Meryl’s Marvellous Measles Mistake

Not long ago I suited up for satire and wrote about Package Insert Airlines. The fictitious airline that takes the view passengers must know of every adverse event to flying before making the “informed choice” to fly.

This was in response to Meryl Dorey’s proposal that the AVN will march on Canberra with demands. One of these is that all parents be given vaccine package insert information to discuss with a “health professional” before deciding to vaccinate their child.

Such a distortion of the reality of the risk-benefit of vaccination seeks to promote Meryl’s choice – not a parents choice. So it is with her recent publication of Definition of Adverse Events Following Immunisation on the AVN Facebook page.

It’s appendix 6 from the 9th edition of the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Yes, those same scheming government manipulators Dorey snorts at when facts get in her way. As antivaxxers dispute that immunity is gained from vaccines, Meryl swapped the word “immunisation” with “vaccination”. List of adverse events which can occur following vaccination. In her first comment GP’s were attacked over, “crying which is continuous and unaltered for longer than 3 hours”.

One member claimed this (3 hours of screaming) meant “almost everyone should be taking their screaming child back to the doctor after a vac!”. In the real world, this should have been gently dissuaded with a reminder that abnormal crying occurs in only 4% of cases. This information is actually on the same site as the adverse event list.

Instead Dorey replied:

And when you do, [redacted], most likely, the doctor will say it’s perfectly normal and won’t report it! -MD

It kind of makes bizarre sense. Meryl can’t report the actual incidence of 4%, as that would mean acknowledging that doctors, nurses and more do report adverse reactions. Far better to invent malicious intent and advise members of that, when we’re talking “informed choice”.

You can see where this is going. Context is meaningless. Actual incidence and significance of adverse events or package insert information works against all that the AVN stand for. As I wrote last time, “This particularly immoral intent of Meryl Dorey’s overall scheme to sabotage vaccination in Australia is born of connivance of such intellectual paucity as to demand it be placed in context”.

The intent is to jettison any accurate notion of risk-benefit. It aims to falsely convey that vaccines are worse than the diseases they prevent. To mislead parents and burden them with irrational fear. Dorey would have you believe that if vaccines aren’t 100% perfect then they must be 100% dangerous.

What did that HCCC warning about The Australian Vaccination Network say again? Ah, yes:

  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous

Let’s take yesterday’s attempt to claim that MMR or the measles vaccine can by itself cause Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE). SSPE occurs following measles infection in which the virus infects neurons and lays dormant. Although erring on the side of exceptional caution, SSPE is listed in Australia as an adverse event following immunisation so confirmation bias will play a part.

The fact that it’s listed does not mean SSPE from MMR or another vaccine is probable or even possible. It means the decision to remove it from listing has not yet been made.

It’s fair to say that incorrect conclusions were previously drawn in some very rare cases – and understandably so. Measles vaccines involve an attenuated live virus. With incomplete investigation, or those limited in scope, errors are made. Ms. Dorey just hasn’t caught up with the facts yet. Science may move forward at a crawl but antivaxxers seem to insist some aspects be frozen in time forever.

On a Facebook page Vaccines Uncensored that has since closed, Dorey wrote:

The polio vaccine reference Dorey later produced from whale.to also included claims of polio definition fraud along with AIDS, GBS, Leukemia and cancer, being certainly due to all vaccines. Where polio vaccination has been instituted globally, “reported polio infections show a 700% increase as a result of compulsory vaccination polio” the trusty reference informs us.

Meryl then copy/pasted a section quoting “Informed Parent” issue 4, 2001 which itself was quoting a 1970’s article on a large New Zealand outbreak of SSPE from 1956 to 1966. It was suggesting live SV40 was involved. There was no confirmation but it was believed the SSPE was related to the Salk vaccine. No such case has been documented again.

Dorey then copy/pasted two more paragraphs from either whale.to or vaccineinjury.info, goading the other member with “You can apologise later”.

One was a paper written by Belgamwar RB et al. 1997. Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine induced subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. It “presumed” an Indian child developed SSPE 15 years after she received MMR at 9 months of age. The reasoning is that the live measles virus in MMR lay dormant. Although incredibly rare at zero – 0.7 cases per million, these events seemed feasible.

Another explanation may be denatured or failed vaccines that, having no efficacy, left the subject vulnerable to consequent measles infection. Or SSPE from a pre-vaccine infection could be involved. This girl apparently had no history of measles infection, but this does not account for the potential of asymptomatic measles infection or incomplete records. Today it is accepted that a natural measles infection is the cause in these cases.

Risk of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis from measles vaccination. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1990 by Halsey was another similar piece pasted in by Dorey. It posed the existence of “vaccine associated SSPE”, but failed utterly to show causality. Focusing on SSPE in an era when vaccination is preventing wild measles does not eliminate prior infection with measles and resultant latency as the cause of SSPE. Halsey practically admits to this oversight in his text, ignoring dormancy and stating, “we should pay attention to SSPE after inoculation”.

