine and the development of autism" which are balanced against, "3 studies that suggested a connection between MMR vaccine and the development of autism". One of the three worrying studies is, of course, Andrew Wakefield's infamous 1998 Lancet paper. As the summary notes, "In 2004, The Lancet published a retraction submitted by 10 of the 13 original authors. The authors stated that there was no connection between the MMR vaccine and the bowel disease/autism syndrome." Another is a study by Wakefield and co-workers published in 1993. Other researchers have not been able to replicate his work - a clear indication of lack of reliability. The final of this triumvirate is a study by Uhlmann et al. (2002), which was recently comprehensively debunked by Bustin (2008 ). He concluded, "This exhaustive analysis of the experimental RT-qPCR data generated by the Unigenetics laboratory [the lab used for the work reported in Uhlmann et al.] demonstrates persistent and widespread contamination with F-gene DNA. As a result there is no credible evidence for the presence of either MV genomic RNA or mRNA in the GI tracts (or blood samples) of any patient investigated by this laboratory. Consequently, this finding excludes any link between MV and, by extension, the MMR vaccine and autism. [empasis mine] Yes, all Uhlmann et al. found were contaminants from their own laboratory. So, when it comes down to it the score is, by this count, 25-0 in favour of the safety of MMR. Just to drive the point home I would like to quote from Paul Offit's excellent "Autism's False Prophets", "The science is largely complete. Ten epidemiological studies have shown MMR vaccine doesn't cause autism; six have shown thimerosal doesn't cause autism; three have shown thimerosal doesn't cause subtle neurological problems; a growing body of evidence now points to the genes that are linked to autism; and despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines in 2001, the number of children with autism continues to rise." [Offit PA, 2008, Autisms False Prophets. Columbia University Press, p.247] On page 256 he makes a selection of eighteen "Studies exonerating MMR". Here are the references, with links to the on-line content where available. So what is the real balance of risks against benefit for the MMR vaccine? The medinfo website carries the following useful information. Complications Risk after natural disease Risk after first dose of MMR Fits (convulsions) 1 in 200 1 in 1,000 Meningitis / encephalitis 1 in 200 to 1 in 5,000 1 in 1,000,000 Conditions affecting the clotting of the blood 1 in 3,000 1 in 24,000 Severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) - 1 in 100,000 Deaths 1 in 8000 to 1 in 10000 (depends on age) 0 It would appear that the natural diseases are around five times more likely to lead to fits; at least 200 times more likely to cause Meningitis or encephalitis; eight times more likely to cause abnormalities in the clotting of blood. Finally there is no evidence to suggest that MMR causes death, whilst the rate for the natural disease is between one in eight and ten thousand. Other sources quote death rates in the range of between 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 5,000 (depending on age). Neither is there any reason to suppose that MMR causes autism. On the negative side, the vaccine can cause anaphylaxis in around one in a hundred thousand cases. If people were fully informed about the risks and benefits of MMR, not just for their own children but other members of society, then their consent to vaccination would have real meaning . Equally important: refusal would not be in ignorance of the real risks involved. I am not so naïve as to think that everyone would chose to have their child vaccinated with MMR (note: a very few children cannot have MMR for medical reasons). Neither am I arguing for the removal of informed consent or for the use of compulsion. What I would hope is that limiting the scope for ignorant refusal may see vaccination rates recover to a level where the damaged caused by serious childhood illnesses is minimized. After all, before the MMR scare, measles was under control in the UK. Unwittingly Barnett provides an accurate commentary as to why measles infections are running at alarming levels in the UK, "… if you scare-monger, people don't know how to make clear decisions about some things". Quite; unfortunately it's Barnett and people with similar attitudes who continue to "scare-monger" with the connivance of the media and some medical 'professionals' who ought to know better. Acknowledgements The Jeni Barnett quotes are taken from the transcripts generously provided on the following blogs:
Science Punk The Lay Scientist Podblack Cat Sceptics' Book Quackometer HolfordWatch jdc325′s Weblog also has a useful summary of recent MMR related news. Finally, please note that this site does not provide medical guidance. If you need that go to a real doctor. The UK's NHS provides excellent advice on MMR in particular and vaccination in general. Edits 8th February 2009. UK NHS death rate data included in text, along with reference to http://www.immunisation.nhs.uk/ . Thanks to jdc of jdc325′s Weblog for the reference.
117. At February 8, 2009 3:32 PM Cybertiger wrote:
Commentator 'Peter' commented again in comment No. 90 that,
"Cybertiger - that is the ENTIRE point of science - its not WHO says what (Jeni/Holford/Goldacre/Whoever) but what the EVIDENCE says."
Peter - Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Witch Finder General and Chief Vaccinologist of all England, presented EVIDENCE that convinced a jury beyond all reasonable doubt that Sally Clark had smothered, shaken or otherwise murdered her babies. Sally Clark was sent to prison for life for a crime she hadn't committed. If she hadn't killed her babies, then who had done the murderous deeds? Something killed these children and it wasn't their mother. Isn't it time that a proper investigation was opened, some real evidence sought, some true evidence competently put together and put before some competent judges?
PS. There are some clues for the slow witted plods and incompetent bad-scientists plodding this beat. Think vaccines, Peter - think long and hard about the evidence, the scientific evidence, the medical evidence and the clowns who currently present it - on vaccines.
