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this is sort of unresolved, and those who believe in (or fear the possibility of) the MMR-autism link will say this was retracted for largely political reasons.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

Posted by: Ace at 02:12 PM


1 Ace, IIANM this same doctor had his license revoked because they said he actually falsified the data. That was in separate story last week.

Posted by: Vic at February 02, 2010 02:16 PM (QrA9E)

2 Colonoscopies were always the highlight of my birthday parties. Well, we called them colonoscopies.

Posted by: Zombie Michael Jackson at February 02, 2010 02:16 PM (QKKT0)

3 ah I didn't see that story....

So... like, is The Lancet choosing a less-embarrassing reason to retract? Where they don't have to confess they published fraudulent information? And can just chalk it up to a breach in propriety?

Posted by: ace at February 02, 2010 02:19 PM (jlvw3)

4 Jenny McCarthy hardest hit...

Posted by: Dack Thrombosis at February 02, 2010 02:20 PM (P33XN)

5 And they also hate the idea that vaccine avoidance is a much bigger phenomenon on the right than the left.

Should this be the other way around? I would think that vaccine avoidance on the right would just confirm how anti-science we are.

Posted by: taylork at February 02, 2010 02:21 PM (4jZ56)

6 Damn. So that's why my research grant to study the effects of alcohol on loose women with big hooters was declined. I should have added global warming in there somewhere.

Posted by: FreakyBoy at February 02, 2010 02:21 PM (Q41Zh)

7 So... like, is The Lancet choosing a less-embarrassing reason to retract?

Precisely. This is face-saving through and through. The study has been discredited and it's embarrassing that the Lancet published it in the first place; this provides an out without their having to admit that their peer review process is bunk.

Posted by: joncelli at February 02, 2010 02:22 PM (RD7QR)

8 As a scientist myself, the money quote from that article is "there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper". That's a big no-no in our field. At the start of every study, we randomize our animals to rule out any possibility of bias in selecting which ones go into the control group and which go into the treated groups. It's a huge red-flag to see someone personally hand pick test subjects like this guy did, and it approaches falsifying data.
If I did this here at my company, the study would be thrown out. Period.

Posted by: EC at February 02, 2010 02:23 PM (mAhn3)

9 >>>And they also hate the idea that vaccine avoidance is a much bigger phenomenon on the right than the left.

No, that's what I mean. If it had taken off on the left, like the DDT thing, it would still be good science, probably.

they don't like this study because righties have embraced it.

That is not to say the science is good. I've never bought into this. I'm just saying they have political reasons to admit this is in error. If it were more embraced by their political brethren, they'd probably be defending it.

Posted by: ace at February 02, 2010 02:24 PM (jlvw3)

"And they also hate the idea that vaccine avoidance is a much bigger phenomenon on the right than the left."

Are you sure about that? Based on my in-depth scientific study (i.e., casual conversation with a handful of personal acquaintances), my impression is that the homeopathic, natural-healing left is far more down on vaccines than people on the right. Some people on the right may complain about being forced to take vaccines of unproven value, as shown by the squabble about the genital herpes vaccine for girls a couple of years ago, but by and large is the sinister side that's withholding vaccines from their kids.

Posted by: Brown Line at February 02, 2010 02:24 PM (dsNEQ)

11 My youngest son has autism. I never believed the vaccine connection... unlike my (lefty liberal) wife, which makes for some very tense moments-- uh, nuff said...
Anyway, even if vaccines were known to havecaused autism in my son, and I had the choice between an autistic (versus normal)son and a world with no vaccines, I'd choose my autistic son. No contest. The life-saving benefits of modern vaccines are huge.

Posted by: Bat Chain Puller at February 02, 2010 02:25 PM (SCcgT)

12 a biased selection of patients

indicates bad data, no?

Posted by: arhooley at February 02, 2010 02:25 PM (B/dEP)

13 What's the etiology of the link between the MMR vaccine and autism? When I was stationed in England, this wasall the rage (of course, maybe the rage was caused by Mad Cow Disease or the monkey virus).
I can't imagine subjecting my child topreventable and potentially fatal diseases based upon, well, a lot of loose shit.

Posted by: Big Fat Meanie at February 02, 2010 02:25 PM (w4rJE)

We had an autism thread here a while ago and it broke out into a vicious flame war.

We can haz 'nother?

Posted by: This is Timmy in the well at February 02, 2010 02:26 PM (z37MR)

15 IIRC, they said the study was based on 12 kids with autism or bowel problems the the doctor claimed came from the MMR vaccine. So, like, not even all of them had autism.

The study that didn't find a link was based on 1 million randomly selected kids. And there have been over 500 million MMR vaccinations in the past 30 years. And the doctor doing the study patented a similar vaccine he wanted to compete with MMR.

But, whatever. Science!

Posted by: Ella at February 02, 2010 02:26 PM (WPjES)

16 OK Ace I found a couple of the articles from last week. The other charges included not only bad data, but also accepting money from the lawyers who were handling the case.
Those article said "next" they would determine whether or not to remove his license so I misread the article. He hasn'tr been defrocked yet but there were some more serious charges.

