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There has been a spate lately of people arriving ex nihilo at the Stop the AVN Facebook page and posting messages challenging the regulars to explain things that have been explained countless times before. They invariably say at some time that they are not anti-vaccination, in the same tone of voice used by people who say "I'm not a racist, but ...". They then go on to tell easily refuted lies (one said that as part of her research she had been to the vaccine factories to see them being made), and when called on these lies they resort to abuse and non sequitur, with an accusation of payments by Big Pharma usually alluded to if not said outright. After a while they stop responding, and then as a final admission of their worthlessness they delete the entire thread.
I hope this isn't why my ankle broke (1/2/2014)
I have suffered foot problems on at least four occasions - at TAM in Las Vegas in 2004, just before the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney in 2011 (preventing me from participating with my friends from Sydney Gay Atheists), at the Global Atheist Conference in Melbourne in 2012, and coming home from SkeptiCamp in Sydney in 2012 (when the message was very strong - broken ankle). I try very hard not to think that there is some higher power who doesn't like me going to skeptical and atheistic events.
Gates Letter (1/2/2014)
It's always nice to see the annual letter from Bill Gates, setting out what he and like minded people have done and are doing to improve the world. This year's letter is about the myths that impede action to improve the lot of people less fortunate than ourselves.
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has
ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were
aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking
progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck
by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the
world can't solve extreme poverty and disease isn't just mistaken. It is
harmful. That's why in this year's letter we take apart some of the myths
that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you
will do the same.
- Bill Gates
Why do I do this?
Sometimes an email comes in that makes me feel good about what I do. Here is one, revealing the risk to society provided by the opponents of vaccination. (The email has been edited slightly at the request of the writer to remove any identifying information.)
I would like to applaud you on your ongoing fight against the AVN and their fellow travellers.
I hope my following comments are a warning to others.
My wife was recently diagnosed with Whooping Cough and although she has been vaccinated it was many years ago as she is 50 next birthday. Although she has not suffered badly from the infection the problem is that she works 3 days a week in a Obstetrics Practice and held a new born at the practice and also a friend's two week old grandchild before she was aware of the diagnosis.
We may be fortunate that she may have been out of the infectious period at the time however we will have to wait a week or so to see if the babies are OK. In the meantime the babies will have to be given antibiotics just in case. Because this has taken place in the holiday period she may not have worked during the (possible) infectious period.
My wife's infection may just be the "luck of the draw" or is it because of the increased prevalence of Whooping Cough, in a large part, caused by the mindless Ferals of the AVN.
It also shows that we should all have booster shots especially those who work in occupations that pose a risk to newborns and also those families with newborns.
You can imagine how badly my wife feel about this.
I can assure you that the practice is taking all steps necessary to notify and protect their patients.
Scribo, ego sum (1/2/2014)
They say that there's no rest for the wicked, but the rest of us are kept busy too. Another article for Australasian Science magazine has gone off to the printers and bulk mailers. It will be in letterboxes and newsagents shortly, but you can get a sneak preview here.
Philosophy Versus Science, And Vice Versa
I am not a scientist. What I mean by that statement is that I don't do science for a living. My academic background, however, is in epistemology, philosophy of science and other more mundane areas such as statistics and research methodologies. I am understandably concerned about statements such as one made recently by Professor Lawrence Krauss and echoed by others that philosophy has outlived its usefulness and has nothing more to do with science.