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At the top of the list of the worst doctors of 2011

I know I said I’d probably chill this weekend and not post anything new until after New Years, but another thing showed up in my in box that–shall we say?–inspired me to post another quickie. It’s Medscape’s list of the Physicians of the Year: Best and Worst. It starts with the worst, and guess who shows up first?

Andrew Wakefield, who is described thusly:

Wakefield’s MMR-Autism Vaccine Study an “Elaborate Fraud”

In January, the BMJ published a series of 3 articles and editorials charging that the study published in The Lancet in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield (pictured above) and colleagues linking the childhood measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to a “new syndrome” of regressive autism and bowel disease was not just bad science but “an elaborate fraud.” Wakefield was planning to market a diagnostic testing kit with expected yearly sales of 28 million pounds (US $43 million) as well as immunotherapeutics and a “safer single measles shot,” for which he held a patent. The third article in the BMJ series claimed that the medical establishment “closed ranks” to protect Wakefield.

Thank you, Brian Deer, from the bottom of my heart.

It’s instructive to see who some of the other worst doctors of 2011 are, according to Medscape. Here are some of them:

  • Medicare fraudsters, ten physicians who, along with around 80 accomplices, falsely billed Medicare for around $295 million.
  • Dr. Rolando Arafiles, an incompetent physician who abused his position as a physician in a tiny rural hospital in Texas to sell supplements and, when two nurses complained, got the sheriff (also his business partner) to find out who these nurses were, leading to their being wrongfully fired. The sheriff did go to jail. One thing the news media didn’t report is just how into serious quackery Arafiles was. Unfortunately, Arafiles unfortunately did not go to jail, though he richly deserved to, in my not-so-humble opinion.
  • Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who gave Michael Jackson his propofol.
  • Gerald J. Klein, MD and 13 other doctors charged with selling opiods.
  • Kermit Gosnell, MD, who was charged by a Pennsylvania grand jury with the murder of 7 newborn infants and a Bhutanese immigrant named Karnamaya Mongar, who died of cardiac arrest in 2009 following a Demerol overdose dispensed by unlicensed, untrained, and unsupervised clinic employees, among other things.
  • Mark Midell, MD, who implanted hundreds of unneeded stents when he worked at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland.

Yes, I do think that Dr. Wakefield is deserving of being in such “august” company.

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]

242 replies on “At the top of the list of the worst doctors of 2011”

You forgot one. The one who should be at the top of the list is Orac. I can’t find anyone who is as much of a crank and a quack than he is.

Cheers, Andrew! Here’s to your new title.

And cheers to our esteemed host, my fellow shills and sister minions and of course, my beloved lurkers. I wish you all a happy, healthy new year and that the economy in the country you live in doesn’t crumble into tiny bits ( aw, most of you live in the *safer* economies anyway so don’t fret). So hurray for us!

I don’t recall Dr. Geier doing enough in 2011 to make the list.

However, he and Dr. Mercola should get consideration for lifetime negative achievement awards.

I had heard about the nurses – but not the sheriff and not the doctor. I hope the nurses found new jobs with ethical practices.

As for Conrad Murray – some libertarian types were insisting he did nothing wrong. After all, people should take whatever drugs they want to! It doesn’t matter how you explain how dangerous drugs can be alone, or how the average lay person has only a vague idea as to correct dosage, or how the average lay person usually is completely ignorant of drug interactions – people should be free to do what they like. BTW – the libertarian view isn’t just for pain relief or recreational drugs, but that terminally ill patients be given full access to whatever drugs they think will help them.

Reminds me of what the Geiers did.

I don’t recall Dr. Geier doing enough in 2011 to make the list.

Ah, but in my previous post I mistakenly repeated a link instead of including this one:

http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2011/12/is-mark-geier-finished-as-an-expert-witness-in-the-vaccine-court/

While a “lifetime negative achievement” award may be appropriate, I think Geier remains a strong candidate for an AoA Gallileo Award, although Judy Mikovitz is making a strong come-from-behind effort with her XMRV misadventures.

Why would Wakefield be in the worst category?

Would it be because he actually listened to parents and cared about their children? (as opposed to the other blowhard doctors who ignored the parents)?

Is it because he wrote a paper and suggested that more research be done? (He never stated that the mmr caused autism)? Is that what makes his so horrible?

Is it because he suggested that injecting babies with *3* live viruses at once may be too much for some developing immune systems? (I suppose that is too hard to believe for some of you geniuses… lol!)

You guys can take Brian Deer any day… he’s a man-troll. He has been shown over and over again to be someone who has no respect for parents and their autistic children. Good luck with having that troll on your “side”.

Happy New Year!

Why would Wakefield be in the worst category?

Because he’s an incompetent fraud. SATSQ.

