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Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and ‘Deliberate Fraud’

Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and Deliberate FraudAs though Dr. Andrew Wakefield didn’t have enough problems. After his study of 12 (count ’em — a whole 12!) children was thrown out of The Lancet when its original claim of a link between autism and MMR vaccines didn’t really hold water, now he’s got the BMJ on his case.

The problem with the original study came when nobody — and I mean, nobody — could replicate the research. Not Wakefield. Not other researchers. Science demonstrates a strong finding when data is replicable. When nobody can replicate your research, it’s considered an unreliable or extremely weak finding.

And in this case, it’s not even that. The BMJ today claimed that Dr. Andrew Wakefield allegedly engaged in deliberate fraud in his original study.

“The MMR [measles-mumps-rubella vaccine] scare was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud,” Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the BMJ, which published details of the new investigation on Jan. 5, said in a statement. “Such clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.”

Yeah, it’s that bad. But you know? It gets even worse — Wakefield was allegedly in the pocket not of big pharma, but of a law firm that was raring up to sue vaccine makers:

According to the new BMJ report, Wakefield — a gastroenterologist, not a pediatrician or neurologist — identified the new “syndrome” before he even began to collect data. By his account, the MMR vaccine caused both gut problems and regressive autism in children.

The BMJ investigation alleges that this hypothesis only emerged after Wakefield had been retained, with compensation, to work on a lawsuit to sue the maker of the vaccine.

In the Lancet study, Wakefield described the experiences of 12 children who supposedly had regressive autism, where a child seems to be developing normally but then regresses.

However, according to the BMJ report, only one child in the sample was diagnosed with this form of autism, and three of the 12 didn’t have any autism diagnosis at all.

Astounding that a researcher could come out with such a controversial finding, and then not think this conflict of interest would surface — a conflict he apparently never disclosed to The Lancet.

If this doesn’t put the final nail in the coffin of the autism-vaccine link, I don’t know what will. This was a link many people want to believe, but the science simply doesn’t back up. I like it when science also cleans up its own messes. Too bad The Lancet had to rely on rival journal BMJ to conduct and publish this investigation.

Please, if for some reason you had been holding off getting your child the MMR vaccine, get your child vaccinated. There is no credible evidence linking this vaccine to autism.

Read the full article: Doctor Behind Autism-Vaccine Link Study Accused of ‘Deliberate Fraud’

Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and ‘Deliberate Fraud’

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Andrew Wakefield, the Autism-Vaccine Link and ‘Deliberate Fraud’. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Jan 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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