Homeopathy Plus / Fran Sheffield in more Hot Water

Fran Sheffield, operator of HomeopathyPlus.com.au has been handed down a raft of sanctions by the Therapeutic Goods Administrations’ Complaint Resolution Panel – Complaint 2011-05-004 Homeopathy Plus – at a Meeting held 16 June 2011, in relation to an Advertisement on her website about a “Flu-Stop” product.

The TGA CRP found that the product advertisement:

  1. Did not contain balanced evidence,
  2. Did not contain adequate evidence for its clams,
  3. Were likely to arouse unwarranted expectations of the product,
  4. Abused the trust of consumers,
  5. Exploited the lack of knowledge of consumers,
  6. Illegally claimed it was safe,
  7. Did not present evidence in an accurate manner,
  8. Did not publish evidence that identified the researcher and financial sponsor,
  9. Was misleading in its portrayal of a comparison product,
  10. Referred to serious diseases and conditions without prior approval by the TGA, and
  11. Failed to include mandatory health warnings on the label of their product.

The sanctions included a Withdrawal of representations, Withdrawal of advertisement, and a Publication of a retraction – the retraction must look like the one below:

HomeopathyPlus.com.au

The Retraction that MUST be displayed

Fran Sheffield now has 14 days to comply or the provisions of sub-regulations 42ZCAI(3) and (4) allow for the matter to be referred to the Secretary for further action.

However, this isn’t the first time she’s fallen foul of the law. In early 2010 Fran refused to comply with sanctions imposed by the TGA – It’s also likely given her past actions she won’t comply with these either.

She was interviewed by ABC’s Lateline at the time, where she positioned herself as the deciding party as to whether or not she had provided enough evidence to support the claims she made about Homeopathy. She made it clear that it was OK for her to refuse to adhere to the sanctions merely because she ‘disagreed’.

During the program Mark Butler, the Parliamentary Secretary of Health, announced that “The Australian community is entitled to expect that an advertising complaints system will be timely, transparent and have teeth”, and as a result of the revelations that a third of advertisers that had justified complaints failed to comply with the sanctions, Mr. Butler added:

We’re now in a position I hope in the near future – as I have indicated to those players – of publishing options for reform that we think will address all of those issues in one fell swoop.

I’ll be following up on that with the new Parliamentary Secretary of Health.

Having read the findings against HomeopathyPlus, I particularly loved Fran’s response! The CRP noted:

The advertiser expressed concern that the complaint “has not come from an unhappy or concerned consumer but from a person who openly boasts and brags on the Internet about this and similar complaints”,and that “The complainant appears to not understand the subject matter in question”.

The Panel “did not find that complaint to be vexatious or otherwise flawed in any way”; certainly this would be a problem if the complaint were an emotional tirade about homeopathy being silly, unscientific, and preposterous, if the complaint was not clear or if there was no evidence supporting the complaint – but The Panel noted that it was clear and supported by evidence. It was also systematic in pointing to legislation the Advertisement breached.
Amusingly, she attempted to discredit the complainant by calling in to question their understanding of the subject matter, but didn’t provide a reason why she suggested that was the case – just rhetoric. Lovely ad hominem.

The advertiser argued that the law relating to therapeutic goods in Australia was, in relation to homeopathic medicines,“the wrong tool for the wrong job”, and that “the fact that homoeopathy’s mode of action, principles and practices are completely different to those of conventional medicine means that those guidelines and regulations are often inappropriate for assessing homoeopathic information or homoeopathic products.”

It’s the same old “Science can’t measure my Woo” gambit.

If something works, it works. It’s measurable. It’s measurable regardless of the mode of action, or the principles, or the practices. The problem is that Homeopathy fails, and rather than accept she is mistaken, Fran decides that the investigation as to whether or not it works – is wrong. It could be the Dunning-Kruger effect, it could be outright denial, it could be stupidity.

Knowing she’s going to get done for her bullshit claims, Fran then went on the attack and indirectly threatens the Panel with legal action. She may say that’s not the case, but let’s look at what she says:

The advertiser stated that they had received legal advice to the effect that “any Company or regulatory body that endangers the lives of others by withholding or suppressing health-related information is guilty of a criminal act and risks being prosecuted accordingly” and asked that the Panel provide a statement as to “their position… in relation to this legal matter.”

I think it’s clear the legal recourse she wants to take is that the “suppression” of her nonsense endangers the lives of others, the irony being the very fact this information is spread is the cause of some of the problems children and adults alike are suffering, or indeed dying.

There would be no reason to ask The Panel for a statement on “their position”, if there was not some sort of intention to use the statement in a legal battle; which of course they would lose for being so blatantly wrong.

The media has been great in raising the profile of Homeopathy; people like Fran put their foot in their mouth with the nonsense that gets put out there through their websites.

There is no better deterrent to Homeopathy that its own advocates getting on Television and proselytizing.

I congratulate that kind of publicity.

Well done Fran Streisand, keep it up and keep smiling.

