Manipulation, not gullibility may be driving alternatives to medicine

We hear so much about what alternatives to medicine are not doing, it’s perhaps worth pondering what they might be doing.

Beyond producing a placebo effect, which I stress is nothing to sniff at, it seems we can articulate other accompanying features we would do well to understand. One usually thinks of prescription writing conventional doctors upon hearing expressions like “we expect a pill for every ill”. This is not without good cause. As we saw medicine leap forward and family consulting rooms multiply, the gap between symptom severity and seeking attention quite naturally narrowed.

Yet whatever was going on in our minds that modified our part in closing that gap is a restless beast indeed. Part worry, part suspicion, part urgency, part ignorance, part arrogance, part fear, part expectation, part assumed knowledge and more, it can play a role in convincing us we’re ill – or far more ill than we are. Doctors now know that pandering to this aspect can lead to over-prescription, self medication and hypochondriacs. As a result the medical profession has learned how to manage certain traits with placebo and/or skilled bedside manner.

However, the industry to far and away exploit the sole notion of people needing attention for absolutely no reason is the so-called Wellness Industry. It is aptly named, proffering entirely useless or arguably harmful potions, rituals, observances, gizmos, pokes, prods, states of mind and more, to the entirely well.

But why? As one woman informed ABC’s Lateline some time back as they examined the scams used by chiropractors, It’s “…maintenance… making sure everything’s working properly, making sure everything’s working at its best”.

Sure enough the chiropractor asked her to bend to the left, then right. “How that going for you?”, he asked in the tone real doctors might use when examining an actual problem. The woman gets a check up every 4 to 6 weeks. The question we need to ask is about the driving force for her to ask someone if she is in good health. Is it a type of hypochondria? Is it a type of “self medication” in which one seeks out excessive treatment? Is not this chiropractor simply pandering to a psychological state, when his best advice would be to encourage less dependence?

I’m sure she felt better after paying, because just like with Cold Reading all the action occurs within the patients mind. In this case a complex array of cues, sciency stuff, repetition, anatomy posters and models, machines that go “Bing!”, tones of voice and even payment lead up to a nice squirt of dopamine upon completion. The woman is simply conditioned to associate the entire hanky panky with feeling good and thus, better health.

Of course take away this experience without the woman’s consent, and the more time that passes the more anxiety will mess with critical thinking and the usual creaks and twangs she’d ignore become directly attributable to not making it to her “maintenance”. This is the truly brilliant aspect of Wellness Scams. Even when their “patients” are well away from them the urge to return is steadily growing.

People don’t need chiropractic rituals as “maintenance” of health. Thus to continue to exploit this woman is unethical abuse simply for monetary gain. Get them hooked on this notion and it’s easy money. When challenged for evidence of efficacy these visits are trotted out, as if volume of attendance equates to success.

This is why chiropractors, shady nutritionists, reflexologists, reiki magicians, homeopaths, traditional therapists/masseurs work so hard at reinforcing “hits” between their scam and the patient verbalising an association. In the case of New Age diagnostics – often combined with a “therapy” (say iridology and vitamin therapy) – it’s quite simple to create a syndrome that just might be about to run amok.

“Hmmm. We’d better double the selenium, calcium and vitamin E and get you to come in at least twice a week. Let’s see if we can’t nip this in the bud, shall we?”.

It is actually a welcome trait seeing individuals wanting to take more charge of their own health. Certainly that plays a role in the viability of ongoing pseudosciences that masquerade as health services. Perhaps combined with the highly visual and ritualised capers pretending to offer health people are feeling in more control of their health than with brief doctors consultations. It may be that in our present uncertain world of such frequent change to once permanent features, that one seeks out modes of reassurance.

What is certainly a concern is that as people seem intent on taking more control over, and playing more active roles in their own health management, there are charlatans highly skilled at taking advantage of human needs. Nothing is too  difficult for them, nothing cannot be understood, all can be managed and all will be well.

At the top of the scam pyramid reign chiropractors, at once tuning, “diagnosing” and “curing” entirely made up syndromes that engender fear, anxiety, poor decision making and dependence upon ritual in innocent people. So good are chiropractors at this that pregnant patients, fed lies about the needs of newborns, express an impatience for delivery. All so that their neonate can begin chiropractic and thus, start to overcome the abnormalities they believe all children are born with.

Chiropractors run workshops on increasing income. The malleable state of women in a state of hormone flux either side of gestation is well understood. Not for the “patients” benefit. For the benefit of profit born of maternal anxiety and parental fear. It becomes a matter of urgency. The longer left, the more “abnormal” the child will be. Antivaxxers make use of the maternal instinct also, as do renegade home birth groups.

It’s a trait that has served our species well. If mum receives bogus input suggesting the foetus or bub is under threat, no harm comes to either if mum acts upon it. But if mum hangs around to weigh up the risks or ignores constant cues for some time and the risk is real, the chance of this remaining as a successful evolutionary trait is zero. The strength of this trait is notable in that addiction to harmful substances can overrun it. Yet this is following changes in the reward-pleasure centre of the brain, that then initiate neuronal projections into the frontal lobe that serve to inhibit reasoning, decision making, self control and inhibition of behaviour.

Antivaccination lobbyist, AVN member, anti-medicine advocate, homeopathic immunisation promoter and chiropractor Simon Floreani who has children making up 60% of his client base once told Today Tonight:

Babies often come directly from the hospital. They’re referred from the obstetricians, the doctors, the pediatricians, the nurses because chiropractic care’s so safe for them. Many of the current medical procedures just don’t work and parents aren’t silly. They’re looking for good alternatives from people that care and are prepared to look into diet and lifestyle.

As one time Skeptic of the year, Loretta Marron contends, “what they are is faith healers”. Traditional chiropractor John Reggars insists it’s a case of self limiting conditions or perceived changes. From an evidence viewpoint there’s nothing to support chiropractic – even with sore backs.

Update: In fact studies of infant crying and chiropractic therapy suggest treatment reduces crying have a high risk of performance bias. Indeed as parents are the assessors the results may be shared by parental belief. This Cochrane review of infantile colic and chiropractic notes (p.2);

However, most studies had a high risk of performance bias due to the fact that the assessors (parents) were not blind to who had received the intervention. When combining only those trials with a low risk of such performance bias, the results did not reach statistical significance. Further research is required where those assessing the treatment outcomes do not know whether or not the infant has received a manipulative therapy.

There are inadequate data to reach any definitive conclusions about the safety of these interventions.

It’s important to realise that this review concluded the above based on “most studies”. It has consulted this RCT by Miller, Newell and Bolton (see p.25 of Cochrane review), and still found data to be inadequate to reach definitive conclusions.

Thus potentially, if parents think the infants are getting treatment they may be reporting improvement even if there is none. Conversely if they believe the child is not being treated when it is, they may report adversely. /Update

The Courier Mail reported recently:

SCIENTISTS spent $374,000 recently asking people to inhale lemon and lavender scents to see if it helped their wounds to heal. It didn’t.

The National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US also outlaid $700,000 to show that magnets are no help in treating arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or migraines.

The centre spent $390,000 to find that old Indian herbal remedies do not control type 2 diabetes and $406,000 to prove coffee enemas do not cure pancreatic cancer.

It’s the same story around the globe. One by one, weirdo treatments are being exposed as bunkum.

Why are people so gullible, handing over their hard-earned cash for unproven alternative therapies?

Why do usually sane people get sucked in by pseudo-scientific fiddle-faddle such as homeopathy, reiki, reflexology, naturopathy, aromatherapy, iridology and crystals? […]

Chiropractors have now been discredited by every reputable medical organisation from the Royal Society down, yet people still spend up on these bone-crunchers and state and federal governments seem unwilling to shut them down.

Recently I reported on two experts on alternative medicine who reviewed all the evidence and concluded chiropractic was “worthless”.

Professor Edzard Ernst and Peter Canter found no convincing data to support claims the technique was effective.

With the possible exception of the relief of some back pain – where spinal manipulation is as good but no better than conventional treatments – the technique is worthless, the review in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine concluded.

Another impacting feature is the “legitimising” tricks buffering complete rubbish. “Diplomas” in homeopathy. “Degrees” in chiropractic. The meaningless but very powerful use of the term Doctor. Flashy titles given to Boards or National Bodies. Misleading titles such as The Australian Vaccination Network that supports zero vaccines calling them “instruments of death”. “Pro-choice” groups. All this is strictly designed to mislead from the outset.

Yet I’m not sure asking only about gullibility is enough. Gullibility persists often due to a conscious decision to not examine criticism of what has become a comforting belief or set of beliefs. More so we are hard wired to seek out information that confirms what we think we know as fact and associate with people who reinforce our beliefs. Even internalising contradictory information about our beliefs can in time lead to reinterpretation that reinforces the opposite of the information we took in. Cognitive bias is a powerful master.

An admirable foe to conventional medicine who pops up here, Meryl Dorey, completely dismisses the findings above. Yet, when criticising vaccines she relies upon respect for the same scientific approach. “The gold standard of scientific research”, she argues, is the Randomised Controlled Trial. As RCT’s mow down alternatives to medicine Meryl insists that until vaccines are subject to RCT’s they cannot be regarded as “properly tested”. Although Meryl is beyond reason (as evidenced by this level of ignorance about how RCTs work) it’s a fine example of how belief can eliminate respect for evidence.

Perhaps we should be asking more about what leads people to internalise so much misinformation about the world we live in and the basics about how it works. So much of the market sustaining disproved alternatives to medicine also accept without question that our environment is highly toxic, it pollutes our health and natural new age “cures” are needed. They also believe conventional medicine, hiding the truth about “natural cures”, is irrevocably corrupt, peddles poison as medication and is ironically creating a world of sickness from which it profits.

Much of this is provided to them from so-called “alternative practitioners”. Detox’ is necessary. No, it’s quite dangerous. Medicines treat the symptoms not the cause. Quite true, I hasten to add in many cases. I’m just not sure why this is assumed to be a blanket flaw. Figures on medical mishaps draw concern. Yes real doctors are accountable and mishaps are still a small percentage. Adverse reactions from drugs prove medicine is lethal. Quite wrong. Primarily ADR’s underscore patient error, and again given the millions of scripts dispensed is another small symptom of accountability.

The truth is, Conventional Medicine is not peddling sickness and keeping you ill for profit. But Alternatives to Medicine are profiting from the false belief you need maintenance and from keeping you splendidly ignorant.

This continued misinformation about real medicine takes up an exorbitant amount of the message coming from the supposed “complimentary”, “alternative” or “integrative” chapters. From antivaccination messages to the vast bulk of alternatives to medicine the claim of “efficacy” is buoyed upon a childish notion. “We are good, because they are bad”. The more “bad” squeezed in the less the need for evidence to show Theta Healing could possibly work or that oscillococcinum isn’t plain nonsense.

Still this doesn’t explain everything and I don’t imagine I could. What causes one mother to accept antivaccination hogwash in a maternal embrace and another to sink her teeth into its carotid artery, so to speak? Personal experience can shape belief but even here outside forces tend to be the final decider. Certainly scientific literacy and the awareness that one must trust experts in certain fields is crucial to good decision making.

Alternatively, having “researched” every crackpot self affirming, disreputable source whilst avoiding reputable – indeed any source – material is intellectual sabotage. Likewise being affluent and highly skilled in one area doesn’t immediately make a person “educated” as the media insist on telling us.

At best one could argue that so many scams continue to attract patronage because they offer an emotional and psychological package of oneself taking control. Lengthy consultation sessions provide for bonding and a sense of loyalty.

Much of the practice or ritualised session is designed to instil reliance and dependence upon the so-called practitioner. Bogus symptoms and syndromes are tacked on whilst alienation from conventional medicine evoking feelings of betrayal and self-superiority sinks in. Reading material and other patrons readily reinforce this.

Some charlatans often claim their Wonder Woo is suppressed by Big Pharma, as was the case with Francine Scrayen, Dr. Death Sartori charged in multiple countries and QLD MMS wielding cancer curing, scam artist Jillian Newlands. Although most often this is announced to the very desperate and the most ill.

Ultimately it appears that if we are to push down this bubble of bogus practices we need to understand just why so many of us are seeking attention to our state of being. It is not last ditch desperation or even seeking treatment for obvious illness. People need attention and in seeking it they are being sold dependence.

