At next months Tribecca Film Festival a highly controversial documentary was set to make its debut, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe”. It is directed by discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield found fame and fortune in 1998 when he published a paper in the well respected journal ‘The Lancet’. He claimed to have found a link between Vaccines and the rise in the rate of autism. His theory was debunked and the data used in it was proved to be fraudulent.

He was stripped of his license but the damage had been done. No regular man in the street reads ‘The Lancet’ however the popular press had a field day explaining the link between the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccination and Autism. The movie Vaxxed has been scrubbed from the Tribecca festival, but showing or not showing a film does not fix what is a huge problem, Autism.

Here we are almost 20 years later and the medical world is still trying to undo the damage caused by Wakefield. This is the perfect example of ‘no smoke without fire’. If you say something loud enough, long enough and often enough there will be a small cadre of people that will believe the message no matter how unlikely the message is.

The Flat Earth Society is still going strong http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/index.php

I have no beef with them, they are not a threat to the modern world. They are merely a bunch of folks that do not agree with accepted laws of physics. They are just amusing eccentrics, although I doubt many of them brag about membership on their Resume.

Wakefield is a very different beast. That a well respected film festival like Tribeca would feature Vaxxed has raised some eyebrows. And to bill it as a documentary has irked many. A documentary should be rooted in facts and when the facts have been proven time and time again to be fraudulent you have to question the motives of the director.

In a highly unscientific study I took on the question of Autism. In 1975 the incidence of Autism was 1:5000 births, today it is 1:50. The numbers are bleak, however being the eternal optimist it is possible that the early data from the 70’s is in some ways flawed.

To explore that possibility I talked to  retired obstetrician and Maternal-Fetal Medicine
specialist Silvio Aladgem, now in his 80’s Silvio is in the unique position of being able to offer anecdotal information about the rise of Autism.

We just didn’t call it autism. As a matter of fact we did not call it anything. We accepted it as a fluke  of nature, and generally those were FLK (funny looking kids).

Silvio had much more to say, and we will explore that later.

So I suspect that the data on autism from the 70’s and earlier is questionable.

The data from the 90’s onward for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is more well understood. According to CDC data in 1995 the incidence of Autism was 1:500, by 2005 it had changed to 1:160 and by 2015 a very depressing 1:68.

The data doesn’t lie, although I do believe it can be bent, the joys of statistics! The fact remains that Autism is on the rise at an alarming pace.

If Andrew Wakefield can talk a load of bollocks, I say that I should be afforded the same rights. Or is Wakefield talking sense and it is Big Pharma shutting him down for profit motives?

I selected 5 of the smartest people I know and asked them what their viewpoints were on the alarming rise of autism.

Each one offered a unique perspective, and all were valid. Some diverged while some agreed.

I learned a great deal from these conversations as indeed I hope the readers will.

More in part two.

Simon Barrett

 

 

 

 

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