Respectful Insolence

If there’s one thing that a crank, quack, pseudoscientist, or anti-vaccine propagandist doesn’t like, it’s having the light of day shined upon his activities. In fact, so much do they hate it that they have a distressing tendency to respond to science-based criticism not with science-based rebuttals (mainly because they can’t given that they don’t have any science to support them) but rather with legal threats. Sometimes these legal threats progress beyond just threats and into legal action, usually libel suits designed not to be compensated for damage to reputation but rather to intimidate and silence. We’ve seen it before many, many times, directed against journalists, bloggers, and scientists as varied as Simon Singh, Paul Offit, Amy Wallace, Andy Lewis, and others. Sometimes these efforts reach downright comical excesses, as it did when PR flack Marc Stephens threatened bloggers on behalf of the Burzynski Clinic, but they’re only comical to observers. If you happen to be on the receiving end of these legal threats, you have little choice but to take them at least a little seriously, and, like all bloggers, I am not immune to at least a mild degree of worry that some day some crank will decide to take a legal shot at me, too. Fortunately, I live in the U.S., where libel laws make suing much less hospitable, thanks to the First Amendment.

It looks as though an anti-vaccine crank is at it again.

Apparently not satisfied with having taken a run at Brian Deer and lost, even in the libel-friendly venue of the UK, disgraced anti-vaccine “brave maverick doctor” Andrew Wakefield has apparently filed a libel suit against Brian Deer on January 3. A PDF of the complaint can be found here. Apparently, Wakefield is very, very unhappy at the most recent series published by Brian Deer in BMJ almost exactly a year ago today in which Deer characterized Wakefield’s research as “Piltdown medicine.” He explained why, too, in an article entitled How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed, while BMJ editor Fiona Godlee piled on with an accompanying editorial entitled Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine to autism was fraudulent. As is usual for Deer’s work, the articles were well-researched and well-referenced. Clearly, they had an effect, too, continuing Wakefield’s slide from “brave maverick doctor” that the media liked to trot out as a “vaccine skeptic” whenever doing stories about vaccines to a pathetic crank who could only score invitations to speak at antivaccine conferences. Not surprisingly, Wakefield’s admirers immediately started a counterattack.

And the antivaccine movement is still smarting from Deer’s dismantling of the entire basis of its hero’s stature. Indeed, just one month ago, the Boy Wonder of the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism went after Anderson Cooper’s writer/producer eleven months after an interview he did with Wakefield around the time Brian Deer’s story came out last January. It’s another example of the one trick of AoA’s one trick pony, in which its Boy Wonder goes all Kevin Bacon “six degrees of separation” on Anderson Cooper’s producer in order to find a tenuous–fantastical, even–apparent conflict of interest. Throughout it all, J.B. Handley’s happy home for antivaccine propagandists published post after post after post attacking Brian Deer, Fiona Godlee, and the BMJ. It’s become an obsession with AoA’s bloggers and the antivaccine crankosphere.

So what is in Wakefield’s complaint against Brian Deer? Well, it’s the usual stuff, in particular claiming that the content of the BMJ articles by Deer and BMJ editors was not only just false but knowingly false, stating:

The Defamatory Statements were and are false and written and published with actual malice and intended to cause damage to Dr. Wakefield’s reputation and work as a researcher, academic, and physician and to permanently impair his reptation and his livelihood.

Wakefield’s attorney even has the audacity to play the “pharma shill” gambit:

Interestingly, at the time of the editorials and the Deer article were Published, the Defendents failed to disclose the fact that the BMJ received significant revenue from the very vaccine manufacturers whose products need further investigation. It was only monthslater, after the issue was raised by others, that the BMJ posted the following: “The BMJ should have declared competing interests in relation to this editorial by Fiona Godlee and colleagues. The BMJ Group receives advertising and sponsorship revenue from vaccine manufacturer, and specifically from Merck and GSK, which both manufacture MMR vaccines.”

Yes, indeed. Wakefield’s attorneys are actually trying to argue that the BMJ libeled Wakefield to protect its big pharma sugar daddy, the vaccine manufacturers. Seriously, his lawyer, William M. Parrish, should know better. Or maybe he doesn’t. He doesn’t list libel as one of his areas of specialty, which are listed as intellectual property disputes (e.g., trade secret, trademark, trade name, trade dress, copyright and patent disputes) business torts (e.g., unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, tortious interference with actual and prospective contracts and/or business relationships, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair advertising practices, etc.) and breach of contract claims. Yet here he is, suing for libel.

I find it very amusing that Dr. Wakefield claims his “professional reputation” was damaged by Deer’s most recent article The reason, of course, is that Dr. Wakefield’s reputation was destroyed by his having done and publicized his bad science, by his having intentionally consorted with the antivaccine movement and continued (in my opinion) to crank out bad science in the service of smearing the MMR with the claim that it causes autism. Wakefield destroyed his own reputation by doing fraudulent science. That happened years before Brian Deer ever wrote that BMJ article a year ago. Wakefield had already been found guilty by the General Medical Council of “serious professional misconduct,” which included acting in ways not in the clinical interests of disabled children. Shortly after that, he was struck off the medical register, and fired from Thoughtful House. All of this happened many months before Brian Deer wrote his article.

To but it bluntly, Andrew Wakefield no longer had any professional reputation to be trashed. This will be a major problem for him in any libel action, because one has to prove damage to one’s reputation to be successful in a libel suit.

All that leaves to me is one question: Why? And Why now? Not being a lawyer, I can only speculate based on what I know about the Wakefield case. Mr. Parrish must know that his client is incredibly unlikely to win this action. After all, Wakefield has already been tried and found guilty of misconduct by the British GMC and suing Brian Deer for libel, even in the plaintiff-friendly UK, backfired on him spectacularly. There’s little reason to expect that, given how well Deer has put all his ducks in a row in his reporting time and time again, Wakefield will do better in a U.S. court, where the bar for proving libel is much higher than in the UK. So, again, why is he doing this now? Let me speculate a moment. My guess is that the purpose of this libel action is to punish Brian Deer. More importantly, I’d also bet that it’s designed to give Andrew Wakefield a soapbox and a means of putting himself back into the public spotlight again, the spotlight from which he’s faded so much since one year ago. Again, he’ll be the “persecuted brave maverick doctor,” but this time he’ll be perceived as fighting back. I just hope he knows that Texas has a new anti-SLAPP law. Wakefield had better be careful.

In fact, this whole lawsuit strikes me as incredibly ill-advised, as it opens Wakefield up to discovery. Of course, it might well be that part of the motivation for the lawsuit is to subject Brian Deer, the BMJ, and Fiona Godlee to discovery, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see bits of information from discovery show up on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism; that is, if the case gets that far. If I were part of the antivaccine bloggerati at AoA, I might be worried now, because, given AoA’s campaign to discredit Brian Deer, particularly over the last year, it’s likely to be in the defense’s crosshairs. Communications between Wakefield and any AoA blogger might be subject to discovery. Any financial transaction between Generation Rescue and Andrew Wakefield could also be subject to discovery. Wakefield might think that because Deer, Godlee, and the BMJ are in the UK that they won’t engage in a full and vigorous defense to the extent of going whole hog (sorry, the lawsuit’s in Texas; I couldn’t resist) on discovery. Is Wakefield sure he wants to risk that? BMJ is part of a large company, and publishing companies tend not to take kindly to libel actions. Of course, even if the Generation Rescue/AoA/Wakefield connection isn’t a worry, everything else is. After all, everything about the Lancet paper would definitely be subject to discovery, and there’s no question about its relevance to the lawsuit.

Whatever Wakefield’s motivation, this move reeks of desperation. After all, if this was such obvious libel, why did Wakefield wait nearly a full year after the publication of Deer’s BMJ articles until filing this lawsuit? In taking this action, Wakefield is both demonstrating the characteristics of a crank (the need to silence using the courts rather than to refute using science) and showing just how far he’s fallen. In any case, I highly doubt Brian Deer has anything to worry about, other than the irritation this might cause and whether the company providing his libel insurance will go all wobbly on him. After all, the truth is an absolute defense against libel.

ADDENDUM: Be sure to read how the plot thickens!

Also, for those of you who were wondering if this is real, it is.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Cunningham
    January 5, 2012

    Once again, we need to get the libel laws out of science.

  2. #2 Matt Carey
    January 5, 2012

    “Any financial transaction between Generation Rescue and Brian Deer would also be subject to discovery”

    Blogging late? Me thinks you meant Andrew Wakefield instead of Brian Deer ;)

  3. #3 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 5, 2012

    I’ve been wondering if this was about to happen: Blackheart (aka John [Walker-?]Smith) was trying to goad us into libeling Wakefield sometime around Thanksgiving.

  4. #4 lilady
    January 5, 2012

    Oh, I don’t know that some of Wakefield’s “friends” and sympathizers at the crank websites were totally unaware of this lawsuit…I’d like to see how this all plays out at AoA.

    It is rather thin gruel as a basis of a lawsuit. I think Andy will regret starting it, as even he does not have the financial resources or the resources of his cronies to prove libel and slander. Truth is the best defense.

  5. #5 Ken
    January 5, 2012
  6. #6 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 5, 2012

    I’m thinking that if this actually proceeds to discovery, the histopathology reports (including the ones not made public) and “missing” slides are going to be central. Also, Amar Dhillon’s testimony should be actively sought by the defense. I’d also like to hear what Anthony has to say about his “nice control” comments written on Child 7’s report.

    And this has all now been opened to discovery by Wakers.

  7. #7 Matthew Cline
    January 5, 2012

    1) Awwwwwww, he isn’t suing the GMC as well? Bummer, that would have been entertaining.

    2) Why isn’t he suing in the U.K., where the libel laws are a lot more plaintiff-freindly?

    3) I’m really curious as to why he didn’t file a lawsuit immediately after the BMJ article/editorial was published.

