Newsletter 115 Correcting the Information Provided by John Cunningham in the Vaccination Debate
On my website I have invited medical practitioners and other health professionals to debate the information that I am providing on Australia’s vaccination policies. John Cunningham decided to take up this offer in February/March 2014. He is a leader of the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) lobby group and a medical practitioner. When responding to my request he chose to send his opinions in emails to members of the public, including UOW academics involved with my research and journalists. This occurred whilst I was a student at the University of Wollongong (UOW).
Here are the corrections to the information he provided to members of the public in 2014. I have provided Cunningham’s statements in bold with the corrected information below:
1) John Cunningham (2 February 2014):
‘You claim “the Australian media has stated they will not publish information on health if it is not presented by a "medical practitioner." A single journalist made this statement after an online conversation with you. An off-the-cuff remark made in this context hardly represents the views of the Australian media as a whole;
The statement I made about the Australian media was with respect to the research I am presenting on health and it was not based on a comment from a single journalist. Several journalists have stated they will not publish the other side of the vaccination debate and this includes Jonathon Holmes (ABC Media Watch), Janet Albrechtsen (News Ltd and ABC editorial board), Caroline Marcus (News Ltd), and Sarrah Le Maurquand (News Ltd). Reasons journalists have given for refusing to publish the medical literature I am presenting include their belief that this is a ‘conspiracy theory’ or the claim that I am not a ‘medico or scientist’. Other journalists such as Rick Morton (and more recently Emily Laurence and Kylar Loussikian), are presenting biased articles that give more credibility to comments from lobby group blogs than to the academic information I am providing.
Further, journalists do not interview me for these biased stories and they provide their own interpretations of my research. In January 2013 I complained to the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) about the biased reporting of the medical literature in the Australian media and the ACMA upheld journalist’s right to not present the medical literature on the risks of vaccines. The ACMA claimed that presenting this medical literature would provide ‘false balance’. The argument of ‘false balance’ may be appropriate after there is a consensus by the stakeholders on the risks involved in a procedure but it should not be used to suppress scientific information from the debate. This is essential because the perception of risk in a procedure will vary according to a person’s interest in the procedure. For example, an assessment of risk for a drug will vary between the manufacturer who produces and profits from the drug and the consumer whose health depends upon the drug. This is why ‘false balance’ shouldn’t be used to justify the suppression of the risks of vaccines in the vaccination debate and doing so is contrary to an evidence-based medical procedure or policy.
Here is the documented evidence of a plausible link between vaccines and autism and this evidence needs to be presented to the public for debate. Policies or procedures based on science require transparency and scrutiny of the science by all stakeholders. Without this scrutiny, vaccination is being accepted by the public as a ‘belief’ system and not an ‘evidence-based’ system. Good science will stand up to scrutiny from all stakeholders yet Australian journalists are being encouraged and protected by lobby groups and the ACMA to suppress medical literature that is demonstrating the danger of Australia’s national immunisation program (NIP).
For more corrections of the comments made by John Cunningham, please click here.
Dr. Judy Wilyman
Science and Politics of Australia's Vaccination Policies