Posts Tagged 'Anti-Vaccination'

Meryl Dorey is Resigning as President of the AVN!!!

Meryl Dorey is a horrible, horrible person. She is the president of the Australian Vaccination Network, which, despite how its name sounds, is anti-vaccine. Here’s a small sample of her heartlessness:

Meryl appeared on national television telling a reporter that “we didn’t die from (these diseases) thirty years ago and we’re not going to die from them now”, juxtaposted alongside footage of babies gasping for breath as the journalist detailed the story of the death of Dana McCaffery from the vaccine preventable disease, whooping cough.

But I just finished checking my email and guess what? She’s resigning!!! From their most recent newsletter:

After almost 17 years of running the AVN, it is my bittersweet duty to inform you that within the next 3-4 weeks I will tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher.


It would seem that the AVN is having some financial difficulties, so most of her resignation is a plea for money:

Alternatively, if a benefactor or series of benefactors come forward to establish a fund that would guarantee the AVN’s existence for at least the next 2-3 years, or if donations were to be come in during the next week that would give us the same financial sustainability, then I would be willing to continue in my role for the foreseeable future.

This morning, I received a call from one of our long-time members – a woman who has been a faithful member and supporter of the AVN for over 15 years. Her mother passed away last year and she was calling to tell me that when the sale of her mother’s house goes through, she has earmarked a donation to give to the AVN to allow me to go to Canberra. When I informed her of the current situation with our organisation, she suggested that I ask people to not only give generously now, but to earmark 1% of their income to support the AVN into the future. She said that 1% is something everyone should be able to afford and the subject is so important, so vital to our children’s future, that if people were to think about how little it cost them and how much they would be receiving in return, they would be glad to do it. So I am passing this suggestion on at her request.

Unfortunately Meryl is still planning on being active with the AVN, but hopefully their financial difficulties are an indication that they’re losing influence. I also hope that the recent decision with regards to Andrew Wakefield’s ethics would put doubts in the minds of anyone considering supporting anti-vaccination groups like the AVN.

Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of the vaccine fear-mongering, at least in Australia.

NOTE: The full letter is now posted on their blog, you can read it here.

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Enlightning Bolts – 01.28.2010

Dr. Rachael Dunlop of the Skeptic Zone podcast is up for a Shorty Award (a Twitter contest), in the category of health. She’s up against some alternative medicine pushers, so if you have a Twitter account vote!

If you’re in favour of English Libel Law reform (keeping libel laws out of science), check out this website and sign the petition if you agree:

Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

Here‘s an account of PZ’s recent visit to Winnipeg by another local blogger who took notes. Smart!

Canada AM once again provides a platform to a kook: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spouts nonsense, including the ridiculous idea that “even a molecule of mercury could destroy brain cells and cause deformities in children.” What the what? Fail! It’s a morning show, so I don’t expect any hard-hitting journalism, but he was saying some horrible and blatantly wrong things, and there was almost no voice of skepticism. This piece even seemed to be propping him up as some kind of hero. Awful.

Steve over at Skeptic North has kindly responded to this, check it out here. Thanks Steve!

And last, but definitely not least, Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who started the whole vaccines cause autism myth, was investigated by the General Medical Council. They found that he “acted ‘dishonestly and irresponsibly’ in his research and with ‘callous disregard’ for the children that were the subject of his research.”

I predicted on Twitter that the anti-vax response to this would be something like: “Wakefield being found guilty will prove that the courts are IN TEH POCKET of Big Pharma!!!111” It turns out I wasn’t even that far off.

Michael Jackson’s Ghost

Last week this video was shown on CNN, and it quickly went viral as many people believe it shows Michael Jackson’s ghost at Neverland Ranch.

Now, somewhat surprisingly, Larry King has debunked the video on his show. I say surprisingly because  King has not hesitated in the past to provide a platform for all sorts of harmful pseudoscience, most notably Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccination nonsense.

I wonder why he has chosen to devote time on his show to debunking a fluff ghost story, yet he gives almost no criticism to dangerous purveyors of woo. Okay, I know why…RATINGS! It’s completely shameless.


Oprah Finally Getting the Criticism She Deserves

Oprah has had a platform for spreading woo for too long. She has had so many loyal viewers of her show, and she is good at telling a story. Every day she has the opportunity to present truth, to give useful information, and to make it entertaining. But so often Oprah does a disservice to her audience by providing a medium through which her guests can sell non-evidence-based,Oprah potentially very harmful quackery with virtually no criticism.

Last week this newsweek article got a lot of attention. I was happy to see such a high profile magazine with such a critical article of Oprah’s quack-peddling ways.

Here‘s Oprah’s response to the article:

For 23 years, my show has presented thousands of topics that reflect the human experience, including doctors’ medical advice and personal health stories that have prompted conversations between our audience members and their health care providers. I trust the viewers, and I know that they are smart and discerning enough to seek out medical opinions to determine what may be best for them.

I’m sure, Oprah…your guests such as Jenny McCarthy and Suzanne Somers blather on about how you can’t trust the medical establishment and then you expect them to listen to the advice of their doctors? This CNBC show demonstrates the power that Oprah has over her viewers. It’s lazy and irresponsible of her to just brush off the criticisms raised by Newsweek.

I’m hoping Newsweek has inspired the media to do more critical reporting, and I’m hoping that it teaches at least some of Oprah’s followers to not take what she says at face value.

From what Oprah has said about the article it doesn’t look like she has any intentions of changing her ways, but maybe it will make her think twice about endorsing the likes of Jenny McCarthy.

On a related note, Skepchick posted a link to a site called I like what Rebecca Watson says about it:

The word “vajayjay,” as used by Oprah and her ilk is indicative of the way Oprah addresses women’s health issues in general: dumbed down, wishy washy, cutesy, pseudoscientific. She is creating a world in which the word “vagina” is too dirty to utter but it’s totally okay to have Dr. Christiane Northrup go on at length about redirecting her “chi” in order to orgasm…I hope that the owner of expands to include more clips of her mind-blowing vagina-related idiocy. There’s enough material out there, after all.

I concur, Rebecca.

Oprah, Providing a Platform for Lying to the Public

Oprah’s Harpo Productions has recently struck a deal with anti-vax quack Jenny McCarthy, giving Jenny her own show.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Asked if Oprah or her show endorses McCarthy’s views, a representative for Oprah’s program said, “We don’t take positions on the opinions of our guests. Rather, we offer a platform for guests to share their first-person stories useless anecdotal experiences in an effort to inform strike fear into the hearts of the audience and put a human face on topics relevant to them do them a disservice by spreading misinformation and pseudoscience.


Open Letter from a Skepchick to Parents Wary of Vaccination

Elyse on Skepchick has written an excellent letter adressed to parents who are being frightened by the anti-vaxxers into thinking that vaccination is dangerous to their children. Spread the word! The anti-vaxxers get too much press, parents with young children need to be informed.

Dear Parents,

If you have not made the decision to vaccinate your child, I urge you to make that decision now. Immunity from painful, disfiguring, and sometimes even deadly diseases is not a gift you should withhold from your child. Your child is, undoubtedly, the greatest love of your life… a love so great that it was unfathomable until you experienced it. And I know that you want to and need to do everything in your power to protect him or her. Which is precisely why you’re hesitant to vaccinate.

Read the full letter here.

An Open Letter to Oprah

Re: the recent news that she would be giving anti-vaccination kook Jenny McCarthy her own show:

I hope she reads it and listens.

Would you take health advice from this?

Would you take health advice from this?

Vaccinate your children!

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