Update on Bad Science and LBC

It’s still kicking off over at Bad Science, with letters and emails being sent to and fro.

Personally, I am very firmly in the science camp. It’s a tribute to modern medicine that people think that vaccines don’t seem to be necessary. As a child, I had a school friend whose father was crippled by polio. Measles and mumps were common (this is in the 70’s) and I remember how worried my mother (who was a GP) was when my brother and I caught mumps. There’s a pretty reasonable chance of some particularly unpleasant complications with mumps in particular. And since the MMR jab has now been in use for decades, and closely studied in many, many countries, it’s about as safe as you can get. That’s not to say it’s 100% safe, nothing is, but it’s far better than being unvaccinated.

As a father of a 2-year old, living in London, we were amazed to come across intelligent, well-spoken parents (who had important jobs in big organisations) who had decided not to give their little ones the MMR vaccine. This was solely due to the appalling press coverage of the time. To me, I believe there is a case for the editors and even the proprietors of papers such as The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and the Independent to be taken to court for endangering public safety.*

Don’t get me wrong. If there is a genuine concern with *any* medicine, then it needs to be followed up, and if the newspapers send good investigative reporters out on the case, then all the better. But simply making a huge fuss over a well-tested vaccine, simply to sell papers, which results in thousands of children getting ill (and some dying) is bordering on criminal. There’s now an enormous industry out there selling “alternative” treatments, which are no better than placebo, to scared and frightened people who now believe that modern medicine is a waste of their time, even whilst they think they are buying these treatments from small, friendly firms (as Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science explains, one of the largest sellers of “alternative” treatments is largely owned by an enormous drug firm).

I’ll update this later with some links.

*There are of course some rather large caveats to this statement