Categories
Medicine

Brian Martin and Judy Wilyman: Promoting antivaccine pseudoscience as “dissent”

Yesterday, I wrote about what can only be described as an academic travesty. What riled me up sufficiently to lay a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence on a graduate student named Judy Wilyman, her PhD thesis advisor Brian Martin, and the University of Wollongong was the fact that Wilyman is an antivaccine loon and the University of Wollongong saw fit to bestow a PhD on her for a thesis riddled with antivaccine tropes and pseudoscience. As I pointed out at the time, the University of Wollongong deserves nothing but ridicule and contempt for allowing this travesty to come to pass, but what about Brian Martin? After all, it is the thesis advisor who bears the most responsibility for making sure that the work done by a PhD candidate is academically rigorous (which Wilyman’s work was not). Sure, there’s a thesis committee to whom PhD candidates periodically present their work and who are supposed to give constructive criticism and advice and make sure the candidate’s work is up to snuff.

I can’t bring myself (yet) to go through the entire thesis. It is, after all, 390 pages long, which means I might never find the time to read it all. I don’t know that I really need to, anyway, if what I’ve read thus far is any indication. Truly the burning antivaccine stupid is black hole density, sucking all science and knowledge into its event horizon, never to be seen again. Brian Martin, however, has defended Wilyman’s thesis and her against attacks. I was curious what defense anyone could come up with to justify such a load of pseudoscientific tripe, rife with easily refutable downright incorrect information. So when I read Brian Martin’s defense of this whole fiasco, entitled Judy Wilyman, PhD: how to understand attacks on a research student, I ended up thinking that this topic deserved a followup post addressing his justifications.

Sadly, the very first paragraph of Martin’s article lets the reader know where he’s coming from, and where he’s coming from is not from anywhere resembling science. He starts out noting that “Judy’s thesis is long and detailed.” Well, yes, I’ll give it that, but if the details are nearly all wrong, length is not a virtue. I like to think that I get away with my penchant for logorrhea because my prose is (usually) entertaining and engaging and because I get the facts and science right. So, although I sometimes get complaints about the length of my posts, most of the time no one minds. In contrast, Wilyman’s “long and detailed” thesis is indeed very detailed, but the vast majority of details are either factually incorrect or distorted.

Martin thus begins:

It makes four main critical points in relation to Australian government vaccination policy. First, deaths from infectious diseases had dramatically declined in Australia before the mass introduction of most vaccines, suggesting that vaccination is not the only factor in controlling these diseases.

Antivaccine trope: Vaccines didn’t save us, one of the more intellectually dishonest of some very intellectually dishonest antivaccine tropes.

Second, Australian vaccination policies were adopted from a one-size-fits-all set of international recommendations, without consideration of the special ecological conditions in Australia, for example the levels of sanitation and nutrition, and the incidence and severity of diseases.

Antivaccine trope: The “sanitation” gambit. The easiest way to refute this trope is to point out that polio and measles ran rampant in the US in the 1950s, even though sanitation was perfectly fine and children were well nourished. It wasn’t until vaccines for these diseases were developed that the incidence plummeted. Also, sanitation doesn’t do much good against diseases whose spread is primarily through the air, like the measles.

Two down. What’s next? Oh, goody:

Third, nearly all research on vaccination is carried out or sponsored by pharmaceutical companies with a vested interest in selling vaccines; the conflicts of interest involved in vaccine research can lead to bias in the research design and conclusions drawn.

Pharma shill gambit, reporting for duty, sir!

Then:

Fourth, there are important areas of research relevant to vaccination policy that have not been pursued, but should have been; a plausible reason for this “undone science” is that the findings might turn out to be unwelcome to vaccination promoters.

Ah, yes. The “inconvenient facts ‘they’ don’t want you to discover” trope. What, pray tell, might these “inconvenient” facts be? That vaccines cause autism, perhaps? Given Martin’s defense of Andrew Wakefield and his characterization of criticism of him as “suppression of vaccination dissent” one has to wonder how much Martin buys into antivaccine pseudoscience. Quite a lot, I suspect.

