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The Wakefield Inquisition: Case Series Insanity

Dueling-with-pistols-2 By Dan Olmsted

What, exactly, did Dr. Andrew Wakefield do wrong?

To most people who followed the drumbeat of news about the retraction of his 1998 Lancet paper – and especially to most of the mainstream media who did the “reporting” – that does not need to be put in the form of a question. Wakefield’s medical license is now in jeopardy because he did just about EVERYTHING wrong in an “Early Report", (HERE) a case series on 12 children with regressive autism and a novel bowel disorder their parents or doctor attributed, in most cases, to administration of the MMR vaccine. Given the egregiousness of these wrongs and the prestige-ousness of those who announced them, the “question” moved almost immediately from who, what, when and where to why – why had the Lancet let itself be so misused as to publish the claim that vaccines cause autism based on a bogus study; why had it taken so long to disavow such fraudulent nonsense?

And now we’ve sunk to the seventh circle of journalism hell – based on this slapdash and slipshod reporting, the media says the entire debate over vaccines and autism has been settled. Nothing to see here. Please move along.
 
Not so fast. The media’s first job is to report the facts correctly, and a corollary to that is to “rely on your own original reporting” whenever possible, according to “The Elements of Journalism” by the respected journalism elders Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenthal. At a minimum in the Wakefield case, this would mean that key reporters breaking the story nationally – on the TV news networks and major online news sites, in the big dailies and magazines – needed to be familiar with three things: Wakefield’s original paper; the General Medical Council ruling from the week before that found his ethical behavior “dishonest,” and The Lancet retraction of the paper itself that quickly followed.
 
“Being familiar with” in this circumstance, it seems to me, means reading the paper (with comprehension, as they used to say in grade school) and retaining its key elements. This story had been coming down the pike for months, so there was no reason to be unprepared. Even if, given the 24/7 Internet exigencies of today’s news cycle, a reporter was caught flat-footed, the same Internet provides instant access to primary materials. What’s more, the Wakefield report is only five pages long and the relevant passages are in unusually plain English for a scientific report. (Anyone who thinks this level of diligence is asking too much of reporters and editors doesn’t really understand the value or purpose of journalism, or why the Amendment by which it is protected is the First.) It wouldn’t have hurt to talk to Wakefield or the parents of the children involved in the study, either, but that appears to be asking way too much.
 
So setting a very low bar -- mere factual accuracy -- how did the media do? They got just about EVERYTHING wrong, and persisted in error even when it was being pointed out to them. The media were not helped by The Lancet’s own strangely worded (and, ultimately, inaccurate) retraction and failure to fully explain itself, but that’s not a good enough excuse.

As a way to focus the issue, it is fair to say that Wakefield’s presumed offenses can be broken out into two categories: acts of commission or omission that were morally wrong – unethical – on the one hand, and those that were scientifically wrong on the other. Because of the demonstrably inaccurate reporting of the science – the heart, after all, of a scientific work, we will discuss that here. (THIS report by Dr. Bill Long in The Autism File magazine does a good job of laying out the ethics charges and demonstrating what we strongly believe is their lack of merit.)
 
In this case it makes narrative sense to start in medeas res, in the middle of things, with the Lancet’s retraction. It is short, and here it is in full:
 
“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.”
 
One could watch news outlets grappling with this statement in real time. At Forbes.com, Senior Editor Michael Herper lampooned the Lancet’s language as “incomprehensible” and offered his own rewrite of what it was trying to say: “In particular, the patients were not ‘consecutively referred,’ raising the odds that the results were due to chance.”



HERE is CNN on the same day: 

 (CNN) -- The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research. The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that ‘there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper’ and that his ‘conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.’”
 