118. At February 8, 2009 4:33 PM SH wrote:
Anna of Arnica, post 109. There is so much in that post that is clap trap !! Standard tissue culture techniques have been presented in an alarmist and distorted manner. There are also many glaring errors. A few examples, trypsin is an enzyme not a toxin. We all produce it in our pancreas to help digest proteins. It is used in cell culture when working with adherent cells, to get them to detach from the side of culture dishes. If you wash off the trypsin the cells stick back to the side of the dish, unharmed. Various cell lines such as HeLA are used in the production of a whole variety of medicine. The property you want is the fact they are immortal, so they go on producing what you want for ever. Yes they are derived from cancer cells, but as was pointed out the vaccine is filtered, so none of these would be present in the vaccine. As these cells are not your own, the body would destroy these as it would reject a transplant organ (unless of course you were Mrs Hela's identical twin). Nobody has ever developed cervical cancer at the site of their MMR injection. Immortal cell lines are used to produce all sorts of medicine from insulin to growth hormone, and has revolutionised the treatment of a whole variety of medical conditions - incidentally there is not an increased incidence in autism in diabetics treated with insulin.
We regularly ingest poisoned and killed animal/bird cells into our systems through eating pasturised eggs or milk.
The water used in homeopathy as a diluent will have been in contact with mutant cells, trypsin, Mrs Hela's urine, poisons, toxins at some point in its life
119. At February 8, 2009 5:06 PM Peter wrote:
117. Cybertiger - If you can't tell the difference between 'Testimony' (what Meadow/Wakefield/Holford SAY) and 'Evidence' - what published, peer reviewed studies - discussed and debated, argued over - prove (until the evidence, suggests something else) then there seems little point in debating the Evidence on MMR with you. Go ahead, believe what Jeni/Holford/Wakefield say - don't let the facts get in your way. Seen the Sunday Times today? But I bet thats all part of the great Pharma Conspiracy. Talking of which, since giving three jabs costs more than giving one, why are Pharma (it is alleged) arguing for the version that makes them less money? Andrew Wakefield had an (undisclosed) financial interest in single jabs - as well as an (undisclosed) financial interest in proving a link between MMR and Autism….But thats ok….
120. At February 8, 2009 5:13 PM Carmel O'Dell wrote:
I congratulate you for being brave enough to speak out about this, and it seems you are experiencing what sadly seems to be an inevitable backlash. There are plenty of parents out there who share your views but who sadly feel unable to openly engage in rational discussion about this topic precisely because of the hysterical reaction you are now witnessing.
Insulting or SHOUTING! either on the phone, in person or by email is not the way to go on this.
Respectful discussion, and respecting other's point of view, is how we should be able to function in a civilised society. It is a free country (still) and every parent has a right to choose what they feel is best for their child.
Having thoroughly researched all the information available and listened to both sides of the argument I decided against vaccination. I have made an informed choice, and I am doing what I feel sure is best for my child - my priority.
I am not an ignorant refusenik.
Other parents feel it is best to vaccinate their children, I respect their point of view but I don't agree with it.
Jeni - don't feel lonely in your decision, you are definately not alone.
121. At February 8, 2009 5:42 PM Another Henry wrote:
So your reasoning goes "Roy Meadows was wrong, therefore the entire body of medical research about vaccines is wrong"? [For what its worth, the shameful case of Sally Clark and Roy Meadows is covered quite comprehensively in Ben Goldacres book. Perhaps you should read it?]
Call me a slow-witted plod if you like (I am only a mathematician, after all) but the evidence nicely summarized by The Chiggler in post 116 seems pretty conclusive to me.
JENI in Ad Infinitum | 5 February 2009
I thank those of you who have sent me information about sites that may be of use to me.
I thank the Bad Scientist for being just that. Sarcasm doesn't shift peoples opinions. Making another person feel small because they don't have a Bad Science degree and then nit-picking over semantics is not the answer either.
I care about humanity my way, and you Bad Scientist yours.
To all of you Bad scientists, who are SO angry with me, good luck with your research. Should you fall ill I will attend you as best I can with my motherly love. Should I fall ill, as a non paid up member of your club, will you administer to me? And should I refuse your drugs then what?
1. At February 5, 2009 10:44 PM LittleAxe wrote:
Doctors will treat whoever it put in front of them, and with treatments that have been scientifically proven to work. Modern medicine is a marvel, it really is. I don't really follow why you wouldn't want to be given a proven cure if you were ill.
2. At February 5, 2009 10:47 PM Good Scientist wrote:
Sarcasm doesnt shift opinion, you are quite right, however facts and evidence should and Bad science's point is that you clearly show no understanding of the facts of the matter, yet still feel able to offer an opinion, an opinion that reaches numerous people. It is a sad fact that people will believe without questioning, and the media has a moral responsibility to realise and understand this.
Please, please read his book, or just the chapter on MMR jabs, and understand the facts
3. At February 5, 2009 10:52 PM John Walker wrote:
I'm very sad to see that you have chosen to parody those who have engaged in discussion with you, rather than take some time to give the subject some new thought.
Certainly Mr Goldacre has not been as courteous toward you as perhaps he could be, (perhaps someone in his position would consider that a person endangering children without evidence or education possibly bypasses his need for manners) but I don't think that gives you cause to ignore everything that he says.
Having read through the comments on your previous post, I was delighted that so many people who clearly so strongly disagree with you communicated with you in a mature and reasonable fashion. It seems a grotesque disservice to those people for you to now call them names, and rather astonishingly insinuate they might leave you to suffer because you disagree with them.
