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Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:35 am UTC
by SWGlassPit
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 683671.ece
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.


Even if he didn't falsify his data, the study that prompted all the anti-vaccine wharrgarbl only had a sample size of 12. Epic statistics fail. This guy needs to burn.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:25 am UTC
by Xeio
SWGlassPit wrote:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.
Even if he didn't falsify his data, the study that prompted all the anti-vaccine wharrgarbl only had a sample size of 12. Epic statistics fail. This guy needs to burn.
For some reason I thought you were talking about the time travelling doctor for a moment there. This type of thing is exactly why we have peer reviewing though, burn indeed.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:41 am UTC
by Amarantha
Thank you for posting this.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:52 am UTC
by william
Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.

Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.


This is why you should vaccinate your kids.

The anti-vaccine people sicken me. They use bad data and then prey upon scared parents who have more on their plate than parents normally do(and parents normally have a lot on their plate) in order to do what, exactly?

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:31 pm UTC
by Darkscull
In the UK we had pretty much wiped out mumps and/or measles (I can't remember whether it was both, or just one. Don't know about rubella), and the only cases were among people immigrating who hadn't had the vaccines when they were younger.

Now in places with high immigration the british-born children whose parents refused the vaccine are getting infected as well.

The reason so many people believe the bollocks and refuse the vaccination is that most of the kids never get mumps or measles anyway. That's like people who live in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere taking the locks off their doors because burglars are a myth, and persuading citydwellers to do the same with their reports of having all their stuff still.

The reason the anti-vaccine brigade do what they do (well, the leaders of it), is because they get publicity and sell books, and do speaking deals. Essentially, a lot of money flows just out of being in the public eye and making noise, and I think it's that simple: they're greedy fuckers.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:49 pm UTC
by psyck0
Oh SHIT YES. FINALLY. Posting this on Facebook.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:27 pm UTC
by The Reaper
I loathe anti-vaccine people :\ I still await the HPV vaccine to be approved for use on males, so we can try to wipe out a few strains of that. Hurry up, FDA. :\

Can we make vaccines mandatory? They help almost everyone

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:26 pm UTC
by JoshuaZ
Xeio wrote: This type of thing is exactly why we have peer reviewing though, burn indeed.


Well not really. Part of the reason that this took so long to get detected is that the peer review system really assumes to some extent that people are acting in good faith with their research. They might be incompetent. They might have bad sampling. But we generally assume that people haven't falsified data. So peer review didn't initially catch that and then it took years for people to do other larger studies that found that they could not duplicate the results. Even that didn't cause much of a worry because failure to duplicate results occurs all the time. So by the time we got to now in 2009 and know that this guy lied there's already a massive scare in the UK and elsewhere.

People have died because of this man's unethical actions. I almost wish there was some law he had broken so we could throw him into jail for a very long time.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:36 pm UTC
by bigglesworth
Was this not known a few months ago? I seem to remember reading about it a while back.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:18 pm UTC
by Kizyr
JoshuaZ wrote:People have died because of this man's unethical actions. I almost wish there was some law he had broken so we could throw him into jail for a very long time.

This is the part that pisses me off the most. The study has killed children, and made hundreds more sick, thanks to his lies. And for what? So he could get publicity and make some money off of it?

When you distill it down, Wakefield was sacrificing the well-being of children in exchange for his own publicity. If the study wasn't based on falsified data, then you could make the argument that he was just acting in the common interest, that he believed he was doing what was in the best interest of children's health. But if this is true, he has no recourse.

bigglesworth wrote:Was this not known a few months ago? I seem to remember reading about it a while back.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the part of the issue that's new is that Wakefield has apparently intentionally falsified data. I think the study has already been discredited pretty soundly, but the issue of falsified data--as opposed to just a poorly-designed and inaccurate study--is relatively new. KF

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:24 pm UTC
by bigglesworth
Ah. I see. Thanks.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:43 pm UTC
by MikeBabaguh
Someone email this to Jenny McCarthy.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:32 am UTC
by ameretrifle
Xeio wrote:For some reason I thought you were talking about the time travelling doctor for a moment there.
Same here. Though I suppose on these fora it's not a wholly unreasonable assumption.

MikeBabaguh wrote:Someone email this to Jenny McCarthy.
Seconded.

Seriously, this is despicable. I hope that jackass faces some sort of consequence for this. I doubt criminal charges are feasible, and civil action would be iffy too, but I hope at least the press or something will get the word out so this man is shunned for the rest of his life.

Now to see if any of the anti-vaccine people actually change their minds... lack of evidence has never stood as much of an impediment to them before.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:35 am UTC
by bigglesworth
IIRC he was a Brit and lost his funding here a while back but now works in America.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:29 am UTC
by JoshuaZ
ameretrifle wrote:Now to see if any of the anti-vaccine people actually change their minds... lack of evidence has never stood as much of an impediment to them before.


