The dynamics of the world today are intense. Technology is changing and the human interest in discovery is growing in an encouraging manner. Just like the cave man, the normal human being is trying to rediscover and discover his surrounding and his environment. Among the ways that he does this is through the media. Television and articles have become the rule of the day. These materials have served a great deal in the life of a knowledge- hungry population, the people of the world. Great amount of scientific knowledge is being extracted from these sources and becomes a law followed by majority. Although this is the case, the information obtained from these sources is not necessarily true. Some materials in psychology have not been scientifically proven to be true but still take the notch in the minds of many people.
A good example is the “research” published by lancet (1998). It purported that, vaccination is the major cause of autism in children. To begin with, autism is a psychological disease. Its cause is not very clear but some part of research relates it to heredity. It has recorded a number of cases all over the world since its discovery (Levy, 2009). Due to lack of concrete evidence on its cause, there was an easy acceptance to Wakefield’s research even to me. He claimed in his research that he had concrete evidence that three vaccines gave children autism after their use. These were the mumps vaccine, measles vaccine and the rubella vaccine, simply known as the MMR. He supported his claim by saying that, he had conducted the MMR on twelve children and did a researcher later finding the children positive of autism. The children had bowel problems and other symptoms that he claimed to be significant to autism (Sunday times, 1999).he produced a strong argument filled with emotion and hate for the vaccines to the extent of refusing to work with the said products, these according to a press conference (1999) he made clear and asked for a boycott. He managed to conquer the psychology of a great number of people, even well known celebrities in the world (Times magazine, 2009).
Although the doctor was of good credibility, there were a number of issues regarding his work. First of all, he did not consider the aspect of psychology in his research. He only concentrated on the inducement of a product in the body of the children, and directly assumed that this substance caused the disorder.
Furthermore, he did not have a perfect control group and a treatment group. His sample included eleven boys and one girl. This in itself cannot suffice a credible research. The sample size itself is too small to act as a representative of the whole world. Also noted by Deer (1998) was that, the children had family ties. This most definitely jeopardized the whole research with consideration that autism is an inherited disorder. The research did not consider that the outcome could be a causal effect of the gene relationship.
His research become null and void when other researchers did the same experiment on a larger sample size and a more randomly selected group and found no correlation in the results produced by Wakefield. An aftermath study on Wakefield’s research by GMC (2006) reviled that, he had pulled propaganda against the MMR and that his findings did not much the results that were finalized by the court. The children did not have autism. Some of the children simply had a hush case of constipation, others had symptoms of other diseases and a group of them just wanted money (Sunday times, 2009).
For most people, the paper was just another incident of wrong public decision. But to a group of people, for example the anti-vaccine campaigner, this document is gospel, an important tool to fight a won game. There has to be a level to which research is done, psychological issues are to be researched as that. Any other form of research may aid in finding solutions to psychological issues but only as a part of it and not the actual paper.
Caronna EB, Milunsky JM, Tager-Flusberg H. Autism spectrum disorders: clinical and research frontiers. Arch Dis Child. 2008;93(6):518–23.
Gerber JS, Offit PA. Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;48(4):456–61.
Myers SM, Johnson CP, Council on Children with Disabilities. Management of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2007;120(5):1162–82.