BBC Judge John Deed, Anyone?

February 24th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, media, MMR, scare stories | 54 Comments »

Okay, here’s a problem. I got the email below from a reader last week, laying out his her concerns about irresponsible pseudoscience in Judge John Deed on BBC One. Apparently they do things like link phone masts to brain tumours and motor neurone disease, and promote some childish and destructive ideas about MMR.

Obviously I’ve not seen the show, because, you know, TV drama serials aren’t really my oeuvre. So I wrote to the BBC press office, asking for a confirmation, and asking if there was a way of getting the tapes, to see for myself, giving Wednesday as my deadline, if i remember correctly.

Nothing since. Not a whisper. Not: “no, if you can’t find the tapes yourself we’re not going to help you say horrible things about us”. Not: “no, you’re wrong, the shows were balanced”.

Nothing.

Anyway, now, obviously, instead of being a bit interested, I’m a bit irritated, and could be on a bit of a mission. I realise this is a cheek: has anyone got tapes – or bit torrents – of Judge John Deed? Did anyone see the show, and should I bother? And do the BBC press office just hate me, or is it everyone?

“Dear Ben Goldacre

“I wonder whether it is worth starting some sort of debate around the
responsibility of popular drama when highlighting issues of public
health. Judge John Deed on BBC One seems particularly bad about this.
One of the episodes specifically linked tetra phone masts to brain
tumours and motor neurone disease. While the implications of this may
not be particularly serious apart from increasing the costs of such
systems, their subsequent treatment of MMR raised more important
ethical concerns.

“In the last two episodes, as well as the usual assertions about
autism, MMR was blamed for causing the symptoms of shaken baby
syndrome, vitamin deficiency, physical and mental deterioration in a
third of vaccinated children, and mental health difficulties
including anorexia. These arguments were given at length by broadly
sympathetic characters. The opposing case, that vaccination saves
lives by providing general immunity to disease, was put briefly by
government ministers and scientists, whose only discernable motive
was the maximisation of profit by ensuring a steady market for the
vaccines, and who resorted to murder to silence criticism. Parents
watching this would certainly be left worried about the safety of
childhood vaccination and suspicious of the motives of those who
wished to reassure them.

“Given the decline in the figures in vaccination , a fact welcomed by
one of the more attractive characters, who claimed to have headed the
WHO vaccination programme in Africa, the question must be asked what
is the responsibility here, given that unfounded worries about
vaccination may cost some children their health and their lives.
Does the fact this is entertainment and fiction mean anything goes?

“I have of course complained to the BBC. I have also written to the
Observer as their third leader was about the importance of the
government and scientists getting the vaccination message across to
worried parents. But I also think this may be something that Bad
Science could take up.


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If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

54 Responses



  1. interbreeding said,

    February 24, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Does this mean I can feel irritated about you not replying to an email I sent?

  2. Idolator said,

    February 24, 2006 at 2:55 am

    Ugh… This is the BBC synopsis for the episode aired 27 January 2006:

    “Gilly Bridges and her husband Jake both have severe health problems – breathing difficulties and cancer respectively. They are convinced that their illnesses have been caused by a mobile phone mast erected above their flats and they are suing the local council. Deed hears the case.

    “He’s also asked by the wife of a former minister in the Iraqi government to help her sue the British government. She blames their use of depleted uranium for the deaths of her family.”

    Wow. TWO lame plots centered on baseless health paranoia in one episode.

    www.bbc.co.uk/drama/crime/judge/episodes.shtml

    I have no idea what the copyright situation is in the UK; since the BBC is publically funded, are BBC-funded productions under relaxed copyright restrictions? In any case, I couldn’t find any mention of “Judge John Deed” on any of the usual Bit Torrent sources; there was one website that looked promising, but I couldn’t register (probably because I have an IP in North America).

    www.uknova.com/

  3. Seeker said,

    February 24, 2006 at 3:24 am

    Judge John Deed torrents are here:

    www.uknova.com/

  4. Kimpatsu said,

    February 24, 2006 at 6:15 am

    Damn, Seeker, beat me to it! I’m downloading Series 5 now.

  5. Mark said,

    February 24, 2006 at 6:31 am

    Re #1 ditto for me. Most of us get more e-mails than we can handle. It is a fact of life.