Well before these largely discredited papers, Zilber et al. in 1983 had already posed:

Most of the SSPE cases reported measles at an age significantly younger than that of the general population. This pattern did not change after introduction of antimeasles vaccination. Incidence was significantly lower (p less than 10(-9) in the vaccinated population than in the unvaccinated population. Occurrence of SSPE in some children who were vaccinated against measles could be explained by incomplete vaccine efficacy, or by older age at vaccination, which allows the possibility of prior exposure to measles. There was no indication that measles vaccine can induce SSPE.

The physiopathology of SSPE is not well understood. Yet evidence (October 2010) suggests that factors at play favour humoral over cellular immune response allowing viral dormancy in infected neuronal tissue. Exactly what this atypical immune response helps to explain in cases of SSPE is bound to be further elucidated. It was certainly not known to the authors Dorey has cited. What is clear is that measles vaccination does not trigger SSPE in those already infected by wild measles virus – as suggested by Dorey in the screenshot above.

The WHO note on the topic:

Available epidemiological data, in line with virus genotyping data, do not suggest that measles vaccine virus can cause SSPE. Furthermore, epidemiological data do not suggest that the administration of measles vaccine can accelerate the course of SSPE or trigger SSPE in an individual who would have developed the disease at a later time without immunization. Neither can the vaccine lead to the development of SSPE where it would not otherwise have occurred in a person who has already a benign persistent wild measles infection at the time of vaccination.

For situations where cases of SSPE occur in vaccinated individuals who have no previous history of natural measles infection, the available evidence points to natural measles infection as the cause of SSPE, not vaccine.

For those who wish to err on the side of extreme caution, it pays to remember that the Australian Immunisation Handbook is regularly updated. We should keep in mind that proposed incidence has always been of extremely small numbers. Maintaining the claim SSPE can be due to measles vaccination must now include the academic argument of what significance the phrase, “the available evidence”, as advanced by the WHO should be given.

Zero – 0.7 unlikely cases per million vaccines vs a certain 8.5 per million measles cases, was the older accepted risk-benefit. Following a late 2005 Journal of Infectious Diseases paper the measles induced rate of SSPE has been estimated at 6.5 – 11 cases per 100,000 infections. An increase of 7 to 13 times. This “disease vs vaccine” notion is akin to MMR induced encephalitis. Except the always dodgy evidence blaming vaccination for SSPE is in need of reinstating.

On a final note, it is outrageous for Dorey to be feigning concern over SSPE. There is only one answer to tackle SSPE: the elimination of measles via vaccination. Even then it’s estimated that a lag of up to 20 years or more will follow in which latent SSPE from wild measles will continue to emerge.

For about 6 years the new accepted risk-benefit of SSPE has been zero cases from vaccination and up to 11 cases per 100,000 measles infections.

Ignore Meryl Dorey. Speak to your doctor.

Andrew Wakefield had only one aim: to make money

Recently there’s been some unusual defence of Andrew Wakefield.

He never wrote a paper claiming vaccines cause autism, offered fans of Meryl Dorey at Woodford. The rationale? To drive home that vaccines do cause autism. You see, the shorthand misconception of Wakefield supporters is that he was found guilty of fraud in publishing a “vaccines cause autism” paper.

It isn’t quite that simple, and through what can only be described as a combination of ignorance and stupidity these blinkered fans now seek to capitalise on their own confusion.

A five member General Medical Council panel found Wakefield guilty of over 30 charges including 12 of causing children to endure “clinically unjustified” invasive testing procedures, buying blood at children’s birthday parties and managing four counts of dishonesty. Then, his “continued lack of insight” into his conduct, and consequences thereof, meant that only “total erasure” from the medical register was warranted.

In short he was an unprofessional crook, guilty of self serving and callous conduct with no insight into the damage he did or the ongoing harm he was causing.

Dorey’s fans insist Brian Deer stitched up Wakefield because Wakefield’s paper includes:

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described

So. The reasoning in the mind of a Dorey fan is:

  1. Wakefield did not claim a link to autism, therefore the charge of fraud is wrong.
  2. If the charge of fraud is wrong, then claiming that vaccines cause autism is not fraudulent.
  3. Due to 2 above, then the claim “vaccines cause autism” is factual.
  4. Andrew Wakefield is thus doubly correct in that he never committed fraud, but when he was accused of promoting a fraudulent link to autism, due to 2 above he was “set up”.
  5. Vaccines thus cause autism.

Yet Wakefield did commit fraud in an attempt to manufacture his “autistic entercolitis” (AE), in tampering with histopathology results and in attempting to set up his grand financial empire

Not only would success in creating AE drive class action suits in the USA and the UK, the non-existent syndrome would make Wakefield a pot of gold. Proper diagnoses would be needed. At the expense of pharmaceutical companies, complex immunodiagnostics would be ordered by lawyers acting for the families of those stricken with AE.

Let’s follow the money….

Wakefield was paid £435 643 by Richard Barr’s law firm to create a syndrome to drive class action of anti-vaccination litigants. This was no fluke. In the 1990’s vaccine injury was shaping to be the big one for injury compensation lawyers. In 1996 Richard Barr was already working on his autistic test case – “child 2”. On September 9th the child was subject to what the GMC later found was a “clinically unwarranted” ileocolonoscopy. Although he did not have Crohn’s disease it was assumed he might.

Enter Wakefield’s March 1995 Diagnostic patent that claimed:

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

In a theme we will see later was Wakefield’s true driving force, an accompanying document proposed setting up a diagnostic company. Wakefield’s scheme suggested that molecular viral diagnostic tests run for clients in the USA and the UK would yield big bucks. In fact it would yield £72.5m per year. The document was an unbridled embellishment of Wakefield’s patented scam and included:

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,” the draft plan continued, “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.

Despite being paid £150 plus expenses per hour since January 1996 and the reality “child 2” had been enrolled with Barr’s firm for seven months, Wakefield was after Legal Aid.

Here’s where Meryl Dorey’s new breed of Wakefield defenders fail to make first base. Two weeks before selecting his 1st subject for the 12 child study Wakefield co-authored with Richard Barr a letter that included:

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

Nine months before publishing his paper Wakefield had filed for monovalent vaccine patents. A nice addition to his other patent that placed the measles component of MMR as a diagnostic pointer to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Opening of Wakefield’s vaccine patent submission. See item 15 for reference to his Crohn’s Disease patent

[Image © Brian Deer]

In the lead up to releasing the paper’s results Wakefield made various copies on tape of how he should announce specifics of his “findings”. In one of these proposed announcements Wakefield states:

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

Having agreed to follow through with a press announcement that would reinforce the safety of MMR and stress his small sample of unverified results did – as the paper’s text stated – “not prove an association between [MMR] and the syndrome described”, Wakefield turned renegade. He argued that parents should consider splitting MMR vaccination into measles, mumps and rubella shots, leaving measles under a cloud. This of course, was a bonus for his hoped for impending single shot patent profits.

In a confidential submission (1999) to the Legal Aid board in his quest to set up Unigenetics, he argued the link b/w MMR and autism had been shown. He scored £800 000 of tax payer funds to conduct PCR tests of dubious pursuit. Within this venture – to be set up in the Republic of Ireland – he would take 37% of the earnings, the scheming parent known as “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%.

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.

Naming “Carmel Industries” (also registered in the Irish Republic) after his wife, Wakefield came up with a prospectus 35 pages long. It was private and confidential, but his problem with maintaining loyalty was becomming clear.

Wakefield sought to use outmoded and discredited immunodiagnostic methods. “Archaic” would be kind. “Ineffective” would be nice. “Useless” would be kinda nice. This stuff had been written out of practice. Even his most loyal supporters then knew he had no intent of diagnosing and helping children. Only continuing to abuse and profit from them.

The “prospectus” thus went wandering into investigative hands. Wakefield wrote in it:

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…”. £700 000 from investors was needed. Mind blowing profits were assured. “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.

There was really nothing to diagnose. Count those profits. All from a made up syndrome driving litigation. “Litigation driven testing”. But then how many innocent families would also have been ripped off, lied to and how many others would have used his vaccines?

Of course today we know he forged conclusions from Dr. Amar Dhillon’s intestinal tissue sample grading sheets, to invent Autistic Enterocolitis. Now he is inexplicably trying to plead ignorance, blame Dhillon and thus sue the BMJ with the help of the USA’s version of Australia’s Dr. Brian Martin – “whistleblower” David Lewis.

Walker-Smith’s abuse of very ill children, at the insistence of Wakefield who continually ordered unnecessary tests, cannot be overstated. All of Walker-Smith’s tests – blood, colonoscopies, ileocolonoscopies returned negative results. Dhillon recorded normal findings. Consultant histopathologist Susan Davies also recorded normal intestinal findings. Also struck off the medical register, Walker-Smith was labelled “irresponsible and unethical”.

Paola Domizio, a consultant histopathologist and professor of pathology education at Queen Mary’s College has since claimed to be “astonished” at the normality of the histology findings. So Wakefield now blames Dhillon as the culprit of fraud. Just as he earlier used Walker-Smith’s presentation to “prove” he did not falsify data. Yet even there we can demonstrate Wakefield to have submitted identical material to the Legal Aid Board on 6 June 1996 – 6 1/2 months before Walker-Smith’s presentation.

It was Wakefield. It was always Wakefield. It will always be Wakefield.

Wakefield’s dishonesty and fraud sought to make him filthy rich. From well before the study began he had the “syndrome” laid out. Months before publication he was setting up his patents. Feel free to go through and add up those income totals. Then visit sham blog Child Health Safety and try to make sense of the autism ramblings peppered there.

So Child Health Safety and Dorey’s new Wakefield converts need to be aware. On at least four different occasions Wakefield claimed MMR did cause autism. He particularly did so when prospecting for capital to run his assumed to be obscenely profitable immunodiagnostic businesses, that specialised in a condition – autistic entercolitis – he had fraudulently invented.

Wakefield’s fraud may well have been done on mundane tissue samples. But he played a cunning side game.

That side game was to ensure people believed that MMR actually did cause autism.

