Tag Archives: health

Meryl’s money making machine

Dear Bek, Tasha, and Meryl,

In June 2015 the banner for avn.org.au was changed to read “Greater accountability, transparency and, ultimately, responsibility. Changes coming soon to avn.org.au”. Now, aside from a slight reorganisation of the site, and additional material on No Jab No Pay & No Jab No Play legislation, I can’t see what has substantially changed, and indeed the site banner still reads “changes coming soon to avn.org.au.au”. Given it’s now almost February 2016, I have to say that’s a rather odd definition of “soon”. How can you be taken seriously on science when you don’t understand what a four letter word means?

Tim also claimed “We have been working hard behind the scenes to create a strong platform for change.” However, the No Jab No Pay and No Jab No Play legislation has passed, and there’s still no sign of any legal action to challenge it. Indeed, there’s not even any sign of who the AVN’s president currently is, the term of the president expired a whole month ago now. You may claim that “Responsibility starts here” but for all intents and purposes the AVN has been stopped, and looks merely like a money making venture for the committee members, who remain unknown in breach of the law.

Yours, in anticipation of greater accountability, transparency and, ultimately, responsibility,
Matthew.

Why I am a vaccination advocate

My late Aunt Chris caught polio as a child. This damaged her nervous system, and over the course of her life worsened progressively, a condition known as post-polio syndrome. In the end she suffered numerous health problems because of this. The nerves to her lungs were in the end unable to regulate fluid in her lungs. She then suffered from pneumonia as a result of this and, struggling for breath, died.

Thanks to science, polio is now a vaccine preventable disease. Polio vaccination is safe and effective. Please make sure you and your children are vaccinated against it.

New public officer of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

 

So the AVN have a new public officer, Rebecca (Bek) Henry:

 

Association extract for the AVN

 

 

 

 

 

She was previously listed as a committee member in 2013. I have written to Rebecca requesting information about the current committee of the AVN:

Dear Rebecca,

Congratulations on becoming the new public officer of the AVN.

Under Section 29 of the Associations Incorporation Act (NSW) 2009 the AVN is required to keep a register of committe members and to make this available, free of charge, to any person. With that in mind, can you please send me a copy of the register.

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman

I am hoping she’ll be a little bit more forthcoming than Meryl Dorey was to requests for committee members; I have received no response to my query regarding who the current president is.

 

promise from AVN

AVN breaking the law (again)

The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVN) may well have escaped legal action regarding their web site, aided and abetted by University of Wollongong academic Professor Brian Martin. However, as an organisation still registered with NSW Fair Trading, they still need to comply with the law in New South Wales with regards to their organisation. Those of you who’ve been following the story so far know that there’s quite the history with non-compliance. So it’s not surprising to find they’re not complying again…

Dear Tim,

I note that back in June (refer to the email below) the AVN promised “greater accountability, transparency, and, ultimately, responsibility”, which would have been a welcome change, however to date:
1. There’s been no statement on the relationship between the AVN and the owners of the avn.org.au domain, AVN-RISE;
2. The AVN is late in providing its financial report as required by law (see attached extract showing none provided by the due date, July the 31st); and
3. There’s been no announcement regarding who the current president is—under your constitution an election needed to be held by the 30th of June, over a month ago now.
Also, I notice that there’s still no mention of the new AVN Facebook page on the Fans of the AVN Facebook page, which seems odd given that the current public officer (as per the extract) is an admin of the latter.

Yours, in anticipation of responsibility starting here and now,
Dr Matthew Berryman

AVN association extract

In reply to the email from the AVN (10th June 2015, subject: Responsibility starts here and now):

We have been working hard behind the scenes to create a strong platform for change.
Tasha’s message below captures the spirit of our approach.

I hope you will join us as we move forward.

Tim

promise from AVN

Hello

Good health is vital for a functioning society. A healthy society translates directly into a happier, more peaceful social group. Australia is made up of many diverse groups – groups who follow different religions, speak different languages and those who raise their family in more liberal environments – and we as Australians are accepting of these behaviours. This tolerance is based on respect for the individual. Here we call it giving people a fair go.

