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MMR Vaccination and Autism Research Assignment (Research Paper Sample)


The task entails a review of paper published by wakefield claiming that there is a link between MMR vaccine and autism. The sample argues that the research is based on pseudoscience and instead of sceptically viewed.

Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
MMR Vaccination and Autism
Genuine science is a systematized knowledge derived from study, observation, and experimentation guided by the principles of collegiality, the integrity of knowledge, objectivity, honesty, and openness CITATION Lom17 \l 1033 (Lombrozo). However, many undertakings that lack the essential characteristics of science have charade as one to enhance predetermined social, economic and political interestsCITATION Fla11 \p 1303 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1303). These fields try to appropriate the genuineness of science but fall short of accepted principles of practice and authentication in the legitimate areas they seek to imitate hence creating Pseudoscience (1302). One of the pseudosciences discussed in this paper is the study by Wakefield claiming that MMR vaccination leads to Autism (Regressive Developmental Disorder) in children. The study struggles to link Rubella, Mumps and Measles vaccination to autismCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Even though the study is a clear violation of scientific principles of research, it provides a reason why people should be skeptical about any study until concrete evidence is available. Factors that strongly link to autism include maternal infection during pregnancy and birth complications involving oxygen deprivationCITATION Sza03 \p 173 \l 1033 (Szatmari 173).
Pseudoscientific Topic: MMR Vaccination Leads to Autism
In 1998, Wakefield and twelve of his associates published a case series in the Lancet, suggesting that rubella, measles and mumps vaccines may predispose children to AutismCITATION Wak98 \p 637 \l 1033 (Wakefield 637). The researchers were investigating children with regressive development disorders and chronic enterocolitis. Twelve children of ages between three and ten participated in the study. The children underwent neurological, gastroenterological and developmental assessment. Other procedures included biopsy sampling, Illeoconlonoscopy, electroencephalography, magnetic resonance, lumbar puncture, Immunological and hematological profiles. The study found out that, with MMR vaccination, children are susceptible to developing autismCITATION Wak98 \p 637 \l 1033 (Wakefield 637).
Why is the paper by Wakefield based on pseudoscience hence view it skeptically?
There are an apparent scientific misconduct and ethical violations by Wakefield and his colleaguesCITATION Fla11 \p 1304 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1304). The study conducted an invasive investigation of the research subject without obtaining relevant ethical clearanceCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Some of the procedures included: Lumbar Puncture, biopsy sampling, and magnetic resonance imagingCITATION Wak98 \p 637 \l 1033 (Wakefield 637). Moreover, Wakefield willfully misrepresents facts by reporting that the samples were consecutive yet they were selectiveCITATION Fla11 \p 1303 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1303). Immediately after people started to question the validity of the investigation, the author and co-author retract the paperCITATION God11 \p 64 \l 1033 (Godlee 64). At some point, the co-authors contradict their initial assertion and state that there was no association between autism and MMR vaccine CITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Hence, there is need to view the article skeptically and cautiously.
Wakefield failed to make accurate use of operational definitions of variables so that persons, other than the researcher, can test them independentlyCITATION Fla11 \p 1304 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1304). For instance, the term, “Behavioral symptoms” is not defined in the research context. Furthermore, Wakefield et al. use references to disintegrative disorder and regressive autism interchangeably although the two conditions are differentCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a condition characterized by the onset of developmental delays in social function, language, and motor skills while regressive autism leads to loss of social skills and language previously held by an individualCITATION Sza03 \p 173 \l 1033 (Szatmari 173).
Furthermore, the research design utilized in the study does not effectively integrate components of the study coherently and logically hence putting doubt to the conclusions madeCITATION Tay99 \p 2026 \l 1033 (Taylor 2026). For instance, there were flaws in the research since Wakefield did not incorporate a control group meaning that the study findings and recommendations could be causal or coincidental, but there was no evidence for either (2027). Pseudoscience relies profoundly on subjective validation for its continued existenceCITATION Fla11 \p 1304 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1304). In genuine science, no one in the study should know what the results should be until the final results are tabulatedCITATION Rao11 \p 96 \l 1033 (Rao 96). However, in the study by Wakefield, it is evident that most subjects were conveniently selected to show a particular causal relationCITATION Tay99 \p 2029 \l 1033 (Taylor 2029). There was no application of double-blind control protocol. Apart from using uncontrolled design, the sample size used was twelve subjects. Therefore, the sample size was not large enough to accurately replicate the findings to the general populationCITATION Rao11 \p 96 \l 1033 (Rao 96).
We should view the paper by Wakefield more keenly since it lacks boundary conditionsCITATION God11 \p 64 \l 1033 (Godlee 64). Nonpseudoscientific papers pose articulated limitation that forms the basis on which anticipated phenomena do or do not applyCITATION Fla11 \p 1304 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1304). Recognizing limitations is fundamental in interpreting validity, ascribing credibility level to the conclusions and placing research findings in context. However, the study by Wakefield did not elaborate limitations of the studyCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Acknowledging limitations needs an interpretation of the influence and meaning of validity and errors on research reports.
Pseudoscience uses fraud to advance a particular social, political or economic interestCITATION God11 \p 66 \l 1033 (Godlee 66). By falsifying facts and choosing data to suit their circumstances, Wakefield and co-authors deliberately participated in scientific fraudCITATION Fla11 \p 1302 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1302). To make matters worse, Wakefield altered the medical histories of all the twelve respondents whose cases molded the basis of the researchCITATION God11 \p 66 \l 1033 (Godlee 66). Godlee further claims that Wakefield got paid by a law firm that wanted to settle scores, through litigation, by vaccine manufacturers (66). Hence, most probably, Wakefield research had was guided by the financial gains rather than lucidity.
The research by Wakefield overlies on confirmation rather than refutation thus leading to a speculative conclusionCITATION God11 \p 64 \l 1033 (Godlee 64). Wakefield makes assertions that do not permit logical possibilities. However, a temporary link between MMR and autism may exist since both happenings, by definition or design, happen in childhoodCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). Of the twelve subjects that Wakefield examined, five of them presented developmental challenges before receiving the MMR vaccines, and three of them never had autismCITATION Rao11 \p 95 \l 1033 (Rao 95). In presenting study findings, Wakefield and co-authors give the mean time to onset of the first behavioral symptoms as 6.3 daysCITATION Wak98 \p 639 \l 1033 (Wakefield 639). Wakefield uses the average duration from parental recollections as fact in findings, results, tables, interpretation and statistical analysis. Using such information increased errors in the research since parents may not accurately recollect the information, especially after several years have elapsed, hence casting doubt to the study findings and conclusion.
The study by Wakefield depicts the absence of progress as evident in legitimate scientific studiesCITATION Fla11 \p 1303 \l 1033 (Flaherty 1303). By predetermining the conclusion of the research before commencing the study, Wakefield fails to progress towards additional evidence of the research claim. More so, the study lacks self-correction since, after its publication, it was retracted and has remained unchanged despite contradictory evidenceCITATION Rao11 \p 96 \l 1033 (Rao 96). Additionally, the statistical significance of supporting the resu...
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