Respectful Insolence

Brian Deer responds to Andrew Wakefield

Two days ago, I deconstructed Andrew Wakefield’s clumsy attack on Brian Deer, the investigative journalist whose investigations uncovered Wakefield’s massive conflicts of interest and, most recently, his scientific fraud. Now, right here in the very comments of this blog, Brian Deer has responded:

Obviously, because Our Andy’s statement purports to be a complaint to the UK Press Complaints Commission, I can’t yet comment on the substance (although I have mentioned just a couple of generic Wakefield claims right up at the top, here: http://briandeer.com/solved/wakefield-veracity.htm).

But, in general, my reaction is that I’m stunned.

Never before in my career in journalism have I seen so many assertions in a single complaint that can so easily be proven to be both (a) wrong and (b) dishonest. It’s really very striking.

I don’t, in fact, believe that his complaint is really targeted at the PCC, since it won’t hear something that’s in front of the GMC. Wakefield would know that. And he would also know that it won’t hear something that hasn’t been raised with the paper. This is all on the PCC website, and he and his people will have read that. Disingenuous in principle.

His strategy, in my opinion, is predicated on his personal and financial situation. This “complaint” is addressed to the narrowcasting of the web. He needs to get to parents of autistic children, to whom he may wish to suggest they should come to Austin with the kids, and to his bigger backers: particularly the money and reputations behind Thoughtful House. Through Kirby and Olmsted, he can get to those – perhaps a couple of thousand – people he wants to reach.

But, as ever, this is a short-term strategy, since much of what he says can be checked. For example his suggestion that his possible MMR-autism link allegation has been backed by other published research. He even cites papers. Thoughtful House people, and indeed anyone, can pull those papers, and form a judgment about his integrity. Similarly, he denies that his 1998 Lancet paper said the kids in his research paper (the one they are taking about here: http://briandeer.com/mmr/royal-free-press-1998.pdf) were “previously normal” (Go on, have a look, you know you want to: http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-paper.pdf.)

His famed “charisma”, will stand him in good stead for a while, as it did at the Royal Free, but history shows (eg with the whistleblower Nick Chadwick) it doesn’t work with everyone, or forever. Eventually, people who know where any US bodies are buried will speak out.

Meanwhile, in the unlikely event of the UK’s General Medical Council continuing to have jurisdiction over him, I would guess that there is a straight, pretty much open-and-shut, dishonesty action against him over his statement, widely published to vulnerable parents, which I reckon could have him struck off in a five day hearing.

To me, it really beggars belief.

Indeed it does.

Comments

  1. #1 MikeMa
    March 18, 2009

    Excellent response from Brian Deer. Reminds me of the old Roadrunner cartoons where the coyote races off a cliff and only after a longish pause, does gravity take over. It would appear that Wakefield has already run off the cliff and just hasn’t looked down yet.

    Any idea when the GMC will render a decision?

  2. #2 BA
    March 18, 2009

    Hopefully we’ll hear the “yikes!” that comes with looking down in the near future.

    Mbeepbeep.

  3. #3 Joseph
    March 18, 2009

    I hope the GMC decides soon, and they disclose the scientific fraud evidence. The apologists John Stone and Fish are becoming increasingly annoying over at LB/RB.

  4. #4 DT35
    March 18, 2009

    I believe I read that, following the most recent hearing day in January, the GMC hearings were scheduled to resume in April. No one has given a date when a decision can be expected, so far as I know.

  5. #5 HCN
    March 18, 2009

    Joseph said “The apologists John Stone and Fish are becoming increasingly annoying over at LB/RB.”

    From what I can tell, they don’t even make any sense! Just blathering on how Deer made it up, that there is no “one autism gene” and on and on and on.

    It does not seem to matter to them that the MMR had been around for lots longer elsewhere than the UK, and that there is plenty of evidence that Wakefield was just plain wrong, and some other evidence to show he used bad data and actually lied.

    As Kev said: they are getting really boring.

    I’ve stopped even reading what they post, since it is all the same crud. If I want to keep track of their most insane antics I just go here:
    http://jabsloonies.blogspot.com/

  6. #6 Brian Deer
    March 18, 2009

    The latest guess is that the GMC hearing will finish for Wakefield in August. The huge timeframe is partly because of the way the rules under which it is being heard allow the defence to stonewall on their case, which means the prosecution flies blind, and there is no narrowing of the issues, as there is in civil litigation. The other reason, and especially the reason for the delays, is that the panel is of working people, and especially the lay members need to touch base with their jobs. It’s not like a court where you have a professional judge. I think we’ve gone 125 days over about 18 months.

    I’ve just heard the first two days of the prosecution’s closing submission – covering the crucial question of whether or not the Wakefield project was a research project. The defence denies this. Given that the Lancet paper carries a statement on research ethics, you might think that conclusion is foregone, and I believe it is. Nevertheless, I’ve just heard hour after hour of what I believe to be a vast body of evidence on that point. Certainly, as a journalist with half a lifetime in contentious public interest journalism, I’d say that this evidence is just overwhelming. Once it is established that this was a research project, almost the whole defence case effectively collapses. In my view, a finding of serious professional misconduct inevitably follows. There is an issue – a separate line in the charges for each child – about whether the children’s admissions was in their best interests, and on that I wouldn’t presume to second guess the panel, but on the research issue I can’t see anything but one result.

