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March 3, 2012

Children are safer now (3/3/2012)
I considered having a black border around this item because it talks about someone dying, but I thought that the celebratory fireworks cursor showed my feelings better.

The world's children are safer now, because arch anti-vaccinator Archie Kalokerinos died on March 1. This is the man who is highly praised for his medical work with indigenous children, where a large part of that work involved giving sick kids large doses of Vitamin C instead of vaccines and useful medications. This is the man who declared that the World Health Organization and the Save The Children Fund were using vaccines in a "deliberate policy of genocide" in Africa. He went on to say that "They put Hitler and Stalin in the shade". Don't believe that anybody could say such bizarre, insane things? You can hear his words in his own voice in Episode 5 of Radio Ratbags ("In which we assess the mental states of anti-vaccination liars. Are they mad or simply bad?").

There was of course the obligatory memorial web site set up for the late Dr Kalokerinos. I thought I would do the right thing and posted an epitaph,

I'll never forget seeing Archie in 2002 when he revealed that the World Health Organization and the Save The Children Fund were engaging in, to use his words, a deliberate policy of genocide in Africa. As he said at the time "They put Hitler and Stalin in the shade". I had never known that people could be driven to such insanity by an ideological conviction.

Apparently there was some glitch in the process because my kindly-worded message never managed to actually make it to the web page.

Dr Kalokerinos rose to fame with a book published in 1974 with the title Every Second Child, setting out his experiences working with indigenous children in disadvantaged areas of the country. The title comes from his claim that infant mortality among the Aboriginal population was 50%, and that this was largely due to scurvy caused by vaccination. As the infant mortality rate has never approached this when any reasonable number of families have been included in the sample, whatever colour the children are, or whatever ethnicity, or whatever location in the country, the book is obviously a fabrication from the title onwards. He later went on to promote the myth that vaccines are related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which not only distorts the truth but adds an additional burden of guilt onto parents who are already suffering the grief of losing a child.

He will not be missed.

I found this on Facebook. If anyone knows who invented it, tell me and I will do the right thing.

The SIDS and Vaccine Seminar (3/3/2012)
On March 1 I attended a talk about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the horrors of vaccination, presented by Stephanie Messenger from Healthy Lifestyles ... Naturally, author of a bizarre children's book called Melanie's Marvellous Measles, a book designed for young children to teach them about the cheerful benefits of measles. Remarkably, nobody in the room, including Ms Messenger, thought that vaccines cause SIDS, but it was all downhill from there.

I might write a full report here next week. I had to order in a bulk pack of yellow highlighters from the stationery store and there was just too much material to work through in the time available if I wanted to do a good job. It is probably sufficient to say that I can't think of any standard anti-vaccination lie that was not presented, although I'll know more after I have gone through my copious notes from the event.

Another reason for waiting is I want to have a good read of Stephanie's newsletter, which appears to contain samples of all sorts of woo, from cancer cures to organic foods (with an article on this written by a homeopath who allowed his wife to die instead of getting her to a doctor) to the purity of water, plus the usual lies about vaccines.

The night wasn't completely wasted because I was able to get a free sample of one of the products Ms Messenger sells ( although I couldn't get a free sample of the $30 negative-ion toothbrush). It was a packet of ten negative-ion-charged feminine hygiene pads.

These things emit negative ions which can cure a range of medical and physical conditions. It almost goes without saying that they cure PMS, but it is the other things they work on that make them worth every cent of the price. They came with an A4 page covered on both sides with testimonials in very small type. The first one of these is from "Garry", who put them in his underpants to take away the pain and discomfort of diverticulitis. Not only that, but Garry had a PSA reading of 14.2 (doubled in a year!) and the pads took away the incontinence and "irritating pain" caused by his enlarged prostate. (Note – while PSA is not a terribly reliable indicator of prostate problems, most doctors start twitching if they see a reading above 4. Seeing 14.2 on the scale would have most competent doctors reaching for an oncologist referral form.) Stephanie provided her own anecdote of a man who had a severely swollen and discoloured leg as the result of a septic spider bite. A pad on the sole of his foot and another on the site of the bite had him back to normal in minutes. And they are cheaper than a trip to Lourdes. Stephanie suggested that the pads should be included in any well-equipped first aid kit.

Can you see why I needed more yellow markers?

See more Cectic here

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.

