This doesn't bode well for the anti-vaccination crowd:
One of the most famous flawed studies ever conducted, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's now-retracted 1998 paper that linked vaccines to autism has been found to be not a scientific error, but a deliberate lie. BMJ, a British medical journal, has just published its investigation of the matter and concluded that Dr. Wakefield purposely falsified his data. They report that he was contracted by lawyers determined to sue the vaccine manufacturers, regardless of scientific truth.
Of course, the claim that vaccines are the cause of autism has long since moved from the reality of fact and into the realm of belief. And like creationists who refuse to accept the plain evidence of evolution, invested parents are very unlikely to change their minds, even with explicit knowledge of the fraud. Which, unfortunately, will only lead to more needless child suffering and death.
On a related note, there is a broader story here about the rise -- or perhaps, resurgence -- of evidence-free skepticism in American life, but that's fodder for another blog post.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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