    To give you a sniff of the evidence (and there are as good or better for all the kids), here is an extract from a letter to the professor in charge:

    “You may remember at the project meeting last Tuesday this child was briefly discussed and it was agreed he should if possible be included in our first 10 cases.”

    Two weeks later, the prof wrote to the child’s pediatrician (on the island of Jersey, which is outside the UK’s NHS area) inviting him to refer the child to the Royal Free hospital in London, naming Wakefield, and enclosing a copy of the research protocol.

    I’ve not really said much about the hearing before, since I haven’t attended it to report on it, but merely to evidence the mismatches between the children and the Lancet paper. That was my little project: to use the GMC as an investigative tool – to get to the heart of Wakefield’s research – and this has been spectacularly succesful (although I say so myself).

    The antivaxxers have had some dribbling idiot in the hearing, writing strikingly ignorant, bitter tirades against the GMC, which have done nothing but mislead anyone reading them into thinking that the case against the doctors is somehow weak and foolish, and that Wakefield is some kind of honest victim. IMO, this deception is another example of the abuse and exploitation of the vulnerable by moneygrabbing small businesspeople, which in my view presently drives the (tiny) antivaxxer movement.

    Anyhow, according to docs I’ve spoken to, it turns out that some years ago this guy’s girlfriend ran off with and then married the GMC’s chief executive, and that the idiot pretty much goes there to sniff the seats. Usual anti-vax calibre. In fact, I have a photograph of him:

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/protein-man.htm

    So my prediction is that, by the time it’s all over, the antivaxxers’ correspondent will find that both his girlfriend and his hero have been fucked by the GMC.

  7. #7 Dedj
    March 18, 2009

    “Just blathering on how Deer made it up,”

    Which is odd, as some of what Deer mentions is in the original publication.

    But enough of that. Their constant attempt to label Deer as the original complainant because he wrote to the GMC with some concerns is bizarre, and based on the words of someone who they have yet to show was even using the terms the same as they are in the official process.

    They can’t even work out that ‘a letter of concern’ can be read as a ‘complaint’ letter by a judge, yet not be a ‘complaint letter’ according to the official process. Their entire arguement rests on the bizarre notion that Deer seriously thinks they won’t misread the Eady letters if he publishes them.

    One only needs to look at how Stone badly misrepresented the NAS statement about stomach complaints to see that trusting the Deer hunters to read any source rationally is utterly niave.

    I say ‘Harolds!’ to the lot of them!

  8. #8 wayne
    March 18, 2009

    It is true that much money is spent for health information, but it is also quite true that so far no will find the cure for terrible diseases and quickly became generalized in our body, it calls on the authorities to better distribution of this money because it is spending so far in vain, I have friends who suffer from cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s, and so far we can not find any solution to the disease, only the medicines in oxycontin to control their pain, but until you take the same? actually there will be some day, the cure? Please have to be sensible and remember that nobody is free from disease and therefore it is important for everyone.

  9. #9 Chris
    March 18, 2009

    wayne, I think you need to work on your reading skills. What does that wee little illiterate rant have to do with the subject of this blog posting?

  10. #10 just a mom
    March 18, 2009

    I have never posted to this blog, but read it all the time. When I seen an e-mail come in about Wakefield’s complaint, I directly sent my opinion to the media link at the bottom of the Thoughtful House page.

    Wakefield may hope to gain more parent support, and maybe get more to come to Texas, but not all of us follow him like a puppy dog, or thinks much of a 12 child study to begin with. Some of us who have children with autism do not need Wakefield, there are many other options out there. As much as Kirby and Olmsted are praised for their so called findings, there is Deer who should also be praised for any help he was able to give the public on this matter. Although this all started in the UK, unfortunately Wakefield now resides quietly in Texas.

    My guess is the complaint generates solely as a media sham/ slam as Wakefield comes more and more closer to hearing the music. It’s all about him being exposed for who he is, and not wanting to loose the few people he may offer services to. If any follow the media hardly any thing comes from Wakefield these days or from Thoughtful House. He’s pretty much a no body here.

    Wakefield is the creator of The Blame Game, and he continues it with blaming Deer rather than take responsibility for his poor ethics and actions.

  11. #11 DLC
    March 19, 2009

    There isn’t much justice in the world, but if there were, Wakefield would have had his medical license pulled years ago.
    A rational group at AoA would have divorced themselves from Wakefield years ago. Of course, rationality is rather a rare thing at AoA.

  12. #12 Danimal
    March 19, 2009

    Brian Deer “So my prediction is that, by the time it’s all over, the antivaxxers’ correspondent will find that both his girlfriend and his hero have been fucked by the GMC.”

