I am reading the articles from the British Medical Journal about the Andrew Wakefield case. Wakefield was the British physician who published a fraudulent study in 1998 linking vaccines to autism, causing a worldwide scare which may have resulted in the deaths of many unvaccinated children over the years.
What I didn’t know was that Wakefield wasn’t merely incompetent: he was a fraudster. According to the BMJ, he deliberately and fraudulently falsified data while being paid by a legal firm that was planning to sue the vaccine manufacturer.
I also do scientific research. My research (thankfully) has nothing to do with people, vaccines, or diseases; it’s about things like historical spacecraft or obscure aspects of gravity theory. Even so, I find the idea of altering or “massaging” my data, be it for fame or for profit, totally unthinkable and abhorrent. To do so when people’s lives are at stake… The likes of Wakefield not only undermine the credibility of the entire scientific community, they also put people’s lives at risk for monetary gain.
I wonder if Wakefield will ever face criminal charges. Perhaps he should.