Posted by: Vic at February 02, 2010 02:26 PM (QrA9E)

17 The libs can't win for losing and think they have science on their side, incompetent stupid if I may so.

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:26 PM (oC1jk)

18 say

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:27 PM (oC1jk)

19 Oh, just to stir the pot: I'm pro-MMR and violently anti-herpes vaccine. Anyone else?

Posted by: Ella at February 02, 2010 02:28 PM (WPjES)

20 No, that's what I mean. If it had taken off on the left, like the DDT thing, it would still be good science, probably.

So do you mean vaccine avoidance studies, not the actual political affiliation of people who avoid vaccines?

Posted by: taylork at February 02, 2010 02:29 PM (4jZ56)

21 I don't know many people who are "anti-science," but I do know some who are "anti-positivism."
Positivism is the belief that Man Rules; that with science and know-how we can perfect nature and turn it to serve our own ends. It flirts with eugenics often, and offends people who see nature as inherently "imperfect" in its variations and apparent randomness when compared with, say,the laws of mathematics.
You don't have to be anti-vax to be anti-positivistic. Just a little skeptical about the more extravagant claims of the white-lab-coat set.

Posted by: Michael Rittenhouse at February 02, 2010 02:29 PM (2QFX4)

22 Here is a good refutation of Wakefield's research.

Posted by: Slublog at February 02, 2010 02:29 PM (qjKko)

23 Oh, just to stir the pot: I'm pro-MMR and violently anti-herpes vaccine.

Do you mean HPV vaccine?
Also, why?

Posted by: taylork at February 02, 2010 02:30 PM (4jZ56)

24 I'm all for giving Andi Sulivan the MMR jab.

Posted by: Big Fat Meanie at February 02, 2010 02:30 PM (w4rJE)

25 Do you mean HPV vaccine?

And if so, do you mean anti-forcing-Texas-schoolgirls-to-get-it or actually anti-the vaccine itself?

Posted by: arhooley at February 02, 2010 02:31 PM (B/dEP)

26 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.
I wonder how they linked the g-spot study to global warming.

Posted by: rdbrewer at February 02, 2010 02:33 PM (7eSB7)

27 Link of MMR and Autism = discredited
Link ofCO2 and AGW = almost discredited but soon to be

Posted by: tjexcite at February 02, 2010 02:33 PM (KKaPf)

28 Having been an Army brat overseas and here all of my childhood and then served the majority of my adult life in the Military, I never heard of anyone suffering from the shots we had to get semi and annually from them, I call BS on the libs for even bringing up and trying to fly this flag!

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:33 PM (oC1jk)

29 I can't remember where I read this (maybe Instapundit?), but there was another study where they compared children in Somalia or similar third world shithole and another group in Finland or Norway (Scandi-town). The third world kids never had a MMR vaccine shot in their lives, yet when comparing the rates of autism between them and the Scandi kids, who did, they found an insignificant statistical difference between them.
That is, kids who received the vaccine shot had more or less the same incidence of autism as those kids who never received them in their lives.

Posted by: EC at February 02, 2010 02:33 PM (mAhn3)

30 #26--

That one - forcing school girls in Texas (not the original commenter, but as a Texan mom-of-three-daughters, I felt I could jump in) to get it.

Posted by: AngelEm at February 02, 2010 02:34 PM (brCzq)

31 The Man's Monday Man Food: Bacon Shell Tacos

Posted by: I Need A Beer at February 02, 2010 02:35 PM (Tot+h)

32 No, that's what I mean. If it had taken off on the left, like the DDT thing, it would still be good science, probably.
Where are you getting that? I'd say it's some of both, but thought it was much more on the left. Unless I've missed something.

Posted by: Mama AJ at February 02, 2010 02:35 PM (Be4xl)

33 I hate to be the one to point this out. But during Charles Johnson descent into madness, this was the only thing he and i agreed on completely. That those anti vaccine people were crazy.
Honestly, how did Jenny McCarthy get to be such a genius.

Posted by: Ben at February 02, 2010 02:36 PM (wuv1c)

34 Our data indicates that over 6 Billion children have gotten autism from the MMR vaccine.

What, you don't believe it? Why do you hate science?!?

Posted by: The Lancet at February 02, 2010 02:36 PM (bgcml)

35 Shyster lawyers like John Edwards hardest hit.

Posted by: Ben at February 02, 2010 02:36 PM (wuv1c)

36 32,

Mmmmm tacos, think you just named my meal to make today TY.

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:36 PM (oC1jk)

37 Does anyone take the Lancet seriously? They're about as trustworthy as Obama. If you believe the exact opposite of what they tell you, you're better off.

Posted by: Dr. Spank at February 02, 2010 02:37 PM (0FiCa)

38 As a scientist myself, the money quote from that
article is "there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet
paper". That's a big no-no in our field.

