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Australian Vaccination Network

Vaccination saves lives (7/1/2012)

Photo of the banner was taken by my friend Phil Kent.

It really does, and that's what the sign said that appeared in the sky as Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network took the stage at Woodford Folk Festival. It was on a banner towed behind a small plane, and its appearance at exactly that time wasn't a coincidence – it had been carefully planned that way. The sign was paid for by a small group of people, a subset of the Stop The AVN Facebook group, and had been kept a well-guarded secret in order to maximise the look of surprise and horror on Ms Dorey's face. To her credit she immediately recovered enough to blame Australian Skeptics Inc for the banner (ASI had nothing to do with it) and then said that it was advertising for her position, although how she equates "Vaccination saves lives" with "Vaccination kills" (her true position) is a mystery to the rest of us.

Ms Dorey had originally been scheduled to give a talk about the link between vaccination and autism. To most thinking people in possession of the facts this would be a very short talk: "There isn't any", but nobody expected this from Ms Dorey. Following much media attention focussed on the Festival and its organisers a compromise was reached and the talk was replaced with a forum, where Ms Dorey would have to share the stage with someone who actually knows something about vaccinations, in this case Professor Andreas Suhrbier from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

OPPOSING VIEWS: Meryl Dorey (left) from the Australian Vaccination Network, an anti-vaccination group, and Prof Andreas Suhrbier from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. Pic: Glenn Barnes Source: The Courier-Mail

I like the fact that in its report, The Courier-Mail described the AVN as an "anti-vaccination group" in its caption to the photo above. At last the media are realising what the AVN stands for – not freedom of speech, not informed choice, but absolute and total opposition to all vaccines.

Professor Suhrbier spoke first and gave the capacity crowd some real facts about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. Then Ms Dorey got up and gave then what everyone expected – the anti-vaccination party line. I have given her PowerPoint slideshow the yellow highlighter treatment (to mark "inaccuracies"), and you can see it by clicking on the picture below. My comments on each slide are included.

Thanks to radio station 4ZZZ in Brisbane, here is a recording of Ms Dorey's talk. I have given the player a yellow background for reasons that should be obvious.

As an aside, I decided that if I am going to continue marking up Ms Dorey's work with my yellow marker I need to speed things up, so I have written to Logitech and asked them to make me a special keyboard with a yellow key just for that task. This could save hours each week.

A bit more about Woodford (7/1/2012)
Episode 4 of the Radio Ratbags podcast has interviews with Chrys Stevenson, who did the lion's share of the PR for the Stop the AVN's Woodford campaign, and Dan Raffaele, founder of Stop the AVN.

Child abuse (7/1/2012)
How would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had physically abused a child? How would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had sexually abused a child? Once you have considered those, how would you feel if you heard someone laughing about how they had exposed their child to a disease that still kills children around the world and sentences others to lives of pain and disability?

That was a message posted to the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page on November 30, 2011. It was not challenged or criticised by any of the members of the group. You will notice that Ms Elphinstone expresses amusement at the thought of her son getting chicken pox, caught because she "did deliberaltey (sic) expose him". See the "lol"? That means "laughing out loud".

My friend Ken McLeod was so offended by this admission of child abuse that he did what any responsible citizen would do – he contacted the authorities in Western Australia, where Ms Elphinstone runs an online business selling magic potions and nostrums. His first point of contact was the Minister for Child Protection. This would seem to be the logical place. I spoke to a friend of mine who used to do crisis intervention for the NSW Department of Community Services, and she said she would have no hesitation in taking action if someone was deliberately exposing a child to a dangerous disease. It would be treated in exactly the same way as a child in danger of physical or sexual abuse. Apparently things are different in Western Australia, and Ken received a letter saying that this particular form of protection for endangered children was not a concern of the Child Protection Department and the complaint would be flicked to the Health Minister. (You can see the Minister's reply here.)

It seems that deliberately endangering the health of children is no more important to the health authorities in WA than it is to the child protectors. You can see the Health Minister's reply here, but this paragraph bears repeating:

I have been advised by the Western Australian Department of Child Protection that this is not a child protection issue. The WA Department of Health believes that the existing approach of providing the public with accurate information on vaccine preventable diseases is the preferred strategy. Fortunately, people with extreme views on immunisation, such as those attributed to Ms Elphinstone, are in a small minority.

So there you have it. parents can freely abuse their children in Western Australia by putting them at risk of death or permanent injury provided they do the endangering by following an idiotic, anti-vaccination agenda. I assume the authorities aren't so cavalier with parents who refuse to put their children in approved car seats or who give them alcohol or other drugs. I hope that they take things more seriously if Ms Elphinstone decides to treat any serious illness her child acquires by using the useless products she sells off her web site.

How many children have to be put at risk, or be damaged or killed by preventable diseases before the health authorities recognise anti-vaccination campaigners for the dangerous, deluded fools they are and treat them like any other group that defies the rules and conventions of civilised society? I'm not laughing out loud, and neither should anyone else.

I'm being talked about (14/1/2012)
I'm not allowed to respond to anything posted on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page. This does not stop the denizens of this cesspit from discussing me. This was posted by an anonymous page administrator recently.

AVN talking about me behind my back

Tim Bolen – spokespustuleThe article she (there are hints to the identity of "B52") is referring to is by none other than our old friend Tim Bolen, spokespustule to the quacks. Here is what he had to say about me, with my comments in italics.

(5) Peter Bowditch (Ratbags) – isn't really important in and of himself. On a personal level he isn't much. His activities are those of a minor kiss-up. Professionally, like most pseudo-skeptic leadership, Bowditch is a loser, and doesn't seem to have an income outside of "skepticism."  I have the distinct impression that Bowditch is in love with, and will do anything to impress the character who calls himself James Randi (Zwinge).

Tim's incredible research ability (the same one which has apparently found that almost all of the people who contribute to the Usenet newsgroup are me, addressed by Tim as "poor peter") doesn't seem to have turned up my business web site, although a Google search for my name brings up my personal web site and my LinkedIn entry on the first page of results. My business also has an address which is not a PO box, unlike Tim's. Tim also seems to have difficulty grasping the concept that if someone legally changes their name then the new name is their legal name.

I have met James Randi on three occasions – in Sydney in 2000 and 2010 and Las Vegas in 2004. I am so ashamed of Tim's outing of me that I will not let anyone see the photograph below, taken in Sydney at TamOZ 2010. Please don't look at it.

