LBC, MMR, Jeni Barnett, an Early Day Motion, the Times, and, er, a bit of Stephen Fry…

February 10th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, dangers, jeni barnett, LBC, legal chill, MMR, regulating media, scare stories, stifling criticism | 155 Comments »

I thought since a few days have passed that I should let you know what’s happening with the slightly ridiculous LBC situation. If you skip to the bottom you will find a discussion on some mischievous activism which I think has great potential.

Since LBC unwisely threw their legal weight around to prevent you from being able to freely experience and ponder that astonishing 44 minute tirade against MMR, the inevitable has happened. The audio has been posted on a huge number of websites around the world, over 120 blogs so far are linking to the story, and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of people are talking and reading about the ignorance that Jeni Barnett exemplified in that worrying broadcast. It has been covered in the Times, and an Early Day Motion is being set down in parliament.

We should remember that this is not about Jeni – and it goes without saying that you should not be abusive towards her – it’s about how her work on the 7th of January exemplified everything the media has done for ten years now to create a vaccine panic, and it’s about the fact that we should be free to discuss that, and hear the clip, as it is instructive, and will help everyone to better understand how people like this help to create outbreaks of serious diseases.

The blogs covering the story are all listed below but a few really stand out.

Firstly, these six appeared out of the blue and into the fray, devoting hours to producing a transcript in the hope that this would be less likely to trigger legal action from LBC. I’m extremely grateful for their moral support:

Part 1 – Science Punk
Part 2 – The Lay Scientist
Part 3 – PodBlack Cat
Part 4 – The Skeptic’s Book
Part 5 – Science Punk
Part 6 – Holford Watch

The audio has appeared in more places than I can count, with WikiLeaks being a clear example, as well as the inevitable YouTube.

Listening again, you really can hear how well Jeni exemplifies the media’s misrepresentations which have caused so much harm to public health. We’ve had a mumps outbreak in 2005, and now measles is on the rise. The looong story is spread around the sciencier bits of the web (or if you like paper then in my book, or this one) but essentially you can see the history of the vaccine panic in two sets of graphs. Infectious diseases had of course been declining for a couple of centuries, but this is when vaccines were introuced:




You can also see that the MMR vaccine, and a concerted coverage programme, was associated with an almost final drop in measles. And then on the following graphs we can see what happened when people like Jeni Barnett, Melanie Philips, Carol Vorderman, and the entire British news media decided that vaccines cause autism.

One major mumps outbreak so far in 2005, causing infertility and worse, and now an impressively rapid year on year rise in measles:



Measles is not a trivial infection for everyone who gets it. Some will have brain damage, some will die.

The debate is no longer about MMR, it is about the dangers of an ill-informed media, and that’s why I’m so glad to see that people are finally taking notice of how startlingly irresponsible so many journalists and editors have been in this regard.

Prominent appearances for this LBC episode include David Aaronovitch in The Times, Start the Week on Radio 4, Cory on BoingBoing, Stephen Fry, the Press Gazette, Paul Flynn MP, Guido and Ars Technica, to name a few, although the glamorous ones aren’t as cool as my real friends. There are also podcasts coming on (which I genuinely recommend as a good read btw), Out Law, and more.

As I said, there is an Early Day Motion going down in parliament today from Norman Lamb and Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat shadows for Health and Science respectively. Please encourage your MP to sign it, the easiest way to contact them is through TheyWorkForYou, and the EDM is Number 754:

“That this house expresses its support for the use of the combined MMR vaccine, notes with concern the re-emergence of measles and the loss of life and long term health problems which will afflict children as a result of the decline in the vaccination rate which followed Dr Andrew Wakefield’s now discredited research paper suggesting a link between MMR and autism; expresses its disappointment that ill-informed comments by presenters such as Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show will continue to cause unfounded anxieties for many parents and are likely to result in some parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, recognises the right of Jeni Barnett as a parent to make her own judgement about vaccinations for her own children but implores her and others in the media to act more responsibly when making comments in the public domain and expresses its hope that in the future, reporting of the issue of MMR will be less sensationalist and more evidence based”

I assume (and I suppose hope) that I will hear no more from the lawyers at Global Radio and LBC now that I’ve taken down the clip, and in any case it can now be freely heard and discussed all over the place. As John Gilmore said: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it”. If they return making threats I don’t know what I will do, but we can cross that bridge.