TruthAboutGardasil.org: Willful Ignorance or Sick Scam?

The access to the internet has meant that any poorly, educated dropkick can write about whatever they like;  such as me for example. While it may seem like there is little harm in it, the fact is there is a LOT of harm the misinformation people post on the internet, can do.

The effects of the spread of information can be seen both locally and overseas, such as the measles outbreaks in the US.

Often, it makes me pause to think whether these people are they serious in their belief, or if are they are simply preying on people – unfortunately, it frequently is the former.

This post is going to focus on just one website, for no other reason than at at 2:30am this morning the anonymous @Gardasil_Truth insisted on being wilfully ignorant, which I’ll be honest – pissed me off.

@Gardasil_Truth pushes a website run by @mariangreene04 (@TrthabtGardasil) which is supported by Jeffery Norris. As it stands, WHOIS indicates the website is registered in his name.

Marian, Mistress of Misinformation

Marian is going to be particularly angry at me for posting this; but it’s a point that needs to be made. The people that hold these erroneous beliefs are everyday people – People who make the mistake of thinking someone has posted all their “personal info” for all to see, when what you see above is all that was available. They THINK their information is posted for all to see because they were logged in at the time – Marian will know what I’m talking about.

More often than not, the internets’ anti something-or-other are everyday citizens like Marian Greene. You would unlikely know it (aside from the great big URL on her Facebook profile), but it’s people who like this that think they know what they are talking about, when they so frequently don’t. They don’t know what they don’t know.

It’s the average person walking along in the street, driving in the car next to you, or riding the coin-operated horse, who places themselves at the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom, proclaiming that they are the only ones that need be convinced, and through their incompetence, ignorance, and arrogance, fail to understand that it is we uneducated dropkicks who know fuck-all about clinical research, which is why it is so important to get over our personal experience and look at the body of evidence – not cherry-pick the bits we want because it confirms our preconceived ideas.

But – to an extent, it’s not their fault. Most hold these erroneous beliefs simply as a result of only being exposed to one side of an issue; where the only information they are aware of is that which is provided to them within their ideological bubble of sycophants – There comes a point however, after years of not just being told they are wrong, but of years of evidence being provided that directly contradict their claims, that we can no longer say, it’s not their fault.

After a point, it is willful ignorance.

It is a desire to cling to their convictions, to hold the fort no matter what – in the face of everything –  They will forsake EVERYTHING to hold on to their last bastion of bullshit belief.

Marian made it clear: she said she had “all the evidence” she needed, that she was convinced, and that’s all that matters.

.. Sorry, but no.

This is not about your belief or opinion, Marian. This is about your sensationalist spin of HPV Vaccines, the implicit suggestion that there is a cover up, and the impact your campaigning has on impeding the health of young women world wide.

This is about your concerted effort to have governments PULL a vaccine off the shelves that can prevent hundreds of thousands of women around the world from getting Cervical Cancer, a vaccine which has had over 35,000,000 dosages issue, and of which only 0.2% reported a reaction.

Any why? Why do you want it pulled? Not because of a high rate of death. Not because of possible contamination of the batches. NO – because of her personal experience.

It is evident, that to Marian, the personal experience of others doesn’t count when they have to endure Cervical Cancer because a HPV Vaccine was no longer available.

By the start of 2010 she had made up her mind to fight against Gardasil, regardless of the facts; or the statistics – which she makes up on a whim. She has no doubt since that moment been provided encouragement and attention from various anti-vaccination nutjobs and groups who have less of a clue than she does about clinical research. See previous post – The Dunning Kruger Effect.

A strong motivation to Help

When presented with the assertion that the stats she uses are incorrect, rather than asking why, or how, she dismisses it as an “opinion”. With a resounding “I know what I know, and you won’t change that” mentality, she is a crusader of the most dangerous type – one that has faith in what she knows because of “personal experience”, rather than because of any statistical information that demonstrates the facts. She is a danger because she doesn’t campaign on what she KNOWS, but what she BELIEVES.

In one of her conversations for instance, @mariangreene04 attempted to tell @ratbagsdotcom that because HPV is a Virus, it could not cause cervical cancer; and as such, Gardisal was not preventing cervical cancer. Perhaps Marian was being particularily lazy when she decided to ignore the fact that HPV 16 & HPV18 leads to 70% of cervical cancer cases.

It’s information this was easily obtainable through a search, which would have lead her to this page and statement:

Persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the cause of essentially all cervical cancers. It was estimated that, in 2010, about 12,000 women in the United States would be diagnosed with this type of cancer and more than 4,000 would die from it. Cervical cancer is diagnosed in nearly half a million women each year worldwide, claiming a quarter of a million lives annually.

Needless to say, the statistics are supported by various lines of evidence on the page.

Nirvana: Just a Band

One of arguments from @Gardisal_Truth was that “100 people have died”. Despite this being factually incorrect, it is of course a logical fallacy – an Appeal to the Perfect Solution. (A Nirvana Fallacy). The argument is one of black and white thinking and can come from an incompetence in understanding complex problems and the interplay between multiple individual elements of a problem.

