On January 18 2012, Meryl Dorey appeared on the Gary Hardgrave Drive Program on Brisbane radio station 4BC. Dorey was invited on to the program by an unwitting producer who wasn’t aware of the list of indiscretions of Meryl Dorey and her Australian Vaccination Network. The producer posted on to the AVN Facebook page with a request for an interview. The post was quickly disappeared. The producer was then contacted by Private Message, warning her of the history of the AVN, and the Public Warning regarding the risk posed to public health by Dorey and her AVN: either she did not get the message (this is possible with the new Facebook messaging set-up), or she ignored it.
So, Dorey went to air, and we can guess what she did. She gave her message: a message which has been so thoroughly debunked that it can only be described as a lie every time she repeats it. Meryl Dorey kindly published a transcript of her interview on her blog. This was helpful. Here are a couple of samples of Dorey’s statements:
When the vaccine was introduced in 1953 we had about 180 cases of whooping cough per 100,000 population in Australia and right now, with our vaccination rate going from 0 to 95%, we have 180 cases per 100,000 head of population. So we’ve actually seen no improvement in the incidence of whooping cough and what’s occurring in Australia is what is occurring around the world. Any place that the vaccine is being used we’re seeing this huge increase, an absolutely enormous increase in incidence, 10,000% in the last 20 years in Australia and the vaccine may very well be responsible for it.
…from the statistics we’ve gotten from the government, it appears that something close to 80% of all cases of whooping cough are occurring in fully vaccinated people so you know, we have a situation where we’re getting a huge incidence of disease and we’re being told that the only answer is to get more vaccinations, more vaccinations, but we already have so many people vaccinated and the disease is not declining – it’s actually increasing. And what the AVN says is that we have about a 95% vaccination rate against whooping cough right now. If the government wants to increase that even higher, and that’s a pretty high vaccination rate, a lot of parents that we speak with are very concerned about whether or not giving their children vaccines is going to keep them healthy.
Dorey’s claims have been investigated by several different sources. All have found that Dorey is deliberately conflating different data sets, from different cohorts, from different decades, to make these dishonest claims. Dorey also completely ignores the embarrassingly low 11.3% adult immunisation rate, which makes up for the bulk of notifications; whilst relying on childhood immunisation rates to get her 95%. I strongly suggest reading this open letter to Meryl Dorey, which has been posted on many fora, and even emailed directly to her. Dorey refuses to respond:
The points made in that post are substantial. Dorey has been using this argument for years. The Health Care Complaints Commission found this concerning:
ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs also found Dorey’s comparison of different data sets to be misleading. From 2009:
In December 2011, ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs again found that Dorey had misled listeners; in two different cities, in one day, no less:
Two weeks after her last ABC Radio appearances, Dorey popped up on the Victorian community radio station, 3CR. The interview conducted by Helen Lobato was a free pass for Dorey. She was allowed to make all of her usual anti-vaccination arguments, even taking the opportunity to lie about Stop the AVN and the Australian Skeptics. Appropriately, a complaint was lodged with the station. This amusing reply was provided by 3CR:
I would like to respond to your email regarding the interview with Meryl Dorey on 3CR on Monday 2nd January 2011. I understand that you have strong opinions about the content of the interview.
I have now had an opportunity to listen to the audio and am confident that while you may not agree with the content of the interview or 3CR programming choices, 3CR has neither breached the Community Radio Broadcasting code of practice nor our ACMA Licence Conditions.
So, a detailed response was sent to the station. This response was a surgical, minute by minute debunking, supported by fully referenced explanations of every mistruth, canard, and accusation stated by Dorey during her love-in with Lobato. The same afternoon this reply was sent to the station, the station responded with its findings:
So…where were we? Ah, yes: the appearance, by Meryl Dorey, on radio station 4BC, on January 18 2012. As you can see, there’s quite a history of Meryl Dorey deceiving the media in Australia; and I think the media has had enough. Dorey is given an opportunity to tell the truth, and provide some false balance, by naive producers and crank-friendly community announcers; only to prove again and again that she can not tell the truth in vaccination issues.
A complaint was made to 4BC radio station regarding Dorey’s latest appearance, as is appropriate, given the egregiousness of the misinformation re-stated by her. Some of the complaint reads:
This is a clear breach of the industry code of conduct…
There was not any objection or questioning from the presenter to her obvious distortions of the facts..
Her lack of qualifications and the serious health warnings made against her were not highlighted.
Although initially unaware of the folly of trusting Dorey to provide accurate information, 4BC responded with its own finding into the misguided appearance of Dorey on the Drive Program:
I have discussed this issue with our Program Director, [redacted], this morning. We both agree it was a poor choice of talent for the discussion and we have addressed this internally.
Oh, how far we have come. It now seems a distant memory for 2009’s Australia’s Leading Expert on Vaccination.
Now, simply, Meryl Dorey is…