Well, it’s that time of year again. Around New Year, every year, the Woodford Folk Festival swings into action. I’ll be frank; it’s not my cup of tea. The smell of pot makes my intestines rage against me, and drum circles elicit thoughts of Dante.
But, there is a lot of good music, great food, happy people, and a vibe of pleasure. It’s the vibe of the thing.
There is one sinister aspect of the festival which raises its recalcitrant head, though. The organisers keep inviting Meryl Dorey to pontificate about vaccines. Here is the blurb from Dorey’s appearance in 2009. I wish it was a joke. Unfortunately, this is how Woodford billed Dorey:
This is how the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission bills Dorey:
The Commission’s investigation established that the AVN website:
- 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.
On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:
- The AVN’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination, in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere.
- The information provided by the AVN should not be read as medical advice.
- The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.
The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.
The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety. [Commission’s bold]
Dorey missed out on going to the festival last year. We thought they had seen sense. Short memories being what they are, Dorey has been invited back again this year. She is going to discuss vaccines and autism, the canard so thoroughly debunked only the most extreme anti-vaccination zealots still push it. Here is the Dorey blurb on the Woodford site:
It should be noted quickly, here, that the HCCC also found that Dorey’s collection of adverse events was found be anecdotal and unable to be substantiated (just like any evidence produced by Dorey):
The AVN states it has developed an adverse reactions database from information provided by the public through the website, with over 800 “serious adverse vaccine reactions” which it states were not reported to doctors.
The AVN provides supporting information about the criteria used to define an “adverse reaction”. This information is anecdotal only. As an organisation that is providing health education the AVN should make this clear in order not to mislead the reader.
Here is the agenda for the Dorey presentation:
The fallacy of the “autism epidemic” is covered nicely here by Dr Steve Novella. There just doesn’t seem to be one. You can bet your family crystals that Dorey will also be pushing a recent paper, shredded here by Orac. She has posted it several times, yet, just doesn’t get it.
So, what do we do about this intransigence from the organisers of the Woodford Folk Festival?
Here is the list of sponsors and supporters:
Here are some online contact addresses for these sponsors and supporters (others will be able to find better addresses, I’m sure):
Channel Ten Corporate did the right thing in Perth, recently. They pulled their sponsorship of the Conscious Living Expo when they were alerted to the fact that they were sponsoring an event which gave free rein to a “risk to public health and safety”, naming Meryl Dorey, pointedly.
If only all corporate and governmental entities would take the same ethical stance.
I have called the ABC complaints number (139994)and was put through to make a recorded complaint, which I have done. I stated that 90.3 ABC and JJJ are both sponsors of the Woodford Folk Festival which has invited Meryl Dorey of the Australian anti-Vaccination Network to speak and that her participation will be nothing short of anti-vaccination propoganda and that she has been an invited speaker by the organisers of the festival over past years as well. I highlighted that the AVN has a public warning against the organisation from the NSW HCCC and suggested that the ABC either remove the sponsorship or request to the organisers that Ms Dorey be removed as an invited guest due to her being a danger to public health. I also marked the recorded message as ‘urgent’.
Come on, ABC, where is the responsibility to public health when you are sponsoring organisations which constantly give credibility to a known liar and proven menace to public health?
I have emailed all of the sponsors and I’m waiting for a call back from the festival manager.
But the ABC have recently been happily promoting her bogus views – directly, on air. I’m doubtful that they’d be remotely concerned about promoting her passively through sponsorship. Someone at the ABC seems to think she has something worthwhile to say. Maybe they’ll increase their funding if they know she’s speaking 🙁
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Hello Reasonable Hank and the commenters.
I think though triple j and Local ABC radio are involved in the festival, they couldn’t be actual ‘sponsors’ in the way it’s often understood as in ‘contributing large amounts of cash to the general festival’ as ABC doesn’t have the money to do that. They’ll be supporting some parts of the festival in small ways and are more like another contributor (such as a band) than a sponsor. So they’re on a huge bill that also includes speakers, they’re not sponsors of those speakers and performers. There are 500 events (2000 performers) at Woodford so ABC or any other supporter couldn’t possibly know of or be condoning what is said in each of those events. Also ABC has hundreds of presenters and producers who are not all in agreement with each other!
Protesting about Dorey’s appearance by contacting Woodford Festival managers, the Queensland government and indeed individual ABC producers and all other media, especially in Queensland, is good. We should encourage everyone to do this.
There are a lot of people at the Woodford festival who want to know about science and another good idea would be to simply offer the festival an engaging health speaker who is pro-vaccination but not setting it up as a debate. Just another talk.
I produced an “ABC Science Lounge” in the Eureka bar /tent for the duration of the Woodford festival in 2004 for ABC. It was popular and loved by the audience and Paul Willis, who was with us every day, spent a lot of time on stage talking about the real science of vaccination – among dozens of other science subjects, but it was a popular topic. People were hungry for good scientific information about everything. And the audience appreciated what we were doing. We wanted to do a Science Lounge each year and build up a solid science-based audience within that massive Woodford audience but we didn’t have the resources after that first time.
Well said, Frankie. Thanks. Yep, when I originally wrote the post, I inadvertently only wrote “sponsors”, which was incorrect.
I think an important first step is to contact the festival organisers directly. Contact details here:
The festival offers a forum for many different ideas (many of them wrong), but the organisers themselves don’t necessarily condone any of them, and would I think be receptive to a direct discussion about the dangerous misinformation being provided by this particular speaker.
Thanks Kate. Yep, the Festival organisers have been contacted numerous times about this. They mostly ignore the correspondence.
“Meryl Dorey and the Folk Folk”
Another post, here:
Numerous people have also sent their concerns to the Festival, directly.
Disappointing to see they haven’t responded more satisfyingly or decisively. Thanks for the links though!
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Can you provide the exact links to where she is doing talks? I have the contact details for someone within the ABC who can handle this directly, but unfortunately the Woodford Folks Festival website is fairly bady constructed!
Hi Chris. This is the link to the page from where the screenshots are taken:
Anyone who tries to block a person from speaking is anti-democratic and interfering with our freedom of speech. ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’. Voltaire
Dorey should never have been invited in the first place. She is a demonstrable liar. She has had 20 years to get her story straight.
Sure, of course Dorey can put her opinions out there: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts”.