This Year's 'Worst Pseudoscience Award' Goes to Anti-Vax Fraud Andrew Wakefield

By Tom Pritchard on at

Around this time last year The Skeptic Magazine awarded its Rusty Razor Award, designed to highlight the world's worst pseudoscience, to Gwyneth Paltrow's 'wellness' brand Goop. Because it had been peddling a bunch of non-scientific shit, some of which led to the company being fined for false advertising. The award is back again as part of this year's 'Ockham Awards', and it's just been announced that the infamous anti-vax activist (and former Doctor) Andrew Wakefield is the recipient.

If you haven't heard of Wakefield, there's no doubt that you'll have heard about his research claiming to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism. After follow-up research was unable to reproduce the same results, it was discovered that Wakefield had falsified his data. As a result of the fraud, and breach of ethics, Wakefield was stricken from the UK medical register as a result. This is despite the fact he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, or fraudulent behaviour.

Sadly the damage had been done, and his research has been credited with launching the modern anti-vaccination movement. Wakefield has become a figurehead for anti-vax dumbasses, especially in America. The past 20 years has also seen a significant increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases, particularly measles, among areas of the population with low vaccination rates. In fact, as The Skeptic notes, 2018 has seen a tenfold increase in measles cases when compared to 2015.

Skeptic Magazine Editor Deborah Hyde said:

The Skeptic’s ‘Ockhams’ are awarded from a readers’ vote every year. Our contributors clearly felt that anti-vaccination damage is still a current issue, despite Mr. Wakefield first having come to public attention so long ago. These childhood diseases can do real damage, so we’re proud to be an organisation that gets the good news out there – the evidence is overwhelming that vaccination is safe. Protect your children and your community by using it.”