Thursday
Jan082015

Meryl Dorey likens health advocates to Charlie Hebdo gunmen.

Today Meryl Dorey, the founder of the nations most discredited sham organisation; The Australian Vaccination Network spoke on public radio the accuse her critics of being terrorists.

From 2 Minutes and 25 seconds the following exchange takes place on public radio.

Meryl Dorey: Now the organisation that is headlining, or pushing… um… this censorship that's all I can call it. Um They are a hate group called Stop the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network and they are very much like the group in France that has been carrying out these actions .

Sally Cockburn (interrupting): No that's unfair Meryl they're not threatening to kill anyone.

Meryl Dorey: Well members of this group have actually gone on Twitter and said "I will contribute to a fund to hire a hitman to get this person" and they have done that. 

 This is a audio recording only, that's why the video is blank.

While I'm disappointed to see Dorey being given air time on 3AW Drive it did at least give her the opportunity to remind the public that she's a complete lunatic.

If you're an anti-vaxxer reading this you can report SAVN, and myself to the national security hotline at the following numbers.

Call: 1800 1234 00 
From outside Australia: (+61) 1300 1234 01
Email: hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au 

MMS: 0429 771 822
TTY: 1800 234 889

Because promoting public health is the same as shooting up a building?

Monday
Dec222014

Homeopathy Plus guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct.

Today HomeopathyPlus is in court due to legal action taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against them for making false and misleading claims about the efficacy of Homeopathy.

I was unable to attend but fortunately Maureen Chuck was in court to reports via twitter that Homeopathy Plus has been found guilty of Misleading and Deceptive conduct.

There will be a directions hearing on the 4th of February to decide what penalties Homeopathy Plus should face.

Update: 1730hrs

THE COURT DECLARES THAT:

The First Respondent and the Second Respondent have in trade and commerce: engaged in conduct that was misleading and deceptive or was likely to mislead and deceive, in contravention of section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”); and in connection with the supply or possible supply of homeopathic treatments or products (“Homeopathic Treatments”), and in connection with the promotion of the supply of Homeopathic Treatments, made false or misleading representations that the vaccine publicly available in Australia for whooping cough (“Vaccine”) is of a particular standard or quality in contravention of sections 29(1)(a) and (b) of the ACL, by publishing, or causing to be published, on the website www.homeopathyplus.com.au (“Website”): from 1 January 2011 until around 26 April 2012, an article entitled “Whooping Cough – Homeopathic Prevention and Treatment” (the “First Whooping Cough Article”) in which a representation was made to the effect that the Vaccine is short-lived, unreliable and no longer effective in protecting against whooping cough; from 11 January 2013 until around March 2013, an article entitled “Whooping Cough – Homeopathic Prevention and Treatment” (the “Second Whooping Cough Article”) in which a representation was made to the effect that the Vaccine may not be the best olution for, is of limited effect, and is unreliable at best, in protecting against whooping cough; and from 3 February 2012 until around March 2013 an article entitled “Government Data Shows Whooping Cough Vaccine a Failure” (the “Government Article”) in which a representation was made to the effect that the Vaccine is largely ineffective in protecting against whooping cough; when, in fact, the Vaccine is effective in protecting a significant majority of people who are exposed to the whooping cough infection from contracting whooping cough.

The First Respondent and the Second Respondent have in trade or commerce: engaged in conduct that was misleading and deceptive or was likely to mislead and deceive, in contravention of section 18 of the ACL; in connection with the supply or possible supply of Homeopathic Treatments, and in connection with the promotion of the supply of Homeopathic Treatments, made false or misleading representations that the Homeopathic Treatments are of a particular standard or quality in contravention of section 29(1)(a) and (b) of the ACL; and in connection with the supply or possible supply of Homeopathic Treatments, and in connection with the promotion of the supply of Homeopathic Treatments, made false or misleading representations that Homeopathic Treatments have a use or benefit in contravention of section 29(1)(g) of the ACL, 
by publishing, or causing to be published, on the Website:

the First Whooping Cough Article;
the Second Whooping Cough Article; and
the Government Article in conjunction with the Second Whooping Cough Article, in which representations were made to the effect that there was a reasonable basis, in the sense of an adequate foundation, in medical science to enable it or them (as the case may be) to state that Homeopathic Treatments are a safe and effective alternative to the Vaccine for the prevention of whooping cough when, in fact: there is no reasonable basis, in the sense of an adequate foundation, in medical science to enable the First Respondent and the Second Respondent to state that Homeopathic Treatments are safe and effective as an alternative to the Vaccine for the Prevention of Whooping Cough; and the Vaccine is the only treatment currently approved for use and accepted by medical practitioners in Australia for the prevention of whooping cough. -Federal Court of Australia

The order has not be entered yet so it isn't available on the Federal Court website until tomorrow. This judgement should shake the homeopathic community in Australia to it's core. It just goes to show that peddlers of bogus medicine can only get away with fraudulent practises for a limited time until the courts hold them to account.

Update 24th December 2014 1143Hrs

The full 105 page Judgement can be downloaded here.

Friday
Dec122014

Mountain View Farm linked to Toddlers Death.

Actually they are legally required to do the recall http://www.recalls.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1066577

Mountain View is an organic milk producer in Victoria that sells raw unpasteurised milk, which is illegal in Australia unless you exploit a loophole that allows you to sell it for "Cosmetic Use" in this case Mountain View sells it as Bath Milk. But recently Mountain View has been directly linked to the death of a toddler.

