Scientist scapegoated for preliminary study

The tofu-and-granola crowd is usually respectful of science, but somehow developed a soft spot for a much-discredited study linking the MMR vaccine and autism. As with the fluoride-scare a generation ago, this has probably caused a lot of needless childhood suffering.

The lead author of the study that started the rumor has now been disbarred for professional misconduct. One of the key issues was that Wakefield paid a few pounds to each of the children. The sad thing is that the researcher is probably being made a scapegoat. His original study involved 12 kids -- hardly a representative sample -- and found that 8 of the 12 kids had had a MMR vaccination. He even saw fit to caution:
We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.
In other words, this disproportionate response to somewhat minor transgressions is because of what the media and autism parents groups did with his preliminary study. He's being punished for what a sensational media did.

In any case, MMR vaccines are safe. I wish the medical board didn't have to disbar a scientist just to underline that point.

p.s. After that study, the scientist went on become an outspoken foe of MMR vaccine, but that's neither here nor there. He was being roundly condemned by former colleagues and being embraced by parents groups by that point, so the incentives were pretty lopsided. Everyone wants a little love.

p.s2: Seems like I was wrong. He may have been disbarred over the paying the children charge, but that was like convicting Al Capone on tax evasion charges. He had a financial interest in drumming up a vaccine scare.

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