Here’s the problem. All Martin sees when it comes to antivaccine activists is “dissent.” I suppose such views do represent “dissent” of a sort, but they sure don’t represent well-informed dissent based on facts, logic, and science. Unfortunately, Martin doesn’t seem to distinguish between dissent based on facts, science, and logic and dissent based on pseudoscience and misinformation. Wakefield’s “dissent” was clearly based on the latter. So is Wilyman’s “dissent.” Martin, however, doesn’t seem to recognize this. It’s postmodernism at its worst. There are no “narratives” that are closer to the truth than others. If you believe that, then “telling both sides” becomes paramount and any attempt to censor or shut down pseudoscience is viewed not as a proper enforcement of scientific standards, but an attempt to crush “dissent.” That’s the entire worldview of Brian Martin in a nutshell. Indeed, only a couple of months ago, Martin referred to criticism of Wilyman as the “mobbing of a PhD student“:

Mobbing, or collective bullying, usually develops for a reason, though sometimes it is difficult to identify the original trigger. In Judy’s case, the reason is obvious enough. She debates vaccination in public forums, and there is a group of campaigners who want to silence any public questioning of the official government vaccination policy.

Yep. Martin has played the “bully” card. It’s a favorite card of antivaccinationists. Any criticism of rank pseudoscience is portrayed as “bullying” rather than reasonable criticism.

Speaking of reasonable criticism, let’s look at what Martin considers unreasonable criticism. Basically, he identifies what he considers to be illegitimate attacks thusly:

When people criticise a research student’s work, it is worth checking for tell-tale signs indicating when these are not genuine concerns about quality and probity but instead part of a campaign to denigrate viewpoints they oppose.

  1. They attack the person, not just their work.
  2. They concentrate on alleged flaws in the work, focusing on small details and ignoring the central points.
  3. They make no comparisons with other students or theses or with standard practice, but rather make criticisms in isolation or according to their own assumed standards.
  4. They assume that findings contrary to what they believe is correct must be wrong or dangerous or both.

The attacks on Judy’s research exhibit every one of these signs. Her opponents attack her as a person, repeatedly express outrage over certain statements she has made while ignoring the central themes in her work, make no reference to academic freedom or standard practice in university procedures, and simply assume that she must be wrong.

This is such incredible nonsense, not to mention rank hypocrisy. After all, how often have I documented how antivaccine warriors attack the person because they can’t successfully challenge the science? I myself have been at the receiving end of such attacks, most prominently five years ago, when Jake Crosby falsely insinuated that I had undisclosed conflicts of interest, and as a result ai endured a campaign on the part of antivaccine activists to get me fired from my job. It didn’t work (fortunately), but it was a quintessential example of how cranks attack the person and not the science. They can’t attack the science because they don’t have it on their side.

As for the second claim, Martin appears utterly clueless. It is the central points of Wilyman’s thesis that are being criticized—and quite rightly so—based on facts, science, and logic. Similarly, it’s not bias that leads those of us who defend vaccines to conclude that attacks on vaccination like those made by Wilyman are wrong or dangerous or both. They are wrong and dangerous, and we can demonstrate that. We have demonstrated that time and time again.

None of this stops Martin from asserting:

The attacks on Judy Wilyman and her PhD research should be understood as part of a campaign to denigrate and discourage anyone who dares to make public criticisms of standard vaccination policy.

Uh, no. The criticism of Judy Wilyman and her PhD “research” (and I do use the term loosely) derives from her repetition of antivaccine tropes and conspiracy theories. Really, it is just that simple. Sadly, Brian Martin is utterly clueless when it comes to understanding this. If you doubt my assessment, just look at how Martin characterizes criticism of Andrew Wakefield:

Unlike most of his peers, Wakefield has been subject to a degradation ceremony, a ritualistic denunciation casting him out of the company of honest researchers (Thérèse and Martin, 2010). By degrading Wakefield’s reputation, vaccination is symbolically vindicated and the credibility of any criticism undermined. Supporters of vaccination have repeatedly used the example of Wakefield to suggest that criticism of vaccination is misguided (e.g., Grant, 2011: 105-124; Offit, 2010). The logic of using Wakefield’s ignominy as an argument in defense of vaccination is not replicated in the case of a single biomedical scientist who supports standard views. Considering that bias and conflict of interest are endemic to pharmaceutical-company-sponsored research, it is striking that no supporter of orthodoxy concludes that this discredits support for pharmaceutical drugs generally. (Some critics draw this conclusion.)

Gee, I can’t help but thinking, Martin says this as though it were a bad thing.

Here’s the problem. Wakefield really is a scientific fraud. Brian Deer has extensively documented this conclusion. Wakefield does have real ignominy. He deserves it. It isn’t a bad thing to point this out, either.