However, it is not giving people a fair go if they are ordered by higher powers to change their beliefs in the way they raise their family. It is not giving people a fair go if they are being coerced into following, what amounts to, a mandatory vaccination program under the threat of financial penalty.

We are campaigning for social health programs to be more transparent. We want the big three – government, pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry – to show honesty in informing people about all aspects of vaccination, good and bad, and to support all individuals in their choice.

If this powerful triumvirate recognises and accepts responsibility for their actions, we as a collective voice for Australian families will have set the path for government-sponsored compensation for injured vaccination victims and promoted a more open dialogue on the health of all Australians.

Tasha David, President, Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

The AVN fought the law and the law won: AVN stopped.

I note that in the University of Wollongong academic Professor Brian Martin’s recent book chapter “A vaccination struggle” (chapter 8 of Nonviolence Unbound, Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2015), he writes on the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (here referred to by the old initialism AVN):

AVN responses 3: dealing with complaints

5. The AVN could transform itself so that its operations are less susceptible to complaint-based attacks. As an incorporated body in the state of New South Wales, the AVN was subject to regulatory control by a number of bodies, such as the Department of Fair Trading. If, for example, the AVN dissolved and reconstituted itself as a network, it would no longer be subject to DFT rules.

Option 5 is for the AVN to transform itself so that it becomes less vulnerable to harassment and control via regulatory agencies. One possibility would be to wind up the AVN as an incorporated body and to relaunch the AVN, perhaps under a different name, in a different form. Another possibility is to set up the AVN as a business in another country. Its operations in Australia would not be subject to the same controls as a business registered in Australia.The N in the abbreviation AVN stands for Network. Actually, though, it has operated as an organisation, with a constitution, elected office bearers and other aspects required by legislation covering incorporated bodies. In contrast, SAVN is an actual network, without the formal features associated with an organisation. Option 5 has high transition costs. It might involve getting rid of assets, ensuring continuity of website operations, and enabling the membership list to become a contact list in a network. The DFT has rules covering closing down of an incorporated body, and these could be applied in an onerous fashion. (Many incorporated bodies fizzle out through lack of activity, but given the scrutiny of the AVN, this would have been an unlikely scenario.)

And

One complication involved the AVN’s website. If the AVN changed its name to Vaccination Choice, SAVN would have challenged the AVN’s domain name of http://avn.org.au/ and, if possible, taken it over. A possible counter option for the AVN would have been to set up a spin-off organisation to host the web domain. This is a small indication of the machinations involved in the SAVN-versus-AVN struggle.

Indeed this is the option that has been adopted by the AVN, as I wrote previously. So there you have it: a former paid member, and by his own admission in this latest book chapter, defender of the antivaccination AVN group, is providing advice on how the AVN can avoid complying with public health laws.

As an update on how the AVN is following this advice, I note they have now officially given up their Twitter account

AVN Twitter profile

and blog, leaving them with no official online assets whatsoever. One presumes the organisation will be wound up as Professor Martin suggests. The AVN have now effectively been stopped, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all who’ve been involved in Stop the AVN over the years. Our fight against nonscience will aways continue, however, as reflected in the “change of focus to all anti-vaccine cranks in Australia”. Full post here.

The paleodiet won’t cure you, hunter gatherers died of cancer too.

Prof. Alice Roberts writes in The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being (Amazon, iTunes):

…recent changes in our digestive physiology mean that the whole idea of a ‘paleodiet’, purportedly healthier because it recreates the diet we evolved to eat as hunter-gatherers, is off the mark. Firstly diets would have varied from place to place, even back in the Palaeolithic, and many populations have changed genetically since we left that way of life behind. We are not fossilised hunter-gatherers.

