Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Observer MMR Story Has Disappeared From the Archives: Why?

Ducks with a disembodied hand
Quick update. Dr Ben Goldacre has just posted a note to say that Observer MMR Story Disappears From Archives.
For obvious reasons of propriety I have studiously avoided having an inside track on anything to do with this piece from the beginning, so I have no idea what is going on here.
Were The Observer nibbled to death by ducks in trying to find out where to start for the corrections? Has that desperate email by Dr Fiona Scott convinced them that they had this story badly wrong? Is there going to be a retraction? The Observer badly needs to retract that story albeit the damage is done and those infamous figures have been widely quoted as evidence of an autism epidemic.

Maybe there will be a retraction. Must go, I've just been told that pigs are flying and that there is to be an announcement that Patrick Holford had decided to rethink his treatment programmes that are based on Wakefield's research.

More, as the story unfolds...and there are virtual Jaffa Cakes on offer to the first person who spots a decent conspiracy theory for this disappearance. You know, like the doctors too terrified to speak against vaccines who were given an honorable mention by Halvorsen in his recent Sunday Express extravaganza that blazed, Children 'Used As Guinea Pigs for Vaccines'. Something classy along those lines, or that resembles Sherri Tenpenny's remarkable theory that the reason that Dr Byer's testimony at the Autism Omnibus hearings was so gob-smackingly awful might be more sinister than it reflected Byer's level of knowledge, competence and expertise:
Ya have to wonder if someone got to her or threatened her kids by her response. Absolutely unbelievable and I would suspect was really unexpected by the Chin-Conway team or they wouldn't have put her on the stand.
Of course, it might just be an accurate reflection of the level of actual scientific support for the case...So, something really decent along those lines, please.

Update, July 25: The Guardian's User Help Desk is responding to enquiries thus: "“The article was removed from the website for legal reasons. We are unable to provide a copy.” It is a little sad to reflect that newspapers and such are considerably more responsive to legal actions/discussion than they are to corrections of facts.

Related reading

Wakefield: another triumph for mainstream journalism in the UK
Autism: The Truth Plus Sensitivity, Specificity and All That Is Decent to Reveal About Predictive Values
The British Medical Journal Embarrasses Itself by Reproducing That Notorious 1 in 58 Figure
Ben Goldacre Breaks His Silence on the Media Coverage of the MMR, Autism Stories
Observer Gives A PoMo Clarification: Retract Already
Anthony Cox: How virulent were The Observer’s MMR articles?

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