This weekend at TAM Australia, I did three things that will shape my skeptical year to come.
The first thing I did
was to sit on a panel with some prominent skeptics, and , in response to the question "What would you do in terms of activism if you were offered a budget?", declare, unplanned, that I would host a Sydney Skepticamp
within the next six months, were I given money to get it started.
It took mere seconds for the audience to start throwing in cash, Robin Hilliard hurling in an immediate $50 dollar note. Others followed with twenties, tens and even pocket change, pushing the budget to a few hundred dollars So this year I will host Sydney Skepticamp, and I will do it in conjunction and consultation with a small team of dedicated skeptics who I've discussed this with both at TAM and other events. And I'll do it again every year as long as I'm able to.
The second thing I did
was, on the same panel, to look into the eyes of a teenager from the Northern Beaches who'd suffered with whooping cough, and tell her that Stop The AVN were onto this and that it would NOT happen again.
I was quite serious about that one. This will not happen again if we have anything
to say about it.
Sydney's Northern Beaches are currently in the grip of a whooping cough mini-epidemic, and it's affecting both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. Stop The AVN will push for greater public awareness of pertussis vaccination, which wanes over time at a rate known to doctors (and activists) but largely unknown to the public. Pertussis can rip into an unboosted population like wildfire, placing everyone at risk. This. Should. Not. Happen. We will push for educational initiatives and vaccination drives, we will pressure the authorities, we will spread the word and we will harry the antivaxers at every turn. It will not happen again
. Vaccinate your kids, then vaccinate yourself
. Rinse. Repeat.
The third thing I did
, and possibly the most game-changing of the whole weekend, was to stand and applaud my hands raw as Stop The AVN, represented by Ken McLeod, Daniel Raffaele and Wendy Wilkinson, were awarded 2010 Skeptic Of The Year award in front of a massed crowd of TAM Australia. I'm fiercely proud of what we've achieved as a group, and I'm happy, proud even, to admit to shedding tears on several occasions as I reflect on what this rag-tag group has achieved.
What SAVN will achieve as we move forward, well, that remains to be seen, but even if the AVN goes away, many of the core group, myself included, are committed to the long haul. We'll morph, gradually, from a group solely dedicated to fighting Australian antivax rhetoric into a group fighting for public health awareness and education.
We will keep working, and we will not stop.
posted @ Monday, November 29, 2010 11:10 PM