The awful autism obsession of the antivaccinationist

On page 11 of the most recent Health Care Complaints Commission investigation into the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, we see the absurdity of vaccines causing autism rearing its head.

The AVSN claim to present on their website 68 “medical journal studies [that] support the link between vaccination and autism”. According to the HCCC the expert they consulted concluded a case of correlation confused as causation was evident. A read of the list shows the expert is being kind in no small part. Given that the AVSN claim these studies show a link between vaccines and autism, the list is quite absurd.

Despite the absence of mercury in childhood vaccines we get much on environmental mercury and autism, ADHD and blood mercury levels, swollen brains and autism, etc. But we have a numeric problem Houston. Of the 68 (cough) articles, I could count just 30 that included the word “vaccine” or “vaccination” in the title, abstract or conclusion. But maybe I’m expecting too much. Articles are numbered but items 5, 12, 48, 49 and 68 don’t exist. At all.

The AVSN use the typical misinformation that succeeds at confusing young worried parents and educated, affluent parents who can afford lots of Internet time. Such as citing the damage huge doses of certain toxins or heavy metals can do, without stressing vaccines contain either another variant or minuscule amounts long shown to be perfectly safe. Since having changed their byline from Love them, Protect them, Never inject them to Because every issue has two sides, they have done a poor job of presenting both sides.

The AVSN for example do not provide access to the Institute Of Medicine publication, Adverse Effects Of Vaccines; Evidence and Causality. This has been pointed out by the HCCC along with a host of biased schemes the AVSN execute in the hope of driving the public away from vaccination. In addition the hubris-riddled response that has been crafted for the HCCC and published online, is indicative of a mindset with no concept of community responsibility.

Myths and concerns about vaccination note on page 29 under “Mercury in vaccines can cause autism”:

There is no evidence that thiomersal (a mercury based preservative) in vaccines has caused any health problems, except perhaps minor reactions such as redness at the injection site. [...] The form of organic mercury contained within thiomersal is “ethyl mercury” which doesn’t accumulate in the body, unlike the closely related methyl mercury which does accumulate and is neurotoxic. [...] MMR vaccine and other live attenuated viral vaccines never contained thiomersal.

Of course there is a dollar to be made insisting vaccines cause autism and other disabilities. As reported recently by Fairfax:

The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing has confirmed it is investigating ”problems” in the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network’s financial statements.
The anti-vaccine group has raised nearly $2 million in the past seven years but has never done any ”charity”, according to Stop the AVN, a coalition of critics formed after the parents of a baby who died of whooping cough were targeted by the network. [...]

The 2008 financial statement said the group had more than $50,500 of assets, yet in its 2009 statement, assets from 2008 are listed as only about half that amount.
And nearly two-thirds of $281,855 in expenses listed on its 2010 financial statements are not explained, given only the title ”other expenses”. The 2012 statement for the group has not been submitted.
A chartered accountant who examined the documents for Fairfax Media, but declined to be named for fear he would be harassed, said the documents were ”the worst set of financial statements I have ever seen”.

$2 million! And where is that money? Well, you see… no-one really knows. A visit to this document reveals a copious tally of financial irregularities and charitable breaches by the (then) AVN. Both the Charitable Fundraising and Charitable Trusts Acts are called into question, “on a number of occasions” according to the NSW state watchdog, the OLGR.

Published just recently at Diluted Thinking the article, AVSN Pays Meryl Dorey is a must read. It is a thorough breakdown of financial irregularities and unanswered questions from 2004 to 2008.

It is of course beyond ironic that a hero of the AVSN is disgraced “vaccine/autism” fraudster, Andrew Wakefield. It’s old news that Brian Deer was able to track Andrew Wakefield’s scam because the latter had left a trail of intriguing financial records and/or references.

Follow the money was what Deer did in true investigative journalistic style. It is indeed somewhat silly that the anti-vaccine lobby today bellow follow the money, but in doing so can draw only one step from a vaccine to its manufacturer. The money trail Deer uncovered was far more impressive.

Wakefield was paid £150 plus expenses per hour by Richard Barr’s law firm. In total this came to £435 643, which was arguably to create a syndrome to drive the class action of anti-vaccine and genuinely misled (by Wakefield) litigants.

But Wakefield needed to ensure he profited from all the sufferers of his syndrome. Once the world had been fooled into believing “autistic enterocolitis” was a genuine syndrome, then it would have to be diagnosed. First he filed for his March 1995 Diagnostic patent that claimed in part:

Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may be diagnosed by detecting measles virus in bowel tissue, bowel products or body fluids

Based on this, on September 9th 1996 a client of Richard Barr known as Child 2 was the first child subject to what the GMC later described as a “clinically unwarranted” ileocolonoscopy.

