‘Wellness Warrior’ Jessica Ainscough dies from cancer

Comparing the eternally positive reflections of Jessica Ainscough with the reality of her recent passing from epithelioid sarcoma just two days ago, one cannot help feel somewhat disturbed. The ABC website has a leading description of Jessica’s struggle;

When initial mainstream cancer treatment didn’t work, one woman chose alternative methods that offer a different perspective on health and wellbeing.

Jessica initially underwent isolated limb perfusion. Her left upper limb was treated with chemotherapy. Initial signs were positive but within a year or so her tumor had returned. The surgical option she then faced involved amputation of not just her arm but the shoulder also. This disfiguring alternative may have offered some hope and Orac writes that before the choice of perfusion arose, Jessica may have been preparing herself to face the surgical option [2]. Ultimately she didn’t decide on surgery. A disturbing cornucopia of woo, “positive affirmations”, “cancer thriving”, coffee enemas, “the tribe”, etc… and surrendering to what the universe had in store led to The Wellness Warrior. Jessica also took on promoting the widely discredited quackery known as Gerson Therapy with gusto. You can read what Cancer Council Australia write about Gerson, and also check some citations here. This summary is from an article in today’s news.com.au;

Australia’s leading cancer organisations do not endorse Gerson therapy as a means of treating cancer. The National Cancer Institute says: “Because no prospective, controlled study of the use of the Gerson therapy in cancer patients has been reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, no level of evidence analysis is possible for this approach. “The data that are available are not sufficient to warrant claims that the Gerson therapy is effective as an adjuvant to other cancer therapies or as a cure. At this time, the use of the Gerson therapy in the treatment of cancer patients cannot be recommended outside the context of well-designed clinical trials. Cancer Australia says there is “little evidence” that alternative therapies are effective in cancer treatment. “Most have not been assessed for efficacy in randomised clinical trials, though some have been examined and found to be ineffective.” If you’d like to know more about cancer treatment in Australia, visit cancer.org.au or call 13 11 20.

The scale of denial Aiscough was in for so many years comes across in her piece published on ABC’s The Drum website. Eg;

How have I managed to escape the frail, sickly appearance that is so firmly stamped on the ‘cancer patient’ stereotype? I refused to follow the doctor’s orders. […] Our bodies are designed to heal themselves. It is really that simple. Our bodies don’t want to die. […] This is the basis of natural cancer-fighting regimes. While conventional treatment is hell bent on attacking the site of the disease and destroying tumors with drugs, radiation and surgery, the natural approach aims to treat the body as a whole. […] This stuff isn’t new. Reading Plato shows that holistic modalities have been understood for centuries: “You ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul… […] …I will spend three weeks being treated at the Gerson Clinic. The basis of the Gerson Therapy is a diet, which includes eating only organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking 13 glasses of freshly squeezed juice per day in hourly intervals. The idea is to strengthen the immune system and load you up with heaps of minerals, enzymes, beta-carotene, Vitamins A and C, and other antioxidants that attack free radicals and ultimately the cancer.  According to the late Dr Max Gerson, if you can stick to the strict regime for a minimum of two years, Gerson Therapy has the ability to cure cancer like no drug can. Alternative treatments like Gawler and Gerson offer patients hope, choice and understanding. They also offer them a cure, not just remission. To me, that sounds like the much more attractive option.

The Cancer Council of Victoria has some great advice on the topic, “How will I know if claims of a cure are false?”. On page 39 of this booklet they note that the dishonest and unethical may;

  • Try to convince you your cancer has been caused by a poor diet or stress: they will claim they can treat you or cure your cancer with a special diet
  • Promise a cure – or to detoxify, purify or revitalise your body. There will be quick dramatic and wonderful results – a miracle cure
  • Use untrustworthy claims to back up their results rather than scientific-based evidence from clinical trials. They may even list references. But if you look deeper these references may be false, nonexistent, irrelevant, based on poorly designed research and out of date
  • Warn you that medical professionals are hiding “the real cure for cancer” and not to trust your doctor
  • Display credentials not recognised by reputable scientists and health professionals

Comparing Jessica’s beliefs and a small amount of advice from Cancer Council (Victoria) indicates Ainscough was entertaining a range of dangerous ideas about what both caused and might treat or even “cure” her cancer. Plainly the Cancer Council would reject Gerson Therapy based on its major traits. Tragically Jessica’s mother died from breast cancer after following her into trusting the disproved belief system. Orac writes in October 2013;

From what I can gather, it is the story of a death from quackery, a death that didn’t have to occur. Even worse than that, it appears to be a death facilitated by the daughter of the deceased, a woman named Jessica Ainscough, who bills herself as the “Wellness Warrior.” It’s a horrifying story, the story of a woman who followed her daughter’s lead and put her faith in the quackery known as the Gerson therapy.

