Wakefield's walk of shame

By Phil Plait | June 1, 2010 9:30 am

If you’ve read this blog for more than 8 nanoseconds, you know I have no love for Andrew Wakefield. Founder of the modern antivax movement, disgraced researcher, discredited "doctor", and at least partly to blame for the rise in preventable illnesses, his impact has made the world a worse place. The Sceptic’s Book of Pooh-Pooh totally eviscerates Wakefield, holding nothing back. If you have any question about this guy’s horrifying history, then go read that.

Of course, he claims he is being persecuted, victimized, etc. etc. Baloney. What has actually happened is that the forces of science and reality have called his bluff. The problem is, he still hasn’t folded.

But the collapse perhaps, is imminent. Skeptical Teacher has the story of a recent antivax rally to support Wakefield. Several skeptics showed up at this event, including Bruce Critelli and Jamie Bernstein. You may be amused by this picture they took:


Jamie gave Wakefield a note, which he said he’d read later. I wish I could’ve been there when he did. The note said:

Dear Andrew Wakefield,

I know that you truly believe that what you are doing is helping people and that the ends justify the means, but I just want you to know that the things you are doing –- the actions you have taken in the past have hurt people –- killed people. Your work has scared and manipulated parents into not vaccinating their children, putting them and their entire community at risk, all in the name of safety. Children have died because of you. I just want to make sure that you fully understand that.


BANG! I know he’s heard this a lot before, but somehow I think having a note like that handed to him at a rally for him to read later may actually hit home. It won’t change his mind at all — he has way too much invested in his antivax garbage — but I sure hope he loses some sleep over it. I know a lot of parents have lost sleep due to him.

For your further schadenfreude, Jamie recounts the events of that day, Bruce posted some video, and Skeptical Teacher has comments and some links. You may be amused to note that claims of hundreds of attendees to the rally turn out to be like every other antivaxxer claim: hot air.

In the meantime, while Wakefield still attempts to twist reality into a Möbius strip, whooping cough is on the rise, and we lose more babies because people don’t get vaccinated.

The sad truth is — to stretch the poker analogy I used above — while we hold all the cards, what Wakefield and his followers are betting is the health and safety of every person on the planet, including babies. Those stakes are simply too high.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Debunking, Skepticism

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