Casadevall and Caplan pointed to the 1998 study in Lancet by Andrew Wakefield temporarily linking childhood vaccines to autism — a study later retracted because it was found to be what another scientific journal called "an elaborate fraud."
"Think about the damage society took when mothers started to question vaccines," Casadevall said. "That's damage and it's still going on."
Reached at home in Texas, Wakefield, who was banned from practicing medicine in his native Great Britain and whose claims are contrary to what prevailing established medical research shows about vaccine and autism, said: "There was no fraud and to use this and to use me as a poster child of fraud really compounds that error."
Casadevall said his work is about science trying to clean its own house. And because it's about fraud, he said he did one extra thing with his study: He sent reviewers not just a summary of their work, but all the data, "so they can check on us."
The journal: http://www.pnas.org
Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears