Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds


A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.
An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.
“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

5 thoughts on “Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds”

  1. Desperate people will believe anything. When there are hundreds of thousands of desperate people….I’m glad my family never spent any energy on the WHY question surrounding autism and forged ahead on the practical matter of minimizing the developmental affects. However, I wholly understand the desperation that led to this cluster**** in the first place.

  2. Thanks, David, for sharing a bit of your family’s thinking on this. We similarly decided that WHY it happened was nowhere near as important as what we could do to help our son develop his social skills as much as possible, and be able to function around “neurotypicals”, without being a total outcast, or a kind of kid “charity case”. (“You have to understand, he’s ‘different’ that way. So be nice.”)
    That said, I still believe that higher levels of exposure to heavy metals and other toxins in our everyday environment does have something to do with who develops the syndrome. Still, it is likely genetic who has the predisposition(s). Maybe I’m too trusting, but I do not believe that the doctors, at least (if the same cannot be said of pharmaceutical execs), would not dose our infants with 3-6 neurotoxins at once at 3, 6, 9 months, and so on. They ARE their patients too, and they did swear to “do no harm”. This society has a stake in all of our children, and the more people recognize that, the better of our future will be, IMHO.

  3. I guess I’m one of those who don’t get believing anything just because one is “desperate”.
    At best, you will lose money, time and other resources in pursuit of fake remedies, waste the public’s, researchers’ time, resources and money pursuing fraudulent claims, all which would be best used to perform studies that narrow to the true causes. All of this is without the slightest chance that the “anything” belief will result in improving matters.
    The worst and the likeliest of scenario is that the autistic child will be directly harmed by the fraudulent remedies proposed, and harmed by the wasted 8 years (in this case) in which the illness continues.
    Regarding the belief that heavy metals and other toxins play a part? I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true, but it cannot rise to the level of a belief, since there is no evidence yet to suggest that is the case. Removing concentrations of these substances from the environment would be a good idea regardless and by doing so, we may be surprised at the health improvements that might arise, one of which might be autism. (Evolution of ours and other species arose in an environment where such toxins were absent or less prevalent, meaning we haven’t adapted to the toxin’s existence therefore it is more likely to cause harm).

  4. The latest on Dr. Wakefield is that in the aftermath of his fraudulent research, he attempted to profit off the families of autistic children. It seems he patented something that dealt with the gastro-intestinal abnormalities that many autistics suffer from, and then tried to create and take public a company related to his patent. I forget all the details but it certainly shows a clearer picture of unethical behavior. Hopefully this recent investigation in the UK as to Dr. Wakefield’s fraud will put the final nail in the coffin of this remarkably dangerous episode. Then again, there are the “true believers”!

  5. Along these lines and to give more context to the issues of pseudo-science, fraudulent medical claims, etc are two easily digestible books.
    Panic Virus, by Seth Mnookin
    Trick or Treatment, by Singh & Ernst
    These books illustrate the depth to which the US has fallen (and likely will continue to fall). It’s not only in the education and politics and economics fields in which unsubstantiated opinions hold sway but in science-based medicine with decades of successful and proven advances.

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