Jeni Barnett’s Good Advice

July 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm (Anti-Vaccination) (, , , , , , )

I was irritated, and a little concerned, to note (via Zeno’s blog) that Jeni Barnett was planning to discuss swine flu and vaccination on her radio show. Then I spotted something on Jeni’s blog that amused me. I now have conflicting emotions: I’m cheerfully annoyed.

Jeni writes on her blog that “Scientists have a place, natural practitioners have a place, parents have a say in what they do with their children.” Which is all very well, but will the natural practitioners, scientists and parents all be well-informed? The issue of vaccination has occasionally led to discussions of informed consent (particularly in the case of the recent proposal to make vaccination compulsory) – but are parents and natural practitioners really informed? Blogger AP Gaylard wrote an interesting post titled “ignorant refusal” that is well worth reading – it covers informed consent and the need for full information, and points out that there is a strong argument that those refusing consent should also have full information.

And another thing: Jeni claims on her blog that she doesn’t want us to “go down the route of bullying each other again” and calls for “no more nasty sniping please”. As was well-documented at the time, and is noted again in Zeno’s recent post, Jeni was responsible for most of the bullying. If you don’t believe me then listen to the transcripts of the show that are available via some of the many interesting links on this Holford Watch post (the audio links come just after update 3) or this one on Bad Science. The Bad Science post has links to blogs hosting the audio (scroll down to just below the transcript – or simply read the transcript if you just want to see how Jeni spoke to Yasmin).

Finally, I note that on Jeni’s most recent blog post, she makes this remark:

Andy, I am not publishing your comment about me and scaremongering and the MMR debate because reading between your lines you want to start a fight and I’m not interested in having a nasty verbal spat with you. If you want to talk to me then do it respectfully or not at all. If you can’t tell the difference between real debate and argumentative sniping I suggest you go and ask somebody clever like Stephen Fry to teach you how to do it…. [My bold]

I think Jeni is right and people should take a leaf out of Stephen Fry’s book when it comes to debate. Anyway, this comment reminded me of something I’d read at the time of Jeni’s stupid comments about MMR vaccination. Here it is:

The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman’s manner – her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps – all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn’t really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I’ve tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We’ll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matters.

The author of the above comment was some chap called, um, Stephen Fry.


  1. skepticat said,

    LOL! I’m sure Jeni was aware of that comment from SF at the time because I know people went out their way to draw her attention to it so it’s surprising she should mention him like that. Unless she was making some obscure point of her own.

  2. AndyD said,

    Hmm, I wonder if that comment was to me? I wrote in saying something along the lines of “scaremongering is instilling fear without evidence” – which is what she’d done with MMR. My comment never appeared – but then, none have appeared since Tuesday and it’s hard to imagine no one else has commented.

    How strange to put a “response” in her next post.

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