In June 2007, as the Autism Omnibus Hearings were in progress and the initial test case was being heard, Patrick Holford contacted his mailing list and asked them to sign a petition in support of Dr Andrew Wakefield. Although it doesn’t look like he ever signed the petition, it is clear that he influenced other people to sign, people who directly cited him as instrumental in the decision not to vaccinate children against preventable diseases.
Dr Carmel O’Donovan, Andrew Wakefield’s wife, recently emailed around asking for signatures in support of him. However, it seems that there is another petition, this one grandiosely and desperately asking people to sign up to We Support Andy Wakefield (Tiny URL’d). Age of Autism rather half-heartedly just reproduces the blusterous call for an enquiry (Tiny URL’d) and, without any trace of irony, condemns “the censorship of science” and the competence of Brian Deer in his remarkable investigative journalism.
We offer an annotated version of the petition: all links have been added by us and our text additions are in italics.
We Support Andrew Wakefield Petition
Five years after
the initiation of a campaign to discredit the work the enormity of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s errors and conflicts of interests were revealed by Brian Deer in The Sunday Times, the London Sunday Times carried additional allegations on Sunday, February 8, 2009. Three pages of coverage that presented no new and somewhat alarming evidence accused that indicates Dr. Wakefield of and his research may have benefited from an assist in the form of “fixing” research data. We desperately wish to believe that [t]hese allegations have no basis in fact despite the mounting evidence to the contrary and the fact that such behaviour would be of a piece with what is already known. We wish and have it had been fully addressed in Dr. Wakefield’s response to the General Medical Council (GMC) prosecution, now well into its second year, but that’s the problem with GMC proceedings, they have no powers to compel protagonists to cooperate with the investigation, to tell the truth or even to make a statement.
We the undersigned, representing
multitudes of citizens worldwide true believers, are attempting to divert attention from the unequivocal rejection of vaccine injury as a general causation theory for autism that was revealed both during the Autism Omnibus proceedings and in the recently published findings so we demand an enquiry into the means by which the continuing episodes of misrepresentation revelations concerning Dr. Wakefield came to pass.
We demand that the London Sunday Times review its coverage and the increasingly evident conflicts of interest of Brian Deer who plainly acted with no regard to our feelings but in accordance with the finest principles of investigative journalism by following the story of Andrew Wakefield and the MMR hoax, and whose detailed knowledge of the case was acknowledged when he was asked to supply information with regard to both the initial lodging of the GMC complaint (pdf) and subsequent informed and expert reporting. We expect to see uncritical hagiographies of the sort delivered by Andrew Wakefield’s preferred brand of MMR-ignorant journalists (see postscript) such as Denis ‘Call Me Scoop’ Campbell who grasped the parallels between Andy and Vaclav Havel and that nice Justine Picardie who so admired Andy’s glossy hair and wanted to be friends with his family.
demand to would much rather not see substantiation of allegations made in the London Sunday Times article of February 8, 2009, or but expect to be informed should no such substantiation be available so we can put up a suitable smokescreen, possibly another petition.
As Brian Deer has stated that his reporting was directed by editors managing his investigation for the London Sunday Times, we demand answers of the editors with regard to
mismanagement competent handling of Deer’s investigation and why unsubstantiated text that was presumably put under close scrutiny by their lawyers was permitted to be published in a way that crushes anti-vax arguments. Don’t you understand or care about the emotional shock we sustained on reading that? Or the difficulties this will create for us enlisting new believers or collecting donations? We request that the editor-in-chief and ownership of the London Sunday Times review, amend, and apologize for this mismanagement these revelations and editorial failure to acknowledge the impact on us.
Further, we support an independent investigation into potential influences from pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and other special interest groups that may have played a part in efforts to censor the reporting of academic research that does not present our version of the current mainstream medical position. We also support an enquiry into Brian Deer’s activity that addresses his statements about
influencing brazenly responding to requests for information from people involved in the pursuance of their duties involving the vaccine cases in the United States.
We declare that:
1. Dr. Wakefield is a man of honesty, integrity, courage, and proven commitment to children and the public health despite those pesky people who claim that immunisation protects children from illnesses that can have disastrous side-effects or outcomes. We have to continue to believe that both for our own amour propre and to forestall any drop off in funding from our donors.
2. To his own exacting standards, Dr. Wakefield’s research is rigorous, replicated, biologically valid, clinically evidenced, corroborated by published, peer-reviewed research in an abundance of scientific disciplines, and consistent with children’s medical problems. As per 1, above. The Special Masters may have been impressed by the credentials, qualifications, and high peer esteem of the Respondents’ expert witnesses but we prefer the Stephen Colbert standard of expert witness.
Now sure, she’s not the kind of expert who relies on facts and figures….She knows what she feels is true. She’s that kind of expert.
A People’s Expert, if we were to use the sort of phrasing the british people understand.
3. We support Stephen Colbert standard clinicians who pursue treatments for bowel disorders based on Dr. Wakefield’s work and corroborating science, most specifically Arthur Krigsman, MD despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to publish anything noteworthy. We’re suckers for all those heroic tales of people who place a premium on misplaced loyalty even if it costs other people their lives and livelihood. George Eliot offers us a role model in Dorothea Brooke.
