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Just a thought ... (1/9/2012)
Children will not be safe until the last anti-vaccination liar is strangled with the entrails of the last autism chelation quack. (With no need for an apology to Denis Diderot.) And if anti-vaccination liars want to call that a death threat they are welcome to do so.
Sort of apology (1/9/2012)
There might not be an update to The Millenium Project next weekend because I will be spending a lot of time with people involved in the fight against the promoters of death and disease. Members of the Facebook group Stop the AVN are getting together to put faces to screen names and share war stories. Because we come from all over the place many of us have never met in person and this is the first get-together of more than a handful of us since 2010. If you can believe the nonsense coming out of the Australian Vaccination Network this week we will probably have a session devoted to the complete suppression of free speech, just before we link with the Illuminati to plan world domination.
Because of this and what has been happening in the last week, there is a second small apology - everything this week will be anti-vaccinator related.
Let's look at the books (1/9/2012)
My friend Ken McLeod has put together three collections of "inaccuracies" uttered or written by Meryl Dorey, President (we think) of the Australian Vaccination Network.
To give himself a break from collating general forms of misinformation (Part 4 is in the works) he has been looking at the financial records of the AVN. As it is an incorporated association these records are available to the public. When and if they are filed, of course. Ken has chosen an appropriate name for his investigation. Enjoy.
So I was wrong, was I? (1/9/2012)
Judy Wilyman is a PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong. She uses this candidature at every possible opportunity to add credibility to her opposition to vaccination, and is often cited by anti-vaccination liars as an authority on the subject. Back in June I mentioned her vile conduct in suggesting that the parents of a child who had died of pertussis promoted vaccination for financial gain. Ms Wilyman has finally discovered what I had to say and has created a page on her web site about me. As there is no way to respond on her site to what she said, I will have to do it here. (You can see a copy of her original PDF page about me here.) My responses are in italics, and the usual yellow marker has been used to highlight inaccuracies.
Misinformation provided to the public by Peter Bowditch
(Former president of the Australian Skeptics)
The tactics used by the Skeptics lobby group to smear individuals who would like a debate on 'choice in the use of vaccines' can be clearly seen in this blog by Peter Bowditch. He has titled his blog 'Almost unimaginable filth' and he wrote this blog after I observed that the government is allowing vaccines to be promoted to the public on 'anecdotal evidence'. That is the evidence from the experience of one child. My comments on this issue are on my website for everyone to see yet Peter Bowditch has decided to put his own interpretation on these comments. The misinformation he is providing is corrected here:
This continual conflation of me with Australian Skeptics is getting very old. I do not speak for Australian Skeptics unless I say so, and in almost any case where I do what I write will appear in an official Australian Skeptics publication. My blogs and websites are mine, not anybody else's, and they reflect my opinions, not anyone else's. I don't know how many times this has to be said but apparently it is a concept too difficult for the average anti-vaccination liar to comprehend.
There is no debate while one side relies on lies and deliberate deception. Put another way, on the one hand vaccination is safe and effective and there is no other hand.
To say that the evidence for vaccines is anecdotal suggests that Ms Wilyman has done absolutely no research towards her PhD. There are literally tens of thousands of papers published in medical journals dealing with vaccine research and for a PhD student to suggest otherwise can only indicate either insanity or a refusal to look at anything which conflicts with a predetermined belief.
He states 'I am not interested in vaccine safety' yet I have vaccinated 2 of my 3 children. Where is his evidence?
Why didn't you vaccinate the third child?
The evidence is on your web site, where there is nothing supporting vaccination at all but a lot of material suggesting that vaccines are dangerous. All of the links to external sources of information are to anti-vaccination sites except one, and even for that one you can't help lying. What else can you call it when you say "The ingredients of vaccines are not clearly listed on the Immunise Australia Program website so I have provided a link here" and then provide a link to where the ingredients of vaccines are clearly listed on that site.
He ridicules my research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals and these are also available for people to see on my website.
I don't ridicule any research, but as far as I can tell from your web site you have only published in suspect journals. Your paper most cited by anti-vaccinators was a conference presentation, and this was comprehensively refuted by Dr David Hawkes. Two papers in the Journal of Australasian College of Environmental and Nutritional Medicine hardly encourage credibility and as for Medical Veritas I would be more impressed with an article in Nexus Magazine. At least Nexus isn't exclusively an anti-vaccination publication and sometimes even includes articles which are interesting in their craziness. As for the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, it looks like it hasn't existed since 2008.
