As far back as I can remember, teachers, parents and soap operas have told me that if I  worked hard, studied like an adolescent boy with his first Playboy and Made Something Of Myself, I’d be the beaming recipient of success, happiness and job satisfaction.  There was also the distinct possibility that, when I awoke in the mornings, the sun would smile at me whilst blue-birds helped with my tie and shoelaces.  Ostensibly, reward – both in terms of job satisfaction and fiscal remuneration – was to be directly indexed to skills, knowledge and contribution to society.

If this is true, it logically follows that medical researchers must be receiving salaries so large, placing any two scientist’s personal wealth in one geographic location would result in a catastrophic shift in the earths axis; after all, we’re discussing people that tirelessly chip away at the face of disease so that we may enjoy longer and more comfortable lives.

Wait, what?  AU$48,000 to $85,000 … gross?


Perhaps a personal anecdote will help put it in some kind of perspective.  Before returning to study, I was working in project management on an oil and gas installation.  On site, we had a cleaning contractor that supplied staff to clean the ablution block, offices and lunch rooms on a continuous coverage day-shift – four days on four days off, ten hour working day.  In return for working half the year, the cleaners received four weeks paid holiday and AU$85,000.  That was in 2007.

The only kinda-sorta good to come from such a disproportionate pay-grade is that  people go into medical research almost exclusively because it’s their passion.  They love, are fascinated by, and truly enjoy what they do.

Incidentally, one can’t help but wonder if applying the same pay-scale to politics or finance wouldn’t achieve great things.  There would have to be something terribly, fundamentally wrong with the world if the finance sharks who managed to roger the global economy got paid post-rogering-bonuses so large they’d make Solomon blushespecially if medical researchers, by comparison, received a pat on the head and a gold sticker.


Okay, so we’ve established that personally they may not make fantastic money, but at least there should be plenty of funding available for the projects they work on, right? It’s not like researchers would have to engage in academic knife-fighting to score some sweet, sweet grant money, is it?



Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Science


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Obstetricians are stupid and arrogant. No really.

Imagine for a moment that you’re taking in a talk by Sir Roger Penrose wherein he explains the basics of calculus.  Surely such an accomplished and demonstrably brilliant mathematical physicist is qualified to lecture on the nature of something which, to him, must be analogous to lazily picking his nose?

But wait, a challenger appears!  A dirty, stinking individual, left had firmly ensconced in their filthy tracksuit pants, staggers forward from the crowd.

“YOU ARE AN IDIOT, PENROSE.” it squeals at the top of it’s lungs, rancid breath turning the once crisp air into a turgid lump.

It pauses as it’s last two neurones line each other up across the cavernous expanse of it’s intracranial space, scream a battle cry and charge at each other.  The resulting pop – faintly audible to the assembled crowd – provides the impetus for a tirade of words which, if a guess were to be hazarded, outline why the be-tracksuited stranger is smarter and better at mathematical analysis than Sir Penrose.

Now, having imagined all this, go ahead and take a look at this screenshot:


Even if you’ve only nodded at reality once as you passed him in the street, you’ll read the above and immediately think something along the lines of: “Crikey, what a mouth-breathing, window-licking tosspot.”  Sadly, there are people out there that not only scramble to catch every rancid, brown droplet of wisdom that falls from this idiots mouth, they actively seek out the puddles of muck formed by her dribbling and roll in them.

Go figure.


Posted by on January 30, 2011 in Brown Nuggets Of Woo


The Numpty That Science Forgot.

As most people have already figured out, the AVN is a veritable cornucopia of – amongst other things – scientific inaccuracies, lies and misrepresentations.  In point of fact, any of the AVN fora are highly uncomfortable places to visit should you have even a passing acquaintance with science, logic or – when they really get going – reality.  This writhing hive of bad science, misunderstood terminology and confused statistics spews forth brown droplets of distilled stupid with alarming regularity, most of which are hurled straight back into the gaping maw from whence they issued.  Yes, there are more than enough people dealing with scientific side of things these days, so, at the risk of giving it the attention it so obviously craves, I thought I’d talk about the Numpty that Science Forgot: Johanna Holland.

This woman (if, indeed it is a woman) lay near and dear to most of us at the SAVN.  Chances are, if you’ve disproven, made fun of, corrected or even questioned any form of AVN stupidity, Johanna (henceforth refereed to as ‘Big-J’) has made a fake profile of you; I assume this is intended to hurt and offend, but personally I found the creation of my fake profile equal parts amusing and pitiable.

Big J – like the Batman – is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a tin-foil hat.  Appearing from the cloying mists of Facebook like an avenging angel she comes, brandishing her weapons of imitation and sarcasm, laying waste to all who would stand against righteous stupidity.  Then, in the blink of a page refresh, the masked avenger is gone; leaving in her wake the broken, soulless husks of those who have tasted her fake-profile vengeance.  Nothing more is known of this Tin-foil Knight, bar that she displays the behavioural moires of a vindictive eleven year old.  (Picture Skynet if it were confined only to Facebook, and it’s personality was extrapolated from the combined audio logs of every teenage boy on Xbox Live since it’s launch)

Regardless of who (or what) Big J really is, it’s hard to feel angry at her (him/them/it) when you sit down to think about what she (he/they) do.  Let’s do a quick experiment to try and estimate the time it takes to get one fake profile up and running:

1. First, lets register at gmail:

Total time: 47 seconds.

2. Next, let’s create our new profile on facebook:

Total time: 24 seconds

3. Time to trawl cyberspace for a suitably insulting picture to use for the profile:

Total time (estimate): 1 minutes, 30 seconds

4. Finally, we flesh out the profile, add some interests and join a few pages:

Total time 2 minutes, 17 seconds


So.  The grand-total (and bear in mind I was being very conservative; some of Big J’s fakes obviously have a lot more effort go into them) is around 5 minutes per profile. This obviously does not include things like posting comments, setting up relationship statuses and all that other whacky stuff Big J gets up to.  This is just to create the profiles, and at the last conservative estimate, Big J was running at least 10 fakes.  Taking this further, lets assume that Big J spends, on average, two and a half minutes on each profile, every day.  (I’m willing to bet that it’s a lot more than that, but lets shoot low.)

This gives us:

• Greater than 50 minutes of wasted life in creating the profiles to date.

• Approximately Three hours of wasted life per week maintaining them.

Three hours.  Three hoursThree hours.


Three hours each week spent doing … whatever it is she (he/they/it) think this is.  I can’t help but imagine what I could do with three extra hours a week (especially during exam time); Learn an instrument.  Educate myself on interesting topics like immunology.  Take guitar lessons.  Volunteer at an animal shelter.  Not do crazy things.

The list, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is positively endless.

Big J, if you’re reading this, I hope you manage to chase down happiness, whether it be through spending inordinate amounts of time trying to upset or hurt people via fake profiles, or through guitar lessons.  Whichever you choose, I’m sure you’ll be one of the very best in your field ♥

◊ 10 profiles * 2.5 minutes * 7 days = 175 minutes

♥ This may be deceptive in the case of fake profile creation, as not many adults do that sort of thing.  Nevertheless, I’m sure being better than angsty eleven year olds or 4chan is worth something.


Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Brown Nuggets Of Woo


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It seems that the dark clouds cast over stem cell research by the Bush administration are gradually edging over the horizon of – I apologise in advance – change. Forecast: clear skies with patchy rains of cash, which may intensify later in the decade.

Personally, I think the Bush administrations attitude towards stem cell research is perfectly described by non-traditional use of the phrase “cock-blocking.”

Halting potentially revolutionary research from proceeding was GW’s prerogative, but there’s a world of difference between “Jeebus told me it is wrong,” and “I have clear evidence that it is wrong.” I may, of course, be expecting too much of the poor guy; I get the distinct impression that his executive order restricting stem cell research was written in crayon on butchers paper.  Possibly signed with a messy, red crayon “X.”

Word at the San Francisco Chronicle is that a sizeable (US$230m) amount of cash is about to be apportioned to various research labs by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. $230m is about a thousandth of what should be invested, but it’s a start.

I mean, it’s not like there’s been a massive sinkhole of money, lives and resources being, for all intents and purposes, thrown away since … oh… circa 2003 or anything. Fossil fuels People need liberating, after all. Oh, and WMD’s and stuff. Yeah.

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Science


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Love them, protect them, don’t throw them in a blender.

Pronunciation: \ˈbi-gət\
Function: noun

…a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices…


Sweeping statements are a dodgy thing for anyone to engage in; the Banana Peel of Generalisation is often positioned uncomfortably close to the Bottomless Pit of Bigotry, and a careless individual may well find themselves falling into the blackness at sphincter-puckering speeds.

Being aware of this pit – and my poor motor control – I constantly remind myself that not every individual who subscribes to a particular belief does so with the spittle-flecked intensity of a fanatic, nor is the substrate for a persons belief common across the collective.

