Seven Ways to Identify Pseudoscience

Original seven ways – © Relatively Interesting

  • The use of psychobabble – words that sound scientific and professional but are used incorrectly, or in a misleading manner;

Self-help books, folk and pop psychology, and motivational seminars often use psychobabble.  Deepak Chopra is a name that comes to mind at present. Nothing more than a fraud according to Professor Jerry Coyne, one may delight in the Wisdom of Chopra which is a Twitter stream made up of seeming quotes that are randomly generated by words that can be found in his genuine Twitter stream. If anybody breathes prescient life into the words of the late Carl Sagan it is the scoundrel and intellectual mobster Deepak Chopra.

Sagan proffered;

I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.

  • A substantial reliance on anecdotal evidence;

Without a doubt the alternatives to medicine behemoth would be lost without dramatic tales of self-limiting illnesses merely running their course, or completely false or hugely exaggerated stories of serious, disabling or terminal disease executing an about face due to the power of some wonderful concoction. The frustrating hurdle here for those who promote reason is that almost all work undertaken to convince the patient occurs in their own mind. Scam artists from peddlers of herbs to chiropractors, Baptist religions and indeed even the Catholic Church are swift to take credit if they have been involved.

  • Extraordinary claims in the absence of extraordinary evidence;

From 9/11 being an inside job to images of the apparent exhumation of giant skeletons to alien autopsy videos and shaky vision of UFOs drifting across a grainy background it seems all these and other extraordinary claims have one thing in common. A powerful need to believe in their truth by those that ensure certain – in fact sometimes many – conspiracy theories indeed exist. Now thanks to Netflix we can wander through a range of delightful titles that offer everything from reasonable special effects to WW2 era reports and “experts” convinced our governments expect us to believe the laws of physics have been broken.

  • Claims which cannot be proven false;

Insisting oneself or perhaps a number of people in the world have communicated telepathically at infrequent and random intervals with aliens from a distant star is impossible to disprove on face value. The claimant can continue to insist he/she is unaware of who the other telepathic human recipients are, or when he/she will receive or has received a communication. The communication may be quite benign such as, “Happy Birthday Deepak”.

Ideally the burden of proof should be placed on the party making the claim.

  • Claims that counter established scientific fact;

Often going hand in hand with claims that rely on anecdotal evidence are those that defy scientific fact. Homeopathy stands atop the podium in this regard. Not only is it absolutely certain to not work but it’s adherents may insist on relaying impossible tales – often knowing they are outright lies – to besmear evidence based medicine and promote junk, bogus cures. For example pertussis (or Whooping Cough) is sometimes referred to as “the 100 day cough”. Prominent Australian antivaccinationist Meryl Dorey claimed on national TV both her vaccinated and unvaccinated children “got it”. She treated it homeopathically and “none of us were sick for more than two weeks and it was nothing worse than a bad cough”.

Countering established fact may be said of an enormous number of claims made about pseudoscientific “cures” for many ailments. Some treat energy meridians or “chakras” that don’t actually exist. These involve peddling herbs, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, osteopathy, chanting, cupping, aligning activities with moon cycles, astrology and more.

Without a doubt denial of anthropogenic climate change should be mentioned here and we might again reflect upon to Carl Sagan’s worrying prediction.

  • Absence of adequate peer review;

In 2015 antivaccinationist and science fraud Judy Wilyman, under the auspicies of antivaccinationist and conspiracy sympathiser Dr. Brian Martin, finished her PhD at the University of Wollongong. The controversy surrounding inadequate peer review between 2012 to 2016 and indeed until today is a function of the copious inaccuracies in her thesis. Entitled “A critical analysis of the Australian Government’s rationale for its vaccination policy”, it was an immature an inaccurate antivaccination conspiracy rant. The fact that it was accepted, and indeed accepted with it’s discredited bibliography, indicates a clear absence of adequate peer review.

Tragically this eventuality has emboldened Wilyman to demand respect from academics and to level outrageous personal claims at her critics, rather than attempt to publish respectable material.

  • Claims that are repeated despite being refuted;

Whilst a great deal of the above intellectual repugnance deserves a slice of this pie, the authors at Relatively Interesting have populated it with the anti-vaccination obsession with the globally damaging claim that vaccines cause autism. Originally at a 1998 media conference designed to reassure parents, head author of the now rejected paper Andrew Wakefield proffered the baseless claim that rather than use the MMR trivalent vaccine, parents should consider choosing single shot vaccines. The “vaccines cause autism” claim has not only been shown to be false and cannot be replicated, but it is now well established that Wakefield acted with the sole aim of making tens and probably hundreds of millions of pounds via his plan to establish immuno-analysis laboratories for the new condition he was calling autistic enterocolitis. He also held patents for single shot measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.

