Posts Tagged measles

Skeptics in the Pub: Brian Deer

MMR and Autism: An Elaborate Fraud

How the Case Against the Vaccine Was Built

Brian Deer

by Brian Deer
When: Thursday, June 16, 2011 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Head of Steam, 7 Lime Street, Liverpool

As the Wirral becomes the latest area of the UK to suffer a measles outbreak in an unvaccinated population, investigative journalist Brian Deer visits Liverpool to speak about how he uncovered the “elaborate fraud” behind the MMR scare.

In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global alarm with research proposing a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. The researchers’ leader, Andrew Wakefield called for the vaccine to be “suspended”. But all was not as it appeared to be. Following investigations over a period of 7 years for The Sunday Times, the British Medical Journal in January denounced Wakefield’s research as “an elaborate fraud”.

The story raced round the world. A Harris poll in the United States found that 47% of Americans had heard Deer’s story. The New York Times said his work was “extraordinary.” Now, on 16th June, he comes to Merseyside Skeptics Society to talk about how Wakefield rigged the research linking MMR with autism, how he did it, who paid him for it, how much money he expected to make out of it, and the years-long investigation which finally nailed him. This is one of the big science stories of today.

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Measles Myths

Sir Sandy Macara, the former chairman of the British Medical Association, suggested last week that the MMR vaccine should be made compulsory in the UK, for children wishing to take advantage of a state education.  This follows a huge increase in measles cases, which is directly attributable to the decline in vaccination rates, in turn attributable to uncritical reporting of the discredited Wakefield study which linked the MMR vaccine to autism.

As part of their coverage, the BBC’s regular “Have Your Say” feature posed the question “Should the MMR jab be compulsory?”.  The comments which followed made my blood boil and my toes curl.  So, for your delectation, here is a list of myths I’ve picked up from HYS – with responses.

If it helps, I could hear Mark Crislip’s voice in my head as I wrote this.

Read the rest of this entry »

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