Speaking of fossilised hunter-gatherers, although they’re hard to come by, as fossilisation needs the right conditions, they do exist. Most won’t show any signs of cancer, because soft tissues are not preserved. Of the cancers that do typically metastasise to bone, these (prostate, breast, and lung cancer) tend to occur in old age, and hunter gatherers didn’t tend to live long, nor smoke. But here’s one of the earliest examples I could find, a remarkable, but sad case, of an bronze age, hunter gatherer, adult male with a large number of bone metastases, some of them  pictured here:

bone metasteses

Why is this remarkable specimen relevant to today? Because it’s one piece of evidence that a paleodiet (as in, the current trend, as distinct from what hunter gatherers actually ate) won’t prevent cancer, although a generally healthy diet can play a role in preventing some types of cancer. You’d need to speak to a qualified dietitian, not naturopath or chef, for advice on what’s right for you. Furthermore, diet won’t help cure cancer, however as we’ll see you may need listen to proper advice on diet for your type and stage of cancer.

So it’s disturbing to find this advice from naturopath Sarah Stevens on paleodiet chef Pete Evan’s Facebook site, which reads in part:

Specialising in Integrative Oncology is such a rewarding yet frustrating area to work in as I am constantly battling against dietary recommendations from the hospital DAA dieticians who recommend high sugar carbohydrate foods to maintain weight and energy. I am also constantly battling with the message that gets brought back to me that my client is not eat the food plans I recommend as they are “dangerous” and can make them worse! This approach is based of “fear of the unknown” rather than research. It is clearly stated but the World Health Organization (WHO) than an estimated 40% or more of all cancer can be prevented. Dramatic increases in lifestyle risk factors such as un-healthy eating habits and obesity are major contributing factors generally due to a high refined carbohydrate, high hydrogenated (trans) fat and low protein/fat diet.
If I could do one thing to change our conventional dietary treatment for cancer it would be cutting out sugar and refined carbs from the dietary recommendations. In my practice I use a Ketogenic and whole food eating program and have only seen my clients improve in wellbeing, maintain muscle mass and healthy gut function while giving them better quality of life and their bodies the tools to heal…

Food and nutrition are a powerful medicine to heal and repair the body. I encourage you to follow a clean diet; eliminating processed foods, sugars, preservatives and additives. Foods that are in their original state, straight from the tree, ground or animal without being changed or processed means that they are full of phytonutrients, antioxidants, good oils and high in fibre. Choosing whole foods is the basis of a healthy lifestyle.

In other words:

  1. Claims that the paleodiet prevents cancer;
  2. Claims that the cancer patients who need to be on a particular diet to maintain weight and energy, which are important for treatment and quality of life, should actually be on a paleodiet; and
  3. Claims that food can act as a ‘powerful medicine’ for cancer.

As dietitian Kate Van Berkel wrote in a comment on that Facebook post:

I find it incredibly upsetting that Dietitian’s spend professional development time learning how to work along side naturopaths and then receive this sort of response.

I have specialised in nutrition and oncology for 6 years. I work with world class consultants who are holistically focused. As a specialist dietitian I am not only well read, but am also actively involved in further research into the role of nutrition and cancer. This is no blanket approach, and I have NEVER used the Australian guide to healthy eating with an oncology client as the guidelines are not developed for anyone with a medical illness.

Unfortunately with xerostomia, dysguesia, anorexia, nausea, delayed gastric emptying, and severe fatigue, for a lot of the clients a “healthy diet” just will not cut it.

I have worked with thousands of truly inspirational clients who try to eat a wholesome diet and lose 1-2kg a week with a substantial amount of lean body mass disappearing as well (it’s hard to have any quality of life with that going on).

Overwhelmingly current clinical evidence points to weight and muscle loss being the single worst nutritional factor when it comes to cancer survival rates. Evidence also points to the fact that the breakdown of muscle mass released nitrogen which may fuel cancer cell growth.

If my clients are able to eat a healthy diet in whatever form (Paleo or otherwise) it may take, fabulous.

If they are down to liquid foods and a few mouthfuls of solid foods a day (common for some types of cancer) I will not hesitate to use a carefully selected formulated high energy, high protein liquid meal replacement (such as eek! Sustagen/Enprocal/Resource/fortisip/). If it helps to improve the chance of survival, bring it on!