Randi and me at TAM

Bowditch recently shut down an organization he created years ago called "The Australian Council Against Health Fraud," an affiliation with Stephen Barrett and bobbie baratz,

ACAHF had absolutely nothing to do with either Dr Barrett or Dr Baratz. Tim has this unfortunate habit of making things up to fit with his fantasy view of the universe.

to spend his time working directly with Zwinge, managing the "The Australian Skeptics."

I assume by "Zwinge" Tim means the person with the legal name of James Randi. (It is ironic that Tim likes to be called Tim even though his first name is Patrick and the use of Tim upsets members of his family. Also it is beyond ironic that someone who hides his address behind a PO box should have anything to say about who calls themselves what.)

James Randi has nothing whatever to do with running Australian Skeptics Inc. I'm surprised that someone with Tim's super investigative powers couldn't find the names of the current committee members. (I am one, James Randi is not.)

Bowditch, himself, is not important. He is just one of the, what I call, the Offshore Defamation Locations (ODL). What Bowditch is typical of is the pseudo-skeptic's use of offshore websites to defame individuals in the US, knowing it is almost impossible to sue someone that far away, and in an entirely different court system. The pseudo-skeptics in the US then quote someone like Bowditch, or link to his site, hiding behind (they think) the shield of internet protections against Defamation (Barrett v Rosenthal).

Oh yes, Barrett v Rosenthal, where a court ruled that it is not defamatory to repeat defamation that you read on the Internet even if you know for certain that it is not true. I read on the Internet that Ilena Rosenthal could not make a living as a prostitute in San Diego despite it being a huge naval base even when she offered free samples. Ilena was not happy when I first said this so I referred her to Barrett v Rosenthal. The defamation that she republished was written by none other than Tim Bolen. I read on the Internet that Bolen is in default of state taxes, has several liens out against him for non-payment of debts, has had his business registration cancelled and is a general all-round douchebag. I can say this with impunity because of a court case – Barrett v Rosenthal.

In more irony, Tim apparently thinks that he is immune from defamation action by me because he lives in the US (although he keeps his address a secret) and I am in Australia. The man could not be more pathetic if he tried.

There are quite a few of these Offshore Defamation Locations (ODL). However, it is easy to tie them into the pseudo-skeptic conspiracy, centering them in a US Court jurisdiction.

So sue me, Tim

Ms Dorey on the radio (20/1/2012)
Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network, was interviewed on radio station 4BC in Brisbane during the week. The station actually had a real doctor on as well to provide balance, although why any discussion about vaccination needs to have to pretend to balance is a mystery. There is no "other side", and giving an anti-vaccination campaigner air time is like having a Holocaust denier on to provide balance to a story about the history of the Second World War or having a moon hoax believer on to balance a story about planetary exploration.

Here is a transcript of Ms Dorey's interview. It has been given the yellow marker treatment to show "inaccuracies". I hope I got all of them, but I can never be sure.

Why is Australia in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic?

Following is the transcript of an interview on Gary Hardgrave's Drive programme on 4BC (Brisbane), yesterday afternoon, the 18th of January. This is in regards to the current record levels of whooping cough in Australia (and worldwide) and the vilification by the government and medical community who blame the unvaccinated for the outbreak whilst ignoring the evidence that the vaccine is not working and may itself, be the source of the epidemic.

GH: Doctors are fearing a rise in whooping cough, yet we've been immunising people for ages. Just what is going on here? I thought immunising against whooping cough was supposed to prevent it and there's been a mini epidemic in far north Queensland. I don't know much more details than that. I'm wondering if it's within indigenous communities or possibly within newly arrived migrants. I don't know, but others are saying no, it's a pretty broad cross section of our community that have been called out of that. We'll talk about that in some detail in a moment.

We return with this apparent mini epidemic of whooping cough. I had a touch of whooping cough when I was a young acker and I as far as I know was immunised. It is not a nice thing. Australia's gone from having only 332 cases of whooping cough per year in 1991 to having something like 38,000 cases in 2011. That's the claim. 10,000% increase. I thought we were immunising people against this.

The Australian Vaccination Network's Meryl Dorey joins us, Meryl I know you're not a big fan of vaccination, but something's wrong here.

MD: Well something is definitely wrong here. it's not that I'm a fan or not a fan of vaccinations, but I am a fan of using scientific information to say that what We're doing works and it's not a mini epidemic that's happening for whooping cough. We're actually starting the fifth year of a record-breaking number of cases of whooping cough. When the vaccine was introduced in 1953 we had about 180 cases of whooping cough per 100,000 population in Australia and right now, with our vaccination rate going from 0 to 95%, we have 180 cases per 100,000 head of population. So we've actually seen no improvement in the incidence of whooping cough and what's occurring in Australia is what is occurring around the world. Any place that the vaccine is being used We're seeing this huge increase, an absolutely enormous increase in incidence, 10,000% in the last 20 years in Australia and the vaccine may very well be responsible for it. What the medical community is saying is that in the same way that antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria, well over use of the whooping cough vaccine has actually caused a mutation in the bacteria that causes whooping cough and it's no longer in the vaccine.

GH: Yeah so what you're saying really is we need a bit more science to check out what We're actually vaccinating against?

MD: Absolutely. And right now the medical community and the government are using this outbreak of whooping cough to try and get people to vaccinate more but we are vaccinating more than we've ever vaccinated before and it's not having any effect. Like you said – you thought, I thought, everyone thought – that when they vaccinated against whooping cough, it meant that they were protected. But now, even the medical community is saying, "No, you're not protected. It may just mean that you get the disease milder." and I have to tell you that from my research, there isn't any evidence that that's the case either. We are getting more cases of whooping cough than we've had in decades and it's despite a 24% increase in the vaccination rate against whooping cough in Australia in the last 20 years.

GH: But I was vaccinated when I was a kid because I've been born 1953, I was born on January 5th in 1953 if anyone wants to write that down for my 60th birthday, my point being that I had a mild form of whooping cough when I was a kid, it terrified my parents, it was an aweful time they reckon.

MD: Well that's it. And from the statistics we've gotten from the government, it appears that something close to 80% of all cases of whooping cough are occurring in fully vaccinated people so you know, we have a situation where We're getting a huge incidence of disease and We're being told that the only answer is to get more vaccinations, more vaccinations, but we already have so many people vaccinated and the disease is not declining – it's actually increasing. And what the AVN says is that we have about a 95% vaccination rate against whooping cough right now. If the government wants to increase that even higher, and that's a pretty high vaccination rate, a lot of parents that we speak with are very concerned about whether or not giving their children vaccines is going to keep them healthy. And we have been asking, organisations like the AVN around the world have been asking for decades now, for the governments to do the one study that will actually make parents feel more comfortable about giving their children these vaccines and that is a study comparing the overall health of children who are fully vaccinated with children who are completely unvaccinated but that's never been done.