ACCESS ministries’ transforming love of God used to transform website

Our vision is to reach every student in Victoria with the gospel. Join us and help transform this nation for God.
ACCESS ministries (2008 – 2011)

This March 1st, ACCESS ministries will be in VCAT fighting charges of religious discrimination against non Christian children.

Through their evangelical proselytising to the Victorian “mission field” – the “God given open door” – as CEO Evonne Paddison boasted, ACCESS aimed to convert students to Christianity and “have a full time chaplain in every school”. For years, until parents acted against this obscene monopoly ACCESS openly boasted that it “leads the church in it’s mission to reach students and school communities in Victoria and beyond with the transforming love of God and His son, Jesus Christ”.

ACCESS will “model Christ’s love without discrimination”

The disturbing fundamental theology in the Statement of Belief that controlled ACCESS ministries’ thinking also included the extraordinary claim that ACCESS personnel “form part of God’s presence in the school”. Committed to the Apostle’s creed, Nicene creed and Athanasian creed and the Old and New Testament documents, ACCESS affirmed it’s faith in the Trinity and “recognised the pastoral needs of people and that these needs are to be… addressed”.

Statement Of Belief

Paddison, who believes primary school children in public schools should be taught that their life in eternity has already begun, seeks to:

…promote the same marks of discipleship for young people as those that the Bible presents to us. But of course, in a way that is appropriate and contextual to them. The first step in becoming a disciple is clearly believing, but so many of our young people have never heard the gospel.

Her vision of a brave new Christian world is repugnant in it’s open plot to exploit the emotions of in-need children:

We have to reflect the relationships of the persons of the Trinity in our relationships in Christ’s new society. As we develop this perspective in our encounter with students we will tap into their longing for belonging and acceptance that has grown out of a world of divorce and division. What really matters is seizing the God-given opportunity we have to reach kids in schools. Without Jesus, our students are lost….

Initially blaming those nasty atheists and Fairfax for negative press and criticism from mainstream Christians, the supernaturally guided leaders of ACCESS viciously hit back. Evonne Paddison, Bishop Stephen Hale and the only woman I’ve seen smirk at a parent’s distress – Rev. Denise Nicholls – took to basically telling Victoria to shove it. Legislation gave them the right and fundamental zealotry was on the menu. The problem was, according to Paddison:

…a deliberate attempt by the media to start a faith war – to divide Christians against other Christians; faiths against faiths; congregations against congregations…

It’s sensationalist journalism – find a schism in the foundation, a rat in the ranks, report the division and watch the Letters to the Editor or the news blog implode with atheistic comment. [….]

Over time, the intent of Victorians has become manifest just as has the scheming of ACCESS to deny the facts and get it’s way.

As chaplain Christine Burford gladly shared once with listeners:

No matter what it takes, God’s got a plan and he’s gunna bring it to pass, he’s Sovereign. The devil is “a living enemy” who (apart from tormenting Christine with temptations of “flesh”) “would want to undermine us as people”. People are “the helpless sheep”, saved by God.

No matter what it takes… Paddison herself at the Forward Together rally, 2011, said:

We know with absolute certainty that our message and the centre of our faith remains the same. It remains firm because the one we serve is the same yesterday, today… forever. And his purposes will not be thwarted.

True to form the plan rolls on. But ACCESS seek to deceive Victorians with a shuffle and edit of their website. Once front and centre, the creepy statement of belief is off side. The “transforming love of God…” mission, which is simply believer code for “convert”, has been slashed down to, “Transforming the lives of young people and their communities”.

This video features Elizabeth Stuart, a mum who is not fooled by ACCESS’ moving of chairs. Looking at changes over time, as usual the truth to ACCESS ministries’ intent comes from their own mouths. Having already made the preemptive move to make classes opt-in rather than compulsory and opt-out, ACCESS and the Victorian Education Department are seeking to convey the impression they are not discriminatory.

Sadly they have no intention to change, rather to extend their reach into private schools and internationally. Arrogantly, when challenged they offer no solace.

One hopes for a good outcome this March.

Should Australia’s Federal Health Minister be for the health or the harming of children?

Sign The Petition to Australia’s Health Minister

No doubt this Australia day is a first in that a conspiracy theorist masquerading as a PhD candidate, has just harassed our Federal Health Minister over a delusion.

Australian Vaccination Network member Judy Wilyman has written an extraordinary piece of combined conspiracy ramble and delusion of grandeur to Tanya Plibersek, our Federal Health Minister. In it Wilyman claims to speak for “the community for whom this policy is designed”. That policy would be life saving vaccination schedules. That community would be Australia wide.

Last I checked Wilyman’s extreme conspiracy views are believed by a very small fraction of the 1.7% of Aussies who don’t vaccinate through conscientious objection. I’ve read her work and listened to her speak. Carefully crafted deception arguing that vaccines have had no effect ever, is interspersed with a very strange obsession. A type of appeal to antiquity meets appeal to authority. Eg; Russel Wallace who is considered second only to Charles Darwin in grasping the theory of evolution wasn’t keen on vaccination, borrowing liberally from the Yuk Factor to dismiss the idea.