    Now that made me laugh.

  13. #13 storkdok
    March 19, 2009

    “So my prediction is that, by the time it’s all over, the antivaxxers’ correspondent will find that both his girlfriend and his hero have been fucked by the GMC.”

    Brian, I was not expecting this. Now who is going to pay for the repair to my keyboard after spewing coffee all over it? Thanks for the laugh!

  14. #14 Jake Crosby
    March 23, 2009

    “Their constant attempt to label Deer as the original complainant because he wrote to the GMC with some concerns is bizarre, and based on the words of someone who they have yet to show was even using the terms the same as they are in the official process.”
    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/deer-letter-.jpg

    I know I already posted this link to another thread on this blog, but I think it’s especially appropriate to post it here.

  15. #15 Joseph
    March 23, 2009

    “Their constant attempt to label Deer as the original complainant because he wrote to the GMC with some concerns is bizarre, and based on the words of someone who they have yet to show was even using the terms the same as they are in the official process.”
    http://www.rescuepost.com/files/deer-letter-.jpg

    I know I already posted this link to another thread on this blog, but I think it’s especially appropriate to post it here.

    That email was sent Feb. 25, 2004. On Feb. 23, the Times reported Wakefield “said that he would insist on a full GMC inquiry after it was suggested by John Reid, the Health Secretary, on Friday.”

    So Brian Deer wrote to the GMC to ask permission to present an outline of evidence based on his findings. This is what any investigative journalist should do when his findings are material to an investigation.

    Jake, is this what you call a conflict of interest? Yet, you think the Geier’s fake IRB does not represent a conflict of interest. Clearly (1) you don’t know what a conflict of interest is, and (2) you completely lack objectivity.

  16. #16 Dedj
    March 23, 2009

    Jake, don’t assume I disagree with you because I don’t know what you do. As you have aptly demonstrated several times over, I am significantly more skilled at finding information than you are – including that which was your responsibility to find and present. I have read the Deer letter already, and it doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    As I’ve pointed out before, many organisations have seperate policies and proceedures for ‘making concerns known’ (often called whistleblowing) and for formal ‘complaints’. The GMC is unusual for not following this trend and using the same process for both (despite reffering to both as seperate in the guidance documents), although the process allows for concerns to be ‘stepped off’ at various levels without escalating to a FTP hearing.

    Deer’s letter was not submitted under the formal proceedure, or to the people who deal with the proceedure, or even the same building as the people who deal with the proceedure. In addition, he has had it confirmed by the GMC that he is not the complainant.

    And, as Joseph indicates, it may even have been submitted after the proceedure was already suggested by John Reid.

    To add, none of your fellow Deer Hunters have yet managed to quote code or standard that would prohibit Deer from his current behaviour even if he was the complainant. Nor have any of you managed to detail his alledged COI, or even why a reporter reporting on a process he has no undue influence over or no chance of unusual benefit from should be prohibited from reporting on it, or even why ‘hiding’ his input on a publically available self-named website constitutes whatever it is you’re trying to alledge.

    If I was aware of the possibility of a breach of standards/codes and did not duly report it, I could find myself under caution or even stuck off regardless of my lack of input into the breach. I am professionally obligated to do this, despite not being currently employed in a professional capacity.

    The fact that Deer did the same despite not having to does not itself constitute a COI.

  17. #17 Dedj
    March 23, 2009

    Hmm, I’ve just realised my first sentence can be taken to mean that I don’t know what Jake does. I am aware that he is history student, not a medical or health student.

    I meant that Jake should not assume that my disagreement with him originates from a lack of access or understanding of the sources and evidence that informed his opinion.

  18. #18 Brian Deer
    March 23, 2009

    From Brian Deer

    The last few days have been interesting for me. Wakefield knows I have more on his little schemes, and he cranked up his troops for a diversion. My dilemma is kind of along the lines that there are many ways to skin a cat, but once it’s skinned, it’s skinned. In terms of the wider public interest – as opposed to narrowcasting on the web – there is a limit to the number of ways that one can expose Wakefield. Still, we’ll see.

    The real issue for me, and why I even bother to expend energy pointing out that I’m not the complainant in the GMC hearing against Wakefield is this: if I was the complainant, the fitness to practise panel would be hearing my allegations. However, the GMC itself is bringing the case (as it can, and sometimes does, under statute).

    Their case is, in essence, based on their own reinvestigation of my journalism: my early newspaper reports on Wakefield, and my TV show. Their lawyers crawled all over my findings, and accepted their essential truth. Thus, the GMC itself accepts that what I have reported in essentially correct, and the GMC itself formulated charges, and are now presenting them to a fitness to practise panel (3 doctors, 2 lay members) to determine whether the panel deems Wakefield and his accomplices to be guilty of serious professional misconduct.

    It is true, and I have never hidden the fact, that they were spurred into action by the public furore over my stories, that I set out my findings in more detail for them, and that I have from time to time, pointed things out to them, or given them a kick up the ass. There’s nothing wrong with this. For me, the GMC hearing is an investigative tool. They could get at the children’s medical records, when my own sources of information were more limited.

