Home > Comments and Articles > Australian Vaccination Network 2009
The AVN won an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:
2009 wasn't a good year for the AVN. It got off to a bad start when some AVN members thought that it would be a good idea to abuse the parents of a baby girl who died of whooping cough at the age of four weeks. The parents were less than amused by this and went to the media, resulting in some less than flattering coverage for the AVN and its child-endangering activities. No longer seen as the experts on vaccination, suddenly the organisation was being asked to justify its actions, something that could only be done by denigrating and abusing their opponents. Later in the year they came to the attention of the authorities for collecting money without a current charitable organisation registration and then found themselves being investigated by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. To make matters worse it was discovered that they had not been telling the truth to advertisers in their magazine (one advertiser said that they didn't want to be involved with "deranged" people like the AVN) and had been claiming an association with a charity when no such association existed. They closed a couple of Facebook pages when people started asking questions, purged their email mailing list, took their magazine out of newsagents and naturopaths' waiting rooms and begged for money several times to keep the doors open. The President of AVN, Meryl Dorey, won the Australian Skeptics' Bent Spoon Award for 2009.
The purpose of this award is to encourage them to continue as they are because this means that they might soon disappear completely, thus making a positive contribution to public health and particularly the health of children.
Dear Ms Dorey,
Congratulations. The Australian Vaccination Network won an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. While this might not be as pleasing to you as the Anus Maximus Award that the AVN won in 2001, the judges felt that after the year of bad publicity that the AVN received in 2009 you need some encouragement. The award citation read:
Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.
You can see the other award winners at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/2009awards.htm
A child died. Hooray! (14/3/2009)
I was banned from the Australian Vaccination Network's Internet mailing list many years ago. Since then I have found various ways of finding out what goes on there. It is a regular occurrence for people to be banned for expressing contrary opinions (known in the outside world as "talking sense"), but usually they get to post at least one message before dismissal; I didn't get to post at all before the powerful magic of my name became too much to bear. (The magic worked even better on another list - the owner of the largest anti-vaccination liar list closed it completely because she believed, on no evidence, that I might be a member.)
When the news broke that a child had died of whooping cough, the first in my state since 2000 and the first in Australia since 2004, I thought that It might be time to check the list traffic to see how the denizens were reacting. I found what I expected to find - trivialisation of the death and exploitation of it to attack vaccines. I thought it was time for some more Kind and Gentle activity, so I sent the following email to AVN President Meryl Dorey and someone known only as Sue who had recently rejoiced in a news story about a death from measles:
Congratulations. You must be very pleased that your work is achieving the expected results.
The reaction was predictable. Sue posted my email to the list with a paranoid comment about how spies must have given me her email address. Someone commented that it was sneaky of me not to post my email to the list that I am banned from posting to, and someone else ad hominemed me by ridiculing Australian Skeptics. None of these people bothered to contact me directly, but instead chose to talk about me (without referring to me by name - there's that powerful juju again) in a forum in which I am prohibited from participating. Of course, none of them showed any pity for the dead child or tried to explain why the death had anything to do with the dangers of vaccines.
The media doesn't care. Boo hoo! (14/3/2009)
Coincidentally with the whooping cough death mentioned above, a couple of local papers ran extensive opinion pieces about the venality and stupidity of anti-vaccination liars.
This attention to common sense did not please the local anti-vaccination campaigners. Causing them particular offence was that Meryl Dorey from AVN had been cut off in a radio interview and that she had only had a few words printed in the press after an extensive interview. I didn't hear the radio interview but I have no reason to believe that she was cut off for any reason other than the usual - she had gone off-topic or had started repeating herself. (I've been on both ends of talkback radio and I've been both cutter and cuttee.) Or perhaps the interviewer thought that the radio station didn't need to promote an anti-vaccination agenda any longer. In the press story, the words that were printed did not include any truth so perhaps this was another case where the journalist felt that enough had been said.
I've been interviewed many times and always expect to be edited. Someone once said that the only way to be quoted in full was to ask in advance how many of your words would be printed or how many seconds of audio or video would be broadcast and then only speak that number of words or for that period of time. This is rarely practical. The best one I had was a half-hour interview for about two minutes of screen time. That wasn't the problem, because I expected it. The problem was that the producer then wanted me to demonstrate some cancer "curing" devices so I had to go back to the studio the next day. The producer then decided he needed one of those faintly ridiculous "walk to camera" scenes so I had to return a third time.
Oh, and did I mention that someone who suggested on the AVN mailing list that the radio truncation might be because the interviewer didn't like lies was banned from the list ten minutes later?
Unhappy anti-vaccinators. Boo, hoo. (2/5/2009)
The crisis is gradually easing and the migraines are less frequent, but I can't do too much this weekend. On Saturday I'm off to participate in a television program about vaccination. This is a follow-up to a program shown last weekend which encouraged parents to vaccinate their children. That program was prompted by the death of a baby a few weeks back from whooping cough, and there was the obligatory input from an anti-vaccination campaigner who managed to illustrate her idiocy by saying that whooping cough didn't kill (remember, this was a story about a dead baby) and that it could be treated with homeopathy and herbs. The Australian Vaccination Network's Internet mailing list (from which I am banned) went into melt-down mode about the terrible treatment that their representative got on the program and initiated a letter-writing campaign in protest. The station's reaction was to hold the forum that I will be attending as part of a select audience. As members of the AVN have in the past expressed distaste at the thought of being in the same room as me it should be an interesting afternoon in the studio. By the way, when the baby's death was reported in the press in March, the reaction on the AVN's mailing list was to dismiss the report as just being propaganda to promote mandatory vaccination. This triggered a Kind and Gentle email from me to the writers.
Here is the segment of the Sunday Night show which caused all the fuss.
Anti-vaccination liars still unhappy. How tragic.
The second television show that I mentioned last week went ahead. I was in the audience when it was recorded but I didn't get to say anything. The anti-vaccinators on the Australian Vaccination Network's mailing list (from which I am banned) were even less happy after the second show went to air than they were after the first, because they expected the host to be sympathetic to their complaints after the first episode. Apparently it was disgusting to ask someone what her medical qualifications were (none) and a major revelation when a real doctor admitted that vaccines were not 100% safe and effective (a fact known to and recognised by all sentient beings). The anti-vaccination doctor appearing on the panel objected to being introduced as such and then went on to say how opposed to vaccines she is.
Reports of the program from people who watched it on television almost universally misspelled the host's name, and in a wonderful example of the careless attitude to facts endemic in the anti-vaccination movement, one of the people there read out details of a court case in which someone had received compensation for damage caused by a badly manufactured batch. She misquoted the names of the parties and this was obvious to anybody who knew anything, because the "guilty" vaccine manufacturer she named was a charitable trust which conducts neither research nor manufacture. Her comment didn't make it to air, and in the official AVN report of this biased editing the company was given a different name, also wrong. Strangely, when I went looking for facts I only found the case reported on two of the most rabid anti-vaccination liar web sites in the world, and in both case the source was a 2001 newspaper report of a 1992 court case. The case was described as "recent".
Here is the television show. It is highly encouraging that the mainstream media have finally stopped treating these people as if they have some expertise, or even opinions that are worth listening to. When there is an epidemic of whooping cough and children are dying it is past the time to be polite to people whose activities can only increase the infection and death rates.
Who's a clever boy then? (23/5/2009)
Meryl Dorey is the President of the Australian Vaccination Network, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of quacks and the malfare of children. What happens if you type the search string "meryl dorey" into Google? (Insert sound of self-satisfied chuckle here.)
Should I be worried though? When I was sued by a company that had been found by a court to be operating illegally, one of the complaints they had was that my criticism of their illegal activities was placed higher in Google than their company web site.
Speaking of the AVN ... (23/5/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network used to have a Facebook page. Now they don't. How sad is that? To fill the void and make up for the missing AVN page there is a Facebook group called "Stop the Australian Vaccination Network". Obviously I could never ask people to join such a bigoted and prejudiced group which is trying to deny parents their right to make an informed choice after hearing all the evidence about all the dangers of injecting mercury, formaldehyde, monkey pus, aborted foetuses and other poisons into their children's bloodstreams, but if you go here you could get an idea of what the group is about.