An excellent blog is The View From The Hills by Rosalie Hilleman. It is an excellent examination – through postulation, questioning and evidence – of Jessica’s extensive deception and manipulation of her readers in order to maintain two illusions. One being that Gerson offers some efficacy. The second being that Jessica’s epithelioid sarcoma was not progressing with the morbidity expected for that condition diagnosed at the time it was.

EDIT: Jessica insisted she was “thriving”. Readers could easily be left with the impression that Gerson Therapy is effective. All the more because most don’t associate “cancer” with the bright, positive Jessica. This is why questions raised in The View From The Hills were and are so necessary. Gerson was actually doing nothing. In reality her cancer was markedly indolent – very slow to progress.

But it was progressing. It always was. Clinically, just as cancer of this type does progress. And now like her mother, Jessica Ainscough has died from cancer.

JessAinscough

One ring to rule them all… revisited

On April 2nd 2009 I wrote a post about a scam product claiming to stop snoring by stimulating acupressure points.

One ring to rule them all… looked at the AntiSnor “acupressure… modern miracle” that could boast of 140,000 satisfied customers. The post originated on the Atheist Age blog and fortunately attracted some comments from a David E. Woodley.

According to David there were some conflicting details about the ring’s inventor John R. Woodley – David’s father and, “our greedy and selfish and underhanded little brother John V. Woodley” or ‘Golum’ as he is affectionately called by family members these days”. This had led to two separate stories as to how the power of this ring was discovered circulating in the public domain.

golum_snor1annotatedOne story was that John Woodley, aka Golum had made the ring in an attempt to find pain relief following a car accident. The other story was that John Woodley Snr. had made the ring for his wife. She was heading to hospital and needed to control embarrassing snoring.

Clearly a magic ring was in order.

That I’d chosen the title, “One ring to rule them all…” and then found out later that he who coveted ownership of The Precious was nicknamed “Golum”, was indeed delightful. Or perhaps testimony to the limits of my imagination.

Since the post was written, the ACCC published a media release. On March 25th, 2010 they wrote in part;

Misleading advertising claims about an alleged anti-snoring ring have been withdrawn by the manufacturer and supplier after Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervention.

More than 200,000 consumers worldwide are understood to have sought relief from the Anti Snor Therapeutic Ring which the supplier, ATQOL Pty Ltd, claimed used acupressure to stop a person from snoring and provide a relief from sinus, restless sleep and insomnia.

The ring was sold at most major chemist and health store chains in Australia and promoted through national television advertising and the company’s website.

Additionally, the company’s website, www.nosnor.com, claimed the ring had a ‘proven history of successful drug free treatment of snoring’ and was ‘Tested and recommended by a Physician’.

The ACCC raised concerns that these claims were likely to mislead consumers to believe that the product had proven medical outcomes in treating snoring, sinus, restless sleep and insomnia when this was not so.

antisnor ring

AntiSnor: Purportedly the two impressions place pressure on acupressure points on the inside of the finger and thus relieve snoring

It was claimed in 2009 that this modern miracle works because the little bumps apply pressure on key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. The two prongs on the inside of the Antisnor Therapeutic Ring press on the heart meridian and the sterling silver metal also gives energy to this channel. Wearing the ring increases energy flow to what is referred to as the upper jiao, which contains the heart and lungs. This allows for improved breathing, which leads to the cessation of snoring”.

Yes. The ACCC were onto something to be sure. Pharmacy News confirmed that the manufacturers of the “deceptive” One Ring had complied.

Time has passed.

In 2011 Choice listed AntiSnor amongst “quack” health products pharmacies sell.

A year ago Choice included AntiSnor amongst it’s collation of dubious pharmacy-sold products.

The website now lists results and a conclusion from a purported 2012 clinical trial, conducted in France by Proclaim. Under the heading, The ACCC and AntiSnor acupressure ring it is no surprise that we read, “ATQOL first developed an innovative natural therapy product in 1999, based on nerve point stimulation and the ancient Chinese practice of acupressure. After being approached by the ACCC in 2009, we began scientific research into Western medical reasoning behind why this product is so effective. This lead to conducting an independent Clinical Trial performed in France with alarmingly positive results.”

