Patrick Holford Has What He Calls A Blog

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford has a blog. Yay for the C21. However, there’s a limit on how far Holford is prepared to go in embracing new technology. You’re not allowed to comment on it, of course.

For more of Patrick Holford’s nonsense as usual that makes one wonder how Professors Cowen and Smith can bear to be associated with him, see, for example, his familiar schtick on vaccines and the GMC hearings into Wakefield. As ever, one has to wonder just what Alt.Reality (tm respected) these people inhabit. Maybe Professors David Smith and Philip Cowen would care to guest on Jeni Barnett’s show and we can all play Bad Science Bingo.

However, more seriously, it seems as if Patrick Holford is lurching ever deeper into the arms of conspiracy theory and plunging into depths even we had never imagined for him. He looks as if he is accepting the unevidenced ‘SIDS as a mis-diagnosis of vaccine injury’ claims. How does Holford read to you on this point?

This week the General Medical Council’s case against Dr Andrew Wakefield, Professor Simon Murch and Professor Walker-Smith, the doctors who reported a link between MMR vaccination and autistic-like symptoms in some children, starts again. This hearing has now run for around 110 days and is schedule [sic] to run until the middle of this year, in a vain attempt to keep the lid on vaccine damage caused to thousands of children…

[Quoting another author] [The] Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunology (JCVI) have tried to disguise the very real fact of vaccine induced fits and febrile convulsions by claiming that deaths from vaccination are actually the nebulous, sudden infant death syndrome deaths (SIDS).

At least Holford is, for now, refraining from publicly aligning himself with the Shaken-Baby Syndrome as a misdiagnosis for alleged vaccine-induced scurvy obscenity. As for the other point, just to be clear, that would be the JCVI that publishes their minutes and reports, as well as declarations of interest, free of charge and available online?

To continue with this farrago of quintessential Holfordism.

It might be said that the Government, the pharmaceutical companies and the science lobby groups have attempted to manage herd immunity with an argument that says vaccines cause no damage at all, ever, under any circumstances.

It might be said, indeed, but it makes it neither accurate nor true. Very few people are prepared to make absolutist statements about vaccination: the best summary is that a vaccination programme is the outcome of a dialogue between parent and doctor and takes the child, family circumstances, relevant medical history etc. into account. Like many decisions, there is an assessment of risk v. benefit and for vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses, paying due attention to clinical history etc. (as above), the benefits of vaccination are considerable and the relative risks are small.

I have no idea what Holford and the author he quotes think that they are expressing with this next paragraph.

The British vaccine programme and those who guide it, run it and oversee it, presents one of the clearest examples of unaccountable, misguided and possibly criminal decisions made by a group of self-interested medical apparatchiks, in the history of British medical politics. The programme began initially to fall apart under the pressure of adverse damage reports in the 1970s. But instead of opening the doors to accountability and a minimal democracy, the DH, the government and political appointees like Professor David Salisbury, shut the gates of Whitehall and like unhappy totalitarians went on buying shoes and having architects build monuments to their greatness while the nation’s children suffered.

Your mileage may vary but the statistics show a remarkable diminution in the suffering caused by vaccine-preventable illnesses for the nation’s children.

Bear in mind that Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they believe that he has scientific credibility. In association with Professors David Smith and Philip Cowen, he wants to influence the health of schoolchildren and be allowed to run further studies with them despite the lamentable results to date and the fact that Professor Smith has had to acknowledge that they haven’t done a “proper job” and their work ‘lacked rigour’.

It is difficult to know what the University of Oxford makes of two of their senior academics seeming to be ensorcelled by Patrick Holford’s charisma and so associated with his increasingly outre views. Maybe we’re being unjust – maybe Professors David Smith and Philip Cowen do believe that “deaths from vaccination are actually the nebulous, sudden infant death syndrome deaths” – we await a clarification.

We can’t think of a single monument to Professor Salisbury. HolfordWatch is aware that Patrick Holford constantly refers to having set up the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in a very rose-tinted, revisionist history sort of way – a sort of monument to himself and his ego, if you will. Are totalitarians unhappy? Is this some totalitarian weltsmertz or glimmerings of conscience that the author would otherwise seem to deny that the officials have? Have neither the author nor Holford bought shoes since the 1970s? Answers on a postcard.

Update: 13:00. BBC overview of SIDS reports:

In 1971, when records of SIDS first started, there were 1,600 deaths a year.

Cot deaths fell massively in 1997 after research from New Zealand found that babies were much safer sleeping on their backs.

Other studies have shown links between smoking during pregnancy and in the same room as babies, overheating and keeping the baby’s head uncovered.

According the the Foundation for the Study of SIDS:

The latest figures show that 300 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year in the UK. This marks a reduction of 65% since the advice on reducing the risk of cot death started to be known.

This is still too many and a tragedy for the families who experience this bereavement. However, we thought it useful to quote some numbers.

Update 21 April: some weeks after starting the blog, Patrick Holford decided to allow comments from his paying-subscribers, still not to the general public. However, for one post only, he as decided to open up his comments.




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20 responses to “Patrick Holford Has What He Calls A Blog

  1. Wulfstan

    Patrick Holford never fails to disappoint – he is capable of finding new lows when you think that he must have bottomed out.

    That material you linked about SIDS, Shaken Baby Syndrome and vaccination is some of the most dishonest, nausea-inducing – I don’t know what to say. I am shaking I am so angry.

    Vaccine induced scurvy?!? I hope that even Patrick Paens of Praise to Vitamin C Holford never goes there.

  2. pj

    I’m not aware of any increase in the incidence of SIDS which could be correlated with vaccination rates – or am I thinking too deeply about what is essentially the opportunity for a know-nothing fraud to explain away the contrary data.

    Admin edit: point taken. Post updated to include some numbers that reflect your point.

  3. Mojo

    I have no idea what Holford and the author he quotes think that they are expressing with this next paragraph

    Do I get a prize for guessing the identity of the author before I followed the link?

    Admin edit: you may well guess and guess correctly. It’s a Candyman superstition and it’s embarrassing but there you have it. Can’t bear the writer in question and this falls under the ‘no oxygen of obscure blog mention’ heading.

  4. Wulfstan

    So, the number of SIDS mortalities has fallen by 65% in the light of better understanding and advice. During this time period the number of vaccinations has increased and SIDS mortalities have continued to fall. Yet, somehow, Holford and his boon companions and fellow intellects want to conjur an evil, baby-sacrificing conspiracy involving shoe-buying and monument-building out of this?

    Holford and his cronies make me feel physically ill when it comes to issues like vaccination. How much longer will this man be tolerated at his own valuation?

    Let us celebrate that we live in a free society where people are free to spout what they like – let us deplore the uses and abuses of that freedom by salespeople and scaremongerers like Holford.

  5. Of course, what this really does is display Patrick’s utter vacuity, as it is simply an extended quote from Conspiracy Ur-obsessive [Admin edit: Candyman] and his Cry Shame website. In fact, this seems to be part of Patrick’s modus operandi lately, as he also reproduces a whole chapter of [Admin edit: Candyman]’s ravings about Ben Goldacre and Simon Wessely on his website.

    “By their friends shall ye know them”, as it were. Look hard at, and past, the “reasonable” face of Nutritionism, like Patrick, and eventually you will see JABS, [Admin edit: Candyman], and the rest of the Dark Conspiracy obsessives looking back at you.

  6. PS Er.. feel free to remove the mentions to you-know-who if you are really avoiding the oxygen of publicity…

  7. @pj – numbers added into main post.

    @dr aust – thanks, edited.

    @Wulfstan – I have to say that this shocked me, too. I’m accustomed to Patrick Holford trying to promote a different vaccine schedule or homeopathic vaccination and even his misunderstandings about mercury, aluminium, vaccines and autism but to tie it in with SIDS seems to be tacky and barrel-scraping even by his standards.

    We had previously congratulated Holford on giving up some of this more conspiracy-laden vaccination theories but it seems that we were premature.

  8. Wulfstan

    This story angers me so much it is like a scab that I can’t stop picking.

    Any connection between Holford’s blog entry and the latest Jerome Burne-Richard Halvorsen anti-vaccination dual-harmony singalong on Are vaccines a waste of time?

  9. Claire

    One could argue that a blog without comments is more or less a pulpit. Patrick’s Pulpit has kind of a ring to it.

  10. “Patrick’s Pulpit” – isn’t that being showcased by the Irish Times and shortly being commissioned by RTE?

    However, it now seems that Patrick is thinking of opening up comments. The blog blurb now reads:

    100% Health News
    RSS feed
    Catch up with the very latest news, information and thoughts from the 100% Health team and Patrick himself in our 100% Health blog. Expand on what the user can expect to find in the blog [emphasis added]

    It also seems that they have now introduced a comment facility for those who have already drunk the kool aid – you can now comment if you are already a member of the subscription 100%health club.

  11. I was shocked to find that Patrick is apparently running “a blog without comments” (or at least, a blog that allows comments from followers only). OK, no I wasn’t. I fully expected his blog to be in the tradition of others such as Nadine Dorries.

    I should probably have also expected the anti-vaccination silliness too. I didn’t expect it to bother me as I thought I was used to that kind of thing by now but… the reference to Wakefield’s hearing as “a vain attempt to keep the lid on vaccine damage caused to thousands of children”. I might take a look at Patrick’s anti-vaccination posts once I’ve finished reading Offit’s book.

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  14. milo

    Apart from having a comment box that almost nobody is entitled to use, how is his blog anything but another way of presenting his previously written material?

    I expect that at some point some of his loyal followers will say something sycophantic but none of them will every call him on his mistakes.

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  16. Trevor

    Each blogger is entitled to their own rules but this is the first time I’ve seen someone restrict comments to their paid subscribers. This stinks – it isn’t blog, it’s a bully pulpit and a pathetic attempt to seem up to date.

    How much did his backers pay for the revamp of his website? They can’t think this poor excuse for a blog looks like value for money.

  17. Highlander

    The guy sounds so prickly and ready to fly off the handle I don’t imagine that anyone who think he has their club details would ever want to disagree with him. They might get a nasty letter through the mail.

  18. Highlander

    If anyone does comment on that blog they will be marked down for a dupe by every email harvester scamming list in existence. I see that one clueless individual has commented and it shows her email address. They really have no clue do they?

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