It’s been interesting to learn about the law from a dozen or so passing lawyers who have popped up to comment. Basically, there is no clear answer on whether posting 44 minutes of foolishness for discussion is legal or not, and the only way to find out is to go to court. Now, given that lawyers are expensive, and the loser is probably liable for the winner’s legal fees, it strikes to me that a company like Global Radio worth over half a billion pounds has a bit of an advantage in this situation, since losing, for me, would mean losing, well, I don’t actually have anything to lose.

My point is, without being too Billy Bragg about it all: this is a law that apparently works a bit better for wealthy people.

I think it is reasonable to find this frustrating. In medicine we have protocols: we try to lay out very clearly and simply how something works, what the likely outcomes are, the best moves, and so on. I don’t see why this would be difficult in law. Doctors and academics have been bending over backwards to make their work readily accessible and understandable to people outside the profession for many years, with considerable success. Lawyers, meanwhile, with the assistance of judges and those who make laws, seem sometimes to make their money out of obfuscation, out of the uncertainties and continent-sized grey areas. To me that’s not just unhealthy, it also feels eerily unfamiliar, to come across an industry where so many key players seem to have a paradoxical interest in making things not work.


Before we get onto a nice quote from Jeni I think it would be good to discuss what we can do about all of this. Obviously you must get your MP to sign the EDM. I’ve also been chatting to Simon Singh (I just write and talk, he’s much more sinister than me when it comes to strategy) and we have informally considered a coordinated campaign of civil disobedience, essentially everyone phoning in to LBC whenever Jeni (or anyone?) is on, demanding an apology, some public recognition of the harm that can come from irresponsible broadcasting, and an undertaking that she will not broadcast on the topic of health again without getting a basic understanding of the issues.

I’m not sure about this, as I think there is moral high ground to be lost, but I would be very glad of your views. It is certainly the case that while newspapers and TV stations can and do ignore their public, collectively we could actually cripple the phone-in component of LBC, in response to their irresponsible broadcasting, as an act of protest, which is an interesting thought.

There is complaining to OFCOM, although I have no doubt that they will prove to be as spineless as the PCC, and it’s possible that their constitution is written in such a way that complaints about this kind of obvious wrongdoing are not upheld. Gimpyblog notes: “Jeni Barnett may be irresponsible and unapologetic but she is acting within her rights, and apparently
within OFCOM guidelines, which are firm on subjects such as sex, drugs and the occult, but not on public health”. It’s hard to see how the Jonathan Ross / Russell Brand / Andrew Sachs saga is a huge issue but this, on public health, is not, but there you go.

Those who have written to LBC seem to have received “we did little wrong and we fixed it fine ourselves” responses from their Programme Director (he gave me, I am sorry to say, what I experienced as gales of shouty self-righteousness when he telephoned me, which I felt was an unhelpful use of “off the record”, but I have no interest in personal disputes). This all suggests to me that there is little insight, and therefore little chance of improvement internally at LBC. It may be worth complaining to the parent company Global Radio, although I can’t find a clear way to.

update someone has sent me these: “ – chairman of Global; – big cheese (Headmaster on Fame Academy)”

There is also, of course, the wider issue. You could regard this as your stimulus to make a pledge to take on anti-vaccine quacks wherever they appear, and make a deposit in the karma bank, promising to write a letter, or a blog entry, or make a formal complaint about the next outburst you see in the media. I think this is very important.

Please let me know if you have any other ideas.

And lastly I will leave you with some Jeni joy. After explaining endlessly that all she wanted to do was “start a debate” (because in the media everything is 50:50, and the truth lies exactly half way between the two most extreme views), Jeni has first deleted a couple of hundred comments from her blog, criticising her ideas and actions. Like a poem about the media’s MMR coverage for the past 10 years, it seems this is a “debate” where one person asking stupid questions has complete control over the microphones and can edit, delete, and disappear views at will. It is no longer permissible, for example, to read any defenses of Yasmin on Jeni’s site, the nurse who rang in to disagree with LBC’s presenter from an informed perspective. Jeni describes this nurse, on her now commentless “blog”, as “vicious”.

