Author of MMR and autism link paper charged with misconduct — a tale of two opinions


By now it’s no secret that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a major impetus behind the original 1998 paper in ??The Lancet?? (now retracted) that showed a link between the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine and autism, has been charged with misconduct related to the research.

Everybody’s favorite skeptie writes about the topic here (and a more obnoxious take here), and Dr. Joseph Mercola’s equally obnoxious (but of opposite opinion) take is here.

This tells me that facts are nearly independent of opinion. But that’s beside the point. Here are a couple of questions I have:

  • What does this mean for the MMR(Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine and autism link? My answer to this is that the link exists independently of Dr. Wakefield’s conduct. Either it is there, or it isn’t. Truth be told, I’d be done with the hypothesis entirely except that some support for it has come out recently. I haven’t been able to evaluate the recent support yet.
  • If the link exists, does it vindicate Dr. Wakefield? If the charges brought against him are true, then I say that Dr. Wakefield’s conduct is still unprofessional in spite of the truth. The charges state that Dr. Wakefield stood to profit directly from the results, and that he improperly conducted the research. Tobacco science is tobacco science, whether the results are correct or not. If Dr. Wakefield wanted to further his case and retained credibility, he should have used proper research techniques, obtained proper consent from ethics boards, and obtained proper, objective funding for the work. (I’ll admit the possibility that the charges against Dr. Wakefield are not true, but time will bear that out.)

I had a similar complaint (albeit not one serious enough to call misconduct) against David and Dr. Mark Geier: their methods simply did not match their research hypothesis. While I’m open-minded enough about the hypotheses (MMR and thimerosal) to ask tough questions to my doctor on vaccination day and consider alternative vaccination schedules, when you are doing science, you should use the methods of science properly. Only then can you get the credibility of having used the scientific method to prove your point.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi, Random,

    You have a link to “Don’s Yoga Journal” in your link section. Please note the new url. The old “joytothefishes.net” is now defunct.

    All the best, Don.

  2. […] Activists asserting a connection between vaccines (or components of vaccines) and autism have had a hard time of late. First, it was Dr. Wakefield, proponent of the theory of the connection between the MMR vaccine and both autism and irritable bowels, was formally charged with professional misconduct. Now, Kathleen Siedel of Neurodiversity has dug up some disturbing information on Dr. Mark and David Geier. This has to do with the creation of an IRB that oversaw the protocol that resulted in the recent manuscript A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Methionine Cycle-Transsulfuration and Androgen Pathway Markers in Children with Autistic Disorders. This paper dovetails with their Lupron™ (i.e. chemical castration) strategy for treating children with autism. Repeat readers of this blog know that I am agnostic on the thimerosal-autism connection hypothesis. I even have my doubts about the safety of the MMR vaccine. The complexity of the mind is such that we simply don’t understand how these things work, and even running tests for mercury in the blood isn’t easy. And the vigor with which people on both sides of this contentious argue seems to leave little room for real understanding. […]

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