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Andrew Wakefield: Destined for even more disrepute

I must admit that I never saw it coming. At least, I never saw it coming this fast and this dramatically. After all, this is a saga that has been going on for twelve solid years now, and it’s an investigation that has been going on at least since 2004. I’m referring, of course, to that (possibly former) hero of the anti-vaccine movement, the man who is arguably the most responsible for suffering and death due to the resurgence of measles in the U.K. because of his role in frightening parents about the MMR vaccine.

I’m referring to the fall of Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield has shown an incredible ability to avoid the consequences of his actions, so much so that, as recently as the end of 2009, what has happened to him over the last month or so would have been almost unthinkable to me. First, the British General Medical Council (GMC) found him guilty of several counts of egregious research misconduct, referring to him as “irresponsible and dishonest.” Then, a mere five days later, the editors of The Lancet decided to retract Wakefield’s infamous 1998 Lancet paper. True, it’s something that the Lancet editors should have done back in 2004 when Brian Deer first publicized the evidence of research misconduct that existed against Wakefield, but better late than never. Then, about a week later it was noticed that Wakefield’s sole remaining claim to the appearance of scientific legitimacy–just the appearance, mind you–had been withdrawn from the scientific literature, disappearing from the website of NeuroToxicology, whose hapless, clueless, and naive editors and peer reviewers had somehow let an execrably bad study see print, at least online. Instantly, the anti-vaccine movement erupted into a frenzy of conspiracy-mongering, the most hilarious of which was Ginger Taylor‘s mapping out of the various parts of the conspiracy to “suppress” Andrew Wakefield’s “brave maverick science.”

Wakefield’s fall was completed when last week the board of directors, led by Johnson & Johnson heiress Jane Johnson, having had enough of Wakefield, apparently unceremoniously booted him from the staff of Thoughtful House. (Of course, the irony that Thoughtful House has as one of its biggest supporters and a member of its board of directors the heiress of a pharmaceutical company family tickles me to no end. Clearly, Andrew Wakefield is a minion of big pharma in addition to his having been a minion of trial lawyers.) Last Wednesday night a cryptic message appeared on the Thoughtful House Yahoo! discussion group announcing his departure. That was followed by the disappearance of his name from the staff list at Thoughtful House. It wasn’t until Friday that the mainstream media was reporting that Wakefield had resigned from Thoughtful House.

Naturally, the ever-intrepid Brian Deer has more:

The following day [after The Lancet retracted Wakefield’s 1998 paper], Dr Joan Marie Cranmer, editor of the specialist journal Neurotoxicology, told her New York publisher that she would withdraw a new Wakefield paper, already released online, which also claimed to incriminate vaccines.

It’s understood that Cranmer “took another look at the paper” in the light of a GMC finding of research dishonesty, but a spokesman for the publisher, Elsevier, declined to comment. “It would be inappropriate to go into a lot of detail,” he said.

The Neurotoxicology decision is believed to have been the last straw at Thoughtful House, a centre founded in 2005 by the rich parents of developmentally-challenged children. The clinic was set up to enable Wakefield to continue activities which in October 2001 saw him fired from a London research position, and which eventually led to the GMC charges.

This is what I and others had suspected all along, mainly that the editor of NeuroToxicology, seeing the full depth and breadth of Wakefield’s scientific misconduct and unethical human subjects research, decided that she had better cut her losses and withdraw the paper, which had been accepted a few months ago and had been available online. This was the paper to which I had referred as “monkey business in autism research” and Prometheus had referred as a “made for court study.” It was a bad study in every way. Not only poorly designed, it was unethical as hell, too, making me wonder where the heck the University of Pittsburgh’s IACUC was when this study was approved. Soon after, it was announced that Wakefield’s partner in woo Dr. Arthur Krigsman was also leaving Thoughtful House. Three woo-meisters started Thoughtful House; only one woo-meister was left standing after the purge.

The more interesting revelation of Brian Deer’s work, however, is that there were a bunch of big money donors who had been backing Wakefield and plotting a comeback by helping to hire Max Clifford, a world-renowned publicist:

Wakefield has made similar unsubstantiated allegations, and it’s understood that Stott was intended to be a conduit through which American anti-vaccine campaigners would channel money to fund a public relations initiative for Wakefield, masterminded by Max Clifford Associates.

Two names were given to us, by a reliable contact, as likely sources of money. These were J B Handley of Generation Rescue, a group fronted by actress Jenny McCarthy, and Mark Blaxill, of the group Safeminds, which has claimed that autism is nothing but mercury poisoning.

These names were put to Ms Clifford [Max Clifford’s daughter], who said that she didn’t recognise Handley’s, but she appeared to take the bait over Blaxill. “Right, Mark. Okay. Mark is…” But then she paused to ask: “Brian, what’s your background?”

This information appears consistent with messages that have appeared on David Kirby’s EOH discussion list by Lenny Schafer, who stated that “various advocates are coming together around this and rest assured that Andy Wakefield will be adequately supported by our community.” The message in question was posted on Friday, less than two days after the original cryptic message on the Yahoo! Thoughtful House discussion group announced to the faithful that Wakefield was gone.