It continues with some Peacock terminology;

Clinical trials concluded in 2012 conducted by PROCLAIM ( France ) supervised by Sonia Guillou ( Study Director) Lydie Guiard (Technician) and Dr Mathilde Rauch ( Pulmonologist Specialist)
2009 , Registered in Germany (DIMDI) Class 1 medical device for Acupressure Snoring Device ( UMDNS Reg; DE/CA67/53.2-2678.400/102 )
Registered with the Australian TGA (184173)
After a two year filing process in 2012 the ANTISNOR Ring was given an exemption snoring device sold over the counter by the USA FDA.

So now the AntiSnor acupressure/reflexology ring has a proud website boasting on the home page:

antisnor_home page

A visit to the site confirms that the registration of TGA listed products in Australia still benefits the sponsor of these products more than consumers. Despite the fact that testimonials are not evidence and there is no evidence of a control group – or indeed the much touted study itself – readers are informed this very same product is now “clinically proven” to reduce snoring. Somehow it even involves “modern medical technology”. The link to “articles” takes readers to blurbs crafted to support the logic of an “acupressure” ring.

We’re also informed, “Our website may contain links to other websites “ONLY” operated by ATQOL Pty Ltd”. And the study is condensed to this bar graph based on participant answers:

sleep quality

Whilst the study may be absent, there is a “conclusion”:

The report concludes that “77% of the spouses and 80% of the snorers were satisfied with the anti-snoring ring” (page 25) and that … “the anti-snoring ring … tested under the supervision of a pulmonologist doctor by 30 couples, was effective in reducing snoring and improving the sleep quality of the snorer and his spouse” (page 25)

Presently the ring remains on sale in Australian pharmacies and consumers are offered testimonials as evidence of efficacy.

“Deal or Dud” judges AntiSnor

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.

The Age of Hilarious: Reflections on the growing anti-science movement

When I was a kid, my mum had a sure way of finding out what we meant when describing something as “funny”.

“Funny Ha Ha or funny strange?”, she’d ask, and when suitably availed of an answer could turn her attention to following whatever enormously important point kids tend to make. Looking around today however, “funny strange” is thoroughly outdone by the eerie normality with which faith and belief in demonstrable and dangerous fallacies pass us by.

Using “funny” as our proxy description of weirdness, one may consider the present day feverishness with which cognitive bias is clung to, literally hilarious. In what passes for our first generation and more to have lived in the Space Age, there is an abundance of not just unscientific, but viciously anti-scientific beliefs to choose from. So ubiquitous, so easily tolerated, so poorly regulated is this tsunami of irrationality that one cannot miss that we live now in a new age of hilarious ritual and superstition.

In this Age of Hilarious there are some undeniable and durable trends. From hip healers, to AIDS denial, to scheming chiropractors, to cancer cures, to creationist museums to vaccine denial merchants and even the screaming lunacy of the freedom and conspiracy lovers, one enemy glues them together. Science. Without rattling off the volumes of anti-science movements – many of whom claim to be immersed in science – the same thought justification applies. Science is bad, evil, unnatural, open to unwholesome thinking, an unwelcome intruder upon the family, upon motherhood and upon health.

It’s agents are intent on hiding the truth and in exploiting our species. It has destroyed the planet and wants to destroy us. It has permeated so much of our lives that to those worshipping in the Age of Hilarious it’s axiomatic as to how malignant Science is. To use Science – or something tainted with it’s touch – in thinking or in decision making draws mockery and derision is many circles. It is at once corrupt and the vehicle for the corrupt to continue their corruption. Nonsense has become normal to the point where presenting facts earns inane insults. From Pharma shill in citing undeniable facts on vaccination to Zionist or Jew Boy for querying the logic of 9/11 as an inside job.

Yet despite the pointy ends of these beliefs, the hub from which it all comes probably tells us much about human nature. Those who embark on evidence denial often challenge critics or defend their illogical meandering with the unwarranted observation that Science doesn’t know everything… it can be wrong… the universe is infinite… there’s more to discover… I say “unwarranted” criticism, because no-one knows this better than those who understand science. Nothing else adheres to these observations as strict rules but the Scientific method itself.

I tend to hear this challenge more as a plea. Those who deny evidence with little thought hold to an ideology wherein they want to live in a mysterious universe. Alienated by the ordinary and mundane everyday explanations and foregone conclusions in the Age of Hilarious, they have essentially no notion that so much of what we take for granted now, was once never so. Perhaps a total mystery, a brutal fact of nature, an expensive time wasting ritual of ignorance or a serendipitous discovery.

Today there are so many millions living with so much explanation that the human needs for mystery, discovery or the urge to conquer intellectual fulfillment must certainly go unrealised. Is it so unusual then that an instinctive response may be to create the “unknown” or perhaps do this by denying what is known? To use the term conveniently, if we accept that humans have spiritual needs, nothing defines the denial of evidence and advancement of belief via ignorance better than the Creationist/Intelligent Design movement.