    More than five years ago, I asked to interview Wakefield. He refused. I then carried out a four month investigation, and he was told that, if he didn’t present himself for interview, we would just print it anyway. So he came back to London, but insisted that he would only be interviewed if I wasn’t there (and hence he would only be questioned by journalists who knew next to nothing about the material). Then he brought a “gagging writ” libel suit, in an effort to try to stop me. And now he’s done something similar with a concocted complaint to the UK press complaints commission. It’s a clear pattern of behaviour, and we know how to deal with it.

    However, I’ve now witnessed him forced to answer most of my questions, adopted as the GMC’s questions, over five weeks of examination and, especially, cross-examination. At the end of this spectacle, the chairman pointed out, with scrupulous politeness, that the panel’s problem was that it could not reconcile his evidence with the documents in front of them. A room of 25 people would all be looking at words on a page, and he would deny what they said. Not once or twice. It went on for weeks.

    The classic was with the long letter to a guy called Phipps here:

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/wakefield-deal.htm

    This is by Wakefield saying that his research project was sponsored by lawyers. However, Wakefield denies this, and when counsel for the GMC took him through it, word by word, (ethics cttee, the money, the whole thing), he said that the letter was wrong, and it only said this because it was written to an accountant. His line was just unbelievable. It was like watching a little boy lying to his mother about who ate the ice cream.

    Then there was this document:

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/royal-free-11.htm

    This, he said, despite the plain words on the page, wasn’t a protocol to investigate vaccines, and where it said measles and measles/rubella vaccines, it meant wild measles virus and vaccines containing measles and rubella. When it was pointed out that it says “following exposure to these vaccines”, he just kind of looked blank. “Andrew, there’s chocolate round your mouth!”

    I must admit to laughing out loud.

    On countless – and I mean countless points – he would say documents were wrong, his colleagues were wrong, family doctors were wrong, even was he was wrong. And so, on it went…

    Personally, I think Wakefield knows the game is up, and certainly in his recent behaviour I get the feeling that, in some sense, he has lost it. I can’t say I feel sorry for him. He’s had years in which to think about what he’s done, and to come forward and sincerely apologise. That’s really what all his former colleagues have done, in one way or another. But, as it is, he loves the glory of playing the victim. I suspect when the GMC has finished with him, and then people start demanding an inquiry by the Royal College of Pathologists, which can strip him of his fellowship, and when journals start to retract his papers, then he may finally come to his senses.

    However, I suspect not. He’ll end up like Hugh Fudenberg, a nutty old guy rolling out autism cures made from his own bone marrow on the kitchen table.

    Pitiful really.

  19. #19 Jake Crosby
    March 24, 2009

    Brian Deer,

    Perhaps you can shed some light on this for me and if it sounds convincing enough, maybe I won’t consider you much of a sham after all.

    No one, including Dr. Wakefield, is denying his role in litigation. He even sent a letter to The Lancet himself, disclosing this. Furthermore, the children’s solicitor Richard Barr, an even more appriopriate person to disclose such funds, wrote to Lancet editor Richard Horton a year before publication.
    http://www.cryshame.co.uk//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=149

    There is convincing evidence of a connection between the vaccination and inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease). It is a serious lifelong illness which has affected a large number of our the children we are helping. We are working with Dr. Andrew Wakefield of the Royal Free Hospital London. He is investigating this condition.
    http://www.cryshame.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=98&Itemid=148

    Besides, how many doctors from the HPA camp disclosed any potential COIs? Elizabeth Miller, as we know, submitted that trashy study to Pediatrics attempting to exonerate thimerosal dramatically under-ascertaining autism cases, leaving out children exposed to higher doses of thimerosal from Hep B and flu shots, not to mention those with a wide array of conditions that would make them more vulnerable to the shots, yet still found strong associations with Tic disorders. She never disclosed having to the journal having received grant support from pharmaceutical companies such as SmithKline Beecham as she had done years before. Why don’t we hold a GMC hearing about her. In fact, most researchers from the “vaccines do not cause autism” camp do not disclose their COIs in relation to pharmaceutical corporations. I don’t see the GMC investigating any of them. Yet, affiliating yourself with parents trying to sue pharmaceutical companies for inflicting permanent brain damage on their children is a serious conflict of interest worthy of such investigation? Even when it’s been disclosed a year beforehand in relation to the study by the lawyer himself?

    Horton denies this of coarse, probably fearing he’d come under similar persecution. He’s already been criticized heavily for this by UK Immunization Chief David Salisbury, as quoted in Paul Offit’s book, “Autism’s False Prophets,” which I assume you’re at least familiar with.

    I fail to understand how claiming “wild measles and MMR vaccines” could play a role is a lack of integrity. It only mentions the MMR in The Lancet study, but that is because that’s what the children examined were exposed to, not wild measles virus.

