Just when you thought that Andrew Wakefield could not annoy us any more with his delusional bromance with Donald Trump and pushing a discredited movie on the public, he comes back with a new Andrew Wakefield paper published in Ecology and Evolution, which has… Read More »New Andrew Wakefield paper – what is he saying now about vaccines?
Today, 3 September is the 60th birthday for one of the biggest scientific frauds of our lifetime, maybe of the past 100 years or so. So today it’s time for the carnivorous dinosaur to wish a happy birthday Andrew Wakefield.
The Skeptical Raptor appeared to get a little nauseous.Read More »Happy Birthday Andrew Wakefield – a poll to choose the best gift
On 19 July 2016, autism self-advocate Fiona O’Leary, an Irish mother of five children, two of them autistic – a powerful and long-time fighter against alternative treatments of autism and the myth that vaccines cause autism – posted a video to her Facebook page. In the 15-minute self-interview, Ms. O’Leary called out certain statements made by a team of the creators of the anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaxxed as they travel the United States, holding question and answers session with viewers. In response, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her.
What prompted Ms. O’Leary to speak out is that the Vaxxed team are forming groups to bring the film to Ireland and the UK. On July 19, Ms. O’Leary started a petition calling on the Texas Attorney General to act against the movie and the statements by its team. and published her Facebook video to YouTube.
On July 21, 2016 Phillippe Diaz, CEO of Cinema Libre, the company distributing Vaxxed worldwide, sent Ms. O’Leary a letter claiming that her statements were defamatory. Also, the Vaxxed distributor threatened her with a defamation lawsuit if she didn’t stop talking about Vaxxed and its team. The team includes disgraced former scientist turned film director Andrew Wakefield, producer Del Bigtree, and their associate Polly Tommey. There is no indication a lawyer saw the letter beforehand, though an attorney is copied.
On July 22, 2016, the Australian science blogger Reasonable Hank published six of the videos from the Vaxxed team, validating Mrs. O’Leary’s claim that the Vaxxed team has indeed made the reprehensible statements. Diaz’s letter is therefore clearly an attempt to intimidate Ms. O’Leary.
She interpreted the letter as a clear attempt to intimidate, as she explains in a second video.
This post will touch on some of the legal issues.Read More »Vaxxed distributor threatened Fiona O’Leary – they’re afraid of facts
I guess this story won’t die. After the huge kerfuffle with respect to the fraudumentary, Vaxxed, you’d think that I wouldn’t have to read anything where Robert De Niro talks vaccines – but alas, he is still pontificating on vaccine issues where he clearly is clueless.
In case you were on a trip to Ceti Alpha V, missing the whole Vaxxed/Tribeca Film Festival/Robert De Niro story, here’s a quick review:
- Mr. Andy Wakefield, one of the greatest modern scientific swindlers, makes a fake documentary about the so-called CDC whistleblower. He uses this to make unsupported claims that vaccines cause autism, which is overwhelmingly refuted by real science.
- Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival included the fraudumentary in its schedule of independent movies for the 2016 version of the festival.
- The internet, press, and other moviemakers ridicule De Niro, the film festival and Wakefield.
- Tribeca decides to pull the film.
So that should be the end of the story, right? Those of you who follow the anti-vaccination world understand that a story never really dies. It just becomes a zombie meme.
The movie Vaxxed is an anti-vaccine polemic that claims, despite all of the high quality contradictory evidence, that there is a link between the MMR vaccine, for mumps, measles and rubella, and autism. Furthermore, it claims that the US government is engaging in a conspiracy to hide said link. Reviews of the film have appropriately emphasized the checkered past of its director, Andrew Wakefield, a discredited ex-scientist with a history of misrepresentations. Many of the reviews point out that Wakefield is not a credible source for information on vaccines.
In a recent video posted on the Vaxxed website, Andrew Wakefield took those claims head on, mounting a passionate defense of his reputation. If anything, however, this video further shows that Wakefield is not a good source of information.
The video’s claims range from unsupported (and implausible) to blatantly false. Unfortunately for Wakefield, Brian Deer meticulously documented each step in the events, making it relatively easy to identify the problems in these claims. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Wakefield’s adherents are unlikely to check his claims, and others may also accept his word without fact-checking. It’s therefore worth going through the claims.
To hear Wakefield, he was the victim of a conspiracy mounted because he dared raise safety concerns about vaccines. But as with his book, Callous Disregard (pdf), Wakefield’s claims are ill founded. In short, there are good reasons he lost his license and his reputation as a serious scientist.
A brief review of the history of this story – in 1998, Wakefield and co-authors published a paper suggesting that the measles component of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused changes in some children’s guts, and that those changes were associated with autism.
In 2007, after extensive investigation by Brian Deer published at The Sunday Times, Britain’s General Medical Council (GMC) opened an investigation of their own to answer the question: Did Wakefield engage in serious professional misconduct? In May 2010, the GMC found that yes, he did, and removed Wakefield from the British medical register (pdf).
Wakefield’s claims in the Allegations video can be put into three categories:
- there were no serious ethical violations or fraud in relation to the article he published in the Lancet;
- he’d done nothing wrong otherwise, measles outbreaks are not his fault, the GMC decision was generally wrong, and Walker-Smith’s acquittal shows that; and
- Brian Deer’s articles are a fraud motivated by a conspiracy.
None of these claims hold water.
If you were paying attention to this website over the past couple of weeks, you’d know that the actor Robert De Niro has come out as a vaccine denialist – he thinks that autism and vaccinations are somehow linked, despite the robust and broad scientific evidence that they are not correlated.
The return of this zombie manufactroversy, and De Niro’s involvement, arises from the inclusion of the anti-vaccination fraudumentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy, at the Tribeca Film Festival. And if you’re unfamiliar with the fraudumentary, it is from the cunning swindler, Mr. Andy Wakefield who attempted to “prove” that autism and vaccinations are linked, by inventing a so-called CDC whistleblower incident and other outright lies. If you are interested, you can read about this movie here, here, and here.
I cannot say this enough – if you know nothing more than just the basics about autism and vaccinations, then your education about it should start with Mr. Wakefield who perpetrated one of the greatest scientific frauds in the history of mankind (and that’s not an exaggeration).
Mr. Wakefield published a paper, subsequently withdrawn by the highly respected medical journal, Lancet, that blamed the MMR vaccine (vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella) for causing autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Brian Deer, a respected journalist at the medical journal, BMJ, wrote extensively about Wakefield’s despicable deceit which you can read here, here, and here. Basically, Deer uncovered the massive fraud by Wakefield, which included things like working for attorneys who were suing MMR manufacturers and trying to patent his own version of the measles vaccine. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Wakefield from unsuccessfully suing Deer and BMJ several times.
As a result of Wakefield’s disinformation, some of the most dangerous outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can be laid at the feet of Wakefield, as parents started to refuse to vaccinate their children against these diseases. And of course, billions of dollars, money that could have been spent on actually treating and assisting children with ASD, was spent to investigate this claim, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers completely dismissing and debunking any link between any vaccine and any type of autism.
Let me make this abundantly clear– the vaccines cause autism myth has never been supported by real science even when we looked hard for evidence.Read More »Autism and vaccines are not correlated in 1.3 million child study
There are so many rumors about the genuine Skeptical Raptor – I think I could find a full-time job amusing myself. I mean, who is the person behind the carnivorous dinosaur? I’ve been accused of being Orac. I mean, I could… Read More »Poll – who is the genuine Skeptical Raptor
The antivaccine hate speech is a fundamental strategy of their vaccine denialism. I’ve spoken about it before, but the vitriolic attacks on Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a frequent contributor here and a renowned expert on vaccines and law, any time she speaks about vaccines has moved into the surreal.
Although I lack no statistics per se, I’d say that the anti-vaccine hate speech has focused on a few individuals – Professor Reiss, Dr. Paul Offit, Brian Deer, and in a group just slightly below, important skeptics like Dr. David Gorski and some chap named Orac.
Just as an aside, there used to be an amusing trend on Wikipedia whereby pseudoscience-pushing editors would accuse various editors of being the real Dr. Gorski. One of my sockpuppets was accused of being that, which made me laugh. I am not, nor have I ever been, David Gorski. Though I admit my ego is gratified to be thrown into the same conspiracy theories with an esteemed researcher and physician, even if it’s proposed by tinfoil hat wearing lunatics.
But the crazies have become, if this is possible, crazier. Stay tuned.Read More »Antivaccine hate speech – Canadians ought to be insulted
On September 19, 2014 the Third Court of Appeals of Texas rejected Andrew Wakefield’s appeal against the decision of a Texas trial court that it had no jurisdiction to hear his libel suit against The British Medical Journal (the original article), Brian Deer, and Fiona Godlee. The details of that case and the suggestion that Andrew Wakefield was strategically using litigation to both rally supporters and deter critics have been previously addressed.
Andrew Wakefield had 45 days to appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court (Tex. R. App. P. 53.7). That time ended on November 3–an appeal was not filed by Mr. Wakefield within that time.Read More »Andrew Wakefield keeps trying–another appeal
In January 2012 Andrew Wakefield, a British citizen residing in Texas, sued Brian Deer, a British journalist, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and Dr. Fiona Godlee, the British editor of BMJ, in a Texas trial Court for libel. Wakefield claimed that a series of articles titled “Secrets of the MMR Scare” written by Brian Deer, edited by Fiona Godlee and published in the BMJ were defamatory. The articles detailed serious scientific misconduct by Andrew Wakefield.
On August 3, 2012, Wakefield’s suit was dismissed based on a lack of jurisdiction. Wakefield then appealed the dismissal. On September 19, 2014 the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District ruled that the Andrew Wakefield appeal was denied (pdf).
The decision itself is focused on issues of civil procedure that may be less of interest to non-lawyers, though these issues are crucially important to litigants and lawyers. But this story is a good demonstration of strategic use of litigation by Andrew Wakefield and an opportunity to discuss the advantages and potential problems of that approach.Read More »Litigating as “debate” tactic? Wakefield appeal was denied