This is what I do, and I love it because I see specialist dietitians helping people maintain their strength, hope and dignity every day. It’s an amazing profession to work for in a setting that is otherwise very “clinical” and medication based.

I encourage anyone going through cancer treatment who is worried about their nutrition to have an open conversation with an oncology dietitian. You can take or leave the recommendations, but at least be fully informed and empowered.

To all the family members reading this, be mindful of pushing your loved ones into your way of eating. In a private clinic many of my clients admit to feeling distress over being pressured into eating foods that they just cannot face from loving but misguided family members. Allow flexibility and make the effort to go to the dietitian with them so that you can speak about your concerns.

Thanks
Kate

Given I share Ms Van Berkel’s concern, I wrote to the Victorian Health Services Commission, who advised:

Under the Health Services (Conciliation and Review) Act 1987, our office receives and deals with complaints from patients or consumers of a health service. While we respect and register your concerns regarding Ms Sarah Stevens we are unable to accept your complaint as a third party. Please appreciate, in these circumstances, our powers are limited. As you did not directly and are not complaining on behalf of someone, who did
receive a health service, this matter is not within our jurisdiction.

While our office may not be able to assist you in investigating these concerns, there are other organisations that will be able to help you to ensure that your concerns are addressed. We have noticed that Ms Stevens has stated she is a member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

ANTA have standards of practice and a complaints process that registered members must abide by. I would respectfully like to refer you to bring your concerns to the attention of the Australian Natural Therapists Association;
You may also wish to write to them at Australian Natural Therapists
Association, PO BOX 657, Maroochydore QLD 4558 or alternatively, email them
at info@anta.com.au
Further details can be found at this web site:
http://www.australiannaturaltherapistsassociation.com.au/about/complaints_handling.php

You also stated that you believe Ms Stevens is providing dangerous advice;
these concerns can also be lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Their details can be found on their web site at
http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/contact-us/make-a-complaint.
If you wish to write to them, their address is located at Consumer Affairs
Victoria, GPO Box 4567, Melbourne VIC 3001
They can be contact on telephone number 1300 558 181 or by email at
consumer @ justice.vic.gov.au

I hope this information was of assistance to you.

So I wrote to the ANTA:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Based on this Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/paleochefpeteevans/posts/793442640749124
(pdf copy attached), I am deeply concerned that Sarah Stevens, a naturopath operating from Armadale, Victoria, is
1. Providing dangerous advice to the public at large, and
2. Providing dangerous advice to individual cancer patients,
that could seriously compromise their health, even resulting in death, through improper nutrition contrary to proper evidence-based medicine in that area.

I strongly urge you to investigate Sarah Stevens and also issue a public warning on this issue.
I note in particular your quality policy and mission statement (copied below) as well as your scope and standards of practice.
ANTA QUALITY POLICY
ANTA is a quality organisation and aims to deliver quality service at all times.

ANTA MISSION STATEMENT
ANTA’s mission is for Natural and Traditional Therapists to uphold and advance their standing within the community and to provide the public with best practice health care in all disciplines in Natural and Traditional Therapies.

Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

The ANTA wrote back:

Dear Dr Berryman

I am writing in response to the complaint you have lodged with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) regarding Sarah Stevens.

Sarah Stevens has not renewed her membership with ANTA and is not a registered practitioner/member with ANTA.

As Sarah Stevens is not a member of ANTA, we recommend you lodge your complaint with the Office of the Health Services Commissioner at the following link:

http://www.health.vic.gov.au/hsc/resources/infosheet.htm

Regards

Brian Coleman
Executive Officer
Australian Natural Therapists Association Ltd (ANTA)

Now as her web site does clearly state she’s a member:
Sarah Stevens, registered ANTA memberI wrote to the Luxton clinic where she works:

Dear Madam/Sir,

On the “about” page for Luxton Clinic, it states “Sarah has a Bachelor of Health Science, post-graduate Nutrition Medicine qualifications and is a registered Naturopath with the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).”, however ANTA state otherwise in the email below.

