Saturday, January 15, 2011

Should Wakefield Be Prosecuted as "Special to CNN" Commentator Advocates?

Alex B. Berezow, according to the CNN Opinion site, is the editor of RealClearScience and holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.  Mr. Berezow has provided a "special to CNN" opinion in which he argues that Dr. Andrew Wakefield should face  criminal prosecution for fraud in the United Kingdom AND in the United States. Alex B. Berezow Ph.D. repeats the accusation published in the BMJ that Wakefield falisfied patient histories in the now retracted Lancet study.  

Berezow leaves no doubt that, in his mind, Wakefield is guilty of fraud:

"It is for these reasons that Wakefield should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of American and British law. Perhaps if he spends the next few years behind bars, people who have suffered from the impact of his actions will see that justice is being done."

Berezow does not consider the other possibility, the possibility that Wakefield is NOT guilty of fraud.  This humble small town Canadian lawyer lacks the intellectual brilliance of a microbiologist and CNN commentator, and lacks the ability to get past, as the mainstream media appears to have done,  that old fashioned "presumption of innocence" thing. 

It is not my place to tell authorities in any jurisdiction who they should prosecute, or for what alleged offences.  I do not advocate that Dr Wakefield should face prosecution based on the work of journalist Brian Deer or any journal publication.  If a prosecution does take place though,  as Mr Berezow desires, it would, at least, give Dr. Wakefield an opportunity to answer the allegations. At this time the fraud allegations, remain just that ... allegations, notwithstanding the massive media piling on and promotion of those allegations as though they were proven facts.

Will a fraud prosecution happen?  Or will unproven fraud allegations continue to be made with abandon in the mainstream media?  Dr. Wakefield would obviously lose much if convicted.  But the credibility of the BMJ, the Mainstream Media and Brian Berezow would suffer greatly if Dr Wakefield was acquitted or found NOT GUILTY.

I am going to guess wildly that no prosecution will occur, that those who allege Wakefield committed fraud  are happy to let the Mainstream Media repeat the allegations as fact and let it end at that.


Carl said...

personal opinion is that those who are highly connected do not want an actual "fraud" trial

at this point wakefield is demonized and ridiculed in their minds.

a fraud trial could force information to light that they do not want to face

including the possibility that his reasearch was potentially accurate.

those seaking to demonize him and his opinions will i suspect leave this alone.

Erica Bandanna said...

That does make sense... What a pity there's so little investigative journalism these days. Maybe that's a good thing (more traffic through heart-of-the-matter blogs).

Erica Bandanna said...

One more comment...

The other thing about this issue is that it centres the controversy around the MMR (which doesn't contain mercury). People wanting to question possible vaccine-autism links are drawn to the vaccine arguably least likely to be an a priori cause.

The Wakefield case isn't news. It's strategy.