And the award for the worst pseudoscience goes to… Andrew Wakefield!
Wakefield, an anti-vaccine activist who invented the false autism/vaccine connection and was ultimately barred from practicing medicine for “serious misconduct” relating to his discredited study, is this year’s recipient of The Skeptic Magazine’s “Rusty Razor” award. He’s a prime candidate for it, too.
Last year, the magazine highlighted actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her “wellness” brand called “Goop,” according to Gizmodo UK.
The award is back again as part of this year’s ‘Ockham Awards’, and it’s just been announced that the infamous anti-vax activist (and former Doctor) Andrew Wakefield is the recipient.
If you haven’t heard of Wakefield, there’s no doubt that you’ll have heard about his research claiming to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism. After follow-up research was unable to reproduce the same results, it was discovered that Wakefield had falsified his data. As a result of the fraud, and breach of ethics, Wakefield was stricken from the UK medical register as a result. This is despite the fact he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, or fraudulent behaviour.
Sadly the damage had been done, and his research has been credited with launching the modern anti-vaccination movement. Wakefield has become a figurehead for anti-vax dumbasses, especially in America. The past 20 years has also seen a significant increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases, particularly measles, among areas of the population with low vaccination rates. In fact, as The Skeptic notes, 2018 has seen a tenfold increase in measles cases when compared to 2015.
Wakefield certainly earned this award. He lied when he introduced the idea, he lied about test results to back up his unproven theory, and he’s still lying today by denying any wrongdoing and continuing to promote his nonsense. He has shown that he is the very definition of a pseudoscientist, and an influential one at that.
Skeptic Magazine Editor Deborah Hyde said the awards are based on votes from readers.
“The Skeptic’s ‘Ockhams’ are awarded from a readers’ vote every year. Our contributors clearly felt that anti-vaccination damage is still a current issue, despite Mr. Wakefield first having come to public attention so long ago. These childhood diseases can do real damage, so we’re proud to be an organisation that gets the good news out there – the evidence is overwhelming that vaccination is safe. Protect your children and your community by using it.”
This is one award Wakefield does deserve.