Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Andrew Wakefield is a Fraud
An editorial in the British Medical Journal has been getting some press here in the States lately for claiming that Andrew Wakefield, the man who originally claimed that there was a link between vaccines and autism, was perpetrating a fraud by making that claim. The article doesn't really bring anything new to the table, other than it is in a medical journal, and it uses strong language, like the word "fraud" to describe Wakefield's actions. I say that this isn't anything new because Brian Deer, the reporter who first drew attention to Wakefield's conflicts of interest and unethical practices, has been writing with equally strong language since 2004. And many scientists and science bloggers have been making similar assertions of Mr. Wakefield's motives and actions. Not to mention the numerous scientists who have written peer-reviewed, journal articles that clearly demonstrate, that, if Wakefield wasn't a fraud, his science was severely flawed, and flat out wrong. Still, I don't mind that the rebuking of such bad science is getting some time in the spotlight. As the editorial points out, our public health is at risk from this fraud, as numerous childhood illnesses and deaths in the U.S. and in the U.K. have demonstrated, and given the fact that many of the unvaccinated may put the rest of us at risk for years to come, we may not have seen the worst of it yet. So, here's to the BMJ for raising the profile on this fraud, for using the language that most accurately describes the situation, and for continuing to promote truth and public education in science.