Posted by: EC at February 02, 2010 02:23 PM (mAhn3)
Wait, biased data is a no-no? Why do you hate science?

Posted by: Michael Mann at February 02, 2010 02:39 PM (bgcml)

I am now a poopsicle.

Posted by: squirrel poop at February 02, 2010 02:39 PM (EquV1)

Squirrel Poopism is a racist, imperialist, capitalist paternalistic construct of evil white male oppressors.

Posted by: Dang Straights at February 02, 2010 02:40 PM (fx8sm)

41 The whole MMR line has always been a blame game anyway. My child is autistic, it's the hand I was dealt. There's no cure, there's no blame. And if I'm ever within arm's length of Jenny McCarthy I'm taking a swing and hopefully knocking out a few teeth. That woman is a full-on idiot.

Posted by: mongo at February 02, 2010 02:41 PM (+R/zi)

42 my wife and i withheld the mmr from our boy until a few months ago. we are both conservative. my wife more conservative than me and she was more for withholding the shot. just throwing that i out there. can we still be in the right-wing "big tent" or have we both been banished to the lefties i.e."science uber all until it disagrees with me politically sect"?

Posted by: Texan at February 02, 2010 02:42 PM (LmmGq)

43 This must have made Jenny McCarthy blow her top.

Hmmm... Can we watch this on Skinemax late-night?

Posted by: OregonMuse at February 02, 2010 02:43 PM (hoowK)

44 42 Mongo,

With horrendous plastic tits, she ain't or never has been all that, I despise that phony beeyotch.

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:44 PM (oC1jk)

45 This shit always happens when we forget the all important PEER REVIEW!

Posted by: Hussein the Plumber at February 02, 2010 02:44 PM (RkRxq)

46 Preznit McFugnugget is supposed to be speechifying in NH about jobs..
...but all he's doing is trying to justify his healthscare scam

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:45 PM (AnTyA)

47 McFugnugget just said his stimulus has almost nothing to do with the deficit

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:46 PM (AnTyA)

48 Global Warming Linked to Prostitution
Look at the date. A couple of days before the emails were hacked. Ace was right. You couldn't even fart downwind without linking it to global warming--prior to the hack.

Posted by: rdbrewer at February 02, 2010 02:46 PM (7eSB7)

49 49,

Maybe they were selling that ass to get AC, then maybe it could be attributed.

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:47 PM (oC1jk)

50 Megyn Kelly looks awesome just a few months afer having my baby...don't she?

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:48 PM (AnTyA)

51 45 42 Mongo, With horrendous plastic tits, she ain't or never has been all that, I despise that phony beeyotch.
Can't hold a candle to a LBFM, say what?

Posted by: Hussein the Plumber at February 02, 2010 02:48 PM (RkRxq)

52 The left is doing for science what it's already done for education, entertainment, and journalism. Is there anything it can't ruin?

Posted by: Cautiously Pessimistic at February 02, 2010 02:48 PM (pZEar)

53 My wife is suspicious of MMR regarding our son's autism, I'm not. I do believe it may be auto-immune related, but not related directly to the shots themselves.

Posted by: nickless at February 02, 2010 02:49 PM (MMC8r)

54 I'm with EC on this, the "biased selection" is the real killer here. That's just bad methodology and should've put the nail in the coffin of this idea a long time ago.

Still, the overall theory on this leaves me scratching my head. His idea was that the virus in the vaccine colonizes the GI tract, causes inflammation, and then the seepage results in CNS damage and autism. Question: What about any other disease that deals with chronic GI inflammation, like Crohn's disease? I'm not aware of anyone claiming a link between that and Autism.

/Immunology grad student. Anti-vaccine people drive me nuts.

Posted by: Hal at February 02, 2010 02:50 PM (cNSTn)

55 McFugnugget just set up a straw man saying that many people think that foreign aid and pork projects make up the majority of the budget

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:51 PM (AnTyA)

56 Yeah, I meant the HPV one. I am absolutely against forced vaccinations, so I am unimpressed with the state of Texas.

I am, personally, also suspicious about the vaccine itself. Not that I would prevent anyone to take it who wants it, but it just rubs me wrong. Same feeling I got when they started out with the birth control stuff like Yaz or that implanted ring thing, and now, five years later, the only ads for Yaz are for lawyers who want to help women sue.

I don't trust anything pushed only on pre-pubescent girls and with the vehemence of Being Virtuous for taking it. I mean, HPV can infect men. (It just doesn't cause, you know, cervical cancer.) But HPV is an equal opportunity infection - so why only vaccinate girls? And why only girls under a certain age? Has that even been tested for long term effects like, say, fertility rates?

I get the same heebie-jeebies, which isn't a policy decision, but ... guess who's not getting herself the vaccine?

Posted by: Ella at February 02, 2010 02:51 PM (WPjES)

57 I raised both of my boys by myself I might add, and they always got all of their shots, and the only side affect I see with them now that they are men is they flinch and duck when I scratch my head, but that's it!

I keed, I keed.