Basically, Martin has a history of being sympathetic to medical cranks. He views crank views as “medical dissent.” Technically, I suppose they are, but not in a good way and certainly not in a useful way. Unfortunately, Brian Martin doesn’t recognize these differences. To him all “dissent” is potentially valid, no matter how pseudoscientific it is. That’s how Judy Wilyman got her PhD.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

246 replies on “Brian Martin and Judy Wilyman: Promoting antivaccine pseudoscience as “dissent””

While it is possible that Martin originally started out defending dissent, it seems over the years he has imbued much of the denialst philosophy. To the point of giving more than equal weight to dissenting vews solely because they are dissenting, and promoting conspiracy theories for why such dissenting views are suppressed (as opposed to the real reason that they are ignored because they are wrong).

He has come to demostrate an excellent example of crank magnetism.

To his credit, he didn’t go the whole “academia is a boy’s club and she is only attacked because vagina”-route that is such a popular line of defense – especially within quackery.

When I get the men-bully-alt-med-believers argument, I have been known to play the Harriet Hall card.

Chris makes a good point that I should have picked up on. Yes, that is a common alt-med trope whenever a female quack is criticized. Because so many prominent antivaxers are women, it’s particularly beloved by the antivaccine movement.

I know some folks over in the humanities who understand science quite well (though they’re obviously not specialists), respect it as an intellectual enterprise, and who don’t assume that they know things they don’t. It’s really too bad that cranks like this give them all such a bad name!

Even training in science doesn’t always succeed in de-gaussing the crank magnetism — after all, our own community has its share of Brave Maverick Scientists (regulars will know what I mean).

#4 – Which is highly, hiiiighly ironic since that act of leaping to defend the female quack stems from the rather sexist notion that she needs defending from the internet meanies because her fragile female mind can’t bear such abuse.

I’m sure a male quack would be quite upset at his defenders if they used that rationale on him!

“Defend the weak-willed one!”

I just now realize that everyone probably already made the same observation and it probably didn’t need me pointing it out. I feel like I derailed the discussion of a very important and dire issue…. my bad… (as a new commenter, am I allowed to plead the “It’s my first day”-defense?)

Welcome, Amethyst, and don’t worry about multiple observations. You did make it first, and we welcome discussion of those sorts of points. It’s a valid point, not a derail.

Wilyman’s thesis is reminiscent of Alan Sokal’s infamous hoax article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” Both were eagerly accepted by audiences who wanted to believe they were true. Both would have been readily revealed as nonsense if they had been reviewed by anybody with actual knowledge of the subject matter.

The main difference is that Sokal knew he was writing a parody. He said he did it in order to remind postmodernists that there is such a thing as objective reality. He famously invited anybody who considered the laws of physics to be social constructs to transgress those boundaries from his apartment window (he pointed out in his invitation that he lived on the twenty-first floor).

Martin seems to have learned nothing from the Sokal incident. Now, like the journal editors who accepted Sokal’s parody, he has egg on his face. And he’s reacting the same way those journal editors did: doubling down.

“Judy’s thesis is long and detailed.” Well, yes, I’ll give it that, but if the details are nearly all wrong, length is not a virtue.

From a long way off, a dump truck full of manure looks impressive, and it certainly is heavy, but when you get up close, you realize it’s just one big ass pile of shit.

If Ms. Wilyman is unable to defend her thesis against these criticisms against it, then perhaps she shouldn’t have been awarded a PhD.

Having her advisor do her work for her (and even he does a poor job of it, resorting to calling critics “bullies” as a personal attack instead of addressing the criticisms) just confirms that she was awarded a degree she does not deserve.

First, deaths from infectious diseases had dramatically declined in Australia before the mass introduction of most vaccines, suggesting that vaccination is not the only factor in controlling these diseases.

Well, duh. It’s almost cute when these guys work out facts which are known and admitted by any epidemiologist. Just because public health is insisting on vaccinations, doesn’t mean that PH thinks they are the ONLY existing factor ever.

Dissent when there is actual debate? Sure.

Dissent when there is no debate. No.

There is no debate on 2+2 = 4, and no debate on the earth being a sphere. There is also no debate on why we vaccinate and how effective, safe and important it is to continue doing so.

Martin should be fired. Wilyman’s doctorate revoked. Here’s to hoping someone at University of Wollongong has a shred of common sense.

I could understand someone examining the antivaccine movement and counter-movement (for lack of a better word) from the point of view of sociology, political science, psychology, etc., and of course the academic standards for such a thesis would be different from (which is not the same as “lower than”) those for a thesis in the “hard” sciences. But this thesis doesn’t appear to adhere to any standard – I can’t even tell what field of study it’s supposed to be in. The name of the department is “School of Humanities and Social Inquiry,” which isn’t very informative.

Martin want’s us big dumb meanie-heads to stop nitpicking at details and talk about the “central themes” of the thesis. Okay, lets see what those central themes are. From the abstract:

It is important that independent research is carried out to assess whether all the vaccines being recommended today are safe, effective and necessary for the protection of the community… This investigation demonstrates that not all vaccines have been demonstrated to be safe, effective or necessary. It also concludes that the government’s claim that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks cannot be sustained due to the gaps in the scientific knowledge resulting from unfunded research and the inadequate monitoring of adverse events after vaccination.

Notice that her thesis isn’t about the political process that resulted in the current vaccine guidelines, examining the “vaccine wars” from a sociological perspective, etc. She’s making specific (and demonstrably false) claims about the adequacy of the science that informs vaccine policies, so its entirely appropriate the judge those claims on their scientific merit (or lack thereof.)

As an aside, if you want to get a good idea of Wilyman’s level of scholarship/critical thinking, there’s no need to read the entire thesis – just look at the abstract. It’s so poorly written that I was tempted to just copy/paste the whole thing rather than try and tease out the main idea from the disorganized grab-bag of antivax tropes.

@ Sarah A

the disorganized grab-bag of antivax tropes.

For the regulars here, the excerpts from her thesis sure looks like she just copy-pasted a few lectures from Kennedy (the anti-vax loon, not the late US president).
I mean, if there is some new argument in her thesis, that didn’t show up so far. It’s, indeed, just a méli-melot of the usual antivax tropes.

1. They attack the person, not just their work.
2. They concentrate on alleged flaws in the work, focusing on small details and ignoring the central points.

Wow, I think I got whiplash from the speed of his internal contradiction there. Attacking the person and not the work, followed by, but they attack the details of the work. I suppose he feels it is disingenuous to attack the supporting material provided for the central points, but is he really so dense as to not realize this leaves the central points with nothing to stand on? If we aren’t to attack the supporting material, how can we criticize the central points?

Oh. I see. That’s his real goal. He doesn’t want this work criticized. Either that or he actually doesn’t understand how criticism works, which I suppose is possible given the stupidity of his next point.

3. They make no comparisons with other students or theses or with standard practice, but rather make criticisms in isolation or according to their own assumed standards.

Well, that definitely does not describe Orac’s criticism, which absolutely compared this thesis to the normal standards expected of PhD candidates. Perhaps the truth is that Martin is actually unaware of standard practice. This might explain why he allowed his student to go so far off the rails; he’s too incompetent to know where the rails are in the first place.

4. They assume that findings contrary to what they believe is correct must be wrong or dangerous or both.

Damn, there goes another irony meter.

Here’s the problem. Wakefield really is a scientific fraud. Brian Deer has extensively documented this conclusion.

Hey, Martin! You’re attacking details and not the central points! 😉 Of course, your protrayal of Wakefield being struck off as a “ritualistic denunciation” honestly is a bit of an ad hominem as well, though not as much as your claim that any criticism of your student are just part of a disinformation campaign. Hmm…. I might need to invest in some more irony meters if I’m to read any more of this stuff.

Anti-science disinformation and bullshit have consequences in the real world outside the realm of self-indulgent, post-modern doctoral theses.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35299597

It galls me that vaccine denialists assume the mantle of brave voices of dissent, with the courage to speak out against the medical orthodoxy. Real courage is a public health worker in Pakistan, polio vaccine in hand, standing between a villager and the Taliban.