    Also, Nicholas Chadwick was a PhD student when he was working with Wakefield at the time, who was unsure about the results. Yet, a senior researcher in Japan was confident they were correct so Wakefield naturally went with his interpretation rather than the student’s. Now Chadwick, still unsure, disassociated himself from the study, which is his right, but how does pulling him out of the dustbin years later and presenting him as a “whistle-blower” help your case? Isn’t it common practice for the interpretations of a senior researcher to trump those of a junior researcher when their respective views are conflicting?

    Furthermore, on August 8, Wakefield received word from the GMC of three complaints, two directly implicating him, the earlier of which was sent by you on February 25, 2004, including allegations lobbied against him. Wouldn’t that mean the panel was hearing your case? Would that not make you the original complaintant? If so, is it right for you to be reporting the story of an investigation you started for the last 5 years?

    Furthermore, what do you make of allegations from laywer Clifford Miller, written about by journalist Martin Walker, that you were hired to The Sunday Times by editor Paul Nuki? His father as we know sat on the panel approving the infamous Pluserix MMR vaccine that was banned in Britain in 1992 for causing aseptic meningitis, a serious disease.

    Is it any coincidence that James Murdoch, your boss, was appointed to the GSK board of directors 8 days prior to publication of your latest article?

    It is interesting you equate Dr. Wakefield to washed up doctors in relation to autism. What is your take on Bruno Bettelheim and his “refrigerator mother” theory? You certainly seem friendly to the idea as John Stone pointed out on the ND blog:

    And they wonder why their children have problems with their brains.
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1849#comment-56584

    Well, actually Joseph, I didn’t intend that observation as an insult. I made it as a shorthand way of raising an issue that I believe may reasonably be raised.

    I genuinely think that the three individuals I was criticising – and I know who all three of them are – do need to question whether their personal behavioural issues are indicative of a better explanation for their children’s issues. Certainly a lot better explanation than MMR.

    The festering nastiness, the creepy repetitiveness, the weasly, deceitful, obsessiveness, all signal pathology to me
    http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/?p=1849#comment-56694

    You know, it’s funny, the very thing you accused those parents of doing was exactly what Joseph, the person you were addressing and one of your ND fanboys, accused me of doing when he claimed a I blamed my mother for my condition(I did not). Unlike me however, we have clearcut proof you made such comments, as you seem to view yourself as such an authority on the issue. So tell me: Is it my parents’ fault I have an ASD?

  20. #20 Joseph
    March 24, 2009

    You know, it’s funny, the very thing you accused those parents of doing was exactly what Joseph, the person you were addressing and one of your ND fanboys, accused me of doing when he claimed a I blamed my mother for my condition(I did not).

    @Jake: This is exactly what you said:

    No, they should take out all their amalgams and heed the EPA warnings on fish consumption first. I wish my mother did, I might not have been autistic…

    (source)

  21. #21 Dedj
    March 24, 2009

    I took Deer’s comment to mean that some of the problems the children had/have may be attributable to the behaviour of the parents, not that he was blaming them for autism.

    This fits both the context of the discussion and the explanation Deer gave later.

    In addition, it fits a known problem in learning disabilty services whereby the parents behaviour or attitudes towards the person with a learnng disability – whilst not illegal, immoral and often done with the best of intentions – can provide triggers for behaviour, or can lead to the development of psychological disorders, such as attachment disorders.

    Deers statement is so radically different to that put forward by Bettleheim that it requires ignorance of the family issues faced by people with learning disabilities or autism in order to confuse the two.

    Parents are not immune from causing their autistic child problems, nor are autistic people immune from the family problems that neurotypicals are.

  22. #22 Kathleen Seidel
    March 24, 2009

    “Isn’t it common practice for the interpretations of a senior researcher to trump those of a junior researcher when their respective views are conflicting?”

    It may be common, but would it be acceptable to dismiss a well-informed, conscientious scientist’s interpretations of data and his concerns about laboratory procedure and research ethics simply because he’s younger or less senior than those who disagree with him?

  23. #23 Jake Crosby
    March 24, 2009

    Joseph,
    Indeed I said that, but back then few knew there was mercury in fillings, nor were there EPA levels for methylmercury in fish around that time as the agency’s information on mercury emissions earlier this decade was based on eighties and early-nineties data, amalgams were commonly called “silver fillings,” because they also contained silver. Dentists of the American Dental Association did not inform their patients of the true content of their fillings, and when word got out that there was mercury in them, many ADA dentists told their patients that there was nothing to worry about, that the mercury stayed in their teeth, and that it couldn’t possibly vaporize and enter the body. My mother, after I was born, even asked her dentists if she should get them removed, suffering from neurological problems. He talked her out of it, causing another year to go by before she finally removed them all. So yes, I do wish my exposure to mercury early in life had been different from what it was, but that does not mean it was my mother’s fault because she just didn’t know.

    Dedj said,
    “some of the problems the children had/have may be attributable to the behaviour of the parents, not that he was blaming them for autism.”

    Deer said,
    “And they wonder why their children have problems with their brains.”

