Following is a re-post of a comment left by Ben Goldacre on Jeni Barnett’s blog today.

You may not be aware that Ben has taken the audio off his site due to legal threats relating to copyright. As Ben points out below, being this is such a controversial topic (and seriously, except for people like Jeni Barnett and “Andy Wakefield” it needn’t be) isn’t it important to debate the issues, openly and publicly? This is not so easy to do without access to the original audio.

Never fear however, bloggers of the world united today, including myself, the Lay Scientist and WikiLeaks where you can find the mp3, linked to a dozen or so servers across the world. Also just added is a torrent.

Here’s what Ben had to say. Unlike Ms Barnett (or ANNE COULTER – see below), he is polite, succinct and informed.

9. At February 6, 2009 12:12 AM Ben Goldacre wrote:

Hi there,

I feel very strongly that patients should be free to decline medical treatment if they wish. Ideally if it was a serious medical problem, and you felt able to listen, a doctor would have made a good attempt to explain what is known about the risks and benefits of each option.

I am however concerned – along with a great many others – that your recent hour-long campaigning broadcast against the MMR vaccine was thoughtless, misleading, ill-informed, and irresponsible.

I also think it’s enormously inappropriate, I’m afraid, that you describe a polite and informed nurse as “vicious” on your website, in your previous blog post, simply because she called into your show and disagreed with you. She does not have your wealth, she is not a TV or radio presenter, she does not have your platform, and she does not have your legal team. She was clearly not “vicious”, as anybody listening to the audio would be able to tell for themselves. I believe you owe this listener an apology.

Most of all I think it’s regrettable that your company, LBC and Global Audio, have now used legal threats to make me take down the audio excerpt in question, so that it can no longer freely be heard. I have spent a great deal of my time, both writing, and in other activities, in supporting free and open access for the public to medical and scientific information and literature. Yours was a broadcast on the public airwaves, and a review of it, and discussion about it, was important and informative.

If you really felt that access to information was important, and that debates were worth having, I think you would encourage your legal team to reconsider, and simply give permission for this clip to be made freely available, in the public domain, in full, as it was broadcast, so that it can be widely heard, understood, and discussed.

all the best,

Ben Goldacre
www.badscience.net

And just for amusement value, see if you can spot whether the following diatribe comes from a supporter or critic of Jeni. Let’s see; misuse of the caps lock key, check; incorrect use of punctuation, check; lack of spaces after full stops, check; lack of paragraphs, check; an inability to spell, check.

32. At February 5, 2009 11:47 PM anne coulter wrote:

HI JENI, PLEASE DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT HAVING HAD YOUR CHILD VACCINATED WITH THE MMR/MR VACCINE. WE LOST CHRISTOPHER OUR ONLY SON TEN DAYS AFTER HIS VACCINATION IN 1994.HE WAS A VERY HEALTHY FIFTEEN YEAR OLD WITH NO MEDICAL PROBLEMS AT ALL.THERE WAS NO HISTORY OF SEIZURES OF ANY NATURE IN THE FAMILY.AT THE SAME TIME ANOTHER BOY IN CHRISTOPHERS CLASS IN SCHOOL ALSO SUFFERED A SEVERE SEIZURE BOTH VACCINES WERE OF THE SAME BATCH NUMBER. WE HAVE DONE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH THE TRUTH.SADLY THE TRUTH IS ALWAYS COVERED UP WHEN THESE THINGS HAPPEN.THERE ARE NEVER ANY ANSWERS AVAILABLE. WE NOW KNOW WE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE BY HAVING OUR SON VACCINATED WE HAVE NO DOUBT HE WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY IF WE HAD REFUSED IT.WE WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE CLOSEURE AND I BELIEVE WE ARE INTITLED TO THIS INFORMATION.THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO GET CLOSEURE IS TO HAVE A JUDICAL REVIEW OF THE INQUEST INTO CHRISTOPHERS DEATH. I HAVE KEPT IN TOUCH WITH JACKIE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS SHE HAS ALWAYS GIVEN US A GREAT DEAL OF SUPPORT.PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SPEAK TO JACKIE ABOUT CHRISTOPHER. ANNE COULTER

Post script: Please join the Defend Ben Goldacre from LBC Facebook group.


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  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    Hi NeilC,

    What a breath of fresh air you are, and also so right!

  • NeilC

    Even if the poster above really did lose a son and even if it was caused by a vaccination, it still wouldn’t make vaccination a bad thing since vaccinations prevent many more deaths. It would not be a reason to recommend that other parents avoid vaccinations.

    We have methods infititely more reliable than personal stories for ascertaining the risks and rewards of medical treatments. it is a stupidly irresponsible to effectively dish out medical advice based on anecdote rather than the entire evidence body properly evaluated.

    I wonder if the same people would tell kids that it’s OK to take crack and drink heavily on the basis that their kid did it and now he’s a healthy, successful adult?

  • Pingback: Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering - the role of homeopathy « gimpy’s blog

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  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    Hmmm, I will need “closeure” on this before I can comment further. Thanks Dave. A penis you say? Interesting.

  • http://www.davethehappysinger.com Dave The Happy Singer

    Although the last comment presents with many symptoms of the anti-science mob, I suspect this specific example may in fact be a troll, since it is signed ‘Anne Coulter’.

    Ann Coulter is an unspeakably frightful hardcore right-wing Christianist. Rumours that she also has a penis are as yet unconfirmed.