In the 1950s polio was on the increase. As Sarah Roger’s book, Dirt and Disease, documents, polio’s rise was connected with better sanitation. I won’t go into the details. Measles deaths had declined significantly before the 1950s because of better nutrition, mainly vitamin A, and antibiotics used against the secondary bacterial pneumonias that were responsible for the vast majority of measles deaths. However, measles in the 1950s, despite nutrition, and antibiotics, killed between 400 and 500 kids per year, resulted in about 50,000 hospitalizations, up to 2,000 with permanent disabilities such as seizure disorders, mental retardation, and deafness, and even for the over 1 million cases who didn’t end up in the hospital, it was a miserable week at home, missing school, requiring one parent to be with them. With so many single-parent families and two-parent families with both parents working just to make ends meet, this would be a financial hardship. There is still no scientifically validated treatment for measles and with the rise of antibiotic resistant infections, the number of deaths from the secondary bacterial infections if there were a major outbreak could actually increase. So, yes, deaths had declined substantially prior to the 1963 vaccine; but measles was and is still a really nasty microbe. Oh, one last point. As measles is just as contagious as ever and our population has more than doubled since the 1950s, good chance one could approximately double the statistics I gave above.

It’s another one of those pesky irregular verbs, isn’t it?

I dissent
You unjustifiably criticise
S/He bullies

Or some such…

A few things:

– Sarah A, I could probably imagine reality-based studies that examine personality and educational differences that set anti-vaxxers apart from the general public. I think that a few studies have already looked at cognitive / personality styles being a factor and being associated with belief in conspiracy.

Another facet would be how immersed the subjects are in fantasy as a substitute for realism. I’m not entirely joking on that last one.

– I read a little of her work and it reminds me a lot of the poppycock I encounter at prn.fm – long winded articles complete with reference lists abound, courtesy of Null & Gale
– and the books and posts dreamt up by the denizens of AoA and TMR.

Helianthus is correct – Kennedy sounds like this as well- they utilise the same, tired old material and tropes.

– I am aware of how quacks defend female associates- and thinking moms- with charges of sexism from the SB world.
A woman isn’t misevaluated or persecuted by the powers-that-be just by virtue of being a woman.
Sometimes women are wrong. Especially if they write for the aforementioned sinkholes of irrationality and self-aggrandisement.

As I mentioned in the comments on the previous post, point #3 seems inherently flawed, to me, in that, to my mind, a scholarly work should stand or fall on its own merits, not based on other arbitrary comparators. Are we to judge it compared to other PhD programs? Okay, which ones? Some are quite rigorous, others less so. Hell, even if we compare the quality of her work to that of a high school paper, it would fail for the numerous reasons other have already enumerated.

More altie ‘feminism’..

( Green Med Info)
Are “Moody Women” Being Drugged Into Submission By Pharma?**

by Margie King***, MBA, corporate attorney and graduate of the Institute for Applied Nutrition

** insert mandatory tasteless joke here
*** didn’t she occasionally show up at RI?

Thanks for the laugh, Murmur.

Denice Walter, your comment about immersion in fantasy as a substitute for realism is spot-on. Martin’s point 4:

4. They assume that findings contrary to what they believe is correct must be wrong or dangerous or both.

comes directly from the solipsistic tendency in pomo scribblings. Since the grimy lint yielded from their navelgazing (that they call knowledge) is entirely of their own creation, they come to believe that all knowledge is similarly obtained. When someone says “scientists believe…” as a shorthand for “trained scientists who have considered the mountains of evidence have come to the consensus view that…”, they hear that belief as synonymous with their own pretentious sputum. To them science isn’t an expression of our best comprehension of the reality that we all share, it’s just, like, your opinion, man. Rejecting/criticizing stuff like Wilyman’s is the automatic response by people who ground their concepts in evidence. To those who don’t do that, it’s inconceivable that opposition could be based in anything but malign intent. Trying to link conclusions to evidence just isn’t part of their world, and it doesn’t occur to them that anyone else would ever think that way.

Sometimes women are wrong. Women may be wrong sometimes, but mothers are seldom wrong. They are only wrong when they don’t listen to their amazing maternal intuition, which trumps absolutely everything else.

killed between 400 and 500 kids per year I know you’re speaking of the US here, #19, but for the record, measles still kills around 300+ people PER DAY worldwide. Just pointing that out in case anyone is reading this thinking that people no longer die from measles.

Did anybody notice Martin’s acknowledgments section of his little paper

Acknowledgements

“For advice, checking text and offering comments on drafts, I thank Greg Beattie, Jason Delborne, Kevin Dew, Jayne Donegan, Meryl Dorey, Don Eldridge, Gary Goldman, Richard Halvorsen, Elizabeth Hart, Lucija Tomljenovic, Andrew Wakefield and several anonymous referees.”

