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Tabloid hoax

August 2008

Ace journalist Ben Goldacre exposes the deception behind the MMR hoax.

The non-link between the triple vaccine and autism was the biggest science story of the last ten years. He does not put the blame on the doctors who started the scare – it was the fault of the tabloids and the Telegraph for using amateur non-specialist journalists. They added unnecessary anxiety to every parent of a young child in Britain. Were they exposing their infant to a nasty disease?

There has been no scare in any of the other 90 countries that use MMR. This was entirely an UK neurosis.  It has had dreadful consequences. Take up of MMR plummeted from 92% to 73%. There was a mumps epidemic in 2005 and measles are at a ten year high. All because of very bad science.

Newspapers have not learned the lessons. Science stories are still written by hacks without scientific training. Their purpose is to boost circulation, not to inform their readers.

Ben Goldacre publishes a new book, Bad Science. I have ordered my copy on www.guardianbookshop.co.uk. There is a second chapter titled, ‘ How quacks and drug companies convinced us there is a pill for every ill.’

Looking forward to reading that.