Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Amazing Meeting: Australia

The Amazing Meeting is finally coming to Australia. It is to be held at the Masonic Center in Sydney from the 26th to the 28th of November and will be the largest Skeptical event in Australia. I will be in Sydney from the 24th to the 30th. After “The Rise of Atheism” I learnt that being early in and late out is best practice as you get a chance to attend the side-events that people inevitably organise. I have booked all my flights and accommodation and will be staying at Ibis World Square which is on the same city block as the Masonic Center and appears to be within 100m. That’s another lesson learnt; don’t have your accommodation across the CBD on a higher elevation. It doesn’t work in your favor.

With news that only 600 tickets would be available and news that TAM London in 2009 sold out in one hour people were rushing to grab tickets as soon as they became available. The sudden rush caused the ticketing server to become over whelmed in just minutes and the Twitter hashtag #TAMoz became bombarded with people bitching about the situation. It took me 38 Minutes to connect and secure my ticket.

The ticketing was handled by an events company called ASN Events and one frustrated individual even tweeted:

I want to see what happens how this amazing event organiser website copes with their alleged ‘25000 attendees’ for larger conferences #tamoz MoviusC

To which an immediate response was:

@MoviusC 25000 people probably registered by fax or had their P.A. do it for them 🙂 Most likely not fanatics like #TAMoz attendees. dingram

Fanatics seems like a good word to describe the mob rushing to to by Tickets at 7am but now 12 hours later there are still tickets available so the morning rush seems to have been rather pointless. But that’s what you get when you announce that there are only 600 seats available to a bunch of fanatic Skeptics.

In addition to the official schedule we (attendees) are in the progress of organising side-events. It’s early but people seem keen to become a little more organised than we were at the Atheist Convention in March. Now instead of people just stumbling across the side events on Facebook or Twitter we have a group setup to collaborate all the events into a single calendar. The TAM Australia meetup group can be found here.

The official TAM Australia site can be found at:

The unofficial side events can be found at:

Meryl Dorey, AVN and Supporters show true colours.

Meryl Dorey and supporters of the Australian Vaccination Network are showing their true colours and it’s not a pretty sight. On the 1st of June this year I witnessed first hand the AVN poisoning the minds of concerned parents who came to the Perth AVN Seminar expecting to receive some useful information about vaccines. Unfortunately for them Meryl was only interested in pushing absurd paranoid conspiracies and making all sorts of false claims such as citing a lack of evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines. Of course anybody old enough to remember Polio or smart enough to conduct some research at the Library will discover that Meryl’s claims about vaccines are complete and utter crap.

I wrote about my expirience at the Perth Seminar here. Apparently my presence did not go unnoticed.

Buzzard, I was perfectly well aware of your presence and that of your 2 little friends as well.

The library excluded the television cameras – not us. They said that due to the threats they had received from people you associate with, no media were allowed at the seminar.

We welcomed cameras and welcomed your presence too. We hoped that if more people are able to access information from both sides of this issue, they would be better able to make an informed choice about vaccination for their children and for themselves.

Remember Buzzard-you Skeptics are the ones trying to deny others access to both sides of this debate-not the AVN.

Oh, also, we had to pay an extra $100 to the library for extra security due to the threat posed by the Skeptics. Maybe, since you Skeptics are responsible for that expense, you might have one less case of beer this week and instead, donate the funds to the AVN to make up for the extra expense you’ve caused us?

On second thought however, don’t bother. You’ve done our cause a great favour. Because of all the extra publicity due to your group’s ravings, instead of just talking to 100 people in some quiet little church hall, we spoke to twice that many in a gorgeous venue at the state library and have at least that many again who have already expressed interest in our next seminar in Perth so-well done and we’ll call it even.

I do want to ask you though, while we are on this subject, How does it feel to be associated with a group of bullies who force organisations like the State Library and the AVN to have to hire protection just to enable us to exercise our right to free speech? Does it feel good to belong to the thought Gestapo? To be associated with the anti-democracy SS?

Lastly,we have taped the entire seminar and will be publishing it free of charge on the Internet so watch this space. If your own recording was not of good quality, you are free to listen to ours.