The day after Child 2 had undergone his ileocolonoscopy Wakefield produced a document headed, Inventor/school/investor meeting 1. 4 which calculated that by working on MMR litigant samples, profits of £72.5m per year were to be had. This document left no doubt as to from where the money should be sourced. The profits would go to a yet to be formed company specialising in molecular viral diagnostic tests:

In view of the unique services offered by the Company and its technology, particularly for the molecular diagnostic, the assays can command premium prices. The ability of the Company to commercialise its candidate products depends upon the extent to which reimbursement for the cost of such products will be available from government health administration authorities, private health providers and, in the context of the molecular diagnostic, the Legal Aid Board.

More could be gleaned from a confidential submission (1999) to the Legal Aid board in his quest to secure the future of an immunodiagnostic business he would be director of. Unigenetics Ltd was incorporated in February of that year with Dublin pathologist, John O’Leary and would be registered in the Republic of Ireland. Here Wakefield argued the link b/w MMR and autism had been shown. Unigenetics scored £800 000 of tax payer funds to conduct PCR tests of dubious pursuit.

In addition to these petty “legal costs and salary” monies Wakefield would get another £90 000 per year – more than half of which was for travel. Deer reported that trading was to be fronted by another planned immunodiagnostic company Carmel Healthcare Ltd (also registered in the Irish Republic) and named after Wakefield’s wife. Within this venture Wakefield would take 37% of the earnings, the parent of child “Number 10″ would take 22.2%. A venture capitalist would get 18%. Royal Free’s professor of gastroenterology, Roy Pounder would get 11.7% and Professor John O’Leary another champion of “MMR causes autism” would get 11.1%.

Deer was given a copy of a prospectus 35 pages long.

This included confirmation of planned “litigation driven testing” from the USA and UK, along with delightful profit. Of course all business relied upon Wakefield’s new syndrome which at this point remained to be proven. As he had not found Crohn’s disease in the 12 children, Wakefield coined the term “autistic enterocolitis”. The prospectus sought to raise an investment of £700 000.

It is estimated that the initial market for the diagnostic will be litigation driven testing of patients with autistic enterocolitis from both the UK and the USA… It is estimated that by year 3, income from this testing could be about £3 300 000 rising to about £28 000 000 as diagnostic testing in support of therapeutic regimes come on stream.

[...]

Once the work of Professor O’Leary and Dr Wakefield is published, either late in 1999 or early in 2000, which will provide unequivocal evidence for the presence of the vaccine derived measles virus in biopsy samples the public and political pressure for a thorough, wide ranging investigation into the aetiology of the bowel conditions will be overwhelming.

As a consequence of the public, political and legal pressures brought to bear, the demand for a diagnostic able to discriminate between wild type and vaccine derived measles strains will be enormous.

Deer reported on yet another new company which was for the running of a joint business with the UCL medical school. Immunospecifics Biotechnologies Ltd would produce immunotherapeutics, vaccines and a diagnostic test. Beneficiaries were as with Carmel. Wakefield, the parent of “number 10″, the venture capatilist, Pounder and Prof. John O’Leary.

There are issues around Wakefield’s immunodiagnostics which antivaccinationists should simply admit, and by not admitting such merely lend their cause less credence (if that were possible).

  • Transfer factor for use in vaccines and treatments had basically been written out of the literature. A lack of evidence, risk of infection and unjustified cost had relegated this 1940′s blood product to the realm of an Internet peddled cure-all scam.
  • The Neuro Immuno Therapeutics drama run by Hugh Fudenberg. To cure autism – which he reckons is caused by MMR – Hugh would use, you guessed it, Transfer factor. In August 2004 Brian Deer caught up with him. At the time he was under sanction for use and prescription of controlled drugs. Help yourself to a search-and-read on Hugh. If you remember Bill Maher’s claim that a flu shot five years consecutively equals a ten-fold increase in the chances of developing Alzheimers, you might be relieved to know that the source is Hugh Fudenberg.
  • The Dublin measles tests which could not deliver consistency of results, emerged as a problem years later, during vaccine related lawsuits in the USA and Britain.

One caper of Wakefields that many know of is his “safer vaccine” patent for a monovalent measles vaccine. As the Royal Free Hospital approached the release of his paper Wakefield made copies on tape as to how he should announce his bogus findings. One – which is in circulation today – includes:

There is sufficient anxiety in my own mind for the long term safety of the polyvalent vaccine—that is, the MMR vaccination in combination—that I think it should be suspended in favour of the single vaccines

But of course! Just as well that like the patent for immunodiagnostics he had the “safer vaccine” patent for the single measles vaccine. And he filed for this nine months before his now retracted paper was published.

Wakefield patent

The opening paragraph is breathtaking:

The present invention relates to a new vaccine for the elimination of MMR and measles virus and to a pharmaceutical or therapeutic composition for the treatment of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease); particularly Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis and Regressive Behavioural Disease (RBD).

After falsely claiming MMR vaccination leads to Crohn’s disease and other forms of IBD we read on page two (far right) above (bold mine):

What is needed therefore is a safer vaccine which does not give rise to these problems and a treatment for those with existing IBD. I have now discovered a combined vaccine/therapeutic agent which is not only most probably safer to administer to neonates and others by way of vaccination, but which also can be used to treat IBD whether as a complete cure or to alleviate symptoms.

