My Response to the article ‘Third Marker gives OK to Anti-Vac Thesis’ (Loussikian K, The Australian 11 May 2016)
On the 11 May 2016 the Australian newspaper published yet another negatively framed article by Kylar Loussikian that attempts to disparage my PhD thesis. This time he used information that was released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act to make suggestions about the quality of the research. He used the examiners comments that were made in the process of assessing the PhD thesis that must be addressed before the degree is awarded, to disparage the quality of the final research. Loussikian has misused these comments by taking them out of context to disparage the research and me personally. Why are journalists going to so much trouble to discredit my PhD thesis? A thesis that is titled “A critical analysis of the Australian government’s rationale for its vaccination policy‘.
UOW followed all the correct procedures in the awarding of this degree and a UOW spokesman stated in the Australian newspaper (13 January 2016) that UOW stands by this research.
Loussikian has made false and misleading comments about my research in many articles. One example in this recent article, is his claim that my research “warns that global agencies including the World Health Organisation were colluding with the pharmaceutical industry to inappropriately push vaccination.” This is incorrect. In my thesis I have provided fully referenced information showing that the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), a board that provides advice to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on global vaccination policy, is made up of public/private partnerships that include pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and the World Bank etc. Each partner in this alliance has equal influence in the design of global public health policies. Here is a link to this information in my thesis.
Like the Skeptic/SAVN lobby groups, Loussikian, persists in attacking the academic process and misinterpreting the research/comments instead of debating the issues. This behaviour suppresses academic debate and can be a sign of ‘astroturfing’. The situation where fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate or other special interests, are used to manipulate media messages. Astroturfing is explained in this 10 min video. Loussikian is also misinforming the public about the information I am providing on my website Vaccination Decisions and my facebook page, Vaccination Choice. These education sites are promoting choice in vaccination, not anti-vaccination, and this is clearly stated on my website. The debate is not about pro or anti vaccination it is about debating the risks and benefits for each vaccine.
Loussikian also states that I have criticised Paul Offit, a senior immunisation advisor to the CDC, as producing ‘pseudoscience funded by the pharmaceutical companies‘. Offit has suggested that it is safe for an infant to have 10,000 vaccines at one time. This statement requires scientific evidence. Further, Paul Offit has not taken up the challenge to demonstrate this fact by taking multiple vaccines in his own adult body at one time. Here is a 10 min video that describes the questionable science being used by organisations such as the US CDC, FDA and WHO in the design of government vaccination policies. Here is the link to referenced information in my thesis that shows how science can be manipulated to support a particular outcome: Industry Influence in Research and Policy.
Loussikian has stated that the university ‘earlier declined to provide the names of the examiners suggesting it could have a detrimental effect to their physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing’. This is because academics at UOW have observed the attacks on me by journalists such as Loussikian, who have disparaged my research and the academic process with unsupported information. He also quotes Alison Jones, the dean of the faculty of science, medicine, and health, as being critical of the process of awarding this PhD but he does not say what she is critical of. In addition, she is quoted as saying “Dr. Wilyman had ‘repeated the discredited claims of a link between vaccines and autism, without providing compelling scientific evidence to support her claim'”. Yet no evidence is provided to support Alison Jones’s claim. She doesn’t discuss the evidence in my thesis she merely states that it is not ‘compelling’ as if the act of saying these words makes it true. This is not scrutinising the science or debating the evidence.
Professor Alison Jones is also one of many academics who have voiced support for the government’s vaccination schedule on the UOW website, and these views have been promoted in the media and on websites. The opinion promoted to the public by these UOW academics has been formed without addressing the in-depth peer-reviewed medical literature in my PhD thesis – also published on the UOW website. This is a case of the opinions of academics, who have not specialised in vaccination policy, being promoted without addressing the in-depth research provided in a doctoral thesis that specialises in vaccination policy.
Why would students attend a university to produce academic research if universities are not required to promote or publicly support student research so it can be accurately represented in public debates with credibility? Nor are universities correcting the academic record when false and misleading information is provided about a student’s / academic’s research by members of the public, unqualified academics and journalists. Students do not attend universities to present their ‘views’ on vaccination. They attend to get endorsement of their research for academic debate. That is, the views’ they are presenting are shaped by the fully referenced and peer-reviewed material they have analysed in the academic literature.
The attacks on my thesis and the academic process are a good case study of the problems that arise when universities are in partnership with industry and industry can influence every aspect of the scientific process as well as the promotion of academic research.