Jeni Barnett and the Missing Blog Posts About MMR Segment on LBC Radio

Jeni Barnett and LBC Radio, we say this for your own good because it must be miserable underneath those duvets. Stop making things worse. Deleting blog posts is not going to make this go away because, short of an EMP, the Internet keeps track of these things (cache for now, Quackometer has both posts, the Tiny URL version still works and there maybe images later).

Deletion will not mend fences. Talk to Dr Ben Goldacre and others. He removed the segment, please drop your rights to hold the threat of a law suit against him. Above all, talk to him. He’s a reasonable man.

Most importantly, Jeni Barnett needs to apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation, to Yasmin. Nobody but Jeni Barnett believes that Yasmin’s phone call was “vicious”. Dr Petra Boynton gives an excellent analysis of the infamous phone call that closed the MMR Segment for the 7 Jan 2009 show and holds it up as an example of why health professionals are wary are talking with media people. Even Jeni Mimosaphant Barnett can not possibly think that removing the blog posts is a sufficient proxy apology to Yasmin whom she explicitly disrespected both in the call and in her blog post or the other health professionals whom she implicitly disrespected and decried.

Does Jeni Barnett have any understanding that people are angry that she takes the word of business people with a conflict of interest (to a large extent, that fits the description of Tracy, anti-vaxer and homeopath) and seems to lionise Dr Andrew Wakefield whilst speaking with contempt of the Dept. of Health, Health Professionals such as Yasmin and many hard-working doctors while also implying that the health and research professions contain a disproportionate number of callous individuals or corrupt liars?

People put a lot of thought into giving Jeni Barnett the information that she seemed to request in response to her errors. There was no need to delete those comments.

It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth.’ and so it goes away. Puzzling. [Robert M. Pirsig]

As Ciaran rather charmingly remarked, relatively speaking:

we’ve gone for a picnic on her comments page with a G&T in one hand and a Cochrane review in the other.

There was certainly no need to delete the posts. This isn’t Groundhog Day, you can’t wipe the past and give it another go. Although this tactic does remind us of a certain Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford who made more than a few gaffes in his response to a Watchdog programme and then deleted it when somebody took him at his word and researched his ‘corrections’. The same Holford whose idea of a blog is opening it up to comments only from those who have drunk the Kook-Aid [sic] and signed up to his 100%health subscription service.

However, as both Jeni Barnett and Patrick Holford (plus, 1 and <a href=”http://holfordwatch.info/2008/01/26/patrick-holford-and-andrew-wakefields-discredited-findings-part-2/&#8221;) have expressed that they are convinced by Dr Andrew Wakefield (and here), James O’Malley has designed a Scientific Study that PROVES Andrew Wakefield Fandom is Deleterious.

Jeni Barnett, a certain former Visiting Professor, our advice is – less deletion, more dialogue.

Updates and related reading

Botherer of Cream has a very good overiew of the LBC Radio, Jeni Barnett, Ben Goldacre kerfuffle as well as summarising the recent and former revelations about Andrew Wakefield, his conflicts of interest, and flaws in his research: Goldacre Vs Barnett, Why The Internet Will Get You.

This is why Barnett’s mistake was so huge. Finally, after a decade of this hideous man’s work having somehow dominated, despite dozens and dozens of further studies failing to reproduce the results, and the MMR being repeatedly proven safe, the tide in the media is beginning to turn. Newspapers that perpetuated the myth are beginning to report the truth. This hopefully means, along with the recent revelations as to the depths of Wakefield’s malpractice, the tide might begin to turn.

Botherer also, and rightly, highlights the excellent technical support from Positive Internet, during Ben Goldacre’s time of Boing Boing and the Stephen Fry Effect (we should also note that Positive Internet rescued Quackometer at his time of need).

The Biologista remarks on: The Streisand Effect. Biologista highlights that there has been:

No meaningful apology. No recognition of the continuing damage this evidence-free nonsense has done to public health in the UK and Ireland. And of course, no glimmer of having realised that everything she and LBC have done so far, including this, is just making things worse for her and her employers.

BPSDB

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14 Comments

Filed under Andrew Wakefield, measles, MMR, patrick holford, vaccination, vaccines

14 responses to “Jeni Barnett and the Missing Blog Posts About MMR Segment on LBC Radio

  1. Pingback: Posts about Boing Boing as of February 10, 2009 » The Daily Parr

  2. pdudy

    When are people going to understand that you can’t do that? To do so without an apology just smacks of desperation.

    Her radio station aren’t doing a good job of managing this.

  3. qxcot

    Old media, old ways. If they think they’ve taken their ball home so the game stops then they are probably going to discover how wrong they are.

