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Retracting 11 years of bogus science

What has proved to be an ongoing controversy today had a major portion of what little legitimacy it had taken out from under it. The Lancet, a British medical journal, today “fully” retracted a February 1998 article linking the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination to autism.

According to The Lancet‘s editor, it was “utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false.” The retraction comes on the heels of the conclusion of a lengthy investigation by Britain’s General Medical Council. The organization’s ethics panel concluded last week that the conduct of primary author, Andrew Wakefield, in the research that formed the basis of the article was ““irresponsible and dishonest.”

The problem is that this action comes after 11 years of ever-increasing “vaccines cause autism” hysteria, one occasioned in part because some people pay more attention to Playboy playmates than scientific facts. As is so often the case, the retraction will not catch up with the damage caused, which in this case includes a dramatic resurgence of measles cases. And, sadly, despite the lack of scientific support, we can all rest assured that the anti-vaccination fanatics will not disappear.


We fully retract this paper from the published record.

The Lancet, Feb. 2, 2010

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1 comment to Retracting 11 years of bogus science

  • Here is what I object to about Wakefield (and Thoughtful House, Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, and even Autism Speaks). Their focus on “a cure for autism” sucks up the time and money that should be going to

    * Increasing support for families who have one or more members with autism
    * Increasing educational opportunities for people with autism — safe, welcoming, and effective educational opportunities
    * Increasing opportunities for dignified, meaningful employment for people with autism
    * Increasing safe and dignified living arrangements for those with autism who cannot manage independent living.

    I sometimes write a post that collates blog responses, both positive and negative, to a given issue.

    I’m keeping one now on responses to the Lancet retraction of the Wakefield’s paper.

    I’ve added your blog to the list.

    The post is at

    http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2010/02/on-the-lancets-retraction-of-wakefields-1998-paper-alleging-a-connection-between-the-mmr-vaccine-and.html

    It’s interesting seeing the range of responses, even in the “supporting the Lancet decision” category.