December 15, 2014 by Shawn Siegel
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, praised and still soundly supported by the parents of the Lancet kids, is characterized as a fraud in the mainstream, virtually solely on the basis of the case series published in, and subsequently retracted from, the Lancet, but the science of the paper – the validity of the data collected and conclusions drawn – was never in question. Indeed, it was praised by Richard Horton, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, both in interviews and in his testimony at the General Medical Council hearing.
This is from the online Huffington Post article linked below, authored by journalist Sally Beck:
“[Horton made comments] in an interview with me for The Observer newspaper, and in a written email to an epidemiologist seeking clarification on whether the science in the Wakefield study held up. [He] was quick to confirm that the science in the paper, which looked at whether 12 autistic children also suffered bowel disease, was good.
“He reiterated his statement in his evidence to the GMC, ‘There was no question in my mind that subject to external peer review and editor debate, we should publish this work,’ he said. ‘The description of what seemed to be a new syndrome and its relations to possible environmental triggers was original and would certainly have interested our readers.'”
And the following is an excerpt from a document I received from Martin Walker, who edited the books, Silenced Witnesses, numbers 1 and 2, which are the stories of the parents of the Lancet kids. Martin attended the full GMC hearing – this is his description of Horton’s testimony, corroborating and expanding on the comments in the Huffington Post article:
“According to Horton, his enquiry into Deer’s allegations left him sure that at least one of the most serious was completely fictitious. From that point onwards, in real life and in the hearing, Horton gave impeccable evidence for the defence. In fact he rose to a level of praise for Dr Wakefield the like of which I have only previously heard from parents.
“When Horton moved to talking about the paper published in the Lancet, it became clear that he had the highest regard for the method which the ‘case series’ used and the way in which it was presented. If the prosecution was expecting him to say that the paper was full of poor science, they must have been surprised when he said the absolute opposite.
“Horton said that the Lancet paper was an excellent example of a ‘case series’. That this was a standard and entirely reputable way of reporting on a possible new syndrome. He said unequivocally that the science reported in the 1998 Lancet paper ‘still stands’ and that he ‘wished, wished, wished’ that the clock could be turned back and the paper be considered in the light it was first presented, without everything that followed.”
The headlines blasted around the world vilifying Dr. Wakefield should instead have been trumpeting the success enjoyed by the team of doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the families of the kids who participated, and certainly the children themselves, when the treatments for their inflamed bowels resulted in amelioration of their symptoms of autism; when kids who hadn’t been able to sleep through the night for months began getting a full night’s sleep; when kids who hadn’t spoken for months – or longer – again began speaking, and speaking with language usage commensurate with their age at the time, not at the age at which they’d stopped speaking!, demonstrating continued mental growth despite the outward appearance of absence; and when kids who’d lost emotional connection with their families once again began recognizing and bonding with their parents and siblings.
Priorities, folks – priorities.