Dependence upon forces, rituals, cleanses and superstitions they previously never knew existed. That so much of this comes with ready packaged insults toward conventional medicine instills distrust of the very regulators who must act for the public good.

Perhaps as more and more scams are shown to be clinically useless, those that have depended upon them need to be educated in how they’ve been manipulated.


Monika’s Entity: Losing Self Containment?

There’s a few various ways of defining “entity”.

Clearly it’s a “thing”. include the notion of “self containment”. We might include distinct and being independent in existence. Other definitions note an entity is a part that has broken away from the whole. In business or in geography, such as a subcontinent.

But when it comes to describing “Monika’s Entity“, things get more challenging. Described as “a potion peddler” conducting “quackery of the first order” by Today Tonight, I’m sure we can do better. Clearly, Monika is also a Thing. In fact I’d reckon Monika is a Distinct Thing. Monika has also broken away from the “whole”, as it were, of humanity, existing quite independently from everyday traits and characteristics. However it appears Monika has jettisoned the notion of self containment from her Entity.

I rush to add dear reader, this does not make Monika a Distinctly Subhuman Thing bereft of self containment. Nay! I have only one response in defence of Gentle Monique:

Monika created Hugh Jackman’s physique and can cure cancer

As Monika’s Number One Fan, I confess to some concerns about her health. You see I’ve been banned from her Facebook page ever since I started asking questions about her breaching the Public and Environmental Health Act 1987 (S.A.). The S.A. Dept. of Health issued a Mesotherapy Alert after Monika charged $500 a shot to inject patients with saline solution and “other substances”. She was curing cancer by “killing the worms” responsible, amongst other things. A few developed “multiple symmetrical skin abscesses on their calves, buttocks, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, face and neck”.

Some developed mycobacterial infection. This required Monika to be using tap water and/or sewerage contaminants in her solution which she injected into people for whom she’d promised she could cure cancer. Page 42 of this Report into Bogus Practitioners includes:

In 2005, my husband, Ross, was diagnosed with cancer of the bile ducts. After surgery and various courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments failed to halt the diseases, my husband sought the help of Monica Milka who did ‘alternative therapies’. Monika assured my husband that she could cure him and commenced treating him with all types of sprays, medicines and injections. The many injections she gave to his stomach were to ‘kill the worms’ that were causing the problem but in fact left him very sore. She also took photos of his eyes and then showed him those supposed images on a computer screen, pointing out the ‘areas of improvement’ and telling him how well he was doing. Ross paid Monica over $500 per week. Initially he paid by visa card so received a receipt for this payment but later on he began to pay cash and no longer received any receipts.

Sadly, in their haste S.A. Health ordered Gentle Monique not to administer any substances to any person. They then ordered her to not provide substances to another person, unless that substance is a commercial product. Are they insane?! Curing cancer with sewerage contaminants isn’t like hit and miss allopathy. Just to show them she had no regard for this regulatory hogwash, Monika began selling water and ethanol in 150 ml bottles for $150.

The misunderstanding Monika and I had, followed my foolishly pointing out she was still the subject of health restrictions and providing yet another scam for human ingestion actually breached the order to not provide any substance to any person. Anyway, today Monika plonked this post on her page.

I was shocked. Gentle Monique? Just two days ago, Monika invented, posted, then deleted this story:

The suspect nature of this “confession” was all too apparent. As a poster observed, even if this mysterious confessor had zero mortgage the return on $100,000 at even twice what we expect in today’s market is only $10,000 before tax. Thus the idea of “a very healthy income” becomes laughable.

Monika was caught red handed lying to her readers, inventing stories to besmirch the name of others she included in her tirade. Oh my.