So he actually cleared his copy with Wakefield (he didn’t clear it with me), and then he uses his position to give out Ph.Ds to people who parrot him. As well as all the others – like the profiteer Halvosen , who made a fortune selling single shots.

This so-called university needs to have an institutional inquiry into this.

To them science isn’t an expression of our best comprehension of the reality that we all share, it’s just, like, your opinion, man.

That’s the pernicious thing about postmodernism: when applied outside of its narrow fields of applicability, it quickly leads to absurd results. Again, I refer to Sokal’s writings. “Transgressing the Boundaries” was written 20 years ago. Some humanities and social science academics learned a lesson from that incident. Martin seem not to be among them.

A question which doesn’t seem to be asked often enough is, “How do we know X is true?” Even scientists have been known to fail to ask that question, which at least they can usually answer. Sometimes the answer to that question turns out not to be satisfactory, and that is a sign that something is wrong with our understanding of the phenomenon–perhaps a published result turns out to be statistically spurious, or is based on extrapolating experimental results into a regime where the underlying assumptions are valid. Martin isn’t asking this question at all–he’s assuming that the scientists’ opinions and the anti-vaxers’ opinions are equally valid. That’s a reasonable view to take if you are discussing a work of fiction, but not when you are discussing testable ideas.

So he actually cleared his copy with Wakefield (he didn’t clear it with me), and then he uses his position to give out Ph.Ds to people who parrot him. As well as all the others – like the profiteer Halvosen , who made a fortune selling single shots.

Whoa. I didn’t notice that Wilyman had cleared her text with some antivaxers, although I did notice she had cited several of them.

@Orac

That acknowledgment bit is from Martin’s paper about suppression of vaccination dissent, not from Wilyman’s thesis, though Wilyman does thank Tomljenovic and Shaw.

I downloaded the thesis yesterday from the free link provided in the comments . After reading, somewhat randomly, several pages, the profound ignorance of these humanities people who seem to genuinely believe their nonsense with a bunker mentality is stunning. However, I remind myself there are some good universities that award a PhD for divinity studies where in my view, the basic premise of a supreme Deity does not exist. Preventable disease has probably killed more people that religions, but submit advancing the respective agendas is the same, without any proof of concept. The comfort is, there are some enigmas, like the well meaning astrologers who do less damage with a certain entertainment value.

Looking at Brian Martin’s curriculum, he has a theoretical physics PhD. He was terminated as a mathematician at the Australian National University (no reason given, might only be position cutting), then took a position at Wollongong working on the politics/debates in science (on a wide range of topics, most of them with woo “debates”).

Interestingly, he was president of Whistleblowers Australia and is still involved with them. Might give an idea on how he thinks…

A list of his publications, which he put online himself, makes for some interesting reading from unusual “academic” sources….http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/index.html

After that, that he might accept Wilyman’s thesis is not that surprising, and Wollongong U’s acceptance isn’t either, since they’ve had him for quite a while.

Among Brian Martin’s papers, I have picked one which is quite revealing: “Can scientific development be stopped?”
This approach for stopping scientific development is pathetic, when compared to the results obtained by the Mark Gable foundations.

@Eric Lund:

Yeah, it’s kind of surprising that they don’t realize that a method that is capable of generating meaningful discussion for the question “Is Hamlet gay?” might not be capable of generating meaningful discussion for reality-based questions.

@Chris Hickie #13

There is no debate on 2+2 = 4, and no debate on the earth being a sphere.

Playing the anti-vax devil’s advocate:

But the earth is not a true sphere and if you would lie about something so easy to disprove, you would lie about anything!

Quite apart from all the other problems mentioned it is well known that writing concisely is harder than writing at length so to cllaim length as a good quality is questionable is any area of study.

Word of the day: TROPE: a plot device. e.g. using “trope” over and over in a self-aggrandizing way.

My favourite bit:

“… smallpox is only transferrable by direct skin to-skin
contact. It is not transmissible through the environment or until the symptoms appear. Therefore, isolation of the cases alone could have stopped the circulation of the
virus and eradicated this disease. ”

What. The actual. FUCK? WIkiepdia wouldn’t have let that one get past.

Have you seen her Masters?
http://vaccinationdecisions.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Masters-Research-An-Analysis-of-the-Australian-Governments-Whooping-Cough-Policy-JWilyman.pdf

She’s got a table where 137 kids presented with pertussis, and 37 of them were immunised. She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”

That’s…. dear god. I’m speechless. I have no words.

I’m mildly interested in Martin’s “Challenging Dominant Physics Paradigms” (2004). It starts out with the neutralish disclaimer

“[t]o exclude most of the many uninformed and unsophisticated critics, we restricted our attention to those who have scientific degrees or are affiliated with reputable universities or have publications in mainstream journals, though no doubt this restriction excludes some worthy challengers.

This futher becomes

Hence, rather than use personal assessments in our selection process, we relied on the surrogate measures of degrees, affiliations and publications, which encapsulate the collective judgments of other scientists.

The next thing you know, Ruggero Santilli is being trotted out in the same paragraph with… Bruce Harvey, “dissident physicist”?*

That’s quite a switcheroo from the putative criteria.

* h[]tp://bearsoft.co.uk/Biog.html

She’s got a table where 137 kids presented with pertussis, and 37 of them were immunised. She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”

That’s…. dear god. I’m speechless. I have no words.

Just had the best laugh I’ve had since one of the dogs got her head stuck in the fence this weekend. Thanks for that. I’m serious. 🙂

^ The unclosed link does work, but only for the name “Ruggero Santilli” itself.

@magpie #43–That master’s thesis is crap. Page 7, right at the intro she states:

Controversy has surrounded the pertussis vaccine ever since it was introduced into mass
immunisation programs in Australia in 1954. Throughout the twentieth century it was
continually questioned with respect to both efficacy and safety and for this reason it’s use has
been discontinued in some countries and is discretionary in many others.

No citation is given (inexcusable), and I don’t know of any countries this have discontinued pertussis vaccination, unless she is being duplicitous and lazy by not clarifying she means the whole-cell pertussis vaccine.

Magpie:

She’s got a table where 137 kids presented with pertussis, and 37 of them were immunised. She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”

I’ve noticed that many of the antivax folks have trouble with simple math, and I am not the only one:
http://thespudd.com/five-out-of-four-anti-vaccers-failed-high-school-math/

I have a detailed explanation on the pertussis numbers, which has been used elsewhere (Hi Todd!), but what it really hilarious is their refusal to do a little division problem I give them.

What I do is pull up the most recent NVICP statistics page and ask them to look at the first table. Then get the total number of vaccines given (2,532,428,541 vaccines), and then divide it by the total number of compensated claims (2104 compensated claims). I ask them to tell me what the number is, and what it is.

From that exercise I have learned that no anti-vaxer understands that there is a built in calculator in most computers and smart phones. Or which button is the “divide” key.

@Chris Hickie #47 – I think ‘inexcusable’ is the best possible one-word review for both documents. Utterly baffling that this could be defended by the university. As an Australian who works with a lot with academics (I’m pretty much an academic – layperson translator by profession) I am genuinely worried about how this reflects on Australian academia. I think we need to have a good hard look at the PhD process in this country. Certainly a PhD from the Gong is worth a lot less today than it was…

I’m disgusted, frankly.

@Chris #49 – I reckon you’ve been caught by Poe’s Law on that one. It’s satire. Thank god.
🙂

Magpie, I know it is satire. It is one of at three of their posts that mock the dubious math skills of the antivaxers You will see I also posted proof on how that particular satirical article was reflecting reality.

Look at the last “The Spudd” link I posted. I asked for the ratio of the vaccines give versus compensated claims, and the nutcake replied by just posting a link to the page that I used to get the statistics! I was then accused of being a Pharma Shill on the basis of knowing how to do third grade division.

It is really hard to “Poe” when some of those guys are even more ridiculous than the satire on that page.

Le sigh… then there are the folks who expect satire to always be funny. I am saddened by how many people don’t understand Jonathan Swift or Terry Gilliam.

Why would you expect a satirical comment about a woman letting her three kids suffer for months with pertussis to be funny?

Oh, sorry. I didn’t see the first post, and the second didn’t take me to the comments. My browser badly needs updating – it often struggles with comments links.

@ Chris:

As you probably know, ‘getting’ satire is a more advanced skill than general reading – as such, it is grouped alongside skills that use abstraction and develop in adolescents- just like sarcasm.

Actually, today Dachel has a post today that includes a quote about ‘not getting’ irony et al ( how to recognise if you might be autistic) as she scoffs at the UK study that showed how many adults are on the spectrum.
Which of course she doesn’t believe. She probably doesn;y get irony either.