That was online. On air, this is what senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen told its worldwide audience: “What happened was there was this study by a guy named Andrew Wakefield back in 1998 and that sort of started off this whole movement of saying there was a link between autism and childhood vaccines, because that was what the study said. And people pointed to this study over and over again to show that there was a link. …

 “The bottom line of why they need to retract it is because – they didn’t fully explain it and they wouldn’t answer our questions – but the editors basically said that the study wasn’t done in a fully randomized way. When you do a study, you’re supposed to randomly choose your study subjects and study them, and see what the cause and effect is of what you’re looking at. But basically they said that this wasn’t, the subjects of the Wakefield study were not randomly chosen. If you don’t choose your study subjects randomly, you don’t have a valid study.”

But this was NOT a randomized clinical trial; rather, it was a report on a series of children picked for what they had IN COMMON, which was developmental regression and a bowel disorder. Here’s how the National Cancer Institute identifies a consecutive case series: “A clinical study that includes all eligible patients identified by the researchers during the study registration period. The patients are treated in the order in which they are identified. This type of study usually does not have a control group.”
--
The day after Dr. Cohen’s incoherent explanation, Age of Autism's Kim Stagliano appeared with her in a segment (Watch HERE). “I’d like to point out to Elizabeth, please, that Dr. Wakefield did not produce a study. It was a case series with a dozen children.” What did it really say? Kim actually quoted it – a rarity in any of the coverage. “We have not shown an association between the syndrome” – meaning autism – and MMR.”

Responded Cohen: “I think people would differ with what she has to say. I think this study gave a strong suggestion that there was a link between childhood vaccines and autism.”
 
CNN quoted Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. "It sounds like there was a misleading design of the study ... patients not randomly chosen.”
 
Yes, it sounds like that from the reports like CNN’s – even to someone like Marcia Angell, a fierce critic of drug company influence in the medical journal business and author such works as, “How the Drug Industry Distorts Medicine and Politics: America’s Other Medical Problems.”
 
The Lancet’s retraction and the media’s reporting thus convinced everyone that, entirely aside from the alleged ethical wrongs, the science underlying the report was fatally flawed. If only the report had been a book, we could burn it.

But before consigning it to the flames, let’s pause for a moment on the original report itself. (“In times of tumult and discord,” wrote Publius Corneilius Tacitus, “bad men have the most power; mental and moral excellence require peace and quietness.”) Let’s quit foaming at the mouth and take the time to ask, what did it claim to be doing, and what did it actually do? We are going to let it speak for itself in these few short excerpts:

 “We investigated a consecutive series of children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder. … We saw several children who, after a period of apparent normality, lost acquired skills, including communication. They all had gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and bloating and, in some cases, food intolerance. We describe the clinical findings, and gastrointestinal features of these children….
 
“12 children, consecutively referred to the department of paediatric gastroenterology with a history of a pervasive developmental disorder with loss of acquired skills and intestinal symptoms (diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating and food intolerance), were investigated. All children were admitted to the ward for 1 week, accompanied by their parents. …
 
“We describe a pattern of colitis and ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia in children with developmental disorders. Intestinal and behavioural pathologies may have occurred together by chance, reflecting a selection bias in a self-referred group; however, the uniformity of the intestinal pathological changes and the fact that previous studies have found intestinal dysfunction in children with autistic-spectrum disorders, suggests that the connection is real and reflects a unique disease process.”

Thus Wakefield et al. were explicit about methodology: The paper was about a series of patients with autism spectrum disorders whose parents brought them to the clinic’s pediatric gut disease practice. It is consecutive because all of the first 12 children referred in that way comprised the series. Given this, there was a chance the pattern was random. But given the novelty and seriousness of the GI disturbance, it probably was not.
 
