Buttle's World

8 February, 2009

There goes what’s left of The Lancet’s credibility

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 11:57

Anti-vaccine hero Andrew Wakefield, publisher of the infamous 1998 Lancet paper supposedly linking MMR vaccines with autism, is not just incompetent but, apparently, a total fraud.

In brief, the laboratory used was set up such that cross contamination between the plasmids used to maintain the measles virus sequences and the area where the PCR was done. PCR is very sensitive; if there is contaminating plasmid sequence, it is very easy to amplify and detect it even when there is nothing in your samples. Indeed, I’ve experienced this very problem on occasion in my own lab. Unfortunately, in the case of Wakefield’s research, no controls were done to make sure that contamination was detected in the negative controls. Finally, Wakefield’s results were roundly refuted in an attempt to replicate his work that was published last year. As you can see, Wakefield’s work and ethics are about as bad as it gets.

Or so I thought, until readers started sending me this article published in The Times, again by Wakefield’s nemesis Brian Deer. Holy crap. If only a fraction of the allegations in this article are true, not only is Wakefield an unscrupulous and incompetent scientist but he’s a scientific fraud as well.

1998 is the year my daughter was born and, as a worried new parent, I was almost taken in by this cretin and the useful idiots in the press. So I take this decipt rather personally – and am doubly glad I’ve become a confirmed skeptic. As far as I’m concerned both Wakefield and The Lancet have blood on their hands.


  1. […] of Buttle’s World has a trenchant comment: There goes what’s left of The Lancet’s credibility. 1998 is the year my daughter was born and, as a worried new parent, I was almost taken in by this […]

    Pingback by Brian Deer Discusses Andrew Wakefield in the Sunday Times: Many Updates « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science — 8 February, 2009 @ 13:11

  2. I’ve done another round-up post — who is saying what about the Deer articles on Wakefield in the London Times. I’ve included this post.

    11 years on, Wakefield Manufactured Data showing MMR-Autism Link?

    Comment by Liz Ditz — 8 February, 2009 @ 20:22

  3. Wakefield, yes. But the Lancet? How could they have known this paper was a fraud? It’s not as though medical journal editors can go and personally check the facts in each paper they get for themselves.

    I think the co-authors of the paper have a lot more to answer for. What on earth were ten co-authors doing on a study that only contained twelve subjects? If it’s true that Wakefield forged his evidence, then there’s no way any of those co-authors can have been involved in actually seeing the patients or reviewing the paper, or they would have picked up the discrepancies from the start. I’m guessing that this might be a case of people wanting their names on a paper and accepting an offer to have their name on a paper they’d done little or nothing towards producing. I’ll bet they rue the day now.

    Comment by Sarah V. — 13 February, 2009 @ 16:09

  4. It turns out journalist Brian Deer made it up:-
    “Sunday Times Journalist Made Up Wakefield MMR Data Fixing Allegation”:

    And he was helping the US Justice Dept sink 4500 US kids claims for vaccine damage compensation – what kind of normal journalist does that? Ans: none.
    “US Federal Court, US Justice Dept & The Sunday Times – More Questions Than Answers”

    Note: I approved this comment so that everybody can follow the links to see what the anti-vaccine side looks like. It ain’t pretty. If you prefer scientific information to personal attacks, there’s plenty here.

    But, whatever you do, read this.

    Comment by childhealthsafety — 20 February, 2009 @ 1:19

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