That sounds resoundingly similar to this situation.

While it’s a virtue to believe that a single death is one too many, we live in reality – not utopia. While not using Gardasil would mean no would die from Gardasil, it would mean many, many more would die from cervical cancer.

By June 21, 2010 the total number of deaths reported to VEARS was 68. Of the 68, only 32 have been confirmed, and of those no unusual pattern or clustering of the deaths were reported that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.

Additionally, Curtis L. Allen, a spokesman for the CDC, said such reports should not be taken as proof that the vaccine is responsible for an individual case.

“It’s not quite as cut and dried as many people would think it would be,” he said. “VAERS is an early warning system — what it does is, it points you towards dangerous signals. It doesn’t say, ‘OK, this is a cause.'”

When I first questioned @Gardasil_Truth on Twitter about the claims, it’s very likely that I received their PRATT (Points Raised a Thousand Times) treatment.

Like a checklist to be ticked off before ignoring the answer, @Gardasil_Truth listed “facts” about Gadasil, and about the website:

  • Their website is just about “getting the word out”, and
  • “asking that people research Gardasil” before making a decision.

This is interesting, given that their websites’ introduction contains no such statement, nor is there a disclaimer that Marian has no formal qualifications and that medical expertise should be consultated rather than accepting the enduring rants at face value.

A search for “PubMed” on their website revealed one hit. This one: Quantifying the possible cross-reactivity risk of an HPV16 Vaccine

The study looked to quantify the actual and theoretical risks involved. The results stated that side-effects were almost completely unavoidable and concluded that any such HPV16 vaccine be thoroughly tested. DUH.

But ONE? Just ONE?!

ONE PubMed results on a website whose advocates claim they are “getting the word out”, the same people that insinuate that side effects were a secret?!

Even a simple bloody Google search would have given them the data the CDC has on Gardasil; though, I suppose when you’re on a misinformed vendetta, it’s far better to simply espouse laden bullshit than engage in a in-depth attempt at research.

So no, while I don’t think “TruthAboutGardasil” is a scam, what it is, is the crafty work of a concerned mother who lacks a grounded and unbiased knowledge of vaccines, a basic understanding of know to review scientific literature, and who refuses to see the benefits that can come from the HPV Vaccine far out way the risks involved.

Vaccinations, The Flu, and You.

Winter is on it’s way, and with it the encouragement for the public to get Flu Vaccinations. Many higher-risk public-sector workplaces are offering the service free to their staff, such as Public Transport Services and Hospitals.

Importantly, everyone should have a clear understanding of Herd Immunity. I found as video that demonstrated it well, although the introduction is a bit boring as it has more to do with the USA rather than Australia. The video can be found here at a previous post.

Sydney’s Northern Beaches recently experienced the effects of a reduction in Vaccination rates (The Manly Daily), which I wrote about at the time. It’s a topic that needs to be frequently covered, as anti-vaccination propaganda that gets passed around eventually finds someone who will take it as fact.

It’s worth nothing that some anti-vaccination websites promote “natural” immunisation methods .. such as simply allowing your children to get sick; sometimes herd immunity or germ theory was rejected all together, usually both, and more often than not they dismiss any documentation without reading it. Anti-science rhetoric is common.

Let’s look at some of the common themes of Anti-Vaccination Groups:

Ingredient Misinformation

Ingredients are generally the first “line of attack” for Anti-Vax proponents. The information they give ABOUT their claims is generally factually incorrect and is often recited verbatim without any fact-checking performed. It is because these concepts are so ingrained it is often difficult to demonstrate through evidence that their knowledge is incorrect.

Anti-Freeze – FALSE!

The “antifreeze” error comes from a misunderstanding of the ethylene chemical compounds – all that is ethylene is not antifreeze.

Formaldehyde – TRUE!

Vaccines utilize formaldehyde that is identical to the substance found naturally in our bodies as a metabolic byproduct of methanol. It is commonly excreted in our urine as waste or converted into formalin.

Formaldehyde in our bodies = H2CO (natural)
Formaldehyde in vaccines = H2CO (synthetic)

Formaldehyde has other uses and is changed to be used in conjunction with other synthetic chemical compounds. These compounds, solutions, gasses, or resins can be, and often are, toxic.

Formaldehyde in embalming fluid = H2CO+CH3OH+CH3CH2OH+solvents
Formaldehyde in plywood = H2CO+NH2CONH2+CH3OH+HCOOH+H2O

Thimerosal – Depends! (On which Vaccine)

Thimerosal is a preservative that is used in the manufacturing process of some vaccines and other medicines to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could otherwise cause illness or injury.

Most anti-vaxers will claim that the amount of mercury that used to be in vaccine exceeded EPA exposure guidelines. However, Thimerosal metabolises into ethylmercury, not methylmercury. The guidelines are specifically for methylmercury, as ethylmercury has a half-life of only a few days to about a week, thus is not considered dangerous enough to regulate. You will literally get more exposure to mercury from a 6oz tin of Tuna.

