The Hypocrisy of the Immunisation "Awareness" Society

By Michael Edmonds 20/12/2012 45


Earlier this year, another sciblogger Darcy Cowan was successful in getting the tax exempt status of the Immunisation Awareness Society revoked based on the fact that they don’t fulfil the requirements of charity (see here).

One of the things that bothered me about the IAS at the time is that although they claim on their website to “To debate vaccination issues through symposiums, health forums, displays, talks, presentations and the media” and “to provide information for parents so that they can make an informed decision about vaccination” they really do not.

First, they only provide information designed to prevent parents from vaccinating. They may deny this occasionally but the articles and pictures make it clear they are anti-vaccine (of course if one of their authors would like to point out circumstances where they advocate for vaccinations I will correct this statement). Consequently, the information on their website is strongly biased, selective, and presented in a way that I would argue certainly does not allow parents to make an informed choice.

One only has to look at their website to see that on all of the posts the comments section is closed. This suggests to me they do not want to debate vaccination but prefer to sit in their little echo chamber of cherry picked information where they are more than happy to, for example, criticise Darcy and sciblogs without providing any public way for Darcy and others to respond to their rather petty response to his blogging.

The removal of the tax exempt charitable status of the IAS is a good start. A second improvement would be for them to be up front about their anti-vaccine position, perhaps changing to the name of their organisation as has their Australian cousin the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) is being required to do.


45 Responses to “The Hypocrisy of the Immunisation "Awareness" Society”

  • oh, careful you’ll provoke the ire of the IAS and they’ll post a semi-incoherent article on how mean you are.

    “…of course if one of their authors would like to point out circumstances where they advocate for vaccinations I will correct this statement…”

    I think you’re pretty safe from correction there, but I’d be happy to be wrong.

  • Darcy,

    With our open comments section here at sciblogs (unlike some other websites) they could even post a response here …….

  • I think it is critical they are up front with their intentions. Duping people into life-changing medical decisions is hardly an “informed choice”.

  • Their hypocrisy goes hand in hand with the disingenuousness so don’t expect upfront honesty about their real intentions.

    Mind you, their recent “101 Reasons Not To Vaccinate” posts show more of their true colours. An incredible list of nonsense and lies if you can ever find one. Wonderful sources such as naturalnews, Tenpenny, Butler’s shrill Beyondconformity and the wonderful final reason – “gut instinct”.

  • Good work, people forget the death toll of these diseases in the first place. The reason why immunisation was started and the lives it has saved.

  • Hello,

    ‘Team IAS’ here – we don’t usually respond to these posts but thought some clarification may be in order given the events of recent weeks.

    You’re welcome to your views, as are we – that’s the beauty of living in a free country – however, to clarify, we don’t have the comments open on the site as we simply haven’t got the time or the manpower to moderate or engage. We don’t like deleting posts from the facebook page either, either in favour of or against vaccination (particularly when referenced, and given this is our main means of communication and commenting in lieu of the website being open), however it has been the target of a fairly dedicated ‘troll group’ in recent weeks which has left us with little choice but to delete anything associated with these groups and people and to disengage entirely from the frankly very irrational conversation.

    We provide myriad links on the website to government organisations and websites in favour of vaccination, and encourage all readers to look at these and to research widely from all angles before making any decisions on any aspect of their health care. We do personally also appreciate the work you put in to helping promote good science, and feel that despite any disagreements we may have on this subject, we’re all working passionately for the betterment of public health and we wish you all the best.

    Kind regards, and have a fantastic 2013,

    IAS

  • Hello ‘Team IAS’

    Thank you for your clarification. I appreciate the measured tone of your post and your best wishes. I hope 2013 is a good year for the team and if future articles on the IAS site are as you have described I look forward to reading them.

  • Hello anonymous IAS person. I hope you appreciate being able to comment here without having your post deleted.

    My posts to the IAS Facebook page were polite and reasoned. Many posts that were deleted that I saw were well referenced and reasonable as well. In fact, IAS admins stated that “provax” commenters were not welcome as there is plenty of pro information available elsewhere. No antivax posts were removed.

    The Charities Commission would disagree with your assertions above about working toward better public health – they say the IAS is clearly a lobby group working against vaccines.

    Let’s see how many well referenced and reasonable posts get deleted after today. A bit hard for some people, myself included, who have been banned for no reason other than trying to correct misinformation.

