Vaccinations - to be or not to be - has turned into a very heated debate over the past few years and this debate was sparked following the publication of Dr Wakefield's (now discredited) research paper on the relationship between autism and vaccinations. However, the fraud perpetrated in his paper is continuing to impact global health. An outbreak of measles at Disneyland in 2015 continued to deepen concerns at lack of vaccination as this was a disease which had been eradicated in America since 2000. The consequences of this study on global health shows the importance of following the proper scientific process and ensuring results are not biased by personal beliefs or with the motivation of publicity. It angers me that the incentive for many parents to not vaccinate their children stemmed from Wakefield's study. In what other cases have discredited studies impact on global health?
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Dr. Wakefield's discredited study that claimed autism was caused by MMR vaccine is a good example of confirmation bias. Wakefield's research was funded by a lawyer who was looking to win an anti-vaccination lawsuit for a group of people who believed that their children's autism was a direct result vaccines. The lawyer in question needed Wakefield's corroboration to win the case. Additionally, it would be profitable for Wakefield to conclude that the MMR vaccine was autism-causing. Fear is the most lucrative emotion. Dr. Wakefield conducted a bad study with fabricated data and patient selection bias, yet because he was able to prey on the emotions of a group of parents with neuro-divergent children who needed something or someone to blame for their "damaged" children. The lasting impact of this study also brings up the clear societal prejudice against people on the spectrum. Vaccines were just the villain in a battle to avoid acceptance of a simple neurological condition. As Christina mentioned above, there was a recent outbreak of measles at Disneyland in 2015. Clearly, as a society, we have not gotten over the extreme bias against those who are different than us.