Pharyngula

Andrew Wakefield lashes out

Poor Andy. Once upon a time, he had the power to kill children just by doing some very bad science and writing a few very bad papers, and now he’s reduced to living in Texas and being supported by mobs of New Age cranks. He’s powerless and bored, but his ego is still being inflated by sycophants…so what does he do? He decides to sue the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer for defamation.

He has no medical career left. His entire life is now tied to his anti-vaccine crusade, and he’s got nothing to contribute, other than his status as a martyr to the cause, so what he’s done now is crawled up on a cross and is asking for more nails to be hammered in. He knows he can’t lose in the grand scheme of things; if he wins the court case (which won’t happen), he’s a hero; if he loses (the inevitable result), he’s a victim of the evil forces of Big Pharma, and his defeat proves that the bad guys are out to get him, so he must be right.

Orac explains why he’s going to lose the court case.

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.

Just wait, though. When his case is thrown out, he’ll throw himself into the arms of his sympathetic supporters, and they will respond with more affirmations and more money and more status in his movement.

(Also on FtB)