Finally the dots linking Science to Satan were joined. The Discovery Institute’s “anti-evolution” Wedge Strategy for “renewal of science and culture” begins with the breath taking lie:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Apart from it’s beaming intellectual revulsion, what strikes me most about the Wedge Strategy is it’s timing. Ideas from The Enlightenment (1650-1790) helped shape the most famous democratic documents in history. The intellectual forces it released have sustained reason and humanity above many attempts to counter Enlightenment philosophies. Although intellectual resistance began as early as 1800 the Industrial Revolution had already seen science secure it’s place as indispensable. After the two World Wars of the 20th century, then the Cold War, and the control of polio, science and democratic rights eventually opened the way for the quality of life that provided the luxury to be… well, stupid.

The timing was perfect to have Creationism – later renamed Intelligent Design – introduced as a new scientific area. Or rather, as ancient myths brought to life under the authoritative and credulous banner of Science. Thanks to godless communism and Billy Graham, Pentecostal, Baptist and Evangelical movements were well established. Biblical literalism was (and is) quite absurd but it did not want for believers. At the same time, the space race and the Apollo 11 moon landing succeeded in opening our eyes to new scientific wonders and understanding.

Punctuating this clash, and now forever in history, is the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast of 1968. The first astronauts to orbit the moon took turns to read from the book of Genesis, sending lunar images back to Earth.

By the time the sexual revolution and self discovery of the 1960’s and 70’s had passed, traditional religion offered cold, boring irrelevance. Confidence in mystery, cosmic wonder and supernatural interference had been blasted with knowledge, understanding and explanation. Faith was no longer a noble virtue. It was the absence of evidence and reason. Rather than a scattering of giant intellects condemning the folly of belief, it was an established widespread fact. Even worse the damage and perversion linked to religions was becomming manifest.

Science continued to do amazing things, spitting out new disciplines and knowledge as computer power took it’s place. Medical science wiped out smallpox in developing nations and extended the human lifespan in developed nations. Alien abductees and spoon benders were being challenged by these chaps known as Skeptics, but it was soon clear a new irrationality had taken root. Suddenly Noah’s Ark was discovered. Then again and again. The Age of Hilarious was upon us.

The ever increasing “natural” alternatives to medicine demanded more respect. Unable to provide evidence to back claims, denial of evidence and attacks on science began. Faith and high risk belief once again offered noble qualities. The alienated could belong. The challenge of ones character that led to such horrors during the middle ages: “How strong is your faith?”, underscored the rising anti-vaccination movement and it’s many “healing” cousins that in truth, do nothing but delay healing.

On another level the lessons learned from Intelligent Design proponents were being employed deftly by both climate change denialists and those with a vested interest in discrediting climate science. Except in this broadband age the change around from acceptance to denial occurred at breath taking speed. They too have their own “science” – a Global Warming Curriculum designed to undermine genuine science. Rather than the Discovery Institute befouling evolution and biology it’s the Heartland Institute generously funding a violent attack on climate science.

These factors aside the sheer numbers of people that now reject climate change, their high priests and the well established conspiracy language used is compelling stuff. Certainly it resonates well with anti-Enlightenment identities like Miranda Devine, products of The Age of Hilarious, who proceed to damage the field of discourse irreparably. So rigid are her anti-climate devotees a great number sprang to her defence when she blamed the London riots on equal rights and same sex union. The woman writes predetermined right wing vengeance, yet “great piece”, “wonderful article”, “blah blah”, flow across Twitter regardless of topic, as she insults critics with her baton of misplaced importance.

There are the Creationists who speak of climate science in the same tone I speak of war crimes. To confuse the mix other enemies of reason accept climate science not because they have the skill to choose a valid source, but because they are beholden to their misconception of “natural”. Yet far from potential allies in managing the fallout from climate change they contribute to delayed action on their own field of play. Destruction of GM crops. Misguided animal rights. Spreading misinformation about vaccination as a means to population control. It’s not smaller healthier and wealthier families they see emerging to bring developing nations out of poverty. It’s “human culling” via vaccine.

A common factor in all beliefs held by enemies of reason in the Age of Hilarious is the misconception of “research” and “conclusion”. We hear this with so many pseudo-scientific endeavours and particularly with climate denial and vaccine denial. People claim to have spent time researching vaccines, for example, only to follow on with the “conclusion” it’s best not to vaccinate their children. Yet whatever they have read has all the accuracy of that which leads others to deny evolution announcing, “If we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys around today?”. Or to quote Kent Hovind, he hasn’t seen “a squirrel give birth to a pine cone… a dog give birth to a non dog”.

