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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
tallguywrites
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



2 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

3 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

4 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

5 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

6 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 7 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 8 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 9 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 10 Vaccination Scandal Story

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MMR 12 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 13 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 14 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 15 Vaccination Scandal Story

I am Darryl Cunningham and this is my main blog.

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Good comic, but... it seems a bit contradictory. You start off criticizing those who don't trust scientists, and then you give us a good example of a scientist we shouldn't trust. Maybe science is perfect, but we're mere humans, prone to error and capitalism. Facts and evidence are fine, but we're always going to receive them through the imperfect filter of human understanding.

In any case, I agree that it's shameful how the media is so ready to poison us with lies and misinformation if it'll get them more revenue.

I don't feel it's contradictory, myself. He never tells us we should believe every individual scientist, uncritically. I think the whole point is that while an individual scientist might behave in an ignorant or self-interested fashion, science as a whole is pretty good at recognizing and rejecting those scientists on its own -- that's why traditions like peer review exist. Note that the scientist "we shouldn't trust" is caught before long, and his work is summarily rejected by the fact-based scientific world. That's an important distinction.

Edited at 2010-05-18 05:03 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
One anecdotal failure, eventually corrected, among huge numbers of apparent successes? Nope, don't feel especially chastized here. Especially given my exact words were the less than sweeping "as a whole is pretty good." If I'd said "is absolutely infallible because the Mighty Hand of Our Almighty God Science" you might've had something there. ;p

Huh, apparently you realized that too. ;)

There is some irony in that the anti vaxxers have that same fear of science, as global warming denialists, and the creation museums.

The systematic dumbing down of the US over the last 50 years hasn't helped either, with a lack of emphasis on science, maths, etc. Some people are trying to bring it back, but that still leaves a 30 year gap, a whole generation, that's been cut off.

And they're exactly the sort who buy into those conspiracy theories.

You start off criticizing those who don't trust scientists, and then you give us a good example of a scientist we shouldn't trust

IMHO the problem is selective, unthinking distrust. I've met plenty of people who were extremely sceptical of the benefits of vaccination because "Big Pharma just wants to make money", but they completely failed to apply the same level of scepticism to Wakefield.

I think TallGuy's idea is that people won't trust the scientific process, and what Wakefield did was follow anything BUT the scientific process.

(Deleted comment)
The general public has no way of knowing that, thanks to the media's distortions and incompetence. I don't think most non-scientists are able to tell the difference, so it's hard to decide what we should ignore as fake science and what we should embrace to avoid sounding like we're from the Middle Ages.

You have it backwards. He criticized those who don't trust Science. Science is the process by what we discover the truth about things, by means of formulating hypothesis, testing them, publishing them, and reviewing the process to draw conclusions, submitting them to peer review.

The 'scientist' began formulating a conclusion, drawing the hypothesis for it to be true and faking the tests to agree with his conclusion. This being Science, he was caught in the act thanks for the peer review step of the scientific method. If anything, this shows that Science works, even if some 'scientists' are bad apples.

It's interesting that you argue "Science is the process by which we discover the truth about things"

Karl R. Popper said:
"I think that we shall have to get accustomed to the idea that we must not look upon science as a "body of knowledge", but rather as a system of hypotheses, or as a system of guesses or anticiptations that in principle cannot be justified, but with which we work as long as they stand up to tests, and of which we are never justified in saying that we know they are "true" . . ."

and Dr. Steven M. Holland said:
"We [scientists] wouldn't know truth if it jumped up and bit us in the ass. We're probably fairly good at recognizing what's false, and that's what science does on a day-to-day basis, but we can't claim to identify truth."

A scientist? Hardly.

Wakefield is HARDLY a scientist, contrary to his own claims. He has an MD, not a PhD (which requires training in research).

Re: A scientist? Hardly.

my thoughts exactly!

Science is far from perfect. That's the problem. You have scientists on one side saying one thing and on another saying something different.

I think the lesson here is that, as much as possible, every person should arm themselves with the ability to reason critically. Don't just read conclusions, in fact you can ignore them often; look into the data (journalism) and come to your own conclusions.

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