Respectful Insolence

Poor Jeni Barnett.

You remember Jeni Barnett, don’t you? She’s the U.K. radio host whose ill-informed rants against vaccines Ben Goldacre exposed so gloriously last week. Unfortunately, the price Ben paid consisted of threats of legal action for “copyright infringement” in the form of his having posted audio of the relevant segment of Barnett’s show. Yes, LBC, the radio station on which Barnett’s show runs, threatened to sue, forcing Ben to take down the audio. However, as almost always happens when a blogger is threatened in such a manner, the specter of legal action led to the audio files metastasizing to many blogs and websites and screwed up Barnett’s Google juice to the point where the first page of search results on her name is made up mostly of posts about what an antivaccination moron she is.

That was the first failure of the memory hole.

The second failure came after Jeni apparently didn’t like all the negative comments that her defense of what she said on the air brought to her blog. Most of the comments were unrelentingly negative, taking Barnett to task for her ignorance.

Fortunately, ever-vigilant, Le Canard Noir has preserved Barnett’s original post and all of its comments as of February 8. Once again, as it did for HIV/AIDS denialists the memory hole fails in the age of the Internet, and efforts to suppress criticism have massively backfired.

When will the cranks ever learn?

Comments

  1. #1 ScottC
    February 10, 2009

    Of course the cranks will never learn. If they were capable of learning or critical thinking, they wouldn’t be cranks.

  2. #2 Even Stephan
    February 10, 2009

    Streisand effect

    The Streisand effect is a phenomenon on the Internet where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized.

  3. #3 chancelikely
    February 10, 2009

    I know you’re a breast cancer surgeon, Orac, but I just have to say that using the word ‘metastasizing’ to describe this particular phenomenon is absolutely poetic.

  4. #4 llewelly
    February 10, 2009

    For millions of years, one’s public reputation was recorded only in fallible human memories. Mere hundreds of years ago (or thousands for a select few), human memory was supplemented by difficult to search written records. Much more recently, still more difficult to search audio and video records became widespread. Relatively suddenly, hundreds of millions of people make use of the internet, which keeps relatively easy to search records. Suddenly, many of the assumptions we subconsciously rely on when thinking about reputations are wrong. I believe it will take all of us – not just cranks – a long time to grow accustomed to the much more reliable public memory that is resulting from widespread internet use. (If you think it affects only cranks, recall the scandal when the John Edwards for president campaign hired Amanda Marcotte. )

  5. #5 Mu
    February 10, 2009

    What makes you wonder, will we be able to elect anyone president in 20 years, when all he or she has ever said will be instantly available, back to the writings as a 16 year old for the school yearbook. Not to mention that cell phone picture from that party after the Cubs won the world series…

  6. #6 ESPness
    February 10, 2009

    I love this quote from her MMR post:

    “Should anybody from BAD SCIENCE read this I urge you to continue the debate, and if it gets too heated there is always the option of turning me off.”

    And then she kills all the blog comments and and wipes the articles from her achives.

    It’s as if she’s gone and turned herself off.

  7. #7 DLC
    February 10, 2009

    I really don’t know how these crackpots get stuck on these bizarre ideas.

  8. #8 perturbed
    February 10, 2009

    Live online streaming, and the ability to easily digitize non-streamed media and upload the result, will be the death (metaphorically, we hope) of those who would seek to deny their own stupidity.

  9. #9 nobody special
    February 11, 2009

    What makes you wonder, will we be able to elect anyone president in 20 years, when all he or she has ever said will be instantly available, back to the writings as a 16 year old for the school yearbook. Not to mention that cell phone picture from that party after the Cubs won the world series…

    I cannot wait for a confirmation hearing (Supreme Court, cabinet, whatever) to be affected by this. “We have some questions about this Livejournal post you made in 2007…” Though, it may not happen; I doubt that someone who is going to be in such a position in the future is wasting their time decorating their MySpace page in the present.