One thing that had puzzled me after Wakefield’s resignation cum sacking is this. The anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism had grown very, very silent about Wakefield. Nearly four whole days passed between Wakefield’s removal with nary a peep. Indeed, I had been seriously tempted to tweak J.B. Handley by e-mailing him a couple of my posts about Wakefield’s departure and ask him why AoA hadn’t said anything yet. In fact, come to think of it, after JB’s infamous “show me the monkeys” post, there had been nary a peep about the withdrawal of Wakefield’s NeuroToxicology paper, either, although Mark Blaxill did somehow manage to get his nonesense published in USA TODAY. Silence about Wakefield’s resignation reigned.

Until yesterday.

First, Martin Walker quoted Brian Deer commenting on my blog, without even the courtesy of a back link, after which he launched into yet another one of his beyond Orac-ian length rants against the GMC. Far more interestingly, there was this post, ostensibly an interview with Andrew Wakefield by Dan “find me them autistic Amish” Olmsted that was far more like a press release than an interview entitled Wakefield Moving into New Leadership Role in Autism Community, Leaving Thoughtful House. They must really be desperate for some sort of positive spin to try to put on this move, if this is the best they can come up with:

Dr. Andrew Wakefield announced today his intention to move on to a new phase of leadership in the autism community as he also prepares a more aggressive defense of his scientific accomplishments in the wake of a ruling from the U.K.’s General Medical Council (GMC).

“Announced today”? The resignation/firing took place nearly four days and mainstream news outlets started noticing two days before Wakefield’s “announcement.” The best word that comes to mind to describe such an announcement is “anticlimactic” at best and nakedly self-serving at worst. Of course “nakedly self-serving” is one of best descriptions of everything that Andrew Wakefield does, and this is no exception, in particular:

“The most exciting part of it has been the opening up of an entirely new sort of opportunity that will allow me to continue my work on behalf of autism families.” Wakefield said he would provide more specifics on the nature of that opportunity soon. “In addition, I will now speak publicly to refute the findings that have been made against me. I know my necessary silence on these issues has troubled many parents in both the U.K. and the U.S. But I’m ready now to get back on the front foot and publicly contest the false accusations that have been made against me, my colleagues, and indirectly The Lancet children. It’s been long overdue.”

Autism pseudoscientists and quacks are nothing if not, as James Randi would put it, unsinkable rubber ducks, and Wakefield is an autism woo-meister par excellance. Wakefield is down, but I wouldn’t count him out–unfortunately. It wouldn’t surprise me if he slithers back in another role. Nor do I feel sorry for him. After all, his trial-lawyer funded, incompetent, and quite likely scientifically fraudulent 1998 Lancet paper was the study that launched the most recent (an possibly most virulent) iteration of the anti-vaccine movement, led to dramatically decreased MMR vaccination rates in the U.K., and launched a thousand quacks in the form of the “autism biomed” movement, which has in essence made autistic children the victims of unregulated and sometimes dangerous experimentation all in the name of trying to “cure” them of their autism. The price autistic children have paid for Wakefield’s pseudoscience is horrific enough, but the potential price that thousands of children, both autistic and neurotypical, are paying and will likely continue to pay in terms of suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases, will probably be even worse.

As much as I detest Andrew Wakefield, I will admit, however, that I am quite curious about the form that this “new opportunity” to which he alluded will take. In fact, we can all make a game of it, “Guess where Andy will end up?” My top three guesses would be:

  1. Medical director or chief scientist of Generation Rescue
  2. Medical director or chief scientist at SafeMinds
  3. Medical director at a quack clinic in Ecuador, Costa Rica, or Tijuana

I lay odds on #1 or #2. #3 would clearly only be after Wakefield disgraces himself again, to the point that even Generation Rescue or SafeMinds can’t take it. True, that would be very, very hard, given J.B. Handley’s antics and the flaming stupid that Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and Mark Blaxill regularly lay down, but I have faith in Andy, faith produced by his long history of incompetent, ideology-driven, and unethical science. I know he can do it again. In fact, I fear it, because, as amusing as it is to rip on Wakefield and the cluelessness of his remaining supporters, when Wakefield disgraces himself, it is children who suffer.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

112 replies on “Andrew Wakefield: Destined for even more disrepute”

I’m surprised how fast it happened, too. And I’m glad the media coverage Got It Right and didn’t try to be “fair and balanced” by interviewing anti-vax proponents. How long will it be until the average mom, who isn’t already an anti-vaxxer but has “heard about vaccines causing autism,” hears that this is officially dead? It makes me angry that my biology colleagues believe in this rot.

