We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal - we are offering them a stool.
|Offending the offensive since 1999|
March 1, 2014
Note from mum (1/3/2014)
I've been absent for the last coup[le of weeks because I'm packing and looking for somewhere else to live. This takes time, and the aggravation of having to deal with estate agents who carefully listen to what I need and then say things like "We have exactly what you need for only $150 per week more than you can afford to pay, but they don't allow pets so you can't bring your dog" doesn't help. Things will return to normal shortly. In the meantime, here are some things which will soon be appearing in print.
Are all vitamins good for you? (8/2/2014)
The vitamin company Swisse came to the attention of regulators recently over claims in their advertising. Now they have tried to buy some respectability.
The Best Research Money Can Buy
An offer of this amount has been made to at least two Australian universities over recent months, plus another two who are rumoured but not yet confirmed. The first three rejected the offer, which was finally accepted by La Trobe University. You might wonder why anyone would refuse this, but it was because the donation was tied to doing specific research into the products of a single company, the vitamin manufacturer Swisse. Swisse have come in for some attention from the ACCC recently for the wording used in their advertisements, but as all distributors of vitamins at least suggest some amorphous benefits from using their products this isnít enough reason to refuse to take their money.
Conscientious objection requires a conscience (1/3/2014)
Anti-vaccination liars are up in arms about new rules protecting children from the inaction of irresponsible parents. They are resorting to religious claims.
Bending your conscience to fit your opinion
If someone was called up there were three legal ways to avoid doing the two yearsí service. (Hiding in Australia or another country was possible, but not legal. Not turning up triggered an automatic two-year gaol term, suspended until you were located.) These were rejection on medical grounds (and you had to have a serious medical problem), full-time university study (in a time of expensive university fees, the default option for the sons of the wealthy), and conscientious objection.
Tooth truth? Maybe not. (1/3/2014)
I saw this image at least twice in the last week on Facebook promoting methods of tooth whitening. One was using a mixture of toothpaste, sodium bicarbonate, and strong hydrogen peroxide, the other was saying that the result came from rubbing the teeth with banana skins. As I said, both were using the same before and after pictures to prove how effective their recommended idiocy was.
I wasn't about to fill my mouth with dangerous chemicals (and H2O2 at the concentration needed for this effect is very dangerous indeed, which is why tooth whitening preparations using it should only be applied by dentists) and banana skins taste bad, so I looked for a safer, better tasting, and more convenient method. I found it right there on my computer - Photoshop. All I had to do was reduce the level of yellow in the "Before" image and I got this:
Amazing, isn't it? A software solution to discoloured teeth. And the longest part was loading the program. If I'd had more than a couple of minutes to spare I could have done an even better job.
The moral - don't believe every miracle cure your Facebook friends tell you about, not even the one weird trick that you won't believe that will cause you to lose weight. Maybe don't even believe any of them.
The other miracle cure news for the week was that as well as marijuana (which cures everything), all fruit and vegetables found in your greengrocer's shop will cure cancer. The exception seems to be cauliflower, but that doesn't matter because I hate cauliflower. If I were an evil person I could start a meme about the curative properties of cauliflower. Hmmm, while I've got Photoshop open ...
Oh, look what just appeared on Facebook! (1/3/2014)
February 1, 2014
Running away (1/2/2014)
There has been a spate lately of people arriving ex nihilo at the Stop the AVN Facebook page and posting messages challenging the regulars to explain things that have been explained countless times before. They invariably say at some time that they are not anti-vaccination, in the same tone of voice used by people who say "I'm not a racist, but ...". They then go on to tell easily refuted lies (one said that as part of her research she had been to the vaccine factories to see them being made), and when called on these lies they resort to abuse and non sequitur, with an accusation of payments by Big Pharma usually alluded to if not said outright. After a while they stop responding, and then as a final admission of their worthlessness they delete the entire thread.
I hope this isn't why my ankle broke (1/2/2014)
I have suffered foot problems on at least four occasions - at TAM in Las Vegas in 2004, just before the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney in 2011 (preventing me from participating with my friends from Sydney Gay Atheists), at the Global Atheist Conference in Melbourne in 2012, and coming home from SkeptiCamp in Sydney in 2012 (when the message was very strong - broken ankle). I try very hard not to think that there is some higher power who doesn't like me going to skeptical and atheistic events.
The Gates Letter (1/2/2014)
It's always nice to see the annual letter from Bill Gates, setting out what he and like minded people have done and are doing to improve the world. This year's letter is about the myths that impede action to improve the lot of people less fortunate than ourselves.
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world canít solve extreme poverty and disease isnít just mistaken. It is harmful. Thatís why in this yearís letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.
Why do I do this? (1/2/2014)
Sometimes an email comes in that makes me feel good about what I do. Here is one, revealing the risk to society provided by the opponents of vaccination. (The email has been edited slightly at the request of the writer to remove any identifying information.)
I would like to applaud you on your ongoing fight against the AVN and their fellow travellers.
I hope my following comments are a warning to others.
My wife was recently diagnosed with Whooping Cough and although she has been vaccinated it was many years ago as she is 50 next birthday. Although she has not suffered badly from the infection the problem is that she works 3 days a week in a Obstetrics Practice and held a new born at the practice and also a friend's two week old grandchild before she was aware of the diagnosis.
We may be fortunate that she may have been out of the infectious period at the time however we will have to wait a week or so to see if the babies are OK. In the meantime the babies will have to be given antibiotics just in case. Because this has taken place in the holiday period she may not have worked during the (possible) infectious period.
My wife's infection may just be the "luck of the draw" or is it because of the increased prevalence of Whooping Cough, in a large part, caused by the mindless Ferals of the AVN.
It also shows that we should all have booster shots especially those who work in occupations that pose a risk to newborns and also those families with newborns.
You can imagine how badly my wife feel about this.
I can assure you that the practice is taking all steps necessary to notify and protect their patients.
Scribo, ego sum (1/2/2014)
They say that there's no rest for the wicked, but the rest of us are kept busy too. Another article for Australasian Science magazine has gone off to the printers and bulk mailers. It will be in letterboxes and newsagents shortly, but you can get a sneak preview here.
Philosophy Versus Science, And Vice Versa
January 25, 2014
A ritual observed by many Australians on Australia Day is to scan the list of people who have been awarded something in the Order of Australia. Eager fingers navigate to the Governor General's web site and hover the cursor over the link which comes live at a minute past midnight when the embargo is lifted.
Unfortunately I missed out again, but a friend of mine didn't. Here is what it said on page 359 of the official list of awards:
MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION
Ms Loretta Josephine MARRON, Burpengary Qld 4505
Inaugural Chief Executive Officer and Secretary, Friends of Science in Medicine, since 2011; Founding Member, 2011; formed to support evidence-based medicine and to raise concerns about 'complementary and alternative' interventions for health conditions.
Co-Author, Commercialism, choice and consumer protection: regulation of complementary medicines in Australia, Medical Journal of Australia, 2008.
Co-developer, Health Information website, www.healthinformation.com.au, since 2005; an online health directory of reputable sources of health information, support groups, access to medical specialists online and information about clinical trials.
Citizen journalist and international speaker on the risks and benefits of complementary and alternative interventions.
There are always some controversial awards, but this isn't one of them. Congratulations, Loretta. I'm proud to have you as a friend.
Changing that name (25/1/2014)
Now that the holiday season is over and all the public servants are about to return to their desks to start the cogs of officialdom and bureaucracy turning again it's probably a good time to revisit this media release issued by the NSW Office of Fair Trading in November last year. It's been two months and the Australian Vaccination Network has not yet announced any new, truthful name, but there has been a fire sale of office furniture so maybe the plan is to simply disappear. Which would be nice.
Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change its name
25 November 2013
Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today welcomed a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) to order the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name on the grounds it is misleading.
The ADT has upheld NSW Fair Tradingís direction to the AVN to change its name.
Mr Roberts said Fair Trading had acted in the public interest by requesting the AVN change its name, based on claims the name is unacceptable under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
"Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information," Mr Roberts said.
"The time has come for AVN to find a name which reflects its anti-vaccination stance.
"This is about being open and upfront about what you stand for, not hiding behind a name which could mislead the community about a very significant public health issue."
On 21 December 2012, the Associations Incorporation Amendment (Unacceptable Names) Regulation 2012 commenced. The amendment expanded the classifications of unacceptable names to include a name likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of an association.
In January, Fair Trading issued a direction to the AVN to change its name on the basis it was undesirable because it had the potential to mislead the public.
On 8 February 2013, the Association sought an internal review of that decision. The internal review was completed on 19 February, affirming the original decision.
The Association then lodged an appeal in the ADT.
At the first hearing on 22 March 2013, Judge OíConnor, President of the Tribunal, placed conditions on the organisation, including that a prominent consumer warning be published on the AVN website and its Facebook page by 26 March 2013.
The warning stated Fair Trading had directed AVN to change its name because it regarded the name to be misleading and that the direction was being challenged before the Tribunal.
AVN has 28 days to lodge an appeal against todayís decision.
Mr Roberts said Fair Trading reserves the right to pursue costs associated with any ongoing legal action undertaken by AVN.
What is known is that the AVN have been trying to register names which are similar to "Australian Vaccination Sceptics (or Skeptics) Network". Any attempt to use one of these names will be strongly challenged by groups such as Australian Skeptics Inc and people who care about the truth. They have been ordered to change the deceptive name, and changing it to something which is possibly even more deceptive should not be allowed. I realise that the AVN don't see what they are attempting to do as anything wrong, but truth and morality are concepts that they simply don't understand.
The disappearing polio (25/1/2014)
In 2009 more than half of the world's cases of polio were in India. If no cases are found in the next few weeks, India will be declared polio free in March, having gone three years without an incidence of the disease. The elimination of this scourge in only a little over a year shows what can be done when people commit to a goal. Unfortunately the country still has to be alert, because a neighbouring country, Pakistan, is now the world's biggest reservoir of polio, a situation made worse by the murder of people carrying out vaccination campaigns.
The news has delighted sane people everywhere, but what are the anti-vaccination liars going to do? They are constitutionally unable to take pleasure from the thought of children not dying or being crippled so they have had to look for a reason to deny the news. It is obvious that they can't fall back on the old lie that polio was only beaten in other countries by improved sanitation and nutrition, because these certainly do not apply to India, so they have chosen to run with the other old lie that the disease has been renamed. Almost within minutes of the release of the March target announcements were being made that there had been massive increases in other conditions such as Acute Flaccid Paralysis, although nobody seemed to know where they were getting the figures from. It couldn't have been from the Indian health authorities or the WHO, because they were the ones saying that polio is gone, so the only reasonable conclusion is that which is made whenever the vermin say things that don't appear to be true. It's called "lying" and it's what liars do.
Deniers gonna deny (25/1/2014)
On a fairly regular basis people post messages to Internet forums with a specific agenda challenging the residents to justify why they should not be outed as hypocrites because the interloper is more whatever than they are. Anti-vaccination liars, for example, are champions at this, claiming that they have the truth and everyone else is either in the pay of Big Pharma or are just unthinking sheeple. Climate change deniers do the same, usually by trying to claim the term "skeptic" for themselves. (See above for the AVN trying to do the same thing.) One appeared on the Facebook group "Skeptics in Australia" during the week and instantly launched an attack on everyone. Any attempt to discuss anything with him soon escalated into insults and non sequitur, so the group administrators deleted the thread. I discovered this the next time I logged in, so I wrote this.
I gather from several notifications mentioning me that led to a deleted thread that someone challenged me to or about something. I like a challenge, especially when it comes from someone using an idiosyncratic definition of "skepticism".
Skepticism is about being open to evidence, the more of it the better. There will always be "mavericks" who go against scientific consensus. Sometimes these people are correct, but most often they are not. When you have a body of knowledge built up over a long period and countless confirming observations and which can be explained by a coherent set of theories (such as climate change, the role of bacteria in infection, the efficacy of vaccination, the horror of Nazi death camps, ...) the chances of the mavericks being right diminishes. When they can't offer anything except "You are wrong" it is safe to call them "deniers".
Deniers often like to talk about paradigm shifts without understanding what Kuhn meant by the term. He didn't mean that somebody comes along and throws over all established knowledge - he meant that a point can be reached where a theory simply cannot explain some anomalies and a new theory is needed to fill the gaps. Einstein didn't overthrow Newton, he stood on Newton's shoulders to see a little further into the way the universe works. There is a reason that science-based Nobel Prizes are usually awarded long after what they are awarded for happened, and, remember, they are usually for some breakthrough which adds explanation to or extends an existing body of knowledge. The delay is there to allow others to incorporate the new discoveries and use them to explain what we don't know a little better. And to make sure that the new ideas are correct.
It takes time and a lot of work to find out what reality is doing and even though science isn't a democracy where the majority rules, the majority is far more likely to be right than a tiny minority who don't try to fill the gaps in knowledge but use a crowbar to widen them.
Nobody laughed at Galileo, but even if they did he was right and he got there by extending the work of others using methods and equipment that weren't available to his predecessors. He could demonstrate his theory to anyone prepared to look through his telescope. If someone came along today and claimed that he had proof that the Sun went around a fixed Earth we would want some pretty convincing evidence before we would say that the consensus had been overthrown.
But if the evidence was good enough ...
I was informed that in the deleted messages he had told me that I was lying and had challenged me to comprehensively prove that the climate was changing. I referred him to the IPCC web site and asked him to provide his thoughts on all the papers that had been used to build the various reports that the organisation had made over the years. He ran away and hasn't been heard of since. Which is typical behaviour for deniers.
I had something to say along these lines a little while ago in "Give me my word back".
Here are the thousand links to places I don't like
and these are the sites added or changed recently
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