I help out an old friend (30/5/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network has a page on their web site where they ask for donations. When I looked there recently I found the claim that they are a charity. This is what it says on that page:
I am a naturally curious person, so I thought that I would check on the status of the AVN's charity status, and this was the surprising result:
I thought I would do my bit to rectify this oversight, so I asked the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for clarification. (No, I do not know why charities are combined with booze and betting under the one regulatory authority.) I also acted on my Kind and Gentle policy and sent the following email to Meryl Dorey, President of AVN:
The Charity Authority number quoted on the AVN page asking for donations expired almost two years ago.
Should I notify the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing that you are displaying an expired authority and still using it to claim charitable organisation status? Oh, that's right - I already did.
Let's attack some children (20/6/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network is asking for money to let them run some of their lies in a paper called Sydney's Child, a publication directed, as the name suggests, at parents of young children. AVN states that they are going to be partially funded for the advertisement by Generation Rescue, a prominent US anti-vaccination liar outfit. If you think that these people don't tell lies, look at the image below, extracted from an advertisement that Generation Rescue ran earlier this year. See where it says "[Autism]"? The square brackets are there because the word "autism" did not appear in the statement made by the court. (You can see the full advertisement here.) This was not a case of autism, but that didn't stop Generation Rescue lying about it. That is what they do.
I was told this week that parents suing pharmaceutical companies over "vaccine damage" to their children have been advised by their lawyers not to use the word "autism" in any claim. The corollary to this is that the lack of the word "autism" in any court finding is evidence that vaccines cause autism. Similar thinking would have vaccines causing car accidents, amblyopia, hangnails, fin rot on pet goldfish and flooding in Bangladesh, because none of these are mentioned by the courts either. And people keep asking me why I call anti-vaccination liars "liars".
Speaking of lying ... (27/6/2009)
Back in May I mentioned that the Australian Vaccination Network seemed to have forgotten that you need to be registered as a charity if you want to claim to be one. Now it seems that their valiant effort to be subsidised by Australian taxpayers has come to nought. This is how the tragedy was reported in their newsletter:
As you may or may not know, the government has refused to allow the AVN to become a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) - despite the fact that they have admitted that we qualify. Their reasoning is that people who access our information may decide not to vaccinate. The government doesn’t feel that this is in their best interests and therefore, they don’t feel we should be supported in this way. As a result, your donations can’t be tax deductible.
I want you to consider what that says carefully. Note how it says that the government admitted that they qualify but then said that they do not qualify. The fact is that any organisation which qualifies gets approval. They didn't qualify, and the reason for this is that charities are supposed to do work which benefits society and the tax deductibility of donations recognises that the organisations reduce government expenditure by providing services which would otherwise have to be provided at public expense. As the government is committed to promoting vaccination and good health it was never likely that lying about vaccines and working to increase the infection rates of serious illnesses were ever going to be considered to be appropriate activities to be subsidised through tax deductions.
Conspiracy insanity (11/7/2009)
You would imagine that if a pharmaceutical company had developed a new and deadly virus they would want to keep it a secret. Apparently in the case of swine flu this is not so. That reliable source of medical information, the Australian Vaccination Network, published the following news item on their blog:
BAXTER LABS FILES PATENT ON H1N1 (SWINE FLU) IN AUGUST 2008-1 YEAR AHEAD OF THE OUTBREAK!
We are told that Swine Flu (so-called - the H1N1 virus) which is composed of 2 swine, one avian and one human virus is naturally-occuring. Yet here we have the company that shipped human flu vaccine contaminated with bird flu to 18 countries filing a patent on H1N1 almost a full year before the outbreak started! And, may I add, the outbreak began very close to Baxter's lab in Mexico City - the same lab that has been experimenting with flu vaccines! When is there going to be an independent investigation of this company? When is the government going to test flu vaccines for contamination?
You will note that the claim is that Baxter have invented and patented a new virus. You will also note the specific date of the patent application - August 2008. When I checked the US Patent Office register of patents and patent applications the only thing I could find about Baxter and H1N1 in the last couple of years was a single application in 2009 (not 2008) relating to research into the development of viral vaccines.
The most recent patent issued to Baxter relating to H1N1 is 7,052,701, dated May 30, 2006 - "Inactivated influenza virus vaccine for nasal or oral application". I couldn't find where they had patented the pathogen itself. Perhaps they patented it in Mexico.
I have asked Meryl Dorey of AVN the simple, unambiguous question: "What is the patent number?" As she is certain that Baxter has patented H1N1 she should have no problem providing a speedy and verifiable answer. If she either can't or won't answer then I will have to assume that the story is a fabrication. Wouldn't that be a surprise?
More from the AVN, but is it truth? (18/7/2009)
That's a rhetorical question, of course.
Last week I mentioned that I had asked Meryl Dorey from AVN for the number of the patent she claimed Baxter Healthcare had filed on the swine flu virus. She replied with something like (but not exactly) the patent application number I already knew about. (I loved the way she described it as "so-called - the H1N1 virus". For some reason quacks and their supporters seem to think that putting "so-called" in front of the real name of something has meaning, other than exhibiting the mental inadequacy of the writer. I have seen it many times and it always amuses me.) I sent the following reply to her, but I haven't received an answer yet. (I didn't bother to point out that the virus behind the 1918 flu epidemic was the "so-called" H1N1, which has just been invented.)
That is not a patent, it is a patent application.
It is not a patent of a virus, it is an application for a patent on a method for the manufacture of viral vaccines.
The only mentions of H1N1 (which is also a human flu virus) are in a) discussion of the well-known fact that flu vaccines contain multiple antigens and b) description of how the viruses are inactivated so that the vaccine cannot cause infection.
There are 2816 articles indexed in PubMed with the keyword "H1N1", going back to 1976. Are you suggesting that they are all about the current strain of swine flu?
Anything else you would care to get wrong?
By the way, I live within 50 kilometres of Baxter's plant at Toongabbie? Should I be worried, seeing as that is the evidence for Baxter being involved in the swine flu outbreak in Mexico?
While I had PubMed out I thought I would answer another AVN claim which was made in the same Baxter bashing thread on the AVN blog. The claim was "[n]o vaccine has ever undergone a true double-blind crossover placebo study". My comment did not make it past the blog moderator (I didn't really expect it would), so it also remains unanswered.
HIV Testing Outside of the Study Among Men Who Have Sex With Men Participating in an HIV Vaccine Efficacy Trial. Gust DA, Wiegand RE, Para M, Chen RT, Bartholow BN. 1: J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2009 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]
METHODS:: Analyses were restricted to men who have sex with men (MSM) who completed a survey at one or more annual visits in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy trial of a bivalent rgp 120 vaccine conducted from 1998-2002.
Antibody response to influenza vaccine in coronary artery disease: a substudy of the FLUCAD study. Brydak LB, Romanowska M, Nowak I, Ciszewski A, BiliĹ„ska ZT. 1: Med Sci Monit. 2009 Jul;15(7):PH85-91
MATERIAL/METHODS: This was a substudy of the randomized prospective double-blind placebo-controlled FLUCAD study on influenza vaccination in the secondary prevention of ischemic coronary events in patients with coronary artery disease.
A Dose-Escalation Safety and Immunogenicity Study of Live Attenuated Oral Rotavirus Vaccine 116E in Infants: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Bhandari N, Sharma P, Taneja S, Kumar T, Rongsen-Chandola T, Appaiahgari MB, Mishra A, Singh S, Vrati S; Rotavirus Vaccine Development Group. 1: J Infect Dis. 2009 Aug 1;200(3):421-429
Methods. The neonatal rotavirus candidate vaccine 116E was tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-escalation trial in India.