Every fad quackery has True Believers who won’t move on, but if they can’t recruit new believers, their effect will be diminished. I hope that vaccination rates recover soon, and that research can move on to something constructive. There is very little research to validate the many flavors of behavioral/occupational therapy for autistics, so even if parents want to do the right thing, it’s hard to know which things are right. There’s a fair amount of woo that doesn’t involve feeding kids industrial chelators, pharmaceutical castrators, etc.

However, there’s one thing we know is wrong: treating a child like damaged goods. If parents know autism isn’t “vaccine injury” and stop trying dangerous quackery to “get their darling child back,” this is a good start.

I think it will take him a little time to get used to his new role as a freelance charlatan.

Trying to hire Max Clifford is a sign of how desperate the Andy Cheerleaders are – most of his clients are reality-TV show contestants and other Z-list “slebs”. And he’s the go-to guy if you want to sell your wedding photos to Hello! for a couple of mill.
But even Clifford has some standards (he turned down Michael Jackson, for instance) and a lifetime in PR has given him a nose for potential PR disasters. If he’s turned down Wakefield, then St Andy really does smell.

Wakefield spake:

But I’m ready now to get back on the front foot and publicly contest the false accusations that have been made against me, my colleagues, and indirectly The Lancet children.

My emphasis. WTF? Nobody has ever accused the children in the Lancet study of anything. This is either delusional, or a way to desperately shoe-horn in of a cry of “Think of the children!”

Anybody who read Olmsted’s “exclusive interview” with Wakefield, which reveals that, well, what we already knew, might wonder if the questions were agreed in advance.

Definitely. In fact, Brian Deer also put in for an interview with the doctor, and I got a sneak preview of what he wanted to raise:

1. How many mothers of autistic children have you had sex with? I’m sure I don’t know about all of them.

2. Do you look forward to your new role as a freelance charlatan?

3. You were fired from Thoughtful House by Jane Johnson, director of Defeat Autism Now! Do you say that she is part of a sinister drug industry plot against you, or what?

4. Did you make them pay you more than $500,000 to get shot of you?

5. Were you escorted from the premises by security, or did they just change the locks?

6. Are you concerned about the immigration and naturalization service eyeballing your status?

7. Do you plan to return your fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists, or will you wait for them to ask for it back?

8. When parents say that you helped their children, what did you do and has it been reported to the police?

9. Is any of Liz Birt’s money left, or did you spend it all?

10. Do you have any plans to own property within the jurisdiction of the English court?

As I understand it, the interview wasn’t granted.

I mentioned a few days/weeks ago that NONE of this matters long term. I have said that for a while now. My comment here was days before this development with Thoughful House. I had no idea that this would come down the road so quickly… but of course, it isn’t at all surprising considering the smear campaign that was waged against Dr. Wakefield. So, let’s get back to what I previously discussed here.

Reality is … The controversy does not go away after the happenings with Dr. Wakefield (losing the case or his departure from Thoughful House). Do you think that suddenly parents of mmr victims are now going to say… “Oh, I get it… Dr, Wakefield lost the case, he was wrong, there really are no issues with the mmr”. LOL! Of course not. That’s insane. Do you think that in the UK parents are going to suddenly say… “I’m so happy that the GMC figured that one out. Phew”. Yeah, right… Do you think that your mmr compliance rates are going to skyrocket again? Please. Spare me. If the UK is anything like the US, people know that these decisions are political and really have absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth. Nothing. So, go ahead, rejoice. It’s all good. Continue your whinefest about how awful little old Wakefield is and how cute it is that he is doing this, that and the other thing now. Whatever. The fact of the matter is that this changes absolutely nothing (other than on a personal level for Dr. Wakefield). Truth marches on. Carry on. I am ‘telescoping’ my way out of this thread again….. (Big kuddos to Novella for coming up with that hilarious idea of telescoping… It’s given me many laughs…).

“I think you are using your own definition of “truth”‘

(Telscoping back in for the moment).

Right. Sorry, the Wackosphere doesn’t own the right to use and abuse that word – as much as you would love to be able to…

to paraphrase: “What? You expect us to change our minds when presented with overwhelming evidence? Hogwash! What do you think we are, scientists? Now let me trot out a sarcastic dig at a respected doctor that only reveals my ignorance of common neurological/psychological vocabulary (despite this being explained to me several times)! Hooray the truth!”

It’s marvelous how loudly some antivaxers are declaring that Wakefield doesn’t matter at all to them – even as they scurry around behind the scenes trying to rehabilitate him.

His disgrace, and antivaxers’ refusal to acknowledge the reasons for it are a major blow to their credibility that they can’t evade.

Wakefield has shown an incredible ability to avoid the consequences of his actions…

And now he seems to have lost it all. What a strange change of condition: doesn’t it merit study in its own right?

What if this troubling loss of immunity is contagious? (That would explain Clifford’s disinclination to join his efforts.)

If at all possible, Wakefield should be packed off to cohabit with the Bush & Cheney clans, just in case!

BwAHAHAHAHA!

Aw damn, I thought I left my bag of Troll-Chow™ at home.