I am confused by your dismissal of people with an education. As if their having a degree, and having studied the subjects on which you challenge them, was all done in order that they could bully you. By demonstrating one's qualifications, they are not attempting to make you feel small, but rather to make it clear that their input is informed.
I wonder if you could put yourself in their shoes for a moment? From their perspective, and from that of those willing to read and learn from academic, non-partisan research, you are promoting a view that endangers the lives of children. (Just as you see them as baddies, because you think they are promoting a vaccine that you say causes harm to children.) The anger you feel toward them - they feel the same. You have that in common with them.
Should you fall ill and refuse the drugs that would heal you, what would you like them to do? I think standing by and watching you die from your own obstinate ignorance would be the most awful thing imaginable for them, knowing that were you only to accept their advice you would live.
I wonder, could you stop considering this an attack, or a debate in which two sides are competing, and instead take this as an opportunity to reconsider your position with a wealth of new evidence and opinion. You may well reach the very same position you currently hold, or you might find you change your mind. But I ask that you at least be so humble as to try.
4. At February 5, 2009 11:04 PM chris wrote:
Good luck to you in your delusional world. Motherly love cures everything! I wish.
5. At February 5, 2009 11:14 PM Juju wrote:
I am glad that you recognise that you didn't have the facts to hand when you made your remarks, and it's very good to hear that you've been reading up on the story, but the time to do that would have been before you broadcast a very old discredited scare story to Londoners. Please consider setting the facts straight on air.
6. At February 5, 2009 11:20 PM what wrote:
You obviously have got no clue about science. Why do you still think you have any right to express your uninformed opinions about things that might endanger many people's lives? Being that irresponsible in a public position like yours is inexcusable.
7. At February 5, 2009 11:25 PM anon wrote:
Who's laying in the guilt trip now?
8. At February 5, 2009 11:44 PM Holly wrote:
Dear Jeni, Please PLEASE do at least a little research. Read the papers people have suggested to you, try and gain a balanced and fair view. If you do not, you run the risk of being very embarrassed and losing all respect you've earned yourself as radio presenter, and mother.
I am 19 years old, studying at university, and was until quite recently actually completely unaware of the full scale of the MMR hype. I can honestly say that what's gone on in the past few years is a tragedy for journalism, and for science in the public eye. The way the whole story was handles was incredibly unprofessional. People were deciphering data above their station, and then producing scare-mongering stories that have endangered much of a whole generation's health.You readily admit you ARE NOT A SCIENTIST, yet you boom and shout at individuals who do practice science on your radio show, thinking that the loudest voice is the most correct. All you are doing is confusing your listeners, and increasing the black cloud hanging over science in the public eye (caused by ignorant journalists and people with "influence". May I remind you that, were it not for modern vaccines, people would be dying from diseases that have been successfully wiped out by these "evil jabs" I am proud that I have been vaccinated. I live in the knowledge that I am not contributing to the lowered herd immunity of the UK (which is as low as 60% in parts of London!) that is going to lead to a much higher incidence of fatal measles in this country. If I were in your position, I would swallow my misplaced pride in such a irresponsible decision and look at the facts that stare you in the face. Your opinion is held quite highly, it has become clear. But for what reason, I don't know. I sincerely hope that, in 40 years, I am still able to think rationally and make informed decisions regarding scientific matters, as you clearly are not. Holly.
9. At February 6, 2009 12:12 AM Ben Goldacre wrote:
I feel very strongly that patients should be free to decline medical treatment if they wish. Ideally if it was a serious medical problem, and you felt able to listen, a doctor would have made a good attempt to explain what is known about the risks and benefits of each option.
I am however concerned – along with a great many others - that your recent hour-long campaigning broadcast against the MMR vaccine was thoughtless, misleading, ill-informed, and irresponsible.
I also think it's enormously inappropriate, I'm afraid, that you describe a polite and informed nurse as "vicious" on your website, in your previous blog post, simply because she called into your show and disagreed with you. She does not have your wealth, she is not a TV or radio presenter, she does not have your platform, and she does not have your legal team. She was clearly not "vicious", as anybody listening to the audio would be able to tell for themselves. I believe you owe this listener an apology.
Most of all I think it's regrettable that your company, LBC and Global Audio, have now used legal threats to make me take down the audio excerpt in question, so that it can no longer freely be heard. I have spent a great deal of my time, both writing, and in other activities, in supporting free and open access for the public to medical and scientific information and literature. Yours was a broadcast on the public airwaves, and a review of it, and discussion about it, was important and informative.
If you really felt that access to information was important, and that debates were worth having, I think you would encourage your legal team to reconsider, and simply give permission for this clip to be made freely available, in the public domain, in full, as it was broadcast, so that it can be widely heard, understood, and discussed.
all the best,
Ben Goldacre www.badscience.net
10. At February 6, 2009 12:14 AM Marmite wrote:
I am not a scientist good or bad but should you fall ill I would administer to you! Much Love Marmite xx
11. At February 6, 2009 12:36 AM Anthony wrote:
Why not put the audio up on your own site. Surely you are not ashamed of the material?
12. At February 6, 2009 12:52 AM Nicholas Grundy wrote:
So, Jeni, you're giving everyone the choice between modern medicine and your "motherly love"?
If I get ill with, say, a heart attack, what good will your motherly love be to me versus, say, clotbusting drugs? If I decide that a big hug might just unblock my coronary arteries, does it matter that you aren't actually my mother?
Or if I get a slow-growing cancer in the skin which I could have cut out, are you advocating instead that I come to you for a cup of cocoa because you're a mother and make really terrific cocoa?
I don't think you have to be a fully-paid up member of any club to realise just how stupid your trying to set up "motherly love" against medical science is. Just admit you were wrong, apologise, and move on already. If you aren't willing to do that, at least stop complaining about the debate continuing to grow "like a fungus".
Incidentally, the show is still available on the internet, although no longer on Bad Science. I have linked to it as "my" website, although it isn't.
13. At February 6, 2009 1:45 AM Pauline Jones wrote:
I think Marmite spoke for very many of us who love you Jeni x
14. At February 6, 2009 2:01 AM Fee wrote:
Jeni - I thought you would be interested in this, the article is very anti Wakefield but most of the remarks support him.
An interesting read indeed, but anyway, what do you know and how dare you have an opinion about anything!! Fee xx
15. At February 6, 2009 2:20 AM JT wrote:
Ben Goldacre was not trying to make you "feel small", he did not criticize you for not having "a Bad Science degree" and he did not nit-pick over semantics. What he did was to point out the ludicrous claims you made on air, and I applaud him for it. You seriously need to consider the possibility that you are misinformed about MMR-vaccines, and that your comments on your show were irresponsible and possibly harmful.
16. At February 6, 2009 4:04 AM Penny wrote:
Gosh, it's quite a storm that's been kicked up here, you must feel like hiding under the duvet sometimes.
What you have to realise is that this science lot think about things in a different way (I work around them, so I know.) They really aren't bad people, but for them logic and facts are more important than instinct and feelings. Science has its place, but it does mean that they will attack someone that they think has 'bad logic', not realising that they're really hurting that person or dismissing their fears as a mother.
But MMR is a really important issue and you and the 'bad science' lot need to keep talking about it and try to make some progress rather than just taking potshots at each other. Here's a suggestion - they agree to stop accusing you of being selfish and ignorant, while you agree to assume that they are honestly trying to improve everyone's health in their own way.
Then perhaps the discussion can achieve something - as I said, it's too important to let it end up with everyone just sniping at each other from their blogs.
17. At February 6, 2009 8:09 AM Hymie wrote:
I feel enough has been written about MMR and I'm sure we are all now more aware than we were a few days ago. Back to the lighter side of your Blog (that's really why I visit this site) Do you remember the fine you received on 5th January for your abusive behavour? I suggested increasing the fine to £50.00? Just think what you could do with £5K!! Have a great weekend and thank you for being true to your self and a decent human being. Hymie xx
18. At February 6, 2009 8:40 AM John Stone wrote:
Ben Goldacre has steadfastly refused to address issues I have raised about his abuse of epidemiology in his GSK award winning article 'Never mind the facts' over a period of years.
He is evidently just too full of himself, and far far too important.
His dad, by the way, is professor of public health at Oxford.
Something which was not published for many years.
19. At February 6, 2009 8:50 AM defender wrote:
Just poppeed into this blog, never having read it before.
I do follow the very well-informed work of Ben Goldacre though on a regular basis.
As the mood in this thread shifts towards one of reconciliation and mutual respect, how about we patch things up. First of all I propose that Jenni (as a responsible broadcaster) makes an appointment at the local medical school to discuss some of the issues around vaccinations and look at some of the evidence with qualified professionals. Then the two of you can sit down and discuss the facts from a lay person's point of view and put out some really good advice for parents.
The fact that a doctor advises one to give one's kids a vaccine should not be accepted withoiut question, but the fact that every doctor is giving every mother the same advice should definitely provide the basis for a very strong case indeed.
20. At February 6, 2009 8:55 AM Longwayround wrote:
Hmmm… When I'm wrong, I grit my teeth and humbly acknowledge that I was wrong.
I struggle to understand why it is that you prefer to describe those who follow the advice of the knowledgeable as "sheep", "cows" and members of "the herd" while also acknowledging that you do not know the facts.
It appears to me that you actually do not want to know the facts since you prefer to follow and, dangerously, to promulgate the advice of those whose statements are so easily rebutted.
There may often be two sides (sometimes more) to an argument. In many cases, only one of those sides is correct.
21. At February 6, 2009 8:58 AM Paula Thomas wrote:
As Ben points out in his book vaccine scares obey passport control. The MMR hoax is largely unheard of outside of the UK, just as the hepatitis B scare was unheard of outside France, (Incidentally I recommend Ben's book - "Bad Science" - damn good read and you learn a lot.) Why is this? Could it be that that is precisely what they are - hoaxes?
22. At February 6, 2009 2:31 PM Leigh Jackson wrote:
Your child will probably not die of measles, mumps or rubella. The risk, however, is substantially greater for your child than it is for a vaccinated child.
Motherly love cannot trump this scientific fact.
23. At February 6, 2009 2:48 PM David Hoult wrote:
Oh dear… only one in fifteen people die from car accidents lets remove all the zebra crossings as a waste of money. Moron.
24. At February 6, 2009 3:22 PM Scote wrote:
_"Sarcasm doesn't shift peoples opinions… Should you fall ill I will attend you as best I can with my motherly love. Should I fall ill, as a non paid up member of your club, will you administer to me? And should I refuse your drugs then what?"_
For someone who decries sarcasm you use an awful lot of it, and in practically the same breath as your condemnation of it. I sense a consistency issue.