Now you have at least three (out of the 1031 in PubMed found by searching for "vaccine double blind placebo") you can stop saying "No vaccine has ever undergone a true double-blind placebo study", because saying it again would be a lie as you now know the truth.
Do you ever tire of being wrong?
And the bit about "crossover" trials? Well that is true. There have never been any crossover trials, because such a trial would involve vaccinating half the subjects but not the rest and at some later time vaccinating the previously unvaccinated and unvaccinating the vaccinated. This is obviously impossible and the anti-vaccination liars know that. They hope that the people they lie to don't know.
Rabid idiotic fringe dwellers (1/8/2009)
Yes, those words were used by Meryl Dorey, president of the Australian Vaccination Network, when describing the public perception of her organisation. I rarely agree with Ms Dorey on anything, but this time I think she is absolutely correct. In fact, during the week she published some material on her blog endorsing some lunatic who claims that swine flu is just an excuse to get people ready to be vaccinated and the real reason for the vaccines will be actually to insert microchips into everyone so that the Rothschilds, Bilderbergs and the Illuminati can track our every movement before the great cull comes to reduce the world's population to a fraction of what it now is. (The lunatic in question stole the piece verbatim and in its entirety without credit from the web site of noted loon David Icke, famous for his claims that the British Royal Family are all lizards. Ms Dorey therefore not only promotes a truly insane conspiracy theory but endorses theft and plagiarism. Nice work.) Cody The Religion Hating Dog posted a message to the AVN's Facebook page saying that he was already microchipped and it wasn't doing him any harm. He also pointed out that as he is a dog he is allowed to be barking mad but what was Ms Dorey's excuse? He was banned shortly afterwards.
To give you the flavour of the material endorsed by AVN, here is a quote from the web page offered by Ms Dorey as evidence of the conspiracy behind swine flu:
A cabal of interbreeding families is seeking to impose a global fascist dictatorship of total human control.
Those on the inner levels of this structure are collectively known as the ‘Illuminati’.
This is how they coordinate between apparently unconnected governments, corporations, media groups etc. The Rothschild and Rockefeller dynasties (the same bloodline) are fundamentally involved in this, as I have long exposed, and they dominate pharmaceutical medicine and government ‘health’ policy worldwide.
The web controls governments, the pharmaceutical industry, or ‘Big Pharma’, the World Health Organisation and public heath ‘protection’ agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. In short, they control the entire medical system.
The Illuminati cabal established global bodies like the World Heath Organisation, World Bank and World Trade Organisation to transfer power from the many to the few. Their goal is a world government, world central bank, world currency and world army.
The Illuminati plan for the world includes a mass cull of the population and the microchipping of every man, woman and child. Microchips would allow everyone to be tracked 24/7, but it goes much further than that.
Computer technology communicating with the chips has the potential to manipulate people mentally, emotionally and physically. This could be done en masse or individually through the chip’s unique transmitter-receiver signal. Killing someone from a distance would be a synch. (sic).
In a major victory for common sense, the AVN closed their Facebook page, removed all discussion and messages, and severely restricted who could post to it. This was done in response to an invasion of sensible people asking sensible questions and providing sensible information about vaccine safety and effectiveness. The sensible people responded to claims that vaccine safety had never been tested by offering the 7,648 papers in PubMed which suggest otherwise, and responded to claims that vaccine efficacy had never been tested by offering the 13,726 papers from the same source which seemed to say different. Needless to say much fun was had with the extremely kooky conspiracy theory mentioned above. The suddenly it was all over. Doors closed, with us on the outside.
In the meantime, I found that I am banned from following Ms Dorey on Twitter.
I sent the following email to Meryl Dorey, and I eagerly await her reply.
On the AVN web site it says:
"1.Both sides of every health issue should be freely available for anyone who is trying to make a decision".
I cannot comment on entries in the AVN blog.
I cannot follow AVN on Twitter.
I am banned from the AVN mailing list.
I have been removed from the AVN's Facebook page, as have many other people, and everything I wrote there has been deleted.
These actions seem to be in direct conflict with the AVN policy reproduced above, and could even be construed as examples of hypocrisy.
You are free to read my web site at any time you like and if you send me comments I will publish them. You are free to join any public mailing list that I manage and post whatever you like to the list and you will not be moderated in any way (unless your messages expose me or anyone else to legal action). You have my permission to follow me on Twitter. You can be a fan or member of any Facebook page or group (or any other online forum) of which I am an administrator and any comments you post there will be left untouched (again unless they expose me or anyone else to legal action).
I have nothing to hide and I am not ashamed of what I say or do. It appears that you can say neither. Prove me wrong.
The idea of AVN claiming that all points of view should be heard blew up my irony meter. Luckily I have a circuit diagram so I can build another one.
Perhaps someone will take some notice (3/8/2009)
On August 3, 2009, a complaint was lodged with the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission about the activities of the Australian Vaccination Network. You can see the officially recorded complaint here. Much whining is expected from the AVN over the next few weeks as they try to convince everyone that they don't offer education (despite saying on their web site that they do) and they don't offer medical advice.
Vaccines - the battle continues (15/8/2009)
The complaint filed with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission wasn't the only thing that upset the creatures of the Australian Vaccination Network this week. On Thursday, August 6, Australian Skeptics ran an advertisement in the national newspaper The Australian which took the form of an open letter to Australian parents about the danger of the anti-vaccine lobby. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation ran a short news item out of their Lismore office based on the content of the advertisement. Lismore just happens to be the closest ABC office to the headquarters of the AVN, which explains why the story originated there and why they sought out Meryl Dorey from AVN for a comment.
The story appearing on the ABC site now is slightly different to what was originally published. The first edition concluded with the following paragraph, quoting Ms Dorey:
Peter Bowditch, from the Skeptics, even said on his website that he didn't think that this was actually a complaint that was going to go forward, but it was good because it would take up time and harass us and that's actually what the Skeptics have been doing for a very long time
I couldn't let this pass, so I sent the following email to the ABC:
In the news story "Sceptics take aim at vaccination doubters", Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network is quoted as saying "Peter Bowditch, from the Skeptics, even said on his website that he didn't think that this was actually a complaint that was going to go forward, but it was good because it would take up time and harass us and that's actually what the Skeptics have been doing for a very long time".
I felt that I had to respond to this.
First, while I am a member of the Committee of Australian Skeptics Inc I do not speak for the organisation, contrary to what is clearly suggested by Ms Dorey.
Second, I did not say anything like this on my web site (http://www.ratbags.com). I admit that the AVN has been a matter of some interest to me for many years and I have had a lot of things to say about them, but this wasn't one of them.
Third, what I did say elsewhere (and what Ms Dorey has misrepresented) is that I didn't think that the HCCC could actually shut the AVN down but the adverse publicity of the complaint might draw people's attentions to the dangerous activities and preachings of the AVN.
I appreciate the ABC's quick reaction but I didn't really care if the words were removed from their web site or not. I don't particularly care what people who don't know me think of me, and people who do know me would not be surprised to find Meryl Dorey dragging me into the conversation and might even expect that what she had to say about me could be politely described as "inaccurate". Three "inaccuracies" in 53 words, in this case.
They just can't stop lying (15/8/2009)
There was much rejoicing in anti-vaccination liar circles this week because a court had ordered the US government to stop the practice of mandatory vaccination. The injunction would have had the effect of preventing any mass vaccination campaign in the face of a possible epidemic or biological threat from a terrorist or foreign hostile power, and would presumably have extended to preventing the military from vaccinating servicemen and health authorities from insisting that doctors and nurses were fully vaccinated.
The victory was announced on many anti-vaccination liar web sites, but I became aware of it when the Australian Vaccination Network issued a media release. You can read the full item in glorious colour here, but the first paragraph gives the flavour:
After more than 30 years
US District Court issues injunction to stop compulsory vaccination
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 - For Immediate Release:
30 years after compulsory vaccination became US Law:
US Court issues an injunction to stop it and to hold the the government and drug companies responsible for reactions.
