Three things

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.

For Dana

posted @ Monday, November 29, 2010 11:10 PM


Comments on this entry:

# re: Three things

Left by reasonablehank at 11/29/2010 11:21 PM
+1 on the tears of pride

+1 on the resolve

Some corners cannot be unturned.

# re: Three things

Left by Mick at 11/29/2010 11:22 PM
What's pleased me most about this TAM is what so many people seem to have taken away from it.

There's a renewed sense of purpose in the community, it seems, and I suspect that we'll see a surge of grassroots skeptical activism in this country as a result.

'tis an exciting time.

# re: Three things

Left by Maureen at 11/29/2010 11:26 PM
Sweet! I am looking forward to skepticamp. Hopefully, I can drag my daughter along. I remember that girl getting up and talking about her experience of whooping cough.

Did you get her name - because she should speak at skepticamp

# re: Three things

Left by arthwollipot at 11/29/2010 11:43 PM

My palms hurt.

# re: Three things

Left by Daniel Sinnott at 11/30/2010 1:13 AM
What a weekend

Kudos for your efforts mate - you were the first sceptic I met last weekend and I was most impressed, not only with the universe song, but with everything I saw you involved in.

I'm taking a lot away from TAMOz too, the activism workshop really fired me up and I intend to get active and am intent on forming a sceptics group in Armidale in the new year and helping out where I can on the campaigns of other groups.

I was reflecting today that I haven't had so much fun and been so constantly joyus since I was a kid ... this is what the happy clappers must get all the time, and we don't need to pretend anything!

I'll certainly be making arrangements for Skepticamp when dates are set and will offer my rather meager services if required.

# re: Three things

Left by fourgirls at 11/30/2010 6:49 AM
I'm with reasonablehank! I'm there for the long haul too. It's amazing what SAVN has achieved in a short time.

# re: Three things

Left by shellity at 11/30/2010 8:47 AM
I'm not ashamed to admit I'm standing in front of my computer, clapping. Nicely said.

# re: Three things

Left by Dave The Happy Singer at 11/30/2010 11:43 AM
Well said!

I would like to be the Donkey to your Shrek.

# re: Three things

Left by Davo at 11/30/2010 2:24 PM
Well done SAVN, please to watch you all in action :) Keep up the good work Jason
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