  6. Yoav said,

    February 24, 2006 at 7:58 am

    You do realise that the current Google ads displayed on this page say;
    “Separate MMR vaccinations at registered day clinic in Hemel Hempstead, Herts” and “Single MMR Vaccines, Measles mumps rubella reduced to £280 for all three”

    Not exactly in tune with your message, is it????

    Do you really think that the income from these ads is enough to justify this hypocrisy?

  7. Evil Kao Chiu said,

    February 24, 2006 at 8:13 am

    We’re talking about a show in which a Crown Court Judge punches defence Counsel, runs an investigations when a juror, is invaribly boffing at least one of the appearing barristers in his Court and bears about as much semblance to reality as Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Acting’s in about the same league too.

    It’s basically Footballer’s Wives for people who like a bit of courtroom action. If Judge John Deed dealt responsibly with scientific issues, it would be so at odds with the treatment of everything else in the show it would stick out like a sore thumb.

  8. Evil Kao Chiu said,

    February 24, 2006 at 8:14 am

    Could we all pretend that first sentence wasn’t riddled with typos? I’m not normally up and about so early…

  9. Evil Kao Chiu said,

    February 24, 2006 at 8:15 am

    Do you really think that the income from these ads is enough to justify this hypocrisy?

    Has to be – the advertiser can’t be getting many customers from Bad Science, which must be a good thing. In fact, I’m off to click on their stupid ad now.

  10. Frank said,

    February 24, 2006 at 8:29 am

    Personally, I think this is scraping the barrel for bad science, akin to Taverne complaining that the X Files undermined science because it was always biased towards the paranormal.

    No matter what you say, the BBC will respond that it is a work of fiction. Judge John Deed is a symptom of public mistrust in science rather than a cause.

    You might as well demand the writers of CSI reflect realistic prosecution rates rather than nailing their perp every single time.

    There are far more deserving and influential targets, surely.

  11. coracle said,

    February 24, 2006 at 9:05 am

    I’d agree with Frank. I caught part of one episode in which I think MMR was mentioned and switshed off in disgust, but I think that expecting balanced representation of science in something like JJD is probably more than we can hope for.

  12. IT Bloke said,

    February 24, 2006 at 9:09 am

    The only thing more laugable than the pathetic attempt at making judges look exciting and sexy is to take british prime-time drama seriously.

    Anyone who says “It must be true, I saw it on Deed!” deservers to be disqualified from the human race for being to stupid to be allowed to breed.

  13. Pedantica said,

    February 24, 2006 at 9:38 am

    “We’re talking about a show in which a Crown Court Judge punches defence Counsel, runs an investigations when a juror, is invaribly boffing at least one of the appearing barristers in his Court and bears about as much semblance to reality as Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Acting’s in about the same league too.

    It’s basically Footballer’s Wives for people who like a bit of courtroom action. If Judge John Deed dealt responsibly with scientific issues, it would be so at odds with the treatment of everything else in the show it would stick out like a sore thumb.”

    I have only seen three or four episodes but in those the Judge had either active or past sexual relationships with both the prosecuting and defending barristers. Consistenty ruling in favour of his current paramour (good thinking!). Also he frequently ended up meeting the witnesses involved in the case. Clearly this is the way justice should work – we really need judges to be more hands on going with their gut emotional instincts. So I agree it is firmly in the realm of fantasy.

    However it is purporting to deal with real scientific issues so I think the fact that it consistently adopts a particular ideological line with respect to the outcomes of the case is worthy of criticism – it would be interesting to hear the defence: If the defence begins “Hey this is all fantasy it is not meant to be taked seriously or accord with reality,” then fair enough, but at least lets hear the writers say this in public. If the defence is “The programme is illustrating the sorts of things which really do happen, but in a fictional setting,” then there is a stronger argument for setting the record straight.

    Hey these writers are used to writing a court room drama they should be up for and capable of putting together a well constructed argument.

  14. Pedantica said,

    February 24, 2006 at 9:42 am

    Frank said, “No matter what you say, the BBC will respond that it is a work of fiction. Judge John Deed is a symptom of public mistrust in science rather than a cause.”

    This does not have to be an either/or choice. Something can be a symptom of existing public mistrust in science and a cause of perpetuating it. And if the BBC did respond in that way this would be an appropriate counter response.

  15. Phil said,

    February 24, 2006 at 9:45 am

    It may be a drama, and some poetic license in , for example, court procedure is fine I think the steady flow of bad sciences from ‘realistic’ dramas such as JJD is lazy plotting, bad fact checking and wagon jumping.