GH: All right, SOMETHING is out there, I appreciate your time.

MD: Thank you.

GH: We'll talk to you again.

M: Thanks a lot.

GH: Meryl Dorey, President of the Australian Vaccination Network. They say parents have the right to choose. And I am a great believer in vaccination but I get the point that she's making that I'm very, very interested in because whether or not We're vaccinating against exactly the same thing, or the right thing, that we should be vaccinating against.

Excuses, excuses, ... (11/2/2012)
Yes, I've been away. I had to do a whole lot of accounting work to satisfy the government department which provides my wife with benefit payments for a medical condition. One of their requirements is that we must submit the accounts of my business every year by a certain date or the benefits get cut off. We had missed the deadline, but managed to get back into their good books before the payments stopped.

The same department administers unemployment benefits, and people who want to keep receiving those payments have to provide evidence of job seeking activity every fortnight. My younger daughter gets an allowance for being a full-time student, but she has to regularly provide evidence of attendance at classes. I'm in a twelve-month arrangement in which the government provides a small subsidy to my business to develop and market a new product. I have to submit progress reports every month, and there are also quarterly reporting requirements which result in immediate cancellation of payments if deadlines are missed. To receive an aged pension you have to regularly provide the relevant government department with statements of your assets and income.

There is another benefit scheme in Australia in which parents receive payments (actually it's a taxation benefit) for having their children fully vaccinated. You might think that this benefit would be withheld if you chose not to vaccinate your kids, but you would be wrong. All you have to do is fill in a conscientious objection form and the money keeps flowing. You don't have to give any reason for your objection, just say you have one.

Anyone offering a conscientious objection to fulfilling obligations related to the disability support pension, or Newstart, or the aged pension or the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme would have those objections looked at carefully and then be informed that they were off the program and had received their last payment. All you have to say to keep getting the vaccination benefit is say "Give it to me". I have no problem with real conscientious objection, but to prove it should require evidence of active membership of a religious group with opposition to vaccination as part of its dogma. Anything else is just lying and theft. Is it any surprise that the Australian Vaccination Network offers to provide people to accompany parents when they go to the doctor to get these lying forms filled in?

Did I mention that claiming conscientious objection for no reason other than you are either an anti-vaccination liar yourself or believe the lies they tell is lying and theft? I did? Good. I wouldn't want to be misunderstood.

That child abuse thing (11/2/2012)
Back in January I mentioned a case of child abuse, where a naturopath boasted about exposing her child to chicken pox. Here is how the story was reported in the local paper, the Cambridge Post.

This did not please the anti-vaccinators, and here is what Meryl Dorey erstwhile (and perhaps still current) president of the Australian Vaccination Network had to say in a letter to the paper.

Ms Dorey's version of the truth

I love the headline: "Anti-vaxers reply on chickenpox". At least the paper is under no illusion about Ms Dorey's position.

Let's just give that letter the yellow marker treatment, shall we:

Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) reported a WA mother to Child Protection Services (CPS) for doing what our mothers and grandmothers did – exposing her child to a benign disease of childhood so they would get natural immunity – a benefit vaccines cannot provide.

  • The report was made by Ken McLeod, not SAVN.
  • My mother and grandmothers were never stupid enough to expose us to disease.
  • The "benign" disease kills children every day. I'm sure the families of the 100 people who died each year in the US prior to a vaccine becoming available thought that "benign" was a good description.
  • Vaccines can certainly provide immunity, even if it's not "natural".

But the response of CPS and the government is the real concern.

Instead of laughing it off the government used this poor woman's situation to try to once again attack the AVN, a public health safety watchdog that has provided medically sourced information to Australian parents for more than 18 years.

  • The government did in fact "laugh it off" – they did nothing about this quite clear case of child abuse. Unfortunately.
  • Any relationship between the AVN and public health is negative – they want children to be sick.
  • The "information" is sourced from medical specialists like the disgraced Andrew Wakefield, total loon Harold Buttram, the Geiers, who have been declared persona non grata as expert witnesses (and who give castration chemicals to children), and other people who have either forgotten their medical training or who paid someone else to sit the exams for them.

It is because of the AVN that families can still access all government payments and send their children to school, pre-school and child-care centres whether they are vaccinated or not.

No, it wasn't "because of the AVN.

And isn't the rest of it a disgrace? People can claim benefits to which they are not entitled and send their pox-ridden spawn to schools and kindergartens to infect other people's kids. This is not something I would be proud of, but as you can see there is no yellow – this vileness is the truth.

According to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, since the vaccine was introduced in Australia, the rates of chicken pox have been steadily increasing.

First, The vaccine was introduced in 2003 and chicken pox has only been reportable since 2006. Here are the results:


Notice the huge increase, mostly due to doctors now being familiar with what the disease looks like. I had chicken pox as an adult and it was the first adult case my doctor had ever knowingly seen. Also note the steady increase between 2008 and 2010.

It would be expected that a newly-introduced surveillance system would show an increase in reported cases over time as doctors became familiar with what the disease looked like. By the way, there was one case in 2003 and 5 in 1997 (the two years prior to 2006 with reported cases), but to include those in the graph would cause my old stats teacher to come to my house with a machete.

If child protection can be called in because this mother tried to protect her child through natural immunity, what is next?

Child protection wasn't "called in". A clear case of child abuse was reported to CPS, they flick-passed it to Health who then washed their hands of it. And as for "what is next?" Perhaps parents "protecting" their children from sexually transmitted diseases by exposing them to adults with syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Then see what CPS does, and it won't be "Oh, that's OK". And the mother didn't try to "protect her child through natural immunity", she placed the child in a health (and possibly life) threatening position. I suppose if I pointed out again that the mother is a naturopath and therefore devoid of any medical knowledge I would be accused of ad hominem, but facts are facts.

Look what's bobbed up (11/2/2012)
Every now and then people feel the need to mention my name in blogs and other places. A few weeks ago my name appeared in the Australian Vaccination Network blog (I was being lied about, of course) and it elicited the following comment:

No truth! No Courage! No value!Yes, that's right – Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group had donned his Gutless Anonymous Liar mask and expressed his opinion.

Now, here's the thing – all comments on this blog have to be approved by the moderator (I am blocked from commenting) and this was approved almost immediately. A friend told me that he had posted a comment several hours earlier and at least five comments had been approved after he posted but his comment had not appeared. So it seems that defaming me anonymously gets immediate release but legitimate criticism of anything in the blog gets careful attention before being made available to readers.