“…doesn’t own the right to use and abuse that word…”
Aaugh, I’ve got a hernia now! We forgot to buy the rights to “Truthiness”! Steven Colbert would so disapprove! Whatever will we do?! Alas, the Wackothphere has all the same rights as the WooCube, since neither exists of its own accord. Although… now that Corporations have been granted some people-rights, maybe incoherent expressions of non-extant advocacy groups will as well. I’m sure we wouldn’t really care to know how you choose to define, test, verify, and refute Truth™. Where-oh-where could we possibly have gotten it wrong? Maybe we just weren’t observant enough. Must have been Lancet who was on-the-ball the whole time. Oh, and the Lancet Children, of course. Mustn’t forget them… and I bet there wasn’t even a twinge of shame just now, was there?
Pull that “telescope” out of your ass and clean the crap off it, Wacko.
The Woo is Dead. Long Live the Woo.

the editor of NeuroToxicology, seeing the full depth and breadth of Wakefield’s scientific misconduct and unethical human subjects research, decided that she had better cut her losses and withdraw the paper

I hope that’s not what happened. Just because he’s been shown to be a fraud once doesn’t mean that all his future papers should be yanked. I hope the editor, “seeing the full depth…,” contacted Wakefield and asked him the questions he should have been asked up front. And then withdrew the paper, after seeing inadequate answers (or no answers). Perhaps the questions and answers will someday be made public.

Too bad you ar complete idiot who wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the face.

“You sure it doesnt have anything to do with this? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3336455/Secret-report-reveals-18-child-deaths-following-vaccinations.html

Ben Goldacre was right. Not only has the British press been a major enabler of Wakefield, they’re still pursuing sensationalism at the expense of science and good medicine.
Sorry, but vaccinations are not “linked” to SIDS cases, or to heart attacks in infants. This sounds very much like the attempts of antivaxers to pull reports out of the VAERS database in this country and claim that temporal associations of vaccinations with all sorts of health problems are “proof” that the vaccines caused them.

Whatever sells papers is acceptable, apparently.

@15 I couldn’t care less… the way that he uses it in describing parental concerns re: autism… is simply hilarious. I love it! He should telescope himself back into reality.

@10

“to paraphrase: “What? You expect us to change our minds when presented with overwhelming evidence? Hogwash”!

There is no overwhelming evidence, moron.

Wacko,
So truth (you don’t like) = smear? Interesting.

And, yes, there really is no case against the mmr. If the parents had an ounce of intelligence or honor they’d see and acknowledge that. Oh well.

Shorter Wacko/Medicine Man…

“Evidence Schmevidence! We don’t need no steenking evidence, what we’re working with is a feeling and many strong beliefs! That’s all we need! Oh and also… Lies! Paralyzed Redskin Cheerleader, anyone?”

Har-har.

The evidence is that Wakefield put children at risk, very possibly for personal gain. The evidence is that MMR isn’t a factor in autism, but IS a factor in preventing mumps, measles and rubella. The evidence is that Dr. Novella didn’t invent “telescoping” – evidence found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16686113?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=9.

Whacko – are you so invested in this argument that you will put children at risk just so you don’t have to admit you’re wrong?

Whacko:

Do you think that suddenly parents of mmr victims are now going to say.

Evidence that there are “mmr victims,” please. Real evidence, not links to yellow journalism articles.

. . . Just because he’s been shown to be a fraud once doesn’t mean that all his future papers should be yanked. . . .

I believe that being published is the standard treatment for fraud in such cases. Getting it wrong with bad data or interpretation is accepted as part of the process; we can all fool ourselves. Deliberately falsifying data is outright lying and an attempt to fool colleagues.

@18

Of course, that article fails to mention, out of the 8 deaths, how many people were vaccinated in total.

8 out of 1000 is a lot more than 8 out of 8 million

One of my “spies” informs me that there hasn’t been any discussion about vaccines lately on Imus’ radio show(which is *supposed* to be about sports,but has been known to turn “woo”).I think that those who have “made a name for themselves”(albeit a notorious name)are re-grouping,i.e. looking for *something else* in vaccines to blame(*a la* Janine Roberts- remember, there has been opposition to vaccines since their inception on *some* grounds,however shakey)or *another* topic with which they can scare people.Since many of the “true believers” rant,rave, and rag on about the intrusion of the “unnatural” into the pristine sphere of their purified life, here are some tried-and-true fear-mongering issues (and potential ideas for product development),some which are already being worked up: fluoride ,chlorine,other contaminants in drinking water,GM foods,micro-waved food,radiation of any sort,contaminants in hair/skin products,any OTC/or Rx drug,plastics,cooked foods,contaminated meat,meat,unnatural milk products,milk products,hormones in meat/milk,teflon pans,cleaning products,low potency herbs,low mineral water,low vitamin foods,non-organic foods,low ORAC foods(need to ramp up that ORAC !!), air pollution(outdoor/indoor/in planes),low sunlight exposure,low hydration with low mineral water,inferior protein,improper protein combining,saturated fats,low “good” fats,electricity(indoor; outdoor power lines),foods cooked by chefs with unhappy thoughts,eating while drinking water,non-organic building products, non-organic clothing, leather shoes,ad infinitum.

Wacko, do us all a favour and “telescope” yourself out *completely*. Hubble distance would do nicely.

I just noticed that, as Prometheus points out, one of the authors of the monkey paper is David A. Atwood, who invented BDT, a heavy metal chelator used for cleaning up industrial waste slurry. This is the same stuff marketed by Prof. Boyd Haley as “Oxidative Stress Relief” (OSR). OSR is currently being enthusiastically fed to autistic children by their parents in the deluded belief that it will suck all the heavy metals out of their mercury/aluminum/whatever-damaged brains and cure their autism. I just thought it was worth highlighting this connection. It does make me wonder what is going on at the University of Kentucky.

While I understand Thoughtful House etc. wanting to distance themselves from AW, I don’t see how they can carry on their anti-vax crusade without him. Even if it was the worst science ever, his study was the only science they had. Now what will they do?

And if my child is so overdosed with metals, how come refrigerator magnets won’t stick to him? That was my science experiment, to determine if I have to chelate him or not. Magnets fell to floor=no chelation necessary.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield announced today his intention to move on to a new phase of leadership…

…a phase that doesn’t involve achieving any actual results or taking any responsibility. In other words, he’s following in Sarah Palin’s footsteps: quitting while pretending it’s not really quitting.

I cannot keep from laughing! Did anyone else get a load of the latest at AoA?

Wakefield Moving into New Leadership Role in Autism Community, Leaving Thoughtful House.

By Dan Olmsted

MESSAGE BEGINS

Shills and other assorted minions . . .

We apologize for the mistakes of a few overzealous and rather inattentive techs in the Terrestrial Countermeasures Division lab. The replicant unit 33.Ab “Orac’s Wackosphere” left the testbench set on 11.

Oh, and Pierce, Cindy wanted to know if the transmogrifier she included in your last crate of Benjamins (do the kids still call them that?) is working.

Keep up the pressure on the rebels my minions and the money and bacon shall flow like T’Ghrachk.

MESSAGE ENDS

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
0010101101001

@15, yes you couldn’t care less about the facts, just carry on ignoring them the way you ignore reality.
thanks chris

Andrew Wakefield has another autism group that appears to continue to value him, it is the National Autism Association. He is on their Scientific Advisory board: http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/advisory.php

And under their research section he is listed among consultants (Arthur Krigsman too)for Autism & GI Pilot Studies: http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/researchgistudy.php

I have been watching their site and there is no sign of them distancing themselves from Wakefield.

Does anyone know of a blog or site that has analysis by doctors, scientists and researchers with expertise (and access to full text of journal articles) that covers things like the latest vaccine science, autism science, news about reports of adverse reactions to various quack treatments or information about the safety of new potential treatments like Oxytocin, current data on the trends in vaccination rates, and current news about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (for instance, the ongoing NY/NJ Mumps outbreak and H1N1)?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy learning more about the cast of characters, personalities, latest events and drama in the vaccine debate, but lately I’ve been more in the mood to see more expert analysis about recent findings. This would be really helpful when debating vaccines/autism with friends and family on the other side of the debate.

I spent way too much time on PubMed this weekend, but with my limited layperson knowledge and access to only the abstracts typically, I was thinking it would be great if there was an interactive site with a comments section where doctors or scientists were reporting on and analyzing new studies. I know there is some of that on here, but it seems like relatively little now that I realize how much new information is available, especially coming out of UC Davis’ MIND Institute.

Here are just a few of the recent studies and reviews that looked really intriguing. (I think some of these may have been discussed here.)

Geographic distribution of autism in California: A retrospective birth cohort analysis.

Independent and dependent contributions of advanced maternal and paternal ages to autism risk.

A comprehensive volumetric analysis of the cerebellum in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Correlations Between Gene Expression and Mercury Levels in Blood of Boys With and Without Autism.

The immune system’s role in the biology of autism.

I have to admit, I was surprised by the last three of these and that’s why it would be helpful to have someone with more expertise explain them.

It would be nice if there was a blog or site with articles like this Maternal Autoantibodies May Increase Autism Risk but with a comment section where doctors and scientists were commenting and discussing the implications for further research.

If anyone knows of anything like this, I would really appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. Thanks!

Reality is … The controversy does not go away after the happenings with Dr. Wakefield (losing the case or his departure from Thoughful House). Do you think that suddenly parents of mmr victims are now going to say… “Oh, I get it… Dr, Wakefield lost the case, he was wrong, there really are no issues with the mmr”. LOL! Of course not. That’s insane. Do you think that in the UK parents are going to suddenly say… “I’m so happy that the GMC figured that one out. Phew”. Yeah, right… Do you think that your mmr compliance rates are going to skyrocket again? Please. Spare me. If the UK is anything like the US, people know that these decisions are political and really have absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth. Nothing.

Whacko, UK MMR rates are going back up. Of course the small coterie of true believers aren’t going to be convinced by the recent actions against Wakers. They don’t consider the evidence to begin with, which is that their children didn’t react to MMR, Wakers didn’t find gut pathology nor replicating virus, nor regression after the MMR. To confront this, even in the wake of the events that proved Wakers to be unethical, callous and fraudulent, is too much for them to bear. They are a write-off and I don’t think anyone involved with this issue thinks that they will be convinced. But an awful lot of those concerned, but haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid are and that has to stick in your craw now doesn’t it.

So, go ahead, rejoice. It’s all good. Continue your whinefest about how awful little old Wakefield is and how cute it is that he is doing this, that and the other thing now. Whatever. The fact of the matter is that this changes absolutely nothing (other than on a personal level for Dr. Wakefield). Truth marches on. Carry on. I am ‘telescoping’ my way out of this thread again….. (Big kuddos to Novella for coming up with that hilarious idea of telescoping… It’s given me many laughs…).

No one here is whining brain trust, more like Schadenfraude and some gloating. It seems to me that it is more like the merry band of fools that support him are left licking their wounds and trying to re-group. How delicious that their own precious Thoughtful House has ‘turned on them’. I’ll bet that really chaps their collective arses but no one will dare say so for fear of revealing a chink in their armour.

@Unconvinced: if you live near a university, try the medical school if they have one. Most of them have access to articles and can get articles if they don’t have the journals on the shelves. Another option, if you have a big hospital/medical center close to home, is use their library. Medical librarians are great people who love to help people find information (hi, mom!). There may be a nominal fee to get articles/make copies, but if they have the journal in-house you can read them there.

Science-Based Medicine will discuss medical articles sometimes, too, and Orac’s “Friend”, Dr Steve Novella, and others will discuss medical studies there.

I don’t know of any site where physicians have “grand rounds”, as it were and discuss patients, treatments, and research. Maybe some of the physicians who frequent here can help, if there is such a site.

Unfortunately, I can’t help feeling that this fortunate turn of events is due to the fact that the media were bored. And therein lies a lesson for us all.

Lisa @35,
Not to detract from the correct results you got from your magnet experiment, you will only have detected (or not detected) ferrous metals.

Screamed the anti-vax, toxin torturers: “Egads, your son could still be filled with aluminum, stainless steel, nickel, silver or other non-magnetic metal! Quick, administer large doses of the industrial chelator, hurry. You must poison your son using our untested poisons not those pharma based poisons.”

Ba-dump.

What really bothers me about the statements by Wakefield are his claims that there has been an “extraordinary outpouring of support” from “the autism community” and that he is working on behalf of “autism families.”

As a parent of a child who has autism, I wish he and others who support him would stop acting like they are working for me or my child, or, worse yet, like I support them.

There is no single “autism community” or group of “autism families.” People with autism and their families are just like all people and families: some fall for Wakefield/Handley et al’s nonsense, and some (I think most) don’t.

@ 43 MI Dawn,
Thanks. I used to go to the medical library at UCSD frequently (which conveniently had free grandma childcare en route) but then we moved and we’re closer to a university but it doesn’t have a med school (or grandma childcare in town, which was really convenient since I would usually stay until the wee hours when they closed.)

At first, I would pull from the shelves but then I realized I could research and print everything from their computers. There was a fee but it didn’t add up very fast…maybe $20 for several hours of research. I was always afraid to ask the librarians for help because I wasn’t a student and I thought that meant I wasn’t really supposed to be there.

When I was a patient at the local hospital one of the nurses told me she had talked to a mom who had used their library and told me I should try that. I’m not sure how extensive their collection is but I know I should give it a try.

Sorry this is so OT.

Do you think that in the UK parents are going to suddenly say… “I’m so happy that the GMC figured that one out. Phew”. Yeah, right… Do you think that your mmr compliance rates are going to skyrocket again? Please. Spare me. If the UK is anything like the US, people know that these decisions are political and really have absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth.

While I wish the British anti-vaxxers weren’t “quite like” your american variant, alas we’re not quite there. One day…

Am I the only one looking forward to April, where the final verdict from the GMC regarding Wakefield will be made?

I am predicting that he will get his doctor’s license removed, at the very least.

Also, hopefully some of the fraud complaints people have made about him to the police, will go somewhere. The GMC report clearly showed that he had tried to defraud money from the state.

The disturbing thing is that in the latest “Private Eye”, which also contains a mea culpa from their medical writer, effectively saying “Sorry we kept pushing this much longer than it deserved”, are letters from people who claim to be children of those he used in his studies. THeir opinion seems to be that since Wakefield was the only one taking an interest in their children’s bowel problems that he is a good man doing good work.

Talk about missing the point.

@14,
“Just because he’s been shown to be a fraud once doesn’t mean that all his future papers should be yanked.”
This is standard operating procedure in science, also journalism, which may be way the media is ignoring or denouncing Wakefield. Whatever else may be said, it gives a compelling incentive for honesty, and relaxing it could encourage misconduct. This was pretty much the argument I offered Cranmer for w/drawing the paper last fall.

