You see, John Stone has pretty much come to the the conclusion that he's lost the battle when it comes to showing that MMR (or vaccines in general) cause autism. If you look at his green-ink-ravings lately, he hardly ever mentions it, instead going out of his way to merely imply it by smearing journalists, doctors, and anyone else disagrees with him with feeble accusations of "conflict of interest", putting forward points that "prove" this in the manner of an investigative journalist - all the while forgetting to mention that the facts he's twisting have been in the public domain for years, and, crucially, do not demonstrate any sort of conflict of interest.
John Stone hates Dr Ben Goldacre (The medical doctor who writes The Guardian's "Bad Science" column, and who has blasted the media for hyping up the Wakefield "MMR causes Autism" story purely to sell papers), and has been trying to smear him for years, mainly through rants in the Rapid Response section of the British Medical Journal. Stone will have you believe that getting your name in Rapid Responses is equivalent to being "published in a medical journal" - when actually, provided your frothings aren't actually likely to attract legal attention, you're as likely to get your comment published as you are here. Fucking hell, even disgraced ex-GP Mark "Cybertiger" Struthers has had a rabid response accepted, and he's more mental than Stone.
Anyway, today Stone (who now has the grandiose title of "UK Editor for Age of Autism") has gone, all guns blazing, for Dr Goldacre and others who he sees as complicit in his grand MMR cover-up conspiracy. Shame his guns are spud guns.
Writing directly under a banner advert reading "Sponsored by Lee Silsby, the leader in quality compounded medications for autism" - a company who have a vested interest in perpetuating the lies about autism being caused by MMR / mercury / heavy metals - Stone kicks off with what he clearly considers to be a fact that blows Dr Goldacre's career out of the water - who his father is;
After years of secrecy on the matter confirmation has finally come to light that Guardian ‘Bad Science’ journalist Ben Goldacre is the son of Oxford professor of public health Michael J Goldacre
Fuck me! Really? You know, if I'd been unaware of that, I could have discovered it by, for example, reading Wikipedia in November 2008. More to the point, how is this relevant? Well, Stone goes on;
Goldacre senior was a co-author of a study of the effects of GlaxoSmithKline’s notorious Urabe strain version of MMR, Pluserix, after it was suddenly withdrawn from public use in 1992
Oh - I see. Dr Goldacre senior wrote about MMR too! Stone tries to show how legitimate this argument is, by linking to PubMed. Unfortunately he just links to the homepage. Presumably he hopes that anyone dumb enough to believe a word he says will just assume that Dr Goldacre senior is blindly defending MMR. Well, no. The paper is critical of the 'Urabe' strain of MMR, although points out that cases of Aseptic Meningitis in (Urabe) vaccinated children was still only around a quarter of the number that would be expected in wild mumps. Still, hardly a glowing endorsement.
Fresh from this major triumph, Stone heads further into conspiracy theory territory;
His [Ben Goldacre's] early article MMR: Never mind the facts won the accolade of the GlaxoSmithKline sponsored Association of British Science Writers’ award for the best feature article of 2003.
Stone then links to one of his tedious BMJ rants, where he points out that GlaxoSmithKline was a "MMR manufacturer and defendent".
How the fuck is that relevant? Ben Goldacre writes a piece for a newspaper. Some time later, it wins an award, which is sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Unless Stone's implying that Dr Goldacre took money from GSK to actually write the article? Is that it John? Are you suggesting that? There's an order of events here, which you seem keen to gloss over.
Still, Stone ploughs on;
The article, however, used flawed epidemiology for which he later offered no defence, as well as including an anonymous attack on Andrew Wakefield by one of Wakefield’s colleagues.
What Stone is referring to is his rapid response, which cherry-picked quotes from various studies to make it appear that there was still some doubt over the safety of MMR - when the studies he was quoting from claimed no such thing. Frankly I'd be surprised if Dr Goldacre knew about Stone's accusations, let alone concerned himself with replying to them. It's hardly as though they were valid scientific criticisms in a peer reviewed paper. No, they were the rantings of a fool. John Stone, however has delusions of grandeur (and a massively over-inflated sense of his own wit, intelligence and importance).
Next, Stone goes on the attack (in the manner of an elderly, toothless, three-legged Yorkshire terrier), by quoting one of his favourite lines;
A stock-in-trade has been his generalised attacks on parents of MMR damaged children. His Bad Science blogsite for a long time offered this intimidatory advice to would-be contributors:
“..personal anecdotes about your MMR tragedy will be deleted for your own safety”
Several problems here John. There's no evidence of MMR damage, that's hardly "intimidatory", nor an attack on parents, and you clearly don't recognise a throwaway (if possibly a little insensitive to the hard of thinking like yourself) comment telling readers of the blog that anecdotes will be given short shrift; it's a site about science, not a place for "debating" with alt-medders and the likes of you and Guss The Fuss. Also, this line was removed from the site years ago - hardly the actions of someone for whom abuse of parents was "stock-in-trade".
Next, Stone makes another laugh out loud comment;
A fundamental of Ben Goldacre’s journalistic method is the ad hominem and he always talks across opponents: he can always depend on the greater prominence of his published views and he never answers the many awkward criticisms.
Stone doesn't do irony. John! Your whole piece is one big ad-hom! (I realise that here I can be accused of much the same, but I'd like to point out that the fact that I think John Stone is an unpleasant cock is not why I have a go at him. I have a go at him because his views are so ill thought out, his science so abysmal, his ability to discuss a rational point is non-existent and (most of all) he's endangering the lives of children. My stating that he's a cock isn't ad-hom, if anything it's just random abuse (although I'd actually say it's demonstrable fact).)
We've already discussed what Stone means by "answering awkward criticism". Why not write a paper on your views John, see if you can get it published in a reputable journal, and then maybe the answers to the "awkward criticisms" you dream up over your dining room table might be provided. While you remain the internet's equivalent of the man dragging a broomhead down the street on a lead, shouting at invisible goblins and smelling of piss, it's unlikely anyone's going to give you the time of day.
The Goldacre dynasty seem to be one of several with on-going connections with the MMR affair:
Dynasty - ooh, sounds grand. Stone then goes on to imply (never stating - he knows that there's nothing to his implications and that he'd be sued from here to fucking doomsday if he actually stated any of them outright) that a series of other science writers, MPs, and publishers are connected with the MMR affair. Well, yes, they're connected in that they all were all involved in the demonstrating that Andrew Wakefield was a fraud, his research was fraudulent and unethical, he was paid massive undisclosed figures to find the results that he claimed… etc etc. Funnily enough, Stone doesn't suggest that there was a huge conspiracy to puff up the story, as demonstrated by the Daily Mail, the Express, credulous fools like Melanie Philips, himself, Clifford Miller, etc… No. He just lists a load of people who don't agree with his viewpoint.
Stone's not finished yet, oh no. Back to Dr Goldacre. He repeats another of his favourite quotes;
“people periodically come up to me and say, isn't it funny how that Wakefield MMR paper turned out to be Bad Science after all? And I say: no. The paper always was and still remains a perfectly good small case series report, but it was systematically misrepresented as being more than that, by media that are incapable of interpreting and reporting scientific data.”
Of course, he omits to mention that that comment was made before the evidence of Wakefield's fiddling results, lying to team members and unethical practices came to light. Had Wakefield's research been honest, then yes, it would have been a "perfectly good small case series report". But it wasn't, and it wasn't. However, Stone then goes on to feign incredulity that what Dr Goldacre wrote (before all the evidence came to light) wasn't listened to by the GMC when;
Wakefield and colleagues were found with remarkable ingenuity to be in innumerable respects in breach of the terms of the protocol which they had reasonably pleaded they were not doing.
Actually, they didn't plead that to most of the charges. Read the GMC's verdict. Most of the charges were "Admitted and proved". But you're not going to tell the readers of AoA that, are you John. You're going to make out that Wakefield et al fought until the end. They didn't. They admitted most of the charges when they knew they were fucked.
Right. That's it for tonight.
Unfortunately there are another five paragraphs of Stone's rubbish - they'll have to wait for another day.