A British medical panel concluded last week that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest, violated basic research ethics rules and showed a “callous disregard” for the suffering of children involved in his research. Dr. Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet, said that until that decision, he had no proof that Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 paper was deceptive.
The American Conservative Movement and the GOP should be happy today. We should have pep in our step and a purpose in our stride. Two special elections were held yesterday, and the GOP treated the Dems with the contempt that The Philadelphia Phillies recently treated my beloved Atlanta Braves. The GOP picked off a district that had been a Democratic fiefdom since 1923. A district where people genuinely liked Anthony Weiner.
But no…we also had a GOP debate Monday night that was a debacle. We have a candidate in our race, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who actually walks around believing that vaccinating your children against diseases can make them retarded. She pulled this issue out and used it as a club to beat Texas Governor, Rick Perry with at the Florida GOP Primary debate.
This line of attack hinges upon the fact that Governor Perry ordered girls in Texas receive the vaccination Gardasil as a preventative measure to prevent them from getting HPV. No girls were actually given shots, because Gov. Perry was overrruled by the state legislature. Bachmann scored points by arguing that Governor Perry had no business telling parents how to look after the well-being of children unless there was obvious evidence of abuse. She then commented that Merck, Gardasil’s producer, had supported Governor Perry with political contributions. But afterwards, she claimed to have personally met the mother of a 12 year old girl that was rendered mentally enfeebled by a Gardasil shot.
This is junk science. This garbage came into the public vernacular in 1998 when a Canadian Dr. Andrew Wakefield reported in the Journal Lancet that the MMR vaccination could give children autism. Lancet formally retracted this study in 2010. This is a level of professional repudiation that occurs in scientific circles when published research is shown to be as dishonest and unethical as The Piltdown Man or The Cold Fusion Hoax.
Lancet did this only under duress. The sort of duress that occurs when numerous well-funded research projects demonstrate conclusively that the underlying claim of an article is about as logical as Al Gore maundering about Millibears. By numerous I mean American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2003, Pediatrics, November 2003, New England Journal of Medicine, September 2007, Pediatrics, February 2009, New England Journal of Medicine, November 2002, Pediatrics, February 2004, PLoS ONE 3(9): e3140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140, and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, April 2006. This list, perhaps not even exhaustive, represents eight separate, refereed, published debunkings of the “Science” that Congresswoman Bachmann relies upon when she claims Gardasil, (or any other vaccination) could cause mental retardation.
This is a prime example of a Republican politician who is anti-science. Anti-science in the same way Al Gore is anti-science. Anti-science in the way those politicians are when they use obviously fake and dishonest research to garner personal and professional power. If the Congresswoman was not aware that this science was dishonest, she was gob-smackingly ignorant.
In the past, I have written favorably about Michele Bachmann. I described her policies as “meat and potatoes, limited government Conservatism”, meaning this in the most praiseworthy fashion. Up until that debate, I liked Michele Bachmann and wasn’t listening to the accusations that she was a nut.
She once received a fair hearing from me, but now I’ve heard enough. There were several ways she could have attacked Rick Perry on the Gardasil Issue without resorting to snake oil worthy of a John Edwards pick-up line. People like Michele Bachmann, who latch on to the scientific dishonesty of self-interested crack-pots like Dr. Andrew Wakefield, play into the hands of the David Brooks “Republicans.”
This will undoubtedly show up as fodder the next time Brooks, David Frum or Karl Rove pens a polemic accusing Tea-Partiers of being a gang of rural ignoramuses suffering from hookworm and green teeth. By claiming that vaccinations made a 12 year-old girl retarded, she descended to Jerome Corsi level and is now an ongoing liability to the Republican Party until the gets out of the Presidential Race.