Thursday
Nov202014

The promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices

The NSW Parliament has just released it's final report into: The promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices.

The terms of reference were:

That the Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission inquire into and report on possible measures to address the promotion of unscientific health-related information or practices which may be detrimental to individual or public health. The Inquiry will focus on individuals who are not recognised health practitioners, and organisations that are not recognised health service providers.

The Committee will have particular regard to:

(a) the publication and/or dissemination of false or misleading health-related information that may cause general community mistrust of, or anxiety toward, accepted medical practice;

(b) the publication and/or dissemination of information that encourages individuals or the public to unsafely refuse preventative health measures, medical treatments, or cures;

(c) the promotion of health-related activities and/or provision of treatment that departs from accepted medical practice which may be harmful to individual or public health;

(d) the adequacy of the powers of the Health Care Complaints Commission to investigate such organisations or individuals;

(e) the capacity, appropriateness, and effectiveness of the Health Care Complaints Commission to take enforcement action against such organisations or individuals; and

(f) any other related matter.

-Terms of Reference, Page 5, Section 1.6

This is political speak for "How can we stop these frauds and crimminals from harming the community". It should come as no surprise that the usual suspects have come out spitting venom. Here is one such example:

The Australian constitution and High Court precedents already protect the right to speech provided it is not defamatory,slanderous or inciting hatred (there are several government ministers who would fall foul of these laws were they to speak in public the way they do under parliamentary privilege!) so the Committee should be forewarned that any attempt to take away rights protected by these legal precedents will be swiftly followed by legal action by those who fight to protect freedoms which are considered to be inalienable.

....

It seems that the HCCC isn’t so much lacking in power as they are lacking in the will to perform the job Parliament set them. Giving them yet more power over private citizens and their ability to speak and communicate as they see fit would be an act of bastardry which no democratically elected government should ever consider.

-Meryl Dorey, Australian Vaccination Network

I find it laughable that a person who spend nearly a year in court trying to silence he critics should resort to the Free Speech defense when being investigated by government regulators. See: Dorey vs Buzzard and Dorey vs Bowditch

The Australian Vaccination Network sent two submissions in total. The submission from Greg Beattie also tries to play the Free Speech card:

We are deeply concerned that the proposal may give the HCCC powers to regulate free speech. Australians enjoy freedom of assembly, speech and expression, and this includes the freedom to discuss any health-related issues wherever, whenever, and with whomever they choose. The right to these freedoms is internationally recognised and guaranteed. That the Committee is considering curtailing them suggests a disrespect of this core value of democracy.

-Greg Beattie, Australian Vaccination Network

Greg continues to make a fool of himself by trying to address terms e and f:

(e) the capacity, appropriateness, and effectiveness of the Health Care Complaints Commission to take enforcement action against such organisations or individuals;

Capacity: The HCCC has sufficient powers to perform the role for which it was created. We strongly oppose granting powers which extend this role in the direction of censorship. 

Appropriateness: It is not appropriate to dictate what members of the community may think and express. It is further inappropriate to allow one industry group (albeit a powerful group) to define which views are worthy of expression and which are not. It is not appropriate for government to intervene preferentially in an arena where competing viewpoints are currently supported by the community.

Effectiveness: The HCCC was not created to censor free speech and therefore is not currently effective in this pursuit. That is as it should be. No such powers should be given to any government agency for the purpose of censoring free speech.

(f) any other related matter.

The AVN is itself the subject of ongoing HCCC investigation and attempted suppression, and has been for several years. The HCCC's initial investigation of the AVN was ruled unlawful by the NSW Supreme Court in February 2012. The scope of the Act was subsequently changed by Parliament for the express purpose of continuing the pursuit of our organisation.

-Greg Beattie, Australian Vaccination Network

I'm not an expert on Parliament Submissions, but common sense would tell most people to leave out the part where they are constantly running afoul of the existing regulations. It's like a career criminal arguing that the police should not have power of arrest and then basing the argument on the fact that they haven't caught him yet, despite a lengthy pursuit.

Wednesday
Nov122014

Journalist can’t distinguish between sewer and war memorial.