Yes Brian Deer, pharmaceutical companies and injured children everywhere say thank you. Stay proud.

Dr. Wakefield an incompetent fraud?

Sorry… I think that you must have him confused with Dr. For Profit Offit.

Honestly, this is an opinion (Wakefield on worst list). People are entitled to their opinion but it certainly doesn’t make it true or correct. To me, it’s just another propaganda piece. You can’t take this stuff too seriously. The fact that Orac thinks it is worthy of his getting in one more entry before the year ends, just shows me that he is wrapped up in the propaganda. Time to get some independent thinking skills, Orac!

@Huh?:
Huh?
Wakefield was hired by a solicitor to find problems with the MMR Vaccine. He took 12 children from the lawsuit and subjected them to needless and invasive tests. When the tests failed to show what he wanted to show, he faked his data. In addition, he tried to set up businesses to profit from the scare he generated Oh, and there’s a little technique called Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). That’s where you suggest that there may be a problem with X, but you don’t explicitly state that there is.

People are entitled to their opinion but it certainly doesn’t make it true or correct.

Did anyone else’s Irony Meter just explode?
@Jen:
Yeah, except for Merck. Deer’s expose of Vioxx put rather a crimp in their profits, IIRC.

Announcing the Troll, NotTelling as the recipient of the coveted 2011 Respectful Insolence P. W. Herman “I Know You Are But What Am I” Cup for Utterly Ineffectual Dissing. Accepting the award in absentia, the hapless troll responded thusly, “No, you are a troll . . . trollhead! Orac is too a quack and a big dumb poo-head . . . times infinity!”

Lord Draconis Zeneca, Subjugator General of Terra and chair . . . person of the RI Awards Committee ordered the indestructible, 30kg cup to be delivered to the recipient from low orbit, launching it out of the level 12, axial airlock. It should reach its targ . . . I mean recipient any minute now.

Thank you all for playing.

Brian Deer has regularly taken on pharmaceutical companies. Two easily found examples:

ht_p://briandeer.com/bactrim-septra.htm
ht_p://briandeer.com/sexual-disorder-3.htm

Implying that Brian Deer’s investigation and exposure of Wakefield has anything to do with gratifying drug companies, is lame even for antivax conspiracy theorists.

Wow, was the Wakefield retraction really just this year? How time flies… It’s seriously amazing to me that people are still defending him, given just how hard he screwed the pooch.

@6 – Agreed. I’d also put that guy from 2010 who marketed an industrial chelator as a ‘supplement’ up for a lifetime award – he may have been a one-hit wonder, but gosh darned if that one hit wasn’t a doozy.

I’d also put that guy from 2010 who marketed an industrial chelator as a ‘supplement’ up for a lifetime award – he may have been a one-hit wonder, but gosh darned if that one hit wasn’t a doozy.

Boyd Haley’s not a doctor, though. Not really a one-hit wonder, either–one has to earn one’s own whale page.

@missmayinga
I agree that the chelation fraud is worthy of this list but Boyd Haley was a professor of chemistry at the University of Kentucky, not a doctor as far as I know. Still, a worthy negative achiever.

@Duh? – Julian Frost has thoughtfully provided you with the condensed version of why Andrew Wakefield has been rightfully stripped of his license to practice medicine. He’s a disgrace to the profession.

A very Happy New Year to Orac and all the shills, minions and dupes in the RI hive mind, and here’s to hoping Dr Burzynksi makes the cut for next year’s worst doctor list!

@17, 18: Ah, good point. I’d forgotten the specifics of that debacle – they sort of got drowned out by the tidal wave of “He gave those kids WHAT?!”

Maybe there should be some kind of award for cross-discipline crankery – doctors expounding on global warming, chemists expounding on autism treatments, et cetera.

“Wakefield was hired by a solicitor to find problems with the MMR Vaccine. He took 12 children from the lawsuit and subjected them to needless and invasive tests. When the tests failed to show what he wanted to show, he faked his data. In addition, he tried to set up businesses to profit from the scare he generated Oh, and there’s a little technique called Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). That’s where you suggest that there may be a problem with X, but you don’t explicitly state that there is”.

I’m not some newbie who hasn’t followed this topic for years now, okay. I know your arguments about how awful Dr. Wakefield is and how he did such awful testing on poor little children (many tests which are standard procedures for children with GI problems). I know, so don’t think for a second that I haven’t heard all this nonsense before… I am simply telling you that there is another side of the story – Dr. Wakefield’s – and I find that one more believable. Now, that’s not to say that I am right…. but let’s face it… “Your” side isn’t necessarily right either. Got it?

Keep in mind, there was every reason for those in the UK to make Dr. Wakefield out to be a villain. Those medical personnel absolutely needed to make someone a scapegoat as those geniuses approved a vaccine for use in their country which had already been recalled in other countries. Remember that piece of the puzzle? Apparently, you forgot to mention that in your little summary of the Wakefield scandal.

