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The Lancet Recants Study Linking Autism To Vaccine 590

Posted by kdawson
from the reel-in-the-wingnuts dept.
JamJam writes "The Lancet, a major British medical journal, has retracted a flawed study linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism and bowel disease. British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues originally released their study in 1998. Since then 10 of Wakefield's 13 co-authors have renounced the study's conclusions and The Lancet has said it should never have published the research. Wakefield now faces being stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. The vaccine-autism debate should now end."
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The Lancet Recants Study Linking Autism To Vaccine

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  • But (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:27PM (#31002682)

    Wasn't it peer reviewed?

    • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:30PM (#31002742)
      As someone else pointed out to me not long ago, peer review is really not geared toward finding certain kinds of mistakes, or deliberate fraud. There is still an assumption of integrity; an assumption that has caught a number of reputable journals in recent years.
      • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

        by slimjim8094 (941042) <[slashdot3] [at] [justconnected.net]> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:16PM (#31003278)

        That's a good way to think about it. Peer review, like the market, only works with honorable actors. Scientists are presumed to be honorable, so the way peer review is structured doesn't attempt to look for deliberate forgeries or falsehoods. Peer review is more along the lines of "this conclusion isn't backed up by your data" or "you forgot about this possibility" - that is, it catches mistakes or oversights. And it's pretty good for that.

        These spates of disreputable science (this, and the ghost writers for example) is a good bit concerning. There historically hasn't been much deception at all, at least in modern science... I hope this isn't the harbinger of politics-as-science.

        • Re:But (Score:5, Interesting)

          by VShael (62735) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:31AM (#31007580) Journal

          I know it's WAY off topic, in that it has nothing to do with vaccines or autism, but I really wanted to focus on this point you made:

          "Peer review, like the market, only works with honorable actors. Scientists are presumed to be honorable, so the way peer review is structured doesn't attempt to look for deliberate forgeries or falsehoods."

          This is SO important, it bears repeating. It bears framing, and should be put on the inside cover of every peer review journal.

          I wasn't the only person who fell into that trap, when Michael Drosnin published "The Bible Code". Having a mathematics background, I read through the paper by Eli Rips and genuinely could not find fault with it. And the results were so conclusive, I gave serious consideration to becoming Jewish based on the results of what appeared to be an air-tight mathematical proof. (I still use this example now, as an atheist, to say that if someone ever shows me convincing evidence of gods existence, i'll accept it. Atheists follow the evidence, we don't "hate" god.)

          Anyway, it later transpired that Rabbi / Professor Eli Rips was a lying son of a bitch, who clearly thought that lying was okay if it spread the word of his god. There was nothing wrong with the maths paper. Only the assumptions it relied on were false, and my assumption (that a maths paper wouldn't be submitted based on deliberate false precepts) was wrong.

          (For those interested, it had to do with multiplying the probabilities of 50 independent events, thereby getting an extraordinarily low probability. Only the events were not independent at all, so multiplying the probabilities doesn't work.)

      • Re:But (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:05AM (#31005490) Homepage

        Pretty much bang-on. The only way to catch deliberate, willful fraud is to repeat each step of the experiment. That takes time (of order as much time as the original experiment) and cost, both of which would get pretty expensive quickly. In addition, you face the difficulty of using competitive peers to check each others' work as gatekeepers. (It'd be easy for me to shoot down my nearest rivals in a way that would be difficult to check against me. And I'm the best person to check my rivals.)

        In the end, the best way to view a peer-reviewed paper is, "This looks accurate and reasonable enough to share with you all." Not, "This is true," but enough to share around with other academics. Sadly, real-world uses often confuse this with a stamp of approval for accuracy.

        (Also note that any peer-review process, short of having a lot of people/group repeat each experiment independently, will be prone to willful fraud. The nature of any security is that once the precautions are known, someone can find a way around them.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, by a few peers. Publishing it lets a larger group of peers review it. It passed the first review (maybe 4, 5 peers?) and failed the 2nd (a few hundred, maybe a few thousand peers?)