A three-year-old child died and another four young children fell seriously ill after drinking unpasteurised cow's milk being sold in health food shops as "bath milk".

The toddler, understood to be from Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula, died after drinking raw milk, believed to be Mountain View Organic Bath Milk. 

Mountain View Farm owner Vicki Jones said she was shocked by news of the toddler's death, but said the dangers of raw milk had been sensationalised by the media.

-The Age

The owner of the farm has been quoted as saying.

"I know people drink it. It is a raw product - I don't know why people drink it. I mean, I guess they feel that it's healthy,"

"The label actually says not for human consumption - it's a cosmetic product, not for human consumption. Every time we're approached by someone who says 'Can we drink this milk?' we tell them that it's not for consumption."

"We've posted the health warnings on our Facebook page and emailed everyone we know. People need to know there are risks with consuming it," -Vikki Jones

However on the 21st of September last year Mountain View promoted the drinking of their product on Facebook.

Not for Human Consumption?

Despite the lies Vikki Jones told the media, Mountain View promotes the drinking of raw milk. A product they just happen to produce.

Mountain View also make a mockery of health authorities who claim that raw milk is unsafe.

The organic farm whose cosmetic, unpasteurised milk has been associated with the death of a toddler previously mocked the US food authority for labelling unpasteurised milk as unsafe.

A three-year-old child died after consuming unpasteurised Mountain View Organic Bath Milk, which is labelled “not for human consumption” and “for cosmetic purposes only”.

Four other children are seriously ill after also drinking unpasteurised cosmetic milk, though which brands they consumed is unknown.

The owner of Mountain View, Vicki Jones, told Guardian Australia on Thursday that what consumers did with the product once they got home was up to them. Her company is based on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

A photo shared by the Facebook page of the business on 20 November implies the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorises the use of harmful substances while wrongly demonising raw milk. -The Guardian

Mountain View mocks US health authorities on Facebook.

After the Herald Sun wrote about "Killer Milk: Health alert after children struck down" Mountain View Farm posted a venom spitting update to it's Facebook wall. They have since deleted it, and are now trying to cover their tracks. However I'm certain a court order will uncover everything they have deleted.

Mountain View Farm has been caught red handed selling a dangerous and illegal food product. They exploit a loophole in the law and pretend to sell Bath Milk but in reality they know their customers are drinking it, and they encourage their customers to drink it. Now an innocent toddler has died as a result of their unethical business practices. I hope the authorities come down on Vikki Jones and Mountain View Farm for their involvement in the toddlers death. 

Friday
Dec052014

Australian Skeptic Awards 2014

Last week I was in Sydney to attend The Australian Skeptics National Convention. A yearly conference held on the east coast (I have not yet convinced them to come to Perth) to promote science and skeptical inquiry. One of the annual highlights of the conference along with the high quality talks and presentations, is the annual awards such as:

The Bent Spoon Award:

The Bent Spoon Award is presented annually to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle. Read Barry Williams’ overview of the history of the Bent Spoon Award. What is it? How was it constructed? How are nominations selected? Who are the previous winners? Barry explains it all. -Australian Skeptics

This years Bent Spoon Award went to Dr Larry Marshal the new head of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for his belief in water divining. Yes, it is awarded as an insult.

The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason:

The Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason commemorates Fred Thornett, a Tasmanian Skeptic who died in 2009. In true awards fashion, we call it “The Fred”. The Fred acknowledges a member of the public or a public figure who has made a significant contribution to educating or informing the public regarding issues of science and reason. In addition to a commemorative certificate, $1000 is awarded to the recipient or to a charity or cause of their choice. -Australian Skeptics

This years Thornett Award has been issued to the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters for their work promoting vaccination in communities across northern New South Wales.

We are very excited to announce that our group has won the Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason, presented to us at the 2014 Australian Skeptics National Convention!

This prestigious award also comes with $1000 in award money.
We are so proud of this and proud of our wonderful members. We are excited that we will be able to use this money to help get our message out there to the residents of the Northern Rivers.
Vaccine Preventable Diseases continue to be a real threat in our region and we will continue to battle the misinformation out there, give support to those seeking it, and provide a voice for the vulnerable in our communities. -Northen Rivers Vaccination Supporters

Skeptic of the Year:

Skeptic of the Year is awarded occasionally — not every year — to someone who has close ties with the Skeptical movement and been particularly active over the past year. We name someone Skeptic of the Year because they have been exceptional even by the very good standards of activity of the Australian Skeptical community. -Australian Skeptics

This years Skeptic of the Year has gone to Peter Tierney also known as Reasonable Hank on Twitter and his blog ReasonableHank.com

It was with quite some delight and surprise that I found out I was the winner of the Australian Skeptic of the Year gong, awarded by the Australian Skeptics, today. It was, indeed, a pleasant interruption to my usual program of furrowed-brow-fueled curmudgeonality.
I share this award with all of you who have contributed in any way to the blog, wherever in the world you reside. Thank you for all of your help.
As I was unable to attend the Convention my very good friend, Ken McLeod, accepted the award on my behalf:

-Peter Tierney / Reasonable Hank

Ken McLeod accepts the award on Peter's behalf.

Unfortunately Peter was not in attendance at the conference so Ken McLeoad accepted the award on his behalf. I have yet to meet Peter Tierney in person. Hopefully we will remedy that at some point.

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.