May 2010 Blog Posts

Meryl Dorey and the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle

Meryl Dorey, of the ever-inaccurately named Australian Vaccination Network, tweets this gem every so often from scheduled tweet service SocialOomph: Taken purely at face value, this tweet is almost true. Almost. You could almost imagine a similar version coming from a competent immunologist. "No vaccination is 100% effective 100% of the time. Even after you receive a vaccination, there may be circumstances in which you could develop a symptomatic infection". Thing is, that's not what Meryl is trying to get across, as you'll see from this screen cap of an email from Meryl herself:  Yes, Meryl really seems to believe, and has repeated on...

Letter to the State Library of Western Australia

Dear Mrs Allen,   I write to you with regard to a forthcoming seminar hosted at the State Library of WA on behalf of a group known as the "Australian Vaccination Network".   I would like to draw your attention, as no doubt a number of others have also done, to some facts around this group which should give the State Library of WA pause.   The AVN, and Mrs Meryl Dorey in particular, are fond of claiming the free-speech high-ground. Unfortunately, the right to free speech should not include the right to promulgate misinformation. The AVN are guilty of repeatedly supplying misinformation to members of...

It's "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"

And already Pakistan, in its confused, fundie-addled manner, has banned Facebook throughout the country. Frankly, I don't have a problem with this. Might quieten down some of the shrill bullshit that a subset of muslims are posting in response to this simple little cartoon exercise. Apologies for the low-quality piccie, by the way. All I have to hand right now is post-it notes and a webcam. More blog coverage here.

You didn’t die from it 30 years ago and you’re not going to die from it today.

Those words were spoken by Meryl Dorey, arch-antivaxer and chief fallacy-pusher of the Australian Vaccination Network, on Channel 7's "Sunday Night" programme. The segment was discussing measles and pertussis outbreaks here in Australia, and focused on the tragic death of little Dana McCaffery from pertussis. The non-factual basis of this quote is beyond question, however just for good measure, let's look at some mortality figures for measles and pertussis. First, let's see about 30 years ago. Here are some figures from the mid-1970s, a time when I, a 30-something, was making my first faltering steps into the world. The figures are from the US, and...

Monday Musical Madness... egocentrism edition

Aloha! Yes, it's me. Being drunk and stoopid on my new aNueNue Banjulele.   This is the kind of thing that happens after a few bottles of Coopers at my place. In other news, Skepticator is sitting at 16,70416 articles from 3523 feeds (yes, it updated as I was typing), and side-project land continues much as before, with SydneyPubGuide's new CMS largely ready to go and awaiting a new, flashy web 2.0 skin for the front-end development. Sydney Pub Guide is on Twitter, of course, so feel free to send me a tweet. A purely Atheist feed version of Skepticator is sitting on...

Monday Musical Madness arrives five and a quarter hours early...

... because I'm afraid I just couldn't wait. Today we have an act which I just could not hold off until tomorrow MUSICAL... TESLA COILS   This might be the greatest and nerdiest thing I've ever seen.

What could be better than being loved by god?

This is a paraphrase* of a post I came across today on Facebook. If I may, I'd like to address it. So, again: What could be better than being loved by god? Well, for one, having a biscuit. Having a biscuit is certainly better than being loved by a god. For one thing, you've got a biscuit.  Secondly, you can verify the existence of the biscuit. You can examine the biscuit with your senses, and tell that it's really there. You can touch it, see it, smell it, feel its texture and, ultimately, taste it. Yes, you can eat the biscuit. You can dunk the...

A Word On Faith

I engage with Christians, Muslims, Mormons and other sundry religionists online often. You might say I have a few years experience of these conversations under my belt, and if there's one thing this experience has taught me, it's that, ultimately, the final fallback of a religionist, when challenged, is "faith". Demanding evidence, rebutting claims and generally pushing for justification ultimately comes back, one way or another, to faith. It is, you might say, foundational. I'm pretty sure most religious folks would agree with me on this. So I figured I should post something about faith. Mark Crislip, the narrator of the excellent Quackcast...

Vaccination Saves Lives: Stop The Australian Vaccination Network
Say NO to the National School Chaplaincy Program