  4. Pingback: LBC and Global Radio, Currently London’s Biggest Sulk? « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science

  5. Pingback: Personal comments detract from original MMR / LBC debate | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog

  6. Allo V Psycho

    Most attention seems to have focussed on the dangers posed by measles. However, perhaps because of my research background, I personally am most concerned about an outbreak of rubella (German measles). Because it generally presents as a relatively mild disease, it may not be detected in children or most adults. However, the consequences for infected pregnant women are devastating. It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of the resulting Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The nature of the outcomes depend upon the stage of pregnancy, but include eye defects leading to affected eyesight or blindness, hearing defects leading to deafness, heart defects, mental retardation, and of course, fetal death. Fetal infection rates following maternal infection are estimated as 100% up to week 10 of pregnancy, with an estimated 90% of infected babies suffering malformation, with infection and abnormality rates decreasing but remaining significant in succeeding weeks. In the last major pandemic, in 1963-65, there were at least 13,000 early or fetal deaths, 20,000 infants born with major abnormalities, and 10,000 to 30,000 infants born with less severe abnormalities in the US alone. WHO estimates suggest there are currently at least 100,000 and possibly 200,000, babies born each year who are affected by CRS.

    This dreadful scourge has almost been eliminated from the developed world by infant and childhood vaccination programmes. The vaccine is unusually effective, with seroconversion rates of as much as 98%, and long lasting persistence. It appears to be very safe, even when given to women who become pregnant shortly after the vaccination. However, paradoxically, this can place the population at greater risk if vaccination rates subsequently fall: a disease which was endemic can then become epidemic.

    Epidemic risks are increased by the fact that the disease itself is often mild both in adults and in children. If it is undiagnosed, then sufferers may not be isolated from pregnant women. Some children remain infective for long periods after the symptoms have disappeared, and in the nature of things, young children are often in the same company as pregnant women.

    Reduced MMR uptake poses just such a risk. Given that no plausible evidence has been produced to suggest that the vaccine poses risks to child development, and that there is no possibility of doubting that the disease poses devastating risks to child development, I think it is tragic and regrettable that misguided parents are campaigning against MMR. When they have a child with a developmental disorder themselves, they are then in the position of campaigning for the promotion of developmental defects in others. In my opinion, ill informed media journalists, like Jeni Barnett, and pressure groups like JABS, must bear a significant share of responsibility for cases of CRS occurring over the next 10 or 20 years.

    References: too many to cite, really, but see for example Duszak RS (2009) Congenital rubella syndrome – major review. Optometry 80: 36-43, and Robinson JL et al (2006) Prevention of congenital rubella syndrome – what makes sense in 2006? Epidemiologic Reviews 28: 81-87.

    Admin edit: quickly – thank you so much for this. Somewhere I have a stack of references on Sense and CRS but I could only find a couple and they weren’t right up to date – unlike the material you cite. We’ve edited to make the citations clickable. Thank you.

    We’ve post links to the issue of vaccine safety in several posts but refer interested readers to the latest article by Jeffrey Gerber and Paul Offit: Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses and to AP Gaylard who has produced an online version of some of the material concerning in Offit’s book, Autism’s False Prophets.

  7. salmagrundi

    This is a PR disaster. LBC and Global Radio are behaving in an anachronistic manner that undermines their modern image.

    They should talk to Goldacre and Yasmin and ask them onto the radio to give some correct guidance.

  8. Pingback: LBC - laughable, blustering, canting (updated) « Dr Aust’s Spleen

  9. Pilau

    That was always going to work. Not. Doesn’t this woman have children and grandchildren? Couldn’t she have run this past them?

    Can’t think how they thought deleting was going to work. Actually, that’s their problem – can’t think.

  10. hilda

    Old media – meet the realities of new media. Embrace the reality of true interaction that is not mediated by the old ways of doing things or go under as people find podcasts that meet their needs and where they can interact with the presenters and talking heads.

  11. Kstar

    It’s like someone said on Start the Week you can’t do this on the internet and there are editors and directors who have to move with the times and the new technology.

  12. Charlotte Anne

    The discussion about rubella has told me a lot that I didn’t know. I’m embarrassed to say that I was wondering what all the fuss was about because I’m not the generation where I know anyone who has been through this. Ironically, that might be because previous generations were vaccinated.

    I don’t know my status but I will check.

    There are toddlers whose preferred media input centres around The Weebles and anything with silly accents and brightly-coloured houses who display greater media savvy than LBC 97.3 and Global Radio. If I were their shareholders I’d be asking why they didn’t have a proper damage-limitation plan.

  13. Tristesse

    This has all gone very quiet. I take it there have been no more exchanges but LBC has not withdrawn the threat of legal action although they are not making progress on it?

    • As far as we know, that’s an accurate assessment of the current state of play. However, LBC and Global Radio would look very foolish if they were to decide to do something after such a period of inertia.

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