TweetIf you're going to join the fiery debate about Andrew Wakefield's barring by the British General Medical Council, then you need to be clear about why he was barred: for unprofessional conduct (e.g., taking blood samples from children at birthday parties), and conflict of interest (e.g., having his research funded by "lawyers for parents seeking to sue vaccine makers for damages"). This is a man who swore to do no harm but kept his fingers crossed behind his back during the oath. He is an embarrassment to scientists and doctors of principle.
It doesn't matter how charismatic or well-intentioned Wakefield is, or even if his research had had some validity (it didn't); the man showed "callous disregard" for research guidelines and scientific ethics. He deserved sanctioning. Anyone who claims differently is also claiming that ends justify means, and needs to stay the hell away from any discussion that contains the word "science" unless it's followed by the word "fiction."
A roundup of week's reactions to the GMC's actions, both directly and tangentially related to Wakefield's official sanctioning:
- In case you think I'm kidding about the man's magnetism, look what happened when this skeptical journalist met with Wakefield in person. (Update: That journalist has since clarified that it was what he said rather than who said it that commanded her attention.)
- In the Wake of Wakefield's barring and the revelation that he caused a world-wide panic about vaccines for venal, self-serving rather than legitimate reasons, the Today Show polled readers, asking if they still think vaccines cause autism. 83% said no, they do not believe there is a link between vaccines and autism. (Kristina Chew wrote a followup post on Care2.com as well.)
- You want impartial journalism's perspective? Not Orac, not LBRB? Okay, how about the NY Times? The Times' piece might contain less cackling or outright disgust, but covers the same points. LBRB also published extensive excerpts from the GMC's Wakefield press release, no less damning for their neutral phrases.
- If you're looking for one Wakefield fiasco link to send your family and friends, I suggest this cartoon timeline (it could have fawned less over journalist Brian Deer, though I agree he deserves praise).
- I also recommend Anthony Cox of Black Triangle's excellent Wakefield: One Less Crocodile in the Swamp, which reminds us, "[Wakefield's] book, sickeningly playing on the words used by the GMC, 'Callous Disregard' has even been been timed to make best use of the [GMC verdict's] publicity." (Hat tip: Liz Ditz.)
- And finally, Emily wrote an excellent parody of the Wakefield camp's attempt to promote that new book by any means necessary.