Like most readers, I was shocked and saddened by the senseless shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Aside from how badly I feel for her and her family, I am angered once again about how easy it is to buy guns in this country. As a person who has been a public servant, I also am angry that a congresswoman can’t be safe doing what she should do—walk and talk with her constituents. A reader might observe that a lot of people are injured and killed with guns each year, and I don’t write about all those people. We know from communications research that it is easier to identify with events when we know something about the person, when they become a human being to us. The more I learn about Giffords, her values and her advocacy, the more I like her. Let’s hope she makes a full recovery. I’ve gotten to know some families who have had to face the ordeal of traumatic brain injury, and it won’t be easy.
Fraud (?) and misinformation
The Lancet printed a retraction of the1998 article by Andrew Wakefield on autism, a story that fueled a lot of anti-vaccine advocacy and caused a lot of otherwise well-informed parents to stop vaccinating their children. This and recent events at Duke University Medical Center where an investigator published fraudulent data about his experiments, remind us that just because something is published doesn’t make it true. It’s also one of the reasons replication is so important in science. We don’t know for sure that Wakefield was perpetuating fraud, but he allowed inaccurate data to be published and not rescinded. That’s wrong.
By Katherine Hobson
The Lancet has already retracted an infamous study that suggested a link between autism and the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. Now, though, an editorial published in the British Medical Journal claims that study’s claims were not only incorrect, but part of “an elaborate fraud.”
As the WSJ reports, the editorial accompanies a lengthy article by journalist Brian Deer that spells out the problems with the research, which was led by physician Andrew Wakefield. Deer writes that his investigation couldn’t reconcile the official medical records for the 12 child research subjects with the report of the findings that the Lancet published in 1998.
After all that bad news, the week has to get better. Better would be not getting the ice storm predicted to hit us. No such luck. We got it. Happy Monday. Barbara