A five member General Medical Council panel found Wakefield guilty of over 30 charges including 12 of causing children to endure “clinically unjustified” invasive testing procedures, buying blood at children’s birthday parties and managing four counts of dishonesty. Then, his “continued lack of insight” into his conduct, and consequences thereof, meant that only “total erasure” from the medical register was warranted. Today on the back of countless refutations of Wakefields claims he now pushes the fraudumentary Vaxxed full of false information and complete with the tampered audio of phone conversations.

 

Regrettably today more than in recent years we can benefit from keeping an eye out for these seven markers of pseudo-science.

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Features of the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook

Recently Australia’s most vocal, persistent and offensive anti-vaccine pressure group, The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network argued vaccination is a breach of religious freedom. They misinformed the federal parliamentary inquiry into religious freedom that vaccines were prepared with “the products of abortion”.

Vaccination was therefore “a moral evil”, violating teachings of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, they contended citing absolutely no evidence to support their stance. The Australian Medical Association noted that their position was “irrational” and “unscientific”.

It was clear that the AVN was trying to find its way around the No Jab No Pay family assistance requirements and the No Jab No Play policy requirements. In April 2015 it was initially announced that religious exemptions for vaccination would cease. This was reinforced by health minister Greg Hunt in March this year. The only grounds for exemption of childhood vaccination are medical. The AVN’s claim that vaccines contain “the products of abortion” is not only baseless, but well refuted.

The AVN’s ignorance of the moral considerations involved are not difficult to discern. A Vatican City 2005 Statement, Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetuses, includes in reference 15;

…the parents who did not accept the vaccination of their own children become responsible for the malformations [due to rubella infection] in question, and for the subsequent abortion of fetuses, when they have been discovered to be malformed.

Still it is quite predictable that this morally bereft pressure group will continue to press the fallacious contention that vaccines contain aborted foetal cells. Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter are means by which the anti-vaccination lobby interact. Indeed the conduct of antivaccinationists on Facebook has revealed much of their conspiratorial, cruel, cult-like nature.

First we witnessed the anti-vaccine lobby grow with simple access to misinformation via the Internet combined with the ability to invent and spread more. With the growth of social media we have witnessed this social malignancy improve it’s networking skills and spread their dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories in real time.

In this light I was grateful that the sharp eyes of others interested in the impact of the anti-vaccination lobby had come across the following research paper.

Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook. Naomi Smith and Tim Graham.

Information, Communication & Society

Published December 27th, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1418406

It looked at 6 anti-vaccine Facebook pages.

  1. Fans of the AVN
  2. Dr. Tenpenny on vaccines
  3. Great mothers (and others) questioning vaccines
  4. No vaccines Australia
  5. Age of autism
  6. RAGE against the vaccines

Post, like and comment data were further used to generate 6 social networks which were then further analysed.

Abstract;

Over the past decade, anti-vaccination rhetoric has become part of the mainstream discourse regarding the public health practice of childhood vaccination. These utilise social media to foster online spaces that strengthen and popularise anti-vaccination discourses. In this paper, we examine the characteristics of and the discourses present within six popular anti-vaccination Facebook pages. We examine these large-scale datasets using a range of methods, including social network analysis, gender prediction using historical census data, and generative statistical models for topic analysis (Latent Dirichlet allocation).

We find that present-day discourses centre around moral outrage and structural oppression by institutional government and the media, suggesting a strong logic of ‘conspiracy-style’ beliefs and thinking. Furthermore, anti-vaccination pages on Facebook reflect a highly ‘feminised’ movement ‒ the vast majority of participants are women. Although anti-vaccination networks on Facebook are large and global in scope, the comment activity sub-networks appear to be ‘small world’. This suggests that social media may have a role in spreading anti-vaccination ideas and making the movement durable on a global scale.

Some key points from the paper’s Discussion and Conclusion might be listed as follows.