He stated that 'I have accused the parents of a child who died of whooping cough of being paid to support vaccination'. At no time have I suggested that the family was 'paid to support vaccination'. The statement I made asks if any lobby groups have provided financial rewards to acknowledge the family's involvement in promoting this vaccine. And yes - the lobby group that Peter Bowditch belongs to has provided an award to this family.
I do not belong to any lobby group. Please get that through your head, Ms Wilyman. Australian Skeptics is not a lobby group. And yes, you did suggest that the family were paid.
The family did not receive any money for "promoting this cause". The family did not receive any money "for vaccines". They were awarded a prize because they were the outstanding candidates during the year for a prize given for "The Promotion of Reason". I realise that reason dictates support for vaccination, but that is not why they were given the prize. In any case, they donated the money to medical research. The sort of research you could be doing if you were a real researcher, not someone going through the motions in order to reinforce an idiotic, unscientific prejudice.
He states that 'I have been asked by the McCaffreys to leave them alone'. This is untrue. The family has never corresponded with me or made this request.
So you require them to ask you personally? They have made it quite clear on many occasions that they want to be left alone. I don't mention either their names or the name of their daughter without asking their permission first, and the only time I have had to do that recently was to respond to lying attacks on them by people who say, for example, that they have been paid for their opinion. I once suggested that you should look up "STFU" in the dictionary. While you're there, look up "FOAD".
The concerns that the public would like to debate are why vaccines are being promoted to the public on anecdotal evidence when this has never been allowed in government policies in the past. The Skeptics must ask themselves if they would like anti-vaccination campaigners to be promoting their arguments on the death or injury of a child to a vaccine. Clearly they would not and this is a debate the public would like to have without individuals being smeared on public websites and blogs.
Vaccines are not promoted on anecdotal evidence, and to say so is not being misinformed, it is a lie. And what else do the anti-vaccinators do except promote their arguments on the basis of anecdotal and apocryphal deaths or injuries caused by vaccines? There is a reason I call anti-vaccination liars "liars". It is because they lie. Compulsively and continuously.
For your next party (1/9/2012)
If you want some fun at your next party, why not play a game of Anti-Vax Bingo. Use the card below and get someone to read out from a randomly selected anti-vaccination liar web site. Facebook pages are good, because they usually include comments by people with a very tenuous grasp on reality. Whenever one of the memes is mentioned participants mark it on their card, and the winner is the first person to get five in a row. You can also take this card to any presentation by an anti-vaccination liar and mark off the words as they are spoken. The prize is that you can leave as soon as you have the five and you don't have to stay for the rest of the mind and soul destroying mendacity.
A word of warning - do not use this card for a drinking game where you down a shot whenever one of the things on the card is said. Alcohol in that sort of quantity is dangerous.
We're all under attack (1/9/2012)
Meryl Dorey form the Australian Vaccination Network has created a "dossier" of abuse she has experienced, and I have been included along with many of my friends. As what she had to say about me was essentially a repetition of what she said in her flurry of blog posts back in August I will leave it until later to reply. Apparently it is a work in progress and changes from day to day, so I'll let it settle down to a final form before getting out the yellow marker.
I will make one small comment, however. In her tirade about the nasty things being said about her, Ms Dorey leapt on the story of a celebrity who had been admitted to hospital in an apparently suicidal state following a rather vicious attack on Twitter despite there being no parallels that anybody else could see. She also compared her situation to being raped. (You might remember that Ms Dorey once equated vaccination with rape.) When questioned about this, she had this to say:
No Mary Jane Healey - I will not stop using the word rape if it fits the sentence. And it did in this case. I was talking about how victims are blamed instead of the blame being placed on the perpetrator which is exactly what happens with many rape victims and I know this to be the case. If you are not happy with my use of the word in this sentence, I'm sorry you feel that way but I will not change the words and I do not feel that my use of them is in any way inappropriate. MD
I've been told that in a radio interview Ms Dorey compared her plight to the indignities suffered by Jesus, but I'm awaiting confirmation of this before I request the Oxford Dictionary to include a picture of Ms Dorey next to the entry for "hubris".
