Patrick Holford and Dr Andrew Wakefield”. The ‘science’ behind this story has already been torn to pieces all over the blogosphere – read a summary of posts here and here – so I’m not going to look at this again. Frankly, if copies of this newspaper are getting used for soaking up guinea pig crap, then I feel sorry for the guinea pigs – and I can’t really think of much more to say about this ‘science’.Shinga posted yesterday on “extraordinary…correspondences between
However, when I was looking into the debate around Sunday’s awful Observer story on MMR, I found another surprising correspondence: both Holford and Wakefield appear to be linked to the Safe Harbor organisation. Safe Harbor is a controversial ‘alternative’ mental health organisation, which was established by “a very prominent Scientologist called Dan Stradford who apparently has reached the level of Operating Thetan – Level VIII” and which has had a history of substantial Scientologist involvement. As the quackometer shows, Holford is on Safe Harbor’s advisory board.
Wakefield, too, has been plugged by Safe Harbor: their newsletter advertised his presence at a ‘Defeat Autism Now’ conference. Safe Harbor also had someone who they rather chummily referred to as “Dr Andy Wakefield” speaking at their Miami conference, and even threw a dinner in Wakefield’s honour. I’d presume that ‘Andy’ is the same Dr Wakefield – I can’t think of any other Gastroenterologists with the same name who were also Research Director of the ICDRC. I can’t find any reference to Safe Harbor providing Holford with any dinners – which seems a bit unfair, given Holford’s status as a prominent nutritionist.
Anyway, so what does all this tell us? There does seem to be a surprising link between Safe Harbor (and thus certain prominent Scientologists) and two significant figures promoting bad science on autism and vaccination. The Observer, in its great wisdom, decided to provide safe harbour for this bad science; I hope they’re very proud.
If the Observer actually wants to research a story on MMR and autism properly, they might look to analyse Wakefield’s bad science. They might take the radical step of googling the name of some of those putting the anti-MMR case, too: Brian Deer, in particular, has made available a wealth of information on the competing interests of many of those involved. The involvement of Scientology and Scientologists might also be a good angle to investigate – but, then again, ‘investigate’ is much too generous a word for what the Observer did with their front page last weekend. For God’s Sake, won’t somebody think of all the poor guinea pigs that will be exposed to this junk.