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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

"Piltdown medicine": anti-vaccine quackery exposed

Respectful Insolence has an exhaustive post on the revelation that anti-vaccine crusader Andrew Wakefield's "research" linking autism to the MMR vaccine was a complete fraud:
Pity poor Andrew Wakefield.

2010 was a terrible year for him, and 2011 is starting out almost as bad. In February 2010, the General Medical Council in the U.K. recommended that Wakefield be stripped of his license to practice medicine in the U.K. because of scientific misconduct related to his infamous 1998 case series published in The Lancet, even going so far as to refer to him as irresponsible and dishonest, and in May 2010 he was. This case series, thanks to Wakefield's scientific incompetence and fraud, coupled with his flair for self-promotion and enabled by the sensationalistic credulity of the British press, ignited a scare about the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine in which, afraid that the MMR vaccine causes autism, parents in the U.K. eschewed vaccinating their children in droves. As a result, vaccination rates plummeted far below the level necessary for herd immunity, with the entirely predictable result of massive measles outbreaks in the U.K. Measles, which as of the mid-1990s had been declared under control by British and European health authorities, came roaring back to the point where in 2008 it was declared once again endemic in the British Isles. In a mere decade and a half, several decades of progress in controlling this scourge had been unravelled like a thread hanging off a cheap dress, all thanks to Andrew Wakefield and scandal mongers in the British press.

Wakefield is personally responsible for the deaths of children whose parents refused to vaccinate them based on his fraudulent claims. Shameful.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't help that you have nutcases like Jenny McCarthy running around saying that vaccines cause autism.

Although just to be safe, I'm going to stick to leeches for now.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you have no experience with autism. I do, and remain convinced it was the vaccine which turned these adorable twin boys into autistic disasters. They were perfectly normal before the vaccine. The rate of autism continues to grow apace. The way to test out the accuracy of the claim is to find a country where there are no vaccines and see how much autism there isl

Eric said...

Anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything; however, fraud is still fraud.