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A coming night out? (25/2/2012)
A friend of mine attended this meeting. It was just as bad as it sounds, and probably worse. He will be out of therapy soon and a complete recovery is expected.
You will notice that the venue was a secret and was only revealed by text message shortly before the event. The event organisers have stated that this is so the meetings can't be interrupted by dreadful skeptics. In one truly bizarre comment about this series of seminars, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network likened the event organisers to the WWII French Resistance and compared their critics and potential disrupters to Nazis and Italian Fascists. Paranoia runs deep in conspiracy land.
There will be one of these secret meetings near my place on March 1. (I can't get a copy of the advertisement because it was published in a small-circulation local newsletter and by the time I heard about it all the copies had disappeared from the usual outlets - probably those Nazis trying to stop people from attending.)
I offer the following image without further comment, although I might have something to say next week.
The SIDS and Vaccine Seminar (3/3/2012)
On March 1 I attended a talk about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the horrors of vaccination, presented by Stephanie Messenger from Healthy Lifestyles ... Naturally, author of a bizarre children's book called Melanie's Marvellous Measles, a book designed for young children to teach them about the cheerful benefits of measles. Remarkably, nobody in the room, including Ms Messenger, thought that vaccines cause SIDS, but it was all downhill from there.
I'll have a full report here next week. I had to order in a bulk pack of yellow highlighters from the stationery store and there was just too much material to work through in the time available if I wanted to do a good job. It is probably sufficient to say that I can't think of any standard anti-vaccination lie that was not presented, although I'll know more after I have gone through my copious notes from the event.
Another reason for waiting is I want to have a good read of Stephanie's newsletter, which appears to contain samples of all sorts of woo, from cancer cures to organic foods (with an article on this written by a homeopath who allowed his wife to die instead of getting her to a doctor) to the purity of water, plus the usual lies about vaccines.
The night wasn't completely wasted because I was able to get a free sample of one of the products Ms Messenger sells ( although I couldn't get a free sample of the $30 negative-ion toothbrush). It was a packet of ten negative-ion-charged feminine hygiene pads.
These things emit negative ions which can cure a range of medical and physical conditions. It almost goes without saying that they cure PMS, but it is the other things they work on that make them worth every cent of the price. They came with an A4 page covered on both sides with testimonials in very small type. The first one of these is from "Garry", who put them in his underpants to take away the pain and discomfort of diverticulitis. Not only that, but Garry had a PSA reading of 14.2 (doubled in a year!) and the pads took away the incontinence and "irritating pain" caused by his enlarged prostate. (Note - while PSA is not a terribly reliable indicator of prostate problems, most doctors start twitching if they see a reading above 4. Seeing 14.2 on the scale would have most competent doctors reaching for an oncologist referral form.) Stephanie provided her own anecdote of a man who had a severely swollen and discoloured leg as the result of a septic spider bite. A pad on the sole of his foot and another on the site of the bite had him back to normal in minutes. And they are cheaper than a trip to Lourdes. Stephanie suggested that the pads should be included in any well-equipped first aid kit.
Can you see why I needed more yellow markers? More next week.
Melanie's Marvellous Meningitis (2/2/2013)
In March last year I attended a seminar by Stephanie Messenger who among other things is the author of a disgusting book named Melanie's Marvelous (sic) Measles (it was named Melanie's Marvellous Measles back then when she was speaking Australian). This is a children's book that sets out to explain to kids how harmless measles is, how much fun it is to get it and how unvaccinated children should visit infected kids to catch a dose. It contains the usual lies told by anti-vaccination liars about how unvaccinated children are healthier than those with responsible parents and how all you need to protect yourself from a disease that kills an average of fifteen to sixteen children an hour around the world is to eat healthy food. I assume the details on the page about the publisher are correct, but if they are they would be the only true things in the book.
Ms Messenger has now found a publisher in the USA, and that's when the fun started. Until now the book has only been available through her web site and other places where child safety is of little concern, such as the web site for the Australian Vaccination Network. (Ms Messenger co-authored a vile piece of rubbish named Vaccination Roulette with then AVN President Meryl Dorey in 1998, so she has had a long association with organised anti-vaccination lying.)
The new publisher did all the things that good publishers do to get books sold, and the thing appeared in the catalogues of Amazon and Book Depository as well as several Australian booksellers, some with actual physical stores. It appears that the book is only available online and as an electronic book, so there is the small mercy that parents are unlikely to accidentally come across it while shopping for hard-copy books. The danger was still there, however, that people searching some of the biggest booksellers in the world for information about vaccination might come across this excrescence, buy it and actually read it to their kids.
A grassroots campaign appeared to try to persuade booksellers to drop this book from their catalogues. I should point out at this time that I don't believe stores should be censors and refuse to sell any book that might offend someone somewhere and I would rather they erred on the side of selling too much rather than too little. They are commercial enterprises and provided that they don't sell books which are illegal or which promote illegal behaviour all people can do is complain without expecting that their complaints will be acted on. I'm against book banning, even books like this which I find personally offensive and dangerous to public health, but like all citizens (and customers) I have the right to vote with my wallet if I don't like what a retailer does. This is the same right granted to vegans who boycott supermarkets where meat is sold or religious fanatics who refuse to shop in places where something that offends them is sold. Freedom of speech implies the freedom to object to the speech and actions of others.