Disgraced professional desperately tries to re-invent himself after series of indiscretions and atrocious behavior. Announces at press conference that he still needs people’s support and is going to do…. nothing for a while longer….

Yup, St Andy and Tiger Woods are soul mates.

This might get a double posting, sorry in advance.

So there is Johnson at Thoughtful House. I believe we have another Big Pharma conspiracy in play here. She wants more kids to get sick and have long term illnesses that can only be treated by Big Pharma. Why don’t the AoA and GR loonies jump on this one?

Isn’t it funny how the people who are operating genuine conspiracies and who really are trying to disguise their hidden agenda all claim to be angels and that there is a Global Conspiracy by Big Pharma backed by all those shills from medical school … It reminds me of all those fraudulent psychics who warn their potential victims: beware of fake psychics!

Good point Mad, I was in NY City this weekend and passed two store front psychics who had gone out of business in SoHo. My brother-in-law said, “They should have seen it coming.” I said, “Nah, those were just the fake psychics.”

Orac : I think probably Wakefield will wind up at Gen. Rescue, where he will take the title “Chief Medical Researcher.” This will last until he fakes another study.

A game: “guess where Andy will end up?” WOW, you guys all have way too much time on your hands! Most of you(some of you seem to be a little less biased than others) protest a little too much at the idea that there are too many children being harmed by vaccinations. You pretend that the science has asked and answered all the right questions when obviously it has not. I guarantee you Dr. Andy is not wasting all his time on blogs; he’s actually helping kids.

I guarantee you Dr. Andy is not wasting all his time on blogs; he’s actually helping kids.

…from the person who trolls the scienceblog boards making statements that have been refuted 2-3 dozen times on this site alone. Is a hypocrisectomy an elective procedure, or did you have that part of your brain removed as a child?

As long as he ends up in an existing firm, it’s a net positive for the pro vaccine side.

Boy, trolls are afoot today! Did Respectful Insolence get linked somewhere, or are the kooks just lashing out because they’re getting desperate? Dare I say, “death throes”?

“So there is Johnson at Thoughtful House. I believe we have another Big Pharma conspiracy in play here. She wants more kids to get sick and have long term illnesses that can only be treated by Big Pharma. Why don’t the AoA and GR loonies jump on this one?”

$urely, you je$t!

The woman is loaded, and she’s donating millions to fund their pseudoscience. Why would they want to offend their most generous financial backer? Nevermind that if Tylenol (J&J’s #1 selling OTC drug) is proven to be behind the spike in autism, as Becker and Schultz suggest, what they’re actually doing is helping her set autism research BACK a few years. Way to go, AoA and GR!

Actually, I asked that very same question of Mr. Blaxill a few months ago, in response to my deleted posts about this at AoA, and that’s pretty much what he told me…turning legitimate Tylenol concerns into a personal attack on the Johnsons is a definite no-no!

I guarantee you Dr. Andy is not wasting all his time on blogs; he’s actually helping kids.

Hot damn, I called it! I predicted that Wakefield would adopt the moniker of Dr. Andy and become available for children’s birthday parties; his specialties being magic tricks, balloon animals and venipuncture.

Nobody has ever accused the children in the Lancet study of anything.

They won’t get off my lawn! They play their darn rock music too loud! And they ripped the mask off my face before I could get away with it!!!

Holy hypocrisy, Mark Blaxill! Jen in TX tells us that he said that “turning legitimate Tylenol concerns into a personal attack on the Johnsons is a definite no-no!”

So, Mr. Blaxill. It’s not OK to personally attack the Johnsons but it’s perfectly fine to attack Gardiner Harris (The New York Times journalist). AoA recently published a story attacking Harris over the fact that “as recently as November 2004, Crane Harris worked for a pharmaceutical company” Crane Harris is Gardiner Harris’ brother. One of a long series of attacks based on relationships to “big pharma”. But oh, no, not OK to attack someone from “big pharma” that supports the antivaxers.

@Matt P

As a parent of a child who has autism, I wish he and others who support him would stop acting like they are working for me or my child, or, worse yet, like I support them.

Me too.

@Unconvinced:

I’m sorry that I genuinely don’t have time to really look in depth at all the papers you just linked to, as this is an extremely busy time for me just now. However, if you want, and this offer is open for the indefinite future as well, email me at luna_northcat “at” yahoo.co.uk — I can get many of the journal articles (not all, but we do have an institutional subscription to many) and I’m not above mailing a .pdf or three. And I might be able to contribute a few relevant pointers here and there, as long as you don’t mind waiting a bit for them and don’t expect them to be beautifully organised.