A Preliminary Injunction to stop mandatory vaccinations has been issued in the United States District Court of New Jersey. This comes after a federal lawsuit opposing forced vaccines was filed in that court by Tim Vawter, pro se attorney, on July 31st with the federal government as defendant. When the judge signs the Preliminary Injunction, it will stop the federal government from forcing anyone in any state to take flu vaccine against their will. It will also prevent a state or local government from forcibly vaccinating anyone, and forbid any person who is not vaccinated from being denied any services or constitutional rights. Vawter's filings included a Complaint, and several pages of evidentiary Exhibits.
You will notice the specific statements - the matter was filed in the United States District Court of New Jersey, it was filed on July 31, and the lawyer was Tim Vawter whose "filings included a Complaint, and several pages of evidentiary Exhibits". What it doesn't say is the name of the judge or the case identification number so I thought I would see what I could find in the US court PACER system, which is a record of all matters before federal courts. I thought that the best way to find it would be to start with the lawyer's name, and here is what PACER told me:
Well, I have to say I was a little surprised to find that no lawyer with the name Tim Vawter had ever appeared in any matter before the United States District Court of New Jersey. Perhaps someone had made a mistake. To clarify matters, I sent the following email to Meryl Dorey at the AVN:
In a media release today you state that the US District Court of New Jersey has issued an injunction stopping vaccination.
A search of the court records for matters filed by any attorney named Vawter produced no results (see attached search results). Please provide a reference for the case so I can read the ruling on an official court site.
I haven't received a reply yet, but the following notice has replaced the story on the infamous Natural News web site: (In May 2010 I found that this page had been removed from the NaturalNews site. The most likely reason is that Mike Adams did not want any evidence left behind that he might have been wrong about something when he he was spreading lies about medicine. Unfortunately, the Web Archive hadn't managed to grab a copy of the backdown before it was deleted.)
Preliminary Injunction to Halt Mandatory Flu Vaccination in the U.S. Has Been Issued (correction)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by: Former Contributing Writer, citizen journalist
(NaturalNews) Editor's Note: It has come to our attention that the following article is factually incorrect. It was written by a contributing writer, then approved by an in-house editor who did not catch the significant errors in this article. As a result of these significant errors, and due to our commitment to publishing only true and accurate information to the best of our ability, we have made an editorial decision to reject further articles from this author.
NaturalNews deeply regrets this unintentional error, and we are brainstorming new ways to put in place tighter fact-checking oversight so that the same mistake does not happen again in the future. We thank all those who have brought this important matter to our attention, and we pledge to increase our efforts to reject stories that contain factual inaccuracies.
For the record, what was factually incorrect about the story (which we confirmed by phone with a clerk of United States District Court of Trenton, New Jersey) is that no such injunction has been filed. Thus, the entire premise of the story was factually incorrect.
Here at NaturalNews, we strive to bring you accurate, honest information on these topics, and we deeply regret the unintentional publishing of the inaccurate information that previously appeared in this article space.
Do you see that: "no such injunction has been filed". The story was a fabrication. It was made up. It was a lie.
A lie. A lie. A lie.
It took me about ten minutes to demonstrate that the story was false. I have sent the following email to Meryl Dorey:
It now turns out that as I expected the story about the US District Court banning mandatory vaccination was a fabrication. You could even call it a lie.
Are you planning to issue a media release apologising to all the media outlets who received your initial distribution for misleading them with something which could have been proved to be incorrect with about ten minutes effort?
And what is that they say about having the final laugh?
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Kook fight! (22/8/2009)
Nothing elicits a feeling of Schadenfreude quite like watching a couple of people who disagree with you fight it out between themselves. It is even better when they do it in court and have to pay lawyers to do the kook fighting for them. Icing goes on the cake when the judge or magistrate calls them fools (without using those words, of course) and tells them to go away, sort it out themselves and stop wasting the court's time. A cherry and some of those little silver balls go on top when they don't take this advice and come back for more.
In 2004 the Australian Vaccination Network ran off to court to whine about Australia's other anti-vaccination liar outfit, the Vaccination Information Service. Here is the second last paragraph of the magistrate's decision:
You can read the whole amusing story here.
Anti-vaxxers not happy. How unfortunate for them. (5/9/2009)
Australia's best daily television current affairs show decided to take a look at the vaccination "debate". Of course, as all sensible people know, there is no debate, just a pretend controversy beaten up by people with no knowledge of medicine or immunology, conspiracy believers and non-institutionalised lunatics.
The 7:30 Report's online forum was almost immediately taken over by a host of people working from the "my child was normal until the vaccines poisoned him" script. This was not unexpected as various anti-vaccination liar mailing lists were smoking with indignation at how biased the program had been. Imagine that - you ask doctors about what is good for children and they promote something that has saved more children's lives than any other thing that medicine has done since it was invented. (Clean water probably saved more lives than vaccines, but it isn't a medical procedure.)
I have been observing these people for more than ten years now and I really do wish that they could come up with some new stories. As an example of this, when I watched a replay of the show with my daughter I pointed out that the first words heard from an anti-vaccination campaigner in the program mentioned the mercury that hasn't been in vaccines since 2000. Put another way, the first sentence my daughter heard from a major opponent of vaccination contained a lie.
Children are dying of preventable diseases and there are people out there saying that this is preferable to vaccination. Please note how Meryl Dorey from the anti-vaccination liar outfit Australian Vaccination Network lists sore arms and crying as adverse vaccine reactions. She sees these as worse than the effects of diseases. For those who don't know her, she once described measles as "benign" and when trying to link vaccinations to children killed by shaking she suggested the catch phrase "Shaken Maybe Syndrome"
One thing I noticed in the flurry of reaction to the program was a certain inconsistency in a particular statistic. I have seen various figures quoted for the number of vaccines given to children, but the most memorable were "30 vaccines before the age of one" and "20 vaccines given to newborns". Here is a list of all vaccines in the Australian National Immunisation Program. (The list comes from a web page listing adverse reactions to vaccines. You know, those adverse reactions which are so secret they can only be found by a massive two clicks from the web site for the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
That looks like only 14 vaccines to me. Take out dTpa, HPV and Influenza, which aren't given to babies, and take out 23vPPV and HepA which are only given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in particular areas. Now we seem to have only nine vaccines, and they aren't all given to newborns (or even babies in the first year of life). Did I mention that someone supposedly studying for a PhD in vaccination told me that infants get 12 vaccines all at once?
And people still keep asking me why I call these liars "liars".
A conversation going nowhere (19/9/2009)
I was brought to the attention of the readers of the Australian Vaccination Network's mailing list when someone discovered that I had said something about vaccinations. I can't respond on the list of course as I have been banned since 1999 because the power of my presence frightens the residents too much. As my only option is to email the commenters directly I did just that, causing them some angst and hypocrisy.
Sent: Monday, 14 September, 2009 12:12:53 AM
Subject: [AVN] More from a critic
Don't normally give him the time of day, but this just turned up on a search engine...
Sent: Monday, 14 September, 2009 2:09:09 PM
Subject: Re: [AVN] More from a critic
The man has too much time on his hands...a truly twisted individual.
Sent: Tuesday, 15 September, 2009 2:08:28 PM
Subject: [AVN] Re: More from a critic
This man seems to upset a lot of people. I would say he is hardly credible when he has alienated his family and spouse, incensed the Police Force to take action against him etc. Google Peter Bowditch + Australian Skeptic Society and you will find lots of info but hardly anything pretty.
I live with my spouse, I communicate with my daughters on almost a daily basis and the police have never taken any action against me (unless you count the fine for doing 43km/h in a school zone a few years back).
One day I am going to start taking legal action against people who defame me and lie about me. Do you have a nice house? Would I like living in it?
There is no such thing as "Australian Skeptic Society".
I realize that he isn't the person who made the claim against AVN to the HCCC but obviously Mr Ken McLeod (yes, that info is on Wikipedia too) is influenced by these Skeptics. At least one of the comments of Mr Bowditch was that Scams, Phishing etc happened before the Internet, but the Internet can also be used to expose these Scammers etc. Well, yes the Internet can be used to expose these hateful tyrants too.
