Media fear campaign – ABC Catalyst, 17 May, 2012

This program is rated 4 plungers. If I could have rated it lower, I would have. 

Back in December of 2011, I was contacted by a producer at Catalyst, an ABC ‘science’ show, about being involved in a program they were planning on vaccination to air early in 2012 (I was told at the time that it would be about March). They wanted to speak with the parent of a child who had passed away as a result of a vaccine and I spoke with several but none of them were willing to deal with the ABC after watching some of their coverage of this issue. Neither was I. Time has shown that we all made the right choice!
The scientific definition of a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of change (like an enzyme) by causing a chemical reaction without actually being changed itself.

Last night, ABC TV’s science program, Catalyst, featured an 11-minute segment on the vaccination issue called Danger Zones which demonstrates why calling this show ‘Catalyst’ was extremely appropriate. It shows that the media, the government and the medical community have not been changed in any way despite the large quantity of readily-available scientific information on the known dangers and ineffectiveness of vaccines.

Despite this lack of change on their part, they will hopefully be a ‘Catalyst’ for change through their complete and utter disregard for science, the truth and the tens of thousands of Australian families whose children have been permanently injured by a procedure they insist on calling safe for everyone.

Those dirty unvaccinated hippies

The premise of the program was that vaccination needs to be maintained at levels of 95% in order for diseases to die out, and the doctor / journalist who presented the show focussed on Byron Bay as an example of what can happen when people stop vaccinating. The implication is that because Byron Bay has a lower rate of vaccination then the rest of the country (a ‘fact’ that is thrown around quite often, depending upon what point is being made at the time. Sometimes it is Byron Bay; sometimes North Sydney; sometimes Perth), the rest of Australia is now in the 5th year of a record-breaking whooping cough epidemic.

These figures on the incidence of disease by local government area seem to be a closely-held secret. I have had many discussions with the Department of Health where I asked to be shown this data but they won’t provide it unless I tell them what I want to use it for. What are they afraid of? They seem to provide this data easily enough to media pundits but hold it back when speaking with anyone who they think might use it for purposes they don’t approve of – like being critical of policies which these same figures show are not working.

We do know, thanks to a year’s worth of correspondence back and forth between Greg Beattie and the Department of Health and Aging, that there is no evidence available to show the whooping cough vaccine  has done anything to reduce the rate of infection in Australia during the current epidemic. When looking at the age groups which would have been most recently vaccinated – those aged between 0 and 4 years old – fully vaccinated children were far more likely to get the disease then the unvaccinated. Seventy-five percent of those who were diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough) were fully vaccinated; a further 14% were partially vaccinated and only 11% were unvaccinated (including an unknown percentage who were too young to be vaccinated).

Whooping cough is rife in every country where vaccines are administered and vaccination rates have never been higher. So the medical community – which has long had a reputation for spinning a failure into a success – has decided that instead of blaming an obviously ineffective vaccine, they will blame those who haven’t been vaccinated for the occurrence of disease in the supposedly protected population. Only those who are not thinking would believe that sort of garbage and yet, the majority of the medical community and their pals in the media seem to fit that bill perfectly.

What will it take to convince them?

The vaccine is failing. Don’t take my word for it. We currently have more cases of whooping cough per capita then at any time since 1953 when the vaccine was introduced for mass use in Australia. Let me say that again another way. In 1952 when we had no mass vaccination for whooping cough, the incidence was lower than it is today with close to 95% of children vaccinated.

The same situation is being seen in the US where a large study of  the 2010 pertussis outbreak in North America showed that those most likely to get whooping cough were fully vaccinated children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.

We have a real belief that the durability (of the vaccine) is not what was imagined,” said Dr. David Witt, an infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, California, and senior author of the study. Witt had expected to see the illnesses center around unvaccinated kids, knowing they are more vulnerable to the disease.

