Wakefield, distortion and the Sunday Times

3 Jul

The journalist Brian Deer has done as much as anyone to investigate the background to what Ben Goldacre describes as the MMR Hoax. In the course of his investigations he discovered undisclosed conflicts of interest by Andrew Wakefield that led to most of the authors of the original paper in the Lancet withdrawing their names and the editor publishing a retraction.

Then in February this year Deer published his latest investigation. The Lancet paper had already been dismissed as bad science. Now, if Deer’s findings were correct, it would seem that some of the data had been deliberately falsified. Wakefield responded by complaining about the article to the Press Complaints Commission. The Times stood by its story and also forwarded all details to the General Medical Council who are still investigating Wakefield over allegations of misconduct.

And that was it until this week, when Thoughtful House, the clinic that Wakefield has established in Texas, issued a press release announcing

Press Complaints Commission Orders Sunday Times to Remove MMR journalist’s Stories on Dr. Wakefield from Paper’s Web Site

It goes on to suggest that this “interim order”

appears to indicate there are questions about the accuracy of the Deer stories.

Of course it does no such thing. Thoughtful House even quote Stephen Abell of the PCC as saying that

Given the ongoing nature of the dispute the articles should be removed from the newspaper’s website until this matter has been concluded. This would not be an admission of any liability on the part of the newspaper.

The wording reveals what actually happened. The Sunday Times has not been ordered to take down the articles. The PCC decided to postpone its investigation until after the GMC reaches a decision on the allegations of misconduct. This makes sense. If Wakefield is found guilty the complaint will fail. Meanwhile the PCC has asked the Sunday Times to remove the article from its website until matters can be resolved and the Sunday Times has agreed. That tallies with the email I received from the PCC

The PCC has considered the matter initially and has elected to stay its investigation until the conclusion of the GMC inquiry. It has reached no formal decision on the substance of the complaint and there is no published ruling on our website.

The Commission has asked that the paper remove the articles temporarily until the conclusion of the PCC investigation. This is without any admission of liability on the paper’s part.

So no order was issued, no judgement was made and there is no suggestion of impropriety by Deer or the Sunday Times. All the suggestions come from one source, Wakefield himself. His friends on the web may try to pretend that this is further proof of the brave maverick doctor’s innocence in the face of a vicious campaign against him. I think they are clutching at straws.

84 Responses to “Wakefield, distortion and the Sunday Times”

  1. autismjabberwocky July 3, 2009 at 03:51 #

    I find it very strange that four months after the complaint was filed with the PCC that it has not been resolved. It really doesn’t matter what the outcome of the GMC case is – if you are going to publish something making serious charges of fraud and professional misconduct you really have to the facts to back it up. So either Brian Deer had the facts to back up his claims when the story was published or he didn’t.

    If he does have the facts then you would think that the complaint would have been resolved by now or would be resolved without waiting for some unrelated event. If he didn’t then the story was, by definition, fabricated and should be retracted.

  2. Chris July 3, 2009 at 07:09 #

    Did you read the article above your comment? It quoted the PCC saying they were going to wait until AFTER the ruling of the GMC in August to make a decision.

    Why do you say it is unrelated? It is on the same data and information.

    Essentially, they are waiting for the official ruling so they do not have to do one of their own. Since it is only about a month away, why do the extra work?

  3. Mike Stanton July 3, 2009 at 19:30 #

    have you read Wakefield’s complaint to the PCC? It is 56 pages long. One week later Wakefield issued a 16 page addendum with fresh accusations against Deer! Little wonder that the Times spent a month taking legal advice before issuing a response.

    Wakefield’s complaint against Deer is threefold
    1. That he has published unfounded allegations against Wakefield, unsupported by the evidence.
    2. That he has breached journalistic ethics by handing over his evidence to the GMC. This is the same evidence that is not supposed to exist according to point 1.
    3. That Deer lied when he said he did not initiate the GMC complaint against Wakefield. Therefore he has an undeclared conflict of interest and canot be trusted to be impartial in his reporting.

    It was Wakefield who included the GMC hearings in his complaint and the PCC has wisely decided to defer judgement until those hearings are over.

    On your blog you accurately report that the PCC requested that the Times remove those articles that are the subject of the complaint until such time as the issue could be decided. The Times was under no obligation to remove them but agreed out of common courtesy. Do you have any suggestions as to why Wakfield would lie about this and claim in his latest press release that the Times was ordered to remove the stories?

  4. autismjabberwocky July 4, 2009 at 02:58 #


    Actually I think the Times took three months to respond, not one, at least according to the information that I have seen. Regardless, if Brian Deer had the facts to back up his story it should not have even taken a single month to get them ready to submit to the PCC.

    If he had the facts then there would be no need to wait for the GMC hearing to complete (if it ever does).

    If he has the facts then the articles would not have been taken down from the Times web site.

