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Skeptic Summary #398

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/12/2014

The end and more!

Week ending March 12, 2014 (Vol 11, #4)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick, bi-weekly review of the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

The staff of the Skeptic Friends Network hopes you’ve all enjoyed The Skeptic Summary, but this will be our final issue. The format is no longer serving our purposes. From here on, you’ll be able to find most of the content of The Summary in our forums, on a semi-regular basis. Check the Active Topics page to get to the latest threads, fast. Hope to see you there.

Forum Highlights:
Extremely bad astronomy - The ignorance of the media creates a problem rather than illumination.

Friend needs help - Derailed thread ended in “who are ‘real’ Christians?” Is there a definition?

Hi-tech tinfoil hats - Patent pending.

Editor’s Choice: Can you solve this? - A great short video on the basics of skepticism and science.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Brian Deer: selected investigations & journalism — By now, those of us who call ourselves “skeptics” know about the anti-vaccination movement, the harm it has caused and the science-based battles against it. There are important resource websites dedicated to this battle for science and health like the Jenny McCarthy Body Count, Science-Based Medicine and Scientific American that, among others, have been the leaders in debunking myths and lies coming out of the anti-vax movement. Many of us know at least enough of the history about how the anti-vax movement came to be to voice our opposition to it with strong citations to sites that debunk bogus claims coming out of the movement and to studies that support the safety and benefits of vaccinations. And of course, there is a noticeable lack of studies that link vaccinations to autism in support of the study that started the anti-vaccination movement and has since been retracted.

In all of this there is one person whose investigative journalism brought to light the fraud that would fuel the anti-vax movement. He is Brian Deer. His articles, picked up by The Sunday Times and The British Medical Journal (BMJ) led to the Lancet retraction of the Andrew Wakefield study and Wakefield’s subsequent disbarment from practicing medicine in the UK by The General Medical Council. (GMC)

Brian Deer is the hero in the Wakefield/MMR fraud saga, in my opinion. He did the serious digging on the investigation and reporting side of things. He got the information out there. The skeptical, science and medical communities have stepped up and are doing their part, but without Deer’s investigations, who knows how long it would have taken to get to the bottom of Wakefield’s bogus study and the facts behind it?

From Wikipedia:
In a series of reports between 2004 and 2010, Deer investigated concerns over the MMR vaccine, their publication in The Lancet medical journal in February 1998, and their chief proponent Andrew Wakefield. Deer’s investigation led to the longest-ever inquiry by the UK General Medical Council. In January 2010, the GMC judged Wakefield to be “dishonest”, “unethical” and “callous”, and on 24 May 2010, he was struck off the UK medical register. Responding to Deer’s findings, The Lancet partially retracted Wakefield’s research in February 2004, and fully retracted it in February 2010 following the GMC findings. In 2011, Deer published his findings in the BMJ with an endorsement by the editors.

Not everyone is a fan of Brian Deer.

Because there are several articles and links to articles that Deer has written on the subject, what I’m going to do is link to a page on Deer’s site that links to all of the articles and stories from The Sunday Times and the British Medical Journal. In that way you can get the full history, the twists and turns, and Wakefield’s attempts to sue and how that went. I can’t think of another way to do this. I hope that it’s not overwhelming, but there are overviews of the history if you don’t want to read every word that Deer wrote on the subject of the Wakefield/MMR/autism fraud. I found that the page that lists each article he wrote for The Sunday Times and BMJ the most useful.

Start here:
The award-winning Sunday Times and BMJ reports

You will see a summary link near the top of the page if you don’t want to read each and every article. There is also a BMJ special series: “Secrets of the MMR scare” that I highly recommend reading. Piltdown medicine: the missing link between MMR and autism is the first and probably my favorite title from that list.

Here’s a direct link to BMJ’s Deer articles. My main reason for providing this link is because the articles come with proper references and footnotes. Those are missing from the Deer site. But then, the BMJ is a medical journal. The BMJ list also includes articles related to the Deer articles but not necessarily written by Deer himself. There are even some criticisms of Deer and the BMJ over there. (I found that at least one of those criticisms required registration to the BMJ and is behind a pay-wall.)

The Health Ranger interviews Andrew Wakefield

Anyhow, you get the idea. I really don’t think I need to provide more links.

I also suggest you take a look at other investigations Brian Deer has done. He has written about some big ones, including the Vioxx scandal and other science and medical related subjects that should be of interest to skeptics.

Hat tip to Tim Farley. I found the list of Brian Deer’s MMR links in a post of Tim’s on Facebook.

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
— Thomas Paine

Wednesday, February 27th: Nothing much actually happened in chat this week. A few members arrived, said “hi,” listened to the crickets, then eventually logged off. Someone mentioned a game named “Rust,” available on Steam. That’s about it.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
10 Unbelievable Facts You Didn’t Know About Redheads

Bigfoot ‘Killer’ Rick Dyer: ‘It’s Really Easy To Trick People’

Brother of murder victim continues to berate paranormal sleuths

“Cosmos” lawsuit? Sagan and Alien Abduction

The Dangers of Magical Thinking in the Martial Arts

Do Doctors Ever Treat Cancer With Natural Regimens?

Doubtful News

Himalayan Bath Salts Will Not Save Your Life

Hyping Your Conspiracy Theory In 5 Easy Steps

Kent Hovind files complaint against RationalWiki for libel, from jail

Muslims ‘warned in Fatwa not to live on Mars’

Noah’s Ark Project In Ky. To Move Forward

One vaccination message won’t work for everyone and may be counterproductive

Pa. couple sent to prison for 2nd prayer death

‘Parents Can’t Afford Surgery’ Sick Baby Hoax

‘Psychic’ who fleeced millions from clients sentenced to 10 years in prison

Skepticality #226 — Taboo

Unprecedented Attack On Evolution ‘Indoctrination’ Mounted In Missouri

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.

Book of the Week:
Plesiosaur Peril (Tales of Prehistoric Life), by Daniel Loxton with Jim WW Smith.

“A group of plesiosaurs — ocean-dwelling cousins of the dinosaurs — keeps safe by swimming in a family pod. But then one baby plesiosaur swims too far from its mother and attracts the attention of something very large and very hungry, and the struggle for survival is on. A unique blend of digital artwork and landscape photography illustrates this thrilling encounter.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Get post url
  3. The Skeptic Summary
  4. Riddle II
  5. Unbelievable
  6. Did Jesus really exist? (Part 5)
  7. Israeli blockade incident
  8. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  9. Proof of cover-up of time-travel technology
  10. James Randi: a shit idol?
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Skeptic Summary #389
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Skeptic Summary #397
  5. Evolving a Venom or Two
  6. Skeptic Summary #365
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Skeptic Summary #359
  9. Skeptic Summary #357
  10. Skeptic Summary #394
There were 6,935 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Hidden agenda of Star Wars makes the loony chart
  3. Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan
  4. Riddle II
  5. Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham
  6. The Mabus case
  7. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  8. You know what’s so laughable about Darwinism?
  9. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  11. The Skeptic Summary
  12. Strangest freeman on the land movement yet?
  13. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  14. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  15. Kidney stuff
  16. Unbelievable
  17. Get post url
  18. Friend needs help
  19. Scattershots: Cleaning out the pipes
  20. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Skeptic Summary #389
  4. Skeptic Summary #377
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. Evolving a Venom or Two
  7. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  8. Skeptic Summary #396
  9. Skeptic Summary #365
  10. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  11. N. 16, October 2001: Heart Disease and the Myth of Individual Responsibility
  12. Skeptic Summary #375
  13. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  14. Cold Reading
  15. How Do Vaccines Work?
  16. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  17. Quantum Age Water
  18. Skeptic Summary #397
  19. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  20. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome
There were 31,736 daily visitors in February, 2014.

More issues of the Skeptic Summary can be found in our archive.

The Skeptic Summary is produced by the staff of the Skeptic Friends Network, copyright 2013, all rights reserved.

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