Over the last year or so, Ms Dorey has been making fraudulent claims of copyright violation about anyone reproducing her posts on Facebook. She should feel free to ask the owner of this site to remove the image above, but unlike Facebook, where reaction is mindless and automated, if she tries that here she will receive a very loud
How to attack freedom of speech. (9/9/2012)
One of the things I have noticed over the years is that crooks and quacks (often indistinguishable) do not reach for scientists or experimenters when asked for evidence of their claims. Instead they reach for lawyers who are employed to silence criticism. The tactics vary, but he objective is always the same - make threats that imply that awful things will happen to people who don't keep quiet. Here are a few that have been tried on me over the years.
A new one appeared this week. On a Sunday morning I had the police at my door to inform me that an application had been made for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order against me, and I am to appear in court in three weeks at a courthouse 735 kilometres from my place by road to defend myself. The application was made on September 5 and relates to something I said on April 29, so there doesn't appear to be much urgency to the threat. The person making the application lives 11 kilometres further away from my place than the courthouse is, so I'm not about to drop in. My violent threat was to say that someone who encouraged people to contact my family and tell them I have mental health issues should leave my family alone or I might respond and they might not like the response. If the application were to be granted I would have certain conditions placed on me. Let's look at what those would mean.
1. The defendant must not enter the premises at which the protected person(s) may from time to time reside or work, or other specified premises.
Would this mean that, for example, if the "protected person" came to Sydney for a court case that I would be prohibited from entering the hotel where she is staying? And what could "other specified premises" mean?
2. The defendant must not go within 100m of the premises at which the protected person(s) may from time to time reside or work, or other specified premises.
The "protected person" lives on a secondary main road that is used as the alternative route when the main highway nearby is blocked by flood or accident or major road maintenance is being carried out. It is also on the most direct route to certain tourist facilities. If I happen to be driving in the area and the police ask me to detour along this road would I be within my rights to refuse because that would take me within 100 metres of her house?
3. The defendant must not approach or contact the protected person(s) by any means whatsoever except through the defendant's legal representatives.
So if this person joins an Internet mailing list or forum of which I am a member and which allows messages to be broadcast to all members I must get my lawyer to post messages for me in case she sees them? Do I have to block her IP address from access to my web sites in case she reads something I have written, as surely this is a form of contact? I should point out that the "protected person" is quite free to post comments on my blog or any of my web sites, to email me, to follow me on Twitter and to fully participate in any forum where I have a presence.
4. The defendant must not mention the name of the applicant in any online forum in any derogatory manner.
I wonder why the words "name of the" were crossed out. How else could I refer to the applicant? Oh, perhaps I could mention her position in the organisation she heads. And I wonder if there is a legal definition of "derogatory".
Of course I will be defending this idiocy. It is nothing more than an attempt to stifle criticism and prevent me from speaking out on a matter of extreme public importance. It takes some thickness of hide to think that someone can accuse me of criminal activity, refer to me using words like "total slime" and facilitate other people lying about my (non-existent) criminal record and expect me to lie down and be silenced.
Religious idiocy Part 1 (15/9/2012)
Most people will be familiar with the image "March of Progress" by Rudolph Zallinger from Time-Life Books 1965 Early Man.
It is usually shown in its folded form, and has become one of the most-recognised icons of science, right up there with Einstein's hair.
The image has been used in countless parodies and commentaries over the last few decades, even achieving the sort of immortality that most of us can only dream about by being connected with The Simpsons.
Well, now it has managed to ignite a religious controversy. Here is a Facebook advertisement for the soft drink Dr Pepper.
This has enraged creationists, with some even suggesting that a boycott of Dr Pepper is required. Apparently even the most anodyne reference to evolution is a threat to their fantasy of everything being made at once 6,000 years ago. It must be sad to have so little faith in your faith that something like this is seen as a threat. I would assume (and hope) that sensible and sane Christians are embarrassed at the idiocy of some people claiming to be members of the same religious congregation.
(Disclaimer: I might get jihaded by some of my friends for saying this, but when I read a Facebook comment from someone who said he would continue to drink Dr Pepper even if the manufacturers urinated in it my first thought was "How would you tell the difference?")
Which reminds me ... (15/9/2012)
September 13 is Roald Dahl Day, celebrating the author's birthday. It is an appropriate time to remind everyone of his thoughts about measles and vaccination.