      This is how peer review works - reputable journal doesn't want to publish rubbish, so a few peers get to review the research before journal publishes. Since journal is reputable other peers read it, and then they get to refute the findings, find errors, etc.
  • Oh, the naivete. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:27PM (#31002684)

    The vaccine-autism debate should now end.

    Yeah, right. Since when have facts ever got in the way of a 'good' conspiracy theory?

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:32PM (#31002750) Journal

      Since when have facts ever got in the way of a 'good' conspiracy theory?

      There was one once, but they covered it up, I swear it.

  • by Senes (928228) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#31002698)
    If you read about it in other places besides here, what you'd more likely see is just endless mockery that would blind people to anything that really *could* go wrong with vaccinations. It is like discussing fertile land turning to desert in rural Africa, then hearing someone chime in that global warming is a hoax because it is snowing outside his window right now.
    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:08PM (#31003800)
      I believe in global warming and all that. But desertification is mostly NOT caused by global warming. It is caused by over grazing, deforestation, and removal of water from an area (think dams and irrigation). It is also a self perpetuating cycle (dunes spread). Just wanted to clear that up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blueg3 (192743)

        Most current desertification, yes. One of the identified potential "tipping points" of climate change is the transition of a large fertile region of Africa into desert.

  • For our sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#31002704) Journal

    Can someone outline the flaws in the study? I know we here at /. are experts at things like that. But I also don't want to RTFA.

    So why exactly should I not believe the original study? From where I stand (which is little to zero knowledge on the subject) I could conclude that each of the co authors one by one were persuaded by the various pharmaceutical companies which standed to be harmed by this research.

    • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:34PM (#31002780)

      By the same principle, since you know nothing, why exactly SHOULD you believe the original study?

    • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:38PM (#31002808)

      So why exactly should I not believe the original study? From where I stand (which is little to zero knowledge on the subject) I could conclude that each of the co authors one by one were persuaded by the various pharmaceutical companies which standed to be harmed by this research.

      From Quackwatch.org [quackwatch.org]:

      The only "evidence" linking MMR vaccine and autism was published in the British journal Lancet in 1998. An editorial published in the same issue, however, discussed concerns about the validity of the study. Based on data from 12 patients, Dr. Andrew Wakefield (a British gastroenterologist) and colleagues speculated that MMR vaccine may have been the possible cause of bowel problems which led to a decreased absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients which resulted in developmental disorders like autism. No scientific analyses were reported, however, to substantiate the theory. Whether this series of 12 cases represent an unusual or unique clinical syndrome is difficult to judge without knowing the size of the patient population and time period over which the cases were identified.

      If there happened to be selective referral of patients with autism to the researchers' practice, for example, the reported case series may simply reflect such referral bias. Moreover, the theory that autism may be caused by poor absorption of nutrients due to bowel inflammation is senseless and is not supported by the clinical data. In at least 4 of the 12 cases, behavioral problems appeared before the onset of symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. Furthermore, since publication of their original report in February of 1998, Wakefield and colleagues have published another study in which highly specific laboratory assays in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the posited mechanism for autism after MMR vaccination, were negative for measles virus.

    • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Informative)

      by expatriot (903070) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:38PM (#31002810)

      second entry on Google:
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704022804575041212437364420.html [wsj.com]

      Ten of the 13 authors of the original paper, all of whom were researchers at the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London, partially retracted the paper in 2004. However, the first author, Andrew Wakefield, didn't. Dr. Wakefield, who is now at the Thoughtful House Center for Children in Austin, Texas, didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

      "Many consumer groups have spent 10 years waging a campaign against vaccines even in the face of scientific evidence," said Dr. Horton of the Lancet. "We didn't have the evidence back in 2004 to fully retract the paper but we did have enough concern to persuade the authors to partly retract the paper."

      The Lancet decided to issue a complete retraction after an independent regulator for doctors in the U.K. concluded last week that the study was flawed. The General Medical Council's report on three of the researchers, including Dr. Wakefield, found evidence that some of their actions were conducted for experimental purposes, not clinical care, and without ethics approval. The report also found that Dr. Wakefield drew blood for research purposes from children at his son's birthday party, paying each child £5 (about $8).

