Saturday, September 30, 2017

Brisbane Skeptic Society Message on Marriage Equality

First published on Facebook on 1 October, 2017. Republished here with permission:

By October 27th our government is asking you to vote on whether you think the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry. The Brisbane Skeptic Society committee fully supports the YES proposition. Brisbane Skeptic Society was founded on the principles of encouraging critical thinking for the betterment of the community. Under these principles there can be no conclusion other than that same sex marriage will be of enormous benefit to large portions of the community and, to the detriment of no one.

There are people who would fervently argue that same sex marriage should not be allowed. Looking critically at these arguments however it become apparent that almost all of these arguments are not about marriage, a non sequitur. Some argue that SSM would harm children. Raising children does not require the institution of marriage, but furthermore, there is no evidence children raised in same sex couples are worse off physically or socially than those raised of opposite sex couples.

Some in the no campaign have argued that legalising SSM would lead to bestiality, incest or people marrying inanimate objects. This is a form of the slippery slope argument. There is no reason logically that SSM marriage will lead to other forms of marriage being legalised. Importantly this argument excluded the central tenet of marriage. That informed consent is given between the two parties involved. Something that cannot happen with many of the above examples.

There are people who would argue that legalising SSM marriage would impede religious freedom. This myth is rather easy to dispel as currently religious institutions have the right to refuse officiate the marriage of heterosexual couples, therefore there is no reason to think they would be forced to marry same sex couples if that fell outside of that specific religions principles. In fact, many religious people believe that marriage equality is supported by their faith and therefore their religious freedom is curtailed under current law.

There are many more arguments that those in the no campaign have expressed that similarly fall into the category of non sequiturs that are not arguments about marriage itself and furthermore are not backed by evidence or logic.

Some may feel that it is not the place of a Skeptic Society to get involved with politics and social issues. That a Skeptic Society should be dispassionate and stick only to evaluating the evidence of specific claims. Brisbane Skeptic Society strongly believes that from an evidence point of view the yes proposition is strongly supported not to mention from a moral and humanist point of view. More importantly than that, what is the point of skepticism if not to improve the world around us? Brisbane Skeptic Society supports a world that is always improving and without injustice through the advancement of science, critical thinking and most importantly compassion. It is for this reason that Brisbane Skeptic Society wholeheartedly supports the legalisation of same sex marriage.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Once again I slink out of my skepti-cave to post a rare blog; once again inspired by the ever delightful Meryl Dorey of the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network. More accurately, this post is inspired by a new facebook group Banned from the AVN?? celebrate it here!!!.  This group was inspired by freedom of speech campaigner Meryl's habit of banning people from her blog and facebook page simply for offering a polite difference of opinion. Virtually every thinking person who has commented on a Meryl controlled page has been blocked from that page; including yours truly. You can get banned for such truly offensive behavior as providing good peer reviewed science that contradicts the AVN's testament.

All this banning must keep Meryl and her minions busy; there are loads of us banees. So some truly gifted person decided there should be a place where we are welcome to tell our stories and really hash out some of the issues around vaccination without fear of getting banned. The real inspiration came when someone said they were BANNINATED! The following parody was immediately obvious and HAD to be done.

There are a great many possible variations of the text, I would love to see you create your own; so I have provided the text free version below for you to go mad with. You can find the terminator font here.

If you do make your own, be sure to shoot me the link in the comments or or @skeptimite

Happy Banninating!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stephanie Messenger talking SIDS and Vaccines

Yesterday, I went to see Stephanie Messenger give a talk on “Your Vaccination Options” plus “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”.

Approximately 35 people showed up; plus a couple of babies, toddlers and young kids. A couple ladies were clearly pregnant.

Unless otherwise noted, these are the words of Stephanie Messenger (SM); however I may have paraphrased in places. Here are my notes from the event:

SM starting by making it very clear that she has no qualifications to speak on vaccination or SIDS; however she has been researching the subjects for many years. She also made a point of saying that if you have a problem with this you could leave now and get a full refund.

SIDS has no known cause. There are risk factors, including smoking (no brainer). Babies should be sleeping on their backs.

A book was then promoted: “Cot Death Coverup” from New Zealand, based on the work of Barry Richardson of the UK. The book discusses Toxic Gas Theory. The organisation “SIDS and Kids” are not interested in this theory; they claim it is disproven. The organisation has been hijacked by scientists.

A poster was then displayed titled “SID FACTS” with a number of claims:
  •  In 2008/09 (12mth period) 39 babies died from unexplained causes in QLD alone. That is 1 baby every 9 days.
  •  Close to 50% of these babies were co-sleeping when they died
  •  17 babies were sleeping on their stomach while at least 15 babies were sleeping on their back when found dead
  •  180,000 cot mattress covers have been sold in New Zealand

Next we were shown a graph “Cot Death Rate for 1st and later babies of solo parents (Britain 2005). This basically showed that later children and children of older parents were at great risk of cot death.

