Rampant scientism

You know, when They say there has never been a cover-up, that’s when you know there has been a cover-up.

The recent upsurge in measles cases in Britain is a sad tribute to the climate of irrationality. Despite all the paranoid conspiracy theories, there has never been a cover-up of the link between MMR and autism. In ten years those promoting this autism link have failed to produce convincing scientific evidence while numerous laboratory studies and epidemiological surveys have upheld the safety of MMR.

‘Convincing scientific evidence’ – ‘laboratory studies’ – ‘epidemiological surveys’ – don’t you understand? They’re all part of the plot! All that scientistic talk of evidence and studies and surveys is just the usual excluding hierarchical orientalist top-down power-knowledge trick that the global MMR conspiracy uses to silence its enemies.

The rise of a combination of extreme scepticism towards established sources of authority in science and medicine and anxiety about environmental threats to our wellbeing has led many to put their faith in self-proclaimed mavericks and alternative healers and charlatans. The recent outbreaks of measles, which resulted last year in the first childhood death for 15 years, shows how dangerous this credulity can be. As doctors, we are grappling in our surgeries with fear and confusion, exacerbated by an apparently endless series of health scares and panics. A campaigner came to me convinced that a local mobile phone mast was causing her breathing difficulties; later she admitted that she smoked 30 cigarettes a day.

No but you see what happens is, if you smoke thirty cigarettes a day then your body learns to adjust, whereas if you live near a mobile phone mast your body can’t adjust because it doesn’t understand phone masts. It can see and taste and smell the cigarettes, so it know what to do, but the phone mast is over there somewhere, and the death rays are invisible, so the body is baffled and confused.

One of the most potent forces of irrationality in healthcare, one with a particularly baleful influence in the MMR controversy, has been promoted by the Government. It has elevated consumer choice – and subjective belief – over medical expertise…But the problem revealed by the MMR scare is that individual choice cannot be reconciled with a mass childhood immunisation programme. The object of immunisation policy is not to provide a “pick and mix” selection to the public, but to provide a coherent programme for the prevention of infectious diseases.

There’s the conspiracy again – ‘medical expertise’ and ‘a coherent programme.’ That’s no good. We have to have medical amateurism and incoherence. It’s our right as consumers.

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