Dowsing for Data

18 Jan

The BMJ has podcasts (something I was unaware of). This week’s edition is called “Dowsing for Data“. They have input from Tom Jefferson of the Cochrane Collaboration on a subject aside from the Wakefield articles which have been published in the past few weeks. In the second part (starting at about 11:30 into the podcast) the BMJ discusses with Brian Deer about the articles.

They discuss the history of the story, how he got started to do background work for a TV program in 2003. He discusses Mr. Wakefield’s aborted attempt to sue Brian Deer for defamation, which caused 2 years of litigation. It was during this period that Mr. Deer became more convinced that the Lancet article “could not be rationally explained”. Since the information was clinically confidential information at the time, Mr. Deer could not take the information into the public domain. This changed with the GMC hearings and, especially the hearing transcript hearings. This allowed for fact checking of Mr. Deer’s articles. He discusses how the story ended up in the BMJ. Also, the advantage of placing this in the BMJ makes it clear that a greater level of fact checking has been performed. He answers the critics who say that this is more journalism than science, questioning the placement in the BMJ. Of course, Brian Deer is a journalist, not a doctor or researcher. But, that this could be done with the accuracy and rigor of a science paper in a more narrative form.

One Response to “Dowsing for Data”


  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Dowsing for Data « Left Brain/Right Brain -- - January 19, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, Alltop Autism. Alltop Autism said: Dowsing for Data […]

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