Mr O'Neill's message was removed after about three days of ridicule and complaints to the blog owner (not complaints by me – I didn't really care and I'm blocked from all forms of communication with the blog owner), but now we know – offensive, lying, defamatory remarks about people who support vaccination will be approved immediately without even considering whether their content might be true. I suppose, though, that this is consistent with lying about vaccines, where truth is never a consideration.

It's time to be Kind and Gentle again (11/2/2012)
I friend of mine contacted an organisation that handles magazine subscriptions and advised them that issues of Living Wisdom, the magazine put out by the Australian Vaccination Network, had been a bit thin on the ground lately. So thin that they have been invisible. There is probably a law against offering a magazine subscription which provides six issues a year and then later saying this just means six issues whenever they happen to come out, but I'm not a lawyer. What I do know is that subscribers have contacted the AVN about the missing issues and have been given platitudes, if they got any response at all. Here is what the subscription management service had to say:

I thought this could do with a Kind and Gentle email to the publisher:

Dear Ms Dorey,

I realise that you have been distracted lately by matters such as your court case against the HCCC. (I hope to be in court to see your next appearance on February 22. Perhaps we could catch up over a coffee.) I know you have also been very busy writing blog posts and approving comments on them, as well as posting to Facebook and Twitter. (Could you see your way to unblocking me on Twitter, please? It's rather unfair that I can see your tweets but you can't see what I say about you.)

It seems that in all this busyness you have forgotten to post out issues of Living Woosdom, sorry Wisdom, and subscribers might be getting a bit impatient. I've even heard that iSubscribe have dropped you from their web site and list of magazines that they sell subscriptions to. You have mentioned financial worries and I'm sure you don't need any of this aggravation. Perhaps you should check the garage to see if there are any magazines there that you have forgotten to take to the post office. I'm sure that subscribers will be happy to receive them even if they are a couple of months, or even years, late.

I hope this finds you well. See you on February 22.

Your friend

The big news of the week (25/2/2012)

Yes, Wednesday, February 22 was the big day. It was to be the last hearing date for the great big court case where the Australian Vaccination Network was taking on the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.

For a bit of background, in July 2010 the HCCC requested that the AVN run a message on their web site saying the following:

The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent place on its website which states:

  1. the Australian Vaccination Network's purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere;
  2. the information should not be read as medical advice; and
  3. the decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The AVN refused to do this, so the HCCC issued its very first ever Public Warning which included the following words.

The AVN's failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety. (You can see the full warning here.)

In October 2010, the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing withdrew the AVN's status as a charity, giving the following reasons:

Having considered the report, the matters raised in the Department's letter dated 29 July 2010, and the Organisation's written response to those issues, the Minister is satisfied that the authority should be revoked under the following grounds as set out in section 31 (1) of the Act and for the following reasons:

(a) that any fundraising appeal conducted by the holder of the authority has not been conducted in good faith for charitable purposes
The Organisation has failed to publish a disclaimer on its website as recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the Organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith.

(c) that any fundraising appeal conducted by virtue of the authority has been improperly administered
The Organisation's website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe that they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination whereas the Organisation adopts an anfi:-- vaccination position. When requested by the HCCC to publish a disclaimer on its website the Organisation failed to do so.

(f) in the public interest, the authority should be revoked
The failure of the Organisation to comply with the HCCC recommendation resulted in the Commission publishing a Public Warning on 26 July 2010 advising that this failure "poses a risk to public health and safety". In this circumstance it is in the public interest to not permit the Organisation to conduct fund raising appeals under the Act.

(You can see the complete notice here.)

This had the effect of severely restricting the ability of the AVN to raise money, as the order also prevented them from enrolling new members or soliciting donations from anyone except existing members.

In what could almost be considered a deliberate misreading of the OLG&R revocation, Meryl Dorey from the AVN issued a media release in which she said:

As you can see, the OLGR based their entire decision on the HCCC's demand for us to declare ourselves as being anti-vaccine and putting their disclaimer on our website – two things which we refused to do (they say we failed to do it – there was no failure involved – this was a deliberate move on our part to defend our freedom of communication) (You can see the full release here.)

How anybody can interpret the statement by the OLG&R to say that the "entire decision" was based on the HCCC's original request (not the warning) when there were clearly two other reasons is a mystery, but much of the anti-vaccination movements interpretation of reality is a mystery.

Based on this false assumption, the AVN took the HCCC to court in the mistaken belief that if they could get the HCCC action overturned they could go back to asking people for money and it would be business as usual.

Now read on.

The court case dragged on for some time with everyone being inconvenienced by short hearings and adjournments, but matters finally came to a head in front of Justice Christine Adamson on February 22. Justice Adamson had only been appointed to the Supreme Court bench in September 2011 so she had not been present for any of the previous action, but she had read all the transcripts as well as written submissions from the legal teams for both sides. The day was spent with the lawyers clarifying things they had said in their submissions and arguing (again) about which sections of the legislation covering the HCCC were relevant and what certain common words meant when lawyers and legislators used them. Some amusement was felt when the barrister for the AVN seemed to be trying to get Ms Dorey's sworn testimony removed from the body of evidence and when the judge used the word "coy" to describe an evasive reply by Ms Dorey during cross examination. Slightly less amusing was when it became obvious that the lawyers for the HCCC seemed to have failed to include some evidence which would have been very beneficial to their case. After all the talk, the judge said that we could all come back on Friday, February 24, for a decision. (As an aside, I was encouraged by Justice Adamson's obvious commitment to use of the yellow highlighter.)

The decision did not go as we would have liked it, because Justice Adamson ruled that the HCCC had exceeded its authority. Her decision was based on her interpretation of who is allowed by the legislation to make a complaint. Note – she did not rule on the content of the complaints themselves or that the HCCC did not have power over the AVN as a health care provider (the AVN's lawyers had accepted that status for their client). She ruled that the wording of the relevant Act of Parliament restricted the ability of complaining to people who had been directly influenced by the AVN's words and actions. In this case the two complaints had been submitted by third parties. Once these complaints were ruled out, the HCCC had no reason to act. The HCCC has since removed the warning from their web site (it is retained here for historical reference, but has been moved so it cannot be indexed by search engines).

You can read the decision here.

