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First Place - The Anus Maximus Award
A child died after drinking raw milk.
Most responsible organisations and companies when notified that one of their products had killed somebody would show some level of contrition, and might even suggest that they would investigate and change their manufacturing and distribution procedures to avoid such a tragedy happening again. If, however, you're a producer of a dangerous product that you think you can put onto the market by exploiting loopholes in the law you would simply say "We told people not to do that" and declare that it was business as usual.
Mountain Valley Organic Dairy put unpasteurised milk in 2 litre containers which are identical to those used to package pasteurised milk and they labelled the milk "Bath Milk" in order to pretend that they were selling this as some kind of cosmetic product. They put "Not for human consumption" on the label and claim that that is the limit of their responsibility. They also stated that the milk should be refrigerated until consumed, as if it is normal to refrigerate cosmetics. So not only do they knowingly sell a dangerous product, but they expect it to be displayed in stores right next to safe products. Another legal loophole that they exploited is that it is apparently legal to supply raw milk to dairy farmers from farms that they own, so these people set up a sham collective where people could pretend to be shareholders.
There is sometimes doubt about whether the sellers of such things as medical quackery and psychic readings know that they are doing something wrong, because perhaps they are merely operating out of ignorance or anecdotal personal experience. This doubt is removed when you find someone deliberately misleading consumers by the appearance and labelling of packaging, or paying lawyers to find legal ways of defining customers as something else.
The sale of unpasteurised milk should be banned. It is more dangerous than some of the illegal drugs that occupy so much of the time of police and the courts, and I very much doubt that labelling packages of cocaine or methamphetamine as "Bath Salts" and "Not for human consumption" would result in the judge saying "OK then, case dismissed".
Quote of the Year
Cyndi O'Meara was interviewed by the Sunshine Coast Daily for an article about what they called the "appalling vaccination rates on the Sunshine Coast". She is a nutritionist, a title which, unlike "dietician", has no legal protection so anybody with or without training or knowledge can use it.
"People are beginning to question immunisations and the amount we are having. Maybe they are not as safe as we have been told and they are no longer sure if they should sacrifice their child for the greater good. Social media is telling us the truth now. A mother put up how a daughter went to get her cervical cancer vaccine and three hours later she is dead".
She said she wasn't against the "philosophy behind vaccines", but did question "dubious ingredients". I wish she had been asked to name the ingredients, because it's always good fun when an anti-vaxxer dives into that particular pool.
Oh, and there have been no confirmed deaths from the HPV vaccine, but an anonymous friend-of-a-friend-of-a-cousin's-jockey unsubstantiated anecdote is evidence.
It should be noted that "Highly Commended" does not mean "Highly Recommended". Quite the opposite, in fact.
Like those "find your ancestor" sites which are advertised on late night television and which claim to have billions of records that you can search and get information from, Carole's website is a cornucopia of the extreme fringe of conspiracy information. There is stuff here that you would not believe, or at least I would hope you would not believe it, and Carole seems to have put together one of the most comprehensive collections of this sort of nonsense that you could ever hope to see.
The only problem is that Carole believes all of it. Did I say all of it? Did I suggest that there is a conspiracy theory that Carole might not believe? Well, yes, she does believe all of it. Carole has never come across a conspiracy theory too bizarre, too inconsistent with reality, or even too inconsistent with other competing or contradicting theories for her not to believe it fully.
This is an amazing resource.
This real University has a school of complementary medicine, in which are taught Chinese medicine, chiropractic and osteopathy. RMIT is very proud of the fact that they were the first university in Australia to teach Chinese medicine and osteopathy. I wonder if elsewhere on campus they have somewhere where astrology is taught and whether alchemy is a standard thread in chemistry courses along with the theory of phlogiston. Storage in the geography department must be easier than other universities because there is no need to store spherical globes, just flat maps. The residents of the microbiology department must think they are wasting their time knowing that they share campus space with people who teach that germs do not cause disease.
I noticed in the description of the department a mention that they teach things other than Western medicine, although I'm not quite sure how you can become more Western than things like chiropractic and osteopathy which were invented in the USA. As a recent find of a mummified body in Austria suggests that acupuncture was used there about 4000 years ago, predating Chinese acupuncture by at least 2000 years, it seems as if acupuncture is also a Western discipline.
I remember the days when universities just taught real subject material. I must be old.
One of the constant criticisms from the alternative medicine and food fad industries is that legitimate companies and other players make money. This of course is not a problem when it is done by somebody on their side of the fence. Vani Hari, who calls herself The Food Babe, is someone who seems to make an enormous amount of money out of talking absolute blathering nonsense about food. Not only do people buy stuff from this person's website but they pay her large amounts of money to stand on stages and say things which would cause kindergarten children to scratch their heads and say "What is she talking about?". She is a regular speaker at the sort of events where the majority of people wear tinfoil hats and can't decide whether the fluoride in the water or the chemtrails in the sky are more dangerous.
She apparently makes an a very good living, which lends credence to the oft quoted statements "a fool and his money are soon parted", "nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public", and "there's a sucker born every minute".
Sad but true.
CMA gets an Encouragement Award for its successful change of name from the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia. The new name more honestly reflects the relationship between Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (SCAM) and real health care.
They are also being encouraged to allocate more media tickets at future conferences so I don't miss out like I did in 2014 by asking when all the tickets had gone.
This site won the prestigious Anus Maximus award in 2010. Nobody can win that one twice but sometimes people still need encouragement afterwards. Following a comprehensive trampling in the Federal Court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Fran Sheffield and Homeopathy Plus! probably need some encouragement. They are facing the possibility of very large fines and also having to pay the ACCC's costs for the court action. Although Fran is expressing much optimism about how the judgment really doesn't affect her activities at all, she's probably going to have to sell an awful lot of small bottles of water for a few dollars and tiny spheres of sugar at 15 cents each to pay the legal bills. Unfortunately, there is probably no shortage of people prepared to be deceived by the almost infinite nonsense of homeopathy.
As an aside, using Fran's pricing for her little sugar pills the average cupcake would have about $15 worth of sprinkles on top of it. Isn't it amazing that bakers can sell them for much, much less than that?
Both these organisations lost their figureheads during 2014 and need encouragement to continue with their good works. It is sometimes difficult to carry on after the death of the founder, but I am sure that someone will take up Fred Phelps's cudgel against the tidal wave of faggotry threatening civilisation and will ensure that soldiers' funerals continue to be picketed, just as I am sure that someone will step into Mayer Eisenstein's shoes to make sure that autistic children will continue to be placed at risk of sterilisation by very expensive castration medications.
The loss of these two men is a loss for us all. We all need people to look down on and despise.