Luckily Jeni’s posts, and all comments to the blog, are archived for you by Le Canard Noir here:

I don’t think Yasmin was vicious. I think she was very polite and patient. I don’t think if I was LBC I would welcome a wealthy presenter with a platform using it to attack a member of the public who rang in to my radio station, but there you go. Yasmin and I have spoken since and she is pursuing her own formal complaints. How can I demonstrate her unviciousness to you? With the clip itself. Here is Yasmin talking to Jeni. She’s very good.

TIMESTAMP 39:00 into Jeni Barnett LBC Segment, 7 January 2009.

JB: And I think that the reason you fill up my telephone-there are no calls being able to come in at the minute- is because you’re phoning is because there isn’t a definitive answer. There is no absolute answer.

As a parent, whether you are male or female, you have to make a decision based on your family history. I took my daughter who kept getting ear infections when she was a kid and one of the doctors said to me, “If you do not give her an asthma spray, and do not do this, that and the other, she will die within a week”. You don’t say that to a young mum, well, I was an old mum but she was only a little person.

Since I had asthma and my mother in law died of asthma and I’ve told you this before, that doctor didn’t take into account where I was coming from. I required him to look in my child’s ear and give me some indication of what was going on so I could make an informed decision.

I, however, am not like Yasmin in Chelsea. You would – what would you have done in that situation?

Yasmin: I’m just wondering how much longer your programme is on air. Because I give hundreds of MMR vaccines and all the work that we do in general practice is probably being undone by your programme in 15 minutes and I think it’s very irresponsible.

JB: Why. [Indistinct]

Yasmin: It doesn’t seem to be based on any facts. I’m very sorry to hear that your child had autism but if you…

JB: My child. Yasmin – [not] my child – somebody else’s child had autism.

Yasmin: Somebody else’s child, I’m very sorry to hear that. But if they read the Wakefield study in the Lancet in 1998, Dr Wakefield actually said that he didn’t prove an association between MMR and…

JB: Well he wasn’t really allowed to have his say, was he, Yasmin. He was kinda…

Yasmin: I think he was. I think he said it recently in court.

JB: But you’re not…

Yasmin: I think he’s being tried for medical negligence. I think that your programme is extremely irresponsible. You’re talking…

JB: Ah, let me just ask this…Let me ask you this before you go on with that.

How, if you are so certain that your MMR jab is correct, how can 15 minutes on LBC 97.3 rock what people are thinking?


Yasmin: Well, you’d be surprised. And at the moment we are expecting a measles epidemic and it’s because of people like Ken Livingstone and people like yourself.

You talk about young mothers who have a very difficult decision to make and, I agree, they do, and I spend a lot of time talking to them. But people like you don’t really make it any easier for them.

And you were just talking about somebody with an ear infection. I’ve been talking to somebody I know who had a child who woke up with the contents of their ear on the pillow and that was down to the rubella virus.

So you really need to think about what you’re doing here and why you’re doing it.

JB: Well, you see, I could argue, Yasmin, that you have to think about it, too. I’m allowed…

Yasmin: I do, every day.

JB: And so do I, as a parent, and that’s what I’m saying.

Yasmin: I’m a parent. And one of my children has had 3 doses of measles [sic. Possibly meant MMR] and there’s no problem with it. You could have a hundred doses of measles [sic. Possibly meant MMR] and it would do nothing.

[Yasmin and JB talk over each other]

JB: But why give them the vaccine if they get the measles? I never can understand that.

Yasmin: We don’t give vaccines to children who have had measles. They need a combined vaccine of measles, mumps and rubella.


If they have one dose the studies show that they possibly need to be revaccinated within a couple of years to make sure that that protection carries on for life.

JB: Do you not think, though, that as a parent, I am allowed to make a decision about what I put in my kid’s body?