Despite my belief in such liberal niceties as tolerance, or perhaps because of them, I must admit certain, highly specific blind-spots in my tolerance when it comes to some themes.  There exist beliefs that can – and indeed should – be criticized both widely and openly.  Personally, were I to find myself party to a group being led by a gibbering, fixed-grin maniac with a propensity for wearing their pants as a hat, I’d immediately begin searching for a nearby exit or, failing that, a sharp stick.

As a crude analogy, I’d like to use Lemmings.™  For those poor, deprived individuals who haven’t yet experienced the visceral joys of causing cute little smurf-analogs to violently self-destruct, I’m talking about the green haired variety, not the herbivorous mammals native to Antarctica.

These little guys just love to engage in behavior which could euphemistically be dubbed as “genetically disadvantageous,” or if you’re terminally blunt, “very bloody stupid.”  Lets face it: traipsing towards a death to which the term “Jackson Pollock” could be used descriptively isn’t considered a good idea by anyone besides a Lemming.

If, one day, a free-thinking Lemming happened to halt his headlong rush towards oblivion, he may well develop serious doubts about the wisdom of flinging himself into 6,000RPM’s of angry steel, regardless of how much fun a conga line is.

Upon further reflection, our Lemming may even become slightly critical of his erstwhile companions:

Bugger that for a game of soldiers,” he thinks to himself, as he wipes the viscera from his face, “You’re all bloody morons, and make no mistake!

I wouldn’t consider that Lemming a bigot, would you?

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Posted by on September 4, 2009 in Brown Nuggets Of Woo


Australians against thinking for themselves

First and foremost, this is not a debate.  If you are a fucking moron, don’t even bother.


I have a theory about stupid people:

1. Stupid people attract other stupid people. (From here on, I will refer to a gathering of stupid people as a “Dorey”)

3. The damage inflicted by a Dorey on the wider community (aka: “normals“) is relatively negligible, given a Dorey numbering 50 stupids or less. In a situation such as this, there isn’t a sufficient number of stupids to ensure the survival of the group, as such a high concentration of fucking morons tends to increase the mortality rate of said group.  (“HEY BOB! SHOOT THE APPLE OFF MY HEAD! IT’LL BE AWESOME, WE’LL PUT IT ON YOUTUBE!”)

4. If, however, the Dorey manages to reach an activation population, it becomes malignant.  This occurs when there are so many stupids, impressionable but otherwise relatively normal people begin to join the Dorey.  This mechanism still isn’t fully understood, but it appears that if an impressionable normal sees a Dorey of sufficient population, they assume that they must be doing something right.  Once this process begins, you can see an exponential growth in the Dorey size, and a downward spiral commences.  This can lead to such societal diseases as: reality TV, television evangelists and anti-vaccination groups.

I’m not even going to draw the comparison between the religious right and these anti-vax idiots; I honestly think I’d be insulting the former and that is something I never thought I’d say.  A lot of the problem has, at it’s core, people like Meryl Dorey: attention seeking, over-compensating egotists that dramatically over-rate both their intellect and abilities.

Australians against vaccination is another prime example; the following was taken from their facebook page:

This group exists to help educate the Australian public about the dangers of vaccination & other nasties contaminating the world we live in, if you are here to learn and contribute stay if you want to argue leave.

Really? I can stay and learn? Golly, that would be grouse!

I’ve already learned that vaccination, which I had thought worked against nasties like: polio, small pox, meningitis, diphtheria, measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, cholera, meningococcus and tuberculosis actually works with them!  I’ve also learned that anti-vaxers either failed year ten English, or are very stingy on the old commas.

“We have the right to choose and we have the right to every available shred of information to help us make that choice.”

They use every available shred of information at their disposal? Really? Judging from the scintillating conversation and grammatical convention employed on their facebook page, it appears that their research has been limited to studies written in crayon on butchers paper.

“Mj – I’m a Mum to 3 un vaccinated kids that all had interesting arrivals into this world, my eldest daughter was a planned home water birth my boy was a cesarean delivery and our baby girl born in August 2008 was a planned VBAC water birth at the hospital. Ive been researching the dangers linked to vaccines for 5 years and continue to enjoy learning and watching my very healthy kids grow.”

WHOA!  You’ve had three kids AND researched the dangers of vaccine for 5 years?!  Where DO you find the time?  Oh, wait.  I don’t think “researching” means what you think it means; if you doubt me, try referencing that Woman’s Day you read in a university assignment.

Michelle is a qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist & aromatherapist with 12 years+ experience.