Wakefield has at last reached the top of a list.
Probably not the list he intended, it reads like a who’s-who of medical bad-guys. The only one they missed was Geier of the “Lupron Protocol”, who deserves to be force-fed his own treatments.

Huh:

Is it because he suggested that injecting babies with *3* live viruses at once may be too much for some developing immune systems? (I suppose that is too hard to believe for some of you geniuses… lol!)

Oh, do tell us what research he used to come to that conclusion! Please list the title, journal and date of the studies that started in 1971 when the USA approved its MMR vaccine and ended in 1997 that support Wakefield’s claim. Because it was certainly not in his now retracted Lancet paper!

Duh

Those medical personnel absolutely needed to make someone a scapegoat as those geniuses approved a vaccine for use in their country which had already been recalled in other countries.

What do you mean “a” vaccine. There was more than one MMR vaccine in use between 1988 and 1992 in the UK. Be so kind as to tell which MMR vaccine that retracted series of case studies was specifically targeting. One of three approved in UK before 1992, or the one used afterwards. And why was there an American who would have a different MMR vaccine?

Jen:

Yes Brian Deer, pharmaceutical companies and injured children everywhere say thank you.

We keep asking you for evidence of these injured children, especially when compared to those who have been injured by the actual diseases. Are you finally able to give us the real evidence? Seriously, Jen, where is the evidence that the MMR used in the USA is more dangerous than measles, mumps and rubella?

[email protected]
You do realize that by bringing up the problems with the Urabe strain of the mumps component of the MMR when Wakefield was promoting problems with the measles component just makes Wakefield appear even more incompetent, don’t you?

For someone who supposedly has been following Wakefield for what, a decade or more, you really don’t seem to have a clue about what actually occured, do you?

Let’s see, based on Deer’s research and the GMC inquest – we have, at minimum, failure to state COI, contra-indicative medical tests, paying for test subjects, medical records that don’t match what Wakefield presented as his findings, among a whole host of other problems. Not to mention, there hasn’t been a single reputable study that has replicated his results – so I’m having a hard time believing that anyone that has looked at the evidence would find Wakefield as anything other than an opportunistic charlatan.

@Huh?

I know your arguments about how awful Dr. Wakefield is and how he did such awful testing on poor little children (many tests which are standard procedures for children with GI problems).

I wasn’t aware that spinal taps were “standard procedure” for GI problems. Please, enlighten me further.

Is it because he wrote a paper and suggested that more research be done? (He never stated that the mmr caused autism)? Is that what makes his so horrible?

You’re right, he didn’t state that in his paper. He just made a successful career out of stating it everywhere else. If he didn’t actually think that MMR caused autism, then you’d think he would have clarified that somewhere along the line, instead of letting himself become a mascot for the cause.

“Oh, do tell us what research he used to come to that conclusion! Please list the title, journal and date of the studies that started in 1971 when the USA approved its MMR vaccine and ended in 1997 that support Wakefield’s claim. Because it was certainly not in his now retracted Lancet paper!”

Oh, God help us. You mean that in order to even question the science behind injecting babies with 3 live viruses at once, you need to have the journal entries before about the dangers? Says a lot about how our medical professionals work around here. Approve the vaccines and then worry about the consequences later…. Yup, that’s about right.

As everyone should know, before Wakefield was even a blip on the radar, there were already major concerns about the Urabe strain mmr vaccine… The medical professionals in the UK knew they screwed up… and luckily they were able to push all that blame over to Wakefield to cover their own butts. This shouldn’t be news.

Thank you Duh for guaranteeing us lots more of RI to come in the next year, it’s people like you whose utter lack of logical thinking ensure us a full inbox for the blinking lights box.
Happy New Year everybody, be safe.

“You’re right, he didn’t state that in his paper. He just made a successful career out of stating it everywhere else. If he didn’t actually think that MMR caused autism, then you’d think he would have clarified that somewhere along the line, instead of letting himself become a mascot for the cause”.

The paper is the paper. It was retracted based of the conclusion that more research is needed… LOL! So funny…. How horrible.

If Wakefield’s opinion is that the mmr is an untested, possibly unsafe vaccine that may in fact cause autism, that he is allowed to give his opinion on that. That of course is separate from the paper. Geniuses.

Huh:

Oh, God help us. You mean that in order to even question the science behind injecting babies with 3 live viruses at once, you need to have the journal entries before about the dangers?

Well, since it had been in use for around twenty years before Wakefield even heard of an MMR vaccine, surely there was some data. If he had suspicions the first thing would be to do a literature search that goes all the back to the 1960s on the development, testing and use of one particular MMR vaccine.

Why is that too complicated an idea for you to grasp?

