AVN now routinely getting publicly humiliated

By Phil Plait | July 28, 2010 3:01 pm

stop_the_avn_logoThe Australian Vaccination Network, an antivax organization fronted by Meryl Dorey, has long been an antiscience group devoted to spreading any kind of nonsensical rhetoric they can. The good news? Now they’re being called out on it.

As The Sceptic’s Book of Poo-Poo extensively documents, the media used to be pretty easy on the AVN, but now are routinely pointing out that they are antivax, and one has even highlighted some of Dorey’s outrageous and fallacious claims. This all comes on the heels of the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission concluding that the AVN is in fact and in deed antivax, and needs to have disclaimers on their site — a finding Dorey has ignored.

The AVN has been the loudest of the antivaxxers in Australia, a country that has seen a rise in many preventable diseases, including pertussis, which has claimed the lives of several infants.

This is not a free speech issue, and this is not an issue where two sides need equal and balanced discussion. In this case, the AVN and Meryl Dorey are wrong, wrong, wrong, and what they are preaching is dangerous and, in fact, can be deadly. As I have said many times, vaccines are one of the greatest medical triumphs in history, saving literally hundreds of millions of lives.

The antivaxxers, on the other hand, only have spin, distortion, and scare tactics… which, sadly, can be effective with people. I am very glad the media have finally figured out Dorey, and are vocal about it.

Now if we can just get them to do the same with Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Kevin Trudeau, Andrew Wakefield, purveyors of homeopathy…

And remember: it’s not just Australia, and this isn’t happening to poorly educated people in rural areas. Whooping cough is making a comeback in Marin County, California, home of some of the wealthiest and best-educated people in the country. These diseases are coming back because vaccine rates are low. Go to your doctor and get the real info, and if they recommend getting vaccinated, do it.

Tip o’ the syringe to my brother Sid for the link to the MSNBC video.


Related posts:

- Australian skeptics jeer Meryl Dorey
- Major step against antivaxxers in Australia
- The AVN is reaping what they sowed
- Australian skeptics strike back against antivaxxers


MORE ABOUT: AVN, Meryl Dorey

Comments (63)

  1. Jim

    I think we need to start putting up billboards like the one here: http://templaraz.com/?p=318

  2. Your Name Here

    It’ll be the best day ever when the AVN gets shut down.

  3. davery

    OK, this is pretty juvenile, but has anyone else pointed out that the Australian Vaccination Network shares the same initialism as Adult Video News?

  4. PJE

    Didn’t know there was such a thing as the “adult Video News” ….

    Pete

  5. matt

    That still weirds me out when I see AVN on this site referring to Australian antivaxers. http://www.AVN.com/ (NSFW) is an excellent domestic organization providing quality entertainment.

  6. Crudely Wrott

    This is good news, Phil, and thanks for keeping me up to date.

    One quibble: you refer to Marin County as “home of some of the wealthiest and best-educated people in the country.” I go along with you that they are indeed wealthy but we part company on the second aspect.

  7. ESP

    Too bad the National Vaccine Information Center got to spread their bunk in that MSNBC article. Grrr.

  8. Peter Si

    The HCCC complaint was one of the most damaging things to happen to the AVN as it clearly and publicly stated what the AVN is – anti-vaccination campaigners. There is now an extensively referenced AVN wikipedia entry for them which clearly shows their agenda.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Vaccination_Network

    However, what needs to happen now is for the common sense community (ie, skeptics, humanists, critical thinkers, normal citizens) to add articles about vaccination so that the AVN doesn’t appear within the first 50 hits on an Australian Google search for vaccination as currently AVN appears as the third hit :(

    Let’s try and make the AVN disappear from the top search hits on vaccination!

    If anyone has some great advice on how to speed this process up then please let us know.

  9. Phil, thanks for posting about the AVN. Just wanted to let you know that the Sydney Morning Herald has published a (IMHO) very sympathetic article about Meryl Dorey (http://tinyurl.com/2dto6fp). It certainly doesn’t make any attempt to challenge her antivax viewpoints.

    The ABC’s Lateline also have reported on the AVN (http://tinyurl.com/2fo5pp2). Apparently Meryl Dorey has repeatedly stated that Dana McCafferey “supposedly” died of pertussis, and challenged the McCafferey family to prove that this diagnosis is true. I hope the article gives people an idea of just how low the AVN will sink to prove their point.

    After reading this ABC article I felt angry and sick to my stomach. How could any decent human being do this to a grieving family?

  10. Nyarlathotep

    I always though AVN stood for Anti-Vaccination Network…

    Glad to here that people are finally starting to wake up and see that these groups are dangerous and need to be dealt with seriously.

  11. Tribeca Mike

    Great news. Too bad it often takes the ill health and sometimes deaths of children to bring the media around.

    I often go up to the Catskill area of New York to hang out with good friends, and occasionally at parties will meet anti-vax adherents (to put it politely), and your site has given me loads of ammo to use in conversations with these naive and self-righteous folks, for which I thank you. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, but I do often get responses like, “I didn’t know that and will look into it.” Over the past couple of years I’ve been noticing some people have tamped down their antiscience hysteria. Of course, I’m talking about the “older” set. Kids these days seem to be hipper than ever about science, bless their headphoned little heads.

  12. Kelly

    I work at a TV station in southern Indiana and our parent company has banned all of its stations from airing paid advertisements featuring Kevin Trudeau. This is has been in practice for several years now.

  13. Peter Si

    Google Insights provides a good indicator of just how damaging the HCCC complaint probably was.
    http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=australian%20vaccination%20network&cmpt=q

  14. Deb

    As a regular member of the Stop the AVN Facebook group it’s very strange seeing them self-destruct, Meryl is getting more and more desparate and the acolytes more and more loopy.

    The adult video news link is funnier than you know – their server got them mixed up and took the anti-vax site down for a while because of an injunction against the adult videos. So Meryl calls it a DOS attack and blames it on us. One of their advertisers also had a site go down just after we’d discovered and publicised them, so Meryl blames it on a ‘flood of nasty emails from those septics.’ Even though it was a couple of our group who worked with the company and got their site back up.

  15. Shane

    This is unfortunately how the media does things these days, it looks for “controversies”. When the lies about Autism and the MMR and such came about the media ran with that as a “controversy”, now the shoes on the other foot and now the Advertorial Media…,oops sorry, the News, is running with the science. It is a shame that the facts can’t be told to begin with.

    This is like any other news story these days ala Climategate or the teaching of evolution, etc, these aren’t actual controversies (as we all know) and would be best served with facts rather than a plate of BS (as we all know).

    The media has let everyone down in the US, Australia and the UK as well as most other so called developed countries. We all know that impartiality is pretty much impossible but it would be nice to see some integrity put back into our Media outlets .

  16. Kevin F.

    @Davery: That’s exactly what I thought. :D

    I was thinking “Phil’s taking about AVN? I can’t want to see how this is related to astronomy!”

  17. > “has anyone else pointed out that the Australian Vaccination Network shares the same initialism as Adult Video News?”

    Yep. constantly. It’s mentioned at least once a day over at the Stop The AVN Facebook group (come and join us!)

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76305414878

  18. If I were starting a lobby group along the lines of the AVN, I’d start by asking the following questions:

    1) Could I be wrong?
    2) COULD I BE WRONG?
    3) Am I proposing to use the same name as the world’s biggest pornography awards?

  19. I also saw that Cracked slammed their hero Jenny “Bodycount” McCarthy for her anti-vax pro-disease loopiness.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_18628_the-6-most-misguided-causes-ever-made-famous-by-celebrities.html

  20. John Berryman

    I think the name of this blog should be changed to whyIhatestupidpeoplewhoareagainstvaccines.com

    Astronomy seems to be an after thought.

  21. @Spacehamster what you may not have seen was the article juxtaposed with the “sympathetic” Dorey article. It did not appear online, only in the hard copy. You can see it here http://bit.ly/cAFeRo :)

  22. John Berryman, if you could be bothered to, read this: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/07/15/politics-science-me-and-thee/

    Either that, or go to Ijustliketocomplainbutnoonereallycares.com

  23. eddie

    @Larian: Well played, sir. Well played.

