Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


SidDithers's Journal
SidDithers's Journal
May 23, 2013

The legacy of Andrew Wakefield continues


Actions have consequences. No matter how much the person might want to try to hide from the consequences of one’s actions, they frequently have a way of coming back, grabbing you by the neck, and letting you know they’re there. We see it happening now in the U.K.

Fifteen years ago, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published a case series in The Lancet in which he described gastrointestinal symptoms in 12 autistic children who were treated at the Royal Free Hospital. His conclusion was that he had identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children that appeared to be associated with the MMR vaccine. The paper causes a sensation (a panic, actually), leading British parent to refuse to vaccinate their children with the MMR for fear that it was associated with autism. Meanwhile, with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” charisma, and skill at self-promotion, Wakefield promoted the idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism. True, his Lancet paper didn’t exactly say that, whether through the enforcement of caution on its statements by the reviewers who accepted it or through plausible deniability is not clear, but Wakefield himself wasn’t so shy. Nor was the British tabloid press, with its notoriously insatiable appetite for scandal and sensationalism, which eagerly glommed onto the story and promoted it with nearly the same intensity that Wakefield did. Ultimately, MMR uptake rates plummeted and the measles, vanquished in the U.K. in the 1990s, came roaring back to endemic levels within a decade.

These are consequences that persist to today, as a recent story in the Washington Post tells us ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/years-after-scare-linked-measles-shot-to-autism-unprotected-uk-children-drive-measles-spread/2013/05/20/73f4ac2a-c134-11e2-9aa6-fc21ae807a8a_story.html ) , Measles outbreaks flourish in UK years after discredited research tied measles shot to autism:

More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of now discredited research that linked the vaccine to autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease.

This year, the U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.

Last month, emergency vaccination clinics were held every weekend in Wales, the epicenter of the outbreak. Immunization drives have also started elsewhere in the country, with officials aiming to reach 1 million children aged 10 to 16.

“This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare,” said Dr. David Elliman, spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues that is widely rejected by scientists.

This is what anti-science, anti-vax, medical-woo brings us. Fuck them.

May 20, 2013

The goal was to make wind politically "toxic,"...


AS 2012 DREW TO A CLOSE, congressional Republicans were spurning bipartisan appeals from wind states and refusing to extend federal incentives for wind power, which were set to expire at the end of the year. Only in January's emergency "fiscal cliff" legislation was the renewable-energy production tax credit extended for a single year, giving wind developers a 2.2-cent tax cut for 10 years for every kilowatt-hour of power produced.

But by then the damage had been done. The months of uncertainty had spooked investors, leading to thousands of layoffs, factory slow-downs and closures, and a grinding halt in new wind farm projects. Consequently, the boom year of 2012, which saw an estimated 12 gigawatts come online—more new capacity than from any other energy source in the country—will be followed by a much slower wind year in 2013, as it will take six to nine months just to rehire, retool, and renew construction permits, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

The push by congressional Republicans to kill the tax credit was backed by a nationwide anti-wind campaign—rife with discredited health, environmental, and economic claims—from an array of opposition groups, notably ones supported by billionaire oilmen Charles and David Koch. The goal was to make wind politically "toxic," according to the Koch brothers-linked American Energy Alliance. Their main argument: Wind is too costly and should compete on a "level playing field" rather than survive on "handouts."


Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Home country: Canada
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 44,228

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»SidDithers's Journal