Friday, February 06, 2009

Ben Goldacre – my hero!

Jeni Barnett's exchange with an MD caller to her LBC phone in programme.

As someone who went to a convent boarding school where the nuns thought that deportment badges and a fancy uniform were more important than an education, I was completely deprived of any kind of science education as a child. We wrote odes to autumn in biology classes and physics and chemistry were not taught at all. So science is something I’m thoroughly enjoying learning about late in life. Anyway as part of this self-education one of my regular reads is Dr Ben Goldacre’s hilarious irreverent blog where he writes about bad science journalism and science-related frauds.

In the UK we have had very poor take-up of the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccination, entirely down to a now discredited scare relating MMR jabs to autism. As a consequence the herd immunity to measles, mumps and rubella is now as low as 60% in parts of London. Ben recently posted about a London radio phone-in where the ill-informed, but nonetheless loudly opinionated, presenter Jeni Barnett once again brought up this old chestnut. By posting a twenty minute clip of the three hour programme he has brought down the ire of the broadcaster, LBC and they've sent their legal department after him for breach of copyright. How silly, with the viral power of the internet we can all broadcast snippets of the programme and really embarrass the company.

As a mother of four children, I mind quite a bit when someone, through ignorant prejudice refuses to vaccinate their children and thus endangers the health of other children. However, what really makes me hopping mad is when someone uses their position as a broadcaster to influence an even greater number to do so.

Anyway if you're interested, Ben’s blog is here.
And the broadcast can be heard here.
The comments section of Ben's latest post provides lots of useful links if you wish to complain about the programme or learn more about the subject.


Blogger Woodland Fay said...

Hi Julie, every time you mention Haunton I get goosepimples, just so actuate and well articulated! Never listened to LBC but must check out on your suggestion. Great post, good cause. Regards, F
ps planning my own, long needed, revenge on same nuns in upcoming blog, will advice.

2/06/2009 3:01 PM  
Blogger Felicity said...

Good God, how did she ever get a job as a broadcaster? Sounds like we went to similar schools (although mine was probably a budget version!). My focus tends to be on those experts who give us the 'facts' about the 'big bang'. Only have to wait a couple of years usually for the maths to fall apart. I'm amazed mothers think that putting their child at risk is better than the small risk from the injection. The more who don't have it, the higher the risks of catching the diseases.

2/06/2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger Woodland Fay said...

Sorry Julie, gave the wrong impression in last comment, what I meant to say was will check out Ben's Blog not radio. Dork, where's my head to day!

2/06/2009 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Holfordwatch said...

This is a superb line drawing and captures the essence of this Barnett extravaganza.

Linked to in HolfordWatch round-up of the Goldacre - Barnett brouhaha.

2/07/2009 8:42 AM  
Blogger Judith said...

Oh my lord! You certainly sent me off on a rivetting trail this morning. Never mind the science, with which, I am thankful to say, I do not have to concern myself - I couldn't get past Barnett's delivery style which was unbearable: ranting, incoherent, overbearing and inciteful (and I use that spelling advisedly, I do NOT mean insightful!) I listened in horror to the whole extract.

The word verification for this post is 'mollman' - sounds like a gangster's variation on 'ladies' man!

2/07/2009 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Brilliant drawing.

2/07/2009 10:55 AM  
Anonymous AutismNewsBeat said...

Good Gawd, I nearly shot Guinness out my nose when I heard Jeni's exchange with the MD caller. One can imagine similarly inane lines of inquiry.

"I'm going to ask you something here, are you using an umbrella when it rains? And still you get your feet wet when you step in a puddle?"

"I'm going to ask you something here, do you speak fluent Kyrgyz? But still you can't order a meal in a Portuguese restaurant?"

This woman doesn't have two brain cells to rub together.

2/07/2009 3:14 PM  
Blogger Dr Grumble said...

For those of use who cannot stomach listening to her execrable programme, your wonderful cartoon gets across something of the stupidity of this unfortunate but dangerous woman.

2/07/2009 5:03 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Julie, I just read some of your comments on Jeni Barnett's blog, and wanted to say "well done!" for your honesty, integrity and clear-sightedness. The world needs more good examples of successful critical thinking in personal lives. More power to your elbow!

2/08/2009 10:25 PM  
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9/10/2009 6:13 PM  

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