“To wear the mantle of Galileo…

Posted: 29th January 2010 by Get No Happy in Angry Rants, News of the day
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… it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind Establishment, you must also be right” (Wilson, 2009; Don’t get fooled again)

And so I will chip in my 2 pence onto the sorry MMR affair. It’s taken nearly three years to show a certain Mr Wakefield’s research was not only iffy at best, but also hilariously unethical – the fact he carried out procedures he was unqualified to do was news to me – and it’s quite likely he will be struck off the medical register. However, lets not forget the king-maker in this little court affair: The Daily Mail.

Piers Morgan was fired (sadly not from a cannon) for publishing fake abuse photos; so, should not the editor of the Daily Mail, which did not just support the campaign but made it a “Daily Mail” campaign, be fired for supporting such erroneous data? It makes sense to me. The abuse photos really just horrified briefly, but the Mail’s campaign has not only lead to a drop in immunization, it has also fuel the luddite, anti-science, conspiracy theory ether that has descended across Britain in recent years. Glace at any message boards carrying this story and they are awash with “Yes, he was unethical but he was RIGHT [sic]”, “No wonder the GMC found against him, medical companies have a lot of money”, and these are just the ones that are spelled correctly and have appropriate punctuation. The Mail really pushed this cause (and a quick trip to their amateurish website reveals a somewhat different take on the press release other news outlets are running with) and in doing so has created potential danger for a large number of children.

Related to this, I initially felt sympathy for the parents who were pushing this; who wants to hear that it was your DNA (or epigenetically, your womb) that gave your child autism. They just want to blame someone. But now it’s getting pathetic and my patience is wearing thin. How much evidence do they need before they give up? Granted it’ll need to be a power of any compensation they were expecting, but please, stop: Believing in something will not make it so. Even if you wish upon a falling star then throw it over a rainbow.

Interestingly, and probably due to that unique British version of fairness, many have begun to defend the good Dr because it appears as if he is being scapegoated. While I agree in principle (See above on the Daily Mail’s involvement), I disagree. We should be Scapegoating both him and that cursed paper, after all “in England, sometimes necessary to shoot an admiral from time to time to encourage the others”