Jeni Barnett does vaccines (again)
It looks like Jeni Barnett is going to be ‘discussing’ vaccines again sometime soon. There were 190 complaints to OfCom about her last outing on this and their decision is clinically taken apart by the inimitable Jack of Kent in his blog post: Jack of Kent: Jeni Barnett and MMR: Analysis of the Ofcom Decision.
Now Jeni wants to talk about swine ‘flu and vaccines. On her blog, she says:
Alls Well That Ends well [Jeni Barnett] First things first, lets not go down the route of bullying each other again. Scientists have a place, natural practitioners have a place, parents have a say in what they do with their children. I have a say in what I want – or dont [sic] want – put into my body. As a democratic Nation we should all be allowed to think what we want to think, say what we want to say, and live as we wish to live without offending anybody else. So no more nasty sniping please.
Despite her protestations of ‘bullying’, most of the bullying came from her bullying of an informed nurse who had the temerity to contradict the nonsense Jeni was spouting on her show. The vast majority of the comments on her blog were forceful but polite, pointing out her lack of medical and scientific knowledge.
Yes, scientists certainly have a place. But it is debatable what place ‘natural practitioners’ have or should have: certainly they have no place in a discussion of a serious public health issue.
Yes, parents have a say in what they do with their children, but they have to be informed decisions, based on the best available scientific evidence.
She goes on to construct a straw man: who has said anything about not allowing people to think what they want to think? But she has to realise that her voice is heard by a large number over London and she and LBC (London’s Biggest Conversation, apparently) have a duty to ensure that her program gives a balance to any such serious subject and does not pander to anti-scientific or pseudo-scientific fears and mis-information.
She had better also realise that providing a balance does not mean giving each side 50% of the air time. It has to be balanced according to the evidence.
I don’t yet know when this show will be, but I sent her the following message:
I sincerely hope that you will have some *informed* opinion on your show about the ‘flu and vaccines. It is a serious public health subject, deserving of serious – and balanced – discussion.
You can send her a message here.
Let’s see what happens, but be assured that those of us who are a bit more skeptical than she is are listening.
Update: Beacon Schuler has also sent her a message.