A lot of poorly conducted studies connect vaccines to autism. They advise parents to prevent their kids from getting vaccines that might save their lives. What’s more, they even put their kids at risk of getting completely preventable ailments unnecessarily.
One recent study claims that aluminum in vaccines links to symptoms of autism in mice. So, articles regarding the aluminum in vaccines and autism link started circulating the internet ever since then.
As expected, many parents started refusing to give their kids potential life-saving vaccines.
However, one of the lead authors of the study reported that some figures in the study were deliberately changed before it was published. So, it turns out the study is questionable, and the link false.
Consequently, the study was placed under scientific scrutiny after the publication. The opinion of professor and surgeon at Wayne State University David Gorski about the study is mice torture for the sake of anti-vax pseudoscience.
The PubPeer community was of particular importance thanks to spotting something strange in the images used in the study.
Users in this community can analyze and comment on different studies. And, they noticed the study used photo manipulation for some of the images.
It turned out that some of the images weren’t showing what they were supposed to show, i.e., they were flipped. One of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Chris Shaw, said the researchers ran their own analyses on the figures in their lab.
So, right after his statement, he retracted the study from the journal it first appeared – the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry.
He said that there’s no question about the flipping of some of the images, but he doesn’t know why or how.
According to him, the lab no longer possesses the original data so they don’t know how the flipping happened. And, they didn’t perform their analysis on raw data, but rather on compiled.
So, he wonders how they didn’t notice the dodgy figures before publishing the paper, as everything was fine when seeing the data years ago and reviewing his further analysis.
Still, this question might never get its answer. The author says the original data is no longer accessible as it’s now somewhere in China with a researcher who worked on the study.
Even though Christopher Shaw believes the conclusions in the research still stand, both co-authors decided to retract the study. What’s more, he’s no longer certain if he’ll dabble in this topic ever again.