Antivaxxers grow increasingly bolder

December 30, 2011

Over the last year, the anti-vaccination movement has grown more bold in their misinformation campaigns. It began Thanksgiving weekend of 2010, where they tried to advertise their propaganda in AMC movie theaters. This effort was thwarted however in no small part because of SkepChick activist Elyse Anders. Then months later, they succeeded in getting a commercial running on the Time Square CBS Jumbotron. And last month, they succeeded in getting Delta Airlines to air their propaganda on flights.

Each time Elyse Anders used a change.org petition to influence those who have agreed to work with these antivaccine groups and I discussed this during my recent SkeptiCamp talk, which was focused on promoting more skeptical activism in NYC because as great as Elyse has been for NYC, she doesn’t live here and I hate needing her to fight our local battles when we have a sizable skeptical community, many of whom I suspect would be interested in skeptical activism.

Well now the inaccurately named National Vaccine Information Center is back to their old tricks and are currently, as well as during New Years, running another dishonest ad in Times Square on ABC Full Circle’s 5000 square foot TSQ Digital Screen. And the ad is scheduled to run during the New Years celebration. Also, Jenny McCarthy will be part of the televised show and has promised to try to draw attention to the ad.

And again, since there’s no organized NYC skeptical activism…yet (hopefully more on this soon!), New York’s protector, Elyse Anders, is back with another change.org petition. Please sign this petition urging ABC to pull the ad at once.

Yay! Sweet, sweet death!

Now unfortunately, that’s not the only antivaccine news story lately. The antivaccine Australian Vaccination Network is currently promoting a children’s book that teaching kids that measles is awesome. I shit you not. The book is called Melanie’s Marvelous Measles, and it’s written by a woman named Stephanie Messenger. I’m reminded of another children’s author who wrote about measles, Roald Dahl. Though he wasn’t marveling at the disease so much as cursing it for having killed his kid. For more commentary on this sickening book, check out PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson and Reasonable Hank.

The other big news from Australia was that the head of the Australian Vaccination Network, Meryl Dorey was originally scheduled to give a talk at the Woodford Folk Festival about the evils of vaccines. After our friends at the Australian Skeptics campaigned against it, her talk transformed into a panel featuring Dorey and a bunch of actual qualified experts with the know-how to demolish her arguments. But the Australian Skeptics didn’t stop there. They amusingly paid to have an airplane fly over the Festival with a sign reading:  VACCINATION SAVES LIVES.

Bravo Australian Skeptics on a job well done. Now we just need to bring the same level of activism to NYC.

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AVN loses its charity status

October 14, 2010

The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – not to be confused with the Adult Video Network) has been stripped of its status as a charitable organization on account that it’s, you know, not really a charitable organization but just anti-vaccination propaganda distribution center.

Well, the official reason is that the Australian Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) found the organization’s appeals to have not been in good faith. You see, as I’d written about several months ago, the AVN was ordered to post a disclaimer on their website telling visitors that the site should not be read as medical advice and that the site is not an objective source on vaccines but rather is ideologically determined to oppose vaccination.

But you see, Meryl Dorey and her organization chose to ignore that ruling and not advertise their bias. Soooo, that brings us to today, when the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) revoked the AVN’s charitable status on the grounds it had failed to publish the recommended disclaimer.

“This has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith,” the office says in a letter sent to the AVN.

“The organisation’s website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination, whereas the organisation adopts an anti-vaccination position.”

This all follows copyright infringement charges made against the organization a month and a half ago.

Suffice it to say, this has not been a good year for Meryl Dorey and her Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.” And unfortunately for Ms. Dorey, this is only the beginning as we will take apart her organization piece by piece. The blood of Dana McCaffery and possibly other infants is on her hands, and we’ll make sure she never forgets it.

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Australian Vaccination Movement steals too

September 1, 2010

Arr! Why didn't any of you skallywags tell me stealing was wrong?

In addition to the charges brought against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) by the Health Care Complaints Commission over their constant misinforming of parents about health information and harassment of families criticizing the organization, now the AVN has taking to stealing, or more specifically, to violating copyright law by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without the authors’ permission.

The Australian Vaccination Network, which was the subject of a public warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission last month, withdrew 11 information packs from its website yesterday after complaints from authors.

The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies.

What’s that conspiracy theorists always say about following the money? Now you might wonder why the AVN would be interested in spreading real medical information from actual reliable sources, given how prone they are to lying to parents for the specific purpose of tricking them into thinking the real medical professionals are part of an evil conspiracy. Well this should explain that:

“‘That article is at least 15 years old so is not based on current information.”

See, the AVN isn’t anti-science. They love science, so long as it’s old, outdated science.

