'If the vaccine program is so good, why the dirty tactics? Why the straw man? Vaccine safety and effectiveness is a messy business: making Wakefield the scapegoat won't work much longer.'
Before yesterday morning I had not heard of ‘Upworthy’ which according to Wiki is a “website for viral content” founded by Eli Pariser (Chairman of AVAAZ, pictured) and Peter Koechley (former managing editor of 'The Onion'), for which Kim Kellerher of 'Wired' is also a board member. A presentation “curated” by Adam Mordecai and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation states:
"After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything."
What, of course, this does not tell you is that the senior author and clinician in the paper, Prof John Walker-Smith, who also compiled eleven of the twelve case histories appealed to the English High Court over the GMC findings and was completely exonerated nearly three years ago – Walker-Smith, unlike Wakefield, was funded to appeal. All that ‘Upworthy’ are doing is playing the same trick as CNN and Wiki – which I reported on last year - and peddling disproven stories without mentioning that they have been disproven.
CNN, having cited wiki, blocked the following comment:
When the Deer/BMJ findings came under the scrutiny of Dr David Lewis in November 2011 they were forced to re-trench (reported in Nature):
“But he (Bjarnason) says that the forms don't clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the records.
"The data are subjective. It's different to say it's deliberate falsification," he says.
“Deer notes that he never accused Wakefield of fraud over his interpretation of pathology records…
“Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, says that the journal's conclusion of fraud was not based on the pathology but on a number of discrepancies between the children's records and the claims in the Lancet paper…”
“The case we presented against Andrew Wakefield that the1998 Lancet paper was intended to mislead was not critically reliant on GP records”. It is primarily based on Royal Free hospital records, including histories taken by clinicians, and letters and other documents received at the Royal Free from GPs and consultants."
But it is clear that the judge who presided over Walker-Smith's exoneration and reviewed the Lancet paper in detail could not find any evidence of this. His one major quibble was over the statement about ethical approval paper which Walker-Smith says he did not see - however this is accurate too.
"Ethical approval and consent
"Investigations were approved by the Ethical Practices Committee of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, and parents gave informed consent."
The paper did not have ethical approval and consent, and did not need it because it was simply a review of patient data (which was what was on the tin). The procedures needed ethical approval and consent and had them.
So Wiki does not tell you any of this but repeats an account that is long disproven.
Having considerable respect for the good works of AVAAZ I think it is a great pity that Mr Pariser - author also of 'The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You' - should be associated with this travesty, and he really ought to look into it. It seems that the entire defence of the vaccine program hinges on the false claims that have been made about the Wakefield paper (which did not even purport to prove that vaccines cause autism). If the vaccine program is so good, why the dirty tactics? Why the straw man? Vaccine safety and effectiveness is a messy business: making Wakefield the scapegoat won't work much longer.
John Stone is UK Editor of Age of Autism.