I look forward to your amendment of this statement, lest it be reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria for misrepresentation in advertising.

Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

and Ms Stevens advised:

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for your email regarding my membership with ANTA. I have contacted ANTA and there had been a clerical error in their system which has been corrected today and my membership is still current and effective for my qualifications to date.

I wish to thank you for bringing it to my attention as I was not aware that there was an issue and have spoken to ANTA and my details will be updated on their website in the next 24-48 hours.

Kind Regards,
Sarah

I then wrote on the 11th of March:

Dear Mr Coleman,

Ms Stevens has indicated in the attached email that she is in fact a registered member of the ANTA. That being the case would you please reopen the investigation.

Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman.

Not having heard anything by the 10th of April, I wrote back to Mr Coleman:

Dear Mr Coleman,

When do you expect the investigation to be complete?

Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

and was advised:

Dear Mr Berryman

The matter will be reviewed at our next meeting on the 15th May 2015.

Regards
Brian Coleman

So what was the finding, following all of that?

Dear Dr Berryman

The ANTA Ethics Panel and ANTA National Council reviewed your complaint and the response from Sarah Stevens and decided no breaches of the ANTA Code of Ethics or ANTA Constitution had occurred and no further action is to be taken.

Regards

Brian Coleman

Hoping for at least a little transparency as to why the ANTA finds it both best practice and ethical to provide advice that is contrary to evidence-based practice, I wrote to ask:

Dear Mr Coleman,

Could you please send me a written copy of your findings as well as the response from Sarah Stevens (the only response I received from her as you know was not addressing the issues but pertaining to her membership).

Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

however the ANTA are less than transparent:

Dear Dr Berryman

I have advised you of the findings in my email below. Under our rules and regulations, we are not required to provide a copy of the response by our member.
ANTA National Council has advised the matter is now closed.

Regards

Brian Coleman

I also ran Ms Stevens’ Facebook comments past Tim Crowe, Associate Professor in Nutrition from Deakin University who wrote:

Although good nutrition is important to help a person get through cancer treatment and to manage the sometimes-severe side-effects of treatment, there is no reliable evidence of any form of nutrition therapy ‘curing’ cancer. Yet there is a wealth information – some good and some very misinformed and dangerous – that a person with cancer may read or hear about as to what they should eat when they have cancer. It is best to get information about nutrition and cancer through organisations such as the Cancer Council http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/ or an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

Quite.

Australia’s chief anti-vaccination group in tatters.

What’s left of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.? Answer: not much, at least officially.

Following the claim that the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network’ (AVSN’s) Facebook page was handed over as a fan-operated page to a fake profile, “Ben Rush” (whom I have discussed previously), they have finally changed the name of the page to “Fans of the AV(S)N”. In addition, it is now mostly operated by the new admin Giselle Tonee, who is behind the recent (TW) rape analogies—presumably the reason they’ve gone the extra step in trying to distance the Facebook page from the organisation through the change of name. However, these also appeared on the AVSN’s Twitter account, which is still officially theirs:

AVSN Twitter page screenshot

This official AVSN Twitter account is still linked to (and posting) posts made to the Fans of the AV(S)N Facebook page, which includes the aforementioned rape analogies:

(photo now removed by the AVSN), and

In other news, the avn.org.au domain, and therefore the web site and email addresses, has recently been transferred to another organisation, Australian Vaccination News (AVN), details as follows. Note that it’s important that it be a non-profit organisation with the initialism AVN, otherwise they’d be ineligible to hold the avn.org.au domain under auDA rules.

