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Maria MacLachlan

Accolades & Quackolades

"There are ~20 published reviews of my book, but this one must be THE BEST! THANK YOU."
Edzard Ernst

"Best blog of the day IMHO."
Simon Singh

"This blogpost is simply brilliant."
Mark Burnley

"You are a rude argumentative bully. You are a typical "skeptic" - not sceptical at all."
Andrew, anti-vaxer

"Your piece about House of Commons Science and Technology sub-Committee’s ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy was one of the best I’ve seen. Strength to your elbow."

" individual calling themselves ‘scepticat’ or ‘sceptikat’- a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants."
Centella, one of Dr Andrew Jones personal herd of sycophants.

"Excellent report, which I can vouch for completely."
Jack of Kent

"The ludicrous nature of the complaint, and some of the responses by Dr Ranj and the BBC, has already been expertly documented on the Skepticat UK blog".
Dean Burnett

"Choke on your own vomit and die in agony..."
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"A very good rebuttal…"
Anna Watson, anti-vaxer Arnica UK

"A staggering amount of pathological disbelief allied with a staggering amount of arrogance."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"I just love this blog, and this post is a fine example of it’s content – ‘Inside the spine wizard’s den’ – Skepticat. Why do some of us feel that we are above challenging argument and peer review? I just wish that I could write as well as some of these bloggers!"
Jonathan Hearsey, osteopath

"Skepticat is a particularly venomousness (sic) skeptic, a humanist who lives by the "golden rule", she refused to let me follow her on twitter because I am "bonkers" which may endear her to many in the chiropractic profession..."
Richard Lanigan, chiropractor

Facebook image helpfully captioned by Sandra A Hermann-Courtney (@brownbagpantry)

"Die Die die die!"
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"Loved that article. It really shows what chiropractors are really all about. What I call the "chiro show" Exposing people to totally unnecessary X-rays should be criminal. Thank you!"

"I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It's sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it."
Bebo, chiropractor (Note: In fact I'm the proud mother of two brilliant children, whom I mention frequently. Glad of the excuse to do so again.)

"Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted."

"I understand that you have been traumatised by your experience and that this is your way of coming to terms with the emotional scars."
Stefaan Vossen, chiropractor

"All you really seem interested in is banging your repetitive drum and preaching to the converted."
Rick, osteopath

"All the entries I’ve read are excellent. I’ll be coming back to read more. Love the cat logo as well."

"Research in Homeopathy Conference - Skepticat's hilarious account. She went to it."
David Colquhoun

"Her site is Skepticat UK... she wouldn’t know a punchline if it raped her. Or maybe she’d thank it."
Scott Cappurro, comedian

"I rather love the lunacy of the anti-Homeopathists, such as yourself."
James Pannozzi, acupuncturist & would-be homeopath

"Good blog from a skeptic which examines the "science" of Homeopathy in a very detailed way. Skeptics will love this. Proponents of homeopathy? Not so much."

"I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder."
Erika Alisuag, homeopathist

"I’m finding it difficult to come up with some suitable words to say how good and interesting your stuff is. So, in the absence of suitable hyperbole can I say what a very well written and presented blog you have here. Really well thought out and researched. And passionate about it too! Complimenti!"

"You’re whole life is worthless because you lack reason."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Great stuff Skepticat."

"When you have learnt some big words and also studied your history books you’ll find that the world was once thought to be flat…by people just like you."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Thanks for keeping the banner of reason flying high."
John Willis Lloyd

"This is just a general comment. I love this well-written an unfussy little blog (I don’t mean little in a derogatory way, but in the sense it’s not bombastic, self-important and posturing). Excellent material and a worthwhile focus, keep up the good work."

"Her website is a temple to diatribe – I have no sympathy for the homeopaths, etc, with whom she battles, but she clearly gets off on confrontation."
JF Derry

"Skepticat is strictly logical and attacks in unparliamentary words what she deems to be “quackery” – or suggestions that she sounds a little strident."
Andy Reporter

"LOVE the badass attitude! Seriously...KEEP IT UP!"