Here are the major points:

So despite much crowing by Ms Dorey about the great win in the courts, it really is business as usual. The order preventing the AVN from fundraising stands and the HCCC has the undoubted ability to examine and act on the AVN's activities. In future, complaints will be made in a legally acceptable form now that the rules are quite clear. If anything, the decision can be interpreted as implying that the AVN has no influence at all, because evidence of any such influence could have changed the outcome.

There is one interesting matter outstanding, however. The solicitor acting for the AVN apparently publicly declared that she was working pro bono, which means that she cannot submit a bill even though costs have been awarded against the HCCC. Ms Dorey was running (before the OLG&R ban, presumably) an appeal for money to pay legal fees, but with the solicitor getting nothing and the barrister's costs being covered by the HCCC, one wonders what happened to any money collected. Maybe the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing might like to have a look at that.

Just a reminder (3/3/2012)
Last week I mentioned the result of the court case between the Australian Vaccination Network and the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. Following the decision the HCCC took its Public Warning about the AVN down from its web site. That doesn't mean that anyone else has to stop publicising it, so here it is.

And here it is in a form that can be found by the search engines.


26 July 2010

by the Health Care Complaints Commission under section 94A of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993

The Health Care Complaints Commission has investigated two complaints about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a non-profit organisation registered in New South Wales that provides information about vaccination. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination.

The Commission's investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website

The Commission's investigation established that the AVN website:

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:

  • The AVN's purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
  • The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
  • The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.

The AVN's failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.

And now for something completely different (24/3/2012)
The Australian Vaccination Network is conducting a survey of readers of its magazine to determine what they want to see in the rag in the future. The results of one of the questions is causing some amusement.

OK, I know it's bad survey design to have more choices than possible correct answers, I know that it should have had a "Don't care" choice, but I really like the idea that 43% of AVN members think that there are more than the normal seven days in a week. It fits with their rejection of facts and common sense. Perhaps that other day is the one on which vaccines are dangerous and don't work, a day unknown to the rest of us. There's an old insult: "He wouldn't know what day it is". Could this condition be endemic in AVN supporters?

Speaking of turds ... (21/4/2012)
I was attacked on Twitter during the week by a particularly vile anti-vaccination liar named Liz Hempel. She has been allowed free rein in Australian Vaccination Network forums to defame and abuse any critics of the AVN, and as she has not been reined in even after many complaints one can only assume she speaks for the AVN and with the approval of its management..

She started on me with an anonymous account and got upset when I pointed out that anonymous critics are both worthless and also liars by definition as they don't tell people their real names. She then announced that she had blocked me, which means that neither of us can see each other's messages. As she kept attacking me and I could see the posts I pointed out that she must have been lying about blocking me. She then said that she had created a new account and it was the other account that had me blocked. As both accounts had exactly the same user name I treated this as another lie.

In one of her rancid posts she started talking about my criminal record, using words that seemed to come from the pen of Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group. It included the claim that I had been convicted of contempt of court. Yes, a contempt charge was engineered against me by the pyramid scheme operator that sued me in 2005 (and I mean engineered – they set it up). Three allegations were made and all were rejected by the court. This happened on September 23, 2005.

I wondered where she had got this information from as she seems too dumb to have invented it herself. A Google search turned up something I hadn't seen before – a blog named Dead Peter Bowditch, created in 2005 with a single post in it. The writing style is so familiar that I have absolutely no doubt who made it.

Misspelling the Judge's name once is a mistake. Misspelling it four times reflects the mental capacity of the author, as if there could be any doubt about that.

Coincidentally, someone started posting messages to Usenet groups this week using my company's name as a user ID. The anonymous person was clever enough to use a system which revealed their IP address, and it just happens to be a cable internet customer of Videotron in, guess where – Canada. That account might not be long for this world as the complaint has already been filed.

Bad news about the AVN (21/4/2012)
A couple of pieces of bad news came out about the Australian Vaccination Network recently.

The first was that the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing has restored the AVN's charity status, thereby allowing them to take donations from non-members and recruit new members. The reason given for the action was specious, and ignored the 25 possible breaches of regulations that the OLG&R investigation had uncovered. The decision to cancel the charity status had been made by a Minister in the previous government, so the only reasonable explanation for allowing the AVN to return to the practices which attracted attention in the past is that anything done by the previous government which can be undone by Ministerial decree will be undone. Members of Parliament have been contacted in an attempt to have sanity restored and the 25 allegations of misconduct properly investigated.

The second piece of bad news came in the form of a media release from the AVN. You can read the entire disgusting thing here, but the relevant part says:

The Australian Vaccination Network's President, Meryl Dorey, has recently participated in an interview which will air for two months on all American Airlines domestic and international flights for the months of July and August, 2012.

That's right – one of the USA's leading airlines is going to provide free advertising for an anti-vaccination loon with the potential of it being heard by more than 8 million passengers. Complaints to American Airlines produced a statement that listening was optional.

This brief program is produced by a third-party supplier for our audio channels and as is duly noted in our onboard American Way Magazine, the opinions expressed on any such features do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of American Airlines. There are many different video and audio entertainment choices onboard our aircraft. This program is optional as to whether customers wish to listen to it.

There has been an immediate, world-wide backlash against American Airlines over this promotion of ill-health, with many of the people pointing out that the airline you fly with is also optional, and that option will not include American for future flights into, out of or within the USA. I'm disappointed, because I have always had good service from American in the past. But the past is past.

Update 25/4/2012

A storm erupted in Twitter and blogs and the airline came under criticism for promoting ideas which could cause severe health issues for its passengers. American has now issued the following statement via Twitter:

This interview has not been submitted to AA yet. We decided not to air this audio. We thank those who shared their opinions.

And in an email:

Despite what you may have read from press releases, the interview in question has not yet been submitted to American Airlines, and we will not be running it if, and when, it is.

I would like to thank and congratulate American Airlines for this action. I can fly with them again.

Oh, and did you notice that Ms Dorey was a little "premature"* in announcing that AA were going to run the audio. It hasn't even been submitted to them yet.

* The word "premature" is a euphemism. You can guess what for.

The last thing about the AVN today, I promise (21/4/2012)
Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network made the following claim, related to her appearance at a health liefest over the last few days:

On the funny side (perhaps funny is not the right word?), we were again forced to hire a security guard for the event because of the emails and phone calls from our 'friends' at the Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN who just can't stand to see public debate on this issue and have to act in a threatening manner towards innocent third parties who are simply providing a venue for us.

These contacts are so abnormal and frightening to these venues that they have no option but to request extra security be provided at our expense. The security guard was lovely and had to laugh when he saw us – but he wasn't hired because of any threat we provided – a bunch of mums and dad – many with young babies or pregnant. Instead, it was the threat of that violent group of harassers – Stop the AVN – that necessitated their hiring.