  • There is a large amount of online information that is important to the anti-vaccination (AV) community.
  • Social media acts as an “effective hub” in the communication of AV information. The information is “designed to encourage grass roots resistance”.
  • AV communities are relatively sparse, not functioning as close knit communities of support.
  • Yet participation alone in AV groups can reinforce AV beliefs.
  • AV participants are reasonably active across a number of groups.
  • This suggests AV users participation in various AV groups is more autonomous than would be explained by Facebook’s recommender system.
  • Liking and commenting across a number of AV pages may create a “filter bubble” effect.♠
  • This effect is a pattern of involvement and activity that reinforces AV beliefs and conduct.
  • More research is needed to discern how much of this effect is due to the users own conduct as opposed to Facebook’s algorithmic structure.
  • AV Facebook pages exhibit “small world” network structure characteristics. Information diffuses quickly through the network via user comments.
  • “Small world” characteristics may be due to inherent aspects of the AV movement or may manifest due to the Facebook “platform”.
  • Either the former or latter aspect driving development of “small world” specifics will have unique and interesting implications.♣
  • The former suggests that as a social movement the AV lobby might develop as a “small world” network that may be amplified and made more visible online.
  • If the latter, the Facebook platform may be instrumental in the growth of the AV movement, protecting from disruption of outside influences.
  • Wide sharing of posts suggests the AV community has scope beyond the public Facebook pages.
  • Sharing may be important in spreading AV information and growing the AV movement.
  • Gender composition of AV movement reflects cultural understanding of parenting – primarily maternal.
  • Vaccination is historically “a mother’s question”. AV is described by the authors as “a mother’s question”.
  • “AV movement is primarily led by women”. Note; Sherri Tenpenny runs “Vaccine Info” on Facebook.
  • Whilst anti-vaccination is not gender specific, the “gendered nature” of Facebook page participation suggests the AV movement is “feminised”.
  • Several key pre-occupations of AV communities are evident on Facebook pages; institutional arrangements are seen to be perpetuating the harmful practice of vaccination.
  • AV community is “morally outraged about vaccination and structurally oppressed by seemingly tyrannical and conspiratorial government and media”.
  • There is a strong belief in conspiracies driven by government and media; Cover up of vaccine injury and death, spreading of Zika virus by Bill Gates and belief in chemtrails.
  • Comparison of vaccination to the Holocaust indicates strong sense of persecution within AV Facebook pages studied.
  • Strong anti-science and anti-medicine beliefs in tandem with use of natural remedies.
  • Findings limited by sample size.
  • Further, more comprehensive research is needed.

♠ Commonly referred to as an “echo chamber’.

Final paragraph;

The results of this investigation suggest a robust and highly gendered network structure that has a strong sense of moral outrage associated with the practice of vaccination. This ‘righteous indignation’, in combination with the network characteristics identified in this study, indicates that anti-vaccination communities are likely to be persistent across time and global in scope as they utilise the affordances of social media platforms to disseminate anti-vaccination information.

Concerns about vaccination reveal a community that feels persecuted and is suspicious of mainstream medical practice and government-sanctioned methods to prevent disease. In a generation that has rarely seen these diseases first hand, the risk of adverse reaction seems more immediate and pressing than disease prevention.

♣ Regarding “small world” characteristics being due to either AV specifics or to the Facebook platform, the authors write;

Both outcomes are equally interesting. The former suggests that social movements (like anti-vaccination) may inevitably develop as ‘small world’ networks structure that is further amplified and made visible online. If it is the latter, this demonstrates that Facebook as a platform has important implications for the dynamics, spread, and durability of social movements outside of the specific case examined here. Indeed, if the materiality or architecture of Facebook shapes networks towards ‘small-worldness’, this suggests that such platforms may be instrumental for the anti-vaccination movement and social movements more broadly to blossom, flourish, and resist being dismantled or disrupted by outside influences.

The above paragraph rings true and undoubtedly applies to a number of anti-science movements and conspiracy theories across the developed world.

“Vaxxed” and the manipulation of William Thompson’s telephone audio

Back in April I published a list of 15 reputable references that debunked key claims put forward in the fraudumentary, Vaxxed; from cover up to catastrophe.

