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Anti-MMR vaccine put-down… hats off to David H. Gorski

February 23, 2009

Wow, in all my reading – and there has been a considerable amount… clinical studies in academic journals, books, magazines like New Scientist and Scientific American, Nature, online science blogs, online reportage, opinion pieces, you name it. I’ve read sh!t-loads over the last few years (apologies for the language), nobody has ever done such a thorough, concise and beautifully put-together put-down of the anti-vaccine movement as David H. Gorski, MD, PhD., over at Science Based Medicine

 2009: Shaping up to be a really bad year for antivaccinationists (David Gorski, 23/02/2009)

I am not even going to quote excerpts from it, it is simply too good. Click on the link and read it in full and if that doesn’t put you straight, nothing will.

Aggressive dogs, poor training techniques, sound statistics and some good advice in the discussion – shame about the methodology.

February 19, 2009

ResearchBlogging.orgI came across a new study the other day, recently published in the journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Herron, M. E., Schofer, F. S., Reisner, I. R., 2009. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 117, 47–54.

Introduction and Methodology

The study looked at the responses of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to “interventions” (things done directly or indirectly to the dogs), with the intention of reducing agressive behaviour. In the researcher’s own words…

The purpose of this study was to describe the frequency of use, the recommending source, and the owner-reported effect on canine behavior of interventions that owners of dogs with undesired behaviors had used on their dogs. This study also aimed to report aggressive responses from the dogs subsequent to the use of aversive and non-aversive interventions.

I like what this study is attempting to do – laudible and much needed. As an animal behaviourist and someone who started training dogs with his mother before he went to primary school, I’ve seen my fare share of ignorant and downright dangerous (to animal and human), training techniques (e.g., suspending an aggressive dog consisted of, basically, hanging it for a few seconds on the end of a “check chain” and lead).

This study tries to point out how such techniques, animal welfare issues aside, can be dangerous for handlers, just don’t work and could even be counter-productive.

Great, so far so good – you can tell there’s a “but” coming can’t you?

Owners of dogs scheduled for an appointment with the Behavior Service at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, were sent a survey via email, fax, or postal mail designed to identify and briefly note the behavioral outcome of a variety of treatment interventions.

This survey was pre-tested for clarity by 10 dog-owning hospital employees. 

Okay, let’s say that the dog-owners who were sent the surveys had the same level of understanding as the 10 dog-owning hospital employees, and that they gave more than a split-second’s thought to filling out the survey (be honest, how much effort did you spend on filling out the last questionnaire you completed?).

The treatment interventions are noted in table 1, below (click on tables for enlarged versions)…

table-1-categories-of-30-behavioral-interventions-by-dog-owners

Once again, good, clear stuff – techniques I’ve seen used thousands of times over the years, all with varying degrees of success.

Anecdote Alert – Anecdotes are NOT evidence: The next time you watch a world-class, dog obedience championship (if you ever do), take a long, hard look at the dogs in the finals. They will all look like they are thoroughly enjoying what they are doing. Any trainer worth a dog choc, will tell you that training by fear and intimidation doesn’t get good results.

Anyway, back to the study… so here we have owners answering survey questions on their own efforts with their own dogs. And herein lies the rub.

Take a look at table 1, how willing do you think people would be to admit that they had “hit or kicked” their dog? That they had “kneed [the] dog in the chest for jumping”? That they had “abruptly jab[bed] the dog in the neck or side”?

If they did admit to such techniques, one person’s kick is another’s “push with their foot”.

When the word “muzzle” is used, does that mean one of the old-fashioned muzzles or one of the myriad of new devices with “kinder”, “softer” names? Are they muzzles?

What did the researchers mean by “yell” exactly? Or “growl at the dog”? I didn’t growl per se, I just lowered my voice a lot and sounded angry.

The people filling out these surveys were lay people, not scientists with clear descriptions and definitions for their terms. The respondents didn’t have a standardised template of what these interventions were, in order to compare their own behaviour and make a decision as to what constitutes a yell or a kick.

We have no way of knowing how accurate the responses to this survey were. Which unfortunately makes all that follows a bit of a wasted effort really.

