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The Sciences

"Elaborate Fraud"

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJanuary 6, 2011 6:19 PM


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Yesterday, after the news broke of an extensive investigative report by Brian Deer, a British journalist, CNN's Anderson Cooper took it from there and completed the evisceration of huckster Andrew Wakefield, whose infamous 1998 study supposedly linking autism to the MMR vaccine was retracted last year by the journal Lancet.

Cooper doesn't mince words, and neither does the British Medical Journal editorial accompanying the investigative report:

Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children's cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross.

Additionally, the editorial chastises the media for "unbalanced" reporting on the bogus vaccine-autism link, and also blames the continuing vaccine scare on

an ineffective response from government, researchers, journals, and the medical profession.

There's also this that seems to get lost in all the controversy:

But perhaps as important as the scare's effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion, and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it.

So will this news of "elaborate fraud" by a champion of the debunked vaccine-autism connection give pause to the the anti-vaxxers, who regard Wakefield as their hero? Of course not.

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