A memo did the rounds a few weeks back at News Ltd. Ease up on the ‘antivaxxers’. News Ltd. was getting nervous about the pro Bad Pharma, pro vaccine campaign they had been running in tandem with the US Government since the bogus Disneyland measles scare campaign back in 2013. Mission accomplished guys (sorry I mean girls, only poor old Claire Harvey and Jane Hansen had signed on for the mission, no real journalists required), let’s focus our attacks now on the Food Babe or Paleo Pete, acupuncturists and homeopaths, then we’ll move on to the herbalists and naturopaths.
At first I didn’t take much notice, you hear plenty of rumours in these increasingly paranoid days, but then along came The Age. Surely must be Fairfax’s turn to shoulder this urgent & heavy load. Talk about making up for lost time.
DEC 10, 2015
Marissa Calligeros and Tom Cowie
Headline almost says it all in regards to attitude and bias. It’s the meaty story however that catches the attention.
“One in four of the children who attend a Brunswick school that calls for tolerance for vaccine dodgers has contracted chickenpox.”
Jesus Wept!! One in four! Horrifying! But wait, hang on, a few sentences later,
“The Department of Health was first notified about the chickenpox cases on November 26.
“There are no firm figures on the number of students who have contracted the illness since then, but we’ve been advised that over the period there has been an absentee rate of about 25 per cent on any given day,” a department spokesman said.”
Oh, so you have no idea how many have chicken pox? Some parents may even be keeping their children home so as not to have any chance of contracting chicken pox maybe? Early holidays? A cold? No idea?
“Given the time of year, there are a number of other reasons which would lead to a higher than usual absentee rate.”
Oh, maybe the only piece of real journalism in the ‘story’? So there could be other reasons? So maybe 1 in 4 don’t have chickenpox?
Then it’s the poor old Principal’s time for a bit of name and shame with the vague hint that the “school” had previously asked for tolerance of those with “differing opinions on immunisation.” Guess this is how we came up with the “vaccine dodgers” headline?
What unbalanced pro vaccine story could you publish without a quote from the inept Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy.
“We’re significantly concerned about the myth makers who go out encouraging people not to immunise their children,” Ms Hennessy said.
“Get your advice from a doctor, not from some quack who’s opposed to vaccination based on dodgy science.”
Word of advice Jill, vaccination and dodgy science should never be used in the same sentence. I’ve sadly reached the point where I need to see how much Bad Pharma has donated to an MP’s electoral coffers before I can look at their motives as untainted. Well Jill? Any Bad Pharma donations? What about the Victorian ALP? Maybe we should have asked the senators on the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee whether any of them had any reasons they should excuse themselves?
Strangely, a largely uncovered part to this story was the fact that many vaccinated children seem to have come down with the dreaded chicken pox. An intriguing little line in the middle of nowhere states,
“Children who are immunised can still contract chickenpox.”
Later we hear a little more from Monash Children’s Hospital head of infection and immunity Jim Buttery,
“For “herd immunity” to kick in, he said, about 90 per cent of children need to be immunised.”
Any data to support that Buttery Fact? It used to be approximately 70% when Bad Pharma first started pushing the story. Pro Merck pushers don’t really like to get bogged down in herd immunity details, they like talking about it but only in general terms. As soon as you ask for some hard science they start waffling about iron lungs and the mercury levels of canned tuna.
And finally, a clarification,
“An earlier version of this report described the school as actively welcoming unvaccinated students. However, we understand the school’s newsletter from which this was inferred was a call for tolerance as opposed to an ‘active welcome’.”
Of course you did. Wonder how you got that so wrong?
DEC 11, 2015
by Bianca Hall
Bianca devotes a whole ‘story’ to some posts lifted from Facebook. Facebook is bad enough all on its but to be rummaging for stories in there comes across as desperate to me.
“But hours after being discharged from hospital on Friday, the Melbourne woman struck a defiant note, hinting to other members of the Facebook group Unvaccinated Australia that she had lied to hospital doctors in order to leave the hospital.”
Bianca never tells us how she came across these Facebook posts on what I’m led to believe is a closed group. Had she hacked into a closed group all on her own? Has Murdoch’s old UK hacker got a new job at Fairfax? How on Earth did Bianca ever come across these posts? She never lets on.
“Doctors had urged her to immunise the baby because having had the disease only gives a child immunity for five years, and the vaccine contains immunisations in addition to pertussis.”
I’ve read this paragraph 20 times and I’m still not sure what Bianca is trying to say here. Is she trying to say doctors urged her to vaccinate a child for pertussis who was in hospital with pertussis? Is she trying to say immunity to pertussis contracted naturally wears off after 5 years? It reeks of a paragraph written by somebody who has no idea about the subject matter.
This might explain why, when discussing pertussis vaccination, Hall closes with,
“Immunisations are free, and babies can receive their first immunisation from six weeks of age, with the second dose at four months.”
See, had she researched her subject matter she would have known that this problematic vaccine is actually now up to 5 booster shots. And still we have record numbers coming down with the disease. When I reminded her of this fact she actually chastised me, telling me condescendingly there were in fact only 2 boosters. See the problem with all these Age journos and their ‘science deniers’ stories is that they have no idea on the science themselves. In fact you will find that 80% of anyone who has a passionate opinion on vaccine science safety and efficacy hasn’t ever done an ounce of independent research.
DEC 17, 2015
by Julie Szego
Now here is a real hunk of junk. Only a freelancer could be found to put this rubbish together. Or Claire Harvey. Jane Hansen too I guess, anyways….
“Anti-vaxxers who might be reading this column should breathe easy: I won’t be seeking to persuade them. An appeal to communal responsibility is unlikely to cut through with people either convinced immunisation is a conspiracy between government and “Big Pharma”, or else happy to piggyback on the “herd immunity” created by everyone else submitting to the needle.”
Julie has it all going on in her killer opener. Conspiracy Julie or just a confederacy of greed and corruption? Come across any hints of it in your obviously extensive research?
It is the death of true democracy and if you cannot see it is a serious problem with government today you are part of the problem. Herd immunity Julie? Please tell us all you know on herd immunity. I promise not to laugh.
“The anti-vaxxers are unlikely to contemplate the precariousness and misery of their ancestors’ lives before mass vaccination eradicated, or greatly reduced, the menace of polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, rubella, yellow fever and small pox.”
Refrigerated food storage and transport, clean water, sewerage systems, sanitation, improved nutrition, the end of child labour, isolation wards, improved hospital systems all helped don’t you think Jules? You know antibiotics weren’t discovered until the 1940’s yeah?
“Or tackle the dodgy analysis that gives more weight to the infinitesimal risk of a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine than to the risk of their child.”
Exactly how infinitesimal is that risk Julie? As infinitesimal as the amount of research you’ve obviously not done? Do you include SIDS and autoimmune diseases amongst those risks? Obviously not autism if your next Mercky sentence is anything to go by.
“Or concede the link between vaccination and autism has been comprehensively debunked.”
I wonder if you know it hasn’t been debunked? I wonder if you have heard of Dr William Thompson, a vaccine scientist working at the CDC recently granted whistleblower status? You know what data his CDC bosses told him to destroy? Yeah that pesky autism/vaccine link again.
“And as we see in the now notorious case of Brunswick North West Primary School where a staggering 80 children, one in four, have been struck down with chicken pox, sometimes pigheadedness can win undeserved concessions.”
You by now know, and so did your editor, this wasn’t true. You have no idea why these children were not at school. The Age obviously loved this stat though, this was the 5th time in 10 days they’d regurgitated it.
“Common sense and mainstream medical opinion tell us the school experienced this mass outbreak because only 73 per cent of children are immunised—whereas roughly 90 per cent coverage is needed for “herd immunity” to kick in and protect everyone, including the nonvaccinated.”
Julie and the Age give us a quick lesson in herd immunity again even going so far as to tell us this is why the outbreak occurred. Next time there is an Ebola outbreak who ya gonna call WHO? Julie Szego! If they’d called you in to the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2013 I bet we would have found patient zero. Oh Jules, since you are all over this, how many vaccinated kids caught the pox at Brunswick?
The poor Principal then cops a Szego serve,
“Surely educators, of all people, should have zero tolerance and scant respect for views based on wilful ignorance, fantasy and dogma.”
Does that include freelance journos as well?
“And we have the growing popularity of “alternative medicine” quackery, such as homeopathy, which has private health insurers forking out rebates for treatments that are useless, at best. The anti-vaccination movement is an extreme symptom of an underlying disease that makes us susceptible to the notion that truth is an ever-negotiable, relative concept.”
Growing popularity. Oldest forms of medicine on the planet Julie. You know without plants there would be no pharmaceutical industry don’t you? Do you think some Skeptic scientists creates all these new compounds in a lab? I’ll put a carbon here, a little sulphur there, and on the end here some nitrogen. Nup, sorry to disappoint, they steal a plant constituent, then chemically alter it ever so slightly so they can patent it. Sadly this makes it all the more toxic but shit hey, we’ll give em another drug for the side effects. “Alternative medicine” is here to stay Szego. You know why? Because, for the most part, it is safe, cheap, and effective. Oh and it doesn’t kill 100’s of 1000’s of people a year like the real Quacks do at Bad Pharma.
“Perhaps it does deliver complacency, intellectual arrogance and a sense of entitlement – with some parents apparently picking and choosing vaccines for their children, as if shopping for designer outfits.”
Yeah, heaven forbid the arrogance of a parent deciding that they will vaccinate for polio but can’t see the benefit of the awful HepB vaccine or the ridiculous rotavirus vaccine. Why should parents get to make decisions like this when we have Bad Pharma, Scott Morrison, Rupert Murdoch, and Julie Szego to make these hard decisions for us instead? A bit of trust please sheeples.
“So rather than endow anti-vaxxers with the pseudo-legitimacy of “conscientious objector”, we ought to see their stance as lacking conscience.”
Should we Jules? You really think so? You think the parent that actually weighs up the risk/benefit ratios of our overcrowded vaccine schedule and decides it is too much for an infant that cannot produce a robust antibody response anyway lacks conscience? What about a freelance journo that either hasn’t done an ounce of research or, worse, is bought, that produces total Bad Pharma propaganda and passes it off as a newspaper article? Any conscience issues there?
“Chicken pox, for one, can have catastrophic consequences for babies, pregnant women, or people who are on chemo or otherwise immunosuppressed. The anti-vaxxers are putting these vulnerable groups at risk. Sometimes tolerance exacts too high a price.”
You know chickenpox isn’t even on the schedule in the UK Julie? You know why?
“Chickenpox is a common childhood infection. Usually, it’s mild and complications are rare. Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection, so most only catch it once.”
Shameful Julie, or is it Juliar?
DEC 18, 2015
Patrick is a Skeptic. Yeah I know, confusing…you might mistakingly think that means Patrick might be sceptical of vaccine science but what it actually means is he is part of a group opposed to spoon benders, the Food Babe, Paleo Pete, anything to do with natural medicines and, above all else, anyone who questions Bad Pharma about vaccine safety and efficacy. The Skeptic’s fearless leader is an ex magician and an old weirdo named James Randi who was overly obsessed with Uri Geller the spoon bender.
A very unsavoury character reportedly but not surprising, the Australian Skeptics have a few skeletons in their closets themselves, a shady, weird bunch obsessed with Star Trek, cats, Dr Who and more than a few disgraced members amongst their midsts.
More on that later, A History of The Australian Skeptics will be juicy reading in 2016. Back to The Age.
Pat starts out strong, climate deniers, can’t go wrong there Pat, no one likes Big Oil or Big Coal. Not for long though, Pat can’t wait to jump into the real agenda,
“The principal of Brunswick North West Primary School makes a point of respecting the “diversity” of views on vaccination. Months later, a quarter of its student body comes down with chicken pox.”
Hmmm? Back to the old 1 in 4 story huh? Where is your data on that Skeptic? Funnily enough Pat questioned me on my data later on that day. What’s good for the Goose…?
“But as the Brunswick outbreak demonstrates, an educated (and affluent) public can still fall into various forms of science denialism.”
How is this demonstrated? If the chicken pox vaccine has a high failure rate and poor efficacy is it the ‘science deniers’ fault? That’s like saying my vaccinated child is in danger of dying from an infectious disease from your unvaccinated child. The vaccines don’t work, it’s those bloody antivaxxers fault. Or is it the vaccines don’t work because we deny the science? A powerful anti-placebo?
“As a result, for most of us, it simply doesn’t matter what we think about whether humans are changing the climate or whether vaccines or genetically modified organisms are safe, or whether wind turbines make you sick. We don’t get a vote on this.”
As consumers though we do Pat. We can choose to limit exposure to products we feel are not in our best interests. We can evaluate information in areas we are interested in just like yourself, a philosopher, has in determining whether we should vaccinate our one day old infants for HepB or not. As a parent I believe you have a duty of care to research vaccination as much as you can. And not just from vested interests but from a variety of sources. So Pat, dead wrong, you will find most people are capable of reading a scientific study and being able to judge the bias and research the conflict of interests. Not just the domain of you big, brave philosophers.
Oh and Pat, we do get to vote on it as well. Governments that fail to look after the interests of it’s citizens and focus only on the interests of Big Business eventually get booted out. Quickly.
“But science isn’t a democracy. You might say it’s a contest of ideas, but like any contest, this one has rules. Science denialists don’t play by those rules; in fact they don’t play the game at all. They want their views to be taken seriously but don’t want to do the hard yards of training, research and publication.”
Great stuff Patrick, and you’re right, science isn’t a democracy. Bad Pharma science in particular is a viper’s nest of corruption, greed, and conflicted interest. If you ever get your head around Socrates I can lend you any number of books highlighting this exact issue.
“It’s like running onto the ground during the Grand Final with your own football, kicking it through the goals, and then declaring yourself the winner.”
No Pat, it is in fact far worse. Bad Pharma owns the ground, the umpires, all the teams and sponsors the Grand Final. They even get to pick the score. You might like us all “to defer to others” but when you live in a world where we have waged a generation of war based on the lies that were weapons of mass destruction I’m afraid the trust is gone.
Do I accept anything a government tells me anymore? With a grain of viral DNA. Do I believe that Rupert Murdoch and his disgraced News Ltd have the average citizens best interests at heart or gives a flying flu shot about open, transparent democracy ? Unlikely. Do I accept the ‘science’ of Bad Pharma is settled? Ha! If you tried to land a pod on Mars with Big Bad Pharma data you’d end up in Punchbowl. So my apologies Pat, we are not science deniers, we are science sceptics.
“The bad news is we don’t all get to decide for ourselves what’s true about the natural world.”
True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. True stupidity is knowing that and still trying to write with some expertise and authority.
DEC 21, 2015
You cannot argue against the science on hepatitis C … or vaccination
by EDITORIAL ?????
Paul Austin maybe? Seems the only one trying to take credit.
Today The Age blends in a little Big Pharma Hep C drug PR with a little more science denialism.
“The science is clear. It is beyond argument. It is accepted.”
The Age is declaring Bad Pharma’s latest HepC drugs. Yeah the one that was just fast tracked onto the market by the FDA. The same one that costs over $1000 a pill with a treatment costing between $80,000-$100,000. The same drugs that have only been on the market for a couple of years now. Any long term safety studies on those drugs? Hope they turn out alright for you. Wasn’t that long ago world governments stockpiled Tamiflu because it was gonna save the world from the latest crazy swine/bird/pig/monkey flu. We spent over $200 Million on it only to find it was about as useful as, well….as a flu vaccine.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how removed from reality, so long as that opinion does not harm, or cause a reaction that leads to others being harmed.”
Cause a reaction that leads to others being harmed? Sounds like an adverse reaction to a drug or a vaccination. So we ruling out Merck? GSK? The doctor that prescribed the drug? Jesus Mr Editor you have just ruled out a lot of opinions, maybe even your own?
“This is not the case with those misguided people who form a vocal minority in their belief that not vaccinating their child is in the best interests of that child. This is false. As the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said when launching a mobile app that alerts parents when the time is right to vaccinate: “The science is crystal clear.”
Here’s poor Jill with her crystal clear science. Glad she doesn’t clean my windows.
Jill adds: “Refusing to vaccinate your child not only endangers their health, but the health of every other child in our community.”
Every other child? How Jill? Please explain. Jill have any of your doctor friends told you about the human infant’s immune systems and it’s development? You need to ask all about an infant’s ability to mount a robust antibody response. You will be shocked when you find out how unscientifically unsound it is to even think about a vaccine for a child under 1 year of age let alone an infant just born. I’m all ears though Jill, would love to hear your take on it. Yours too Austin, don’t think you are getting off the hook.
“As the federal Department of Health says: “If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the disease can die out altogether. “Who could possibly, under any conditions, argue against this? This level of protection is known as the “herd immunity”, and is measured as a vaccination rate in the community of 95 per cent. Victoria stands at 93.2 per cent, which is slightly above the national average of 92.6 per cent.”
I love it when an amateur tries his hand at “the herd immunity”. So only a week or so but the same newspaper, your trusty Age, has given 2 different figures for “the herd immunity”. Marissa and Tom gave us 90% and now some nameless soul at the Department of Health has bumped us up to 95% because it would have ruined his beautiful Victorian “93.2%” story. Inconvenient. So here all you science advocates, riddle me this? How do you apply the 95% herd immunity theory to any vaccine where immunity can wane anywhere from 1-5 years ? Or to a vaccine product that has a failure rate over 20%? See I keep hearing about your crystal clear science but all I see is a messy pile of bull dust.