The aggressive behaviour of the dogs (complaints)…

were then categorized as follows: ‘‘aggression to familiar people,’’ targeted to household members or people with whom the dog spent significant time, ‘‘aggression to unfamiliar people’’ targeted to nonhousehold members, ‘‘aggression to dogs’’ if owners described their dogs as aggressive to dogs either within or outside the household, ‘‘separation anxiety’’ if the dog exhibited problems in the owner’s absence, ‘‘specific fears or anxiety’’ if the owners described fear of noises or other environmental stimuli, such as thunderstorms, and ‘‘other’’.

Once again, much of the above categorisation is extremely subjective and based upon the opinions of the owners. Here we run into the anthropomorphism of pet owners and the fallibility of human memory, as well as simple accuracy of reporting original data.

In each case, owners were asked whether they had attempted the technique or intervention, the recommending source, whether the method used had had a ‘‘positive’’, ‘‘negative’’ or ‘‘no effect’’ on their dog’s behavior, and whether or not it elicited a ‘‘growl/bare teeth’’, ‘‘snap/lunge’’, or ‘‘bite’’ from the dog. For purposes of analysis and because any display of aggression was considered a safety risk to the owner, the responses ‘‘growl/bare teeth’’, ‘‘snap/lunge’’, and ‘‘bite’’ were collapsed into one ‘‘aggressive’’ response.

Once again, owners are asked for the data… “Now let’s see, who was it told me to kick the dog when he attacks uncle Bob? Was it the trainer or did I get that one off the TV?” And of course, this doesn’t account for their partner who, having never liked uncle Bob to start with, encourages the dog to bark at the door whenever the poor guy shows up.

What I’m saying of course, is that there’s no real control mechanism here, we don’t know for certain if there are other factors affecting the answers given by the respondents.

In addition, owners are then asked to judge the responses of their dogs. This is all highly subjective.

Sure, we could use it to base a hypothesis on and conduct further research… (wait for it – you can just bet there’s a bit in the discussion about that one).

Fisher’s Exact Test was used to determine if dogs presenting with an aggression to familiar people, and dogs presenting for aggression to any people (either familiar, unfamiliar, or both) were more likely to respond aggressively compared to dogs presenting with other behavior problems.

Significance levels for multiple comparisons were adjusted for using the Bonferroni correction. A P-value of < 0.002 was considered significant.

Good, standard methods of analysing contingency table data and tightening up significance levels. But is the data valid in the first place?

Results and Discussion 

Between April 1 and July 31, 2007, 30 (28%) of 107 distributed surveys were completed and returned.

Between August 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008, an additional 110 completed surveys (98% of 112 distributed) were collected, for a total of 140 completed surveys (64% of the total distributed).

One-hundred and forty respondents is a good number, but it’s stretched out over three months - once again I’d be concerned over issues of memory and accuracy of responses.

Also, I wonder about changes in temperature and environmental stimuli (e.g., frequency / duration of exercise) and how this might affect aggressive behaviour in pet dogs?

Please guys, don’t send out any more surveys – when your dog bit the local cop, was it a hot day or was it a bit cold?

Owners attempted a variety of behavioral interventions, many of which elicited an aggressive response, with their dogs prior to their appointment with a referral Behavior Service. As we expected, the highest frequency of aggression occurred in response to aversive interventions, whether direct or indirect. In contrast, reward-based training elicited aggression in very few dogs, regardless of presenting complaint.

Table 3 (below), details opinion of the respondent dog owners on the behaviour of their dogs, following the interventions identified (click on tables for enlarged versions).

table-3-owners-opinions-of-30-behavioral-interventions

The table shows that “reward-based” interventions generally have a higher “positive effect” – in the opinion of the dog owners. Nobody else, and, sadly, certainly NOT as indicated by objective, scientific observation.

The data analysed in this study is not conclusive. The methodology for collecting the data was flawed and the analysis which follows is therefore equally compromised.  

This is certainly not news to the researchers, who deal with many of my criticisms (plus one or two more) as follows…

There were several limitations in our study. First, the dog owners surveyed were recruited from a population of owners making appointments at a referral behavior clinic; in many cases, the behavior problems were significant.

The frequency of aggressive responses and effectiveness of training methods might have been different if we had sampled a general population of dog owners.

Next, the survey did not request a temporal description of these interventions and many of them may have been applied well before the presenting behavior problems occurred.

It is, therefore, difficult for us to determine whether owners attempted specific interventions to alter aggressive behavior or whether aggression developed as a result of their use.

It is also possible that owners misinterpreted the meaning of the ‘‘effect’’ section of the survey.

The terms ‘‘positive’’, ‘‘negative’’, and ‘‘no effect’’ are subjective, and judging a technique’s effectiveness based on these options may not be accurate.

Not to mention the fact that the definitions of the interventions themselves (was it a “kick” or a “push”?), may have been unclear to some respondents.

Next, owners’ self-reporting may have led to recall bias and/or poor answer reliability.

For example, each owner may have remembered the outcomes of various treatment techniques differently and some owners may have felt reluctant to admit to a veterinary professional that they used physically aversive methods on their dogs.

Finally, the retrospective nature of the survey prevented the possibility for direct comparison of safety and efficacy between aversive and non-aversive techniques.

In other words, because the survey was conducted by having respondents remember interventions and results, it was not really possible to judge whether the results reported were accurate (i.e., positive, negative or no effect).

It would, however, be unethical to put dog owners at risk for injury for a randomized, prospective comparison between the two categories.

Dog owners possibly, but what about professional dog trainers? This study has a good premise and leaves a lot of important questions unanswered – this would be great stuff if it were part of a research proposal, rather than a published study in it’s own right.

I just don’t feel that the opinions of the dog owners constitutes real evidence and therefore data.

But this isn’t a criticism of the researchers, I for one want more from these people – they are breaking new ground!

This study is the first of its kind to investigate several commonly used behavioral interventions and the potential for aggression as a result of their use.

A larger scale study with a more general population of dogs would be the next step towards evaluating the effects of the various behavioral modification techniques and their associated risks.

Sounds great. I’m hooked and am awaiting the publication!

Who’s got the film rights?

In conclusion, confrontational or aversive behavioral interventions applied by dog owners before their pets were presented for a behavior consultation were associated with aggressive responses in many cases.

Owners of dogs aggressive to family members are especially at risk for injury—and their pets at risk of relinquishment or euthanasia—when certain aversive methods are used.

Ultimately, reward-based training is less stressful or painful for the dog, and, hence, safer for the owner.

It is important for primary care veterinarians to advise owners about risks associated with aversive training methods, despite their prevalence in the popular media, and to provide resources for safe and effective management of behavior problems.

Now, I’m not sure what it’s like in the United States, but over here in the United Kingdom, veterinarians are not necessarily animal behaviourists, and are just as capable of delivering some truly dire advice as any TV pundit you’ll ever tune into.

This is a much needed area of research – for both professionals and a lay audience.

 

References

M HERRON, F SHOFER, I REISNER (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117 (1-2), 47-54 DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.12.011

Jeni Barnett – pandering to her own ego, by deceit through censorship. Previously posted as… Please Mr. Agent, can Jeni come out to play again?

February 18, 2009

First Posted – 18/02/2009

It appears that Jeni Barnett has begun posting on her blog again, but given how honestly she has reflected criticisms of her MMR vaccination ignorance in the past, she probably won’t address any of the questions I posed in a post to the above blog this afternoon (Jeni – you might feel it necessary to ask your agent’s permission before you write a reply, but really, you’re a big girl now and should be able to stand or fall by what you say… although, you’ve not done so well up until now I suppose).

Nevertheless, my post and the questions I’ve posed, appears below. If she responds, I’ll be reporting it here, in all it’s unedited glory (which is more than you can say about anything that’s posted over at Jeni’s blog – I wonder if she writes it all herself?)…

Given your complete and abject failure to acknowledge your dangerous ignorance in terms of the misinformation you presented to the public with regard to MMR vaccination. Will you now, publicly, acknowledge your reckless foolishness in this matter? Retract the ridiculous statements you made on air earlier this year? And apologise to the NHS nurse you (completely unfoundedly) branded “vicious”?

