Saturday, February 07, 2009

More MMR
The blogs swarm

The complete transcript is now available - Martin at the Lay Scientist has fisked part of it and linked to the rest. There's been plenty of coverage on the blogs - JDC of jdc325 has been all over this, as have the lads at Holfordwatch  and Dr. T*.

Dr. Goldacre has had an off-the-record chat with LBC - but no joy. 
I echo what I said in my previous post - polite emails to the advertisers are the order of the day.

UPDATE: Jon at Holfordwatch has been kind enough to share his collection of links and comments on the subject:

Dr Crippen of NHS BlogDoc: Jeni Barnett and LBC start the clean-up operation

Frank Swain of Science Punk: LBC sic lawyers on Ben Goldacre over criticism of MMR show

SJ Cockell of Fuzzier Logic: MMR scaremongerer sicks the legal dogs on Ben Goldacre

Podblack of Podblack Cat: Ben Goldacre - Will Not, Should Not, Be Silenced On Jeni Barnett.

jdc of jdc325: MMR Scaremongering From Jeni Barnett: LBC Use Legal Chill Tactics. Ugh.

Political Scientist: URGENT: The Joy of Law

Martin of The Lay Scientist: Jeni Barnett on MMR - The Complete Show.

Jason Brown of A Drunken Madman: More medical mendacity.

ES Armstrong of Scattergum: Jeni Barnett is an idiot.

Dr*T of Thinking is Dangerous: Is there a proper media lawyer in the house? Your country needs YOU.

Teek of consider, evaluate, act: Goldacre threatened with legal action over criticism of anti-MMR radio broadcast - UPDATED

Common Sense has updated the Measles graph for England and Wales.

Dr Rachie of The Sceptics' Book: What are LBC and Jeni Barnett afraid of?

Press Gazette: LBC in legal warning to Ben Goldacre over MMR blog post

Anthony Cox of Black Triangle: MMR and legal threats and The Today Programme's irresponsible MMR interview

Quackometer: Jeni Barnett and Irresponsible Broadcasting

MacSpider of Spider Comment: Jeni Barnett, LBC, stupidity and threats

Londonist: MMR, For Some Reason, Still Controversial

Michael Grayer of Non-Toxic: Many Many Rants… and not much evidence.

Julie Oakley of Julie's Pictures: Ben Goldacre – my hero! - an excellent outline drawing.

Cory Doctorow: SCIENTIST WHO CRITICISED DJ FOR VACCINATION SCARE TALK GETS COPYRIGHT THREAT and Boing Boing: Scientist who criticised DJ on LBC radio for vaccination scare talk get copyright threat

Tweet from Phil Plait.

On Medica mentions Ben Goldacre and Jeni Barnett: Highest number of measles cases in 2008

Tony Hatfield of Retired Ramblings: Ben Goldacre,Jeni Barnett, MMR and LBC's Heavy Legal Hand..!

Adam Bowie of The Ballad of Adam Bowie: Ben Goldacre and LBC

Media Watch: Bad Science v. Bad Lawyers

DavBlog: The "Controversy" That Won't Die

The Plummet Onions: Extremely bad science

Plashing Vole: parataxis: Jeni Barnett is an ill-informed loon and a danger to the public

No Rock and Roll Fun: Global radio menaces Ben Goldacre

Jacob Aron of Just A Theory: Ben Goldacre vs. Jeni Barnett: legal troubles over MMR scaremongering

Matt Wardman of The Wardman Wire: Ben Goldacre of Bad Science Threatened by Lawyers for LBC and Jeni Barnett

Judith Townsend of Goldacre on the 'intellectual property absolutists' - LBC's legal warning

Tom Reynolds of Random Acts of Reality: Bad Lawyering

PZ Myers of Pharyngula: Ben Goldacre and Jeni Barnett on LBC Radio

Bigger Pills: KO'd with a triple jab

Random Dumber Generator: Radio Station Fights Criticism With Copyright Claim

Orac: Help Ben Goldacre out...he's being sued again (We hope not, it depends on the nuance behind a takedown letter with "reserved rights".)

Phil Plait at Discover: UK in trouble? Measles, antivax garbage on the rise

Streisand is calling department at TechDirt: Radio Station Uses Copyright Claim To Try To Silence Bad Science Critic; Guess What Happens?

Nice shout-out by Greg of Lstrblg: The price we pay for the anti-vac movement

Miss Prism of a Somewhat Old But Capacious Handbag: Today's irresponsible tripe courtesy of Jeni Barnett

Texturbation has some strong views

Gareth Klose has some thoughtful questions: Is scientific tear-down fair use?

Electric Halibut wants to know: isn't MMR scaremongering all a bit 2007? Quite.

Matt Dalby of Santiago's Dead Wasp: legal bullying of bad science blog

Neil D of Harry's Place: Ben Goldacre receives legal warning

Witch Doctor asks: Jeni Who?

Paul Flynn asks: Spot the Ignoramus?

Bad Science Meets Bad Broadcasting

Solveda at Musings of a Phenomenologist: When MMR attacks (or LBC and Jeni Barnett, what were you thinking?)

The Skeptic's Field Guide: Help Ben Goldacre Beat Off This Artifice

Martial Arts Planet Forum: MMR, Jeni Barnett and Bad Science

Jon Bounds of The Bounder: Bad Science Needs Help or At Least Link Love

Verbal Gas Pedal of A Much More Exotic: The dangerous ignorance of Jeni Barnett harms children

Gary Marshall of Big Mouth Strikes Again: in MMR quack attack

Porcospino: Talk radio is bad for your health

The Jobbing Doctor: The Ben Goldacre Fan Club

Sceptics' Book reproduces a comment left by Ben Goldacre on Jeni Barnett's blog: What are LBC Radio and Jeni Barnett Afraid Of? and Damage Control for LBC's Jeni Barnett's MMR Rant Backfires Globally and on a Massive Scale

Infectious Diseases Dr Verity of Verity at Work: Alarm Bells, Lassa, Snow and the End of the MMR Scare

Quercus: MMR: As the actress said to the doctor...

Law Librarians mentions the kerfuffle: While I'm Here

Chris Ward of Terroir: Jeni Barnett Is An Idiot

Karl Haro von Mogel of The Inoculated Mind: Go Download This

Dr Grumble reveals why he will not agree to record an item for LBC radio again: LBC sharks

Daniel Onions of Phoebus Gins (what is not to love about those names) wonders if LBC are trying to deliberately stir this up: Jeni Barnett and Bad Science

Two Nil Blank Blank 20__ swears to Beelzebub that this kerfuffle has become London's Biggest Conversation

Mick of Bright Reason warns that you may lose IQ points if you choose to listen to the notorious MMR segment: Badscience, Jeni Barnett woo-woo and the Streisand Effect

John Connell of John Connell - The Blog: Send in the lawyers. John has listened to the broadcast. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he reports:
the call from the 'vicious nurse' was, in fact, a call from a rightfully angry health professional who had obviously had enough of listening to the incoherent babbling of Barnett and her self-evident ignorance of the subject upon which she had chosen to pontificate. The nurse in question was far from vicious - she simply put Barnett right with a few salient facts.

Fish n Chimps of CMM News: Shock as Z-list Celeb Talks Out of Wrong Orifice
On the grounds that LBC is a commercial radio station that depends on advertising revenues, and on the even more tenuous grounds of this blog being about media monitoring, I present an example of a radio presenter firing off a rant that can physically harm or even kill children...
There's a strange wind blowing through British celeb media at the moment, with lynch mobs after Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson for referring or talking to people in an insulting manner. What Barnett has said is far, far worse because of its potential to encourage gullible or ill-informed parents to make a decision that they may well regret later.
Forgive the extended quotation but this is a very interesting take on current events in media-celeb land.

Jonathan of No Sleep 'Til Brooklands: Jeni Barnett and MMR. Jonathan is bemused at the cavalier sneering way in which Jeni dismisses Yasmin's recommendation that if she were looking for information about vaccination on the internet, then she might consult a reliable source such as the Department of Health rather than sources of error. Apparently, "The Dept. of Health frightens people".
Yeah, you don't wanna be running into the Department of Health down a dark alley. That pretty much sums up the standard of evidence Barnett is working from; throughout the whole show she relies on anecdotes, a ludicrously fuzzy understanding of science, a breathtaking array of logical fallacies and a lot of vague suspicions about the motives of people promoting MMR (a level of skepticism she apparently doesn't have towards, say, homeopaths who call in to deride vaccines despite making their living out of selling the alternative)
Cubik's Rube unusually has: A blog post on a Friday. He notes that even after she has realised that she should have been better prepared:
Jeni hasn't given up her impassioned defence of emotion and instinct over information and understanding.
Masks of Eris is finding that: World Sucks.
In UK, Ben Goldacre, a nice and sensible person, is again bothered by woo-woo people of unspeakable acephaliousness — and since they have no facts, and no talent for handling them even if they did, they use lawyers.
Professor David Colquhoun of dcscience: Jeni Barnett and LBC: dangers to public health. Like many others, Prof Colquhoun disagrees with Jeni's characterisation of her exchange with Yasmin as 'vicious':
The opinionated and ill-informed actress turned talk show host, Jeni Barnett, spent an hour or so endangering your children (and hers) with what most surely be one of the worst ever accounts of measles vaccination...

