I think my favorite part of the story is this one -
But a Philadelphia-based commentator was not impressed by the BMJ's intervention. "It doesn't matter that [Wakefield] was fraudulent," Dr Paul Offit, a vaccine inventor and author in Pennsylvania, was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer the next day as saying. "It only matters that he was wrong."
I wasn't surprised. From his establishment vantage-point, this was the third time Dr Offit had popped up to opine on the issue. Twice previously he'd been quoted as saying that my findings were "irrelevant" (although he'd been happy enough to use them in his books). Science had spoken, his argument went. There was no link between the vaccine and autism. It was experts like him who should rule on this matter, he seemed to imply, not some oik reporter nailing the guilty men.Uhm, well, err, yes....
Dr. Offit is clearly trying to shield Wakefield from fraud claims. In other news, pigs were seen flying in Philadelphia earlier today.
Deer's solution to the problem of doctors defending doctors and relying on science?
So, what's my point? I think these comments reveal a striking pattern: doctors default to defending other doctors. In fact, until recently there was a GMC regulation that banned them from bad-mouthing colleagues.
But in the specifics of their stance there seemed the idea that scholarly debate, epidemiology and suchlike, should arbitrate. Truth would emerge from the "scientific method", not from "we can reveal" media muck-raking.
Let battle commence, I say. Let doctors expose each other. Let journals compete to get the truth out first. Because 13 years passed before I slayed the MMR monster. And although a single, severed hand may yet come crawling across the floor, for science and public safety 13 years is still too long.I think Deer nailed it. Journalism like his is clearly the best way to deal with the complex medical issues raised by Wakefield's research. Who needs actual evidence to refute the claims? We should throw out the scientific method and let the media tell us what is what.
Or even better, lets take it one step further and create a new reality TV show - Doctor vs Doctor. We can lock MDs with different options in a house for a week and film the whole thing and let the public vote on who they like better. Whichever doctor has the most votes at the end of the week is right.
Who needs little things like data and the scientific method when we could just let people shout it out?
But seriously, this was written by the same person who is making fraud allegations against Wakefield. Since none of us have access to the same records that Deer does, we have to rely on what he tells us they say. We have to be able to trust him.
Given rants like this and other incidents in the past, I don't find him to be particularly believable or trustworthy. Wakefield is certainly not a saint but I don't think that Deer is any better.
But, like always, make up your own mind.