In 1998, then-doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study that suggested a link between autism and the mumps-measles-rubella vaccine. Conspiracy theorists have been losing their shit ever since. Wakefield is no longer a doctor because in conducting and publishing that study, he acted in a dishonest, misleading and irresponsible manner, as determined by the General Medical Council (the UK’s licencing body for doctors).
Despite, or maybe because of, that determination Wakefield has doubled down on his study, and by all rational accounts is now using film to advance his anti-vaccine agenda. The end result is a “documentary” written, directed and produced by Wakefield alleging that in 2004 the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention had covered up and/or destroyed evidence of a link between autism and vaccinations.
Wakefield’s film was originally on the Tribeca Film Festival’s 2016 schedule. It was subsequently pulled, raising a whole new set of conspiracy theories. But there is a far simpler explanation for why the film was pulled: it is not art, it is propaganda. Wakefield has a demonstrated bias and a vested interest in advancing one viewpoint, his viewpoint, to the exclusion of all others. He is using his film for that purpose. Even worse, his viewpoint is not only demonstrably wrong, it is dangerous. Death is the inevitable result of its acceptance.
One and a half million children died in 2008 from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination. ONE AND A HALF MILLION. On a brighter note, two to three million deaths are averted each year by vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. Wakefield, for the sake of furthering his personal agenda, is advocating for a course of action that if followed to its logical conclusion will cause two to three million more deaths each year.
At least Wakefield was not allowed to use the Tribeca Film Festival as a vehicle to disseminate his dangerous message. One can only hope that the Festival’s rejection of Wakefield’s movie will inspire some critical thought about Wakefield’s dubious motivations and clear conflict of interest. Because any “trust no one” mantra should apply not just to the government, but also to the disgraced scientist who has a history of dishonest and misleading conduct.