Andrew Wakefield: Misleading and Irresponsible

January 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm (Anti-Vaccination) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The GMC have today found that the man who began what became known to some as the media’s MMR hoax was “misleading and irresponsible in the way he described research later published in The Lancet.”

According to Sky News, Wakefield was also described as having “acted dishonestly.”

Dr Helen Bedford, lecturer at the Institute of Child Health, said: “Parents should be reassured that there is a large body of good scientific evidence which shows MMR is not linked to autism and bowel disease.”

The news will not surprise those who have followed the case. Back in February 2009, some of the more shocking problems with Wakefield’s research were detailed by Brian Deer in the Times story headlined MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism.

According to Deer, Wakefield “changed and misreported results in his research.” Particularly remarkable was the following revelation:

Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated.

Not only did the data fail to show that MMR had caused autism in these children – the medical records suggest that there wasn’t even the correlation between MMR and autism that has been claimed by Wakefield, JABS, and the mainstream media.

While Wakefield may well be vilified for his conduct, others involved in the MMR hoax might escape criticism (or at least get off lightly in comparison to Wakefield).

Those who decided against vaccinating their children have the excuse that their knowledge of the research into MMR and autism came from reading the newspaper reports of scientific research. Although that didn’t stop the Daily Mail from calling them “morons” and “middle class twits.”

Those who went further than refusing the MMR vaccine and actively campaigned against it might have more difficulty in avoiding criticism. I’m thinking here of people such as JABS forum members.

See Struthers, Stone and Fletcher’s rapid responses on the BMJ website here for an idea of their public engagement with scientists defending MMR.

Alternatively, you may wish to see examples of the comments made on the JABS forum. In which case, you can click here for more on JABS. This is a group that was used as a source of information by the mainstream media – including the BBC.

Those journalists who reported on MMR and autism in a misleading and inaccurate fashion will probably simply brazen it out and pretend it was nothing to do with them. As they have been doing for some time now: scapegoating Wakefield.

One other group that might now be hoping to escape criticism is that band of merry AltMed advocates who supported Wakefield, or at least allowed their audience to believe there was something in the claims being made by him.

AltMed support for Wakefield and his ideas came from Patrick Holford, Dr Joseph Mercola, Dr John Briffa, and others.

JABS members, the mainstream media, and those AltMed advocates who gave succour to either Wakefield or his ideas, kept the MMR hoax going long after it should have died a death. They may well be rather quiet over the days and weeks that follow the GMC’s verdict. Or they may try to defend their actions. The latter course of action could be very interesting indeed.

37 Comments

  1. Anthony said,

    The media are downplaying their role, a recent timeline in the Independent didn’t mention the role of the media, but the difference between Wakefield and other scientists who get propagated in the media, is that he has been a willing partner, sucked up to anti-vaccine loons and has been misrepresenting the science throughout. He is equally responsible for the continual stoking up of this hoax.

  2. Becky said,

    They’ll mark it down as a cover-up. Just watch…

  3. Neuroskeptic said,

    “He is equally responsible for the continual stoking up of this hoax.” – Equally responsible, sure, but the point is that he’s getting his comeuppance, whereas I’ve not seen any newspapers or journalists come out and admit “We were wrong”. The media have, I think, an attitude that all they’re doing is reporting on events. While this may be true in some cases (you can hardly blame the media for reporting on the original paper when it came out), their coverage of the MMR case went far beyond that.

    None of this would really matter except that they’re still doing it, just with different targets. Lessons have not been learned. I’m thinking particularly of the current crop of coverage of climate change news – “climate-gate”, the IPCC glacier mistake, etc – which has very strong echoes of MMR: they’re making it out as if there’s A Big Scientific Scandal, when there isn’t, and simultaneously missing the genuinely disputed scientific issues.

  4. Skepticat said,

    It’ll take more than this to shut the JABS loonies up. In their universe, Wakefield is a bigger martyr than ever.

  5. Cybertiger said,

    The goons have put in an early appearance so I know we’re in for a show of stunning brilliance.

  6. Neuroskeptic said,

    Yeah, there were some of them protesting outside the hearing apparently.

  7. Cyberpussy said,

    £1million of my money wasted on McScience? Goons all, Salisbury too, Koko and Lord high executioner chasing their magic lozenges, roll on nurenberg, I’m an blethering demented idiot hahahahah don’t forget Meadow Sir Sir..