This was of course, an example of being “visciously (sic) attacked & bullied & harrassed (sic)…”, for bringing the joy of sewerage injections and impure water and ethanol magic to humanity. Still, in the cloak and dagger world of unmasking BigPharma Trolls paid gazillions to bring down Gentle Monique, anything is possible. Even deleting the entire story and proffering this excuse:

As you can see, I have good reason to be concerned over Monika’s state of mind and health. As her Number One Fan, it is my job to worry. Nonetheless, Gentle Monique was on the ball. The best way to fight off accusations of making stuff up, is to… make more stuff up:

Monika is very grumpy with Today Tonight who plot and plan with all of us BigPharma Trolls. When she made up the story that she later deleted Monika included:

I do hope Monika’s lawyers, in whose hands everything lies, are advising her of how she conducts herself online. You know…. without prejudice… ♥

I suppose ultimately all we can conclude is that Monika Milka of Monika’s Entity is not a Distinctly Subhuman Thing because all the evidence points to her being a Distinctly Bogus Subhuman Thing who appears to have lost the knack of self containment.

So all is well with the Universe.

Over to Today Tonight:

Monika Milka: Quackery of the first order

Isaac’s Golden Moment

Three weeks ago I attended a public lecture entitled Medicine and Homeopathy.

The latest from Melbourne University Health Initiative, the lineup included homeopath Isaac Golden and chiropractor Simon Floreani to present the argument for homeopathy. Public health physician and medical activist Dr. Ken Harvey and GP Dr. Stephen Basser, one of Australia’s most accomplished critics and analysts of alternatives to medicine, held the fort for medicine.

All but Stephen Basser feature in this video examining claims made by Isaac Golden about homeoprophylaxis. I was confident Golden would pull off a pleasant well meaning presence and equally confident Floreani would flounder and fall. As it turned out he never arrived, leaving Golden to retrace the tired old footsteps he’s been doing for years all by himself.

There’s a few things that I found novel. Golden was quick to label the Cuban homeopathic immunisation study (see video above) as “an intervention”, not a trial. This in one swipe silenced many a prepared question including my own over how the “immunised” demographic returned to levels of Leptospirosis infection similar to those found elsewhere in Cuba (non “immunised”). The “intervention”, which is quoted by homeopaths as hard evidence of efficacy is often criticised for poor methodology, lacking a control group and inexplicably failing to randomise subjects.

So by renaming it an “intervention” Golden could proclaim to have “evidence” and dismiss questions raised about its veracity being flawed due to poor trial practice. Throughout the “intervention” paper the rest of Cuba (RC) is presented where and how a control would normally be presented in a trial. Defenders of the caper point to RC as a quasi-control when it suits the need to convey comparative difference. Thus, Isaac has invented a nifty escape clause from defending poor methodology.

Another point (in fact an inexcusable failing) was Golden’s inability to address what is at once one of the least complex problems, but perhaps the most important. The entire Cuban scam is not Hahnemannian homeopathy. By no means am I the first to note this. It’s more of what I call Supercalifragilistichomeoprophylaxis.

During the evening Isaac Golden made much of remaining true to Samuel Hahnemann’s Law of Similars and Law of Infinitesimals. The Law of Similars is sometimes known as “like cures like” and states that a mother tincture should be made from a substance which produces symptoms similar to that produced by the disease.

Yet in the Cuban study they used four dead – completely inactive – strains of Leptospira bacteria to make the mother tincture. The paper refers to “highly-diluted strains of inactivated leptospiras”. However the paper title is, Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Plainly that is misleading in itself.

So I pointed out to Isaac that in view of his insistence upon the law of similars, and noting that the Cuban mother tincture didn’t contain a substance that could produce any symptom like those experienced with leptospirosis (the bacteria were always dead), he had a problem. Confident, he responded that no, it’s not like a traditional vaccine.

Another audience member ran it by him again. Isaac was confused. Ken Harvey explained the problem also. Then I spelled out the obvious. Without the Law of Similars, there’s no Law of Infinitesimals. But he didn’t hear. Clearly stumped, his mind was cranking over. Eventually he produced the claim that the dead bacteria still had the “energy shape” or “energy signature” and were thus still viable. Quickly he turned and selected another questioner.

I was delighted. Isaac Golden had just told me an “energy shape” could produce similar symptoms to live bacteria. But even better, he’d made it up on the spot. After earlier signing his name to the Law of Similars, he then denied its necessity. I still wanted to press the point as this excuse couldn’t explain the “blood, puss, discharge, urine, flesh, causal organisms…”, and other organic goo used in highly dilute nosodes.