The grassroots soon became a grassfire. As far as I can tell, all Australian booksellers have dropped the book from both their online and physical catalogues. Amazon is taking the high moral ground of ignoring complaints and selling whatever they want to sell, as is their right, and they probably don't care if a few (or even a few thousand) people say they will never be customers again. Television, radio and press media took up the story with enthusiasm and in most cases effectively ignored the book apart from using it as the launching point for attacks on the lies told about vaccines and the people who tell those lies. Yes, some anti-vaccination liars got some air time, but sensible people were there to put the sane point of view. Ms Messenger was nowhere to be seen, although she did comment on some Internet forum that she didn't care about what everyone was saying because she is right and they are wrong.
So in summary, a book presenting dangerous untruths to children was suddenly given a wider audience, many people exercised their right to protest, circulation was restricted and almost everyone is happy. The book is still available to anyone who cares to look for it but it is a bit harder to find. Children are safer, and the craziness of the anti-vaccination campaign has been exposed to a very wide audience.
Some quotes, to show how awful the book is:
Massive liefest coming Down Under (3/1/2015)
A mysterious organisation calling itself The GanKinMan Foundation has announced that is organising a tour of Australia by well-known anti-vaccination liar "Dr" Sherri Tenpenny, winner of Quote of the Year in the 2012 Millenium Awards for her suggestion that the murder of schoolchildren in the Sandy Hook Elementary School could possibly be attributed to the vaccines which the murderer had received as a child. Tenpenny is also renowned for suggesting that SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome are both caused by vaccines and that the HPV vaccine is deliberately designed to kill women. For reasons that could produce several PhDs in both psychiatry and psychology, a large number of people seem to think that "Dr" Tenpenny actually has something worthwhile to say and should be allowed to roam the streets talking to people instead of being held in a secure room with padded walls.
An examination of business name records in Australia does not turn up any foundation with this particular business name, even disregarding the fact that the word "Foundation" cannot be used in a business name except in special circumstances. A bit deeper examination revealed that is a fictional invention of Stephanie Mesenger, the writer of the book Melanie's Marvellous Measles and co-author with Meryl Dorey of a book called Vaccine Roulette, one of the most comprehensive collections of anti-vaccination lies that it has ever been my displeasure to see.
On Messenger's website it says that payment for the seminars and the other products that she sells can be made by direct deposit into what is effectively a personal bank account, not the bank account of a business. One of her businesses is a registered charity which has been granted tax deductibility for donations by the Australian Taxation Office, so it is possible that she is funnelling money from a commercial venture through a corporate structure that is exempt from income tax, but I am not going to suggest that she is actually doing this because that could possibly be defamatory. I'll leave it up to friends of mine with with expertise and qualifications in both accountancy and taxation law to investigate these matters further.
The name "GanKinMan" is derived from the names of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and Nelson Mandela. I have sent the following email to groups which exist to preserve the reputations and memories of these famous people.
It may have already been brought to your attention but an organisation calling itself the "GanKinMan Foundation" is using the name and reputation of XXXXXXX to promote a tour of Australia by someone (Sherri Tenpenny) who is opposed to vaccination. This opposition extends to telling outright lies about vaccines, declaring that they are not just unnecessary but dangerous. Another speaker on the tour, Isaac Golden, was recently rejected as an expert witness by the Federal Court of Australia when he tried to promote the absurdity of homeopathic "vaccination".
There is no business registration for the GanKinMan Foundation in Australia (the word "Foundation" cannot be registered as part of a business name) and the organisation appears to be the work of a single person, Stephanie Messenger, who has written a book suggesting that children be deliberately exposed to measles and coauthored another book containing some of the most egregious lies ever told about vaccines. Her involvement is well hidden, but a little detective work turned up some telling coincidences.
I urge you to take action to counteract this abuse of the reputation of a great man.
The GanKinMan web site is at http://gankinman.com. I have had a bit to say about Sherri Tenpenny at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/tenpenny.htm
As well as the discredited Dr Golden, one of the other speakers mentioned has been Norma Erickson from the incorrectly named SaneVax (they forgot the prefix "In"), although her name seems to have disappeared completely from a revised website about the events (it's still there on the external site managing the bookings). There are two series of events, one named "Birth, Baby and Beyond Seminar" and the other called "Raising Healthy Children Naturally Seminar".
There has been an extraordinary amount of media attention given to these seminars, much of it resulting from actions of my friends in the Stop the AVN loose Facebook coalition. Everyone seems to be appearing everywhere on radio, television and in the press and so far, with one almost insignificant exception, no commentary has been sought from any of the regular anti-vaccination spokespeople. Maybe at last the media is grasping the concept of false balance. There is nothing that can be said in favour of Tenpenny's tour of lying. Moves have been made to attempt to get the Australian government to cancel Tenpenny's visa for Australia, but if she is coming here on a working rather than tourist visa there is probably little that can be done. There is a precedent for cancelling the visa of a visiting speech maker, but that was someone who is already in the country and was giving lectures which essentially suggested that rape and violence are legitimate means of seduction. While Tenpenny's views may be odious they probably aren't quite as offensive as that to the majority of people. Unfortunately.
I have asked for free media passes to the Sydney seminars. This just shows that I'm the sort of optimist who when he sees a glass half full of water says "It's not just half full, it's getting fuller and will soon overflow". I really would like to go to one of these so I'm going to have an appeal to raise the money to pay for my ticket into one of them. The price of a VIP ticket (which includes having my photograph taken with "Dr" Tenpenny!) is $100 so I'm going to ask for donations. If I don't raise the full $100 or I do and they won't sell me a ticket I'll donate the whole lot to the Children's Hospital at Westmead, and if I raise more than $100 the excess will go to the same place.
Please help get me to a seminar.
I don't think free tickets will be forthcoming.