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Does Science Need its Dissidents?

May 28th, 2010

Dr Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism, acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly", the official medical regulator found and has guilty of serious professional misconduct. Dr Wakefield has subsequently been struck off the medical register. (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/may/24/mmr-doctor-andrew-wakefield-struck-off). Dr Wakefield still stands by his findings and has vowed to continue the fight.

The editor-in-chief of the journal Medical Hypotheses has also been sacked. Bruce Charlton, was dismissed as editor after rejecting calls by the journal's publisher, Elsevier, to introduce a peer-review process after an outcry from scientists over publication of a paper last July denying the link between HIV and AIDS by skeptic Peter Duesberg. Mr Charlton was handpicked as editor for the journal by founder David Horrobin, a scientist who started the journal because he believed that peer review stands in the way of innovation and creativity in science. (see http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/05/medical-hypotheses-editor-out-ed.html)

Peer review must have saved the editor of Lancet, the UK's prestigious medical journal, which chose to publish Dr Andrew Wakefield's original study, from Mr Charlton ‘s fate.

I believe that science does need the mavericks and I do believe that it is possible for the majority of one’s peers to be wrong or to have vested interests. If there is any field of endeavour that proves that, it is science, after all, the earth was once flat to even the smartest! I do not believe that these people should be vilified and ostracised, AIDS skeptic Peter Duesberg has been described as the world'smost hated scientist, but they must open counter claims that will approve or disapprove their hypothesis.

Another view of the matter - Andrew Wakefield and MMR: the 'impact factor'

[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]