Measles: A Dangerous Illness
by Roald Dahl (1986)
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything. "Are you feeling all right?" I asked her. "I feel all sleepy, " she said. In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead. The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her. On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it. It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out. Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die. LET THAT SINK IN. Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles. So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised? They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation. So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised. The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible. Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was James and the Giant Peach. That was when she was still alive. The second was The BFG, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.
Ooh! I'm being insulted. Protect me.
We have seen a lot of people being offended in Australia lately. One of them, who is quite happy to enable anonymous trolls to accuse me of being a convicted criminal, is trying to get a court to force me and a couple of others to stop saying nasty (but true) things about her. A fashion model (coincidentally having a biography about to be launched in the bookshops) went ballistic and was admitted to a mental hospital because people were unkind to her on Twitter. (She lost some public sympathy when she checked out of the madhouse for a couple of hours to get made up and record a paid television interview, and it was also revealed that as a judge on a talent show she had told one young hopeful that she was too fat and ugly to be a model and another that her clothes looked cheap and tawdry.) She was so upset by the mean Twitter messages that she republished them to her 30,000+ followers so they could share her anguish. A footballer has approached the Prime Minister for support against online trolls and bullies because someone said something offensive about his mother. It was so offensive that he relayed it to his 17,000+ Twitter followers. There was a certain amount of irony in the air when someone noticed that about a year ago the footballer had suggested that a suitable birthday present for the same Prime Minister was a noose.
A daily paper decided to beat up on all this online bullying and ran a poll on their web site asking readers if they supported the paper's campaign to stamp out this horrible practice. I was too late to get a screen shot of the poll and all the options people had to vote for but the results at right might give an indication of how readers showed that they were either opposed to the campaign or indifferent to it.
The thing that is common to all these tissue-paper-skinned complainers is that they are quite prepared to throw out insults but fall into a quivering, whining heap when anything comes back their way. I won't include the video here but I am reminded of the wonderful comic representation of criminal Chopper Reid on the television comedy show The Ronnie Johns Half Hour. Just search YouTube for "chopper harden the f up australia" and if you are at work make sure your headphones are on. This is something which is very much NSFW. In most workplaces, anyway.
From the Atlanta Chronicle 2006
Religious idiocy Part 2 (15/9/2012)
Nobody with access to any form of news media could be unaware that Muslims all around the world are carrying on disgracefully about a film. Again, I won't show the film here, not because it might cause Muslims to carry on as if someone has insulted Mohammed but because the quality of the film is so poor that it would justify actors, cinematographers, set designers, writers, film critics and anyone else who cared about movies taking to the streets and waving placards. The cast of the film have come out saying that they had no idea what the film was going to end up being about and were deceived by the producer and director throughout the filming. So we have a badly-made video created by deceitful people that has resulted in the deaths of at least four innocent people (the US Ambassador to Libya and three of his coworkers) despite the fact that it is almost a certainty that very few, if any, of the protesters have actually seen it.
This weekend in Sydney we have had protests about offence to religion of a kind that haven't been seen since some Christian nutbags attacked Andres Serrano's ridiculous Piss Christ photograph at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997. (Another case where the real offence was to call the photograph "art" instead of giving it the ridicule it deserved.) Angry Muslims took to the streets to protest about something happening 12,000 kilometres away in another country, and the news media have been carrying on as if society is about to descend into anarchy and civil war is about to break out. The truth is that the number of people at the protest was a faction of one percent of the number of Muslims in the country and the majority could probably have done without the embarrassment. Another truth is that people came to this protest with the deliberate intent of confrontation. This latter truth is being denied with as much vigour as is being shown by fundamentalist atheists who are claiming that the rioters (as if this was a real riot) are representative of all Muslims and religion in general. The fact of confrontational intent can be seen from the group that turned up wearing t-shirts announcing that they were members of "6th Pillar" (the sixth pillar of Islam is jihad against non-believers) and the children (yes, more than one) carrying signs like the one shown at right. Unless Cafe Press were printing t-shirts in Hyde Park and the children had ducked into Officeworks to get the signs printed it is reasonable to assume that someone brought these things to the party.