Domain Name avn.org.au
Last Modified 25-Feb-2015 02:36:36 UTC
Status ok
Registrar Name NetRegistry
Registrant AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NEWS – RISKS, INFORMATION, SCEPTICISM & EMPOWERMENT, INCORPORATED
Registrant ID OTHER IA03156
Eligibility Type Non-profit Organisation
Registrant Contact ID PAGR1412
Registrant Contact Name Greg Payne
Registrant Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Tech Contact ID PAGR1412
Tech Contact Name Greg Payne
Tech Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Name Server ns6343.hostgator.com
Name Server ns6344.hostgator.com
DNSSEC unsigned

The organisation is registered in the Northern Territory, so almost certainly (particularly given the small size of Darwin) the Greg Payne listed is the Greg Payne who won the Richard Morris Community Spirit Award, for the greater Darwin area for volunteering for the St John Ambulance service. I do hope for the sake of the public he was vaccinated. I assume he’s related to (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne aka Kaye Marskell:

AVSN membership 2013-02-28

Despite this, the page still carries the name and logo of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.:

Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.
Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.

It also carries the current contact details of the AVSN:

AVSN contact details 2015-05-15

How do I know these belong to the AVSN and not the new web site operator the AVN? Because I called up that number and when the receptionist answered as from the “AVN” I asked what that stood for and was told quite clearly the “Australian Vaccination Skeptics”, leaving off the “Network”, although I was not corrected when I used the name in full, and it’s clearly not the Australian Vaccination News organisation. Note that the contact details have changed from the previous contact details, which were listed as recent as the 21st of April 2015 as:

AVSN contact details 2015-04-21

i.e. those of Meryl Dorey, who no longer seems to play any role in the AVSN at all. Indeed my good friend Ken McLeod has made enquiries:

Good morning Ms Dorey

Is there any truth to the rumour that you have severed all links to the AVSN?

regards

Ken McLeod

We have asked NSW Fair Trading and the current president as to who the current public officer is. This was Meryl’s position after her presidency ended, and it seems from the contact details that she is no longer Public Officer. Update: NSW Fair Trading have confirmed (18/05/2015) that Meryl Dorey is listed as the current Public Officer. So what does she actually do in that role, then?

The change in contact details follows the recent donation drive on the 13th of April 2015 to establish a fighting fund “to oppose government moves to force families to decide between vaccinating their children or putting food on the table.” So where is the money going? Have we seen any use of this money to oppose these Government moves? No. Or even to help the families? Again, the answer is no. So where is the money going? Well at Level 14 Lumley House, 309 Kent Street in Sydney, we find Serviced Offices International, who provide, amongst other services, phone answering and mail handling services. The cheapest plan that covers both (as per the AVSN’s listed contact details) is $195/month, and the receptionist confirmed that the AVSN were paying for it.

Based on the above information, I have written to the new domain and web site owner to clarify some points:

Dear Mr Payne
I’m writing a blog post on how the AVSN no longer officially holds a number of digital assets, and I noticed that your association, the Australian Vaccination News – Risks, Information, Scepticism & Empowerment, Inc., now holds the domain (and therefore the web site of) avn.org.au.
I am wondering what your relationship is with the AVSN—I assume you are a relative of (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne / Marskell, please correct me if I’m wrong—and what arrangement you have with the AVSN to operate a web site that still carries their name, logo, and contact details?
Also, I’m wondering if you still volunteer for St John ambulance service and if so, do you meet all of their vaccination requirements?

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman

Public liability: AVN, “Dr” David Hendrey & the “Healthy Lifestyle” Expo

Dear Wayne,

I have been speaking with a lawyer, who pointed out to me that liability could arise if an adverse event was suffered as a result of information provided by the AVN or any other exhibitors for that matter. With the right to freedom of speech comes great responsibility, and I am sure that you would be seeking that your exhibitors have public liability insurance that covered such events. I note in fact that your exhibitors kit states: “In particular, the Exhibitor must confirm that the Public Liability Insurance policy held by them covers risks associated with display or merchandise at this Exhibition by the Exhibitor and covers YCHY FOUNDATION and Events”.

Exhibitors would therefore be obliged to report any pertinent details to their insurer regarding the information they provide / devices they sell / etc., such as the HCCC public warning in the case of the AVN, or that your official chiropractor makes false claims to treat autism and HIV. The reason I am raising this with you is that I am concerned, based on rather strong (and I might add defamatory) remarks by Meryl, that she may not have public liability insurance, and that if she does, she may not have advised her insurer of the risks identified by the HCCC in their report. Can you please confirm whether you have received a copy of the AVN’s public liability insurance or not; if so can you please advise me who the insurer is so I can liaise with the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Australia regarding the AVN’s compliance with disclosure regulations.