“We started dissecting the data. What was very surprising was the majority of cases were in fully vaccinated children. That’s what started catching our attention,” said Witt. (

The most recent estimates for ‘protection’ from whooping cough if you are vaccinated is three years. But immunity from infection lasts for between 30 and 80 years!

The vaccine is failing our children and the government and the media in conjunction with mainstream medical organisations are doing their best to point the finger of blame at the unvaccinated rather than accepting that it is the vaccination that is the cause of this outbreak and the fully vaccinated who are its victims.

Those dirty hippies!

There was no mention of the fact that the AVN is based on the Far North Coast of Australia during this show (though we are not in Byron Bay), but several montage scenes showing the AVN’s website, images of a seminar I had conducted in SA several years ago and the backs of people’s T-Shirts saying Investigate Before You Vaccinate (what a concept!) were prominent throughout this program.

The idea that a small group of unvaccinated people on the North Coast of NSW can infect the rest of the country even though they are fully vaccinated is one that would require a complete suspension of both thought and logic. Apparently, the ABC is able to do both those things – but is their audience?

Every single person who was interviewed on the streets of Byron Bay was dressed like a hippie (OK, I have nothing against hippies having been one myself throughout high school and University) and it is obvious that the intention was to show that hippies are the ones who are not vaccinating and we all have to hate hippies while the ‘average’ Australian – personified by the many babies we see during this show screaming in their mother’s arms while needles were stuck into their body – were doing the right thing and keeping the community safe.

Vaccines not only protect you, they protect your community. And that’s why immunisation can be called altruistic.

The REAL intention of trying to differentiate between hippies (who supposedly haven’t been vaccinated) and middle-class Australians (who have) is to foment hatred and fear towards those who have made a decision that goes against the mainstream. They are the ones to blame for your child’s illness – not the vaccines you gave to your children, thinking they would stay safe though they then got the disease anyway. It isn’t your fault. It isn’t your doctor’s fault. It isn’t the government’s fault. It’s all the fault of those dirty hippies!

Of course, the Australian government’s own studies have shown time and time again that the average person who chooses not to vaccinate their children is older, from a higher socio-economic status and highly educated. We certainly find that to be the case amongst the membership of the AVN from our own surveys. Not hippies after all – just very well-informed and concerned parents. Go figure.

One thing that would be interesting to know is the rate of autism, asthma and juvenile diabetes in areas with low levels of vaccination as opposed to those with high vaccination complaince. I wonder if we will ever see Catalyst cover this story?

Anti-choice propaganda and nothing more

The fact is that shows such as this do nothing to advance the vaccination debate or to help parents make a decision that is right for their families. In fact, they do the exact opposite by relying on fear and propaganda and not using any information whatsoever. There was not one real statistic; not one medical journal study; not one truly informative piece of information given out in the entire program. Pretty surprising when you think that this is supposed to be a science program.

I take that back. There WAS one study shown and that was the 1998 case series by Andrew Wakefield et al that was retracted from the Lancet. The doctor / journalist sat on a rock by the sea holding up the paper with a big red “RETRACTED” stamped across the page. Due to the recent High Court (UK) victory by one of Wakefield’s co-authors, Dr John Walker-Smith, it is very possible that this retracted article may be reinstated at some point in the future. In addition, what is known is that there have been many published articles since 1998 which have verified and expanded upon Wakefield’s original hypothesis that vaccination may have some bearing on the development of autism and gut issues in children. But this unscientific and unbalanced report never looked at any of that.

The real victims

Almost immediately after the show ended, I was contacted by one of our members. This woman who I have known for many, many years and who has been kind enough to allow me to stay with her and her family in Sydney several time when I was down there on AVN business, has a grown son who was permanently brain damaged by his shots. I have never seen her get angry or impatient with anyone. Not until last night, that is. Here is her message to me:

Hi Meryl,

Did you see Catalyst tonight? It was on vaccination and was nothing more than an advertisement for vaccines. It was disgusting and so one sided. I have just written to the ABC in disgust.

