The medical journal which originally published the discredited research linking autism and MMR has now issued a full retraction of the paper.
The Lancet said it now accepted claims made by the researchers were "false".
It comes after Dr Andrew Wakefield, the lead researcher in the 1998 paper, was ruled last week to have broken research rules by the General Medical Council.
My opinion about vaccine refusal is something I have made plain, here and elsewhere. By creating an environment in which illnesses, once fleetingly rare, have a chance to reestablish themselves in the pediatric population, the health care Luddites within the anti-vaccine movement have made the world a less safe and healthy place. Not only have countless studies debunked any link between vaccines and autism, now the study that started the hysteria in the first place has been repudiated as junk by the journal that originally published it.
Of course, none of this will actually make any difference to the people who have clawed their way into continuing relevance because of their campaign of disinformation. Ms. McCarthy, pneumatic queen of them all, will doubtless continue to sell her books and peddle her particularly telegenic brand of snake oil, despite the crumbling of the cornerstone in the facade of her legitimacy. I'll get to that in a minute.
I came across the BBC article linked and quoted above by way of an article in Salon. Rahul Parikh, a fellow pediatrician, writes:
Rather than dig for details, many reporters rely on "balance" instead. My favorite comment about this comes from, of all people, Arianna Huffington. Sometimes, she says, there simply aren't two sides to a story. Evolution, for instance. Or global warming. And given the weight of scientific, legal and ethical evidence against anti-vaccinationists, you'd think Huffington would heed her own rhetoric. Yet there was her Web site, with stories turning Wakefield into a martyr and twisting innuendo into medical fact. And it's not just HuffPo -- CNN, in a report on Wakefield, added "balance" to its coverage by featuring Kim Stagliano, the co-founder of anti-vaccine group Age of Autism. [Ed: Ironically, I can think of at least one person who would dispute the one-sided nature of the global warming question.]
It is indeed somewhat perverse that Arianna Huffington would be holding forth on media probity. It was in Huffington Post that Jim Carrey's painfully dishonest anti-vaccine piece appeared, which is what led me to write my guest post for Ordinary Gentlemen in the first place. Madame Huffington is complicit in the ongoing promulgation of a lie, and a dangerous one.
But let's get back to Jenny McCarthy. How has her organization reacted to the news that one of their shining stars is more than a little bit tarnished? How do you think it reacted?
A statement from Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey
Los Angeles, February 5, 2010
Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.
It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.
The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England's General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal. [emphasis in original]
Friends, this is so painfully absurd that I almost pity these cretins. England's General Medical Council is the body that registers physicians in the United Kingdom, analogous to the various state boards of licensure in this country. It is no more a kangaroo court than, say, the American Bar Association. When faced with the incontrovertible fact of their champion doctor's fraudulence and venality, McCarthy and Carrey instead attack the legitimacy of the body that keeps quacks and frauds from practicing in Britain. The reanimated corpse of Louis Pasteur could rise from the grave to denounce their position, and they would stick up for rabies. Truly, they are beyond help.
However belatedly, I am glad Lancet has issued the retraction. Better late than never, I suppose, though the harm has already been done to an appalling degree. As for McCarthy, Carrey and the remainder of their ilk, one imagines they will release their vice-grip on their particular brand of insanity at roughly the same time that California slides into the Pacific.
* For those of you who want to know what the hell this means, it's a reference to a (probably apocryphal) story about Galileo. When forced by the Inquisition to recant his theory of a heliocentric solar system and an orbiting Earth, supposedly he muttered "Nevertheless, it moves" under his breath. It took the Catholic Church a mere 300+ years to admit its error.