    Simon

  • Hello team IAS.

    I also wonder why you blocked me, I believe all my posts were polite and evidence based. In fact, I believe I was substantially more polite in my posting than the IAS admins were in response to me.

    My last post, immediately prior to being banned was to ask you why IAS advice should be taken over that from the MoH, the WHO, UNICEF, APA, not to mention the scientific literature, which overwhelmingly supports vaccination.

    Andrea

  • IAS,

    You are being deliberately untruthful. You delete any and all pro vaccination comments.

    You deleted a comment reporting a donation to UNICEF had been made on your behal. Why would you do that? Unless of course you are really a rabid anti vaccination group who deceives vulnerable people.

  • Dear team IAS.

    I wish to clarify that in no way is the sciblogs group responsible for, or affiliated with the “real immunisation awareness society facebook page”. I have referred to their work purely on my admiration of their writing.

    I am therefore disappointed you chose this forum for your comment.

    I would like to add that I run my page as an individual, have not censored anyone or anything and will continue to operate in this way short of personal abuse.

    Sincerely, individual real IAS.

  • I have been banned from that ISA page, too, and what is silly is there are questions up on the threads, directed to me, but the answers were all deleted when they banned me. They apparently don’t want to hear actual facts about how measles outbreaks in Canada and USA were all caused by unvaccinated children and teens importing measles in and spreading it to other unvaccinated children and teens. They don’t want to read any of the very polite and respectful scientific evidence I posted about morbidity versus mortality rates. They just want to hide real facts from their fans in favor of scare tactics and lies.

  • I was banned from IAS and my comments deleted. I raised the topic of the tetanus infection of a seven year old New Zealand boy and said that vaccination with tetanus toxoid is necessary. The IAS incorrect view was that vaccination was unnecessary and they blamed the boy’s mother for not “cleaning” the wound.

  • Aaaah, the smiling face of the snake….

    Its a a little disingenuous to claim an inability to “moderate” the IAS site’s comments when the Facebook page is clearly “moderated”.

    Yes the quotation marks are there for an ironic reason – moderation is a process that typically ensures compliance with an advised set of standards related to presentation, tone and adherence to the subject. Since the only common factor to “moderation” on IAS controlled pages is that posts questioning anti-vac stances are removed, this is actually censorship.

    As pointed out earlier, the IAS site is not in the least bit balanced. While some links to neutral or pro-vaccination sites are listed, its telling that they are under the heading “INTERNATIONAL SITES RUN BY VACCINE DEFENDERS” – a somewhat pejorative opening statement, especially when compared to the more positively framed “Pro informed choice Websites” (and that’s leaving out the very broad definition of “informed” that you would have to use to include the likes of AVN and Beyond Vaccination).

    Lets be honest here – IAS is nothing other than a soft-core front for anti-vaccination, anti – medical establishment fringe dwellers.

    To a extent, I’m actually ok with the fact that IAS is taking a hardline stand against dissent on its forums. It has the distinct advantage that it throws the scientific and logical illiteracy of the remaining material into sharp relief.

  • Eugenie Kruger, chairperson of IAS to Dr Tenpenny on vaccines:

    Does she really think everyone works together for betterment of science, or is Big Pharma paying people to personally annoy the IAS.

    “Pleasure Dr Tenpenny…these people make me sick! I can’t help but wonder if Big Pharma is somehow behind their endeavours to annoy anyone who is making an effort to get the truth out about vaccines. I just simply can’t believe how much time these trolls have on their hands! It’s mind boggling. If I had half as much free time as they do, I’d spend it all on quality time with my family, instead of harassing others.”

    https://www.facebook.com/vaccineinfo/posts/10151353120185891

  • Looks like Erin from the IAS, am I right? Either way, that was some prime dishonesty right there. Fortunately the people here aren’t easily fooled.

    p.s. An internet troll is not merely someone who disagrees with you, especially not someone that disagrees with you based on an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. Please learn the definition of terms before you start throwing them around. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll

  • I don’t know how to post a screen shot here, but polite?

    IAS & I disagree on manners in much the same way as we agree on science. I just noticed this on their fb page:

    “Immunisation Awareness Society Shut up, Ben. Take your “science” and shove it. Incase you haven’t noticed we are NOT interested in pro-vaccine information and we will NEVER change our minds on the issue. Go back to your bugs.”

