A Canberra Skeptics Lecture
Speaker: Ken McLeod
Date: Friday, 11th of March 2011
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Place: Lecture theatre, Innovations Building, Eggleston Rd, ANU
Recent newspaper articles were most disturbing: “Polio emergency in the Congo.” Once again Polio breaks out just when it appeared we had won that war. In the Democratic Republic of Congo we can blame this outbreak on lower vaccination rates due to civil war and the breakdown of government infrastructure. However in Australia we are facing outbreaks of diseases we thought were beaten, not because of civil war, but due to a large and vocal anti-vaccination lobby.
It sounds weird to us more mature citizens who remember the last of the polio epidemics of the ’50s, but yes, there are people in Australia dedicated to persuading parents not to vaccinate themselves or their children. They give the most bizarre reasons, ranging from “vaccines don’t work” to “vaccines cause autism” and “natural immunity is preferable” and so on, with the occasional mention of international conspiracies. Many people, including parents, have been persuaded by the so-called “Australian Vaccination Network” (a group of rabid anti-vaxxers based near Byron Bay), to forgo vaccination, with tragic consequences.
A campaign to counter the anti-vax groups has been going since May 2009, when baby Dana McCaffery died of Pertussis, (whooping cough), a disease which the “Australian Vaccination Network” (AVN) claims is never fatal. A large group of health professionals, members of the Australian Skeptics, and laymen have formed an alliance to counter this propaganda. The campaign’s first major success was the public warning issued by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission concerning the AVN.
One of Canberra’s Skeptics, Ken McLeod, is a leader of the campaign to counter the anti-vaxxers. He was awarded the Australian Skeptics’ “2010 Thornett Award For The Promotion of Reason.” He also shared in the Australian Skeptics’ “2010 Skeptic of the Year Award” which was awarded to the group “Stop the Australian Vaccination Network” for his role in the campaign against the AVN.
World-wide campaigns to provide vaccinations are at risk. Ken will describe Australia’s anti-vaccination lobby, and what is being done about it. He will also brief you on similar campaigns overseas.
Ken McLeod is a Retired navigator, air traffic controller, the Search And Rescue (SAR) national manager, an Australian aviation representative on 2 United Nations committees and a Senate researcher. He is now an investor, boutique farmer and stirrer. He is also Past President Moruya Rotary Club, (Paul Harris Fellow). Ken came to Skepticism after being bothered by “psychics” and crackpot inventors for 20 years in SAR. He submitted complaints to the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing targeting the Australian (anti-) Vaccination Network.
No need to book but note that theatre hold 106.
Dinner will follow the lecture (venue tbc). To RSVP for the dinner please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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