Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Science Museum carries on MMR hoax.

This is the tenth year of the MMR Hoax.

Of course, the media - who according to Dr Ben Goldacre in the above link are largely responsible - have switched allegiances and act as if their constant publishing of nonsense and scare stories relating to MMR never happened.

At least, after ten years, the media will now admit (in accordance with what respectable health practitioners have been saying for a decade) that it was a hoax - the NHS website on MMR states the site is no longer being updated and the Department of Health has announced an MMR vaccine catch-up campaign.

The media, that is, apart from the Telegraph, but it's quality of science reporting has diminished so fantastically over the last while, this isn't surprising.

Levels of measles have been rising over the last decade, but perhaps we are at a turning point, as this week, in Scotland the percentage of under fives having received the first dose stands at 95%, for the first time.

Nonetheless, one of the many hangovers to come-out of the MMR booze-up was JABS - Justice Awareness, Basic Support. This is a 'support-group' for vaccine-damaged children, or to put it cynically, people whose children have developed problems, which the parents put down to vaccines, irrespective of the evidence. JABS became synonymous with an anti-MMR stance (indeed anti-vaccine in general), and so no amount of evidence would ever convince them of its relative safety. Many articles and blogs have criticised JABS for its terrible 'science' or its abusive nature towards anyone who dares suggest that MMR and autism are not connected.

The BBC have stopped linking to JABS after being made aware of the site's contents and there has even been a piss-take set-up. I wrote about their odd ways and their connection with the truly out-of-this-planet-utterly-bananas site, Whale.to earlier this year.

With your monitor set to 'Weird Mode' have a look at a JABS conversation here.


The Science Museum is one of London's great free museums, holding over 300,00 artefacts of scientific and medical significance. The website also contains a section called 'Antenna' which is the Science News section, with a special section on MMR:
For three months you've been telling the Science Museum your concerns about MMR - the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine.

Armed with your questions, fears and arguments a team from the Museum set off to interrogate the major players in the controversy.

Controversy? Not for a long time. Hoax would be a better choice of word.

Clicking on "What about single jabs?" and then "Where can I get them?", the Science Museum website happily suggests emailing JABS for some advice. The Science museum suggests contacting an anti-vaccine pressure group on advice for vaccines. Perhaps the Science Museum should be weighing up government advice and making a decision on the evidence rather sending parents, who are trying to do the best by their kids, to rather odd inhabitants of JABS-world.

The JABS website itself states:
JABS is not primarily a provider of vaccine information but a support group of parents who feel their children have suffered a reaction or have been severely damaged by a vaccine

... so what is the point of sending people there who are trying to find out about single vaccines? Despite this website claim, the Science Museum has page with a photo of Jackie Fletcher (JABS co-ordinator) stating:
Jackie Fletcher of vaccine-damage support group JABS also offers advice for parents regardless of whether they are opting for single jabs or the full MMR.

How balanced an opinion do you think you will get from JABS on this issue?

It's clear the Science Museum needs to completely update and revamp its MMR site, and do its part to relegate the MMR hoax to science history.

EDITED 17/12/2008: If you would like to let the Science Museum know about their backwards stance on this issue, the contact details are here.
Hat-tip to Duck & Tristan @ Bad Science.



  1. Thanks for bringing the Science Museum to my attention - I hadn't come across this before. Methinks we need to start e-mailing them :|

  2. indeed - there is a lot at stake here, millions of children (and grown ups!) get introduced to the scientific method and all its glories through this institution, the last thing the museum ought to be doing is perpetuating the MMR myth.

    @ Martin, e-mailing is the least one should do, although it's a good start! is there a govt minister in charge of public museums? methinks they ought to be informed?

    good stuff dr*t!!

  3. Nice work Dr* T.

    "This is the tenth year of the MMR Hoax" - which is presumably why the Mail and the Telegraph are revving up for a HPV vaccine scare. Perhaps they feel the MMR hoax is old hat now. Daily Fail. Torygraph.