"You were a playful little diversion for a. moment, but I do have better things to do with my time than waste more than half an hour of it stooping down to play your ego supporting self delusional mind games……"
Susan Elizabeth, homeopathist

"An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it."
Alan C

"You need to do a course in anger management."
katenut, nutritionist

"FWIW I think you manage your anger rather well...mostly by focusing it into a thin, narrow beam of incisive rage which you then use to inscribe words on screen. ;)"

"Excellent description of the events."
Simon Perry

"You seem to be of probably well-meaning, but bigoted and fundamentalist disposition, just parroting slogans from others without any really knowledge or insight yourself."
Neil Menzies

"Superb, as usual"

"You seem only interested in ranting against an enemy which you are apparently still struggling to come to terms with “fifteen years” later."
Rick, osteopah

"Bravo, great post!"

"One day if you are not very careful you will be left behind in the dark ages. I’m sure this will not be printed..but hope it is read by you poor little scaredy cats."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Brilliant piece!"

"While you babble on like a total airhead about Myhill, you ignore the real doctors who are a danger in the UK".
struck-off doctor, Rita Pal, 'NHS whistle-blower'

"I sincerely hope I never get to your stage of wilful ignorance. You know absolutely diddly squat about the subject but you think your opinion is the only opinion."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Keep up the spin, you manky old chicken's foot."
JB, chiropractor

"I am forced to conclude you are blogging on behalf of a specific entity that does wish to remain anonymous."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map."
Erika Alisuag

"Such reporting lands you clearly in the realm of fundamentalist extremism–much noise, no substance, and money from those who have something to sell. It is so unfortunate that your listening skills are in need of repair."
Tanya Marquette, homeopath

"She seems to revel in presenting the many insults that she has attracted as a column of “Quackolades” on her site, as if war wounds on display,"
JF Derry, self-publicist

"Oh shut up SK. You write hot air and spew rubbish as usual."
Rita Pal again.

Part 3: The one about Wakefield’s weird addendum

No sooner had I completed my previous post about Dr Andrew Wakefield having falsified data for the notorious study that led to the recent measles epidemics and his subsequent complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), than I found on Brian Deer’s website the evidence to confirm Wakefield has totally lost his marbles.

The evidence is in the form of an addendum to Wakefield’s complaint and it is basically 15 pages of repetition of what Wakefield already said on pages 1-2 of that document. This is that Deer, being the initiator of the complaint against him to the General Medical Council, thereby had a ‘conflict of interest’, which should have precluded him from writing about the case for a newspaper. It’s a rather long-winded way of saying what I summed up in my previous post like this:

P1. Deer made a complaint about him to the GMC.
P2. Deer wants the GMC to uphold the complaint.
C: Therefore any report Deer makes will be biased.

In fact my summary was too charitable. I would now amend that conclusion to read:

C: Therefore Deer is obviously lying whenever he writes anything about the case.

Says Wakefield:

Whether or not Mr. Deer initiated the GMC investigation as ‘complainant’ in his letter dated Feb. 25, 2004, or acted as an ‘informant’ in an investigation already begun by the GMC, he did not disclose his own direct participation in the GMC investigation in his most recent accounts in the Sunday Times, intending to give the public the misimpression that he was acting as a neutral and disinterested reporter. By failing to disclose his dual role, Deer has breached the ethical standards of professional journalism and has no place in further reporting on Dr Wakefield in this matter. In breech of PCC rules and any ethical standard of journalistic conduct, it is alleged that Mr Deer has sought to mislead, not only by his non-disclosure of matters material to his conflict of interest, but in denying his role in these matters. Based upon the available evidence, one can reasonably conclude that these allegations are true.

Apart from the weirdness of talking about himself in the third person, the more times I read this, the more I wonder if Wakefield has been taken over and configured by some alien who comes from a place where  journalists are “neutral and disinterested”. What on earth must this alien make of desperately biased hacks like Melanie Phillips and Jeni Barnett?

Wakefield has a love-hate relationship with the media. He’s happy to court publicity whenever it suits his purpose, such as when the Lancet paper first appeared and he called a press conference to scaremonger people into rejecting the MMR in favour of single vaccines like the one he’d patented but preferred not to talk about publicly. He loved the press then. He’d love them even more now if they would just agree to a news blackout on the GMC hearing where he faces charges of professional misconduct.

What does he mean by ‘disinterested’, anyway? Does he perhaps mean that a journalist shouldn’t write an article suggesting there is a causal link between, say, a vaccine and neurological damage if that journalist happens to be payrolled by, say, a lawyer representing parents who believe their children have been damaged by that vaccine? This is an argument I respect, though my greater sympathy lies with the view that it doesn’t really matter who pays a journalist as long as the story is properly researched and based on the best available evidence. In other words, that the journalist tries to write the truth and doesn’t make stuff up. What matters in this case is whether Deer has done this and the GMC’s ruling will be crucial in helping us decide.