In addition, Thimerosal has not be used in the MMR vaccine since 2002 and was removed due to political pressure as part of a recommendation, not a regulation. Despite the removal of thimerosal from vaccines, resulting in exposure levels lower than anytime in the past, autism rates have not declined, suggesting that there is no connection between thimerosal and autism.

Baby Foetuses – False!

This was simply scare-campaigning and not true in the slightest.

Aluminium – True!

Vaccines contain aluminum in a salt form. Anti-vaxers claim this is toxic, and some will cite that 4ppm will cause blood to coagulate. However, individuals are not exposed to such amounts of aluminum in a single vaccination visit. Below are the vaccines containing aluminum, with the corresponding parts per million (ppm) for an infant (~251 mL of blood in the body) and an 80lb. child (~4000 mL of blood); note the two numbers for DTaP represent extreme ranges of aluminum content.:

ppm (w/v) = (weight in grams of sample/volume of sample in mL) * 106
Vaccine ppm in infant ppm in child age received (in months)
DTaP (170mcg) .677 .043 2, 4, 6, w/ final ~4-6 yrs
DTaP(625mcg) 2.490 .156
Hep A .996 .063 12 w/ final ~6 mo. later
Hep B .996 .063 birth, 1 or 2, final at 6+
HiB .896 .056 2, 4
HPV .896 .056 11 or 12 yrs., then 2, 6 mo.
Pediatrix 3.386 .213 2, 4, 6 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and Hep B)
Pentacel 1.315 .083 2, 4, 6, 15-18 (in lieu of DTaP, IPV and HiB)
Pneumococcus .498 .031 2, 4, 6, 12-15

Safety and Effectiveness

Measles, United States 1950-2001

After false claims about ingredients, the argument often falls towards Safety and Effectiveness. Essentially stemming from a lack of knowledge in statistics – specifically, gathering, analysis, and interpretation.

Statistically, the information from numerous data-sets demonstrates that vaccines are, in fact, effective in reducing the incidence rate of infection.

Improved socioeconomic conditions have undoubtedly had an indirect impact on disease. Better nutrition, the development of antibiotics and other treatments have increased survival rates among the sick; less crowded living conditions have reduced disease transmission; and lower birth rates have decreased the number of susceptible household contacts — all factors accounted for.

The only suspected issues Vaccines occur if a child has a rare, hereditary, mitochondrial disorder that pre-disposes them to a reaction – and even for this, the supporting information is not currently conclusive, nor strong. There is a test available that checks for this disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Interestingly, the published speculation about a link between Vaccines and Autism was made specifically about the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine; this information was lated investigated and found to have been manufactured by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues.

The Paper was initially published in the respected medical journal The Lancet but later retracted after an investigation found Dr. Wakefield had several ethics breaches, including failure to disclose financial compensation from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR cause their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.

On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield was found guilty of professional misconduct and should be erased from the Medical Register in the U.K. (meaning that his license to practice medicine in the U.K. has been revoked).

And again, to date, no rigorous, controlled study has shown a causal link between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines are injected into the bloodstream  – False!

This claim stems from a lack of knowledge about anatomy, specifically – the lymphatic system. Vaccines are either injected subcutaneously, injected intramuscularly, given by mouth, or squirted up the nose.

Since subcutaneous and intramuscular vaccines are injected directly into the body, and antigens and other components are taken into the bloodstream via the lymphatic system (in order to spur antibody production through hyperstimulation of the Th2/humoral response) without passing through our ordinary immune defences.

At this point, no vaccines are recommended for injection into your bloodstream via the intravenous method. The CDC Pinkbook includes a Vaccine Administration section (Appendix D Page 5), which demonstrates the correct route of administration for each vaccine.

Conspiracy Theories

By the time Anti-Vax proponents get to this stage they have already exhausted their Ingredient & Efficacy arguments; arguments that are subsequently used  time and time again, despite being proven to be false. Usually, it is clear by this point that they have these beliefs because they have been personally affected by some infection, serious disease, or death and are looking for Agency. (Something/someone to blame).

Generally, it starts with the allegation that “Big Pharma” is poisoning your children, or you. The “evidence” cited is often not evidence at all, rather it is rife with innuendo and references to “consumerism”, or “corporate america”.  The claim involves everyone from manufacturers, governments, regulators, and health professionals.

Most challenges are met with ad hominem attacks of “You’re a Big Pharma Shill”, or claims you’re part cover-up of the information.

Ironic, given the names of some of these “informed choice” advocates. One, calling themselves the “Australian Vaccination Network” or AVN was ordered by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission to clearly identify themselves as Anti-Vaccination based on the information that the AVN was:

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous.

I am willing to make it clear that there are justified concerns with Big Pharma. However, the allegation of a deliberate attack on the public isn’t supported by anything; most importantly, the statistics. It is purely a tactic – a Red Herring – something to take the argument towards how “terrible and greedy” pharmaceutical companies are, as if that was enough to proven that vaccines were dangerous.

