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.

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