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (oC1jk)

58 My third grandson is autistic. On his grandfather's side of the family, there are about 5 autistic kids among the cousins/nephews. I think it is kind of a high number, but I'm not an expert and don't play one on TV. However, I sometimes wonder whether there may be a hereditary tendency. Mere interested speculation on my part, nothing more.
I'm just glad he's here.

Posted by: Sarah2053 at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (lT+S8)

59 A HS girl just threw down about transparency

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (AnTyA)

60 It's my understanding that it's not the vaccine themselves linked to autism, but the solution used to keep them viable as a single shot.

Ask your doc to to give the vaccines separately and individually.

Posted by: mpur at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (946fl)

61 I don't mean to disparage in any waythose children that genuinely suffer from autism, but this disorder has kind of been a 'growth industry' in the medical field of late, along with other psychological disorders such as ADD and so forth.
Compare the numbers between now and two decades ago.
Personally I believe that as the field ofpsychology continues to die and be subsumed by cognitive neuroscience, there are many practitioners out there doing whatever they can to keep their patientnumbers up.
If that means overdiagnosing disorders or diagnosing fictitious disorders, so be it.

Posted by: crackerbox malice at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (s8bd3)

62 McFugnugget is repeating his lie about healthcare negotiations being on C-Span

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 02:55 PM (AnTyA)

63 51
Megyn Kelly looks awesome just a few months afer having my baby...don't she?

Yes she does. I really hope the show does so well that they put her in Shep's slot, and Shep wails, stomps his feet, and heads to the Olbernetwork

Oh, and at Hot Air, more Sublog, less Allah please

And it wouldn't hurt if Ed leaves to become a Pawlentyline co-blogger

Posted by: kbdabear at February 02, 2010 02:55 PM (sYxEE)


"there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper"

That;s not a problem with ethics, that's a flawed basis for determining a causal link.

The studies themselves are therefore worthless.

I'd believe that it's the prevalence of prescription chemicals in our water supply, over- or just increased diagnoses, and the success rate for mild autism spectrum disorder people in the modern age (much higher) leading to greater reproduction rates for sub-clinical autistics/Aspergers.

Posted by: hobgoblin at February 02, 2010 02:56 PM (n29hM)

65 There has always been autism sad to say, but with the internut the sun has been shined on it, just like everything else but the libs grab on anything to make it political so they can feel good. Losers!

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 02:57 PM (oC1jk)

66 Posted by: crackerbox malice at February 02, 2010 02:53 PM (s8bd3)

I think it has more to do with an expanding knowledge base and better understanding the how the brain and body work.

Posted by: mpur at February 02, 2010 02:57 PM (946fl)

67 Maybe global warming causes autism.

Posted by: Dr. Spank at February 02, 2010 02:58 PM (0FiCa)

68 I agree with you crackerbox.

I also know that Autism is real, and can range from a big problem to a moderate problem - my aunt has taught in the IU for 20 years. She can't explain the change in her class (more ASD and fewer DS) - but there is a difference.


I agree that ASD (especially PDD-NOS) is very much overdiagnosed. I also believe that more obvious ASD is increasing.

I have no idea why. It would be nice if the drs and scientists could behave ETHICALLY to find the actual, you know, truth, instead of taking advantage of children in need and their parents.

Posted by: BlackOrchid at February 02, 2010 02:58 PM (SB0V2)

69 Will I get autism if I get one those super duper new Toyota gas pedals, and I don't even own one of those rollerskates?

Posted by: 'Nam Grunt at February 02, 2010 03:02 PM (oC1jk)

70 This bastard Wakefield has done so much harm to so many innocent children losing his license is the least that should happen to him.

Posted by: Richard Mcenroe at February 02, 2010 03:05 PM (PcgQ7)

71 68
Maybe global warming causes autism.

More people for Rahmbo to insult. Sarah Palin is calling for his ouster after Rahmbo referred to some critics as "fucking retarded"

Posted by: kbdabear at February 02, 2010 03:07 PM (sYxEE)

72 54 I do believe it may be auto-immune related,
I'm with you there. I think its immune overload on genetically sensitive individuals. Kids now get a whole hell of a lot more shots than we did. How about simply spacing them out instead of giving them all at once? I mean, the vet does that so my dog's immune system doesn't get overloaded. Mom and Dad have to spend extra time going to the doctors office, but its an easy way to play it safe.
And yeah, saying the same thing at upchucki's house of dingleberries is a big part of what got me banned.

Posted by: bebe's boobs destroy at February 02, 2010 03:07 PM (cniXs)

73 Posted by: kbdabear at February 02, 2010 02:55 PM
I was just over at Hot Air. It's's just so much more readable with the guest bloggers. Along with Slu...they need to keep Karl, and Doctor Zero on as regulars

Posted by: beedubya at February 02, 2010 03:08 PM (AnTyA)

74 Every one of the 150,000 children the US Marines butchered in Fallujah had vaccination-induced autism!

Posted by: The Lancet at February 02, 2010 03:09 PM (PcgQ7)

75 People who see a link between vaccines and autism are like AIDS denialists, sad desperate creatures praying for the answers they want to hear.