They continue to gain relevance. This year the anti-vaccine lobby in Australia has pushed the Vaxxed mantra of widespread fraud at the CDC, targetted ATSI communities and launched an insulting plan for profit. As usual Meryl Dorey is heading the push for hard cash, this time via the Patreon site. Unfortunate donors will get nothing in return beyond access to “bi-weekly webinars” should she manage an income of $2,000 per month. And why? According to her blurb on patreon.com;

…to keep everyone up-to-date on the most recent news and information from around the world regarding vaccination and health rights

This, dear reader, would preclude accepting that one cannot access such misinformation already in countless anti-vaccine echo chambers. However Dorey really wants $5,000 per month. Again the reward is to nothing more than a rehash of her anti-vaccine beliefs and a smattering of more recent anti-vaccine articles with a very likely history of rejection, retraction or both;

This class will aim to help parents and health professionals to make informed choices regarding vaccination by providing them with a broad ranged (sic) of historical and up-to-date references and outlining some of the questions they need to be asking before saying yes (or no) to vaccines.

Dorey is seemingly on a high thanks to recent attention received because of harm the bogus messages spread via Vaxxed and Vaxxed Q and A sessions can cause public health. Reasonable Hank has published an excellent piece pulling back the covers on Dorey’s latest scam, reminding readers there is still the matter of $160,000 raised for the promised High Court challenge of No Jab No Pay legislation. The video clips provided by Hank are just a couple of those in which Dorey is basking in the controversy created by the Vaxxed production team.

This raises the rather inescapable fact that audio from Dr. William Thompson was manipulated on two separate occasions. Discerning this, shall we say, fraudulent presentation of what William Thompson said when talking to Dr. Brian Hooker is thanks to the publication of Vaccine Whistleblower: Exposing Autism Research Fraud at the CDC, by devoted antivaccinationist Kevin Barry. The book contains four legally obtained telephone conversations between Hooker and Thompson. This allowed for a comparison between transcripts of recorded telephone conversations and the conversation audio in Vaxxed.

The first here was when the Vaxxed trailer was released. You can listen to the audio below;


The two segments spliced together come across as (Thompson broaching discussion with Hooker);

you and I don’t know each other very well. You have a son with autism, and I have great shame now.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, 15 reputable references were published here last April. The above audio from the trailer was splendidly exposed by Matt Carey of Left Brain Right Brain in March 2016. Carey clearly explains what has happened with manipulating audio here – and the context Wakefield was trying to create for the audience. This is a trailer, so to be sure listeners are indeed misled as they are supposed to be, Del Bigtree follows the spliced sentence with an explanation (10 second mark).

We see that a single sentence is the result of splicing together two sections of conversation and removing parts of those sections in Call 2. Looking at the transcript one can see that 90 words from Thompson and 39 words from Hooker are omitted. So 129 words of conversation actually lie between the two segments of audio that make up the manufactured sentence;

you and I don’t know each other very well. [129 missing words] You have a son with autism, (and) I have great shame now.

Next is audio describing the same call from Thompson to Hooker, yet produced for the final film itself. This audio is the product of three separate segments spliced together, with the third introduced in between the original two segments. We can now hear Thompson say, “I don’t know how this is all going to play out”.

You can listen to the audio below;


It is quite clear that segments 1 and 2 in the transcripts below have been significantly edited with the purpose of creating a certain context.

Brian, you and I don’t know each other very well. I don’t know how this is all going to play out. You have a son with autism and I have great shame now when I meet families with autism because I have been part of the problem.

 

Click transcript below to embiggen

Click transcript below to embiggen

The anti-vaccine lobby in Australia, particularly members of the AVN should offer their members and those who attend Vaxxed screenings an explanation as to why this audio was tampered with on two separate occasions in two different ways. With apologies to those who dislike colourful annotation I trust the volume of audio modification is clear.

The context sought through modifying the audio is false. William Thompson did not ring Hooker with the aim of revealing that the CDC had suppressed information that any vaccines cause autism. He did not ring to claim the CDC was committing fraud. If Thompson had accused the CDC of fraud in order to hide a link between vaccines and autism, one can be certain that Wakefield would have shouted this far and wide.

I don’t know where in the four transcripts the sentence “I don’t know how this is all going to play out”, has been lifted from. Yet one can see plainly that the sentence has been inserted. It is not an original part of the transcript above.

Finally there’s Thompson’s statement of August 27th, 2014. One cannot reconcile the claims of the Vaxxed charade with Thompson’s position on vaccines. Concerns over the omission of certain findings “in a particular study”, does not a CDC fraud make. As one may well have concluded, Thompson had no control over what his name was attributed to following the deception of Brian Hooker.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

I have had many discussions with Dr. Brian Hooker over the last 10 months regarding studies the CDC has carried out regarding vaccines and neurodevelopmental outcomes including autism spectrum disorders. I share his belief that CDC decision-making and analyses should be transparent. I was not, however, aware that he was recording any of our conversations, nor was I given any choice regarding whether my name would be made public or my voice would be put on the Internet.

It seems that despite the increased efforts of the AVN to promote Vaxxed and to push further lies onto Indigenous Australians the reality remains that there is no demonstrable CDC fraud and no viable CDC whistleblower.

Evidence absent for The Northern Star’s support of Olivia Odey

Update October 9th – ABC Media Watch, Northern Star HPV headline wrong

Just under a week ago The Northern Star published a one sided article alleging that a healthy 16 year old female was stricken with a host of physical ailments following administration of “the Gardasil vaccine”.

This specific claim is unverified in that conclusive evidence or clinical diagnoses pointing to Gardasil are absent. More so, from the viewpoint of international epidemiology, the two complex syndromes identified are not accepted as vaccine injuries caused by Gardasil. Toward the end of the article, Teen left in wheelchair after Gardasil HPV ‘reaction’, readers are informed that Olivia Odey (now 18);

…believes her symptoms were linked to a reaction to the Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer, which the teenager had a few weeks prior to the onset of her symptoms.

No doubt given the weight of peer reviewed literature on the topic, and evidence offered in the article, Ms. Odey is indeed left with only her “belief”. Initially after presenting to hospital, “all tests came back normal”.

“I definitely think there was a link, but there’s no way to prove it,” Ms Odey said, admitting the proposition was controversial and “brushed aside by medical professionals”.

According to the Australian HPV vaccine website, for every million doses of the vaccine given there are only around three serious allergic reactions.

Adverse Events Following Immunisation are not “brushed aside” by Australian medical professionals. Regrettably, the article does not cast the profession in a favourable light and Ms. Odey reports, “a frustrating battle with the conventional medical system”.

“They wanted to send my mum and I across the road to a mental institution and told me ‘if there was a fire you would run right out of here’.

Ms. Odey apparently experienced photo-phobia, numbness, shingles, food allergies, tingling, joint pain, lethargy and discolouration of the legs. But it was heart palpitations that led her mother to contact a cardiologist in Auckland. The cardiologist referred her to a “specialised pain doctor”. She was diagnosed within an hour and began treatment the next day. Olivia Odey had been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Fact Sheet), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and Central Neural Sensitisation Syndrome [Central Sensitisation] (Physiopedia videos).

We should note with respect to diagnosing CRPS;

There is no diagnostic test for CRPS. Diagnosis is based on a person’s medical history and their symptoms. Sometimes, a doctor may order blood tests, bone scans, x-rays, CT scans or MRI scans to rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms.

Thus being diagnosed within an hour and beginning treatment within a day is seemingly unusual to say the least. Ms. Odey’s entire recovery is unusual. We’re informed neuroplasticity explains;

To come off the pain drugs Ms Odey did a three-day course on how to “retrain your brain pathways and change your physiology just by changing your thoughts and beliefs.”

CRPS is classified as a Rare Disorder and whilst there is a significant range of symptoms and intensity, factors relating to causation include trauma such as a fracture, forceful injury, crush injury, amputation, stroke, and spinal cord injury. Other disorders may predispose to CRPS;

However, it has become increasingly clear that it plays a role in many different chronic pain disorders. It can occur with chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, whiplash injuries, chronic tension headaches, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis of the knee, endometriosis, injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, and after surgeries. Fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome, all seem to have the common denominator of central sensitization as well. […]

What isn’t clear in Ms. Odey’s case is if these possible causes were ruled out before blaming Gardasil.

Of great significance is that;

A prior history of anxiety, physical and psychological trauma, and depression are significantly predictive of onset of chronic pain later in life. […] The onset of pain is often associated with subsequent development of conditions such as depression, fear-avoidance, anxiety and other stressors.

Again it isn’t clear if all possible contributing stressors were ruled out.

The table below summarises the range of symptoms associated with CRPS.

Source: Australian Pain Management Association

 

Given the complications listed in the above table one can appreciate the slow progression of physical therapy outlined below.

Desensitization – “to hurt is not to harm”. Over a period of time the person with CRPS will be encouraged to desensitize the affected limb so that the hypersensitivity and allodynia is reduced. For example, over a period of three years Annette, a CPRS patient, began with moving a silk scarf over her foot, progressed to being able to wear a foot stocking, to a sock, sandal and finally a closed in shoe for a short period. This process took three years but improvements are still being made.