Whenever this sort of thing happens there is always the apology that the protesters don't represent the majority, that the death threats (and real murders) are the unfortunate actions of a fringe who should be abhorred, that the perceived offence was exaggerated by extremists, ... The trouble is that it happens all the time. If Islam is the "religion of peace" that people keep claiming it to be then it is reasonable to ask when the death threats for inconsequential things are going to stop, when we won't be reading in the papers about young girls with Down's Syndrome being sentenced to death for burning bits of paper, when cartoonists (and people who share their names) don't need police protection because they drew some pictures. When people stop getting grossly offended over things that don't matter. When Islam introduces the idea of excommunication: "You did evil. You are no longer a Muslim".
Found third-hand and uncredited on Facebook. If anyone
knows who drew it please let me know.
I was trying to member the last time a mob of atheists smashed windows, burnt cars, assaulted police and called for the beheading of someone who urinated on The God Delusion or tore pages out of God Is Not Great. But it never happened. Ever.
And before anyone asks, the citizens of a free country have every right to protest about anything they find offensive or which annoys them. This does not, however, give them the right to damage property, harm people or be taken seriously by anyone else. I could hardly say otherwise, could I, given that the photograph below was taken at almost the exact spot I was standing at an anti-war demonstration in 1971. I'm the one with the long hair.
Vietnam War demonstration outside Sydney Town Hall, 1971
Photograph by Roger Scott
one last thing (15/9/2012)
Seeing that someone is trying to get me back into court, this is probably a good time to remind everyone of previous attempts to intimidate me through the court or to make vague promises and threats to do so. For some reason, people who don't like what I say about them don't seem capable of rational debate and have to call on authority figures and establishments to help them out. I assume this will continue, so I also assume that there will eventually be more threats listed on my Vacuous Legal Threats page. Enjoy! Laugh at them!
It's the vernal equinox up here in Australia, so the excuse for a brief update this week is:
Put those tinfoil hats on (22/9/2012)
When you take legal action against someone you are usually advised by your lawyers to keep quiet about it until the matter gets to court. Apparently this advice hasn't reached Ms Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network. On September 5 she initiated action against three people, with the first court appearance scheduled for September 27. (This is what is called a "mention" - it is a court date to set the real date.) On September 20, Ms Dorey went on a conspiracy radio program to discuss her persecution. Not her persecution of others through the courts, the persecution of her by people who don't agree with her. Here is an extract from the conversation.
That's right. And it's been going on for over three years, Leon. it's amazing. I'm sure a lot of your listeners would have heard about Charlotte Dawson and how she was targeted by trolls on twitter and tried to commit suicide because of it. And there was a football player - excuse me, I don't follow sport so I don't remember his name - but he was also targeted by internet trolls and the police took immediate action in both of these cases, and yet we have made, I think, six reports to the police over the last three years on similar but even more violent threats against myself and against other AVN members and against the organisation in general. And the authorities to date have still not taken any action.
And I have just finally taken the step of filing - they call them APVO's, apprehended violence orders - against three of these individuals and I'm going to court next week for that very issue. It is wrong, it's criminal and these people should be held accountable for what they do. We are trying to conduct a scientific debate about an issue that affects every man, woman, child, and their dog, in Australia and around the world, and intimidation, threats of violence, violent pornography, these are the sorts of things that the other side are using. Now, if you have information, if you have facts at your fingertips, you don't use these tactics. You only these tactics if you have nothing. And that's what the other side has, they have nothing. They have no information, they have no facts, and they don't want anyone to be able to access the information and facts that the AVN has. And that's it, plain and simple. And they're using intimidation and they are doing it with the tacit consent of government agencies.
So she's reported threats of violence to the police on several occasions and they haven't taken action. People are harassing her and being assisted by government departments. In a message to Facebook she said of the court actions "if they don't grant the APVO, it can only mean bias on the part of the court". (The court has been advised of this allegation of potential bias. I'm sure the magistrate will be amused.)
So it's paranoia time, and what better place to express that than on a radio station which specialises in promoting paranoia and conspiracy theories. As the interviewer said in his introduction to Ms Dorey:
Here are a couple of pictures to make us think about creationist idiocy. One is the known history of the Earth fitted to the 6,000 or so years that creationists claim is available and the other is examples of various controversies that should be taught. The images are too big to comfortably fit here and too unreadable if shrunk to a useful size. Click on either to see them at full size. And, no, I don't know who created them because I saw them n-handed on various sites. (Thanks to reader Michael Byrne, I now know that the "Teach the controversy" images are t-shirt designs from Amorphia Apparel.)