In addition, how do you answer the complaints to OFCOM and to LBC which allege that you have failed in your responsibilities under paragraph 2(1) of Part II of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Act 1990, paragraphs 9 and 10 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998, and paragraph 15 of Schedule 14 to the Communications Act 2003, which state that Broadcasting Act licensees should not:

> practise or advocate illegal behaviour;

> practise or advocate behaviour which is injurious to the health or morals of participants or others;

> practise or advocate behaviour which infringes the rights and freedoms of participants or others;

> pose a threat to public safety;

> pose a threat to national security or territorial integrity;

> or threaten the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

In particular, how would you address the complaint that your broadcast of January this year could prove “injurious to the health” of some listeners and/or their children? And certainly poses a “threat to public safety”?

Do you intend to withdraw from your position as a patron of The Grove Park School in Crowborough, East Sussex which focuses on (amongst others), autistic pupils? Given that you have so blatantly betrayed such a responsibility?

Please answer my questions in a public forum, instead of ignoring and/or removing these criticisms from the record of the discussion.

To be cross-posted at http://themilligan.wordpress.com

The Milligan – 18/02/2009

 

Update 19/02/2009

At last, despite posting my original questions / criticisms on Jeni Barnett’s blog more than 24-hours earlier, the “professional broadcaster” has at last published my post (as detailed above), numbered and time-stamped as follows…

1. At February 19, 2009 4:40 PM Terence Milligan

No reply as yet.

Developments will be posted here.

 

Update 20/02/2009

No comment on Jeni’s blog this morning, certainly no responses to my post, so, a little nudge is in order.

Posted at 10:20 this morning, maybe it’ll be published, maybe it won’t…

Nobody wants you to stop blogging Jeni and genuine criticism of misinformation is not bullying – free-speech and the chance to debate is what brought your little share of the media’s “MMR Vaccine Hoax” to the notice of so many. E.g., when LBC’s lawyers behaved so stupidly with Ben Goldacre, then the particularly crazy idea by your agent to remove those postings from your blog – he really doesn’t understand modern communications.

I can imagine that neither decision was yours, that doesn’t fit well with what I’ve read about your points of view on this blog.

However, you have been heavily criticised about the views you expressed during that January “MMR” broadcast. Not least by myself. The criticisms I have made have been very specific. The evidence supporting those criticisms has been conclusive.

Surely you know more about the facts now than when you started.

How do you answer the overwhelming weight of objective scientific evidence, and legal conclusions, from the UK and US, that completely contradict everything you based your position on?

Scientists have long decried the poor methodology of Andrew Wakefield’s studies. Scandalous weaknesses in his methodology were evident from his work published in scientific journals. Unfortunately, these journals are not commonly open to the public, who generally lack the training to identify a weak clinical study anyway.

As a result, the general public, yourself included are only exposed to usual, rather shabby, reporting of scientific evidence in mainstream media. Then, when a report which contradicts that which has gone before finally surfaces (e.g. the recent Times article criticising Wakefield), it’s rather easy to portray the situation as “a lone, maverick voice, being silenced by the establishment and big pharmaceutical company money”.

This is not the case here. Independent experts, as well as solid, working scientists, throughout the world have identified Wakefield’s work as extremely poor science, if not downright deceitful. We do NOT have an axe to grind, we do NOT have a bias.

I have children, if the evidence showed that the MMR vaccine caused autism – even in a minority of cases – I would not think twice about paying for single jabs. But the evidence does not. It really is conclusive that solid facts point elsewhere.

At one point you said something akin to “why can’t those with science-based opinions allow others to have a different opinion?”

Well, the answer to that is, in cases of this kind, a different opinion can kill people.

Take a look at this web site…

http://www.whatstheharm.net/vaccinedenial.html

where case studies of those that have been killed or injured through “vaccine denial” have been collected.

This is not a matter of “opinion”. In my “opinion” the square root of 9.8696 is approximately equal to Pi. In this case, you can do the calculation necessary to check my opinion quite simply, on a calculator. You can make an independent assessment of it’s accuracy – but not without some training in mathematics. Without some higher level of scientific training, it’s not very likely that you can make a sound judgement of a number of clinical studies… and that is what is needed to form a consensus of opinion in science. Not just one study from a “lone maverick” – that simply is not good enough to make decisions upon which will affect people’s lives.

