I’ve been meaning to cover this topic for a couple of weeks. Given the recent Media Watch coverage of WIN News, and their inclusion of an anti-vaccination campaigner in a news segment, I thought now was as good a time as any.
During the recent news coverage of changes to childcare immunisation requirements in NSW, there were a few segments on various channels, and newspaper articles, investigating the possible detriment the new legislation could have on unimmunised kids, and their early childhood education. Non-immunising parents were interviewed, as well as childcare industry stakeholders. There is nothing wrong with this. Given that this is an issue about access to education, I don’t have a problem with those who are likely to be affected being asked for their opinion.
As it turns out, the legislation is quite weak. Nothing has really changed except that childcare centres can now be fined for not ensuring they have full immunisation records of all attendees. This is already federal legislation. Vaccine refusers and religious objectors are still allowed to enroll. They just need to provide all the paperwork they were required to provide anyway.
But, getting back to the media aspect of this coverage. One of my bugbears is when a member of the public passes themselves off as just any old “parent”, “mum”, or “dad” who is concerned about something. I don’t wholly blame the media when one slips past. In the case of anti-vaccinationists, it is often the case that they will deliberately not declare any specific, related activism or affiliation to the journalist. I know this is the case with anti-vaccination activist Anna Stancombe, who recently appeared in the Caboolture News, on this very same issue of childcare access. The story does not appear to have made it online. Stancombe did not declare to the journalist that she is an anti-vaccination campaigner, with her own anti-vaccination Facebook page.
So, getting back to Tasha David. On May 19 2013, David gave a few interviews to various outlets, on the subject of the childcare changes (which aren’t really changes). Here is a still from Channel 9 News in Sydney:
Here is the whole segment:
On May 16 David also gave an interview to conspiracy internet podcast, Fair Dinkum Radio. Fair dinkum cobber. Here is David’s preface to the interview:
Our story in a nutshell is basically we had 8 children, 6 of them vaccinated to varying stages and 2 completely unvaccinated. Out of the 6; 2 were diagnosed with Autism and severe Global developmental delay, 1 with Autism and severe language disorder, 1 with a severe language disorder, 1 with ADHD and 1 with mood swings and food allergies. They also suffered from Eczema, Asthma, Gastrointestinal disorders, Urinary Tract infections, Psoriasis, Ear infections, food allergies and chemical sensitivities. All of them have also been to hospital for various ailments. The two youngest unvaccinated children have none of their siblings disorders, have never had antibiotics and never been admitted to hospital. [34 minute video at bottom of post]
We see this so often. I can’t blame David for looking for answers. I can’t blame her for thinking she has found those answers. But, David is someone who has crossed the gulf from misled to misleading, and she is now taking it as far as she can. None of the conditions listed above are linked to immunisation. I’m not going to get into a discussion about that here as it has been done, and done, and done before. What is very telling is that at the start of her interview David notes that one of the first books she read, on her search, was Evidence of Harm, by David Kirby. Well, there you go. She never stood a chance.
So here we have a “parent” who thinks she has 6/8 vaccine injured children (she doesn’t), who has now taken to the media to spread her message (previously she has also written two blog posts for the AVN).
I have some questions for the media who interviewed her: did David declare to you that she is a sitting committee member of Australia’s most prominent and vocal anti-vaccination organisation, the Australian Vaccination Network? How did you source David for her interviews? Was she presented to you by the AVN, and did the AVN declare that David is a sitting committee member who mistakenly believes that vaccines caused her children’s conditions? These sorts of disclosures are important, so that readers and viewers are not misled into thinking that it’s just any old parent, mum, or dad giving their reckons. If an activist is presenting their reckons, then, the audience needs to know that they are an activist, especially when they are in one of the driving seats of an organisation directly related to the subject matter. She’s on The Board, as it were.
Enquiring minds want to know.
Here is the full Fair Dinkum interview. Leon Pittard immediately illuminates what it is all about for him and his fellow travelers. It’s all about conspiracy, cartels, freedom warriors and the like. What I wasn’t expecting was the same sort of callousness as previously exhibited by Meryl Dorey and her grubby ilk. I guess he is just as grubby and callous as his friends:
The corporate media continue to wheel out people whose children have died supposedly because they were not vaccinated.