Posted by: Ben (the original) at February 02, 2010 03:09 PM (+W/R/)

76 No effects at all with those vaccines, and I'm living proof.

After taking public transportation last year and seeing a bunch of rabble with snotty noses, I decided to get my flu shot.

Well, after the shot I rocked back and forth a lot, but when I went to Vegas with Barack we cleaned up at the blackjack tables. One for bad, two for good.

After that, Barack taught me how to dance and let me drive slow on the driveway. I'm an excellent driver.

Uh-oh! Ten minutes to Olbermann!

Posted by: Joe the Biden at February 02, 2010 03:11 PM (sYxEE)

77 "I don't trust anything pushed only on pre-pubescent girls and with the
vehemence of Being Virtuous for taking it. I mean, HPV can infect men.
(It just doesn't cause, you know, cervical cancer.) But HPV is an equal
opportunity infection - so why only vaccinate girls? And why only girls
under a certain age? Has that even been tested for long term effects
like, say, fertility rates?"

Okay Ella, allow me to address your concerns. As an Immunology grad student, I've had lectures on HPV and the vaccine from the man who developed the vaccine in the first place, so I'd like to think I know a few things about it.

The vaccine is "pushed" on pre-pubescent girls because it's the best guarantee of them not having had sexual activity. Once sexual activity begins, the vaccine is of questionable use, particularly because it can lie dormant for years before becoming active. HPV can infect men, it's true, and the second highest cancer rate associated with HPV is anal cancer in men. Now, the vaccines have been cleared for use in men and boys by the FDA, but the impetus is to immunize girls for a couple of reasons. Mostly because the rate of cervical cancer far outstrips that of cancers men can contract, but also because "herd immunity" is slow to build and only somewhat effective in actual prevention. Rather than relying on boys having been vaccinated, it's best to ensure that the girls themselves are vaccinated.

As for long term effects, well, the vaccine has only been in existence a few years, so there are no studies to suggest what things may look like 5-10 years down the road for a vaccinated woman. However, the follow-up studies done during clinical testing suggest that there are no adverse effects and that the immunity is long-lived. Animal studies have shown that the vaccine is indeed preventative as far as infection goes, so fertility is more protected from the avoidance of cervical cancer.

I realize there's something unsettling about vaccines for STDs, but the only way the vaccine is guaranteed efficacious is before sexual activity has begun. Given how easily it can be trasmitted (not just through intercourse, but any sexual contact), it is only sensible to administer it to pre-teens.

Posted by: Hal at February 02, 2010 03:15 PM (cNSTn)

78 I've always suspected ADD is pretty much a fig leaf for "living while male". Soon you'll be diagnosed with it if you willingly buy bacon or a car with more than 4 cylinders.

Posted by: Ian S. at February 02, 2010 03:16 PM (p05LM)


"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.""

Erm, that would seem to indicate that their reason for retraction is that the statistical inferences drawn in the paper were polluted by an improper sampling method. Not that the collection method was "unethical" so much as non-random and uncontrolled. In other words, they did in fact withdraw the paper because it was a load of crap.

Posted by: Sayyid at February 02, 2010 03:21 PM (8rbBG)

80 49 rdbrewer: You couldn't even fart downwind without linking it to global warming--prior to the hack.
A year or two ago, NPR did a whole story on the Darfur genocide, claiming it was triggered by global warming's effects on the "retreating arable land" in Sudan.

Posted by: Michael Rittenhouse at February 02, 2010 03:26 PM (2QFX4)

81 TRUST US.......we're "scientists"!

Posted by: GarandFan at February 02, 2010 03:37 PM (ZQBnQ)

82 "I think its immune overload on genetically sensitive individuals. Kids
now get a whole hell of a lot more shots than we did. How about simply
spacing them out instead of giving them all at once? "

Part of this is that you want these kids to get the vaccines before they're at higher risk of exposure. It's unavoidable.

Still, "immune overload" doesn't result in neurological problems, genetically sensitive or not. The only time the immune system is reacting to the nervous system is when it has a dysregulation in recognizing (or not) nervous system components. When that happens, you have much more severe effects than behavioral disorders (think MS).

Posted by: Hal at February 02, 2010 03:42 PM (cNSTn)

83 Posted by: Texan at February 02, 2010 02:42 PM (LmmGq)

You can be however you want to be but there will be no eradicating dangerous diseases like what are dealt with in the MMR without innoculations of around 100%. That's not to say the vaccinations are 100% foolproof and safe just due to the genetic diversity which exists throughout mankind. Hell, I even got a slight fever from when I got mine but it was nothing compared to how a former co-worker's son's brain was completely fried by it. That's a horrible situation that ruined the entire family's life but it was just extremely bad luck that it happened; but it's the trade-off in administering a public health policy; without the vaccination the negative impact would be huge in terms of people afflicted or dead.

