18 thoughts on “Vaccines bad, m’kay?”

  1. Don’t forget that if the girls get the vaccine they’ll start having sex and reading about witchcraft in the Harry Potter novels and become communists.

  2. Is it just me or if this week the daily mails headline writers wet dream?

    First a girl dies after being given the cervical cancer vaccine – although from all the reports I’ve heard causality is far from established – she could have been hit by a bus leaving the doctors for all I could tell from the reports.

    Then Gordon brown announces something that could reasonably described as a workhouse.

    If only something had happened involving house prices and they’d have had the complete set.

  3. TM, you’re not far off – today has seen the other great tabloid cliche, Holiday Family Devastated In Natural Disaster. A tsunami wave can kill as many non-white, non-British children as it likes, but god forbid it disrupt a British family’s package holiday.

  4. Have none of our scientists twigged yet that you can’t persuade people by insulting them? There’s a lot of evidence for this, yet those who like to go on the most about how evidence-based their views are appear not to have noticed any of it.

  5. >>First a girl dies after being given the cervical cancer vaccine

    Yeah, but since she had been given the vaccine it was inevitable that she was going to become some sort of harlot anyway, so really it was a mercy.

    1. Hmmm. You say “What they’ve done is to accurately report on the true fact that a girl dropped dead after being given the vaccine, and to reasonably ask whether the two events be related.” I don’t think “accurately report” describes what some papers, notably the mail and the express, are doing.

      This, in today’s mail, is good: “Cervical cancer jab girl died from unrelated chest tumour as researcher calls vaccine plan a ‘mass experiment'”

      That’s a weasel headline.

        1. To be clear, what I’m writing in response to is the bit you quoted: “The only reason parents are worried, boycotting the vaccine, and demanding suspensions of the vaccination program is because the media whipped up a storm with no evidence whatsoever.” That is wrong and insulting. Firstly, when the story broke, the media had as much evidence as the authorities who put the vaccine in quarantine and decided to do a post-mortem. Secondly, claiming that the only reason parents are worried is because the media have told them to be is akin to calling them “sheeple”.

          1. I still think you’re giving the papers an unfairly easy ride on this. To take the Express story…

            “The death comes after months of concern over the vaccine, with ­thousands of girls suffering adverse reactions since nationwide ­im- munisation began in September.”

            …followed immediately by Jackie Fletcher of JABS, the go-to scaremonger on vaccinations, isn’t vaguely close to accurate reporting. The papers have put two and two together to get five.

  6. Squander Two – yes I’m angry with them for reporting. There was no evidence linking the death with the vaccine. Barely a few hours had passed. And they have demonstrably put parents off their children having this vaccine. This is irresponsible, kneejerk scaremongering. It is nothing like the BSE investigation as you suggested on your blog.

    It’s anti public-health-initiative idiocy designed to scare people and sell papers. If you’d like to counteract this, and the wall of negative anti-vaccine stories Google is showing, I’ve blogged some advice on how we can help the NHS rise up the Google results:
    http://www.malcolmcoles.co.uk/blog/cervical-cancer-jab-please-hel/

    Please take part and publicise.

  7. > There was no evidence linking the death with the vaccine. Barely a few hours had passed.

    No, the fact that barely a few hours passed between the two events was evidence. Not proof, not conclusive evidence; misleading evidence, as it turned out. But still evidence. Certainly enough evidence to qualify it as news, which is what newspapers publish. News reporters are not in the business of publishing to peer-reviewed scientific literature. They publish news.

    The implication of your complaint is that newspapers should never publish the news of an unusual death until after the post-mortem. I for one don’t want to live in that brave new world.

    > And they have demonstrably put parents off their children having this vaccine.

    No, the events have demonstrably put parents off their children having this vaccine. Unsurprisingly. The newspapers reported the events.

    > It is nothing like the BSE investigation as you suggested on your blog.

    That’s not what I suggested on my blog at all. What I said was that it’s no good for scientists to act so cluelessly about why it is that lots of people sometimes don’t believe them or even listen to them even when they’ve got scientific evidence. People don’t trust you based on what evidence you’ve got; they trust you based on a whole host of factors. I’d say, when it comes to trust, the main influence is track record. And how many times you’ve been right is immaterial: trust doesn’t work like that. It’s how many times you’ve been wrong that influences whether people trust you. This is something scientists need to address in a proactive and concilliatory way. Accusing people of being irrational and publicly asking why people are so stupid as to disbelieve you even though you’re a scientist has never persuaded anyone and never will. Quite the opposite.

    The reason BSE is relevant is that people got badly burnt by believing scientists on that one. Some people are dead because they believed scientists, in fact. That people will disbelieve scientists after that is not irrational. It has nothing to do with the scientific similarities or lack of them between the two cases. It’s to do with trust.

    1. > Certainly enough evidence to qualify it as news, which is what newspapers publish.

      But given MMR, don’t they have a responsibility to ensure that they’re not scaremongering? I appreciate the desire to break a story, but surely until all the facts are clear it’s important not to hit the EVERYBODY PANIC button?

      The problem here isn’t reporting, it’s editorialising. The language chosen and the information presented is skewed towards the EVERYBODY PANIC thing.

      Also, and I can’t stress this enough: the people at JABS are *fucking nutcases*. Having them as experts in a piece is beyond irresponsible.

  8. I’ll just repeat that what I’m talking about here is the reporting before the post-mortem. After the post-mortem, you’re into the realm of ignoring evidence, ignoring facts, failure to understand basic science, and outright lying — bad science, in other words, which I’m against. Before the post-mortem, it was simply news reporting. And no, the papers certainly don’y have a responsibility not to reprot on events until after all facts about them are known. In this case, that was a few days. In some, it would be months or even years.

    Can no-one here really see the down side of having the media unable to report suspicious deaths until after they get the go-ahead from the authorities? Cause that’s what’s being recommended here.

    1. Sorry, should have said…

      The other thing I’m talking about is the idea of persuading people by insulting them. What pissed me off originally is the bit of Coles’s piece that you quoted. Because no, that’s not the only reason parents are worried. If the reporting had been universally calm and reassuring, parents would still be worried, because it’s an inherently worrying event. Kids dying is worrying to parents. You can’t blame the media for that. And, again, to tell people that the only reason they’re worried is because the media have told them to be always boils down to “I’m intelligent enough to read these reports critically but you’re too stupid.” Like I said, good luck bringing people round to your point of view with that attitude.

    2. I think where we disagree is on whether their early reports were reporting or not. I still think they were editorialising, not reporting.

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