Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Dose of Dumbass

Did anyone happen to catch NBC's Dateline episode named A Dose of Controversy, an expose' on the anti-vax movement? It was pretty good overall. A quick summary:
  • The man who initially linked autism to the MMR vaccine, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, did so with a study that used 12 participants.
  • More recent studies that have used 500,000 to several MILLION participants have found no such link.
  • Nearly all of the 12 participants in Wakefield's study were involved in a class action suit against the makers of the MMR vaccine.
  • Dr. Wakefield was a paid expert witness for the plaintiffs in this suit.
  • Dr. Wakefield was, at the time of the study, applying for a patent on a vaccine to replace MMR.
The accusation drawn from these points is that Dr. Wakefield performed his study in a manner such that the evidence would fit the predetermined conclusion. I've heard of this before... who is it, besides the good Dr. Wakefield, that warps the evidence to fit the conclusion they want???

To put it mildly:

Scientists are people who are concerned about the truth and use natural, recreatable evidence to find it. If all of the evidence does not agree with your hypothesis, even if you strongly want that hypothesis to be true, you must reject your hypothesis. When you are discriminative with the evidence or otherwise warp it in order to build a case for your personal hypothesis, you deceive yourself and others.