Impact factors, Colossus and the Wakefield retraction.

(Graphs from The Independent (London), 21 June 2008)

Today was one of those days where lots of interesting stuff turns up. On the BBC, there was 2 very good pieces about the flaws in the scientific process, specifically closed peer review and impact factors.

I also notice that the BBC are running a daily piece about the history of computing in the UK this week, parts one and two have already been published. Today’s article about Colossus is especially good.

Also, after last week’s excellent, and damning, judgement from the GMC –

– regarding Andrew Wakefield’s reprehensible behaviour in his research into the ‘link’ between MMR and autism, today The Lancet finally pulled the paper in which his findings were published 12 years ago. Wakefield et al (1998) (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(97)11096-0) has now been retracted from the public record after the Lancet concluded that the claims made by the researchers were ‘false’ ( – apologies for paywall).

MMR scaremongerer sicks the legal dogs on Ben Goldacre

Let the blogosphere and twittersphere spring to his defence!

See here for full details, but a London broadcaster had a half hour long rant on her show about the ‘dangers’ of the MMR jab on 7th January. Ben Goldacre subsequently posted the entire, repulsive, segment on his blog, to show this woman up for the scaremongerer she is. The radio station she works for has now set the lawyers on him, insisting he cease and disist.

So I am reposting his plea for help, and posting links to the relevant content (original post here, complain about the broadcast here). If you have the know-how to help him out, please do so.

EDIT – You can get the audio of the original broacast from YouTube or WikiLeaks… if you want your head to explode with frustration… Also note this graph, which illustrates the very real effect of irresponsible woo like this.