In an investigation spread across fifteen years, Deer battles medical secrecy and insider cover-ups, smear campaigns and gagging lawsuits, to uncover rigged research and moneymaking schemes, the heartbreaking plight of families struggling with disability, and the scientific scandal of our time.
Mr. Deer submits the facts candidly ... Mr. Deer’s jeremiad against Mr. Wakefield reveals that the linking of vaccines to autism was not a matter of unconscious bias, data snooping, Texas sharpshooting or other replication-crisis factors. Rather, Mr. Deer convincingly shows that it was 'an elaborate fraud,' motivated by money and fame and enabled by parents understandably distraught over the cognitive impairment of their children ... should put an end to what remains of the antivaxxer movement—at least the one associated with Andrew Wakefield—but, if anything, it will only serve to bolster the status of their martyr. Throughout the 2020 pandemic, we’ve seen similar arguments made against the anticipated Covid-19 vaccines, with the usual conspiracy theories fueling paranoia. I’m not sure that history and science will be our guide to a rational response, but Brian Deer’s book is a model of how it could.
A gripping and timely work of investigative journalism ... captivating on many levels. It is a comprehensive review of Wakefield’s dubious research methods and perpetual falsification and obfuscation of data to fit his theories. It explores the broad network of doctors, lawyers, investors, anti-vaccine crusaders, journalists, and celebrities whom Wakefield enlisted to perpetuate a myth which contributed to a significant decline in vaccination rates and, ultimately, a global resurgence of measles. It reveals how the charismatic Wakefield profited from his own deceptions, manipulating government agencies, medical journals, and broadcast and social media. And it tells the sad, compelling stories of the children who took part in Wakefield’s research and their parents, who were desperate to explain and understand their children’s disabilities ... At a time when the World Health Organization lists 'vaccine hesitancy' as one of the top ten threats to global health, this stunning work sounds an urgent message and demonstrates the essential role of investigative journalism in uncovering the truth.
... a remarkable story and this is a remarkable book. More, whether the author knows it or not, it is a book that takes us well beyond the medical and ethical issues that it covers, helping to explain the political and social predicament that now afflicts so many of us — the crisis in truth and its exploitation by people without scruple ... What should amaze the reader of Deer’s book, however, is the weakness, venality, vanity and slowness to action of the medical establishment and its publications and institutions in the face of a rogue doctor. Most of the things that Deer did should have been done by the profession itself. Had he not so assiduously turned every one of Wakefield’s stones over, the man would probably still be licensed to practise here.