The Lancet - Medical misinformation and the internet: a call to arms (3)

10 June, 2019

It was The Lancet who published the Andrew Wakefield paper in 1998 which stated that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism (the paper was exceedingly poorly done at the time of publication, even without the later evidence of data concerns). The Lancet thus played a major part in bringing about the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. Who is going to control information published by major academic journals?

The issue is less one of poor quality information being added to the internet but more of poor quality information being given an overly large distribution by algorithms on social media and by journals doing insufficient peer review/editorial oversight. With respect to the Wakefield example, he would have achieved nothing without the reputation of The Lancet promoting his work. The movement would have achieved little without Youtube continuing showing there videos.

James Heilman

MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian

HIFA Profile: James Heilman is a Wikipedian and works with Wiki Project Med Foundation, a charity whose mission is to make clear, reliable, comprehensive, up-to-date educational resources and information in the biomedical and related social sciences freely available to all people in the language of their choice. He is an Emergency Room Physician in Cranbrook, British Columbia, and a Clinical Instructor at the University of British Columbia.

Email: jmh649 AT