February 06, 2009

Shock as Z-list celeb talks out of arse

On the grounds that LBC is a commercial radio station that depends on advertising revenues, and on the even more tenuous grounds of this blog being about media monitoring, I present an example of a radio presenter firing off a rant that can physically harm or even kill children. And just in case there is any doubt about where I'm coming from, I am bloody furious.
The benefits of child vaccines are attacked from two sides. One argument is that they can cause autism, a dangerous delusion which has thankfully been blown out of the water. The other argument is that innoculations like MMR are pointless because kids need to be exposed to these illnesses to make them stronger.
The media flurry exists on both sides of the pond. In the USA, Jenny McCarthy campaigns against innoculations. In the UK, we had apparently put this argument to bed and are trying to tidy the mess of the MMR scare ("Health watchdog reports sharp increase in childhood measles").
When my chimplets were due their innoculations my GP explained that the diseases were potentially more dangerous than the unproven risk of the innoculations. With the medical evidence that measles can kill on one hand, and no evidence that MMR causes harm (note: the plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence") on the other, I was under no illusions that the jabs were absolutely necessary.
Jeni Barnett owns one of those daytime TV faces that's bolted to a "personality" of which I had no opinion, until now. This broadcasting drone has seen fit to fire off her anecdote-based opinions against vaccination. What's unexpectedly amusing is that Dr Ben Goldacre (author of one of the best science books I've read in years) decided to post Ms Barnett's rant on his website, and is being hit with legal threats for shining a light on her daft outburst.
There's a strange wind blowing through British celeb media at the moment, with lynch mobs after Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson for referring or talking to people in an insulting manner. What Barnett has said is far, far worse because of its potential to encourage gullible or ill-informed parents to make a decision that they may well regret later.
Here's a copy of Dr Goldacre's post which has been removed, with the "illegal" sound file. Here's Jeni Barnett's woeful reaction on her blog. And here's #1 science blogger Prof. PZ Myers' take on the stupidfest.
**Edit** Dr Goldacre sets the record straight

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