    At least if I’m wrong about that later point, I’ll be entertained.

  10. #10 colmcq
    February 11, 2009

    she’s now removed the MMR posts from the index page of here blog, seemingly unaware that if you want to destroy all evidence of the whole sorry affair, you really should delete the blog posts off your server too LOLZ.

  11. #11 John H (Jabbophobia Inasnum)
    February 11, 2009

    She is indeed ill informed and seems quite wedded to various types of woo. Quotes from her blog include:

    • Had reflexology

    • buy two bottles of Gammel Dansk – A Danish herbal digestive

    • you’ll be able to dowse and think your self slim

    • I went to visit a top hypno-therapist

    Weedism, reflexology, dowsing, hypnotherapy. Nothing seems beyond her capacity for irrational thought.

    And she referred to her dread of “allopathic” medicine, not least in that rubbish broadcast. (I think by “allopathic” she means medicine that has been proven to work).

    Yet if there is actually something wrong with her then it is:

    “”””have to take anti-biotics and then decide whether to have an implant costing £2,000, root canal work”””.

    Presumably these are herbal antibiotics and psychic dentistry or do I detect the dread hand of “allopathy ” creeping in with its RCT based drugs and dental surgery. A difficult one.

  12. #12 colmcq
    February 11, 2009

    A pro pos of nothing, the MMR scare still has more legs than a millipede on PCP thanks to the morons over at JABS.

    This thread really really bothers me:

    http://jabs.org.uk/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3664

    It may be worth registering and commenting; your posts may be removed quickly, but at least they will be there for a while, which should allow some sort of permanent pro-vaccination presence to be established.

  13. #13 John H (Jabbophobia Inasnum)
    February 11, 2009

    If you register with the JABS morons and post anything even anti-jabbophobic they will ban you immediately and delete your postings. I have been slung off three times now.

    Even a non-contentious statement such as “Wakefield is a lying, fraudulent, conniving huckster who manipulated children for money” is enough to get you thrown off.

    It is called a forum but they do not know the meaning of the word.

    If you want to dip your toes into the waters of the murky pool of jabbophobe insanity you are better off checking out the condensed and highly critical version at the following site:

    http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/

    The reference from colmcq does give a good example of how they terrorise parents (usually mothers) into not vaccinating their children.

    The problem is that every registration and website hit is regarded by them as an endorsement of their lunacy.

    (It is good for a laugh though).

  14. #14 MissyMiss
    February 11, 2009

    What makes you wonder, will we be able to elect anyone president in 20 years, when all he or she has ever said will be instantly available, back to the writings as a 16 year old for the school yearbook. Not to mention that cell phone picture from that party after the Cubs won the world series…

    I suspect that once they find out that nearly everyone has at some point posted a silly party picture, written a really dumb Live-Journal-or-equivalent post, or forgotten to pay a speeding ticket or ten, these things won’t be met with gasps and ineligibility for office.

  15. #15 Shay
    February 11, 2009

    ‘Even a non-contentious statement such as “Wakefield is a lying, fraudulent, conniving huckster who manipulated children for money” is enough to get you thrown off.’

    Shame on you, John H — that statement is terribly misleading. It should read “Wakefield is a lying, fraudulent conniving huckster who endangered children for money.”

  16. #16 ama
    February 12, 2009

    This lunatic in the readio show, I forgot her name, has some really interesting times ahead…

    http://www.oust-jeni-barnett.com

    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~aktenschrank/impfgegner_sind_schweinedumm_und_moerderisch/the_quackometer___Jeni_Barnett_Have_you_lost_something.htm

    “The internet is the memory of mankind.”
    (TINA on ariplex.com)

  17. #17 ama
    February 12, 2009

    The complete collection of transcripts now is ready:

    http://www.transgallaxys.com/~kanzlerzwo/showtopic.php?threadid=5162

    I nearly vomited when reading the stuff she said.

    Jeni Barnett can be really, really happy that I do not live in the UK…

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