  24. John Berryman

    Everyone says go read badastronomy.com if you want to learn about astronomy. OK. So I’ve had my shots, what else did I learn today from this site?

  25. @John Berryman

    What Larian said and why do you have to snark on every other post that isn’t related to astronomy? Seriously, why?

    Edit: Oops, posted seconds after your post. But still…

  26. SimonC

    I seem to have drawn some of their pearl-clutching wrath over there (http://avn.org.au/nocompulsoryvaccination/?p=735&preview=true) for some of my SAVN comments. Any Bad Astronomy folks who wish to join in the fun, feel free. Comments are moderated but they seem to be letting some through. I think it’s something to do with ‘tone’.

  27. Among all of the nonsense and woo out there, anti-vaxxers have got to be the most dangerous, deluded idiots of them all, and within that set, I think Meryl Dorey and the AVN take the cake. Does this mean she is the Stupidest Person in the World?

    BTW, in a big media frenzy, Jim Carrey and Jenny McTyphoidMary broke up a couple of months ago (which despite trying my best to avoid “celebrity gossip,” I know about). I think he donated $50M to her “cause” a while back, and I also recall seeing somewhere after the break-up that it was non-refundable, but is it certain that he is still backing the anti-vaccination position?

    He has done enough damage by that donation alone, and I don’t really like his acting, so I’m not looking to vindicate his name; just curious if there’s confirmation that he’s still actively campaigning for the pro-disease stance or not.

  28. Astrofiend

    24. John Berryman Says:
    July 28th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    “Everyone says go read badastronomy.com if you want to learn about astronomy. OK. So I’ve had my shots, what else did I learn today from this site?”

    If you want to learn about astronomy, then this site would be supplementary material at best, despite the excellent postings and archives of material on offer here. In actuality, this is Phil’s blog, on which he writes about what he wants to write about. He doesn’t owe anybody anything; read this site at your own pleasure if that’s what it provides you with. If not, there are many other sites about. Many commenters come on here and decry the fact that there is a good deal of material that is non-astronomy related on here, which is why people who do so tend to get terse replies. But if you legitimately want to learn about astronomy and weren’t just having a go at Phil, then there are many excellent resources out there in addition to BA.

    If you want something almost entirely dedicated to astronomy, head over to universetoday.com , which has several astronomy related updates per day and is an excellent resource. Make sure you check out the ‘Carnival of Space’ posts on that site that come out every now and then, as they provide links to the myriad other sites out there dedicated to astronomy and space exploration. The BAUT forum is an excellent place to learn about astronomy too.

    Beyond that, check out magazines such as Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Astronomy Now, some textbooks or wikipedia, NASA or ESO sites, or any one of the individual mission sites for various telescopes and space probes. There is literally so much astronomy related stuff on the net and elsewhere it can keep you going for a lifetime, working hours included. I should know…

  29. jcm

    Anti-vaccination group accused of harassing parents:

  30. Deepak

    Why is homeopathy being regularly criticized and attached a crap status by Phil Phait and the Bad Astronomy forum? Can understand the tirade against astrology but why against homeopathy? There are millions and millions of believers in homeopathy and lakhs who have cured by homeopathy. Are so many millions fool to believe that drinking water (which homeopathy is equated to)will cure the diseases?

    In India, even the government is advertising to go for homeopathy as it is safe and offers cure. Tons of mothers here believes that homeopathy is the best for her new born (not being melodramatic but stating the facts).

  31. “Why is homeopathy being regularly criticized and attached a crap status by Phil”

    Because there’s no scientific evidence that it works.

    The number of people who believe a falsehood have no effect on it becoming true. It’s still a falsehood no matter how many people believe it.

    If the Indian government is pushing homeopathy on the populace, the people should be quite indignant that an ineffective therapy is being substituted for real medicine.

  32. @Deepak -

    In the video posted in #29, one of the experts indicates the AVN uses “junk science”. This is the reason Phil and the people on this site lash out at the AVN and anyone who follows their “logic”.

    Just because someone believes something doesn’t make it true. To be true, it must be proven, AND THERE IS NO PROOF THAT THE CLAIMS MADE BY THE ANTI-VAXXERS ARE TRUE. Whereas, the claims made by medical science about the validity and impact of vaccinations regarding the (unfortunately temporary) eradication of many diseases are proven. How can these people ignore the fact that polio and pertussis were effectively gone from the face of the Earth?

    Please explain to me, Deepak, how the anit-vaxxers are different from those who write and believe in horoscopes. Personally, I don’t see one.

    Oh, wait. Yes I do. Anti-vaxxers are responsible for the deaths of innocents by spreading their claptrap.

    Just because a government endorses something doesn’t make it true or right, either. How many governments have advocated genocide or acts of terror based on THEIR “truths”?

  33. ellie5334

    RE: #30 (Deepak)… as in Chopra?

    Homeopathy has not held up in any clinical testing. At all. Ever. That is why it is on equal footing with astrology, and rightly so.

  34. Nigel Depledge

    Shane (15) said:

    The media has let everyone down in the US, Australia and the UK as well as most other so called developed countries. We all know that impartiality is pretty much impossible but it would be nice to see some integrity put back into our Media outlets .

    Quite right!

    John Berryman (24) said:

    Everyone says go read badastronomy.com if you want to learn about astronomy. OK. So I’ve had my shots, what else did I learn today from this site?

    Everyone?

    I certainly never said that. If you want to learn about astronomy, enrol in an astronomy course at a reputable university. Or follow some of the links from Phil’s original site (the link to which is in the sidebar of this blog).

    For example, http://www.nineplanets.org is a great resource for information about the planets of our solar system, even if Cassini, Mars Express and Mars Global Surveyor keep making it out of date.

  35. Nigel Depledge

    Deepak (30) said:

    Why is homeopathy being regularly criticized and attached a crap status by Phil Phait and the Bad Astronomy forum?

    Because it is literally an absence of any active ingredient.

    Homeopathic treatments have been shown in clinical trials to perform no better than a placebo (although homeopaths are very good at activating the placebo effect).

    Can understand the tirade against astrology but why against homeopathy?

    Because (see above) it is a lie. It doesn’t do anything.

    There are millions and millions of believers in homeopathy

    Millions of people used to believe that the sun orbited the Earth. That never made it true. Billions of people believe in some sort of god. That doesn’t make that true, either. Belief has no impact on reality, because the universe does not care what you believe.

    and lakhs who have cured by homeopathy.

    The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”. You no doubt refer to people who believe themselves to have been cured by homeopathic treatments, but that does not constitute evidence. Why? No experimental control. In every study of homeopathic treatments that has included a control, the homeopathic treatment performs the same as the control.

    There are many reasons why people may believe they have been cured by a homeopathic remedy, the commonest being the placebo effect and regression to the mean coupled with the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.

    Are so many millions fool to believe that drinking water (which homeopathy is equated to)will cure the diseases?

    Yes. What is so unusual about people being foolish?

    In India, even the government is advertising to go for homeopathy as it is safe and offers cure. Tons of mothers here believes that homeopathy is the best for her new born (not being melodramatic but stating the facts).

    But there is still precisely zero evidence that homeopathy does anything at all, and every indication that it is merely another type of placebo. Many real doctors believe it to be unethical to give a patient a placebo while ttelling them that it is a genuine medicine. The reason homeopathic treatments are harmless* is that they contain no biologically active components.

    * Technically, they are harmless. However, if belief in homeopathy prevents you from seeking real treatment for a serious condition, then that behaviour is potentially life-threatening.

  36. Yeebok

    Deepak, I recall seeing a video where a guy drinks a homeopathic (to me it’s fitting my spell checker highlights that word) mixture of his own urine, and you in fact see the entire process – barring the actual peeing. After seeing it, if what is said is true, I would be quite happy to drink my own solution as well.
    Found it : http://tinyurl.com/26hpkcx (Link to youtube – not safe for work).
    XKCD.com’s recent comic also highlights the failure in a similar vein http://tinyurl.com/27hsz8z

    I am sure with a quick search you can find many more similar experiments that will make you think about it and hopefully come to a scientific conclusion. This blog also has articles on homeopathy I believe but since you’re here I will let you find them or other commenters will send them. Enjoy.

    For me, any pharmacy I visit that sells homeopathic goods, I speak with the owner and tell them I won’t shop there again, and don’t – in Australia they’re viewed as a “medicine shop” where all they (generally) sell are pills and health related products – *proper* scientific medicine. I tell them politely. Sadly I don’t notice any effect yet but at least I know where I buy my medicines is not profiting from quackery and gullible people. No offence intended, I just have firm views.

    If you can find any scientifically valid evidence for homeopathy, all of us would love to see it.
    Watching that avn woman carry on in that video made me angry.

  37. *sigh* If only we had this sort of thing happening in the U.S. with Jenny, GR, AoA, David Kirby, RFK Jr., and the rest.

  38. Yeebok

    (continued from 35) Quite angry.
    http://tinyurl.com/2bym5qf

  39. So if you’re the Bad Astronomer does that make your brother the Good Astronomer?! :P Hey, he’s in the Atlanta area too, nifty!

    @Deepak, that’s the problem. People “believe” homeopathy will work. There’s a big difference between believing and knowing.

    It’s harmless enough if you’re sleep deprived and you believe the remedy will help you sleep. Maybe it does but it’s nothing more than the placebo effect. You thought it’d work and so it does. Mind over matter!

    Sleeping is one thing but curing and preventing life threatening ailments is another. That’s the real danger of homeopathy.

  40. Messier Tidy Upper

    @18. Dave The Happy Singer Says:

    “If I were starting a lobby group along the lines of the AVN, I’d start by asking the following questions:
    1) Could I be wrong?
    2) COULD I BE WRONG?
    3) Am I proposing to use the same name as the world’s biggest pornography awards?

    Thinking of unfortunate acronymns – not sure if I can post this here – but apparently the loopy English “morals crusader” Mary Whitehouse :

    … called their nascent group “Clean Up National TV” until her husband pointed out the unfortunate acronym – they then changed it to “Clean Up TV.”

    ;-)

    At least according to a docu-drama of her life that I saw once.

    See the Wikipedia pages : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Whitehouse

    & specifically :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Whitehouse#.22Mary_Whitehouse.22_on_television

    PS. I’ve joined up with the facebook group too – thanks (#17.) Jason Brown. :-)

    PPS. BA if you wish to edit this comment to remove the verging on NSFW quote feel free to do so & post the “clean version”.

  41. SteveA

    I’m glad to see the Australians have the right idea with this antivax nonsense. I’m hoping the authorities stateside will follow their lead.

    On a side note, I was just browsing Netflix & came across as as-yet-unavailable DVD entitled “Autism: Made in the USA” The film description is as follows:

    “Talk-radio host and alternative health guru Gary Null makes the case for his highly controversial claim that mercury-tainted childhood vaccines are the culprits behind an upsurge in autism diagnoses. Celebrities Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy and Robert Kennedy Jr. join Null as he examines the effects of autism on families and exposes the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to suppress the vaccine-autism link.”

    If that doesn’t make your skin crawl, I don’t know what will.

  42. Nigel Depledge

    Todd W (37) said:

    *sigh* If only we had this sort of thing happening in the U.S. with Jenny, GR, AoA, David Kirby, RFK Jr., and the rest.

    Maybe you should lobby congress to enact laws about healthcare advice having to come from suitably qualified and accredited professionals?

    I know the FDA currently has no jurisdiction over the kind of pap that McCarthy et al. are promoting.

  43. fred edison

    @jcm #29
    Wow, powerful stuff to watch. Thanks for the YT link.

    I feel for the McCaffrey’s additional and unwarranted grief that despicable Dorey woman has caused them. For her to confront them in that way as they had watched their sick child….THEIR CHILD….what can one say. And for rabid AVN supporters to accuse Dana’s parents of “not seeing the truth” and whatever other rubbish they have uttered in denial of the facts is pure insanity.

    It’s unbelievable to contemplate the lengths the AVN will go to as they continue to vehemently deny reality. There are those times in life when you must call a spade a spade. The AVN does impress you as a bunch of “rat-bags” and “terrible people.” From the evidence presented, I certainly concur with those descriptions of the Australian Anti-Vaccination Nutwork.

  44. JH

    The problem with believers of homeopathy and these anti-vaccination nuts is that they believe that correlation = causation, which is NOT true at all. I’d like to give everyone some food for thought:

    Fact: No one has died of old age since the 1950′s.

    Does this mean that something happened in the 1950′s to this day that means that no one will live as long as we should?

    Truth: No. The only reason it’s a ‘fact’ is because the ‘old age’ cause of death stopped being used in the 1950′s as it was vague and misleading.

    Critical thinking is a missing component in a lot of these homeopathic believers. Now, in some cases, there are naturally occurring substances that can have health benefits. However, without real and proper study, all you really have is anecdotal evidence and the placebo effect.

    Also considering the first guy that published any link of vaccinations to autism was paid half a million pounds to come to this conclusion, and had invested a lot of money into an alternate vaccination company. Also, his actual research was that he discovered polyps in the colons of several children in a research experiment of children diagnosed with Autism (I think was 5 out of 13 children), which he believed to be caused by the vaccinations, and somehow caused autism. That’s about as deep as his research got. He is no longer able to publish anything in any medical journal in the UK, if I’m not mistaken.

    It’s not funny to do this to children. There are people who can’t be vaccinated due to allergies, and they rely on herd immunity to ensure they never get easily preventable diseases like Scarlet Fever and the like. You know, as in the disease that didn’t kill Helen Keller, but left her deaf and blind? Yeah, that one.

  45. RobT

    After watching the Lateline video I wonder why, if you were going to be interviewed on national TV, you would not at least brush your hair and make yourself presentable? Unless you have a string of letters after your name, like PHD and BASc (and even then you have to sound smart), I am not going to take you seriously if you look like you just got out of bed. I’m talking about you Meryl Dorey.

  46. Chris

    (JH, love what you said… just one minor quibble: Scarlet Fever is not really preventable, it is a type of bacterial strep infection that can be treated with antibiotics. There is work being done on a strep vaccine)

  47. Sid Offit

    Phil, you’re a moron. Stick to astronomy and stop embarrassing yourself by showing the world how utterly ignorant your are regarding infectious diseases and vaccination.
    ——————————–
    Astronomer says:

    Whooping cough is making a comeback in Marin County, California, home of some of the wealthiest and best-educated people in the country. These diseases are coming back because vaccine rates are low.
    ——————————————
    Wow Phil, you’ve got it all figured out. Better call the public health authorities in Cali. But wait here’s what a doctor, hear that Phil a doctor, not an astronomer, at Science Based Medicine has to say:

    Public health officials in California are currently working to control its spread and determine the factors that allowed this outbreak to occur, unfortunately, at this time the available data is very rough.

    While it is true that some of the counties with the highest attack rates also happen to be counties where PBEs are common and vaccination rates low, other counties with reasonable vaccination rates are also being heavily affected.
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=6207
    ————————————————

    And you’re actually linking to that madwoman Nancy Snyderman to support your case? Please tell us about the measles deaths that she says occurred in Philly and Minn. last year

    And please explain how there is any chance of herd immunity when:

    there may be as many as 700,000 to 8,000,000 cases of pertussis, either symptomatic or asymptomatic, in any given year in the adult and adolescent population as a whole.

    Finally, did rates just fall of a cliff this year?

    Do you have ANY evidence that comes from anywhere other than your own vaccine-filled dreamworld?

  48. Ken

    Do you think Sid should be charged with manslaughter, child abuse, failing to provide the necessities of life, or plain old murder when he or his kids, full of germs from easily prevented diseases, happens to cough on someone who cant be vaccinnated?

    Or would it be punishment enough to just isolate them when they get sick and let the diseases run their course so they can suffer in the way they want our kids to suffer and the way our ancestors just a few generations ago had to suffer?

    I wonder how old Sid is. Chances are he’s already at or beyond the average pre-vaccine lifespan and should be thanking science for every extra day he gets.

  49. RaunakS

    In Bengal, where I live, polio had been completely eradicated for a couple of years now, thanks to intensive vaccination campaign by the the Indian government. However, just this year, 5 cases of a deadly strain was identified, highest in the country. Doctors were, and are, baffled. No particular cause has been given, but many suggest vaccines. Yes, Vaccines.

    But not in the way you’d think – the greatest danger to vaccination here is the number of untrained, unhygienic people who go out every year with the shots, resorting to reusing needles, mixing up dosages, etc etc. This is building up a strong anti-vax response in most villages, and its pretty difficult to stop. This, I believe, is the greatest danger to vaccinations, rather than trumped-up celebrities with a headline fetish.

    Oh, and in India the Government does NOT recommend homeopathy to everyone – I don’t know where Deepak got that from. and ‘millions of people’ do not get cured by drinking water-in-sugar pills, they get cured by naturopathy. Known herbal drugs ‘arnica’, ‘cinchona’, etc are used by the so-called ‘homeopathic’ doctors. Get your facts right.

  50. Buzz Parsec

    Since the AVN has been demanding official records to prove (or refute) the cause of Dana’s death, just like the birthers demanding Obama’s birth certificate, would it be terribly mean-spirited and unfair to call them “deathers” from now on?

    On the other hand, it is easy to laugh at the birthers, but there is really nothing funny about Meryl Dorey and what happened to the McCafferys.

  51. The deathers are indeed still at it.

    Check Dorey’s latest lies: http://avn.org.au/nocompulsoryvaccination/?p=776

    And Toni McCaffery’s pained response: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=76305414878&topic=21150

  52. Strahlungsamt

    http://xkcd.com/765/

    Dear editors of Homeopathy Monthly: I have two small corrections for your July issue. One, it’s spelled “echinacea”, and two, homeopathic medicines are no better than placebos and your entire magazine is a sham.

  53. Sarah

    I was recently vaccinated for acellular pertussis as part of a US visa application process. I have yet to develop autism or any thing other than a sore arm. Poopie on anti-vaxers; they help kill people, bottom line, and that isn’t okay by me.

  54. Ythaca

    I have just been on the AVN site. I find it very interesting that Meryl Dorey doesn’t consider being on the same tv show as the McCaffery’s and being very insensitive as I remember as having talked to them.
    She also seems to think that by vaccinating my children I think that I think my children are worth more than her children. I’m not sure how she figured that one. I’m not even sure it makes any sense!
    At least she responded.

  55. Ythaca

    But somehow even hours later I feel unsettled by her accusations of my not caring about the children hurt by vaccinations.
    She can’t even seem to see the children hurt by not vaccinating. There is another cause. It is not because they were not vaccinated. It is because another vaccination lower there immunity. She is so sad – and dangerous.

  56. Sigh:

    The anti-vaccination, anti-science fringe blog Age of Autism (a subset of the anti-vaccination, anti-science fringe group Generation Rescue) has just republished Meryl Dorsey’s defense of her persecution of the McCaffery family:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/08/australia-a-grieving-family-and-baseless-accusations.html.

    If you want to understand how entrenched the anti-vaccination mindset is in that group, just read the article and the comments.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    JH (44) said:

    Critical thinking is a missing component in a lot of these homeopathic believers. Now, in some cases, there are naturally occurring substances that can have health benefits.

    I think you’re thinking of herbal “remedies” there. Homeopathy is the one where a substance that causes the same symptoms as the illness to be treated is diluted by many many powers of 10 (a “30C” dilution is 1 in 1060, and this is a relatively “weak” homeopathic dilution). If you start with 1 litre of a one-molar solution of your treatment, your final product has (roughly) a 1 in 1037 chance of having one molecule of active material per litre, assuming a “30C” dilution. Obviously, for higher dilutions, the likelihood of having a single molecule of your starting material in the final product drops in direct relation to the amount of dilution.

    However, without real and proper study, all you really have is anecdotal evidence and the placebo effect.

    And, in fact, all of the properly controlled studies that have been done on homeopathic treatments have found that they perform no better than a placebo.

  58. Nigel Depledge

    JH (44) said:

    Also considering the first guy that published any link of vaccinations to autism was paid half a million pounds to come to this conclusion, and had invested a lot of money into an alternate vaccination company. Also, his actual research was that he discovered polyps in the colons of several children in a research experiment of children diagnosed with Autism (I think was 5 out of 13 children), which he believed to be caused by the vaccinations, and somehow caused autism. That’s about as deep as his research got. He is no longer able to publish anything in any medical journal in the UK, if I’m not mistaken.

    Andrew Wakefiled has been struck off, although he has subsequently moved to the US, where he is revered among antivaxxers.

    He was struck off, partly for his undisclosed conflict of interest and partly for making his results up (he didn’t actually discover what he claimed to discover in the intestines of those children); but mostly because his treatment of the children was done in contravention of ethical guidelines. IIUC, the procedures he used were unnecessary and were unpleasantly invasive.

  59. Nigel Depledge

    Sid Offit (47) ranted thus:

    And you’re actually linking to that madwoman Nancy Snyderman to support your case? Please tell us about the measles deaths that she says occurred in Philly and Minn. last year

    And please explain how there is any chance of herd immunity when:

    there may be as many as 700,000 to 8,000,000 cases of pertussis, either symptomatic or asymptomatic, in any given year in the adult and adolescent population as a whole.

    Finally, did rates just fall of a cliff this year?

    Do you have ANY evidence that comes from anywhere other than your own vaccine-filled dreamworld?

    First off, do you have any credentialss in medicine, biology, immunology, epidemiology, microbiology or virology?

    Second, of course the authorities are being cagey with their official statements – they cannot accuse the antivaxxers outright until they have a solid case, which they currently don’t. However, it is still perfectly reasonable to accept “low vaccination rates” as a working hypothesis for the wide spread of the infection. But that doesn’t address the source of the infection, which they may also be investigating. So, irrespective of whether low vaccination rates are involved in the start of the outbreak, they have almost certainly played a role in the extent and the rapid spread of the infection.

    Third, one of the benefits of vaccination is that, even if you do become infected, the infection is almost certainly milder and less virulent than would otherwise have been the case. So, most of those infections to which you refer would have been either asymptomatic or very mild cases, due to the prevalence of vaccination (in areas where vaccination is prevalent).

    Fourth, the virus is quite capable of mutating rapidly once it has infected a susceptible host. Therefore, unvaccinated people act as a source of new variants of the virus. Some of these new variants will inevitably be more able to infect those who are vaccinated than the “wild type” virus. No-one has ever claimed that vaccines are 100% effective, except for the smallpox vaccine (did you know that smallpox was eradicated through a vaccination programme?).

    There’s more that’s wrong with your assumptions, but I think that will do for now.

  60. Nigel Depledge

    RaunakS (49) said:

    In Bengal, where I live, polio had been completely eradicated for a couple of years now, thanks to intensive vaccination campaign by the the Indian government. However, just this year, 5 cases of a deadly strain was identified, highest in the country. Doctors were, and are, baffled. No particular cause has been given, but many suggest vaccines. Yes, Vaccines.

    There was a polio vaccine used perhaps 30 + years ago here in Europe that occasionally caused infections – milder than the natural virus, but a polio infection nevertheless. It was accepted by all of us that it was a risk worth taking to eradicate the rampant polio that terrorised preceding generations. I wonder if there might be something to the speculation. I’m not fully up to date with the kind of vaccine used against polio now.

    But not in the way you’d think – the greatest danger to vaccination here is the number of untrained, unhygienic people who go out every year with the shots, resorting to reusing needles, mixing up dosages, etc etc. This is building up a strong anti-vax response in most villages, and its pretty difficult to stop.

    Those practices are very dangerous, and – as you point out – have caused a crisis in the trust people should have in their medical professionals.

  61. Simon

    The AVN just got slammed on Lateline again tonight (Aug 4th). Can’t find a link to the story on their website though.

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