25. At February 6, 2009 4:21 PM The Biologista wrote:
You must understand that what you're experiencing- this adversarial form of attack and defence- is the very basis of how Good Science works. When someone makes an assertion, especially a very significant one, it must be supported by the evidence. If the evidence is weak, we attack. From the conflict emerges the truth.
I'm saddened that you feel victimised and you must know that none of us wishes any harm upon you. But as we see it, the MMR scare is a hoax and has been perpetuated by people who value anecdote over evidence. We wish you well, but we cannot allow harmful myths to spread when good evidence refuted them so many years ago.
I would invite you to obtain and read the research papers. From across the world, from both sides of the debate. It is not difficult and I think it will surprise you.
26. At February 6, 2009 4:23 PM Sharon Curtis wrote:
As a (non-medical) scientist, I am not angry with you, but I am very upset that by disseminating your personal anti-vaccine views widely, you are promoting a course of action that harms children's health.
Overall, vaccines save an awful lot of lives.
Please remember that people on the other side of the debate also feel strongly about children's health and that is why they are so concerned at the matter. They are not anti-you per se, but they believe, on the strength of good evidence, that you are putting children at risk.
27. At February 6, 2009 4:54 PM al capone junior wrote:
This incident has become well known on the American side of the pond, as well as the European side. Attempting to suppress the video by attacking Mr Goldacre with rabid lawyers will neither help your reputation, nor prevent the world from knowing what you said in that video.
Of course given what you did say, I don't see how you can really have a reputation worth trying to save anyway.
Shame on you, your lawyers, and all the members of the media, both in my home country and abroad, who irresponsibly and blatantly perpetuate the MMR hoax and lies regarding vaccination.
28. At February 6, 2009 5:05 PM Commonly Sensible wrote:
Is that the same motherly love that smothers and suffocates while divesting the victim of all their independence and individuality?
29. At February 6, 2009 5:33 PM Zeb wrote:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7872541.stm: Dr Peter Strebel, an immunisation expert at the WHO, stressed that even in countries with good health services, measles could be very serious.
"Parents and doctors need to be reminded that measles is a highly contagious disease," he said. "Even healthy and well-nourished children, if unvaccinated, are at risk of measles and its complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and, although rare, death."
Contrast this with Jeni's opinion from the broadcast: "if its viral, and childrens immune systems are strong whats the problem?"
Well the problem is that if more and more people aren't immunized herd immunity suffers and the herd, or country is at greater risk of an epidemic. Just in case you get the wrong end of the stick with it, and happily copied from Wikipedia, where you can also read about what those diseases do (Rubella looks nasty): Herd immunity (or community immunity) describes a type of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a portion of the population (or herd) provides protection to unprotected individuals. Herd immunity theory proposes that, in diseases passed from person-to-person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune. The more immune individuals present in a population, the lower the likelihood that a susceptible person will come into contact with an infected individual.
So it's not so much your own children, but potentially other people's children and adults that could suffer if any of these disease spreads to them. Food for thought I think.
30. At February 6, 2009 11:54 PM Bio_student wrote:
All the motherly love didn't save the child of the AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore.
She outlived her child who died aged 3. Christine refused to take antiretrovirals which may have prevented the infection and death of her child.
Unless of course you don't believe HIV causes AIDS
Evidence based research isn't built up by evil pharmaceutical firms. Its done by poorly paid PhD and postdoc students like me who actually do it to help society.
So whatever woo you happen to believe, don't take it out on your child.
It would be interesting to know the effects of your radio show and vaccination and infection rates from measles.
31. At February 7, 2009 12:12 AM Chris wrote:
Paula Thomas wrote "The MMR hoax is largely unheard of outside of the UK,"
Perhaps because the MMR has been used in the USA since 1971 (the same one that has been used in the UK since 1992). The whole silliness was propagated by a UK researcher who was paid by lawyers to come up with specific results to support a lawsuit (I believe that "researcher" has moved to Texas, and is not allowed to practice medicine).
You can read about in this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Autisms-False-Prophets-Science-Medicine/dp/0231146361/ (there is an interesting paragraph when someone surmises that it was not a good idea to let lawyers direct medical research)
Perhaps, Jeni, when your children are old enough you will read them books by Roald Dahl. When you do, look up what happened to his oldest daughter. How would your "motherly love" have handled what happened to Olivia?
32. At February 7, 2009 12:40 AM Phil Jefferson wrote:
You, a person your audience likes and trusts have gone on air to advocate not vaccinating children. You've done this without researching the subject first, and it certainly appears that you still have not done so.
Your position seems to be that the effects of the MMR vaccine should be studied further, so I'll ask the obvious question: after how much research would you accept that this vaccine is indeed something we should give to our children? We're past the point of overwhelming evidence, could we ever reach a point where your attitude would not be "can't be sure, needs more study"?
My second question is this - a large percentage of the population not vaccinating is bad for our children. If as a society we don't vaccinate then children _will_ die. Do you really have trouble seeing how this could anger people? Just how little would scientists have to care for _children dying of something preventable_ not to get them worked up? Is it really hard to see that this isn't about _you_ at all?