The Atheist Cartoons site disappeared in 2014

March 24, 2012

sCAM works! It really does. (24/3/2012)
Promoters of Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (or SCAM for short) have been very happy lately because the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has produced a list of 25 SCAM products that have apparently shown themselves to be effective for something. The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods lists about 63,000 medicines and devices but it is difficult to get a count of those which fit into the SCAM category, although it is safe to assume that it is much more than 25.

Here is the TGA's list of things that work.

List of evaluated registered complementary medicines
 ARTG NumberProductSponsorARTG Entry Date
168083ARTHRO-AID Glucosamine hydrochloride 750mg capsule bottleKey-Sun Laboratories Pty Ltd08/04/1999
2178341BLACKMORES FLEXAGIL PAIN RELIEF cream tubeBlackmores Limited13/12/2010
3165284CALCI-TAB 600 tablets bottleAFT Pharmaceuticals16/09/2009
481700CALTRATE calcium 600mg (as carbonate) tablet bottlePfizer Australia Pty Ltd25/02/2002
5177700CENTRUM TABLET bottle (Reformulation 2)Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd18/11/2010
675827CENTRUM tablet bottle (reformulation)Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd29/08/2000
780764CITRACAL 250mg tablets bottleBayer Australia Ltd20/11/2001
8174543ELEVIT WITH IODINEBayer Australia Ltd04/08/2010
977289ESTER-C 646mg tabletsCatalent Australia Pty Ltd17/01/2001
11175706FERRO TABAFT Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd10/09/2010
12128099FERRO-F-TAB film coated tablets blister packAFT Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd18/05/2006
13154466FERRO-LIQUID ferrous sulfate 30mg/mL oral liquid – solution bottleAFT Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd11/07/2008
14106708FYBOGEL ORANGE Effervescent Powder (Reformulation 3)Reckitt Benckiser Pty Ltd04/08/2004
1582989FYBOGEL ORANGE ispaghula dusk dry 3.5g effervescent powder sachet (reformulation No 2)Reckitt Benckiser Pty Ltd20/06/2002
16106707FYBOGEL REGULAR Effervescent Powder (Reformulation 3)Reckitt Benckiser Pty Ltd04/08/2004
1782988FYBOGEL REGULAR ispaghula husk dry 3.5g effervescent powder sachet (reformulation No. 2)Reckitt Benckiser Pty Ltd20/06/2002
18168967IBEROGAST oral liquid solution bottleFlordis Pty Ltd11/02/2010
19193170KALOBA oral liquidSchwabe Pharma Australia Pty Ltd16/12/2011
20129503METAMUCIL Natural Smooth Daily Fibre Supplement powder jarProcter & Gamble Australia Pty Ltd14/07/2006
21153182METAMUCIL Wild Berry Smooth psyllium husk powderProcter & Gamble Australia Pty Ltd18/06/2008
22194957MUTAFLOR Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 not less than 250 million CFU enteric, capsule blister packPrinz Herget Pty Ltd T/A Natural Therapy Imports28/02/2012
23128237MOOV Head Lice Solution bottleEgo Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd23/05/2006
2492356OSTEOCARE tablets blister packMeditech Int Pty Ltd23/12/2002
2568591SUNSPIRIT AROMATHERAPY CLOVE BUD OIL 1 mL/mL application bottleIntegria Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd13/04/1999

Here are some comments about the list:

Which of the 25 can really be described as alternative medicines (none of these pretend to complement any form of real medicine)?

So, out of 25 efficacious "complementary" medicines there are only five that aren't mainstream. They are all alternatives to real medicines that work better, none are complementary to anything, and one of them contains a list of ingredients that only a naturopath could love (or understand).

Inspires confidence, doesn't it?

Homeopathy – so diluted there's no evidence left. (24/3/2012)
My Yahoo! 7 Newslatest article at Yahoo!7 was about homeopathy;

I woke up this morning to my usual radio station to hear a discussion about the pros and cons of homeopathy. There was the President of the AMA being careful to say that homeopathy is "implausible" (he probably wanted to say "impossible" and "ridiculous", but was being polite) and the obligatory phone callers who had had marvelous results from using magic water.

This was the result of an internal document from the National Health And Medical Research Council that had somehow fallen into the hands of a journalist. The draft statement from the NH&MRC suggested that it was "unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy (as a medicine or procedure) has been shown not to be efficacious".