She was abominably rude to a well-informed nurse who phoned in to try to inject some sense into the conversation...

When will people learn that lawyers are not the proper way to settle matters of truth and falsehood.
As ever, vigorous sentiments, well-expressed.

Commonplace Book offers a lively and a propos quotation from Tim Minchin: Jeni Thick-ett.
In the current hysterical climate, where a comedian can be banned from the airwaves for three months for leaving crude answerphone messages to the grandfather of one of his conquests, or the daughter of an ex-Prime Minister can be sacked on the spot for a stupid comment made, off air, to a colleague, I am surprised that Barnett hasn't come in for more stick...

After reading [the transcripts], I was tempted to quote some [lines from Tim Minchin's fabulous Storm], specifically the lines:
Keeps firing off clich├ęs with startling precision
Like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition
John at Sore Eyes has some reservations about the size of the chunk that Ben excerpted but fully agrees that LBC is being disproportionately heavy-handed: LBC are bullies, pass it on

Eastwood DC of Dread Tomato Addiction (you may want to read Mark Clifton's 1958 essay if you would like to understand the name) suggests: The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers

Skepacabra notes the latest heavy-handed legal reprimand: Ben Goldacre is Being...

Andres Guadamuz of Techno Llama offers a thoughtful and interesting legal opinion that is well-worth reading in full: Bad Science meets bad copyright.
Beyond the strict legalities of the case, one has to feel that Bad Science has done nothing ethically wrong, on the contrary, the reproduction of the clip serves the public interest. Those who espouse the blatantly damaging view that MMR should be trashed, and worse, use their public standing to further such myths, should be held accountable. It is typical of those with indefensible positions to use, misuse and abuse copyright law in order to stifle debate (Scientology anyone?) Copyright law serves a clear purpose to society, but when it is used to censor and remove contrary opinions then the public interest should prevail.
Gimpy has his own opinions on where some of the blame for Jeni Barnett's remarkable antivax rhetoric comes from: Jeni Barnett's MMR scaremongering - the role of homeopathy.
I will focus on a particular vice of mine. Homeopathy. While bloggers and others are justifiably getting angry at Jeni Barnett and the media over this issue I think it is important to look at professions that feed and grow strong on such public emanations of ignorance and doubt...

Barnett may believe she is just sharing her opinions with her listeners and giving a forum for a spectrum of views but she fails to realise or fails to care that the mistrust and disinformation broadcast across the radio waves by LBC is being absorbed by homeopaths, packaged into a bitter narrative of fear and mistrust of science based medicine, and sweetened with a sympathetic ear and a sugar pill. Homeopaths view such voices in the media as reinforcing their beliefs and giving them more confidence in their practices.
Anthony Cox of Black Triangle has done some follow-up: Transcripts of Jeni Barnett on MMR on LBC Radio and he tells us that the rumours of a Conspiracy? have already started.
Anti-vaccinators have exploited the internet for years. Websites, blogs, and forums are widely used by activists to promote their wrong-headed cause. However, when the pro-science pro-vaccine lobby use similar methods a common accusation is leveled at them. Here it is posted at JABS, the UK's leading anti-vaccine website.
There is no way all of this could have happened so quickly without Pharma backing.
Demotivated posters now offer a little something in the style of Jeni Barnett and Measles Was Never That Bad Anyway. A rather sadder version of what is fast becoming the Jeni Barnett: Measles was never that bad anyway meme.

David of Cloud Soup ponders on a peculiarly british myth of MMR and autism: Jeni Barnett, MMR and Bad Science

Martin Stabe makes a glancing reference to the kerfuffle and states that it is to Jeni Barnett's credit that she defended herself and is allowing comments that disagree with her: Jeni Barnett: MMR and Me

Electric Halibut has now perused various transcripts of the infamous Jeni Barnett segment and come to the conclusion: there's a fine line between "finely tuned animal" and "weird"

Dr Crippen of NHS BlogDoc implores parents to get their children immunised: Jeni Barnett, MMR, Measles and Bad Science. Will she accept the challenge?

Chris Gerhard of The Dot in ...---... muses:You can't put it back in the box.
It seems the clever Lawyers at LBC have not really paid attention to how the web works. Specifically "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.". This post is part of that routing.
JHQ of Letting Off Steam has put up a response to the transcription of Jeni Barnett's phone exchange with Yasmin: Jeni Barnett, Antivaxxer.

