I’m posting this a little extra early, because there’s travel time involved for most of the locals who will want to attend. Plan accordingly.
You probably remember Brian Deer, even if you can’t quite place the name. Deer is the British journalist whose research into how Andrew Wakefield generated the data in his Lancet publication linking autism and MMR vaccinations–as well as the information turned up about Wakefield’s conflicts of interest–caused The Lancet to retract the article as fraudulent.
Next week, Deer will be visiting the University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse to deliver two talks as part of the school’s Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences series.
“An Elaborate Fraud: The MMR Vaccine & Autism”
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Room 1309 Centennial Hall
Fears that vaccines cause autism has become one of the biggest health controversies in America. But where did the story begin, and what keeps it going? Over a period of seven years, Brian Deer investigated the story for The Sunday Times of London and now comes to LaCrosse to reveal what Time Magazine dubbed one of the “great science frauds” of all time. Launched from one British hospital in the 1990s, the scare took hold first in the UK, and then spread around the globe, leaving doctors baffled, children at risk, parents frightened, and lawyers with a lot more money. Deer shows how it was done, who did it, and why it will happen again.
“Stiletto Journalism: Busting the Vaccine Scare”
Friday, October 5, 2012
Room 1309 Centennial Hall
Brian Deer is a two-times British Press Award-winner, and veteran of four libel lawsuits, Brian Deer took a blank sheet of paper and, for The Sunday Times of London, carried out one of the classic public interest investigations of recent times. He probed the controversy over vaccines and autism. Based on this landmark inquiry, and 25 years of pursuing complex, contentious topics, he gives a reporter’s inside perspective on how to break a difficult story.
They sound like they should be good lectures, particularly if you haven’t followed the news about the retraction in any great detail. If you have, however, you’re probably going to be interested in going for another reason.
Not content to file multiple suits to try (and fail) to punish Deer for reporting what medical regulatory bodies had already determined to be the truth, Wakefield and his supporters appear to be trying to disrupt Deer’s talks. Most of the Age of Autism post on the topic is free-form nastiness, like the following:
Some who’ve had the misfortune of meeting Deer describe him as reptilian and repulsive. Others would describe him in less flattering terms. Setting the sleaze factor aside, Deer’s legacy of slander and libel signify a far grimier, foul and filthy place than most of us would care to venture. Deer is the invention, the dark underbelly, the hideous caricature of those who deny an MMR-autism connection in order to protect themselves. He assuages the conscience of those without one, and scrubs clean the crime scene. Vicious and small, Deer’s pious position is untenable and in short order he will be hunted to ground and brought to justice.
The tiny bit of relevant information is the following:
Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s Press Conference: 1 pm Thursday, October 4, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Exact location to be provided.
Brian Deer’s presentation schedule, location, and abstracts: click here.
Join us if you can – or for more information or to volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who knows what they have planned, or what they hope to gain from the press conference. A conference hall full of people who want to listen to Deer, however, could only be a good thing. It will make the talks themselves harder to disrupt. If you think they sound interesting and can take the time to get to the talks, check them out. One way or another, they shouldn’t be boring.