You see, it’s all fine and good for Robert Booy to say that vaccine reactions are rare:

But they’re minor and they go away quickly. Rare side effects are something in the order of one hundreds of thousands. An allergic reaction, for example.

but this mother knows better. Her son’s reaction hasn’t gone away in close to 25 years. Her family is one of the ‘rare’ unlucky ones. Or is it?

How many of you reading this now have a family member who was seriously affected by vaccines? In my own family, I can count over 10 people who have had serious and, in some cases, ongoing issues because of vaccination. And when I give a seminar and ask the audience to raise their hands if they know of someone who has been badly affected by vaccines, it is rare to see less than 80% of those in the room not raise their hands.

Is it really rare for people to react to vaccination or is it simply rare for that reaction to be acknowledged?

For those families who have gone through vaccine hell, last night’s program was more than propaganda – it was a sign of the lack of respect and recognition given to them in their day-to-day struggle with a situation that only happened because they were ‘altruistic’ and did what they were told was for the good of society. Now, society wants nothing to do with them. In fact, society wants to pretend they don’t exist.

It is supposed to be our ABC but apparently, the ABC belongs to the highest bidder. The real losers are the children of Australia, their families and the truth.

If you would like to write to Catalyst, you may do so using the information and form found here –

by Meryl Dorey

20 thoughts on “Media fear campaign – ABC Catalyst, 17 May, 2012

  1. Hey australiansceptics,

    The sKeptic challengers pop up either make a half sensible comment or engage in shall we say [to be polite] “banter” but when they get answered with real argument and evidence, they just fade away.

    What a great idea this site is. It really shows up where the real evidence is.

    And here are some of the reasons The REAL Australian Sceptics is “the business”.

    We had a great fun run-in recently over on LeftBrainRightBrain with Matt Carey and his band of internet bullies. It was a real show-up.

    Matt Carey posts as “Sullivan” – a fictional children’s character which if memory serves aright is from the children’s film Monsters Inc. That is where the resemblance begins and ends to the cuddly film version of Sullivan.

    “sKeptics” take note – from this day forth we dub thee “Monsters Inc”. Some of the nastiest characters in society use cuddly fictional children’s characters to gain trust and the association with being trustworthy. But we are not saying Matt is one of those characters. There is no evidence of that whatsoever – so in true sceptical fashion lets make that one clear as a bell.

    But what went on over on LBRB is oh so typical of them. All the tricks were in full evidence. The bullying, personal attacks, disparagement, misrepresentations, falsehoods. But what really took the biscuit was Matt Carey. When they lost the arguments hands down all around, what do you think Matt did?

    He started deleting the information from the posts which was information showing they could not answer the arguments. Matthew Carey is the main moderator over there with a merry band of faithful hangers on like “Science Mom”. She really works hard at it and hides behind anonymity because to be sure, anyone who gets up to what she does is bound to be looked down on by people.

    But the more significant piece is this, this person posting on Lbrb as the cuddly Monster’s Inc children’s character “Sullivan” but really being Matthew Carey was recently appointed by the 21st US Secretary of State Kathleen Sebelius to the US Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.

    The reasons given in the bio the IACC posted was because he “is a frequent contributor to the Left Brain/Right Brain blog …. and he is deeply committed to communicating the importance of getting the science right for autism”. According to the IACC here:

    He is so committed that you can see him in action on Lbrb blog in the comments starting here deleting embarrassing information from evidenced submissions which he and his buddies cannot answer:

    [Assuming of course they are not altered before you can see them as they are today].

    It is a great example for US parents to see what their tax dollars are spent on and the kinds of folk the US government appoint to deal with serious issues regarding children’s health.

    You can also then appreciate better how government health officials are so tied into the dirty tricks of Monsters Inc [aka the sKeptics] that they are now hiring them directly and blatantly.