Dr Petra has produced a very thoughtful piece that ranges across the issues of professionals working with people in media to explain their work and the actual dynamics of some of the exchanges in Jeni Barnett's LBC Radio MMR segment: Ever wondered why health professionals don't want to work with the media and the public are misinformed on medical issues?
There are major problems within journalism currently about the level of understanding of health and science issues by presenters, researchers and other media staff. While a minority appear to have a good grasp of what's going on and take time to read evidence and seek professional input, the majority of reporters are often poorly placed to understand and discuss complex and emotive health issues and lack the time, training and/or enthusiasm to get to grips with health or science evidence.

The result is a lot of opinion expressed as fact; endless hard-to-argue-with-rhetoric...

I think from reading [the transcript] it's pretty easy to see whose dialogue you could describe as 'vicious' – and it wouldn't be Yasmin.

Time and again myself and colleagues are invited onto TV or radio programmes or interviewed by print media journalists where we are interrupted, ignored, misunderstood, misquoted, ridiculed and quite often (as in the case of Yasmin above) deliberately insulted.
The Jobbing Doctor has produced British Medical Blogs 18 which is rather dominated by the issue of L'Affaire Ben Goldacre and Jeni Barnett. He tells a rather poignant story from his medical school days.
There has been a continuing unease that misguided colleagues and assorted quacks can, with a credulous and compliant media, start to cause significant damage to the health of children.

When Jobbing Doctor was a medical student, centuries ago, aeons ago, a young child with measles-induced brain damage was presented as a clinical case at his medical school. He had permanent brain damage as a direct result of SSPE (Subacute Sclerosing Pan-encephalitis), which is a direct result of Measles. This was a defining experience in Jobbing Doctor's career. He never forgot this.
The World Is a Lesson In Perspective urges people to donate by PayPal to Ben Goldacre.

If you like the London Bus Generator, go straight to Northern Doctor for another version of Jeni Barnett's very own meme: Raging across the blogosphere.

Phil Chamberlain of Taking Out the Trash writes: On dishing it out and taking it.
The difference with [Jeni Barnett] and other parents is that she is in a postion of authority and her programme sets the terms of debate for the public....

It's not good enough to be a little ignorant and a bit fluffy and think you're just helping confused parents take control. You need to take this stuff seriously or you need to go and find a job where you can't cause damage to other people.
There is, of course, a delightful Facebook Group: Defend Ben Goldacre from LBC

DBH of The Great DBH Rant has gone through the transcripts and concluded: Jeni Barnett Anti-Vaccination Drivel – Irresponsibility at its best. DBH wonders:
I wonder if she would want to get into any sort of intellectual debate about vaccinations when she doesn't have that button in front of her which allows her to switch off a caller. Since this unfortunate show has been on air and she was rightly criticized by bad science blogs left, right and centre, she has posted unrepentant posts on her own blog, depicting herself as a victim.
Richard Brennan refers to the dispute in his newsjiffy: Dr Ben Goldacre accused of copyright infringement by LBC 97.3 FM following MMR show blog posting.

Paul Flynn has had an opportunity to explore the transcripts and audio further since his last posting and he is taken aback: New nuke : old calamity.
Jeni Barnett is angry at the response to her broadcast and describes a nurse who rang in to disagree with her as "vicious". I listened to the exchange. The nurse was quiet, persuasive and courteous even though Jeni talked over her, cutting her off, and yelling at her with shrill irrational accusations.
The law must not be used to silence Ben Goldacre and the other voices of reason...
I hope to table an EDM about this disgraceful incident.
Peter Groves of IPso Jure takes time out from legal-beagling to highlight Dr Ben Goldacre as 'a person of many accomplishments' and to credit him as the originator of the fine expression, "intellectual property absolutists": IP news round up.

Simon HB of No Rock and Roll Fun is another blogger who has had more time to read through some of the transcripts, posts and follow-ups. He has posted his own follow-up: Global Radio: Jeni Barnett Defends Her Position.

The real question is why Global are sending legal threats to Ben Goldacre when, really, they should be calling in their presenter and asking why she thinks having procreated is some sort of excuse for taking a biased and wrong position on a programme where she should have been acting as a balanced moderator.
Guido of Guido Fawkes is pleased that: LBC Get Wiki Leaked.
Guido loves Wikileaks. They are like a risk management tool for bloggers.
The Milligan comments on parts of the transcripts: Jeni Barnett Spouting Pure, Unadulterated Ignorance About the MMR Vaccine. After much study and analysis, The Milligan concludes:
This ignorance is broadcast to a lot of people. The DoH doesn't frighten me, but the idiot Barnett scares me a lot. Thankfully my three kids have been vaccinated, and with every passing day, I vaccinate their minds against people like her.


Jon said...

If you want HolfordWatch's list of blogs that have covered this issue just email us.

Political Scientist said...

Hello Jon,

Yes please that'd be great - I've just bunged you guys an email.

all best wishes

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