Yasmin: Yes. And do you not think that a parent whose child has cancer and is having chemotherapy and has a much lower resistance to things like measles, mumps and rubella, has a right for their child to go to normal Primary…

JB: Absolutely, absolutely.

Yasmin: A normal Primary School. But because there may be one child in the class, such as yours, who is lucky to have the immunity, that child might get measles, mumps or rubella and die.

JB: Yasmin, my daughter did not have decent immunity which is exactly why I did not have her inoculated.

Yasmin: We don’t. We wait until your child is well and fit enough to give the MMR.

JB: But I don’t want my child to be fiddled with with all sorts of stuff that’s in a vaccine. Now why…

[JB and Yasmin talk over each other]

Let me finish.


Yasmin: Could you tell me what’s in the vaccine? What do you think is in the vaccine?

JB: No, I can’t.

Yasmin: Then how can you make a decision for your child? You’re taking about parents having to make decisions for the child but if you go into any secondary school, which I have done, we’ve been asked to vaccinate kids against MMR, they all say they want it.

If you’re deny immunisation then you’re denying health to your child and other children.

JB: No, no, no. My child is absolutely strong and healthy in many ways…

Yasmin: Then you’re one of the lucky ones aren’t you? If your kid had chemotherapy…

JB: Listen, listen, listen. Yasmin will you stop…Stop.

Yasmin: You’d want your child to be protected, wouldn’t you?

JB: Stop being so dramatic about it. If you

[JB and Yasmin talk over each other.]

Yasmin: You should think about what you’re doing in this programme. You’re doing a lot of damage. A lot of damage.

JB: Well, maybe. I don’t think so.

Yasmin: You don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t even tell me what’s in an MMR vaccine so you shouldn’t be talking about it.

JB: Well, I can get it…Shall I get it off the internet, Yasmin?

Yasmin: Yeah, get it off the internet, from a reliable source, the such as the Department of Health

JB: Really?

Yasmin: and then I might listen to you, yeah.

JB: The Department of Health frightens people.

Thanks, Yasmin, for your call.

I think it’s quite interesting. When I was told I had a high blood sugar, I was told in that room I had diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, I have high blood sugar. My blood sugar’s normal now but they frightened me. Which is what people like Yasmin does.

This is LBC 97.3.

Blogs covering the LBC MMR story:

This list is adapted from the indefatigable and amazing Holfordwatch who have a regularly updating post here:

The list is immense, and will probably grow more.

Frank Swain of Science Punk: Jeni Barnett MMR show – full transcript

Martin of The Lay Scientist: The Barnett Transcript: Part 2 – The homeopath’s phone call. Martin has made some comments of his own.

Podblack of Podblack Cat: Jeni Barnett On LBC 97.3FM UK Radio – Vs John From Epsom

Dr Rachael Dunlop of Sceptics’ Book: Jeni Barnett talks to Amanda, mother of 8. This section covers ~ 19 to 24 mins of the Jeni Barnett MMR segment. To see the preceding section head to For the full audio, head to my YouTube channel.

Quackometer has part 5: Jeni Barnett MMR Rant Transcript with “Dr Rob”

We, at HolfordWatch are hosting Part 6: Jeni Barnett and the Phone Call with Yasmin on the LBC MMR Segment

Update 4: several blogs are now publicising the legal chill and providing their own take on the matter and related issues.

Dr Crippen of NHS BlogDoc: Jeni Barnett and LBC start the clean-up operation

Frank Swain of Science Punk: LBC sic lawyers on Ben Goldacre over criticism of MMR show

SJ Cockell of Fuzzier Logic: MMR scaremongerer sicks the legal dogs on Ben Goldacre

Podblack of Podblack Cat: Ben Goldacre – Will Not, Should Not, Be Silenced On Jeni Barnett.

jdc of jdc325: MMR Scaremongering From Jeni Barnett: LBC Use Legal Chill Tactics. Ugh.

Political Scientist: URGENT: The Joy of Law

Martin of The Lay Scientist: Jeni Barnett on MMR – The Complete Show.

Jason Brown of A Drunken Madman: More medical mendacity.

ES Armstrong of Scattergum: Jeni Barnett is an idiot.

Dr*T of Thinking is Dangerous: Is there a proper media lawyer in the house? Your country needs YOU.

Teek of consider, evaluate, act: Goldacre threatened with legal action over criticism of anti-MMR radio broadcast – UPDATED

Common Sense has updated the Measles graph for England and Wales.

Dr Rachie of The Sceptics’ Book: What are LBC and Jeni Barnett afraid of?

Press Gazette: LBC in legal warning to Ben Goldacre over MMR blog post

Anthony Cox of Black Triangle: MMR and legal threats and The Today Programme’s irresponsible MMR interview

Quackometer: Jeni Barnett and Irresponsible Broadcasting

MacSpider of Spider Comment: Jeni Barnett, LBC, stupidity and threats

Londonist: MMR, For Some Reason, Still Controversial

Michael Grayer of Non-Toxic: Many Many Rants… and not much evidence.

Julie Oakley of Julie’s Pictures: Ben Goldacre – my hero! – an excellent outline drawing.

Cory Doctorow: SCIENTIST WHO CRITICISED DJ FOR VACCINATION SCARE TALK GETS COPYRIGHT THREAT and Boing Boing: Scientist who criticised DJ on LBC radio for vaccination scare talk get copyright threat

Tweet from Phil Plait.

On Medica mentions Ben Goldacre and Jeni Barnett: Highest number of measles cases in 2008

Tony Hatfield of Retired Ramblings: Ben Goldacre,Jeni Barnett, MMR and LBC’s Heavy Legal Hand..!

Adam Bowie of The Ballad of Adam Bowie: Ben Goldacre and LBC

Media Watch: Bad Science v. Bad Lawyers

DavBlog: The “Controversy” That Won’t Die

The Plummet Onions: Extremely bad science

Plashing Vole: parataxis: Jeni Barnett is an ill-informed loon and a danger to the public

No Rock and Roll Fun: Global radio menaces Ben Goldacre

Jacob Aron of Just A Theory: Ben Goldacre vs. Jeni Barnett: legal troubles over MMR scaremongering

Matt Wardman of The Wardman Wire: Ben Goldacre of Bad Science Threatened by Lawyers for LBC and Jeni Barnett

Judith Townsend of Goldacre on the ‘intellectual property absolutists’ – LBC’s legal warning

Tom Reynolds of Random Acts of Reality: Bad Lawyering

PZ Myers of Pharyngula: Ben Goldacre and Jeni Barnett on LBC Radio

Bigger Pills: KO’d with a triple jab

Random Dumber Generator: Radio Station Fights Criticism With Copyright Claim

Orac: Help Ben Goldacre out…he’s being sued again (We hope not, it depends on the nuance behind a takedown letter with “reserved rights”.)

Phil Plait at Discover: UK in trouble? Measles, antivax garbage on the rise

Streisand is calling department at TechDirt: Radio Station Uses Copyright Claim To Try To Silence Bad Science Critic; Guess What Happens?

Nice shout-out by Greg of Lstrblg: The price we pay for the anti-vac movement

Miss Prism of a Somewhat Old But Capacious Handbag: Today’s irresponsible tripe courtesy of Jeni Barnett

Texturbation has some strong views

Gareth Klose has some thoughtful questions: Is scientific tear-down fair use?

Electric Halibut wants to know: isn’t MMR scaremongering all a bit 2007? Quite.

Matt Dalby of Santiago’s Dead Wasp: legal bullying of bad science blog

Neil D of Harry’s Place: Ben Goldacre receives legal warning

Witch Doctor asks: Jeni Who?

Paul Flynn asks: Spot the Ignoramus?

Bad Science Meets Bad Broadcasting

Solveda at Musings of a Phenomenologist: When MMR attacks (or LBC and Jeni Barnett, what were you thinking?)

