Wakefield & MMR – Brian Deer Fails To Answer

STOP PRESS: After this posting went up at 18:44 London time and instead of answering Mr Deer has adopted the “My Big Sister” ploy. Ms Trisha Groves, Deputy Editor at the BMJ has commented on Mr Deer’s Guardian Blog instead of Mr Deer [@ 20:44 London time on a Saturday night!] as follows:-


15 January 2011 8:44PM

Just a few clarifications:

1. Brain Deer’s articles for the BMJ were commissioned and peer reviewed, as stated clearly at the end of each article. For instance see http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full which says at the end “Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.”

2. The accompanying editorial was not peer reviewed – and that’s usual practice for in-house editorials.

3. Here is the BMJ policy on libel:


Competing interest: I’m a deputy editor at the BMJ.


After publishing allegations of fraud in the British Medical Journal against the authors of The 1998 Royal Free Hospital teams’ Lancet paper, in the face of incisive criticism from many quarters journalist Brian Deer appears to have vanished from the web.

Mr Deer normally is very quick to post on blogs around the internet but he is not answering the criticisms of his work. This includes on his own blog in The Guardian newspaper which he was given this week and on The British Medical Journal’s responses.

No response has been received here on CHS, on Age of Autism, nor on blogs where Mr Deer regularly posts including the infamous LeftBrainRightBrain blog and even on ORAC’s blog [Dr David Gorski].

You can see criticisms posted at the following locations and there is no sign of any answer from Brian Deer so far.

ORAC [Dr David Gorki’s blog] responded to questions posted for Brian Deer by blocking CHS from his site. You are of course welcome to visit – links below – and ask Mr Deer to answer, to see the criticisms and find out if Brian Deer has answered anywhere.

If you find anywhere that Mr Deer has answered be sure to let us know.


“The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims”


Responses to “Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent

Responses to “The fraud behind the MMR scare

Responses to “How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed

Responses to “Secrets of the MMR scare : How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money


Brian Deer Interviewed by Matt Lauer on Dateline NBC

Keeping Anderson Cooper Honest: Is Brian Deer The Fraud?

Brian Deer Hired to “Find Something Big” on MMR

Lancet 12 Parents Respond to Brian Deer BMJ GMC Allegations

Brian Deer in BMJ and Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s Response – AGE OF AUTISM


The BIG Lie – Wakefield Lancet Paper Alleged Fraud – Was Not Possible For Anyone To Commit


Wakefield & MMR – Is Brian Deer “A Brick Short of A Load” [As The British Say]


Fact checking Brian Deer on Andrew Wakefield

The Big Lie – what Andrew Wakefield did was possible and fraudulent


The Vaccine Times: For parents, by parents

Misdirected criticism by someone from whom I would never have expected it


13 Responses

  1. As you must know, Brian Deer did comment 3 times so far on Orac’s newest article, “Misdirected Criticism…” his posts are #’s 44, 85 and 88 ( so far), jen
    I think he is taking some interesting turns lately and who knows what could happen!

    [ED: Thanks. Very helpful. We knew about those. “Misdirected criticism …” went up on 13th January in response to Mr Deer’s Guardian blog and is not the latest post.And unfortunately Mr Deer does not seem to be answering key criticisms of his work.

    The obvious places for him to answer are on the BMJ responses and on his own Guardian blog – but he remains silent on those issues. For someone claiming fraud – a serious matter – he is remaining remarkable silent – which he should not be if he were confident his work stood up.]

  2. Ms Trisha Groves assertion that ALL of Brian Deer’s BMJ articles were externally peer reviewed before publication seems to be at variance with the declared statement at the conclusion of his most recent article entitled:-
    “Secrets of the MMR scare : How the vaccine crisis was meant to make money“

    The following was cut and pasted from this article:-
    ‘Provenance and peer review: Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.’

    Can someone at the BMJ please explain???

  3. Decades and centuries from now, this denialism and manufactured conspiracy will still be taught, examined, discussed and explained in a manner that will pale the witch burnings and Vatican Inquisitions.

    Truly, the claim of green sky, pink oceans and flat Earth is believed by those who deny vaccine efficacy.

    An incredible psycho-social phenomenon for which adult, invalid, elderly and childhood illness and death is the cost truly horrendous creatures such as Wakefield and his groupies unconsciously delight in perpetrating.

