Thursday, May 19, 2016

Andy Wakefield, still one of the most reviled doctors of his generation

You might find this hard to believe, but I do occasionally blog about things other than the DI and little kennie ham. I know it certainly does look like I spend most of my time in those areas, but I do read and post about other topics. While my excuse is that the DI and kennie are the source of so much foolishness and I do so enjoy dealing with their particular brand of idiocy. I do also derive a great deal of humor when reading the things they post. However, while they are pretty easy target, I have posted on other topics, and an area I have commented on a number of times, and one where I find no humor at all, is the prevalent anti-vaccination movement in this and other countries.

The majority of the modern anti-vaxx movement can be traced back to the unethical and criminal conduct of one Andrew Wakefield.  If you aren't familiar with Andy, he used to be a doctor until he did a pile of things that lost him that prestigious title -- all of these things revolved around his fraudulent claims that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.  While it did make him a hero to other anti-vaxxers, like Jenny McCarthy, it also made him responsible for the resurgence of diseases that we had pretty much eradicated through the vaccination programs.  Which, in my opinion, makes his responsible for each and every one of the children who has had to suffer from those diseases and particularly responsible for every child that has died of those diseases.

So Andy is no longer a doctor, has moved the United States, and has a new job as a crusader against vaccines.  He's also made a movie about the subject which has been savagely reviewed as  . . .  for lack of a better word . . . crap.  But Andy, being Andy, refused to just go away.  He's been trying to salvage his reputation and recently made a video post of the website of his movie: (

For some reason they still call him a Dr. on his movie site, which I am not sure is appropriate because in January 2010 the United Kingdom General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that Wakefield had failed in his duties as a responsible consultant, acted against the interests of his patients [which were children], and was dishonest and irresponsible in his research.  In May 2010 he was struck off the United Kingdom medical register.  It was the harshest sanction that the GMC is allowed to impose, and it effectively ended his career as a doctor.  (Wikipedia: Andrew Wakefield)

As far as I know, he's not licensed to practice medicine of any kind here in the US.  So I guess calling him 'Dr' is the same as when someone calls Kent Holvind 'Dr Dino', or my personal favorite carbonated beverage 'Dr. Pepper', right?

But in any event, Andy posted a video responding to the criticisms of the claims he made in his movie and I caught a link to the Skeptical Raptor that takes each and every one of his self-defensive comments and rips them apart.  The post is detailed and very, very thorough.  Hope you enjoy it: "Andrew Wakefield – dishonest attempt at self-justification".  To quote the article:
Wakefield’s claims in the Allegations video can be put into three categories:
  1. there were no serious ethical violations or fraud in relation to the article he published in the Lancet;
  2. he’d done nothing wrong otherwise, measles outbreaks are not his fault, the GMC decision was generally wrong, and Walker-Smith’s acquittal shows that; and
  3. Brian Deer’s articles are a fraud motivated by a conspiracy.
None of these claims hold water.
I think I need to add the Skeptical Raptor to my reading list.  I do encourage you to enjoy the article and in particular the very specific dismantling of each and every claim made by Andy.  You know, Andy ought to sue . . . oh wait, didn't he try that in England and lost.  

A New York Times profile said:
"Andrew Wakefield has become one of the most reviled doctors of his generation, blamed directly and indirectly, depending on the accuser, for irresponsibly starting a panic with tragic repercussions: vaccination rates so low that childhood diseases once all but eradicated here—whooping cough and measles, among them—have re-emerged, endangering young lives." (Dominus, Susan (20 April 2011). "The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru"New York Times Magazine.  (Wikipedia: Andrew Wakefield
My final word on this subject, at least for this post is:

Vaccinate your Children!

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