Update: June 11 2013
I had forgotten about this video, from November 26 2012. Thanks to a friend for the reminder. The 9 News video above is not the first time 9 News have gone to David for her reckons. Unfortunately, when the excellent Science of Immunisation booklet was released, last year, 9 News thought it was a good idea to allow David to have the first and last words. Incredible stuff. Just a mum, sharing her opinions up against evidence based medicine. Nowhere in the segment is it stated that David is an AVN committee member. Nowhere are David’s claims debunked. Nowhere.
I hope 9 News weren’t told about David’s affiliations. That would be much better for them.
I find it outrageous that a committee member of the AVN is presenting themselves as “just another parent”. Those journalists should hang their heads in shame. And as for Tasha David? Well, it sounds like she has a lot on her plate with the medical issues her family is facing. But deceiving the public is not going to advance her cause at all.
Yes, well, in the context of these interviews I do think Tasha is just a parent who does not vaccinate as she makes no mention of the AVN. I also think it’s clear she’s an activist by merely going public with her story. I’d say that It’s her personal experience driving her activism and being an AVN committee member is just a part of that. I don’t think she’s deceived anyone.
Should Ch 9 have declared her position with the AVN? The interviews do not mention the AVN at all, and Tasha doesn’t publicly (that I can see) advertise her role with the AVN, nor does she receive financial gain from this role. So, given that I believe Tasha is driven by her experiences and not the AVN, and that no mention of the AVN was made in these interviews, then maybe I have to let Ch 9 off the hook in not declaring her position.
However, Ch 9 (and the rest of the media) should just bloody stop presenting these anecdotal stories when covering important health issues. There are plenty of other families with evidence-based reasons for not vaccinating who could have been contacted for comment about the new laws.
I disagree. The AVN has a long history of dishonest behaviour which puts into question any statement made by representatives of the organisation. People have the right to know that the person making the statements has a financial vested interest in the subject.
So when they interview peter Costello about the budget he is “just a dad” and not an ex treasurer?
When they interview Bernie Fraser about Interest rates it doesn’t matter that he is an ex governor of the reserve bank, because he also has his own mortgage?
I pondered this one for a while, Hank, and I sympathise with Christine. David’s position on the AVN does not alter the fact she is also a concerned, if misinformed, parent. Is she remunerated by the AVN in any way? If so, I might think differently.
If the story had been specifically about the AVN, then her affiliation would be important.
Then again, I could accept a “conflict of interest” argument on the basis that the AVN apparently profits from spreading vaccine concerns.
I understand WIN TV is an affiliate for Nine. Could this be a “false balance” problem that is endemic in that whole organization on this particular topic?
They weren’t debunked because they can’t be debunked. You can’t prove vaccines didn’t cause my siblings or my own mental or health issues. Likewise, we can’t prove with absolute certainty that they did. What we can say is that we believe the likelihood that they did is high, given the timing of our regression and the fact that my two youngest unvaccinated siblings have none of our issues and are developing completely normally. Which hey could be completely coincidental (could be), but still, we aren’t willing to take that chance any more and we should be free to be able to say no to vaccines if we so choose. As should everyone else.
It’s kind of hard seeing your mother’s reputation put down by others on the net, though.
You make the claim. You need to prove it. There is no proof that vaccines cause autism (or any of the other conditions your mother claims).
“You can’t prove vaccines didn’t cause my siblings or my own mental or health issues.” Look up the logical fallacy, Argument from ignorance.
The rest of your comment is another fallacy. Look up Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
The only person affecting your mother’s reputation is her. I’m not putting her down. I’m saying she is wrong. And she is therefore wrong to spread her beliefs – which she is more than welcome to hold personally, however wrong – to the rest of our community. She should also be up front in all media appearances that she is a committee member of an anti-vaccination organisation, and not just any old “mother” or “parent”.
How much good could she do if she wasn’t peddling anti-vaccination misinformation? So much wasted energy and talent.
The issue is you are trying to make a statistical case out of a tiny subset. So no it doesn’t make likelihood high.
In fact quite the opposite.
It is well established that the conditions have a genetic component. So having a number within one family does have a high likelihood,
It is well established that vaccines do not cause these ailments. But lets say there is a *small* chance that they do. You need to ask yourself what is the likelihood that this *small* risk would affect 6 (or 4 or whatever) people within the same family? The odds are simply astronomical.
So we have two competing sources for the ailments. One is a small risk from a vaccine, the other is an inherited genetic risk.
Which one of those sources is more likely (to use your own analysis) to cause the same ailment within many members of the same family?
Sorry but the facts here are simple.
The science has established beyond any doubt that vaccines have no link to these conditions. The science has also made a genetic compenonet quite likely. So your family situation actually supports the premise of genetic component is more than vaccines.
Ah, that magical phrase “given the timing of our regression”. Repeat after me: “correlation is not causation” x100. And causation has been checked for. It correlates in time for the same reason that having 2 birthday candles does; it’s about that age, if not earlier, that autism shows up.
Your mother claims that all of her vaccinated children have auto-immune disorders. Yet none of the disorders that she cites are auto-immune disorders. If your mother chooses to put herself out there publicly she (and you) can’t complain about people disagreeing with her.
Yes, it must be hard to see your mothers reputation put down by others, and i’m sorry you have to see that. However, you need to appreciate that when your mother makes a decision to mislead people as she has done, making statements that have no basis in fact, this is what is going to occur.
There have been plenty of studies trying to link vaccinations to a range of conditions, but not a single study has managed to do it. What you have is an opinion by an uneducated woman based on circumstance. We cannot comment on your situation as we are not in possession of the facts, and I wouldn’t want to anyway but what we do know is that vaccines don’t cause autism and we know that your mother should have been honest about her links to the AVN when she spoke on camera with the reporter. In failing to disclose the information, she has created this situation whereby it now looks like she is being deliberately disengenous about the subject.
There is a woman in Australia called Stephanie Messenger, she wrote a book called “Melanies Marvelous Measles”. She claims that her son died of vaccine injury and she too uses the excuse that her unvaccinated children are fine. When you look into her however, what you see is that her unvaccinated children do not have the same father, and there are other factors that come into play such as the fact that the child died of a genetic disease passed to him by his father. Anti vaxers are well known for their dishonesty and we judge them by their behaviour. In your mothers instance the omission of her vested interest puts her honesty into question.
I hope you can understand that.
Jourdahn and let’s transpose one of your statements with an alternative “possible cause”
“You can’t prove INHERITED GENETICS didn’t cause my siblings or my own mental or health issues. Likewise, we can’t prove with absolute certainty that they did.”
The difference is science has proven genetics is linked to all your family ailments & given not every child in a family will inherit all the same genes it provides a logical reason why some children in a family would inherit varying numbers & combinations of adverse genes and thusday some children in a family will be severely affected, others mildly and some not at all.
Signs related to disorders in the aspergers/ autism spectrum tend to show when a child reaches (or doesn’t reach) certain age related milestones this co-incidentally is at some of the times within the immunization program such as toddlerhood & early childhood.
The clear evidence is that when you look at a whole population (not one family) the percentage of children with conditions on the spectrum who are vaccinated vs not vaccinated is the same. If vaccines caused it you would expect the vaccinated group to have a higher incidence than the non-vaccinated group – but that’s not the case.
Your mother is clutching at straws and the sad thing is you and your siblings will in all likelihood not vaccinate your children, when in reality what you should be doing in is having a family awareness that you may have a genetic predisposition to some genetic issues & watching for them in the early childhood of your own children so you can seek early intervention.
Pingback: Australian Vaccination Network being “investigated for fraud”. | reasonablehank
Pingback: Andi Lew. Just a mum? On the media interviewing anti-vaccinationists. | reasonablehank
Let’s now welcome Tasha, just announced as new President of the AVSN.
Pingback: Anti-vaccine president Tasha David glorifies dangerous health advice which lands toddler in hospital | reasonablehank