Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Trust me, I’m a scientist

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3658 (Published 09 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3658

Pity Andrew Wakefield

In ‘The Dawn of McScience’, the third chapter of his book ‘MMR:
Science and Fiction’, Dr Richard Horton wrote,

“Science has long been ripe for industrial colonization. The
traditional norms of disinterested inquiry and free expression of opinion
have been given up in order to harvest new and much-needed revenues.
Universities have reinvented themselves as corporations. Scientists are
coming to accept, and in many ways enjoy, their enhanced status as
entrepreneurs. But these subtle yet insidious changes to the rules of
engagement between science and commerce are causing incalculable injury to
society, as well as to science.”

Bravo Dr Horton!

And in the same chapter he references the words of journalist George
Monbiot who wrote, [1]

"The scientific establishment is rotten from top to bottom, riddled
with conflicts far graver than Dr Wakefield's. Such is the state of
science today that if, for example, there has been a genuine rise in the
incidence of autism, and if that rise is linked to an environmental
pollutant or the side-effects of a valuable drug, it's hard to see how we
would ever find out."

And in the last paragraph of that article, Monbiot says,

"So, given that undisclosed conflicts of interest in science are
everywhere, why is it only Dr Wakefield whose bloody remains are being
dragged through the streets? The obvious answer is that his alleged
cooption works against the interests of the drugs companies, while almost
everyone else's works in their favour. Why? Because in science, as in all
fields of human endeavour, you get what you pay for."

I am left wondering what GMC registered doctors think they are
getting for their money ... apart, from the vile spectacle of a bloodied
body "with the label "cheat" hung round its neck" ... being dragged
through the streets of London.

[1] George Monbiot. The corporate stooges who nobble serious science.
The MMR scandal shows a business riddled with conflicts of interest. 24
February 2004.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2004/feb/24/highereducation.uk

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 September 2009
Mark Struthers
GP
Bedfordshire, mark.struthers@which.net