A couple of things for those who came in late – this is not the first time Ms Dorey has claimed that she has been threatened by members of Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN. She even managed to have security guards at an appearance in the New South Wales Supreme Court, and I can assure you that if we are ever going to harass her it won't be anywhere where a judge can lock us up for contempt.

So here are the facts – nobody from Australian Skeptics made any threats or tried to stop her appearing. To say so is a lie. Nobody involved with the group Stop the Australian Vaccination Network made any threats. In fact, Stop the AVN doesn't even exist as any type of formal organisation, it's just a bunch of people on Facebook.

This is not the first time Ms Dorey has lied about skeptics at a conference. In 2002 I attended an AVN seminar with a friend. We sat in the middle of the room, my friend asked a question in the Q&A and we left after the meeting was closed. Ms Dorey reported twenty-four hours later that I had been sitting in the front row with a group and we had all walked out half way through the proceedings. You might think she was just mistaken but an AVN committee member told me that she had pointed me out to Ms Dorey during the night. When she told her followers that I had left early she knew that this was not true. We call that sort of statement "a lie".

I'd probably be only half as pissed off at Dorey as I am over these claims of threats if I hadn't been in a small press conference room with Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the weekend and seen the two gorillas that were making sure they were never more than a couple of metres from her at all times. When one of the twelve or so journalists in the room approached her for an autograph the bodyguards moved in reflexively to make sure that no harm came to her. Hirsi Ali lives her life like this because she is the subject of real threats.

Dorey whining about imaginary threats like people complaining to venues or calling her names makes me sick when I see what it really means to be threatened.

Memo to Meryl Dorey at the Australian Vaccination Network (28/4/2012)
Do not even suggest that anyone contacts my family. I realise that you have in the past harassed the family of at least one child who died of a vaccine preventable disease. But don't start on me.

You might think you can get away with continual defamation of Australian Skeptics. You might think you can get away with continual lies about the activities of the members of Stop the AVN. What you will not get away with is involving my family in your insane campaign to harm children. If you don't like me asking tasteless questions about dead babies then stop spending your days trying to increase the number of dead babies.

If you or any of your followers come near my family I will react and it will not end well for you. Don't even suggest it in a joke. And if you think that's a threat, think again. It's a promise.

Almost five months after this was posted, Meryl Dorey tried to get a court to place a restraining order on me, using this post as the basis for the action. After dragging the matter on through several adjournments, she finally lost the case in April, 2013. She waited the maximum amount of time and them appealed the decision, withdrawing the appeal two days before it was to be heard by the Court. Fifty-four weeks of my life wasted.

The lies about doctors killing patients never go away (28/4/2012)
Lies are being told again about how many deaths in Australia are caused by doctors and real medicine. The specific claim this time by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network is that adverse drug reactions kill between 18,000 and 94,000 people each year. The wide range is apparently because most of these events are not reported.

Let's look at some facts. The first of these is that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 141,707 people died in Australia in 2009, the last year for which final figures have been published. A reasonable person would assume that it is highly unlikely that 66% of all deaths are caused by drug reactions. Still, when bashing doctors is the cause any tools or words can be used. The second fact is that according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration they have 233,000 such adverse events (not deaths) recorded in their database. Over a period of 50 years. Here is a graph from the TGA showing reports over recent years:

You might notice that most reactions are reported by pharmaceutical companies. This does not fit with the world view of supporters of quackery because they all know that Big Pharma is evil and will do or hide anything to keep the profits up. In 2010, the TGA received 14,200 reports of reactions to drugs. Not deaths, reactions, so even at the lowest estimate in Ms Dorey's fantasy there were 26% more deaths than incidents.

It is also worth noting that "adverse reaction" can mean almost anything, even coincidence. Sometimes you don't even need drugs. I had an adverse reaction the last time I donated blood, but as it hasn't happened before I'll mention it the next time I go to the Blood Bank, they'll record it on their records and it might never happen again. I've had bad effects from certain drugs, but usually a phone call to the doctor followed by a change of prescription has reassured me. I have Type 2 diabetes and take metformin every day. A proportion of people who take this drug suffer from diarrhea and excessive flatulence when they first start taking it (I didn't – I was one of the lucky ones, or perhaps it was my family who were lucky). There is no known toxic dose, new patients are advised of the possibility, and no doctor would report it unless the problems persisted or became disabling.

As you can see from the graph, a very large proportion of reports come from outside the medical bureaucracy. It can safely be assumed that many of these were coincidence ("I took Mycoxaflopin and an hour later I had a headache".) and almost certainly most were not checked by a medical practitioner, otherwise the doctor would have done the reporting.

So, considering all of the above I think it is safe to say that Meryl Dorey was exaggerating when she blamed medications for that enormous number of deaths. Did I say "exaggerating"? Having looked at how easy it was to debunk the ludicrous numbers I might even think that it went beyond exaggeration into the realm of dishonesty. You note my lack of surprise.

The attack on real medicine using made up numbers is not new. Here is something I wrote in 2002. The quote in the middle starting "Iatrogenic Injury in Australia" was made by Meryl Dorey among others. It can still be found using a Google search.

"14,000 preventable medical deaths"

Pretending to be something you're not (19/5/2012)
The Australian skeptical community was presented with a new member this week, a website calling itself "The REAL Australian Sceptics". You might think that it has something to do with the real Australian Skeptics, but you would be wrong. It is in fact a project of the Australian Vaccination Network, although this isn't mentioned anywhere on the site despite the rules about incorporated non-profit organisations saying:

An association's full name (including the word 'ncorporated' or the abbreviation 'Inc') must appear in legible characters on any letter, statement, invoice, notice, publication including website, order for goods or services or receipt in connection with its activities.

Unreal Australian S[c]eptics

But let's not be pedantic about minor illegalities. We can leave that up to the relevant authorities (who have been notified, of course). See the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, Section 41 and the NSW Office of Fair Trading's General Obligations for associations for more information.

When I first became aware in 2010 that the AVN had registered four domain names containing "australiansceptics" I sent Meryl Dorey, AVN President, the following email. I did not receive an answer.

Dear Ms Dorey,

You have no idea how pleased I was to find that you had registered various Internet domain names which include the word "australiansceptics". I knew that you were looking for something to do after you stepped down as President of AVN, but I never suspected that you would be planning to join me and my friends over here in skeptic land. As you usually use the spelling "septics" (a joke which is still funny after a million repetitions) and Australian Skeptics Inc use "skeptics", it seems obvious that you are planning your own skeptical organisation.

