The BMJ's article on Andrew Wakefield's study linking autism to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine certainly makes fascinating, if sickening, reading. Literally sickening. If the author is correct, Wakefield deliberately falsified data in order to enrich himself from parents looking to bring a lawsuit. Thanks in part to this now-discredited study, a lot of parents refuse to vaccinate their children--and as a result, diseases like pertussis are on the rise. About thirty people a year now die from this preventable disease in the United States alone, a disproportionate number of them infants too young to vaccinate.
I cannot fathom what might drive someone to do something like this. We're primed to look for pecuniary motives in corporate malfeasance, but this was an academic, a doctor, working in conjunction with an attorney. If the allegations are true, they've managed to kill more people than Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy put together.