33. At February 7, 2009 1:04 AM Victor Houghton wrote:
Nice one Jenni. While herd immunity disappears there are kids who cannot tolerate innoculations who are exposed to more diseases because of pseudo-scientific, anecdote-based opinions. With Ross, Brand, Clarkson and Thatcher being hauled over the coals because of insulting remarks, you step in with opinions with real potential to cause physical harm. It's lucky your radio show isn't on the BBC. On the pro-innoculation side there is evidence. On the other side - yours - there is just anecdote. I note that the caller (I heard that show on one of the many mirror sites that have sprung into being since your attack on Dr Goldacre) whom you praised went on a short course about innoculations - run by a homeopath! That just says it all. Find me a homeopath who has cured measles or mumps or rubella. And now your lawyer attack dogs go after Dr Goldacre because, sarcasm aside, he has exposed the weakness of your point of view. It doesn't look good.
34. At February 7, 2009 2:01 AM Anonymous wrote:
Look at what you and your ilk have managed to achieve:
Whenever a child dies of measles it will remind me of you
35. At February 7, 2009 2:55 AM TomJ wrote:
I wonder that you haven't answered any of the specific points made in the previous comment thread. In particular the dichotomy you set up: "I did not have the facts to hand. Was I ill informed? Yes.As a responsible broadcaster I should have been better prepared as a parent, however, I can fight my corner." Do you honestly believe that being a parent gives you a right to spread self-confessed ill-informed opinion, but does not give you a much more important duty to inform yourself of the facts before making an incredibly important decision?
36. At February 7, 2009 3:32 AM Damian wrote:
Look Jeni, Ben Goldacre is a good man. He doesn't have anywhere near the wealth that you have, so why do you suppose that he is so passionate about bad medical practice and information? Have you even considered this?
Nobody wants to hurt you, and I can understand that this has perhaps spiraled out of control, but you've already condemned yourself by admitting that, basically, you have no idea what you are talking about.
One only has to look at the history of propaganda — particularly in the United States — on almost every issue that you can think of — from the teaching of evolution, to AIDS and global warming denial — to understand that it is almost trivially easy to fool millions of people in to thinking that there really is a controversy, or at the very least, to spread enough doubt.
This is a serious business, Jeni. Measles cases in England and Wales rose by 36% in 2008. That places everyone's children in danger. And why? Because a since discredited study was picked up by every crank and crackpot (I'm sorry, but that is what they are), and it spread like wildfire.
You have a unique opportunity to do what's right — inform yourself on this issue, and play a role in helping to protect millions of children. The other option is to believe that people, like myself, who gain absolutely nothing from seeing children immunized — apart from the satisfaction of knowing that innocent lives are being saved — are really out to cause harm.
It's your choice, Jeni.
From the BBC link:
Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said it was "irresponsible" for parents not to have their children vaccinated.
He said: "I think it's irrational, I think it's putting children's lives at risk. I can see no shred of benefit.
"There is no evidence that having vaccines separately is better. There are good reasons why it's worse."
37. At February 7, 2009 4:15 AM Matthew Jones wrote:
Hi Jeni, I'm writing from Australia, and heard the broadcast via Bad Science. The contradictions in your broadcast are numerous. Science reaches a consensus based on evidence. Dogma does not. You seem to ignore all of the new information provided by callers, some of which YOU requested, in order to maintain your position on vaccines. Please take the time to review the information offered to you. If you look at the facts, dispassionately, I hope you'll be able to use your position as a popular broadcaster more responsibly. Thanks and best wishes, Matt
38. At February 7, 2009 8:50 AM TheTrueScotsman wrote:
I realise many people have posted websites for you to look at but perhaps this may also be of interest.
To understand why people like Ben Goldacre get passionate about scientific missinformation you should read the cases on here: http://whatstheharm.net/
Many of these people were mothers just like you who thought they knew what was best.
39. At February 7, 2009 10:01 AM catkins wrote:
your ignorance is staggering and dangerous. please think about the effects of your ill-informed opinions.
40. At February 7, 2009 10:33 AM David Jones wrote:
Your responsibility as a parent is _precisely_ to inform yourself of the facts about your child's health. Anything else is irresponsible.
41. At February 7, 2009 11:06 AM Kevin wrote:
You seem like you're probably a nice person, who genuinely thinks they're doing good.
You certainly have a rare privilege -- a large platform to express your views in the public square.
I expect a lot of the criticsm in these comments the last few days has hurt your pride. How could it not?
It would take a big person indeed to take these criticisms, swallow their pride, do a bit of reading, and then use their public platform to do some genuine good for the world.
I would enormously respect that person.
42. At February 7, 2009 12:14 PM Meesh wrote:
You should be removed from the airwaves, and your station fined for broadcasting dangerous information, putting lives at risk. You're as dangerous as someone who shoots into a crowd.
43. At February 7, 2009 12:30 PM neoconnell wrote:
Critical thinking is a big challenge for everyone. At the heart of this matter are these simple facts:
Some children who receive the MMR vaccine have autism.
Some children who do not receive the MMR vaccine have autism.
Having the MMR vaccine bears no relationship with which child has autism and does not increase the chances of autism. It is a classic example of a false association.
In the current climate where people seem inherently suspicious of pharmaceuticals it seems plausible that MMR might be bad - it's a gut feeling for those who immerse themselves in the modern media with a level of trust for its authority.
Gut feelings are unfortunately often wrong even when the feel really really right.
As a great scientist once said when asked what his gut feeling was on an issue:
"I try not to think with my gut".
