We’ve discussed this issue a lot in my statistics classes, but this article came out today that addresses the false link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Basically, the original findings have been unable to be scientifically reproduced, and the head researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has since admitted to falsifying the results of his study. The journal the article was published in retracted the study in February of 2008, and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. Read the article for more information.
I was trying to explain the false link to a family friend the other day, who is pregnant with her first child and worried about getting him/her vaccinated. What I find the most frustrating about this study is not just how fucked up it is to lie about a finding like this, but also how the mass media seemed to latch on to the sensational story about the link when the study was first published in 1998, but has failed to correct itself now that the study has been retracted. Too many people still think that the original study is valid because of a general failure of the popular media reporting the truth and critically analyzing its stories.