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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

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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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As someone whose family deals with autism daily in our son, I find both the pro and anti-vaccine lobbies insulting.

Firstly, parents should NOT be coerced into vaccinating (the term "immunising" is technically and medically incorrect) their children, yet in many countries this is the case. When we question the safety of vaccines, including the recent flu vaccine that is causing convulsions in babies here in NZ, we are labelled paranoid and anti-vaccine. Perhaps we are just demanding higher safety standards, and being cautious?

Regarding the "vaccines cause autism" lobby, legal battles have been fought and won on this issue, yet I do not believe for a moment that my son's autism was caused by vaccination. Nor do I believe that vaccination is the sole or even the primary cause of autism.

What is clear is that funding into the causes of autism is sorely lacking. This is a disability that affects a child from age 2-3 (usual diagnosis age) through their entire life, and is devastating to the entire family, and challenging to the community.

Where is the funding and social support? Where are the studies? We spend far more money on heart disease, which in most cases is entirely preventable and is usually diet-reversable than on autism. Some balance might be fair.

Finally, I ask about your motives on posting this entire article. It does not solve the puzzle of autism - it merely adds more fuel to the fire of "us v them" on the already overpublicised autism versus anti-vaccination battleground. It is children like mine who are the victims here - I call for a truce, and instead some brainpower being directed towards searching for the cause and cure for autism.

In fact, several of the causes of autism are known and, if anything, the facts are leaning towards genetic damaged by teratogens, such as the already known autism causing drug sodium valproate which, when exposed to babies in utero, resulted in autism rates of up to 15% in studies.

This has become more long-winded than I intended it to be. I'm just asking for a little respect for autism and the damage it does. If people like Jenny McCarthy seem to be grasping at straws, no matter how foolish those straws appear, maybe it is time we asked why - and to me the answer is clear - science and our communities are not doing their jobs of finding the answers and supporting those of us who are there in the real world, dealing with autism every single day of our lives.


The victims are the children whose parents are not vaccinating them due to unfounded fears - fears that years and years of studies have shown to be unnecessary.
The victims are the children who are too young to be vaccinated, who are left open to disease when the children who could receive the vaccines are left unprotected by their parents, and herd immunity disappears.
The victims are all of the people who could be saved but aren't, when formerly-rare diseases start to make a comeback due to poor vaccination rates.

Autism is a serious problem, but it cannot and should not be hijacked to help the spread of other diseases. They can and should be entirely separate issues, and that is why the article is both relevant and helpful.

Science has been hijacked by money. End of story. But to expound:

Statistics and deliberately confusing terms and fear are used to justify further expense and agenda-heavy, predetermined research results, and it's a battle for 'which lie will become the official lie' so everyone else is laughed at.

As the US and European governments (amongst others) are bribed by corporations for which 'science is in the public interest', that as our fates become so intertwined that we move past "I'm upstream of you, so I won't pee in the river" to "If I eat this twinkie, it costs someone else on another continent Money..." the only winners are politicians and corporations, (who never have to live by the laws they vote for and pay for, respectively) and those of us who try to do things "in the public interest" try and do the "right" thing and get ground up in the process.

Eventually, we will discover that the sub-conscious rules all actions and to have ill-thoughts about another person is not in the public interest.

People thought that twinkie example was far-fetched 20 years ago too, but here we are.

...and yet we continue to attack and ridicule each other while politicians and corporations walk over our bodies to their own 'truth'.

"Science has been hijacked by money."

Yes, this story is precisely about science being hijacked by money. Except that it wasn't corporations or governments doing the hijacking, but a greedy and unscrupulous surgeon (Wakefield) deliberately manipulating his data and using the media to bolster his lies when his theories were put to the test and found wanting. And all for his own, personal profit.

Eventually, we will discover that the sub-conscious rules all actions and to have ill-thoughts about another person is not in the public interest.

Well, all righty, then. Tell me, does your scalp chafe in hot weather under that tinfoil hat?

Parents should absolutely be "coerced" into vaccinating their children. The same way people should be "coerced" into driving the speed limit, into not smoking in hospitals, and into not driving while inebriated. An unvaccinated individual poses a very real threat to the lives of other people, especially the very young, old, or immunosuppressed, and it is the height of selfishness to think that one's own offspring should be excluded from a very important preventative public health measure.

Hi CarmenWoods - The problem your attitude has is, it's illegal in most countries.

It is actually illegal in my country (NZ) to perform a medical procedure on a human being without their consent. As of at least yesterday, vaccination was, and remains, a medical procedure.

So whether you believe it is in for "the greater good" or not, what you're suggesting is the legal equivalent of sterilisation of the mentally ill and other similar "greater good" ideologies.

