‘Unprecedented’ rise in measles

January 9, 2009 at 8:42 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The BBC has reported that “there were 1,217 cases of measles from January to November 2008, the highest figure for over a decade.” Report. The HPA press release is here and includes Read the rest of this entry »

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Science Museum Refers Parents to JABS [Updated]

December 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Conspiracy) (, , , )

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Measles cases reach 13-year high – guess who I blame?

November 28, 2008 at 3:02 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Dangerously Wrong, Media) (, , , , , )

The media, of course. Well, mainly. Figures such as Andrew Wakefield and Arthur Krigsman played their parts too and the JABS forumites are well known for being dangerously wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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Justice, Awareness and Basic Support. Or: JABS Forum – Vile and Abusive

September 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm (Anti-Vaccination) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Very brief post, just to say that I’ve been following the JABS reaction to the new study replicating Wakefield’s original study and showing that the MMR jab is not linked to autism. Their reaction is to call people ‘prick’ and ‘puff’. Very grown-up, very sensitive and not at all homophobic or intolerant. Read the rest of this entry »

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More on the Media’s MMR Hoax

September 4, 2008 at 10:31 am (Anti-Vaccination, Media) (, , , , , , , )

Actually there’s no point me telling you any more about the media’s MMR hoax, as the definitive account has already been written – it’s in Ben Goldacre’s book and you can read an edited extract here: badscience.net. What I am going to point you to is a new study Read the rest of this entry »

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BBC Don’t Link To JABS in MMR Story

August 7, 2008 at 11:42 am (Anti-Vaccination, Media) (, , , , , , , , , )

A BBC Report on the MMR vaccine has no link to JABS and no quote from any JABS spokesperson. Good. The piece also accurately reports that the study which raised the possibility that MMR could be linked to autism has since been dismissed and points out that measles can be fatal – i.e., failing to immunise leaves children at actual risk of serious illness as opposed to the hypothetical risk proposed by Andrew Wakefield’s research that turned out not to be a risk at all (partly because Wakefield’s results were false positives, as shown by Chadwick, known by Wakefield and ignored by the media).

An epidemic of measles – which can be fatal – could potentially affect up to 100,000 young people in England alone. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Experts say it is perfectly safe, but vaccination rates dipped following controversy about its safety. A study which raised the possibility that MMR was linked to autism has since been dismissed by the vast majority of research, but levels of public confidence in the jab have still not fully recovered.

Why is this such an important story? Two reasons, really. As reported on the BBC’s website, in 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales (more than the previous 10 years put together – from 1996 to 2005 there was a total of 1,621 confirmed cases), and the Department of Health says around 10% of measles cases require hospital admission and one in 5,000 are fatal. As the BBC point out: An epidemic of measles – which can be fatal – could potentially affect up to 100,000 young people in England alone. I reckon that could mean around 10,000 hospitalisations and 20 deaths going by the DoH figures. This shit is important – which is why the media really should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating this ridiculous hoax, why Wakefield should think long and hard about his part in all this, and why the public should stop and think before reacting to health news stories. Nothing is 100% guaranteed safe for all people in any situation, but providing your children with the MMR jab was always safer than denying it to them. Ben Goldacre and the others who tried to explain the safety of MMR and the flaws in Wakefield’s study were always right on MMR and JABS, Wakefield, the panicking public and the stupid, irresponsible lifestyle journalists were always wrong. Wonder if any of them will admit to being wrong? Don’t hold your breath.

The report has a comments form at the end, so anyone who wishes to make their views known can do so – whether they are from JABS, from another organisation or an individual. So the BBC have not linked to or quoted one particular group of parents (JABS), but are inviting comment from any parent. I think this is a reasonable way to provide balance – rather than censoring JABS, the BBC have actually opened an avenue whereby a larger section of the public can have their say and this section of the public can include JABS members. This is possibly the fairest outcome the BBC could have managed and I think strikes a better balance between responsibility and free speech than was managed in the past.

H/T Gimpy and Superburger for posting the BBC story.

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This Post is Dedicated to…

June 25, 2008 at 1:23 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Big Pharma, Conspiracy, Fun, Miscellaneous, Trivial) (, , , )

Everyone who has been slated by John Scudamore on Whale.to. The pharma gang and shill pages are my favourites. Frankly, I’m a bit gutted that I don’t get a mention – I’ll have to be more vocal in my criticism of JABS and Whale in future. Richard Doll is a shill (as are Ernst and Goldacre) so I don’t think it would be appropriate for someone of my limited talents to be listed on that page, but how about a mention on the ‘pharma gang’ page John? Honestly – it would be like a badge of honour for me. The really interesting thing is that one name on the pharma gang page is John Stone. Is it a mistake or are there ideological differences (and perhaps even ‘trust issues’) in the JABS camp? Just in case it is a mistake and John Scudamore realises his error, I’ve JKN’d the page here.

