Thursday, January 13, 2011

MMR Vaccine and Autism

The story of the MMR vaccine and its purported relation to autism just got even more outrageous.

As you probably saw, the study on which the purported connection between the MMR vaccine and autism was found to be, not just wrong, but fraudulent. Now it comes out that the doctor involved (Andrew Wakefield) almost immediately (and secretly) tried to cash in on the "finding," even while the first child was still in the hospital.

This will surely be one of the most infamous cases of fraud in scientific history, perhaps worse of all because of all the needless worry and concern it caused parents.

Two lessons:

1) Science is self-correcting -- perhaps slowly, but it eventually and always corrects errors, usually with dispassionate, devastating force.

2) Like the case with crop circles, some people will never be convinced even when the errors and fraud are directly revealed. Jenny McCarthy writes:
For some reason, parents aren't being told that this "new" information about Dr. Wakefield isn't a medical report, but merely the allegations of a single British journalist named Brian Deer.
That's untrue. The paper was retracted. Andrew Wakefield was found guilty by the UK General Medical Council of dishonesty and flouting ethics protocols. Such retractions and findings happen after a lot of investigation and are far more than the findings of a single journalist.

And the incidence of measles is way up in the UK and elsewhere.

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