The Times have discovered that Andrew Wakefield fixed the data in his stupidly influential study on the alleged MMR/autism link. I think possibly more horrendous than the fact he did it, is the fact that he never came clean about it when he saw the effect it had had. But I still blame the media as much as or more than him, because they should know better than to report one tiny, tiny study - which never supported the conclusions it came to in the first place - as fact. And, as ever, I wish people didn't believe everything they read. Basic scientific methodology and statistics should be taught to everyone, so that they at least have the tools to assess these things, but most people probably wouldn't bother anyway. So depressing.
People keep saying "I have the right to choose what's best for my child!" I would reply "Not when your ignorance kills other people's children, you don't." Which may be harsh, but given that vaccination rates for some parts of the country have fallen below 50% (you need around 80% for herd immunity to kick in for MMR), I think it's going to turn out to be very, very true. I would hope that even if they get defensive in online discussions, they'll learn from their mistakes and research decisions like that properly in the future, but I have a horrible feeling they'll just blame Wakefield and continue to believe the scare stories.
More about the MMR "controversy" at Bad Science, and I'm looking forward to hearing what Ben has to say about this. And to seeing if Jeni Barnett has anything more to say, either - she made a complete fool of herself on the radio the other day in a discussion about it, got the recording spread all over the internet by siccing LBC's lawyers on Ben when he put it on his website, and then whined on HER blog about how everyone was being nasty to her. D'oh.