What is the most embarrassing incident in the history of science?

You can thank this man for creating the Anti-Vaxxer movement:

Dr. Andrew Wakefield

He wrote a paper on how MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines are related to autism. The article was “alive” for a whole decade before being retracted.

The researchers later learned that he had conducted his research on a group of 12 hand-selected children, later stating that eight had lost skills, including “language,” due to their vaccinations.

In addition, it was discovered that it had been financed by groups of lawyers involved in lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.

The article went viral on television networks and newspapers. Parents, already overprotective, echoed him and suddenly vaccination rates dropped, leading to outbreaks of measles in Britain. Following an investigation, the General Medical Council of Great Britain determined that Dr. Andrew Wakefield had engaged in unethical research.

This was just when social media was starting to gain traction, and it was easy to spread crazy misinformation. I even remember talking to a mom around 2011 who gave me a lecture on how vaccines cause autism and other problems.

Wakefield had several run-ins for his extreme views (and fraud), but his article was the most damaging. The current problems we have with anti-vaccination can be traced back to Wakefield’s false and unethical conduct. It is a shame that his article was accepted in the magazine and that the media spread it.

Wakefield cannot practice as a doctor in the United States and has had his license to practice medicine revoked in the United Kingdom.

That is the person some choose to believe.

With vaccines nowadays, every time you hear someone say, “I did my own research.” You can be sure that they are using false data.