Somebody in a position, of even a little social influence, could prevent a number of children from being vaccinated in the best way possible. This could kill innocents and nothing is more important than that. As a result, you and anybody else that reaches a large audience, must be held to a standard of truth and fact.

You must, at least, get your facts right. You know, and have admitted as much, that you failed to reach that standard.

PLEASE, engage the debate. Look carefully at the facts, not the rumour – address your critics in a public forum. Address the facts.

The Milligan – 20/02/2009

 

 Update 22/02/2009

Well now, the case of the mysterious vanishing blog posts continues. On Thursday 19th February 2009, Jeni Barnett’s blog page…

http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/brits_and_me.php

Had the following first posting…

1. At February 19, 2009 4:40 PM Terence Milligan wrote:

Followed by my posting detailed above on the 18th February.

Now it appears the “The Agent Gremlins” have been attacking again.

The Milligan’s posting has vanished! Shock! Horror!! Oh the deceitfulness!!

After all, it’s not as if the old girl has a track record of this sort of dishonesty is it?

Judge for yourselves people. Was my post hurtful, or a personal attack in any way? Nevertheless, it’s gone.

Uncomfortable truths that she doesn’t want to deal with.

My posting has been replaced by a bit of simpering “Jeni we love you”…

1. At February 19, 2009 8:57 PM judi4 wrote:

I wonder if she typed it herself or got her agent to do it.

This plumbs new depths even for Barnett.

But Lo!!! Not content with censoring honest debate from The Milligan, she deletes a posting from a character by the name of “Buggy”, who originally appeared as posting number 12 on the following thread…

http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/neigh_neigh_thrice_neigh.php

Buggy helpfully pointed Barnett in the direction of all those other missing posts that the “Agent Gremlins” had eradicated, but no, we can’t have anything eluding to the fact that the Barnett may have critics. Instead we now have posting number 12, as below…

12. At February 22, 2009 12:17 AM Mo wrote:

@ Buggy, comment 12, give it a rest will you! Can’t speak for other regular readers of Jeni’s blog but I’m not interested in your nonsense.

It’s great to see you back blogging Jeni, I missed you!

Now, because this post “gives the game away” slightly, by revealing that there was really another “No.12″ before this one, I thought I’d include a screenshot this time…

jb-blog-01

Which doesn’t really make sense any more does it? But what the heck, it’s a bit more simpering crap to pander to the old girl’s ego. So now, even Barnett’s regular bloggers can see the level of deceitfulness which is routinely being practiced (and they’re not pleased… see below).

Well done Jeni, as an actress – a professional faker by your own admission…

“Acting is all about honesty, if you can fake that you can fake anything.”

Jeni Barnett

jb-blog-02

 

… you are doing your profession proud.

I’m sure there’ll be more to come – keep checking here.

 

Update – 22/02/2009 23:05

I know I said that there’d be more, but I really didn’t expect it to come so soon. It seems that someone with a sense of humour got a sneaky post on the Barmy Barnett’s latest blog thread – “Bulbs a Plenty”…

1. At February 22, 2009 1:13 PM PaulG wrote:

Hello Jeni,

Great to see you posting again… I thought this would be of interest to you, click here.

I have to admit to a sneaking amusement here, take a look at where the hyperlink actually points, and just in case the old faker decides to pull her usual trick and kill the post, here’s a screenshot for posterity…

jb-blog-03

 

Update – 25/02/2009 08:20

Sadly, still no reply from the woman who claims to be an advocate of debate. I shall of course, continue to submit posts to the old faker’s blog, in an attempt to glean some sort of response… a proper one that is, you know, as opposed to the ones that are written IN BLOCK CAP’S and have little thought behind them.

You won’t see the posts I submit to JB’s blog of course, the woman who wants the debate won’t allow them to be published, but trust me, they’ll be just the same as the one I sent on the 20/02/2009 (above).

And lastly, just because I’m chilidsh and can’t resist it – Hey, Mo…

jb-blog-01

Where’s Buggy gone?