Warm regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman

Update:
Expo organiser Mr Pina-Roozemond responded rather promptly with:

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the email, just letting you know that I do indeed have a copy of the relevant insurance document.  Taking your lead I called the insurance company to verify that everything was in order and it is.

Regards

Wayne

I’m not entirely convinced that Mrs Dorey would be entirely covered in the event that someone did take her advice seriously, ended up ill, and sued, but I’m not an expert on law or insurance.  I am however pleased that the Expo organisers have considered this, and warned of the dangers of Mrs Dorey’s views and are providing pro-vaccination material:
Screenshot 2014-05-15 13.46.12

Whilst I do take offence at Mrs Robinson having falsely described my robust but polite debate as bullying, I am more offended to hear of bad behaviour on both sides of this issue. I hope the above exchange between myself and Mr. Pina-Roozemond serves as a good example.

AVN: laughing stock

Hmm, what to say about the AVN’s latest rant against the HCCC except to say that the descriptions fit the AVN much better than they do the HCCC, for example:

Despite claims of the AVSN being an open book, the financial details remain something of a mystery. Why are your computing costs so high, for example—it looks like you are purchasing new computers every year, which seems excessive, along with your web hosting—and I deal routinely with these costs in my job. Also, were the professional fees for accounting, for lawyers, or some combination thereof?
Unlike Stop the AVN, I can’t see any money being spent directly on helping parents. Can you outline on which items in your budget the donations were put to, exactly?

To which the President of the AVN responds

I will not enter into any discussion with you regarding any deeper aspects of our financial affairs.

“Healthy Lifestyle” Expo and the “Great” “Debate”.

Update: It appears Aspect Caloundra have pulled out as sponsors as their logo and name no longer appear on the Expo’s list of sponsors or ongoing sponsor list, but did appear back in February.

Update 2: Clarification from the Expo that they were just slow in updating the list of sponsors and that Aspect Caloundra weren’t asked this year. Meanwhile, I wonder if the remaining sponsors including WIN TV are aware that the celebrity “psychic” thinks that the ability to wiggle a certain part of her anatomy (video not exactly safe for work) proves that mind over matter is possible. Clue to Shé: when people say “mind over matter” they don’t usually refer to the conventional nerve cell – muscle cell interaction.

An open letter to Mrs Dorey regarding her blog surrounding the “Great Debate” on vaccination.

I would like to clear up a few misconceptions that Mrs Dorey is spreading regarding me and Dr Dunlop.

First, Mrs Dorey seems, like Ms Robinson (a.k.a. Annie Infinite), to insinuate that I subscribed Ms Robinson’s email address to a number of pornographic sites.

I certainly did not do this, and at the time I repudiated it and strongly encouraged Ms Robinson to take the matter to the police. I believe in having a civilised debate.

What was on offer from The Healthy Lifestyle, or “You Can Heal Yourself” Expo was not a scientific debate, as I make clear in the correspondence below, where I declined to participate. The leading questions put as topics by the Expo leave a lot to be desired too. Another factor not discussed previously in my refusal to attend is that, unlike Mrs Dorey who puts a roof over her head through donations to the AVSN and selling misinformation, I have a regular job with commitments here in Wollongong. I am using up my leave to take my children back to China to visit their grandparents later this year.