This seems perfectly reasonable. Doctors should not be telling patients to take medicines unless those medicines have been demonstrated to have some effect on whatever medical condition the patient might have. This is in line with recommendations such as not prescribing antibiotics for viral infections and not prescribing certain psychiatric medications without some investigation of the underlying cause of the apparent illness.

You can read the rest here.

See more Matt Bors here

Stuff gets written by me. (24/3/2012)
My latest column for Australasian Science magazine is on the newsstands and in subscribers' mailboxes now. It deals with the way we have to accept what we read because we don't have the time, experience or resources to check all the facts that we are presented with. Purveyors of pseudoscience and pseudomedicine rely on this, and even when they give references they rely on the fact that people won't check.

A few years ago I developed a list of the sort of things that you find in the citations in quackery literature, and it could possibly bear repeating:

You can read the article here.

Stuff gets written to me. (24/3/2012)
I have received some email from people who are not happy with me or who are confused.

Subject: Skeptics
From: Olga
Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:45:30 +1000

I thought skeptics where supposed to look at everything skeptically. Obviously not , they seem happy to be brainwashed on certain issues !!!! Maybe you should consider a more productive , unbiased path . Instead of just trying to interrupt free choice . Also realize that science has many sides , and be skeptical about them all . Outrages things you publish . Such a lack of knowledge ,lateral thinking ,science and healthy scepticism . Real rat bags , that's one truth .

Hello Olga,

Did you have a specific complaint or is it all too overwhelming for you?

I suspect that Sabrina probably just doesn't understand what I do here.

Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2012 11:42:28 -0800
Subject: {Disarmed} Question re: your website
From: Sabrina Jackson


I'm Sabrina Jackson, owner of -- would you take a look at my site and decide whether it could possibly be added as a resource on your website? is an independent website exclusively dedicated to providing the singles community with information on how to safely and affordably use online dating sites.

I'd like to ask if you'd take a look at, and if you agree that it's a valuable resource, perhaps consider adding a link to it from your site

If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact me via email.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sabrina Jackson
Blogger | Owner
Best Free Dating Sites

Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2012 06:02:40 -0700
From: Jim

I've never met Dr. Pearl, but I do know several people that have been healed by him. RATBAGS for sure!!

Hello Jim,

These people were either very lucky or not sick. If they got better then Mr Pearl had nothing to do with it. Magic works on the stage, not in real life.

See more at

The Burzynski fraud train steams onwards (24/3/2012)
On April 11, notorious cancer quack Dr Stanislaw Burzynski MD, not-PhD, is due to appear before the Texas Medical Board to explain his actions. His fans and supporters don't like to talk about this and whenever it's mentioned they go into full non sequitur mode and change the subject. Just to keep everyone up to date, here is some reading matter.

Texas Medical Board
Burzynski and the TMB
Burzynski and fraud
Burzynski and fraud 1994
Burzynski investigation
An investigator investigates

Here is a statement from the Burzynski Patient Group web site in 2000. (The patient group site is an advertising vehicle for Burzynski. By pretending that it is independent he can claim that it isn't him saying that he has cured anyone.)

The patient site listed 50 names of cured people in 2000. Here is something that was on the main Burzynski clinic web site in 2003.

So he had treated 5,000 patients in the three years in between. That is impressive, except that the patient group site listed only 57 cured people in 2003 but only 41 of the names had carried over from 2000. That means that nine people must have died in the three years and only 16 extra people had been cured out of the 5,000 new patients.

Fast forward to 2012 and the patient site now lists 103 cured people. Take away the 31 survivors from 2000 and you have 72 people cured in 12 years. This is about the same rate (6/year) as for period 2000-2003, so it looks like it is consistent. Assuming that Burzynski was able to keep up the recruiting rate of 5,000 over three years he should have added a further 15,000 since 2003, giving a total of 28,000. With only 103 people still alive.

So, Burzynski gets about 1,700 new patients each year and cures six. That's not very good numbers, but as he is making it all up it doesn't really matter. The idea that he is getting 32 new patients every week is just too ridiculous, which is probably why he has stopped giving the number of patients to date on any of his sites.

Can Stanislaw Burzynski cure cancer? As he publishes nothing from all the "clinical trials" he is supposed to be running the only valid assumption is that he can't. And he knows it. The man is a crook.

Sneak preview (24/3/2012)
The next column by me in Australasian Science will be about Burzynski. The magazine won't be out for about a month but you can get a sneak preview of the article here. I didn't want to wait until after the Texas Medical Board cancelled his licence.

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?


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