    Given the fact that both of these have come to pass it seems like Brian Deer did not have the facts to back up his articles.

    As for the matter of “requested” vs “ordered” and Wakefile “lying” about it I don’t think there is enough information available to make that statement. I have not seen any official correspondance from the PCC so it would be premature at best to say that they “requested” rather than “ordered”. If you have any reference to material directly from the PCC, please provide a link.

  5. Mike Stanton July 4, 2009 at 08:33 #

    there is no link because there is no order. There is the email I received from the PCC that I quoted in full in my article above stating that the PCC, “has asked that the paper remove the articles temporarily until the conclusion of the PCC investigation.” Wakefield’s press release which I link to in the article above is headlined

    Press Complaints Commission Orders Sunday Times to Remove MMR journalist’s Stories on Dr. Wakefield from Paper’s Web Site

    If lying is too strong a word allow me to rephrase. Why would Wakefield misrepresent a request as an order? And why pretend that a goodwill gesture by the paper is evidence of liability? There are two statements from PCC representatives (the email to me and the correspondence quoted in Wakefield’s press release) stating that no liability is implied by this action.

  6. Another Voice July 4, 2009 at 19:01 #

    Are we expecting too much from the GMC hearings regarding Dr. Wakefield? These are fitness to practice hearings not trial procedures. If the GMC allows Dr. Wakefield to continue practicing does that mean that his study numbers were honest; that he didn’t collect blood samples from small children at a birthday party, or that they don’t view the those things as reasons to stop him from practicing medicine?

  7. Mike Stanton July 4, 2009 at 21:30 #

    Another Voice

    You are right to express caution about the GMC hearings.

    As I understand it the GMC will establish matters of fact before deciding whether these constitute professional misconduct. Only then will they decide what, if any, sanctions are appropriate. So he could still be free to practise medicine even if the GMC finds against him.

    Although the charges against Wakefield all relate to his research into possible links between MMR, bowel disease and autism the GMC will not adjudicate on the merits of his theory. That has already been thoroughly dismissed by subsequent independent research. Even if the GMC exonerates him completely this will not affect the fact that there is no credible scientific evidence for a link between MMR and autism.

  8. dr treg July 4, 2009 at 23:01 #

    It is interesting that autism and journalism seem to result in a black and white perception of problems and solutions. Hopefully after evaluating the evidence, the GMC will adopt a more sober view and some form of justice will prevail. It is anticipated that the journalists involved are ready to write profit making articles to decimate Dr Wakefield whatever the outcome. Their quills are ready. One does wonder how much profit these journalists are making from the case and if they will then go on to write books about the case in order to enhance their profits. One man`s misfortune is another man`s fortune. That is journalism. The best outcome to sell their papers is Dr Wakefield`s erasure and professional ruination.

  9. Mike Stanton July 5, 2009 at 00:46 #

    Dr Treg

    in my world most journalists are paid a salary to write for their employers. They do not profit from increased newspaper sales. In fact the current situation is one of declining profits, salary cuts and redundancies. As to writing books, you have to shift at least 10000 copies a year to realize any sort of living wage.

    Regarding media coverage of Wakefield, the tide has only recently turned against him. He has enjoyed a free ride from papers like the Mail and the Telegraph for years. Melanie Philips continues to defend him in the Spectator. Even the Observer gave him an easy ride a couple of years ago.

    Wakefield has managed to orchestrate his own professional ruination. The GMC will judge him on the evidence of his own actions, not those of the press.

  10. Joseph July 5, 2009 at 04:15 #

    One does wonder how much profit these journalists are making from the case and if they will then go on to write books about the case in order to enhance their profits. One man`s misfortune is another man`s fortune.

    That concern is a bit baffling, considering that Wakefield made about $800,000 from vaccine injury litigation.

    The part about journalists trying to make money off of books about the controversy is kind of funny too.

  11. dr treg July 5, 2009 at 14:53 #

    You seem to be saying that Wakefield needs to have his claret tapped or nose bloodied to teach him a good lesson. Thank goodness the biased journalists who built him up are not judging him.
    Will you also be seeking
    1. To ask Tony Blair why he didnt come clean about which jabs Leo had. As you will see in the MMR hoax reference by Ben Goldacre most of the articles related to Leo.
    2. To investigate the irresponsible reporting by journalists to sell their papers as described in the MMR hoax article.

    “In my world most journalists are paid a salary to write for their employers. They do not profit from increased newspaper sales. In fact the current situation is one of declining profits, salary cuts and redundancies. As to writing books, you have to shift at least 10000 copies a year to realize any sort of living wage.” – this may explain the resentment of many journalists and why they need scapegoats to write about in order to achieve promotion in their system. Books are quite profitable.

