It seems that William W. Thompson has finally come over to the side of the angels.
For those of you who might have been off fishing the past few days, or like me, spent part of the week in the hospital with a gall bladder attack, I'll briefly recap what may be one of the most consequential stories ever to come out of the autism epidemic.
On Monday, August 18, a video was released by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and Dr. Brian Hooker which claimed that a major researcher for the CDC admitted that he and others had concealed evidence that moving up the date for the MMR vaccine had increased the rate of autism for African-American males by 340%. Later in the week it was revealed that the researcher was Dr. William W. Thompson, who had in fact been one of the authors of a 2004 paper by the CDC claiming there was no link between the timing of the MMR shot and the development of autism. On Friday it was reported that Dr. Thompson had been escorted off the grounds of the CDC by security personnel.
For those of us who have been in the fight a long time this news produces mixed emotions in us. I reall the optimism with which I reported on the Omnibus Autism proceedings, reporting on the Hannah Poling case which many of us thought would finally break the whole damned thing wide open, or the revelation that the Vaccine Injury program had actually given awards to at least 83 children who suffered vaccine injuries which included autism.
On the one hand I want to take this guy who has concealed this information for so many years, throw him up against a wall, and go to town on him.
On the other hand I sense a real opportunity to advance our cause among a scientific community which has been largely indifferent to us, as well as frequently hostile.
As a leader in any movement it's important to understand your adversaries, their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. What moves them, what leaves the indifferent, and what is likely to break them.
I want to share an example from a less fraught topic. Recently I attended a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend of mine, an economics professor at Stanford University in California. One of my friends' recent academic accolades was being one of only ten economists invited to the Nobel Prize symposium (held every ten years) to present on his work. The expectation is that these ten economists will probably win the Nobel Prize somewhere in the next ten years. Pretty cool that this is happening to my high school buddy.