      The Lancet's Dr. Horton said the journal was particularly concerned about the ethical treatment of the children in the study, and that the children had been "cherry-picked" by the study's authors rather than just showing up in the hospital, as described in the paper.

      The authors "did suggest these children arrived one after another and this syndrome was apparent, which does lead you to think this is something serious," said Dr. Horton.

      • To name just one (Score:4, Informative)

        by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:54PM (#31003026)
        The technician who did the original PCR tests for measles virus in the biopsy samples came up negative. So Wakefield sent it off to a lab to do a different kind of test that's prone to false positives -- and which didn't use negative controls. Result: positives! For some reason the earlier results weren't reported.

        It's amazing what results you can get if you keep repeating the experiment until you get the results you want.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          For some reason the earlier results weren't reported.

          It's amazing what results you can get if you keep repeating the experiment until you get the results you want.

          You mean if you are unscrupulous and are willing to change the experiment until it is flawed in such a way that it provides the answer you want.

          To use my favorite counter example, Michelson and Morley [wikipedia.org] very much wanted their experiment to demonstrate the existence of the Aether. And to that end, they repeated it over, and over, and over, and over,

    • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:39PM (#31002820)
      Why should you not believe Wakefield?

      (1) Wakefield performed at least some parts of his study in an unethical manner.

      (2) Subsequent to the publication of this study, other researchers have tried to duplicate Wakefield's results but nobody has succeeded in doing so.

      (3) Wakefield is not a disinterested party; he has received a great deal of money from those who stand to profit from his conclusions.

      (4) Various circumstances [including (2) and (3) above] have caused others in the medical community to suspect Wakefield of fraud related to this "study".
    • Re:For our sake (Score:4, Informative)

      by arikol (728226) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:41PM (#31002848) Journal

      Sure.

      His methodology was deeply flawed:
      his selection of research subjects very biased as he chose subjects he already had experience with and knew their problems so he could skew the control group like he wanted,
      Some research subjects were selected/tested at a children's birthday party,some without parents consent (serious violation of research ethics).
      No proper double blinding was done,
      and even then the results were mismanaged in such a way that they showed a strong correlation (which in fact, even his skewed results did not really show).

      Apart from him (Dr.Wakefield) having ties to anti vaccination groups and heading some of them and making a ton of money on his scare tactics (the results of which are little things like an increase in children dying from measles and other such lovely things).

      basically, anything which could be done wrong WAS done wrong. I've seen better done research in homeopathy journals, and they're not really known for using science at all.

    • Re:For our sake (Score:5, Informative)

      by wolrahnaes (632574) <<sean> <at> <seanharlow.info>> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:44PM (#31002906) Homepage Journal

      The guys over at Science-Based Medicine have you covered: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3660 [sciencebasedmedicine.org]

      If you look back through their post archives, you can find dozens more touching on the subject of Wakefield's paper in particular and vaccines in general, among other things.

    • Re:For our sake (Score:4, Interesting)

      by postbigbang (761081) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:51PM (#31002986)

      Maybe you want to just understand why, and when you find a common denominator possibility, you jump on it, wanting to be a simple answer.

      Like Mencken said, complex problems have easy and understandable answers, and they're wrong.

      I wanted to find why a relative of mine has autism. Sure would be nice if we could blame it on the vaccine he got in 1963. But it wasn't. Like the retractions, many many things have been bandied about and none of them appear to be the cause. Was it his mother's smoking? Bad diet? He was a normal toddler, then it all went away. Years later, he can't live on his own. Do I want to know why?? Sure. But the Lancet published bad research that lots of people latched onto as a probable reason without knowing how low the sample size was, and so on. We still don't know. I wish we did.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dmr001 (103373)

      Wakefield had a financial conflict of interest with lawyers [briandeer.com] suing HM Government

      His sample size was 12

      His study population were not randomly recruited

      Some of the study siubjects showed signs of autism prior to their MMR vaccination

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:34PM (#31002772)

    Here my neck of the woods, I've heard countless mothers talk about how they would never get their kids vaccinated for seasonal or H1N1 flu, because of "what if..." syndrome. As in "What if.. the vaccine wasn't sufficiently tested, or what if my kid has a reaction, or I'd rather he get the flu than have a side effect.