Update – 25/02/2009 14:30

Cross-posted at http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/snow_bound.php

Well now, I’ve been keeping  a “bit of an eye” on jeni barnett’s blog – as I’m sure you can see – and this afternoon I notice that something like one of my old posts has surfaced on the Snow bound thread, as post number 9. Before it’s deleted again, here’s a screenshot…

jb-blog-04

OK – she’s posted at last, but this isn’t quite what I wrote is it Jeni? I have provided details of all my submissions to Barnett’s blog (as can be seen above).

I’ve been open here, publishing whatever comments have come my way and editing none. If there is some sort of stipulation in place with regard to not commenting on, for example, on-going OFCOM complaints, would it not be possible, even advisable to issue a statement with regard to status?

I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt here, but I’m sceptical.

All I’m after is a sensible reply, one based on evidence, not rumour and “mother’s intuition”.  Given the current evidence and the status of medical research, this could only result in a retraction of Barnett’s opinion piece during her January 2009 broadcast.

She also owes every healthcare worker in the country an apology, but I’d settle for just one – to the nurse that she lied about when she branded her “vicious”.

But I’ll tell you what, and this is the nature of science, if the evidence ever points to Jeni Barnett being right, my opinion will change completely.

I go with the evidence and I’ll acknowledge it from the highest rooftops and grovellingly apologise in any and every forum the woman cares to name.

I have no ego invested in this, just an opinion – based on rigorous, properly analysed, peer-reviewed, replicable, scientific evidence – on a topic that is as important as life and death.

Where’s your evidence Jeni?

No sign of anything yet.

Watch this space (but don’t hold your breath).

By the way, has anybody else noticed…

February 12, 2009

So, browsing the web as you do, I came across the following…

The Medical School Hypnosis Association
Patrons – Jeni Barnett

Jeni Barnett presents a daily show on LBC, five days a week. Having worked in theatre for twelve years and double that in television, she is no stranger to fear and the overcoming thereof…

When asked to be a supporter of the MSHA, she had not one moments hesitation:

“Silencing that chattering voice that says life is problematical and impossible is synonymous with living a creative successful life.

Not only is it important to support the MSHA, but it is imperative that we educate, encourage, and utilise hypnosis as a necessary component of 21st Century healing.”

Jeni is a patron of an Autistic school in Crowborough.

The Medical School Hypnosis Association
http://www.msha.org.uk/patrons.html

Without commenting on the MSHA, I can’t help but wonder about her position as a “patron of an autistic school in Crowborough”. There aren’t that many schools in Crowborough, East Sussex, UK, and even fewer that specialise in the education and care of children with disorders such as autism.

I can’t help but wonder what their position is on the opinions of their celebrity patron.

The Jeni and Jon Team, hardly the A-Team

February 12, 2009

Check out Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, and the comments on the “Do not abuse Jeni barnett personally” thread, which The Milligan would wholeheartedly support.

Don’t send her abusive messages, don’t harass her at public meetings, a few mild references to “ignorance”, “idiocy”, “foolishness” and other such terms are fine on your own blog (especially if you have as few readers as I do), but do NOT get personal – the woman did this in her professional life, idiotic as it may have been and including references to her personal life to illustrate her point as she did, but she should not be personally abused in any manner.

It has not escaped my attention that thinly veiled threats of attending her public appearances and questioning her there have been posted on her blog (links to these have  intentionally not been posted).

I very much doubt that this is a good idea. Public order offences aside, this sort of approach is counterproductive and provides Jeni with a lot more “poor me, look what a victim I am” material.

Stay polite, the scientific argument has the moral high-ground and the facts. We don’t want to lose the former.

Posts on this thread detail the reaction that LBC 97.3 has had to the perfectly reasonable complaints made by listeners. Of particular interest are the replies made by Jonathan Richards, Jeni Barnett’s Programme Director…

—–Message 1—–
Brand and Ross leave a tasteless message on a clebrities’ voicemail, and are publicly disciplined with a full apology by the most senior member of staff at the corporation.

Jeni Barnett spouts complete, uninformed ignorance, without any basis in fact (and yes, I am a qualified biological scientist and do know of what I speak).

Ignorance which can endanger lives – not just some ill-considered prank.