Anyone with any sense will not take these people seriously. I am really surprised that Dick Smith has sided with these hate-mongers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Skeptics
As you will see with this link Mr Smith is a prominent leader. Sorry Andrew but Dickie seems to be fully behind Skeptics - not as you suggested that it was someone in his organization.
Sent: Tuesday, 15 September, 2009 3:43:21 PM
Subject: [AVN] Skeptics meeting in November - Qld Uni. St Lucia
I have been told that you have issued a challenge to me. Perhaps you should do it somewhere where I am not banned from reading it and replying. Maybe you could ask Meryl Dorey to honour her organisation's commitment to free speech and allow me to subscribe to the AVN list.
Since Mr Peter Bowditch is so secure in his belief about Vaccinations and what they do, I think he should be given the opportunity to roll up his sleeve and accept the adult vaccinations for
I have offered to do this on several occasions, usually just after some anti-vaccination liar has said that nobody would do it.
* DTPa -diphtheria- tetanus-pertussi s acellular (infant/child formulation)
* HepB - hepatitis B vaccine
* Hib - Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (PRP-OMP or PRP-T)
* HPV - human papillomavirus vaccine
* Influenza - influenza or flu vaccine
* IPV - inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine
* MenCCV - meningococcal C conjugate vaccine
* MMR - measles-mumps- rubella vaccine
* 7vPCV - 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
* Rotavirus - rotavirus vaccine
* VV - varicella vaccine
Why did you pick that lot? Why not the actual childhood vaccination schedule?
These are all the ones that Mr Bowditch seems to think that newborns get
No, I do not think that. Why would I think that newborns get vaccinations that are only given to adults, adolescents and children over one year old? I can read the schedule. Perhaps you should do that too
- but maybe not all at once.
Well - are they given to newborns or are they spread out over five years? A two-year-old is not a newborn.
I'm not sure how old PB is but I am sure that he must be due for boosters if he ever had some of these.
I have had several of these. My parents were scrupulous in protecting me from disease, just as I have been for my children.
This is the date for the meeting. http://www.qldskeptics.com/ Is there someone that can help with these vaccinations as I'm sure Mr Bowditch is enthusiastic to prove that he will come to no harm by getting these, and will be doing the public a great service?
One condition - you and at least four other members or supporters of AVN will have to be there as witnesses. You can register for the convention (not "meeting") at the site you provided.
I'm not sure why AVN followers have this thing about me and Australian Skeptics. I speak and act for myself. I was running my web site and pointing out the mendacity and danger of anti-vaccination liars long before I had any involvement with Australian Skeptics.
Oh, and just a warning for the unvaccinated, I would avoid Mr Bowditch for a while because of shedding.
I doubt that there will be anybody at the convention who is so careless of their health that they will be completely unvaccinated.
You might like to point out which of the vaccines in the list can make someone infectious. I'm sure that someone in AVN can tell you.
See you at the convention in November
From: Meryl Dorey
Sent: Wednesday, 16 September, 2009 2:00:31 PM
Subject: Re: [AVN] Response from Bowditch
To be honest Christine - you seem to feel that you will change peter bowditch in some way. It is my understanding from the few emails I have received from him, that for whatever reason, he is inflexible and won't be moved. So why waste energy trying?
I don't reply to him when he writes to me - nor do I reply to any of the other skeptics. Their disrespect does not merit a reply.
All the best,
Sent: Wednesday, 16 September, 2009 1:41:57 PM
Subject: [AVN] Response from Bowditch
I have been considering what to do about the responses that I received to my postings yesterday.. Firstly these are copies of what he wrote and sent to my personal email. This one was titled I'll be there. Will you? ... And this one titled Be careful what you say
Christine is the new identity of "oufreshtideas". I have snipped complete quotations of the messages and my replies of 15 September, 2009 2:08:28 and 15 September, 2009 3:43:21
Everything that I wrote in my postings was available from the Net. This is one source that I came across. http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/onews/onews.htm Read some of the comments, especially from William P. O'Neill on 25 August 2002 and you will see that there is more than just a speeding ticket that he has against his name. Anyway I have decided that I need to at least inform you what is possible in this forum.
I see that you are talking about me on the AVN list again.
Why don't you reply to me directly? I am not allowed to post messages to the AVN list so I have no option but to email you.
I have no idea why Meryl Dorey is so frightened of what I have to say that she even blocks me from following her on Twitter.
You should also check your research about me. I am hardly going to worry that someone has posted what Mr O'Neill had to say about me on the web. In fact, I suggest you go to the page where you found Mr O'Neill's comments, click on "About this site" on the menu and see who owns the site. Then ponder why that person would publish things about me.
That's right folks - she goes to Google to research me and then quotes something from the hate mail collection on my own site as evidence against me. She doesn't notice that the web site and my email address both end in ratbags.com. I love the smell of incompetence in the morning.
"Obviously Peter Bowditch doesn't have to have AVN approval to be on this forum, as his 'little moles' spy for him and send him copies of posts from the forum. I received these emails at my private email address from the man himself. Obviously he couldn't write back via the "grubby little mole" because that would give the game away, so he decided to write to me personally. I believe that if Peter Bowditch wishes to install spies on the forum so he knows what is going on, then he should reply "via the spies", not contact AVN Forum members privately. I thought I would share his views with the group. Also, many times he calls AVN and its' members liars. Hiding behind moles is a form of deceit, so three fingers are pointing directly back at him.
Sent: Wednesday, 16 September, 2009 3:08:46 PM
Subject: [AVN] Re: Response from Bowditch
No, the point I am making is that there are some people here that read and report back. I do not appreciate being emailed at my personal email. The other point is to highlight that this happens, so beware.
I know you have spoken of them before, but I guess I had to experience the foulness for myself. Experience is a great teacher.
It's no good whining to Meryl about me. If you don't want me emailing you at your private address either get a throw-away address you can use for subscribing to Yahoo! groups or get Meryl to allow me to post to the AVN list. If I can't post there how else can I respond to what is said about me there?
By the way, have you decided whether you are going to be at the convention in November to witness me getting all those shots? I now have someone else who has volunteered to roll up their sleeve and line up with me. Should be great fun.
Another thing you should consider, but I expect you found this in your extensive Google research about me. http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/files/about.htm#email
From: Sheri Nakken
Sent: Thursday, 17 September, 2009 2:37:45 AM
Subject: Re: [AVN] Response from Bowditch
I wouldn't bother and waste your precious time with him It is for the purpose of distracting you from your very important work
How crazy can anti-vaxxers get? (26/9/2009)
I am occasionally accused of inaccuracy when I say that some anti-vaccination liars are insane. Sometimes the critics suggest that I am unsympathetic towards people with mental illness and that using the adjective "insane" is similar to using such no longer politically correct terms as "spastic". I have had occasion to deal with inmates of high-security mental hospitals and many of the people I met inside would look at some of the things said by anti-vaccination liars and say "That person is nuts". Similarly, I have met children in kindergarten who, if presented with anti-vaccination "logic" would say "That's stupid". I came across marvellous examples of both insanity and stupidity this week.
The example of insanity was referred to me by Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network. (Remember how she told us the swine flu vaccine was designed to kill most of the world's population?) In her latest newsletter she included the following:
Hidden contraceptives in the flu vaccine
According to this information, the flu vaccine can not only cause pregnant women to lose their unborn child, they can also cause sterility. A must see - please forward to others as well. This video has been taken down twice by youtube.
And here is the video that "has been taken down twice by youtube (sic)". This is the copy in my YouTube account, and nobody has tried to take it down. (It is actually being served from this site's host now but it's still there on YouTube, attracting comments which show that even faced with insanity, anti-vaccination liars are to stupid to recognise it. PB January 2017)
Am I fair in describing the content of the video as insanity? I will let you be the judge of that. Remember, this is the sort of material which Meryl Dorey and AVN believe will convince people that vaccination is bad.
