Friday, January 29, 2010

Wakefield is not Galileo

For those who keep trying to invoke the "Galileo gambit" in order to defend Andrew Wakefield, let me explain something real quick. Wakefield is not Galileo for two key reasons:

1. Galileo was right.

2. Galileo did not engage in scientific misconduct.

It's as simple as that.


  1. As my fiancé just said, "win".

  2. I am not sure Galileo was either.

    He wasn't exactly going against the mainstream in science, only the superstition of the Vatican. He wasn't the first or the only astronomer to adopt heliocentrism, Dr Dee most probably did as well.

    What has to be realised about the "science of the renaiscance" is that it was still emerging from the middle ages and devoid of the current 'purity' of metodology.

    Dr Dee, and Isaac Newton, both brilliant mathematicians, no doubt were nonetheless tainted with the lure of astrology and alchemy.

    Indeed what is interesting in the history of science is the way in which Dee's occult leanings (his vice perhaps) have been played up, and Newtons played down.

    However we do owe much more to Dr Dee in terms of the science of navigation than is often considered, whereas the Newton's contributions to calculus have to be shared contraversially with Leibniz, and even Bishop Berkeley challenged his optics in a way that effectively laid the roots for cognitive science today.

    As for Wakefield, it is apparant that he never has had any regard for scientific method whatever, which puts him in complete contrast to Galileo who was at least honest in his experimenation.

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  4. Wakefield is an honest man

    "Because you drafted and wrote the final version of the paper, and omitted correct information about the purpose of the study or the patient population, the Panel is satisfied that your conduct was irresponsible and dishonest."

    "The Panel is persuaded by all the correspondence in the Lancet Journal volume 351 dated 2 May 1998 regarding a suggestion by correspondents to the Lancet that there was a biased selection of patients in the Lancet Paper of 28 February 1998, of which you were one of the senior authors. The Panel has found that your [published response] does not respond fully and accurately to the queries made by correspondents to the Lancet. The Panel is satisfied that the statement you made would be considered by ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people to be dishonest."

    "Additionally, you knew that this statement omitted necessary and relevant information, such as the active role you played in the referral process, and the fact that the referral letters in four cases made no mention of any gastrointestinal symptoms and the fact that the investigations had been carried out… for research purposes. Therefore, the Panel is satisfied that your conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible."

    "The Panel concluded that these findings, which include those of dishonesty and misleading conduct, would not be insufficient to support a finding of serious professional misconduct."


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  6. @Foresam: No one has lifted your ban.

  7. @Joseph: "Scientific misconduct" does not really even begin to describe things he's done to children. "Medical malpractice," or even better, "acts of a sadistic bastard worthy of Dr. Mengele" would more accurately describe the things that Wakefield has done. I wrote a whole post about what he did with children's blood.

  8. Theo here.

    I can only say amen!! For one thing, the subjects studied are entirely different! And Galileo did not misuse the trust of paitents to engage in irresponsible acts! One was an actual scientist, the other has had what was coming to him for a looonnngg time.

    How many have gone unvaccinated and suffered from diseases because of him? How many have died? How many are going to die because of his misinformation? He deserves far more than to just have his license taken away.

  9. Hear, hear! Galileo also was actually punished, while Wakefield is free to keep profiting off his lies (at least for the time being), and able to enjoy the adulation of his sheep.

    By the way, do any of you have any ideas on how a fellow I know can be cured. He's obsessed with trivia, like horse-racing and golf, while considering more adult pursuits, like parenting to be unmanly, and whenever he hears certain trigger-words, like "Amanda" or "Ari" he starts babbling fantasies about sodomy. It's most embarrassing for his family. Any suggestions?

  10. You are awesome.

    You give me hope.

    I've been attacked on my blog ( because of my vocal stance in favor of immunizing my children. I have an autistic son, and I know that he has always been autistic, even prior to immunization.

    Anyway, I found your blog when I was researching Jenny McCarthy and that crazy Indigo Child B.S.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason in the midst of hysteria. Keep it up!

  11. Re that poor fellow who needs a cure: at this very moment, life itself is dishing him out *exactly* what he deserves (and he is whining about that to the world, most piteously ... )

    Basically, he's about to lose custody of his son because:

    /a/ he's in the middle of a messy divorce from his wife who for 9 years has tried to stop his actions upon that son), and

    /b/ his chelation-doctor doesn't want to testify in court in favor of chelation -- J-hn B-st had been counting on that doctor's testimony to help him keep custody of his son.

    See for yourself (in J-hn B-st's own inimitable written whine) at .

  12. I thought his son was completely cured by chelation already. You mean John has been lying when he says that his son is living evidence that chelation works. Wow.

  13. @Anon: John has two sons. My understanding from several years back was that he was claiming to have cured one of his sons of ADHD with chelation. However, from a recent comment I saw on another blog, it appears that both his sons are on the autism spectrum.

  14. I should say "children." I'm not sure if both of John's kids are male.