Yours in health,

AVN Bog Comment

This is odd for the simple reason that there where only two Skeptics in the auditorium. Unless Meryl know something that I don’t which seems unlikely given the crap this woman comes up with. You will notice that she wastes not time in launching accusations, all of which are unfounded. An email was sent to the Library requesting comment on Meryl’s claims. If she is going to make such accusations towards us then of course we are going to follow up on those claims. However after some inquiry no evidence has been found to establish if any threat was even made let alone where it may have originated from.

Did a threat ever exist? If so did it originate from anyone with whom I associate? Did it originate from anyone who associates with the Australian Skeptics? In the absence of any evidence and the AVN’s unwillingness to cooperate in backing up their claim I have reached the conclusion that Meryl is once again inventing stories so she can play the sympathy card to her supporters.

Her post is titled “You can judge an organisation by their actions

But it’s not just her spitting venom; now her supporters are showing their true colours and it is not a pretty sight. On the AVN Facebook Page; Susan Jones writes: “They really are an anti choice hate group. A despicable bunch of thugs really.” and Joanna Jow Hellier write: “Skeptics that don’t believe in freedom of speech or freedom of choice – thats just not right.“. Joanna’s response could easily be misconstrue in a number of ways. So I won’t elaborate on it; but you should go and check out the page of comments yourself.

I highly recommend checking out the AVN’s Facebook Page because it will give you an incite into their members. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions but the group as a whole seems very anti-skeptic. Which is bizzarre coming from an organisation that goes on and on about “informed choice”. Another interesting quirk is the way the AVN claims to be open to debate, just try commenting on their Blog or Facebook Page

I will however agree with Meryl Dorey on one thing; you can judge an organisation by it’s actions. We skeptics do it all the time, much to the frustration of this anti-vax AVN.

The Rise of Australia's Panopticon

The Panopticon is a concept in prison design where by every cell and inmate can be monitored from a central tower; the all seeing eye. However this concept now extends beyond the design of prisons. In the 21st century the Panopticon is creeping into mainstream society where the everyday lives of ordinary citizen are increasingly under the surveillance of government authorities. While there may be no observation tower planted at the centre, our society is increasingly reliant on technology that improves many aspects of our lives but unfortunately this technology can also be used against us and often without our knowledge or consent.

In our modern technology driven lives we are seeing an increasing intrusion into our private lives, everything from Surveillance Cameras to Biometrics to Phone Tracking is being used to track and identify us as we go about our daily lives.

It is important that we take the time to consider the ramifications of our governments increasing obsession to watch over us. Especially when it comes to our use of technology as a primary form of communication; in particular the Internet. As many of you will be aware the government is currently launching an all out assault on the Freedom of Speech that our society has always valued and taken for granted in the form of Internet Censorship. As if this undemocratic attack on our most basic human rights was not appalling enough the Department of the Attorney General is launching a fresh blow against Australian Citizens by announcing plans to force ISPs to track all internet users by keeping a log of activity for up to 2 years. This gross invasion of privacy comes just days after Attorney General: Robert McClelland demanded that the federal police investigate Google for daring to collect publicly broadcast information from Wireless (WiFi) networks. 

It is not yet time for the tin-foil hats however this alarming trend of increased government surveillance and attempted suppression of speech needs to be watched very closely. Because freedom has a price as Thomas Jefferson once said:

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  

-Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)


Living Ignorance AVN Seminar

This is my account of the Australian Vaccination Networks seminar that was held at the State Library of Western Australia on the 1st of June 2010. Both myself and Kylie Sturgess who is more commonly known online as Podblack attended the lecture. We also had @LuminousMonkey and 3 others to help out with flyers, I apologise for my failure recall their names hopefully I can rectify that to give them acnowledgement.