  8. #8 Farmer
    January 5, 2012

    This may turn out to be a big mistake. Wakefield lost at the General Medical Committee trial, which was on the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. He lost in the federal claims court, where the standard of evidence his side needed to beat was negligible, but the plaintiffs still lost and their attorneys did not dare even to call him as a witness. So on the preponderance standard of civil law in defamation, Wakefield is almost certain to lose.

    His folk have a heap of money to raise, even though they will probably be insured, but Brian Deer must be punching the air tonight.

  9. #9 Matthew Cline
    January 5, 2012

    In fact, this whole lawsuit strikes me as incredibly ill-advised, as it opens Wakefield up to discovery. … If I were part of the antivaccine bloggerati at AoA, I might be worried now, because, given AoA’s campaign to discredit Brian Deer, particularly over the last year, it’s likely to be in the defense’s crosshairs.

    IANAL, but my understanding is that (unless the defendants open a counter-suit) that the defendants can only use discovery to gain information that could be used to defend against the libel accusations, and I don’t think “but they defamed us too” can be used as a defense in a defamation case. If one (or more) of the defendants counter-sued Wakefield for defamation, then they might be able to use discovery to get that sort of information.

    Of course, Wakefield opening himself up to discovery over facts surrounding the the Lancet paper… Well, that already backfired on him once. But maybe Wakefield figures that all the damage that he can suffer from discovery has already been done, so there’s no harm to opening himself up to discovery a second time.

  10. #10 NZ Sceptic
    January 5, 2012

    Oh goodness, how low can this man go? We’ve had a significant outbreak of measles here recently, which can be easily related back to his fraudulent ‘research’. The number of children who ended up in hospital was astounding.

    If I was Wakefield I’d have fallen gracefully on my sword by now and be very grateful that I wasn’t in prison!

    Brian Deer – parents everywhere owe you a great big thank you. As we say here in New Zealand, ‘kia kaha’ – or ‘be strong’ – and stay strong!

  11. #11 dt
    January 5, 2012

    So the BMJ srticle supposedly damaged Wakefield’s “reputation, work as a researcher, academic and physician” in the State of Texas.

    Did I miss something or does he actually do any of those things? AFAIK he hasn’t been engaged in any of that stuff. He can’t practise as a physician, his claims to being an “academic” are pretty ridiculous, since he has no tenure (I could claim to be an “academiic” for that matter), and his recent “research” seems to have been of the quality of “I looked something up on the internet so I could write a book”. Perhaps he has been hanging out with AoA for too long and picked up their notions of pomposity and their echo-chamber induced sense of inflated self-importance.

  12. #12 Lawrence
    January 5, 2012

    It will be very interesting – discovery is very much a two-edge sword, as Wakefield found out the last time.

  13. #13 dt
    January 5, 2012

    The list of “falsehoods” as described in the application are a hoot.
    I particularly liked the one that claims the statement Wakefield “remains championed by a sad rump of disciples”.
    Only falsehood there I can think of is that they can show that some of his simpering accolytes are actually happy little bunnies at heart.

  14. #14 autiemum
    January 5, 2012

    His true believers are presumably funding this. They believe. Maybe even they have been wondering why he doesn’t sue and urging him to do so. He may be so eaten up with self-conceit that he feels these nasty events have not really happened to him

    In the UK one of the prime purposes of libel threats or even libel actions is to halt discussion and generally play for time.

    Is this possible in the US?

  15. #15 dt
    January 5, 2012

    And I see they are trying to use the case of child 11 against Deer, by saying that the father said the child did get the vaccine before he developed autistic behaviour (Deer was going off a hospital discharge form which said the child’s symptoms started before MMR).

    However, I note they conveniently fail to reveal WHEN the father says the child got autism. Wakefield says after “one week” (and he then used this short time frame to corroborate his concept of MMR induced damage), yet the father actually says explicitly that the child developed autism 3 months after the MMR, showing up Wakefield as being either woefully incompetent or deliberately fraudulent in his description of the case.

  16. #16 Matthew Cline
    January 5, 2012

    @dt:

    So the BMJ srticle supposedly damaged Wakefield’s “reputation, work as a researcher, academic and physician” in the State of Texas.

    Did I miss something or does he actually do any of those things?

    Welllll, he could have been applying for those sorts of jobs since the BMJ article and editorial came out, and been getting nothing but rejection notices for his troubles. In which case he could claim he’s unable to find a job because of them.

  17. #17 dt
    January 5, 2012

    Wakefield says this in his paper:

    In eight children, the onset of behavioural symptoms had been linked, either by the parents or by the child’s physician, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. Five had had an early adverse reaction to immunisation (rash, fever, delirium; and, in three cases, convulsions). In these eight children the average interval from exposure to first behavioural symptoms was 6.3 days (range 1–14).

    He uses this short interval to make a link with MMR.

    But one of these kids was child 11, whose onset was clearly stated by his father as 3 months after MMR, and not the “one week” given by Wakefield in the paper. That makes the average interval from exposure to onset of symptoms over 17 days for the 8 children involved by my calculations (I am generously giving child 4 an interval of 1 day, though Wakefield does not specify).

    So why is your paper telling porkies, Andy?

  18. #18 Bob O'H
    January 5, 2012

    Now might be a good time to acquaint yourselves with Arkell vs Pressdram. The precedent is relevant, I think.

  19. #19 Ren
    January 5, 2012

    In my country, we say that someone willing to resort to these tactics is giving “drowning victim’s kicks” (“patadas de ahogado”), meaning that they’re giving it one last go before it’s all lost.

    I say let them (Wakefield et al) go for it. Let’s have the Scopes trial of our day and bury the MMR-autism crap once and for all.

    Of course, it’s not going to be the end. “Someone” will find six-to-ten degrees of separation between anyone making an official judgment on this and some pharmaceutical company if it doesn’t go their way. And we’ll play that game all over again.

    By the way, does anyone wonder if this is the reason AoA bloggers have not been around these here parts as of late to defend Andy? I know I do, but I’m just nuts about conspiracies.

  20. #20 Surreptitious Evil
    January 5, 2012

    And I see they are trying to use the case of child 11 against Deer, by saying that the father said the child did get the vaccine before he developed autistic behaviour (Deer was going off a hospital discharge form which said the child’s symptoms started before MMR).

    Which would be fine if they only required to demonstrate error. But they not only have to demonstrate materially significant error but also, given the public figure / public interest nature of Wakefield and the vaccine debate – actual malice. So if Deer can produce official albeit inaccurate records from which he drew a justified conclusion, then the libel suit fails.

    From a strict legal perspective, he’d actually be better off suing under English law (we have no direct equivalent for the ‘malice’ requirement.) Except that he is so thoroughly discredited here he’d never pass the “actually have a reputation to be damaged” hurdle.

  21. #21 Matthew Cline
    January 5, 2012

    @Surreptitious Evil:

    Except that he is so thoroughly discredited here he’d never pass the “actually have a reputation to be damaged” hurdle.

    Huh, I wonder if that’s why he isn’t suing in a British court.

  22. #22 LW
    January 5, 2012

    I read the petition, and I was struck by the apparent absence of any mention of the full-scale trial by the GMC which found Wakefield to have committed fraud and caused him to be struck off the register. The Skeptical Lawyer suggests that this may be treated as a case of res judicata — the GMC has already tried it and other courts will not relitigate it — but even if it is not, I think the decision of the GMC will go a long way in the defense.

    Wakefield is a public figure; for him to prevail in a libel case, he must show much more than a private figure. In particular, he must show actual malice — that the defendants knew their statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of their falsity. But they knew that the GMC had done an exhaustive investigation and therefore the defendants could hardly be acting with reckless disregard by relying on the GMC’s findings.

    IANAL, but omitting any mention of the GMC doesn’t look wise to me. The defendants will point it out, and then the picture which the petition paints of Deer, Godlee, and the BMJ launching an unprovoked attack on an innocent doctor, is going to look very different to the Court.

  23. #23 anarchic teapot
    January 5, 2012

    While I’m (mildly) curious about how this plays out, more to see how the new anti-SLAPP law in Texas is applied than from any fear Wakefield might have a snowflake’s chance in an inferno of not being laughed out of court, I especially appreciated the neologism “crankosphere”.

    Sums it up beautifully.

  24. #24 Science Mom
    January 5, 2012

    It’s a show for his “sad rump of disciples”. They question why he has allowed Deer and BMJ to continue to “defame” him so this is just a move to energize his base and keep the revenues coming for his self-employment. When he loses or the case is dismissed, it will be all part of the “conspiracy” to keep him down.

    A particularly interesting statement from the suit (section 4.6):

    “…a doctor who was part of a group of well respected physicians that presented a case study that simply suggested that there might be a connection between the combined MMR vaccine, when administered as a combination of live viruses to certain children, and autism and that suggested further research is warranted.”

    Didn’t we just have the commenter(s) Huh/Duh who made an issue of this?

  25. #25 Kae
    January 5, 2012

    Orac quote:

    “Whatever Wakefield’s motivation, this move reeks of desperation.”

    Some would say this article reeks of desperation.

  26. #26 D. C. Sessions
    January 5, 2012

    IANAL, but my understanding is that (unless the defendants open a counter-suit) that the defendants can only use discovery to gain information that could be used to defend against the libel accusations

    IANAL too, but …

    US law on discovery defines a very, very broad realm of “relevant” material. For instance, discovery might be directed at impeaching witnesses.

    In theory “fishing expeditions” are not allowed, but having spent too many hours over the last eight years watching the SCO v. IBM and related proceedings go on at GrokLaw, you can still catch a lot of trout as the rules are.

  27. #27 LW
    January 5, 2012

    Is there a Texas lawyer around who can explain the term “Level 3 Discovery Control Plan”?

  28. #28 Paul Revere
    January 5, 2012

    Orac quote:

    “Whatever Wakefield’s motivation, this move reeks of desperation.”

    Some would say this article reeks of desperation.

  29. #29 LW
    January 5, 2012

    Kae, meet Paul Revere. Paul Revere, meet Kae. I’m sure you’ll hit it off famously; you two have a lot in common.