Wilyman actually reads this stuff out at AVN gatherings. Confusing the drop in mortality that accompanied improved living standards, Wilyman mistakenly believes this is indicating a drop in vaccine preventable disease. Last November she wrote to Nicola Roxon, including:

To the Honourable Ms. Roxon, […]

There is no historical evidence that vaccines controlled any of the infectious diseases listed in government immunization policies – in any developed country. […]

There is no democracy in a country that doesn’t have a transparent government. The Australian government will be committing a crime against humanity by introducing policies that bribe the Australian public into vaccinating by offering $2000 in welfare benefits or by preventing individuals from working in clinical positions.

Both of these points are false. Aussies who choose not to vaccinate are suitable for, and advised on how to receive, all financial entitlements. The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 dictates protection of clientele and workers. Employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of employees, visitors and clientele. Also, employees have a responsibility to comply with a reasonable request of an employer to not endanger themselves nor place at risk the workplace health and safety of another worker.

Contrary to Wilyman’s delusional diversion, this is in accordance with the latest and best scientific advice and research. What would Russel Wallace make of it? I don’t give a toss. It’s no more a “crime against humanity” than being hindered from working on dangerous unguarded machinery, or driving a forklift with no mirrors in reverse listening to a blaring iPod, building and working on scaffolding with no ladders, trap doors and railings or running barefoot through freshly discarded used syringes.

The rest of November’s caper was claiming no proper trials exist, it’s all a Big Pharma conspiracy, science is biased and wrong and the astonishing claim that no proper monitoring of immunisation “side effects” has been done in 50 years.

To think someone claiming to be doing a PhD in vaccine legislation has not seen the reams of government incidence tables and graphs of AEFI beggars belief. Good work to her supervisor, Dr. Brian Martin. It finished with:

The community would like you to address the issues above and ensure that you can provide conclusive evidence and transparency for your policy before introducing any coercive measures into vaccination policies.

Today, much the same has been produced and thrown at Tanya Plibersek. Except Wilyman has cranked it up accusing the minister of making decisions based on corruption. Meryl Dorey claims Plibersek has “been placed on notice – stop the corruption in medicine!”. Wilyman demands the minister herself reply (emphasis hers).

It includes more community buck passing:

The community has lost confidence in the ability of the Health Department to make decisions in the best interests of the public due to the lack of integrity in the science being used and the conflicts of interest in individuals on government advisory boards. There is overwhelming evidence for this and I will list this below. As a result of this corruption of the scientific process the community has lost confidence in the Government’s Childhood Immunisation Schedule as it is clearly driven by profit and not safety.

In 2010 in W.A., speaking for the AVN, Wilyman raised the claim that vaccination policy is corrupt because “the governed” must be consulted. “Well I don’t recall being consulted” she managed incredulously then, “Do you recall being consulted?”.

She serves it up to Tanya Plibersek also:

The government requires “the consent of the governed who have the right to full participation in the decision-making process” before it implements public health policy (NRC- National Research Council, 1996). Therefore, until the issues below are addressed and consumers have equal representation on decision-making boards, the community is rejecting vaccination policy that is linked to financial benefits for parents.

Well I don’t recall being consulted for my opinion as your community member Judge Judy. How about some of that precious “balance” we hear so much about?

Wilyman then lists seven Big Pharma conspiracy themes, two of which are “hidden ties”. One between Big Pharma and peer review editors. The other between university academics and government advisory boards. Her supervisor is conspiracy theorist and post modernist “whistleblower”, Dr. Brian Martin, himself shown the door from any and everything “advisory”. One wonders if the latter is water cooler sour grapes.

Her scientific concerns to Plibersek are that a.) no studies exist into “the chemicals in vaccines.. causing the steep increase in chronic illness in our children.” Also b.) “… no controlled clinical study comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated…”, has ever been done. Clearly no longer in Kansas Toto, she finishes with:

Until these issues are addressed the public is rejecting coercive or mandatory immunization policies that result in the discrimination of healthy individuals. I hope the Health Minister will reply to these community concerns personally.

I’m not sure which is more absurd. The patently fictitious accusations, or this notion of Judge Judy speaking for the community and advising what “the public is rejecting”. I know Judy may not be all that well – perhaps a few screams short of a tantrum in the old currency. But Margaret Court is hard evidence that living a delusion and causing community harm are not mutually exclusive.

Let’s hope Tanya Plibersek steps up monitoring of such individuals and groups along with how they exploit loopholes in legislation and academic privilege to bring harm to our most vulnerable community members.

To put this in better context AVN Facebook member, Wendy Elphinstone bragged in late November of intentionally infecting her daughter with varicella – chicken pox. This is abuse of a child, all to make a statement against artificial “health fascism” and suppression of rights. It is in effect the right to choose gone mad.

You quite rightly can’t smoke a cigarette in a confined space near anybody, much less your own children. Euthanasia is still illegal. So is pot. But you can risk your child’s life, make them sick, scared, miserable and harm them, because it’s the latest fad.

