Experts in Ignorance

ignorance of expertsWe are told all the time that we are not qualified to make medical or healthcare decisions for ourselves or our children. Instead, we need to leave it up to the ‘experts’ – namely the doctors and medical specialists – whose training has supposedly made them better-qualified than any of our own research and knowledge possibly could.

This is despite the FACT that medical doctors learn very little (nothing, really) about vaccination, nutrition or most other aspects of staying healthy when they receive their medical school training. Once they leave school, much of their continuing education comes directly from the drug companies so really, I think they are not qualified to advise anyone about these topics. The only exception would be if they themselves have done research outside of their normal areas and, if they have done so and offer advice that goes against the status quo, they are threatened with deregistration or worse!

Most doctors are only qualified to advise patients about drugs, and even that qualification is not independent since, as I said earlier, their training, in large part, comes from the multinational pharmaceutical companies who test and market their own products.

Do doctors understand health?

If you feel that health does not come from a pill or a needle, I think there is very little that a doctor can offer you in the way of staying healthy.

Time and time again, doctors have demonstrated clearly that their knowledge of the basics of health and the immune system/infectious diseases is seriously lacking.

A recent example of this was the incident with Dr Richard Kidd, head of the Australian Medical Association in QLD. During a hearing into legislative changes in the QLD Parliament, Dr Kidd advised a sitting Member to ask her doctor to give her an MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine during her next pregnancy. This despite the fact that MMR is absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy because the rubella portion of the shot could possibly cause congenital rubella syndrome in an unborn child.

I filed an official complaint with the QLD Health Care Complaints about Dr Kidd’s dangerous advice and was told that because Dr Kidd had said this during a hearing, it was not official advice and therefore, was not covered by their legislation! Yet, if you’d said this to your neighbour over the back fence, you could be in trouble! Double standards once again.

In the last few days, another AMA official – this one, none other than the National President – has demonstrated an incredible ignorance of something so basic, most parents would be ashamed to have made this kind of error.

AMA and PolioLuckily, Dr Julie Leask (a social scientist – not a medical doctor) picked him up on his mistake, but the fact remains that not only is the President of the AMA displaying a shocking lack of knowledge about one of the main diseases we vaccinate against, but he is comparing those of us who are better informed and better qualified than himself on this subject (e.g., most educated parents and natural therapists/holistic GPs) to Islamic terrorists!

Now, I can’t follow the link to the BBC article the @amapresident was referring to because he removed his original tweet (what is it with health officials constantly trying to rewrite history in order to cover up their numerous errors?) but the implication is obvious: If you are sharing information about vaccination that the AMA does not agree with, you are the equivalent of a terrorist.

Responsible health choices

I believe that making decisions by ONLY seeking the advice of self-proclaimed experts who make such basic errors is irresponsible. I also believe that parents should be taking responsibility for the health of their children, and this means that in addition to speaking with their doctors, they should be seeking out information from a wide range of sources, including their own reading and research and sourcing data from organisations that are critical of government vaccination policies such as the Australian Vaccination Network and the National Vaccine Information Centre (for just two examples).

To show you that this sort of institutional ignorance is nothing new, here is an interview I did on Channel 7’s Sunrise Program in 2002 with Dr Trevor Mudge, then Vice President of the AMA. While I was able to cite data from peer-reviewed medical journal sources, Dr Mudge’s only comeback was to accuse me of being Anti-Vaccine and therefore, claim that everything I said was wrong whilst not being able to back up anything he said with source material.

He admitted that we did not test vaccines here in Australia; he admitted that he had no information on the known side effects and deaths from the vaccine in question (the then unlicensed meningococcal vaccine) and he admitted that the strain covered by the shot did not match the circulating strain of the majority of cases in Australia.

Despite these admissions and despite his lack of knowledge, he still urged people to get this shot because – SCIENCE!

There’s science – and then, there are vaccines…

Science means never having to say you haven’t studied anything thoroughly. Science means always questioning, always testing and never making any absolute statements because today’s science is tomorrow’s junk.

The ignorance being displayed by those who the government claims are the experts we should be listening to without question is disturbing. It is frightening and it should not be allowed to continue.

Doctors have done nothing to earn our trust or our respect, nor have their peak bodies. Indeed, the arrogance, the ignorance and the insistence on being trusted simply because they are doctors has only led to a great deal of suspicion from the majority of the thinking public.

Some doctors have even gone so far as to say that those who disagree with them should be punished, fined or jailed for their beliefs – even if those beliefs are backed by real science! The question that needs to be asked here is – is there more than one way to stay healthy? And if the answer to that question is yes, should any one segment of society – especially one responsible for a holocaust’s worth of pain, death and suffering worldwide each year – be allowed to dictate to others?

YOU as the parent and a thinking adult are and will always be the expert on your body and on the bodies of your children. YOU should ask your doctor for advice, but YOU should only consider taking that advice after seeking out a second (and perhaps a third) opinion, doing your own research and considering your options carefully.

Any doctor who does not respect that innate right; any industry body (like the AMA) who insists on your not being allowed to make these choices, deserves to be shut down; and any government that tries to force free citizens to make medical choices which they do not feel is in their family’s best interest deserves to be charged with crimes against humanity and replaced by a truly representative body.

Health Debate Goes to the Next Level-Doctors Unite to Smash the Anti-Vaccine Group

 

The latest in a string of attacks against the AVN

Below is an article that appeared in today’s Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) newspaper regarding a push by medical lobbyists to force the Australian Vaccination Network to change its name. This article appears on page 15 of the paper but does not seem to be online yet. The centre of the page has an article (pasted at the bottom of this message) about a baby who contracted whooping cough at 1 week of age and a large central picture of that child’s family (hmmmm – what message are they trying to send here?) The parents of this baby are blaming unvaccinated children for their baby’s illness, but if the child got whooping cough at 1 week of age, it is obvious that it would have been exposed in hospital – not from some invisible child.

Dr Ken Harvey, the complainant against the AVN, appears to be a serial complainer – apparently working almost full-time to stop anyone who questions mainstream medicine or practices natural or complementary health therapies – especially chiropractic care and homeopathy. Have a look at the Complaints Resolution Panel’s list of complaints that have been ‘resolved’ – http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=13. Out of a total of 31 complaints on this website – five were filed by Ken Harvey – the rest are anonymous! One has to wonder how he finds the time to run a practice when he is constantly complaining about the AVN and natural therapies?

Doctors are desperate!

Of course, the fact that doctors are now asking the government to force the AVN to change its name is a sign that they are running out of options. The medical community, the pharmaceutical industry and government departments have been trying for over 3 years now to try and force us to close our doors. They would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to date trying to “Smash” our small, volunteer-run organisation and even though we are chronically-underfunded, they have been unsuccessful. We are David to their Goliath and because we stand for truth, freedom and democracy, we will always prevail, no matter how dirty their tactics become – and wanting us to change our name is pretty dirty indeed!

They want the AVN gone

These attempts to shut down the AVN have included investigations and warnings issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which we had to fight long and hard to finally defeat. We accomplished this in the Supreme Court which determined that the HCCC acted illegally when conducting their investigation and issuing a warning against us..

They tried to close us down by using the Department of Fair Trading – several times. They tried with ASIC when we weren’t even registered with ASIC. Through the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (which had to assign one of their employees a full-time job of just dealing with these complaints – at huge cost to the taxpayer!) who revoked our charity authority but was later made to reinstate it because we ARE a charity and we ARE entitled to be one.

Immediately upon that reinstatement, the same people and organisations started lobbying the Minister for Fair Trading to ask him to once again revoke our charitable status because they disagree with us on vaccination. What part of ‘democracy’ don’t these people understand?

I have seen evidence that there was even an attempt to have me deported from Australia via complaints to the Dept of Immigration but unfortunately for the people pushing for this, I am an Australian citizen.

The idea that a group of doctors can unite to SMASH an organisation that questions a medical procedure sounds more like economic protectionism than true concern to me. Who stands to gain if the AVN is forced to close? Not the parents of Australia who will have nowhere else to go for help, information and support. The doctors will gain though because without a vocal and active group supporting conscientious objectors to vaccination, compulsory vaccination will become a reality as we found back in the late 1990s when the government tried to sneak in legislation taking away financial entitlements from parents who did not vaccinate. It was only because the AVN lobbied for the introduction of a Conscientious Objector clause that today, we have the right to claim all government benefits whether we choose to vaccinate fully, selectively or not at all.

Truth in the media – an oxymoron

All along, the media has gleefully reported whatever was said by these groups as though it were news; as though it were the truth.

Now this article in today’s Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) is a prime example of the sort of reporting we have come to expect from commercial media – especially the Telegraph which is a NewsCorp paper with strong links to pharmaceutical companies – including GlaxoSmithKline – a large vaccine maker. So why would anyone expect fair reporting on this issue from that sort of paper?

But our national broadcaster, the ABC – now there is a taxpayer-funded media outlet with a charter of fairness and transparency – or so we’ve been led to believe.

Below is an email exchange with an ABC radio journalist from Tasmania regarding this issue. She wrote in response to the press release I put out the other day on the issue of the AVN being forced to change our name. (If you click on the images below, you will be able to view each email in full size) Please keep in mind that the journalist in question has been a speaker at an Australian Skeptics national conference and therefore, would be far from unbiased when it comes to this issue. Yet she wrote to me using her ABC email address as though it were an official ABC communication. It is apparent that her opinion of the AVN has been formed by listening to what should be registered as a hate group – the Australian Skeptics – and their splinter organistion – Stop the AVN. She neither knows what the AVN does by speaking with us nor, it appears, does she care to know.

 

 

And here is my response to this journalist (I have not heard back from her, by the way). You can click on the image to link through to the blog post if you wish.

 

 

 

 

So, after all of this, please read the articles from today’s newspaper and, I would personally appreciate it if you could take the time to write a quick letter to the editor about this issue. Letters can be emailed to letters@sundaytelegraph.com.au and if you could please cc me at meryl@avn.org.au that would be great!

Doctors unite to smash the anti-vaccine group

THE state’s top doctors have launched an attack on an antivaccination group, accusing it of misleading parents.

Their new campaign aims to make the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) change its name, which one wellknown specialist branded a ‘‘ complete misnomer’’.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts have been urged to force the change on the Nsw-registered group in a letter signed by Associate Professor of La Trobe University Dr Ken Harvey.

His call is backed by experts from the Australian Medical Association and the University of Sydney.

AVN is an activist group that campaigns against vaccination, warning it can have risky side effects.

While it claims to be ‘‘ prochoice’’ the group has been criticised for putting out misleading information ‘‘ based on conspiracy theories’’.

‘‘ I think the name is deceptive and misleading,’’ said Dr Brian Owler, Australian Medical Association NSW president. ‘‘ People think they are getting information that is objective on vaccination when it is against vaccination. It is very disingenuous.

‘‘ We are very supportive of the approach to have the government step in.’’

Since the introduction of childhood immunisation in the 1930s vaccine-preventable diseases have declined by more than 99 per cent.

But doctors fear a reemergence of polio and mumps if vaccination rates were to drop.

‘‘ We have the first-world luxury of not seeing so many diseases now but it’s only because in Australia we have had such high levels of immunisation,’’ said Dr Kerryn Phelps, GP and Adjunct Public Health Professor at the University of Sydney.

Writing to government, Dr Harvey said the association is registered with the Office of Fair trading and therefore the government has the power to order a name change. ‘‘ The deceptive name of the organisation has potentially deadly consequences,’’ he said.

But the head of AVN, Meryl Dorey, said she would not be considering a name change for the association.

