Dachel Media Review: Adults with Autism
Weekly Wrap: Autoimmunity and Autism -- Twin Epidemics But a Common Cause

Did Dr. Ben Goldacre's Bad Science Forum Attacks Lead to Suicide?

 Excerpted ChildHealthSafety in the UK (HERE).

A patient committed suicide after an anonymous malicious complaint was made by Dr Stuart Jones to the UK’s General Medical Council about the patient’s treating physician, a disciplinary tribunal was told. Dr Stuart Jones was at the time a member of Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum. The physician concerned sometimes employed treatment methods which were not those conventionally employed by others but which apparently reaped benefits for patients.

 After making the complaint to the GMC about the patient’s doctor, Dr Stuart Jones wrote on May 19th 2010 on Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum to other forum members:

" Yup, that’s exactly why I complained actually, to give SM a bucket load of administration to wade through and increase anxiety levels in her patients, very pleasurable in deed!”

 The patient, who was suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome at the time [also known as ME] killed himself, according to evidence from his doctor, because he mistakenly believed his doctor was no longer allowed to treat him.

 Members of Dr Ben Goldacre’s Badscience Forum are encouraged by Dr Ben Goldacre to take direct action and get involved.  This has included some members launching online attacks on medical professionals who employ treatment modalities others in mainstream medicine do not. BadScience Forum members are also encouraged to make complaints to a large number of regulatory bodies all the time.

 In fact Dr Goldacre encourages his BadScience Forum members to get very, very involved:

"The time for talking has passed. I draw the line at kidnapping, incidentally.”

 Dr Ben Goldacre is a psychiatrist and columnist for the UK’s Guardian newspaper where his column is devoted to what he calls BadScience.

Dr Stuart Jones’ complaint resulted in the temporary suspension by the GMC of the patient’s doctor.

 The GMC prosecution of the deceased patient’s treating doctor was dropped abruptly by the GMC.  Dr Stuart Jones was in turn prosecuted by the Health and Care Professions Council.  He was subjected to a very minor punishment of merely a two-year Caution Order.  That two year caution order expired two weeks ago on 20th December last.

 Between 1st March 2009 and 26th October 2010 Dr Stuart Jones, posting anonymously on Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum as “Jonas“, made numerous disparaging remarks about the patient’s treating physician.

 The career of the patient’s doctor was nearly destroyed in addition to the patient losing his life after Dr Stuart Jones described the doctor as a ‘deluded, pill-peddling quack’ the disciplinary tribunal hearing was told. Dr Stuart Jones also wrote on the BadScience website that the patient’s doctor, who specialises in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, “lulled patients into a dangerous world of make-believe pseudo-science”.  The Health Professions Council heard evidence that Dr Jones’ messages were “defamatory, derogatory and disparaging” and had a detrimental effect on the doctor’s professional and personal life.

 Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience’s forum was flooded with 10,000 posts responding to Dr Jones’s initial message in April 2010.

 Causing a patient to commit suicide by vicious bullying of the patient’s treating doctor specifically to “increase anxiety levels” in the victim doctor’s patients is apparently not a sufficiently serious crime to warrant more than a 2 year “caution” for the Health and Care Professions Council.

 It was reported on a website set up to support the patient’s doctor by patients and wellwishers that although no charges were brought against the patient’s doctor by the GMC and the doctor was never called before the GMC, the aborted investigations in 2006/07 resulting from Dr Stuart Jones’ complaint cost the GMC £136,692.12 in solicitors’ fees and disbursements in respect of their investigations into the complaints and a possible further £500,000 on internal costs.

It appears also no action has been taken by the GMC regarding Dr Goldacre’s BadScience Forum activities...(Continue reading at CHS)

Also read Best of AoA -What's Behind Ben Goldacre? and  About Ben Goldacre and Fiona Fox to the UK's Leveson Inquiry.





You can read more about Sense About Science in books like _Thinker, Faker, Spinner, Spy: Corporate PR and the Assault on Democracy_ by Dinan and Miller. It's searchable on amazon.

For Carol

The Sourcewatch list exposing Sense about Science as an industry front group is very interesting.
Smarmy, cheesy or just d!{khead? I can't pick which one...


Goldacre's relationship with Sense about Science gives the game away. Sourcewatch lists Sense about Science as an industry front group: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Front_groups

John Stone


I suspect that even in 2011 when he closed down the Guardian blog his credibility amongst regular readers was becoming thin but of course he had been elevated into a legend by the ptb - I recall the ghastly sychopantic article in BMJ (c.2008?) by former editor Richard Smith entitled "Becoming Ben". His motives and credibility have been greatly under attack recently by the wellknown psychiatric drug whistleblower David Healy. Prof Healy's contention is that Goldacre's advocacy of the publication of pharmaceutic trials - supporting GSK's concession - is a Trojan horse, particularly using RCTs as gold-standard when they might not be very helpful at all (a 'one size fits all' theory of medicine).


If Ben Goldacre's job is to be an impartial, authoritative observer, he's bad at it. If his job is to make people believe that he's an impartial, authoritative observer, he's quite good at it.

John Stone

CHS now has a follow up post commenting on the reaction to it of the Bad Science groupies through Twitter:


John Stone


The fact is that 4 years ago Goldacre was over a barrel as I pointed out more than once in BMJ, and he still is.
Moreover, Deer memorably made fun of me in Gorski's blog for my swift exit from the GMC finding shouting out something like "It's the wrong paper" and yet that indeed was what the High Court found two years on. But when I put the point in BMJ in February 2010 there was silence frrom both of them. What has happened as a result is both a perversion of science and of justice, and as far as I can see they are both party to it.

Here is the text of one my letters to BMJ:-

The unexplained puzzle of the GMC verdict (and reponses to Peter Flegg)10 February 2010

The panel stated in the short version of their findings on fact read out to journalists at the GMC last month [1]:

“The Panel has heard that ethical approval had been sought and granted for other trials and it has been specifically suggested that Project 172-96 was never undertaken and that in fact, the Lancet 12 children’s investigations were clinically indicated and the research parts of those clinically justified investigations were covered by Project 162- 95. In the light of all the available evidence, the Panel rejected this proposition.”

However, it is my understanding that 162-95 was not a "project" in any normal sense but the ethical approval granted Prof Walker-Smith on his arrival at the Royal Free Hospital in September 1995 - as probably the most senior figure in British paediatric gastroenterology - to retain biopsy samples from colonoscopies for research purposes. If this is the case it would seem a basic criticism of the panel, that in reaching their view, they did not explain why this ethical permission did not obtain in this instance. We are also confronted by the oddity that the panel having concluded that the study was in fact project 172-96 then found the three doctors to be in breach of its terms at every twist and turn, instead of drawing the more obvious inference that it wasn't 172-96 at all, but an "early report" as stated. (And this, incidentally, is why several of us think that Ben Goldacre had it right in the first place.)

It is still baffling what is at stake over referral. It is common experience that when getting a specialist referral from a GP the patient is asked to which hospital they would like to be referred - an elective aspect is inherent in the system, as is reputation - and in this instance this was no ordinary department, so it is not clear what anyone would expect: it wasn't supposed to be "a scientific sample" or a statistical measure of anything, which is why I cannot make any sense of S Stanley Young's comment [2]. You do no not need to be a senior statistician to conclude that the group in the paper have little or no statistical significance, but this does not tell you why or how they are ill, and doesn't answer the parents' legitimate concern about adverse vaccine reactions and their sequelae. Nor could epidemiology tell you anything certain about that.

It seems to me that with Peter Flegg's [3] response, as so often with vaccination, ethics are being turned upside down. The instant position of those confronted with reports of adverse drug reactions is not to record them, or investigate but simply to retreat behind denial - which is what Andrew Wakefield conspicuously didn't do.

So we move to the next stage, which is that the doctor who did express concern about the safety of a vaccine and took parents on trust is as a matter of policy turned into a public enemy - and eventually a gigantic fishing expedition is mounted to see whether anything can be found against him. And all the time no parent has ever complained!

What we get is neither the practice of ethics or science but the exercise of social repression. Nothing ensures the unsafety of the system more certainly than the refusal to investigate sympathetically adverse reports - and why should a single child be denied investigation if their medical history indicates it? This is something that Flegg does not seem to be able to explain. Meanwhile, we get the resort to statistics which cannot show that it hasn't happened in individual instances, and probably also don't show that it hasn't happened en masse [4, 5]. Accompanied by total lack of curiousity as to why autism incidence figures continue to spin out of control (at the last count 1 in 64)[6].

I think it should remembered in fairness that Andrew Wakefield supported the then vaccine programme in 1998, endorsing the use of single vaccines, and the government promptly polarised the issue by making them unavailable. Also, I believe Flegg is being naieve in contrasting confirmed cases of measles in 1996, when there was probably only limited laboratory testing capacity and nothing like the active monitoring, with the present time.

About the GMC there is a huge problem of transparency - they publish the allegations and the findings but nothing in between. If you actually want to find out what the defence case was from the official transcript it will cost you upwards of £100,000 [7].

[1] Findings of Fact - Summary. General Medical Council, 28 January 2010. http://www.theoneclickgroup.co.uk/documents/vaccines/GMC%2C%20Findings%2...

[2] S Stanley Young, 'Statistical lessons to be learned as well' BMJ Rapid Responses 4 February 2010, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/340/feb02_4/c644#230877

[3] Peter Flegg, 'Evidence, statistical lessons, and bias' BMJ Rapid Responses 9 February 2010, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/340/feb02_4/c644#231116

[4] Demicheli V, Jefferson T, Rivetti A and Price D, 'Vaccines for Measles, Mumps and Rubella in Children', The Cochrane Library, Wiley 2005, http://mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD004407/fr...

[5] John Stone, 'Re: Evidence is not bullying', http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/339/sep09_1/b3658#220537

[6] Baron-Cohen et al, 'Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study', Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;194(6):500- 9,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19478287

[7] GMC Publication Scheme, http://www.gmc- uk.org/publications/right_to_know/publications_scheme.asp

Competing interests: Autistic son




Goldacre didn't have a column, but he apparently still has his job as pundit. All the more reason then to take the opportunity to put the Mitting decision in context for his audience. How can you mention that Andrew Wakefield was "struck off" the medical register without mentioning that a fellow defendant who was also struck off has been hoisted back on? It's like pointing at a guy and yelling "Murderer!" without mentioning that the supposed victim actually committed suicide. Talk about misleading and dishonest.

And really all you have to do to know that Wakefield and Walker-Smith didn't "imply that [the Lancet children] were routine clinic referrals" is read the Lancet paper, in which they caution about the possibility of selection bias in a self-referred group. Fortunately, Justice Mitting can read.

John Stone


Of course, I have been chronicling the contortions of Goldacre on these pages (click on the links below the article) and the fact is that he was saying in 2005 that the Wakefield/Lancet paper was a proper piece of research and he even got an award for saying so (bizarrely Evan Harris, Brian Deer's accomplice, was on the panel of judges).

The question for somebody who rides two horses is how long you can do it without falling off, and having immediately leapt on to the Deer horse with GMC findings in January 2010 he was back again telling an Irish medical news-sheet that it was a perfectly good paper in November 2010. My own guess is (and it is only a guess) that the closure of the Bad Science column in the Guardian in November 2011 was (a) simultaneous with David Lewis going public with his findings (including the report in Nature) and (b) anticipated the inevitable exoneration of John Walker-Smith by then only few months off. If Goldacre's column had been running he would have been extremely vulnerable.

Goldacre in 2005 was covering the fact that the GMC prosecution was likely to come off the rails (as of course it has but it has been masked from public view). Also, for 2003, he had been mounting a highly flawed "epidemiological study" defence of MMR vaccine. But there he was on a BMJ platform in March 2013 out to get Wakefield nevertheless and as a curtain raiser for Brian Deer. And let us say the attack was immoderate, it was personal, and it did not contribute to scientific knowledge. It was another smokescreen.



@Carol 'In 2010 Goldacre wrote: "It’s certainly clear that Andrew Wakefield and his co-defendants failed to meet the high standards required of doctors in research.'

That is odd. Now he seems to be calling for those high standards to be relaxed in a 17th Dec 2013 letter to the GMC:

"At present there is considerable red tape obstructing doctors who seek to conduct research. Much of this red tape is unnecessary; the incentives to participate in research do not reflect the urgency of the need for better evidence to guide clinical practice."

Heidi N

It's malicious to downgrade someone for treating patients that mainstream docs are NOT successful at treating. I guess this doc was running from his own guilt of NOT helping patients. I recovered myself from disabling chronic fatigue from the Internet after several docs in my city wasted my time. Thank you to all the many who freely share what is successful. Shame on those who only want to make a profit and hide behind a title that have no care for humanity. Unfortunately, the guilty docs will read this and add this to their list of things to make fun of instead of learning and changing. Shame, shame, shame.



I'm surprised that in his March 2013 talk Goldacre didn't mention Dr. Walker-Smith's exoneration in 2012. In 2010 Goldacre wrote: "It’s certainly clear that Andrew Wakefield and his co-defendants failed to meet the high standards required of doctors in research. The GMC have found he was 'misleading,' 'dishonest' and 'irresponsible' in the way he described where the children in the 1998 paper came from, by implying that they were routine clinic referrals. As the GMC have also found, these children were subjected to a programme of unpleasant and invasive tests which were not performed in their own clinical interest, but rather for research purposes, and these tests were conducted without ethics committee approval."

In 2012 Justice Mitting essentially found that it was the GMC which had been misleading, dishonest and irresponsible in its case against Dr. Walker-Smith and, by extension, Dr. Wakefield. You'd think that in the interest of full disclosure the Mitting decision would have been mentioned in Goldacre's talk. Actually, I don't find that Goldacre has written about the Mitting decision anywhere. Am I missing it?


Goldacre makes a darling poster boy for medical intimidation, with his cocky smirk and shirt unbuttoned like a bantamweight Tom Jones. Sadly "it's not unusual" nowadays for a psychiatrist to play pharmaceutical front man, despite his protestations to the contrary.

Especially when Junior's father co-authored a study on GSK's mediocre Pluserix MMR vaccine. Introduced in Canada in 1986 as Trivirix, it was withdrawn two years later due to the high numbers of adverse reactions it caused -- yet was adopted by the UK that same year. (See John Stone's revelatory article from 2010.)


It's vastly hypocritical and cruel for someone who works in psychiatry's blighted healthcare corner to pillory physicians who actually achieve healing results.


You know, it's not as if traditional medicine can or even wants to do much for ME/CFS sufferers.

I suspect Dr. Myhill came under attack primarily for her opinion that vaccines may not be entirely without side effects.


SM is Dr Sarah Myhill, the welsh GP that BadScience forum member Stuart Jones decided to pick on.

Carter's Daddy

Dr. Stuart claimed the patients doctor: “lulled patients into a dangerous world of make-believe pseudo-science”.
Is this not what the allopathy machine does, by means of a carefully contrived manipulation of media by Pharma via all its puppets(CDC, GMC, etc.)É Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Not that this is a new thing.


But he will still have a mark on his record.
Even if it is lifted it is still in his history.

Thanks for pasting this all over the "Age of Autism"

He may have no shame -but we all know him as Jeannetta said by his fruits.

John Stone

Of course, when it comes to the British state and government and GSK there really is not all that much difference.


Jeannette Bishop

Know them by their fruits?

John Stone

Goldacre has been the British establishment medical hatchet man for a decade - he has overseen and encouraged mob rule on the internet and he has taken out other journalists who have stepped out of line (Melanie Phillips, Denis Campbell, Jeni Barnett and Lucy Johnston come to mind). The method has alway been a vast amount of personal unpleasantness backed up by a vague appeal to scientific authority. The content is usually minimally technical but highly loaded with bias and conflicts: the man sells propaganda items from his website. Of course, for years it was out of the public domain that he was the son of a leading government scientist who had published reports on MMR. Lattely he has been employed in David Cameron's Cabinet Office.

Basically, this is about ideological pretence. A notably disgusting performance took place at the BMJ Evidence Live conference last March where he lambasted Andrew Wakefield and Arnold Krigsman for twenty minutes or more but where the worst he seemed to be able to come up with was photograph of AW posing at drinks party with one of the Dixie Chicks:


As to the attack on Lucy Johnston over Cervarix, I cannot see why anyone would have done it unless they were holding GSK's or the British Government's brief.


The caution on Dr Stuart Jones registration with the Health and Care Professions Council [Registration Number: CS17316] was ordered imposed in December 2011 but will not be removed from the register until 18th January this year.

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