Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Daily Fail putting lives at risk again.

It seems that this news rag never learns or just doesn't care if it can spin up a story. 

One of the worst reporting scandals it ever carried out was to spin a small research paper back in 1988 by a Dr. Wakefield which reported on the case histories of 12 children who had received the MMR vaccine and suggested it caused them to develop symptoms of autism or inflammatory bowel disease.

The Fail published article after article suggesting the combined MMR, (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), vaccine was dangerous. Probably worst of all was the columnist Melanie Philips who repeatedly questioned the safety of the MMR vaccine, continuing to insist that "urgent questions about the vaccine's safety remain unanswered".

Anyone who followed this journalistic disaster knows that in 2005 the  Cochrane review of the vaccine, found "no credible evidence" of a link with autism. This non story was over as far as the media and the prescribers of the vaccine were concerned. 

The Wakefield paper was finally  retracted in 2010 after the UK General Medical Council (GMC) concluded that Wakefield had a charge of serious professional misconduct to answer, in part because it found that his team did not have proper ethical approval for tests performed on the children. Later in the year, the GMC found him guilty of the misconduct charge and revoked his licence to practice as a doctor. By then, more than 12 large-scale epidemiological studies had failed to find evidence of the hypothesized link (J. S. Gerber and P. A. Offit Clin. Infect. Dis. 48, 456–461; 2009) and the MMR vaccine is today regarded as safe.

However during this time, this manufactured scoop caused many concerned parents to refuse this vaccine and indeed the separate vaccines for each condition. Vaccination rates in general dropped, cases of these serious and life changing diseases rose. An "infectious diseases expert who has studied the autism controversy's effect on immunization rates", said, "Clearly, the results of this [Wakefield] study have had repercussions". "There has been a huge impact from the Wakefield fiasco ... This spawned a whole anti-vaccine movement. Great Britain has seen measles outbreaks. It probably resulted in a lot of deaths."

Would it be too strong to suggest that The Daily Mail and Melanie Philips have caused the deaths of children? 

But they just don't give up with another report misinforming it's readers that the HPV vaccine can cause severe reactions that can lead to ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome being published yesterday. No such evidence exists

But the headline states without compromise;

"Girl, 13, left in 'waking coma' and sleeps for 23 hours a day after severe reaction to cervical cancer jabs"
I have the greatest sympathy for this young girl and her family. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating illness, it's causes are uncertain, but it often shows symptoms from the teenage years. In all probability, with most girls getting this vaccine and this condition already medically described long before the jabs introduction, this is an unfortunate coincidence and not cause and effect.

The point is that this awful journalism doesn't even suggest this. From the title and subsequent article it makes a clear suggestion that a link between the HPV inoculation and serious side effects exist when in reality the most serious of these that can be linked to it is a very infrequent swollen arm or a rash that clears in a few days.

This subject really hits a chord with me as my own daughter had this series of jabs last year and my wife as a GPs nurse administers it to patients and advises them about the possible side effects. Her job is about to get a lot more difficult with any Fail readers she encounters. Of course anyone with an ounce of critical thinking will realise that the article contains no evidence to support it's main claims of this vaccine causing side effects as remotely as serious it suggests.

What this vaccine will do is reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by two-thirds in women under 30 by 2025, but only if the take-up of the vaccine continues to be around 80 per cent.

I know that Daily Fail readers are not the most rational, medically or scientifically literate bunch, but unfortunately they are still allowed to have children. A poll conducted within the article shows at the present time 58% of readers would NOT let their children have this vaccine.
Currently the most highly rated comment on the site with nearly 700 recommendations reads;

I researeched this jab and then did not give permission for my daughter to have it. I spoke with her about it and she agreed that she did not want to take the risk for the low level of protection it actually gives. The school queried it heavily with me but I am not a sheep just following blindly - remember thalidomide? That was 'safe' too!

I wonder if Annie of Cheltenham would like to pass her extensive research onto the UK General Medical Council?

If this reporting style continues, and if worst of all, Melanie Philips gets involved, then it will be the MMR nonsense all over again. Teenage girls today will be needlessly contracting cervical cancer later in their lives, needing serious medical intervention and in all probability some will die because of this.I'm just grateful that due to advancing medical science my daughter will not be one of them.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

No thank you, Matt Ridley

It just goes to show that even atheists, members of the BHA etc, can be as deluded and as irrational as the most god fearing Christian.

Matt Ridley, author of the Rational Optimist, gave a lecture at the RSA, that likes to describe its self as offering 'Ideas and actions for a 21st century enlightenment'.

It was fawningly reported in full on WTFUWT.

Don't get me wrong I thought he started of rather well and even when he suggest scepticism on climate science he had a point but then he goes to quote the sources that  'utterly debunked' the Hoc
key Stick graph and you realise that he might as well believe that crop circles are not man made either.

Every historical temperature reconstruction is a 'hockey stick'. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick to my knowledge have never published any research in a credible publication debunking any such thing, while peer reviewed science supports its general conclusions.

Steve McIntyre isn't a climatologist but a mathematician with possible conflicts of interest having had a career working in the mining industry.

Ross McKitrick is an economist and a member of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a conservative Christian public policy group that promotes a free-market approach to care for the environment.

Then we get praise for Andrew Montford’s book, again not peer reviewed science. Monford is an accountant and just happens to have gave positive reviews of Ridley's own book.

I had to stop reading there, but if this is the standard of evidence Ridley thinks is credible enough to change his beliefs despite the scientific evidence he has embraced pseudo-science with obsessive irony.