  • Yes I think the IAS are being a little (actually, a lot) disingenuous with their claims that they have a “myriad” of pro-vaccination information and appreciate good science when they post this (as noted above also, this has come from their facebook page on 2/1/2013)

    Immunisation Awareness Society: Shut up, Ben. Take your “science” and shove it. Incase you haven’t noticed we are NOT interested in pro-vaccine information and we will NEVER change our minds on the issue. Go back to your bugs.

  • I think their lowest was blaming the misled parents of an unvaccinated (based on anti-vaccine teachings) child with tetanus for their child’s suffering.
    To Quote Eugene Kruger, chair and spokeswoman of the IAS:

    “Funny….if that child had been vaccinated and got tetanus, you wouldn’t have heard anything about it in the media…or if you had, their immunisation status would’ve been kept quiet. You guys are forgetting the bigger picture here….NO VACCINE IS 100% EFFECTIVE!!! So even if the boy had been vaccinated, that’s not to say he wouldn’t have contracted tetanus. It’s a shame the mother is not educated on how to treat a puncture wound properly (esp as she’s a health care worker!). I’m glad my unvaccinated son will never get tetanus as I am well versed on how to treat a puncture wound to prevent it in the first place”

  • I thought it was even worse when Eugenie claimed that vaccination caused a > 4000% increase in miscarriages and caused SIDS.

    But for true callous nature, I guess that takes the cake.

  • With regard to SIDS, Autism, and the other anti-vaccine chestnuts I can only conclude that there has been intentional dishonesty for ideological reasons on the IAS’ part. There is simply too much evidence contradicting those claims for their position to be one of pure ignorance..

    • Ben,
      To paraphrase a well known saying “Never blame on malice what can be explained by ignorance.” It is often the case that those pushing irrational ideas can’t see the intellectual dishonesty or irrationality of the arguments they are using, particularly when they limit their experiences to sites which are an echo chamber of their own views.

  • Hello to you all I was one of the founders of the IAS many years ago so be nice people I’m not a fighter. If anyone wants to ask why we started this group I am happy to tell you. For the record I am not a member now but keep looking in from time to time.

  • I can see Ben’s point, that it is astounding that anyone can be that ignorant in the first place, and even more so that they can be arrogant enough at the same time to fly in the face of all the reputable and credible information such as the scientific literature, governmental agencies, international organisations such as WHO, UNICEF etc, in favour of dubious sources such as naturalnews.com, mercola etc.

    That set aside, I do believe that they are deluded rather than malicious, and it doesn’t help that they reinforce their views with information that only suits their purpose. Even worse that they use this position to try to manipulate others.

    Anyway, my point is, regardless of whether they are malicious, or ignorant and deluded; the impact is just the same.

  • Hi Linda – two questions: why did you set up IAS, and why are you no longer a member?

    As to the mix of ignorance vs malicious intent in the anti-vax church, I suspect that there is a broad mix of beliefs from “wow – THAT sounds scientific!” through “needles are sharp and sharp is bad!” and “there is a conspiracy under every rock…” to “my homeopathy business relies on gullible and/or stupid people, and this is as good a place as any to find them…”

    The best cure would be a damn good introduction to basic statistics – the postings on the IAS site (FB and IAS website), where they do contain data, are generally howlers of the first waters in this respect.

  • A few quick remarks –

    Linda writes: “I was one of the founders of the IAS”

    From the IAS ‘About page’: “The Immunisation Awareness Society Inc. is a voluntary and charitable organisation founded in 1988 by Hilary Butler.”

    Putting aside the tone of the IAS’ earlier the claims made in that comment are not reflected in the actions of the IAS.

    It seems self-evident to me that they have the time to moderate comments, as they do just that with the Facebook page. I’ve seen many cases of comments disappearing in very short notice. Likewise, there is plenty of engagement. In fact, neither of these is a fair excuse in my opinion for other reasons. There is no obligation to ‘engage’ really: many bloggers, particularly those that are popular, largely leave their comment sections to the reader’s own devices. Moderation, done properly, should mostly be dumping the odd bit of spam that makes it past the spam filters.

    They claim they “We don’t like deleting posts from the facebook page”, but I’ve seen plenty of instances of ‘cheering’ deleting some comments.

    I think I’ve only seen a single instance of deleting a comment against vaccination over many months compared to deleting dozens of polite comments pointing out information about vaccines.