How did the MMR feature in this? NOT in the way it has been reported. “We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers. … In eight children [the total later rose to nine], the onset of behavioural problems had been linked, either by the parents or by the child’s physician, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. Five had had an early adverse reaction to immunisation (rash, fever, delirium; and, in three cases, convulsions). In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioural symptoms was 6.3 days (range 1–14). Parents were less clear about the timing of onset of abdominal symptoms because children were not toilet trained at the time or because behavioural features made children unable to communicate symptoms. … Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.” When asked at a subsequent press conference (arranged by the hospital, not Wakefield), he responded that getting separate shots would be prudent until stronger evidence emerged one way or the other. And good for him.
--
Much has been made of the fact that some of the children later became parties to planned litigation against the MMR manufacturer. Conflating these two separate tracks to make Wakefield look like a villain has worked remarkably well in distracting journalists who, as we’re seeing, can’t get even the basic story straight. The simple fact, Wakefield told me, is that none of the children referred to his clinic were involved in litigation when the referrals were made, and only one MAY have held a Legal Aid Board certificate at the time of examination. What really happened to set the Lancet study in motion was that a woman named Rose Kessick called Wakefield’s office – he answered the phone himself – in 1995 to tell him she thought her son, William, had developed autism and a bowel disorder as a result of his MMR shot. Wakefield referred her to his colleague, John Walker-Smith, thus making William the "sentinel child" in the consecutive case series. Rose was in touch with a few other parents who believed the same thing, and through a perfectly ordinary process of self-referral, the 12 cases made their way to Wakefield et al.

In a phone conversation with me and Mark Blaxill, Rose Kessick expressed continued amazement at the media’s inability to grasp the simple fact that a new cluster of children with regressive autism stood out at a clinic devoted to treating pediatric gut disease. “Clearly, if anybody’s doing a case series, they have to understand that the original clinic was not a clinic for autistic children,” she told us. “This was a clinic where all sorts of children would come in with the common factor of bowel disease.”

We read her the “12 children consecutively referred” sentence from the paper. “What argument are they using to say the children are not consecutively referred?” she said. As Wakefield reiterated to me, the case series comprised “the first 12 children referred to Walker-Smith with these symptoms of regression and abdominal problems. That is so unambiguous and straightforward, what could possibly be the problem? Of course they were consecutively referred.”
--
Now the editorialists are weighing in after reading their own newspapers’ garbled accounts, creating an echo chamber of bad journalism and mistaken judgment. “For a decade, many parents have worried that vaccines might somehow be causing autism in children,” wrote The New York Times, unofficial scribe of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Repeated assurances from respected experts that there is no link have failed to quiet those fears. Now The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal that published the paper that first gave wide credence to those fears, has retracted it, saying that the paper’s authors had made false claims about how the study was conducted.” That’s a clear reference to the “consecutive series” statement.
 
The Times’ rowdy neighbor, The New York Daily News, in an editorial titled “Hippocrates would puke: Doctor hoaxed parents into denying kids vaccine,” opined: “Now, though, the United Kingdom's General Medical Council, which licenses doctors, has concluded that Wakefield cherry-picked the children who became his study subjects, including paying kids at his son's birthday party to give blood.” (Wrong again: That incident was unrelated to the Lancet study, and far too much has been made of it when weighed against infants getting half a dozen and more shots on one “well-baby visit” and developing regressive autism and a novel bowel disorder. But that’s another story – this one!)

So, again, what exactly did Wakefield do wrong? We fail to see a problem here. The paper as published meets every test of transparency we can imagine – including the comment that the self-referrals by the parents raised the risk of a chance pattern. To reel in horror 12 years later over a non-randomized, cherry-picked, biased report that might have been due to chance – well, it makes you want to puke.
--
The fact remains that Wakefield’s paper, tentative and preliminary though it was, has been amply borne out by subsequent research and the experience of thousands of parents. It is among the handful of landmark papers, studies or books in the history of autism research – and, fittingly, an echo of the original report on the disorder written in 1943 by Johns Hopkins child psychiatrist Leo Kanner, “Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.” Kanner wrote about 11 children – one fewer than Wakefield – who were seen at his psychiatric clinic between 1938 and 1943. They were consecutively referred – Kanner wrote about every single child who fit his definition of the novel behavioral syndrome. Did he “cherry pick” them from among the thousands who no doubt arrived at his world-famous clinic during eight years? Of course not; he isolated them based on their striking behavior. Here is how he begins:

“Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far, that each case merits - and, I hope, will eventually receive - a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities.”

