(Managing Editor's Note: You can read Dr. Wakefield's complete analysis of the "Lancet 12" in his new book, Callous Disregard
from Skyhorse Publishing
. Visit Dr. Wakefield's website HERE.
By Kent Heckenlively, Esq.
If you have a child with autism and haven’t yet purchased a copy of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s wonderful book, Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines-The Truth Behind a Tragedy then shame on you.
You need to buy it NOW. I’ll wait.
(Imagine me whistling and pacing as you run down to your nearest bookstore or click on over to Amazon and order your copy.)
Okay, I’ll assume you have the book in your hot little hand, or you’ve at least gotten e-mail confirmation of your order. Now if you have the book and haven't read it, that's a shame.
I’ve heard from many parents that cracking open a book like this is emotionally exhausting and I’m sympathetic to that feeling. But get over it. After all the lies which have been told about Dr. Wakefield because he has chosen to help us, we owe it to him to read this book.Callous Disregard
is organized almost the way a lawyer would set up a case, which isn’t surprising given the circumstances which gave rise to it. There are the events which begin the story, namely the parents of children with autism and gastrointestinal issues who believe they’re not being listened to by the medical community. This is followed by the appearance of medical professionals interested in getting to the bottom of this mystery, their findings, the legal persecution which follows, and the subsequent ruling against them by the General Medical Council (GMC) for the United Kingdom.
I’ve always thought there should be a natural sympathy between lawyers and scientists. Both disciplines are trained in logical thinking, the careful marshaling of facts, and the need to develop a reasonable theory to explain observed events. That’s exactly what the reader gets in this book. The chapters are arranged so that each deals with a specific issue or witness from the case and Dr. Wakefield then supports his account with abundant documentation.
What develops is a devastating story of medical deceit and hypocrisy that many have long suspected, but which is still surprising to read.
Take the example of Dr. Michael Rutter, one of Wakefield’s main accusers in the GMC. Dr. Rutter originally published a paper several years earlier which linked autism to vaccines. Since that time he has apparently turned and become a paid expert for pharmaceutical companies, distancing himself from his previous concerns. It’s interesting to note that Wakefield’s original paper only noted . Put side by side with Rutter’s work, it’s clear that Wakefield is the more careful scientist.
There’s also an interesting comparison between the disclosure policy which Rutter claims Dr. Wakefield should have followed and the disclosure policy Rutter himself follows. Callous Disregard
goes through exhaustive details explaining the disclosures Wakefield did make as well as the policy at that time. Wakefield firmly believes he followed the then-existing policy and provides extensive documentation to support his claim. The current disclosure policy calls for a disclosure of “any perceived conflict”. Rutter continues to omit from any of his recent publications that fact that he is a paid consultant for the pharmaceutical industry in vaccine-injury cases.
At the recent Autism One conference I met a political activist who had long labored in the trenches of another cause. She was amazed at the unity of our cause, the passion we brought to autism, and how knowledgeable and well-spoken we were. I felt honored to be among our group.
It is in that wonderful spirit which animates our community that I’m urging you to buy this book, and if you have purchased it, crack it open and read it from cover to cover.
Dr. Wakefield has long been an advocate for us. It’s time to make sure we are all well-informed advocates for him.
Kent Heckenlively is Legal Editor of Age of Autism