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The Absent-Vaccinationist

BMJ: Ad Hominen Attacks on Scientists

Science Below is a comment at BMJ's Editorial: Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent Fiona Godlee, Jane Smith, Harvey MarcovitchBMJ 342:doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452 (Published 5 January 2011)from University of British Columbia's Neuroscience Professor Christopher Shaw.

Link to the BMJ (HERE) The recent BMJ editorial, along with several recent publications, have made extremely serious allegations of scientific fraud against Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues in regard to the 1998 Lancet study that supposedly linked the MMR vaccine to gastrointestinal disorders and autism. Even assuming that such fraud was committed -and there is abundant countervailing evidence to suggest that such did not occur- does the use of the term 'fraud' invalidate a legitimate scientific question? The answer is that it does not.

The autism spectrum disorders incidence levels have grown explosively since 1992. Claims that such rising levels are due to changes in the gene pool have no scientific validity. Similar claims that changes in diagnostic criteria for ASD are to blame, while partially true, cannot account for the 2000 to 3000% change in ASD. This observation leads inevitably to one remaining conclusion, namely that something in the human environment is the culprit. There are many possible factors that may have increased leading to rising ASD levels. One of these is the significantly increased vaccine schedule for children. Any a priori exclusion of possible factors based on belief rather than evidence is not scientific, but rather reflects a disturbing trend to view anything associated with vaccines and vaccine policy as sacred and beyond scientific scrutiny.

Indeed, some who appear to take this view frame their arguments less as scientific critiques and more as ad hominem attacks on the credibility, expertise, or scientific training of any who do what scientists are trained to do: ask questions and seek answers. Assertions that those who do so in respect to any aspect of vaccine safety must therefore be "anti vaccine" and hence not to be taken seriously belies a belief system that is profoundly unscientific. As most readers will know, an ad hominem attack on an opponent's character or credibility is a tacit admission that the logical argument is lost.

Such comments have occurred in some letters to the editor on the issue of the Wakefield editorial and have attempted to portray those scientists who attended the recent Vaccine Safety Conference in Jamaica as unreliable because of some alleged bias against vaccines. As one of the organizers of the conference, let me state that an anti-vaccine bias was not the agenda of the meeting. Rather, a number of highly qualified scientists from different fields gathered for an open examination of the issue and in so doing simply fulfilled their fiduciary duties as scientists to seeking the truth.


kathy blanco

Alliance for Human Research Protection
A Catalyst for Debate


Is it just conceivably possible, that the BMJ's decision to commission and
publish Brian Deer's series of articles attacking Dr. Andrew Wakefield's
personal and scientific integrity--without giving him an opportunity to
defend himself--and to lend its unwavering editorial endorsement to the
charges--might be influenced by a SIGNIFICANT financial conflict of

In 2008, the pharmaceutical giant, Merck, signed a partnership agreement
with the BMJ Group that effectively gave the company control of 350
interactive continuing medical education courses in over 20 medical therapy

In 2009, The Lancet also entered into a Merck partnership.

"This unique partnership will change the face of medical education in Europe
and beyond, allowing users access to most of BMJ Learning's library of
'Continuing Medical Education' (CME) and 'Continuing Professional
Development' (CPD) content. "

Why did the BMJ conceal from readers--of both the Deer series and the BMJ
editorial excoriating Dr. Andrew Wakefield, charging him with deliberate
fraud and financial conflict of interest--the fact that the BMJ had a
partnership with Merck, manufacturer of 13 vaccines--including the MMR
vaccine, which is at the center of the Wakefield controversy?

The BMJ editorial accompanying Deer's articles, did its best to lend
authority to the vaccine industry (Merck's) perspective. In an introductory
sound bite the editors declare:

"Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this
damaging vaccine scare."

Read more....

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav


Anyone seen this study? (the link is very long, found it at )

Elevated levels of measles antibodies in children with autism
Pediatric Neurology, Volume 28, Issue 4, April 2003, Pages 292-294
Vijendra K. Singh, Ryan L. Jensen

"This vaccine in a small population of genetically predisposed
children may perhaps manifest an atypical measles infection
that does not yield a clinical rash but produces
neurologic symptoms similar to those seen in children
with autism."

