On the day that the Lancet effectively scratched the now infamous Wakefield et al paper of 1998, from it’s records, the AVN also had a bombshell to drop.
In a e-newsletter sent to subscribers, Meryl Dorey president of the AVN announced:
AVN to close it’s doors at the end of the month
The contents explained that after 17 years, Dorey was;
“…in the next 3-4 weeks…tendering my resignation as President of this great organisation and moving on to the next stage of my own personal development as mother, wife, activist and researcher.”
Which seems pretty clear cut, until further in the email she wrote:
“Without a large injection of capital behind me, I simply cannot continue.”
She used the word injection! Ms Dorey you do amuse! (sorry, couldn’t let that one go…)
She explained that closure at the end of the month could be avoided, but only if:
“..a benefactor or series of benefactors come forward to establish a fund that would guarantee the AVN’s existence for at least the next 2-3 years.”
This is not the first time Dorey has asked for money from her members – a few months ago she was asking people to put aside a percentage of their government paid family allowance to donate to the AVN. Then several days ago she asked for “$100 from each and every member” (AVN Message #42021).
But this comes as no surprise to us, we know she has been in financial difficulty of late. According to documents obtained by a colleague via the the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) (this information is publicly available if a business is registered as a charity), the AVN lost AUD58,000 in the period January through December 2008.
The day following this email, Ms Dorey sent another email clarifying that the AVN would only close if she did not receive the required funds and she was sorry if she had worried her followers.
This clarification became somewhat clouded today however, when she sent another e-newsletter with the masthead exclaiming Living Wisdom/ AVN Closing down sale! (AVN message #42055).
So is she or isn’t she?
Until yesterday I had been wondering why she had not pleaded to the big guns for help, the likes of Generation Rescue and Age of Autism. That was until today when a blog appeared on the Age of Autism website, wherein between asking for an “injection of funds” again (*chortle*). She says the following about the “anti-choice movement”:
“I have had death threats from those who are too cowardly to confront me on the facts of my argument*.
I have had complaints filed against me… I have been called the Baby Killer of Bangalow…and told that I am personally responsible for the current record-high level of whooping cough despite the fact that our vaccination level is currently also at a record high.”
Personally I’m not surprised Ms Dorey wants out, and I suspect it is not solely to do with money. It has not been a good year for the AVN.
There are currently two complaints filed against her with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), accusing her of spreading false information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. We expect the findings to be handed down in the next few weeks. There are also two with the OLGR, the charity watchdog, one alleging she operated without a charity license for 2 years, whilst still collecting donations.
She has also received considerable mainstream criticism for her campaign of scaremongering and misinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Despite the General Medical Council finding Wakefield “callous”, “unethical” and “dishonest”, a complete retraction of the Wakefield et al paper on February 2nd, and a large body of scientific evidence discrediting his work, the anti-vaxers appear to have not changed their stance that vaccines contain toxic levels of elemental mercury, vaccines cause autism, shaken baby syndrome, SIDS and brain damage.
In August 2009, Dorey and the AVN were the target of a national newspaper advertising campaign, financed by entrepreneur Dick Smith warning parents of Australia not to listen to the false claims of the AVN. In publicity surrounding the publication, Smith criticised the organisation for portraying a public face of “pro-choice” when privately being unequivocally anti-vaccination. In a statement Smith said; “They should put on every bit of their material that they are anti-vaccination in great big words”.
Dorey has been heavily criticised for her misuse of scientific evidence, in particular her habit of “cherry picking” data to suit her agenda whilst publicly insisting she only cites peer reviewed studies from medical journals.
Dorey also outed herself as an “HIV denier” meaning she does not believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS. HIV deniers are a dangerous group of individuals, whose influence on South African President, Thabo Mbeki historically contributed to the unnecessary deaths of over 300,000 Africans as a result of delayed roll-out of anti-retroviral drugs.
Dorey also appeared to subscribe to conspiracy theories despite telling her email group;
“We are already seen as rapid idiotic fringe dwellers by so many in the mainstream, it does our argument no good at all to bring in conspiracy theories which though we may prescribe to them are unprovable”.
Yet, she later published a link to a conspiracy blog describing H1N1 (swine flu) as being manufactured by a group of drug cartels for the express purpose of extinguishing a large percentage of the world via compulsory vaccination, aerosol exposure via chem-trails and the implantation of mind control chips. The original story was attributed to (but not credited by Dorey) the world famous conspiracy theorist David Icke. You can see more here.
To top it off, the AVN was awarded the 2009 Australian Skeptics Bent Spoon awarded annually for the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle and chosen from a list of public nominations.
Not to mention she has taken a battering in the press for spreading false statistics and scaremongering, and been forced to change seminar venues when organisers discovered the true nature of her ‘information’.
I think this might be the beginning of the end for the embattled AVN. And I for one won’t miss ’em. At all.
We await to hear the next installment, otherwise mark down February 28th as a victory for science and reason in this country.
*she does not supply evidence for this claim