This can only be good news as the country needs as many supporters of skepticism and scientific and critical thinking as it can get to fight the forces of evil and nonsense. Sometimes it's difficult to convince sensible people that, for example, there are those who oppose vaccination, and it would be immensely useful to have someone with inside knowledge of organised insanity to help get the message of truth out.

As you are well aware, I do not speak for Australian Skeptics unless I specifically say so and in this case I am expressing my personal view. Australian Skeptics Inc might have an opinion on the matter but I will leave it up to them to comment.

I am sure that we can put aside the differences we have had in the past and I look forward to working with you to educate the population to recognise and accept medicine, science, rational thought and truth rather than quackery, magic, superstition and lies.

Your friend

When I saw the new deceptively-named web site I posted this email again as a comment. It wasn't published. I found out later that this was because comments were later blocked for the introduction page. This is not unreasonable but is usually done when the page is created, not as an afterthought. It did provide some amusement however, as the following Twitter exchange shows.

Meryl replies to me on Twitter

That's right – she follows the #StopAVN Twitter hashtag but replies to someone totally different. That takes real skill because most of the programs used to interact with Twitter automatically fill in the person being responded to. The Internet meme LULZ was given a heavy workout.

But now we should get on to the real commenting saga. The site contains a lot of words about how comments should be framed, pointing out that abuse will not be tolerated but dissenting views will be, references are required, and a whole lot of other stuff that experience says will only apply to people who are not friends of the AVN.

The first article posted to the blog was an insane rant by an anonymous person only identified as "HPS". It contained so many inaccuracies and outright lies that anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about science or medicine coming across it without prior exposure to the antics of anti-vaccination liars might see it as a joke. I posted the following comment:

First comment

For explanation, see Poe's Law and Landover Baptist.

I received this email from Ms Dorey, moderator of the blog:

I would like to offer you an opportunity to rewrite your comment so that it does not attack the person who wrote the blog post. If you do so, I will be happy to consider moderating it.

Kind regards,

As I couldn't see how I had been attacking anyone I didn't bother to reply.

Many of the comments on the article were posted by someone calling itself "ChildHealthSafety" with no further identification. This person runs an eponymous web site which also hides the identity of the site owner. Many (most? all?) of the comments made by this person were nonsensical reiterations of classic anti-vaccine lies. My opinion of anonymity is well known, so I posted the following comment. (Note – this might not be exactly what I wrote. I forgot to take a screen shot.)

Why doesn't ChildHealthSafety tell us its* name, either here or on its web site? What does it have to hide, or is it too unsure of its facts to back them up with a real name?

My name is Peter Bowditch and I am not ashamed to admit it.

* I use the pronoun "it" because it does not even reveal its gender.

A leopard with permanent spotsI received the following from Ms Dorey:

I'm afraid that once again, your comment is attacking another commenter rather than commenting on the article and therefore, it will not be moderated. Please keep your posts on topic without making any derogatory comments about other people and I will be happy to approve them.

So asking someone to identify themselves is an attack. If that is the case then I can't go any further. Words are being used in a manner which is in conflict with normal usage of the English language. What is obvious, however, is that yet again Ms Dorey's claims of open and free speech are revealed as the vacuous statement they really are. Her idea of free speech is that she and people she agrees with can say anything they like without having to produce any evidence beyond anecdote and say-so while everyone else can just keep quiet. As I was banned from the AVN's Internet mailing list in 1999 without ever posting a message I can't say I'm surprised at the perpetuation of the cliché about leopards and spots.

I suppose allowing ChildHealthSafety to hide behind a pseudonym is consistent though. Consistent with, for example, registering domain names that look like they belong to someone else and then using them on a web site with a title very similar to the other party while simultaneously hiding your true identity. But as I have never expected an iota of honesty or ethics from anti-vaccination campaigners I can hardly say I'm surprised.

Update march 2017
Despite raising aver $150,000 in donations that was not spent on its intended and specified purpose (a court challenge to some very sensible legislation) but was used instead for overseas trips to loon conventions, the AVsN didn't have enough money to pay for renewal of the domain name, so "The REAL Australian Sceptics" died some time in 2016. Nobody cared, because nobody had been looking at the site anyway.

And while we're at it ... (19/5/2012)
Here is a complaint lodged with the NSW Office of Fair Trading (File number 6184095):

The Australian Vaccination Network Inc has created a web page at with the title "The REAL Australian Skeptics". I will leave it up to the real Australian Skeptics Inc to complain about this apparent attempt to confuse people by using a similar name to promote ideas which are anathema to them. My complaint is that nowhere on the web site is there any mention of its association with the Australian Vaccination Network, despite the guidelines for incorporated bodies stating quite clearly:

"An association's full name (including the word 'Incorporated' or the abbreviation 'Inc') must appear in legible characters on any letter, statement, invoice, notice, publication including website, order for goods or services or receipt in connection with its activities".

There is no doubt that it is a project of the AVN because it is being promoted on the AVN's Facebook page and Twitter feed and comments are moderated by the AVN's President.

I realise that this could be seen as a trivial matter, but the AVN has been in trouble in the past for working close to the edge of rules and regulations.

Almost unimaginable filth (2/6/2012)
Judy Wilyman is a PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong. The research for her thesis consists of finding evidence for the harmfulness of vaccines. She is not interested in vaccine safety, becauWe must depart from evil so extremese she doesn't believe any vaccine is safe. She is not interested in vaccine efficacy, because she doesn't believe any vaccine has any use. She decided these things before she started researching, so it is a mystery that she has been undertaking her doctorate for several years. She could have simply written her thesis off the top of her head and submitted it to either of the supervisors she has had, because both of them agree with her prejudices completely.

Ms Wilyman is beloved of the Australian Vaccination Network because she can be used as an authority whenever vaccines have to be denigrated. She can also usually be relied on by sensible people to scrape so hard at the bottom of the barrel that a cooper has to be called in afterwards to do repairs. Today, she went even further and accused the parents of a child who died of pertussis of being paid to support vaccination. Salvador Dali's illustration from Dante's Divine Comedy at the right has a title that expresses the disgust that thinking people must feel at Wilyman's actions: "We must depart from evil so extreme".

Here is what Judy Wilyman, PhD student at the University of Wollongong, posted to an Internet forum:

So here are some facts, Ms Wilyman (get someone to look up "fact" in a dictionary if you are not sure of the meaning).

