The Conversation Website
The Conversation website is described as a forum for academic debate on scientific issues and it claims to assist in disseminating scientific knowledge to the public. It is a website that is sponsored by many universities. These academic institutions are no longer independent because they are in partnership with industry. Industry is sponsoring and influencing the production of scientific knowledge in most universities. These institutions are protecting industry interests in debates on the Conversation website. An example of this is the HPV vaccination debate. Despite the fact that I have had several articles published on this topic and accepted at conferences – most recently in the Infectious Agents and Cancer Journal and the Cancer Science and Therapy Conference (US Oct 21-23, 2013) – the science editor has allowed contributors to spread misinformation about my research on this website. On the 8th August 2013 I requested that the science editor remove the misinformation that is being provided about my research so that the public is accurately informed about the HPV vaccine. But The Conversation editors did not reply. Wollongong University has also been informed of the misinformation that the Conversation is providing to the public but the the public interest is not being upheld by these institutions by removing this misinformation on the HPV vaccine (October 2013). There was no reply to this letter.
On the 17th November 2013 I requested again (here) that I write an article on the HPV vaccine based on the information I presented at the Cancer Science and Therapy conference (San Francisco) on the 22nd October 2013. The Conversation declined to let me write an article on the HPV vaccine. I notified the university that the HPV vaccine has not been proven safe, effective and necessary and I informed the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research that my HPV vaccine research was not being presented to the public on the Conversation or in other mainstream channels of information. Suppressing this information is dangerous to population health and universities are misinforming the public if they do not ensure that validated science on health issues is being presented to the public in mainstream media.
Instead the conversation has presented the information on the HPV vaccine that was authored by David Hawkes, Candice Lea and Matthew Berryman. These authors had a paper published in the Infectious Agents and Cancer Journal at the same time as my own article (June 2013).Two of the authors of this paper (Hawkes and Lea) are administrators of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) facebook group – an anonymous group that lobbies for vaccines by presenting misinformation and discrediting individuals – and many subscribers of the Skeptic groups contribute to this site. Skeptics groups put out misinformation on vaccines. In particular, they discredit researchers and their institutions. The third author Berryman is a subscriber of Skeptics online.
The article is titled ‘Answering human papillomavirus concerns; a matter of time and science’ and is published in the Infectious Agents and Cancer Journal (June 2013). This paper confirms that the benefits of HPV vaccine against cervical cancer are only speculative. The authors agree that the science on the efficacy of this vaccine has been based on assumptions and the authors make claims about the safety of the vaccine that are not supported with evidence. I have provided an analysis of this paper that demonstrates that the conclusions made by these authors – ‘that the benefits far outweigh the risks‘ – have not been supported with evidence in their paper. The Conversation editors are presenting selective evidence on the HPV vaccine on the website and they are not allowing the evidence to be objectively debated.
Sue Ieraci regularly makes comments on the Conversation website that discredit the persons qualifications. She also uses the words ‘misinformation’ and ‘conspiracy theory’ to make her points – not scientific arguments. Here is an example of the way in which Sue Ieraci uses language to misinform the public about academic research on the Conversation website. The comments were made on the article ‘Court Decision to force MMR Not in the Child’s Best Interest’:
The full debate can be found on this link MMR Court Case Not in the Child’s Best Interest
The comment I made on this article was a statement about how the smallpox vaccine was tested for safety and efficacy in the 1800’s and early 1900’s when it was first used in the population. Random controlled clinical trials were not used to prove the efficacy and safety of vaccines until after 1952 and here is my original comment . The emphasis here is on the quality of clinical trials and the ability to prove efficacy and this was not significantly improved until 1952 (Cochrane 1989). However Sue Ieraci uses the word ‘ ‘misinformation’ to suggest this is wrong yet she confirms that scientific methodology did not improve until 1940 and the ‘gold standard’ clinical trial was not utilised for most drugs until after 1960. Here is Sue Ieraci’s reply. In her reply she states that “there has never been so much access to the scientific literature than is now available”. She also states that the clinical trial data and methodology are not secret. This is completely false and the reverse is true. There has never been so much secrecy around clinical trials or fraudulent peer-reviewed science published in journals. Here is a link to one of the many articles now exposing the trade secrets in clinical trial data and the fraudulent way in which it is being produced and marketed to the public. This article is on the Conversation website titled ‘Making all Clinical Data Public is vital for Better Medical Care‘. Here is my reply to Sue Ieraci’s comments that used the words ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘misinformation’ to discredit my comments. Sue Ieraci incorrectly states that measles was associated with ‘significant morbidity and long-term disability’ after 1950. This is misleading. The virulence of the measles virus was significantly reduced by 1950 due to natural herd immunity and whilst measles was common the majority of cases were mild. The majority of cases were not severe and did not result in long-term disability. This also created long-term immunity in the population. Severe cases of measles were rare and were usually a result of complications of measles (and not the measles virus itself) due to socioeconomic circumstances. The measles vaccine was not used in Australia until after 1969. It is important to have accurate information on the risk of the ‘measles’ virus to people after 1950 and the risk of the ‘vaccine’ in order to make an assessment of the value of the vaccine once it was introduced.This evidence suggests that ‘vaccine-created’ herd immunity did not control measles.
In the discussion of the use of placebos Sue Ieraci uses the word ‘misinformation’ to suggest that I do not understand how placebos are used. Here is my reply to this misinformation. Sue Ieraci comments on David Hunter’s qualifications to be able to discuss the merits of HPV vaccines – here. Sue Ieraci has not published any articles on the HPV vaccine and she states that the vaccine targets “some of the existing cancer-causing strains of HPV”. This is a simplistic and misleading statement about the efficacy of this vaccine in preventing cervical cancer. There are 15 high-risk strains of HPV associated with causing cancer and the Gardasil vaccine only protects against 2 of these strains. There is no proof yet of how much cervical cancer (if any) will be prevented by this vaccine because of this fact. This is the type of debate that is occurring on the Conversation website and it involves discrediting university researchers who are presenting valid scientific information.