    Sorry,
    Wrong sock.

  8. Cybertiger said,

    I see that the ‘dyspeptic-neurone’, the coruscating lead goon of the show, has put in another appearance of nanosynaptic brilliance.

  9. Wakefield: Officially shit « Cubik’s Rube said,

    […] Cat has links to where the mainstream media are covering the news about the GMC investigation. And jdc325 reminds us not to let the media themselves off the hook, for uncritically bellowing at the entire country […]

  10. Liz Ditz said,

    One of my blogging habits is to collate pro and con posts on a particular issue. One reason to do is that each blog has its own set of commenters and often the comments reveal aspects of the issue previously not considered elsewhere.

    Today’s issue is the UK’s General Medical Council’s ruling on Andrew Wakefield.

    I’ve included this post in the list.

    The list can be found at

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2010/01/andrew-wakefield-dishonesty-misleading-conduct-and-serious-professional-misconduct.html

    FWIW, the “Andy Wakefield WILL be vindicated” roster stands at 7; the “GMC findings are correct” roster stands at 37.

    Interesting how this will evolve over the next few days.

  11. Cybertiger said,

    What this stuff and nonsense clearly indicates is the utter meaninglessness of [offensive comment removed] in the club of the Three Gs (Goldacre Guardian Groupies).

  12. draust said,

    Just keep your head well buried in the sand, Shabby.

    Though I’m mildly impressed you can still type/shout your usual inanities whilst doing so.

  13. Cybertiger said,

    Only mildly? Go on, Dr Drippy, I think you can be a bit more assertive than that.

  14. Smart Bombs said,

    @Cybertiger: what the F are you wittering on about? Have you actually got anything comprehensible to say?

  15. jdc325 said,

    @Smart Bombs I don’t recall seeing anything coherent from Cybertiger and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

    @Liz Ditz Thanks for the link.

  16. Cybertiger said,

    An expert in bombing, a true bum-scientist, jdc352 bombs again, smartly as ever ….

  17. jdc325 said,

    It’s almost as if Cybertiger is some kind of comment bot.

  18. Cybertiger said,

    Dr Benjamin Goldacre, that well known cocky little cove, has been spouting inanely again … over at the Guardian ‘comment is free’ venue. (Do the Guardian understand the risible irony of the name for their commentary zone)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jan/28/mmr-vaccine-ben-goldacre

    If the GMC is a transparent disgrace, and it certainly is, what can that say about that crass little cove’s transparency? Methinks the bad-emperor of science is wearing no nickers.

    PS. Talking of things crass: we await sparkly comment afresh … from that dyspeptic-neuroleptic on crack … come in skepticalneurotic, your time is up …

  19. Benji said,

    Cyber tiger,

    Have you actually got anything to say? You know, anything of substance.

    Instead of trolling blogs why don’t you set up your own and you can post your mad rants on there. I guess you have time on your hands.

    Why exactly were you struck off?

  20. Skepticat said,

    @cybertiger

    Cove?

    cove
    2  /koʊv/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kohv] Show IPA
    –noun
    1. British Slang. a person; fellow.
    2. Australian Slang. a manager, esp. of a sheep station.

  21. Sharon said,

    I’ve started a Facebook group for those who do not support Wakefield, to counter the media assumption that parents with autistic children usually do support the lying, callous, disgraced cad.

  22. jdc325 said,

    @Sharon – thanks for the comment and link.

  23. Neuroskeptic said,

    “PS. Talking of things crass: we await sparkly comment afresh … from that dyspeptic-neuroleptic on crack … come in skepticalneurotic, your time is up …”

    I think he’s talking about me. I don’t speak fuckwit, but I ran it through Babelfish.

  24. Cybertiger said,

    Perjury is generally considered a jailable offence

    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/updated-uk-news-conference-media-advisory.pdf

    It looks like the GMC will be forced to investigate whether the ‘MMR Four’ lied under oath. Then will come prosecutions for perjury against each of the lying toads. I believe the courts should have available the full range of penalties as at Nuremberg for such miscreants as the ‘MMR Four’.*

    * I have it on good authority that Professor Sir Michael Rutter is also in the frame charged with being economical with the truth and other blatant lies – making the collection of lying toads up to the “MMR Five”.**

    ** They sound like a dissonant heavy metal band. Perhaps they’ll make loud croaking noises together in their cell at The Hague … while waiting for sentence to be carried out.