Regardless of the conspiracies, the statistics demonstrate vaccinations work.

Additionally, Anna Kata in the Department of Anthropology of McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario released a paper, A postmodern Pandora’s box: Anti-vaccination misinformation on the Internet set out to examine and analyze antivaccination websites. In which she analysed information contained in Eight-Antivaccination sites, selected through Google searches that were used to identify the highest-ranked anti-vaccine sites using typical search strategies.

Her paper can be found here: http://resources.cpha.ca/CCIAP/data/1700e.pdf

 

More Links:

Yes, Northern Beaches – we have our misinformed too.

It’s of no surprise to see the comments that have been posted over on The Manly Daily’s article on an outbreak of Pertussis on the Northern Beaches. (http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/comments/parents-lashed-over-whooping-cough-outbreak/)

Unfortunately for this anonymous person with an “open mind”, the statistics they quoted are incorrect. Firstly, the correct % for Australian Children is around 90% overall – not 97%, as reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in their publication “A Picture of Australian Children”. While a minimum of around 88% should be reached, the recommended rate of vaccination by the NHMRC is greater than 90%.

“When a person is vaccinated, their body produces an immune response in the same way their body would after exposure to a disease, but without the person suffering symptoms of the disease. When a person comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will respond fast enough to prevent the person developing the disease.”  – http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/faq

Furthermore, Some parents often wonder why their children are contracting pertussis (Whooping Cough / WC) even when they’re immunized / vaccinated. This is, unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding of the way vaccination, and the subsequent immunisation of people occurs.

What is important here is the term “Herd Immunity”. Herd Immunity is a mathematical phenomena that exists because of immunisation rates. I found a wonderfully satirical video about it, and explains the mathematics that explain it’s effect, and demonstrates the effects visually. The video’s start is quite slow and goes on a bit about US politics and Lobby Groups, however Herd Immunity is VERY well explained and demonstrated later in the piece.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-cKzzPkz2o

Back to the comments at The Manly Daily: The problem with guessing is that it’s not supported by evidence. Even off the bat however, the child in question contracted his Whooping Cough from a child who WAS NOT VACCINATED. — So much for guessing.

"KNOWING", in the Maternal Instinct sense is NOT evidence.

Annette’s maternal “knowing” is not supported by evidence; there are hereditary mitochondrial defects that may be affected by a vaccine SCHEDULE (an overwhelming on an already diminished system) because of a pre-existing immunodeficiency. These are rare cases, and since their understanding is only relatively recent, people who are unaware of their own mitochondrial status would not be inclined to test their children before vaccination.

I point out schedule because the schedule is based on an average, healthy, immune system. The schedule can be changed to suit those who have mitochondrial defects so they CAN be effectively vaccinated, and subsequently immunised against disease like all others.

I actually laughed when I decided to check in to Dr Scheibner’s credentials. Viera doesn’t disclose what field she is a Doctor in; rather she leaves it up to the reader to take it that she is “in the know” through suggestion.

As it turns out, she is a Geologist.

Now, I’m NOT saying she is wrong BECAUSE she is Geologist, I am pointing out the red flag. This is an Appeal to Dubious Authority – her own! She’s so renowned she has her own Wikipedia page! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viera_Scheibner)

“Since retiring from the Department of Mineral Resources, Scheibner has been active as an anti-vaccination campaigner, making numerous statements linking vaccinations to various conditions, injuries and deaths. Her claims have been widely criticised and refuted by medical professionals.”

Viera lays claims that Polio, Measles, Whooping Cough and Rubella are beneficial to children; injuries and death attributed to Shaken Baby Syndrome, including retinal bleeding, broken bones, fractured skulls and detached retinas are actually caused by vaccination, and she believes there is a deliberate cover-up by the medical professional (Nurses, Medical Doctors, Immunologist, Infectious Disease Researchers, Medical researchers, etc, etc) to protect the Vaccination Program.

I was unable to find the evidence she cited.

Bronwyn Hancock, Vaccination Information Service -- Another AntiVaccination Group.

Bronwyn Hancock’s statements are not statistically supported by an official data, nor demonstrated through any rigorous trials. It should be noted that the Vaccination Information Service is NOT a government group, rather it is well-known to be anti-vaccination; Brownyn Hancock, along with others who run the organisation, purport to be “pro-informed choice”, unfortunately, the information presented on their website is fear-driven, and lacking in credible supporting documentation, and uses very little in the way of facts.

It’s been a while since then, and Paolo Just thought to reply to a previous post in the comments thread regarding the aforementioned video, and to others, laying claim that the documentation used is wrong BECAUSE it was (in his mind) financed by “Big Pharma” as it were.

I found It interesting he would quote Frank Lloyd Wrights’ “never let the facts get in the way of the truth”, after he continually denied evidence through cynicism. There was never any substantiated rebuttal of any of the evidence provided other than slander.

I too can quote!

“In my experience, the most staunchly held views are based on ignorance or accepted dogma, not carefully considered accumulations of facts. The more you expose the intricacies and realities of the situation, the less clear-cut things become.”
— Mary Roach

I made it clear it was my opinion that he was the epitome of some who could not be reasoned with; not because of his beliefs, but rather because he lacked the intellectual ability to understand how his logic was fallacious.

If Paolo were serious and genuine about making a point, he really should grow up and put forward arguments that are logical and without fallacy, and make claims that are supported by the body of evidence. At the end of the day, when someone is vehemently defending claims and denying empirical evidence, there really is only two options for them to believe.

For conspiracy theorists, they think they’re right and everyone is wrong. The alternative is there is a massive worldwide cover-up that everyone is in on.

However, for reasonable and the science literate, and those willing to investigate the facts and accept they may not already know the answer, they know better; it’s neither  –  The evidence shows vaccinations work.

Manly Daily: Parents lashed over whooping cough outbreak

Walking out of my apartment this morning I noticed on the front page of The Manly Daily, my local paper, a young child with his mother gently looking after him while he lay on his bed. I already had an idea of what it may be; “Thanks for Nothing” the headline read.

There it was in the first paragraph “Vaccination”.

An only version of the article can be found here: http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/parents-lashed-over-whooping-cough-outbreak/ – Currently, you can still make comment as the article is new; I encourage it.

Of course, we get the usual bandwagon of anti-vaxxers spreading false information, such as Viera Scheibner, and The Millenium Project at http://www,ratbags.com covers her quite well.

A whooping cough outbreak at a northern beaches school has prompted one concerned father to take aim at parents for not ensuring their children are vaccinated against the contagious disease.

Newport’s Zac Newbold, 6, has missed two weeks’ school after contracting whooping cough, leaving him bedridden and constantly coughing and vomiting.

Zac’s father, Justin, says his son was vaccinated prior to contracting the disease. The NSW health department advises that immunisation reduces the risk of infection but immunity fades over time.

But Mr Newbold is concerned his son became infected because many other parents aren’t ensuring their children are vaccinated.

A newsletter sent out by the school on Monday states that seven classes – in addition to Zac’s – had students who are infected with the disease.

“Parents are definitely not being vigilant enough with this,” Mr Newbold said.

“People seem to have this attitude around the northern beaches that they think everybody here is fit and healthy so nothing can go wrong. It’s total rubbish.”

Mr Newbold said some parents on the northern beaches need to “pull their head out” and stop acting like they’re living in “a separate world”.

Mr Newbold said the school had done its best in sending out warnings about the disease.

Zac’s mother, Cathy Moore, fears other youngsters could be worse off than her son if they catch the disease without being vaccinated.

“All kids should be vaccinated. It could have been a lot worse for Zac … one night we thought we would have to rush him to the hospital because he was going very blue in the face and had a lot of thick phlegm,’’ she said.

Dr Nick Wood, a paediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and senior lecturer in paediatrics and child health at The University of Sydney, said a vaccine (and subsequent booster follow-ups) were usually effective but never a guarantee in preventing infection.

Dr Wood said people on the northern beaches were just as vulnerable to whooping cough here as anywhere else in Sydney.

“Even if they’re living the beach lifestyle they’re just as vulnerable as anywhere else because it’s an airborne disease, you can’t really escape it,” Dr Wood said.

Mr Wood recommends parents immediately see a doctor if their child shows signs of an annoying cough.

Interesting, was the first comment was from someone still purporting their child had specifically had their autism induced by a vaccine (yet there is never any evidence of this), and as such, this article made her “boil”.

I decided I would leave a comment, and I may decide to pass it in for the Opinion Page.

It must be difficult for parents who read comments like Annette’s to stop and wonder “what if” — Thankfully, they don’t need to as there is a body of evidence that suggests that Vaccines do not cause Autism. (That wonderful piece of wisdom was spread by the fraudulent Andrew Wakefield).
Post hoc ergo propter hoc – “After this, therefore because of this” is the attribution of an event to an earlier incident based on nothing more than speculation, not information. It is a fallacy born out of ignorance and a denial exacerbated by those who deny the evidence.
While there is certainly varying opinions, no one has access to their own personal set of facts. There is not a “debate” about vaccines, rather, there is a body of evidence that shows vaccines to be a overwhelmingly effective, and safe method of preventing serious infection, and mitigating the effects of an infection.
Vaccination SHOULD be compulsory, however, I will not advocate that everyone “MUST” be vaccinated; there are certainly those with hereditary genetic conditions causing immuno-response suppression; vaccinations, at least following a normal schedule, is not appropriate for those people.

Vaccines work; and the body of evidence demonstrates no correlation with vaccinations and autism.

That’s the facts.

Three Degrees of Seperation: Agrohomeopathy to Anti-Vaxers – From one nutter to the next

So, after receiving a goading Tweet from a London-based homeopath called Vaikunthanath Kaviraj (Author of an Agrohomeopathy book) to take him to court over his Homeopathy claims, I decided to take a look at just what his claims were. — They were nothing spectacular; more unsubstantiated tripe – of which he is selling a book about.

The first link I came across was an Australian Website called “Homeopathy Plus!” – The article (Found at http://homeopathyplus.com.au/from-hippy-to-homeopath-the-story-of-vaikunthanath-das-kaviraj/) explained that in 1990 he moved to Western Australia where he developed and tested several new agrohomeopathic remedies and established a business selling them. It also explains how his business failed.

The website itself sells a plethora of 30c vials, and makes representations that Homeopathy can treat AIDS and Cancer without “toxic side effects”; and overall, the website’s claims simply piss me off, that people can either be such blatant liars, willfully ignorant, or really *that* stupid and arrogant.

The websites also specifically links to a website that advocates Homeopathy as a Treatment for Autism, and for your convenience lists Homeopaths Worldwide that will treat Autism; and according to their rules to be listed, must do so EXCLUSIVELY.

As it turns out, Vaikunthanath Kaviraj is their “resident expert” on using homeopathy for plants, soils and pests.

So, where is the 4 degrees of separation from him to Anti-Vaccination Meryl Dorey?

HomeopathyPlus! is owned by Trevor Sheffield (LinkedIn)

Apparently, Trevor has been in the “Health, Wellness and Fitness industry” since January 2002 with HomeopathyPlus!

According to his bio at LinkedIn he studied at Southern Cross University doing Criminal Law for two years; even did a stint at TAFE doing Town Planning and Valuation.

Trevor’s (what I assume is, wife, if not sister) – Fran Sheffield (LinkedIn) – is the co-registrant of the HomeopathyPlus! business and website, and self-proclaimed Director of HomeopathyPlus!

The WHOIS Search for the Website Demonstrates who the two in charge of publishing the absurd claims are:

Domain Name homeopathyplus.com.au
Last Modified 12-Feb-2009 01:40:20 UTC
Registrar ID DDNS
Registrar Name Discount Domain Name Services
Status ok
Registrant F.M SHEFFIELD & T.M Sheffield
Registrant ID ABN 49 438 690 569
Eligibility Type Registered Business
Eligibility Name HOMEOPATHY PLUS!
Eligibility ID NSW BN 98137761
Registrant Contact ID TS3739DDNS
Registrant Contact Name Trevor Sheffield
Registrant Contact Email Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs
Tech Contact ID CM0000DDNS
Tech Contact Name Registra Technical Support
Tech Contact Email Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs
Name Server ns1.qnetau.com
ns2.qnetau.com
ns3.qnetau.com

And an ABN Search shows they run a Family Partnership.

ABN: 49 438 690 569

View ABN history
Last modified: 24 Jul 2003
ABN status: Active from 24 Jul 2003
Entity name: F.M SHEFFIELD & T.M Sheffield
Entity type: Family Partnership
GST registration status: Effective from 24 Jul 2003

It was Fran that is friends with, and invited Meryl Dorey (Homeopathy World Community) (Yes, President of the Anti-Vaccine “Australian Vaccination Network” Meryl Dorey) to the “By Invitation Only” community.

So there ya go – From London AgroHomeopath to Australian Anti-Vaccination Loon with 3 degrees of separation.

Perhaps someone in London might want to educate Vaikunthanath Kaviraj; informing him the rules have changed – you can’t continue making your Bullshit claims anymore and think you can get away with it.

“NaturalParenting.com.au” – Vaccines, Homeopathy, and Lies

Over at NaturalParenting we can see an article that brings together nicely both false balance and outright lying.

NaturalParenting believes there is some type of debate regarding the efficacy of Vaccines, ignoring the fact that such diseases as smallpox, whooping cough, and polio having been largely eradicated except in areas where widespread vaccination has not been taken up.

Erroneously, NP attributes equal, or higher value to the information released by Homeopaths and CAM publications, than that of objective science-based medical journal; while providing “evidence” from these publications is a conflict of interest it is not this that discredits them – it is that ONLY in these publications do statistically significantly positive results occur.

Why? Sometimes its because they are largely without good controls against bias, sometimes it’s the use of flawed logic, they often use small sample sizes, and sometimes it’s because they make unfounded or erroneous extrapolations. It generally comes down to poor methodology – and this is why we have actual scientists (not Homeopaths) and researchers (not training homeopaths) who conduct blinded studies so bias is removed; and even then the studies results need to be replicated by others; usually with stricter controls.

Giving credibility to Homeopathy Journals to report on the efficacy of Homeopathy is akin to accepting a UFO Magazine will be giving an unbiased account of sighting as evidence of Alien visitation.

Getting back to NP, they’ve decided to go the way of being a Germ Theory Deniers – Ignoring centuries of observable, predictable, replicated experiments, trials, and research proving this. It is just absurd.

They’ve also decided to ignore how vaccines are given, lying to Mothers looking for good information and telling them that their child’s vaccines will be administered directly in to the bloodstream. Additionally, NaturalParenting isn’t even aware of the mechanism of Vaccination; stating that Vaccines don’t allow a child’s body to build antibodies. — That’s EXACTLY what vaccines DO – Stimulate the production of anti-bodies!