I arrived at the Aroma Cafe situated in the foyer of the library a little later than intended but we still had plenty of time before the Seminar started, so it worked out ok. Before going in @Podblack checked the Names list outside the auditorium, my name was on the list as both our Tickets had been booked under my name. She didn’t notice any asterisk or marks near my name that might suggest the AVN could be onto us. In either case I would not expect much of a response if they did realise who we where except perhaps some closer monitoring. The truth has a tenancy to hurt the AVN so the last thing they really need are some Skeptics reporting back to other Skeptics. This is of course exactly what we were intending to do. I even publicly announced this intention a week before the seminar so it would not be at all surprising if the AVN were alert to our presence.

Going into the Auditorium was interesting as there were two security guards by the door in all black suits and wearing communication earpieces on the side of their heads. They resembled the stereo type Mafia/Gangster body guards. I don’t know if they were AVN security or Library security but either way I don’t think they where intended to present the Mafia image; I just watch to many movies.

I had my video camera with me but the AVN explicitly forbid cameras from being used in their seminar. Even channel 7 was denied access to film so I decided that the consequences of filming outweigh the benefit because not only would I be kicked out but it would also provide ammunition for the AVN to cry persecution by “the Skeptics” and could reflect badly on both myself and Podblack.

Dave the Happy Singer @happysinger added some speculation as to why this might be.

The first thing that happened as we got into the auditorium was the AVN distributing flyers in response to an article in ‘The West Australian’ newspaper. Unfortunatly I have not read that article yet but I will post the flyer that the AVN was handing out (you can click it on the right). If anyone has a copy of the newspaper article that the AVN is trying to refute I would really appreciate it.

During the entire seminar there was a distinct “Clickity, Click Click” sound coming from my left hand side as Podblack was attempting to transcribe and tweet the entire seminar. Using a computer she was able to take notes and tweet much faster than I ever could using a phone for twitter, Pen&Paper for notes. I only got a page of notes, she got at least 8 plus more numerous and detailed tweets.

At last the power began to fail on Podblack’s MacBook. No more “Clickety Click Click”, plus I would now have the monopoly on live tweeting. But alas she found a power outlet and the MacBook was destined to live on.

Throughout the seminar Meryl Dorey kept trying to draw a link between ‘Big Pharma’ and financial profit. The real agenda of this seminar was to propagate conspiracy theories against organisations who are in the progress of saving lives. There is nothing inherently evil about making a profit and if anyone disagrees with me I strongly suggest they move to a communist country. If you can save lives while making that profit then shouldn’t you be regarded as the exact opposite of evil; Not according to Meryl Dorey. Not only did she pick on Big-Pharma but she also tried launching absurd unfounded attacks against the health authorities by trying to tie them up in her wack-job conspiracies. Not a single representative of the WA Department of Health turned up, despite being invited by the AVN. Personally I suspect the reason that the seven empty seats set aside for them remained empty is because our Health Officials do not want to be seen endorsing the anti-vaccination movement, but of course to Meryl Dorey this is just evidence of a conspiracy between the Government and Big-Pharma; and she didn’t hesitate to point this out.

Near the end of the lecture Meryl Dorey announced that there were two people who she would like to acknowledge. Podblack who was busy Twittering stopped immediately, I was writing notes at the time and also stopped at this point. Was she about to out us as Skeptics? No, she wasn’t instead she was acknowledging two of her fellow anti-vaxers. However I have just noticed the following comment on the AVN Blog.

Dan – I really look forward to meeting you and the black cat on Tuesday – you are both such interesting characters.

How can you claim that “Freedom of Speech is the greatest freedom we have and it applies to all of us on equal terms.” as a way of justifying the fact that you and your henchmen consistently try to get our seminars cancelled using the argument that we don’t deserve freedom of speech?

I believe that you skeptics represent the epitome of hypocrisy and truly wonder what your real motivation is. I don’t view any of you are the caring, sharing types because a person who cares about other people would never treat anyone with the disrespect and disdain that I see you treating informed parents with. You should be ashamed of yourselves but I think that none of you has any shame or conscience. No Compulsory Vaccination

Perhaps we should have made ourselves known after all. Then again she had all her bullshit cannons loaded. Who knows what her response might have been. Because telling the truth is certainly not on Meryl Doreys agenda. Unfortunately the average person is poorly informed about vaccinations and might not see through Meryl Doreys bullshit.