Of publication, and sleights of hand

Tonight Dr Brian Martin of the University of Wollongong sent me his latest publication: Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning. You would remember Brian Martin as the supervisor of Judy Wilyman. Yes, that Judy Wilyman. Included in his article is a paragraph (the content of which has been addressed before), which needs addressing (again). If we keep addressing the claims made by Martin, he might eventually need to recognise that a wave of the hand will not make the tenuousness of his claims go away. Here is the paragraph in full. I’ll address it further, below:

We’ve seen these before. And, yes, he actually cites Meryl Dorey in a published article.

Claim 1: making unsupported claims about the AVN believing in a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips

I never really gave much thought about the claims, as they did appear on the original Stop the AVN Facebook info page. The wording of that info page has since been altered to provide a more accurate account of the links between the AVN, and those nasty Illuminati beliefs, and the microchips. Frankly, I had been really sidetracked (yes, for three years), so I thought I should have a good look, again. This has been thoroughly addressed on Losing in the Lucky Country, in this post: Through the anti-vaccination looking glass: responding to Brian Martin Pt. 2.

So, where on Earth did anyone get the idea that Meryl Dorey and the AVN have links to these wild beliefs? From Meryl Dorey, of course.

In a previous post I quickly covered a claim which Meryl Dorey is still making to this day: denying that an article, an excerpt of which she posted on her blog, and linked to the full article, did not contain any mention of the Illuminati, microchips, or a human cull, linked to influenza vaccination.

In a recent Dorey blog post, it is claimed: “Ms Dorey was unaware of the connection between this article and Mr Icke and in fact, the article did not mention any of these beliefs”. Is this true? Well, see for yourself. Last week I uploaded this document to Scribd: Meryl Dorey, David Icke, the Pakistan Daily, Microchips, and the Human Cull. The document contains: the original Pakistan Daily article, as copied from the , then, live link; Dorey’s old blog post, containing the excerpt, and linking to the Pakistan Daily article; and, Dorey’s latest reiteration of her denial that the article contained what it contained (ie: all of the above claims).

In 2000, Meryl Dorey published this strange piece: Australia’s Big Brother Card: Coming your way! By Meryl Dorey. It contains this bizarre piece of conspiratorial rubbish (seriously, how is a microchip even going to fit into an immunisation-size gauged needle?):

Injected Chips? 

To me, the scariest thing about the health smart card, is that it is only the beginning. The next and most logical step is the use of microchips which will contain all of the same information contained on smart cards but which will be injected into us and read and updated from a distance.Now, before you start to think that this would never happen and that it’s all a bit too much like science fiction,be aware that as of January 1999, the NSW State Government has mandated that all domestic animals be injected with a microchip which would identify them. Pet owners don’t have a choice – they must do this by law or face fines. And how are these chips being put into the family dog or cat? Why, through their vaccines, of course. These microscopic chips are nothing more than contactless health smart cards.

How long will it be before you or your child receive this “gift” from the government? They will sell it to us as a gift too. You will no longer have to worry about robbery because nobody will be carrying cash – this chip will contain your bank details so you can pass your hand over a reader and have the amount of your purchase automatically deducted from your account. Your child will never have to worry about getting lost because they will have an indelible identification mark which would have been inserted at birth. It’s all so exciting, don’t you think?


So, are Martin’s assertions accurate? Are there “unsupported claims” made against Dorey and her followers? No. The claims are made in reference to Dorey’s own publications. Of course, Dorey strongly denies that she believes any of the above. She has to.

Claim 2: making derogatory comments about AVN members

This is undeniable. Sometimes in an online, heated debate derogatory comments are made about people who lie about evidence-based medicine, and seek to gain access to the private health records of deceased babies. Derogatory comments are made about people who blame parents of deceased children, that they are the ones at fault for not breastfeeding, or for immunising their child (when there is no evidence of any of the accusations being true).

But, the use of the term derogatory is so misused by the likes of defenders of anti-vaccination liars, one needs to see a broad investigation of the public debate, on all of the fora, not just the cherry-picked incidents of abuse upon which Martin himself has previously admitted to relying.

I always find it astonishing that this obvious Special pleading is never addressed when mentioned.

