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February 02, 2010

The Science is Settled: Medical Journal The Lancet Retracts Claim of MMR Vaccine-Autism Link

The reason for the retraction is odd, to me.

Unless I'm reading this wrong, and I may be, the problem isn't so much that the study's data set was fudged, but that the researcher behaved unethically in getting it.

Which means this is sort of unresolved, and those who believe in (or fear the possibility of) the MMR-autism link will say this was retracted for largely political reasons.

Which might even be true. The left doesn't like the "anti-science" vibe they believe is going on with the MMR-autism link; they have this weird desire to establish scientists as some kind of technocratic fourth branch of government. And they hate when people don't listen to scientists. (Except when scientists say things they disagree with, of course.) And they also hate the idea that vaccine avoidance is a much bigger phenomenon on the right than the left.

On the other hand, a lot of research since then has discredited the paper's theories and claims.

But, as far as the reason for the retraction itself, it is based on "improper" and "unethical" methods, not manipulated or fraudulent ones.


The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.

The 12-year-old study linked autism with the MMR vaccine. The research subsequently had been discredited.

Last week, the study's lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.

The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that "there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper" and that his "conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible."

The panel found that Wakefield subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and MRI scans. He also paid children for blood samples for research purposes at his son's birthday party, an act that "showed a callous disregard" for the "distress and pain" of the children, the panel said.

The Lancet, of course, claims that a million Iraqis were killed by the US in the war, or something. It was also a study.

It's not that the right is anti-science. Not at all. There are a lot of scientists (and engineers, and doctors) who are on the right.

The problem is that the left has a nasty habit of politicizing science. They own the grant process, for example. As has been said, if you want to study squirrel poop, you can get your grant only if you pitch your study as the effect of global warming on squirrel poop.

The left wants us to pretend we don't know this, and that every statement issuing from a scientific source (that they agree with) should be accepted uncritically.

Thanks to Slublog, on his Twitter feed.


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posted by Ace at 02:12 PM

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