There are a few things going on and a few thoughts bouncing around my head and I'll try to compose some thoughts for a proper blog some time soon.
Sinks Originally uploaded by Dave Gorman
But even if I had the time right now - which I don't - I'd prefer to point you in the direction of another blog entirely. This one, from Ben Goldacre.
These things are important. Once upon a time, the uptake for the MMR vaccine in the UK was around 93%. Thanks in no small part to the media hyping up a scare connecting MMR with autism - for which there is no credible evidence whatsoever - that's dropped to around 75% (and is much lower in London.) Of course this has seen an increase in measles... and in some cases that has meant children have died. Unnecessarily.
Anyway... there's no point me rehashing the whole story here in a half arsed way when it's told eloquently over on Ben Goldacre's blog... the point is that someone broadcasting on LBC Radio stoked the anti-MMR fire once more - the kind of thing that spreads fear and keeps the uptake of the vaccine down - and BG uploaded the audio so that he could critique it. Then LBC's lawyers stepped in.
I suppose there's the potential for good here. If enough people spread the word that this is happening it won't matter that the audio is suppressed... because with sensible reporting, the greater truth will be carried on the coat-tails of this spat and more and more people will come to terms with the fact that no matter how many headlines there were over the years linking MMR with autism... there is no actual link. It isn't there. It isn't true.
This is one of the big problems with science reporting. Strawberries Cause Cancer makes a great headline. Strawberries Cure Cancer also makes a great headline. Strawberries Neither Cause Nor Cure Cancer But They Do Taste Nice With Cream isn't a good headline because it seems like non-news. So when a "scientist" makes a bold claim it gets reported as fact... and when it later turns out to be untrue, nothing gets written because there's no story there, right?