Saturday, January 29, 2011

What Should be Done to Andrew Wakefield?

Dr. Wakefield has been accused of falsifying his patients’ past. Yet, is it right to throw away 12 years of work for a couple of smudged details?  I say yes and no. Yes, because by altering the patients past-- or as I like to put it, changing the truth-- alters the entire experiment. And no, because even after deconstructing 12 years of research, there still may be essential building blocks to finding the cure.
I was ready to bring the heavy gavel of justice onto Dr. Wakefield when I first read this story. Then I watched “Autism Everyday.” This is a heart-wrenching documentary about parents who take care of autistic children. They are mostly mothers in debt, women worked to the bone. Their strength comes from their deep rooted love for their child, their blood and flesh.  At the end of “Autism Everyday” the mothers say they do what they do because of their love for the children and their hope for a vaccine.
After watching the documentary, my view of Andrew Wakefield split. He is either an incompetent but sincere scientist,  or he is evil exploiting the time, research, and money of people who want to earnestly help the autistic. If true, he deserves more than his prestige stripped from him, in my opinion, He would deserve jail time.
So as the trial unfolds it’s important to look at the character of Dr. Wakefield, as well as look for where, what and how he spent his research money. If his efforts are sincere, then it’s important to reevaluate his research instead of throwing it to the wayside. If he’s insincere then it looks like scientists are going to have to go back square one. I really hope the former is true. 

-Matthew Harriett

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