When religion and medicine disagree
Most people would be aware that members of the Jehovah's Witness faith reject blood transfusions on religious grounds. While it must be distressing for doctors to have to withhold a transfusion when it would save someone's life, we generally allow adults to make decisions which affect their own lives. (I am not talking about voluntary euthanasia here. That is a different matter on both legal and ethical grounds. It is about actively ending a life, not allowing a life to end by doing nothing.) In the case of children, however, we take a different attitude and courts in Australia have ruled as recently as June 2012 that transfusions can be given to the children of Witnesses over the objections of the parents if they are done to save the child's life.
There is a another situation where religion and medical ethics come into conflict. It is where the patient's life is being artificially maintained when there is no hope of recovery. In the vast majority of these cases relatives or carers give permission for intervention to be withdrawn and the patient dies peacefully. On rare occasions families will take court action to force the continuation of treatment, and these cases usually divide the public over issues of religion and the sanctity of life. Sometimes there is the vain hope expressed that a cure might be found but usually the arguments reflect the euthanasia debate, at least when adult patients are concerned.
It is different in the case of children, where the decision makers are parents.
Maybe the law will change (22/9/2012)
In February this year it was my sad duty to report that the law in New South Wales had fallen behind the real world. A Judge of the NSW Supreme Court ruled, quite correctly, that under the existing legislation (passed in 1993) complaints made to the Health Care Complaints Commission against health care providers had to be filed by an individual who had personally been affected by advice or treatment given by the provider. The Court consequently upheld an appeal by the Australian Vaccination Network against a request by the HCCC that the AVN should display a notice on its web site telling the truth about its anti-vaccination activities. The HCCC also withdrew a public warning about the AVN. Anti-vaccination liars behaved like they had won lotto, but the reality is that a law written in 1993, before the introduction of the world wide web, has been left behind by the ubiquity and immediacy of the ways we can communicate today. Now advice given on a web site can be acted on by anyone anywhere and it can literally be impossible to locate any single affected individual.
The good news is that there is a strong movement to bring the law up to date and allow complaints to be made to the HCCC by anyone. Evidence will still have to be provided but it will be sufficient to demonstrate that faulty or dangerous advice has been provided without having to name an affected individual person. I can't put the documentation for this up here yet because its content is still under embargo, but I am free to say that the relevant ministers are being advised by people they are supposed to listen to to amend the legislation as a matter of the highest priority. Of course this will be resisted strongly by quacks and charlatans, but hopefully the minister will put the welfare of the public ahead of the monetary and ideological needs of people who can now claim both black letter law and judicial interpretation to protect them from action by regulators.
Update 29/9/2012: The embargo has been lifted so you can read the letter to the Health Minister from the committee here.
Blatant begging (29/9/2012)
Psychic office product supplier?
I walked into Officeworks during the week to buy some stationery and found this display bin. Perhaps they think I'm going to be needing lots of yellow markers to highlight the inaccuracies in things that people will be writing over the next few weeks. As I was travelling by train I couldn't take the whole box so I just bought a couple of kilograms. Enough to fill one of those plastic shopping bags. I hope it's enough.
The court case (29/9/2012)
It's no secret that I am again being pursued in court for something I said on this site. Obviously I'm not about to discuss the arguments and evidence to be provided to the court by either side or to do or say anything that might prejudice my case, but there are some things I can say because they are public knowledge, either because they can be found in court records or because the applicant has told the world. Here is the story so far:
So that's all there is - I am not under or restricted by any interim or temporary AVO, the application is still alive and will be until it is withdrawn or ruled on by a court, I will not speculate on the outcome (although I am confident) and unless something changes there will be no further news until after November 15.