So far looks like they are claiming that he's being unjustly persecuted. See for example this
open letter at the anti-vaccine website Age of Autism.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:10 am UTC
by ameretrifle
Bleeding hell, I knew it.

Autism is terrible. That is why we need to use SCIENCE to find out what ACTUALLY causes it instead of wasting time on conicidental bullshit that pretty much every study ever has discredited! Why does this make no sense to these people?! Why are they more interested in this one damn theory than the truth? Are they irrationally afraid that any other theory will blame them, instead of allowing them to demonize The Big Evil Pharmacy Empire? No one is going to blame them! Their kids are autistic, for christ's sake! It is not their fault! Causing hundreds of children to sicken and die because they aren't vaccinated IS!

They seem to have such impressive blinders on: from the comments to that story, the most nonsensical review of His Dark Materials I've ever read. Way to miss the point, genius. And looks like some of them are against fluoride, too. Jeez, I got vaccinated and I drank fluoridated water for years; it's a miracle I'm not dead. :roll:

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:18 am UTC
by Amarantha
I think the issue is one of emotion overpowering reason. Parents have a hormonal need to interact physically with their children, and to hear that the children return their love. When they have a non-verbal child who hates to be touched, it's very difficult for them to deal with.

Some are able to suck it up, learn to see the autistic child's point of view, and put its needs ahead of their own. Others don't have that strength of character (or perhaps are just selfish twits), and those are the ones that go on a mission to find something to blame (eg vaccines) or some kind of cure (hence behavioural intervention, chelation treatment and other such ordeals).

We'll never convince those people, because all they care about is that they "lost" their child to autism and they want it back so it can hug them.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:39 pm UTC
by Darkscull
If people can't blame vaccinations or something else like that for autism, then the main other candidate is genetics.

Some people care too much about their genetics and think that if their offspring are "inferior" then that reflects badly on them, and so want to blame something else if they can.

Essentially a large majority of the parents that rant this bollocks about vaccines causing autism care more about themselves than their kid deep down.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:48 pm UTC
by JoshuaZ
Darkscull wrote:If people can't blame vaccinations or something else like that for autism, then the main other candidate is genetics.

Some people care too much about their genetics and think that if their offspring are "inferior" then that reflects badly on them, and so want to blame something else if they can.

Essentially a large majority of the parents that rant this bollocks about vaccines causing autism care more about themselves than their kid deep down.


This is unfair to the parents and also biologically inaccurate. There seem to be heavy genetic elements to autism but there may also be environmental or stochastic elements.

Moreover, many of these parents likely do not have any ulterior motive. They a) want an explanation b) they are subjects of the cognitive problems discussed in XKCD 258 c) they see a correlation between then their kid got vacinnated and about when they diagnosed with autism (these occur at about the same time since the usual time for getting vaccinated is about the same time when autism becomes apparent) d) they've been influenced by a media which is reporting inaccurately.

Also, note that most of the anti-vaxers don't have kids who are autistic. They've choosen to not vaccinate. Thus, concerns about genetics aren't an explanation. This is especially true in Great Britain where the fraction of people who aren't vaccinating their kids is now high enough that herd immunity no longer applies for measles.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:48 pm UTC
by Darkscull
JoshuaZ wrote:
Darkscull wrote:If people can't blame vaccinations or something else like that for autism, then the main other candidate is genetics.

Some people care too much about their genetics and think that if their offspring are "inferior" then that reflects badly on them, and so want to blame something else if they can.

Essentially a large majority of the parents that rant this bollocks about vaccines causing autism care more about themselves than their kid deep down.


This is unfair to the parents and also biologically inaccurate. There seem to be heavy genetic elements to autism but there may also be environmental or stochastic elements.

Moreover, many of these parents likely do not have any ulterior motive. They a) want an explanation b) they are subjects of the cognitive problems discussed in XKCD 258 c) they see a correlation between then their kid got vacinnated and about when they diagnosed with autism (these occur at about the same time since the usual time for getting vaccinated is about the same time when autism becomes apparent) d) they've been influenced by a media which is reporting inaccurately.

Also, note that most of the anti-vaxers don't have kids who are autistic. They've choosen to not vaccinate. Thus, concerns about genetics aren't an explanation. This is especially true in Great Britain where the fraction of people who aren't vaccinating their kids is now high enough that herd immunity no longer applies for measles.


Actually, you're right.

Well, I knew that genetics wasn't everything anyway, but it's a very big part, and I was referring more to the parents with autistic children who blame the vaccines rather than anti-vaxers in general, but the middle paragraph of your post is spot on.

I don't doubt that there are still some people who fit what I described, but they are most likely a minority.

Re: Doctor who proposed MMR-Autism link falsified data

Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:16 pm UTC
by william
In the case of Jenny McCarthy the kid was actually given vaccines without thiomersal so it couldn't've caused his autism.