It's not so long ago that to decide not to circumcise your son was considered unacceptable, and medical grounds were given for routine circumcision. Now the tables have turned on that issue, it seems, and the medical fraternity seems to believe generally that circumcision causes more harm than good.

But for me, I believe that people have the right to choose whether they are vaccinated, whether they are sterilised or lobotomised or whatever, and certainly I do not want government or medical officials forcing me to choose for my child.

Medical understanding is changing all the time, as new evidence comes to light. But if there is one thing I *HOPE* we have learned, it is not to force our beliefs upon others.

What's legal can change as people recognize deficiencies in public policy. And the tired canard of "science changes, so we can discount science" is disingenuous. Asimov's The Relativity of Wrong is a good illustration of this. The benefits of vaccination have been proven time and again since the practice's inception. And frankly, your equating vaccination to lobotomies is despicable.

For me, sure, people may have the right to choose not to be vaccinated. But they should face criminal penalties as severe as those for people who *CHOOSE* to drive while inebriated and get caught. Penalties such as being prohibited from holding jobs that involve contact with minors, for example. Being prohibited from working in any medical profession, for another. Requiring them to inform daycares or children's exrtacurricular groups of their unvaccinated status so that those organizations can *choose* to decline them service due to the danger they present to other children. And if they want to enjoy state-provided public schooling, but don't want to vaccinate their children? Too bad. They can *choose* to send them to a private school that accepts disease-carriers.

I can choose to smoke in a hospital, but I would rightfully be thrown out when someone catches me. Choosing not to vaccinate is a direct equivalent, and the irresponsible and selfish parents who think they deserve to ride easy on the herd immunity of those who do care about public health should face all the disapprobation we can heap on them.

Being in an interconnected society beings as many responsibilities as it does privileges. Too many people want to benefit from the privileges and shirk their social responsibilities. "Freedom" is a nice rallying call, but our freedoms should not extend to visiting harm or the threat of harm onto other people, and one of our most important responsibilities should be making certain that our actions do not threaten to harm others.

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Well said, stickymusic

As someone else whose family deals with autism daily in our son, I agree with you completely, and IMO the motives on posting this is so that people who feel morally superior to others but who actually know very little about autism can mock anti-vaxers in cartoon form. I wonder how many commenters here actually live with autism every day?

Living with autism gives you special insight into living with autism, not into the causes of autism.

Re: Well said, stickymusic

I wonder how many commenters here actually live with autism every day?

What on earth does that have to do with anything...? The point of the cartoon is that vaccines don't cause autism, and that the guy who made that connection did so for money via non-science.

And that's true. Vaccines don't cause autism.

You should be mad at Wakefield. He's the guy who is playing people dealing with autism.

As for mocking anti-vaxers, I don't think the cartoon does that, but I certainly do. Being anti-vax is the stupidest thing I can imagine. I have no idea how people can be so immensely gullible.

Where did you get the idea that this comic was intended to "solve the puzzle of autism?" It's a visual version of the information that has been all over the news, simplified and clarified in a different way. If it has a bias towards good science, that's only in its favor. There is no defense of Wakefield, is the point.

parents should NOT be coerced into vaccinating

Sure they should. This is a public health issue. If you don't vaccinate your children, it increases the risk that everyone ELSE's children will get sick. Herd immunity is real.

When you do something stupid that could potentially harm everyone else's kids, society has a right to step in.


What is clear is that funding into the causes of autism is sorely lacking.

I don't think that the fact that we don't know everything about a given problem or how to cure it necessarily means that "funding is lacking." Throwing money at something doesn't automatically generate an answer. The scientific community can't just magically produce answers for you on demand. If they could, we would already have cured cancer and AIDS and alzheimer's.

I have sympathy for your having to deal with autism. But it's not the scientific community's fault that you are dealing with autism. And they might not be ABLE to fix it even if you gave them all the money in the world.

It does not solve the puzzle of autism

It wasn't meant to.

it merely adds more fuel to the fire of "us v them" on the already overpublicised autism versus anti-vaccination battleground.

You seem to be under the delusion that there are two sides to every story. There aren't. Sometimes there's just the truth, and then there are lies and distortions.

Some balance might be fair.

See above. Also, the cartoonist doesn't owe you any "balance."

I'm just asking for a little respect for autism and the damage it does.

This cartoon did not "disrespect" autism at all. Don't conflate the disorder with batshit, science-denying anti-vaxxers.

If people like Jenny McCarthy seem to be grasping at straws, no matter how foolish those straws appear, maybe it is time we asked why

Because her 15 minutes were over and she needed a new way to stay in the public eye. Oh, right, I forgot, she's a moooooommmm, and therefore her motives are sacrosanct. I'll try to remember that.

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