Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Photos from Woodford

Vaccination Saves Lives: Stop The Australian Vaccination Network

I was at the Woodford Folk Festival to see Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network spin her web of delusion.  Here are my photos from the day, feel free to use any photographs with attribution to Phil Kent or Skeptimite. If you would like larger files please let me know @skeptimite or skeptimite AT gmail d0t c0m.

It doesn't take long to find the Woo in Woodford

Meryl on the schedule, no mention of Professor Suhrbier, who is a real star

 I wonder if Meryl bought one to protect her from the ebil septics
The Blue Lotus, our venue
 I love the funny signs around Woodfood. "this venue uses smoke, strobe and other hallucinogenic effects"
 AVN Propoganda prominently displayed. For the record, there was some pro-vax material on the table, apart from ours
 Some of the interesting characters of Woodfordia
 The propaganda table, with info on homeopathy, crystal healing and more
Orchid Essence, Essence of Angels, Crystal Light Healing
(no indication of how you get the essence out of an angel, gentle squeezing perhaps?)
 Our moderator was a local GP, whose name escapes me right now.
 I would love to live on Lamington Drive

 Is it a bird, is it a plane, oh yeh it is a plane!

This guy took my photo while I was talking with the press, so I took his photo. I did'nt mean to get such a bad shot, it was the best I got.
 My fave slide from the Professor
 Look what happens when you  vaccinate.
Ex-Doctor Wakefeild's fraud
 with added emphasis
 Where is that yellow highlighter?
More highlighting

Standing room only

 This guy was defending Wakefeild "he was stitched up!"

I met a real life fairy!
 Cool hats
 Homeopathic first aid. Enough said; for now.

 For your keys to hang on, get it?! Well, I chuckled.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Join the fun!

OK folks, the pressure is on. Meryl is due to speak at the Woodford Folk Festival on Thursday and I need some volunteers to join in the fun.

You will be needed for less than an hour, to help hand out fliers and make the vaccine message heard.  You are free to enjoy the rest of the festivities how you see fit. I will be going for the full day to make the most of it.

Our activities will be friendly and non-confrontational.

I intend to attend Meryls talk and take what notes I can.

The talk starts at 2:15 in the Blue Lotus room. Get there early if you want to see the talk. If you only want to hand out fliers, you will need to be there by 3:15 for the end of the talk. I would like to meet a couple of volunteers early to distribute fliers and plan.

Additionally, I would like people to bring cameras and video recorders to get peoples reactions after the show.

There will be a little surprise for those attending, which I think will make the effort worth while.

This is your chance to do some real skeptical activism and help save lives. Let’s stop Meryl’s madness.

Buy your ticket online

Shoot me an email, a tweet @skeptimite, sms or call 0417 696 739 to confirm you are coming.

It is time to get off the armchair and enjoy a day out, either that or stick a fork in your eye to dull the pain of Meryl getting away with it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


It seams pretty clear that the Woodford Folk Festival has a cunning plan to ignore all the complaints about Meryl Dorey appearing this year and hope the controversy goes away.

I have news for the Woodfordians; the skeptical community will not get bored with this and we will not be distracted. We will continue to fight Doreys’ nonsense with facts and actual science.

It is not too late for the Woodford Folk Festival to do the right thing. They should remove Dorey from the program and replace her with an actual expert to answer questions about vaccination.

Bill Hauritz, executive director of the festival says “We’ve already entered into contracts with Meryl Dorey and we cannot break those contracts now”.

I bet there is a clause in the Dorey contract to allow you to cancel on grounds of bad faith or public health. Did Dorey disclose the HCCC public health warning? How about the fact that the AVN had their charitable status revoked? Either would be grounds for canceling the contract, surely.

Canceling Dorey would send a clear message that the community is intolerant of BS

Mr Hauritz says “I honestly haven’t seen the contracts”. If you haven’t pulled out the contract by now and thoroughly reviewed it what does that say about your management and PR skills?

Let’s work on the assumption that the contract is water tight and there is no way to prevent the Dorey disaster. Here are a couple of suggestions for the Woodford Folk Festival.

1. Apologise publicly. Say something to the effect that “we got this one wrong, Ms Dorey was clearly a bad choice, we failed to do our research before booking her. We are very sorry for the possible harm that giving Ms Dorey a public platform may have”.

2. Promise never to have Ms Dorey on the schedule again. This one should be a no brainer. A simple way to distance the Woodford Folk Festival from this PR disaster.

3. Put in place a policy to ensure that future speakers on important topics are vetted to ensure their suitability.  Inviting controversial speakers is to be applauded. Examining every side of a topic is a worthwhile exercise. However, you have a responsibility to ensure that your speakers can distinguish fact from fiction and you should not give fringe nutters a special place to promote harmful ideas. If Ms Dorey is a vaccine expert, then I am an expert on intergalactic space travel since both sets of knowledge come from fiction.