    WHAT other problems ARE THERE?! Pproblems with their brains?!!!” You did take that to mean AUTISM?! That’s the mental problem these children are suffering from!!! What other problems, if any, are these children are having with their brains that Brian Deer would be aware of?!!!

  24. #24 Jake Crosby
    March 24, 2009

    Mrs. Seidel,

    Dr. Chadwick was a PhD student at this time, Dr. Wakefield was already an experienced gastroenterologist and the Japanese researcher, Dr. Kawashima, an experienced virologist. Wakefield and Kawashima are senior for a reason, they have more experience and expertise than Chadwick. That’s not to say they didn’t take his concerns seriously, they did, and saw nothing wrong with the results, though Chadwick saw things differently, which is fine. However, to penalize Wakefield for publicizing his work contrary to the beliefs of a lab assistant with much less experience and who did not even have his PhD yet at the time is plainly absurd.

  25. #25 Scott
    March 24, 2009

    Characterizing Chadwick’s information as simple “concerns” is what’s absurd. It would be more accurately described as “conclusive and incontrovertible proof that the results were completely wrong.”

  26. #26 Dedj
    March 24, 2009

    “WHAT other problems ARE THERE?!”

    “What other problems, if any, are these children are having with their brains that Brian Deer would be aware of?!!!”

    I’m not sure how to explain this, as you seem to be hell bent on pinning any and all experience of difficulty by an autistic person on the behavioural tendancies (autism) rather than the triggers (antecedents).

    It’s possible for two people with identical serverities of autism to have radically different lived experiences, dependant on the environment that they are in. Like it or not, parental behaviour towards and around the person with autism can create events that lead to triggering of adversive, or so-called ‘challenging’ behaviour.

    Just like any person who works in autism would have been able to tell you, had you ever bothered to ask. I even told you the name of just one catogory of disorders that can arise from such situations. I know you are not a medical or health professional, or a person with relevant clinical or academic experience, so many of these terms and ideas are likely new to you, but if you’re not going to put any effort into this, then you’re just wasting everyones time.

    Deer has already explained what he meant by this. But you’d know that if you didn’t have such a reliance on biased second hand sources, wouldn’t you?

  27. #27 Orac
    March 24, 2009

    It’s not absurd, especially since Chadwick clearly had the goods, as was confirmed by world-renowned PCR expert Stephen Bustin at the Autism Omnibus hearings:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/06/the_autism_omnibus_the_difference_betwee.php

    The incompetence of Andrew Wakefield is staggering. It’s rare to find such incompetence combined with such dishonesty.

  28. #28 Joseph
    March 24, 2009

    Indeed I said that, but back then few knew there was mercury in fillings, nor were there EPA levels for methylmercury in fish around that time as the agency’s information on mercury emissions earlier this decade was based on eighties and early-nineties data, amalgams were commonly called “silver fillings,” because they also contained silver.

    Surely, autism must have disappeared by now then. They even took out almost all thimerosal from pediatric vaccines. It’s a good thing kids today don’t have to go through what you went through, Jake. God forbid they end up with too few citations in term papers. They never have to take responsibility for it, though. They can just blame autism for everything. Not a very good student? Autism. An asshole? Autism. Murderer? Surely, the autism.

  29. #29 Kathleen Seidel
    March 24, 2009

    Jake, Wakefield hasn’t been “penalized” for publishing work that contradicted his lab assistant’s interpretations of data. He’s been the subject of a well-founded, extensively documented investigation into scientific misconduct. Your statement that Wakefield took Chadwick’s concerns seriously “and saw nothing wrong with the results” is an assumption. Chadwick’s testimony reveals that Wakefield disregarded evidence of contamination in tissue samples taken from autistic children. That testimony is one very significant brick in an ever-growing wall separating Wakefield from the reputable scientific community.

  30. #30 Brian Deer
    March 24, 2009

    Since Nick Chadwick’s name has been raised. Here is the protocol for the work carried out. It names Chadwick as the responsible scientist, and his (negative) results should therefore have been provided to both the Legal Aid Board and the public. And they weren’t. That ends the matter.

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/protocol-1996.htm

    I’m amazed (well not amazed) that anyone would raise Dr Kawashima, who made it plain in writing that he accepted that his results were uniformative, not least because the putative strains of virus he reported were not, in fact, strains of any known vaccine or virus circulating in the UK. Hence Wakefield retracted reliance on them in litigation, but of course still keeps the paper on his website so as to better misinform parents.

    http://briandeer.com/wakefield/hisashi-kawashima.htm

  31. #31 Jake Crosby
    March 24, 2009

    “parental behaviour towards and around the person with autism can create events that lead to triggering of adversive, or so-called ‘challenging’ behaviour.”

    Deer wouldn’t be able to pick up on that, is he a parent of an autistic kid? No. In fact, I don’t even think he’s a parent at all, much less on the autism spectrum himself.

    Orac,

    First of all, this expert witness was not critical of Wakefield, he was critical of the O’Leary lab where his results were replicated.

    Furthermore…

    “It was also well known that Dr. Bustin had spent an enormous amount of time at a significant cost to the MMR vaccine makers attempting to discredit Dr. O’Leary’s results.”
    When further questioned, Dr. Bustin stated that he received his checks from the solicitors but that the funds actually came from Merck, Aventis and GSK. (p. 2053)
    http://www.jabs.org.uk/pages/yazbak-expert.asp

    and…

    The government went to great lengths to discredit the work of Dr. John O’Leary’s Unigenetics Lab. The testimony of Dr. Rima and Dr. Bustin were undercut by the fact that the documents they relied upon in forming their opinion were not available to the family attorneys, a practice which would not be allowed in a traditional civil trial.
    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/03/kent-heckenli-1.html

    In fact…

    In the study published yesterday, conducted by three independent laboratories, only 5 of the 25 children developed these symptoms after the MMR vaccine and therefore, only these five are comparable to the 2002 study. This new study confirmed that results from the laboratory of Professor John O’Leary (one of the collaborators on the new study, and senior author of the 2002 study) were correct
    http://www.thoughtfulhouse.org/pr/040908.htm

    Joseph said,
    “Surely, autism must have disappeared by now then.”

    Considering the fact that methylmercury output has increased tremendously over the decades, prompting the EPA to place warnings on fish consumption in the first place, that ADA dentists continued reassuring their patients their amalgams were safe when they are not, and that for the first time the CDC is now recommending that pregnant women get thimerosal-containing flu shots any time during their pregnancy and with children ages 6 months to 18 years, and that nothing has been done about the MMR, I think not.

    “Your statement that Wakefield took Chadwick’s concerns seriously ‘and saw nothing wrong with the results’ is an assumption.”

    Except that I personally contacted Wakefield before you even debated this with me, and he told me he made sure Kawashima was certain these results were correct, and that both researchers stand by their results. This is a fun fact Chadwick apparently does not mention in his testimony. Moreover, it’s really suspicious why he’s even involved. The PCR technique he used was not the same as that which was used to identify the gut biopsies confirming Measles RNA presence in Madilynn Cedillo, and in a blog Brian Deer took credit for Chadwick’s testimony. Furthermore, he is only giving his professional opinion and his only on the matter of contamination, which is limited to him only being a PhD student at the time. In the testimony, he expressed lack of familiarity with the PCR methods used to confirm the results.

  32. #32 Jake Crosby
    March 24, 2009

    “It names Chadwick as the responsible scientist, and his (negative) results should therefore have been provided to both the Legal Aid Board and the public. And they weren’t.”

    Why should Chadwick’s role in the study had been provided to the public and Legal Services Commission if he disassociated himself from the study?

    “who made it plain in writing that he accepted that his results were uniformative”

    To my knowledge, both Dr. Wakefield and Dr. Kawashima stand by the validity of their results to this day.

    “least because the putative strains of virus he reported were not, in fact, strains of any known vaccine or virus circulating in the UK.”

    And yet, Chadwick says so himself in his own testimony at the Autism Omnibus Hearing Kathleen Seidel linked me to that he believes the biospies sent to Japan were contaminated by measles RNA from SSPE patients he used as positive controls.

  33. #33 Kathleen Seidel
    March 25, 2009

    “I personally contacted Wakefield before you even debated this with me, and he told me he made sure Kawashima was certain these results were correct, and that both researchers stand by their results.”

    That’s enterprising of you. The problem is, in the many comments you have left on this blog, you have amply demonstrated that you do not critically evaluate assertions made by people you’ve been taught to admire and trust. You are quick to accuse your opponents of dishonesty and “conflicts of interest,” yet you disregard the reality that your new BFF Wakefield has a massive personal and economic stake in defending the integrity of his research, as do those who have relied upon that research in the hope of prevailing in multi-million dollar litigation.

    You also appear to lack any sense of humility, or of your own role in this debate. For heaven’s sakes, Jake, wake up. A man’s got to know his limitations. You’re the very definition of a callow youth, and you’re being used as ideological cannon fodder.

  34. #34 Dedj
    March 25, 2009

    “Deer wouldn’t be able to pick up on that,….blah blah irrelevant ad hominem blah”

    Don’t be silly, Deer already has a background in science and health journalism, far more than the majority of his detractors, and this is elementary interactional psychology, historically common in autism services (so common, it’s part of basic band 1/2 training and part of the NVQ qualification) and easily verifiable through the ICD or DSM.

    Of course, none of your sources would have bothered checking with autism services, would they? The chance to play “gotcha” and score a point against Deer must have been too tempting.

    Deer might possibly be a total a-hole who sticks pins in kittens for fun, but please stick to to issue for once hmmm? These “Deer is a dick!” distractions don’t do diddly for your case.

    The funniest thing is, the main way to take down Deer would be to accuse him of having undue influence on the hearing through his publications. No one has yet done this – likely because it would invalidate thier own commentary.

  35. #35 rich (richmanwisco)
    March 28, 2009

    Jake, you are simply conjuring up strawmen and cherry picking facts to try to distract the reader off the topic. If you had just stuck to the substance and not tried to veer the argument, you might have been constructive. Your agenda, and a discredited one at that, is now very clear and your points are less than moot.

  36. #36 Carol
    March 29, 2009

    This is a strange kind of rebuttal. Maybe it’s a notice of intent to rebut or something like that.

    I did look at the ’98 Lancet paper. The children were described as “previously normal” with respect to gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression. So it’s true that Wakefield did actually use the phrase “previously normal.” Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah.

    In Wakefield’s complaint against Deer he goes over in some detail the medical histories of children 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 and discusses Deer’s selective and/or mis-reporting. For instance, Deer reported that Child 1 did not hear properly weeks *before* his MMR shot and that this is the classic first symptom of autism. (So MMR could not be responsible for the autism.) But Wakefield points out that this was linked to a discharge from the child’s ear (a fact that Deer omitted) and that the child recovered from this infection. Infection. I’d like to read Deer’s rebuttal to this. Truly. I look forward.

    If you don’t want to read Wakefield’s whole 58-page complaint, just read the sections on the particular children. You can find it at the Thoughtful House website.

  37. #37 HCN
    March 29, 2009

    Carol, how does Wakefield’s case studies of a dozen children mostly selected by the lawyer who was paying him actually trump the dozen studies done in several countries involving the medical records of over a million children?

    If you have some actual real scientific evidence that the MMR (which has been used in the USA since 1971) has any connection with autism, then please present it. Just don’t use Wakefield, just find the papers that replicate his studies.

  38. #38 Ellen Smith
    March 29, 2009

    Carol is evidently not a mother. If my son had a discharge from his ear, I would not take him to the doctor’s office and say I was concerned that he had a hearing problem.

  39. #39 Joseph C.
    March 29, 2009

    @Carol,

    That study was a pile of crap. Get over it. If they ever teach a class about how to do science wrong, that Wakefield paper will be a centerpiece as one of the great epic fails of science. That you would defend such transparent fraud and nonsense only shows how deeply attached you are to your cult beliefs.

  40. #40 Carol
    March 30, 2009

    The question is a simple one. Was Child 1′s hearing loss prior to his MMR shot associated with a discharge from the ear? Yes or no. If the answer is “yes,” why did Deer characterize his temporary hearing loss from an ear infection as Child 1′s first symptom of autism?

    I’m all ears.

  41. #41 HCN
    March 30, 2009

    Still waiting to hear why a retracted case study of a dozen children trumps over a dozen large studies done in several countries and involving data from over a million children.

    Carol, if you have any real actual factual evidence that the MMR (which has been used in the USA since 1971) is worse than measles, mumps or rubella (and all three can cause deafness), please share it.

  42. #42 VBZ
    March 30, 2009

    I looked at the thoughtful house site and found only found one ‘carol’, who I googled to get this:

    http://briandeer.com/mmr/carol-stott.htm

  43. #43 Joseph
    March 30, 2009

    @Carol: I scanned Brian Deer’s Times Online article, and I also googled his website. I can’t find the part where he refers to the hearing loss of child 1 as a symptom of autism. Do you have a link?

  44. #44 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 30, 2009

    Joseph –

    Deer actually had more than one story in the Times regarding Wakefield’s falsifications; this one is the one that discuss Child One’s symptoms:

    In the paper this claim would be adopted, with Wakefield and his team reporting that Child One’s parents said “behavioural symptoms” started “one week” after he received the MMR.

    The boy’s medical records reveal a subtly different story, one familiar to mothers and fathers of autistic children. At the age of 9½ months, 10 weeks before his jab, his mother had become worried that he did not hear properly: the classic first symptom presented by sufferers of autism.

  45. #45 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 30, 2009

    I did look at the ’98 Lancet paper. The children were described as “previously normal” with respect to gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression. So it’s true that Wakefield did actually use the phrase “previously normal.” Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah.

    I’ve been puzzling over this all day — do people really do this? Acknowledge that their hero’s indignant claim that “I never said that” is in fact false and then go “nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah” as if, uh, as if they’d achieved some sort of victory?

  46. #46 Adam
    January 11, 2011

    You can debate all you want but there is one question I would like to ask the commentators here: How many of you have a child with autism?

    I am in contact with so many parents who claim that their child regressed after taking the MMR vaccine that I simply cannot believe that it is mere coincidence.

  47. #48 Kingfillins
    August 9, 2011

    Deer has not responded to the main body of Wakefields criticisms of his allegations. If he did he would shoot himself in the foot.

    The above is barely responding to Wakefields rebuttal, and then suddenly reverts to personal attacks to call into question Wakefield character. Surely exposing the facts alone would do that, if i fact they did. This response is indicative of how week his case is, how anyone took it seriously and treated it as fact, is truly disturbing.

    Now if you want to get to know the real Brian Deer… watch him in this video. How anyone could trust this man or support him is bewildering.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gej9ec4ptJU