Wayne,

There is no genuine debate when one side ignores scientific evidence. Relatedly, there is no dichotomy between science and natural therapies. Either there is scientific evidence of efficacy and safety or is there is not. The evidence on vaccination is clearly in favour of vaccination except for genuine medical exceptions, and not false concerns about autism [1, 2], etc. of the sort that the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVSN) raise.
Regardless of any statements on government sites (and Google returns no hits for the quote you provided without citing a source for), there is no constitutional or other legislative blanket protection of speech, and speech on medical topics is regulated across Australia. The HCCC is currently investing the AVSN and has been preparing a warning for which I have attached the draft (not the first one they have released) – and the full draft report can be found here.
It’s disingenuous to state that the t-shirts are acceptable whilst ignoring the rest of the HCCC enquiry. Further, I wouldn’t call ignoring scientific evidence that can save lives to be loving children. It’s also disingenuous for you to claim you have no opinion on Black Salve when you have previously and illegally run advertisements and a YCHY Expo organiser has expressed her opinions.
I decline to enter into a debate for the following reasons:
*) Whilst I am qualified to speak on the statistics of risk around vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases I am no more qualified than Mrs Dorey to speak on the detailed medical matters, and
*) False balance debates can send unhelpful messages by presenting a false view of the balance of risks. [3]
If you choose to go ahead with hosting Mrs Dorey, given her lack of scientific qualifications and evidence, in any form, then responsibility rests with you, as it does for any other medical misinformation provided in any form at the Expo.
Regards,
Dr Matthew Berryman
[1] Gerber JS, Offit PA (2009). “Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses”. Clin Infect Dis 48 (4): 456–61.
[2] Demicheli V, Rivetti A, Debalini MG, Di Pietrantonj C (2012). “Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2: CD004407.
[3] Dixon, Graham, and Christopher Clarke. “The effect of falsely balanced reporting of the autism–vaccine controversy on vaccine safety perceptions and behavioral intentions.” Health education research 28.2 (2013): 352-359.

 

This correspondence followed (below, sent on the 25th of March) to a number of the Expo’s sponsors, suggesting that they examine their financial support of the Expo as a whole (to which the phrase “the event” most clearly refers to), given Mrs Dorey’s attendance and other misleading health information routinely provided. This is also irrespective of whether the Expo was in turn funding her (as they mentioned to me later, they claim they are not), or whether she is running a stall or “debating”, or running a seminar. Furthermore, I noted past advertising and promotion by Ms Robinson of a stall illegally selling black salve. Mrs Dorey also repeats the defamatory remarks by the conference organisers that I resort to name calling, without providing any evidence.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I understand that [Name of Sponsor] is a sponsor of the ‘Healthy’ Lifestyle Expo 2014, also known as the ‘You Can Heal Yourself Expo’, to be held on the Sunshine Coast in May.

This event routinely promotes dangerous medical advice:

  • At last year’s expo there was a stall selling Black Salve, promoted as a do-it-yourself cancer cure; this has a strong risk of causing damage in addition to the risk that it fails to remove all the cancer, which can then spread. I have enclosed a public health warning from the Therapeutic Goods Administration about Black Salve with more information about it.
  • This year’s expo features a seminar by Mrs Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, well known for providing anti-vaccination misinformation (with potentially fatal consequences), and currently subject to an investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (draft warning enclosed), in addition to investigations by other government agencies for fraud.

I strongly urge you to support public health by withdrawing your sponsorship of this event.

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman

Last but not least, surrounding Mrs Dorey’s mention of Dr Dunlop, I note:

  • The Expo did not email Dr Dunlop an invitation prior to her name being mentioned as a possible debater. 10177473_10152381465720229_7787428432987499745_nPerhaps it was a case of poor communication between Expo organisers, although it’s highly suspicious that another proposed debater also did not receive an invitation:Screenshot 2014-04-11 13.00.38
  • Dr Dunlop declined to participate on the 9th of April, which is not surpising given her views on false debates.

 On 9 Apr 2014, at 14:04, Rachael Dunlop wrote:

Dear Wayne,

No thank you. Please either remove my name from the site or indicate I have declined the invitation to participate.

Kind regards

Rachael

  • I am not sure why Mrs Dorey persisted with this incorrect information well after Dr Dunlop’s email, though we cannot rule out a delay between the Expo receiving Dr Dunlop’s refusal and their subsequently informing Mrs Dorey.

Regards,

Doctor Berryman, BSc. (Maths & Comp. Sci.), BEng. (Comp. Sys. Eng.) Hons. I, PhD (Complex Systems).