The funding by personal injury lawyer scenario is obviously borrowed from Wakefield’s own grubby history. Nevertheless, it isn’t a million miles away from what some of Wakefield’s supporters are — without a trace of irony — insinuating about Deer.

The news that James Murdoch had come out of the closet and publicly accepted an executive position on the Board of GlaxoSmithKline, in whose interest he now vows to use his good offices to put down community opposition to their drugs, gave some hope that The Sunday Times and Brian Deer would be seen for what they are; there was even a rumour that The Sunday Times was to be renamed The GlaxoSundayKlines.

Martin J Walker, CryShame

In the final analysis, we have to ask whether Brian Deer was acting independently when he ‘investigated’ and wrote about Andrew Wakefield.

Walker again quoted on Whale

MMR vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline has appointed to its Board the head of News International James Murdoch. Murdoch is also boss of The Sunday Times, London, England publisher of stories by freelance journalist Brian Deer to discredit research into the link between MMR vaccine and autism in the US and UK.


Murdoch is Chief Exec of News Corp, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates and owned by his father, Rupert Murdoch. It owns News International Ltd, which publishes several major titles owned by its subsidiary companies, one of which is Times Newspaper Ltd.

See the razor-sharp reasoning going on here? The son of the bloke who owns the company that owns the company that owns the company that publishes the Sunday Times sits on the Board of Big Pharma. Therefore any journalist who writes for the ST or any other paper owned by Murdoch is linked to Big Pharma. Sure enough…

Whilst Mr James Murdoch is not reported to have involvement in editorial decisions at The Sunday Times, the recent appointment to the MMR vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline’s Board may give rise to public concern over the close links between key players in MMR litigation in the US and UK and the support at The Sunday Times for the campaigning activities of journalist Brian Deer. Similarly, there is no suggestion of any direct, indirect or other impropriety arising from the relationships noted in this article, the public is entitled to ask questions such as “what medical journal editor, newspaper editor or journalist is going to write unfavourable stories about GlaxoSmithKline and not write favourable stories when his boss in on Glaxo’s board. How will the existence of such relationships influence the thinking and actions of subordinates and others without being asked? How can this healthy and in the public interest?


We might also ask what this has to do with Brian Deer, seeing as his well-supported revelations about Wakefield were published a full five years before Murdoch joined the board of GSK?

In fairness to Wakefield, he himself does not appear to be casting aspersions of this sort against Deer. No, Wakefield claims that Deer fails to meet the ‘neutral and disinterested’ criteria, not because of any supposed link to Big Pharma but because Deer complained about him to the GMC and, even if hadn’t, the case against Wakefield depends heavily on information supplied by Deer. Here’s Wakefield himself:

In Deer’s case, he has not only provided source material but he is the actual complainant and this means he has an interest in the outcome of the process. How can he objectively or even fairly be expected to cover an investigation in which he plays an undisclosed but significant role for the investigating agency? How is the public to know, for example, whether he is making false statements to the GMC simply to enhance his role, his salary, or his reputation as a journalist? This is akin to an arsonist setting a fire and then rushing back to the firehouse where he works and gets paid to put out fires.

If you can’t see how this analogy is supposed to work, you are not alone. It was not Brian Deer who started the fire, it was Wakefield and his co-authors, with the help of the Lancet editor and, ultimately, the rest of the media who gave his crock of an idea about MMR and autism publicity it didn’t deserve. As a result, children have been left unprotected from potentially serious infectious disease and some have died. Deer, an experienced investigative journalist, simply did a good job in bringing to the public’s attention certain salient facts about Wakefield and his way of doing things. Undoubtedly, Brian Deer believes in what he has written. Why? Because he had a mountain of evidence to back it up (check his website). If he hadn’t, he couldn’t have written the articles he wrote and the ST wouldn’t have published them. If the GMC find against Wakefield, it will indicate that they agree with Deer’s interpretation of the evidence and that will be very nice for Deer. That, then, is Deer’s ‘interest in the outcome’.

Forgive me for not seeing this ‘interest in the outcome’ as being in quite the same league of duplicity as Wakefield’s own failure to disclose that he was being funded by the Legal Board via a lawyer representing families who believed their children had been damaged by the MMR triple vaccine and which led to ten of Wakefield’s co-authors formally retracting the relevant part of the Lancet paper and the editor of same to declare he wouldn’t have published it if he’d known. Yet to Wakefield’s closed-minded and moronic supporters, this kind of treachery is apparently absolutely fine. It takes all sorts.

What Wakefield is really trying to say, or course, is that Brian Deer’s article is a pack of lies. To repeat:

How is the public to know, for example, whether he is making false statements to the GMC simply to enhance his role, his salary, or his reputation as a journalist?

Unfortunately for him, this is how those of us who aren’t involved in any way and have no axe to grind one way or another see it:

A journalist with a nose for a good story, nosed around and found out some stuff. He wrote it up in a quality newspaper. As a result, a respected and charismatic scientist faced a disciplinary hearing. The hearing examined evidence about the scientist that was supplied to them by the journalist.

This, in the jaundiced eyes of Team Wakefield, is reason enough why the journalist should never write another word on the subject. Whatever else he may have found out about Wakefield, however serious the implications for public health, however many unvaccinated children die because of what Wakefield started, the journalist should be gagged because…well, it was his story in the first place.

Even though I have come to despise Wakefield, I feel no sense of schadenfreude at the sight of this drowning man clutching at straws. He really does seem to have no idea how unhinged he’s beginning to sound to anyone who isn’t blinded by their own anti-vaccine agenda.

It’s just sad.

6 Responses to Part 3: The one about Wakefield’s weird addendum

  • Good synopsis of the strangeness of that document. However, it wasn’t really aimed at anyone who had their doubts about Dr Wakefield, I imagine, it was more a sign to his loyal followers that he was going to produce *something* that could be represented as an overwhelming rebuttal even if it actually rebutted nothing.

  • Indeed, dvnutrix. As I said in my previous post, Wakefield produced a response to the latest allegations and dressed it up as a complaint to the PCC. I don’t think anyone seriously thinks that complaining to the PCC is is real purpose.

    I’d like to correct one thing in the post above that may be misleading. I said:

    “The hearing examined evidence about the scientist that was supplied to them by the journalist.”

    By way of correction, I’ll c&p a comment from Brian Deer that he posted on leftbrain / rightbrain:

    >>>a) They didn’t use my material. Under the 1983 medical act, they acquired all their own material, key portions of which I had previously and separately acquired. They also acquired material from dozens of other sources, including parents, one of whom gave evidence for the GMC.

    (b)I am a reporter. I have written no recent opinion pieces. I have exposed the fact that data in the Lancet study was repeatedly changed and misreported, creating the appearance of a possible link between MMR and autism.

    (c)The materials I have supplied to the GMC do not include materials on the children. The GMC acquired this material for itself, using its extensive powers under the medical act to seize documents.

    (d)Malicious liars and cranks fabricated the suggestion that I was reporting my own allegations. There are a number of such individuals who appear to gain some kind of emotional satisfaction in spreading confusion among vulnerable people. The amount of frank lying in this whole affair is bottomless.<<<

  • Rubella virus is an accepted cause of autism but evidently adverse reactions to live rubella vaccine either directly or indirectly is ignored? Rubella virus or Rubella live virus in vaccine is inappropriate in the presence of mothers to be.

    Lead is accepted as causing autism but mercury is similar and more toxic is not? And of course organomercury is much more toxic than mercury until the 21st century decided that every form of organomercury is extremely toxic except that in vaccines?

    Virus specific to MMR and found in sick or dead children is not responsible for their death or illness?

    Lets try to remember that there are 260 000 such ASD children in USA alone and for me, Dr Wakefield is doing genuine research until he was stopped by jackals. I don’t hold my breath that Brian Deer will ever discover the cause of autism but has discovered a gold mine from some benefactor maybe?

  • John

    So you never actually bothered to read what Skepticat said, did you?

    Rather than ask lots of questions you presumably think you know the answers to, why not come out with some evidence for your assertions?

  • zeno, John Fryer never bothers to read anything. He just posts his incoherent fact free screeds and hopes no one does a fact finding.

    The reason he does not come out with evidence is that he just makes it up. Sometimes one has to point out that he is wrong on multiple blogs before he stops the outright lies (like his claim that Japan did not vaccinate until age two, the Japanese vaccine chart showing they actually have a similar schedule to the UK had to be posted a few times before he stopped that claim).

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