Indexed on PubMed are studies of the Japanese use of the DTaP vaccine that were used to change the vaccine criteria in the USA:
Pediatrics. 1996 Feb;97(2):236-42.
Comparison of diphtheria-tetanus-two component acellular pertussis vaccines in United States and Japanese infants at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.

J Infect Dis. 1993 Jul;168(1):21-4.
Acellular pertussis vaccines–a solution to the pertussis problem.:Available data relating to pertussis and pertussis immunization are frequently overlooked or misinterpreted. Mortality due to pertussis is underreported. Most whole cell pertussis vaccines are effective; there is no evidence that pertussis vaccines cause brain damage. Moreover, acellular pertussis vaccines have been used successfully in Japan since 1981.

So why can’t Wakefield and you guys come up with similar review studies?

Duh:

If Wakefield’s opinion is that the mmr is an untested, possibly unsafe vaccine that may in fact cause autism, that he is allowed to give his opinion on that. That of course is separate from the paper. Geniuses.

Why should we care about his opinion about the safety of a vaccine if he can’t back it up with real data? Why did he not find these studies:

Bull World Health Organ. 1970;42(2):283-9.
Experience with live rubella virus vaccine combined with live vaccines against measles and mumps.

JAMA. 1969 Mar 24;207(12):2259-62.
Combined live measles, mumps, and rubella virus vaccines.

Am J Dis Child. 1971 May;121(5):380-1.
Combined live measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Immunological response.

JAMA. 1971 Oct 4;218(1):57-61.
Trivalent combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Findings in clinical-laboratory studies.

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1973 Mar;12(3):170-2.
A field trial of combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Satisfactory immunization with 188 children in Chile.

> Posted by: Anj
> BTW – the libertarian view isn’t just for pain
> relief or recreational drugs, but that terminally
> ill patients be given full access to whatever
> drugs they think will help them.
> Reminds me of what the Geiers did.

Letting terminally-ill people have access to any drugs they want reminds you of the quacks who subjected autistic kids to lupron and chelation? You are a morally disturbed person. I hope you don’t end up in a position to care for either autistic children or old people.

The paper is the paper. It was retracted based of the conclusion that more research is needed… LOL!

Where’s that in the retraction, again?

Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record [4].

Crud, I even previewed my comment! I actually forgot blockquotes. One part should say:

J Infect Dis. 1993 Jul;168(1):21-4.
Acellular pertussis vaccines–a solution to the pertussis problem.:

Available data relating to pertussis and pertussis immunization are frequently overlooked or misinterpreted. Mortality due to pertussis is underreported. Most whole cell pertussis vaccines are effective; there is no evidence that pertussis vaccines cause brain damage. Moreover, acellular pertussis vaccines have been used successfully in Japan since 1981.

Back to you, Huh and Duh to tell us why Wakefield was just going on gut instinct when there was research on MMR vaccines dating to the 1969. The more logical explanation was that it was not his gut (well, he was a gastroenterologist), but cold hard cash from a lawyer.

It seems like Duh?/Huh? doesn’t understand that you can’t absolve a person of doing very wrong things by pointing out other things they did which weren’t wrong. It’s no good to say that “many” of the tests Wakefield performed on the Lancet children were standard for children with GI problems, and ignore the other ones which were non-standard. It’s no good to say that Wakefield merely “gave his opinion” that “more research was needed” and ignore the fact that the research he did, which he used to give false credibility to his “opinions” about the MMR vaccine, was fraudulent.

If Wakefield’s actions were truly defensible, Duh? would be able to express a defense of them – perhaps trying to explain why falsely claiming a child’s symptoms started after a vaccination instead of truthfully stating that they started before did not paint a distorted view of whether the vaccination could be held responsible for those symptoms?? – but instead, Duh? is merely changing the subject. It’s a boring tactic.

Antaaeus Feldspar:

It seems like Duh?/Huh? doesn’t understand that you can’t absolve a person of doing very wrong things by pointing out other things they did which weren’t wrong.

Though I would contend “calling for more studies” while ignoring the decades of previous research is also wrong.

“Why should we care about his opinion about the safety of a vaccine if he can’t back it up with real data?”

Good question. Why do you care so much about his opinion? You should all be ignoring Wakefield and his ridiculous opinion (as you believe).

We all know this isn’t about Wakefield. This is about the parents who saw their children injured. This is about vaccine court and the millions shelled out for vaccine injured children. It’s about all of that. Very little to do with Wakefield.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for Wakefield and the attention he brought to the issue… It’s just that he is only a tiny piece of the puzzle. It is telling that you guys want to make him the end all, be all though. By the way, if you had any sense (doubtful), your side wouldn’t continue bringing the topic up all the time. You just help the rest of us get the message out more and more. You are probably not smart enough to realize that though. So, I guess a big Thank You is thrown your way.

“By the way, if you had any sense (doubtful), your side wouldn’t continue bringing the topic up all the time.”

So Orac just does what exactly when ‘bringing the topic up all the time’ on the basis of reports elsewhere. Or are you arguing that all of us ‘shills and minions’ are feeding the garbage into blogs and websites and conferences just to give the blinking box something to do. Or what?

Huh? Duh? Meh!

Duh:

Good question. Why do you care so much about his opinion? You should all be ignoring Wakefield and his ridiculous opinion (as you believe).

Because you say:

I am thankful for Wakefield and the attention he brought to the issue…

And yet you don’t care that Wakefield ignored that at least one version of an MMR vaccine had been used safely outside of the UK for decades.

Oh, and about those “the millions shelled out for vaccine injured children”, how much was for the MMR vaccine? Hmmm, let us look at this page. Ah, looking for MMR we find that there were 321 cases compensated, and 414 that were dismissed. Also don’t forget this statement: “**HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.”

Now Huh/Duh, you can go around being a Wakefield fanboy, but we will always be here to tell you that he is a fraud.

And as far as “your side wouldn’t continue bringing the topic up all the time”, perhaps you should bring that up with the reason this blog posted was written: Medscape, which put him on the list of the Worst and Best Physicians of the Year.

Duh:

We all know this isn’t about Wakefield.

This blog post is about Wakefield. Try reading the second paragraph (the one with just one sentence in it).
If you’re trying to make “this” about something else, why are you defending Wakefield?

Good question. Why do you care so much about his opinion? You should all be ignoring Wakefield and his ridiculous opinion (as you believe).

We care about his opinion because other people care about his opinion.

We care about his opinion because when people heard that “MMR causes autism!”*, they stopped vaccinating their kids.

We care about his opinion because when people stopped vaccinating their kids, the rate of measles went back up, and children died.

*It doesn’t matter that he never said it in those exact words. When the media picked his study up, they translated it into that – and that’s what people saw in the headlines and on the news, “MMR Causes Autism!”, not “Results of small case study could possibly indicate tie between MMR or Autism (or could be completely insignificant); better research on the issue needed”. And the fact that he did not immediately go out and correct the media about their false interpretation makes him just as culpable as them in the whole affair.

I find it very weird that so many people come here telling people to think for themselves, and then demonstrate that they are simply parroting what someone else has told them, and haven’t the first idea what thinking for yourself involves. Pathetic.

Krebiozen:

I find it very weird that so many people come here telling people to think for themselves,

It does not even occur to them to actually do their own research. I am sure that Huh/Duh and Jen still have no idea that there were, and still are, more than one version of MMR vaccines, and that they have been researched for over forty years.

Hey, come on. Wakefield didn’t rape anyone. So, by that measure – and as per “huh?’s” logic – he’s a freakin’ saint!

Seriously, what’s with all the ellipses?

Wakefield didn’t rape anyone.

Some might argue that drugging a child in order to render them helpless and then forcing the surgical equivalent of a telescope up their rear end against their will, and/or stabbing them in the back and sucking fluid out of their spinal cord, all for no good clinical reason, is almost as bad. I wouldn’t like to comment.

[Wakefield] never stated that the mmr caused autism.

Wakefield pulled in about four hundred thousand pounds for his litigation-driven work while he energetically touted his hypothesis, which explicitly included, he wrote, that “[T]he widespread use of MMR immunization is a major determinant of the apparent (now substantiated) increase in rates of autism.” [Pediatrics 2001; 107; e84]

However, when given the opportunity to actually test his hypothesis in a large study to be fully funded by the teaching hospital where he had his day job, Wakefield declined. Now we know why:

“Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.” [BMJ 2011; 342:c7452]

Jen is true to form, school yard insults when faced with facts she can’t refute. OK Jen, start calling me names again.

Nice try, Brian, go back into your hole.

Jen, apparently some middle school child has access to your internet account–you might want to fix that.

However, if an adult using your account is still with us, he or she might want to revisit the other elements of the hypothesis that Wakefield explicitly stated in the reference that I cited. Although Wakefield has been unable to provide meaningful support for his thoroughly-refuted hypothesis (and, as I noted, chose to walk away when given the fully-funded opportunity to do so), perhaps you can do what Wakefield clearly could not do. Good luck with that.

@Duh? and Huh?:

I know, so don’t think for a second that I haven’t heard all this nonsense before… I am simply telling you that there is another side of the story – Dr. Wakefield’s – and I find that one more believable.

Then why not point out the holes in the accusations against Wakefield, demonstrate exactly how it’s nonsense, rather than make accusations of people scapegoating Wakefield in order to cover their asses?

Oh, God help us. You mean that in order to even question the science behind injecting babies with 3 live viruses at once, you need to have the journal entries before about the dangers? Says a lot about how our medical professionals work around here. Approve the vaccines and then worry about the consequences later…. Yup, that’s about right.

There’s been pre-clinical trials, clinical trials and post-market surveillance. It might be that these were faulty, and/or insufficient, but you should present some evidence that of that, rather than just assuming it to be so.

The paper is the paper. It was retracted based of the conclusion that more research is needed… LOL! So funny…. How horrible.

If papers in scientific journals were retracted because more research was needed, lots more papers would be retracted then currently are. In fact, hardly any papers would be published in the first place.

As everyone should know, before Wakefield was even a blip on the radar, there were already major concerns about the Urabe strain mmr vaccine… The medical professionals in the UK knew they screwed up…

Again, given the Wakefield was all about the measles component of the MMR vaccine, how would he make a good scapegoat about the mumps component of the vaccine?

Good question. Why do you care so much about his opinion?

Because after Wakefield’s paper and his statements to the press measles vaccination in Britain fell to the point where measles once more became endemic? Seems like a good reason to me.

(Splitting up a long comment to avoid the spam filter)

@Dangerous Bacon:

Brian Deer has regularly taken on pharmaceutical companies.

Implying that Brian Deer’s investigation and exposure of Wakefield has anything to do with gratifying drug companies, is lame even for antivax conspiracy theorists.

Ah, but that was just deep cover on Deer’s part, to give him some street cred when he eventually defended the one thing that Big Pharma really cares about: vaccines! See how diabolically clever they are, to plan so far ahead?!

@brian:

However, when given the opportunity to actually test his hypothesis in a large study to be fully funded by the teaching hospital where he had his day job, Wakefield declined.

That part particularly amuses me. Wakefield claimed he declined because he didn’t want his academic freedom stifled. I can only translate “my academic freedom would be stifled” as “they would watch me like a hawk the whole time to make sure I didn’t pull any tricks”.

@ Mathew Cline

If my university had offered me the opportunity and the time, staff, and salary and other financial support to attempt to confirm a controversial but potentially important preliminary finding that I believed was correct, I would certainly have jumped at the chance.

I can imagine only one reason why Wakefield declined such an offer, and I think it’s remarkable that Wakefield’s supporters believe that his decision to bail had anything to do with academic freedom.

Nice try, Brian, go back into your hole.

Ah, Jen, there are some questions waiting for you at another thread about your accusations of scientific fraud directed at anyone who isn’t Andrew Wakefield.

God only knows why it helps to claim that Wakefield never said that MMR causes autism. Of course, it is parroted from an angle he took up for a while when he was snivelling about how cruel life had been to him. But he then seems to have moved on from that to other preposterous assertions. Perhaps this isn’t surprising because, if he says he never said this, then the next question would be: “who the hell did then?”

In fact, he not only said that MMR causes autism, he patented the claim, incorporated it in court documents, allowing him to pocket about $750,000 in hourly incentives to keep on saying it, and railed in public against public health doctors, not only claiming that MMR caused autism but that those doctors knew this and were covering it up.

BTW, as a New Year greeting, I can tell you that, after 12 months of pitiable excuses from Wakefield and his acolytes, deceitful blogs from the former journalist with links to Sun Myung Moon, and frankly hilarious abuse about my BMJ series of last January, we have not identified any error in the three reports kindly referred to by Medscape this weekend, apart from a two-character spelling transposition in one online-only footnote. Considering we ran about 18,000 words, with about 10,000 words of footnotes, I think that’s pretty good going.

Meanwhile, I’ve given my Wakefield summary pages a bit of a facelift. Here’s the first one:

http://briandeer.com/mmr-lancet.htm

@Brian Deer:

In fact, he not only said that MMR causes autism, he patented the claim, incorporated it in court documents,

Well, obviously those are all forgeries by the Conspiracy. It just demonstrates how desperately the shapeshifting reptilian aliens want smear him.

*adjusts tinfoil hat*

“God only knows why it helps to claim that Wakefield never said that MMR causes autism.”

I said this in respect to the Lancet paper only. A paper being retracted where the only conclusion was more research is needed? Laughable. Again, Wakefield’s opinion, belief aside…

Let’s all remember here… Brian Deer has made this about Andrew Wakefield. It helps his story to make a villain out of Wakefield (and I suppose he enjoys being the hero… as seen in his articles which one can almost picture Mr. Deer in his tighty whiteys with a superhero cape coming to the rescue). To those of us who have been around awhile, we know that the controversy continues, not because of Wakefield, not because of Deer but because of the hundreds/thousands of children whose lives were changed after being vaccinated. Period.

