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Wakefield only lied. What's wrong with that? (8/1/2011)
It took no psychic powers of prediction to correctly guess that Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network would spring to the defence of Mr Andrew Wakefield now that his research has not only been retracted by The Lancet but has been declared actually fraudulent. That's right - Wakefield lied about almost everything in his famous paper. It passed peer review because deliberate fabrication of results and outright lying usually aren't expected in scientific papers and can be hard to detect. The detection in this case was done by journalist Brian Deer, who has been subjected to several years of vilification and abuse for his trouble. Here is a comment about Brian Deer from Ms Dorey:
It seems, however, that Ms Dorey's relationship with the media is not as comfortable as it was a few years ago. Here she is being interviewed on Sydney's Radio 2UE about her reaction to the fact that Andrew Wakefield just made stuff up.
And here is Ms Dorey impugning the motives and reputation of Tracey Spicer.
Then there is the local paper, the Northern Star, which used to be almost a public mouthpiece for Ms Dorey and her AVN idiocy:
Mel Mcmillan | 8th January 2011
Australian Vaccination Network spokeswoman Meryl Dorey is standing by the barred British gastroenterologist, Dr Andrew Wakefield, despite the current edition of the British Medical Journal labelling his work as "an elaborate fraud".
Dr Wakefield's 1998 study ignited a worldwide scare over a possible link between vaccines and autism, and led millions of parents to delay or decline vaccination for their children.
The study has long since been debunked and dismissed by the scientific community, which points to 14 independent studies that have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.
Last year, The Lancet, publisher of the original study, issued a formal retraction. British medical authorities last year also found Dr Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct, stripping him of his ability to practice in England.
However, the Bangalow-based MrsDorey said there were dozens of peer reviewed studies that showed a possible link between autism and vaccination, and claimed the studies used to show the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) were "poorly designed".
Prof Robert Booy, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said Mrs Dorey's claim was "laughable".
"There is not a single reputable study to support a link between MMR and vaccination," Prof Booy said. He said thousands of hours of research time, which could have been spent researching the causes and prevention of autism, had been wasted on a wild goose chase.
The safety of MMR was well established, Prof Booy said.
The BMJ reports that Dr Wakefield, who was paid more than $A676, 658 by a lawyer hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers, was not just unethical, he falsified data in the study which suggested children developed autism after getting an MMR shot.
In fact, the children's medical records show that some clearly had symptoms of developmental problems long before getting their shots, BMJ says. Several had no autism diagnosis at all.
So what would Ms Dorey's reaction to this be:
Do you detect a pattern here? If someone publishes something with which you disagree you immediately attack the person (and never forget to say that they are being paid to say what they say), and the only evidence you offer in support of your position consists of lies that can be easily disproved by anyone who cares to look. As an example, the number of replications of Wakefields "research" is exactly zero. None. Zilch. Nada. On the other hand, Ms Dorey might like to see how forty studies looking for a link between vaccine and autism have shown no connection. Forty studies where money was wasted responding to anti-vaccination liars. Forty studies where the time of real scientists was diverted from doing work that might have had a benefit for mankind.
Ms Dorey, it's time for you to STFU. If you don't know what that means then look it up on the Internet. I'm sure that someone there will explain it to you.
Oh dear, look who's in trouble (8/1/2011)
Look who has popped up on the Australian site NotGoodEnough.com, dedicated to reporting poor customer service and other problems with those who sell things. Why, it's our old friend Meryl Dorey, erstwhile President of the Australian Vaccination Network and current peddler of cosmetics and other things designed to increase feminine attractiveness and self-image. All natural, of course, and almost certainly not tested on animals. It seems that Ms Dorey has joined the ranks of mobile phone companies, plumbers who "will be there right away", used car dealers, telemarketers and other sources of consumer aggravation.
I thought that Ms Dorey might not be aware of her arrival at NotGoodEnough, so I dashed off the first Kind and Gentle email of 2011 to her:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but Fountain of Beauty has received an Honourable Mention at http://www.notgoodenough.org/. I assume that the poor service was an aberration and that your business is now operating in the top echelon of customer service in Australia.
On another matter, I'm looking forward to sitting in the audience in a courtroom on February 14. My friends and I thought that showing support for you was better than sending roses, although some did mention that they might like to see a reminder of Valentines Day in Chicago in 1929. When I heard that you would be defending your actions against the OLG&R a song by Tex Perkins came into my head. I think you know which one.
Keep smiling. Things could be worse, and probably will be when the Attorney General's office gets around to actioning those memos from the HCCC and OLG&R.
An outbreak of common sense (15/1/2011)
You can't drive around with a child in your car unless the child is properly restrained in an appropriate safety apparatus. You can't carry your kid on the back of your bicycle unless the kid wears a helmet. You can't take your son out to sea fishing in a boat unless he wears a lifejacket. But if you are misinformed or terminally stupid you can expose your child to life-threatening diseases by refusing to have them vaccinated. Now at least one judge has decided that the welfare of children is important and overrides parental stupidity. This story appeared in several Australian papers on January 15, 2011 (but I read it in The Daily Telegraph).
Ordered to have vaccine
A Sydney mother has been ordered to have her five-year-old daughter immunised in a controversial Family Court decision.
The girls' father, who remarried and had another child, wanted the girl vaccinated against preventable diseases for her own wellbeing and the health of his other children.
But the girl's mother said her daughter was healthy and the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases was very small.
The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, separated before their daughter was born.
The court heard the father initially consented to the child not being immunised but claimed it was because he was desperate to establish a relationship with her.
The father now wants her vaccinated, producing medical evidence immunisation provided no unacceptable risks for his daughter.
He said if the girl remained un-vaccinated, she would be forced to withdraw from school during outbreaks of some diseases.
She would also be unable to spend time with any new children he had as she was not immunised against whooping cough.
The mother produced opposing evidence that the vaccinations were unnecessary but was criticised in the judgment for submitting evidence from an "immunisation sceptic", who made what the magistrate described as "outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence".
Outside the court, National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance research head Professor Robert Booy said immunisations prevented very serious diseases.
He said 97 per cent of parents had their children vaccinated and that immunisations formed a chain of protection around those vulnerable to infection.
"The only way we can protect the vulnerable, and that may be a newborn or someone with an immune deficiency, is to ensure other people are vaccinated," he said.
However the decision shocked paediatric chiropractor and author Dr Warren Sipser.
"It's a sad situation," Dr Sipser said outside court.
"I think it's dangerous to impose [immunisations] on anyone when there are two opposing viewpoints and when there is credible evidence they may do more harm than good," he said.
Why anyone would ask a quack calling himself a "paediatric chiropractor" for comment about vaccination is a mystery, but I suppose he was at the court to provide misinformation on the mother's behalf and was handy for the reporter to talk to. At least the reporter also talked to Professor Booy who was able to talk sense (and is a real doctor).
As expected, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had to have something to say about this.
Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me - 99 9999 9999 - I would like to see if there is anything the AVN can do. MD
When even some of her supporters suggested that they might be uncomfortable with the rape analogy, Meryl Dorey offered the following apology. It further illustrates her complete lack of contact with reality.
To anyone who was insulted or hurt by my comparing the forced vaccination of a child against the custodial parent's wishes with rape, I do apologise wholeheartedly and without reservation.
I looked up the definition of rape prior to posting that comparison and in the dictionary sense of the word, it is accurate. But I do understand that this is a vexed issue and for those like the two who are dose to me and who have been victims of rape, the last thing I would want to do is cause them more pain.
Perhaps the term violation would have been better and in future, I will use that word. Because this mother and her child are being violated In so many ways if s hard to know where to start
I feel that the only proper response to this disgusting comment is a Kind and Gentle email to the lady herself. And I use the word "lady" loosely.
Dear Ms Dorey,
I didn't think you could demonstrate your detachment from reality any better than you did in your famous blog post about the genocidal mind-control microchips in the H1N1 vaccine, but you have succeeded. Your equating vaccination with rape not only shows that you are prepared to say anything at all if it reflects badly on vaccination but you don't care how disgusting you look while you are saying it. I'm not sure what you could do to be even more revolting to sane people, but I am sure you can rise to the challenge. I look forward to your next effort in the campaign to clearly distinguish anti-vaccination campaigners from members of civilised society.
Look for me in court on February 14. I will be the person sitting in the audience with a square of black silk on my head. Metaphorically speaking, of course - I wouldn't want to do anything that you could construe as a death threat.
And another (15/1/2011)
In 2005 an article by Robert Kennedy Jr was printed in Rolling Stone and published online in Salon. It contained more lies about vaccination than a dinner with Meryl Dorey and has since then been cited by anti-vaccination liars as conclusive evidence of the harm that vaccines can cause. A sort of retraction was published by both outlets a couple of weeks after initial publication, but this didn't faze the liars one bit (the truth rarely does). This has now appeared in Salon:
Correcting our record
We've removed an explosive 2005 report by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about autism and vaccines. Here's why
By Kerry Lauerman
In 2005, Salon published online an exclusive story by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that offered an explosive premise: that the mercury-based thimerosal compound present in vaccines until 2001 was dangerous, and that he was "convinced that the link between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurological disorders is real."
The piece was co-published with Rolling Stone magazine -- they fact-checked it and published it in print; we posted it online. In the days after running "Deadly Immunity," we amended the story with five corrections (which can still be found logged here) that went far in undermining Kennedy's expos�. At the time, we felt that correcting the piece -- and keeping it on the site, in the spirit of transparency -- was the best way to operate. But subsequent critics, including most recently, Seth Mnookin in his book "The Panic Virus," further eroded any faith we had in the story's value. We've grown to believe the best reader service is to delete the piece entirely.
"I regret we didn't move on this more quickly, as evidence continued to emerge debunking the vaccines and autism link," says former Salon editor in chief Joan Walsh, now editor at large. "But continued revelations of the flaws and even fraud tainting the science behind the connection make taking down the story the right thing to do." The story's original URL now links to our autism topics page, which we believe now offers a strong record of clear thinking and skeptical coverage we're proud of -- including the critical pursuit of others who continue to propagate the debunked, and dangerous, autism-vaccine link.
I predict that the Kennedy article will continue to be cited, but only after the attacks on Salon and Rolling Stone for retracting the article have subsided. And here's the first comment. You can guess who it is from.
Say what? (15/1/2011)
This is an example of the sort of advice about vaccination that you can find on the Internet. There have been these things called "schools" for hundreds of years but some people seem to have missed finding them.
Then there's Wakefield (22/1/2011)
Hopefully I have written the last thing I ever have to write about the dreadful Dr Andrew Wakefield. My next Naked Skeptic column for Australasian Science magazine sets out the history of Wakefield's deception over the years. It won't be on the newsstands for a couple of weeks but you can get a sneak preview here. The magazine will, as usual, contain much more than just my scribbling so I recommend that you either nag your newsagent to have it on sale (if you live in Australia) or, better still, subscribe through the magazine web site. It is the best popular science magazine in the country and is written by experts for a non-expert audience.
In more Dr Wakefield news, the British Medical Journal has now published all three parts of their report into his actions.
And do you think the attacks on journalist Brian Deer have subsided? Of course not - he exposed the sordid details of Wakefield's deception and must be vilified at every opportunity. Here is our old friend Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network expressing an opinion. (I've left the question about blood type and eugenics there to show that crazy ideas about vaccination are not confined to the movement's leaders.)
"Lying dog of a journalist", hey? The UK has some of the most draconian and bankrupting defamation laws in the world, so why hasn't Dr Wakefield sued Brian Deer for being a lying dog? Well, he tried before and the case was thrown out of court because Wakefield's lawyers couldn't convince the court that they were doing anything except trying to hide what Wakefield had done and burden Deer with crippling legal bills. I suspect, however, that Deer might have more success if he decided to ask an Australian court to rule on the defamatory nature of the words "lying dog of a journalist".
Fountain Of Beauty Cosmetics
Meryl Dorey's beauty products business won an Encouragement Award in the 2010 Millenium Awards. The citation read:
This is the cosmetic and beauty products company run by Meryl Dorey, once the President of the Australian Vaccination Network but now just some sort of media spokesperson for the organisation. It is getting an Encouragement Award because it suffered some customer relations problems through the year with people whining to eBay and on "report bad service here" web sites.
Dear Ms Dorey,
Congratulations. Fountain of Beauty Cosmetics has received an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. The judges recognised that it was a difficult year for you personally and the beauty business might have been neglected, so they felt that you might need some encouragement to get back on track. The award citation read:
Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.
You can see the other award winners at https://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2010/2010awards.htm
Those wacky anti-vaccinators (29/1/2011)
It seems that a week can't go by without some anti-vaccination liar trying to raise the bar for idiocy and vileness. Here is this week's effort, from the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page. (I cite this outfit a lot, mainly because they make such an effort to be disgusting. There is a limit to how many of these filthy organisations I can pay attention to at any one time, but another named VINE (from New Zealand) is bubbling towards the surface of the swamp.)
Faced with facts, attack the person. That is the only way they can defend their indefensible attitude towards the health of children. In other posts the doctor was abused for not having a licence (the same attack has been used for years against Dr Stephen Barrett who has no licence for the same reason - once he ceased to practise he didn't need a license and its concomitant professional insurance). You can see Dr Tuteur's article here.
Another thing that came up this week was a repeat of the lie that vaccines are somehow related to Shaken Baby Syndrome and are in fact the cause of the injuries seen in the children. I find it difficult to be polite to people who make this claim. A few years ago a killer named Alan Yurko was adopted by the anti-vaccination community as an example of someone unjustly imprisoned because the ten-week-old baby he beat to death was really killed by a vaccine. I want you to read the following comment about the baby's condition:
Post-Mortem Findings (Performed by the medical examiner for Orange and Osceola Counties):
Findings included minor contusions of both temporal areas of the head and a small bruise of the right lower eyelid. The brain was grossly edematous, (which may have been the precipitating factor of the apnea preceding hospital admission). There were large, fresh subdural hemorrhages, right and left hemispheres, predominantly right; also hemorrhages at the base of the brain and over some areas of the spinal cord. The brain was grossly edematous. There was a small focus of bleeding in the right eye (bleeding absent in the left eye). In addition there were old, healing fractures in the 5th, 6th 7th nd 10th ribs, all posterior on the left. The lungs were mildly hemorrhagic and were congested with scattered inflammatory cells, indicating an interstitial pneumonitis. (The heart, liver, pancreas, small intestines, gall bladder, and spleen had been surgically harvested before death for organ donations).
Based on these findings, it was the medical examiner's conclusion that the baby had died from the shaken baby syndrome.
You might wonder how anybody could read this and not be outraged at the way the child had been treated. Pay particular attention to the four healing broken ribs, with the breaks just where the fingers of a right-handed person would be pressing while the child was being shaken, and remember that the child was only ten weeks old. The assault that killed him wasn't the first.
What might surprise you is the words quoted above were taken from a paper written by two medical doctors as a defence of the killer and as support for the ridiculous idea that vaccines had caused the child's death. That's right - fully qualified medical doctors with licences to practise. What other conclusion could you draw than that these doctors were either insane or so lacking in morality that they would say or do anything to discredit vaccination. Or both. And people still ask me why I have nothing but contempt for vaccination opponents. What other attitude is it possible for anyone who is sane to take?
A child died from pertussis, a disease which is almost completely preventable by vaccination. Various people mentioned this tragedy. Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network thinks that talking about dying children is "Like a broken record". And by the way, the statistics have been explained to her many times, although speculation about her source of the "ONE HUNDRED TIMES" increase in incidence risks impugning her honesty.