But GAL had something to say (29/9/2012)
I sometimes miss the old days when Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research Group used to spend a good proportion of his waking hours making ridiculous allegations about me in various Internet forums. It was always amusing to see his latest effluvium, whether posting as himself or the almost-but-not-quite-anonymous Gutless Anonymous Liar. He has taken an interest in my court case and has been offering advice to all and sundry, including announcing that he was going to attend the court to tell the magistrate what a bad person I am. He has staggered out of the pit underneath some primitive outside toilet to pen the following messages:
This was a comment on an AVN blog post titled "Interim AVOs granted against SAVN founder and member" (21 visitors have given it the "Thumbs up"):
The "criminal record" is part of a fantasy than Mr O'Neill has been having since May 2006. Ms Dorey has asked him for further information.
The following three comments were made on an article on my blog "How to attack freedom of speech".
Feel the love (29/9/2012)
In January I mentioned the disgraceful way that the relevant authorities had refused to take action over a clear case of child abuse, where a naturopath had expressed pride and amusement in her admission that she had taken steps to have her son infected with chicken pox. Someone was not pleased at what I had to say. Here is the complaint, followed by my reply.
From: erin phillips
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 23:21:42 +0800
That is slander and you can get in deep shit for that buddy. How bout you leave Wendy the fuck alone and worry about things you know about rather than babble on about shit you know absolutely nothing about. You are pathetic. Get a life you moron.
Thank you for your comment. We take all comments and criticism seriously here and your email has been passed on to our Quality Control, Editorial Standards and Customer Complaints departments. Unfortunately nobody else can get any work done now because of the shrieks of laughter coming from those three offices.
I wish I could help (29/9/2012)
I use a program named Benign to examine incoming email messages. It very effectively removes sources of possible damage before they can get into my inbox. I suspected that it might have been a little overenthusiastic when I received the following email without any content, but a check of the log showed that it had done nothing out of the ordinary. It therefore remains a mystery, as I don't think I've got anything on this site about people selling chairs.
From: "Stan Farquhar"
Subject: hi can u help me my mum was sucked into this shit can u help!!!!! please this is outrageous she cannot affort this chair
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 14:38:17 +0930
The Atheist Cartoons site disappeared in 2014
Judy Wilyman (29/9/2012)
Judy Wilyman, the PhD candidate who thinks it's appropriate to accuse grieving parents of accepting money to promote vaccines, has received some attention in the national press. Here is what my journalist friend Rick Morton had to say:
University stands by anti-vaccine student
by: Rick Morton
September 26, 2012
An anti-vaccine campaigner doing her PhD at University of Wollongong has maintained her candidature despite implying the family of a child who died from whooping cough were liars.
Judy Wilyman has also linked autism with vaccines and recently questioned the value of the vaccine Gardasil in the fight against cervical cancer.
The arts student's thesis, which she has been working on for more than four years, is titled "A critical analysis of the Australian government's rationale for its vaccination policy".
On her website, Vaccine Decisions, she updates "news" and shares her thoughts on the "plausible link" between autism and vaccines. She regards vaccine choice as a human rights issue.
Meryl Dorey's Trouble With Finance (29/9/2012)
Earlier this month I mentioned that my friend Ken McLeod had added to his collection of "Meryl Dorey's Trouble With ..." documents by producing an analysis of the finances of the Australian Vaccination Network. One problem he had was that the AVN were contesting a Freedom of Information request he had made to the Office of Fair Trading. Ken had asked for copies of correspondence related to the late submission of annual accounts and the release of these documents was strongly challenged by Ms Dorey and the AVN. As there are valid excuses allowed for associations to be late with paperwork nobody could imagine why anyone would want their reasons to be kept hidden. (Many associations are run by very part-time volunteer staff and the regulations recognise the fact that this might cause difficulties.) On September 5 the OFT released the documents (coincidentally the date when Ms Dorey applied for Apprehended Violence Orders to be made against three people) and there were some surprises. Apparently some unnamed people had been making threats against the Dorey family and the time spent getting the police to investigate had severely impacted on the time available to get accounts audited and posted off to OFT and the scheduling of annual general meetings. There were many other excuses as well and you can read them here.
Now even politicians are talking sense (29/9/2012)
One of the features of parliamentary democracy in Australia is that members can ask questions of Ministers and expect to get some sort of answer. Often these answers are in the form of non sequiturs or meaningless waffle, but sometimes even the most cynical of us can be surprised. Here is a recent exchange in the New South Wales Parliament concerning the Australian Vaccination Network. Enjoy. Enormously.
2658 - AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK
Dr Andrew McDonald to the Minister for Health, and Minister for Medical Research
I am advised: