I am not a biologist but a physicist. I am used to quite high confidence in the data I have obtained in my laboratory experiments. But from reading some biology papers on vaccines and comparisons with adverse health outcomes I note a whole lot of controversy.
At first that controversy might seem to be about population sizes in the studies, or how the demographics were selected, or how the controls were handled. But from my reading it seems that it is more the conclusions that the authors come to that are the hot button topics.
As a result I have read of several high profile retractions by leading journals. That is after the papers passed peer-review and were published did the problems arise. People objected and, in some cases, a total debacle ensued.
These include the paper in The Lancet in 1998 coauthored by Dr Andrew Wakefield, Prof. John Walker-Smith and 10 others. That paper first suggested a relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism and gastrointestinal issues after the observation of a regressive phenotype of autism that appeared in general after the administration of the first MMR vaccine. Watch this!
Wakefield et al.’s The Lancet paper was retracted by the journal. He and co-authors were charged with fraud though Prof. Walker-Smith was later exonerated but not Wakefield. This only occurred after it was made public that the MMR vaccine may not be safe.
Then there is the case of the CDC-whistleblower Dr William Thompson, which is highlighted in the documentary Vaxxed! by Dr Andrew Wakefield.
Dr. William Thompson was a senior CDC (USA) scientist working on a major study to determine whether the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine was associated with increased rates of autism. He came forward in 2014 and contacted Dr Brian Hooker, alleging CDC fraud. He stated that when the data in that study in fact showed a significant vaccine-autism association, but the study supervisors ordered the CDC researchers to bring all of their notes and study-related documents to a meeting to deposit them into a large trash can to be destroyed.
Suspecting foul play, Dr Thompson kept a full copy of all the records. Several years later, compelled by his conscience, he contacted Dr Brian Hooker with a full confession. Dr. Thompson provided Dr Hooker with over 10,000 pages of documents supporting his allegations and other examples of malfeasance.
Dr Thompson explained that the original study found a strong correlation between MMR vaccine and autism especially in boys of African-American descent. But that was not what was finally published, hence the whistle-blowing.
Dr Brian Hooker then reanalysed the MMR-autism connection in the CDC data that Dr Thompson gave him and published a paper titled “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data” in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration 2014; vol 3, page 16. However the publisher PubMedCentral (PubMed.gov) retracted his paper and admitted to scientific fraud in doing so. The publisher fabricated a fictional conflict of interest and wrote the reason for their retraction was “because of the potential harm to public health”. They did not like the conclusion Hooker had drawn.
Then there is the case of Dr Judy Mikovits, who recently published a book “Plague of Corruption” outlining the sordid story of how she first published a bombshell, with her mentor Dr Frank Ruscetti, in the journal Science in 2009. The paper described the first ever isolation of the retrovirus XMRV (Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus) and found it in 67% of the ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) patients in the study. What was worse was that they found it in nearly 4% of the healthy control population (via the blood supply used as the controls).
Two years later in 2011 the Editors of the journal Science retracted the paper after claiming lab contamination made the results untrustworthy. Mikovits outlines in her book the real reason for the retraction and the fraudulent follow up study that was meant to look for these XMRV retroviruses. Read her book for the details.
The medical/big pharma did not like the idea that a sizable fraction of the population had been infected with mouse retroviruses, which could only have happened through the use of mouse tissue in vaccine preparation. Mikovits argues that she was set up and the apparent “Failure to confirm” paper was specifically planned to refute her discovery.
Personally I have also had a research paper in the field of cosmology retracted by the Editors. In my case the paper was passed by peer-review and was waiting publication when the Editor wrote me saying that the paper was now being “unaccepted”. I never knew there was such a thing. It was regarding a fringe cosmology by Moshe Carmeli and many theorists didn’t like it. The technical merits do not have much bearing on it, though that is the usual excuse given.
I also once had a theoretical cosmology paper accepted and published that promoted a finite universe interpretation where our galaxy was near the centre. The university I was in wanted to do a press release in the paper until I explained the ramifications of the conclusion. They dropped it like a hot potato.
On a wider and different domain I see a similar effect in the biblical creation verses evolution debate. Any scientist would find it nearly impossible to publish a scientific paper based on a biblical creation worldview in a secular research journal. There, only papers with a big bang and/or evolution worldview are ever accepted for review, let alone publication.
This is why biblical creationist scholars have to publish in their own journals. The whole field is often called pseudo-science and hence creationists are alleged to not be real scientists. But there have been a few cases where a creation based paper got through. In those rare cases retractions soon followed. I heard of one case where even the associate Editor was fired for letting it through.
There was the case where Carbon-14 (C-14) dating of multiple samples of bone from 8 dinosaurs found in Texas, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana revealed that they are only 22,000 to 39,000 years old.
The creationist scientists presented their findings at the 2012 Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, August 13-17, a conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS).
Since dinosaurs are thought to be over 65 million years old, the news is stunning – and more than some could tolerate. After the AOGS-AGU conference in Singapore, the abstract was removed from the conference website by two chairmen because they could not accept the findings. They did not like the conclusion so attempted to erase it from history.
The situation seems to be nearly the same with anyone who contends that vaccines are unsafe, or anyone who even wants to study their safety. To date there has never been a safety study published comparing subjects receiving a vaccine with a control group who only received an inert placebo in a double blind study.
And in the very few cases that such a paper showing some failure of a vaccine has gotten published we read of all sorts of accusations, fraud and mistakes. Emotions run deep and accusations of “conspiracy theories” (a derogatory term implying tin-foil hat idiot) are made. Despite the mounting evidence of vaccine damage the parents claims are denied. They argue it is all coincidence and anecdotal. No study showing a significant detrimental effect is allowed to be sustained. It must be taken down.
The same effect is achieved in the creation science/evolution science arena. The creationists also are labelled nutcases and non-scientists.
I’ve read reports that more than 50% of research papers published in leading medical science journals are flawed. The results cannot be reproduced and in many cases they are fraudulent. I’d say that the same is true also for a sizable number of papers in cosmology, evolutionary biology and paleontology journals also. The need of confirmation bias is strong and these sciences are dominated by the big bang/evolution paradigm.
My conclusion from this is that science is rarely impartial. Man is sinful and corrupt. As a result corruption is rife especially when there is a lot of money to be made. Corrupt corporations are occasionally caught but by and large they get away with it. The downside in the medical field is the potential for damage to children when the science gets it wrong. See the documentary film Vaxxed II for more on this.