Claim 3: making dozens of complaints to government bodies such as the Health Care Complaints Commission

So what? These are legitimate complaints, of demonstrable seriousness, submitted by citizens who have every right to use legislation in the manner for which the legislation was intended. I don’t see the problem. Martin’s intent is to attempt to sully the complainants with the vexatious tag, thereby devaluing the very people who he is claiming to be the devaluers. There is nothing vexatious about legitimate complaints, surrounding serious misinformation which parades under the guise of health education. Now, if you want vexatious, and fraudulent, intended to SLAPP, then: The fraudulent DMCA filing, free speech hypocrite: Meryl Dorey. Strangely, Martin has never addressed this when pressed.

Claim 4: posting online the names and contact details of advertisers in the AVN’s magazine Living Wisdom (inviting harassment) (Dorey, 2011).

Wait just a cotton picking minute, here. Meryl Dorey publishes the complete list of her AVN Professional Members, right here. Martin seems to forget this tidbit. Also, the harassment of which he speaks turns out to be: informing the public as to who supports an anti-vaccination organisation (the public has a right to know, and one would think that the head of Whistle Blowers Australia would be in full accord with this point); and, contacting advertisers to see if they are aware of who they are supporting (some were not, and were disgusted to know that Living Wisdom is published by an anti-vaccination organisation. They withdrew their support in shame and anger).

So, is the paragraph about Stop the Australian Vaccination Network accurate? Only with a sleight of hand it is.

Of special note, I didn’t happen to see any COI stated by Brian Martin, in his publication. Brian Martin has been a financial supporter of the AVN since September 2010, having taken out a subscription for the Living Wisdom magazine, in which he was published (J.LivWis). Why he could not have simply been given magazines for his research is not addressed by Martin. Brian Martin is still a financial member of the Australian Vaccination Network, having been transferred to full membership once the AVN was again allowed to enlist members. Maybe the eds would have liked to have known that?

What would Judy Wilyman say at this non disclosure? To be a fly on that wall.

About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
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0 Responses to Of publication, and sleights of hand

  1. Dr Martin’s research skills are clearly lacking. You shot down every single point. I would be interested to read a response from him to your post. I imagine he would engage in a bit of hair splitting. Great post Hank 🙂

  2. M smith says:

    He has a Meryl like attitude to whistle blowing. You see whistle blowing is good if he is doing it, bad if it is others doing it to his pet anti vaccinationist. The irony is astounding.

  3. bmartin77 says:

    In my article “Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning”, I address a number of dilemmas, including “whether to acknowledge weaknesses in their own position, whether to advocate research to address claims by opponents, whether to acknowledge vested interests on their own side, whether to debate with opponents, whether to launch attacks on opposition individuals and groups, and whether to criticise extreme behaviour by those on their own side”.

    Reasonable Hank does not address a single one of the dilemmas discussed in the article. He questions only a single sentence, about Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN), questioning four statements about SAVN’s campaign against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).

    Statement 1 is about SAVN’s claim “about the AVN believing in a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips”. Hank gives links that he says indicate Meryl Dorey, the AVN’s key figure, believes in such a conspiracy, though she denies it. However, Hank provides no evidence for “the AVN” having any such belief.

    Statement 2 is about “making derogatory comments about AVN members”. Hank says “This is undeniable”.

    Statement 3 is about “making dozens of complaints to government bodies”. He accepts that this is correct. He says “Martin’s intent is to attempt to sully the complainants with the vexatious tag” – a curious claim, given that I do not use the word “vexatious” in the article.

    Statement 4 is about “posting online the names and contact details of advertisers in the AVN’s Living Wisdom (inviting harassment)”. Hank defends this by saying that the AVN publishes the names. However, AVN opponents list the names in a “Hall of Shame”, which is different. What I call “harassment”, Hank calls “informing”. I think it is fair to say that posting a name in a “Hall of Shame”, with contact details, is to invite harassment.

    In summary, Hank has ignored the substantive contents of my article. He has only questioned one sentence, but not shown any significant inaccuracy, only some differences in interpretation.

    Finally, Hank asks about declaring a conflict of interest (COI). What COI? In joining the AVN to obtain its magazine, I did not receive any special benefits nor make any commitments restricting my ability to comment as I wish. This is not all that different from the situation of a book reviewer receiving a complimentary copy of a book from the publisher: this small favour does not guarantee a favourable review. COIs are not declared in such circumstances.

    In trying to discredit me, Hank seems to have missed the point of the article, which is to raise questions about health campaigning. The article does not have to be read as for or against vaccination (or any other health measure). Dilemmas are not resolved by failing to acknowledge them.

    Brian Martin

    • Brian Martin states: “Reasonable Hank does not address a single one of the dilemmas discussed in the article. He questions only a single sentence, about Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN), questioning four statements about SAVN’s campaign against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).”