Toxic Gas Theory:
  • mattresses contain fire retardants
  • all mattresses (except organic) contain phosphorus, antimony and arsenic
  • mattresses absorb body fluids- sweat and urine
  • heat – fever is enough heat to generate gas
  • something vague about bacteria

Safety Mattress Cover
  •  covers the mattress like a big bag
  •  200,000 sold
  •  not one death

Deliberate Cover Up
  •  table of sleeping positions was deleted from government report
  •  tabled showed nearly half of SIDS babies were on their back

Don’t use normal plastic to cover your mattress
  •  use food grade polyethylene ; has no phosphorus
  •  SM sells this off the roll for larger mattresses; 150 micron

Comment from the audience: Bubs N Grubs sell organic latex mattresses with coconut husks. This resulted in much discussion. SM said “some plant matter has phosphorus”

SM then promoted a study she wants to conduct into the usual sleeping positions of babies
  •  300-350 babies required
  •  need to check the sleeping positions of babies over 14 nights.

Most babies sleep on their stomachs

Babies get fever from vaccinations

The timing of vaccinations co-incides with SIDS

SM stated “I no longer believe vaccines cause SIDS”

Vaccines poisons babies and they take a longer time to die from it; it is not overnight.

We were then taken thru the definitions of “Beliefs” and “Knowledge”

The whooping cough epidemic along the eastern seaboard (Cairns to Melbourne) is mostly in the fully vaccinated.

Vaccine ingredients poster:
1. Amonnium sulphate
2. Beta-propiolactone
3. Genetically modified yeast, animal bacterial and viral DNA
4. Latex rubber
5. Monosodium glutamate
6. Aluminium
7. Formaldahyde
8. Microoranisms
9. Polysorbate
10. Tributylphosphate
11. Glutaradehyde
12. Gelatin
13. Gentaminici sulphate & polymyxin
14. Mercury (still in some vaccines, despite denials)
15. Neomycin sulphate
16. Phenol/phenoxyethanol
17. Human and animal cells

Attributed to vaccines poster (lists each vaccine with relevant side effects, the text of which was too small to read)
  • Hep B
  • MMR
  • Whooping Cough
  • Hib
  • Oral Polio
  • Chicken Pox
  • Flu

Some doctors don’t vaccinate

Packaging inserts:
  • Written in doctors lingo
  • Print too small to read
  • Too hard to understand.
The gist of this was to relay the idea that although information about vaccine side effects are supplied with the vaccine, they written and presented in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible to read and understand.

It is compulsory to vaccinate in the US
  • A vaccination compensation fund was setup with $2billion
  • Capped pay outs, so that amount represents a lot of claims
  • Keeps running out of funds
  • Pays about ¼ of applications
  • Pays compensation for vaccine induced autism.

There was a nurse in the audience who constantly interrupted, I have only noted a few of her comments

Nurse “patients are never told the risks before vaccination”

SM then told us that although babies get sick and even die as a direct result of vaccination, it is not recorded on the chart or death certificate. For example, the vaccine might cause encephalitis leading the hospitalisation or death. The hospital chart or death certificate with say encephalitis as cause of illness or death; not the vaccine. This means that we bury our heads in the sand on vaccine reactions.

Immunisation Vs Vaccination
  •  Two totally different meanings
  •  The name was changed as part of the brainwashing efforts

More talk about packaging inserts:
  •  Does anyone know what Otis Media is?
  •  It means “ear infection”
  •  It is written on the packaging inserts in “doctor speak” so you won’t understand it

Clinical Trial Vs Field Trial

Clinical Trial
  •  Conducted by drug companies on animals and humans
  •  Efficacy determined by raised antibody levels

Field Trial
  •  Not formally carried out
  •  The only people getting sick are fully vaccinated
  •  Medical community says “would have got it much worse if not vaccinated”

In Qld in 1998
  •  Four deaths from measles
  •  3 were vaccinated
  •  The one un-vaccinated death was an immunocompromised aboriginal

“Darker skin or slanty eyes” means more adverse reactions.

Raised antibody levels not scientifically proven to raise immunity EVER

Small pox mass vaccination correlated with a spike in disease

We were shown a graph that measles was already on the decline since 1870 and by the time the vaccine was introduced in 1970 it was already nearly gone.

  •  Diseases already dropping when vaccines introduced:
  •  Tetanus – mostly caused by rose thorn scratches in elderly people
  •  Hib
  •  Measles
  •  Whooping Cough
  •  Polio

Vested interest in vaccines:
Drug company
  •  Multi billion dollar industry
  •  Consultation fees
  •  Government incentives
  •  Funding from drug companies for research
  •  Gifts from drug companies
  •  Free education from drug companies: “junkets”
  •  Prestige
  •  Ego-maniacs
  •  Political parties funded by drug companies
  •  Universities funded by drug companies
  •  Who pays? Taxes!

Why do people have faith in the medical industry?

Fear is used to promote vaccination in hospitals; this is a great reason for home births.

Many people die in hospital for reasons other that what they went in for.

Doctors have gone on strike twice in the world
  •  Once in LA and once in Israel
  •  Death rates dropped both times

Doctors have the shortest life expectancies; why go to them for health advice?

Doctors treat the symptoms of disease, not the cause.

SM recommends you go to a natural therapist before you get sick.

Lady in the audience comments “vaccination in schools without consent is coming soon” *audience gasps* The same lady goes on to say that the Australian constitution has been changed again to allow this.

(For the record, the Australian constitution has not been amended since 1977)

Vaccination is NOT compulsory, you do have choices.

So What Can You Do?
1. Follow the government recommended vaccine schedule
2. Select from the government list
3. Homeopathic vaccination – Isaac Goldens produces a kit, Rachael Gleeson is a Brisbane homeopath, half of homeopaths do not believe in homeopathic vaccination as it goes against like cures like.
4. Create a naturally healthy lifestyle.
5. Do nothing – western lifestyle leads to reduced mortality.

SM says that if you do 1,2, or 3 you should also do 4; but if you do 4 why bother with the others?

Then SM did a bit of showman ship, she held up an object covered with a cloth. With a big gasp from the audience, she revealed a life size baby doll stuck like a pin cushion with needles.
  • Just the needles on the schedule, plus vitamin K
  • Baby gets 4 needles every visit
This is what anti-vax scare mongering looks like

A doctor in the audience then spoke up. She was a pediatrician, but is now a GP. She has been in court for five years because she signs so many conscientious objector forms.

Another audience member then shouted out that injection of RFID chips is coming soon.

The nurse then commented that she refuses to vaccinate kids.

SM then tells us the flu vaccine leads to an increase in Alzheimer’s.

Autism: many studies have duplicated Professor Wakefields work.

There is no autism in the unvaccinated.

Another audience member “treat the side effects with homeopathy”

I now quote SM “It is good for babies to catch diseases at the right time designed by nature”.

Most diseases appear in the fully vaccinated.

Question from the audience: A friend is travelling overseas and won’t be allowed back in Australia without vaccination.  SM answers: only one vaccine is a requirement, that is for yellow fever when you travel to Africa or the Amazon. She suggests you go via another country before coming home to get around quarantine.

The nurse then told us she has a child and is having trouble finding daycare that does not have policy of compulsory vaccination. We were then told they must allow for conscientious objectors.

SM informed us that if required she would supply the name and phone number of a local doctor as required to get your form signed.

From the audience “From July there will be no payments without vaccination”
1997 immunisation act must allow for conscientious objectors.

SM told us that you will always be exempt if you join a religion that won’t allow vaccination. She said to visit, download a form and join.  SM appeared extremely smug as she told us this, so I am guessing she has her finger in that pie. Having a look at the website, it appears the church only exists on the internet.

When her kids were in school, she wrote on the forms “toxic garbage keep it away from my children or I will sue you”.

SM told us a story of a new father who got his conscientious objector forms signed as soon as his baby was born. At the hospital, he insisted that there was to be no Vit K injection. The doctors insisted and the matter went to court. SM advised him to collect the baby and leave the hospital before they could inject. The story carried on for a while, with the father going back to court, SM advising him to move interstate and “go off the grid” and in the end the baby got all the injections.

Our nurse then spoke up again, “tell your doctor, this is NOT for debate, I will not allow vaccination of my child”. SM then suggested to tell the doctor that bullying will not be tolerated.

Homebirths and homeschool give you more control.

People who don’t vaccinate accept responsibility for health.
People who do vaccinate shift the responsibly onto the vaccine

Homebirth deaths make the news, hospital deaths are not newsworthy.

Boiling water makes fluoride worse.

Hospitals use tap water with fluoride to make baby formulae
This was on a car parked outside. There was at least one more anti-fluoride sticker

Grandparents – time to take action kit $7.50

People who vaccinate are loonies.

19th year educating people

Get the message to pregnant women. Buy some of our postcards and hand them to pregnant women you see, just say “you might need this information” and walk away. (I thought this sounded a bit creepy).

Our lovely nurse again “The AMA was setup by political activists to call homeopaths and naturalists quacks”

Someone called out from the back; I didn’t get all the words, but it was something like “Bill Gates….population control…. GMO….” You get the picture.