Theodore Van Oosbree

How can Dr. Shaw possibly argue with someone with the scientific expertise of Brian Deer?

Jenny Allan

Some quotes from Brian Deer's Guardian 'blog', published 12-01-11. (This blog is referring to Deer's BMJ article entitled:-
'How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed'
This was the first in a series of three Deer articles about 'Secrets of the MMR scare')

'Next week in the BMJ, I will go further, showing how the old boys' network of the medical establishment was mobilised to protect him. Are you getting the picture yet?'

Yes Brian!! We 'get the picture'. Those 'old boys' must be shaking in their shoes!!

'But times are changing. Wakefield's fall from grace is now slicing another scalp. One of the most insidious cartels at the heart of British science is being torn apart: the two top journals in medical science.'

Are you determined to wreck the reputations of BOTH the BMJ and the Lancet Brian?? It seems the BMJ management has paid you to make the Editors of both of these publications look stupid!!

'Let battle commence, I say. Let doctors expose each other. Let journals compete to get the truth out first. Because 13 years passed before I slayed the MMR monster. And although a single, severed hand may yet come crawling across the floor, for science and public safety 13 years is still too long.'

Brian. Have you considered writing the script for a horror movie??


That is the only university my daughter applied to. She has good taste!


Nobody ever got rich questioning the safety of vaccines. No scientist or doctor gets a cushy academic appointment with lots of pharma money by raising questions about the safety of a vaccine. The bias is all on the other side.

Brian Deer is really a mess. His bosses ( whoever they are) must be wondering how they can cut him loose before he becomes even more embarrassing. I forsee a stay in some nice little clinic for Brian.

Jenny Allan

Wonderful!! I hope neuroscientist Professor Shaw will be the first of many respected eminent members of the medical and scientific community to speak out publicly against the BMJ's ridiculous allegations of fraud, against not only Dr Andrew Wakefield, but apparently ALL of his Royal Free colleagues and even the hospital managers and directors!!

(BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee is currently attempting to 'backtrack' over the colleagues' involvement, but Brian Deer's slanderous allegations, made in three BMJ articles, clearly involve other Royal Free personnel). Deer also 'attacks' the Lancet Editor for 'accepting' the 1998 Wakefield et al article.

In a subsequent Guardian 'blog' about his first BMJ article, Megalomaniac Deer even seems to be expressing a personal objective of bringing down the BMJ and Lancet medical journals. In Deer's own words expressed in a previous blog about his dubious evidence gathering in the US Cedillo case:-

'It was me wot done it.'

In the same 'London Cockney' vein, (my Son is Law is a Londoner), can I introduce you US and other readers to some Cockney rhyming slang which seems appropriate:-

'Someome is telling 'porkie pies' here. (Pork pies, rhymes with LIES!!)'

As Professor Shaw puts it, rather more literate but succinctly:-
'As most readers will know, an ad hominem attack on an opponent's character or credibility is a tacit admission that the logical argument is lost.'

Jeff C.

What a fantastic letter. Dr Shaw did his BS at my wife’s Alma mater (UC Irvine) so she’ll be proud.

He is absolutely correct; we are dealing with a belief system not science. On an earlier thread Marc posted a 1984 quote from the FDA in the US Government Federal Register. The quote was regarding a suspect polio vaccine:

“…although the continued availability of the vaccine may not be in immediate jeopardy, any possible doubts, whether or not well founded, about the safety of the vaccine cannot be allowed to exist in view of the need to assure that the vaccine will continue to be used to the maximum extent consistent with the nation's public health objectives.”

Think about that phrase “whether or not well-founded”. Even if legitimate, well-founded questions are raised regarding safety, the answer will always be the same, doubts can not be allowed to exist. That is not science, it is a cult.

No wonder “the benefits outweigh the risks” for every single question raised about vaccine safety, it is official US government policy. The vaccine manufacturers and their enablers have been happy to exploit that.

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