      Yes. That is very insightful of Dr Martin. In the introduction of my post I state: “Included in his article is a paragraph (the content of which has been addressed before), which needs addressing (again). If we keep addressing the claims made by Martin, he might eventually need to recognise that a wave of the hand will not make the tenuousness of his claims go away. Here is the paragraph in full. I’ll address it further, below…”

      That would seem to direct most readers to have an insight into what the post is about.

      For a more in-depth analysis of Dr Martin’s article, please see: http://luckylosing.com/2012/09/19/dealing-with-the-brian-martin-dilemma/

  4. John Cunningham says:

    Conflicts of interest, no matter how small, are always encouraged to be declared in medical publishing. He now admits he has a COI but downplays it. Fool.

  5. M smith says:

    Brian martin builds a nice Strawman. Hank didnt address some all the issues in the article. Well yes we know that and that is stated in the blog.

    Of course Brian Martin then doesn’t fully address the substantive part of the criticism of the article in this blog. Which is highly ironic considering that is how he built his own Strawman.

    That Dorey links to articles that contain bizzare conspiracy theories is well documented. Only recently she posted an article claiming the flu vax was a part of a contraception plot. That Brian Martin wishes to play semantics on whether Dorey personally believes these conspiracies, or not is ludicrous. If she doesn’t beleive in them, but links to these articles anyway it is just another duplicitous act of misinformation. Either way she is sunk. She either believes in these bizzare conspiracies which thus demonstrates her lack of critical thought, or she doesn’t and is cynically using them to further her own ideological viewpoint.

    The other irony is that he calls filing complaints “harassment”. So whistle blowing is now harassment? I note he doesn’t defend the accusations upon which the complaints are based. I also note the court found the substantive part of the accusations to the HCCC were actually correct in fact. The issue was with jurisdiction, not whether the AVN were actually guilty of the items in the complaint.

    So he calls the filings of complaints harassment, when the complaints were found by a court to be correct in fact.

    Surely even Brian Martin can see the illogic of his own comments?

    I think the issue here is that Brian Martin become semi famous for one thing. He is now out of his depth and his articles are ideologically based rather than based on any real critical analysis. Luckily for him academics can hide for years resting on past laurels and only rarely do they get “pinged” for their lack of rigour by well reasoned individuals.

    • bmartin77 says:

      Dear Hank and M smith,

      In relation to what you, Hank, call my “claim 1”, namely that SAVN has made “unsupported claims about the AVN believing in a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips”: how about submitting our respective claims to independent scrutiny?

      Here’s what we could do. Each of us could collect our writings about the AVN-belief-in-a-global-conspiracy matter. These could then be sent to one or more independent individuals for them to assess our claims.

      One possibility would be to approach scholars who have written about conspiracy theories, aiming to understand their dynamics. Going on Google Scholar, it’s easy to find a number of highly cited articles and books by scholars who have analysed conspiracy theories and/or the belief in conspiracy theories. We might be able to agree on which of these to approach. To make the approach neutral, we might agree on a third party to write to these conspiracy-theory scholars on our behalf, attaching our writings.

      Are you interested?


      • As previously outlined in this post: http://luckylosing.com/2011/08/05/through-the-anti-vaccination-looking-glass-responding-to-brian-martin-pt-2/

        “So we can now review the comment highlighting in red what can be substantiated by the Australian Vaccination Network and Meryl Dorey in their own words.

        ‘They [AVN] believe that vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to implant [mind] control chips into every man, woman and child and that the ‘illuminati’ plan a mass cull of humans.’

        I realise hairs can be split that AVN beliefs are not Dorey’s beliefs and vice versa. Though I would stress for someone who spends hours devoted to censoring and deleting commentary she doesn’t agree with, Dorey has proven by inaction her comfort with this madness. Mind you if we included the Baxter rant in full we could expand on this sentence.”

        Paul has already added enough, excluding the “mind” claim to answer you. You just don’t want to hear it. There’s that Special Pleading again, Brian.

        Now, we know that Meryl Dorey denies any belief in conspiracy theories. As I said in the post: she has to. Observers can only go on what has been posted by the AVN and Meryl Dorey. Even recently, new AVN Facebook admin CP linked to a chemtrails article. Good to see they are consistent.