She admits publicly that she was uninformed on the topic (as was revealed by two healthcare professionals on-air), and she is allowed to continue broadcasting without any public acknowledgement of her failure as a professional broadcaster (in terms of lack of research), or of her failure in her responsibilities under paragraph 2(1) of Part II of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Act 1990, paragraphs 9 and 10 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998, and paragraph 15 of Schedule 14 to the Communications Act 2003, which state that Broadcasting Act licensees should not:

> practise or advocate illegal behaviour;
> practise or advocate behaviour which is injurious to the health or morals of participants or others;
> practise or advocate behaviour which infringes the rights and freedoms of participants or others;
> pose a threat to public safety;
> pose a threat to national security or territorial integrity or
> threaten the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

My complaint is that Jeni Barnett’s broadcast will prove “injurious to the health” of some listeners and certainly poses a “threat to public safety”.

On these grounds I intend to raise a complaint with OFCOM and look into the potential for legal action against LBC and your parent company.

Please acknowledge that this complaint has been LOGGED (not simply received).

A copy has been kept for my records and forwarded to solicitors retained.

—–Message 2—–
The incident you refer to happened four weeks ago. The presenter was given robust feedback about her performance straight afterwards. She is entitled to have her own views but must present a balanced debate. Since then the subject of MMR has been discussed several times on LBC without any comment from bad science or any other quarter. At the time of the original broadcast I received three complaints. We take the subject of MMR and other public health matters extremely seriously.

Jonathan Richards
Programme Director LBC News 1152 & LBC 97.3
Group Head of News Global Radio

—–Message 3—–
> The incident you refer to happened four weeks ago.

That has absolutely nothing to do with my complaint and is not an acceptable response. You have not addresseed my complaint.

> The presenter was given robust feedback about her performance straight afterwards.

Robust feedback is not sufficient for someone who has endangered public health with ill-informed argument and ignorance.

> She is entitled to have her own views but must present a balanced debate.

She may be entitled to have her own views, but she is not entitled to broadcast them if they are “injurious to the health or morals of participants or others” or “pose a threat to public safety”. In this case Jeni Barnett clearly does both and thus is in breach of broadcasting law.

This broadcast did not present a balanced debate, Jeni Barnett was clearly biased and dismissed her critics with ignorance and foolishness. This does not represent a “balanced debate” by any definition.

> Since then the subject of MMR has been discussed several times on LBC without any comment from bad science or any other quarter.

That has absolutely nothing to do with my complaint and is not an acceptable response. You have not addresseed my complaint.

> At the time of the original broadcast I received three complaints.

That has absolutely nothing to do with my complaint and is not an acceptable response. You have not addresseed my complaint.

> We take the subject of MMR and other public health matters extremely seriously.

Quite obviously you do not take this matter remotely seriously enough. Jeni Barnett – and yourself as a manager responsible for content, have endangered public health, to the point of promoting a strategy that endangers life.

This cannot be taken more seriously.

You have not even begun to address the matters raised in my original complaint and I shall be taking this matter further.

http://www.badscience.net/2009/02/
do-not-abuse-jeni-barnett-personally/
#comment-24553

Strikes me that LBC need to improve the standards of their recruitment policies.

jeni-barnett

jonathan-richardsThe Jeni and Jon Team are hardly their biggest assets.

Watch this space for updates.

Jeni Barnett’s agent can’t get the facts right any more than she can.

February 12, 2009

So, Jeni Barnett removed all the comments from her blog, following advice from her agent, because they did not address the issues of the debate…

Jeni Barnett, the LBC radio presenter at the centre of the Goldacre/LBC case, has received ‘hundreds of extremely personal and abusive comments,’ her agent, Robert Common, confirmed to Journalism.co.uk today.

“[The comments] do not address the debate about the use of MMR and that is the reason for taking the comments off Jeni’s website,” Common said.

As Journalism.co.uk reported yesterday, support for Goldacre’s complaint against LBC had gathered fast, with high-profile figures such as Stephen Fry lending support to Goldacre. However, as Ben Goldacre has now made clear in a new blog post he does not want people to direct abuse at Jeni Barnett in such a personal manner.