44. At February 7, 2009 12:44 PM brian wrote:
Not the brightest star in the firmament are you? I will honestly defend your right to choose how to raise your children in any way you see fit to the death. However when your choices impinge upon the health and welfare of my children, then we are bound to fall out. You are wrong in so many ways, arrogant and wrong. I really hope for your sake you are never forced to find out how wrong.
45. At February 7, 2009 12:57 PM Colin wrote:
Why don't you just own up to being wrong. Being a better mother than Ben isn't really an excuse. He exhibits far more love for his fellow humans than you do. You would prefer them to suffer. Have you seen today's figures on measle cases going up?
46. At February 7, 2009 12:59 PM Ian Thornton wrote:
Much has already been written about how you pushed your personal, unqualified opinion on the show in an hysterical, arrogant and ignorant manner.
One of the many things you should be ashamed of is doing your job badly. Yes, you are bad at your job.
As a broadcaster, you should have facilitated a balanced debate. You failed to do this. Your professional credibility is in tatters.
47. At February 7, 2009 1:14 PM Anna of Arnica wrote:
Can we look at child health in a little more perspective? 4,000 people die on the roads..
I am outraged at road death, and watch my children and drive carefully. How many of you outraged at Jeni for her views have ever speeded or used a mobile while driving?
More than 100 children die of Asthma and studies show that Asthma risk is doubled in the child who is vaccinated at 2 months compared to 4 months.
Where are the studies which compare the overall health of the un vaccinated to the vaccinated? Where are the studies which look at cohorts who are more susceptible to vaccine damage?
In the US Hannah Poling's Autism was put down to a predisposition and vaccines and was paid $6. Have not heard? What is happening to our news?
It seems that 'science' does not want vaccines to undergo such scrutiny for fear of damaging the immunization program.
MEDICINE AND HEALTH ARE NOT EXACT SCIENCES. Iatrogenic death (medical and drug error) are one of the leading causes of death in the US.
Don't be fearful, be informed. If a child is healthy they are far less likely to catch measles, for example. Vit A deficiency is found in the majority of measles cases and the WHO gives Vit A now with many of its measles vaccines and Vit A treatment cuts deaths by 50%.
48. At February 7, 2009 1:17 PM Ex-LBC listener wrote:
Jeni, I used to listen to your show, but I'm afraid this threat of legal action against Mr Goldacre has really shocked me. You speak on your blog about continuing the debate, but then use legal means to silence your critics. Totally unacceptable and wrong. I wont listen to your show anymore.
49. At February 7, 2009 2:49 PM michel wrote:
so jeni… why is ben goldacre a bad scientist? because he doesn't agree with your gut feeling? he makes you feel small because in science you are small. you have no clue. being a mother doesn't give you any authority on how the human body works.
standing apart from the herd can mean 2 things: either you know more than the herd, or you know less. while you try to give the impression that you know more (the 'big pharma' conspiracy), your words show that you probably know far less than the herd.
50. At February 7, 2009 2:52 PM bsr wrote:
Ignorant foolish person should be ashamed. Afraid of a real debate because you know you are just full of crap. You should indeed be ashamed.
51. At February 7, 2009 3:16 PM Henry wrote:
Anna of Arnica,
_Where are the studies which compare the overall health of the un vaccinated to the vaccinated? Where are the studies which look at cohorts who are more susceptible to vaccine damage?_
Well, here's a start.
_Now a huge study in Denmark, based on records of 800,000 children, has demolished such notions. The researchers found that MMR-vaccinated children were 25% less likely to be hospitalised with asthma than non-vaccinated children, and were also prescribed fewer courses of anti-asthma medicine._
52. At February 7, 2009 3:22 PM Anna wrote:
What is all the hoo-ha about measles anyway? Of the cases that have occurred in the last 12 months IN THE UK-
Exactly HOW MANY have died? Exactly HOW MANY have had the complications?
Let's have some facts rather than the usual emotional knee-jerk reactions.
53. At February 7, 2009 3:35 PM David Jones wrote:
I think you should consider taking legal advice about the action taken by LBC's lawyers. That one threat to Goldacre has completely ruined your reputation online.
54. At February 7, 2009 3:45 PM Tom Chivers wrote:
Anna of Arnica: $6 doesn't sound very much.
But more seriously, the trials you want to know about have been done, at least for the MMR vaccine. A lot of the information is here:
And one of the studies is here:
55. At February 7, 2009 6:26 PM Nick Abbott fan wrote:
@Anna of Arnica
"studies show that Asthma risk is doubled in the child who is vaccinated at 2 months compared to 4 months"
Got a link?
56. At February 7, 2009 7:36 PM John Walker wrote:
I think it's probably important not to let the discussion be confused by LBC's legal action. I doubt very much that Jeni Barnett has anything to do with that. It is much more likely the act of the station wishing to exert its rights over the material (a necessity of our unimaginably awful copyright laws), and perhaps management wanting to prevent this debate from hitching a ride on the various BBC scandals (although which newspaper is going to run with this story, and therefore tacitly acknowledge the part they played in propagating the scam?). It seems unlikely that Ms Barnett would be involved in this.
Instead it seems more important to focus on the consensus from the many polite and reasoned comments above (as opposed to those who have just called her names): that there is a great desire for Ms Barnett to acknowledge that her actions were irresponsible, and potentially extremely dangerous, and take the time to read the data and information from none woo-woo sources. And ideally, I think, to demonstrate enormous grace and humility by acknowledging her error on air, and attempting to undo some of the possible harm.