Posted by: Captain Hate at February 02, 2010 03:43 PM (Sghlv)

84 I can't say anything about autism from a scientific viewpoint, because I'm not a scientist. However, I think the growing rates of diagnosed autism might be twofold: on one hand autism is a bit better understood and thus more quickly diagnosed, on the other, much like ADD/ADHD, we seem to be much more willing to go the route of pharmaceuticals to treat a condition than we were in the past. We also seem to have a very blinker visioned response to diagnosed individuals (almost regressive actually -- we're nearly as bad or worse than our ignorant forebears in this instance). I say this as an educator -- most of the children diagnosed seem to fall into the realm of square pegs. Now, some children do have legitimate issues that need to be addressed, but others that I have seen in a classroom setting appear to be merely difficult kids (in varying degrees) -- they are not "flawed" in any way, just different from the rest of the herd. I find it a bit distressing that such children are often labeled and dealt with out of hand before allowing them even a chance and/or finding alternative methods of handling them. Some of the most satisfying and bestpupils are the ones who are a challenge...sadly, nobody wants the challenges anymore (and yep, this has happened to all of my kids so far -- kinda bad when kids who are presently doing so well and/or have done so wellwere called "retarded" or autisticby their kindergarten teachers because they didn't act like the rest of the kids).

Posted by: unknown jane at February 02, 2010 03:44 PM (5/yRG)

85 "there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper"
The bias came about asthe kids in the study were referred from a group of attorneys who were working on a suit against the vaccine makers. And the Doc running the study was on the pad a consultant for the attorneys. So the ethical improprieties led to really biased data.
That Lancet is a modelof crystal-clear reporting, eh?

Posted by: motionview at February 02, 2010 03:52 PM (DtSf1)

86 Thank you, "unknown Jane," for that comment. I found it really interesting, I've been thinking, as a parent of two very square pegs that I'm always having to play lioness for, that our society's definition of "normal" - at least in the schools - has become INCREDIBLY narrow.

Incredibly narrow. My son still sucks his thumb sometimes (he's 4, in preschool). I was told he had "sensory issues." It's more than a little nutso. A lot of times the schools want to grab the labels for the money, I think. they don't actually offer and additional SERVICES, just take the federal/state funding based on how many pupils are labeled appropriately.

It's a HUGE bugaboo of mine, and why my daughter is in an expensive private school. She's fine, she's smart, she's weird (a perpetual motion machine of a tomboy) - and I have to pay out the butt if I don't want the school constantly forcing labels on her. At least with my son now I'm ready. With her it took me by surprise.

Posted by: BlackOrchid at February 02, 2010 03:59 PM (SB0V2)

87 Autism is a genetic disorder, we even know which genes are not expressingproteins correctly. Parking a 2 year old in front of the TV does more to induce autism than a 100 vaccinations. Publish that in the Lancet, bitches, and if it's not true you can retract it in 10-12 years.

Posted by: motionview at February 02, 2010 04:00 PM (DtSf1)

88 It's being reported in media outlets (outside the United States), that the doctor (who now operates an autism clinic in the States) has/had 30 charges brought against him. It's not *only* the flawed study linking vaccines with autism (the child "subjects" of his "study" were children whose parents wanted to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine -- and the parents of the autistic children had been lawyered up) -- it's the fact that the doctor had another vested interest (monetary) in scuttling the original MMR vaccine (he had a "replacement" vaccine, which he had concocted, but his vaccine would have only been useful if the MMR vaccine was taken off the market...) Yeah...

Posted by: berlinski at February 02, 2010 04:10 PM (xVVen)

89 Biased selection of patients would eliminate the findings entirely. Selection bias is one of the most pervasive and powerful biases in research. This retraction absolutely invalidates the findings.

Posted by: Beta Phi at February 02, 2010 04:21 PM (fRnux)

90 Sad when supposedly esteemed medical journals rank about the same in credibility with the Weekly World News and Bat Boy. A sign of the times I suppose...

Posted by: Purple Avenger at February 02, 2010 04:27 PM (TsR9Q)

91 87 -- yes, and probably by focusing sooo much attention on the "abnormality", it oftentimes just makes the situation worse; plus it takes away any individuality -- I hate that about modern education. How many parents have been bullied by teachers and doctors to do something about their "problem" kids...and had the doing turn into a first class soup sandwich of self-fulfilling prophecy of low expectations and preconceived notions about what that kid is "supposed" to grow up to be like?

Posted by: unknown jane at February 02, 2010 04:30 PM (5/yRG)

92 I have a daughter with autism, and while I agree with her diagnosis, she is not on any medication, and her autism "showed up" when she was three, a year and a half after her MMR vaccines. Her doctor diagnosed the delays, and I pushed for a full diagnosis because I wanted her therapies to have some direction. It's genetic, and I fully agree that television worsens it. My daughter watches television only on special occasions because I can't stand the way she zones on it. Worse than a drug.

