I will shut up about MMR in a minute, but I wanted to link to this post by Scots Law Student:
Saying that children’s vaccines cause cancer is a sure fire way to terrify parents and this should have been as well received as Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s Radio 2 phonecall.
It’s a fair point, although of course the Barnett discussion was about autism rather than cancer – after all, scaremongering about vaccines actually harms children, whereas unfunny pranks don’t do any real damage. In an ideal world our campaigning newspapers would ignore the latter and scream the place down about the former. Then again, in that world certain papers wouldn’t manufacture anti-BBC sentiment to suit their own commercial agenda, they wouldn’t spend their whole time telling readers that everything in the world causes cancer, and they wouldn’t be guilty of anti-MMR hysteria that makes Jeni Barnett’s broadcast seem like very small potatoes indeed.
On the subject of which, Holford Watch has put together an exhaustive summary of the story, the legal threats against Ben Goldacre, the blog reaction and the involvement of Stephen Fry. Fry’s not just there for the techy things in life, you know.
If you’re interested in this, you really ought to check out Goldacre’s Bad Science book. The section on MMR will make you jump up and down in fury. I read somewhere (can’t remember where, sorry) a suggestion that we’re heading for a similar health scare over the cervical cancer vaccine, with evangelical groups pushing stories of the “this girl had the vaccine and her brain exploded” variety in the hope that gullible newspapers will run them.
Okay, back to gadgets and internet things…