Just over two years ago – in April 2013 – I wrote my first ever blog post on the anti-vaccinationism which infects the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia. It was in that post that I first covered anti-vaccine CAA leaders such as Tony Croke and Joe Ierano; and we met miracle-man – more on that at a later date – Rob Hutchings, along with Nimrod Weiner and Todd Gignac. I first presented the wonderful pie-chart – created by clever-clogs friend, Liam – which gave us a clear, yet, awful visual representation of just how much chiropractic was represented within the professional membership of the ethically-challenged, disreputable, anti-vaccination pressure group, the Australian Vaccination Network.
Another of the chiropractors we met in that post is Jason Parkes who, surprisingly, after all this time, still has no conditions or undertakings on his AHPRA registration. Go figure. Parkes is a CAA member who first came to our attention as a supporter of the AVN and its then-president, the empathetically-challenged Meryl Dorey. All of the following comments were made by Parkes on the anti-vaccination Facebook page of the AVN.
This comment, which no longer appears anywhere on the internet, it seems, is one which caught our eyes very early on over at Stop the Australian Vaccination Network. Parkes ridiculed the Gardasil vaccine as the “skank” vaccine. Delightful. We were lucky to catch this last vestige of this comment’s existence:
On October 3 and 4 2010 the AVN posted arguing that informed consent does not happen in the clinical setting, especially in regards to immunisation. On October 4 and 5 Parkes backed up the AVN stating that patients rarely remember what medications they are on, and that therefore informed consent is unlikely given the amount of patients a doctor sees in any given day. Parkes also states that no one would take medication if they were aware of the side-effects. Lazy fear-mongering seems easy for this registered health practitioner. Incidentally, “Roland Bollinger”, the commenter conversing with Parkes in this image, is the AVN’s protected troll, Johanna Holland/Nicole Johnson. Lovely company they keep, indeed:
I don’t know about you, but, every doctor I have seen has explained serious side-effects to me and informed me of any other side-effects which I may experience. Then the dispensing pharmacist does the same, only in greater detail. I have found that, like anti-vaccinationists sermonising on what happens during an immunisation event, chiropractors sermonising on the details of a doctor’s visit are just as poorly informed and arrogant.
On November 4 2010, Parkes declared his ignorance of the Australian constitution in relation to medical conscription, confusing the pertinent section with some vague reference to the enforcement of compulsory immunisation. That’s not what the section is about. Section 51 (xxiiiA) refers to the authorisation of civil conscription of doctors and dentists as being unlawful:
(xxiiiA) the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;
As an aside, Parkes is not alone in his poor understanding of Section 51 (xxiiiA). Anti-vaccinationists – like Michael O’Neill of the new anti-vaccine political party, Involuntary Medication Objectors Party – around the nation are currently misusing and abusing the same section in their national protests, regardless of being corrected many times.
On November 4 2010, Parkes denigrates evidence-based medicine as a religion, and vaccination as this religion’s baptism; the obscure Latin terminology is depicted as a secret code in his pejorative description. Incidentally, the missing commenter to whom Parkes replies “Haleujha sister!” is the AVN’s protected troll – Johanna Holland/Nicole Johnson – commenting as “Candice Lawrence”. It is fine company they keep, indeed:
“CL”: Very true, Jason. To your list I would add persecution of minorities who reject the doctrine
On December 3 2010 Parkes made what has become his meme-able catch-cry of bogan chiropractors around the world whilst discussing the effects of toxins on mitochondria with not-a-medical-doctor Rob Hutchings. Vaccines cause autism, they are arguing, along with the AVN; it’s only the level of bullshit injected directly into the bloodstream, generating enough heat for a smokescreen, which is at issue (I think?):
All this mitochondrial bullshit is just a smoke screen
On July 4 2011, Parkes identifies himself as a subluxationist chiropractor by – almost – using the subluxationist terminology, “removing interference to the nevous system”:
On July 28 2011, Parkes and Joe Ierano were discussing and denigrating journalist Jane Hansen and her article on chiropractic and anti-vaccinationism. Ierano showed his displeasure of Jane Hansen by making an awful commentary on her appearance. Parkes piped up with another of his memorable commentaries on chiropractic’s aversion to immunisation:
Of course we don’t support vaccination, it’s the biggest medical sham since blood letting!
