Saturday, March 14, 2009

It was Deer, in the Times, with the Bad Reporting

Dr Wakefield has finally responded to the allegations made by Brian Deer a month ago in the Times.  According to a report by David Kirby in the Huffington Post, Dr Wakefield has filed a complaint with the UK's Press Complaints Commission (PCC) alleging that :
  1. The claims of altering data are false.
  2. Brian Deer has a conflict of interest in reporting on a case before the GMC since he was the person whose complaint started the case in the first place.
  3. Brian Deer ambushed him with the story, giving him only 24 hours to respond to the allegations in the story before publishing it.
The issues raised by Dr Wakefield in his response raise factual questions that should be easy enough to sort out, if only you have access to the proper data.  So the questions raised should be answerable.  

However, the average person is not going to have access to the proper information to make an informed decision which means that we are going to have to rely on those authorities who have the information to tell us which version is accurate.  

I will be shocked if this actually happens.  What I expect to see happen is either no response from the PCC or a weasel response that doesn't actually address the issues at hand.

In the meantime, I think who you believe comes down to the character of the people involved.  So is Dr Wakefield an unrepentant sinner or a saint?  Is Brian Deer a hard hitting investigative reporter or a self serving glory hound?

I am not sure what to make of Wakefield but given what I have seen of Brian Deer's character, I think someone is going to have to throw him a new bone.

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