Graded motor imagery (GMI) combined with medical management is recognized as being effective in reducing pain in CRPS. GMI involves encouraging the person to differentiate between left and right limbs to re-establish right and left concepts in the brain. Progressively, a mirror box is introduced. The person is asked to watch the mirrored image of the unaffected limb moving in the mirror. Then, the person moves the affected limb in the mirror box while watching the mirrored image of the unaffected limb. This tricks the brain into thinking it is seeing the limb with CRPS moving without pain.

Finally we can find comprehensive refutation of the notion that HPV vaccination causes Regional Pain Syndrome and Central Sensitisation from reputable sources in the literature. A Safety Study of Gardasil 9 in PRISM/Sentinel using sequential analysis, is worth consulting. Version 2 was published only three days ago – September 27th 2017. Page 2 contains the paragraph on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Following a clinical description of CRPS the paragraph continues (italics and bold mine);

In June 2013, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare suspended its recommendation of routine immunization with HPV vaccine in girls and women following post-vaccination reports of serious chronic pain and concern about a possible association with HPV. In early November 2015, the European Medicines Agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee completed a detailed scientific review of the evidence related to a possible association between HPV vaccines and CRPS. The Committee concluded that the evidence did not support a causal link between the vaccines and the syndrome. Although U.S. vaccine safety information sources such as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) have not suggested an increased risk of CRPS following HPV vaccination either, some post-HPV-vaccine cases have been reported to VAERS.

Much has been made of the Japanese suspension of HPV vaccination due to post-vaccination reports of serious chronic pain and concern about a possible association with HPV. Interestingly if we follow the link above to version 2, we find that the citation to these post vaccination reports is; Kinoshita T, Abe RT, Hineno A, Tsunekawa K, Nakane S, Ikeda S. Peripheral sympathetic nerve dysfunction in adolescent Japanese girls following immunization with the human papillomavirus vaccine. Intern Med. 2014;53:2185-200.

To better understand the reliability of the report of Kinoshita et al, we should consult the 2017 critique, Tackling Antivaxers in the Literature by David Hawkes, Joanne Benhamu and Julia Brotherton. Whilst a number of examples are addressed in this publication it is the widespread criticism of Kinoshita et al and the subject of peripheral sympathetic nerve dysfunction following the HPV vaccine that is significant.

The Introduction reads;

To understand strategies used by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine critical authors, exemplified by a recent publication in the Nature published journal, Scientific Reports, to produce a false evidence base in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

Methods;

Critical analysis of anti (HPVE) vaccine papers, including retracted articles, links between authors of these papers and conflicts of interests, journals used to publish these papers, self citations and dissemination of these articles and associated commentary on social media.

HPV Vaccination: Japan;

Several publications have been produced by Japanese authors critical of HPV vaccination. In 2014, Kinoshita et al published a paper entitled “Peripheral Sympathetic Nerve Dysfunction in Adolescent Girls following Immunization with the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine” in Internal Medicine (a small journal with an impact factor of less than 1). To date it has been cited over 40 times. Despite several (published) letters of concern highlighting errors in the paper from highly respected researchers in the field the manuscript remains available. A recent publication by Aratani et al in the Nature published journal Scientific Reports has caused similar concern and is currently under review by the journal. This case garnered a much wider audience and an article highlighting concerns was featured in Science. This suggests that scientists are being more proactive in combatting bad HPV vaccination science.

In July last year Outcomes for girls without HPV vaccination in Japan was published in the Lancet. The author’s final paragraph read;

Sadly, Japan’s failure to provide HPV vaccination for young women has now become a global concern. Similar trends are occurring in countries outside of Japan, which will lead to increased incidences of HPV-related cancers. Although further efforts are required to overcome the many barriers leading to decreasing cervical cancer mortality, many challenges remain.

A comprehensive summary of the paper is available here, Lack of vaccinations increased risk of HPV infections in Japan;

Japanese women who became adolescents between 1993 and 2008, a period in which vaccination against cervical cancer was temporarily suspended, are at higher risk of having HPV16/18 infection, which is known to trigger the onset of cervical cancer. However, the infection risk can be decreased if vaccination is re-established. […]

The authors strongly recommend that HPV vaccination encouragement is resumed before the end of 2016, to reduce the risk of future infection in different age groups and to ensure all women will receive protection against cervical cancer.