In 2009 the McCaffreys (note – no apostrophe) were the inaugural winners of the Australian Skeptics' Thornett Award For The Promotion Of Reason. This gave me enormous pleasure, firstly because I was the person who suggested naming the award after our late friend Fred Thornett and secondly because I could not think of any worthier winners. Their bravery in the face of tragedy and their preparedness to speak out so that other families would not have to go through what they did stand in stark contrast to the actions of people who are prepared to see children maimed and die as the inevitable result of an insane agenda opposing the greatest life-saver in the history of medicine. That would be people like you, Judy Wilyman.

Ms Wilyman, you have been asked by the McCaffreys to leave them alone and to stop mentioning their daughter. I realise that their requests mean nothing to you because it is more important to you to deprive children of good health. Perhaps the best thing you could do would to be to get that dictionary out again and look up the meaning of the abbreviation "STFU".

AVN News (2/6/2012)
So what's been happening recently at everybody's favourite anti-vaccination organisation, the Australian Vaccination Network.

There has been a survey. Now I'm not about to mention who came first in class in survey design when I was at university, but I will say that asking a question like this one would not have scored high marks. You can see my answer and reason. Many of the reasons were published on the AVN's blog, but unfortunately mine seemed to slip between the cracks in the floor.

You might remember that back in May I notified the NSW Office of Fair Trading that the AVN's new web site "The Real Australian Sceptics" did not seem to carry the legally required identification of the site owner. I have received this letter from the OFT.

Perhaps Ms Dorey, AVN President, will treat this as another government request that can be ignored. I will check, and If I can't find what I'm looking for I'll probably have to tell the OFT to ask again. I don't think they like asking twice.

Free speech breaks out in Anti-vax Land? (23/6/2012)
One of the hallmarks of the anti-vaccination movement in Australia is their lack of tolerance of any dissent. Anybody disagreeing with any of their lunacy is immediately blocked from commenting on blogs, and removed from mailing lists, Facebook groups and any other forums they control.

A new forum named "Vaccination – Respectful Debate" was recently created by the management at the Australian Vaccination Network with the following charter: "This is a place for people from both sides of this very polarised vaccination debate to meet and discuss the issues concerning vaccine safety, efficacy and necessity. All viewpoints are welcome provided they are respectful". I thought I would test this new-found commitment to free speech, so I posted a respectful introduction which included the following five lies that are continually told by people opposed to vaccination.

1) Vaccines contain parts of aborted foetuses

It is true that in the manufacture of some vaccines a cell line is used which was derived from the lung cells of a foetus aborted in 1962. It was a legal termination undertaken to save the mother's life and the mother donated the foetus to science. Attempts have been made to claim that Catholics, for example, should therefore refuse to use these vaccines. In 2003 the Vatican issued a ruling on this matter, making it perfectly acceptable for Catholics to use these vaccines on the basis that they had an overriding responsibility for the health of their own children and those they came into contact with. (The AVN issued a media release about the Vatican's ruling. The headline on the release was "Vatican says, 'Parents must oppose vaccines from human foetal remains'". I'll let you judge the truthfulness of those words.)

2) Polio was not reduced by the Polio is harmless?introduction of vaccines but has simply been renamed.

The obvious absurdity of this is apparent to anybody who lived through the early 1950s. If polio is still present then where are the callipers on children's legs, where are the iron lungs? When I asked a prominent anti-vaccine campaigner for evidence of this I was pointed to a reclassification of statistical categories in 1958 where the CDC ruled that paralysis had to last for 60 days for a case to be recorded as "paralytic polio". It was not a renaming of anything, it was a refining of the way cases were reported. (You can see some more about this here. Scroll down until you see the newspaper clipping with the headline "Vaccination Politics".)

3) Vaccines have never been tested in clinical trials

The largest clinical trial in the history of medicine in terms of numbers of test subjects was the trial of the Salk polio vaccine with about 500,000 subjects. Clinical trials for Gardasil and Rotateq both included more than 30,000 test subjects. At the time of writing this, PubMed returns 19,352 papers for the keyword search "vaccine clinical trials" and 9,681 for "vaccine safety".

4) Vaccines are injected into the bloodstream

Nothing more needs to be said about this than "No, they are not". If someone tells you this you should immediately correct them. If they persist then you know that you don't have to listen to anything more that they have to say.

5) No disease has ever been wiped out by vaccination

Smallpox, rinderpest (in cattle), with measles and polio on the horizon (although the horizon gets pushed away at times by either opposition to vaccination or nonsensical minimisation of the harm these diseases do)

There were five responses which indicated that people either didn't read what I wrote or felt that repetition is all it takes to make something true.

I was questioned on the 9,681 papers found using "vaccine safety" and asked if all these papers were just repetitions referring to each other and the same research and also if I personally had read them all and could say how many of them said vaccines were safe and how many said the opposite. I replied that I wasn't actually talking about the content of the papers, only that there were people who said they didn't exist.

I was presented with about a thousand words saying that there had never actually been any clinical trials of vaccines because placebos hadn't been used and the research was funded by pharmaceutical companies and governments and was therefore not trustworthy.

Another person wanted to know whether these clinical trials of vaccines had incorporated long-term (over decades) studies of vaccinated people against unvaccinated to look for differences in overall health.

The fourth was the best of all. He told me that it was good that I raised these points but polio had been renamed, smallpox had not been eradicated, vaccines are injected into the bloodstream and there has been no research into vaccine safety or efficacy. He didn't express an opinion on the aborted foetus matter but I've met him before so I could guess his position on that as well. (He once expressed amusement and pleasure at the fact that 800 children had been paralysed by polio in Indonesia.)

Elsewhere in my introduction I had mentioned the fraud committed by Dr Andrew Wakefield. (Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet in 1998 (since withdrawn by the journal) which purported to show a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. It was almost totally a work of fiction.) The owner of the list asked me for evidence of this fraud so I supplied it. Her response was to smear the person who had exposed Wakefield and to provide ten lies from Wakefield himself as evidence. She then banned me from the list, without either a warning or notification. My final response was not published, leaving the impression that I had not been able to supply an answer.

So yet again we see that anti-vaccination liars cannot stand any dissent from their religion. They talk of free speech, but like their talk of concern for the health and welfare of children, such talk is a lie. Why did I ever expect it to be anything else?

Speaking of the AVN ... (23/6/2012)
Sometimes claims made by anti-medicine campaigners are so unbelievable that they generate the Internet memes WTF? and LOLWUT. This is one of those occasions, courtesy of Meryl Dorey of the Australian vaccination Network. I don't think it needs any comment from me.

Meryl's madness


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