Vaccine denial relies on the towering ignorance of the over-confident or the thunderous immorality of the callous and cunning. One can accept that it is surely impossible to properly study immunology and that they must trust the scientific consensus. Or alternatively one can crave the nobility of faith, the piety of belief and insist on not being “a sheep”. In truth no amount of reading without evaluation and practice justifies the often heard claims of superior intelligence.

It’s here we need the Dunning-Kruger effect. Rational Wiki describe it briefly and in brutal accuracy:

The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when incompetent people not only fail to realise their incompetence, but consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. Basically – they’re too stupid to know that they’re stupid

Complicating this further is the in-group thinking that accompanies the anti-science crowds. Consider the Chiropractic Association of Australia. The Australian Homeopathic Association. The Australian Vaccination Network and other organised conspiracy movements. All these groups and many more exhibit a lack of any skill to discern the value of information. Ideology and belief is what drives them. Today, claimed intelligence and the accumulation of knowledge do not make for good decision making.

The sheer volume of information means we are better served by developing the skill to choose what sources to trust. Though I imagine for some they are at an extreme disadvantage. The constant urge for intellectual risk in the supposed realm of the unknown, once served by genuine mysteries, is a cognitive detriment. Hearing someone like Meryl Dorey talk, sets off warning bells like reading a scam Nigerian email offering me untold wealth in the worst grammar possible. Yet for others she is the cult figure that completes the circle of irrational belief.

It seems we develop intellectual tools in the absence of any skill to use them. No doubt that goes for all of us and highlights the importance of critical thinking. Vaccine denial appears in many cases to be justified by stories of cognitive dissonance that are resolved to an eventual cognitive bias which is then fed to the point of a splendid Dunning-Kruger effect. Intellectually the inability to use certain tools most often results in failed comprehension. But combined with the inability to gauge risk the anti-vaccine movement is overseeing a resurgence of disease. Consider this comment approved by Meryl Dorey on The Australian Vaccination Network Facebook page.

Inability to understand risk-benefit is a feature of The Age of Hilarious

The developing world is for those of us in the Age of Hilarious much like where a time machine would take us if we went backward and forward to gather information of vaccine preventable disease (VPD). Today, one child dies every 20 seconds from a VPD. Pneumonia and diarrhea are the biggest killers in developing nations whilst these are prevented by Pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines. As the AVN’s Judy Wilyman rails against the HPV vaccine, dismissively citing developed nation levels of cervical cancer the reality is 270,000 women die of HPV related causes annually – 85% in developing nations.

The smallpox vaccine saves $1.3 billion annually – 10 times the cost of the original program. Typhoid kills 200-600,000 per year and in developing nations congenital rubella syndrome still claims 90,000 lives annually. The cost to a family of a disabled child or adult often combined with the loss of a mother is to us, incomprehensible. Vaccination allows for improved health and growth. Children go on to attend and finish school. They contribute to family life and when eventually employed raise the family income to levels usually not dreamed of.

The more children vaccinated the more that live and the more that live the less that must be “produced” by parents to compete with the present law of attrition. In countries with high VPD one doesn’t expect to see children grow. Rather one hopes against the odds enough will grow to sustain a bearable quality of life for the family. With vaccination quality of life improves dramatically. Families, villages, districts and even nations can be pulled from poverty.

The GAVI Alliance – previously Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation – fund 97% of pneumococcal vaccination in developing nations. In the last decade they have pushed hepatitis B vaccination in China above that in Australia and placed a virtual halt on liver cancer.

Yet comfortable in their scientifically endowed lives, fully vaccinated as children and content with two kids, vaccine denialists in developed nations insist the reduction in family numbers and misery is planned genocide. They ridicule charities and sabotage attempts to raise money for, or educate about, the success of vaccination in less fortunate nations, as yet free from the Age of Hilarious. Which raises the question: what are they free from?

A typical example is that recently Mia Freedman wrote an article about the self appointed experts of the anti-vaccine movement. Mia shreds the AVN ticking all the boxes about their false “choice”, the farcical name, the pretend expertise… in fact the truth. One quote I like which applies because the benefits of vaccines are irrefutable is, “In fact there aren’t two sides and there is no debate. On one hand there is science and there is no other hand.”

Dorey went berserk, summoned her flying monkeys and actually had them writing to Mia “from the other side”. The attacks were typical. “What a bl**dy parasitic moron journalist!” commented one. Her article was likened to eugenics, she was a moron, and idiot. She was an ignorant douchebag, rude, self-righteous, uneducated and hateful…. One can only imagine the emails out of the public eye.

