Andrew Wakefield to speak at Brandeis University

Calling all Boston area skeptics! Calling all Boston area skeptics! The Bat Signal is up!

Your fair city is being invaded by the man who, arguably more than anyone else, sparked the latest incarnation of the anti-vaccine movement, is about to metastasize to your fair city (well, to its suburb of Waltham) and speak at one of your universities, specifically Brandeis University. That’s right, Andrew Wakefield is invading your town, apparently invited by that one trick pony of a blogger for the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, namely Jake Crosby:

Struck off the UK’s medical register after writing a paper on the patient reports of 12 children with severe bowel disease and neurological disorders – 8 of whom developed autism shortly after their MMR vaccines – Dr. Andrew Wakefield now lives in the U.S. He is at the center of the vaccine/autism controversy, along with two of the most respected pediatric gastroenterologists in the UK.

Learn about the pressure on the Lancet to retract their paper. Discover the connections between the MMR vaccine makers, the Lancet, the panel that struck Dr. Wakefield off, and the British journalist that called him a fraud. Hear the side of the story the national media won’t tell you. Find out why Dr. Wakefield and others have been made examples of, and the chilling effect this has had on doctors and scientists who dare to do research that calls vaccine safety into question.

I wonder if the powers that be at Brandeis are happy to see such a fallacy-laden blurb to advertise a talk on the Brandeis campus by a man who has consistently been such a major threat to public health through his promotion of highly dubious “science” designed to cast false doubts on the safety of the MMR vaccine and blame it for causing autism when there is no good evidence that it does. Great way to boost the reputation of the university, to allow an event hosted by the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, which is furiously pimping Wakefield’s appearance, which will occur on Wednesday, April 13, from 7:30 PM to 9 PM at the Rapaporte Treasure Hall.

You know what I’d like to see?

I’d like to see a bunch of skeptics show up, politely listen to Andrew Wakefield’s talk, and then during the questions and answers session ask him the hard questions. You have to be ready, though. Andy is slimy and slick; he can ooze his way through questions by the unwary. If you’re going to do this, you need to know your stuff. For instance, you can be sure that Wakefield will try to claim that his dubious studies have been replicated.

They have not. All of the alleged “replications” are either not replications at all or were carried out by autism biomeddlers closely associated with Wakefield. If he brings up his “monkey studies,” you can always be ready, thanks to my analyses:

This is not a job for the faint-hearted. No doubt there will be a number of die-hard anti-vaccine activists and true believers, and certainly Jake Crosby will be there. That’s why I’d love to see a discussion here of what sorts of claims Wakefield is likely to make and links to resources to refute those claims.

And then spread the warning.