@ Brian Deer:

And a happy new year to you!
Although journalists, scientists, and even psychologists, struggle to untangle the web of reality, they will always be opposed by folks who can dream up imbroglios to rival Stieg Larsson. I have a sneaking suspicion that your detractors will not be going away any time soon because they benefit *emotionally* from their beliefs and may even fashion careers based upon their claptrap. AJW is only 50-something and life expectancy is nearly 80 in the west.

While Brian Deer is hanging around her in Orac’s blog… perhaps we could put him to use. Throw on your tighty whiteys and answer a question if you would.

Do you have a retraction or some follow-up commentary on the question of Child 11’s situation? You used this Child and his father as a main point in the BMJ article “How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed”. Clearly, since you started with this Child, it would seem as if maybe he was your best case against Wakefield’s “misdeeds”. You quote the father as perhaps indicating that Wakefield was sneaky with the dates associated with his son’s situation… implying that there was misconduct there in terms of Wakefield faking the timing of the vaccine / autism symptoms.

Sadly, (for you), that idea was blown to pieces! As you know, Dan Olmsted was able to find the father of child 11 and interviewed him… As you also know, that father actually backed up Wakefield’s version of the timeline of events and did in fact, implicate the mmr vaccine with his son’s decline in health. Have you retracted your fabrication yet, Mr. Deer? Or, perhaps it was a simple mistake on your part. It is certainly one or the other. You pick. The father of Child 11 emailed you and explained to you that this “mistake” (cough, cough) was made. Have you addressed this yet, Mr. Deer? Inquiring minds want to know.

@Huh?:

A paper being retracted where the only conclusion was more research is needed? Laughable.

So if the conclusion of a paper is “more research is needed”, then it should be retraction-proof, regardless of anything else?

HUH?
Nice shifting of the goal posts…..you still need to show concrete evidence of all these vaccine injured children. As the mother of an autistic daughter (PDD-NOS) who I adore, if she were made this way due to vaccines, then thank you vaccines. But I can assure you that people outside my immediate family noticed odd things about her long before we did….parents are terrible at looking at their children objectively. So put up or shut up and further, who in their right mind would pick such a stupid on line name……

“So if the conclusion of a paper is “more research is needed”, then it should be retraction-proof, regardless of anything else?”

Not necessarily…. However, why don’t you go ahead and give me a list of some papers which have been “retracted” within the past 10 years (with such fanfare and tv, news commentary associated with this one), in which the conclusion was ‘more research is needed’. You see, it has never been about the paper. Or, about Wakefield…. It is about vaccine safety and whether or not vaccines are dangerous for some children…. The fact that YOU GUYS make it about Wakefield is the interesting part of the story. When you look like you may be in trouble, throw the blame elsewhere. Apparently, it works (for a while…). Truth prevails in the end though. Thank goodness.

“But I can assure you that people outside my immediate family noticed odd things about her long before we did….parents are terrible at looking at their children objectively.”

That’s wonderful. You do realize that thousands of parents have had a different experience from you in this regard… right? You do know that? Just because you had one experience doesn’t mean that everyone else must be wrong. I have never said that vaccines are / were the trigger for every case of autism. Would never say that…. I don’t understand why you couldn’t give others that same respect (assuming that you don’t).

@Agashem Yes, you see the persistent shifting of goal posts by huh?/duh? as well. That’s quite indicative of a sincere lack of integrity and dis-ingenuity on huh?/duh?’s part.

I also think there’s a little bit of insight to be gleaned from such a choice of an online name. Could it mean that no matter what anyone else says that does not agree with huh?/duh?’s position, is by default, wrong. It’s a prelude to whatever huh?/duh?’s response will be to any argument that is presented against huh?/duh?’s case, which is severely lacking..hence the shifting of goal posts, utterly fraught with shameless delusions, and a profoundly belligerent confidence of self-aggrandizing conclusions, etc.. Huh?/duh? is clearly out of their logical element.

“So if the conclusion of a paper is “more research is needed”, then it should be retraction-proof, regardless of anything else?”

Not necessarily….

I know this has been brought to your attention but you fail to acknowledge this…the paper wasn’t retracted due to the conclusion that “more research is needed”. It was retracted due to false claims and failure to divulge a huge conflict of interest. What part of this are you having trouble with?

“I know this has been brought to your attention but you fail to acknowledge this…the paper wasn’t retracted due to the conclusion that “more research is needed”. It was retracted due to false claims and failure to divulge a huge conflict of interest. What part of this are you having trouble with?”

Which false claims specifically? I had a post caught up in Orac’s filter (due to using a full name of someone, I assume) which I will ask again since it pertains here. If/when it gets approved… please do not accuse me of asking the same question over and over.