No Law of Infinitesimals either with no Similars. We never really made it to discuss that point. But I already had my answer in that he had no answer. For the record, the beaker for the most dilute agent was washed out 9,999 times. On the 10,000th refill it was called a homeopathic immunising agent. That’s not highly diluted – that’s washed away. The less potent (less dilute) was washed out 199 times.

It was Supercalifragilistichomeoprophylaxis if ever I’d seen it. Remember dear reader a nosode is a homeopathic dose. Golden had earlier used the term. Its definition – in this case – demands “causal organisms”. Energy shape just didn’t make it. The audience member who helped Isaac understand wrote, “Get out of jail free” on his notepad and slid it my way. I had to agree. We know homeopaths make it up as they go along, but it was really nice to be there to see that actually happen.

It was truly a Golden moment.

Other points deserve a mention. Already referring patients to conventional doctors, Isaac came across as keen to extend conventional connections and is striving to make something of a research base. He does not entertain the “us and them” combative mindset of the Monika Milka’s and anti-vaxxer types we know and love, and appeared genuinely keen to reciprocate with bilateral trials. One concern was his allusion to conspiracies, when it was pointed out that if efficacy was truly and constantly demonstrable that widespread use and marketing would already be apparent.

One couldn’t miss however that the totality of discourse and questioning was biased toward examining the claims made by Isaac. He did after all kick off by stressing he heals the “entire person”. This means mental, physical, personal, spiritual and probably “quantumal” for all I know. This was “natural medicine” to Isaac. Getting the human healing abilities to function on these levels.

We were promised lots of evidence but regrettably a few excuses related to third parties were raised. Aside from the Cuban standard, Isaac brought in the Swiss “study”. Written by pro-complementary medicine interests for governmental review and favouring popular demand it was a poor choice as the material is known to be highly selective in favour of homeopathy. Isaac appealed to popularity and use as equating to efficacy a number of times.

Dr. Stephen Basser’s deconstruction of why homeopathy is so widely used, sought after and applied by medical professionals was excellent. It highlighted the factors outside of efficacy that drive uptake and continued use of demonstrably non efficacious options. Patient request or demand, choice of placebo, doctors’ role in monitoring complex patients, marketing, what it’s actually used for and the context of these figures.

I’ve noted here before how chiropractors boast how many Aussies per day use chiropractic – after signing them into treatment contracts. Purchasing 100 doses of a homeopathic preparation doesn’t support it being entirely used. Nor do uptake figures represent clearly articulated failures – and dissatisfaction. What is regular? What is novel or first time? And so on. In short there is no association between popularity and efficacy. Or between demand and documented efficacy.

Ken harvey brought up the point I’d have guessed most would have asked at question time. Golden claims to have completed his PhD successfully in homeopathic immunisation. In Golden’s abstract we read:

The effectiveness of the program could not be established with statistical certainty given the limited sample size and the low probability of acquiring an infectious disease.

This didn’t stop Golden from then claiming:

However, a possible level of effectiveness of 90.3% was identified subject to specified limitations. Further research to confirm the effectiveness of the program is justified.

Despite defending the semantics on the night, it’s clear this air guitar of a PhD has only mused over a possibility.

One thing agreed on at the beginning was to not discuss the mechanisms of homeopathy. In other words, to avoid raising the fact it is physically impossible. This did allow the discussion to move forward. In essence, Golden was awarded a huge concession with respect to reality. Something of a microcosm of the larger homeopathic industry perhaps.

All up it was an interesting night given that no new evidence popped up to support homeopathy. Like many homeopaths Isaac really believes in it.

He just needs to conclude that ones belief is not truth.

Meryl Dorey’s Great “Compulsory Vaccination” Swindle

Your donation to the AVN will help support freedom of vaccination choice and oppose compulsory vaccination in Australia!

Meryl Dorey 30th April 2012

Only 12 days after the AVN had its Charitable Fundraising Authority reinstated we found the very same old scams waiting to greet us.

We can trace this trick right back to early editions of the AVN’s “Doing The Rounds” newsletter. This screenshot from February 2007, hassling members for money could have been lifted from Meryl’s most recent Facebook plea.