This was first revealed in the UK Sunday Times. Wakefield denied this “conspiracy”:

The claim appears to be that, whilst at the Royal Free Hospital, I was developing a new vaccine to compete with MMR and that I conspired to undermine confidence in MMR vaccine in order to promote this new vaccine, and that this represented a conflict of interest. This is untrue. The facts are that: [...]

it has never been my aim or intention to design, produce or promote a vaccine to compete with MMR; [...]

A provisional patent filing was made for the use of measles virus-specific TF in regressive autism and inflammatory bowel disease (Regressive Bowel Disease; RBD).

The reference to the possible use of TF to protect children against measles infection – the thrust of the Sunday Times’ conspiracy theory – was put in as an afterthought in the patent. It was entirely speculative and never pursued in any shape, manner or form.

The provisional patent filing was entirely speculative and was for a possible therapy; as such, it had no bearing on the 1998 Lancet paper.

That the patent application with its firm conclusion of an MMR derived pathology appeared nine months before publication of his paper is not the only Crystal Ball caper by Wakefield. A fortnight before selecting any children that eventually made up his insignificant 12 child sample, Wakefield and Richard Barr co-authored a letter that included (bold mine):

Children with enteritis and disintegrative disorder, form part of a new syndrome. The evidence is undeniably in favour of a specific vaccine induced pathology

That claim would have taken the word of Hugh Fudenberg at that particular time in history.

The end for Wakefield came just after plans for Carmel Healthcare were finalised, potentially making way for his incredibly profitable business. A new head of medicine, Mark Pepys was appointed to the UCL Medical School (once known as the Royal Free and University College Medical School). He is a fellow of the Royal Society and ensured impressive grant money. He wasn’t impressed by Wakefield, threatening to not transfer his own unit to UCL if Wakefield was even there.

With the help of theoretical physicist Chris Llewellyn-Smith he made his move in December 1999. A mere two months after Pepys moved to the Royal Free Wakefield was called to UCL’s London head offices. There, at last, he was made to face the audacity of his scam and handed a two page letter of his very own to have and to hold and of course, to read. It included:

We remain concerned about a possible serious conflict of interest between your academic employment by UCL, and your involvement with Carmel. This concern arose originally because the company’s business plan appears to depend on premature, scientifically unjustified publication of results, which do not conform to the rigorous academic and scientific standards that are generally expected. [...]

Good scientific practice now demands that you and others seek to confirm or refute robustly, reliably, and above all reproducibly, the possible causal relationships between MMR vaccination and autism/“autistic enterocolitis”/inflammatory bowel disease that you have postulated.

Yay verily.

UCL were keen to help, offering him an ongoing position on staff or a full twelve months paid absence to allow for further research. 150 subjects would be provided to Wakefield. 12.5 times larger than his initial sample. Wakefield agreed.

Time passed.

After three months he was asked for a progress report. Six months later in September 2000 Wakefield replied:

It is clear that academic freedom is essential, and cannot be traded. It is the unanimous decision of my collaborators and co-workers that it is only appropriate that we define our research objectives, we enact the studies as appropriately reviewed and approved, and we decide as and when we deem the work suitable for submission for peer review.

Fail. By October of 2001 he was asked not to let the door hit his lying backside on the way out. In January of 2010 the General Medical Council found Wakefield had been “dishonest, irresponsibile and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain of children.”  [Science Based Medicine]

After close to a decade of multiple studies had failed to replicate his “findings” or any link between MMR, its components and autism the Lancet retracted the Wakefield paper [Science Based Medicine] [BMJ] on February 2nd 2010. The journal’s editor, Richard Horton described the statements in the “fatally flawed” paper as “utterly false”.

On May 25th of that year he was struck off the medical registrar by the General Medical Council.

Still today, as is clear above, there are scam artists profitting from peddling the lie that vaccines cause autism. Their paper-thin efforts may well be pathetic but still have a measurably negative effect on public health. With no regard for evidence or responsibility for the consequences of their actions, one can hope that these arrogant fraudsters will one day too face the weight of the law.

Yay verily.

Access Ministries’ Biblezine Blunder

Think the allure of Cosmo, minus the sleaze, plus the easy-to-read New Century Version of the New Testament

- Christianity Today describing the Biblezine Revolve -

Last weekend it was reported that Access Ministries had handed out “Biblezine” material to Victorian primary students.

The psychologically invasive material is typical conservative fundamental evangelism, with no place in Access’ so-called religious “education” classes. Long the subject of controversy for proselytising to students – what Access CEO Evonne Paddison described as “the greatest mission field in Australia” -  the latest revelation of volunteer conduct has led to an Education Department investigation.

The Department labelled the material as “inappropriate and offensive”. Biblezine material handed out advises primary school aged kids that masturbation and sex before marriage are sinful and girls who wear revealing clothes are inviting sexual assault. The Age reported that girls must not go bra-less because then:

your nipples are much more noticeable and a distraction and temptation for men

Don’t wear jeans cut low around the waist or tube tops because guys are:

sexually stimulated by what they see

The Bible says not to cause anyone else to sin. Are you putting sexual thoughts about your body into guys’ heads? If you are showing a lot of skin you probably are.

In a masterpiece of philosophical reasoning the question of how far can one go before one is no longer “pure”, comes up. A definite quandary given that condoms promote promiscuity. Thus, better to ponder, “How much dog poop stirred into your cookie batter does it take to ruin the whole batter.”

Indeed.

Homosexual feelings? No prizes for guessing where this would go. Time to get some counselling. If you are gay, Biblezine advise that it’s best “to never act on it”, The Age reports.

Access Ministries argue that they do not approve of the Biblezine material, which was handed out at Torquay College by volunteers from the Torquay Christian Fellowship Centre. A key provider of the Magnify Biblezine in Victoria is Scripture Union Victoria.

There are a range of Biblezines published and emanating from the USA. Apart from Scripture Union’s Magnify, there is Revolve 2 and Refuel 2 which popped up at Torquay College. Real is a Biblezine for the “hip-hop crowd”.

Yet Revolve, which offered the totally awesome advice on the power of girls nipples, has been spreading it’s wisdom for over a decade. From Christianity Today – way back in 2003 – we can consult Ten Things You Should Know About The New Girls Biblezine Revolve.

Still there is good news afoot. Since 2011 the number of ACCESS enrolements has fallen by one third. From 940 schools in 2011 to a delightfully devilish 666 last year. The change has followed a move to an “opt-in” choice for students in an environment where schools “may” provide religious instruction.

Previously classes were run on an “opt-out” basis whilst schools themselves were bullied into believing classes “must” be run if offered.

Of course Paddison disputes the Education Department figures claiming to have Access volunteers running classes in 780 schools last year. She has taken to disseminating a ”clarification” email to all schools offering the program.

It finishes:

we request all schools to adhere to the legislation.

Perhaps it would be more in keeping with Access tradition if Evonne Paddison had warned, “I’ll be back”.

Vaccines contain no aborted fetal cells

One of the most offensive lies peddled about vaccines is that they “contain aborted foetal cells”.

Consider this April 2013 screenshot from AVN Facebook:

Aborted fetal tissue

I noticed an even more absurd take when reading Anti-vaccine chiropractors redux-1, c/o reasonablehank. He was reviewing the anti-vaccine rantings of one “Dr” Koe Davidson who is a chiropractor running Peak Potential Health and Wellness in Mentone, Melbourne. One screenshot includes Davidson addressing vaccine ingredients as listed by the CDC. It includes:

Oh and “egg protein” = fancy word for aborted fetus cells. This wording was changed in mid 2012… Scary stuff.

For a document last updated in February 2012 I’m not sure what he’s trying to convey. The CDC cannot have changed egg protein to aborted “fetus” cells in 2012 as this would be complete nonsense. Thus one must conclude he is either utterly confused on the topic of cell cultures or – as is common with chiropractors aligned with the CAA – misinforming readers.

The CDC write about egg protein as a vaccine additive:

Egg protein is found in yellow fever and most influenza vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs. Ordinarily, persons who are able to eat eggs or egg products safely can receive these vaccines.

So how can such confusion on cell cultures come to pass? Today strains of human diploid cell culture are grown in containers in laboratories. In the manufacture of vaccines, viruses that infect humans are grown in these human diploid cell lines. One strain of human diploid cell culture was made in the USA in 1961. Labelled WI-38 this strain came from the lung tissue of an aborted female of three months gestation.

Another human diploid cell culture was produced in the UK in 1966. The tissue came from the lungs of a 14 week old male foetus and the strain is labelled MRC-5. W.I. refers to the Wistar Institute. M.R.C. refers to the Medical Research Council.

The abortions did not take place with the intent of producing human diploid cell culture for use in vaccine manufacture. The biologists who produced the diploid cultures did not induce the abortions. Both abortions were intentional and would have been carried out whether the foetal tissue had that fate or not, post abortion.

These cells used to grow viruses have been reproducing since 1961 (WI-38) and 1966 (MRC-5), respectively. The viruses produced this way are further processed and sterilised in the production of the vaccine. In this way any potential for contamination with foetal material is eliminated. Furthermore, strict quality control measures are employed to examine each vaccine to ensure no foetal material is present.

♣ The USA National Network for Immunization Information state (bold mine):

These two cell strains have been growing under laboratory conditions for more than 35 years. The cells are merely the biological system in which the viruses are grown. These cell strains do not and cannot form a complete organism and do not constitute a potential human being. The cells reproduce themselves, so there is no need to abort additional fetuses to sustain the culture supply. Viruses are collected from the diploid cell cultures and then processed further to produce the vaccine itself. ♣

Vaccines produced using WI-38 and MRC-5 human diploid cell lines include hepatitis A, rabies, rubella, MMR, varicella and Pentacell DTaP-IPV/Hib.

Another abortion was performed on a rubella virus-infected mother in 1968. Both mother and foetus were infected with wild rubella and this posed the risk of major birth defects. Foetal tissues were obtained and wild rubella virus (RA27/3) was isolated. This has been grown in human foetal diploid cell line WI-38. No foetal tissue is present in the vaccine. No further abortions are necessary to produce more vaccines.

Prior to isolation of RA27/3 the USA experienced 800 cases of congenital rubella annually. At the turn of the century only three babies with congenital rubella were born. Research was carried out to study the possibility of using other animal cells to produce the RA27/3 rubella vaccine. However these proved less effective and less safe.

The Vatican accepts the use of human diploid cells in the manufacture of vaccines. A June 9th 2005 Vatican City Statement on Aborted Fetal Vaccines acknowledges this. It notes use of these cell lines is:

…to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women.

For example, the severe epidemic of German measles which affected a huge part of the United States in 1964 thus caused 20,000 cases of congenital rubella2, resulting in 11,250 abortions (spontaneous or surgical), 2,100 neonatal deaths, 11,600 cases of deafness, 3,580 cases of blindness, 1,800 cases of mental retardation. It was this epidemic that pushed for the development and introduction on the market of an effective vaccine against rubella, thus permitting an effective prophylaxis against this infection.

[And observes that]

…the parents who did not accept the vaccination of their own children become responsible for the malformations [due to rubella infection] in question.

Think of an apple orchard. The organic material nourishing the trees includes (say) manure, bird droppings, animal carcases, rotting vegetation and so on. If one eats an apple one is not eating manure or the carcass of an unfortunate passing mammal. To say vaccines contain cellular material is to employ exactly such flawed thinking.

A vaccine initially made using human diploid cells that passed FDA requirements via another production method is the RabAvert rabies vaccine by Chiron Corporation. When safe and effective alternatives can replace the methodology involving human diploid cells we shall begin to see them. It is a fact that the human strains are superior in many ways. However they are not, in any way shape or form, “aborted foetal cells”.

The claim that vaccines contain the cells of aborted foetuses or are contaminated with any organic material is quite simply false.

Alternatives to medicine continue to sail a wave of misinformation

Every week up to a thousand Australians are dying in the public hospital system alone from adverse reactions to properly prescribed medication and hospital borne infections and medical error. This is the elephant in the room. If the government and medical community are really concerned about the health of Australians, why aren’t they doing something about this obvious, um, huge cause of death in Australia instead of worrying about measles?

Meryl Dorey, anti-medical science lobbyist – October 19th, 2013

The arguably spectacular misinformation Meryl Dorey pushes as an antivaccinationist, comes often as what can most kindly be called an utterly ridiculous mantra designed to promote fear of scientific based medicine.

double standards

This was in response to eight infant fatalities associated temporally with Hepatitis B vaccination in China. Regrettably China’s growing success with mass hepatitis B vaccination has now met a challenge. Fortunately in China the medical community is working effectively with the evidence and training they have. Despite the unambiguous harm HBV has caused China and the success of HBV vaccine programmes worldwide, Dorey commented on Facebook as seen above.

I won’t overly review Dorey’s claims on medical error and hospital borne infection. Although (updated in December 2011) a 2009 report from the Australian Group on Antimicrobial Resistance cited Commun Dis Intell 2011;35(3):237–243, and notes in the Abstract (bold mine):

Given hospital outbreaks of CA-MRSA are thought to be extremely rare it is most likely that patients colonised at admission with CA-MRSA have become infected with the colonising strain during their hospital stay.

We can place the general figure on medication in context by looking at adverse reactions. The TGA reporting system kicked off in the late 1960′s becomming computerised in 1972. As 2011 came to a close there were 247,000 suspected adverse events in the TGA database. It’s also worth adding that a primary aspect of “medical error” is indeed that of Adverse Drug Reaction, making Dorey’s claim somewhat meaningless.

Adverse reactions_TGA_drop shadow

Origin of Adverse Events 2006 – 2011 (TGA)

In 2011 the TGA received approximately 14,400 reports with 52% from pharmaceutical companies, 12% from hospitals, 7% from General Practitioners (GPs), 18% from State and Territory Health Departments and 3% from consumers. The sources for other reports (8%) include community pharmacists and specialists.

Placing the scale of insult inherent in Ms. Dorey’s deceit even more in context we should note that the TGA received an average of 1,200 reports each month. This includes all events – not just those involving mortality. More so the TGA receive data from six sources with the category of “hospital” enveloping public and private. The Department of Health and Ageing regards hospital outbreaks of community-associated MRSA as “extremely rare”.

Thus, Meryl Dorey’s 1,000 fatalities per week in Australian public hospitals appears to be beyond tenuous.

