On the same day that Andrew Wakefield’s lawsuit against the BMJ, Brian Deer and Fiona Godlee was dismissed, The Atlantic has a piece: The 15-Year Fallout From One Man’s Lie About Vaccines . Who is the one man, and what is the lie? From The Atlantic:
Consider the widespread fear of childhood vaccinations. In 1998, the physician Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. This study has since been judged to be an ‘elaborate fraud,’ and Wakefield’s medical license has been revoked.
The consequences of Wakefield’s dishonesty would have been bad enough. But the legacy effect of other big lies has thus far made it impossible to remedy the damage he has caused. Given the fact that corporations and governments sometimes lie, whether to avoid legal liability or to avert public panic, it has become very difficult to spread the truth about the MMR vaccine. Vaccination rates have plummeted — especially in prosperous, well-educated communities –and children have become sick and even died as a result.
An unhappy truth of human psychology is probably also at work here, which makes it hard to abolish lies once they have escaped into the world: We seem to be predisposed to remember statements as true even after they have been disconfirmed.
Apparently The Atlantic didn’t feel the need to wait for a Texas Judge to rule before using Mr. Wkefield’s work as a prime example of a “big lie”.
The Atlantic is right. It is hard to spread the truth about MMR. Just check the comments for the article.
by Matt Carey