Varicella killed 0.41 per million before vaccination was instigated. MMR and DTap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine) have no demonstrable history of fatality. This mother will not give her child MMR or DTap, but will expose her to a known risk of death via varicella. A risk of death that is about half of the risk of MMR induced brain injury that is often used as justification for denying vaccination.

Had Wendy Elphinstone’s unwelcome guest been passed on to an infant the risk of death is four times that of children aged 1 – 4. Strangely, Wendy never did explain how she controlled this.

Necrotizing Fascilitis is better known as “flesh-eating disease”. You can catch it from serious skin wounds, weakened immunity (such as associated with vaccine preventable diseases) yet also following varicella. Varicella pneumonia can occur and varicella encephalitis – although rare – can occur following infection. Any deterioration in patient health requires monitoring for neurological or super bacterial infection.

Then it lays dormant until again, it may emerge as shingles, encephalitis and potentially lead to stroke, disability or death.

Of course, Meryl Dorey went ballistic over a community member doing the right thing and acting in the interest of the child – the proxy of vaccine choice insanity. Dorey demoted varicella to almost harmlessness claiming purposeful exposure is something our “mothers and grandmothers” would have done. I mean, really Meryl? Don’t make me get out the Four Yorkshiremen again.

Just before Dorey came to Australia, she lived in a country where varicella killed 100 children per year, effected 4 million children and was behind $400 million in lost wages and medical costs annually. Half a million needed medical care and 10,000 were hospitalised. Frankly, I’d have expected more composure from “Australia’s leading vaccination expert”.

Meryl launched into accusations against the good citizen who cared enough to ensure this child’s welfare was not in serious danger. She claimed he’d accused her fallaciously of microchips and human culling. Which she er, wrote about here and then here, still later urging her members to keep it secret here.

Despite turning the issue into a “poor me” episode, in my mind it underscored just how dangerous Meryl Dorey and her AVN really are. Overtly wringing hands over unproven problems with “chemicals” and “toxins” in vaccines, buttressed by cries of no testing and poor record keeping, they now claim a right to casually infect their own children with a disease.

No doctors are involved, no monitoring follows. No possible spread to the unaware, immunocompromised or vulnerable is prevented or documented. Any notion of clinical (“allopathic”) support is derided.

But vaccination schedules are “a crime against humanity”.

Happy Australia Day.

Meryl Dorey claims that Australian Skeptics suppress free speech – Why?

In the lead up to the Woodford Folk Festival the pros and cons of allowing Meryl Dorey to speak on vaccination received ample coverage.

The concern was quite straight forward. Meryl Dorey has a track record of misleading the public to sway people away from vaccination, a proven record of misappropriating funds and scamming her members, harassing grieving parents of babies deceased from vaccine preventable disease and is the subject of a NSW Health Care Complaints Commission Public Health Warning.

Meryl also refuses to engage her critics and despite being shown in error time and again, continuing to repeat untruths. Lastly, she gives voice to selective and bogus information in order to discredit the science of vaccination. We are in the middle of a serious pertussis epidemic and Meryl has a well rehearsed ditty that confuses people with dodgy figures and blatant untruths.

This was not an issue of free speech, but one of community responsibility. Very serious responsibility.

Despite Meryl’s extraordinary claim that the Australian Skeptics “say we don’t have freedom of speech and you don’t have a right to say no (to vaccination)”, it is a distortion of the facts. A successful 2009 complaint to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, submitted by Ken McLeod had posed under item 5 page 6, Is the AVN protected by a right of free speech? After noting the lack of constitutional protection and citing legal precedents it concluded:

So, in Australia, one is entitled to free speech provided that one does not harm an individual or society in general.

Ms. Dorey responded extensively to this in her reply (pages 9 – 12), citing a number of High Court cases involving the running of government. Dorey argued that the AVN was engaged “in ʻpoliticalʼ discussion”, and that “freedom of communication on matters of government and politics”, included material produced by the AVN.

Having awarded herself this spectacular promotion her conclusion did quite naturally, “confirm that the HCCC has a constitutional obligation” not to implement the provisions of the Health Care Complaints Act to the detriment of the AVN. Dorey’s defence was dismissed and the complaint upheld.

This is the genesis of the “they suppress my right to free speech” myth. Mr. McLeod is not a member of any skeptic organisations or groups in Australia. Australian Skeptics have never endorsed in word, deed or by association any notion that could be construed as opposition to free speech. Ms. Dorey has subsequently scurrilously inferred this for malicious intent.

Strikingly, whilst arguing that the AVN holds the same importance as individuals involved in the running of government, Dorey failed to address the key outcome of McLeod’s self imposed query: [That] In Australia one is entitled to free speech, provided that one does not harm an individual or society in general.

The importance of this cannot be overstated. Dorey spent six times as much text unsuccessfully refuting McLeod’s conclusion, as he did formulating it. At no point does she argue that the AVN does not harm an individual or society in general. As a refutation it seeks to argue that the AVN has a constitutionally protected right to speak how it chooses regardless of consequences to aforementioned individuals and society.

As for a chronology of the Australian Skeptics’ genuine involvement in challenging claims made by the AVN, we can look back to issue 2 of The Skeptic 2005, and the article by Ken McLeod: “Anti-Vaccination Ratbaggery”. In March 2009 Toni and David McCaffery lost their 4 week old daughter, Dana, to pertussis. Unaware of the AVN’s existence the McCaffery’s made a public plea for parents to educate themselves on the dangers of vaccine preventable disease. At the same time Meryl Dorey contended that the public was being misled, seeking access to Dana’s medical records and confirmation of cause of death.

On August 5th 2009 Australian Skeptics published a page dedicated to evidence based information on vaccination. On Thursday August 6th, 2009 The Australian ran a full page advertisement funded by Dick Smith Foods criticising the AVN and urging parents to seek reputable information.

By early September 2009 Channel 7’s Sunday Night programme ran two episodes on pertussis and vaccination. The first, A Mother’s Choice looked at the story of the McCaffery’s and featured interviews with Meryl Dorey. In the second, a forum, it was confirmed that the McCafferys had been targetted with hate mail by The AVN. Asked about qualifications, Meryl contended that she “had a brain” and had researched vaccination for 20 years.

Although morally supported in the studio by members of Australian Skeptics, it was the personal and invasive nature of the AVN’s comments toward the McCaffery’s that motivated an individual, Daniel Raffaele, to form a Facebook page called Stop The Australian Vaccination Network. It is not funded by, nor is it a “sub-group” of Australian Skeptics. Whilst popular with some skeptics it is not an exclusively skeptic venture.

Later that year the Australian Skeptics awarded Ms. Dorey the 2009 Bent Spoon Award for the traditional annual celebration of the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle. The honour table presently reads:

2009: Meryl Dorey and the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network, who spread fear and misinformation about vaccines

The McCaffery’s received the first Fred Thornett Award for the “promotion of reason”. The following year the Fred went to Ken McLeod and Wendy Wilkinson who had contributed to Stop The AVN in individual ways, realising unique outcomes. Namely the NSW HCCC public health warning against the AVN and the NSW OLGR revoking the AVN’s Charitable fundraising licence. The Skeptic Of The Year award, went to Stop The AVN itself.

It is likely that around September 2009 that the AVN turret swung in the direction of Australian Skeptics. Certainly the 2009 Merit Awards (particularly the Bent Spoon), a number of articles in The Skeptic over 2010, and the 2010 Merit Awards themselves galvanised AVN opposition to all things skeptical. Since then salvos of misinformation which attempt to portray Stop The AVN and Ms. Dorey’s individual critics as “a sub-group” of Australian Skeptics, who are also accused of being antidemocratic, have continued unabated.

But blaming “the skeptics”, Australian Skeptics or continually claiming (as in the audio below) that Stop The AVN is funded by “the mother ship”, Australian Skeptics does nothing but divert attention away from the real issue. Meryl wants to be seen as persecuted, as silenced by unseen forces, and aware of your enemy. That way she must be right because they are so very wrong. Evidence need not come into it. Action can be initiated by invoking assumed malignant motives attached to the word “skeptic”.

By linking suppression of free speech to Skeptics and repeating gems such as “They [Skeptics] say people aren’t smart enough to hear both sides of the argument”, it creates an entirely false dynamic that suggests there is another side to proper health care and the scientifically literate are hiding it. It’s the vaccine equivalent of tacitly urging people to cut off their nose to spite their face.

Individuals who may speak or write as part of their professional life, and also happen to comment or offer advice on the Stop The AVN Facebook page are targetted for their views and awarded “membership” of Australian Skeptics by Ms. Dorey. You may ask why. The answer is quite simple. By convincing potential supporters an enemy is mobilising forces against them – terms Dorey actually uses fictitiously against “the skeptics” and SAVN – it is easier to rally support or motivate people to act without thinking critically.

Let’s take one recent example. A physician wrote a piece on the topic of patient health choice vs risk. Vaccination was not mentioned. Health authorities know that with the success of medical science rare adverse events are now more common than the diseases and problems that filled cemeteries with young mothers, infants and children only half a century ago. Yet this piece had a poll. A poll on choice. Dorey wanted to influence that poll. So, here’s what she wrote to her members:

[Redacted] is a member of both Stop the AVN and the Australian Skeptics. She has just written an article for the [redacted] which I believe is free online (text below), there is also a  poll asking whether doctors should support a patient’s health choice even if they disagree with it. At the present time, 50% of those who have answered say no! That is frightening! i (sic) think if this poll is representative of most doctors, they should have a refresher course in what it means to be a health advisor rather than a health dictator.

Some nastiness on AVN’s Facebook page accompanied this. More so quite some assumption is being made. Not only is the article open to the public (anyone can vote) many doctors who defend conventional medicine also strenuously defend a patients right to choose. Ethics is perhaps not Meryl’s best subject. Eventually this was brought to the attention of the physician who, clearly not ruffled, went through the motions of seeking clarification:

Ms Dorey, I am not, and have never been a “member of Australian Skeptics.” I await your correction and apology. (Unless, of course, you were talking about somebody else, rather than just misspelling my name).

Silence.

Apart from individuals there are many blog posts and Facebook diatribes attacking “Australian Skeptics” or just “skeptics” for suppressing free speech, to not being actual skeptics, to being “pathological skeptics” for not seriously accepting the possibility of aliens. This silliness espouses ignorance of skeptics. It is not the existence of aliens that skeptics find difficult to accept. It is the quality of the current evidence for the existence and activities of aliens that has been proven unworthy time and again.

Much like that being exhumed over and again to challenge vaccine safety.

From a woman who likens court ordered vaccination to rape with full penetration, labelling vaccines “instruments of death” and claims that trusting ones doctor is “like telling a hen to trust a fox or like telling a five-year-old to trust a paedophile”, it would seem rational discourse is far from an option. Particularly when she then fictitiously claims on air to be bipartisan, and says, “we advise people to go to their doctors”.

Yet, I’m not really interested in these not infrequent outbursts at present. It is the calculated hammering of Australian Skeptics as being involved in the removal of choice, or suppression of free speech. These accusations are of course, untrue. Skeptics may seek to change minds with evidence. Yet using abusive or oppressive means of argument (evidence based or not) will drive people away, not leave them thinking.

Many requests for transparency on this point have been sent to Ms. Dorey. Most SAVN members and administrators are not associated with Australian Skeptics or the skeptic movement. Today it may function like a small organisation but time is given voluntarily and funding is from the pockets of a core group of members. SAVN does not accept any funds or readily collect donations despite claims to the contrary from Ms. Dorey:

The big question is why put so much focus on persecution? Surely the way to silence critics is just to knuckle down and get to work. Produce this “medical literature” that supports rejection of vaccine efficacy and safety. Yet there is none. Therein lies the problem. Challenging Meryl Dorey with hard evidence and arguments that undermine her claims will always be met with silence.

It is far better for her to define her apparent worth by inventing malignant intent in others. This is exactly what we saw in the lead up to Woodford. Time and again this specter of a well funded sub-group of Australian Skeptics who insist Aussies have no right to free speech was raised.

As critics of George W. Bush learned the hard way, calls for evidence and reason fall on many deaf ears when supporters are convinced an enemy is working toward obscure ends. The claim that Australian Skeptics invest significantly in opposing the AVN as part of a larger plan to impose skeptical views upon society and remove individual choice, serves admirably to draw attention away from the reality.

As for defamation, that does pose a fascinating intellectual exercise. Defamation in Australia focuses upon the individual:

You can defame someone if you say something false about them which spoils their good reputation, which makes people want to avoid them or which hurts them in their work or their profession.

Regarding organisations:

Under the old system of individual state laws, almost anyone or any organisation or company could bring an action for defamation. However, under the Uniform Defamation Law, corporations with 10 or more employees cannot sue. However, be warned that individuals or groups of individuals employed by or associated with that corporation – such as company directors, CEOs or managers – can still sue if they are identified by the publication.

Not-for-profit organisations can still sue for defamation, no matter how many employees or members they have.

Perhaps Meryl Dorey had the foresight to sketch out her defence against being defamatory long ago. From page 10 of the AVN reply to the HCCC, is this part of her reply to Mr. McLeod’s query on free speech:

The High Court has determined that any common law or statutory remedy for defamation may not be granted if its exercise would infringe upon the freedom to discuss government and political matters that the Constitution impliedly requires.

Further, the courts have found that a statute that diminishes the rights or remedies of persons defamed and correspondingly enlarges the freedom to discuss government and political matters is not contrary to this constitutional implication. The common law rights of persons defamed may be diminished by statute but they cannot be enlarged so as to restrict the freedom required by the Constitution.

This means that all statutes (whether state or commonwealth) that purport to define the law of defamation are construed so that they conform with the Constitution. Where such provisions are inconsistent with the Constitution, they are invalid to the extent of that inconsistency.

The ego is breath taking is it not? From so important as to lord over the law of the land to so persecuted the nasty skeptics seek to stop her speaking. Dorey manages it all.

So, the “why” is rather clear. Inventing persecution at the hands of “the skeptics” makes this an emotional issue. It fires up other people who aren’t aware of all the facts. It fills valuable time during which Dorey may be questioned about evidence. It draws conspiracy theorists like Tiga Bayles and Helen Lobato out of the woodwork, eager for a sample. Wonderfully, it gives them someone to blame.

It gives false credence and a reason to hearing her speak. It eliminates her having to explain a massive litany of misconduct and financial mismanagement to her members. It gives a senseless reason to members to run to her rallying call. It breaks down critical thought in followers and propagates simple reaction. They need not know why they are acting, only who they are acting against. And that requires very little effort on Dorey’s part.

“The skeptics say white. Go forth and say ______”.

  • Audio out-take from 3CR with Helen Lobato December 2011. 
  • Let’s Talk with Tiga Bayles, December 19th 2011.
  • December 29th 2012 at Woodford.

Download MP3

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