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BBC Guidelines – Worthless

June 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , , )

OK, it’s just a brief post today instead of my usual Friday verbosity – because I’m watching the Holland game tonight.

I’ve been trying to find out more about why the BBC links to JABS and how they can justify doing so. Between my complaints to the ECU and my FOI requests, I’ve managed to get an initial opinion of a BBC employee that their linking to JABS would be “well within what is permissable in [their] guidelines”. I am grateful to my correspondent for passing this on, but I am appalled that the BBC have issued guidelines on external linking that allow them to link to a site such as JABS that contains dangerously wrong information. If they can link to the views of HIV-denialist Doctors and laypersons who advise parents of infants to discontinue medical treatment and switch off baby monitors, then the BBC can link to anyone and, this being the case, there is no point having guidelines on external links in the first place. As a tenacious obsessive, I’m inclined not to let this go. I am still awaiting the outcome of my complaint to the ECU, but I don’t expect to get the result I was hoping for. So what’s next? Do I join the green ink brigade and start a letter-writing campaign in the style of John Stone or do I go for the sit-down protest outside Broadcasting House? You decide.

My BBC Complaint

Why does the BBC link to JABS?

JABS and Whale

An open letter to JABS

EDIT 7.45pm: I’ve noticed a perceptive comment on the Bad Science forum from DeeTee: “they [JABS] are a single issue action group, and not a support group. Why cannot the BBC realise this?” – which is something I should probably stress to the BBC next time I contact them.

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My BBC Complaint

June 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , )

Below is a reproduction of a complaint I have submitted to the BBC:

On 12th May, I followed up an email I had sent complaining about the BBC linking to JABS. I have yet to receive a response, so have copied and pasted my email below:

I am still concerned by the assumption that linking to JABS somehow provides ‘balance’. I was interested to note that you stated the BBC must link to JABS for balance – implying that you are somehow impelled to link to that site in order to make articles on vaccines fair and balanced.
Can I please ask the following questions:
Whose decision was it to link to JABS for balance?
How was that decision made?
Are there any sites other than JABS that the BBC could link to for ‘balance’?
Does the BBC link to alternative sites (a) for every story specifically in the health section of the BBC’s website and (b) for every story on the BBC’s website?
Would the BBC ever link to an alternative site other than JABS that gave reckless health advice?
Would the BBC consider a site propagating holocaust-denial appropriate to link to for articles about WWII?
Would the BBC consider a site propagating 9/11 conspiracy theories appropriate to link to for articles about 9/11?

In addition to providing you with the text of my email, I would like to draw your attention to examples of the nature of the site that the BBC is linking to. This post on JABS gives an indication of the quality of advice – http://www.jabs.org.uk/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1138 – note the recommendations of the first respondent. First this poster advises someone to take their child off antibiotics that have been prescribed by a medical professional, they then advise Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics and Homeopathy as alternative treatments and, finally, they finish by advising that wireless devices – including baby monitors – be switched off or removed. Other posters: deny that HIV causes AIDS, advise homeopathy and quantum touch healing instead of conventional medicine and link to the website whale.to – which includes a whole page on HIV/AIDS denialism. Proof of JABS regulars linking to whale.to on HIV/AIDS denialism and a copy of the page itself are available.

Regardless of the disclaimer displayed on its website, I feel that the BBC should not be able to abrogate all responsibility for the content of external sites linked to from said BBC website. The BBC links to JABS, the BBC has been made aware of the nature of JABS by several people and the BBC has made the decision to continue to link to HIV-denialists who give dangerous medical information to vulnerable parents. It is time the BBC took some responsibility for their decision to link to this site – and it’s time they stopped providing links to JABS.

I’ve submitted some more information to the BBC to show what kind of site they are linking to. I’ve basically just posted a link to these HIV denialism posts: here and here. The first thread begins here: page 1.

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Why does the BBC link to JABS?

May 20, 2008 at 4:39 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , )

I’ve been corresponding with the BBC with regard to their linking to the anti-vaccination pressure group JABS. This was my original complaint: Read the rest of this entry »

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