    Our species ability to self harm via minimisation of cognitive dissonance and preservation of ego has perhaps reached it’s zenith – for now – in these barbaric refuges populated by vaccine denialists.

    Here you can read – in real time – human psychological devolution.

    Please, please continue…

  4. January 16, 2011 at 2:37 am said:
    Wow Paul, fancy writing. You must be one of them college boys us redneck hicks hear so much about.

    I suppose you consider an autism rate of 1:100 from 1:5000 in 30 short years the logical extension of human evolution? Some of us “anti-vaccine nuts” would just prefer to return the vaccination schedule used when we were kids. Autism was virtually unheard of back then. I don’t recall my friends dropping dead from rotavirus, flu or Hep B for that matter either.

  5. Actually using today’s criteria on adults and kids there is a childhood rate of 10/1000 and adults at 9.8/1000. The spectrum is so broad all new cases in a recent UK survey didn’t know they had autism. The 2% difference is known to be due to learned skills. As this is actually greater than 2% we have more adults with autism than children – using the criteria you rely on.

    So rather than an autism “epidemic” we have a drop in autism and this may well be due to the success of vaccination preventing encephalitis at a rate of 0.5% of children.

    Sorry but facts cannot be invented. There never was 1/5000 [with todays criteria] because high functioning autism was given different names or undiagnosed altogether. Read the science. Rates are the same in adults so diagnosis was the same rate “30 years ago”. Indeed, it’s probably less in children today.

    Sorry but you’re claim is flawed. Diagnostic criteria adjusts with increases in health. We now scrutinise behaviour because children aren’t dying from vaccine preventable disease. We’re better at diagnosing minute problems previously not a concern as more serious diseases (that medicine has quashed) were prominent.

    You have…. nothing. Period.




    And a piece from a woman with autism having her say on your brand of exploitation:


  6. Actually Paul you are wrong. Your terminology is incorrect. It is a common mistake. “Autism” refers to what is known as variously as “typical”, “Kanner”, “childhood” “classic” or “infantile” autism and that is the benchmark. It is an unmistakable condition. Yep, that’s right – not the “higher functioning” kind you try to lump in with it like Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism makes up around 30% of autistic spectrum cases and Aspergers around 70%.

    So if you stick to autism the paper Reichenberg et al “Advancing Paternal Age and Autism” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63:1026-1032. helpfully demonstrates this. It shows real increases in autism by establishing a benchmark for comparing mid 1980’s autism prevalence with mid 1990’s. This was done using contemporary diagnostic criteria under DSM IV. So that helpfully eliminates your argument about modern criteria being wider.

    The Paternal Age study’s PDD prevalence is 8.4:10,000 in 132,000 Israeli citizens born during six years ending no later than 1988. The authors say most of the diagnoses are autism.

    And we can compare that to papers like Baird 2006 [Baird G, Simonoff E, Pickles A, Chandler S, Loucas T, Meldrum D, Charman T. Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). Lancet. 2006:15;368:210-215.]

    Baird 2006’s range of figures concern 56,946 UK children aged 9-10 years born in a two year period ending no later than 1996 and for autism provides two estimates:-
    – 24.8:10,000 (17.6-32.0) for narrow definition autism
    – 38.9:10,000 (95% CI 29.9-47.8) for autism

    Baird 2006 provides estimates of a 116.1:10,000 (90.4-141.8) for the total PDD figure [autism, Aspergers etc] and 77.2:10,000 (52.1-102.3) excluding autism.

    Baird 2006’s narrow definition figure is the most conservative. It meets autism criteria under DSM IV/ICD10, but also on both ADI and ADOS plus clinical judgement.

    These two papers in combination assist to establish a conservative minimum 300% increase in 8 years 1988 to 1996 on Baird 2006’s narrow definition and 450% for autism. For all PDDs, these papers suggest a 1200% increase. Baird 2006 provides estimates of a 116.1:10,000 (90.4-141.8) total PDD figure and 77.2:10,000 (52.1-102.3) excluding autism against the Paternal Age paper’s figures.

    So a bit of a waste of time posting if you cannot get your facts right.

    Also the Reichenberg paper demonstrates the lengths modern medical professionals will go to to try to bury the problem. They focussed on just 3% of fathers in their study [diverting from the more interesting finding noted above] to claim on somewhat shaky data that fathers over 40 are more likely to father an autisitic child. The confidence interval was wide [95% confidence interval, 2.65-12.46]

    The problem for them is that these numbers cannot account for the scale of the increase in children born after 1988 which is what papers like Baird 2006 deal with. And it also cannot account for the Cambridge University study that found a rate of 1:64 for all autistic spectrum cases when yet to be undiagnosed cases were included.

    Better luck next time Paul.

  7. Copy and pasting from an autism rant, “Autism Figures – Existing Studies Shows Shocking Real Increase Since 1988?. I deserve an entire post. Charming – pity it’s flawed – and thus makes for a spectacularly appalling reply here.

    It’s a barely comprehensible denial of advances in behavioural diagnosis. Did you read the letter from the autistic lady? Did I mention Aspergers? Inventing straw men.

    Autism is one of the most inheritable of mental disorders. Genetics guarantee cases will increase. Plus we do not use some of the offensive terms and classification systems of yesteryear. Deal with it.

    Bairds figure (that you quote) is a fraction higher than the 10/1000 I quoted. 11.6/1000. It’s as low as 90 and as high as 141. So, that’s nothing. Eliminate it as reason to even attempt refutation. Statistically it confirms my argument adults born 30 years ago present at 9.8/1000. That’s 1.18 percentile points difference. Using Baird 11.6/1000 and my reference from Archives of Gen. Psych. of 10/1000 we see a drop. You are proving my point.

    Do you see the flaw? You zero in attempting to put words in my mouth, dig up irrelevant papers yet unwittingly confirm the very source I provided to pulverize your errors.

    You are confirming that there’s been no increase despite ranting about higher functioning autism.

    Then you dig up an Israeli paper submitted in March 2005 on advancing paternal age and autism. We already know the steady increase in maternal age in the Western world is perhaps a primary factor for increases in ASD’s (women are born with all their ova) but this looks at paternal age (men produce sperm over a lifetime). It concludes:
    “Advanced paternal age was associated with increased risk of ASD. Possible biological mechanisms include de novo mutations associated with advancing age or alterations in genetic imprinting.”

    It’s an argument for genetic influence – not environmental. Although age may be considered an environmental influence or accumulation of same.

    You cite this paper to “set a benchmark”? Then you use both to come up with “300% increase in 8 years”. Honestly, you should hear yourself. Baird is in the UK, yet you compare it to Israel to try to make up a 300% increase? What did you do to correct for confounding variables b/w the cohorts in the 2 papers? Environment and genetics? Where is you statistical model to show this is a robust and durable “benchmark” extrapolation?

    They say:

    “In particular, there was no indication of increased risk of ASD in offspring of the youngest fathers…”.

    Caught red handed misrepresenting scientific findings. I think I see what’s afoot now. Or you’re only arguing about ageing paternalism? Either way, your post is deeply, deeply flawed.

    Searching only for Bairds figures [116.1:10,000 (90.4-141.8)] – meaning those who quote them. We get:
    Here – today’s rant.
    whale.to – read Scopies law (you get laughed out of the room AND lose argument)
    A Hana Poling conspiracy piece.
    And an IMJA letter by some loser in physics now practising in law.

    You are not in good company.

    You didn’t read my links. Compensation for vaccine induced encephalitis is correct and proper. Compensation for autism like symptoms due to vaccine injury is not autism caused by vaccination. Don’t blame me, your the one insisting on strict diagnosis. Even the recent Pace Law school student foray into 21 VCIP cases and over 60 biased phone call interviews offered “it strongly suggests” a link. In short – no link. (Quoting Danielle Orsino media rep).

    We need “child compensated for developing autism directly as a result of vaccination”. Yes kids with autism are compensated but they have pre-existing conditions. Poling had a mitochondrial disorder. So your pretty blue quote is meaningless. Yes kids with autism get compensated. Did vaccination cause it? No – the official position is not one case ever compensated as a result of developing autism from vaccination.

    Yet you studiously avoid my link to Wakefield’s fraud – even though he himself claims “no association was ever demonstrated”.

    I appreciate your strong beliefs are as dear as religious beliefs but that’s no excuse for such conduct.

