The damage done by one man.
When you're a parent of a child with severe autism, you may very well find yourself search for a reason why your child was born with this inability to relate to the world. I imagine that it would be very easy to find yourself grasping for something, anything, to make sense of why your child had this handicap.
So when we started hearing about a study in England, relating vaccinations to the uptick in autistic cases, it must have been very seductive indeed for those parents to believe in it, even before the study was validated.
Good science has peer reviews, and has validity questions asked and answered. If your samples are contaminated with poor representations, or your data was not interpretted the same way, or you used biased methods, then you will get junk science, which cannot be replicated when good solid methods are used.
The English study, conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was worse than junk science; it was fraud.
And that fraud has led to a giant decline in vaccinations throughout the UK and even the US. Consequently, measles is up to the highest level in 13 years. Vaccinations rates fell 80% (can this be true?!?).
Another scientist named Deer says that he has not only found clear fraud, but a clear motive: pounds sterling. Apparently, lawyers were paying Wakefield to find these "facts," Deer says.
The British government have stripped Wakefield of his medical license. He says that it's a witch hunt to get him for saying something unpopular.
But there have always been scientists who were willing to speak out and say something unpopular, in the defense of good science. If Wakefield's notorious conclusions are correct then he'll receive support of his methods by legitimate members of the scientific community.
At this point? We don't have any proof of a link between vaccinations and autism. Even if there were a link, we can't point to Wakefield's study for proof.
But we can point to damage done to many children, but the acts of one bad "scientist."