    PS. phut, splutter, splat, the skepticalneuroleptic never fails to disappoint.

  25. Neuroskeptic said,

    Ah, so the “MMR Five” are to face “allegations” “supported by documentary evidence”.

    This would be a serious threat, if it didn’t come from people who believe that there is evidence that MMR causes autism. In other words they have a history of confusing “evidence” with “nothing”.

    Given which, I predict that these allegations will be supported by a large number of blank pages. Or perhaps some deranged, sub-simian scribblings, if Cybertiger is available to contribute.

  26. Cybertiger said,

    Another multi-synaptic flash of moronics from neuroskeptischism.

    There isn’t any evidence that MMR causes autism any more than there is evidence of it not.

    Twit!

  27. Neuroskeptic said,

    My God. This is huge. Cybertiger wrote something that’s true!

    “There isn’t any evidence that MMR causes autism” – well done! You’re making progress!

    Unfortunately you have a way to go yet: “any more than there is evidence of it not. ”

    Here’s some, lots actually: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12860782 And that was 7 years ago!

  28. draust said,

    Orac’s Respectful Insolence blog has a thread going on The Martyrdom of Saint Andy where people are airing their takes on Cybertiddles’ hero. This comment in particular, and some of the follow-up ones, articulate a view of Wakefield that I have heard expressed widely in conversation, though rarely in print, by those in science and medicine who have have followed the case over the years.

    I will be interested to see how far the GMC go in investigating the counter-claim by the anti-vaccine collective. Like Neuroskeptic, I think the fact that it comes from a bunch of people who (i) approach all disputed facts thinking they already KNOW the truth, and (ii) much of whose modus operandi has been conspiracy theories and personal slurs, may mean that it is taken with rather a large pinch of salt.

  29. Cybertiger said,

    Ok, neurospastic: what is it that causes autism? You know it isn’t MMR or any sort of vaccine, mercury or aluminium containing immunological product, or otherwise. So what is the cause of autism?

  30. Neuroskeptic said,

    Genes causing neurodevelopmental changes. Here’s just one example; the genes they identified in this study will account for a small % of autism cases; other mutations, I suspect ones which will turn out to disrupt the same physiological processes, will account for most others.

    Environmental factors, probably play a role in some cases too e.g. taking anticonvulsants during pregnancy has been linked to autism. But basically it’s genes.

  31. Cybertiger said,

    Pompous bullsh*t of the first order from the dyspraxic neurospastic. Go on, be honest, you haven’t a clue about the causes of spectrum disorders. [Abuse Removed by Admin.]

  32. Neuroskeptic said,

    I think I know the cause of your behaviour though Cybertiger! A sad tale involving your brain, brain-eating bacteria, and no antibiotics.

  33. draust said,

    DIdn’t Neuro just give an answer containing actual examples, Shabby? Your responding with your typical patented 12 yr-old-a-like ranting and swearing suggests, as usual, that you have nothing sensible to say.

    A briefing from the National Autistic Society relating to genetics and autism can be found here. They seem to agree with Neuro rather than with Shabby. Funny, that.

  34. Cybertiger said,

    I think I know the cause of your behaviour though Cybertiger! A sad tale involving your brain, brain-eating bacteria, and no antibiotics.

    Ha, ha, those tiny sparklets on synaptic overtime for a change? Ho, ho …. and Droopy Draust is just as drippy and dreary as usual. Prats! Give me strength ….

  35. Neuroskeptic said,

    “Ha, ha, those tiny sparklets on synaptic overtime for a change?”

    Refuting your nonsense is hardly a challenge for my neurones, or indeed anyone’s. I’ve actually just got one junior brain cell devoted to the task, and even he’s bored, says he wants a job that will stretch his abilities… so I’m thinking of outsourcing the task to my cat’s arse. I think that would prove more than a match for you.

  36. Skepticat said,

    ROFLMAO! This thread is great crack…Don’t stop – I’m just going to grab a tub of popcorn and I’ll be right back for the next play from Cybertiger. :-)

  37. The Year In Nonsense. And Stuff. « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] perhaps ironically, read by very few people. There was more interest in the post I titled “Andrew Wakefield: Misleading and Irresponsible“, posted on the day that the GMC announced their findings – their findings being that […]

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