That HCCC complaint (3/10/2009)
I have been asked how the complaint to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission about the Australian Vaccination Network is progressing. The situation is that the HCCC have agreed that investigation of AVN falls within the HCCC charter. This doesn't mean that anything has been done yet, just that something might happen in the future. AVN is of course squealing like a vaccinated baby about the attack on their freedom of speech and making specious claims about witchhunts and the evil conspiracy against them, but I'm holding off buying the Moët and sending out the invitations to the celebratory party until I hear the shovelfuls of dirt hitting the top of AVN's coffin.
AVN responds to HCCC (15/10/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network has responded to the complaint made about its activities to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. In a moment of confusion, the AVN asked the HCCC to keep the response confidential and then published it on their own web site and talked about it in a newsletter.
As they don't seem serious about confidentiality I thought I would give it wider distribution, so you can read it here. (Please note: The original document published on the AVN web site included a covering letter to the HCCC. The content of this letter could have been defamatory of certain persons and might be the subject of legal action. The covering letter has been removed from the document here.)
I counted three "misunderstandings of the truth" in a brief glance though it (not counting "AVN is not anti-vaccine"). Feel free to see how many you can find. Here are my three:
Oops! I got carried away there counting to three. That's what happens when you see lie after lie in a written document.
Who's a naughty girl, then? (24/10/2009)
When I reported last week that Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had apparently included several "misunderstandings" in her response to the complaint lodged against AVN with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, I deliberately avoided any comment on the scurrilous claims made in the document about Ken McLeod, the author of the complaint to the HCCC. I did this because I wanted to give Ken the chance to respond himself. He has now done so, and in an email to me he said:
Meryl Dorey's response to the HCCC regarding my complaint to them went far beyond addressing the matters I had raised; she went on to make the most scurrilous defamatory untrue allegations against me personally. I regard the worst defamation to be her claims that I threatened her and her family with violence. This is indeed a very serious allegation, and I will not let it rest.
I completely support Ken in this. You can read the full text of his response here.
Breast cancer empathy (24/10/2009)
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month all over the place, and anybody with a hint of compassion would think that this is a good cause to support. But what would happen if a volunteer telemarketer randomly rang the number of the Australian Vaccination Network soliciting a donation to this worthy cause? Well, if you can believe the message to the AVN mailing list which can be found at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AVN/message/40204 (and why wouldn't you believe it?), then they might get a less than friendly reception. Here is AVN President Meryl Dorey on how to handle someone asking for money to research cures for one of the biggest killers of women in the world:
I think they end up being sorry that they ever called me because I don't just say no, I tell them why :-) I say that I work for a children's charity that is involved in preventing cancer and that in 50 years, the cancer council and other bodies have done nothing. Cancer is more prevalent today then it was when they started to supposedly research and if I am going to be making a donation, I want it to go to a good cause, not just to line the pockets of some researcher who has no interest in actually seeing their research come to fruition rather than just keeping themselves in a job. They don't know what to say... But hopefully, it makes them think that maybe there is more to this cancer stuff then they were told?
Here's some news for Ms Dorey - AVN is not "a children's charity" and is in no way involved "in preventing cancer". In fact, you are implacably opposed to a vaccine which is specifically targeted at preventing a cancer, the vaccine against HPV, and some of the ludicrous claims you have made about the danger of this vaccine would lead people to think that you want women to die of cancer. And I can tell you what the person on the phone thinks - it is that they managed to randomly ring someone who talked nonsense and insulted them for no good reason.
Tough week at the Australian Vaccination Network (14/11/2009)
Everyone at AVN has been busy this week, misrepresenting government statements, repeating old lies about the Vatican and vaccines and annoying charity workers and advertisers.
First, remember how AVN had been reported to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. The official line from AVN, as expressed on their Wikipedia page (before edits were closed off):
The commission agreed to look into the complaint, but a spokesperson admitted that they "did not have power to shut down or gag the Australian Vaccination Network."
He left open the possibility of pursing action against individual members of the AVN or making a public statement against the group's activities. As of November 2009, no official action had been taken.
Here is what the HCCC actually said (you can see the full letter here):
Following preliminary gathering of information, on 23 September 2009, the Commission, has determined that your complaint should be investigated as it raises significant questions of public health and safety.
The purpose of the investigation is to obtain further information in order to determine, what, if any, further action is required. The possible outcomes of an investigation into a health service could include making comments and / or recommendations to the Australian Vaccination Network or terminating the investigation with no further action.
Given that Ms Dorey is not a registered health practitioner, in accordance with section 39 of the Health Care Complaints Act, 1993 (the Act), at the conclusion of the Commission's investigation, the possible outcomes of this investigation are:
The Commission is currently seeking information. You will be advised of progress with the investigation and you may also be contacted to provide further information if it is required.
Next, that old lie about how the Vatican had ruled that Catholics shouldn't vaccinate their children because of the aborted foetuses in vaccines was rolled out again. You can see where I pointed out the truth in 2005 here. I posted a correction on the AVN blog, but I very much doubt that it will ever pass moderation and be released so that sensible people can read it.
According to the Internet Archive, the web page at http://www.avn.org.au/donation.html has contained the following words since at least February 2007:
As a volunteer run charity organisation the AVN relies on the support of others. No matter how small the contribution it all adds up to help keep us in operation.
What your donation will go towards-
Yes, the misspelling of "Parliament" has been there since 2007, but that is not the real problem. First, as AVN's public accounts show salaries, wages and consultants' fees it is stretching things a bit to say that it is "a volunteer run charity organisation", not to mention the fact that for a large part of the last two years AVN has been operating without the benefit of registration as a charitable organisation.
The second thing is the soliciting of donations for the purpose of "offer[ing] our services and our magazine in the Bounty Bag". Remember that this has been on the AVN site since the start of 2007. The people who run the Bounty Bag program have never heard of the Australian Vaccination Network and have stated categorically that they would in no circumstances allow anti-vaccination literature to be included in the bags. So where have those donations been going?
The next people to be alienated were the folks at Baby BeeHinds, who distribute those things our mothers told us about - recyclable, washable nappies (or even diapers, for you non-Australians). They had been encouraged to advertise in the AVN's magazine which is called Living Wisdom this week (the name changes frequently for no apparent reason). There was no mention in the media kit or advertising rate card of the AVN's anti-vaccination activities and the people at Baby BeeHind were appalled when they found out that their name had been associated with activities that they wonderfully described as "deranged".
So let's sum up the week. AVN misreported the progress of the HCCC inquiry, repeated something that they had been told was a lie in 2005, used the name of Bounty Bags to solicit donations which never reached the intended target and annoyed an advertiser by hiding the truth. All in all, a very good week.
And speaking of hiding the truth, AVN is very shy about who can and can't communicate with them. I have been told that someone who is a member of their Yahoo! mailing list was refused permission to join the AVN Facebook page. He had only been using Facebook for a couple, of weeks and the reason given for blocking his access to the group was that his Facebook profile didn't show enough friends. In a beautiful confluence of irony and hypocrisy, the person who refused his permission has a completely private Facebook profile and reveals nothing except her name (and maybe not even that is real).
Weekly dose of anti-vax idiocy (21/11/2009)
In marketing there is the concept of "brand extension" where a well-known brand identity is expanded and used on a range of products. Sometimes this can be varieties of the original product (the various different types of Coca Cola) or related products (toothpaste makers selling toothbrushes. insurance companies going into mortgage broking or banking). Sometimes the link can be quite tenuous where it is assumed that the cachet of the brand name is all that is important (Porsche sunglasses, anyone?).
It looks like some brand extension is going on at the Australian Vaccination Network and they have now branched out into AIDS denial. Their Internet email list this week has been carrying a conversation with the usual idiocies - there is no such thing as HIV and even if there were, it wouldn't cause AIDS. This is inconsistent with claims on the AVN web site that vaccines can activate HIV to cause AIDS and that the MMR vaccine is being used in Africa to spread AIDS as a form of genocide, but nobody ever said that mad people have to make sense.