The Skeptic’s Field Guide: Help Ben Goldacre Beat Off This Artifice

Martial Arts Planet Forum: MMR, Jeni Barnett and Bad Science

Jon Bounds of The Bounder: Bad Science Needs Help or At Least Link Love

Verbal Gas Pedal of A Much More Exotic: The dangerous ignorance of Jeni Barnett harms children

Gary Marshall of Big Mouth Strikes Again: in MMR quack attack

Porcospino: Talk radio is bad for your health

The Jobbing Doctor: The Ben Goldacre Fan Club

Sceptics’ Book reproduces a comment left by Ben Goldacre on Jeni Barnett’s blog: What are LBC Radio and Jeni Barnett Afraid Of? and Damage Control for LBC’s Jeni Barnett’s MMR Rant Backfires Globally and on a Massive Scale

Infectious Diseases Dr Verity of Verity at Work: Alarm Bells, Lassa, Snow and the End of the MMR Scare

Quercus: MMR: As the actress said to the doctor…

Law Librarians mentions the kerfuffle: While I’m Here

Chris Ward of Terroir: Jeni Barnett Is An Idiot

Karl Haro von Mogel of The Inoculated Mind: Go Download This

Dr Grumble reveals why he will not agree to record an item for LBC radio again: LBC sharks

Daniel Onions of Phoebus Gins (what is not to love about those names) wonders if LBC are trying to deliberately stir this up: Jeni Barnett and Bad Science

Two Nil Blank Blank 20__ swears to Beelzebub that this kerfuffle has become London’s Biggest Conversation

Mick of Bright Reason warns that you may lose IQ points if you choose to listen to the notorious MMR segment: Badscience, Jeni Barnett woo-woo and the Streisand Effect

John Connell of John Connell – The Blog: Send in the lawyers. John has listened to the broadcast. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he reports:

Fish n Chimps of CMM News: Shock as Z-list Celeb Talks Out of Wrong Orifice

Jonathan of No Sleep ‘Til Brooklands: Jeni Barnett and MMR.

Cubik’s Rube unusually has: A blog post on a Friday.

Masks of Eris is finding that: World Sucks.

Professor David Colquhoun of dcscience: Jeni Barnett and LBC: dangers to public health.

Commonplace Book offers a lively and a propos quotation from Tim Minchin: Jeni Thick-ett.

John at Sore Eyes: LBC are bullies, pass it on

Eastwood DC of Dread Tomato Addiction (you may want to read Mark Clifton’s 1958 essay if you would like to understand the name) suggests: The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers

Skepacabra notes the latest heavy-handed legal reprimand: Ben Goldacre is Being…

Andres Guadamuz of Techno Llama offers a thoughtful and interesting legal opinion that is well-worth reading in full: Bad Science meets bad copyright.

Gimpy has his own opinions on where some of the blame for Jeni Barnett’s remarkable antivax rhetoric comes from: Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering – the role of homeopathy.

Anthony Cox of Black Triangle has done some follow-up: Transcripts of Jeni Barnett on MMR on LBC Radio and he tells us that the rumours of a Conspiracy? have already started.

Demotivated posters now offer a little something in the style of Jeni Barnett and Measles Was Never That Bad Anyway. A rather sadder version of what is fast becoming the Jeni Barnett: Measles was never that bad anyway meme.

David of Cloud Soup ponders on a peculiarly british myth of MMR and autism: Jeni Barnett, MMR and Bad Science

Martin Stabe makes a glancing reference to the kerfuffle and states that it is to Jeni Barnett’s credit that she defended herself and is allowing comments that disagree with her: Jeni Barnett: MMR and Me

Electric Halibut has now perused various transcripts of the infamous Jeni Barnett segment and come to the conclusion: there’s a fine line between “finely tuned animal” and “weird”

Dr Crippen of NHS BlogDoc implores parents to get their children immunised: Jeni Barnett, MMR, Measles and Bad Science. Will she accept the challenge?

Chris Gerhard of The Dot in …—… muses:You can’t put it back in the box.

JHQ of Letting Off Steam has put up a response to the transcription of Jeni Barnett’s phone exchange with Yasmin: Jeni Barnett, Antivaxxer.

