Friday, 6 February 2009

Goldacre threatened with legal action over criticism of anti-MMR radio broadcast - UPDATED

Here we go again. Ben Goldacre, author of the badscience blog, recently posted a critical piece regarding a broadcast by LBC Radio's Jeni Barrnett that took a vehemently anti-MMR stance. I would happily link to that piece on Ben's blog, only I can't. Perhaps teh internets have got demons by pure coincidence, perhaps the badscience server's having problems - for whatever reason, I can't access at all this morning.

But wait. Perhaps it's because of the legal threats (documented by, amongst others, jdc on his ever-brilliant weblog) made by LBC Radio towards Ben demanding that he take down the post, or at least the segment of audio footage featuring Ms. Barnett's ill-informed and irresponsible musings. Luckily t'interweb has some brave soldiers not afraid to stick their neck out in the interests of spreading knowledge and light - in other words, there's folk out there who don't give a flying wotsit about legal action and have posted the entire audio segment for your perusal. Martin at the excellent links to the file hosted at wikileaks, whilst the indefatigable holfordwatch have updated their post on Barnett's rather absurd reaction to Ben's post by listing related legal manoeuvres enlisted to silence criticism of woo-tastic alternative medicine and the like. Frank Swain, the swashbuckling Science Punk, has also picked up on the controversy, as I'm sure have many others.

Indeed Barnett's last two posts on her own blog make for fascinating reading. jdc's already covered one in the post I already linked to - but the most recent Jenirant is somewhat shorter and yet all the more eye-popping:
I thank the Bad Scientist for being just that. Sarcasm doesn't shift peoples opinions.
That's right Jeni, but fact and reason should, and that's what the badscience community is all about - OK we can be somewhat sarcastic sometimes (no, really...?!), but at least we base our opinion on peer-reviewed research (i.e. that MMR doesn't cause autism or other adverse reactions), observational fact (i.e. that decreased MMR uptake has caused a surge in measles cases) and reason (that single jabs, which Jeni seems to support, have lower compliance and therefore would reduce immunity). Having said that, all this might just be my own perspective, because according to Jeni:
I care about humanity my way, and you Bad Scientist yours.
OMFG, relativism...!!!1!!!11one!!eleven!1! I'm sorry Jeni, but taking into account the comments popping up under your posts you're very much alone in this, perhaps with the support of the odd Melanie Phillips character (the very odd Melanie Phillips, I should say...).

I must admit, being the sad sort of foodie that I am, that I do miss Jeni Barnett's quirky style as presenter of Great Food Live on uktvfood - but there is no way I'll allow that to get in the way of criticising her and her bosses for threatening legal action on Ben and That is way out of order, and is the latest in a pathetic long line of people determined to hide behind bully-boy tactics to avoid discussing the very fundamental fact that they are wrong.

EDIT @ 10.10, 06/02/09:

Perhaps I was being paranoid when I said the site was down - maybe it was sheer volume of traffic pounding the servers, with legions of internet users logging on to register their support of Ben in his quest to quell the Barnett/LBC anti-MMR machine. Either way, the site's up and running now, so take a look at both Ben's original postcriticising Jeni (sadly it's now sans audio clip...), and his subsequent call for help over the legal ramifications of LBC's demand that the audio be removed.


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