Let’s rewrite Wakefield et al. into that language: “Since 1995 there have come to our attention a number of children with regressive autism spectrum disorders and a novel bowel syndrome, a combination that differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far that each case merits a detailed consideration of its fascinating peculiarities. Follow-up studies looking into a possible environmental trigger – in most of these cases, parents or doctors reported onset of the ASD in association with MMR vaccination – will eventually establish whether there is any correlation.”

To casual observers – and, sadly, that means the media as well -- the Wakefield case is a vivid tapestry of lies, outrageous moral behavior and bad science. But up close, under the microscope the media should be using, this damning picture is made up of many frayed and badly dyed threads woven together. We’ve pulled on just one of those threads in this article, because of its centrality to the paper’s validity and its implication for the broader issue of whether the mainstream media can be trusted to unravel the most important story of our time -- the fate of the next generation. Obviously, it can’t, and that is scary as hell.
--
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.
 

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The text of the study can be found at the fourteenstudies.org website:

http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/wakefield2.pdf

Marv,

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9500320

Lancet. 1998 Feb 28;351(9103):637-41.

Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children.
Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson DM, Malik M, Berelowitz M, Dhillon AP, Thomson MA, Harvey P, Valentine A, Davies SE, Walker-Smith JA.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, University Department of Medicine, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, London, UK.

Retraction in:

Lancet. 2010 Feb 2. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60175-4.

Dan,

Thank you for explaining things so clearly. Like commenter Anne, I'd like to hear your explanation of the blood draw issue. Also, what were the findings of the GMC (not the Lancet or the mainstream media) on the sample selection issue?

How can I get a copy of the original paper? I am willing to pay a reasonable fee.
Marv Lewis
marvlewis@juno.com

I hope the occasional comments from a Scottish Grandma of one of these 'Wakefield's babes' helps you folks from 'across the pond' with your fight to have your autistic and occasionally bowel damaged children both recognised and given appropriate clinical treatment and help.

In the UK there is a 'sister' organisation to the GMC. It is called the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery council). They are both quasi-autonomous/judicial organisations. Recently a nurse was 'struck off' by them. Her crime was acting as an undercover investigator for a BBC TV programme which exposed appalling and inhumane conditions in NHS hospital wards for elderly patients. I watched the programme. It really was horrific and shocking!!

The NMC 'investigation' found the nurse guilty of 'breaching patient confidentiality', (although she got permission from all the patients or their relatives). It was also stated that she 'failed' to report the problems to the hospital management 'in the first instance', but she DID attempt this at the time, and got nowhere.

There was a huge public outcry about the manifestly unfair and vindictive treatment of this nurse by the NMC and they eventually were forced 'kicking and screaming' to reinstate her. This nurse was recently named as 'Nurse of the Year 2009'. I was one of the many members of the public who voted for her and wrote letters to the GMC in her defence.

Dan Olmsted's above article exposes the way that the media can be bought, sold and manipulated by unscrupulous and powerful vested interests. The above nurse, fortunately, had the full power of the BBC totally on her side; it was THEIR programme after all! They also gave her a job whilst her NMC appeal was pending. She gave interviews on TV and the publicity was huge. She won her appeal because of the overwhelming public support this generated.

The BBC, funded by a compulsory licence fee, is SUPPOSED to be completely independent of political interference, but of course it is in 'thrall' to whichever government is in power at the time. Successive goverment Medical Officers of Health have always 'pushed' vaccines. Sir Liam Donaldson, the latest one, is never off the 'telly' extolling the benefits of vaccinations, the latest being the Swine Flu one. For once the 'medical fraternity' have ended up with 'egg on their faces' after only a quarter of eligible health care workers were prepared to submit themselves to this vaccination because of THEIR concerns about its safety!!

