Who’s REALLY picking cherries, Jane?

I got an email from my old ‘friend’, Jane Hansen this morning and really, it’s been far too long since we two have communicated. You know how it is. Life gets busy, kids are growing, places to go, people to see…

cherry cartoon

But Jane took the time to drop me a quick line and for that, I’m very grateful

I had just sent a copy of Dr Brian Martin’s latest article, News with a negative frame: a vaccination case study, to some social networking pages I follow and the email lists I help maintain. And darned if I didn’t forget to include Jane on that email – so sorry! But all’s well because she got the email anyway.

For those who haven’t yet read this article, I highly recommend you do! It concerns negative and biased coverage regarding Dr Judy Wilyman’s PhD from the University of Wollongong by Kylar Loussikian of the Australian newspaper in particular, and the Australian media in general.

You see, there are some journalists out there who apparently believe that those who hold a contrary position on scientific issues (such as vaccination) should not be able to obtain a PhD – nor, it seems, should they be allowed a voice in the public debate. Hard to imagine, I know!

And Jane, bless her little heart, appears to be one of those journalists too. Jane, we really do have to talk…

In her usual spontaneous style, Jane’s email to me was direct and straight to the point:

You’re the queen of twisting truth Meryl

Gardasil is one of the most heavily studies vaccines around and one of the most effective. To ignore the vast body of science on this is pure ignorance.

Now Jane, I really am trying to work with you on this – really! But I have searched Dr Martin’s article for even one mention of Gardasil and it might surprise you (or not) to know that it is not mentioned even once. There is a short mention of HPV – the virus that Gardasil is meant to protect against – but that mention is made, not to discuss the science behind HPV vaccination, but simply to quote a paragraph from the Australian newspaper article in question.

So, trying to be helpful because after all, I really ‘get’ you, I offered the following response:

Did you actually read the article, Jane? If so, what is your objection to what Dr Martin has said? Where has he gone wrong? Please feel free to share your insight on this article with either myself or Dr Martin.

He was most particularly NOT not talking about the science behind vaccination which is what leads me to believe that you did not read the article you are replying to. Dr Martin was speaking about how the media uses language to frame an argument in such a way that the truth of matters is ignored and instead, a particular barrow is pushed based purely on what it is the media wishes to propound.
Please read Dr Martin’s article and if you have any criticisms, I am sure he would be most happy to hear them and to respond to you.
Meryl
PS – why are you bringing up Gardasil? What did that have to do with Dr Martin’s article or Dr Wilyman’s PhD from the UOW? You seem to have strayed very far from the point, Jane.

Instead of thanking me for so kindly and politely pointing out the errors of your way, Jane, you instead sent me the following email:

I don’t engage with cherry pickers. Goodbye

Well! May I remind you, Jane, that you were the one who contacted me! So any engagement was totally and absolutely down to you.

Is this any way to carry on a conversation? You start talking and when someone gives a reasoned and civil reply, you attack them and storm off in a virtual huff? That’s neither mature nor is it productive.

These are Australia’s children we are talking about here, Jane. Their health, wellbeing and their very lives. Don’t they deserve better than what you are giving them?

Oh, forgive me! How silly.

I seem to have forgotten that you work for Murdoch.

Forget I said anything.

by Meryl Dorey

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the nocompulsoryvaccination blog. This blog is a forum, support and information site and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Anti-vaccination storm brewing at UOW – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

vax needle“In a university environment we uphold the principle of academic freedom for staff and students,” he said.”Just because something is controversial doesn’t mean that a student shouldn’t present her viewpoint.”

…”But the Australian Medical Association has criticised the University of Wollongong for supporting a PhD student with anti vaccination views.

“AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton says while everyone is entitled to their opinion universities have a higher responsibility.

“People should be able to do anything they want to do and I agree with that, but when we have funds contributed does that undermine the university’s reputation for being a scientific institution or not?” he said.

via Anti-vaccination storm brewing at UOW – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

How ‘normal’ is it to attack those you disagree with?

We humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. We can get used to just about anything and come to live almost normal lives under the most abnormal conditions.

For almost 3 years now, I and other supporters of the AVN have been under attack by the Australian Skeptics and their splinter group, Stop the AVN. The attacks are so persistent and ongoing that it has begun to seem normal to me but it isn’t at all normal and those who are responsible for these unremitting attacks should be in gaol but our society doesn’t seem to take this sort of bullying seriously enough. That it is serious,  I have had confirmation of  from none other than Professor Brian Martin of the organisation, Whistleblower’s Australia.

Dr Martin first became involved in the attacks against the AVN a couple of years ago and, though he holds no firm opinions as to the benefits and risks of vaccination, he has worked for over 35 years with both individuals and community groups who have been put in the same situation I and the AVN have found ourselves in. He said that in all that time, this is the worst attack he has ever seen and I think he’s probably right there.

His first article on this subject was published on his website first and later, reprinted in our magazine, Living Wisdom. Entitled Debating Vaccination, it covers the history of the AVN and the group that was set up for the specific purpose of shutting us down, Stop the AVN.

Dr Martin is a Professor of Social Science and he has observed the AVN’s situation and commented on it from the viewpoint of how the internet and social media has influenced the way in which we communicate on issues which engender a great deal of emotion and disagreement. FaceBook, Twitter, emails and other forms of ‘anonymous’ communication tend to strip away the restraint which individuals may exercise when face to face and make them bolder and more willing to push what most people would consider to be the bounds of social normality.

Vaccination is a very good example of one of the issues where this sort of behaviour is evidence and Dr Martin has been fascinated by the way in which SAVN has continued to abuse (my word – not Dr Martin’s) those who disagree with them about the relative benefits and risks of vaccines and to maintain a high level of rage towards those he names ‘vaccine critical’ on a daily – indeed, almost hourly – basis. The tactics they use, the way in which they ‘gang up’ on those who they disagree with and their constant attacks on anyone who questions the safety or effectiveness of vaccination have become a subject for international study with many scholars around the world examining the situation of the AVN and SAVN.

Today, Dr Martin has completed a couple of new articles on this subject and submitted them to both the AVN and SAVN for our comments. With his permission, I am putting the links to these articles here for you to read as well. Your comments would be appreciated as Dr Martin has done an incredible amount of work on this subject and has thought long and hard about it as well.

The articles are:

Online onslaught: Internet-based methods for attacking and defending citizens’ organisations

Public mobbing: a phenomenon and its features (co-authored with Florencia Peña)

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