His research (on only 12 subjects) was the major impetus behind the mass fear of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations. The idiocy was quickly seized upon by the autism groups and Jenny McCarthy. From the hearing:
The research has since been discredited by subsequent studies involving millions of children, which found no evidence for the link between the triple jab and autism. It has since been retracted by the Lancet, and ten of the original 13 authors disowned the research. But the claims sparked a massive drop in the number of children given the triple jab for measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccination rates have still not fully recovered to levels before the scare.Just causing the resurgence of MMR in the population is bad enough, but it also appears that Mr. Wakefield caused this wave of hysteria and disease at least partially for profit. Once again from the hearing, Wakefield ...
received £55,000 to carry out the research on behalf of solicitors acting for parents who believed their children had been harmed by MMR, but could not account for how at least half of this money had been spent and did not declare any conflict of interest to the Lancet, according to the fitness to practice panel.So to echo crankylitprof over at Cranky Epistles, Wakefield falsified his data, a lot of hysterical people bought in to it, and a lot of kids have been harmed because of his duplicity.
We are all sympathetic to those afflicted or affected by autism in their search for a cause, but joining in hysteria seldom leads to anything good. And in this case it has brought diseases once declared defeated back into circulation, causing yet more misery. And all because some idiot was intellectually dishonest as well as a liar by omission.