  30. #30 Lawrence
    January 5, 2012

    @ScienceMom – I thought the exact same thing, since Herp/Derp was so keen on trying to get Deer to admit he made a mistake…..

  31. #31 Orac
    January 5, 2012

    Yup. As LW implied, Kae and Paul Revere are the same person and thus earn the sockpuppet warning.

  32. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    January 5, 2012

    What would be especially sad is if the antivax contingent in the autism community gets involved in raising money for Wakefield’s legal fees, further diverting funds that should be going to finding true causes of autism and evidence-based treatment.

    One wonders how Wakefield otherwise could have the money to pursue this.

  33. #33 Lawrence
    January 5, 2012

    I’m guessing he shouldn’t be calling it a Legal “Defense” Fund, so much as an “Offense” fund….

  34. #34 dt
    January 5, 2012

    Well he did get $750k in legal fees for his efforts, and also got around $300k a year from Thoughtful House for acting as a figurehead, until they realized it was the figure head from the “good ship Venus”.

  35. #35 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 5, 2012

    Texas Rules for Discovery for those wanting to know more about Level 3. Basically, it’s similar to that in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.

  36. #36 Denice Walter
    January 5, 2012

    I used to own commercial property which I rented to a small business owner; when prices skyrocketed, I decided to sell and notified the tenant. Guess what happened next? Well, their suit never went very far for a variety of reasons. They probably knew that but they wanted to poke at me and make me miserable because *they* were. Maneouvers like these are the very last refuge of the desperate: the game is over and it’s really time to move on. People sometimes have trouble accepting that fact. ( -btw- I made a ton of money).

    On a lighter note: ( in Orac’s link to the mind-numbing legal shananigans) AJW cites an interview on the Gary Null Show ( archived @ ProgressiveRadioNetwork; 1/25/11; 3PM). While AJW might suppose that it helps his case against Brian Deer, I seriously doubt that. Actually, it illustrates how much adults vary in what psychologists used to call “g” ( a couple of standard deviations, I think) and other relevant skills. Go listen, it’s a lesson in the psychology of individual differences.

  37. #37 OracIsAQuack
    January 5, 2012

    @ #1
    Scott Cunningham wrote: “Once again, we need to get the libel laws out of science.”

    I don’t know if you know this or not, Scott, but Mr Deer is not a scientist. Nor is his journalistic takedown of Dr Wakefield science, though it used science as a means to an end. If Wakers can prove that Mr Deer libeled him in some way, then he has the right to pursue a law suit.

    And libel should be allowed in science, because science is not above the law, as you seem to think it should be.

  38. #38 Denice Walter
    January 5, 2012

    @ Dangerous Bacon:

    I too have wondered where this guy gets his money, especially recently. Of course, I have suspicions based on his past activities. Being a doctor, I’m sure you could add some more options he has to my imagined list.

  39. #39 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    The Huh?/Duh? character from the earlier thread most definitely had a thing for child 11. This fits with that poster possibly being one of the ‘in’ crowd at AoA. I do hope we get more posts from it as we never could get it to move beyond child 11.

    As for our Quack poster, science is certainly not above the law but using false equivalence arguments and non-scientific arguments against a scientific one make for very expensive, drawn out trials. Also, is Quackers saying that a non-scientist cannot make a scientific argument? Odd, I never got my scientist card upon graduation. Fact is that Deer made both scientific and logical arguments in his thorough takedown of the fraud Wakefield.

  40. #40 Jojo
    January 5, 2012

    I noticed that the claim refers to Wakefield as Dr. Wakefield. Can he still use that title now that he’s been struck off?

  41. #41 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    @Jojo,
    A previous UK poster addressed this a while ago. Paraphrasing and subject to correction: He got his Dr by completing the education. He can no longer practice medicine as a result of being struck off. Apparently the latter does not affect the former.

  42. #42 Jojo
    January 5, 2012

    Thanks Mikema.

    It does seem to be a silly thing to do. I can’t imagine it will help his case to present himself to the court as a doctor when the fact that he was struck off will come up so quickly. Then again, the whole thing seems absurd, so he might as well double down.

  43. #43 Calli Arcale
    January 5, 2012

    And libel should be allowed in science, because science is not above the law, as you seem to think it should be.

    This is a rather puzzling thing to say. Don’t you mean “scientists are not above the law” or “scientific institutions are not above the law”? Laws govern people and groups of people, not philosophies or methods of pursuing knowledge. It would be similarly absurd to say that “faith is not above the law”. Codes of law do not apply to science, or to faith. They do apply to scientific institutions, to corporations, to religious organizations, etc. This is an important difference. Cranks tend to speak as if science is a distinct (and slightly distasteful) entity, but it isn’t.

    The first part of your statement is also puzzling — why should libel be allowed in science? It should not be tolerated at all; good science depends on honesty, sometimes brutal honesty, but honesty all the same. Perhaps you meant libel suits should be allowed in science. But again, this is a strange statement. Libel suits should be allowed everywhere governed by libel laws — that’s what a law means — but you do not use libel suits to conduct science. It is simply not part of the process. You use *science* to conduct science. It is entirely fair for a scientist to sue another scientist for libel, but this has nothing to do with science. If you think someone is wrong about something, do the science and prove it and publish your results.

    It is noteworthy that Wakefield chooses to attack with law rather than science. Granted, Brian Deer is a journalist; attacking with law makes more sense in that case, since it is not a peer reviewed study which Wakefield is attacking. But that invites other questions, most notably, why is *this* what Wakefield chooses to attack? If Wakefield is right about MMR, Brian Deer’s reporting is not really his best target. His *scientific* detractors would be better targets, and he’d be much better off proving them wrong in a peer-reviewed journal. Why, for instance, is he not attacking the Lancet? And why did he decline the opportunities he was given to further study MMR? His study suggested more research was needed, so he was immediately given resources to conduct that research. He sat on that opportunity for a long time. Why is that, I wonder?

    That’s what we mean by keep libel out of science. Wakefield should be responding to his *scientific* detractors, if he’s really serious. He’s not, most likely because he knows he cannot prevail, which implies he knows damn well he can’t prove what isn’t true. He is choosing to let that implication stand. *That*, not Brian Deer’s reporting, is why his scientific credibility is in the toilet.

    (Oh, and why does he claim that the article impairs his ability to work as a physician in Texas? He has never had the legal right to practice medicine in Texas, as he is not licensed in that state. IANAL, but isn’t he therefore claiming that Brian Deer is preventing him from committing a crime? Maybe he claims Deer’s article is an obstacle to becoming licensed, but wouldn’t he then have to demonstrate he’d been *trying* to get licensed? AFAIK, he hasn’t done bupkis to get licensure, which would seem to be a rather bigger obstacle, and entirely of his own making.)

  44. #44 jrkrideau
    January 5, 2012

    Probably not relevant but the Wakefield claim lists him as FRCS along with the M.B etc. How likely is it that after being struck off, he would still be a fellow of the RCS?

    I suppose it may just take the College a long time to do things but I would have thought that it would have wanted to get shut of him as quickly as possible.

  45. #45 Chemmomo
    January 5, 2012

    OracIsAQuack

    And libel should be allowed in science, because science is not above the law, as you seem to think it should be.

    Hmmm. It’s a been a while since you’ve read an introductory science textbook, huh? Science has its own Laws, and they’re the ones that don’t get broken.

    It seems to me that science itself is outside the law, not above. And “the law” is definitely not above science!

  46. #46 kruuth
    January 5, 2012

    This isn’t going to get too far. TX has great libel laws and a fantastic SLAPP law. If I still lived there I could file a motion myself on this but unfortunately I don’t.

    Who’s funding this? My money is on Jenny McCarthy and the AoA folks.

    PS: Anyone know what the statue of limitations for Libel is in TX? I thought it was something like 6 months.

  47. #47 Beamup
    January 5, 2012

    The GMC hearings may not have so direct a bearing on this as one might think. IANAL, but I would expect that the GMC would have to have specifically ruled on the precise questions of fact embodied in the statements claimed as defamatory. The GMC certainly concluded that the study was bogus, but the specific reasons given for why it was probably matter.

    And if memory serves, the articles in question were written based on information which came to light during the GMC investigation but were not directly drawn from its conclusions. So there is room for the questions of fact to be materially different, which I bet would make the GMC proceedings irrelevant for at least some of the alleged defamatory statements.

  48. #48 W. Kevin Vicklund
    January 5, 2012

    Anyone know what the statue of limitations for Libel is in TX? I thought it was something like 6 months.

    One year. Which explains why it was filed now, just prior to the end of the statute of limitations.

  49. #49 kruuth
    January 5, 2012

    Thanks Kevin. I wasn’t sure.

    Either way this is going to be an uphill battle for Andrew Wakefield. Libel in the US is extremely difficult to prove, especially for a public figure such as he is. When Deer turns over his research which he undoubtedly will do I’m betting this lawsuit will vanish. If I’m not mistaken TX has the “loser pays” law in cases like this.

  50. #50 Beamup
    January 5, 2012

    Another amusing thought just came to mind.

    Given that what reputation Wakefield has left is among his “sad rump of disciples,” and the articles can only perpetuate their perception of a vast conspiracy against him, the argument could be made that the articles actually IMPROVED his reputation!

  51. #51 Prometheus
    January 5, 2012

    There are a number of “the dog that didn’t bark” issues in the suit by Wakefield, not the least of which is “Why isn’t he suing in the UK, where libel laws are famously more plaintiff-friendly – and which also happens to be where the defendants live?”.

    I’m not a lawyer (nor am I a solicitor or barrister), so I won’t speculate on the legal aspects of the suit – others far more qualified have already done so. The only explanation that makes sense is that, knowing he’s going to lose, he’s decided to lose quickly, before the legal fees climb too high.

    I realise that this may make no sense from a legal standpoint, but it is immensely sensible from the perspective of a narcissist who senses his audience slipping away. Andy Wakefield is in serious danger of becoming entirely irrelevant, and so he needs to “rally the faithful”.