I felt that this justified a Kind and Gentle email, but this time it was merely copied to the President of the AVN rather than being sent directly. The principle addressee of the email was the AIDS Council of New South Wales:
Something that might interest the AIDS Council -
It seems that another organisation has climbed on the AIDS denial bandwagon.
The Australian Vaccination Network is apparently no longer content with spreading misinformation about vaccines and now appears to be spreading the standard lies about HIV and AIDS. All the usual stuff is there - there is no such thing as HIV and even if there were it couldn't cause AIDS, homeopathy and other forms of quackery are effective treatments (for something they say doesn't exist, but who ever accused them of consistency or logical thinking?), and so on.
Not content with containing this idiocy to private conversations on their internet mailing list, the president of AVN, Meryl Dorey, is publicly listed along with such people as Peter Duesberg and Matthias Rath as signatories to a statement denying the reality of HIV and AIDS.
There is also a claim on the AVN web site that certain vaccines can cause AIDS (http://avn.org.au/library/index.php/vaccination-information/10-reasons-why-parents-question-vaccination.html - Item 3). Bizarrely, they claim in the same article that a vaccine can "switch on the HIV virus and cause it to become AIDS in humans". But I thought that there was no connection ... (I did mention their lack of consistency and logic.)
The AVN has a reasonably high media profile and are often consulted on news stories related to vaccination. It disturbs me to think that they might be given credence in the spurious "debate" about HIV and AIDS. They put enough people's lives at risk with their irrational scare stories about vaccines without also becoming a voice for AIDS denial.
AVN is currently under investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission for offering medical advice as part of their anti-vaccination activities. It seems that such advice has now extended to denying the reality of AIDS, just as they deny the seriousness of diseases such as measles, pertussis and polio.
As I commented after attending an AVN seminar where the claim was made that there is a deliberate policy by the World Health Organisation and others to spread AIDS in Africa through the medium of the MMR vaccine, there is madness about and it is manifested greatly in the anti-vaccination movement. Please do whatever you can to limit their attempt to spread the infection of their unscientific and dangerous ideas.
A homeopath speaks, and drivel comes out (12/12/2009)
I make sacrifices for you. This week I sat though a web presentation about the use of homeopathy to treat autism. Sorry, it doesn't treat autism, it treats the autistic child. Except when it's treating autism. The presentation was a webinar organised by the Australian Vaccination Network and featured a homeopath named Fran Sheffield. All the usual buttons were pressed - homeopathy works (it really, really does!), anecdotes and testimonials are evidence, chelation can be used to get the heavy metals out so that the homeopathy can get in there and do its curing, autism is related to vaccination, ... I think that web sites promoting sessions like this should be required by law to display a sign like that at the right so that viewers can be warned that they might suffer damage from the intensely hot sparks of burning stupid.
The AVN has promised to make the entire webinar, with sound and all slides, available on their web site for free download, but I can't see if it is available yet. Some previous webinars are supposed to be available but they don't have links either. The AVN's web site is in a state of reconstruction at the moment and could politely be described as a dog's breakfast, with broken links, unreachable pages, conflicting styles and general messitude. As a professional websmith I could offer to help them to fix it up. Only joking, no I couldn't.
I will have the full awfulness of the webinar up here as soon as someone at the AVN gets around to providing a link. In the meantime, here is a sequence of screen shots of the slide show. Even without the sound the idiocy shines through. Don't forget your welding mask.
The AVN's Bent Spoon (12/12/2009)
Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network was the 2009 winner of Australian Skeptics' Bent Spoon Award, given for the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle observed during the year. This is not the sort of award that most people would be proud to receive. Ms Dorey, however, completely missed the point and issued the following media release. My comments are interspersed in italics.
Sunday, November 29th, 2009 - For Immediate Release:
Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), Australia's vaccine safety watchdog, is very proud to have won the Australian Skeptics' bent spoon award for 2009. She joins such prestigious former winners as Dr Kerryn Phelps (2008), former head of the Australian Medical Association, every pharmacist in Australia (2006) who won because they chose to offer their customers the option to purchase vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements in store, journalist, Mike Willesee (1999) and vaccine safety researcher, Dr Viera Scheibner (1997).
Dr Phelps was not head of the AMA when she won the Bent Spoon, but had retired to a life selling "medications" that violate all the science she learnt as a doctor; the pharmacists won for a similar reason, as they continue to stock and sell such nonsense as homeopathy which their training must tell them is fraudulent (not "because they chose to offer their customers the option to purchase vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements"); Mike Willesee was a respected journalist (and previous winner of Skeptic of the Year!) who found religion and consequently forgot what "evidence" meant. Dr Scheibner won for the same reason that Ms Dorey did - promoting dangerous pseudoscience which puts the lives of children at risk.
In subsequent comments to radio and newspapers, Ms Dorey added the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to the list of previous winners. Australian Skeptics has had a long standing friendship and respect for the ABC, but occasionally they fall from grace by transmitting programs which are below their normal high standard. They won their awards for programs sympathetic to psychic "detectives" and medical quackery which stood out just because of the quality of the programs around them.
Ms Dorey took the prize despite some formidable competition from the likes of News Limited, Senator Stephen Fielding, philosophy and bioethics writer Peter Singer and the University of QLD, all of whom were also nominated.
Lots of people get nominated for lots of different reasons and Australian Skeptics accept all nominations that come in through their web site. Tim Flannery and Ian Plimer were both nominated for their positions on climate change but they are at opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue. Australian Skeptics was also nominated, and I am surprised that Ms Dorey doesn't mention this in her list of people she would like to be aligned with.
"I am very grateful for the recognition of an organisation such as the Skeptics." says Ms Dorey. "It will inspire me to try even harder to continue promoting the message of free, informed and scientifically-based health choice."
Ms Dorey would have to start "promoting the message of free, informed and scientifically-based health choice" before she could continue doing it.
For those who have never heard of it, the Australian Skeptics is an organisation whose religious belief is that anything Western medicine approves of is always right and anyone who questions the safety or efficacy of drugs, vaccines, or surgery is always wrong.
As science always questions everything, Ms Dorey is displaying her ignorance of what science is. Australian Skeptics can speak for themselves, but nobody that I have ever met in the decade I have been involved with them has ever said that all "Western" medicine is right or that questioning science is wrong. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard anybody ever use the ridiculous term "Western medicine" unless telling a joke or pointing out the idiocy of the expression. Ms Dorey might like to consider that homeopathy originated in Germany and chiropractic in the USA, and both must therefore qualify as "Western" medicine.
They hide behind terms such as pseudo-science despite being offered copious quantities of peer-reviewed research to show that not every medical procedure is safe - not every drug or vaccine is effective.
Nobody has ever claimed absolute safety for every medical procedure or absolute efficacy for every drug or vaccine. Science does not deal in absolutes. Ms Dorey is employing the logical fallacy called "Straw Man" here, but when you don't have the science logical fallacies make a useful fallback position (and when they don't work there is always abuse and vilification). By the way, when Ms Dorey and her ilk are referred to the tens of thousands of scientific papers dealing with vaccine safety and efficacy they employ another logical fallacy, non sequitur, to change the subject back to their denial of such evidence.
Much like the medieval church, their main tactics are to ridicule and try to silence anyone who speaks out against their blind beliefs.
As Ms Dorey is so against silencing contrary views I must wonder when I can expect to be allowed to join the AVN's mailing list and Facebook groups, to have my comments published on AVN Internet forums and to be able to follow her on Twitter. I can't do any of these things now.
"I could almost wish that an honourary membership to the Skeptics came along with the award. But then again, I don't feel that I have the necessary unquestioning, single-minded zealotry such membership requires." Ms Dorey concluded.
I will suggest to the committee of Australian Skeptics Inc that they add Ms Dorey to the magazine subscribers' free list. In radio and press interviews Ms Dorey also complained that nobody would actually present the trophy to her. It is a perpetual trophy so no winner ever gets to keep it, but I offered on the night of the award presentation to take it to her, so the next time she is in Sydney I will be happy to have a photograph session with her and the trophy.
Ms Dorey is now trying to claim that her media release was disguised sarcasm, and the following email exchange took place in forums that I am prohibited from participating in.
From: Sheri Nakken
Subject: Meyrl on ratbags front page
Meryl, I guess you fooled him - he didn't understand your sacrasm, I guess, did he
Meryl, director of AVN in Australia just won one of their awards - The Bent Spoon Award.................
"One reason I want to wait to provide a full report is that another winner was Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network who won the annual Bent Spoon Award for the promotion of preposterous pseudoscientific piffle. Ms Dorey has responded with media releases, letters to newspapers and radio interviews which indicated that she didn't get the point of the award and thinks that people calling her a fool are actually supporting her. I need some time to analyse and respond to all her ludicrous responses to the award. "
He didn't understand her sacrasm, I guess, did he
From: Meryl Dorey
Well, this is just my opinion, but I don't necessarily feel that he is the sharpest stick in the woodpile :-) I mean, anyone who calls himself a ratbag must not be very familiar with irony or sarcasm...
Perhaps next time I put out a release like this, I should put in a translation for the skeptics and those who are just a wee bit slow on the uptake... do you think? :-)
Notice how Ms Dorey says that I am not "the sharpest stick in the woodpile" and "a wee bit slow on the uptake" and says them somewhere where she forbids me to be able to respond? What was that she was saying about "their main tactics are to ridicule and try to silence anyone"? When can I join the AVN mailing list, Ms Dorey? Oh, and by the way, I have never called myself a ratbag and I simply don't believe that a media release is ever supposed to be sarcasm (or even sacrasm, as Ms Nakken said twice).
Ms Dorey might be somewhat hypocritical in the way that she implements "free speech" in places she controls, but nothing stops her exploiting the freedoms granted by others. The event that triggered media scrutiny of the AVN this year was the death from whooping cough of a baby named Dana McCaffrey. Ms Dorey posted a version of her "sarcastic" media release to a Facebook group set up as a memorial to Dana. While other group members were horrified at this lapse of good taste (although not surprised by it) there was no attempt to censor Ms Dorey or remove her message. (The AVN has contracted its Facebook presence to a page where I'm banned from comment (of course) and any pro-vaccination messages are immediately removed.) Both of Dana's parent asked Ms Dorey to go away and leave them alone but she persisted in posting more of her version of events surrounding Dana's death to the group. She was allowed to do this because the people running the group have a commitment to free speech, no matter how offensive that speech is to them.
The AVN has been progressively turning inwards and restricting their conversation to their own little group. The mailing list that had about 750 members was purged and now has just slightly more than 50. At least two Facebook groups were closed to outside scrutiny and now appear to have been gutted of all members, and the remaining Facebook page is simply a one-way conduit for Ms Dorey to spout nonsense, with nobody given the right of reply or critical comment. Their web site is a mess, although this is supposed to be fixed shortly (one rule of web site development is that you don't mix a radical new design with the old stuff), and it looks like their magazine is coming out of newsagents and going to mainly electronic subscription only (which means no paper copies for naturopaths' waiting rooms). Some of the magazine advertisers have been less than happy with being in it, once they found out that it was produced by an anti-vaccination organisation.
With the Health Care Complaints Commission investigating their health advice and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing taking interest in their claimed charitable activities I expect to see many more "sarcastic" media releases from the AVN over the next few months. With any luck the media will stop treating them as if they have anything worthwhile to say about vaccination and commit them to the obscurity they so richly deserve. As Ms Dorey said herself, they are "rabid idiotic fringe dwellers" and the fringe is where they should stay.
Cancel Christmas for some kids (19/12/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network is planning to run some advertisements on television. If they were to get their way there would be a much reduced need for Christmas presents as there would be fewer live children. There would be a boost to the economy, though, as funerals generally cost more than birthday parties. Here is the proposed advertisement. Notice how, in the tradition of professionalism being shown with the redevelopment of the AVN web site, the agency data has not been edited from the front of the video.
Get a bucket ready to catch the vomit and lock any dangerous weapons away in case your rage makes you want to hurt someone.
Did you catch the list of reactions reported by vaccine manufacturers? SIDS? Autism? I think I might have to call this lying. No, I'll go beyond thinking it and say it. This advertisement contains outright lies, and the people responsible know that they are lying.
If you see this advertisement on television and feel the need to complain (and why wouldn't you?) the people to complain to are at the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau. They take complaints about advertisements very seriously, and as the total number of complaints is quite small it doesn't take much action to get a reaction. (I was an extra in an advertisement which received special attention because people felt that it showed a child in distress. It was the fifth most complained about advertisement in 2008 but only generated about 65 complaints.) To lodge a complaint, go to the ASB web site and follow the obvious links. While you are there it is worth spending some time looking at the complaints which have been upheld and wondering at the sort of things that people find offensive. And yes, I agree with some of them and I am hardly a prude.
Ah, yes, the AVN ... (19/12/2009)
The Australian Vaccination Network seems to have lost one of its erstwhile supporters. The local paper in the area surrounding the AVN's headquarters, The Northern Star, used to be somewhat sympathetic (there are very many woowoo believers in the north of New South Wales and papers like circulation) but now seems more aligned with rationality. Here is a recent story:
Mel Mcmillan | 18th December 2009
The Bangalow-based Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) and its founder, Meryl Dorey, are the subjects of an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.
The AVN is accused of 'engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct with the intent of persuading parents not to vaccinate their children,' by Ken McLeod, a member of a group known as Stop the AVN.
When Mr McLeod first filed his 20-page complaint in July it was unclear whether the AVN or Mrs Dorey would fall under the commission's jurisdiction and complaints process, as neither were registered health-care providers.
However, the complaint was referred to the Health Commissioner, who decided an investigation should proceed.
Mr McLeod's complaint lists instances in which he claims the AVN has provided false and misleading information about whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, the Gardasil vaccine and the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, MMR.
And while the commission may take several more months to complete its investigation, the ABC last month released a statement to say that information supplied by Mrs Dorey which was broadcast on ABC Mid-North Coast local radio in September was found to be misleading.
The presenter of the morning program, on which Mrs Dorey and Lismore obstetrician Dr Chris Ingall were guests, referred to statistics supplied by Mrs Dorey.
The investigation found the use of these statistics, about whooping cough, was misleading as they were 'drawn from different data sets and related to different groups of children'.
The statistics were also presented as vaccination rates for 1991, when they were, in fact, for 2001, the ABC said.
The broadcaster received two complaints about the statistics used during the segment.
The use of the data was found to be in breach of the ABC's editorial requirements for accuracy and context in factual content.
Professor Peter McIntyre, from the National Centre for Immunisation and Surveillance, said better reporting and diagnosis of whooping cough had lead to an increase in the number of cases reported each year.
Prof McIntyre said it was wrong to suggest the prevalence of whooping cough had increased and that vaccination did not work.
He said the five per cent of children who were not vaccinated accounted for 30 per cent of all reported cases of whooping cough.
"They have around seven to eight times the chance of contracting whooping cough than vaccinated children," Prof McIntyre said.
Mrs Dorey said the network sourced its information directly from the Australian Government and peer reviewed medical journals, and that it was the ABC which got it wrong.
"I believe they have misunderstood what was on the graphs," she said.
Mrs Dorey is currently having her information verified by the editor of a peer-reviewed medical journal in the United States and would be filing her own complaint with the ABC should her interpretation of the data be verified.
I eagerly await the report from "the editor of a peer-reviewed medical journal in the United States". I'm reasonably certain that the journal will not be JAMA or NEJM. I would not be surprised, however, if it turns out to be a rag drawn from the likes of The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons or Medical Veritas, both fully committed to the extinction of vaccines (and therefore children, I presume).