A few British newspapers were brave enough to publish fair and objective accounts of the GMC 'trial' of Dr Wakefield and his colleagues. Take a bow Scotsman, Mail and Mirror publications. They were all vilified by the other newspapers!! I commend their brave attempts to uphold UK journalistic standards.
We are all doing what we can to get this 'message' across. It is no use 'shooting the messenger'; that is medieval. As Dan says this is about 'the fate of the next generation'.

"The media’s first job is to report the facts correctly...". Dan, that might be true for AoA, and some other on line journals, but where else? Where else?

Thank you, Dan, for your lengthy explication. And thanks for stating that "[t]he fact remains that Wakefield’s paper, tentative and preliminary though it was, has been amply borne out by subsequent research and the experience of thousands of parents." The truth is in the kids and their lab tests, and they're not going away.

I can understand some newspaper reporters bumbling with the lexicon of published studies, but am surprised that doctors and a medical journal edidtor like Dr. Angell would use that nomenclature so sloppily. It was galling to hear Dr. Cohen stubbornly repeat the word "study" after she had rightly been corrected by Ms. Stagliano.

In MSM, tabloid-style emotion and short-cuts have supplanted the type of carefully assembled, comprehensive reporting we've just read here. And for that professional and ethical lapse, children continue to be damaged by a consumer product run amok.

Dan

Great comparison from the Kanner 11 to the Wakefield 12. Each a case study where the former saw the first trickle of the epidemic and didn't grasp the medical issues and a very possible vaccine/toxin connection and the latter saw the medical pieces, connected it to a vaccine/toxin, tried to get the proper powers that be to do something and was targeted from that moment on.

Would make for a great book! =)

Life after the GMC judgement:

Patient: Doctor, I have the worst sore throat!

Doctor: Sorry, I can't do anything.

Patient: But, aren't you going to examine me? I have swollen glands and white spots in my throat. And it feels like a strep throat! Shouldn't you take a throat culture?