    The fact that he mounted such a pathetic defence at his GMC hearings and made only a token feint at suing Brian Deer has created a lot of doubt among his faithful followers. They are asking themselves – and others – “Why didn’t he show the GMC evidence of his innocence?”. After all, Andy promised that he has such evidence and that he would reveal it to the world….about two years ago.

    Now, before he slips “below the fold” permanently, Andy Wakefield is putting up a last “Hail Mary” attempt to get himself back into the limelight. He may have convinced himself that he has a legitimate grievance and that he has been unfairly handled by the press (including the BMJ), but he has to know that his claim of defamation won’t stand in US courts.

    I strongly suspect that Wakefield filed his lawsuit in Texas because he (or, more precisely, his lawyers) knew that it wouldn’t get very far – either it would be tossed because the Texas courts don’t have jurisdiction or because it is so blatantly a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP). What he hopes to accomplish – and what he has probably already accomplished – is to show “the faithful” that he truly believes in his own innocence and is willing to fight to prove it.

    Leaving aside that he hasn’t a chance of winning, the important part – from a psychological rather than legal perspective – is that giving up the legal fight would be a tacit admission of guilt in the eyes of his followers. So what if he can’t win – he can (and will) claim that the courts are “biased” against him, that “Big Pharma” bought the judges, that the jury (were it to ever get that far) were all reptilian aliens in the employ of the Galactic Overlord (AKA “Big Pharma”). Reality doesn’t matter – what matters is that he has a good story.

    BTW, on the matter of Wakefield’s medical career being “harmed”: he never got a Texas medical license and now probably can’t get one. Most state medical boards are reluctant to issue medical licenses to physicians who have had their medical license revoked by other states (or countries). As for his research career, I’d say that was over a long time before the articles in the BMJ. And his speaking career – such as it is – can only be enhanced by the “controversy” surrounding him.

    Prometheus

  52. #52 Lawrence
    January 5, 2012

    @Prometheus – I agree, I believe this to be more of a publicity stunt than an actual attempt at a legitimate case. And you are right that should he ultimately withdraw the suit, he can always claim “conspiracy.”

  53. #53 daedalus2u
    January 5, 2012

    I think this is just an excuse for Wakefield to scam (cynically) his “sad rump of disciples” for money (which is why he put that quote in the complaint, to cause narcissistic injury to them to incentivize them to donate more to right this wrong).

    How much money Wakefield is getting from various sources is discoverable. Wakefield claims he has been injured, that his reputation has been damaged, that he has lost income. Ok, lets see what the number are. Then get his money sources to testify as to how much “damage” the BMJ articles have caused compared to how much “damage” the GMC finding caused.

    I would almost like the BMJ and Deer to not file an Anti-SLAPP lawsuit until after they do discovery. Unfortunately that won’t work because Wakefield will withdraw the lawsuit just before discovery is due to be turned over, and then BMJ and Deer don’t get their legal fees paid. That is what Wakefield did when he sued Deer before in England, he withdrew the lawsuit and settled just as documents were being turned over that proved Wakefield’s fraud.

  54. #54 Denice Walter
    January 5, 2012

    @ Prometheus:

    Delving deeper into the perverse psychology of legal manipulators: in the instance of my own legal harrassment, I surmise that it was an attempt to spitefully *rain on my parade*- because I was rather successful while they were not. It was merely histrionics, trying to frighten me into thinking that my assets would be threatened and to disturb my peace of mind so I couldn’t enjoy my success. My representative advised me to dis-regard their phone calls and messages; one of them venomously addressed me as “smart lady”. Which was correct.

    Obviously people like this are feeling helpless: if you pursue a legal blind alley, what are you really doing except prolonging your own agony, while licking your wounds and trying to strike out against the person you blame for your misfortune? The case may go nowhere but you might cause distress to the person you deem the source of all of your woes. I’m sure that their protracted vendettas will interfere with their own peace of mind and from moving ahead in their own lives, which can’t be fun.

  55. #55 Science Mom
    January 5, 2012

    I just finished reading the suit; it sounds like it was written by the inept JABs tag team of John Stone and Clifford Miller. And what will Wakefield’s legal team present as evidence for this whiny screed? A copy of Callous Disregard?

  56. #56 kruuth
    January 5, 2012

    Wow. He’s suing 1 company and 2 individuals in the UK in a TX court? Seriously? Again, not a lawyer here but this judge will most likely take one look at this and dismiss it. Citing 10a of the Hague convention:


    Article 10

    Provided the State of destination does not object, the present Convention shall not interfere with –

    a) the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad,
    b) the freedom of judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of origin to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination,
    c) the freedom of any person interested in a judicial proceeding to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.

    Deer et al don’t even have to respond to this. Sure, the Hague convention says that they can send papers all day long, but there is no provision for compelling the defendants to stand trial. All this says is that signatories can pass legal papers between each other, not enforce judgements between participating countries. In fact, the US does not allow collections of judgements made in the UK here stateside.

    His lawyer must have insisted on an insane retainer to take this on.

  57. #57 Anton P. Nym
    January 5, 2012

    “And libel should be allowed in science, because science is not above the law, as you seem to think it should be.”

    You don’t really believe that; if you did, you’d have no trouble with Wakefield being struck off by the RCS.

    Besides, to paraphrase this blog’s tagline, a statement of fact cannot be libel. If the science is being done properly, it’s dealing with demonstrable facts… and therefor beyond the scope of libel laws entirely.

    — Steve

  58. #58 OMSJ
    January 5, 2012

    Since truth is the best defense, Deer has NOTHING to worry about – unless, of course, Deer was paid to fabricate evidence against Dr. Wakefield.

    After all, are we going to believe Dr. Wakefield, or the objections of a pharmaceutical industry that has paid $12 billion since 2004 to settle thousands of criminal complaints related to the illegal marketing of drugs and vaccines that kill or injure more than a million Americans every year?

  59. #59 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    @OMSJ
    If it were as simple as exposing a lie, why didn’t Wakefield do that at his GMC hearing. Why didn’t Wakefield continue his first suit against Deer and smash those alleged lies? Because he couldn’t defend his fraudulent actions.

    As for your other assertions, citations please.

  60. #60 Prometheus
    January 5, 2012

    OMSJ (whose ‘blog is a veritable cornucopia of conspiracy “theories”):

    “Since truth is the best defense, Deer has NOTHING to worry about – unless, of course, Deer was paid to fabricate evidence against Dr. Wakefield.”

    Since there is no evidence that Mr. Deer was “paid to fabricate evidence”, let us assume that Mr. Deer has nothing to worry about – as OMSJ assures us. Nice attempt to sow doubt and obliquely cast aspersions, though.

    “After all, are we going to believe Dr. Wakefield, or the objections of a pharmaceutical industry that has paid $12 billion since 2004 to settle thousands of criminal complaints related to the illegal marketing of drugs and vaccines that kill or injure more than a million Americans every year?”

    I wasn’t aware that the “pharmaceutical industry” had accused Dr. Wakefield of ethical violations or fradulent research. I believe that question should have been phrased differently:

    After all, are we going to believe Brian Deer and the editors of the British Medical Journal or the protestations of Dr. Wakefield, who received thousands of pounds to develop research in support of lawsuits for vaccine injury, who was struck off the medical register for his “callouse disregard” of his patients and who egregiously violated research ethics and altered research data?

    Fixed that for you, OMSJ.

    Prometheus

  61. #61 kruuth
    January 5, 2012

    OMSJ-

    Hey Clark. Bored with HIV denial?

    Sure, he Deer fabricated data except you apparently haven’t read that much. Deer did nothing but read existing data. This is called Ex Post Facto research. In effect, if there was any fabrication, this would have come up long, long ago. The other researchers on the original paper wouldn’t have taken their names off it, the Lancet wouldn’t have retracted the paper, and he wouldn’t have lost his license in the UK. Let’s not forget that Deer has ALWAYS made his references public. Wakefield “lost” skin samples from his research.

    Please try something other than the pharma conspiracy angle. We’ve all heard it before. Please don’t embarass yourself further.

  62. #62 Liz Ditz
    January 5, 2012

    As I often do,I’m keeping a list…

    Clicking on my name, above, will take you to Andrew Wakefield’s Latest Legal Action: Roundup

    Where oh where are the Wakefield loyalists? Why is there nothing at Age of Autism?

  63. #63 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    Where oh where are the Wakefield loyalists? Why is there nothing at Age of Autism?

    Shenanigans I bet. Some real or imagined advantage to the Wakefield suit, funding, or maybe they finally recognize they cannot compete against science as Wakefield clearly has.

  64. #64 Delurked lurker
    January 5, 2012

    Dammit dt @ 34 thanks for giving me an earworm, and “the good ship venus” no less.

    Argggggggggghhh

  65. #65 Broken Link
    January 5, 2012

    Somewhat OT, but there is a very nice article by Seth Mnookin up at, of all places, HuffPo. Link is on my ‘nym.

    Ann Dachel is there spouting her copy-paste talking points.

  66. #66 Broken Link
    January 5, 2012

    @Prometheus – some of the comments on FB give you a hint of how the “rump” is receiving this:

    Sylvia Pimentel
    I cannot wait for the true and actual facts to emerge for the public to see. Justice for Andrew Wakefield is justice for ALL of our children!

    Louise Kuo Habakus
    Be careful. Things are often not as they seem. Click on the link and read the petition. Then check out the law firm representing Dr. Wakefield. Big gun law firms do not get involved if they don’t think they can win. It is time for our physicians and families to have the opportunity to be heard in a real courtroom, by real judges, before a real jury of our peers. Not a show trial, manipulated by the press. A real trial. We will follow the money and see who stands to gain and lose. Keep an open mind and watch carefully.

    Kazuko Grace
    About the time! Praying for all goes well.

    Christine Zichittella-Heeren
    just going to vent for second… I’m so FN tired of MULTIPLE people saying to me “well, isn’t it true vaccines don’t cause autism because that English doctor was found to be a fraud?” OMG hold me back!!!! Hard to explain the situation without going off or sounding insane. I don’t know how Wakefield does it?

  67. #67 LW
    January 5, 2012

    “Hard to explain the situation without going off or sounding insane.”

    Sounding insane — yeah, there’s a reason for that.

  68. #68 Clark Baker
    January 5, 2012

    MikeMa… GMC isn’t a legal court – it’s an administrative hearing that doesn’t abide by the usual rules of evidence. In the US, it’s typically called “sham peer review.”

    It’s telling that a reporter of unremarkable skill later hung out at a French Riviera resort with propagandists like Seth Kalichman.

    In any case, if Deer told the truth as this blog insists, he has nothing to worry about. If he lied, one would expect the kind of unhinged outrage expressed by ORAC and his ilk.

  69. #69 Dr Aust
    January 5, 2012

    @62 @63 Liz Ditz / Mike Ma

    I’m with Mike – wonder if the Wakefield-ites aren’t hoping to use the (likely pretty vitrolic) blog response to St Andy’s latest Gambit to argue ‘aggravation':

    “Look – here you can see the effects of this defamation, just look at the cheerleading from the evil PharmaMinions”

    etc etc

  70. #70 Jen
    January 5, 2012

    “Legal thuggery, anti-vaccine edition…” this should really be titled, ” I Really Hate it When People Stand up For Themselves.” What a pile of steaming, mind numbingly burning crap for you to characterize what happened to Dr. Wakefield as “science-based criticism.” It was more like kangaroo court and severe conflict of interests that were unleashed upon Dr. Wakefield. Basically mob tactics.

  71. #71 Dr Aust
    January 5, 2012

    PS What Clark Baker’s @ 68 says about the GMC hearing ‘not abiding by the usual rules of evidence’ is a bit of a crock. The GMC’s “administrative hearings’ are full dress affairs with lawyers (barristers) arguing for both sides, and questioning the witnesses, and exhaustive scrutiny of all available documentation. They are routinely criticised by UK doctors for being too much like the courts in the way they are run.

    What they can’t do is investigate under legal power of subpoena – so, for instance, they couldn’t make Wakefield open his own files. But Wakefield was fully entitled to call any witnesses he wanted in his defence, or produce any relevant evidence he had.

    ‘Answer’, as they say, ‘came there none’.

    It is also worth noting that the GMC Fitness to Practise hearings at the time of the Wakefield case used the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ criminal standard of proof, not the lesser civil standard of proof.

  72. #72 alison
    January 5, 2012

    In which case, Jen (#70), I’m sure you’re able to explain why Wakefield dropped his previous UK libel suit against Brian Deer? And to identify the science that you feel was missing from the case against him??

  73. #73 Science Mom
    January 5, 2012

    MikeMa… GMC isn’t a legal court – it’s an administrative hearing that doesn’t abide by the usual rules of evidence. In the US, it’s typically called “sham peer review.”

    You don’t have a clue of the rules of evidence of the GMC fitness to practise hearings you bigoted moron. Dr. Aust explains it well. Not that you can understand, let alone accept how wrong you are.

    In any case, if Deer told the truth as this blog insists, he has nothing to worry about. If he lied, one would expect the kind of unhinged outrage expressed by ORAC and his ilk.

    Where on this blog or any other sceptical/science blog have you extracted that Mr. Deer is even remotely worried? If anything, it’s an opportunity to bat Wakefield around yet again. I think the only “unhinged outrage” is being expressed by you, not our host.

    I see that our “jen” has made an appearance to grace us with another spittle-flecked grouse about her idol. “Championed by a sad rump of disciples” indeed; Brian Deer nailed it.

  74. #74 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 5, 2012

    @ OIAQ:

    Have you considered that one of the consequences of “libel [suits] [being] allowed in science,” as you put it, is that the door would be flung wide open for the companies whose products Wakefield disparaged to bring suit against him for libel? (Although frankly I’m sure all the components for such a suit are already there under current law, if the companies wanted to pursue it: there is copious evidence that Wakefield knew the truth and, instead of telling the truth, manufactured a defamatory lie for purposes of monetary profit and personal fame.)

    @ Prometheus:

    I think your analysis of why Wakey’s really suing is spot-on — but man, it still amazes me that anyone could think he has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. It wouldn’t be enough to prove that Deer/Godlee/BMJ were wrong about something (not that the antivaxxers have managed even that); they’d basically have to demonstrate that no reasonable people in the defendants’ place taking reasonable care to tell the truth would have gotten it wrong. If Deer had good reason to think that Wakefield was doing all the things Deer said he did, poof goes any chance of a libel suit, basically.

  75. #75 Andrew
    January 5, 2012

    “Basically mob tactics.”

    Thought the pro-disease advocates liked mob justice – remember when Jenny McCarthy threatened Amanda Peet with an angry mob, just because Amanda told the truth about vaccines?

  76. #76 Andrew
    January 5, 2012

    “In any case, if Deer told the truth as this blog insists, he has nothing to worry about.”

    Quite right – Deer has nothing to worry about. Wakefield gave up the last time he sued Deer – and paid off Deer’s legal bills.

  77. #77 Monado, FCD
    January 5, 2012

    It would be a treat, from a bystander’s point of view, to watch Brian Deer, his newspaper, and the British Medical Journal sue Age of Autism and Andrew Wakefield for libel. They have a much stronger case. I mean, they have a case.

  78. #78 Science Mom
    January 5, 2012

    Louise Kuo Habakus
    Be careful. Things are often not as they seem. Click on the link and read the petition. Then check out the law firm representing Dr. Wakefield. Big gun law firms do not get involved if they don’t think they can win. It is time for our physicians and families to have the opportunity to be heard in a real courtroom, by real judges, before a real jury of our peers. Not a show trial, manipulated by the press. A real trial. We will follow the money and see who stands to gain and lose. Keep an open mind and watch carefully.

    Riiiiight because the GMC proceeding wasn’t a “real” trial with evidence and nonsense like that. Because she wasn’t present it’s not real? Where do these people get their information from? Oh right, that wanker Martin they hired to report from the UK. Can we start a new bingo card for the justifications of another Wakefield legal debacle fabricated by his disciples?

  79. #79 lilady
    January 5, 2012

    @ Broken Link: I just posted at Seth Mnookin’s blog on the Ho-Po. It is in moderation and while not naming names, I posted about the crank websites and their journalists who publish pseudoscience.

    I also discussed their “heroes” and their stalking behaviors, as well as attempts to have science bloggers lose their jobs.

    I wish Anne Dachel would STFU…

  80. #80 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    Nice to see AoA let some of the kiddies come out to play. If jen is hoping for some miracle to pull Wakefield from the fire he himself lit, she should by some shares in a bridge I know about.

    As for Clark, he should remain silent and be thought a fool rather than continuing to speak up and remove all doubt. Again.

  81. #81 unknown
    January 5, 2012

    I wish lilady would STFU and get a life away from this blog which appears to be her
    only meaning for existence.
    I’m an Obama supporter- please lilady use your energy and work for his re-election
    please instead of wasting it spewing venon on this blog.

  82. #82 MikeMa
    January 5, 2012

    @unknown
    Any comment on the actual post topic or just pissed at lilady? So happy you like Obama but again what has that to do with Wakefield and his tenuous legal activities or standing?

  83. #83 lilady
    January 5, 2012

    Unknown…why don’t you post under your regular ‘nym. I guess you are pissed at me for the Anne Dachel snark. Too bad…and I shall continue to dish out the snark directed at Anne Dachel, who overwhelms the blogosphere with her copy pasta.

  84. #84 brian
    January 5, 2012

    I think this is great.

    I sincerely hope that this comes to trial, so that we may learn how the Brave Maverick Doctor who Listens to the Parents (but who Never Said that MMR Causes Autsism) will explain why in 11 of his 12 preselected cases the parents clearly indicated that they believed that there was an association of their child’s autism and MMR vaccination, but he chose to mention that purported association in only 9 of 12 cases (in the August 1997 draft of the paper) or 8 of 12 cases (in the published version of the article). Deer has shown how such changes dramatically reduced the apparent duration of Interval from exposure to first behavioural symptom, but perhaps Wakefield has some alternative explanation that does not suggest fraudulent manipulation of his data.

    I’d also like to learn from Wakefield how he came to change the timing that so suggestively linked MMR with ASD between drafts of his manuscript. Most of us start with the data and then write the paper, rather than change the data between drafts of a paper. Those of us who follow the generally accepted practice will be interested to learn why Wakefield did not–if the case comes to trial.

  85. #85 lilady
    January 5, 2012

    @ Unknown: I see my post at Ho-Po is up…under “lilady”.

    Why don’t you rebut it…if you are so enamored with Anne Dachel. Please use your “regular” nym…is it “Jen” or “Laura” possibly?

  86. #86 Denice Walter
    January 5, 2012

    @ brian:

    It’s just amazing how this fellow operates: how can he even think about going to court? And this isn’t the first time! He’s already been trounced- twice. Doesn’t he *learn*? Seriously, this is fascinating to me as a psychologist and as a person who was subjected to legal weaselry a few years ago ( described above). At first, I was upset but counsel told me it was all nonsense, that I had done everything correctly and had nothing to fear: my disgruntled tenants were just trying to “get back at me”. Today I can look back at their futile attempts and laugh aloud.

    Cautious people are in the habit of *documenting* everything. I should think that journalists might be good at this.

  87. #87 ArtK
    January 5, 2012

    @ Delurked Lurker

    Dammit dt @ 34 thanks for giving me an earworm, and “the good ship venus” no less.

    Here’s one for you, in a similar vein:

    Sue away Wakers!
    Sue it good and strong!
    What in the world will Orac do
    When good old Waker’s gone?

  88. #88 brian
    January 5, 2012

    Orac wrote:

    I strongly suspect that Wakefield filed his lawsuit in Texas because he (or, more precisely, his lawyers) knew that it wouldn’t get very far . . . .

    I found another possible answer from an attorney who posted at scienceblogs.com/erv/

    I do know this: if I wanted to sue a science reporter and a scientific medical journal, it would be nice to sit the jury with citizens from a U.S. state where over half its inhabitants do not believe in evolution, and a large percentage think that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in time:
    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/02/19/82946/texas-evolution/

    /snark

  89. #90 Matt Carey
    January 6, 2012

    “a large percentage think that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in time:”

    Hey, it’s true. I saw Jurrasic Park! Ironically, in Austin Texas.

  90. #91 Andy's favorite poodle
    January 6, 2012

    It’s rather telling just how much long-discredited anti-AW myth is being posted to this page. For one thing the notion that the GMC had proper rigorous procedures so “therefore” should be respected as a proper court. And yet in the real world it was a kangaroo court plain and simple with no independent judge or jury but instead judgement by a clique of his enemies.

    I should point out that the GMC carried out another of these abusive attacks only last year, against Dr Sarah Myhill, until she got thousands of supporters together and challenged the GMC charlatans with judicial review, at which the GMC backed down and dropped all the charges.

    From this and other nonsenses, this page is coming over to me as a case of cheering up the troops going into a foregone defeat.

  91. #92 dt
    January 6, 2012

    The GMC has its faults, I’ll agree. But nailing Wakefield after an exhaustive hearing was not one of them.
    They also served an interim order against Sarah Myhill for badness on her website giving dangerous medical advice, and stopped her prescribing by phone calls. When she complied with the order to desist, they decided there was no further need to continue proceedings. Rather yellow-bellied of them, but if your argument is that the GMC is too half-hearted about such matters, then the decision to defrock Wakefield stands out as evenn more serious.

  92. #93 Baron Scarpia
    January 6, 2012

    I should point out that the GMC carried out another of these abusive attacks only last year, against Dr Sarah Myhill, until she got thousands of supporters together and challenged the GMC charlatans with judicial review, at which the GMC backed down and dropped all the charges.

    And from this we can conclude that Myhill was prepared to fight her corner more than Wakefield ever did. Wakefield never even bothered to turn up as a witness, let alone reveal his stunning ‘evidence’ that he’s been promising us for the last two years.

    So I can only conclude from your comment that Wakefield was either too cowardly to fight properly or simply didn’t care about losing his licence to practice. (are you claiming that he doesn’t have thousands of supporters? Do you think Myhill had an intrinsically better case than he did?)

  93. #94 Andy's favorite poodle
    January 6, 2012

    The opening article seems to be a bit hypocritical (along with many commenters). The main thesis presented here is that science should be advanced by scientific discussion rather than by litigation in libel courts. (A principle I strongly endorse myself.) And yet the very same people are gloating with enthusiasm about the use of the GMC show trial to persecute Dr Wakefield into penury.

    We’re also hearing all this drivel about how AW “lost” his previous libel case against BD. In the real world he had to settle because the longest show trial in history had been nicely dumped on him by Saint Brian just while he was in the midst of trying to conduct the libel action.

  94. #95 Andy's favorite poodle
    January 6, 2012

    @Baron Scarpia:
    “(are you claiming that he doesn’t have thousands of supporters? Do you think Myhill had an intrinsically better case than he did?)”

    He was facing a far larger enemy, he had been selected for the standard character assassination treatment by one or more huge corporations in a carefully orchestrated operation, aided and abetted by the corrupt uk government. Dr Myhill was facing a piddle by comparison, and her case was far simpler (not stronger, just less confused by the sort of deluge of misinformation we are seeing right here).

  95. #96 dt
    January 6, 2012

    Where is “Poodlestomper” when you need him?

  96. #97 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 6, 2012

    We’re also hearing all this drivel about how AW “lost” his previous libel case against BD. In the real world he had to settle because the longest show trial in history had been nicely dumped on him by Saint Brian just while he was in the midst of trying to conduct the libel action.

    The GMC was already initiating an investigation of Wakefield as early as February 2004. Wakefield was the one who initiated his legal action in January 2005, nearly a year later. If Wakefield knew that he could not handle the GMC proceedings and the libel proceedings at the same time, why did he arrange for exactly that?

  97. #98 Alex Murdoch
    January 6, 2012

    This could be the best thing for Skepticism. Someone really should introduce Wakefield to the Streisand Effect. Recalling what happened with the BCA and Simon Singh, the publicity and attention paid to this topic could be the complete downfall of Wakefield and his ilk. Curious that he’s doing it in Texas though.

  98. #99 LarryW
    January 6, 2012

    Wakefield is in the US and in Texas because this country is the least literate of the West with the least competent politicians, and the country most likely to ban science as it runs contrary to Christianity. The whole of the fundamentalist religions in the US will be on his side, and they are the same group that will elect the next President.

  99. #100 Stu
    January 6, 2012

    Wow Larry, thank you for your insights. I had no idea that only fundamentalists religions could vote.

  100. #101 Matt Carey
    January 6, 2012

    “a large percentage think that dinosaurs and humans co-existed in time:”

    Hey, it’s true. I saw Jurrasic Park! Ironically, in Austin Texas.

  101. #102 passionlessDrone
    January 6, 2012

    @96 dt: Hehe.

    He/she might be running around with ‘stompsonfrogs’.

    – pD

  102. #103 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 6, 2012

    Andy’s favorite poodle,

    You seem to have combined several related items into a false equivalency

    1. Did Dr. Wakefield provide useful insight into a scientific question? The answer appears to be no, based on both the failure of independent researchers to replicate his results and extensive reviews of his original research. This scientific question has been asked and apparently answered, though is always subject to reconsideration in the face of new data.

    2. What was the reason behind the General Medical Council’s (GMC) action against Dr. Wakefield? As best as I can tell, this was based on the findings of that council that Dr. Wakefield had engaged in serious professional misconduct, had performed unnecessary and invasive medical procedures, and brought his profession into disrepute. They acted within their regulatory power to protect both the public and the reputation of the medical profession.

    3. What is the motive behind Dr. Wakefield’s most recent libel suit? That, of course, is known to Dr. Wakefield and his lawyers, and any other comments are speculation. Some believe it’s an attempt to attempt a vindication – if not scientific, at least in the minds of those who are disposed to believe such things – through a chance favorable result from the courts. Some believe it’s an attempt to discourage people from investigating Dr. Wakefield (and possibly by extension other people) by subjecting them to a stressful and expensive legal action. Others believe other things.

    If you have evidence on any of these points, please share.

  103. #104 MI Dawn
    January 6, 2012

    @pD: there is actually a commenter who uses the name “Poodlestomper”. But I don’t think she (IIRC her sex) runs around with stompsonfrogs….

  104. #105 C.S.
    January 7, 2012

    “He was facing a far larger enemy, he had been selected for the standard character assassination treatment by one or more huge corporations in a carefully orchestrated operation, aided and abetted by the corrupt uk government” -Andy’s favorite poodle

    Wow. Just wow.

    Incidentally, do you know Lord Draconis?

  105. #106 Andy's favorite poodle
    January 8, 2012

    @dt
    When she complied with the order to desist, they decided there was no further need to continue proceedings.

    That is a total misrepresentation of what happened in Myhill’s case. The reality was that the GMC backed off because she had gatherered together several thousand supporters (who had benefitted from the FREE info on her website after experiencing the utter uselessness of corporatised quackery) and she filed a high court challenge against the GMC, and THAT was what scared the GMC charlatans off. Just like how the charlatans of the Texas Medical Board backed off when Rashid Buttar challenged their persecution operation with a real court. And like is in process of happening with the charlatans of the Maryland Med Board heading for the bin after trying to smear Dr Geier with false misconduct charges.

  106. #107 LW
    January 8, 2012

    Strange that Wakefield couldn’t make them back off the same way.

  107. #108 Andy's fave poodle
    January 8, 2012

    Wakefield was the one who initiated his legal action in January 2005, nearly a year later. If Wakefield knew that he could not handle the GMC proceedings and the libel proceedings at the same time, why did he arrange for exactly that?

    And that question proves that AW in reality somehow lost his libel action? In reality it’s likely that in Jan 2005 he still naively believed he would get a fair hearing from the GMC, the media, and the uk “justice” system. And only later came to appreciate that all three had become poodles of the corrupted propaganda from the $megabillions state/corporatised quackery system, such that merely letting the truth “come out” was not going to be enough to gain an honest judgement in any of these fora let alone all.

  108. #109 Andy's fave poodle
    January 8, 2012

    @ comment 107:
    Strange that Wakefield couldn’t make them back off the same way.

    Not really. The US courts are a lot less corrupt than the UK ones. And the forces lined up against AW were far larger, an alliance of the uk Westminster government (in pharmas’s main homeland) and the vaccine-promoting mega-corporations, combined with an increasingly useless mass media in the uk and not least the full time “journalist” Deer assigned to join in the largest character-assassination op in history.

  109. #110 LW
    January 8, 2012

    “all three had become poodles of the corrupted propaganda from the $megabillions state/corporatised quackery system”

    “an alliance of the uk Westminster government (in pharmas’s main homeland) and the vaccine-promoting mega-corporations, combined with an increasingly useless mass media in the uk”

    Umm. Not much point trying to have a discussion with this, is it?

    I am curious, though, what the alt-med types would consider a legitimate entity to judge the validity of, well, any treatment. Or any scientific theory. Or for that matter, any crime.

  110. #111 Denice Walter
    January 8, 2012

    @ Andy’s fave:

    Alright, if the GMC, corporatised “quackery” ( pharma plus the medical establishment, I assume), *and* the mass media are massively and insidiously corrupt don’t you think that they have *already* easily stretched their tentacles across the Atlantic? Information and commerce are truly *global*: doctors are influenced by research produced internationally, business isn’t restricted by national boundaries, and the media runs 24 hours a day in all time zones.

    It’s apparent if you read this blog. All one big clubhouse.

  111. #112 Andy's fave poodle
    January 8, 2012

    I am curious, though, what the alt-med types would consider a legitimate entity to judge the validity of, well, any treatment. Or any scientific theory. Or for that matter, any crime.

    That’s a good question to consider.
    (If we put aside the fact that I’m certainly not an “alt-med type” (notwithstanding the impression of my not-entirely serious pseudonym here)…..)

    The question of how to tell sound authority from unsound is one that I asked myself many years ago. Most people just follow whatever values or social conditioning they have picked up. So some will mindlessly assume that “alternative” sources are trustworthy while “establishment” are dodgy. Many others will go along with the brainwashing they received in school (backed up by certification bribes called degrees and so on), and assume that if it’s got a posh name and grand building in the capital, issues a famous journal, is constantly endorsed by the most famous profs etc, then that’s *obviously* the genuine expertise as opposed to isolated fringe weirdos working from their garden sheds.

    The Lysenko catastrophe gives the lie to that latter notion.

    My experience is that there is no shortcut to bypass one’s own careful examination of the proferred expertise. In my experience rubbish can come from both the establishment and the alts, and likewise sound output can come from both. The way the careful examination leads one to discover the truth is by:
    Ensuring you don’t take anything on trust unless there is reason to dismiss the alternative notion (e.g. the crazy idea that govt health records are falsified around the world).
    Looking out for logical absurdities. For instance the use of “chemtrails” to poison the population would be crackers because it would be a stupendously indiscriminate inefficient and expensive process that would be easier done by (ooh, fooling people into taking poisonous tablets and injections instead…?). So I wouldn’t bother checking it out any further.
    Another example of a logical absurdity is the widely-trumpeted “retraction” of a viewpoint that the lancet 1998 paper explicitly didn’t make anyway.
    Looking out for straw man objections, false dichotomies, non-sequiturs, and so on. AoA diehards commit the non-sequitur of seeing mercury>autism evidence as being thimerosal>autism evidence. LbRb people meanwhile see thimerosal>autism counterevidence as being mercury>autism counterevidence. And so the halfbaked reasoning goes on.

    Unfortunately if you are a biased participant (either due to inborn human nature or due to your place in the social scene) then no amount of care can correct your distorted perception. I therefore conclude that a lot of the falsehood is due to incompetence, though there are also most definitely certain cases of deliberate deceit in autism research (again discernable by careful unpicking). In my disinterested viewpoint the crooks are all from the establishment side of this tragic fence. Whereas the vax-blamers are basically just saddoes of a true-believer cult. The opposing denizens of AoA and LbRb are much the same in this regard (a bit like the war between Hitler and Stalin).

  112. #113 Andy's fave poodle
    January 8, 2012

    @Denice Walter

    You may be correct there (more or less). But I suggest an important difference between the AW case and the others is that his case was already a high-profile headline matter causing major influence on the public at large (vax refusals and so on) and decline of public confidence in the med establishment. The cases of Buttar and Geier have surely never been in the headlines in such a way; few people have even heard of them. So the tentacled monster rightly reckoned that Wakefield was their key battle, their Stalingrad so to speak, and so they marshalled the bulk of their forces thereat.

  113. #114 Narad
    January 8, 2012

    And like is in process of happening with the charlatans of the Maryland Med Board heading for the bin after trying to smear Dr Geier with false misconduct charges.

    Looks like somebody’s been reading Tim Bolen.

  114. #115 missmayinga
    January 8, 2012

    I’m somewhat curious what the poodletroll thinks is “false” about the misconduct charges on Geier.

  115. #116 Andy's fave poodle
    January 8, 2012

    Looks like somebody’s been reading Tim Bolen.

    Because unlike many I read all sides!

    I’m somewhat curious what the poodletroll thinks is “false” about the misconduct charges on Geier.

    Some of Dr Geier’s practices are fairly unsound (as after all they’re based on one of Saint Baron-Cohen’s works of would-be genius).

    But being wrong about the science, and practicing unsound science, are not genuine misconduct offences and should not be treated as such. If all practitioners of false autism science were put in jail there’d have to be one whopper of a prison-building project to house them all, and meanwhile there’d be few clinics still in operation.

    Dr Geier hasn’t been struck off ["yet"], and meanwhile the prosecuting Maryland Med Board is itself being squeezed through the wringer instead (as Mr Bolen predicted). Why that?

  116. #117 Science Mom
    January 8, 2012

    Because unlike many I read all sides!

    What makes you think that we don’t? After all, it is the duty of sceptics to consider all of the evidence and the fact is, is that you are conducting false balance.

    Some of Dr Geier’s practices are fairly unsound (as after all they’re based on one of Saint Baron-Cohen’s works of would-be genius).

    Some?! Try all. Dr. Baron-Cohen’s mere mention of the possibility that testosterone may play a role in autism aetiology was apparently enough for the Geier’s to embark upon their purely pseudo-scientific quest of chemically-castrating autistic children based upon a scores-old study on benzene and testosterone. It’s positively repugnant and medical misconduct, not just “unsound science”.

    If all practitioners of false autism science were put in jail there’d have to be one whopper of a prison-building project to house them all, and meanwhile there’d be few clinics still in operation.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    Dr Geier hasn’t been struck off ["yet"], and meanwhile the prosecuting Maryland Med Board is itself being squeezed through the wringer instead (as Mr Bolen predicted). Why that?

    Maryland has a sound case against the Geiers, including criminal. Bolen isn’t exactly known to be a reliable and truthful source so pardon me while I laugh at the suggestion.

  117. #118 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 8, 2012

    Umm. Not much point trying to have a discussion with this, is it?

    Well, it’s hard not to conclude that anyone still trying to defend Wakefield’s conduct around the Lancet paper is simply uninterested in facts. Fact is, Wakefield withheld information about how he came to see the children that was absolutely crucial to correct interpretation of his observations. Fact is, Wakefield led the world to believe that he had detected the existence of a new syndrome based on his observations of the Lancet children, when in writing he had stated that he was trying to discover that new syndrome before he saw most if not all of the children. Fact is, Wakefield concealed at least two huge conflicts of interest: the money he was being paid by the lawyers specifically to generate evidence that would be useful in an anti-MMR lawsuit, and the “transfer factor”-based treatment/vaccine which he specifically stated would become more profitable if “public confidence in MMR” were to be damaged.

    It’s easy for conspiracy theorists like AFP to claim that Brian Deer and Big Media and Big Guvmint all engaged in a conspiracy to make Wakefield look like he did something wrong when everything he did was right, but isn’t it funny how they never address the above facts? Never try to explain how it was “right” for Wakefield to conceal his COIs even from his co-authors? Never try to explain how it was right for Wakefield to describe the patients as “consecutively referred” and leave out the important part of who referred them and why? The only ones I’ve seen trying to address these issues don’t even try to stay in the realm of reality, claiming instead, for instance, that Wakefield did not have any patent application relevant to MMR in the works and therefore didn’t have any obligation to reveal it.

  118. #119 Tom Herling
    January 8, 2012

    Interesting that your blog has caught the attention of Clark Baker, who has recently been beaten down by a New York State judge for his claims of being an “expert” in another science-related libel suit, that of Celia Farber v. Jeffries, et al.

    http://hivinnocenceprojecttruth.com/2011/11/19/celia-farber-judge-discredits-clark-baker-affidavit/

  119. #120 Denice Walter
    January 8, 2012

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, alt med folk are quick raise a ruckus about COIs so as to distract their worshipful devotees from looking at their *own* COIs ( which include monetary gain, bragging rights as scientific revolutionaries, adulation of followers, etc). As if AJW did not seek fame, patents, pounds, and dollars, but did so out of the kindness of his heart.

  120. #121 Narad
    January 8, 2012

    meanwhile the prosecuting Maryland Med Board is itself being squeezed through the wringer instead (as Mr Bolen predicted)

    Really. How?

  121. #122 brian
    January 8, 2012

    Dr Geier hasn’t been struck off ["yet"], and meanwhile the prosecuting Maryland Med Board is itself being squeezed through the wringer instead

    I understood that Mark Geier’s license to practice medicine has been suspended in California, Indiana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington State as well as in Maryland. Are all those state medical boards being squeezed through a wringer?

  122. #123 lilady
    January 8, 2012

    Lest we forget…the other part of the Geier-chemically-castrating-tag-team…son David Geier, has been charged with practicing medicine without a license, by the state of Maryland.

    The Maryland Medical Licensing Board seems to have some “strict” requirements for practicing medicine in that state…such as actually attending medical school.

  123. #124 Science Mom
    January 8, 2012

    Another example of a logical absurdity is the widely-trumpeted “retraction” of a viewpoint that the lancet 1998 paper explicitly didn’t make anyway.
    Looking out for straw man objections, false dichotomies, non-sequiturs, and so on. AoA diehards commit the non-sequitur of seeing mercury>autism evidence as being thimerosal>autism evidence. LbRb people meanwhile see thimerosal>autism counterevidence as being mercury>autism counterevidence. And so the halfbaked reasoning goes on.

    How quaint, poodle boy tries to pass himself off as a voice of reason, logic and moderation all the while committing logical fallacies and magical-thinking. Oh, and using the Bolen report as a source for supporting the Geiers. How bloody rich.

  124. #125 Thomas
    January 8, 2012

    “AoA diehards commit the non-sequitur of seeing mercury>autism evidence as being thimerosal>autism evidence. LbRb people meanwhile see thimerosal>autism counterevidence as being mercury>autism counterevidence. ”

    The equivalence goes on and on – for example, AoA openly censors opposing views, LBRB doesn’t. Wait, that’s not how equivalence works!

  125. #126 LW
    January 8, 2012

    Andy’s fave poodle @112: “My experience is that there is no shortcut to bypass one’s own careful examination of the proferred expertise.”

    But there’s the problem, you see.  How do i judge someone’s expertise?  I know very little about, say, breast cancer. If someone tells me he has a revolutionary effective treatment for breast cancer, I likely can’t tell whether it’s nonsense or not. 

    I could, of course, go to the University of Google — but I don’t know enough to even necessarily tell the difference between nonsense and sense. Well, except that I can recognize that it is nonsense to say that all medical professionals are joined in a giant conspiracy to deprive the rest of the population of effective cancer care.

    So I *have to* rely on experts like, for instance, Orac. How do I know he’s an expert?  I know his real identity and his bio via his other blog. He has the credentials that he says he has.  The poodle doesn’t think much of degrees (“the brainwashing they received in school (backed up by certification bribes called degrees and so on)”), but to believe that every doctor has been brainwashed and bribed gets us back to the nonsense of believing that all medical professionals are joined in a giant conspiracy.

    And that’s just breast cancer. If I were interested in other forms of cancer, or in heart disease, or diabetes, or MS, or Parkinson’s, or autism, I’d be just as ignorant, or even more so, and just as dependent on experts.

    So, given the limitations of time and energy and knowledge, my careful examination of the proferred expertise is and must be just checking the credentials and reading a bit to be sure that other people with equal credentials don’t think the supposed expert has gone off the deep end, and that the supposed expert isn’t spouting obvious nonsense.

    But that plainly *isn’t* how alt-med types function.  I honestly don’t know how they *do* function.    

  126. #127 Militant Agnostic
    January 8, 2012

    LW

    But that plainly *isn’t* how alt-med types function. I honestly don’t know how they *do* function.

    Sure you do – just turn your comment 180 degrees and that will pretty much describe how alt-med types function.

  127. #128 Denice Walter
    January 8, 2012

    @ LW:

    I think that some alt med types, overwhelmed by information, feeling powerless and minimised by experts( a/k/a the elite**) become attracted to those who say “up the establishment” and speak to their audience’s discontent while parading themselves as the superior alternative to SBM- thus, there is empathy between the incompetently self-educated huckster and the under-educated mark- a symbiosis between buyer and seller that results in an ego boost for both parties- and usually, a sale. If you read through Adams’ screeds about the medical establishment you’ll perhaps faintly hear his attempts to push down his feelings of inferiority by bluster and braggadocio.

    However, in this dance of self-duplicity, I tend to label the mark as the more injured of the two.

    ** of which I’m a proud card-carrying, degree-laden member, woo hoo. ( And I’ve taken more than my share of flack for it).

  128. #129 Kralc Rekab
    January 8, 2012

    Clarkie was attracted to this blog because he needs to find more material to copy and paste into his blog that no one reads. He has recently been trolling on the Nature discussion site where he also had is ass handed to him on a platter.
    To all who don’t know Clarkie Baker: He is a fired LAPD traffic cop (fired for beating a jaywalker):

    http://articles.latimes.com/1992-07-17/local/me-3703_1_police-officer

    He now is the sole employee of a one-man operation to run an amateur blog denying global warming and AIDS. He never went to college and routinely claims on his site that college is a “scam.” He used to have another blog which is non-operational (lack of viewership) where he used to post homophobic idiot rants and repost silly articles about Obama being a “Muslim”, etc, etc -(http://www.aidstruth.org/features/2009/clark-baker-ex-cop-and-homophobic-right-wing-blogger)

    Recently he has trying to post on various sites to drum up business for his fake organization where he makes money by providing affidavits for HIV-related crimes where he blathers on about the disproven denialist claims. This led to a judge in NY handing his ass to him on a platter. (http://www.nylj.com/nylawyer/adgifs/decisions/110811york.pdf) Read pages 28-29 on what the judge says about Baker for a good laugh! He calls Baker “Peters”.

    Baker routinely will write ignored emails to lawyers in various cases and then claim he is “involved” in these cases. Many of these cases even actually turn out far differently than Baker fraudulently implies:
    (see the many articles debunking Baker here: http://hivinnocenceprojecttruth.com/)

    In any case, Clarkie Baker is a known kook.

  129. #130 Tom Herling
    January 9, 2012

    @Kraic:

    If you read about the circumstances under which the California Superior Court threw out Baker’s trial, you find this gem:

    “The judges… ruled that [Baker's] defense attorney Bob Wilson, by not objecting to the remarks, failed to provide effective counsel.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/1994-04-29/local/me-51846_1_appeals-panel

    I’m not sure I’d want someone like that to be advising me on legal matters, as it suggests he wasn’t even able to help his own lawyer.

  130. #131 doc2doc, BMJ's doctors forum
    January 16, 2012

    Hello all

    We have an interesting discussion about this on doc2doc: BMJ editor served with writ by Andrew Wakefield http://bit.ly/ydgRpL

  131. #132 bjo
    February 15, 2012

    You are simply spreading the original Brian Deer/BMJ fraud. Do you have a financial associations with Merk and/or GlaxoSmithKline? Are you a ghost writer for either of those pharmaceutical giants? Brian Deer is a mediocre journalist who launched his (fraudulent) attack on Dr. Wakefield as a way to gain fame and fortune in his field. The BMJ has financial connections to both Merk and GlaxoSmithKline (by its own admission). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what is going on. Why you would contribute your own virulent defamatory treatise on Dr. Wakefield is mysterious to me. I guess the bottom line is: follow the money. And to the poster above: I am very knowledgeable on the subject of narcissism and having had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wakefield at length during a conference several years ago, I can tell you that he is no narcissist. Narcissism is a convenient term to sling about and when applied to a person who is not suffering from that psychological disorder, is defamatory. What kind of website is this???

  132. #133 Julian Frost
    February 15, 2012

    Oh, the Pharma shill gambit. Yaaaaawwwwwwnnnn.
    Next time, try posting evidence.

  133. #134 Beamup
    February 15, 2012

    So bjo, what particular statements were fraudulent? Specific quotes, please.

  134. #135 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    bjo — nice try, but Brian Deer was already a well-established journalist, reknowned for attacks on medical fraud. And before you take your pharma shill conspiracy theory any further, most of his other targets were Big Pharma. Now . . . what exactly was fraudulent? Do you have an actual argument to make, or just vague unsupported accusations?

  135. #136 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    bjo — nice try, but Brian Deer was already a well-established journalist, reknowned for attacks on medical fraud. And before you take your pharma shill conspiracy theory any further, most of his other targets were Big Pharma. Now . . . what exactly was fraudulent? Do you have an actual argument to make, or just vague unsupported accusations?

    That aside, I have to wonder what mechanism could possibly account for such a thing. The Moon really doesn’t have that precise an influence on us. Yes, it has a tidal influence, but for small bodies such as people this is negligible. (Tidal affects only become significant when there is a large gravity gradient from one side of a body to the other. And in any case, the effects tend to be pretty coarse — like causing seas to rise and fall.) It’s more important for what it does to our climate, by stabilizing our axis of rotation, but that’s not something significant over human timescales. The phase of the Moon is used by various marine organisms to time reproduction and migration, but that’s just light, and again, is a very large-scale activity.

  136. #137 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    I think I may have just made a post (which went into moderation) in the wrong thread. I apologize if that turns out to be the case.

  137. #138 DW
    February 15, 2012

    Oh come on, people! Time to ‘fess up! He’s got it all figured out. He followed the money trail leading to GSK, Merck and Uncle Rupert. And now we can’t hide behind our massive quantities of ill-gotten pounds, dollars and shares in News Corp any longer. We’re done.

  138. #139 Chris
    February 15, 2012

    bjo, try something more original than the tired old Pharm Shill Gambit. Perhaps by actually answering some questions about Wakefield’s research:

    Which version of the MMR was he studying?

    What research from 1971 to 1995 did he use to show that the MMR was dangerous, particularly from the USA where a version was introduced in 1971? Just list the title, journal and dates (make sure they predate 1998).

    Which particular measles vaccine strain was the issue? Schwartz or Ender-Edmonston?

  139. #140 Krebiozen
    February 15, 2012

    bjo,
    It is mysterious to me why anyone would still support Wakefield if they have bothered to do any serious reading on the subject. Have you read the GMC transcripts? How can you possibly defend him given his behavior?

  140. #141 Chris
    February 15, 2012

    Maybe bjo is paid by “Big Measles.” Fostering the return and spread of measles around the country so that there would be a demand for hospital supplies, respiratory equipment, hearing aids, Braille books and re-opening the institutions for disabled children. Perhaps it was his/her kid who wandered around the Super Bowl Village while infected with measles.

    Makes as much sense as the Pharma Shill Gambit.

  141. #142 JGC
    February 15, 2012

    You are simply spreading the original Brian Deer[documented]/BMJ [proven] fraud [committed by Andrew Wakefield].

    Fixed that for you.

  142. #143 Mike
    February 28, 2012

    Great thread! It has definately inspired me to reconsider my stance on vaccinations. Thanks!

  143. #144 Robert
    May 11, 2012

    It’s sort of silly to attack Wakefield for suing Brian Deer. Brian Deer invited him to do so.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dX4JTS4FoQ

  144. #145 Science Mom
    May 11, 2012

    @ Robert, you are mistaking an attack on Wakefield for suing Deer with what is a commentary for Wakefield’s groundless lawsuit just for publicity and sating his “sad rump of disciples'” thirst for vengeance. I mean did you even read the blogpost?

  145. #146 Beamup
    May 11, 2012

    @ Robert:

    Apparently you missed the “if what Dr. Wakefield is saying is true” part of that invitation. In actual fact, what Wakefield is saying is NOT true.

  146. #147 Sauceress
    May 11, 2012

    #132 bjo

    Narcissism is a convenient term to sling about..

    Most convenient when the actions and character of a person mirror the most prominent symptoms of NPD. Let’s look at a few of those…

    Wiki: Narcissistic personality disorder

    Symptoms of this disorder include, but are not limited to:
    ~Reacts to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
    ~May take advantage of others to reach their own goal
    ~Tends to exaggerate their own importance, achievements, and talents
    ~Imagines unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
    ~Requires constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
    ~Easily becomes jealous
    ~Lacks empathy and disregards the feelings of others
    ~Obsessed with oneself
    ~Mainly pursues selfish goals
    ~Sets unrealistic goals

    ~~

    …and when applied to a person who is not suffering from that psychological disorder, is defamatory.

    So you can provide the opinion of a psychotherapist who has formally assessed Andrew Wakefield for NPD?

    Meanwhile… if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and ducks like a quack…

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