    In conclusion you misrepresent an Israeli study.
    – quote Baird which in effect shows no increase over 15 years.
    – falsely claim to show a 300% increase over 8 years.
    – invent dynamics not present in my first post.
    – fail to address references.
    – repeat already demonstrable falsehoods.
    – essentially provide more evidence for my position.
    – prove a drop in autism of 1.6 percentile points in 15 years, yet falsely argue an increase of 200% in 8 years and lay bare your ignorance.
    – reveal yourself as unreliable and deceptive.
    – lose the argument.

    Try again.

  8. Frankly, Paul it is impossibly difficult to make out what you seem to be struggling to say – aside from rhetoric to cover the fact you are wrong.

    An 800 word rant saying “you lose, you lose, you lose” and not much else is not particularly impressive.

  9. Let’s go slowly. You quote Reichenberg et al’s Israeli study from the Archives of General Psychiatry to “set a benchmark”, which you then compare to Baird’s UK figures.

    Yes both use DSM IV. But the genetic and environmental differences in two races/nations present challenges to your theory.

    No offence but you can’t just make up relationships between unrelated data sets without correcting for other variables. You need to show statistically why the individual sets relate to your argument. This is a common flaw. Genetics, environment, parental education and rearing techniques… etc.

    Still, let’s go with it. 8.4:10,000 or 0.84 per 1000.

    Then Baird’s UK figures of 116.1:10,000 or 11.6 per 1000.

    From this you argue a 1200% increase insinuating vaccination. Yet Baird had written.

    “Whether the increase is due to better ascertainment, broadening diagnostic criteria, or increased incidence is unclear.”

    Thus, you make conclusions from Baird’s work that even he did not. I shall argue you selected the lone Israeli paper for it’s dramatic impact.

    Now onto research that seeks to determine if any increase at all has occurred.

    We can stay in the UK eliminating the genetic and environmental confounding variables of Israel data. Let’s examine adults using the same diagnostic criteria.

    Epidemiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults in the Community in England – Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(5):459-465. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.38

    We find 9.8 per 1000 (95% confidence interval, 3.0-16.5).

    The author’s write:

    “The prevalence of ASD in this population is similar to that found in children. The lack of an association with age is consistent with there having been no increase in prevalence and with its causes being temporally constant.”

    It’s documented by Baird that younger children – indeed younger subjects often have a higher score in diagnosis. Using this reality we expect to see significant decreases in adults. But we have Baird’s 11.6 and Brugha’s 9.8 per 1000.

    Given the approximation of these figures using today’s diagnostic criteria and the huge age difference one may assume autism is falling as we’d expect to see a much lower rate in adults.

    More so, in 2003 Baird himself writes in Diagnosis of autism – BMJ;

    “… several factors account for the increase–for example, changing conceptualisation to a spectrum rather than a core categorical condition; changes in diagnostic methods; …”

    That’s probably enough. Although consider:

    1 in 150 (1988-1995; Bertrand et al., 2001)
    1 in 175 (1990-1991; Baird et al., 2000)
    1 in 85 (1990-1991; Baird et al., 2006)
    1 in 150 (1992; ADDMN, 2007)
    1 in 160 (1992-1995; Chakrabarti & Fombonne, 2001)
    1 in 150 (1994; ADDMN, 2007)
    1 in 58 (1993-1997; not published)
    1 in 170 (1996-1998; Chakrabarti & Fombonne, 2005)

    – which is markedly inconsistent with the myth of an epidemic. it is consistent with methodology. Selecting data to suit your argument will not change reality.

    I apologise for having such fun with your bag of errors. It was an appalling reply and a ridiculous blog post however.

    The above post is very plain in showing that you’re inventing a phenomena not supported by research nor even by Baird himself.

    Thank you.

  10. Paul Gallagher @ 2011/08/20 at 1:57 am

    Paul – it is difficult engaging in debate with an opponent who is unencumbered by facts. This is all just arguments with no substance behind it. Amateur skeptic hour – no science no fact.

    But the genetic and environmental differences in two races/nations present challenges to your theory.

    There is no theory. There is data and information. That’s fine. And really, what are these genetic differences that you theorise make a difference? That is just desktop hypothesis. Argument with no substance.

    As long as we are clear that the experts are happy to generalise from Israel to the rest of the world and do not see these fantastic genetic differences you do. You are out on your own on that one – busily sawing off the branch of argument you are sitting on.