The next month Dorey had been “meeting with our barrister in Lismore” about how to “approach this huge injustice”. Oh… and send more money!

Don’t you just love the manufactured urgency. “Frantically busy… phone calls… nursing students, medical students and hospital workers who are all up in arms because of the mandatory vaccinations….”. 

Before you could say, “Mandatory Donation”, it’s May 2007 and we read, “Mandatory vaccination for all is on our doorstep”, and “Urgent Funds” are needed (min. $2,000) to stop mandatory vaccination of girls with HPV vaccine. Meryl breathlessly tells us:

Yesterday I was told by a trusted media contact that NSW health is considering taking away the right for parents to refuse this vaccine (HPV). As many of you would know, this is exactly what we predicted would happen once vaccination became mandatory for health care workers.

Arguably, in 5 years the only constant in Meryl Dorey’s noble quest to slay the Demon-spawn policy that threatens health workers and patients with protection from vaccine preventable disease has been the flow of cash into the AVN Black Hole. More to the point Meryl takes this message on the road to her “seminars” at which psyched up Earth Mother Moonbeam types throw cash into the AVN donation tin. In the past what happened to this money? It vanished. March 2008:

From Inverell Forum March 2008

Of course we don’t need to get overheated. Surely Meryl is sticking to the facts here. It’s only about health workers facing a requirement to be vaccinated if employed in certain areas, right? Besides we can check a recent newspaper article that just happens to deal with those who argue Meryl is committing fraud.

The AVN is appealing for donations to help oppose compulsory vaccination in Australia.

SAVN claims that appealing for and collecting donations for a government policy which does not exist constitutes fraud.

In response Ms Dorey accused SAVN of libel, claiming vaccination in Australia was compulsory.

“There is compulsory vaccination in Australia. It exists for health professionals,” Ms Dorey said.

Hmmm. Fair point. It is only for health workers. On the other hand there’s not much to draw the eye of the donor to “health professionals”, in the tweet above or the slide used in her “seminars”. One could conceivably be misled. Particularly with the overarching urgency that YOU must do something. Perhaps Meryl clears this up in subsequent slides?

Ooops. That was 4 years and 3 months ago. Let’s tally up shall we?

Total correct: Zero.

It appears that an excessive amount of time is spent scaring the public about non-existent policies. Sure, Meryl can plead it’s only existing vaccination mandates in her sights. Yet the premises upon which an inducement to donate is made are what’s important here. Stop The AVN seem to have a very strong case.

Meryl also argues that vaccination of health workers places patients at risk of infection from the vaccinated staff. No evidence is ever provided to qualify or quantify these statements. Meryl also ignores that the health of nurses, doctors, assistants and other staff who qualify for vaccination is also of the highest importance to Occupational Health and Safety.

Let’s examine this notion of vaccinated staff spreading “infection”. Cases in which immunity wanes, such as influenza and pertussis, conceivably qualify for Meryl’s shocking third point above. Staff fully vaccinated against influenza may still contract another virus or a strain not present in a seasonal vaccine. Here also we can point to the doomsday scenario in red above. But quantify these rare events and they have no measurable impact. More so the word “infection” is generic.

So let’s say a health worker receives the influenza shot yet catches another viral infection or a rare influenza strain not in the vaccine. If passed on to a patient it’s likely this will be identified in short time. Or pertussis. A health worker boosted with acellular pertussis varieties may contract and pass on a weakened “strain” not present in the vaccine, producing mild symptoms in a patient. This would also be identified.

Has the vaccine caused this transfer? No. Is it in any way responsible for the transfer? No. But Meryl wants her audience to believe vaccinated staff will make unvaccinated patients sick. Vaccinating staff against influenza has been shown to halve patient mortality, according to studies well before Dorey drew up these slides. Clearly Dorey is misleading her audience to create a fallacious impression of a life saving policy.

Unvaccinated staff are required to wear masks, refrain from situations of potential infection and strictly adhere to international standards of infection control. I doubt sincerely there are no cases of unvaccinated staff spreading disease. Exactly how Dorey can make this claim remains a mystery.

One of the most sickening scams I’ve seen Meryl pull – and there have been many – is in the slide below. No NSW nurses are threatened with job loss. There is no record of this incident (or anything like it), and when challenged for source material Ms. Dorey could produce none. It does seem to be an entire fabrication.

