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Things I Think About, by Peter Bowditch

Defending fraud: Meryl Dorey and Andrew Wakefield

In 1998 a paper authored by Andrew Wakefield and others was published in The Lancet purporting to show a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. It led directly to a drop in vaccination rates and the deaths of several children. What soon became known was that Wakefield had been paid a very large amount of money by some lawyers to find such a connection, that he was to be paid a lot more as an expert witness, and that he held a patent on a measles vaccine that would have made him very rich indeed if it replaced the one then in use.

The “research” was totally fraudulent. The Lancet retracted the paper in 2010, and in that same year Wakefield was stripped of his ability to practise as a doctor.

It should come as no surprise to find that Andrew Wakefield is a hero of the anti-vaccination liar movement. After all, his actions had led to the deaths of children, one obvious objective of those who would deny children protection from disease. One of his fervent supporters even to this day is Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network. Some of her best work defaming the people who exposed Wakefield has appeared in The Millenium Project.

It is being reproduced here as part seven of a series about lies told by the Australian Vaccination Network running each day until September 18, the date set down for the District Court to hear Meryl Dorey’s appeal against the dismissal of her frivolous and vexatious application for an Apprehended Violence Order against me.

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Wakefield only lied. What’s wrong with that? (8/1/2011)
[Link to original article]

It took no psychic powers of prediction to correctly guess that Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network would spring to the defence of Mr Andrew Wakefield now that his research has not only been retracted by The Lancet but has been declared actually fraudulent. That’s right – Wakefield lied about almost everything in his famous paper. It passed peer review because deliberate fabrication of results and outright lying usually aren’t expected in scientific papers and can be hard to detect. The detection in this case was done by journalist Brian Deer, who has been subjected to several years of vilification and abuse for his trouble. Here is a comment about Brian Deer from Ms Dorey:

It seems, however, that Ms Dorey’s relationship with the media is not as comfortable as it was a few years ago. Here she is being interviewed on Sydney’s Radio 2UE about her reaction to the fact that Andrew Wakefield just made stuff up.

 [Link to YouTube video]

And here is Ms Dorey impugning the motives and reputation of Tracey Spicer.

Then there is the local paper, the Northern Star, which used to be almost a public mouthpiece for Ms Dorey and her AVN idiocy:

Northern Star

Dorey backs fraud medico

Mel Mcmillan | 8th January 2011

Australian Vaccination Network spokeswoman Meryl Dorey is standing by the barred British gastroenterologist, Dr Andrew Wakefield, despite the current edition of the British Medical Journal labelling his work as “an elaborate fraud”.

Dr Wakefield’s 1998 study ignited a worldwide scare over a possible link between vaccines and autism, and led millions of parents to delay or decline vaccination for their children.

The study has long since been debunked and dismissed by the scientific community, which points to 14 independent studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.

Last year, The Lancet, publisher of the original study, issued a formal retraction. British medical authorities last year also found Dr Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct, stripping him of his ability to practice in England.

However, the Bangalow-based MrsDorey said there were dozens of peer reviewed studies that showed a possible link between autism and vaccination, and claimed the studies used to show the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) were “poorly designed”.

Prof Robert Booy, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said Mrs Dorey’s claim was “laughable”.

“There is not a single reputable study to support a link between MMR and vaccination,” Prof Booy said. He said thousands of hours of research time, which could have been spent researching the causes and prevention of autism, had been wasted on a wild goose chase.

The safety of MMR was well established, Prof Booy said.

The BMJ reports that Dr Wakefield, who was paid more than $A676, 658 by a lawyer hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers, was not just unethical, he falsified data in the study which suggested children developed autism after getting an MMR shot.

In fact, the children’s medical records show that some clearly had symptoms of developmental problems long before getting their shots, BMJ says. Several had no autism diagnosis at all.

So what would Ms Dorey’s reaction to this be:

Do you detect a pattern here? If someone publishes something with which you disagree you immediately attack the person (and never forget to say that they are being paid to say what they say), and the only evidence you offer in support of your position consists of lies that can be easily disproved by anyone who cares to look. As an example, the number of replications of Wakefields “research” is exactly zero. None. Zilch. Nada. On the other hand, Ms Dorey might like to see how forty studies looking for a link between vaccine and autism have shown no connection. Forty studies where money was wasted responding to anti-vaccination liars. Forty studies where the time of real scientists was diverted from doing work that might have had a benefit for mankind.

Ms Dorey, it’s time for you to STFU. If you don’t know what that means then look it up on the Internet. I’m sure that someone there will explain it to you.

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Then there’s Wakefield (22/1/2011)
[Link to original article]

Hopefully I have written the last thing I ever have to write about the dreadful Dr Andrew Wakefield. My next Naked Skeptic column Australasian Sciencefor Australasian Science magazine sets out the history of Wakefield’s deception over the years. It won’t be on the newsstands for a couple of weeks but you can  get a sneak preview here. The magazine will, as usual, contain much more than just my scribbling so I recommend that you either nag your newsagent to have it on sale (if you live in Australia) or, better still, subscribe through the magazine web site. It is the best popular science magazine in the country and is written by experts for a non-expert audience.

In more Dr Wakefield news, the British Medical Journal has now published all three parts of their report into his actions.

And do you think the attacks on journalist Brian Deer have subsided? Of course not – he exposed the sordid details of Wakefield’s deception and must be vilified at every opportunity. Here is our old friend Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network expressing an opinion. (I’ve left the question about blood type and eugenics there to show that crazy ideas about vaccination are not confined to the movement’s leaders.)

“Lying dog of a journalist”, hey? The UK has some of the most draconian and bankrupting defamation laws in the world, so why hasn’t Dr Wakefield sued Brian Deer for being a lying dog? Well, he tried before and the case was thrown out of court because Wakefield’s lawyers couldn’t convince the court that they were doing anything except trying to hide what Wakefield had done and burden Deer with crippling legal bills. I suspect, however, that Deer might have more success if he decided to ask an Australian court to rule on the defamatory nature of the words “lying dog of a journalist”.

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One thought on “Defending fraud: Meryl Dorey and Andrew Wakefield

  • Guy Chapman says:

    Meryl and her ilk are conspicuously silent on the ethics of Wakefield’s unapproved invasive tests on vulnerable child patients. Perhaps they think the fraudulent ends justify the unethical means?