Magpie: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t see the first post, and the second didn’t take me to the comments”

Yeah, it got held in moderation because it had three links. Sometimes with Disqus comments I just load the whole page and scroll, scroll, scroll. It is kind of annoying,

Chris Hickie #48:
That master’s thesis is crap. Page 7, right at the intro she states:

The misuse of apostrophes is a failing offense in itself.
[/apostrophe police]

the special ecological conditions in Australia, for example the levels of sanitation and nutrition, and the incidence and severity of diseases.

I am intrigued by this special Australian ecology. Are Australians more disease-resistant than humans elsewhere, due to their healthier life-style or superior genetic stock? Are diseases less virulent?
Perhaps it is a terroir issue, like with grapes.

Naturally we can dismiss the possibility that the incidence of many infectious diseases in Australia is relatively low because of high immunisation rates.

With apologies to the Boogalie Woogalie Band, I can’t help but think that none of this would have happened without the interweb machine:

“We think of the internet as an information superhighway. It’s not, it’s a bias superhighway. Twitter and Facebook are wonderful ways of sharing information, but it may be that because we’re sharing our prejudices, they’re making us dumber.”

Daniel Richardson, quoted by Michael Bond, in: Why people get more stupid in a crowd. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160113-are-your-opinions-really-your-own

From Narad’s link @ 58

The list includes more than 8000 names of scientists, doctors ou engineers for more than 50%

As a semi retired engineer with a family history of dementia I should be able to make an arrangement with a University Physics department whereby should I ever send them an alternate theory refuting Relativity, QM, the big bang etc, they will receive my entire estate if they dispatch a grad student to shoot me.

Earth is an oblate spheroid. You are the one in dissent!

I looked up Oblates and I am pretty sure that the Earth is not constructed from them.

Jean di Climont is Nicolas Bourbaki–style routine.

From Narad’s “Alternative Theorists” link:
Physicists, whether online, in lectures or individual discussion, are generally weary of criticism

Well it tends to be pretty repetitious.

For the information of those commenting on the shape of the earth;
The shape of the earth has been determined by surveyors determining the sea water levels world wide (the tide marks). Those levels are mainly affected by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon and the rotational velocity of the surface of the earth which varies from 1668km/hr at the equator to nil at the poles.

if they dispatch a grad student to shoot me

/me think they’ll dispatch a shrink…

Big Al

Apologies if this is a little spammy, but I think this is really a watershed in both Australian academia and public health. So please sign and share this petition that calls on relevant Ministers and bureaucrats to take action against Wollongong Uni.
https://www.change.org/p/simon-birmingham-sussan-ley-lisa-paul-martin-bowles-prof-chris-baggoley-stop-the-university-of-wollongong-s-spread-of-disease-and-death-via-anti-vaccination-phd?recruiter=467151178&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg&fb_ref=Default

@ Magpie: She’s got a table where 137 kids presented with pertussis, and 37 of them were immunised. She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”

This is mathematical dissent.

She’s got a table where 137 kids presented with pertussis, and 37 of them were immunised. She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”

This, too, gets better:

“Behrman et al, (1998) state the efficacy of pertussis whole-cell vaccine to be 70 – 90 percent. They claim the vaccine does not stimulate antibody production in one hundred percent of individuals therefore they remain unprotected from infection. In addition, it is known that outbreaks of pertussis have been common in urban areas in fully immunized children (Behrman et al, 1998, p.363). It leads us to question whether this is because the bacteria revert to virulence or because uptake of the vaccine was unsuccessful. Refer Appendix 3.”

“Us”? “Uptake”? A girl named John? What?

She concludes: “The statistics indicate that one-third of fully vaccinated children still got infected with pertussis.”
This is mathematical dissent.

I think she is dividing apples by oranges and getting Potato.

Just dipped a toe into the Bibliography section in the Wilyman thesis, looking for anti-vaccine loons. I noticed the Geier name and found it repeated 5 times. I know about Geier father and son, but Geier, Geier and the other brothers Geier? Here is a copy and paste from her novel, er thesis:
Geier D, Geier D, Geier MR, Geier D, Geier MR. 2005. A case-control study of serious
autoimmune adverse events following hepatitis B immunization. Autoimmunity. 38: 4: pp295-
301.
Compare that to the authors as cited on PubMed:
Geier DA, Geier MR.
How does anyone not proof read their Bibliography?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: