I recently found the weight of research articles published in praise of flu jabs, resultant from controlled, double blind trials, quite hard to respond to. Yes, I knew that there was bias derived from the Big Pharm sponsor of the trials but didn’t find the time to examine the data in detail. I should have, as the inequalities in sampling and presentation were actually apparent. (Cheers Louis, who did!) However, the work had also been carried out in a far more systematic way, I found out, in a series of Cochrane Reviews covering trials of flu jabs.
The reviews are clear and open and settled any doubts I may have had – see for yourself.
This is the second time I’ve posted about “Cochrane Reviews” and thanks to Magda Taylor, Director of “The Informed Parent”, for reminding me of them. The original was in discussions rising out of MMR fallouts and the absurd, although annoyingly popular Dr Ben Goldacre. This medico-journalist cum radio and standup comedy feature rides the all-powerful isn’t-science-wonderful wave and aims to project the image of objective, understanding, profoundly well informed and, oh yes, objective Knowledge as being engaged to protect the modern world from scoundrels.
These are derived from two core groups. First and historically his primary target are herbalists, homeopaths and alternative health advisers. Easy prey as there’s much chaff can be legitimately be blown away. But we all know this anyway, of course. He just bullies such offerings and attempts to humiliate them in public.
Running with this, though, is the anti-vaccination lobby. He loves the MMR. Thinks it’s the bees knees and would carry on injecting it until the cows come home. Probably does whenever he gets a chance. “It saves lives” he insists, “and these malingerers are not damaged by the jabs. They’re just natural, chance events.”
Switch to his other target group and we find, yes, it’s “Big Pharm”. How bizarre – this guy knows that drugs damage and that Bog Pharm covers the fact up. He knows how they cook data and only publish that which can support their case – actually losing conflicting results and forbidding their publication. Famously and oft by me quoted, Prof Michel Logeril, Grenoble “They lied, didn’t they?!”https://bmeandothersciences.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/scandals-in-the-works-bsem-meeting-london-feb2011/
Goldacre cannot see the blatant, obvious conflict in his stance and one day I heard him on the radio praising these Cochrane Reviews. They sort out the wheat from the chaff and clearly determine when wool is being pulled over our collective eyes in published medico-scientific trials. They detect fraud. They highlight malpractice. They truly are objective.
When I suggested such laudable mechanisms be used to sieve the results of the Danish and other similar MMR trials – a deathly silence. Yes, “They lied, didn’t they?” and, of course, wholly misdirected thinking by failing to carry out an objective and lasting trial on actual outcomes, cross correlated to received inputs.