Thursday, 7 January 2010

BMJ - the rapid responses

As a result of its large readership the British Medical Journal remains a very important publication. Although one can argue that it may publish some rather politically motivated dross at times, the BMJ still does a pretty decent job at exposing some rather unscrupulous practices in the medical world.

One thing that the BMJ has done which I think has been a bit of a revelation is the idea of allowing the online response of readers to all that they publish, obviously only a small minority of these are reproduced in print; however it has been a good thing in general for allowing the voice of reason to triumph over certain foolish opinions that normally manage to hide so well from any open reasoned criticism.

The Tamiflu scandal was also a very good story with some excellent reader responses, strange how the government and media never really invested any effort in informing the public of this scandalous bit of pharmaceutical misinformation. Recently there have been some excellent responses on the ex-CMO Liam Donaldson and the government's spreading of propaganda about swine flu, I particularly enjoyed this one from Hugh Mann in the US:

"The climatologists and epidemiologists at the Henny Penny institute of pseudo-science have inadvertently performed a public service. Climate-gate and flu-gate have immunized the public against media-spread alarmism."

The responses on the simulation regarding NHS 'commissioning' were also rather poignant, demonstrating some rather glaring flaws in the whole idea behind the simulation and 'commissioning' itself. When I was younger I used to think that if I was unable to understand something it must have been my fault, now I realise that there is another explanation, if something cannot be understood it may well be because that thing is utter nonsense and that no one understands it properly, like NHS 'commissioning'.

Anyway my message is to keep your eye on the BMJ rapid responses. Maybe I'm overly cynical but it appears to me that the BMJ may bury some of the best responses because they are a little close to the bone for some people, that's why I always keep my eye on the online responses.