Why didn’t Meryl cite this tragedy to the Northern Star 19 days ago? A good question indeed.

An even better question however is what would Meryl like to say about her comment during the proposed American Airlines audio-visual Executive Report? Meryl appears to be strongly denying she is seeking donations to prevent compulsory vaccination for anyone other than health workers. So, this audio transcript is seemingly out of synch’ [bold mine]:

Interviewer: The debate over vaccinations has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years as questions have been raised regarding the safety of compulsory vaccines. And joining us now to give her view is Meryl Dorey. […]

Meryl: Well, vaccination is a medical procedure and it carries with it risks and benefits. So parents need to be aware of all of the information. We need to have real access to information and vaccination should never be compulsory because it is not 100% safe, and no government has the right to say “you have to put your child’s health at risk because we have made this procedure compulsory”.

Ooops. Not much ambiguity there. Not so much as a nurses roster sheet floating on the breeze. That firms Stop The AVN’s argument that Meryl is seeking donations for non-existent policies or imminent policy changes. In fact the clincher here is what Meryl doesn’t say when placed on the spot. The above out-take is quite clear and the interview finishes with a referral to the AVN website.

Let’s tie a couple of loose threads together by hopping around a bit. Up above Dorey warns fictionally of “exactly what we predicted would happen once vaccination became mandatory for health care workers”, suggesting the same is about to happen to schoolgirls with HPV vaccine. Interestingly enough these predictions about mandatory vaccination pop up here and there. Here’s one from July 2009 at the height of the H1N1 vaccination is a plot to cull humanity hysteria, that could rightly be said to instill great unease in the gullible.

Now, lets nick back to May 2007 again. In this case a nurse decides to donate her NSW Nurses Association membership fee to the AVN because, as Meryl says:

After all, we are the ones who are helping nurses (and doctors, and physiotherapists, and everyone else who works in hospitals and is going to school to train in one of these areas) so she felt that we deserved her support as well. Thank you for that and if anyone else out there would like to do the same, that would be wonderful!

My favourite piece is actually the second paragraph. Meryl claims to have lobbied Federal Government to ensure vaccine objectors continue to receive certain allowances including the Maternity Immunisation Allowance. It’s a bogus claim of course, but Meryl seizes the moment to argue that kind donors have given their allowance to The AVN because without the AVN they wouldn’t get this or the Childcare Benefit.

Then 2 1/2 years later, in October 2009, we get a very similar combination. Meryl has been overrun with nurses suffering the horror of vaccination, cruelly ignored by colleagues. She recounts this, then presents the option of Pain Free Fundraising. Once again, some kind donor suggested handing over to Meryl their Maternity Immunisation Allowance which, without the AVN lobbying away in Canberra, they wouldn’t have. And nor would they have the Childcare Benefit either. Amazing how history repeats is it not?

I’d say it’s a safe bet the AVN will continue to maintain the momentum on imminent sabotage of civil and health rights as a means to make money. Just the right amount of fear, calculated misinformation and restrictions on the truth should work out to be a nice little earner.

They are after all, rather good at it.

Essential addition to understanding the importance of keeping up pertussis vaccination/s and not succumbing to antivax fear mongering. Remember, whilst only 5% of children are not vaccinated against pertussis they make up close to 30% of infections.

And that’s on top of being up to four times less likely to visit a conventional doctor and be diagnosed in the first place!

The LymphoSite

Before reading this post be aware that as of April 2014 we now know that Australian strains of B. pertussis have largely lost expression of the protein whose variation is a key feature of this piece. An explanation of that study can be found here.


Whooping cough is a potentially deadly infectious disease. While vaccination against it has managed to significantly reduce the incidence of the disease, it still remains a global presence.

Recent coverage in the mainstream media and from anti-vaccine proponents has suggested that the whooping cough bacterium has evolved around the current acellular vaccine. Such reports occurred following publication of a paper attributing over 80% of Australian cases to a new strain apparently not well covered by the vaccine.

This review analyses these claims. Careful examination of the current literature indicates that while the bacterium’s genome does appear to have changed in response to…

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