However there are a number of problems facing those taken in by the growing trend of “natural” or “alternative” choices to medicine. Not only is there growing evidence of harm, the absence of any efficacy at all is frequently documented.

Seventeen year old Christopher Herrera is one of a growing number who face organ damage, organ failure or death thanks to herbal supplements each year. In his case a “fat burning” dietary supplement resulted in liver damage. Initially placed on a transplant list, Chris was able to keep his liver but his lifestyle is now markedly compromised.

The New York Times report that such supplements account for 20% of drug related liver damage. This is a three-fold increase from a decade ago and comes from a review of the most severe cases in the USA. Evaluators believe the actual figure is higher. As is the case in Australia a lack of strict regulation standards for these products result in over-inflated claims, not backed by evidence, and the potential for adulteration of the product itself.

This December 17th, The Annals of Internal Medicine published three conclusive articles on both the harm and inefficacy linked to alternatives to medicine. An editorial Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money On Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, summarised the research.

After reviewing 3 trials of multivitamin supplements and 24 trials of single or paired vitamins that randomly assigned more than 400 000 participants, the authors concluded that there was no clear evidence of a beneficial effect of supplements on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, or cancer.

In another instance the efficacy of daily multivitamin usage to prevent cognitive decline in just under 6,000 men aged 65 or older was evaluated.

After 12 years of follow-up, there were no differences between the multivitamin and placebo groups in overall cognitive performance or verbal memory. [...] … compatible with a recent review of 12 fair- to good-quality trials that evaluated dietary supplements, including multivitamins, B vitamins, vitamins E and C, and omega-3 fatty acids, in persons with mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate dementia. None of the supplements improved cognitive function.

Another study looked at supplement with high-dose, 28-component multivitamins involving 1708 males and females who had previously suffered a myocardial infarction.

After a median follow-up of 4.6 years, there was no significant difference in recurrent cardiovascular events with multivitamins compared with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.75 to 1.07]). The trial was limited by high rates of nonadherence and dropouts.

The authors note that research into vitamins and minerals in the prevention of chronic disease “have consistently found null results or possible harms”. Data from tens of thousands of people in randomly assigned trials show “β-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements increase mortality”.

Yes - increase mortality.

Later they stress most supplements do nothing when it comes to preventing chronic disease or death and with no justification for use, should be avoided.

An audio summary of these editorial points can be accessed here.

An audio summary of the editorial is below, or an MP3 may be downloaded here. (Firefox Users. If you’re using the Bluhell Firewall add-on click “allow” as the file is quite safe).


Thus whilst the anti-vaccine and anti-medical science lobby continually manage to distort discussions on the value of conventional medicine, the evidence is time and again not in their favour. We are either hearing of the dangers of modern medicine itself or the wonders of natural concoctions.

Both trends are dangerous and fallacious.

Meryl Dorey chats about the AVN name change

On November 25th the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal upheld an order from the Office of Fair Trading that The Australian Vaccination Network Ltd. change it’s name to reflect it’s role as an antivaccination lobby.

Below are a couple of interviews with Meryl Dorey that haven’t received wide coverage. Dorey of course argues the AVN is not anti-vaccine.

Steve Price of 2GB interviews Meryl Dorey on the ADT decision.

mp3_mic

Download MP3 here.

 


 

Meryl Dorey on the ADT finding that AVN change it’s name

http://youtu.be/RTVSw_-AQoE

False Balance: Where dissidence does not belong

Due weight.

Two simple, but arguably very important words in that they can be found in the Editorial Guidelines of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Journalistic guidelines regularly refer to due impartiality, and rightly so. Consumers subject to the bias of reporters are in for something like the pure fancy that comes from End Time Radio, Natural News or (where “freedom of choice is not free”) Vaccination News.

Under Impartiality – Breadth and Diversity of Opinion, the BBC Guidelines include:

4.4.1

Across our output as a whole, we must be inclusive, reflecting a breadth and diversity of opinion.  We must be fair and open-minded when examining the evidence and weighing material facts.  We must give due weight to the many and diverse areas of an argument.

Under Impartiality – News, Current Affairs and Factual Output:

4.4.12

News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.  The approach and tone of news stories must always reflect our editorial values, including our commitment to impartiality.

The reason I’m focusing on the BBC is because of a direct link to false balance. Australia’s ABC have no parallel and our Australian Broadcasting Standards don’t contain specific attenuation of minority views getting a free ride on the coat tails of the prevailing or scientific consensus. That’s not to say either set of standards is not a useful device in underscoring or complaining about the mess of false balance. It’s just that the BBC have shall we say… history.

Presenting Wonders of the Solar System in 2010, Professor Brian Cox was explaining the impact Jupiter’s gravity has on Earth. He delightfully included in his narration, “Despite the fact astrology is a load of rubbish…”. Dedicated followers of woo complained. One stressed Cox didn’t allow the “alternative opinion”. And before you smirk dear reader, it is that astrologers use “observation and knowledge built over thousands of years”. Oooh yeah. They haz Appeal to Antiquity.

