Facebook bans then unbans a pro-vaccine group

Facebook-banFacebook can be a wonderful tool for disseminating information. Checking out high school photos. Keeping in contact with family members who you don’t see enough. But in the end, I have had always had mixed feelings about it. I think people think that posting a meme about Republican liars or Walmart’s pay practices is really going to make a difference. I come from the era when we actually protested by protesting in public. We sat out in cold winter snows to listen to speakers rail on about wars and the incompetent Chancellor of the University. Change was made by action.

But if used properly, Facebook gives us a social outlet for real scientific ideas. Many of us have used several Facebook groups to discuss the scientific merits of vaccines, GMO’s and evolution. Some of the groups just involve themselves in discussing the science. And then there are others that mock, ridicule and belittle the lies and ignorance of the anti-science world with all of the contempt that can be mustered. One of those groups, the Anti Vax Wall of Shame (AVWoS), prided itself on its denigration of vaccine deniers, whatever their form.  Continue reading “Facebook bans then unbans a pro-vaccine group”

Meryl Dorey is ordered to quit misleading the public about vaccines

StopAVNMeryl Dorey, Australia’s infamous vaccine denialist and anti-science promoter, and her Australian anti-Vaccine Network (AVN) has been ordered to change its misleading name or be shut down. The New South Wales (an Australian state) Office of Fair Trading left an order at the home of AVN  president Meryl Dorey yesterday with a letter of action, “labeling the network’s name misleading and a detriment to the community.”  Continue reading “Meryl Dorey is ordered to quit misleading the public about vaccines”

Chicken vaccine viruses recombine in wild, anti-vaccine conspiracies abound

For the past five years, there have been large outbreaks of infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) in chickens in Australia. ILT is a highly contagious herpesvirus, and one of a group that includes herpes and chickenpox. The chickens become very ill with red and swollen eyes, along with sneezing, coughing and gasping, while occasionally producing a bloody nasal discharge. Mortality is quite high, and surviving chickens produce fewer eggs, which, of course, is very bad for chicken farmers.

The diseases are usually prevented by a vaccine against ILT. Many vaccines against viruses, including the ILT version, contain live attenuated viruses (LAV), which are viruses that have reduced virulence, though still alive, so that the immune system recognizes it to develop an immune response. Attenuation takes an infectious agent and alters it so that it becomes harmless or less virulent. Continue reading “Chicken vaccine viruses recombine in wild, anti-vaccine conspiracies abound”

Pseudoskepticism from Australian vaccine denialists

As I discussed a few days ago, Meryl Dorey, the anti-vaccination crackpot, used her vaccine denialist Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to set up the Real Australian Sceptics in a laughable and amateur attempt to co-opt the word “skepticism” by starting a website that is pure, unadulterated pseudoskepticism. In case you’re wondering, a pseudoskeptic (using the term as defined) refers to those who declare themselves merely “skeptical” of a concept, but in reality would not be convinced by any evidence that might be presented. Global warming “skeptics” are in fact pseudoskeptics who deny the evidence for global warming. Vaccine skeptics are really just pseudoskeptics who deny all of the evidence that shows vaccine’s benefits far exceed the small risks. And that there are no risks of vaccines causing autism. Continue reading “Pseudoskepticism from Australian vaccine denialists”

More science denialism from Meryl Dorey

It’s clear that Meryl Dorey, founder of the Australian Vaccine Network, is the very symbol of vaccine denialism, using all sorts of pseudoscientific stupidity to support her unsupportable beliefs. Those beliefs have lead to the various whooping cough, measles, and other infectious disease outbreaks in Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. Admittedly, she’s not the primary cause of this type of denialism (we can blame Mr. Andy Wakefield for his fraudulent research that lead to Dorey’s particular brand of denialism).

It gets worse. Or funny.  Maybe both.  Continue reading “More science denialism from Meryl Dorey”

Anti-vaccine lunatics need a dictionary

The junk science and outright lies that can be found on the internet is enough to make one wonder if it’s even possible to cut through this noise to present what is actually scientifically and medically sound. Every day, there’s new internet meme that makes some outrageous, and barely rational, claim. If you produce expensive urine, it will prevent cancers. Or experiments on monkeys prove that vaccines cause autism. Or Mayans, who couldn’t even predict that Spanish Conquistadors were going to invade, supposedly predicted the end of the world in 2012. Seriously, why do people listen? Maybe that’s why a lot of bloggers take the time to debunk this stupidity, in the hope that someone researching some pseudoscientific claim, finds a few skeptical blogs that use snark, science, and logic to discredit them. Some blogs use all three! Continue reading “Anti-vaccine lunatics need a dictionary”

Supporting a fellow blogger who is being attacked by a homeopath

I follow some Australian skeptics’ blogs, mainly because of Meryl Dorey, the lunatic who runs the Anti-Vaccination movement in Australia.  One of the better ones is Dan’s Journal of Skepticism, run by Dan Buzzard.  He writes on a lot of issues with regards to pseudoscience, mostly in medicine.  Earlier this year, he wrote about how a homeopath, Francine Scrayen, treated her “patient”,  Penelope Dingle, who was suffering from rectal cancer, with homeopathic potions and lotions.  

In the report on Ms. Dingle’s death, the Coroner for Perth (Australia) reported the following:  

In my view the deceased’s rectal cancer was present and causing bleeding and other symptoms from at least 31 October 2001.  During the period 31 October 2001 until at least the end of November 2002, the deceased regularly described the symptoms of her rectal cancer to a homeopath, Francine Scrayen.  It was not until November 2002 that Mrs Scrayen and the deceased discussed the possibility of reporting her rectal bleeding to a medical practitioner and it was not until 5 December 2002 that she first reported those problems to a doctor.

I accept that Mrs Scrayen  believed that the deceased had suffered from haemorrhoids years earlier and the bleeding and pain was “an old symptom coming back”, but a competent health professional would have been alarmed by the developing symptoms and would have strongly advised that appropriate medical investigations be conducted without delay.

Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional. I accept that Mrs Scrayen had minimal understanding of relevant health issues, unfortunately that did not prevent her from treating the deceased as a patient.

This case has highlighted the importance of patients suffering from cancer making  informed, sound decisions in relation to their treatment.  In this case the deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision making. 

Unfortunately the deceased was surrounded by misinformation and poor science.  Although her treating surgeon and mainstream general practitioner provided clear and reliable information, she received mixed messages from a number of different sources which caused her to initially delay necessary surgery and ultimately decide not to have surgery until it was too late.

Continue reading “Supporting a fellow blogger who is being attacked by a homeopath”

Australia sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases

According to the Vaccine News Daily, Australian sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases. In 2011, Australia has seen about 38,000 cases of  whooping cough, despite a relatively high level of vaccination. As a comparison, California, which has about 15 million more people than Australia (37 million and 22 million people, respectively) had only 3,000 cases of whooping cough in 2011.  Some of the difference may be related to improved diagnostic procedures, but they have also been implemented in California. Continue reading “Australia sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases”