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Fossil BS: Dr Andrew Wakefield (71* d) RE: BS: Dr Andrew Wakefield 20 Apr 13

Acorn4, I have never heard of or read of diptheria being treated by putting a red-hot poker down the throat. Such a procedure would probably kill off the patient/victim anyway due to the swelling of the airway walls which would be caused by the trauma of such a procedure.

I suspect that your granddad was himself conflating the old procedure of cauterisation of an open wound with red-hot iron - itself an effective, if very painful way of disinfecting and closing an injury - with clearing the airway. Certainly the procedure would have absolutely no effect on the diptheria bacterium. The process of intubation to allow breathing was well known in the late nineteenth century and it was probably some notion of this he was referring to.

I would anyway be grateful for any reliable references to this.

Bad science cited as support for wacky beliefs is widespread in almost every walk of life and medical/pharmaceutical science is no exception. But (and it's a *big* "but"), there are a lot (probably a majority) of honest scientists around and the truth usually gets out eventually. As it did with Wakefield, who was proven to have distorted, ignored, lied about or just made up medical evidence in order to support his autism-MMR theory.

The fact that this theory has survived even Wakefield's exposure shows how pervasive these things can be.

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