Cox provided a statement to the BBC, which they decided not to publish.

I apologise to the astrology community for not making myself clear. I should have said that this new age drivel is undermining the very fabric of our civilisation.

This example of how complete nonsense is put forward as equal, or even superior, to schools of thought and theories that are in fact completely settled opens the December 2011 BMJ Editorial by Trevor Jackson, When balance is bias. [Dropbox] [BMJ 2011;343:d8006 doi:10.1136/bmj.d800].

The BBC asked Prof. Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, to review the BBC’s impartiality and accuracy of their coverage of science. As one might guess from scanning Australian and British journalistic codes with their liberal peppering of “impartiality”, it was the impact of “due impartiality” that worried Jones. He found the guidelines:

… had a distorting effect, creating a sense of equivalence where there was none, and privileging maverick and dissident views so that they appeared as valid as established scientific fact.

Jones found in areas of science that journalists risked giving the impression there were two equal sides to a story when there were certainly not. By insisting to bring “dissident voices” into settled debates within science, the BBC was guilty of giving an unbalanced view to these same areas.

Jackson’s editorial notes the disastrous effect Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent paper had on the uptake of MMR is in part due to media impartiality. The BMJ reported in 2003 on a study that indicated the media effectively misled the public.

The BBC reported in part:

Most people wrongly believed that doctors and scientists are equally divided over the safety of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to new research carried out during the high profile public debate over the vaccine last year.

At the height of the media coverage the impression was created that medical scientists were split down the middle over the vaccine’s safety, including reports of links with autism, say the study’s authors, from Cardiff University.

The report found that 53% of those surveyed at the height of the media coverage assumed that because both sides of the debate received equal coverage, there must be equal evidence for each.

It said only 23% were aware that the bulk of evidence favoured supporters of the vaccine. The authors said their survey would revive the debate about media coverage of MMR and how journalists deal with “minority voices” within science.

The belief that scientists were divided over the safety of MMR was a direct result of journalists seeking balance and led to what we now know as false balance. Face palmingly, head deskingly, infuriatingly, unacceptably in the case of vaccines, it is still underway today. Even worse journalists are dusting off long settled topics and where they should be stressing deception, suggest “debate”. In the video below an individual who is effectively a public health menace was appallingly labelled as an “expert”.

Even if these terms are not utilised in the straight out fashion Channel 7′s Weekend Sunrise recently did, everything is in place for the public to be misled into thinking actual scientific dissent exists over the safety and benefit of vaccination. Indeed today, the moral bankruptcy that accompanies antivaccinationists exceeds those who were taken in by Wakefield. The science is clear. There is no debate to be had. This places the antivaccinationist in a very unique position. A position of denial and deception buttressed by repeated claims of corporate conspiracies and so-called natural alternatives.

This latter rubbish is fed to the public because the natural enemy of the anti-vaccine commentator is scientific consensus. Given an opportunity to deceive the public the antivaccinationist can now introduce a host of irrelevant and false claims which in the context of an interview will create doubt in the minds of the public. In the video below Weekend Sunrise have an unqualified, science illiterate, conspiracy theorist effectively presenting nonsense in response to advice from the Director of Australia’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

Thanks to Channel 7 and @sunriseon7 members of the public may well have been misled. Farmer’s wife Meryl Dorey wants to “extend the hand of friendship” to the NCIRS and conduct a study into vaccinated vs unvaccinated. Yes that meaningless, shrivelled old cherry again. Quite simply it leaves a scam artist looking as though they have skill when they don’t and offering one side of a balanced debate, when in fact that debate simply doesn’t exist. There is certainly no need for an impossible study, but the public cannot know this.

The previous point is one scientists need to keep in mind when asked to appear alongside unqualified saboteurs of public health. There’s nothing that can be said in a few minutes that can assuage the damage done by elevating a skilled prevaricator to your own level in the eyes of the public.

Trevor Jackson concludes in his BMJ editorial:

Meanwhile, some science journalism will continue to be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Until the notion of due weight becomes just as, if not more, important than impartiality in journalism and science reporting, we need to ask ourselves if those without any weight or those advancing scam debates deserve to be heard at all. Clearly, and helped along by the precedents outlined here by reasonablehank, the answer is no.

Channel 7 have previously presented a scientist “debating” a proven anti-vaccine zealot. True, these enemies of reason are challenged by journalists as to the flaws in their beliefs. Yet that is not the issue. The more often members of the anti-science lobby are given a pedestal from which to preach, the larger will be the percentage of the community that believes a genuine topic of scientific dissent exists. As with climate science, fluoride in drinking water, evolution, conventional medicine and more. In the case of vaccination there simply is no debate.

Vaccination saves lives.

Peter McIntyre and Meryl Dorey on Weekend Sunrise

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-E4OChkXw4

Greg Beattie misleads Health and Community Services Committee

Vaccination is an invasive medical procedure carrying unquantifiable risk and dubious benefit

♠ Greg Beattie, August 19th 2013 ♠

On Monday August 19th the Health and Community Services Committee (QLD) held a public hearing.

Entitled The Inquiry Into The Public Health (exclusion of unvaccinated children from childcare) Amendment Bill 2013 the transcript can be found here.

As reported in Brisbane Times the Committee rejected the amendment which would have seen unvaccinated children banned from accessing Child Care centres in QLD. Yet the same Committee specified in it’s report that it has not rejected supporting a bill with allowance for medical constraints or conscientious objection against immunisation. Despite the wide ranging abuse of the conscientious objection loophole to vaccination, such a bill is now in place for daycare in NSW.

In his opening address on August 19th, Committee Chair, Mr. T. J. Ruthenberg M.P. stated in part:

Witnesses are not required to give evidence under oath, but I remind witnesses that intentionally misleading the committee is a serious offence.

I remind those present that these proceedings are similar to parliament and are subject to the Legislative Assembly’s standing rules and orders. [Copy here]

The first speaker, President of the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, Mr. Greg Beattie began misleading the Committee immediately. This included:

The Australian Vaccination Network was formed to assist people in their search for information on this issue and to protect their right to make choices freely.

We support debate, because we recognise that it is through discussion that the truth is permitted to bubble to the surface.

Such noble sounding words. Soon we were back to the Beattie Aussies more readily identify with (Bold mine):

Vaccines are aggressively marketed. In fact, possibly no commercial product or service in the history of mankind has been so vigorously and thoroughly marketed. The backdrop of the campaign is fear – fear that your child, if not vaccinated, may suffer and ultimately die from an illness.

The fundamental slogan ‘Vaccines save lives’ expands into a story of how children frequently died from these illnesses until vaccination arrived and changed everything. Ironically, one of the few things we know without doubt is that this story is false. All who care to look for themselves find that vaccines played no significant role in the great fall in deaths.

The deaths did fall dramatically but, as can be seen in the appendices to our submission, it had nothing or little to do with vaccination.

He continues on. Empirical evidence is in stark dissonance to the “fundamental slogan” of vaccine manufacturers. Thus, parents are questioning “the integrity of the whole marketing campaign”. Er, are they? But why? Beattie lies with sophisticated aplomb:

For example, promoters claim that there is a scientific consensus that vaccination is safe. However, consumers are aware that countless studies have been published in the scientific literature indicating a relationship between vaccines and a host of serious conditions, including anaphylaxis, encephalopathy, lupus, type 1 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, paralysis, multiple sclerosis, Bell’s palsy, arthritis, autism, asthma, seizures and many more.

Courts have repeatedly decided in favour of some of these relationships, including autism, and huge amounts of money have been paid out for death and serious injury. Still, the promoters deny their existence, saying they are not proven.

Beattie uses the fact that up to 75% of pertussis notifications have received the vaccine at some time, to generalise against all vaccines. Finding this out parents begin to wonder what benefit there is he warns. A perfect segue into this outright lie: Vaccination is an invasive medical procedure carrying unquantifiable risk and dubious benefit.

Beattie seems intent on annoying Committee member Dr. Alex Douglas. When the Committee comes to ask questions Dr. Douglas begins:

I would like to start with Mr. Beattie. I thought that was an extraordinary presentation based on the fact that last month the Health Care Complaints Commission in New South Wales made some pretty damning statements about your organisation.

In view of the fact that you have made a presentation which is incredibly similar to what was stated as certainly being reprehensible — I could use a variety of words — I would like to know what you have done since then to actually reappraise your position in view of what you have just stated today?

Beattie wants to know where his abomination and that to the HCCC “tie together”. Dr. Douglas refuses to be drawn in, informing Beattie “Basically, you are restating the same argument. It is the same argument”. He then asks if Beattie is aware of what Steve Hambleton had said about, “your continuing statements which are of the same ilk as presented here today?”.

Of course Beattie claims to have no idea, so Dr. Douglas enlightens him:

He said that your repeated presentations bring you great discredit and are, in fact, not helping the nation at all.

In summary form, the results of what you are doing are doing irreparable harm to the communities across Australia and are, in fact, driving down getting our immunisation rate above the magical number of 93 per cent.

Beattie replies, “That is because Steve Hambleton is a promoter of vaccination. Our organisation is a promoter of free choice. At the moment our organisation is under severe attack from all who those who would want to promote vaccination…”.

He also insists vaccination uptake is rising a treat thanks very much, choosing to ignore the reality of complacency or refusal, wherever and for whatever reason.

All up it was a predictable scheme of lies and deceit from Greg Beattie, made all the worse in view of the organisation he was representing. The fact the bill was not passed had nothing to do with the rubbish he put forward. The AVN Inc. are well exposed as a self-serving untrustworthy gang for whom truth and evidence mean nothing.

Submissions to the Inquiry can be read here.

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