Yet another reason to be skeptical of anyone who says "the science is settled". On any subject.
There was a time when scientific endeavor was a noble enterprise, but it's becoming clear with every passing day that this is no longer the case. Whether it's falsifying weather or second-hand smoke data to fit a political agenda, faking test results to obtain grant money, kickbacks, or honorarium, science is no longer about the quest for pure knowledge. It's become a business.
Couple this truth with another one: that we live in a society in which simple morality, the belief in honesty, the strength and power of ethical codes, has been steadily eroded by a"if-it-feels-good-do-it-the-ends-justify-the-means" mindset propagated by liberal thinkers (contradiction in terms). We've created a society where people are often protected and sheltered from the consequences of their actions, because to punish them might be considered "harsh". There is no stigma attached to anything anymore.
In most Western countries, the concept of punishment for crime is watered down by a therapeutic mindset; we separate criminals by category, violent or non-violent, and the non-violent get an ineffective lecture (as if they were merely wayward children) and the violent gets intense therapy and heavy medication, all in the hopes that they may be "rehabilitated", and able to rejoin society. In all of that effort, though, no one ever seems to address the moral issues attendant to bad behavior; the drug dealer and the murderer have a lot in common, putting aside phobias, neuroses and complexes; neither is capable of making a moral decision, even when they know what the consequences of their action will be. More often then not, they make a choice secure in the knowledge that there is no shame in it. That there is no real punishment involved.
So it is with this "Doctor".
He made a conscious decision to lie, and to falsify test results for money (allegedly), knowing full well that his actions were going to produce some of the following consequences:
1. Legitimate businesses making perfectly safe products, were going to be sued under false pretenses, and that he would perosnally profit from the scam.
2. Some people would be so frightened by the prospect of autism-by-injection, that they would deliberately put their children at risk of a preventable disease by withholding perfectly safe vaccines. Perhaps all vaccines, and not just MMR.
3. The way those with for-real autism would be treated by the medical establishment would change. The number of misdiagnoses for autism would balloon. Hospitals, Universities, local School systems and governments would misspend billions of dollars in the quest to "better understand" autism, chase the wild geese brought into being by the study's falsified results, and pharmacologists, chemists and other scientists would be spending further billions more to find an unnecessary alternative to a vaccine that worked perfectly well, and was safe.
What if someone had found this alternative, and it later turned out not to be as safe as what it replaced (and by that, I mean found unsafe by actual science, not some doc getting paid to fake a test result)? What if it killed someone?
Soon, this man will probably face a trial, and when and if he's found guilty, it will be argued that his only crime was one of selfish greed, that he really didn't hurt anyone, and it's not like he murdered a bunch of folks with a chainsaw, so why not show him some leniency? In time, he will receive psychiatric help, and come to terms with his failings as a scientist and doctor, readyto be reintegrated with society.
Fuck that. It's too bad Britain doesn't have the cat-o-nine tails anymore, because this man should be flogged before he's put away in prison, and made an example of.
It's about time someone had the balls to reestablish the concepts of morality, ethics and stigma, and what better place to begin than with a non-violent offender who only did what his sorry-ass code of ethics (the ones they taught him in college, you see) told him was perfectly reasonable, so long as the check cleared, and after all, it was only a big pharmaceutical company that was ripping people off, so what's the deal with ripping them off in return with a bunch of phony lawsuits bolstered by phony science?
It's that kind of thinking that turned a generation of parents into Autism-phobes, it's that kind of thinking that has doctors who can't find their own ass with both hands diagnosing Autism where none exists, it's that kind of thinking that has led millions of children to needlessly suffer -- maybe even die -- from mumps, measles and whooping cough. It's that kind of thinking that has allowed the bottom-feeders of society -- the Lawyer, the Mental Health Professional and the Activist -- to redirect billions in funding from programs and hospitals where it might have done the most good for people in need.
Prison is too good for this asshole. I'd like to see Parliament reintroduce drawing-and-quartering for just this one time.