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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
A fifteen page story about the MMR vaccination controversy. As ever, I'm sure a few spelling errors have slipped past me. Feel free to point any out so I can correct them.

The reference links for the strip are in the next blog entry.

Now! Let's have a heated debate!

2013 update. Since I wrote this blog entry, this cartoon strip as well as many others on such subjects as homeopathy, chiropratic, evolution, and the supposed NASA Moon hoax landings, have been published in a book: Science Tales in the UK (Myriad Edtions) and How To Fake A Moon Landing in the US and Canada (Abrams). Here's the link to my main blog.

1 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

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Great cartoon! Very illuminating, puts in an easily digestible format, thank you. I just had a quick question regarding your discussion of the media's role in the scandal. Your pictures seem to feature the headers of papers like The Sun and the Mail and focus on these more, with the headers of other papers like the Times and the Independent obscured in the background. Is this deliberate or a result of anti-tabloid bias? Broadsheet papers were equally to blame for propagating the message, and it's unfair to pick on the tabloids more than them. I'm sure this is just incidental though! Great article.

*Pediatrics (spelling error)

Actually, "paediatrics" is the correct, British spelling.


This is great! Sharing with everyone!
(was pointed to this from I Fucking Love Science on Facebook.)

Edited at 2013-04-21 12:41 pm (UTC)

Great comic with a purpose. One question though, how many journalists have a working knowledge of science? I'm a biologist and a teacher and I don't have a working knowledge of say geology. Its tough to keep up with the rate of change and discovery in one branch of science, let alone several. I think it is rwasonable to ask that science reporting comes from scientifically literate sources but is a journalist really the best source? Maybe the CERN model would be better. They actively report their results to a widesperead and mainstream audience, not just in scientific journals, which John Q Public cannot read or comprehend.

Unfortunately, autism is complex and multifaceted and can't be answered simply. I do think vaccine play a role....I have personally seen TOO MANY clinical cases of a child developing normally only to quickly regress after vaccination(s)....clinical observation is important. Have you met Dr. Wakefield personally? If not watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l67fWVrw8xU

"Keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out"

Why does it matter if you've met Wakefield personally? Because he gives off a "trustworthy vibe"? Lots of people met Albert Walker personally and thought he was trustworthy. Man were they ever wrong.

Masterful. Perhaps we can expect a sequel showing the queues outside immunisation clinics during the current measles epidemic in Wales - an epidemic that may well not have occurred if Wakefield had been more responsible.

I don't know if this has already been mentioned in the comments (there are a lot and I'm lazy), but this week in Wales a young man died of measles. Even if there was a link between the two (which there isn't), which would you rather have - an autistic kid or a dead one? As the mother of an autistic kid, I can say without a doubt which I'd choose.

Wakefield should be prosecuted for manslaughter for every person who has died of measles because their parents chose not to vaccinate them based on his lies.

In the late 70's my mother decided not to vaccinate my youngest sister because she'd been taken in by someone claiming a link between whooping cough vaccine and eczema. She thought that the chance of her catching it in our isolated farming community was small. It wasn't, thanks to the hundreds of other mothers who had also been taken in. My sister was only three years old when she caught it, she was deathly ill for months, and her lungs were permanently damaged. Last year 14 children died of whooping cough in the UK.

Not getting kids vaccinated doesn't just put the child at risk, it puts the whole community at risk. A child with measles/whooping cough/etc, walking into a hospital can have a devastating effect on immune-compromised patients, babies and hospital staff.

Excellent, thank you for spelling it all out.
I had heard about that fraudster, and his discredited junk science, but until now, I never knew the insde story, the money, the trying to make a new vaccine for his purposes.
Filth like that should be in jail, for a long, long time.

Awesome. Only thing I noticed, was that Jim Carry and Jenny McCarthy supported this guy for a short time. McCarthy unfortunately published a book supporting this idea but has apologized for it extensively. With a non typical kid, parents will often grasp to anything that offers some explaination or pathway to helping others not have to experience it. They don't support him currently, and this makes it seem like they still do. I think it's important to understand that people can be wrong about things, admit they were wrong, and change their stance. They shouldn't be held to a temporary belief for the rest of their lives.

I didn't know that about McCarthy - I thought she still supported the argument. Her stance was understandable, however she and Carrey gave it a place in the public eye that Wakefield alone wouldn't have been able to do.... It's good that they've taken it back, but they still should face facts that measles incidence is up in part because of what they've done.

I'm uncomfortable with the pinup photo you chose for Jenny McCarthy. That panel sends the message to me that you are trying to undermine her points by perpetuating her objectification by society, and that it's okay to dismiss a woman's arguments just because she's a woman. There are many other ways to point out the flaws in her stance which don't hurt women as a whole. If you're just trying to remind your audience of who she is, a less provocative image of her face (see Wikipedia's page on her for example) is sufficient. If you're trying to make the message that she's unreliable because of her history as a model, well that's just an ad hominem attack that has no place in the rational argument you are trying to make with the rest of your comic.

...Was that REALLY the only picture you could find of McCarthy? I hate what she's done about the autism-vaccine line, but you seemed to have deliberately picked a photo of her wearing as little as possible. When faced with pictures of scantily clad women, men think those women AND ALL women are less intelligent than they are.

Your comic was mildly interesting (took way too long to get the info out there) and then ended with a subtly dose of misogyny.

Great cartoon! I might be misunderstanding, but I think there is a mistake - page 3 says Wakefield called for multiple vaccinations, but then page 8 says he called for a single dose and had a patent on that.

Wakefield called for multiple vaccines against single diseases (a measles vaccine, a mumps vaccine, and a rubella vaccine) as opposed to a single vaccine against multiple diseases (MMR), and he held a patent for one of the former.

This short story manages to accurately summarize all of the major problems of the world today. Our failing to use rational, critical thought for anything will be the downfall of humanity.