    Of course if their kid gets sick and gives it to the kid's entire 25student classroom. The mother doesn't give a shit, because atleast she didn't get the side effect.

    My favorite is, "We have no idea what the side effect is of this vaccine in 10 or 20yrs."

  • The Retraction (Score:5, Informative)

    by pz (113803) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:35PM (#31002786) Journal

    Here's the actual retraction, rather than reporting on reporting on the retraction:

    The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 2 February 2010
    doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60175-7

    Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children

    The Editors of The Lancet

    Following the judgment of the UK General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel on Jan 28, 2010, it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al(1) are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation.(2) In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were "consecutively referred" and that investigations were "approved" by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.

    References

    1 Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 1998; 351: 637-641
    2 Hodgson H. A statement by The Royal Free and University College Medical School and The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust. Lancet 2004; 363: 824.

  • End the debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Canberra Bob (763479) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:47PM (#31002946) Journal

    After reading TFA, as far as my medically ignorant mind makes out, the study was withdrawn due to ethical issues obtaining the samples for the study, not due to issues with the conclusions drawn. I can see how this would lead Wakefield to be deregistered due to ethical considerations however how does this disprove his conclusions? The logic seems to go "your study shows there may be a link between autism and vaccines, you obtained samples unethically, therefore this proves once and for all and hereby ends the discussion that there is conclusively no link between autism and vaccines". I always pay extra close attention when a scientific discussion starts descending into claims of absolutes, a statement like "the possibility is laughably remote that there is a link between x and y" makes sense, "there is no link between x and y and nobody is to suggest there is" smacks of dark ages medicine rather than science.

    I would love someone more medically inclined to provide more background as I sense a lot of info was missing from the story / article.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      There were 12 patients used in the study. They were not randomly selected. That's pretty much enough to ignore that study entirely, and there isn't really any other research showing any sort of link.

    • Re:End the debate? (Score:5, Informative)

      by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:27PM (#31003386)

      The unethical conduct is just the last nail in the coffin.

      1. The original supposition, based on 12 patients, was that MMR vaccine may have been the possible cause of bowel problems which led to a decreased absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients which resulted in developmental disorders like autism. No analysis was provided to substantiate this, it was pure unfounded supposition.

      2. Subsequent laboratory assays on the patients in question found no evidence of measles virus DNA, indicating that the vaccine was not responsible for the cases of inflammatory bowel disease.

      3. Clinical evidence doesn't support a link between IBD and autism.

      4. Twelve subsequent studies have failed to find any evidence of a link between MMR and autism.

      Calling the possibility of a link "laughably remote" is an understatement.

    • Re:End the debate? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by robotkid (681905) <.alanc2052. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:39PM (#31003530)

      After reading TFA, as far as my medically ignorant mind makes out, the study was withdrawn due to ethical issues obtaining the samples for the study, not due to issues with the conclusions drawn.

      One of the central issues with these sorts of studies, scientifically, is that there is no actual mechanism proposed by which having a vaccine can lead to autism, hence no specific hypothesis to prove or disprove other than the vaguely described "correlation" between the two. It turns out that Autism is typically diagnosed at the same stage in child development that one is supposed to be immunized, thus leading to an inevitable number of cases where one proceeds the other by a short time span and might appear to have been "causative" at an anectodal level, especially to devastated parents desperate for some sort of autism cure. This is precisely the sort of link that, in absence of a proposed disease mechanism to explain the connection, one can only deduce from rigorous, systematic studies that carefully test the hypothesis that there is some sort of non-random correlation in a large, statistically significant sample of patients.

