London’s Biggest Conversation

Just a short post to note how radio station LBC 97.3FM (London’s Biggest Conversation) have utterly failed to understand the strength of feeling that exists out there about their attempts to silence debate regarding their appalling coverage of the MMR issue.

My blog has seen one of the biggest spikes of traffic since the Society of Homeopaths tried to shut me down. They failed. I became stronger. Thousands of people have been reading things here that the radio station LBC have attempted to hide away from you.

Jeni Barnett has failed to silence and control the conversation that she sparked off during her fantastically ill informed phone in programme about the MMR vaccine. LBC called in the lawyers to Ben Goldacre. Jeni Barnett, despite her appeal to call for debate, shut down her blog. You can find that blog and her readers’ comments here on my blog.

And the real London’s Biggest Conversation has been spreading to Radio4, The Times and hundreds of web sites. Stephen Fry twittered about the issue and Bad Science almost collapsed under the weight of the traffic.

LBC 97.3FM – you are hypocrites – you invite conversation and debate, but scream and shout when it does not go your way. You are the old school, and you fail to understand how there are rafts of people out there that hate how you try to control the media and fill it with vacuous nonsense without any sense of civic responsibility.

And today’s London Standard – the daily London paper joins the big conversation,

No amount of evidence could change parents’ minds, however. I had mothers with senior jobs in the arts, business and finance swearing to me that their children would never be vaccinated. Journalists I once respected joined the frenzy. The parents and reporters had one thing in common: none had a science degree.

This is not a game. Lives are at stake – and that is the central thing that LBC failed to consider before they let Jeni Barnett loose with her homeopath fuelled delusions. I join Ben Goldacre in calling for you to make on on air apology, "prominently and in the same slot." They should allow the evidence for MMR to be presented clearly and knowledgeably without space for misinformation and prevarication.

Can you make London’s Biggest Apology? I somehow think not.

22 Comments on London’s Biggest Conversation

  1. Indeed! This Jeni Barnett fiasco has caused a surge of traffic to my relatively new blog too.

    It’s quacks like them makes it worthwhile to keep a blog.

  2. Its interesting, isn’t it dannyb1022? If LBC had done nothing, this would have fizzled. But their own sense of self-importance drove them into areas they did not understand. Their incomprehension of a) the internet and b) the strength of peoples’ feelings, was only matched by their incomprehension of the evidence for the safety and value of MMR.

  3. Keep up the good work.
    It is totally irresponsible to let someone who clearly has no knowledge of basic medicine or science make sweeping statements on prime time radio.
    She makes out that doctors and nurses are just in the business of frightening people. This is a very insulting generalisation.

    She really digs enormous holes for herself but when someone points out her errors she just accuses them of being hostile. Her ignorance does not stop at vaccination but it seems she does not understand type 2 diabetes either (comment read at the bottom of Ben’s most recent post).

  4. [[http://counterknowledge.com/2009/01/measels-outbreaks-not-just-a-british-tragedy-but-a-european-one-as-well/#comment-12197]]lugura

  5. Heh – try this link for the Counterknowledge post. It includes the “teddy bears cause autism” jpg I’ve seen on other blogs, as well as a link to the Lancet paper showing that “the UK [has] one of the highest infection rates in Europe, which will heavily hinder the World Health’s Organisation goal to eliminate it by 2010”.

  6. It’s really Liz Ditz from I Speak of Dreams–I’m logged into another Gmail account just now.

    The Jeni Barnett thing is not getting much play in the US, but Brian Deer’s articles on Wakefield falsifying MMR data is.

    Speaking of spikes, my traffic went up 9x on Monday.

    I’ve done another round-up post — who is saying what about the Deer articles on Wakefield in the London Times. I’ve included this post.

    11 years on, Wakefield Manufactured Data showing MMR-Autism Link?

  7. Court says measles vaccine not to blame for autism

    Thursday, February 12, 2009; 10:12 AM
    WASHINGTON — A special court has ruled against parents with autistic children, saying that vaccines are not to blame for their children’s neurological disorder.

    The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parent’s claims _ and backed years of science that found no risk.

    More than 5,000 claims were filed with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. To win, they had to show that it was more likely than not that the autism symptoms were directly related to the measles-mumps-rubella shots they received.

    The court still has to rule on separate claims from other families that other vaccines played a role.

  8. Andy-D, you seem to using selective quoting, because just before the part you quoted is this bit:
    “Existing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine
    supports current policies of mass immunisation aimed at global
    measles eradication in order to reduce morbidity and mortality
    associated with mumps and rubella.”

    Not that I would accuse you of cherry picking.

  9. My mistake. I thought the point of a Cochrane review was to evaluate ‘existing evidence’. Like you, it seems the review’s authors lost sight of that fact too.

  10. The MMR has been in use around the world since 1971, if not in the UK. One figures that there is sufficient data to make their conclusions.

    And it certainly beats one little study of twelve children where it was noted in an American court that the data was very flawed.

    And the conclusions that came before your quote make more sense in light of the return of measles with resulting deaths (like the little French girl in Geneva recently).

  11. Jeni’s blog says on its home page –

    “UK TV presenter Jeni Barnett’s blog: Acting is all about honesty, if you can fake that you can fake anything.”

    How very true

  12. The Cochrane review cannot find this ‘sufficient data’ to which you refer. Furthermore, the recent death of a child in Geneva, which you mention, does not invalidate the conclusions of this review.

  13. LBC 97.3FM – you are hypocrites – you invite conversation and debate, but scream and shout when it does not go your way. You are the old school, and you fail to understand how there are rafts of people out there that hate how you try to control the media and fill it with vacuous nonsense without any sense of civic responsibility.
    Exactly. The UK news and trivia media summed up in six words – “without any sense of civic responsibility”
    May I say, very well put indeed.

  14. Andy-D said “Furthermore, the recent death of a child in Geneva, which you mention, does not invalidate the conclusions of this review.”

    Which were (again):”Existing evidence on the safety and effectiveness of MMR vaccine supports current policies of mass immunisation aimed at global measles eradication in order to reduce morbidity and mortality
    associated with mumps and rubella.”

  15. No Chrisp, the author’s conclusions were ‘The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate. The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases.’ The clue is the heading ‘Author’s Conclusions’…

  16. Andy

    You get a mention in Private Eye in connection with OfQuack.

    Some git seems to have changed the http://www.ofquack.org.uk URL so it no longer insults His Righteous Homeodoodah Prince Charlatan and the quacks.

    I wonder what naughty boy changed it in the first place ?

  17. I suspect they (CNHC) were able to stop Andy’s title (making quacks look respectable since 2008) from appearing when it redirects to the CNHC site.

    However, http://www.ofquack.org.uk still works and probably still logs as the referrer in CNHC’s logs, so still very worthwhile using that rather than the CNHC’s URL!

    It might be good to have a simple web page that has a sentence or two about OfQuack before it re-directs to the CNHC pages? Type in http://www.ofquack.org.uk and you get 1,820 hits!

  18. I’m open to correction, but it appears to me that the authors of this review (which is supposedly evaluating all available evidence) reach contradictory conclusions. On the one hand they say evidence of safety is inadequate (based on their analysis of the evidence), while on the other, they say the safety evidence supports mass immunisation programmes… The evidence points one way, yet they make it point in the exact opposite direction – quite a feat of mental gymnastics…

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