Related Articles


  1. 1

    Jason Brown

    While some interesting points are raised, I can’t say I agree.

    First of all, Dorey is presenting in the forum, true. However she also has two seminars other than the forum, in which, presumably, there’ll be no-one else with a microphone to challenge until a controlled Q & A at the end (And if Dorey’s previous events are anything to go by, that Q & A itself may be “delayed because we couldn’t cover everything”).

    Secondly, yes, there is a risk of alerting previous dormant antivaxers and making them active as a result. You fail to mention that there’s a concomitant “risk” of activating previously dormant pro-vaccinators. Given that antivax is a minority view, I suspect there’ll be more outrage than sympathy, by an order of magnitude at least.

    Thirdly, and I have to question this even though I’ll be inevitably accused of ad hominem tactics – you’re a research scholar at an alt-med unit? Presumably you’ll be aware that there’s a strong correlation between enthusiasm for “alternative” (read unproven) medicine and antivax sympathies? Could you please disclose your interest in more detail? If Meryl Dorey can cry foul over conflicts of interest on a regular basis, I should at least be allowed to enquire.

    Some other key points: Dismissing herd immunity as an ‘abstract concept’? Spruiking the ill-defined alt-med bogeyman of ‘toxins’?

    I call concern troll.

  2. 2


    Rubbish. If Woodford were promoting her views as controversial, you might have a point. But in their 2009 program they obsequiously labelled her as “Australia’s leading expert in vaccination”, with “unbiased and well-researched knowledge”. This is a complete and utter lie. The current program calls it “necessary for anyone who has a family”. Unalloyed promotion.

    Nothing is mentioned of the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission’s public warning about Ms Dorey and the AVN. Nor the withdrawal of charity status from the AVN due to their shady books, as well as their promotion of public illness. Where do you draw the line on free speech, if not at out and out lies that kill children?

    I might add that not giving her a privileged podium to tell her lies is not the same as denying free speech, anyway. She still has her website and facebook and twitter and is perfectly free to go stand on a soapbox in the Domain.

  3. 3

    Clarke Alden

    I agree completely with Cajela, Ms Dorey is not being promoted as being controversial but as being an expert. I think its time to call a spade a spade and Meryl Dorey is as much an expert on vaccinations as G. W. Bush is on world affairs, and hey they are both american.

  4. 4

    Phil Kent

    Well put Cajela. There is nothing to add except to add my support to removing Meryl Dory from the schedule.

  5. 5

    White Lillian

    Wow. That’s the most sensible, sane thing I’ve ever read on the vaccination debate. Thank you for identifying so clearly how I’ve felt as a parent about vaccinating my children. I’m lucky to have a GP who talks to me and not at me, but not everyone is so lucky. It is so confusing, especially when people start telling you you’re putting your child at risk of things like autism by doing it. But, ultimately, people will make the best choice they can by weighing up all the evidence.

    I also think you’re totally right about the Woodford Folk Festival keeping her on as a speaker. I’ve been going since I was 10 and I’ve seen so many weird, wonderful and controversial things there, all of which i’ve used my grey matter to decide whether or not I’m in favour of. I’m sick of being told that as a parent I need to be protected from dangerous ideas. I’m a big girl and I can make up my own mind-so can everyone else who attends. I get the sense from reading the posts on the Festival facebook page that most of the people commenting aren’t going to the festival, and don’t have an understanding of the kind of people who do.

    It’s not necessary for people to patronise Woodford Folk Festival patrons by telling them they’re too stupid to see this woman for exactly what she is. We’ve seen the odd charlatan before. Meanwhile, would you all mind taking your debate off the Woodford page and carrying it on somewhere else more appropriate? I’m trying to read about what’s on at the festival I wait all year to go to.

  6. 6


    I find reactions and attitudes to vaccination intriguing. You only need to look at the comment count on Croakey posts to see how much emotion is stirred up by the subject – it’s the vaccination posts that get the comments.

    I have to say that I agree with Mr Wardle. Encouraging vaccination is far more likely to engage people and build trust by using positive actions, sensible debate and making effort to understand parents. I have no cold hard evidence to back that statement up, by the way, other than my experience of talking to parents about it (I am a GP with a large proportion of my patients young families). A conversation with a vaccine doubter or overt ‘anti-vaxer’ is like a microcosm of the larger community – I used to get irate and despite all my best intentions end up getting wound up and paternalistic.

    Now I’ve started using an approach that emphasises understanding and validation, with complete ownership of my opinions and stressing that I have formed them myself.

    I’ve found my more recent approach much better received and successful.

    So I say let anyone speak. Then speak ourselves. There’s no real need to address anti-vax points – just explain vaccination carefully and it wins by itself.

  7. 7


    “Encouraging, not silencing, public forums where the anti-vaccination arguments can be held to proper scrutiny help to engage the community on this important issue.”

    So, what I’m reading here is “if they can’t prove their arguments in the scientific arena [which they can’t, and haven’t], then, let them loose to gish-gallop the public by misrepresenting the science”.

    The Live Debate Gambit. Favourite gambit of all antivaxers and creationists, and Moncktons.

    Do you think there might be a reason why Dorey will not debate anyone in a forum not controlled by her, where people have time to check her citations, then, show her ineptitude and intellectual dishonesty to all witnessing?

  8. 8


    I have an honest question, Jon. I am not being facetious, or inflammatory. Please respond.

    What *constructive* role does a demonstrable liar (any demonstrable liar, not naming names), play in the public debate of vaccine safety and effectiveness?

  9. 9

    ron batagol

    I think many of the above comments cover it all!! Also, I suggest a careful read of Rachael Dunlop’s comments and well- expressed concerns is well worthwhile. So I have to ask- just what sort of a collective bad hair day did the organisers of this Festival have when they dreamed up this cockamamie gig? And how come the flat earth society, the psychic surgery exponents and the homeopathists didn’t also get a guernsey?

  10. 10


    Hi Reasonable Hank. I understand your reservation and it is a reasonable (*sorry!*) question.

    The constructive role is not that of Dorey, but comes from the open forum itself. Many have (rightly) criticised Dorey for not attending forums over which she had no control of attendees or agenda.

    Her Woodford appearance offers an opportunity for fence-sitters to hear both sides on an equal footing. The evidence for vaccination, when not distorted, makes for a pretty clear case. The evidence against it, again when not distorted, is rather underwhelming. Dorey will be able to be called out on the distortions that often escape scrutiny in many of her more prepared forums. An open forum and debate advantages vaccination, not anti-vaccination.

    However, this is somewhat dependent on the audience, and all are free to make their voice heard at this forum (though admittedly Woodford tickets are anything but free!). Based on my previous experience in the Blue Lotus I envisage lively debate.

    My concern is that removing her will make her a martyr for her cause, which may have more currency for some members of the general public than the facts themselves, and many of them will seek out what she would have said in less open forums, and will be more inclined to empathise with her viewpoint if they believe she had not been given her opportunity to speak (or in this case had it very publicly withdrawn).

    The point I tried to make is that while the scientific case is pretty open and shut, this is not a way in which ‘normal’ people make decisions. If we want to improve vaccination compliance we need to focus on the human element as much as the scientific debate, and engage fence-sitters or concerned parents in much better ways than we do.

    The end point I’m after is better is real-world short- and long-term better vaccination rates, not just a symbolic victory over Meryl in the short-term.

    (and to Jason Brown: Not that it should be relevant but although it is a research interest I’ve mine as my bios testify I’ve never worked in a ‘CAM unit’ anywhere, but in public health schools (Uni Qld) and medical schools in the US (Uni Wash). One of my current consultative roles is developing better immunisation monitoring methods for Brisbane Medicare Locals to improve response for decreasing immunisation rates, and has nothing to do with CAM at all. Ad hominem was probably an apt choice of word to underpin your assumptions)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2015 – 2020 Croakey | Website: Rock Lily Design


Follow Croakey