    It all adds to the general deluge of ‘factoids’ about such evil conspiricies as MMR. It may not have started as a cause, but it will perpetuate myths and add to the sum total of ignorance in the world.

    As for CSI, the number of secure convictions is the least worrying thing about it, as anyone who has tried to play a pot ( archaeoastronomy.co.uk/2006/02/19/that-vase/) will find out

  16. maibee said,

    February 24, 2006 at 10:03 am

    I know what you mean about not expecting good science portrayed in unrealistic dramas. I think the comparisons you make though don’t work. Sure CSI might show an inflation of what can be expected from forensics, but it is based on ‘real’ science. XFiles was built around conspiracy and so on and was science fiction in the true sense. The problem is that BBC drama is not seen in the same light. They are trying to deal with real issues so should be expected to present these as they really are – no testable evidence that MMR is a danger. In a way, this programme is more like the XFiles but presenting conspiracy as truth (with the connotations of law and so on) and setting it in real locations even if the characters themselves are unbelievable. Ultimately, children might be brain damaged or die if they don’t get the MMR but no one is bothered if Grissam gets his perp every week.

    Programme makers have a responsibility if they take on current topics and should present these in a balanced way – imagine an episode of Eastenders where a female is attacked by a male and all the characters say that she deserved it because she was wearing a short skirt and only Dot was on her side and they left it at that. Not exactly balance and there would be an outcry. And frighteningly, with the BBC’s much vaunted need to show balance, people might actually think that the one sided presentation of the issue in this programme (or rather the effective presentation on the anti-MMR side and the ineffective on the other) does actually represent current mainstream perspectives on the issue.

    MMR rates may be falling but most parents actually get it done. However, we do need to worry about the middle class humanities graduates who watch this stuff and ‘believe’ – heck, considering the stuff they DO believe, JJD looks like a presentation from the Lancet in comparison. They are the ones who don’t take the social herd immunity thing seriously (or don’t understand it) and so letting little Jocasta spread her germs around at nursery. I speak as a humanities graduate who has seen the light.

  17. Jeremy Miles said,

    February 24, 2006 at 10:11 am

    Click on the things that are spelt with the first letters of Anteater Dilbert Snakeoil.

    Someone questioned whether it was appropriate for these ads to appear on this page. First, Ben’s got no say as to what ads appear – Google decides (based on a bunch of alorithms). Second, if you click on them, the advertiser is charged. Every time. So click away – let’s suck the cash out of these people.

    JM

    P.S. If you say stuff like whatever COTA stands for on your web page which has Google ads on them, Google get cross. So I didn’t. (‘Cos I don’t want Ben getting into trouble, now.)

  18. Francois Gould said,

    February 24, 2006 at 11:20 am

    I was wondering when this would crop up, having seen both the animal rights activism and the MMR episodes and laughed my head off. I do believe that if you can’t see how blatantly one sided cases in JJD generally are… well you have all the critical skills of a Daily Mail reader. I think the MMR episode was also jumping on a Constant Gardener bandwagon (minus good acting, plot etc…) It was however, even with my highly tolerance of scientific madness, utterly irresponsible.
    But then again, Deed’s presentation of the legal system and the role of judges is utterly irresponsible. Remember also that this is the program where the Home Secretary regularly threatens to overhall the Entire basis of the british legal system in order to get back at Deed. Yes, just to fullfill a personnal vendetta. If we teamed up with lawyers and parliamentarians, we could bring JJD DOWN!

  19. Frank said,

    February 24, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    I agree with Pedantica that a TV show can be both a product of bias and a cause of it, I just wanted to make a strong sentence. :)

    I disagree that TV shows should be held to realism for two reasons:
    1) TV is escapism,
    2) and this is the important one: the type of people who form opinions on real life subjects as a consequence of watching JJD are inherently stupid. Spoon-feeding them a balanced view will not make them any less stupid, it will only support their desire to be spoon-fed knowledge.

    How to inspire critical thought in people? That’s the real challenge.

  20. MostlySunny said,

    February 24, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    inspired by Bad Science I want to start writing a column called Bad Law…

    As a lawyer who specialises in litigation (that’s the court stuff folks) shows like Deed, Ally Macbeal, the practice etc actually send me running screaming from the room.

    It never ceases to amaze me how little people actually know about law – concepts like bail, circumstantial evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt/ balance of probabilities – are totally beyond them yet they feel enough confidence to hold forth on them as though they are experts. I blame TV.

    I have also ruined a lot of dinner parties…

  21. coracle said,

    February 24, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    Frank,

    I think critical thinking should be its own subject in school from 11 upwards. At least two terms should be devoted to the importance of clinical trials. Getting GCSE students to have practical experience of blinded trials with statistical analysis would be great.

  22. Kepich said,

    February 24, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Before we let shows like CSI off the hook for ‘at least being based on real science’, let’s look at what some of its effects are. Specifically, the ‘CSI effect’ where jurors expect dazzling forensic evidence before they consider a conviction (see www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-08-05-csi-effect_x.htm or just google ‘CSI effect’).

    The fact is that tv fiction does change people’s perceptions of reality. Only an evil dictator would then conclude that all tv fiction must therefore be regulated to conform to politically correct worldviews. It’s hard to draw the line between responsible and irresponsible tv. I remember that there was an outcry when the Cosby Show first aired, because people worried that depicting affluent African-Americans on tv might make poor African-Americans feel inadequate.

    Maybe the best defence against ‘bad science’ on fictional tv is satire, rather than moralistic grandstanding. So, Ben, I’m rooting for you to mock JJD with your gift for humour, rather than preach to a bored nation about how awful the BBC is. After all, we already know the BBC is awful, but we still watch it and pay the regressive tax that is the tv licence.

  23. Sockatume said,

    February 24, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Yoav: Ben Goldacre has no control over what Google Ads appear, Google just matches keywords from the text, for example “MMR” with a database of advertisers. You can manually go in and block certain advertisers from being put on your site, but you have to wait for them to come up first.

    Where next for Deed? I imagine they’ll up the ante by having him expose the Holocaust as a hoax, then he’ll be defending those helpless little fluffy scientologists from the US government.

  24. BeardyGuy said,

    February 24, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    I was getting all upset about the adverts you guys have been taking about, and then realised I can’t see them :-)

    Try Firefox/Adblock – Google Ads dissappear.

  25. Coobeastie said,

    February 24, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Yes! Get rid of Judge John Deed and bring back The Professionals!

  26. katie said,

    February 24, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    Kepich–there was a study released not too long ago suggesting that the “CSI effect” may not exist, or at least not in the form everyone thought it did: www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060216/csi_20060216/20060216/

    I should know better than to base my opinion off of just one study, but it’s interesting to see how this idea of a “CSI effect” has proliferated without a lot research to back it up (I just tried to search for reputable studies on it and came up with nada).

  27. ProfNick said,

    February 24, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Ben,
    Agree with the comments relating to “priority targets”; specially since I recently sent a piece on the apalling science contained in Channel 5’s “Diet Doctors” which disappeared without trace, (my piece not the programme!)

  28. Gareth said,

    February 24, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    I think I saw the episode referred to here. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I do distinctly remember wanting to bang my head on the desk.

    It’s tempting to say “it’s a drama series ffs, stop whinging about it’s content, it’s not a documentary”. But we live in a world where people believe everything they see on TV (or what they want to at least) and where the majority seem to think The Da Vinci Code is a history book. To be blunt about the British public in general, they’re a bit thick when it comes to science. I doubt most would be able to discern fact from fiction with regards to MMR and mobile phone radiation in the way it was presented in JJD. It wasn’t as obvious as say a programme about aliens invading.

  29. Andrew said,

    February 24, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I had a rant about this show a while back, and put up some examples of the bad science onto my website – wongablog.co.uk/2006/02/10/the-judge/. I can see the argument that it’s fiction and not to be taken seriously, but it did mash together real-life studies with complete nonsense, which I thought was a little irresponsible.

  30. amoebic vodka said,

    February 24, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    The way the legal system is presented in the programme has lawyers and law students we know saying much the same thing as the comments above on the bad science it features…

  31. Terry Hamblin said,

    February 24, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    JJD is just another part of the anti-science movement that has such an influence in the UK. 20-30% of parents refuse MMR, even more oppose telephone masts. There is a hige minority of people who get taken in by the animal rights propoganda. People do watch the show and it does influence them. The fact that Deed is dressed up in a judge’s uniform gives him an authority that Guardian readers just don’t get. The fact that he has a high bonk index endears him to the general public. Anti-science has to be atacked wherever it is found.

  32. WaveyDavey said,

    February 24, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Yeah, JJD MMR plot is annoying (though little they could produce is likely to make my blood boil more than the idiot (and dangerous) {$3k PHD}->Dr McTeeth). However, I must confessthat my biggest beef against Martin Shaw is that the bugger gets older and more distinguished looking, rather than just older and fatter like some of us. B*****d.

    What is also really sad is that before posting I had to make sure my brackets and braces balanced. Sad Sack.
    WaveyDavey

  33. Tony Jackson said,

    February 25, 2006 at 8:35 am

    I think the main problem is the show’s writer, GF Newman. He has a long reputation as an anti-science (indeed anti-rationalist) gadfly acting under the pretence of ‘edgy dramatist’. Ages ago he wrote the Channel 4 drama ‘The Nation’s Health’ (does anyone else remember that?) in which the problems of the NHS were all blamed on the usual cardboard-character collection of incompetent politicians, arrogant know-it-all doctors, evil drug companies etc etc, saved only by the lone brave hero advocate of alternative medicine….

  34. Terry Hamblin said,

    February 25, 2006 at 9:30 am

    Yeah! I remember. Why do the television companies continue to pay this idiot?

  35. MsT said,

    February 25, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    G.F. NEWMAN
    The Nation’s Health

    Granada, London, 1983
    (picture shows Vivienne Ritchie as Jessie Marvill)

    “Doctors are only Human… Corrupt, incompetent, unfeeling, tearful, status-obsessed doctors who don’t really like their patients are not the sort usually found on the pages of ‘medical fiction’. But these are the doctors who people the world G F Newman reveals in this uncompromising, scalpel-sharp picture of health-care today.
    In THE NATION’S HEALTH everyone will recognise the incidents and events that strip away the masking gauze from this secret, impenetrable world where people are reduced to sets of symptoms and their fears and anxieties dismissed with a few brusque words.
    Compassion, concern, involvement – these are the rocks on which young doctors founder. One such doctor is Jessie Marvill, who is on the lower rung of the medical career structure. Finding herself ground down by the system – a system in which treatments often make people worse rather than better – a crisis develops in her professional and private life, one that causes her to question her basic beliefs in both the value of medicine as practised and her value as a person in her own right.”

  36. MsT said,

    February 25, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    “Produced by Euston Films, it was one of the first major drama series for the fledgling Channel 4, with each episode being accompanied by a studio discussion the following night.”

  37. MsT said,

    February 25, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    “The Healer was a more fantastical critique – almost a Christian parable – of the current state of the NHS when a junior doctor with miraculous healing powers finds himself exploited by his Hospital Trust and the subject of intense press scrutiny.”

  38. Wongle said,

    February 26, 2006 at 2:34 am

    Similar dubiousness here:

    wongablog.co.uk/2006/02/10/the-judge/

  39. David Freedman said,

    February 26, 2006 at 9:43 am

    Dear Ben

    Judge John Deed is a series not a serial. Sorry to be pedantic but I know how precise you like to be.

    David Freedman

    PS If I wake up in the morning and say; “I could murder a bowl of muesli”, does that make me a cereal killer?

  40. Nicholas A said,

    February 27, 2006 at 10:14 am

    As a scientist you complain about the bad science in JJD. As a lawyer, I would complain about the outrageously bad law in JJD! On the basis that the programme is fundamentally about the law, and the bad science is only tangential, I think I have better grounds for complaint.

    But on the other hand (as we lawyers keep saying), it’s only fiction. And because it is soooo bad, no one can mistake it for the truth. If you don’t like it, you can always turn it off.

    Nicholas

  41. Francois Gould said,

    February 27, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    on the matter of satire, the Dead Ringers guys have already brilliantly satirised Deed, which makes it so much more fun to watch

  42. Ben Goldacre said,

    March 1, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    anyone got a publicly accessible torrent for john deed, or a uknova login? i cannot believe the bbc won’t help me watch this for myself, it’s guerilla time.

  43. John Shimmin said,

    March 3, 2006 at 11:56 am

    coracle said,
    February 24, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    “Frank,

    I think critical thinking should be its own subject in school from 11 upwards. At least two terms should be devoted to the importance of clinical trials. Getting GCSE students to have practical experience of blinded trials with statistical analysis would be great. ”

    Critical Thinking is already a subject. I took it at AS level a few years back, but you can do it to A-level in some schools. I fully support a move to make it available (and even compulsory) from year 7. The number of people who don’t understand how to reason, argue or spot logical flaws is terrifying.

  44. Brian Jordan said,

    March 5, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    It’s not just the producers at the BBC, the punters are as bad. A BBC medical soap confused hypo- and hyper-glycaemic comas. If someone remembered this when faced with a comatose patient, and did the same (I forget exactly what the situation was, I must admit) it could have worsened the outcome. I complained in the programme forum, and was shouted down by the fans. They made it quite clear that they were interested in drama: medical accuracy could go hang.

  45. Gilbo444 said,

    March 14, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Anyone who wants an insight into GF Newman’s view of the world should read this week’s Radio Times’ letter pages. His reply to viewers concerns is something to behold. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy handy, and interestingly the BBC hasn’t included it in their online letters page. If anyone out there can type in his comments it would be great, as I would hate to misrepresent him!

    Two good places to put your views on this dire programme are as follows:

    www.bbc.co.uk/drama/crime/judge/2006_6_yourreviews.shtml

    www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview

  46. Ren said,

    March 21, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    I miss Quincy.

  47. the hooded gauntlet said,

    March 30, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    i’ve never seen this show as i live abroad but i heard sean lock taking the piss out of it somewhere on bbc radio player ‘i sentence you to a date with me’ . ‘you are guilty of finding me highly attractive.’ or somesuch.
    the problem is many with little scientific understanding will use ‘drama’ like this to reinforce the prejudices they already hold re alt/comp crap therapies. you cannot argue with zealots whether muslim, chiropractic, freudian, new age, catholic, past life regressionist – the list is endless. none are amenable to reason. a few at www.randi.org finally wised up if you check the JREF commentary archives though but this is cold comfort

  48. David Jackmanson said,

    April 4, 2006 at 3:06 am

    Strikes me that rather than attack these shows, we should be looking for producers, writers and funders who could put together a pro-real-science TV show with strong characters and engaging scripts that would be capable of winning a loyal audience.

    Or even a stable of shows, of different genres perhaps but still using the material world and its rules as the basis of plots, scripts and moral judgements.

    Time to take the offensive. I’ve got 20 bucks to kick in :)

    And they’re only Ausralian dollars any way

  49. Thimerosal said,

    May 13, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    This news The Scotsman Tue 9 May 2006
    “MMR campaigners demand action as autism cases soar

    “The number of young children who have this previously very rare diagnosis is reaching epidemic proportions and it is being ignored by the medical establishment.” – Bill Welsh, chairman of Action Against Autism

    A MASSIVE surge in the number of autistic schoolchildren in Scotland has been exposed after figures showed an increase of more than 600 per cent in secondary pupils with the condition in the past six years”

    This news May 12, 2007
    “MMR judge faces probe over brother’s link to vaccine firm
    (Evening Standard Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)

    YOU MIGHT have thought a judge presented with a case regarding MMR vaccines and the link to autism would declare that his brother was a director of MMR vaccine manufacturer Glaxo Smith Kline Beecham. But you would be wrong.

    Sir Nigel Davis was the judge who, three years ago, rejected an appeal by MMR vaccine litigants against the decision not to award funding for their legal campaign.

    But he failed to mention his interests in the subject.”

    The MMR debate goes on but the government could end it now by agreeing to clinical studies on those children whose parents witnessed their children’s descent into autism after the MMR. So why don’t they? Is there a conflict of interest?

  50. Ben Goldacre said,

    May 13, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    i suggest you ask those parents involved in the collapsed legal case who have consistently refused to let their biopsy and lumbar puncture samples be analysed by researchers looking at the link.

    why have they refused? why do they deliberately obstruct this research? seriously, you sound well connected, ask them and let us know.

  51. Thimerosal said,

    May 28, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Dear Mr. Goldacre,

    There are two points here,

    1. You mention, the MMR litigants “collapsed legal case”.
    Sir Nigel Davis and his brother Sir Crispin could both have had vested interests in “collapsing” this particular case.
    So come on, get into the spirit of the thing, on a scale of 1-10, for fishiness, how do you rate Nigel and Crispin’s involvement.

    2. You must be aware that everyone in the MMR litigation had to surrender samples.
    Are you saying that litigants could hand over samples but withhold consent for analysis by researchers ? If so there would be no reason to submit the samples in the first place.
    However, as far as I am aware, no attempt was made to replicate the study methods of Dr.John O’Leary, PhD, here is a reminder of his involvement with MMR:

    [Media UK, 16 June 2002] Revealed: more evidence to challenge the safety of MMR
    “John O’Leary, PhD, a world-class researcher and molecular biologist from Ireland, using state-of-the-art sequencing technology, showed how he had found the measles virus in the gut of 96% of autistic children, compared to 6.6% in normal children. This virus did not come from the natural disease, but from the measles vaccine. Dr. O’Leary found measles virus present in 75% of children with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s has traditionally been an intestinal disease of adults, following years of dietary abuse. Its appearance in children is a new event, and Dr. O’Leary’s work points to the measles virus from vaccines as the likely cause.”—Tim O’Shea, DC.

    Do you think that the labs ignoring Dr.O’Leary’s techniques could be termed, Bad Science?

    You could answer yes or no to this or the above 1-10 fishy scale might be more revealing

  52. Brian Richard Allen said,

    June 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Poor old Judge John’s show jumped the shark at about the very first time his character did the Deed with one or another of the show’s dreadfully dullard damsels, played by one or another of the indistinguishable from one another butt ugly and but for the BBC deservedly unemployed “actresses” with which the series is replete.

    But – while we’re on the subject – as bad as has been (pun?) the acting, the writers’ seething hatred of all those aspects of once great Britain that once made it a place worth stopping over for a feed of fish and chips and/or a pint of best bitter when on the way to somewhere else worth visiting — Iraq, say — and the writers’ total immersion in socialism’s sinister sophistries, solipsism and silliness — and bad science — at least distracted one from the mindless vapidity of the rest of every episode’s storyline. For the odd five minutes.

    Too damned bad, though. I enjoyed the fellow who played the judge, his character’s relationship with his clerk — and even some of his cobbers on the bench. But bad-BBC-bred totalitarianism — and Bad Science — posing as “entertainment?”

    Nah.

    Brian Richard Allen
    Los Angeles – Califobambicated 90028
    And the Far Abroad

  53. asc_musician said,

    August 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Well, first of all its up to the relevant authority in the UK to decide if the BBC have crossed the lines of acceptability of media content and broadcast. So i dont agree that they obliged to justify themselves to anyone who has a disagreement with the way fiction is portrayed. For example, I like watching top gear, but dislike the condescening comments to vegetarians made by the presenters. I reconigse it as entertainment andviews of the presenters, its up to the intelligence of the individual to make up their own mind; although i do recognise perhaps there is a percentage of our society that may be influenced more easily.

    Incidently if anyone wants to buy judge john deed seasons 1 – 4 for what ever reason you can legally buy the dvd’s from amazon forexample.

    There is clear bias towards specific subjects and this is most probably because the author/writer feels strongly about these subjects he is expressing his views in a dramatic format giving the best argument for his views as any good advocat for a given argument would do. (Try watching the DAVE program argumental, its good fun).

    Question is asked whether it is suitable/appropriate or even right to give possible influence through this medium. Well you open up a big can of worms here, because this is effectively an argument over CENSORSHIP. Restriction of material from the government is a very dangerous road and the same time we in my personal opinion can’t let anything pass for acceptable due to the implications.

    The recent film inglorious basterds for example. I am sure many will not have seen this but without spoiling it, it does not correspond to historic events however entertaining it might be. Does this offend as it paints an inaccurate picture of a serious part of modern history? Entertainment is what it is and documentary’s are what they are. The BBC and any media broadcaster can show what they like as long as it doesnt cross recognised boundaries. And there has been programmes such as brass eye which have been scrutinised for taste and decency.

    There is also the question of who will be watching a programme such as this and the likely impact on the viewer. This may well be an assumption and or stereotype but it will tend to be people of atleast medium intelligence watching this programmeand I think we should treat people with the intelligence to think for themselves after watching a DRAMA. If i was a parent i would probably want to look at the research for vaccines anyway, drugs and vaccines CAN have implications of a long term nature, i.e. side effects, it is always intelligent to examine these.

    I do believe in science as a positive way forward for humanity even if I do not seem as if i do, how ever exploring ideas and theories through an artistic format is a beautiful attribute to be celebrated by humanity and there are regulartary authorities to check that lines are not crossed (which can easily be subjective). In our democracy (ies) if you want to change the system you need to get elected and get it passed. I must say i have been ENTERTAINED by the show and my views remain the same before and after.

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