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He concluded, "No case was free of misreporting or alteration." In other words, Wakefield, the lead author of the original report, manipulated his data.
(See the pop-up chart in this report for details.)In the British Medical Journal, Deer spells out exactly what he found, and it's rather shocking that this study was ever published in the first place.
You learn that the parents of many of the kids deny the conclusions in the study; some of the kids Wakefield suggested were diagnosed with autism actually weren't; others who Wakefield suggested were "previously normal" actually had preexisting developmental issues before getting their shots.
Even more absurdly, when the General Medical Council (the UK's medical regulator) began to investigate Wakefield, it found that he had paid children at his son's 10th birthday party to donate their blood for his research.
It has since been thoroughly eviscerated: The Lancet retracted the paper, investigators have described the research as an "elaborate fraud," and Wakefield has lost his medical license. ( Large-scale studies involving thousands of participants in several countries have failed to establish a link between the MMR vaccine and the mental developmental disorder.
"This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism," the authors wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Deer writes, "Although Wakefield denied any such plans, his proposed shot, and a network of companies intended to raise venture capital for purported inventions — including 'a replacement for attenuated viral vaccines,' commercial testing kits and what he claimed to be a possible 'complete cure' for autism — were set out in confidential documents." At the very bedrock of science is the concept of falsification: A scientist runs a test, gathers his findings, and tries to disprove himself by replicating his experiment in other contexts.
Only when that's done can he know that his findings were true. As the editor of the BMJ points out, "Wakefield has been given ample opportunity either to replicate the paper's findings, or to say he was mistaken.
He has declined to do either." In 2004, 10 of his co-authors on the original paper retracted it, but Wakefield didn't join them, and he has since continued to push his views, including doing the rounds on the anti-vaxxer speakers' circuit and publishing books.
Wakefield's own website portrays him as an embattled hero: "In the pursuit of possible links between childhood vaccines, intestinal inflammation, and neurologic injury in children, Dr.