Andrew Wakefield made it all up?
Posted by Polonius on 8 February, 2009
The Sunday Times has an unfortunate obsession with exclusive stories. It’s unfortunate because the desire to get the story published often takes priority over checking the facts. The most notorious example was the Hitler’s diaries hoax of 1983. I’m sure they’ve fallen for the odd previously undiscovered Shakespeare work as well but, in characteristic Sunday Times fashion, I can’t be bothered checking.
These hoaxes cause the Sunday Times and its publishers much embarrassment, and the rest of us much schadenfreude. Unfortunately, the paper’s performance on health stories is less amusing. Its sympathetic treatment of Peter Duesberg‘s eccentric views on the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS may be due to incompetence, but was prolonged over an estended period and may have had fatal consequences. Its editorial staff can sleep soundly in their beds in the knowledge that the deaths in the UK as a consequence of their publishing this rubbish have been far fewer than South Africa’s 330,000 from 2000 to 2005.
Against this background, it would be dangerous to assume that a medical story in the Sunday Times would be painstakingly researched and verified. So it is with some misgivings that I recommend reading today’s piece by Brian Deer. If this proves accurate, it will blow away the last vestige of evidence behind the whole preposterous MMR-autism nonsense. Not that the cranks are overly concerned about evidence. Brian Deer has done good work on this issue before; it’s just unfortunate that he chooses to publish in the Sunday Times.