Perhaps the timing of today's frightening figures on the increasing rates of measles is fortunate. It gives the debate a tangible manifestation of the consequences, in stark contrast to the sadly misinformed anecdotal stories. Perhaps this, along with the wealth of information and education being offered here, will convince a few people to change their minds and make the right decision.
There seems little cause for a witch hunt, or an escalating collection of accusations and insinuations. Unfortunately, based on the evidence in the post above all these comments, such behaviour is likely to give Ms Barnett cause to parody and dismiss the vast majority of contributors. I very much hope that this will not be the case, and that we can look forward to praising our host for her brave and honourable choice to re-examine the facts.
57. At February 7, 2009 7:45 PM The Biologista wrote:
PM Anna: "What is all the hoo-ha about measles anyway? Of the cases that have occurred in the last 12 months IN THE UK-
Exactly HOW MANY have died? Exactly HOW MANY have had the complications?
Let's have some facts rather than the usual emotional knee-jerk reactions."
So you'd like to see some new deaths BEFORE we accept that a safe vaccine, known to reduce mortality and illness, is necessary?
The death rate from measles for people in developed countries is 3 deaths per thousand cases. In immunocompromised people the fatality rate is more like 30%. Worldwide this results in about 300,000 deaths annually. Prior to The Measles Initiative, the worldwide death rate was around 1 million annually.
Following the MMR scare in the UK and Ireland, measles infection rates have increased continuously (except for 2 years) and it appears that this is accelerating.
The 2000 outbreak in Ireland caused 1500 cases and 3 deaths.
In 2006 there was one death and two cases of brain damage caused by measles encephalitis in the UK.
In 2008 there was at least one death in the UK.
The rate of infection is increasing, so we can expect perhaps 3 deaths this year and if we are unlucky, that will increase in 2010.
The current confirmed death count due to MMR vaccinations in healthy children stands at 0.
The current confirmed count of brain damage or developmental impairment cases due to MMR stands at 0.
58. At February 7, 2009 8:32 PM DBH wrote:
It would really be in the best interests of your reputation and celebrity status that you do not pursue a discussion about whether kids in this country should be vaccinated or not, and to not use your airtime on radio to promote your non-confounded views on vaccination, and other healthcare issues for that matter. It is bound to backfire when you punch that far over your own weight.
There are people out there who respects you for who you are and what you do, so dole out advice on issues like healthy eating, exercise, and smoking. People listen and as such that puts a responsibility on your shoulders when you talk. Take that responsibility seriously.
59. At February 7, 2009 9:11 PM Mad Mel wrote:
I'm not an expert.
This is exactly the problem with dogmatic anti-science women like you and Mad Mel Phillips…
Labels: Jeni BarnettAround 30+ comments are still lost (those posted on 08 February 2009), probably for good. But I think there are still enough here to illustrate the outrage her broadcast has caused. Finally, I have not deliberately removed any of the comments because they were kind to Ms Barnett. If there were none above, that's possibly because she has left no room for any kind comments. The irony of the whole thing is that even in this last act of defiance, she has managed to contradict herself. In her previous post, "MMR and Me", she closed by saying:
Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate, and if it gets too heated there is always the option of turning me off.I will only say this – WE ARE CONTINUING THE DEBATE. IT IS CLEARLY TOO HOT FOR YOU, SO YOU TURNED US OFF.
Don't you just love it when a piece of news comes up just in the nick of time that allows you to knock someone's argument right out of the park? It's gin, yahtzee and checkmate, Ms Jeni Barnett and the anti-MMR contingent over at JABS. The debate (I am using this term very loosely here – this really is not much of a debate) is O-V-E-R. The findings in the 1998 Lancet paper regarding the MMR vaccine causing autism by Dr Andrew Wakefield were rigged. To be perfectly honest, I am not surprised. His claims have not been reproducible since 1998. This Sunday Times story gives the details as to how the study was rigged. Now for the past few days the bad science blogs were filled with outrage from the drivel that came from Jeni Barnett's LBC radio show, as well as the treatment of Dr Ben Goldacre by the lawyers of LBC. However this outrage is, as claimed by the anti-MMR contingent at JABS, fuelled by the money from the "Big Pharma". Money from the Big Pharma? The last I checked my bank account, which was this morning, I was still a poor PhD student. So what should happen to Dr Andrew Wakefield? In 2005, Korean stem cell biologist Dr Hwang Woo-Suk claimed to have created the first stem cell line from a cloned human embryo, a big breakthrough if true. Subsequently, the data were found to be inflated and faked and Dr Hwang Woo-Suk was charged with fraud. No lasting damage was done with this fraud, except national pride and the integrity of science. The journal Science retracted his paper and he was fired from his institution, and subjected to criminal investigations. Should the same apply to Dr Wakefield? If anything, his research, a fabrication as it would seem now, which arguably caused the MMR panic, led to uptake of the vaccine drop from >95% to <80%, and led to measles becoming endemic in the UK again. We have lost herd immunity for measles. Last year there were 1,348 cases, compared with less than 58 in 1998. More importantly, there has been fatalities. Should he at least stand trial for causing this mess? Dr Hwang Woo-Suk has since apologised to the nation. Dr Andrew Wakefield still stands by his research and the links between MMR and autism. We need an end game to this whole mess to stand a chance of putting this debate to rest once and for all, such that we could get on the road to acquiring herd immunity for measles again.