The network is also under investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing after reports it solicited donations without a fundraising licence. If found guilty, the network will no longer be allowed to operate as a charity.

The president of the network, Meryl Dorey, said she was unaware she had breached copyright but accepted there had been problems with her licence.

”We’ve made mistakes but they’ve been honest mistakes. They’ve been out of ignorance rather than fraudulence,” she said.

You see, Meryl Dorey didn’t mean any harm. How was she to know that being a pirate was illegal? Cause that never comes up in any pirate movie ever. Nor is it explained at the beginning of every DVD and VHC. For she’s been living on the moon for her entire life and never heard of such foreign concepts as intellectual property and copyrights. That’s a plausible defense. It’s like that time I ran over that kid with my car. I didn’t know that was a crime. Honest.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 8.3.10

August 3, 2010

Yup, I’m very behind again, so bare with me.

1. Former writers for ScienceBlogs find a new home – I’ve written already about “PepsiGate,” the controversy that led to many of the leading science bloggers on the web to leave their home at Scienceblogs. Well, now at least many of the bloggers who left, including one of my favorites, PalMD, have moved to Scientopia. And their joining other bloggers who had no previous connection to ScienceBlogs, so hopefully this will become yet another hub for amazing science coverage that the mainstream media is failing to cover. And PZ Myers, Orac, and Abbie Smith are all remaining at ScienceBlogs.  I personally don’t really care where they’re posting their material just as long as this incident hasn’t deprived the internet of great science bloggers.

2. New study again proves the Earth is warming -

The 2009 State of the Climate report released today draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

Oh great! Now even Earth is falling for Al Gore’s evil liberal agenda.

3. Monkeys hate flying squirrels – C’mon, who doesn’t hate flying squirrels. Fuckin’ rodents think they’re so clever because they got built-in hang gliders. Humans had to actually build our flying technology; they were just born with it. That takes no great accomplishment. I’d like to see a flying squirrel build a 747. But maybe that’s just me. So why do monkeys hate them?

This riled-up response is probably just a false alarm, with the monkeys mistaking the squirrel for a predatory bird. On the other hand, male macaques – some of whom give chase and even attack a harmless rodent – might be trying to impress females in their troop.

Although this tough-guy motive was not proved in a new study, “it is possible that adult or sub-adult male monkeys may be ‘showing off’ their fitness” as potential mates, said Kenji Onishi, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Osaka University and lead author of the paper being published in the current issue of the journal Primate Research.

I like my reason better.

4. How high can Virgin Galactic take you? – Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic now has two fully operational private spacecraft: SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo (aka Enterprise). And for the low, low price of $200,000, they’ll take you about 68 miles above the Earth’s surface, or 6.2 miles above  the Kármán line, the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Now’s the time for Captain Kirk to start offering cheaper flights with Priceline.

5, Mind reading machines are science reality -

It is possible to read someone’s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves.

So far, it has only been used to identify visual patterns a subject can see or has chosen to focus on. But the researchers speculate the approach might be extended to probe a person’s awareness, focus of attention, memory and movement intention. In the meantime, it could help doctors work out if patients apparently in a coma are actually conscious.

I can't handle the truth!

6. Anti-vaxxer Meryl Dorey is a lying bitch – The other day, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – [snicker] ) responded to the accusations made against her that her organization misinforms parents and that they’ve harassed the McCaffery family, whose 4-week-old baby Dana died of pertussis because she was too young to be safely vaccinated and those around hadn’t been vaccinated either. Of course, she denied any wrongdoing of any kind. But now the McCaffery’s have responded to her response. And big surprise. She lied…a lot.

7. Self-sustaining robot has artificial gut – I do love my robot news. A robot, Ecobot III, eats dead flies for sustenance. It’s pretty inefficient now but it’s hard to imagine the possibilities for how far this research could take robot technology in the future.

8. Supplements found to be unsafe – I know it sounded like a great idea for supplements to not be regulated to confirm they are safe and effective but it turns out that, shockingly, not verifying these products are actually safe is a really, really bad idea. I know. Who knew?

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Australian Vaccination Network condemned by health authorities for harassing & misleading parents

July 13, 2010

I’ve written before about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – [snicker]) and its despicable leader, Meryl Dorey. Now it seems that Australian health officials have something to say about them as well. The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has produced a report condemning the claims and activities of the AVN.

Unfortunately, the HCCC is only demanding the AVN to place an easily ignorable disclaimer on their website. According to the HCCC’s AVN Final Report (PDF):

The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent position on its website which states:

  1. the Australian Vaccination Network’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere;
  2. the information provided should not be read as medical advice; and
  3. the decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

The report also makes reference to the alleged harassment of the parents of Dana McCaffery, a 4-week-old Australian infant who died of the easily preventable pertussis specifically because she was too young to receive the vaccine and the disease was allowed to spread by irresponsible locals who chose not to vaccinate.

ABC covered the story here:

And you can hear more of Meryl Dorey spouting out dangerous misinformation on a radio show where fortunately, the hosts weren’t buying her bullshit.

Meryl Dorey and the AVN are so despicable they make the Westboro Baptist Church seem pleasant by comparison.

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News From Around The Blogosphere 5.15.10

May 15, 2010

1. One thing I never could stand about New Zealand was all the damned vampires – Two people in New Zealand have been arrested and charged with “wounding with intent to render a man unconscious” following a report from a man who claims he was attacked by vampires after waking up in a park after a night of drinking to find bite marks on his neck. But don’t worry. They totally had a good excuse.

2. New fossil find reveals secrets of ancient marine life -

Paleontologists have discovered a rich array of exceptionally preserved fossils of marine animals that lived between 480 million and 472 million years ago, during the early part of a period known as the Ordovician. The specimens are the oldest yet discovered soft-bodied fossils from the Ordovician, a period marked by intense biodiversification.

And for those keeping track, that’s between 479,994,000 and 471,994,000 years before the existence of the entire universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

3. Australian church rejects vaccine denialists at the AVN – Meryl Dorey and her goons at the misnamed Australian Vaccination Network (AVN [snicker]) were told to get lost by a church after the AVN requested to use their church as a venue for spreading propaganda about the evils of vaccines. It turns out that prominent church members are experts in the field of ethics and public health, and they felt the AVN is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church of Australia. And so no Uniting Church venue will be made available to them.

4. Mirin Dajo had a lot of guts – This guy didn’t just swallow a sword; he had himself run through with numerous fencing foils…to entertain people!

I’m reminded of Todd Robbins, one of the few remaining sideshow vaudeville acts from the Coney Island tradition. I’ve seen Robbins swallow swords, perform the human blockhead (pounding a nail up the nose – I’m told not actually that hard), and most impressive of all, eating glass for your amusement. But I’d say Marin Dajo deserves recognition as an indestructible bastard except that he died at the age of 35.

5. Revenge is a dish best served with pubic lice – A British website has come up with a pretty badass way to help people get revenge on those who have wronged them…by selling pubic lice. The site, crabrevenge.com, has a disclaimer but a pretty insincere one:

While the disclaimer says the website creators “do not endorse giving people lice,” and the lice are for “novelty purposes only,” the website talks about using them for revenge.

. . .

The website says the company was started “by a group of fellows who happen to know a thing or two about biology and revenge.”

Well I can’t argue the revenge part. So please, don’t give me crabs.

6. New book further blows the lid on $cientology – Escaped and recovered $cientologist Amy Scobee has released a new book called Abuse At The Top, where she reiterates the now ubiquitous claims of leader David Miscavige’s violent assaults on members and gave some fun stories about Tom Cruise.


Australian Vaccination Network still struggling

April 6, 2010

AVN leader Meryl Dorey

Back in December, the anti-vaccination group, the  Australian Vaccination Network (AVN – yes, that’s their actual acronym), and its founder Meryl Dorey ran into a problem. They became subjects of an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission:

The AVN is accused of ‘engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct with the intent of persuading parents not to vaccinate their children,’ by Ken McLeod, a member of a group known as Stop the AVN.

. . .

And while the commission may take several more months to complete itsinvestigation, the ABC last month released a statement to say that information supplied by Mrs Dorey which was broadcast on ABC Mid-North Coast local radio in September was found to be misleading.

. . .

The investigation found the use of these statistics, about whooping cough, was misleading as they were ‘drawn from different data sets and related to different groups of children’.

The statistics were also presented as vaccination rates for 1991, when they were, in fact, for 2001, the ABC said.

It was also around this time that Dorey started begging for money on behalf of the AVN, which was allegedly going bankrupt.

And now new reports are coming in that suggest Dorey and the AVN are still in dire straits. Allegedly, parenting magazines, home of their primary demographic, are refusing to publish AVN advertisements. Now the intended ad would have cost $8000, which Dorey was all ready to pay, which raises an important question:

At question here is how the AVN came to have a spare $8000, after their recent donation drive initiated apparently to keep them from going under. Meryl apparently needed the cash to cover debts, so just a few weeks later she has enough in the coffers to blow eight grand on advertising?

Will someone soon be banging down Dorey’s door to break her thumbs in the near future? Who knows? Given the news I reported last week that the AVN is now selling $cientology propaganda films, nothing would surprise me anymore.


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