Doctor: Sorry, there's no control group. I can't do anything until we set up a control group. Come back in three months.
~~~

Scientist: I was going to do a study on people with lung cancer. I randomly selected 500 subjects. But unfortunately it turned out that none of them have lung cancer. Darn.

Ingorant relative: Well if you want to study people with lung cancer, shouldn't you make arrangements to recruit patients who actually have lung cancer, like at a hospital or cancer support group or something?

Scientist: Why of course not! Subjects must be chosen randomly from the general population! To do otherwise would be biased selection -- unethical, dishonest, irresponsible, and a violation of every scientific principle! If you don’t choose your study subjects randomly, you don’t have a valid study!

Ignorant relative: Oh. Gosh. I guess I just don't understand science.

It appears that the Lancet had to retract the Wakefield paper because it resulted in a drop of MMR vaccine sales, and that was obviously not acceptable to its Big Pharma advertisers who dictate what medical journals are allowed to write. Compare the much touted (and misreported) Wakefield retraction with Pfizer's still unretracted efforts to push its worthless and dangerous hormone replacement therapy drugs, as described in Martha Rosenberg's article "Why are Pfizer's Ghostwritten Hormone Therapy Articles Not Retracted?" (http://www.opednews.com/articles/Why-Are-Pfizer-s-Ghostwrit-by-Martha-Rosenberg-100202-181.html).

Another symptom of how Big Pharma manipulates our "health care system" is the hysteria it and its servants in government created about the much hyped threat from swine flu which turned out to have been even milder than the "regular" annual flu. However, the CDC now still wants people to get their shots, even those whom it had initially declared to be in the low-risk categories. The intent is clearly to use up the huge inventory of unsold vaccines and so to further increase Big Pharma's profits. See "Swine Flu didn't Fly" by Niko Kyriakou at http://www.truthout.org/swine-flu-didnt-fly56431.

Looking at the attacks against Wakefield in this context provides a clear picture of the interests at work against him, and it is not pretty.

The massive anesthesiology study fraud involving Scott S. Reuben started out as a simple investigation into an unapproved study.

Great article!

I can't understand how no one (except Fiona Philips) in the media actually read the original study!
How they got to the conclusion that the MMR is safe, because of a paper on GI issues was pulled from the Lancet, is pure fraud!
When this circus started in early February, several friends pointed this out to me. So I told them to read the Wakefield paper and tell me what they thought.
Several of them were AMAZED that there was such a misinformation going on in the media!

Yeah, I have come to realize that if you want to find out the truth, don't bother listening to the media, because they sure don't know what it is!


Thank you, Dan. Ugly on ugly. I can't wait for the trial transcripts to come out-- though obviously if certain reporters couldn't read a five page study, they're not going to read two years worth of transcripts. That's probably the very reason the trial was dragged out for two years-- to guarantee that documentation far exceeded journalistic attention span.

I'm still absorbing it all, so I'll go off on a tangent about certain things that struck me. Hilarious that Cohen was contradicting Kim-- when Kim was simply quoting the study. Unless Cohen can prove that the study can be backmasked like a Beatles album and a Satanic message appears saying "MMR causes autism. MMR causes autism...", all the evidence there is to go on for that particular question is what the study itself *said*. It said they didn't know, that it needed looking into.

Also, I've been trying to wrap my mind around why some people who seem to be calling for research and regulatory reform regarding one set of pharmaceutical products are so completely boffo wrong when it comes to another. Marcia Angell is a major head scratcher. Some who do this are just mercenary shills but in the case of others like Angell (maybe not Angell herself), I think it could be due to what Chomsky (radical!) called "elite consensus".

Here she is, a relatively "brave whistleblower" who probably formed contacts and a set of informal advisors around her watchdog activities; and these are the people to whom she might delegate certain opinions on issues which she may not have had time to dig deeply into herself. These are the people she trusts who are supposed to know about right from wrong, fraud from integrity, etc.

But what if these experts in one area haven't really dug into the issue themselves? Maybe they have good pals who are, say, pediatricians who say, "No, the word is in on vaccines. Vaccines are safe". Everyone in this misinformation daisy chain thinks the others are stating things based on the kind of rigorous information by which they were all critiquing psychiatric and other iffy drugs. But everyone's assuming wrong and this wasn't the kind of issue on which anyone should have delegated an opinion without looking into it deeply themselves.

I meet a LOT of psychiatric and drug reformists-- actual certified experts-- who are completely clueless on vaccines. They haven't done the reading. People who are literally geniuses at uncovering drug research fraud on other subjects think-- maybe based on their otherwise accurate assessment of themselves as sharp critics-- they can be right on the vaccine issue without doing their own legwork. It's quite shocking but, eh, human nature.


When will journalists start doing the kind of work they were trained to do? Such as going to the original sources such as the case series report, the retraction statement, and interviewing Dr. Wakefield?

I would think that if they produced the type of crap they are churning out, while they were still in their university studies, they would get failing grades.

Hello!
Great post as usual, but why do the comments come in reverse order? it makes it impossible to follow an argument. Change that and your site will be perfect!

Whilst all good people despair the illegal and harmful collusion between Big Pharma, Government and the Media, we have to believe and trust that the end of this crooked and evil relationship is in sight.

Luke 8.

"For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open"

The Judgement day these evil people fear maybe a little closer than they ever imagined.

John,

Thank you for the references. Your persistent efforts to eloquently force the establishment into taking a clear position and exposing their foolery are much appreciated.

"Yes, the debate of vaccine safety is over. Vaccines are harming children. The theory of herd immunity is good but the distribution and manufacturing process is flawed. Children are being killed and harmed, families are being destroyed. Now doctors are being silenced. God help us!

Heather White"

Couldn't have been said better Heather. I am also a mother to a vaccines injured child... they deny it of course, but her medical records tell a different story...
Please click on my name and join us.

I thought Elizabeth Cohen's response to what Kim pointed out was Assinine. A case study is a case study is a case study. Other people misinterpreting it does not in and of render a case study wrong.

Thank you for continuing to shed light on this important topic! Dr. Wakefield has been very brave to stand up for our kids (and proper, unbiased science) when it would have been far easier for him to just back down under pressure. Most "journalists" reporting on this subject should be ashamed of the dishonest reports they have put out against this honourable man. It's refreshing to read an accurate account of
Dr. Wakefield's work.
If you could please explain that "blood draw at the birthday party" incident, that would be helpful, as it's gotten so much negative attention. The media has made it sound like such a huge deal, and made Dr. Wakefield look very unprofessional (which he is not!). I'd love to know the explanation for that one, as I don't have a proper comeback when people bring that up.
Thanks for a great article!

I would also like to point out my observation posted under Prof Trisha Greenhalgh's article in BMJ 'Why did the Lancet take so long?':

"It is still baffling what is at stake over referral. It is common experience that when getting a specialist referral from a GP the patient is asked to which hospital they would like to be referred - an elective aspect is inherent in the system, as is reputation - and in this instance this was no ordinary department, so it is not clear what anyone would expect: it wasn't supposed to be "a scientific sample" or a statistical measure of anything, which is why I cannot make any sense of S Stanley Young's comment [2]. You do no not need to be a senior statistician to conclude that the group in the paper have little or no statistical significance, but this does not tell you why or how they are ill, and doesn't answer the parents' legitimate concern about adverse vaccine reactions and their sequelae. Nor could epidemiology tell you anything certain about that."

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/340/feb02_4/c644#231147

But Prof Greenhalgh, author of 'How to read a paper' couldn't put me straight on that, anymore than she could about her undisclosed competing interests:

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/340/feb02_4/c644#231273

To quote Robert Kennedy JR, "The media is letting down our democracy." I spend time emailing the media when I hear "them" misrepresent the facts on vaccine safety. I never get any response from any of "them".

It is well known throughout the CDC and Big Pharma that they are damaging our children with a mired of neurological and renal diseases. All you have to read is the Simpsonwood transcripts'.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/2887572/Simpsonwood-Transcript20Searchable

Why isn't the media publicizing that? Instead they are attacking a doctor that has dedicated his livelihood in helping vulnerable children that were poisoned by our government. All for the sake of the all mighty dollar. The cost to our country and to the society at large will be far greater then anyone will be able to imagine.

Yes, the debate of vaccine safety is over. Vaccines are harming children. The theory of herd immunity is good but the distribution and manufacturing process is flawed. Children are being killed and harmed, families are being destroyed. Now doctors are being silenced. God help us!

Heather White
mother of a child injured by vaccines July 2005

I personally looked up the definition of consecutive case series the day the retraction was published. From my quick reading of the findings of fact, I didn't immediately see where any of the findings violated that type of definition so I assumed there is something during the presentation of evidence in the trial that provides more insight into this.

From reading the definitions, the only violation of the consecutive series would be if they did not include all of the eligible patients.

Has The Lancet given any evidence to support their official retraction explanation?

What has happened here- this smear campaign against Wakefield, despite OBVIOUS falsities that are apparent to ANYONE who has taken the time to read the articles, the retraction and the actual study- is so frightening to me that I don't know what to do with myself.
I truly hope that this will be cleared up and the truth comes to light via Wakefield's new study currently being published (Monkey study with Hep B US vaccine schedule).
Add to this- the OBVIOUS attempt at a take down of McCarthy by Dr (lol) Ari Brown after she twisted the words of the TIME article and took the word of a gossip site as fact.
What we are witnessing (I believe) is an attempt at a mass cover-up/smear against those asking too many questions, helping others question and making waves...
There are too many of us now Big Pharm. I'd wish the other side Good Luck, but I can't say it in good conscience- I want to watch them go down- HARD.

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