Posted by: Catherine at February 02, 2010 04:49 PM (dc4hq)

93 Throwing a gascan into the fire here perhaps, but...

Didn't "Autism" appear and rise in number of diagnoses right around the time that "Mentally Retarded" declined as a diagnosis, and...didn't this happen in near direct-inverse proportion?

I read a "study" that claimed this a few years back.

I am of the opinion, however malleable, that the autism-"awareness" folks, who put up the billboards ("AUTISM: Ask what you can do, visit our website.") and the PSA commercials that say the same thing ("Ask what you can do, call toll-free or visit our website."), same with the print ads, never really saying anywhere in the ad what they are all about, but leaving you with the same impression you get from the old James Sokolove legal commercials, as if you've been invited to Come, and Blame Someone, and Get Some Money From Them...but the ads are so vague that without some near-supernatural sense of discernment, you'd think that they really cared about solutions and about people.

I'm in the camp that says most, if not all, these Awareness-pushers are simply making money off other people's misery.

Posted by: Taqiyyotomist at February 02, 2010 05:10 PM (ltfED)

94 ...and comments like #89 only serve to reinforce my belief.

Posted by: Taqiyyotomist at February 02, 2010 05:14 PM (ltfED)

95 69 " aunt has taught in the IU for 20 years. She can't explain the change in her class (more ASD and fewer DS) - but there is a difference."
The difference is that women are getting tested during their pregnancies, and have been for around 20 years. It is estimated that a large number (80-90%)of DS pregnancies which are diagnosed prenatallyare being aborted.
Our local DS support group gets very few calls from mothers who have received a prenatal diagnosis; those who decide to continue the pregnancy are understandably worried, but they find out how much fun babies with DS are after they are born!

Posted by: Teresa in Fort Worth, TX at February 02, 2010 05:38 PM (5/bS4)

96 96 - Yes, Theresa, you know I thought of that after I wrote it. Those children just aren't here, are they?

Posted by: BlackOrchid at February 02, 2010 05:51 PM (SB0V2)

97 I think most Ace readers are sick of scientists handing down proclamations from on high, so here are the facts as far as I can see:

Wakefield's theory is that the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked to various gastrointestinal disorders which then cause autism. This idea rests heavily on his finding of sequences from the measles virus genome in blood cells and intestinal tissue of autistic kids.

To simplify, he took a bunch of kids with autism who had gastrointestinal symptoms prior to their diagnosis and found they had measles virus particles in their guts. What might have caused that measles exposure? Well, it could have been measles in the environment, but it also could have been the MMR vaccine all these kids seemed to be getting not long before diagnosis. The MMR vaccine uses live virus, so it is not unreasonably to harbor this suspicion, and despite not attempting to distinguish how these kids got the measles in their gut, Wakefield's theory does sound pretty good so far.

Apparently it sounded good enough and important enough that the Lancet would even publish it...

Now, despite the internal consistency of Wakefield's thinking, his sample size was 12 kids - not something to make or break public health policy on... So to support or negate the theory, several investigators attempted to duplicate this finding of measles virus particles in the guts of autistic kids.

Nobody has successfully done it in the 12 years since Wakefield's publication. That's a big problem for Wakefield's theory - and apparently it led others to question his methods. Whether he did colonoscopies on kids at parties or not, the relevant issue is whether he lied about finding measles virus in these kids' guts. If he did lie, it could still be true that there is connection between some gut problems and autism, but MMR and measles infection don't necessarily enter into it.

What about the connection between these kids getting MMR and shortly thereafter being diagnosed with Autism?

The diagnostic criteria for autism include abnormalities in social, communication and behavioral domains. The first dose of MMR is given at 12-15 months of age, around the time the average kid is developing a vocabulary of a handful of words and the awareness to share experiences with peers through pointing and eye contact (18 months). It follows then that many diagnoses of autism come in this age range, since it is often the case that autistic spectrum abnormalities are not detectable in the first year of life.

Whether or not that explains away the temporal connection between getting the MMR vaccination and an autism diagnosis, is there actually an increased risk of autism among kids who get the MMR vaccine?

1) A Danish study containing over half a million kids including over 100 000 who had not been vaccinated with MMR looked the back into the charts to find out the rates of autism among those who were not vaccinated and those who were. As it turned out, those WITH the MMR vaccination were less slightly likely to be diagnosed with autism, albeit this was not a statistically significant. (RR 0.92, CI 0.68-1.24)

2) A CDC study of 624 kids with autism and 1824 matched controls looked back at school entry vaccination records, the MMR rates not significantly different. Another similarly designed study of 1294 cases of autism spectrum disorders in the UK found that autistic children were somewhat more likely to have been the those who DID NOT get the vaccine. Again this difference was not statistically significant.

The Danish study is probably the most valid and reliable study of all of them, but there are at least a dozen smaller studies that corroborate the finding of no difference in autism rates among those given MMR.

In the medical world, the book is closed on this issue, and the whole issue is a stain on the Lancet's reputation. Peer review is great and should be used appropriately, but as we all know too well, scientists can be big time liars, and journal editors can't catch them all even when trying to do an honest job of it. It happens that this lie was not only vastly expensive, but also dangerous as there have been measles outbreaks (in places like Minnesota) as a direct result of this paper.