On August 21 2011, Parkes again denigrated evidence-based medicine with a Big Pharma shill gambit; apparently mental health checks, planned for children by the government, in consultation with medical professionals, were only a plot to force medication on a growing market:
On August 30 2011, Parkes declared that immunisation “risks outweigh the benefits”:
On September 8 2011, Parkes sourced his anti-vaccination misinformation, on the MMR vaccine and aborted foetuses, from Meryl Dorey. Clearly this information was sourced to be presented or used as evidence by Parkes, a registered health practitioner:
On March 6 2012, Parkes declares that all pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, are “snake oil”:
On March 21 2012, Parkes asserts that the “Spanish Flue” was caused by a “drop in living standards” and not the H1N1 virus. This is classic germ theory denialism. Oddly, Parkes then cites the effectiveness of antibiotics in the very next sentence:
So, we have an anti-vaccine, anti-medication, fear-mongering registered health practitioner who denigrates the medical profession at the drop of a hat; a subluxationist chiropractor who some would allege is possessed of a flawed understanding of physiology, immunology, history, vaccinology, government policy, the Australian constitution, toxicology, theology, medical administration, pharmacology, risk assessment, germ theory, herpetological unguents, Iberian chimneys, mitochondrial bullshit, and smokescreens. We have seen one of the most accurate illustrations I have seen – still, to this day – of the arrogant swagger of the anti-vaccine CAA chiropractor we have come to know, oh so well. Indeed, it was Parkes – along with Rob I am the Messiah Hutchings – who first tingled my skeptical antennae into investigating this strange innate hubris, further.
With all of the above at the front of our minds it is with some alarm and disbelief that – should Parkes’ claims be accurate – we are informed that third year Coffs Harbour medical students have been sent for allied health rotations through the anti-vaccine, subluxationist chiropractic business of Jason Parkes: Coffs Harbour is the closest “teaching hospital” to Parkes’ business.
The following is taken from a closed chiropractic Facebook group, called Chiropractic Success Stories. The group has 3500 members. As such I do not believe that the group can claim any realistic sense of privacy. I am also publishing these images in the public interest, as I did in 2013 with the sneaky chiropractic hospital breaches. The members of the group are very aware that their comments are not private, referring to the presence of “trolls” in the group. Examples of the utter madness which pass for chiropractic anecdotal evidence in the group have already been published on the Facebook page, Things Quack Chiropractors Say. Just one deranged example features Rob He IS the Messiah Hutchings claiming to have cured deafness and coma. I am serious:
On July 10 2015, in Chiropractic Success Stories, Parkes declares that medical students have been rotated through his business for the previous two months:
I have had 3rd year medical students observing in my practice over the past 2 months. It has been a rewarding experience, 2 out of the 14 had been to a chiropractor before, the rest knew very little. So I took them through the basics, a few lights switched when they realised there is a link between the mechanical function of the spine, the nervous system and homeostasis. When they saw me adjust patients for the first time there was a mix if astonishment and fascination. I ended up adjusting the students as well. Hopefully they will remember the experience when they get into practice. One thing though, I was amazed how mentally exhausted I was from having to articulate everything instead of just thinking and doing.
An exalted Rob Hutchings asks how this was possible. I will wager strongly that he’s not alone:
That’s a frickin’ awesome idea! How’d you get them to come into your practice to begin with?
Disturbingly, on July 11, Parkes outlines how it came to be that third year medical students were being sent to an anti-vaccine subluxationist chiropractor with an itchy trigger finger for dissing immunisation and evidence-based medicine. Parkes claims that two of his customers are specialists at the hospital; one of whom made it happen as part of the medical students’ allied health rotation:
I have a couple of specalists from the hospital as patients and one asked me if I would have students as part of their allied health rotation. So we teed it up. Contact your nearest teaching hospital and see if they would be keen to send students to you, it is highly likely they will as they are looking for such placements.
I don’t really need to add any more to the above. Personnel at the medical school will be just as horrified to see the evidence in this post as we are. We may be hearing more about this unfortunate set of circumstances; but, hopefully the medical students involved learned exactly what happens in an anti-vaccine chiropractic business, if Parkes’ account is accurate.
Image courtesy of the Super Shooper
Update August 11 2015
A leading university has launched an investigation into why an anti-vaccination chiropractor, who has described pharmaceuticals as “snake oil”, has been providing placements to medical students.
Jason Parkes was apparently given the position with the University of NSW Rural Clinical School at Coffs Harbour a decade ago.
While the appointment lasted only a few years, the chiropractor started taking on third-year medical students in his practice this February as part of their allied health placement.
In 2011, after doctors had accused some chiropractors of undermining public health by supporting the anti-vax campaign group Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), Mr Parkes wrote defiantly in defence of anti-vaccination beliefs.
“Of course we don’t support vaccination, it’s the biggest medical sham since bloodletting!” he posted on the AVN’s Facebook site.
Six months later, Mr Parkes referred on Facebook to pharmaceutical drugs from “thalidomide to statins” as “snake oil” and claimed the 1918 flu pandemic was caused by lowered living standards, not the H1N1 virus.
He told Australian Doctor last week that around 20 students had been through his practice in total, including 14 students this semester.
The university said it was speaking with students currently on placement with Mr Parkes.
A spokesperson said the university was unaware of Mr Parkes’ background as a public supporter of the AVN.
Mr Parkes last week described some of his previous comments on vaccination as “debates” and banter, but also said that his Facebook account “may have been hacked” around the time of his “medical sham” comments in mid-2011.
“If someone has a different opinion on vaccines, then surely that shouldn’t be used as a point to exclude someone from being involved with their students? It’s like being Protestant and being told you can’t go to a Catholic school,” Mr Parkes said.
The chiropractor was adamant he had always been professional with the students and was not preaching anti-vaccination propaganda.
“The students observe me adjusting patients. I go through a normal chiropractic examination history. I go through X-rays and explain how that side of things works,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s no skin off my arse. I’m doing this voluntarily on my own time.
“So it would be the school’s loss, not mine [if the placements were discontinued].”
It is understood that the school, like others in rural areas, has struggled to find placements for its students particularly across allied health fields.
A University of NSW spokesperson said the chiropractor’s role was now under review.
“The … [school] was not aware of, and completely rejects, the anti-vaccination views expressed … by the practitioner,” he said.
Update August 17 2015
An anti-vaccination chiropractor has been “permanently terminated” from his role offering placements for rural medical students at the University of NSW.
Coffs Harbour-based chiropractor Jason Parkes has previously used Facebook to disparage pharmaceuticals as “snake oil” and vaccinations as the “biggest medical sham since bloodletting”.
He has also given public support to the anti-vaccination campaign group the Australian Vaccination Network.
Last week, it was revealed Mr Parkes had a longstanding association with the University of NSW Rural Clinical School that included providing monthly allied health placements to students.
The university said it had been completely unaware of his anti-vax beliefs.
The revelation prompted its faculty of medicine to launch an investigation into Mr Parkes’ involvement with the school.
“Student placements with the practitioner concerned have been permanently terminated,” a university spokesperson confirmed.
“A thorough review of all faculty student placements found this to be a local arrangement at the Coffs Harbour campus and was the only student placement with a chiropractor.”
The university said using chiropractors as a placement option was “completely against faculty policy”, but a spokesperson could not confirm details on when its curriculum committee had introduced the policy.
Mr Parkes said he remained hopeful students did not lose all opportunity to observe chiropractic practice.
“In the future, I’m sure they will put chiros back on again,” he said.
“We might just have to enter an agreement where we agree that vaccines are off the topic of discussion.”
Professor John Dwyer, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of NSW and founding president of Friends of Science in Medicine, believes medical students should be educated about what the public is being offered by alternative health practitioners.
But thinks it is a step too far for a school to expose them to “pseudoscience”.
“To spend precious working time in a practice to see bad medicine in actual practice is not defensible,” he says.
“Twenty years ago there wouldn’t have been the controversy that there is today because back then the majority of chiropractors were not offering pseudoscientific treatments to people claiming that they can help with everything from autism to asthma to bedwetting and depression.”