Friday, May 23, 2003

Lionising Wakefield

The Media section of the Guardian reports that Channel 5 is planning a drama based on the link between autism and the MMR vaccine, starring Juliet Stevenson. Sounds terrible, especially considering that Andrew Wakefield has almost no support among scientists and physicians in the field for his claim of a link. There is something very attractive about the maverick who takes on the establishment these days but the claims of the outsider need to be subject to the same kind of rigorous analysis as those of the official experts. Being anti-establishment for its own sake is pointless and occasionally dangerous. The on-going campaign by Paul Foot in Private Eye in support of Wakefield is a good example.

The effect of this can be seen in a report this week which showed that the public think that medical opinion is split down-the-middle on MMR. It isn't. Very few doctors would support Wakefield, which is why his pronouncements tend to take place in forums where he will not be subject to the scrutiny of his peers.

Five lands Juliet Stevenson, Guardian, 22 May 2003

Parents 'misled' by media over MMR, BBC News, 19 May 2003

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