  12. Mike Stanton July 6, 2009 at 07:31 #

    Dr Treg
    I am not investigating Wakefield, I am responding to his press release which makes false claims about the actions of the PCC. I have no wish to teach him a lesson. I do wish that the public could learn the lesson that there is no connection between MMR and autism and that MMR is a safe and effective vaccine. Wakefield is promoting the opposite message. That makes him a danger to public health.

    Regarding the media, If you visit my personal blog you will find a history of posts by me taking the media to task for misreporting every aspect of autism, including MMR. Try this selection for starters.

  13. laura James September 1, 2009 at 01:30 #

    How can Wakefield’s insistence on using single does spaced out vaccines be a danger to the public? The drop in vaccinations were due to the fact that single dose vaccines were no longer made available to the public.

    • Sullivan September 1, 2009 at 01:50 #

      How can Wakefield’s insistence on using single does spaced out vaccines be a danger to the public? The drop in vaccinations were due to the fact that single dose vaccines were no longer made available to the public.

      That’s a nice bit of blameshifting.

      Dr. Wakefield claimed that the MMR vaccine was causing autism. Not only that, he made it appear that this was not a rare event, but happened to a large fraction of children. He incited fear in the vaccine, and he was wrong.

      Dr. Wakefield is reported to have stated in an interview on the US program, 60 Minutes:

      I would have enormous regrets if [my theories] were wrong and there were complications or fatalities from measles.

      He was wrong, there have been deaths.

  14. michael0156 January 4, 2010 at 10:53 #

    Dr Andrew Wakefield is a hero of modern medicine, maligned & persecuted for speaking the truth. Part of his story is here-


    Even after reading about autism/vaccines for over a year I was shocked to see the heinous acts to deny identifying the problems that may cause autism. This delays true efforts to stop the damage from occurring & getting the best help & research for the children we’ve already injured

    In 2004 the GMC started looking into these ALLEGATIONS made against Dr Wakefield & his study , 6 years after publication-
    1 Researched w/o ethical approval
    2 Violated ethics guides
    3 Performed questionable clinical procedures
    4 Reported ethics approvals inaccurately
    5 Didn’t disclose patient recruitment method
    6 Violated childrens’ clinical interest
    7 Didn’t disclose MMR litigation link or vaccine patent to The Lancet
    8 Unethically drew blood at a party (with parental permission)

    All of the ALLEGATIONS come down to interpretation of ethics, standards for publishing & opinion whether clinical procedures performed on children were necessary

    The data from the study is not in question. The conclusions that Dr Wakefield et al came to are not in dispute

    The allegations are an attempt to whitewash the whole MMR/autism/enterocolitis issue, which has been found to be a reproducible clinical study also supported by challenge re-challenge data when boosters are administered

  15. Chris January 4, 2010 at 16:04 #

    This is not an allegation: The MMR has been used in the USA since 1971.

    Now answer these questions: What data shows that there has been an increase in autism in the USA starting in 1971? Where is the study that has replicated Wakefield’s study?

    Also, news articles do not count as real evidence. Try with something more substantial like:

  16. Antaeus Feldspar January 4, 2010 at 16:41 #

    It’s not even a news article; it’s an op-ed by Melanie Phillips. It’s not even one on which she did her homework, obviously, since she claims “Wakefield never suggested a link between MMR and Crohn’s disease, a disorder of the bowel” and five seconds with a search engine will show anyone that he did.

  17. Catherina January 4, 2010 at 17:48 #

    The data from the study is not in question. The conclusions that Dr Wakefield et al came to are not in dispute

    Whether someone lied in a research paper does just not fall under the remit of the GMC, therefore it is not investigated here. However, that Wakefield’s findings are irreproducible is not in dispute.

  18. judy merrill January 10, 2010 at 21:40 #

    I am wondering if Dr. Wakefield responded to the report that aired on 01/04/10 on cnbc wherein they discussed a lack of evidence supporting the need for special diets for children with autism. I have a 3 1/2 year old autistic child that is autistic and apraxic and who is on a gf/cf low carb organic diet that is helping his brain. I am in the courts in wayne county michigan fighting with my ex-husband so that the diet can remain in place. I have lost my entire life savings to attorney fees. I feel that this warrants a response from Dr. Wakefield as I believe the report took bits and pieces of his study and tied it falsely to a lack of evidence supporting dietary intervention as part of a treatment plan for autism. Please repond – thank you -contact details redacted.

  19. Mike Stanton January 10, 2010 at 23:22 #

    it is not a good idea to post personal contact details on a public website. I have removed your address and phone number for your protection.
    Regarding the substance of your comment, you should note that there is very little published evidence to support a GF/CF low carb organic diet as a treatment for autism. This site is highly critical of Andrew Wakefield and we do not subscribe to his theories.
    If you want to contact Andrew Wakefield you should start with Thoughtful House http://www.thoughtfulhouse.org/

  20. Brian Deer January 11, 2010 at 14:45 #

    By the miracles of modern technology, I’ve just noticed this thread, brought back to life by a recent reply.