As time progresses there continues to be a lack of evidence that may be considered as verification that HPV vaccines are causally linked to the conditions mentioned by Olivia Odey and described by Alina Rylko in The Northern Star article. Ms. Odey is heading to Byron Bay to begin a health blog. Yet in the present climate in which Australian vaccine safety and efficacy has been attacked by organised anti-vaccine lobbyists the tone of the article seems patently irresponsible.

The present consensus holds that CRPS and Central Sensitisation occur at levels expected of the populations effected. Evidence doesn’t support a causal link between the vaccines and the syndrome. Reports following HPV vaccination are consistent with what is expected for the age group. No fact sheets specific to these conditions list any vaccination as a cause or a predisposing condition. Data will continue to be gathered.

As yet there is no conclusive evidence to support Ms. Odey’s “belief” that Gardasil caused her condition.

———————————————————————

European Medicines Agency (EMA) virtual press briefing – Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines

Lies and Deceit from Australia’s “Vaxxed” promoters

Lies and deception are second nature to the Australian Vaccination skeptics Network and particularly the group’s conspiracy-pushing driving force, Meryl Dorey.

Never one to stray far from the spotlight Dorey has been active in promoting the anti-vaccine conspiracy theory propaganda flick, Vaxxed. Along with Polly Tommy, Brian Hooker, Tasha David and Suzanne Humphries, Dorey has recently caused a stir in misleading the managers of venues booked to screen the bogus “documentary”.

This sort of scam was to be expected given the mid-May warning about the film and involvement of disgraced ex-doctor, Andrew Wakefield. On May 15th The West Australian published Parents warned on Perth screening of anti-vaccination film, Vaxxed.

Parents are being warned to ignore propaganda promoting the first WA screening of the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed.

The screening of the controversial film in Perth on Friday is being advertised through social media, with the southern suburbs location due to be given to ticketholders 30 minutes beforehand.

Directed by Andrew Wakefield — a former doctor whose debunked study played a key role in the anti-vaccination movement — the film reignites false claims about a link between the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine and autism. […]

Australian Medical Association national president Michael Gannon said people only had to see who the filmmaker was to know the content was questionable.

“Andrew Wakefield was found to have fraudulently produced evidence around the original MMR scare in Britain, which led to him being deregistered as a doctor,” Dr Gannon said

By the time the planned July 25th screening in QLD was due, the group was seemingly getting creative. QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk heads a state government that is firmly pro-vaccine. Still, the venue chosen by the Vaxxed crew to peddle their nonsense was Miami State High School. As the ABC later reported;

Earlier this month Health Minister Cameron Dick urged residents to boycott the film that has caused controversy by linking a measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism.

Oh my.

In order to slip by the looming conflict of interest and the likely surety that anti-vaccine twaddle would be denied a state school venue, the Vaxxed crew decided to, well.., to lie. About the booking. The, um, purpose. About the purpose of the booking. Mmm, yes um, they did. The ABC quote the QLD Premier;

My preliminary advice is that there has been some misrepresentation to the school in question, Ms Palaszczuk said.

“They conveyed to the principal that it was to be conveying information about organic produce.”

A report at Diluted Thinking (which I recommend reading) includes a statement from the Miami State High School Principal, Sue Dalton. It’s quite clear that at no time was the intention to screen or the eventual screening of Vaxxed conveyed by those deceiving Miami State School. Sue Dalton’s statement notes;

The school hall was hired to an independent local business owner to promote their healthy lifestyle business of organic foods and coffee. It is incredibly disappointing that the agreed purpose of the use of hire did not reflect the forum that was presented last night.

Reasonable Hank also covered this abuse of state education facilities and has fortunately included video of Polly Tommy revealing her unstable anti-vaccinationism. This would appear to be a woman crippled by malignant ideology and intent on spreading potentially lethal falsehood.

The next morning, July 27th, The Gold Coast Bulletin published an ideal front page.

Incredibly the dishonest Vaxxed crew again played their hand at deceit on July 28th taking advantage of Lake Macquarie City Council. Diluted Thinking covers this matter in depth presenting an excellent examination of the facts leading to a comprehensive conclusion. Dorey and Tommey are exposed as the amateur charlatans that they are.

The Newcastle Herald have covered the appalling conduct of the Vaxxed crew. Anger as Charleston community centre The Place screens film linking vaccines with autism;

HEALTH authorities and a Lake Macquarie councillor whose son is on the autism spectrum have slammed a decision to screen a film linking vaccines with autism at a Charlestown community centre.

On Friday night The Place, a not-for-profit centre set up between Lake Macquarie council and property group GPT, hosted a screening of Vaxxed, a documentary that is being toured by the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN).

The AVN told Hunter ticket-holders of the venue by text and email two hours before the screening.

Lake Macquarie Liberal councillor Kevin Baker, a director of The Place, said he was shocked centre management had agreed to screen the film, whose central premise is that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may be leading to an epidemic of autism diagnoses in children.

“It’s something that’s pretty close to me. I’ve got close family with autism including my nephew, and my son sits on the spectrum,” he said.

[…]

Hunter New England Health firmly refuted the film’s portrayal of vaccination as harmful to children.

“High vaccination rates have ensured that serious childhood diseases including measles have become rare in Hunter New England,” a spokesperson said.

“We will continue to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.”

[…]

The health service also took aim at Vaxxed director Andrew Wakefield, the lead author of a controversial study published in 1998 and since retracted that claimed the autism link.

On the topic of Dorey deception, she was behind a microphone the following day, July 29th, at the Club On East in Sutherland NSW. Dorey spends almost ten minutes preaching to the converted. However this doesn’t lend a grain of truth to anything she says. Except of course that they find it harder getting media attention than previously. This is due to the effective and ongoing work of Stop The AVN which has simply held the AVN and AVsN to account with respect to various health, fair trading and business legislation in NSW and Australia.

  • Listen to the audio below;

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Dipping into her fantasy bag Dorey claims that “we have pushed really hard to try and make vaccination reaction reporting mandatory for doctors”. It seems that until doctors report vaccines as striking down huge numbers of children through illness and death, Meryl Dorey will not be satisfied on adverse reaction reporting.

They have also tried to get an ethically impossible study completed to compare the health of the fully vaccinated and the fully unvaccinated. Perhaps this is part of the reason anti-vaccinationists dismiss herd immunity. Sound methodology for such a study is quite a challenge given that the health of “the unvaccinated” benefits from herd immunity.

Dorey then claims that following a visit to Canberra the head of the Liberal Party wrote a letter to the AVN stating, “we know why you’re asking this question and we will not do this study, because it could lead to changes in vaccination policy”.

To laughter Dorey contends that this response she has plainly made up means that, “vaccination policy is what requires protection in Australia, not the children”.

Later Dorey argues that, “we have the Health Minister in Victoria saying there are no side effects for any vaccine”. Jill Hennessey said no such thing. In fact I remember this incident because there was anti-vaccine hysteria splitting hairs. It was the media release in concern that led to the wave of abusive emails, Facebook posts and tweets. The minister never mentioned “side effects”. She mentioned vaccine “risks” and unfortunately she suggested there “are no risks”, when in fact there are minuscule risks.

There are no risks in vaccinating your children, the science is really clear. Talk to a G.P. Don’t get your advice from a quack on the Internet.

This anti-vaccine video channel has the minister’s media appearance. Still whilst she was likely overly focused on the fear being pushed by the anti-vaccine lobby and made a general statement she has since made other statements. A media release in 2017 again never mentioned “side effects”, but included.

Despite scientific evidence proving they are safe and effective, and have saved millions of lives, around 25 per cent of people still have concerns about vaccines.

This more recent and more accurate statement is what Meryl Dorey should focus on, rather than conveniently making up something based on the hysteria of almost 18 months ago. This doesn’t stop Dorey getting audience members “who know someone with a vaccine injury” to stand up. About 25 people stand up. Dorey suggests this is about half. Yet not only is this an inaccurate manner in which to gather data Dorey was present when this statement listing serious vaccine injuries between zero and five per year was made to the Social Services Legislative Amendment in 2015.

After misleading her audience on the topic of vaccine injuries Dorey leads into “the right to have free and informed health choices for our children. Nobody has the right to take that away”.

In fact I agree. So one must ask Meryl Dorey why she would seek to sabotage the Australian vaccine schedule and place countless individuals at risk of vaccine preventable disease? Why take away the very best informed health programmes that evidence based medicine has to offer? What she calls “free and informed health choices”, are in fact misinformed and radically dangerous choices prompted by fear and ignorance.

To the pile of misinformation that Meryl Dorey has been pushing onto the ignorant for her own gain for years we must certainly add Andrew Wakefield’s latest scam; Vaxxed.