‘‘ It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life,’’ Ms Dorey said.

‘‘ What is the problem with our name? We are Australian, we are about vaccination and we are a network.

‘‘ We are not antivaccination — we are about choice,’’ she added.

22 Jul 2012

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney)

ROSIE SQUIRES HEALTH REPORTER

Immunise so you don’t put babies at risk

RACHEL Allen’s daughter Issabella almost died after she contracted whooping cough when one week old.

Picture: Rohan Kelly Windsor couple Stephen Adams and Rachael Allen nearly lost baby Issabella to whooping cough

Still shaken by the ordeal, the 20-year-old mother said parents who refuse to immunise their children were helping to spread potentially lethal diseases.

Issabella, who was too young to be vaccinated, had to be rushed to hospital when she was hit by a severe bout of whooping cough.

‘‘She had the sniffles and I thought it was a cold but it got worse and then she had a coughing fit and stopped breathing, ’’ Ms Allen, from Windsor, said.

‘‘My father-in-law had to resuscitate her while we were in the car driving to the hospital. It was horrible.’’

Ms Allen and partner Stephen Adams told The

Sunday Telegraph the terrifying episode had strengthened their support of immunisation. ‘‘When parents don’t immunise their children they’re keeping the spread of the disease alive,’’ she said.

‘‘It makes me upset my daughter almost died because she caught an illness she was too young to be vaccinated against.’’

 

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Can children be considered collateral damage

How many children are we willing to sacrifice before the altar of vaccination in order to ‘protect’ society? Is even one child an acceptable cost and if you answer yes to that question – acceptable to whom?

Saba Button’s future was forfeit to a vaccine experiment gone horribly wrong. That isn’t anything new – it happens all the time. We just don’t hear about it because usually, these ‘studies’ are generally run in developing countries where annoying things like ethics committees don’t cause unnecessary bother with all of their nasty rules and regulations.

Enter Western Australia – testing ground of choice for this part of the world, thanks in part to the aggressive commercialisation activities of the Telethon Institute in Perth. The head of this Institute and a former Australian of the Year, Prof Fiona Stanley, was quoted in a recent media interview as saying:

“But there’s been a really good  we’ve had a very good relationship with big pharma, some of which has just been, ‘Here’s the money. We’re interested in anything you produce.’ That’s a very good relation that Pat Holt has had with GlaxoSmithKline.

“We’ve had a lot of funding from the big pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines  we’ve had about, oh, probably 80 vaccine trials since the 1990s, where we’ve done everything from the evaluation of new vaccines to looking at whether the vaccines can be given together, to look at novel ways of delivery of vaccine. We’re doing trials on HPV as well as bird flu  you know, it’s huge. Peter Richmond heads up a lot of that, but we always try to add some scientific questions to our vaccine trials.”

Saba Button was part of a flu vaccine trial – but her parents had no idea that their little girl was being used as a guinea pig. They were kept in the dark about the experimental nature of this vaccine just as the other 240 parents whose children were admitted to hospital in WA had no idea. And these were only the reactions we know about. Since only between 1 and 10% are reported, chances are the number of children in WA who were injured by this shot is far higher.

Last week, in response to the government’s push to introduce mass vaccination of all children 6 months of age and older against influenza despite last year’s disaster, Saba’s parents went public for the first time about their experience. The AVN issued a media release afterwards and it was picked up by several outlets – amongst them, Howard Sattler from radio 6PR in Perth.

Howard has interviewed me before and has always made his stance on this issue very clear – he is pro-vaccination but believes wholeheartedly in the right to freedom of speech in a democracy. He also trusts his fellow Australians to be able to listen to both points of view on issues and then, make up their own mind.

Below, with the kind permission of 6PR, I have included audio files of my interview with Mr Sattler followed by his interview with David Mountain, head of the Australian Medical Association of WA.

Your comments are welcome.

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[buzzsprout episode=”23353″ player=”true”]