Vaccines Still Don't Cause AutismS

The Lancet has formally retracted a paper it published in 1998 on the causes of autism based on research conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. So that's it for that, then, right?

Many years ago, some parents of children diagnosed with autism decided that their children became autistic because of the MMR vaccine. So, as part of their lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers, they paid a doctor named Andrew Wakefield to fake a study finding a link between vaccines and autism. He did so, subjecting 12 kids (half of whom were part of the lawsuit) to a variety of useless and dangerously invasive tests designed to prove that the MMR vaccine led to gastrointestinal problems that then somehow created autism. No one's ever been able to replicate his results, and he acted unethically in accepting payment from parents and experimenting on his subjects without approval from the ethics board, so the Lancet has finally retracted the paper, some years after it caused a vaccine hysteria that led to outbreaks of measles among children in London.

But this won't change anything. One discredited study "proved" the link, and that's all crazy people need to hear. You can go ahead and conduct all the additional studies you want proving that MMR is safe, but it's too late. That's not how misinformation works. If you could correct misinformation once it's been set loose, more than 42% of Republicans would believe Barack Obama was born in the United States.

Do you know how Arianna's conspiracy-mongering Huffington Post greeted the news of the retraction of the only supposed evidence of their favorite medical fairy story? By calling the retraction "censorship" and announcing that "we need a thousand doctors like Andrew Wakefield." We have a feeling this won't have any effect on Oprah's decision to give noted attempted murderer Jenny McCarthy her own talk show.

Wakefield runs a clinic in Austin now, where he has a cult-like band of followers. The parents of autistic children who subscribe to his bullshit subject their children to quackery like chelation, a treatment for heavy metal poisoning treatment that has actually killed kids.

And everyone who promotes Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's unscientific ramblings, from Larry King to Arianna to Oprah, is complicit in that death and the deaths of kids across the developed world from measles, which is coming back not just in England but in the fashionable parts of California as well.

It's a nice reminder than political conservatives don't hold a monopoly on anti-science groupthink.