“Do not send Jeni abusive emails, it’s not nice or helpful,” Goldacre wrote on his site, after being contacted by the programme director at LBC.

“I am sorry if people have sent unpleasant emails. I would want no part in that (…),” Goldacre said in a reply to the programme director.

The incident comes after a timely piece published by MediaGuardian on Monday, which looks at what happens when journalists face personal online attack.

Barnett’s agent, Robert Common, told Journalism.co.uk that he has “personally been very shocked at the hurtful level of criticism and and its very personal and threatening nature. LBC have aired the MMR debate several times in the last four weeks on other presenters’ shows where the debate has been continued.

“Jeni would never wish to restrict discussion on this topic or indeed any other, however, when that debate encourages threats and abuse it is impossible to do so and I have advised [her] not to continue to make any further comments,” Common said.

Personal comments detract
from original MMR / LBC debate

Posted by Judith Townend in Online Journalism,
Press freedom and ethics, Social media and blogging.
February 11th, 2009.

Well, here are the blog comments that were removed…

jeni_barnett_blog.pdf

Have a look, read them all thoroughly. Apart from my introductory comments where I refer to her as the “LBC Idiot” – a charge which I contend is factually correct, and which was never posted on her blog (though I did try, I really did) – I can find nothing of any personal nature and all of it, even the complete garbage from the pseudoscientific lobby, pertains directly to the issues of the debate.

Get yourself another agent Jeni. This one can’t get the facts right any more than you can.

Jeni Barnett – aka The LBC Idiot – No Debate Here

February 9, 2009

Well now, following the debacle of her recent broadcast, in which the LBC Idiot and Vaccination Denier managed to make a complete and total fool of herself, she now reveals herself to be one of the biggest hypocrites I’ve ever come across.

As at about 22:00 UK time on 8th February 2009, the blog post http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/mmr_and_me.php consisted of more than 100 posts, including at least one entry purporting to be from the disgraced medic Andrew Wakefield…

18. At February 5, 2009 7:50 PM Andy Wakefield wrote:

“Dear Jeni,

I would like to send you a pdf that may help you with any hostility from the MMR posting. Do you have a email adrdress that I can send it to?”

http://www.jenibarnett.com/2009/02/mmr_and_me.php

But don’t bother clicking on any of the links I’ve put in above, because the (in her own words) “responsible… professional broadcaster”, has removed  all traces of the blog posts recording her failure as a broadcaster, professional anything or even responsible human-being.

Now, all we have is a post which, in one part, states…

I am interested in the debate not a witch hunt.

Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate, and if it gets too heated there is always the option of turning me off.

Posted by Jeni in | 5 February 2009

Of course you wanted the debate Jeni, that’s why you deleted it!! Elsewhere on her blog, Barmy Barnett states…

Acting is all about honesty, if you can fake that you can fake anything.

UK TV presenter Jeni Barnett’s blog.

You can say that again. Carry on faking the honesty Jeni, you’ve shown yourself up to be exactly what you are.

You call Ben Goldacre a “Bad Scientist” – what kind of broadcaster, journalist or even person does this show you to be?

I will attempt to cross-post this entry to Jeni’s blog – like my last two cross-posts, I’ll put a fiver on it never showing up over there.

==========================

This is also interesting. Guess what you get when you try and post to her blog entry (linked to above)…

jb-blog-error

“Somehow, the entry you tried to comment on does not exist.” Just about sums it all up really doesn’t it? Idiocy and ignorance masquerading as public service broadcasting, hypocrisy and deceit masquerading as open debate.

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UPDATE

==========================

Head on over to The Quackometer at… http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/02/jeni-barnett-have-you-lost-something.html

For a full record of what was on the LBC Idiot’s blog before it was deleted! Excellent work – I should have known that somebody would have gotten to the Google cache in time. A quick check of the truly excellent Holford Watch and I was pointed to exactly the right place.

If anybody wants a full copy of the blog, in all it’s unedited glory (no censorship here), click on the link to the *.pdf file below…

jeni_barnett_blog.pdf

Have a read – all the posts are there from the two main threads, some are quite cogent and rational. Others are, well, you decide.

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