    It also means you certainly cannot trust anything government health officials publish – none of their information will be reliable. After all, if the US hires Matthew Carey knowing full-well how he runs his blog, you can be sure they would like to be able to do it exactly the same way.

    And Matthew Carey is just so blatant about it. It is so obvious he has deleted the information – you can see the blank spaces, the half finished sentences and suchlike.

    But not only that. Even when it was pointed out he just kept on doing it. Because once he started he could not stop as that would make it even clearer.

    You can also see the kinds of personal attacks he and his friends engage in, in addition to the altering of information to remove the embarrassing stuff.

    So like Matt’s LBRB blog, on which he controls comment submissions by others, can we look forward to the US IACC’s meeting reports and publications with blank spaces and other indicia to show where they have deleted the bits of the evidence they find too embarrassing and cannot answer? That would be really really appreciated and a great step forward in US democratic transparency.

    The example to Matt’s IACC colleagues from LBRB is just perfect. Dr Thomas Insel and Kathleen Sebelius should take some notes to see how it should really be done. Maybe Matt can give his other committee members lessons. And when he has sorted them out he can go on a world tour:


    But the thing is, this is what you are likely to find on these so-called sKeptics blogs. Rants tirades abuse name-calling and when they lose the argument on the evidence they just cannot take it and run off home with the ball to Mom – in Matthew Carey’s case it is to “Science Mom” – Ha!

  2. Hi Meryl

    This is a surprisingly impertinent post.

    You seem to think that any conclusion reached by somebody that runs counter to your own conclusions must be, by definition, a failure of scepticism: it isn’t. Your ‘scepticism’ is little more than contrarian dogma.

    If you were truly sceptical your review of the show would be sourced and honest

    • Impertinent? Timothy, that is an interesting choice of words. I believe that it is important – not impertinent. Because the media’s role is to provide information on both sides of all issues in a balanced and non-judgemental manner to allow their audience – the viewer, the reader, the listener – to then make up their own minds. When the media decides that it is their job to push their own point of view and to ridicule a sector of the audience they obviously don’t understand and have no real knowledge of, perhaps THAT is the real impertinence. And it is a failure of scepticism to cover up an issue because you disagree with it. Perhaps you need to go back to our main page again and look at that definition of scepticism?

  3. Please cite your source which shows natural immunity to pertussis lasting 30-80years. This is not true. One of the challenges with pertussis is that even infection does not produce a lasting protective response. Longer than vaccination, yes. But probably not more than 10-15 years.

    • Estimating the Duration of Pertussis Immunity Using Epidemiological Signatures
      Helen J. Wearing1*, Pejman Rohani2,3¤
      PLoS Pathogens | 1
      October 2009 | Volume 5 | Issue 10 | e1000647

      Carolyn, before you say that something is not true, perhaps you should just ask for the reference and leave it at that. You can certainly disagree with the study and provide your own evidence to back up your assertion, but asking someone to produce evidence and saying they are wrong before that evidence is even produced is not right. And it’s certainly not something a REAL sceptic would do.

  4. Ms Dorey, please provide me with evidence of your assertion that doctors have been trained and paid for by drug companies. I was trained at the University of Sydney which had a no pharmaceutical company policy. My post graduate training has been in the work place by my consultants and through courses I have paid for, again which have had a no pharmaceutical company policy. I have had very limited contact with pharmaceutical companies during the course of my medical training and career. Quite frankly your assertion that doctors have been trained and paid for by drug companies is vile, insulting, and smacks of desperation from someone who’s only hope of credibility is to cry “conspiracy” and try to discredit others.

    • Thanks so much CHS. Scepticism reminds me of an ad that was on TV when I was growing up in NY – I think the company was called Loew’s? It was a menswear store, anyway. And their slogan was “An informed consumer is our best customer”. Well, it is sort of the opposite with medicine and scepticism. And informed consumer is medicine’s WORST customer because most informed people stay away from drugs and doctors unless they are absolutely necessary. And the pharmaceutical companies and the big medical industry lobby groups such as the AMA know that. This is why they are so opposed to organisations like the AVN whose only ‘crime’ is helping others to become better informed consumers. And we will keep on doing it as long as we can too!

  5. I don’t recall saying anything about taking what doctors and researchers say as “gospel truth”. Where did you get that from?

  6. Anecdotes and “mother knows better” are good enough for you? That’s hardly a sceptical approach… In fact, that’s exactly what you should be sceptical of.

    • So Rusty, according to you, we should be sceptical of what thousands of parents see happening in their children with their own eyes but take as gospel truth what doctors and researchers who have been trained and paid by the drug companies whose products have caused these issue say?

      I wouldn’t call that sceptical. Gullible, perhaps – but certainly not sceptical.

      • Hey australiansceptics what’s an anecdote?

        If it is something someone tells you then figure this one out. A scientist called Sheila does an experiment. She has a photographic memory and can remember every reading taken during the experiment. Another scientist [Bruce] writes every reading down in a lab book.

        You meet Bruce and Sheila down the pub.

        Sheila tells you the results of the experiment. Bruce left his lab book behind but tells you what he recalls the results are.

        Which one is the anecdote.

        Later Bruce and Sheila are in Court. Sheila gives evidence of the results of the experiment from memory. It is established that Sheila never lies and her memory is tested on other examples and is shown to be perfect.

        Bruce on the other hand is shown to have made mistakes in his lab book and lied to cover them up.

        Which one is the anecdote?

        Now. Dick meanwhile is doing an experiment in Adelaide but has hurt his hands so cannot type or write down the results of his experiment. So he reels off the readings as they occur on his cellphone to his colleague Kate who then records all the readings on her computer whilst having a beer on the beach at Bondi. [She’s the smart one].

        She then writes up the results and has them published in the Lancet. However, Brian Deer finds out and he accuses her of fraud because the results were all anecdotes told to her on the ‘phone. The Sunday Times publishes this allegation and Dr Horton retracts Dick’s and Kate’s paper.

        So which one is the anecdote?

        Meanwhile the other day I had this guy in the back of my cab and you’ll never guess but it was Russell Crowe. I would never have known it until I got hit in the head with a telephone.

        So which one is the anecdote?

          • Yeh. But one more thing. what’s the difference here. A scientist Sheila makes an observation whilst having a beer and tells you it and you write it down noting that Sheila was having a beer also. You are both in the lab at the same time but you did not see the reading on the gauge yourself. And Sheila being a tight bitch didn’t let you have any of the beer. So you write that down too.

            Sheila also writes it down.the next day having remembered the reading and that she was having a beer at the same time.

            Now, just because Sheila wrote it down it is still an anecdote just as much as you writing down an anecdote is. You just wrote down the anecdotal account of someone else.

            So Sheila then writes up her paper with the methodology faithfully recording taking the observation whilst having a beer – [just in case it might be relevant to bias you understand]. And she adds the discussion and conclusions section to the results [concluding that making observations whilst having a beer is much better when she was at Bondi].

            Now when she submits it to the Lancet, Horton gets really mad because not only is this just a written up version of Sheila’s anecdotal lab observations, he didn’t get any of the bloody beer either.

            So the moral of the story is – all science based on human observation is anecdotal. Even in when the Lancet – Dr Horton was not in the lab when Sheila made the observation. He is just going by what she told him. And that is a sure way not to get any beers either. And so next time Horton only publishes Bruce’s next paper not Sheila’s because whilst Horton knows Bruce is a lying bastard, he is sure to get a couple of cans for his trouble.

            And that is how medical journal publishing works – just in case you did not know. But make sure Brian Deer never finds out about Horton getting the beers or we will never hear the end of it.

            • Oh I thought you were going to say that Peter Slipper got into your cab and that you were the one that sign the forms (because there was a glitch in the card readers). Is that Anecdotal?

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