Apr 29 2009

Anti-Vaxers In Australia

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The antivaccination movement is international, and our Australian skeptical brethren have been taking up the fight there (don’t be confused by the “c” in “sceptics.” I’ve tried to point this out to them, but they just won’t listen.) Dr. Rachael Dunlop of the Australian Skeptics, who does Dr. Rachie Reports for their podcast The Skeptic Zone, has written a summary of recent events.

The amazing part of this story, at least for somewhat jaded skeptics, is the mostly responsible manner in which Australia’s Channel 7 has dealt with this issue. It began with a report by Rebecca Maddern on “Sunday Night” which was an overtly scientific and pro-vaccie piece. Instead of token talking-head skeptics juxtaposed against amazing personal stories or kind-hearted (appearing) practitioners, there was token anti-vax cranks juxtaposed against children sick from vaccine-preventable diseases. Australia is apparently bizzaro-world for skeptics (maybe that explains the “c”).

It even gets more bizzaro. Both sides mobilized the troops, flooding the station with either praise or criticism. This prompted them to plan for a debate on the vaccine-autism topic. Dr. Rachie reports:

I was informed by Channel 7 that Meryl Dorey will not be on the panel since they; “only want people with a scientific background”.

(Dorey is an anti-vaccine loon.)  Imagine that – only soliciting scientific opinions on an important public health issue from scientists. Apparently they are having trouble finding a doctor or scientist who will take up the anti-vax position. The antivaccination lobby is beside themselves – why won’t the station just have on mindless celebrities like we do here in the US?

Seriously – it’s good to have the occasional reminder that there are responsible journalists out there. We often get caught up doing damage control for terrible science journalism we need to also praise and recognize those who are doing a good job.

So check out Dr. Rachie’s full details of the event, with her updates, and perhaps even take a moment to let your voice be heard by Channel 7.

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