It's no wonder 10 of the 13 original authors had foresworn the paper by 2008, and now the Lancet wants to purge itself...

A Good Reference:
(Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2007) 82, 756–759; doi:10.1038/sj.clpt.6100407; published online 10 October 2007)

Posted by: derzornhistology at February 02, 2010 05:56 PM (v6g3m)

98 I was diagnosed with a veritable stew of learning disabilities back when I was 8 years old (sensory integration, math, handwriting, emotional response, social interaction, and fine motor skill-related problems, along with the strong inability to answer questions staring with the word "why"), and in retrospect having spoken with the doctor who had diagnosed me, the problems all fit together under the umbrella of autism spectrum. I attended occupational therapy for over three years to learn coping mechanisms (typing, lots of fine-motor skill tests, role playing, etc.) so that I'm now just a shy asshole who apes his way through normal human interaction, knows way too much useless horseshit, and somehow miracled his way into getting married.

I have little doubt that autism is more a genetic thing than a
vaccine-based. My mother said that I already showed weird symptoms
before I got most of my vaccines, and I have at least one cousin who, if he were 10 years younger, would probably have been diagnosed in a similar manner. That's not to say that the mercury in thimerisol (the preservative in most vaccines) might not have some kind of cumulative effect, but so far, it looks like Wakefield's study is horseshit.

As someone who works in public health, I'll admit I'm biased towards getting vaccinated, but letting kids go deaf or even die from measles for what's most likely a lie is unconscionable.

Posted by: Hoss Fuentes at February 02, 2010 06:03 PM (ISEr/)

99 The Lancet: these are the guys who said US troops killed a million Iraqi's when nothing could be further from the truth. (Well AGW is a little bit further but it is special.)
I could never beleive anything they ever say again after the big effort to 'prove' that US troops were evil.

Posted by: Steve In Tulsa at February 02, 2010 06:22 PM (lv+sJ)

100 Backstory on the reason that the Lancet finally (10 years too late) retracted the Wakefield paper, from UK investigative reporter Brian Deer <a href="">Lancet summary</a>

<a href="">@73</a> <i>I'm with you there. I think its immune overload on genetically sensitive individuals. Kids now get a whole hell of a lot more shots than we did. </i>

Uhhm, no. That's the "too many, too soon" anti-vacciationist gambit. More factual:

from <a href="">Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)'s vaccine education site:</a>

"Thirty years ago, children received seven vaccines, which protected against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio. The total number of bacterial and viral proteins contained in these seven vaccines was a little more than 3,000.

"Today, children receive 14 different vaccines, but the total number of immunological components in these vaccines is only about 150. This dramatic reduction is the result of scientific advances that have allowed for purer, safer vaccines. "

Are vaccines perfect? Not by a long shot. But they are safer than the diseases they prevent.

I sometimes write a post that collates blog responses, both positive and negative, to a given issue.

I'm keeping one now on responses to the Lancet retraction of the Wakefield's paper.

I've added your post to the list.

The post is at

<a href="">Blog Responses to Lancet Retraction of Wakefield Paper</a>

Posted by: Liz Ditz at February 02, 2010 10:32 PM (H/236)

101 If I may, I'd like to share a quote that I really think you'll like. It's from Eisenhower:


Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, <b>we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. </b>

Posted by: Phil at February 03, 2010 02:24 AM (cBaCB)

102 Ace, this is not a matter of the Lancet being picky or political. The way the authors collected their data slanted their results toward their anti-vaccine position, and they should have known this. That was what was unethical. The editors are clearly implying the authors were not just wrong, but that they are frauds.
The question will never be resolved for some people because you cannot prove they are completely, absolutely safe. Science just does not work that way. You cannot prove a negative, as they say. All you can do is show that there is no empirical data to suppport any belief that they are unsafe. And you have to stomp down every bad study one by one.

Posted by: nimord at February 03, 2010 04:27 AM (EgEk8)

103 95 - Huh?

I'm not a big awareness person. No puzzle piece ring, no bumper sticker on my minivan.

If you are talking about the mentally retarded idea that those who are now diagnosed as autistic used to be diagnosed with retardation, you're nuts. My daughter was reading before kindergarten, and has been considered by all of her teachers to be in the "smarter half" of her classes since then. She has a very quick mind and an excellent memory. She has autism. She is not retarded by any measure.

Posted by: Catherine at February 03, 2010 09:53 AM (dc4hq)

104 "A biased selection of patients" is manipulation of data. A claim that a biased selection is unbiased is fraud. These are violations of scientific ethics.

Say what?

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Posted by: louboutin uk at June 08, 2011 05:35 AM (p9dig)

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Posted by: discount ed hardy clothing at June 30, 2011 02:29 AM (sXyR1)

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Posted by: ed hardy clothing at June 30, 2011 02:29 AM (sXyR1)

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