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First Place - The Anus Maximus Award
There were several contenders for the top prize this year, and it wasn't until the murder of kindergarten children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut on December 14 that a clear winner managed to draw clear of the pack. As in all cases of mass murder using assault weapons there was no shortage of insane defence of people's rights to carry guns, although all these people seem to forget that when the right was included in the US Constitution it allowed citizens to be armed with single-shot muzzle-loading muskets. The drooling love of guns reached its peak, however, when the National Rifle Association started to comment. They of course repeated the idiocy of the safety of a fully armed populace, and then went on to suggest that school shooting sprees could be prevented if teachers and other school staff carried loaded weapons at all times. Up until then they were just repeating the mindless nonsense that apologists for murderers always come up with at times like these, but then they took a step which separated them from the crowd. The NRA requested that a national register of the mentally ill be created and that the list should be provided to the NRA. My immediate response was that the NRA already has a quite comprehensive record of people with a mental illness. It's right there in their database, under the heading "Membership".
Quote of the Year
Mass murder always brings out the craziness in people looking to use it to further some insane agenda, so picking one example out from the rest can be quite difficult. I have chosen a statement by "Dr" Sherri Tenpenny, one of the most respected and quoted of the professional anti-vaccination liars. Here she is on Facebook, suggesting that a fictitious number of vaccines causes mental illness and therefore is the true reason that someone should take up his mother's semi-automatic rifle, kill the mother and then proceed to go to a school and murder kindergarten children. I'm not sure why she should be concerned at someone killing children, because increasing the number of dead children is her life's work, but perhaps she thinks it would be preferable to kill them in greater numbers and less publicity with a measles or pertussis epidemic. The words that win the award are in the first two paragraphs:
I'd like to take it one step backward: How much "mental illness" in children starts from the 66 vaccine antigens and doses chemicals injected into developing brain by 6 months of age? Or the cumulative effects of 110 antigens by 5yr of age..Or by 12 years, the sum of 153 antigens (and measurable amounts of more than 63 different chemicals).
There is nothing "hysterical" about that statement -- simply the facts about what comes through those needles.
"Dr" Tenpenny has been informed of her success.
Dear Ms Tenpenny
Congratulations on winning Quote Of The Year in the 2012 Millenium Awards. You had some very tough competition but your attempt to link the killings in the Sandy Hook Elementary School to vaccinations finally beat out the rest. I appreciate that you might be ambivalent about the shooting. Because you devote your life to increasing the number of dead and disabled children I'm sure you felt a twinge of admiration for the gunman while simultaneously thinking that far more dead children can be caused by a measles or pertussis epidemic than can ever be achieved by a single lunatic machine-gunning a room full of toddlers.
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 winners at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2012/2012awards.htm.
The Chiropractic Board is Highly Commended for two outstanding public relations coups. The first is getting government recognition (including a "gov.au" domain name) as some sort of overseeing body controlling the way chiropractic is practised in Australia. This government recognition gives this particular form of quackery an aura of legitimacy, because there are similar boards controlling branches of real medicine. The second is to convince sensible people who should know better that chiropractic has thrown aside its old opposition to vaccination and now supports it. This has even taken in people who work within groups opposed to quackery and vaccination denial. I have written elsewhere about the "halo effect" but I was surprised to see it working on highly trained medical researchers and doctors.
In summary, here is everything the Chiropractic Board of Australia has to say about vaccination:
In giving a Highly Commended award to Judy Wilyman I'm deliberately ignoring the fact that she has a page on the site attacking me. While I appreciate the publicity I am not susceptible to bribes or flattery.
This site is here because it is often cited as an authority on the problems of vaccination, specifically the dangers of the vaccine against human papilloma virus, despite the fact that there is no material there by pathologists, immunologists, oncologists or anyone who might know anything about the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. The standard anti-vaccine arguments that have been spouting forth from the deniers almost since Ian Frazer announced the possibility of a vaccine are there - sexually transmitted so only sluts get it, multiple varieties of the virus and the vaccine doesn't protect against all of them, schoolgirls faint when a group are vaccinated together, never been tested (despite a clinical trial with 30,000 subjects, costing about $1 billion), no evidence of HPV-cancer link (shades of HIV-AIDS denial), and so on.
Ms Wilyman is part-way through a PhD program and if her research was actually an unbiased investigation of vaccine dangers, side effects and problems then it might have some value. Instead it is targeted at a predetermined conclusion that vaccines are bad, and anything that can make vaccines or their supporters look bad is acceptable. An example of the latter was Ms Wilyman's statement (since repeated) that the parents of a child who died of whooping cough have been paid to promote vaccination. (The parents were given a small cash gift as part of an award for promotion of critical thinking. They donated the money to charity.)
The fact that Ms Wilyman is undertaking a PhD (in a sociology department) is continually used by anti-vaccination liars as evidence that she is an authority on vaccination and its dangers. The facts are that she has published nothing of any import in peer-reviewed journals and her PhD thesis could have been written before she started because she knew what she wanted to find.
I decided to have joint winners of this Highly Commended award because both institutions share a common rejection of science. Having one from Australia (Lavoisier Group) and one from the US (Heartland Institute) shows that no country has a monopoly on nonsense.
Both groups deny the reality of climate change and reject any suggestion that humans can affect the climate. The are climate change deniers. I know they hate being called deniers and prefer to call themselves skeptics, but skeptics are people who accept evidence and follow where it leads whereas deniers start from a preconceived position and stick with it in the face of evidence. They say that using the term "denier" likens them to Holocaust deniers and might even diminish the story of the Holocaust. Well, Holocaust deniers start from a position of bigotry and reject any evidence that doesn't fit in with their prejudices. Climate change deniers start from a political position and reject any evidence that doesn't fit with their prejudices. Don't like being called a denier? Then stop denying.
I assume that naming one of these groups after one of the greatest scientists of all time is an attempt to convince observers that there is something legitimate going on there. Just another form of deception, like using the word "skeptic" instead of the correct term.
I've been living in the Blue Mountains for four years now and I am really excited about the possibility that there are secret underground military bases beneath my house and the new library and Coles supermarket in Katoomba. I'm giving this site an Encouragement Award because I want to know how the research is going and if any progress has been made in mapping the entrances to the complex. I realise that my old eyes probably won't be able to see the aircraft moving at almost the speed of light, but I would love to be able to take a tour of the hangars and other buried facilities. I'll even promise not to take pictures and put them on Facebook or Flickr.
The cliffs behind my house. Where are the hidden doors?
Shuzi Qi are getting an Encouragement Award because they need encouragement. They burst on the Australian scam scene like a meteor, recycling an old scam in new packaging. When challenged they didn't even try to fight back, but simply rolled up the tents and stole away in the night. Did I say "stole"? How appropriate, given that their corporate mission was to steal as much money as possible from as many people as they could get to before the authorities came knocking. I said that they were like a meteor, and meteors burn up before they achieve anything. Maybe a better astronomical analogy might be to a comet - they appeared and have now gone away, only to reappear at some time in the distant future, maybe with a different name and product. Somehow I hope they come back, because kicking them into submission this time was so much fun and I would like to do it again.
I felt that Tim O'Shea and his Doctor Within web site needed some encouragement. He is currently the recommended supplier of Continuing Professional Education about vaccines to Australian chiropractors, but surely there's a large untouched market for this and other courses that he sells. Just as an example, I'm sure that many anti-vaccination liar organisations that have online shops would love to sell his vaccination course, and there are many colleges of alternative medicine (whatever that is) who could also be customers for his ready-to-use packaged teaching materials. As truth and science play no part in the course material it would be a relatively simple matter to rejig a course on say homeopathy and turn it into training materials for ayurvedic whatever, so expansion of the product line is relatively inexpensive. If you can just make stuff up as you go along it's a lot more convenient than having to read books and look at evidence.