Mia tweeted:

To which Dorey shot back “What threats? How about listening to parents of vaccine damaged kids to learn about the other side if (sic) vaccination? YES-2 sides!”. Which is terribly ironic as many have asked to see these crowds of vaccine damaged children that Dorey so liberally exploits. At the same time anyone presenting evidence was banned and their posts deleted – as usual. One member managed to remain leaving:

Mia writes engaging articles with compassion, empathy and humour. Many, many commenters on MM disagree with her position on many issues but as long as they’re not abusive, the comments stay. That’s why she has such a vast audience. You should try it, Meryl. You might find your audience grows instead of shrinking away and hiding on closed websites and Facebook pages.

And (to the author of the above Facebook comment – but not in response to that comment):

… why are you being so mean? You do realise that lots of people – genuinely curious people – will come to this page after reading Mia’s column? If I were you I’d be using the traffic to make a reasoned argument in a friendly forum. Mocking and insulting a well loved and popular writer (even if you disagree with her) is not doing your cause any good.

All in all it continued on for some time. I was riveted at how far the antivaccination movement – or is it just Dorey’s mob – had fallen. I could not find any arguments or attempts at discourse beyond vicious, wailing ad hominem abuse. Dorey wrote her usual scathing personal reply seeming to latch onto two sentences that distort Mia’s intent:

I’m certainly not suggesting we become a flock of sheep or suspend critical thought. But I don’t need to ‘do my research’ before I vaccinate.

Dorey used this to accuse her of being a sheep proffering, “Well duh! If you don’t do your research first Mia, may I suggest you open wide and say baaaaaaaaaa!”

But the full paragraph is clearer:

I’m certainly not suggesting we become a flock of sheep or suspend critical thought. But I don’t need to ‘do my research’ before I vaccinate. Or before I accept that the earth is round and that gravity exists. Scientists far smarter than me have already done that research and the verdict is unanimous, thanks.

Therein lies the impact of Mia’s article. Cries of “I’ve done my research” just don’t cut it with something as irrefutable as vaccination. From a safety viewpoint, it is open to abuse and argument less than regulation of the aviation industry. I would also argue, one needs the skill to discern a reputable source rather than embarking on piecemeal “research”. And in this Age of Hilarious it’s plain that Meryl Dorey is a source of dangerous nonsense.

To top it off Dorey made her seventh appearance on Friday at Conspiracy Central Airwaves aka Fairdinkum Radio. I’ve snipped 3 minutes of grabs below [or MP3 here]. It opens with Leon Pittard criticising science and the “technocracy” we’re moving into. It continues with Big Pharma terror then Dorey attacking Mia Freedman who “is a product of the governments health policy [which is] everyone must vaccinate and we need to fear and hate those who don’t do it”. That’s right dear reader – that’s government policy according to Dorey. Just like racism she contends.

Despite knowing the pertussis vaccine gives dubious immunity and no vaccine is infallible Dorey can’t seem to grasp Mia’s argument that an unvaccinated child is a risk to all Australians, vaccinated or not. Meryl should read this post from a mother whose vaccinated daughter caught pertussis from an unvaccinated child and three months later, “is prone to chest infections, pneumonia, and more susceptible to viruses and Influenza.”

In the same program Dorey again repeats the myth that no children died of pertussis in the ten years to 2009. Reasonable Hank deals with it splendidly. Why she keeps insulting her hosts and listeners like this I don’t really know, only to politely assume it’s linked to the pitfalls of cognitive bias above. Between 1993 – 2008, 16 children under 12 months died from pertussis. Dorey is well aware of this. And so her cult-like cycle of bald faced untruths continues.

French atheist, philosopher and author, Michel Onfray suggests the coming century will be the century of religion. He is probably right, but exactly what form the religions will take and what passes for belief and faith might be hard to recognise by it’s end. Consider Scientology for a salient example.

Whatever the case it seems that for a number of reasons from human psychology, to arrogance to simple power and profit the Age of Hilarious will persist for a while yet.

All I want for Christmas…

Shopping for Christmas presents is always a challenge. Particularly if you’re one of those kill joy skeptics, kneeling before the alter of Science.

With your calloused knees of course, goes that huge blackened heart that beats with excitement at the chance to “advise consumers” about the wonders your tiny minds can’t appreciate. Wonders that Quanto-kinetic physicists are labouring to explain this very minute. So out of tune is your harmonic resonance from complaining about cancer cures that don’t cure, power bands with no power, SensaSlim with no sense… or even slim for that matter, or Angelic Reiki with no… no… Angelic Reikism, that you greet each Christmas a sad and sorry critter.

Well I hoped you took your skeptic issue sensible clothes or grey beard and pot belly and walked yourself into a state of present hunting exhaustion in your optimal coefficient of friction shoes, you blinkered twat! Or whatever party pooping, fashion free, sensibly comfortable hoof covering stompers we enlightened ones may have the misfortune to look at. I suppose there’s even a coefficient of friction App. Just hold your phone up to some goofy shoe sole and Hey Presto! Evidence! Yeah well I hope you’re looking down at that geeky evidence when they spray neurotoxic chemtrails above poisoning our God given air and suppressing the inherent scalar energised enlightenment of mother nature.

Keeping us enslaved as fluoride drinking, vaccine shooting, TV zombie, medically drugged up cattle, fed lies about the aliens in control, the disease cures hidden away with the AIDS generator and the satellites tracking our every move. Frying our brains and destroying mood enhancing negative ions with full-on EMF pulses from so-called mobile “phone towers”. Oh, yeah idiot! Sure. If they pulled off Building 7, then they’ll try anything. Like the 7 signs of ageing that suppress immortality. The seven seals in the Book of Revelations, building seven and the seven signs of ageing, ya dumb skeptic! Coincidence? I think not.

You’re not even real skeptics. Real skeptics doubt everything! One minute you say science can’t explain everything in the universe. The next ya using science to explain something. Something in the universe! Wow. I mean… just wow. Pathetic. You should hear yourselves. Well I hope you kept funding Big Pharma to suppress the truth and keep us sick. Took your poor children to those allopaths with their mind controlling drugs and vaccines cut with iron filings that they shoot into the bloodstream straight into the brain.

I on the other hand, cannot be fooled. To prove it, here’s some of the presents I got for my friends and family for when they’re out of quarantine for diphtheria.

Past Life Regression Christmas Gift Voucher

For a mere $270 Australian each of these are a total bargain. It’s worth it because you can’t mess with this stuff. It says so right on the site. But best is that even you drop kick skeptics could benefit from it:

Past Life Regression is a highly specialised area and should not be attempted with anyone other than a trained therapist.

More recently, I have also completed training in Past Life and Quantum Healing with the ‘Grand Dame’ of Past Life Regression. Experience has shown that Past Life Therapy can be an extremely valuable form of healing – even if the subject does not believe in reincarnation.

I’ve seen it work many, many times and for me, seeing is believing.

Psychic Reading Gift Vouchers

One of the reasons the enlightened never listen to skeptics is because we already know what going to happen. Psychic reading is not limited by distance. Don’t believe me? Just ask any Psychic Reader goofy. For an absolute bargain again I could choose from $20, $50 or the most economical $95 vouchers.

Thetahealing – Scientifically Explained

Just to prove that science – at least real science – isn’t limited to people with access to laboratories or brain washing libraries I booked early and got 25% off for Christmas. If you aren’t convinced by the “scientific evidence” heading, or the Theta Tree which clearly shows a brain and neuronal axons for roots (I mean wow), here’s more explanation, that only a fool could doubt:

An overly simple explanation of the science behind ThetaHealing is to say that it is a method of applied quantum mechanics engineering. Despite how miraculous and mystical it may sound, the ThetaHealing alternative healing modalities are grounded in hard science – namely quantum physics and cutting edge consciousness research.
ThetaHealing produces measurable results, but the mechanism by which it works is at the present being uncovered by physicists.

Further more, there are collaborations being presently arranged to provide scientific analysis and study of the ThetaHealing technique to prove in solid, scientific terms how and why it workings. After all, there is a great quantity of anecdotes with supporting medical confirmation from ThetaHealing clients who have experienced dramatic healing from this Holistic Therapy Medicine.

Christmas Homeopathic Survival Kit

This baby speaks for itself. I’m sure you’d have to agree. But specifically you’re missing out on toxin and side effect free cures for Over-indulgence, Stress and Anxiety, Sleep problems, Anger and resentment and Colds. You miserable sods could benefit from just anger and resentment remedies.

Long Distance Animal Theta Healing and Reading

Again this one speaks for itself. Jesus was born in a stable surrounded by animals. It makes absolute sense that Christmas is the time to boost your animals happiness and wellbeing through long distance theta healing and aura reading. As we read above this is “grounded in hard science… quantum physics and cutting edge consciousness research”. It’s bordering on animal cruelty to not seize this opportunity. While there you might feel like a treat yourself. You missed the $162 saving at only $243, but at a mere $405 you can’t go past:

Theta Weight Loss Tactics Program. Release weight without changing your diet.

Long distance Skype sessions or in person in Sydney.

Japanese acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, massage & chiropractic

If ever there was a one stop shop this has gotta be it! Recovering from cancer treatment, poor sexual performance or just that nagging urge to induce labour? Wholistic Natural Medicine can treat it all. Here’s their list with their own emphasis:

  • headaches & migraines, lower back pain & sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis & osteoarthritis, fatigue, fibromyalgia, neuralgia
  • sprains & RSI (e.g. tennis elbow), TMJ dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, effects of stroke, Bell’s palsy, Meniere’s disease, earache & tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • cancer pain & side effects of cancer treatment, depression & anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress & stress related conditions, menstrual & menopausal problems
  • premenstrual syndrome & period pain, polycystic ovarian syndrome, female infertility & male sexual dysfunction, low sexual vitality
  • morning sickness, foetal malposition, inducing labour, insufficient lactation, gastritis, nausea & vomiting, weight issues, peptic ulcer, heartburn, diarrhoea & constipation
  • irritable bowel syndrome, chronic ulcerative colitis, liver & gallbladder disorders, bronchial asthma, sinusitis & hayfever, whooping cough, chronic cough, upper respiratory tract infections
  • sore throat & tonsillitis, prostatitis, cystitis & recurrent urinary tract infection, urinary retention, acne, eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis, herpes zoster

Scalar Energy Pendants provide Quantum Energy & Negative Ion Production

I know. You were thinking surely there couldn’t be any more incredible life changing bargains. Skeptics are like that. Hanging round with miserable deniers of the Unseen they rarely get to see just how generous and gifted human beings are. But just imagine you’re too busy enjoying all this vitality, health, happiness and well being? Well Quantum Pendant Australia understands, and their pendants have “clinically proven benefits”. Lay it down, brother:

Western medicine even tends to downplay the efficacy of time and clinically tested herbal medicines that work as well as if not better than the more expensive synthetic solutions we’ve come up with. There’s not a lot of money in herbs, but there’s tons of money in man-made synthetic patentable drugs.

It’s really no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry wants us to rely on their drugs; it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s an industry that comes out with a new allergy pill every time the patent runs out that isn’t necessarily any better than the old one, it’s just new and more profitable. The same thing happens with acid reflux and depression medications.

The negative ions that quantum pendants produce are shown to increase mood and well-being in just one hour. The best depression medication requires six weeks before any effects are seen and the success rate with a first antidepressant is under 20%.

Wow! People still fall for that money making pill industry. I hope you skeptics can see just how much you contribute to humankind’s pain. Half an hour to improve mood with a pendant vs 20% success with toxic, expensive, synthetic chemical containing drugs. These guys even wrote Unusual Christmas Gifts For Men 2011. Through sheer generosity they reveal:

The earth radiates scalar energy; therefore, a person would need to be outdoors either in a forest, beach or near a waterfall very frequently in order to gain the necessary exposure. Since this is just not possible, the Quantum Scalar Energy Pendant is a very valuable commodity. Some of the benefits that one would notice almost immediately are:
• An instant energy boost, Improved immunity, Protection from the harmful EMF’s, Better sleep patterns, Improved memory, Enhanced concentration

In addition to these benefits, there are also many illnesses and afflictions that are helped by the Quantum Scalar Energy Pendant. This is just a few since there are too many to list.

• Circulatory problems, Arthritis, Sprains and strains, Back pain, Inflammation, Muscular aches and pains, Breathing problems such as Asthma or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Sports injuries, Pain associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The Anti-Radiation cell phone stickers and the Bio-energy cards both provide comparable results as the pendant. They both contain the necessary minerals found within the pendant and for this reason, they function similarly. The cell phone stickers work to reduce EMF’s from not only a cell phone, but various other devices as well…..

These guys are awesome. All that packed into just one pendant. No doctors appointments, no repeat prescriptions, no annoying follow up. Just pay once and you get exactly what you paid for. Rock on!

Of course there’s more. Angelic Reiki Christmas card designs. Christmas Crystals for calmness, love, healing, memory, pregnancy, vitality, sleep and paper weights. Santa themed aromatherapy for calmness, love, healing, memory, pregnancy, vitality, sleep and more. Reflexology for conditions you’ve never heard of nor knew you had. Don’t delay visiting one. Chiropractors will have a crack (no pun intended) at pretty much anything these days. Get the kids in early and make a booking for your pet ferret.

Well that’s about all from me. I’d wish you a Happy Skeptimas or whatever but we all know you haters are never happy without trying to shut down the truth and suppress free speech. So, with all that pure healing and zest above, I can only ask from all of us on the alternative side:

Who looks stupid now then?