4. We support all scientists, including Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in the freedom to conduct medical research into the biological mechanisms for vaccine-related immune and brain dysfunction, including autism even when this involves invasive tests that would otherwise be regarded as an assault on children and have harmed children, without being attacked personally and professionally by industry, government, and organized medicine and by ‘attacked’ we mean being asked to respect the opinion of colleagues who tell you that the results that confirm your hypothesis are false positives and only to outsource testing to a lab with some semblance of quality control and a willingness to replicate procedures to validate data that have been called into question. Obviously, those are insulting and small-minded restrictions that should never be requested of one who dwells among the pantheons of The Scientific Greats (Tiny URL for Age of Autism). We support scientific discovery, freedom to investigate, and freedom to speak in science as long as those scientists and investigators agree with us. Paul Proffit, as we delightfully refer to him, deserves no such freedom because both he and his research are behind much of our loss of credibility with the public. And he managed to recruit that rather attractive and sensible Amanda Peet to the cause of Every Child by Two.
5. We question the work of Brian Deer admittedly, not for any sound reason but that always sounds impressive and it’s what we do when we’re not too sure of our ground. Although journalists have a right to investigate and report – look at our own Dan Olmsted, he briefly wandered among the Amish and was ready to come back and pronounce on their vaccination practices and incidence of autism – time after time Brian Deer has stepped over the line in terms of journalistic ethics, unlike our frequently-featured David Kirby who breeched a non-disclosure agreement when he discussed Hannah Poling’s medical records and identified her (pdf). Because everyone knows that it doesn’t count when it is one of our own, yeah? Anyhow, Brian Deer has heaped indignities upon us. This has included his
misrepresenting as new information that which he knows to be untrue verifiable if we don’t succeed in distracting everyone; consistently misrepresenting finding himself acknowledged as the go-to person on the history of Andrew Wakefield and associated research and acting in accordance with his role as an investigate journalist for both The Sunday Times and Channel 4; and thereby failing to meet our embarrassingly minimum standards separating facts from opinion. See Dan Olmsted and his assertions about the Amish.
6. We renounce pharmaceutical lobby groups (because, before now, we have sworn a pledge of allegiance to them on most days, mostly because compounding pharmacies advertise on our website) and the London Sunday Times supporting the complaint lodged with the GMC even if they believed it to be their duty to respond to requests for information in connection with public interest, the actions of which result in intimidating doctors by bringing them face to face with the sort of experts we don’t like, thereby preventing Stephen Colbert style objective medical assessment of autistic children with co-morbid bowel involvement. We do not care to hear about studies that show that there is no greater incidence of bowel disorders among children with autism than other groups (pdf) as that does not reflect our personal reality or espoused position and both of them must trump all scientific research over the last decade for reasons that must be self-evident.
7. We condemn the censorship of science that does not accord with our interpretation or world-view. There are more than enough facts and evidence to support the case of vaccine injury if you are willing to embrace the a la carte method of assembling it or assume the availability of items that aren’t listed rather than examine the corpus of evidence as a whole, but the politicization of these issues has made it impossible to publish important and valid science except on websites and by press release. We always get good mileage from non-reviewed conference posters but somebody always tries to spoil it with scientific analysis. The debate is rigged in favor of the vaccine industry because most scientific experts fail the Stephen Colbert standard.
8. We condemn the conflicts of interest and abuse of power of the government, which has become the greatest proponent for vaccines and the greatest opponent to vaccine safety research. This oppressive government set up this Vaccine Injury Compensation programme. They undermine us with their seeming fairness in funding petitioners’ claims, accommodating petitioners’ preferred format for hearings and agreeing to endless delays in us presenting our case. This sort of behaviour can make us seem unreasonable to those who look on with an unjaundiced eye.
9. We serve the children and families who daily suffer the consequences of the largest institutional failure in modern medicine, we do it by encouraging them to switch from table claims that they might have won to acting as cases for our speculative hypotheses. This is a moral crisis demanding urgent action but, as it is not us who has been beggared by this ill-considered action, it is not that urgent.
10. We demand recognition of the global autism emergency, as we like to call it because it frightens people and makes them more receptive to our pitifully-thin evidence base for our scare-mongering. We call for investigation into the most likely environmental causes (including vaccines) that we identify because we hope to be involved in all sorts of lucrative advisory committees. The sort that we can attempt to disrupt with our obstinacy and lack of scientific or research acumen and then decry when we don’t like the outcome. We cry out for the application of unevidenced and unproven treatment practices that have already caused neurological damage to, harmed or even killed children and for the investigation of other treatment options
to help that may cause further suffering to children and continue to impoverish families immediately, before there is any drop-off in the income levels that DAN! Doctors have come to expect.
Members of the public, parents, doctors and scientists worldwide are now calling for a formal enquiry into what Dr Ben Goldacre so perceptively labelled as the MMR hoax. It is important that we distract them with counter-calls like this, no matter how ridiculous. As some associates of ours would say, We are awaiting your response.
Orac has produced a version of the petition in his own inimitable style and posted some information about the site’s founders: “We Support Andrew Wakefield”?. Orac calls upon other bloggers to produce their own versions, translations and annotations.