As Dr* T told us on Tuesday, the Science Museum has some dodgy info on MMR on its website. They quote leading lights of the anti-vaccination movement, such as Jackie Fletcher of JABS, and provide an email address for worried parents. The email address is for the JABS anti-vaccine pressure group. Here’s what I wrote [names have been changed to protect the innocent].
I would like to request that certain web-pages on the Science Museum site be looked at again in light of the scientific evidence that relates to the issues. I’ve been made aware via several blogs and internet forums that your pages on MMR include advice from Jackie Fletcher and an email address for JABS. The information provided by Ms Fletcher and JABS on vaccination is, on the whole, wrong – and dangerously so. I believe that this is an inappropriate organisation to link to and/or quote from and I think it would be wise for the museum to take a second look at JABS, to look at the evidence on single jabs, MMR, autism and measles and to review the information made available on the Science Museum website.
Some of the offending pages:
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/antenna/mmr/cip4/124.asp – this page is actually quite bizarre, with hints of conspiracy theory (“When we spoke to him, the Department of Health’s David Salisbury wasn’t keen to be drawn on single vaccines. He says MMR is protecting the population – even if 10 per cent fewer people are taking it – but is there another reason?”).
Others covering this
EDIT: Someone on teh Bad Science forums has now pointed out that, on the whole, the MMR section is actually pretty good. I’ve had a quick look at some of the info on there and Tom P certainly has a point. It’s the single jabs section (the bit that contains links to JABS and quotes from Jackie Fletcher) that is not so good. Tom points out that in the intro to the ‘single jabs’ section, the Science Museum
take all of Wakefields claims and destroy them one-by-one on a different page in 50-100 words. It’s a fucking brilliant thing and you’re whingeing about one tiny bit.
On reflection, I think he may be right. Any bullshit on the website seems to be in the form of direct quotes from the anti-vaccinationists and the parts actually written by the Science Museum are pretty fine on the whole. The main thing that I’m bothered about is the Science Museum providing an email link to JABS and sending worried parents their way – JABS is a bullshit reservoir. And this description doesn’t exactly fit the JABS forum: “Jackie Fletcher of vaccine-damage support group JABS also offers advice for parents regardless of whether they are opting for single jabs or the full MMR.” They aren’t a vaccine damage support group – they are anti-vaccine and religiously so. And the line about offering parents advice whether they have chosen single or triple jabs is misleading – I think it makes it look as if Jackie and JABS are open-minded and take a balanced view. The bit about David Salisbury still looks dodgy too. All-in-all, though – I think I have been a bit unfair on the Science Museum. Overly pedantic whingeing is an occupational hazard for a sceptical blogger.
To sum up: Science Museum pretty good; jdc not-so-good; JABS fucking dreadful.