        Quick question, Brian: how do you resolve Dorey’s claim to have linked to the original, full Pakistan Daily article, whilst denying that it contained any of the absurdities it is demonstrated to have contained in the original? Meryl Dorey addresses this by stating something which is demonstrably untrue. I’m always interested to hear how you address these anomalies. You never do.

      • More importantly, Brian: you say “unsupported”. I say “supported”.

      • Aaand, just so we’re crystal clear. The Pakistan Daily link on the Dorey blogspot post, and The Pakistan Daily link from the Scribd document I include in my post both resolve to this same, no longer active URL:

        Dorey sourced her blogspot excerpt post from the full Pakistan Daily article, despite her claims to the contrary.

        Even The Pakistan Daily thought better of allowing such madness to remain published.

  6. Mike Mayfield says:

    Reading Dr Brian Martin’s comments regarding the AVN and people who submit complaints regarding their misinformation and deceptiveness, and reading some of his publications like the “Whistleblowers Handbook”, leaves one positively drowning in irony.

  7. bmartin77 says:

    Thanks for your comments concerning my article “Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning”. I will try to respond to some of them later on. Here I’ll just raise one point.

    Hank recommends a response to my article on the blog “Losing in the lucky country”. In a comment on that blog, Ken McLeod said the following.

    “Two years ago, Martin sent to me a draft of an article critical of me that he intended to publish, and asked for my comments. I saw that the article was in need of major corrections and advised him I would get back to him with comments and corrections. He then published without waiting for my response. In doing so, he demonstrated quite clearly that he was hypocritical and dishonest.”

    The following is my response to Ken. I submitted it to “Losing in the lucky country” a week ago, but it has not been posted.


    Dear Ken,

    Perhaps you have forgotten the sequence of events concerning my article “Debating vaccination”. I sent part II of it to you, inviting comment, on 11 October 2010. You replied two days later saying “it will take me a week or so to write a proper response”. Having not heard further from you for six weeks, I posted the paper in early December. You then protested to me; I wrote on 8 December that “I’d be happy to consider posting a reply from you on my website.”

    The only reply you proposed was the document “Meryl Dorey’s trouble with the truth”. Concerning this, on 16 December I replied,

    “Sorry, I don’t consider your document to be a response to mine. You haven’t addressed my commentary on scientific controversies, my analysis of your complaint to the HCCC, or my examination of the attack on the AVN.”

    In the nearly two years since this exchange, you have not provided any comments on or corrections to “Debating vaccination”. My offer to consider posting a reply from you stands.


    • It must feel terrible when someone doesn’t get back to you, Brian?

      But, given that you never get back to anyone about your Special Pleading, by leaving out the vast and constant debunking of AVN misinformation (which you recommend that SAVN should do, thereby demonstrating that you are operating under a predetermined cognitive bias), which you infer does not happen, in lieu of the lesser occurring “attacks” against the AVN, as you put it, one does not have a great deal of sympathy for your pleas.

      It would appear that a wave of the hand (debunking? what debunking?) is just as important to you as evidence, what?

  8. bmartin77 says:

    Thank you all for your comments.

    “Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning” discussed several dilemmas – such as whether to debate opponents and whether to attack – that are quite relevant to Stop the AVN. Therefore I think it is quite pertinent to point out that Hank did not address any of the dilemmas.

    In discussing Hank’s claims about one particular sentence, I concluded that he had “not shown any significant inaccuracy, only some differences in interpretation”. He has not contested that assessment. Neither he nor M Smith has provided any evidence that “the AVN” as an organisation believes in conspiracy theories.

    M Smith says that I call filing of complaints harassment. The trouble is, I didn’t say that in my “dilemmas” article.

    In a different article, “Debating vaccination”, I labelled the filing of multiple complaints, as part of a campaign against an organisation, as Strategic Complaints Against Public Participation or SCAPPs. I wrote that a SCAPP “shifts a public debate into a different arena that ties up the target of the complaint in prolonged procedures, requiring a large time commitment with the risk of an adverse finding.”

    In “Debating vaccination”, I spelled out the reasons why I have focused on the attacks on the AVN. I wrote: “The goal of the attackers – some of them at least – is to shut down the AVN and to deny its right or ability to make criticisms of vaccination, at least those criticisms deemed by the attackers to be false. The AVN, on the other hand, does not have the goal, much less the capacity, to shut down proponents of vaccination, which include key figures in the medical establishment. In short, the attackers want to go beyond debating the issue of vaccination and to destroy the capacity of some vaccination critics to be in the debate.”

    Hank says this is “special pleading”, whereas I think it is a reasonable approach.

    I look forward to John Cunningham providing references to articles in which the physician authors have declared, as conflicts of interests, receiving free pens, magazines, drug samples and other small gifts from companies.

    Contrary to Hank’s assumption, I was not worried when Ken McLeod did not send me any comments on “Debating vaccination”. I interpreted that as indicating that he could not find anything substantially wrong with my analysis of his complaint.


  9. Brian says: “Therefore I think it is quite pertinent to point out that Hank did not address any of the dilemmas”
    – Thank you for reiterating what I said in my previous comment, that this was not the focus of my post: your paragraph on SAVN was the focus of my post. Insightful, once again. If you keep repeating this, we may be able to make a sound-loop.

    Brian says: “In discussing Hank’s claims about one particular sentence, I concluded that he had “not shown any significant inaccuracy, only some differences in interpretation”.”
    – Brian has not sufficiently addressed any of the evidence provided, at any time, regarding the AVN repeatedly linking to conspiracy theories, such as microchips delivered through vaccination: a wave of the hand makes this go away.

    Brian says: in reference to his Special Pleading, surrounding excluding the vast collection of debunking of the AVN and Dorey, “Hank says this is “special pleading”, whereas I think it is a reasonable approach”
    – I say it’s not a reasonable approach: so there.

    Brian says: “I look forward to John Cunningham providing references to articles in which the physician authors have declared, as conflicts of interests, receiving free pens, magazines, drug samples and other small gifts from companies”
    – Not declaring an affiliation (financial membership) to the organisation one is defending in an academic article could be construed, by some people, as dishonest. At the very least it smacks of non-transparency. I’ll leave that one there, shall I? Also, nice attempt at a Tu quoque. But, you know.

  10. M smith says:

    Brian, another nice straw man.

  11. Martin says “….Ken McLeod did not send me any comments on “Debating vaccination”. I interpreted that as indicating that he could not find anything substantially wrong with my analysis of his complaint.”

    What a giant leap, what an arrogant assumption of my position. Martin made this assumption without consulting me, he published his diatribe without waiting for my comment. Martin made no attempt to remind me that he was approaching a deadline; a simple reminder would have been a courtesy, something that Martin deliberately avoided.

    For the record, I was not “indicating that he could not find anything substantially wrong with my (Martin’s) analysis of his (my) complaint.”

    The extra time I was taking was due to the inordinate amount of work I had to put in to developing a response, due to the inordinate amount of downright misinterpretation and misrepresentation. I was later horrified that I had put so much time and work into developing a response only to find that Martin had published without waiting for it.

    That is why I regard Martin as a dishonest washed –up academic who needs to raise his profile by riding on the coat-tails of someone else’s campaign, so much so that I will have nothing to do with him.

    • bmartin77 says:

      Dear Ken,

      It seems there was a communication breakdown. You were working on your reply to “Debating vaccination” and expecting me to wait for it. I assumed, because you said it would take you a week or so, that nothing was forthcoming. With the benefit of hindsight, you might have told me it was taking you longer than a month and I might have checked with you before publishing.

      It’s a shame for your work to go to waste. You’re welcome to send it to me or to post it online, as you choose.


      • There was no communication breakdown. You took the opportunity to misrepresent me in a most duplicitous manner. You claim to have made an assumption of my position, and I say again that this was the most outrageous arrogance. I won’t waste any more time on you because I don’t deal with liars.

    • bmartin77 says:

      Dear Ken,

      I don’t know whether you ever wrote a reply to “Debating vaccination”. There are two main possibilities. The first is that you never wrote one. The second is that you wrote one but, in the past two years, have not posted it.

      You have continued to claim that “Debating vaccination” has inadequacies but have failed to produce any evidence. Why not? I presume because you don’t have a strong case.

      There’s an easy way to prove me wrong: publish your critique.


  12. Rohan Gaiswinkler says:

    Brian Martin approaches this issue like a magician rather than an academic. His trick is to turn a crank conspiracy theorising organisation, and public menace, into a legitimate protest group. How does he do this? Like a magician it’s all about framing the view for his audience. Inconvenient facts are obscured with his own stage curtain. Will he discuss the substantial issue of the comparative public health risks / benefits of vaccination versus non-vaccination? No. This, apparently, is outside his area of interest (and expertise, one can presume). What concerns him rather is only the activities of pro-vaccination activists, and where these activities can be framed as the illegitimate exercise of power by the medical establishment against dissenting, free-thinking individuals.

    So… multiple complaints have been made against AVN with various statutory bodies. And historically, multiple litigation proceedings have also made against a variety of protest groups here in Australia and elsewhere where the design of the action is not to win such cases on their merits, but rather to tie up the adversary in expensive and time consuming legal proceedings (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation or SLAPPs)**.

    Now to complete the trick: TA-DAAA… Brian Martin waves his magic wand and… HEY PRESTO… the complaints against AVN are SCAPPs. You will note that Brian Martin has not made the case that these complaints are SCAPPs (vexatious) using factual detail. That would be because he doesn’t have facts to support his case. What he has instead is a rather casual and impressionistic similarity between SCAPPs and the complaints against AVN. The AVN is now re-framed as a citizen’s protest group on the receiving end of nasty vexatious SCAPPs. The small and legitimate David taking one for the community from the big and nasty Goliath medical establishment.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a magic trick.

    **[A recent example in Australia is the “Gunns 20” case.]

  13. Brian, I would like to lay down a challenge for you. The President of the AVN is fond of saying “do your own research”. I would like you to take that advice. I would like you to research the words written by the AVN President over the past three years. You have plenty of reading to keep you busy, with her prolific blog posts and Facebook posts. I would like you to look through that material and honestly determine for yourself whether the AVN are a citizens protest group or whether they are a loosely cobbled together group of misinformed people who are being led by a person who has shown themselves to be economical with the truth and in possession of a broken moral compass. Don’t just take the word of your good friend the President of the AVN – do your own research. Then come back here tell me that you realise that you have been wrong.

  14. Mike Mayfield says:

    I look forward to John Cunningham providing references to articles in which the physician authors have declared, as conflicts of interests, receiving free pens, magazines, drug samples and other small gifts from companies.

    I have to submit that you’d look pretty silly almost anywhere in the world seriously declaring a free pen as a conflict of interest. But it’d be a source of great amusement for all to see it declared in the relevant journal article, nevertheless.

  15. bmartin77 says:

    If someone is writing an article about vaccination, is it a conflict of interest to be a member of a skeptics organisation? If so, should this be declared? If so, is there anyone who has ever declared being a member of a skeptics organisation as being a potential COI?

    • Grow up, Brian. You’re a 65 year old man, for goodness sake. Your claim here is a false equivocation. You didn’t just write “an article about vaccination”. You wrote a journal article (in part) defending an organisation of which you are a financial supporter and member. You did not declare any affiliations with this organisation. For the purposes of your writings, you did not need to financially support, nor join, the AVN. Also, to argue, as you have in the past, that you needed to join to have access to AVN misinformation is disingenuous in the extreme.

      If you are going to continue commenting here, then, do so without resorting to fallacious arguments.

      • bmartin77 says:

        Dear Hank,

        You’ve said more than once that “Dealing with dilemmas in health campaigning” defends the AVN. What’s the basis for your claim? Can you point to specific places in the text where I’ve defended the AVN?

        My article is written from the point of view of mainstream health promotion professionals and advocates who may encounter various dilemmas in their campaigning efforts. I used vaccination and the AVN as examples. To me, and to colleagues who have read the article, this is quite different from defending the AVN.


    • Mike Mayfield says:


      1. No

      That makes your other two questions disappointingly irrelevant. However given that:

      a) The whole idea of “sceptics organisations” is to differentiate between evidence which is scientifically convincing and evidence which is not convincing or is outright pseudoscientific, and to raise public awareness of these issues, and

      b) Prominent public sceptics include such people as Dr Carl Sagan, Dr Phil Plait, Dr Eugenie Scott, Professor Richard Dawkins, Professor Stephen Jay Gould, Professor Massimo Pigliucci, among numerous others who have contributed enormously to scientific understanding and public education,

      then I would think being a member of a “sceptics organisation” would be more likely to be seen as almost an honour, when publishing research, rather than a “conflict”.

      I don’t understand how you can be so well educated yet come up with something so ridiculous.

  16. Mike Mayfield says:

    …….and just to be clear about what I’m saying above, the AVN does not qualify as a “sceptics group”! A group of incredibly paranoid individuals who generally think that the entire world is conspiring to kill them or make them sick, yes. A group which expresses rational scepticism, no. So being associated with such a group and writing journal articles about vaccination is an entirely different matter to being in a genuine sceptics group and writing the same type of article. Chalk and cheese.

  17. bmartin77 says:

    Thanks for spelling out your perspective, Mike. As I understand your position, whether membership in an organisation counts as a conflict of interest depends on whether the organisation subscribes to rational beliefs. Correct?

    This criterion for what does and doesn’t count as a conflict of interest is the most original I’ve seen for ages. Can you point me to any editorial policies, or commentaries on COI, that express this view? Have you seen it applied to other issues, such as research on climate change, fluoridation or parapsychology? Or is your criterion especially tailored for the vaccination issue?


  18. bmartin77 says:

    Dear Hank,

    On the surface, the claim that “the AVN” believes in a global conspiracy involving mind control chips is absurd. To make a reasonable stab at backing up such a claim, I would expect good evidence that (1) the AVN as an organisation subscribes to this conspiracy (for example through a formal statement) or (2) most AVN members believe in the conspiracy (as revealed, for example, via a survey) or (3) nearly all AVN core members clearly believe in it (as shown, for example, by open declarations).

    This sort of evidence is lacking. Instead, all you and others have offered is links and other indirect evidence that just a single person – a key one, to be sure – believes in this conspiracy. In the face of denials, this is, to my mind, exceedingly weak evidence. I was being polite to call the conspiracy claim “unsupported”. It is better described as absurd. The claim is transparently an attempt to discredit the AVN by attributing outlandish beliefs to it.

    Therefore I am not surprised, Hank, that you do not want to test your claims with independent experts in conspiracy theories.


    • Again, you say “absurd”. I say, “no it’s not”. They linked to the conspiracy rubbish, not us. You never address that bit. Meh. Have you heard of the No True Scotsman Fallacy?

    • What is it with Brian Martin that amongst all the things SAVN has ever said about the AVN the mind-control chips and other nonsenses that they hypocritically entertain as valid notions were only ever mentioned as one in a very long list of absurdities that they subscribe to.

      Mr Martin has jumped on these oddities and ignored everything else in SAVN.

      SAVN never said that they were central to the AVN core philosophy. That’s Mr Martin saying that. SAVN has always mentioned them as part of the spectrum of nonsense that AVN will embrace in their ideological pursuits, and this is especially true of Ms Meryl Dorey.

      I don’t understand why he bothers defending such an ideologically extremist group as the AVN. Surely he’s got better things to do than cherrypick bits out of an anti-science, anti-medicine, anti-establishment radical group like the AVN and paint this ridiculous picture of them being noble David versus the brutish Goliath.

  19. No honest academic could ever believe the AVN needs any help whatsoever in attributing outlandish beliefs to itself.

  20. @advodiaboli says:

    bmartin77 writes:
    “The claim is transparently an attempt to discredit the AVN by attributing outlandish beliefs to it.”

    This conspiracy claim itself is pointless, irrelevant and of zero interest to critics of the AVN. A large volume of material reveals Ms. Dorey’s faux network for what it is. With respect Brian, I would note it is yourself who keeps bringing this silliness up with the aim of attributing a frivolous nature to the focus of SAVN.

    Fascinated by your forgiving nature toward Ms. Dorey’s tolerance of bizarre beliefs and those of her members, I decided to investigate and (even to my surprise) found it to be more substantiated than unsubstantiated. As Hank has already noted above:

    In my own recent critique of your piece I specifically note the pointlessness of this issue:

    “Amusingly [Brian Martin] again raises the silliness of Dorey’s obsession with global conspiracies as an apparent fiction invented by her critics. After a frustrating exchange of emails over a year ago I demonstrated that yes, in their own words the AVN do believe in vaccine delivered microchips and global culling. I’m quite surprised he saw fit to republish such a ridiculously irrelevant aspect to this ongoing saga.”

    I might venture that to smear SAVN with a tendency to latch onto such absurd conspiracy beliefs makes for a preemptive strike on SAVN’s use of “conspiracy beliefs”, to explain those more commonly used by Dorey, Wilyman and others.

    Judy Wilyman continually cites the present R&D structure of vaccines, along with identities involved, as partial cause to assert a raft of unproven claims. This is reliant upon an unproven conspiracy. Yet not the type of extreme conspiracy as mentioned above.

    I see little reason to be lured into any more distraction because of your continued exaggeration and misrepresentation of what SAVN focuses upon.

    • Indeed. I needed to update Brian’s paragraph to more accurately convey his weighty omissions. It is quite startling that such a narrow focus has been preconceived by Brian. One would think he has deliberately left out the bulk of what Stop the AVN actually does, in favour of concentrating on less common events that appear, dare I say, cherry-picked for a desired effect. So, here is the revised version:

      “The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) – a citizens’ anti-vaccination group critical of conventional vaccination policy, and the demonstrable proof of the safety and efficacy of immunisation – advocates informed choice by parents. The AVN is similar in orientation to other anti-vaccination groups (Hobson-West, 2007). In 2009, a pro-vaccination group, Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN), was set up with the stated goal of shutting down the AVN. SAVN and others hostile to the demonstrable misinformation and public health threat posed by the AVN, have used a range of techniques, including, but not limited to: making unsupported claims (which are supported by instances where the AVN have directly linked to conspiracy theories about microchips delivered via vaccines), about the AVN believing in a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips; making derogatory comments about AVN members who have sent repulsive emails to a grieving family who lost their baby to Whooping Cough; publicising that the AVN instigated and continues to enable the vilification of this same grieving family; publicising where the AVN have mocked the Chicken Pox death of a child; publicising where the AVN and its leader, Meryl Dorey, have blamed vaccines for childhood deaths by assault, jokingly coining the term “Shaken Maybe Syndrome”, in defending baby killers; publishing an overwhelming amount of literature, daily, which shows that the AVN and its leader Meryl Dorey do not understand (or deliberately misunderstand) immunology, epidemiology, basic biology, or fundamental arithmetic; publicising when Meryl Dorey has called childhood vaccination “the rape of a child…with full penetration”; publicising the clear and present public health threat posed by the AVN and its leader Meryl Dorey, who advocate the use of homeopathy in treating and preventing infectious disease, in lieu of immunisation, as well as the use of banned skin corrosives in lieu of evidence-based cancer treatments; publicising the constant barrage of vitriol from the AVN and its leader Meryl Dorey, aimed at public health professionals; publicising how Meryl Dorey and an AVN member accused the coroner of a girl’s cancer death of a cover-up, and the father of being paid to keep quiet about this cover-up, to maintain their incorrect and callous claim that this girl died due to the HPV vaccine; publicising how the AVN and its leader Meryl Dorey dishonesty refer to Measles and Pertussis as diseases which “you didn’t die from thirty years ago, and you’re not going to do die from today”, despite the clear evidence of deaths in easily accessible literature; making dozens of complaints to government bodies such as the Health Care Complaints Commission citing in detail the evidence proving that the AVN and its leader Meryl Dorey are indeed a public health menace due to misinformation provided to parents who believe that the AVN is a genuine and honest broker of immunisation information, who refuses to admit it is an anti-vaccination organisation despite all evidence to the contrary; and posting online the names and contact details of advertisers in the AVN’s magazine Living Wisdom, which were first published online by the AVN, (inviting harassment [citation required which is not a blog post by Meryl Dorey]) (Dorey, 2011). These activities have scared some AVN members, discouraging them from participation, as these members appear to lack the courage of their convictions in supporting an anti-vaccination health menace to begin with, and indeed some advertisers were shocked and incensed to find out the real agenda of the AVN.”

      No probs.

  21. bmartin77 says:

    Dear Hank et al.

    I proposed earlier that each of us could collect our writings about the AVN-belief-in-a-global-conspiracy matter and have them sent to one or more independent individuals – such as scholars who have written about conspiracy theories – for them to assess our claims.

    Peer review seems a fair way to address our disagreement. What’s your reservation?


    • What’s your reservation in including the entirety of the work SAVN does, instead of focusing on the “AVN-belief-in-a-global-conspiracy matter”, which was instigated by the fact that the AVN posted links to “global-conspiracy” vaccines/microchipping beliefs, Brian? It is amusing that you continue to focus on this single point, for which there will always be disagreement, instead of answering questions about your own cherry-picking, done for the sole purpose of discrediting SAVN (the very thing which appears to be your bone of contention). If you are going to continue to ignore this, then, find another forum.

      Last warning. Piss or get off the pot.

    • I any case, Brian, and you forget to mention this part, along with everything else you conveniently forget to mention, the text of the SAVN Facebook page, the cherry on your pie to which you cling so heartily, focusing on the early SAVN claim which stated “They believe that vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips into every man, woman and child and that the ‘illuminati’ plan a mass cull of humans”, was changed after your first article in the Journal of Living Wisdom. You see, people read that and agreed that it was inaccurate, and it was changed. It was changed a long time ago.

      The hide of some people, eh? Admitting that what was written was wrong, and changing it because it was not completely accurate.

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