As others have pointed out, this is not about free speech, this is about giving a known liar a special platform to promote outrageous ideology.

I will be at Woodford to see Ms Doreys’ version of free speech. I am looking forward to seeing how others will counter it with their own free speech.

My part will be very low key, I will observe, take notes and hand out some fliers after the show.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

4BC with Meryl Dory, Chrys Stevenson and Myself!

Radio interview of Meryl Dory and Chrys Stevenson talking about vaccines and the Woodford Folk Festival. Yours truly makes an appearance. I was surprised when I tried calling the talkback line and got put straight thru.

Click here to download audio file


New Year’s Eve a woo promoting movie

Wifey and I just got back from seeing the new movie New Year’s Eve. As a movie it was boring. They spent the entire budget on the cast, which was extensive and included some of my faves. The plot was dull, the characters were not engaging, there were very few laughs and the ending was predictable.

For a skeptic though, the worst part was the shameless promotion of the Power Balance rubber bracelets. These things have been shown to be a scam of the worst kind and are a rip off.

Two characters in the film were show wearing them. Jensen, a famous musician played by Bon Jovi wore a black one, which kept flipping from inside out to right way out between scenes.  Elise, Jensen’s back up singer, played by Lea Michele wore a pink band.

The product placement in the film was not even subtle. At one point Elise is seen twisting the band in frustration, complete with close up showing the brand name clearly.  Later, her beau retrieves the band and returns it to her glass slipper style; complete with another close up.  Throughout the movie the bands are clearly visible.

Much to the annoyance of Wifey, I sat thru the entire credits to the very end to see if there was a statement of endorsement. Nothing was mentioned.

Once I noticed the bracelets, I did watch for other product placement. The only other obvious one was for another Warner Bros Film, Sherlock Holmes in the form of a Times Square bill board in one scene.

I have no issue with product placement if it feels natural and does not distract from the film. This film failed. It probably would not bother me so much if the product was ethical and the film was otherwise good; no such luck.

Bottom line, go see another movie.

I tweeted about this and included @powerbalance. They replied:

This company sells a fraudulent product, should we believe them?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Moncktonation - a new word for skeptics

For a while I have been thinking about the dishonesty of some of the enemies of rational thinking, including climate “sceptics”, homeopaths and the like.

All of these types of people engage in a variety of dishonest behaviors. They cherry pick data, quote out of context, use anecdote instead of evidence and so on. Some of them outright lie.

I have been tweeting this frustration and have been looking for the word that best describes this behavior. I had been using disingenuous, but it turns out this doesn’t quite fit. Specious was suggested, but again it isn’t the right fit. Lie was another suggestion, but I would like a word with more subtlety.

Over the weekend, I tweeted that I wanted a word that means “to intentionally misrepresent another person's opinion/statements to support the opposite point of view”

Tanya Ha of Catalyst fame, tweeted “Moncktonation” as a suggestion.

"Moncktonation" to intentionally misrepresent another person's opinion/statements to support the opposite point of view

Mr Monckton is a well known climate change denier, who is guilty of all the tricks to try and deceive his audience into believing his point of view. He cherry picks, mis-quotes and all the rest.

So I propose that skeptics may now use the word Monktonation in reference to anyone who goes out of their way to misrepresent any information or other persons views.

CALL TO ACTION - Meryl Dorey at Woodford Fok Festival


OK Folks, it is time to get out of the arm chair and put your skeptic boots on.

As you have probably heard, Meryl Dorey of AVN infamy is booked to speak at the Woodford Folk Festival on Dec 29 and 30.  If you are not aware of the situation check out the @drunkenmadman blog and wiki for the facts and links.

What to do?

Step one:
Email, tweet and phone everyone involved to let them know your concerns. The wiki has links with contact details.

Comment on blogs and web articles. The Mamamia article by Peter Bowditch is a great place to start, with more info and comments.

Also spread the word to your twitter followers, facebook friends and so on.

Step two:
Get to Woodford. We need skeptics on site to record (if legally possible) Meryls talk, take notes and per haps hand out fliers.  I hope that someone very capable will be able to ask Meryl some tough questions in the Q&A.

I am thinking perhaps handing out fliers while wearing t-shirts that say “Vaccines Save Lives” or similar might be the way to go. Skeptics can then answer questions from the public in a calm and rational manner.

At this stage, I hope to be there for both days. I am happy to car pool from Brisbane northside, although I only have a two seater.

All feedback, comments and suggestions welcome.

Please get in touch @skeptimite or phil.kent at bigpond.com

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My photos of the lunar eclipse Dec 11 2011
It was overcast all day and only cleared for a short while to get these shots.