    The US CDC carries out studies all the time like on Danish children [Madsen] or Italian children [Tozzi] and others all the time and uses them to generalise to populations around the world. Sorry but invented differences for the purposes of argument do not wash.

    The authors of the Paternal Age paper Reichenberg et al [New York, NY USA] also thought they could look at an Israeli population and generalise that to the rest of the world. So all of these experts do not seem to have the problem you have.

    This is like the tosh argument about the Amish in the USA – where the same fantastic argument is used to claim there is no point comparing them to the rest of the USA. And that argument is bunk too:-

    ” “The University of Maryland has been conducting clinical trials on the Amish population for nearly 15 years. The research has netted information on diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease and more.” …… “Ultimately, the Amish people are interesting not because they’re different from us. They are us, ” said Dr. D. Holmes Morton.”The genetic problems that are studied here are just genetic problems that came from Europe 300 years ago,” Morton said, whose Clinic for Special Children in nearby Strasburg has treated Amish children with rare genetic disorders for two decades.”

    Of trust and science By Stephanie Desmon Baltimore Sun April 5, 2009

    Funny thing but Israeli children are so different genetically that they don’t get the same diseases as children elsewhere in the world. They don’t get measles or mumps or rubella. They have three eyes and nine legs with green seaweed instead of hair – yes, a completely different species. Oh, perhaps you mean they are genetically different like Orang Utans – extremely close genetically to humans but not the same? Not only are Israeli children human, most Israeli children are of European descent – don’t you know the history of Israel? It is a new country since 1945 from European emigration.

    Yes, Israeli children are so different that they develop classic autism but not Aspergers Syndrome. That is an interesting one. Strange that Reichenberg et al did not pick up on it.

    You quote Baird but give her a sex change showing you have not even properly looked at her paper. And the quote you give is out of context. “Whether the increase is due to better ascertainment, broadening diagnostic criteria, or increased incidence is unclear.” She is referring to the overall results – covering classic autism, Aspergers et al.

    To eliminate the argument that there has been a broadening of criteria all that is necessary is to focus on classic autism. But the fact the same diagnostic criteria are used, this is a draft board looking at conscripts well after “better ascertainment” has been established eliminates that along with broadening of criteria. The same criteria are being used. So in fact the almost total absence of Asperger cases pre 1989 from Israel is fascinating.

    But that does not prevent you posting on and on and on and droning on and on and on.

  11. I do apologise to Baird.

    Please leave out the ad hom nonsense such as unencumbered by facts. With respect, you are the one refuting the global stance on vaccination and autism. Not to mention defending Wakefield.

    Please address the substance of my comment. Are you suggesting no genetic component to autism?

    The three factors impinging on autism frequency are geographic location, criteria and age of cohort. Now look to your theory. Please correct for location and age, and try again.

    I say again, you cannot just select data from unrelated sets and make up conclusions. Antivaxxers seem to love that. Where else is your 1200% increase?

    Did or did not Baird herself write that reasons for increases include changing criteria?

    What of the other findings that point to methodology, not something that suits one argument? How do you explain the difference in diagnoses, rising and falling. Even Baird found different rates in the same cohort.

    You must try harder.

  12. Paul Gallagher @2011/08/20 at 10:20 am

    “Please leave out the ad hom nonsense”

    Pot and kettle. Ooooo, and a bit too touchy Paul for someone happy to dish it out but not happy to take it.

    “Please address the substance of my comment.” Are you suggesting no genetic component to autism?

    All disease is genetic. Read this you might learn something about causation in biological systems:

    Autism Not Genetic – Says Expert Professor Simon Baron Cohen

    Autism Increase Environmental Not Genetic – Says New Director of USA’s $30.5 Billion Health Research Budget

    You must try harder.

    But on someone else’s blog. How about being an irritant on one of your own blogs or does no one read them? Looks like it.

    And while you are about it, you might as well let everyone know you are a friend of Peter Bowditch and the “skeptics” crowd who are happy to victimise and attack people personally on the web, spread misinformation lose legal actions and then claim they have not. Similarly Terry Polevoy – Terry Polevoy vs Ilena Rosenthal.

    Nice friends you have Paul. Birds of a feather flock together. What a lot of flockers.

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