Fuck! Is this shit for real?! It must be incredibly hard to get into herbal medicine or aromatherapy. (Holy shit, you need to do massage or beauty therapy to get into aromatherapy?!) It really does make a mockery of all that effort people go through just to work in medical research; all those years doing undergraduate, post-graduate, post-doctorate studies.  Lets not forget the years spent working tirelessly under strict clinical guidelines only to suffer constant critical review from both peers and governing bodies.

Oh, and in passing: there was also that little (10 years and $2.5bn) study.  You know, the one that every alt-med wanker is trying really hard to ignore?


Posted by on August 16, 2009 in Brown Nuggets Of Woo


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…by your powers combined, I AM CAPTAIN DOREY!

Like a drawn-out expulsion of rancid air from a sick horse’s anus, I’ve found Meryl Dorey’s vaccination soap-boxing simultaneously hard to ignore and highly unpleasant.  The first time I had the misfortune to be exposed to such a concentrated cloud of stupidity was during Mighty Meryl’s now-infamous interview on “Sunday Night.”

Bugger me sideways,” I thought to myself, “that’s a whole lot of stupid.  It has texture.  You can taste the stupid.”

I initially found Mighty Meryl’s seemingly limitless ignorance on any topic more complex than “sandwiches” equally amusing and repugnant, but gradually the balance began to ever-so-slightly tip in favor of amusement.  I watched her pontificate on things she knew absolutely nothing about, while the thin patina of foam around her lips turned a darker shade of brown by the second.  (I swear, there were audible “plops!” when she employed words of greater than four syllables.)

After the interview had finished – and presumably before the clean-up crew moved in to shovel up all the shit information Meryl had vomited disseminated – I switched channels, and didn’t give her anti-vaccination banner-waving further thought.  I – somewhat naively – assumed that Ol’ Crazy would be tarred, feathered and summarily ignored by the greater population.

This, sadly, has not come to pass.

Not only are great deal of people tolerating the stinking horse’s arse that is the AVN, some are actively seeking it, scrabbling over each other in an effort to suckle at the puckering sphincter of ignorance.  Take a quick look at the article by staffer, Jared Reed.  Reed’s article is a short, concise piece on the complaint brought against the AVN with the New South Wales H.C.C.C, yet the comments in support of Meryl continue to pile up.  Taking a quick scroll through the page reveals such molten bronze droplets of wisdom as:

“… Doctors have always tried to badger me into doing what they think is right – not what is right for my family …”

Those bastard medical professionals, eh?  Always wanting their own way, stubbornly refusing to listen to you as you insist, nay, demand medical investigation for your headache; after all, you googled “headache” and the top result was “brain tumor.”  Likewise, who the hell does your GP think he is, telling you to vaccinate your kids?  What makes THEIR advice so good, huh?  Anyone would think that a trained medical professional knew more about your body than YOU do!

HOT TIP: Buying a car doesn’t automatically make you an expert in car maintenance.  Similarly, being alive doesn’t automatically make you an expert on physiology.  Dipshit.

Of more concern was the following comment from someone claiming to be a registered nurse:

The AVN is there to provide information that is not provided by doctors or drug companies. People only get 1/2 of the story from them. I’m a former Peds nurse and have seen vaccine injury.  Why is that antibiotics and all drugs are known to have side effects and cause injury and death and it is acknowledged, but vaccines are supposed to be safe for everyone.

I must admit a certain level of curiosity as to what this individual classes as “vaccine injury”; I’m reasonably certain it’s not the vaccines fault if you slip and stab yourself in the eye with the pointy-stabby-thingy… whatsit… NEEDLE, yeah, Needle.  Also, just by saying something is a vaccine injury doesn’t make it so.  It seems that over-valuing your qualifications and abilities isn’t confined to Meryl alone.

Understanding the people who cry out in support of Meryl and the AVN is simply beyond me.  The only semi-plausible explanation I can come up with is a serious case of chip-on-the-shoulder; I imagine the thought process sounding a little like: “You can’t tell me what to do. // Just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean you’re better or smarter than me. // And anyway, my mum says that I’m smart.”  Regardless of reason, there’s no excuse for being willfully ignorant, especially where the lives of children are concerned.  Both doctors and scientists are human and therefore fallible, but it’s not the human element that is the basis for advocating vaccination – it’s the decade upon decade of clinical trials and studies.  Errors do happen, but you don’t see medical studies with a 95% confidence limit, now, do you?

If you would rather put any child’s life in the hands of an ignorant, attention-seeking conspiracy theorist you should be beaten to death with your own genitals.  Just saying.


Posted by on August 13, 2009 in Brown Nuggets Of Woo


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