    Visitors need have no worry that our response to Dr Wakefield’s 74 pages of spurious complaint has long been ready to go. I can assure you that it will be amongst the most shocking documents in modern medical history, and certainly THE most shocking document in modern medical journalism.

    We didn’t take three months to initially respond, as Dr Wakefield alleged, although it did take us some time to deal, on a preliminary basis, with some of his disingenuous points. He tried, but failed, to get a summary adjudication, based only on his complaint, and without us having a chance to reply in full, but that, obviously, was thrown out.

    The PCC adjourned consideration of the matter until after Wakefield’s GMC since Dr Wakefield had made claims that the GMC panel was adjudicating, and it would have been impossible and undesirable to hold two hearings into the same issues, running concurrently. Whatever the verdicts, the GMC case will settle at least a few points.

    Visitors never fear. The PCC, as with the civil courts, operate to the standards of the civil law, and not to the criminal-plus standards of the GMC, which has in-built protections to ensure that doctors are protected as far as possible from their patients (no surprises there, then).

    As soon as the GMC case is concluded, we will strike at the heart of Dr Wakefield’s research, and show exactly what he did, how he did it, and who paid him to do it. At that point, if not following the GMC, I’d expect that the Royal College of Pathologists, the Lancet and the Committee on Publication Ethics will all have a bite at this one.

    In any event, the PCC hearing will be the first time ever that a medical journal has been exposed to scrutiny by a media watchdog. So we’ll all be able to compare the standards of my work with those of Dr Wakefield.

    My latest summary of my investigation is here:


    Happy new year

  21. Cara February 6, 2010 at 02:19 #

    Judy, I too have an autistic child. I would encourage you to continue your son on a GF/CF diet and seek advice from a “professional” who is concerned with healing our kids. Dr. Wakefield is one of those pioneers who cares and is making huge sacrifices to his career to stand for the truth. His studies and results have been duplicated world over and no one, including Mr. Deer or the GMC, care to mention this. Autism is primarily a gut issue, immensely affected by the ever increasing vaccine schedule as well as other toxins in our environment. What we have here are elitists and power hungry individuals bent on their own selfishness rather than truly helping our kids. What does it hurt to find out whether vaccines negatively exasperate these children and for heaven’s sake SAY SO! The is a cover-up and witch hunt in the works and I hope and pray for the sake of our children IT WILL STOP and TRUTH will win out! Many children are being “recovered” using the very findings and treatments found by doctors such as Dr. Wakefield. My daughter is improving. Believe those trying to help and actually putting themselves on the line instead of the arrogant and selfish.
    I am so sorry you are battling this out with your ex and do not have a united front to help your child. I hope and pray that will change for you soon. Keep the faith and keep on fighting!

  22. Cara February 6, 2010 at 02:31 #

    PARENTS are providing the “EVIDENCE!” They are the BEST source for that kind of evidence … don’t you think?

  23. Chris February 6, 2010 at 03:25 #

    Actually, no. The problems with parents providing anecdotes is that there are recall bias, problems with recall, and various other issues. Plus they are not objective.

    I know that I have misremembered events. I would have in my mind that my oldest child was doing something before the hospital visit, but then I look at the records and it was after. Or that he was not doing something by some date, only to have a video showing that he was doing it earlier.

    Cara, you said “His studies and results have been duplicated world over and no one, including Mr. Deer or the GMC, care to mention this.”

    Then perhaps you could provided papers of those replications. Please post the journal, title, date and authors so that we can look them up in PubMed. An example of a study is this:

    Thank you.

  24. Dedj February 6, 2010 at 04:07 #

    Indeed Chris, parental report tells us what the parents believed happened. Thats it.

    Without corroborating evidence, there isn’t much reason to take the arguement seriously.

    Now, the fact that parents even have these views must be taken into account during all dealings with the parents. Parents must never be allowed to determine what is perceived as the truth on the basis of the fact that they say it is.

  25. Chris February 6, 2010 at 06:13 #

    Do not forget that the average parent is not an expert in child development. I know that I was not.

    There is a series of books on child development that I would check out of my local children’s hospital resource library. They had titles like Two Year Olds: Terrible and Terrific, which I used to figure out if my oldest son’s behavior were age related or due to his disability (he had seizures as a newborn, he had issues from the very start, then more illness and another seizure!).

    What really brought that fact parents are not experts to my attention was attending a meeting of parents of learning disabled students at the school. We were there to learn of our rights under IDEA, and to learn about community resources for our kids (one of which I support each year because they provided my son about three years of free intensive speech therapy, Rite Care).

    Every child who enters kindergarten in our public school system is tested for various things to catch “children of concern” because some parents do not notice essential clues. One pair of twins was referred to the school that deals with deaf and hard of hearing children after the testing found that they were profoundly deaf. They showed up at their local kindergarten at age five with no speech. It seems the parents thought they would speak when they were ready.