NaturalParenting goes on to talk about “toxins”, such as mercury (ignoring that vaccines use a non-bio-accumulating Ethyl Mercury; and was replaced in 2002 for a better preservative), formaldehyde (ignoring the body produces far higher quantities within us), and fetuses (which is outright bullshit).

More evidence of Vaccination Ignorance comes when NP says that people vaccination still get the disease vaccinated for. Vaccines do not STOP children from getting diseases, they help children fight it off when they DO get it. It’s like putting some money away for a rainy day. It may never come; but if it does, without it – you could be screwed. Or in this case, possibly dead.

So why all the Anti-Vaccination? Well, of course, NaturalParenting says you can go the Homeopathic Way! And hey, the Author is a Homeopath, so it’s not as if she’s got anything to sell.

Given that the only links given are pushers of misinformation, including that of the AVN, to say NaturalParenting is pro-choice is naive.

It is websites like this that causes heartache; administering sugar pills to people for the prevention of serious, and potentially deadly diseases is not just dangerous – but ethically abhorrent.

To Brian Wilshire Re: Wakefield and the MMR Vaccine

Hi Brian,

Further to last night about MMR and Wakefield, this was featured last night on ABC:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJZAVxjMf1E&

In the Wikipedia Article about Dr. Andrew Wakefield:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield

I bring attention to one of the final paragraphs:

“Wakefield claims that Deer is a “hit man who was brought in to take [him] down” and that other scientists have simply taken Deer at his word. While on Anderson Cooper 360°, claiming he hadn’t read the BMJ articles yet, he denied their validity and denied that Deer had interviewed the families of the children in the study. He also urged viewers to read his book, Callous Disregard, which he claimed would explain why he was being targeted, to which Anderson Cooper replied: “But, sir, if you’re lying, then your book is also a lie. If your study is a lie, your book is a lie.”[84]

Deer responded to Wakefield’s charge that he was a “hit man” by challenging Wakefield to sue him for libel:

“If it is true that Andrew Wakefield is not guilty as charged, he has the remedy of bringing a libel action against myself, the Sunday Times of London, against the medical journal here, and he would be the richest man in America.”[85]

He also noted that Wakefield has previously sued him and lost.[53][85]

The biggest problem with the claim that MMR is a cause of Autism is that there is no evidence of such, and – as Dr. Rachie pointed out, 13 years of investigation hasn’t found it.

That’s 13 years of research WASTED.

The Lancet would have published the paper due to the implications of the claimed findings by Wakefield; after being discredited as a poor example of ethical research, the Lancet retracted the paper – and rightly so.

Regardless of Wakefield’s financial findings, his paper was wrong because it was intentionally flawed. It wasn’t wrong because of a conspiracy, not because of politics, not because of his personal motives or intended incentives, but because repeated attempts by researchers worldwide show time after time that his research was both ethically immoral and methodically erroneous.

Thanks for the extra time given on the radio with my alternate view [from your programs] 🙂

Brian Wilshire is a Radio Host for the Macquarie Network’s 2GB873 (Sydney) & MTR1377 (Melbourne).

Court Ordered Vaccination & SMH False Balance

Ordered to have VaccineRecently (January 15, 2011) printed  in the Sun Herald was the article on the left; the article was about a 5-year-old girl who was ordered to be vaccination after the mother refused to do so – citing evidence that was criticised  by the Judge as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”.

Now, what I’m focusing on here is how the journalist, Holly Ife, decided to present an issue as being balanced in opposing viewpoints, which isn’t what the evidence actually supports.

Was she trying to AVOID bias, or was she trying to SENSATIONALISE the article?

Leading one of the final paragraphs with a contentious “However,” and following it up with a quote from a paediatric chiropractor; namely Dr. Warren Sipser, gives the impression that this bloke has some knowledge or authority on the matter and should be given credence.

He doesn’t, and shouldn’t.

He is a quack, and a dangerous quack at that.

Two Opposing Viewpoints

Sipser is quoted in the article as saying that it’s “dangerous to impose [immunisation] on anyone when there are two opposing viewpoints” – he even went on to say “there is credible evidence they may do more harm than good”.

First off, there is always someone in opposition to a viewpoint. Even today there are people so delusional that they believe the earth is flat; and even today, there are people who believe in magical hand-waving, spine cracking “healing”. To say because there are opposing viewpoints that we shouldn’t do anything is ridiculous. While people may have opposing viewpoints the EVIDENCE doesn’t. The OVERALL EVIDENCE empirically demonstrates that immunisation IS a good thing, and is NOT doing more harm than good.

What Sipser calls credible are articles that come to the conclusions that best align with his beliefs.

Where as I, I call things credible when researchers use excellent scientific methodology that controls against bias through double & triple blind trials, where those results are not just replicated by a number of other independent researchers, but the research is critically examined for faults by a number of peers and finally published in a journal with integrity.

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