Wakefield Effect

A. Alan Moghissi, Miriam Keim, Dennis K. McBride, Michael S. Swetnam

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2013; 4: G5-13

Herein we address problems related to a paper published by Wakefield and collaborators in the medical journal Lancet. We use methods of Best Available Science (BAS) and Metrics for Evaluation of Scientific Claims (MESC) derived from BAS and Best Available Public Information (BAPI) developed for the assessment of public media to identify fallacies of “Wakefield Syndrome”. We also evaluate the mission of Lancet as described by its editor, the impact of the claimed Syndrome. We address problems in the Wakefield paper, as related to the mission of Lancet, and the impact of these problems, and so doing we propose a “Wakefield Effect” of dissemination of inaccurate scientific information published in scientific media.


Keywords: MMR vaccination, Best Available Public Information, peer review process, scientific journals as public media