Thursday, May 27, 2010

Injecting a dose of common sense into the discussion.

You may have heard that the great Andrew Wakefield, MD, disgraced former champion of childhood-vaccination-as-causative-factor-in-autism (and the spark in what became a very public campaign by the renowned epidemiologist Jenny McCarthy), recently was defrocked: His homeland, Great Britain, stripped him of his right to practice medicine. This was the culmination of a meteoric downfall that began when Wakefield was found to have massaged the data supposedly underlying his provocative claims about vaccines.

Well here's a shock: Wakefield has announced his intention to come stateside, to the good
old USofA, where he says he'll continue his groundbreaking work ... Now what do you suppose would motivate such an audacious move?

Could it be because America has established itself as the global capital of woo? (Perhaps the good doctor was paying attention when we Americans made a colossally profitable cultural juggernaut out of Rhonda Byrne's over-the-top rendering of an
idea that was insane to begin.) Could it be that he realizes that unlike his more hard-eyed, discerning compatriots in the UK, we here in the U.S. don't take clinical research quite as seriously...that we shrug off silly little things like data and studies and science? That nowadays we give primary weight to "what we believe in our hearts"? Could it be that he draws strength from people like McCarthy, who vow to fight on, despite the mounting research that makes their position look increasingly delusional and silly?

Or maybe it's his awareness that we maintain, as an actual NIH agency, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which after 18 years and over $1 billion in budget authority has failed to validate a single alternative remedy...yet persists in its ringing endorsement of so-called "integrative health-care."

Just the other day I was asked, for about the five-thousandth time, "What harm does self-help really do, anyway?" Episodes like this one show us, again, the harm. The declining reverence for science amid the abdication of reason looms as one of the great tragedies of the 21st Century. And the century is barely a decade old...


NormDPlume said...

I predict that Dr. Wakefield's first US job will be as a medical correspondent on "The View".

Steve Salerno said...

NDP: First he has to appear on Oprah along with Jenny Mac to tell America how misunderstood he is, and how he was sandbagged by the tyrants in "the medical establishment," who of course are in league with vaccine manufacturers to maximize profits without regard to human life.

Anonymous said...

Let's review the doctor's curriculum vitae:
- British
- shoddy scientific work
- believed in an unproven theory
- falsified data to fit his theory
- knowingly published falsified data creating public panic

I think there is a job for him in England at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit. He should fit right in.

Cosmic Connie said...

At the very least, Dr. Wakefield will probably be a popular guest on noted "health expert" Kevin Trudeau's radio show, sharing yet more secrets that "they" don't want you to know about. Yup, the US is a ripe, rich, and endlessly gullible market.

Karl said...

Mmm, seems that the doctors/scientists disputing the links between vaccines and autism and other neurological disorders aren't averse to telling a few porkies.

Anonymous said...

Wakefield's being struck off is not at all the clear-cut picture of of a wrong-doer unmasked that you paint.

His willingness to go public with his findings were a severe political embarrassment to the GMC and the government that funds healthcare in the UK. I don't have a horse in the autism debate but I have noted that enormous political clout was put behind the media witch hunt of Wakefield while the science(he was supported by some very notable genuine authorities in the field) barely got a mention.

The GMC itself is a closed shop and has a very poor track record of allowing dangerous MD's to continue practising while penalising those who might dissent from the party line.

Tyro said...

Wakefield has even written a book to complain about how badly mistreated he's been. Why won't the world understand that Mommy's Intuition is the only True way to understand anything? If only we'd learn to listen, Wakefield wouldn't be in this sad spot. That and the fraud.

Liz Ditz said...

Wakefield has actually been in the US since 2005. See Brian Deer's report.

Karl refers to the Poul Thorsen affair, which is still murky. Kennedy claims Thorsen was a "central figure" in the Danish research that showed that there was no relationship between autism and vaccination.

The anti-vaccine forces tried to make a big deal about it, but it comes down to Thorsen having a second academic appointment and using research funds at the second institution, not the first. Big scandal, eh?

Anonymous said...

[I know I'll get killed for this, but here goes...]

The doctor may have not beeen entirely wrong, but for reasons he does not understand. According to biomedical research of the past 10 years, cell wall deficient bacteria.

According to a recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate, 90% of cells in the human body are bacterial, fungal, or otherwise non-human.1 Although many have concluded that bacteria surely enjoy a commensal relationship with their human hosts, only a fraction of the human microbiota has been characterized, much less identified. The sheer number of non-human genes represented by the human microbiota – 1,000,000+ compared to the nearly 32,000 in the human genome – implies we have just begun to fathom the full extent to which bacteria work to facilitate their own survival.

Recently, millions of Swine Flu vaccinations were taken off-market because they were teeming with bacteria that had not been filtered out during the purification process. Even those making the vaccinations, if cornered and forced to tell you the truth, would admit that it is impossible to filter out ALL the bacteria lurking in a vaccination.

Bacteria is believed by many biomedical researchers to be the culprit in a number of chronic illnesses: Lyme syndrome, Sarcoidosis, Lupus, and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few. So why do we all not get these diseases? Some people have a sensitivity [which would take 10,000 words to explain] that makes them susceptible to certain bacteria, while the immune system of others is better equipt to handle these invaders.

It is conceivable (I dare say, a surety) that bacteria plays a role in the bodies of all people to determine what diseases they develop. It is also conceivable that a child with a particular weakness might develop autism fter being exposed to certain bacteria (found in a vaccination or through environmental exposure) which might possibly be curable if it is dealt with quickly using a treatment protocol that I myself have been using to great success for sarcoidosis. There are children in my study who are making improvements. (again, I dare not mention the protocol here, because it is certain to be misinterpreted in the context of this forum, but if you would like to speak directly to the researcher who developed it treat the above diseases and more, I will give you his information).

The FDA is the worst kind of cult: they play favorites, contradict their own data, and are slow to recognize the exploratory efforts of those outside their circle of advisers, many of whom have ties to the pharmaceutical industry. If the FDA declares something safe, I inclined to think the opposite.

I am not posting here to defend Dr. Wakefield. I think he was wrong. I also don't believe we should forgo all vaccinations for children, though I will never consent vaccinate myself against anything again - why tempt fate? But to discount the dangers vaccinations wholly is irresponsible. One must understand the complexity of microbes and their effect on the human body to see that it's not all hogwash.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 12:51: Is it OK if we just maim you a little bit?

Seriously, thanks for weighing in with that. It's food for thought. If my years in journalism have taught me anything at all, it's that almost nothing is 100% true or false.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:51

I find it difficult to believe that fully 90% of the cells in my body at this moment could be non-self unless I'm dead and in an advanced state of putrefaction...

references, please?

Tyro said...


Numerically he's right, there are about 10x as many non-human cells as human though the human cells are much larger and by weight we're still mostly human. I think he's greatly exaggerating the power to change individual biochemistry however.

Wikipedia has a good overview with many links in the references section.