‘False claims’ are an interesting concept in this debate. For example, BD (the “journalist” who posts here) falsely claimed in an article in the BMJ that one of the subjects in the Lancet paper (child 11) had been misrepresented by AW. BD went on and on about child 11 and how AW must have knowingly changed some dates / misrepresented dates in his paper to imply a possibly link with the mmr. BD’s claims were completely blown away and proven to be false. The father of child 11 agreed with AW’s version of the timeline. Is this one of the “false claims” associated with why the paper may have been retracted? Ok, strike it off the list. Next! Get the point? As for the conflict of interest questions…. This has been addressed by AW over and over again. The retraction has nothing to do with a conflict of interest of any sort… that’s simply naive.

While we are on the topic, however, shall we get into the topic of conflicts of interests here… Perhaps all of Paul Profits articles should be “retracted”.

I now have 2 comments pending in Orac’s filter. Probably better to let it go until that is resolved, since I’m sure that I will be accused of ‘ignoring’ valid points or failing to ‘acknowledge’ certain points, etc.

Happy New Year!

However, why don’t you go ahead and give me a list of some papers which have been “retracted” within the past 10 years (with such fanfare and tv, news commentary associated with this one), in which the conclusion was ‘more research is needed’.

Why don’t you give us a list of some papers in which the conclusion was ‘more research is needed’ and the underlying data was shown to be grossly fraudulent? Comparing Wakefield’s paper to any paper where the patient data was recorded without massive misrepresentation is comparing apples to oranges.

One of the factors in Uh?’s argument is that the phrase “more research is needed” has at least two different interpretations. That is, one can take it as trivially true: more research is needed into whether MMR causes autism, just as more research is needed into whether squirrels are secretly scouts for an alien invasion force, just as more research is needed into whether the moon is made of green cheese, just as more research is needed into whether cat-fur moustaches bring good luck and wealth. If we had infinite resources to spend investigating all possibilities, no matter how improbable, then sure, “more research would be needed” into these fantasies! Would you want to be the one who overlooked what the squirrels were up to until it was too late?

However, in this, the real world where research resources are limited, to say “more research is needed” into a particular possibility is inherently to say “this research direction should be prioritized over others.” If you’re going to make such a claim, it had better be on the basis of solid data indicating that that research shows a good possibility of uncovering answers – and as we know, Wakefield’s data was not solid; it was in fact cooked.

If Uh? still thinks it’s okay for Wakefield to assert to the world that MMR should be viewed as a possible cause for autism based on faked data, we can only assume that Uh? would be equally comfortable with faking evidence to frame people for unsolved crimes, since the result will be “more investigation is needed” and who could disagree with that?

Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998
paper by Wakefield et al1 are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.2 In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were “consecutively referred” and that investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.

Which false claims specifically?

The Lancet retraction statement is posted, yet again. Where do you see anything regarding, “more research is needed”?

‘False claims’ are an interesting concept in this debate. For example, BD (the “journalist” who posts here) falsely claimed in an article in the BMJ that one of the subjects in the Lancet paper (child 11) had been misrepresented by AW. BD went on and on about child 11 and how AW must have knowingly changed some dates / misrepresented dates in his paper to imply a possibly link with the mmr. BD’s claims were completely blown away and proven to be false.

You do realise that your say-so is meaningless and you have proven nothing to the effect that Mr. Deer misrepresented anything. John Stone’s maniacal rantings don’t ‘prove’ a damn thing other than what an obsessed lunatic he is.

It’s really gratifying to have my point about confabulation being illustrated succinctly and rapidly.

So what’s in it for them? Supporting AJW gives parents affected by autism a way to deny stigma associated with a hereditarial condition as well as casting blame on sources outside themselves while *simultaneously* swiping at large corporations and powers-that-be. They can blow off the steam that accumulates during the very difficult daily task of being a care-giver to a disabled child or adult and seek affiliation with others so afflicted. A few may build a career by broadcasting their views (see AoA), selling books, and enjoying status as a person opposing elitism ( or whatever else it is that they call educated people these days). Supporters of the movement may bask in glow emmitted by their star rebel, enjoying his fame vicariously.

All of which provides powerful reinforcement for belief. They ain’t going away, kids.

If I’m understanding Huh/Duh, et al., Wakefield is a hero because he’s the one who shouted “Eureka!” So even if his methods weren’t exactly perfect and everything “needed more research,” he was still the guy to make it clear that the emperor had no clothes. The MMR was doing bad things and he got started exposing this. But because Wakefield was then discredited (via various conspiracies and mean investigative journalists), he no longer matters per se. “We all know this isn’t about Wakefield.” Once Wakefield opened the world’s eyes to this issue, others took up and furthered his cause, mostly moms who are heartbroken over their child’s autism diagnosis. So Wakefield is a hero because he’s kind of hot (I mean, let’s be realistic) and because he cracked the case. He is, for all intents and purposes, dead in this battle, but he lives on in spirit and remains a symbol of all that’s good in the world. Like Jesus.

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