What has proved to be an ongoing controversy today had a major portion of what little legitimacy it had taken out from under it. The Lancet, a British medical journal, today “fully” retracted a February 1998 article linking the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination to autism.
According to The Lancet‘s editor, it was “utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false.” The retraction comes on the heels of the conclusion of a lengthy investigation by Britain’s General Medical Council. The organization’s ethics panel concluded last week that the conduct of primary author, Andrew Wakefield, in the research that formed the basis of the article was ““irresponsible and dishonest.”
The problem is that this action comes after 11 years of ever-increasing “vaccines cause autism” hysteria, one occasioned in part because some people pay more attention to Playboy playmates than scientific facts. As is so often the case, the retraction will not catch up with the damage caused, which in this case includes a dramatic resurgence of measles cases. And, sadly, despite the lack of scientific support, we can all rest assured that the anti-vaccination fanatics will not disappear.