Health Fascism in Australia.
The sinister Skeptics group, agents of what used to be CSICOP now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) organised from the US and linked to the major corporate lobby groups, American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and American Council Against Health Fraud (ACAHF), which is in turn linked to the Australian CAHF) are making ground in Australia. Supported by authoritarian ideological influences in government and Big Pharma, the Skeptics are running constant attacks on homeopathy, natural cancer treatments, those who question vaccination and those who support any form of alternative medicine.
With the present world fiscal crisis, all those linked to Big Pharma and Science are fighting a bitter battle to preserve drug company competitiveness. But where fascist influences in government and health with most force come together is in attacking anyone who speaks out about freedom of choice and expression in relation to vaccination.
Over the last year the international corporate lobby Skeptics, have been behind a campaign against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). In 2009, one of their trolls, a lay person with no standing in medicine or government complained about the web site of the AVN to the office of the State Government funded Health Care Complaints commission (HCCC) an organisation that accepts complaints against groups found be giving out false information about health.
The remit of the HCCC, did not actually cover parent groups which discussed the pros and cons of vaccination, so the State government slightly changed the remit to satisfy the Skeptics. The government then proceeded with a year long investigation into Meryl Dorey the woman who established and runs the AVN and the AVN itself.
Dorey was asked to answer their first 30 odd page report against her and the organisation, within a few weeks. She did this with a magnificent document that argued every point with brilliance. The complaint investigation actually argued against almost every sentence that had appeared on the AVN web site. If the AVN had said that vaccines contained toxic elements, such as mecury and aluminuim the HCCC argued with pseudo science that this was not true, giving pages of bogus evidence to support the vaccine manufacturers.
Oh how very sinister!
One small correction involving the post is that those who have done such good work exposing and shaming the AVN are not actually connected with the Committee For Skeptical Inquiry. As CSI stated on their Facebook page, ” Sorry, but we can’t take any of the credit for the good work being done by the Skeptics in Australia.” Of course, there’s a lot of cross-membership in skeptical organizations and CSI certainly is a general friend and supporter of the work done by the Australian Skeptics, even if they don’t get the credit for specifically helping out in this circumstance.
As for the Australian Skeptics themselves, I’ve met most of the leaders of the group and, well, they didn’t seem that sinister. Richard Saunders is one of the best known faces of skepticism in Australia. He was the president of the organization for some time and i currently the vice president. He also brought a lot of Timtams to TAM last week and was nice enough to share them with everyone. That… sure didn’t seem so sinister. Another well known Australian Skeptic, who was at TAM is Dr. Rachael Dunlop. In addition to being a real doctor, Dr. Dunlop didn’t seem even the slightest bit sinister, although she did have plenty to say about the AVN.
It’s quite amazing that a movement which is generally run by lay persons and has a playboy playmate as its single most public figure would be so critical of lay persons being involved in activism. Like many skeptic organizations, the Australian Skeptics have members in a broad range of fields. Some are fully qualified medical doctors, while others are educators, research scientists or just lay people who have an interest in promoting science and skepticism. If you are looking for medical information from writers who are both doctors and skeptics, check out science based medicine.
When it comes to evaluating medical claims and determining what measures a person should take to maintain good health, medical doctors are the people who have the expertise necessary. Medical advice should always come from a qualified doctor and I doubt anyone in the skeptic movement would dispute that. Yet when taking on the liars of a group like the AVN, we cannot expect the medical community to stand alone in defense of good science and medicine. Groups like the AVN must be countered in the media, the classroom and in local communities.
Above all else, it should be remembered that when people believe the lies of the AVN, people suffer the effects of preventable illness and some die. That makes this issue not only a medical one, but also an ethical one. The suffering of a fellow human being due to the lies told by a group like the AVN is everyone’s business, doctor or not.
Groups like the Health Care Complaints Commission in Australia and other similar regulatory agencies around the world exist to protect citizens from fraud and harm caused by unscrupulous or unqualified parties in the medical field. All citizens have the right to alert their local authorities when they have good reason to believe that standards are being violated or patients are being harmed.
In the end, I’m left to asking where the “fascism” is that they seem to insist the skeptics are all gunning for. As a big supporter of the efforts against the AVN myself, I would like to make it clear that I have never stated that I want medical decisions to be taken away from individuals or for treatments to be forced on anyone. What most in the skeptic movement want more than anything else is for people in general to make the correct decisions based on real scientific evidence. That is why we go after groups like the AVN. The goal is to expose these groups for what they are, to counter their lies with solid science and to let their reputation take the beating it so deserves. As these groups paint themselves as crusaders for good health, we must show that this is a lie.
The AVN’s ability to cause harm exists only as long as there are people who are ignorant enough of the facts and of the AVN’s reputation to be suckered in. Seeing their carefully cultivated image of honesty and benign concern for the health of children being destroyed is what scares the AVN and groups like it more than anything else.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 4:36 pm and is filed under Amazing Meeting, Announcements, Bad Science, Culture, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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