Another joke (26/2/2011)
Well, it would be if it wasn't so serious. Here is something posted to the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page by ex-President Meryl Dorey. Pay particular attention to where she says "There is NO mention that this baby was unvaccinated".
Then look at the first two paragraphs of the news story she linked to and commented on. Read the last sentence and tell me that Ms Dorey can read.
Actually, I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt here and assume that she meant to write "There is NO mention that this baby was vaccinated and chances are, she was". This is much more consistent with the lie she told in the post where she provided the link to the article - "Infant gets polio from vaccine". No, Ms Dorey, the infant got polio from a virus, a virus that would have been wiped out of its human reservoirs years ago if people like you hadn't been spreading fear and lies about the danger of the vaccine. Like smallpox, polio requires human carriers. One day the last case will be gone, but until then children will die and be crippled because of the actions of people like you. Are you proud of that?
A mythical hospital (9/4/2011)
One of the signs of true ignorance is getting little things wrong and not caring about the error. A few weeks ago I saw a comment on one of the anti-vaccination liar pages at Facebook (one of the few that I am not banned from commenting on) which mentioned some research done at "John's Hopkins Hospital". In my usual pedantic style, which irritates idiots and is therefore hugely enjoyable, I asked something like "Where is this John's Hopkins Hospital of which you speak?" I received some drivelous answer which I didn't bother to commit to memory. I have now been told that I have been the subject of discussion on the Australian Vaccination Network's Yahoo! mailing list. I am banned from reading or participating in that list but that doesn't stop me being talked about.
It seems that I was the subject of ridicule for my question. Apparently I am so stupid that I don't know where "John Hopkins Hospital" is. All I can say to that (here, but not on the list where I am being discussed) is "Where is this John Hopkins Hospital of which you speak?"
Idiots. Is it any wonder that they make up and believe the lies about vaccines?
A day in court (16/4/2011)
There appears to be an outbreak of crazy at the Australian Vaccination Network. Why else would they be suing a government department? In July 2010 the AVN was politely asked by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission to put a notice on their web site with the following information:
The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent place on its website which states:
The AVN it its arrogance refused to display any notice and has now commenced legal action against the HCCC. Here is the story in the AVN's local paper:
Ava Benny-Morrison | 13th April 2011
THE Bangalow-based Australian Vaccination Network Inc (AVN) has launched a civil suit against the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) in the NSW Supreme Court.
The suit was lodged in response to the HCCC's public warning about the AVN in July last year.
The case is listed for directions and will be mentioned for the first time in Sydney today. The mention will involve case management only at this stage.
When contacted by The Northern Star, AVN president Meryl Dorey said she was unable to comment on the matter.
The AVN is challenging the findings of the HCCC's investigation into the Northern Rivers-based vaccination information group.
The HCCC launched its investigation after it received two complaints about the AVN.
The first was from Stop the AVN president Ken McLeod and the second from Toni and David McCaffery, whose baby daughter died from whooping cough in 2009.
The HCCC's investigation established on July 26 last year that some information on the AVN website was "misleading and incorrect" and that it "should not be read as medical advice."
In response to the HCCC findings, the AVN accused the HCCC's cinvestigation of being biased. Mrs Dorey previously told The Star that the whole investigation was handled in an "extremely irregular manner".
Following the HCCC's warning, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) revoked the AVN's fundraising authority after finding the organisation had breached NSW charity laws.
The revocation took effect on October 20 last year and the then-Minster for Gaming and Racing Kevin Greene said the group "breached charitable fundraising laws and potentially misled the public".
The revocation meant the AVN was no longer permitted to accept charitable donations.
The AVN is now fighting that decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which will hear the matter on May 18 and 19.
A spokesperson for the OLGR said his department's revocation took into account the HCCC's warnings.
"We will observe the Supreme Court proceedings against the Commission to ensure that any relevant matters are considered," he said.
The paper has been notified of these errors.
A directions hearing was conducted before Registrar Bradford in the Supreme Court on April 13, and I will be following Case Number 201100098303 closely as it proceeds through the labyrinth of the law.
That old free speech thing (7/5/2011)
Over the last couple of weeks Meryl Dorey, once president of the Australian Vaccination Network, has been waging a campaign to remove criticism of her anti-vaccination activities from Facebook. Her method took the form of filing copyright infringement notices against anyone who displayed screenshots of her comments. She apparently did this as she saw criticism as an attempt to stifle her freedom of speech. Irony is always lost on fundamentalists, so she didn't see that her success at having people's Facebook accounts closed is an example of hypocrisy if you are claiming to support free speech. And speaking of hypocrisy, one of the items she complained about was a reproduction of her own theft of copyright material from a newspaper. She also seems to have forgotten that she was forced to withdraw some AVN publications because they contained material written by others and permission to reproduce had not been obtained. It seems that free speech only works one way for her.
It is well known that anti-vaccination liars hold the belief that there is no such thing as Shaken Baby Syndrome, as all those broken ribs and brain haemorrhages are caused by vaccines. In a blog article whining about how critics were terrifying her and her acolytes and boasting about her success in silencing them she paid special attention to the son of one of the doctors who first identified SBS. I posted the following comment on the blog.
In the past, when I hit "Submit Comment" I got a message saying that the comment was awaiting moderation. My comments never got through moderation, of course, because that would require Ms Dorey to pay lip service to her pretend commitment to free speech and dialogue. Now my comments are simply rejected automatically. Still, I had to ask:
Let's look at the truth (21/5/2011)
Or maybe look at untruth instead. Last December my friend Ken McLeod published Part 1 of a collection of documented untruths uttered by the erstwhile President of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey. (Nobody seems to know who the current President is, but I digress ...) Ken has been busy since then keeping watch over the AVN and its activities and has found the time to produce Part 2 of the opus.
Just to remind you of the sort of things that Ms Dorey says which might lack a certain amount of accuracy, you can go here to see a statement from the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. Ms Dorey claimed in a legal declaration that publishing this was a breach of her copyright and tried to have it removed from various web sites such as Scribd, but how she manages to own something produced by someone else is something only she seems to know.
How's your reputation? (28/5/2011)
There's a web site named Web of Truth that allows visitors to review web sites. These reviews can be processed by a browser add-on which can block web sites that are dangerous or not recommended. I offer ratings for two web sites without further comment.
AVN broke again! (11/6/2011)
Perhaps that should end with a question mark rather than an exclamation point, because we have heard on many occasions how the Australian Vaccination Network is down to the last few dollars in the till and is about to go under. Somehow a benefactor always seems to come along just in time. Here is the latest begging letter to members:
Please do not ignore this message or delay your assistance!
It has been almost 18 months since our last fund raising drive and you all gave so generously that we were able to keep it going for all this time without any new members or donations from the general public and in spite of the best efforts of certain government departments and private-sector organisations to force us to close. (See the rest here)
Over the years I have become accustomed to a certain lack of precision in statements made by Meryl Dorey, once President of the AVN, and this is no exception. No government department is trying to force the AVN to close. The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission asked them to display a message on their web site and when they refused the HCCC issued a warning to the public. (One of the reasons that the AVN is short of cash is that they are fighting the HCCC in court, not to get the warning withdrawn but because they claim the HCCC is somehow corrupt.) You can see the HCCC report here and the warning about the AVN here. Because they forgot to renew their registration as a charity, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing has also been giving them grief. Again, they are getting ready to fight the OLG&R in court. Neither of these government bodies is trying to shut the AVN down; they are simply asking the organisation to comply with the law.
And as for "private sector organisations" trying to shut the AVN down, I assume Ms Dorey means the loose coalition of people who are members of the Facebook group "Stop the AVN". It is not an organisation of any kind, just a collection of people who communicate through social networking sites. Feel free to click on the picture at right and join in the fun.