Journalists are renowned for their failure to check facts. So it should come as no surprise that a journalist in Australia has mistaken a sewer vent for a war memorial.

I'm unable to find permanent employment as a journalist due to lack of qualifications (at least that's what they tell me). Yet, I always check my facts before making stupid comments. Especially when a quick Google search is all you need to find the fact sheet on The Obelisk.

Anyone can make a mistake, but this is just laziness.

Sunday
Oct262014

Some people deserve to get Ebola

The Ebola virus is currently spreading across West Africa and has infected as many as 10,000 people accross the region with approximately 4,922 fatalities. It is one of the most serious disease outbreaks in recent history. There is a vaccine being rushed through development, but there isn't adequate time to test it because it's needed immediately. However some protection is better than zero protection. But like all things medical there are always scoundrels out to cause harm with scaremongering, denial and general advocacy against health care.

HomeopathyPlus a sham operation based in Australia has reared it's ugly head with a petition to the World Health Organisation titled: WHO: End the suffering of the Ebola crisis. Test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.

The petition contains the usual lies and nonsense that we have come to expect from HomeopathyPlus:

We call on those within WHO in positions of authority and influence to:
1.  Look at homeopathy’s record in the treatment and prevention of serious epidemic disease
2.  Engage with qualified representatives from the homeopathic profession to formally identify thebest-indicated remedies
3.  Test those remedies to determine which are best for the treatment and prevention of Ebola
4.  Obtain supplies of those remedies from waiting and concerned homeopathic pharmacies
5.  Bring the outbreaks under control by distributing these remedies as quickly as possible throughout the affected areas.
Finally, please end the suffering of those in the Ebola crisis by using the tried and proven homeopathic option.

 

-HomeopathyPlus

It may come as I surprise to some readers of this blog to learn that I am actually an expert on Homeopathy. I also hold the necessary qualifications needed to legally administer it; as in fuck all. So back in 2011 I used my expertise to strange a public suicide attempt, whereby members of Perth Skeptics took a large overdose of Homeopathic sleeping pills and still lived to tell the tale.

I filmed the event here:

We were able to conduct this overdose safely because Homeopathy is a placebo product. The pills we took contained nothing more than a little sugar, and a hefty price tag. Yet, shonks like HomeopathyPlus and the Homeopathic industry in general are lining up to make some fast cash from the suffering of Ebola victims. The real harm to the victims are not only financial but sometimes a patient will forego medical treatment in favor of witchcraft as was the case with Penelope Dingle.  

There are currently 4,652 signatures on the petition calling for Homeopathy to be used in place of medicine. That's 4,652 people who support taking advantage of the Ebola outbreak to cash in on the scam. Perhaps if these people got a good dose of Ebola themselves they might not be so quick to take advantage of the situation. I wouldn't normally wish Ebola upon anyone, but in the case of scammers and cheats I'll make an exception.

See Also: Not even a trace of evidence for homeopathy -Australian Medical Association

Monday
Sep292014

Perth Skeptics reloaded.

Perth Skeptics is a meetup group that was founded in 2009 by Kylie Sturgess aka the "Token Skeptic" and although I have been a member of this group since 2009 and still attend some events it has been my policy since 2011 never to help or assist the Perth Skeptics in any official capacity due to a conflict with Kylie in 2011.

However things have now changed for the Perth Skeptics and the Token Skeptic is out. On the 23rd of September I was handed this leaked email by an anonymous source:

Your Organizer, Kylie Sturgess, sent the following message to some members of Perth Skeptics: Paul Wright was kind enough to let me know what was going on - I don't hold any grudges, I just want to finish this and move on with my life. Sadly, today is the day that I discovered that people have an issue with my spending hundreds of dollars since 2006 to run a group, and not having the time to take part in certain (not all) events run. Often I just never hit "will be attending" on the Meetup page. My not taking part was due to podcasting, blogging and studying radio and design in order to promote skepticism, atheism and the like - but over the past year and a half, I was less keen to join in on Meetups after being stalked by a former member, who even impersonated me on Facebook and contacted members of my class using my name, at the start of last year. Without my knowledge, I was removed from the public Facebook page this week for the group, and accused of not being communicative, despite asking to discuss matters privately. The Meetup group for Perth Skeptics will close tomorrow, due to the actions of that one member who announced their dissatisfaction with the group. I wish everyone the best with their future endeavours. If anyone wants to take over the group, do so with my blessing. I'll leave it for the end of tomorrow to remove myself from the group. The next payment for the Meetup is in November, if it is continued.

Nobody seems to know who her stalker is, but if she knows their identity (as she apparently does) then getting the police involved should be a trivial matter. Although I personally have doubts about this claim due to my past dealing with her. Whatever the truth to these claims it is Kylie's choice if she wishes to withdraw from the group, she even offered to hand it over so the other organisers who have devoted considerable time over the past few years could continue running it. If only things were that simple.

On the 26th of September all members of Perth Skeptics received the following email:

Dear Perth Skeptics,

Well, it's been an interesting five years running the Perth Skeptics Meetup group and now that time has come to a conclusive end!

This hasn't been an easy decision to come to and I have relied on the advice of a few friends over the past few days who have suggested that this is the best course of action for everyone.

I'm shutting down and removing the Perth Skeptics Meetup from the Meetup site entirely, leaving it up to other groups to create their own new name for new groups, if they wish to.

A new group not called the Perth Skeptics will have several benefits: people can start afresh with new projects, new ideas and a brand new name, with their own impetus. -Kylie Sturgess, via email

Really, what ever happened to allowing the group to continue? This is the old "If I can't have it, nobody can!" mentality which is to be expected from children not grown adults. Particularly laughable is Kylie's insistence that the name Perth Skeptics no longer be used if she is not in change.

As one long term organiser pointed out.

I can only speculate from what I know of Kylie Sturgess and my own dealings with her that the deleting of the Perth Skeptics meetup group was done purely out of spite. 

5 years of history, 152 successful events and over 200 members simply deleted.

However contrary to what she may believe Kylie does not own Perth Skeptics, yes she may have started the meetup group and payed it's registration fees but that a lone does not make it exclusively hers especially when so many people have all contributed over the years. So Perth Skeptics is simply going to continue without her. This unfortunately means recreating the meetup.com page from scratch but that's the best we can do at this stage. You can now find us at http://www.meetup.com/Perth_Skeptics/ 

My policy not to promote or assist Perth Skeptics expires with Kylie's departure. So I will be offering my assistance and advice on raising the groups profile in the near future. Which includes firmly cementing the groups identity as Perth Skeptics.

Saturday
Sep132014

Meryl Dorey on attempted murder.

What lengths does someone have to goto in their attempts to inflict harm on others before the authorities get involved?

When it comes to the founder of the Australian Vaccination Network it would seem that nothing is off limits and any opportunity to cause harm is an opportunity worth taking. This is what happened on Facebook on 31st of August. 

A person by the name Jen DuVall posts:

What about grand mal seizures ?????? My husband has to take anti convulsants to save his life. I am sure there are natural alternatives but what for epilepsy ?
So we can infer from this statement that Ms DuVall's husband needs convulsants in order to live. I don't know exactly what they are, but life preserving medicine is pretty important; if you want the person to live. So Meryl Dorey, who has no medical qualifications or expertise decided give Ms DuVall some lethal medical advise.
Jen DuVall - there are natural alternatives for seizures. The ketogenic diet for one - cannabis oil for another. Consult with your health practitioner and if they don't know anything about these options, find one who does. For EVERY drug-based therapy, there are natural, safe and effective alternatives.

MD
Meryl Dorey's unqualified medical advise to Jen DuVall is to replace her husbands life saving medicine with "Natural Alternatives". The most obvious "Alternative" to life saving medicine is death; and that is exactly what Dorey wants.

Meryl Dorey wants this woman to kill her husband by replacing his medication with bullshit that doesn't work. A few AVN critics have already reported on this, but the question needs to be asked: If this woman's husband dies from shonky medical advise, will Meryl Dorey face crimminal prosecution for her involvement?