Dr Petra has produced a very thoughtful piece that ranges across the issues of professionals working with people in media to explain their work and the actual dynamics of some of the exchanges in Jeni Barnett’s LBC Radio MMR segment: Ever wondered why health professionals don’t want to work with the media and the public are misinformed on medical issues?

The Jobbing Doctor has produced British Medical Blogs 18

The World Is a Lesson In Perspective urges people to donate by PayPal to Ben Goldacre (don’t, I don’t need money, I need ideas).

If you like the London Bus Generator: Raging across the blogosphere.

Phil Chamberlain of Taking Out the Trash writes: On dishing it out and taking it.

There is, of course, a delightful Facebook Group: Defend Ben Goldacre from LBC

DBH of The Great DBH Rant has gone through the transcripts and concluded: Jeni Barnett Anti-Vaccination Drivel – Irresponsibility at its best.

DBH posts a follow-up asking that: The MMR and Autism Link Should Be Binned for Good Now

Richard Brennan refers to the dispute in his newsjiffy: Dr Ben Goldacre accused of copyright infringement by LBC 97.3 FM following MMR show blog posting.

Paul Flynn has had an opportunity to explore the transcripts and audio further since his last posting and he is taken aback: New nuke : old calamity.

Peter Groves of IPso Jure: IP news round up.

Simon HB of No Rock and Roll Fun: Global Radio: Jeni Barnett Defends Her Position.

Guido of Guido Fawkes is pleased that: LBC Get Wiki Leaked.

The Milligan comments on parts of the transcripts: Jeni Barnett Spouting Pure, Unadulterated Ignorance About the MMR Vaccine.

jdc of jdc325 offers a comprehensive MMR Round-Up that ends with rather a dispiriting summary of the state of MMR and vaccination discussion amongst self-styled health gurus and in mainstream media.

The Milligan has returned to the corpus delicti and picks through the nasty mess: Jeni Barnett and her anti-vaccination drivel.

Bankrupt Artist remarks that: Jeni Has A Blog and Andrew Wakefield Says The Thing That Is Not.

Robert Saunders of Flies and Bikes: Thank you, Andrew Wakefield.

Dr Grumble uses this incident to talk about generational differences in truth-seeking: Journalists.

AP Gaylard of A Canna’ Change the Laws of Physics has an outstanding discussion of the notion of informed consent: Ignorant refusal.

Mike Stanton of Action for Autism: Jeni Barnett, Bad Science and MMR

Unity of the Ministry of Truth provides some pithy coverage of the issue, slightly incredulous that Jeni Barnett and the LBC lawyers seem to be ignorant of the Streisand Effect: Jeni Barnett – Pig Ignorant and Proud.

JQH is more than a little exasperated to realise that despite all of the attempts to improve her knowledge base: Jeni Barnett Does Not Get It.

Dr Rita Pal of NHS Exposed has a challenge: Come On Jeni Barnett, Get Out of Your Duvet And Answer Your Critics.

Andy of Thinking Is Real finds some small amusement from: Ben Goldacre in MMR Law Suit.

RZ at Ward 87: Jeni Barnett – The Ostrich.

Sean the Blogonaut tells: A Tale of Two Jennys.

Hannah King of Just a Whisper in the Wind could scarcely believe her ears: Jeni Barnett on MMR.

Psychodiva is a nurse and deplores Jeni Barnett’s: Scaremongering in the media.

Grumpy RN has a round-up: The NHS.

Scots Law Student asks: Jeni Barnett on MMR – is copyright law right for this case?

Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy: Ben Goldacre legally threatened by LBC.

Skeptical Dog wonders if cluelessness is a common thread: What Is It With Jeni and Jenny?

Jonathan M Gitlin of Ars Technica notes: Bad Science columnist attracts a lawsuit threat.

The Great Simpleton calls upon his readers to: Save the Bad Science 1.

Kendrick Curtis of Lieutenant H mentions the story: “Bad Science” columnist Ben Goldacre and LBC’s Jeni Barnett and highlights the juxtaposition of this kerfuffle with Brian Deer’s latest articles about Andrew Wakefield. Johat of Moansters Incorporated invites readers to: Immunise yourself against Bad Science.

Autism News Beat offers some nice coverage and light snarking: Stalk Radio.

Hopi Sen of A blog from the back room mentions the issue pithily: Big serious thoughts: MMR.

Lee of Lee’s Blog is riled: My mite against Jeni Barnett.

Carl Morris of Native HQ identifies: LBC Radio vs. Ben Goldacre (A Perfect Storm of Bad Science).

Autism News Beat offers a shorthand version of Jeni Barnett’s attempt at self-justification: Jeni Barnett’s mea culpa.

The Milligan is also rather pleased to discover that the internet has a startling memory: Jeni Barnett – aka The LBC Idiot – No Debate Here.

Danni of The Great DBH Rant is likewise underwhelmed at this latest strategic blunder: Jeni Barnett Has Removed All Comments To Her Blogposts Concerning The MMR Drivel And The Aftermath.

The lovely Stephen Fry has sent out a Twitter to his 8 billion followers, and left a comment on my blog. I mean, seriously, this man wakes me up every morning.

The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman’s manner – her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps – all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn’t really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I’ve tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We’ll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matter.
Stephen xxx

I think LBC and Jeni should issue a clear apology for the show, prominently and in the same slot. I think they should make some public acknowledgement of the harm that can come from such irresponsible broadcasting, and give a clear undertaking that Jeni will not broadcast on the topic again, or any medical stories, without getting a basic understanding of the issues. I know that they won’t, but that’s what I think they should do, and I think they should release this clip freely so that we can all understand and discuss the anti-vaccination, anti-reason movement better, and try to prevent them from doing any more harm. That is what the clip is needed for, I think it is only fair that we should be able to have this discussion, and they should be keen to facilitate it. I think they misjudged this situation, and they could very easily set it right.

I think, in all honesty, that these people need to grow some insight.




I am incredibly grateful to Positive Internet who host this blog for free: they have been amazing, with the on-call engineers working in the middle of the night to get everything back online when it became clear we could no longer cope with the traffic. They even fixed my cackhanded wordpress install. If you make the corporate decisions in your workplace then you should absolutely use them, I’ve genuinely never seen anything like it. I don’t need money for legal costs or anything so no donations please, unless you want to subsidise sellotape to fix the laptop or help me get admin/research assistance.

Oh and for a day or so comments will take a while to appear because the page can only rebuild itself occasionally when the traffic is so high.

Update: This activism suggestion from a reader

Might it be worth suggesting via your blog that everyone sends a letter to the members of the board of global radio:

As well as everything you’ve said about the potential damage to public health caused by Jeni’s broadcast, the letter could suggest something along the lines that it undermines their support of children’s charities:

And perhaps suggest to them that they make donation to a relevant charity. e.g.:

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! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

155 Responses

  1. ivy said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    You have made several allegations against Dr. Wakefield and his studies Mr. Goldacre. Could you kindly tell us why is Dr. Wakefield not struck off the GMC register? Mind you he is only facing the GMC for ethical issues and not for the studies. That tells us something don’t you think?

    I have another question. Is it a possibility that parents are not actually following the press, rather they merely want the option of single vaccines for their children? Why underestimate the public and think everyone follows what the press tells us?

    When you raise allegations, you need to be armed with answers to questions directed at you.

  2. ivy said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Why is compensation being dished out?

  3. ivy said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Dr. Wakefield has never advocated against vaccination. Could you clarify what exactly your issue is with?

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  5. carolm said,

    June 6, 2012 at 6:40 am

    How absolutely absurd! I have never heard of this woman before in my life (I’m Australian) but everything she says is just brain drool. And it sounds all the more ridiculous transcribed. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that she doesn’t want to return to days when children died of these diseases BUT she believes it’s “an individual choice”. Every time I try to understand what that means, I feel as though my brain has been anaesthetised. Does she want people to vaccinate their children or not? Does she want her children getting these diseases or not? I’m not sure she even knows her position.

    And if I hear one more person say “I’m not a doctor BUT…” or “I’m not a scientist BUT…” I will cry with frustration.