      12 children does not constitute a statistical sample, especially if you already secretly knew most of them already had autism, doubly so in fact you were being paid to represent the kids parents in anti-vaccine litigation (since we have to take the author's word that he didn't cherry pick to produce the observed correlation).

      It doesn't help at all that autism is one of the least understood mental disorders, we know comparatively much more about the underlying causes of Huntingtons and Alzheimers, to the point at which I would not be surprised if there are effective treatments within 10 or 15 years. With autism your guess is as good as mine, the community is grasping at straws for a good explanation of what is going on. And we do know that the incidence seems to rising dramatically in recent times, which is an alarming trend to say to least.

      It's not that I trust big pharma companies so much, or even that the scientific method is so perfect. It's just Occam's razor, a conspiracy of the scale that is proposed by anti-vaccination types reflects a complete disconnect from the realities of biomedical research. It's a dog-eat-dog world with thousands of competing sources of influences and hundreds of thousands of "players" who more like free agents all trying to make a name for themselves. It's not some monolithic organization like the military that was designed from bottom up to keep secrets from the public.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueg3 (192743)

      I think "more scientifically inclined" might help.

      Ethical malfeasance when selecting your subjects casts serious doubt on your conclusions. For the most part, people can't actually verify your original data. They can replicate your study by gathering their own data, and then can verify your analytical methods (to the extent you provide original data), but it's basically impossible to verify that your original data were taken properly. Readers and reviewers rely on your honesty in data collection (knowing th

  • by rbrander (73222) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:48PM (#31002972) Homepage
    I thought Kennedy had rather too-strong opinions on the subject when he appeared on Jon Stewart a few years back. Then I found this article on Slate, 2005: http://www.slate.com/id/2123647/ [slate.com] ...by Arthur Allen, the guy who first did an in-depth story on the subject for the New York Times magazine in 2002. Early paragraph:

    "Since then, four perfectly good studies comparing large populations of kids have showed that thimerosal did not cause the increased reporting of autism. The best evidence comes from Denmark, which stopped putting thimerosal in vaccines in 1992; the rate of autism in kids born afterward continued to increase. "

    ...suffice to say, by the end of that article, I'd lost interest in the subject. About the only question of interest here, is "what took the Lancet so long?" Physician and SF writer F.Paul Wilson runs a blog at TrueSlant.com: http://trueslant.com/fpaulwilson/ [trueslant.com] ...where his most recent post riffs off the BBC story about the Lancet article author actually being cited for "acting unethically". Wilson puts it:

    The MMR is the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. The UK's General Medical Council also ruled that Dr. Andrew Wakefield ...acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research... Get this: the guy is a gastroenterologist and he was doing spinal taps on kids. He paid kids and his son's birthday party £5 each for blood. His so-called research was published in 1998 in the respected journal The Lancet, but he neglected to mention that he was being paid to advise the lawyers for parents who believed their children had been harmed by the MMR. The board said he had acted with "callous disregard for the distress and pain the children might suffer".

    Click on Dr. Wilson's link to see his copy of a graph showing the slight drop in MMR vaccinations resulting in a sharp increase in measles cases. Fortunately, a mere thousand or so more per year will only mean a couple of deaths, blindings, sterilizations, and so forth. Words fail me.

  • by elenaran (649639) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @07:57PM (#31003062)
    suck it, Jenny McCarthy & Oprah [slate.com]!
  • by nilbog (732352) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:16PM (#31003262) Homepage Journal

    ...I for one am waiting to see what Jenny McCarthy has to say about this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      I can save you the time:

      Big Pharma is out to get Dr. Wakefield.

      See, conspiracy doesn't really require thinking.

  • by pipedwho (1174327) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @08:27PM (#31003392)

    The problem is that most people don't understand statistics, numerical significance or even the scientific method. This leads the unwashed masses to jump to conclusions that are based on anecdotal evidence, un-normalised data comparisons and non-causal correlations which sound quite reasonable on the surface.

    When a study is properly performed and analysed to remove various biases and incorrect assumptions, it usually involves counter-intuitive statistical analyses.

    Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding of the scientific method, and despite the fact that a denouncement has been widely reported, many people will still be given media time to promote their ignorant contrarian claims.

    When discussing high profile scientific studies like this one, I keep hearing people argue with reasoning like 'well that is just another point of view'. I intentionally used the word 'claims' and not 'view point' in the above paragraph. A view point implies that a contradictory, but valid alternative explanation exists. In the case of scientific study, a falsifiable hypothesis can be shown to be true or false. If it is deemed false it may still be correct in some of it's underlying elements. In that case it would be revised and a more accurate hypothesis developed.

    Some people seem to think that if they personally don't understand the complex reasoning process behind a peer reviewed scientific conclusion, then they should feel free to jump to their own. Because of this, many kids have not been immunised over the last ten years, and now we are seeing the fall out of what happens when too many people decide against the recommendations of the medical establishment.

    • Except that... (Score:4, Informative)

      by tjstork (137384) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ykswordnab.ddot)> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:41PM (#31004076) Homepage Journal

      First, the problem with statistics is that they deal in huge quantities to be accurate, and, the human body is sufficiently complex that lurking behind any "outlier" might exist a causal relationship for just that person.

      Second, the medical establishment has made some spectacular mistakes through the years and people simply do not trust them.

      By anyone's admission, the number of medical mistakes and fatalities from them are so enormous that literally every family has a story where the doctor screwed up. Advice given out by the medical community has changed, as well.

      At one point in time, the medical establishment advocated a diet of four food groups, one of which would turn out to be loaded in cholesterol. At one point in time, antibiotics were hailed as the end of bacterial infections, and now medicine is essentially backpedalling against a resurgance in diseases once thought "cured".

      Most damningly though, is, the whole question of whether or not medical science is actually worth the expense. Some studies have shown that once you factor out hygeine and nutrition, the lifespan of humans has not actually changed in 100 years. Essentially, if you get a virus, you will either recover or not, and bacterial infections are actually not common enough to really effect the larger course of affairs.

      Finally, the politicization of science has happened even in medicine. The whole concept of the university, and by extension, the doctor was of someone who earned a decent living but was removed from the field of genuine wealth in order to be free from not only its temptations, but its distractions. Now, we have very real cases where doctors are rigging double blind studies in order to try and sell stock in their biotech company, manipulating the lives of real patients solely to cash in.

      Who do you trust in medicine these days? Who do you trust in science? As soon as universities started amassing huge patent warchests and enormous funds, as soon as science got -expensive-, it became political, and because it is political, it cannot be trusted, as much as nothing else political can be trusted.

  • by Faerunner (1077423) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @09:30PM (#31003980)
    This should be old news. Wakefield's hypothesis has long since been jumped on, ground into the dirt, ignored, badmouthed and laughed at by a lot of autism caregivers (unfortunately, not all... and the new big thing in autism care is "alternative" treatments, which is a whole other can of worms). The argument's not going to end, though. As another poster said: people need something to blame, and this is one thing that everyone's "heard" from someone, reputable or not.

    As someone who works with autism on a daily basis (I am a behavioral therapist in early intervention wraparound services), it frustrates me endlessly that we're focusing on something so trivial as finding a single cause for autism when it's beginning to look more and more like there are a constellation of causes, each one probably dependent on the presence of several others and a genetic predisposition toward autistic behaviors. I'd rather see funding go toward long-term care; more and more of these kids are growing up without the right care and intervention, and those kids when they reach adulthood will be the ones you'll see on the news: vagrants because the state won't provide care any more, filling our jails because of misunderstandings caused by a lack of socially appropriate behavior, or worse - violent and hospitalized because their caregivers can't or won't take care of them any more. What happens when that cute kid with autism grows up to be that 6' tall, 250lb adult with autism? I know one of those kids. He's in and out of the hospital because he can't take care of himself and abuses his spineless mother. When she dies, he'll be a constant drain on the system. And here we are debating the vaccine link.

    Waiting for the news that more states are approving funding for Autism care and proven wraparound services under mental health/disability guidelines...

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