    The reference to “either in favour of or against vaccination” looks to be trying (or believing) in being even-handed, but it’s quite obvious how uneven the deletion policy is. (If there is a policy as such.)

    “it [the IAS Facebook page] has been the target of a fairly dedicated ‘troll group’ in recent weeks” which has left us with little choice but to delete anything associated with these groups and people and to disengage entirely from the frankly very irrational conversation.”

    I don’t quite agree with this, but leaving that aside it ‘overlooks’ that polite, entirely informational, comments were deleted for seemingly no good reason judging from the content. These people were not trolling. Trolling is usually baiting to try create arguments. Presenting information is not trolling.

    “We provide myriad links on the website to government organisations and websites in favour of vaccination, and encourage all readers to look at these”

    These links are set in an ‘us vs. them’ context, which is not a neutral setting that would encourage people to read them equitably but one that intentional ‘slants’ the offerings. (Those offering information about vaccines are not ‘vaccine defenders’. While I’m writing: the ‘Other Health Websites’ section are dominantly crank health sites.)

    “We do personally also appreciate the work you put in to helping promote good science, and feel that despite any disagreements we may have on this subject,”

    There are examples of the IAS ‘staff’ issuing putdowns, etc., on the Facebook page which runs counter to this.

    Perhaps someone from IAS could explain the move to ‘The new troll free page of the IAS.’ – ? Best as I can see at a glance (it’s late, I haven’t time to explore), this appears to be an attempt to block people entirely – ?

  • I guess I ought to clarify my last sentence. I now gather that from time to time the IAS Facebook page goes off-line (as it is as I’m writing). The above remark comes from not having not seen this before and searching to see where it might have gotten to and running into another page suggesting itself as ‘The new troll free page of the IAS.’ It’s likely this is not from the IAS, but it confused me at the time.

    I’ve no idea why their Facebook page goes off-line.

    (Excuse my mangled attempt at closing the last block of italics, too. From ‘There are examples’ should be in normal font.

    • Although the IAS no longer receives the financial benefits of being legally recognised as a charitable organisation, I think they are relying on the fact that because they think what they are doing is “charitable” they can get away with using the term.
      But then I guess the Klu Klux Klan probably think some of the things they do are “charitable”. But thinking something doesn’t make it true.

  • My children are 23 and 21 years old – so that many years ago the immunisation debate was relevant to me. I reviewed and researched information from both sides. I did not vaccinate – the choice was actually very easy when it became apparent how ineffective and unnecessary vaccines are. They – like other ‘modern medicines’ have little place in maintaining health and preventing illness. To date my children have never had antibiotics, or been unwell for more than a few hours. This will sound like lies to those of you on here who have sold your health to the pharmaceutical giants and whom have been convinced that your health is someones elses business – namely the ‘sickness industries business.’

    • Andrea,
      It sounds like your children have been extra-ordinarily lucky not to have never needed antibiotics. How wonderful that they have maintained such good health.
      You have made a couple of assumptions in your comment which I would like to respond to.
      First to assume that your comments will “sound like lies to those of you on here” borders on rudeness. I am more than happy to take your comments regarding the health of your family at face value.
      Second, it is rather presumptuous of you to say that some of us have “sold your health to the pharmaceutical giants and whom have been convinced that your health is someones elses business” For myself, I avoid using medication when I can, but will use it when necessary. As a lifelong asthmatic I have undergone various non-drug treatments but still require asthma medication. I am careful to avoid known triggers and keep myself as fit as I can, and try and eat healthily (most of the time) and minimise the amount of medication I take as much as I can, safely.
      While the pharmaceutical industry has at times engaged in some rather dubious practices, this does not negate the effectiveness of many of its drugs such as painkillers, antibiotics and antivirals, to name but a few.
      I hope your family continues to experience good health in the future.

  • @Andrea Taylor –

    The implication that there are even two “sides” is misleading. Do you consider that the MoH, WHO, UNICEF, CDC, APA etc, not to mention the overwhelming medical evidence, are all on the wrong “side”?

    That’s great that your family have experienced such good health. In part, that will be due to the reduction in prevalence of vaccine preventable diseases in society. We certainly can’t claim that hygiene or improved nutrition are responsible for these changes, as vaccines for different diseases were introduced over very long periods, not all at the same time. Likewise, a strong immune system is no match for killer diseases like typhoid, diptheria, polio etc,

    I’m also lucky that my children have for the most part, enjoyed excellent health. However, with complications arising from her prematurity, I’m privileged to access modern medicine when needed. Life expectancies have improved so much!

  • Just reviewing some of the other information on your site….. For those interested review Usana.com if you want to actually review science based preventitive medicine based on years of scientific research and review of world wide quaility research

  • Andrea Taylor,

    You write that you have “reviewed and researched information from both sides.”

    A key problem is that while it’s easy to read the opinions and conclusions of both ‘sides’, it’s much harder to assess the soundness of the opinions and conclusions.

    It’s not that people write different things, but how sound the things they say are that matters. There will always be a small number of people who have, to be polite, odd views about any topic. The WWW gives unsound views more presence than they might otherwise have.

    By way of example, I’ve previously examined a few of the articles the IAS write. What I found striking was that almost none of the claims made were accurate – when you turned to look for evidence there was no evidence to support their claim or the weight of evidence was against what they wrote.

    Finding sound sources of information on medical issues is something I’ve written about a few times. If it’s useful I could link to what I’ve written on this. You could also try at Dr. Pertousis-Harris’ blog here at sciblogs. (She’s a researcher specialising in vaccines.)

  • @Andrea Taylor again – I looked up usana.com. It is a business devoted to selling supplements for profit. I wouldn’t use a source with a vested interest when it came to reviewing scientific research.

  • Andrea Taylor,

    My comment above crossed over your reply.

    In your latest comment you touted a company that sells ‘health’ products as a source of information. The main aim of company websites is to encourage people to buy their products. You are better to use non-commercial sources for information.

    For example, I prefer to get my information from the scientific research literature. (For one thing, researchers aren’t companies trying to sell products!)

    There are other sources that are easier to read. In the case of vaccines, for New Zealanders that Immunisation Advisory Centre is one readers might try. (There are others, but I have to get back to work.)

  • “the choice was actually very easy when it became apparent how ineffective and unnecessary vaccines are”

    It was at this point in your post that I was easily persuaded to discount your research and review skills.

    Good luck with avoiding the evil big pharma empire as you approach old age.

  • Just saw this quote and thought of the exchange here so had to share:

    “If you know the truth and others don’t, that’s one way you can reassert feelings of having agency,” [University of Westminster’s Viren] Swami says. It can be comforting to do your own research even if that research is flawed. It feels good to be the wise old goat in a flock of sheep.

    It’s referring specifically to conspiracy theories but vaccine denial is a species of conspiracy theory I feel.
    from:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/magazine/why-rational-people-buy-into-conspiracy-theories.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • I’ve read a few of the comments above and I believe a lot of people here are not totally informed on the issue of vaccines and who is behind them , 1st it is the World Health Organization who mandates them where and when to be distributed like in Africa in 1974 then in 1980 we all remember what was announced to the world ? AIDS remember , oh and don’t forget the homosexual population in NY , SF , & Miami were also being immunized with the same vaccines that were being tested in Africa interestingly enough ??? The question here is……who is the W.H.O. ? From all the research I did back in the early 2000’s it appears as it is big business or big pharma as they are commonly referred to , what it comes down to is the individuals research and as I found theres a lot of pro immunization articals but you have to dig for the anti vac articals as I did then , and I’m sure u can tell I’m anti vaccine , but that’s from all the info I found and could not deny . Me and my family are perfectly fine and anti vaccine free , meaning no more foreign dna & rna from who knows what animals being injected into our bloodstream ??? This alone was enough for me !

    • Who is the WHO? Try looking them up on Google or Wikipedia, I think there is a pretty good explanation of who they are.

      “oh and don’t forget the homosexual population in NY , SF , & Miami were also being immunized with the same vaccines that were being tested in Africa interestingly enough ?”

      Really? Could you provide some evidence for such an immunization programme occurring with homosexual populations, because I’ve never heard of it before.

      If you are going to argue against the use of vaccines on a science website you might want to try something a little more convincing than unsubstantiated claims and innuendo.

      “Me and my family are perfectly fine and anti vaccine free”

      Well good for you, but perhaps in consideration of those unable to be vaccinated, you and your family could consider isolating yourself from the general, largely vaccinated, population?

  • “meaning no more foreign dna & rna from who knows what animals being injected into our bloodstream ”

    What, exactly, do you think (on the basis of your years of research) is found in the whooping cough vaccine (as an example)?

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