After ten weeks I couldn't bear to pretend to have no work to do any more and I decided to leave.
I had some work with some of the same components, at a music magazine publisher, where I somehow got wotk as a temp sub-editor. Every now and then I'd get a little bit of copy to edit, I'd do it, it would get taken by a motorcycle courier to the typesetters (a monstrously ineffcient practice) and then I'd sit around for for an hour. No one seemed to find this unusual.
At that place, it was the security guard who was an alcoholic. He would sit at his desk in the foyer, reeking of alcohol, and when I addressed him he would look at me uncomprehendingly.
Doing the same job at a competing publisher, I was twice ticked off for finding too many mistakes in the copy - it would piss off the typesetters, apparently.
The amount of alcohol that could be consumed during lunchtime at the pub was a feature of a couple of other jobs. It didn't work for me with the editing jobs, but I have fond memories of sinking three pints (or occasionally four), with a spliff there and back, when I worked at Virgin Records.
While I think the MMR/mercury/autism thing is epically epically bad, and I don't agree with Stott, I would rather like to emphasise that psychologists are typically far better trained in statistics and methodological rigour than man, many others.
And to be fair, that is very much where her expertise seems to lie. It's just a shame she's hitched up to a bunch of people who think the answer is conducting unnecessary colonoscopies on autistic children.
I don't think anyone should leave high school without having been given the chance to get a decent grounding in statistics and the scientific method , and why they'd want them in day to day life. The world is full of snake oil salesmen of one stripe or another, and Orwell, Hooke, and Huygens are our best defence.
Actually, I think statistics is a much more important part of the secondary school curriculum than it used to be, for the very reasons you outline. When I was at school, I remember that even the bright maths kids used to be thrown by Statistics when they first encountered it at university. I told a conference of media studies teachers last week that giving kids skills to evaluate information is probably the most important thing they could do.
I don't want to presume to speak for Russell, but here's what really pisses me off about stories like this: It's damn hard to make good decisions when you're being fed bad information. And the decisions folks like Russ and Fiona make where their sons are concerned have real consequences for real families.
The good thing is that we do have access to each other. The hard work done by autism bloggers, who are often parents (Autism Diva is AS and has an adult child who is PDD-NOS), is amazing.
Ironically, it's parents -- the so-called Mercury Moms -- helping drive misinformation on the other side.
I think Paul Litterick has a point - it takes no imagination to predict what "break[ing] another Thalidomide story" would do for the careers of everyone connected to it. And no media outlet has ever gone broke stroking the hypochondriac paranoia of its readers.
Indeed. And a particular offender on the Wakefield/MMR scare -- along with the usual suspects at the Express and the Mail -- was Private Eye, which decided it had a scandal to call its own and basically ignored evidence to the contrary over several years.
Cool - I'm getting links from the autism blogs all over. And Bad Science has contacted Fiona Scott, who is reiterating that the study is unfinished and accusing the Observer of fabricating quotes. I find this unlikely, but it does suggest that Scott's name has been associated with this story without her knowledge:
I can respond to your question in terms of the following which will be the formal press release available from the National Autistic Society: The Cambridge University Autism Research Centre have not yet released the findings from their prevalence study, as the study is not yet complete. The Cambridge researchers are surprised that an unpublished report of their work was described out of context by the Observer. They are investigating how this report was made available to the Observer. They are equally surprised that the Observer fabricated comments attributed to their team. They do not
believe there is any link between rising prevalence and the MMR, or chemical toxins. It is untrue that Prof Baron-Cohen “was so concerned by the 1 in 58 figure that he proposed informing public health officials in the county “. Such journalism raises anxiety unnecessarily and is irresponsible.
I didn't get the impression that the Observer coverage was pushing the Wakefield line. This is a major study and those that set this up included 2 people with strange views. The Observer is just reporting what happened.
Yes, but the story said they were "leaders" in their field, without noting that they had no competence in the area they were venturing on. The impression given was that qualified people were revisiting the MMR theory.
I liked Nunatak, the Antarctic band:
Almost inevitably, their nothing's-a-problem sound guy turns out to be a Kiwi. Come Judgement Day, the celestial trumpets will be miked up by a New Zealander ...