    At the meeting of parents of kids who were learning disabled, I heard one mom tell how she got the call assumed her child was going into the “Gifted and Talented” program, and was dumbfounded to find out her son had some severe learning disabilities. She learned to accept that and was there to get information on resources outside of the school that were available.

    Oh, wait… it is not just the public schools! The parents of one of my son’s special ed. classmates told us in a meeting that the nuns at their local Catholic school noted that their daughter did not speak, and then directed them to my son’s special ed. program. This has a happy ending… by the time she was in fifth grade she could both speak and sing beautifully (I had tears in my eyes when she sang during a school talent show!). She was later able to enter her parent’s choice of parochial high school.

  26. Dedj February 6, 2010 at 06:32 #

    Another curiousity I noticed the other day:

    One ‘autism mom’ was trying to claim that none of her extended family had any ‘funny’ members – and then proceeded to identify two much older members who had ‘sharp’ memories.

    It immediately struck me that if the most distinctive thing about them was that they had ‘sharp’ memories at an age when many people experience memory issues, then their memories are exceptionally ‘sharp’ or otherwise distinctive in some way.

    In other words, the ‘autism mom’ was using a characteristic seen in a sizeable minority of people with aspergers and HFA as evidence that none of her family have characteristics found in people with autism.

  27. Cara February 6, 2010 at 07:48 #

    Chris, Here are references to the duplications/replications of bowel diseases Dr. Wakefield and others have found in children with developmental disorders:
    Krigsman A, Boris M, Goldblatt A. Frequency of histologic enterocolitis and lymphonodular hyperplasia in autistic children presenting for ileocolonoscopy. IMFAR. May 7th, 2004.

    Balzola F, et al. Autistic Enterocolitis: Confirmation of a New Inflammatory Bowel Disease in an Italian Cohort of Patients. Digestive Diseases Week, Chicago, May 2005.

    Balzola F, Barbon V, Repici A, Rizzetto M, Clauser D, Gandione M, Sapino A. Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the first time by the wireless capsule enteroscopy: another piece in the jigsaw of this gut-brain syndrome? Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr;100(4):979-81.

    Sabra A, Bellanti J, Hartmann D, Zeligs B, MacDowell-Carneiro AL, Menendez F, Colon A, Guo Wu A, Sabra LF, Romero M, Sabra S, Ebecken R, Madi K. The GUT-CNS Connection: a new Domain for the Clinician. Gastrointestinal and Behavioral Dysfunction in Children with Non-IgE-mediated Food Allergy, Ileal-Nodular-Hyperplasia and Low Th1 Function: a New Clinical-Immunologic Constellation. Annals of Allergy.

    Gonzalez L, Lopez K, Navarro D, Negron L, Rodriguez R, Flores L, Villalobos D, Martinez M, Rodriguez G, Sabra S, Bellanti J, Sabra A. Alteraciones immunologicas e immunohistoquimicas en la mucosa del tracto digestivo en ninos autistas. Venezuelan Medical Society presentation

  28. Cara February 6, 2010 at 08:16 #

    Dedj, I can’t disagree more with this statement: “Parents must never be allowed to determine what is perceived as the truth on the basis of the fact that they say it is.” Can a parent not percieve that something is “not right” with their own child? For the parents of children who witnessed “regressive autism” you can be assured these parents have this etched in their memories forever. For my situation, my daughter did not have the regressive type but still I think I was a pretty good judge of the situation … probably better than her pediatrician and even the specialists. When my daughter was not meeting her developmental stages appropriately, the doc referred us to specialists. The neurologist who saw her at 3 said nothing appeared to her as wrong even though she was a late walker (26 mo) and her word bank was very limited. She also did not smile much. This “wait and see” prognosis by “specialists” caused us to loose precious time to get her what she needed. I noticed odd play and styming at age 4 and then had her tested through the public school system. They gave her a diagnosis of Nonverbal Learning Disorder. I looked it up and knew this wasn’t right. I knew she was autistic. Last year we were finally able to get her officially diagnosed through two seperate agencies … high functioning autism. I have kept her on a GF/CF diet for the last 2 yrs and began her on a brain organizing program this past year. I “know” she requires biomedical treatment (her dark circles under her eyes tell me so) but so far we haven’t been able to afford it. As far a her bowels go, she has “always” suffered constipation … so, there it is, a form of “bowel disturbance” similar to what most if not all autistic children present.
    In writing all this, I think I was and continue to be a pretty good judge on my daughter’s condition … better than some of the “experts” we saw. Parents should not be kept out of the loop in diagnosis and treatment. Doctors and other experts need their assisstance. It is a travesty to make them feel unnecessary or even stupid, or even worse, “to be blamed” for their child’s disorder, or as I like to put it, “injury.”

  29. Dedj February 6, 2010 at 16:22 #

    You can disagree with my statement all you like, but if you follow that on with a series of arguements that have little relationship to my statement, I can only conclude you did not understand it.

    Parents can report their perceptions to their Dr all they like, but no-one is under any obligation to treat parental inferrences derived from their perception seriously unless there is colloborating evidence.

    “I think vaccines cause autism” is the claim that people need to find evidence for. It cannot act as evidence for itself.

  30. Chris February 6, 2010 at 19:14 #

    Cara, those are papers are not replications of Wakefield’s study. They are just case studies, letters and opinion pieces, and don’t even address the MMR vaccine. A couple are not even indexed in PubMed (which I pointed out to you on the Science Based Medicine blog, but you seem to have forgotten that already).

    Also, you seem to be ignoring the fact that it has been noted in US Federal Court that Wakefield was told that the PCR data was showing false positives. Dr. Chadwick testified that the samples were contaminated and that he gave Wakefield that information, and Wakefield ignored it.

    That is called fraud.

  31. Chris February 6, 2010 at 20:35 #

    Sorry, Cara, it might not have been you, it was someone posting as “Reynaud 5” or something similar. But that list of papers is very familiar (must have been posted at the same Yahoo group, though no one really bothered to look at them). Here is why I know what they are:

  32. Mike Stanton February 6, 2010 at 21:21 #

    you seem to have misunderstood Dedj’s point. Let’s take a non-vaccine example to illustrate the point.

    When my son was first diagnosed I went online and joined an autism discussion groups. A number of mothers raised the fact that they had a difficult time giving birth to their autistic child. Was this significant? What could it mean? Perhaps the birth trauma caused the autism. Perhaps being autistic caused the difficult birth. Some parents reported unremarkable births or even very easy ones. (I am only a father and I realize that “very easy births” is a relative term. Bearing children is never easy.) Perhaps it was a chance occurrence that had nothing to do with autism. We could not know the truth on the basis of our shared experience on the group. The only way to find out would be a proper scientific study.

    I do not know if those studies have been done. But they have been done with vaccines and no relationship between vaccines and autism has been found. That does not mean that parents should be ignored. But researchers and clinicians have to take account of all the evidence and not just the information that parents provide.

    It is an easy mistake to think that our experience of autism with our one child makes us an authority on autism. You give an example when you refer to the “bowel disturbance” which affects “most if not all autistic children.” There is no justification for that statement in the literature. There is conflicting evidence about whether or not bowel disorders are more prevalent in autistic children. But even then the point of issue is whether there is a significant minority. I am not aware of any studies that support the contention that “most if not all autistic children” are affected.

  33. Joseph February 6, 2010 at 22:38 #

    Catherina over at justthevax goes over almost the same list that Cara just posted. Unsurprisingly, not one is actually an independent replication.

  34. Chris February 6, 2010 at 22:41 #

    In the same Science Based Medicine thread I posted a study that basically says autism and GI issues do not always go together:

  35. Cara February 6, 2010 at 23:53 #

    Mike, There “is” literature about autism related bowel disturbances. Google it. Where have you been looking … at places that reject this as an autisic symptom. Yes, all the literature I have read about autism includes this every time. My daughter would not poop for 5-6 days as a diapered toddler and continues to not have a consistent bowel movement in her 7 yrs of life. My pediatrician said to just give her suppositories whenever needed … which was bi-weekly. This is not “normal” and not typical of a normal child without autism as “some” studies suggest. It is very normal and to be expected for a child to poop once a day at least. Anything less is open to suspect.
    We will have to disagree on this subject.

  36. Andrew Wakefield February 7, 2010 at 01:19 #

    Dr Treg

    I do not need allies like you. I am superman.

  37. Dedj February 7, 2010 at 01:21 #

    “Mike, There “is” literature about autism related bowel disturbances. Google it.”

    As that wasn’t the discussion, nor Wakefields specific hypothesis, Mike is under no obligation to ‘google it’. As he is a respected paraprofessional in this field, I also doubt he’d need to fall back on google.

  38. Laurentius Rex February 7, 2010 at 01:22 #

    Brian me deario,

    Don’t get caught up in the headlights, go for the guts of the beast.

    The Royal Free are not the ones to answer for nothing!

  39. David N. Brown February 7, 2010 at 02:10 #

    I can’t imagine that “Andrew wakefield” is the poster’s real name. WE don’t need this kind of thing.

  40. Mike Stanton February 7, 2010 at 02:35 #

    I never said there is no literature. Just that there is conflicting evidence and nothing to suggest that a majority of autistic children have bowel problems. The most up to date survey of our knowledge is “Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/125/Supplement_1/S1
    I recommend it.

  41. Chris February 7, 2010 at 05:21 #

    Cara, links to blogs are not evidence. Provide the actual name of the journal, title, date and author. Also make sure that you have looked at it on PubMed. That would avoid the problems you had with your first list that you lifted from another blog.

    There is a reason that there is no real replication of Wakefield’s “study.” It is because there was no measles DNA found in the gut. When it was found it was due to contamination, causing false positives. He was informed of these false positive and chose to ignore that information.

    That is called fraud.

  42. Chris February 7, 2010 at 05:38 #

    Cara, just post the papers that show measles virus was found in the guts of kids with autism. Do not do a “Gish Gallop.”

    Also a word of Internet manners: if you provide a link to a 500+ page pdf file that is several megabytes long, give a warning. The TACA file is a classic Gish Gallop. Ginger’s list of websites are also a Gish Gallop, which really do not provide a list of replications of Wakefield’s set of case studies.

  43. michael0156 March 11, 2010 at 19:47 #

    A lot of folks here have a lot of time on their hands and “live” on this board because they are independently wealthy or are OCD regarding the subject matter or they are somehow compensated for their efforts. What the situation actually is we will never know unless some of these folks get a twang of conscience and bear their souls.

    The only studies pro-Big Pharma folks can come up with are epidemiological negative correlations for a vaccine autism link. That is the weakest of all “scientific” arguments. I can see Paul Offit stumbling around his lab, eyes duct taped shut, cotton balls in his ears crying “Eureka, I have found no evidence!!”

    All such negative correlations are manipulated pieces of garbage, not following scientific method. I challenge anyone to produce the 2 best studies they can find which they claim shows vaccines are safe. Just 2 please, preferably from Mike Stanton. I don’t have the luxury of time you pro-Big Pharma folks apparently do and cannot follow up on dozens of epidemiological studies. Just 2 should suffice, yes? While you are at it produce any clinical studies you have that show vaccines are not involved in autism.

    There is a simple way out of this mess, which Big Pharma and their minions oppose. A clinical study using a toxin free vaccine schedule. The amount and variety of toxins in vaccine are terrifying. That we inject these concoctions into our children is abuse.

    Most of the toxins in vaccine are there for one purpose, to increase the per dose profit Big Pharma makes. Whether directly contributing to profit or as a consequence of changes to the manufacturing process to increase profit, these toxins are unecessary and easily recognized as possibly damaging to our children.
    1. Preservative, used in some vaccine to permit inexpensive shipment of large batches rather than individual doses, increasing per dose profit. Preservatives haven’t been clinically studied in children. Ironically one of the environmental triggers being looked at in ongoing studies is mercury pollution.
    2. Adjuvants are relatively inexpensive chemicals that prolong and intensify an infant’s immune reaction to antigens. Antigen production is the most expensive process in making vaccine. Using adjuvants reduces the amount of antigen needed for a “proper” immune response from children. Reducing the amount of antigen increases the per dose profit. in additon to any toxic effects the adjuvant may directly cause, it will prolong an infants reaction to any other immune reactive substance in vaccine, which brings us to immune reactive substances being added to our vaccines…
    3. Antigen production involves creating live pathogens or proteins associated with pathogens we vaccinate against. In the late 80’s and early 90’s a new production method was introduced for a variety of substances such as tryptophan, enzymes used in HFCS production and antigens. It was the genetic engineering of bacteria and other organisms to produce these substances. The cells have to be lysed to release the desired substance which floats in a soup with the guts of the cells. Sometimes chemical lysing is used adding to toxicity.

    Various stages of “purification” take place trying to make the end product “safe”. The end product is ALWAYS contaminated with various combinations of non-self DNA fragments, non-self endotoxin, other non-self cell debris and other substances from the soup these mini-factories are grown in. Some purificatin methods add chemical toxins to the mix.

    In 1989 these contaminants poisoned and killed thousands of people in a “natural” pill of tryptophan. This was ingested, while injection of these substances will have a more dramatic effect at much smaller concentrations. Not everyone who took the pills became ill. The ingestion of these contaminated pills caused an autoimmune “disease” named Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome and the cause was tied by the FDA, the CDC and the Mayo Clinic to only one new batch of tryptophan produced by genetically alered bacteria. The company responsible was Showa Denko. They destroyed the bacteria before they could be studied. The CDC and FDA blamed the poisoning on a cost saving reduction of filtration, while quietly admitting the gentic engineering could have played a role. Other batches of Showa Denko’s tryptophan (not produced by gene altered bacteria) did not apparently harm anyone.

    Substances produced in this way are continuing to enter our food supply today, including “natural” flavors. I have given up anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup in it for this reason. Enzymes added to corn starch in a 3 step process to produce HFCS are all from gene altered organisms, and all similarly contaminated. One such company, Novozymes, was recently fined for a fish kill involving pollution from their plant.

    As late as 2007 there was an application for a patent for a process to improve purification of pharmaceuticals. From the patent – US Patent 7226775-June 2007 “…there remains a pressing need for removing endotoxin from pharmaceuticals. In particular, vaccines…” The amount of toxins that have entered our food supply and our pharmaceuticals through the genetic alteration of organisms to produce a variety of substances (including the genetic alteration of our crops to contain pesticide) is probably the smoking gatling gun of environmental triggers responsible for the dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, eczema, allergies et al AND autism.

    That you Big Pharma minions continue your denial of vaccine involvement using paul Offits investigatory techniques, outlined earlier, is heinous and sociopathic and unforgivable.

    • Sullivan March 11, 2010 at 20:33 #

      Did he really quote a patent as some sort of proof? Has he no idea that patents are not reviewed for scientific accuracy?

      If I am a “big pharma minion”, they are way behind on their payments. (in other words, I’m not a pharma shill)

  44. Dedj March 11, 2010 at 20:04 #

    “A lot of folks here have a lot of time on their hands and “live” on this board because they are independently wealthy or are OCD regarding the subject matter or they are somehow compensated for their efforts. What the situation actually is we will never know unless some of these folks get a twang of conscience and bear their souls.”

    It takes very little effort to check this board a few times a day.

    Some of the people here are primary care givers for autistic or otherwise disabled children and adults.
    Some of the people here are autistic adults, some with additional disabilities.
    Some of the people here are professionals or paraprofessionals involved in autism care.
    Some of the people here are academics or researchers in autism studies.
    Some of us are, or have been some or all or the above.

    If you’re seriously struggling to think of a reason why someone might have an interest in autism beyond OCD or being paid – and why they might like to discuss it – then that may be why it also took you a month to come up with a horrific mash-up of a reply.

    That you would freely admit to having neither the time or knowledge to speak about this subject, yet still openly make quite serious accusations agianst other people on a subject you clearly cannot deal with rationally, then that is all that has to be said about your lack of morality.

  45. Laurentius Rex March 11, 2010 at 20:05 #

    Mikey, just what do you wash your socks in?

    Scientific method be damned, you know that a negative study can never be proven any more than you can prove that a tree that falls in Berkeley when no bishop is blessing makes a rumpus.

    Here is my challenge to you.

    Just prove to me that water is safe, you can’t can you, it contains dihydrogen monoxide, never mind that fish fornicate in it.

    So I dunno what you must be drinking, cos the Rooskies have got your essence all right.

    I’d have given your post a less frivolous reply if it actually had any science in it.

    A subscription to age of autism on the one hand and your cursor in the google search box on the other, does not science make.

  46. Mike Stanton March 11, 2010 at 21:45 #

    @ michael0156

    A lot of folks here have a lot of time on their hands and “live” on this board because they are independently wealthy or are OCD regarding the subject matter or they are somehow compensated for their efforts.

    Using mental illness as a slur on the character of your opponents does you no credit. You will get no studies from me. Instead try http://www.mhra.gov.uk/index.htm

  47. Laurentius Rex March 11, 2010 at 22:51 #

    It is not shame to me to carry an additional diagnosis from the can of Alphabet soup.

    My obsession is Truth, my Compulsion Freedom, and the Disorder is the Chaos I seek to dispel.

    It is a two edged sword, but it is sharp enough to cut the Gordian knot.

    I won’t say it has never caused me a great deal of distress or that it doesn’t get in the way of things from time to time, but it is that very determination, compulsion, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, and drive, that drives out the drivel and the devil, it is the engine of the researcher and the perseveration of the explorer in lands unknown.

    Some call it obsession, others call it dedication, some call it compulsion, others call it duty.

    I was always ‘driven’ and thank God I still am.

    There is a lot of bull written about the supposed difference between OCD obsession and Autistic obsession, that one gives pleasure, and the other pain, but that is not true of neurology, that which causes inertia, the tendency to go on unless stopped, is always there in both cases. The only difference I can really see is attribution. The judgement being upon those who determine what is useful, and what is trivial, what is funtional and what is not.

    Every human has to live with dysfuntional elements of there neurology, for some it is the delusion of group think, but that is not in DSM though I reckon it maybe ought to be, it needs to be cured!!

    Good heavens, dysfuntion is normality (or normalcy if you have a language disorder called American English)


  1. Wakefield med et (mindre) selvskudd – nok en gang « Skepsis blog - July 7, 2009

    […] anmodning om å ikke la teksten ligge ute mens granskningen pågikk, ikke noe pålegg. Hvilket Left Brain/Right Brain kommenterte tidligere i uken. Med behørig påtale av det ikke helt etterettelige i tolkningen […]

  2. Wakefield’s false claims backfire « Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day - July 8, 2009

    […] As I reported previously, the PCC is waiting on the final outcome of the GMC disciplinary hearing against Wakefield before conducting its own inquiry over the articles and felt it would be fairer all round if the material was temporarily removed from the Times website. The Times agreed and removed the articles as a courtesy to the PCC. The Times was not impressed by Wakefield’s ungracious response and as a result the material is now back on their website. […]

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