While I was at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 in Las Vegas in July, I was interviewed by my friends Richard Saunders and Rachael Dunlop from The Skeptic Zone, the premier critical thinking podcast in Australia.
We talked about TAM Oz, Minties, telescopes, WIMPs and MACHOs, the LHC, Brian Cox, and Gia Milinovitch, and my no-longer Sooper Sekrit Project.
Thanks in no small part to my beloved BABloggees and Tweeps, Rachael Dunlop won a Shorty Award in the Health category!
It’s nice that she gets some recognition for her debunking of quackery, hoaxery, and quite a bit of alt-meddery, but the real schadenfreudeliciousness comes from knowing that she’s helping Mike Adams’ and Joe Mercola’s heads that much more explodey. Go read her link for all the sordid, but oh-so-satisfying details.
For those of you who helped out, my sincere thanks. Ya done good.
We have another MAJOR win for reality and skepticism, folks. And this is a good one: Meryl Dorey just announced she’s stepping down as head of the
Anti Australian Vaccination Network, and that the AVN itself may shut down.
Ah, the hits keep on a-comin’.
Regular readers may remember Ms. Dorey, that hero of the antivaxxers who has twisted the truth about vaccinations so much it’s shocking her tongue hasn’t turned into a Möbius strip. She has said no one dies from pertussis anymore… when little four-week-old Dana McCaffery died of that very disease, because herd immunity in her area of Australia was so low. Dorey is an HIV denier. She thinks doctors lie and poison babies. She viciously defames those who disagree with her. It goes on and on.
The timing of this announcement is very interesting, seeing as how the Australian Skeptics have been hammering at Dorey and the AVN, and in fact Dorey and the AVN may be held accountable for breaking Australian laws about dispensing medical advice without a license; they are currently under investigation by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission.
They’ve also been getting a lot of negative publicity, which is the very, very least that they deserve. My friend, the tireless Rachael Dunlop, has been instrumental in exposing the truth about Meryl Dorey, and is largely responsible for holding Dorey’s and the AVN’s feet to the fire.
Reading Dorey’s statement on the AVN blog is actually rather interesting. She says:
I am getting older; my children have missed out on so much so I could run the AVN; and at this stage in my existence, I need to be able to work on this subject and still have a life. Without a large injection of capital behind me, I simply cannot continue.
In other words, she’s leaving to spend more time with her family. Hmmmm. Also, her use of the word "injection" nearly made every molecule in my irony gland explode at the speed of light.
OK, no more snark. Dorey, in that blog post, is asking someone to step up and take her place. I have no doubt someone will, so I expect the AVN will go on without her, spreading their falsehoods, slathering their fearmongering over an unsuspecting and trusting audience, and helping thousands of Australian babies be exposed to pertussis, measles, mumps, polio, and all sorts of other preventable diseases that would have been otherwise eradicated by simple vaccinations.
I can hope, though, that without Dorey’s voice, the AVN will be far weaker, and if the charges against them hold up, they may fall apart entirely. That would be a very good thing indeed.
So whaddya know? Dorey claims she wants to save people’s lives. This move on on her part may finally do it.
The Shorty Award nomination process ends tonight at midnight Pacific time (08:00 UT Saturday). If you have an existing Twitter account, please help my friend and quack-fighter Rachael Dunlop beat out that alt-med gufru* Joe Mercola. You can vote for her here, and you can get some backstory in this earlier post.
This is just the nomination process, but it simply makes my heart sing to know that someone who represents actual science and a real defender of health gets the most votes. Thanks.
[Apparently, as commenters have, um, commented, I wasn't the first to make this word up. But I did do it independently, and until someone can prove time traveling pundits didn't steal from me in the future, I'll still it to be mine. Hold on, I'm getting a note... apparently I've already left a comment making this same joke. I guess future me read this update and used a time machine to steal this joke from present me. Sneaky.]
The other day, while commenting on Twitter about the comedy of Mike Adams’ toddler-like tantrum about skeptics and how his advice which can lead to people getting sicker or even dying should absolutely make him eligible for an Internet award, I coined a new word, and I feel that everyone should see it:
I hereby grant free license for its use. You may thank me later, as I know you will when a situation arises where you need to use this word. And it will.
In the meantime, if you are so inclined and have an established Twitter account, please vote for Rachael Dunlop for a Shorty Award. She is a good friend and a tireless fighter of quackery and alt-med health threats. You can read more about her here.
At some level, I understand the motivations of people who promote "alternative medicine". They may very well be altrustic, seeing what they perceive as a massive failing of so-called Western medicine, and feeling strongly that they know how to fix the situation, if only people would seek alternatives. I know that when I feel strongly enough about an issue, I feel morally obligated to speak up.
The problem is that for a lot of this so-called alternative medicine, there is no evidence it works, and in fact evidence it doesn’t work. Worse, a lot of its biggest purveyors actively try to denigrate real medicine, the stuff that, y’know, works, in an attempt to bolster their alt-med claims. And you have to be a little suspicious when they hawk their wares on their sites, too.
So I question the motivations of some of these people, including one Mike Adams, about whom I wrote a couple of days ago. When called out for what is apparently voter fraud for a Twitter Shorty Award, he threw an epic tantrum that displays a decided lack of grip on reality (assuming he honestly believes what he’s selling). After that fact-free diatribe he followed up with a rant about skeptics that’s so far off the mark that it’s hard to believe anyone could post something like that honestly. Steve Novella takes him down on that one.
And as if these word spasms from Adams weren’t enough, he posted a third article where he completely gets science wrong, claiming water and quantum mechanics are magic, and then a fourth about the Shorty Awards where he once again ramps up the paranoid conspiracy theories.
Sigh. The irony is that he makes my job easy since he’s self-debunking, but also makes it harder because so many people swallow what he says whole without even giving it a moment of critical thought.
Joe Mercola, the other "victim" professing to have the vapors over this Shorty Award nonsense, decided to jump into the fray as well. Instead of using facts — because why start now? — he thought it was a good idea to say that Rachael Dunlop is fat:
An arrogant group of science bloggers that have vilified me for the past few years have started a campaign to have an Australian shill to win a health award on Twitter. This overweight non-physician has arrogantly bashed nearly every alternative therapy and encourages reliance on drugs.
Rachael is a woman who has tirelessly fought quackery and the dangerous wares of many alt-med purveyors, and of course Adams and Mercola are squarely in her crosshairs. She has called out many an antivaxxer, and was a key player in the travesty involving Dana McCaffery (an infant who died of pertussis) and Meryl Dorey, an antivaxxer who claims no one dies from pertussis anymore.
So when faced with someone like Rachael who has years of experience and who wields science, evidence, and reality, Mercola decided to stick out his tongue and call her fat.
Wow, folks. There’s your alt-med hero.
And yes, I am engaging in an ad hominem, an attack directed at someone instead of their arguments. But it’s not always wrong to do so; in this case Steve Novella, Orac, Rachael, and many others, including me, have already shown that people like Mercola and Adams are full of it. But sometimes that’s not enough. I think it does a lot of good to see how vile these people can be, and something like this is not only warranted, but needed, especially when these alt-medders set themselves up to be victims, claiming to be sympathetic and only wanting to help. They don’t help; they hurt.
Look. We’re not talking about goofy nonsense like ghost-hunting or UFOs here. We’re talking about people’s lives. Alt-medders like Adams and Mercola reject treatments that we know to work, that we know can cure illnesses, that we know can relieve pain and suffering on a massive scale, and that we know can save lives. That’s what you’re turning your back on when you listen to them.
And I still endorse Rachael for the Shorty Award in health. Keep fighting the good fight.