Anthropologist Underground

Anthropologist Underground
October 13
I'm Terrie Torgersen Peterson. I hold a BA in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming. I've done archeological field work at Haluzta in Israel, San Juan River cliff dwellings in the American Southwest, and in the Big Horn Canyon in Wyoming. I'm currently a writer and stay-home mom to two gorgeous, laughing children. I enjoy exploring the intersection of science and culture and my own life as ethnography. I also write for and You can email me: anthropologistunderground [at] gmail [dot] com.


MAY 25, 2010 12:16PM

Andrew Wakefield Shenanigans Updated-Struck Off

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This is an update to my previous post: Incredulity of Privilege V: Andrew Wakefield's Shenanigans.  Orac reports that Wakefield  lost his license to practice medicine yesterday:

 It's finally happened, more than six years after investigative reporter Brian Deer first reported Wakefield's massive conflicts of interest and dubious activities related to his "research" suggesting a link between the measles strain in the MMR vaccine and inflammation of the gut in autistic children, nearly three years after the start of the British General Medical Council's hearings into anti-vaccine hero Andrew Wakefield's fitness to practice, nearly a year and a half after solid evidence that Andrew Wakefield hadcommitted research fraud for this "study," and less than four months after the GMC ruled that Andrew Wakefield had acted with "callous disregard for the distress and pain the children [who were his research subjects] might suffer." This morning in the U.K. the GMC ruled that, because of his unethical and dishonest behavior in conducting his research, Andrew Wakefield should be "struck off" the medical register, meaning that he will no longer be licensed to practice medicine in the U.K.:

The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to be struck off the medical register.

The General Medical Council found Dr Andrew Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over the way he carried out his controversial research.
It follows a GMC ruling earlier this year that he had acted unethically.

Dr Wakefield, who is now based in the US, has consistently claimed the allegations are unfair. He now says he will appeal against the verdict.
His 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles - but the findings were later discredited.

The GMC ruled in January Dr Wakefield had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in conducting his research, but under its procedures the sanctions are made at a later date.


All anyone who supports science-based medicine can say is: It's about time!





This 15-page comic about the origins of the anti-vaccine movement is all over the science blogs. It's definitely worth checking out. 

I was thinking that the whole anti-vaccination movement is based on the incredulity of privilege.  Almost no one of my generation has seen real-life suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases (thanks largely to high rates of vaccination--that is, until very recently).  

I've written about Andrew Wakefield's disgusting shenanigans before, and I've also critiqued some of the misinformation and scientifically unsupported claims of the prominent anti-vaccine organizations. 

 I get it.  It's a terrible experience to vaccinate your beloved, unblemished newborn.  Even when you know the miniscule risks of vaccines are  wildly less dangerous than the risk of a young child contracting a deadly vaccine-preventable disease, it's very hard to do.  (My own Trophy Husband manages to skip most of the vaccine-related checkups. Something about "work...")  It's heartbreaking to hold your peaceful infant while gloved hands that were formerly very gentle suddenly cause intense pain.  The startled look of shock and betrayal on my babies' faces always--always makes me cry.  Then I spend the next week sick to my stomach waiting for scary fevers, or seizures, or horrible life-threatening allergic reactions to occur (which, thankfully never have because actual vaccine reactions are incredibly rare).

I can totally understand how individual parents have trouble sorting out conflicting information about vaccines.  (Here's a great primer with links to credible, primary, peer-reviewed scientific sources.)  

What I can't understand is why a bastard like Andrew Wakefield, who tortured animals and treated children with absolute cruelty, is a hero of the movement. 


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And now he is saying he is undaunted, won't give up, etc.

THIS: "I was thinking that the whole anti-vaccination movement is based on the incredulity of privilege. "

Yes. Ignorance outpaces understanding as a factor of comfort. Wait: I claim that! Correll's Formula for Slack-jawed Belliegernce Regarding Vaccinations and Evolution By Affluent Moderns (for short: Correll's formula)
Thanks! I love Correll's Formula and the inclusion of evolution!