In the US it is now illegal to grow your own vegetables.

SM now plugged her organisation, for only $25 year you can support my work.

Next we pushed some products:
Negative Ions kill bacteria in 60 seconds

Panty Liners
  •  Green strip is negative ions
  •  Rub on cuts and bites. Malaria was mentioned.

  •  Light activates negative ions in metal rod inside handle
  •  No toothpaste needed

For some reason, we then had some talk about the new airport scanners. They are x-rays that cause cancer and sterilisation (population control was mentioned again).

SM went on to tell a story of going thru an Amsterdam airport. Instead of going thru the metal detector, she got a good frisking from a Dutch woman “rather enjoyed it actually”. SM went on to tell another story of how she managed to sneak thru US customs without being scanned or frisked.

  •  Original tv adds said “may” prevent cervical cancer. The “may” got removed
  •  SM saw “that Frazier person” just after he invented Gardasil
  •  Gardasil was always intended for Girls AND boys.

A picture inside the newsletter. Fair and reasonable vaccine discussion hey?
Then SM promoted a book:
“Melanies Marvelous Measles” for $20
The purpose of this book is to educate children. SM said that she even told her kids to run away from school if they have to to avoid vaccination.

SM told us the Australian Skeptics “those nasty people” don’t like her book; this brought muttering from the crowd. An audience member right behind me said something along the lines of “its run by doctors”.

My original plan was that after the seminar was finished, I was going to hand out the Five Vaccination Myths fliers like I had done at Woodford. At Woodford, these fliers were well received and I met some really lovely people. Even before SM said this about the skeptics, I was re-evaluating my plans. After that comment, I decided to stay incognito. It is a very uncomfortable feeling sitting in a crowd of people who are hostile simply because you do not share their delusions and paranoia.

Next we had a promo for SM’s new book “Sarah Visits a Naturopath” which is out next week.

For some reason, we then heard about GM foods and were told to read the labels and never eat anything with canola.

The doctor in the audience gave another rambling speech that started with GM food and ended with “go with God”.

Then we were told about a poultice to draw out the toxins from vaccination. There are two versions, one made from potato and another from charcoal.

The nurse spoke up again to tell us that Florence Nightingale was against vaccination. Personally, I am not sure how the opinion of a nurse who died 100 years is relevant to modern medicine. I guess this would be appeal to authority and perhaps appeal to antiquity.

SM wound up by telling us that she has monthly support groups in Cleveland, Gold Coast and Toowoomba and another is coming soon to Redcliffe.

Once the seminar was over, two tables were open for business selling postcards, books, negative ion panty liners and toothbrushes.

To summarise my experience, this seminar seams to be a load of scare mongering, leading up to a serious sales pitch.

I guestimate she took in around $600 in ticket sales. That would cover her expenses of hiring the hall and preparation of materials (which would be used over a number of events) with plenty leftover to make a nice paypacket for an afternoons efforts.

At the end of the sermon seminar we had a number of sales pitches for her books, panty liners, tooth brushes and other items for sale at the venue.  I can tell you first hand, the tables were packed with customers.  We also had a big pitch to sign up to help her “work” for $25 year. In return, you get a newsletter, which is littered with adds for her own products and has a an order form on the back for products ranging from $15 to $45.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


This flier was produced by Andrew Gould and reviewed by Dr Rachel Dunlop @DrRachie

It is free to download and use for the purpose of spreading vaccine awareness. Please contact Dr Rachie and Andrew before making any modifications.

To download the pdf, simply click on the picture below.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, February 17, 2012


G'day beautiful people, it is time to put your skeptical boots on and head over to Hamilton! Anti-vaxxer Stephanie Messenger is putting on a talk linking vaccines to SIDS. Check out the flier:
Location, Location, Location:
The Vaccination and SIDS semi mar on 18/2/12 at 2pm is at Hamilton Town Hall - corner Rossiter Pde and Racecourse Rd Hamilton. Enter via Rossiter Pde door. Call XXXXXXXXX if you have a question. Stephanie
  I have my ticket and will be going along, taking notes and checking things out. I will not be making a fuss during the show.

After the seminar, I plan to hand out the "Five Myths About Vaccinations" flyer. I would love you to join me in the fun.

If you want to help hand out fliers, please show up about 3:45. As soon as the show is over, I will head out side and distribute fliers.

After wards, we might head over to the Hamilton Hotel for a couple of quick ales. Follow @skeptimite for the latest!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"The Christmas tree flourishes as a symbol of everlasting life. That life and light of course is Christ, whose birth to Mary fulfills a prophecy of joy and salvation." John Boehner, Speaker of the House (USA)

I heard this quote today on the Freedom From Religion Podcast and could not help the mental imagery. The dried up husk of religion should be tossed out along with the dead tree.