Sadly the systemic attack on these fine doctors in order to cover up vaccine damage and doctors perks from drug company profits, will only go to show how the drug companies control the GMC through a combination of the pockets of some doctors and the intimidation of the majority. This is sad as the majority of doctors will be suppressed still further into not speaking out to prevent citizens being damaged for drug company interests.
Children have a wide ranging level of effectiveness of their individual immune systems, which ebb and wane throughout their development. It is when a child’s immune system is at a low ebb, often without signs of an illness that vaccination can do the maximum harm and this can result in the immune system HPA axis dropping into a trough of dysfunction that due to the immune overload and secondary complications then holding the child in this trough, the child may not escape it and goes on to develop increasing system demand for steroid and resultant insufficiencies and secondary complications including learning difficulty. A large organ needing high anti inflammatory steroid response like the bowel is a major steroid demand overload factor if damaged.
The truth is, & it is well known, giving single vaccinations reduces the number of children forced into a trough of insufficiency greatly and only the most challenged children are pushed into the trough of mainly cortisol insufficiency or HPA modulation dysfunction, which if prolonged results in more permanent organ/gland/tissue damage.

The profession are very frightened of where Dr Wakefield’s research will eventually go and what it will reveal to the masses because learning difficulty is just the sharp end of a scale of under functioning caused by vaccination, drugs, diet and environmental factors combined, which if stopped would increase the populations neurological and physical functioning back to normal levels and make the population far more difficult to suppress and control.

We are indeed only as functional as our HPA axis permits us to be, by both its sufficiency of chemistry and stability of modulation, our brain is in fact a slave to the same at times of insufficiency as we can tell by its natural dysfunction when the body is overloaded by the challenge of physical illness, vaccination or sometimes drugs.

Although it is true that one person can function far better than another at the same level of chemistry through their intellect or by suppression of feelings during a period of whole body stress leaving only sufficient chemistry for logical, be it narcissistic temporary functioning while we recover, due to the dynamic range of functioning becoming so wide across society as we have evolved whilst subject to vaccination and drugs, then those at the bottom can be very affected by drugs or vaccination as the measure of risk is based on average functioning or above when drug companies carry out testing. This is evident by the type of test subjects sought for such testing.

I am afraid Dr Wakefield is completely correct and it is well known in the profession, but because this crosses over into sensitive areas like HPA axis failures, the dying process and secondary presentations of chronic physical and mental illness due to adrenal insufficiency/fatigue & HPA axis general dysfunction, then the drug companies prefer to vaccinate & then treat the secondary conditions that are often introduced even later in life due to the early roll of the HPA axis, caused by both vaccination and drugs, both lucrative products.

Doctors and Trusts also have a major problem in this area as it is the “master of disguise” in presenting as secondary illnesses that if correctly identified trace back through primary illnesses to the vaccination process and other drug suppression of the HPA axis. Cases identified would cost through med/neg actions & set case law for others.

Dr Wakefield you are indeed a brave man under obvious systemic attack & cover up, the scale of the 1692 Salem chorus of finger pointers gives the game away.

First off, I’m going to go with #2. If Handley’s smart, he’ll realize that Wakefield’s toxic and his organization’s modest public credibility would be crushed if he associated himself with them. And #3 is unlikely.

So Wakefield to SafeMinds makes sense. (Even though SafeMinds was supposedly all about the mercury, and Wakers is all about the MMR. Weirdie.)

It’s like hot stove league for autism quacks.

But here’s the bottom line for those who attempt to defend Wakefield’s actions. Even if Andrew Wakefield is ultimately correct, and that the MMR plays a role in autism (highly unlikely) – his science is awful and his actions unjustifiable.

Every time you call Wakefield a martyr or a brave maverick doctor, you are essentially saying that the ends justify the means, and that anything is fair game in the interest of “science”.

HPA…you know, if you say those letter in a certain way, it sounds like “Happeh”, whom Dale is sounding a little bit like right now. Complete with fact-free assertions about coverups and unassailable research that doesn’t exist.

Yeah, love.

1) The MMR vaccine was withdrawn in Canada after concerns over safety (matter of public record). The Urabe strain of the vaccine was known to cause meningitis.
2)It was also withdrawn from Japan and never reintroduced.
3) SKB were reluctant to obtain a license for Pluserix in the UK as they were extremely worried about liability. They only had the Urabe strain of the virus at the time.
4) Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials were circumvented and Pluserix licensing was fast-tracked.
5) Introduction of Pluserix was prompted as a competitor to encourage Merck Sharp and Dohme to lower the price of their rival product.
6) A whistleblower in the JCVI tried to press for funds to set up serveillance of side effects after the introduction of MMR in Scotland. These requests were denied.
7) The MMR Urabe strain was first *withdrawn* in the UK in 1992. Clear problems with meningitis emerged. Pluserix was withdrawn following a Nottingham study. It was this that prompted Salisbury to make an emergency trip to MSD offices in the US to ask for the worldwide MMR to cover the gap. A confidential JCVI reported commented on the wisdom of the UK’s withdrawal of the URAbe strain vaccine.

How come you guys have so much to say about MMR safety, yet you don’t appear to know this basic history of it?

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