Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief [for the moment] of the British Medical Journal is “up to her neck in it” current “electronic chatter” suggests. She alleged Dr Andrew Wakefield committed fraud. Godlee came out with the allegation in a BMJ Editorial in January, having been convinced by her commissioned author, the occasional journalist, Mr Brian Deer in a piece she published for him in January this year.
But now, when challenged over the reliability of Mr Deer’s allegations by the Journal Nature, the oldest and most respected science journal in the world [and no doubt to Dr Godlee's horror], Nature reports “Deer notes that he never accused Wakefield of fraud“: Fresh dispute about MMR ‘fraud’: Nature News 9 November 2011 | Nature 479, 157-158 (2011).
This leaves Dr Godlee standing naked and alone. The good doctor should have taken more careful note of Mr Deer’s ranting in his one and only blog in the UK’s The Guardian newspaper where he revealed his malevolent attitude to the BMJ and Lancet medical journals. In the blog bizarrely titled “The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims” Mr Deer attacks the entire medical profession for protecting Andrew Wakefield when it has hounded him mercilessly for speaking out about vaccine safety. But about The Lancet and British Medical Journal Mr Deer says:
One of the most insidious cartels at the heart of British science is being torn apart: the two top journals in medical science.”
Sorry Mr Deer, we just have to laugh. Aside from those claims being in our opinion [and you are welcome to disagree] barking mad, Dr Godlee must now “face the music” alone.
Worse still for Godlee is that even the BMJ’s own expert agreed there was no realistic basis for alleging fraud, with Nature reporting:
the BMJ asked Ingvar Bjarnason, a gastroenterologist at King’s College Hospital, London, to review the materials. Bjarnason …… says that the forms don’t clearly support charges that Wakefield deliberately misinterpreted the records. “The data are subjective. It’s different to say it’s deliberate falsification,” he says.
And the US expert Dr David Lewis, is also reported by Nature:
The documents that Lewis reviewed include confidential forms …… The forms were filled out by pathologists Andrew Anthony and Paul Dhillon, who worked with Wakefield at the Royal Free. ….. Lewis believes that the sheets show that Anthony and Dhillon were making good-faith diagnoses of colitis. …… (Neither has been accused of manipulating data.)
In summary, Mr Deer says he did not accuse Dr Wakefield of fraud and both Drs Lewis and Bjarnason concur there appears no basis to allege fraud.
Heh, so what did Dr Godlee say?
Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, says that the journal’s conclusion of fraud was not based on the pathology but on a number of discrepancies between the children’s records and the claims in the Lancet paper. “
Sure thing Doc. So what exactly are these “number of discrepancies“? And while you are about it how come Dr Bjarnason made a fundamental error too? Bjarnason is reported in Nature saying “… he doesn’t believe they [the materials reviewed by him] are sufficient to support claims in the Lancet paper of a new disease process. “
Heh, Doc, the Lancet paper did not lay claim to a new disease process. It was reporting on the bowel conditions found in children who were developing normally and then regressed. How can you rely on an expert who does not pay attention to what he is meant to be doing? Dr Bjarnason, remember, next time read the question first before attempting to answer it.
Naturally, this cannot be the BMJ’s new method of trashing papers the Editor does not like. You know:
- claiming a paper says it has found something it has not claimed to find and then;
- trashing the paper by claiming the data and results do not justify the claims the BMJ says the paper has made [ie. when the authors have not made those claims].
Hey, just a minute, isn’t that just what the BMJ did to Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 Lancet paper? The BMJ and Mr Deer changed the presentations of the 12 children’s conditions and the paper’s findings, reported them being different from what they were and then claimed the data and results did not justify the claims made in Wakefield’s paper. Is doing something like that research fraud or is it legitimately getting something wrong and then claiming later “Oops sorry Dr Wakefield, we made a mistake“? Answers on a postcard please.