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Britain bans doctor who linked vaccinations with autism

A child expresses his discomfort as he's given a shot.
A child expresses his discomfort as he's given a shot.
Ed Oudenaarden/AFP/Getty Images

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Britain’s top medical group has banned Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who made the initial link between autism and vaccinations, from practicing medicine in the country finding him guilty of severe professional misconduct and unethical practicing.

Michael Specter, author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, spoke to Patt Morrison today about the recent news.

He was insistent that Dr. Wakefield is a “lunatic” and should have been discredited years before he was.

“There are people who believe that the sun revolves around the earth too,” Specter said. “It’s about the same level of data.”

He offered several reasons that he feels have contributed to the acceptance of Wakefield’s findings.

“People are desperate, because their kids have autism and it’s a terrible disease and we don’t know what causes it. And we haven’t been able to figure it out,” Specter said.

“People want an answer. People look to their own anecdotal experience. That’s the way humans are built.”

On top of the yearning for explanation, Specter credited the media with Wakefield’s success in spreading what he deems misinformation.

“He shouldn’t be allowed on TV. He is a lunatic with no scientific credentials that matter, and he has been kicked out of his profession not only for bad science but for being unethical.”

Specter acknowledged that the media is trying to be fair and balanced in allowing Wakefield to appeal his case, but that they should be more responsible in their research. He asserted that not everyone really deserves equal time.

In his most strongly worded statement, Specter flatly called Wakefield a murderer making the link between his findings and the decision of many parents not to vaccinate.

“People have died of measles, because they haven’t had shots, because this lunatic has encouraged tens of thousands of educated people and people like Jenny McCarthy to run around the world saying don’t give your children the most effective public health measure in the history of humanity.”

Specter supported Britain’s decision wholeheartedly.

“Studies have been done on that link in more than a dozen countries involving millions of children,” Specter said. “There is no connection.”

Great Britain’s vaccinations have not recovered from the fallout of Wakefield’s study, and the country sees a Measles outbreak every year.