Lancet repudiates MMR vaccine study

by Ted Frank on February 2, 2010

It only took twelve years, but Lancet, which oft publishes politically motivated papers masquerading as medicine, has conceded that the 1998 paper criticizing MMR vaccines was simply “false.” [Lancet; BBC]

No telling how many children died in the meantime, all so trial lawyers could line their pockets attacking vaccine manufacturers.


1 Charles Platt 02.02.10 at 3:14 pm

I read a report in which the writer of the original paper was blamed for his “callous indifference” to the lives of children. But the writer didn’t publish the piece. The editor of the Lancet did so (after an appropriate peer review no doubt), and I don’t see the publication blaming itself.

Someone could still sue it, though. Happy thought.

2 Bob Lipton 02.02.10 at 3:35 pm

It’s a nice idea, Charles, but if S&P and Moody’s can get away with a ‘Freedom of the Press’ defense against their misratings of all those financial instruments, what chance of doing more than temporarily embarrassing the Lancet?


3 GCR 02.02.10 at 4:50 pm


I’d like to think that a scientific journal would be held to a far higher standard than the press. But I’d probably be wrong.

This is an outrageous (and very sad) perversion of the scientific process. The Lancet should be more than embarrassed

4 Waste93 02.02.10 at 4:59 pm


The Lancet is based in the UK and the laws over there are different. No ‘freedom of the press’ or it’s limited based on what I’ve seen of their libel laws and suppression of speech of bloggers, etc.

Though I’d prefer to see people go after the lawyers who have been peddling this. Though that is even less likely.

5 ps 02.03.10 at 2:12 am

Just a question – would the trial lawyers and their clients have to pay back what they made out of their lawsuits given that they were based on false evidence? Could people sue the plaintiffs and their lawyers if their children were injured or died as a result of not being vaccinated based on such evidence?

6 Patrick 02.03.10 at 6:38 am

Could people sue the plaintiffs and their lawyers if their children were injured or died as a result of not being vaccinated based on such evidence?

The plaintiffs, generally speaking, are the parents of those children. Lawyers, fortunately, don’t make vaccination decisions. Parents do.

At the very least, this will get celebrity snake oil peddlers like Jenny McCarthy and the doctors she promotes off of Oprah and back into the sewers of the internet, where they belong.

Do you think Oprah will apologize for giving the anti-vaccination forces a forum?

7 William Nuesslein 02.03.10 at 7:51 am

10 of the 13 authors retracted the paper in March of 2004. The paper itself was not double blinded research and small. It should never have had weight beyond interesting speculation, even it was true, AND IT WAS BAD SCIENCE.

It was a bad moment for THE LANCET. SCIENCE published papers about anomalous and cold fusion. It’s not so much a mater of standards as of number of articles.

8 tcaptain 02.03.10 at 9:12 am

@Patrick – Sadly Jenny McCarthy has already gone public and calling the proceedings a “Witch Hunt” and that the “evidence” that vaccines were causing autism is still increasing.

“evidence”, They keep using that word. I do not think it means what THEY think it means.

Sadly considering the woowoo pseudoscientific crap that Oprah has historically unleashed on our culture (Dr Phil, Dr Oz, Homeopathy, psychics etc..) I do not think an apology is forthcoming.

9 Richard Nieporent 02.03.10 at 2:37 pm

Unfortunately, this study was not the only bad moment for LANCET. They published a studying that estimated 100,000 excess deaths in IRAQ was due to the US invasion just before the 2004 election. They then outdid themselves in 2006 when they upped the number to 655,000 excess deaths. That number was 10 times greater than the highest estimate from any other source. Of course in theses instances it was a case of science taking a back seat to politics.

10 Le Mur 02.03.10 at 3:44 pm

“SCIENCE published papers about anomalous and cold fusion. It’s not so much a mater of standards as of number of articles.”

More articles (studies) = better than fewer articles, even if they’re wrong. Science doesn’t work by consensus or democracy.
“Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”
“The probability that a research claim is true may depend on study power and bias, the number of other studies on the same question,…”

11 Ben Catoe 02.03.10 at 11:08 pm

I won’t make any comment on the study that started this thread, I’m not remotely qualified to do so. I also apologize if this is considered hijacking the thread, it isn’t my intention. I read this blog often and typically enjoy the thoughtful insights. I do not think some of you are being fair to the “anti-vaccination forces”.

The real argument isn’t that vaccines cause autism, it is that the mercury and aluminum used in some vaccines can cause autism in some children. Look up the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning and compare that to the symptoms of autism. Notice the remarkable similarities, then factor in how the rise in autism cases has risen dramatically while the number of vaccines given in childhood has risen.

Seriously, look at it with an open mind and you’ll understand why some of us believe there is a link. And no, I’m not saying we should stop vaccinating kids or that all vaccines are bad. I’m saying that we should not be injecting mercury and aluminum into people.

12 Ted Frank 02.05.10 at 11:19 am

The mercury-autism link has long been disproved.

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