The Pathological Optimist, directed by Miranda Bailey, concerns United Kingdom former doctor Andrew Wakefield. Bailey chronicles events in Wakefield’s life. Early on, such events led to a scandal and charges against Andrew Wakefield for fraud. Subsequently, the U.K. medical board removed his license. Nevertheless, with his career destroyed, Wakefield continued to do research and holistic medicine in the United States. As Bailey follows Wakefield and journeys with him, we consider.
How can this mild mannered, highly intelligent individual be a charlatan? Bill Gates excoriated him as a self-dealing opportunist, Bailey reveals in a video clip. Indeed, Gates suggests, Wakefield wished to prove the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), vaccine dangerous to promote his own vaccine. We wonder. After all Bill Gates’ testimony seems worthy. But whom should we believe? Gates or Wakefield? Of course, Gates. Not so fast. Then Bailey peels back the layers of the story of Andrew Wakefield. After we note the details we understand, Gates may be misled.
Through a fascinating journey, Bailey shadows Wakefield in live clips on the ground. Notably, we see video of him past and present. Furthermore, we see interviews with family, friends, advocates who support his cause. Clearly, Bailey presents the problems Wakefield faced with The Lancet article (U.K. journal). And she lays out the confounding events that got Wakefield’s medical license removed. In particular Bailey chronicles his collision course to clear his name, allegedly smeared and defamed by U.K. journalist Brian Deer. Considering that the truth speaks as an absolute defense against libel (print), slander and defamation, the truth could clear Andrew Wakefield, and damages for the loss of his career and emotional devastation could be collected. However, what if Wakefield cannot speak the truth?
As it would seem, the court silenced Wakefield. An issue with the judge’s relations comes up, Wakefield’s wife discovers. Additionally, Bailey reveals the blow to Wakefield and the family when the case will not be tried in Texas. Will the truth ever come out in a court of law?
Significantly, Wakefield remains involved with MMR issues. It is an irony that the scandal explodes with controversy to this day. Wakefield’s reputation optics in medical circles could not trend any lower. Nevertheless, in Wakefield, supported by family, friends and advocates, Bailey reveals an optimist. When one has “nothing left to lose,” one may be cheerful, and he, Wakefield, will fight on to reveal the truth. Indeed, this truth includes raising questions about the MMR vaccine.
Dr. Wakefield loved research and practicing medicine. As his life appears to languish in chaos and confusion, he remains dogged about the MMR. And he tells Bailey. I will not go away. If nothing meaningful abides with this vaccine issue, why waste one’s time in stubborn persistence? Why attempt to clear one’s name?
Indeed, issues related to the MMR vaccine have persisted for two decades. Emotions run high. And anger and irate retorts swirl, led by chief excoriator journalist Brian Deer and others. To Deer Wakefield appears a fraud, a charlatan, a liar. However, a problem boils up. For Wakefield may have noted vital information and data about the vaccine. Though Bailey touches upon this briefly, the meat of her documentary raises more questions than answers them. As an exploration of the man Andrew Wakefield, who discusses the initial controversy, license removal and defamation, we must decide for ourselves.
Tragically, autism spectrum disorder rates have increased exponentially. Since doctors’ administration of the combined MMR vaccine to children under 15 months, factors remain profound. Proven research by the CDC floated years ago. The CDC assures that the MMR remains completely safe. On the other hand ethnographic evidence, witness testimony, interviews and more indicate the MMR may give rise to autism in some children. Parent after parent, after parent, after parent identify a complete transformation of their child after getting the vaccination. Unfortunately, eye-witness testimony appears inconsequential to the medical industrial complex. Most assuredly, their hard data tells a different story. Yes! The MMR protects.
However, the film VAXXED From Coverup to Catastrophe levels the playing field. Bailey cites this film directed by Andrew Wakefield and produced by Del Bigtree at the conclusion of her documentary. Indeed, in VAXXED, a CDC whistleblower exposes fraud at the CDC. In a frightening admission, the whistleblower states that he and his team “doctored” the MMR safety results. The documentary connects the dots. Indeed, all of what Andrew Wakefield went through in his life and career moves toward the pinnacle moment of making this film. Hopefully, congressional hearings which would take the testimony of this CDC whistleblower may eventually happen. Sadly, autism rates increase when doctors administer the MMR at 15 months. Why won’t the CDC do more research?
Since the initial publication and designation of Wakefield’s fraud (1990s), circumstances changed and cleared a U.K. team member. Hence, one of Wakefield’s colleagues has been vindicated and his license reinstated. Andrew Wakefield has not pursued this path. The board refuses to reinstate Wakefield’s license. Injustice abides.
Bailey’s documentary which attempts an objective approach about Wakefield, raises questions about who this excoriated and vilified “fraudster” is. Has he indeed lied and proven himself a despicable devil? Why does Wakefield continually attempt to clear his name? Wouldn’t any charlatan just “get on with his life?” Why does this former doctor persist in raising questions about the MMR vaccine? Why create a documentary about a whistleblower who exposes corruption at the CDC? It would seem that one looking for money would run out of energy. On the other hand, those with a cause, those seeking justice often don’t stop until the truth comes out.
Because the details remain opaque about how questions began about the vaccine, labeling Wakefield a fraud derails the argument about the MMR. Brian Deer prides himself as the one who exposed Wakefield as a “charlatan.” As a journalist, he will not champion children with autism. However, Wakefield does. Not surprisingly Deer feels he did his job. And what was that? If he inclines to expose fraud and corruption, why not investigate the whistleblower’s allegations of fraud and corruption at the CDC? His lack of interest raises questions about Deer as a champion of truth and justice.
Interestingly, ethical bureaucracies self-police. Unethical ones hide, skew information, cover up negligence and dilatory behavior. However, when the possibility exists of there being a cover-up of data resulting in the damage of children throughout their lives? Such a possibility must be examined by researchers. Surely, one would think independent research and congressional hearings might get to the bottom of this controversy.
Meanwhile, autism rates increase. How long does a child with autism spectrum disorder live? If whistleblowers ever reveal fraud and corruption at the CDC in a congressional hearing, what companies are liable? What heads will roll? Not Andrew Wakefield’s. And that vital truth remains the overarching concern of his life.