Some people excite me. And some people really excite me! And then there is the case of Judy Wilyman, an Australian anti-vaccination proponent who wrote a thesis calling out the vaccination and pharmaceutical industries, and ended up getting her PhD based on it. She’s a whole new level of awesome in my eyes. The University of Wollongong issued her a PhD and has also refused to review the case (they are reviewing other PhD cases, but not hers). People are in a total uproar over the matter, calling for the University to rethink its position and strip Wilyman of her PhD.
The University of Wollongong has accepted a PhD thesis from a prominent anti-vaccination activist that warns that global agencies such as the World Health Organisation are colluding with the pharmaceutical industry in a massive conspiracy to spruik immunisation.
Judy Wilyman, the convener of Vaccination Decisions and Vaccination Choice, submitted the thesis late last year, concluding Australia’s vaccination policy was not a result of independent assessment but the work of pharmaceutical industry pressure on the WHO.
Several medical researchers and public health advocates have slammed the PhD thesis — to be awarded through the university’s School of Humanities — with some calling for it to be sent to the university’s academic board for review. (source)
The University is refusing, so far, to meet any of these demands. Her thesis was pretty incredible and right on the money. Here are some excerpts:
There is not stringent monitoring of adverse or evaluation of the effectiveness of vaccines in the population that would provide meaningful data on their effects in the population.
WHO is perceived to be out of touch with global communities and it is controlled by the interests of corporations and the World Bank.
The diseases for which vaccines are recommended have not been demonstrated to be a serious risk to the majority of children in Australia.
The promotional campaigns for HPV vaccine misrepresented the risk of HPV infections and cervical cancer in women in different countries. This was done in order to create a market for the vaccine.
The “swine flu” pandemic in 2009 was declared by a secret WHO committee that had ties to the pharmaceutical companies that stood to make excessive profits from the pandemic.
The people who are attempting to have her stripped of her PhD just go to show exactly how baseless their own arguments are. If you are confident in your own beliefs, you wouldn’t fear other beliefs being equally shared. Trying to subjugate opposing perspectives is intellectually shoddy and weak and a tyrannical slippery slope.
A thesis is really an assertation and must be something which can be defended. It was reviewed by scholars as all thesis arguments are and those scholars decided that what she asserted was defensible. That’s how it works. Her paper was subjected to the same similar criticisms that other papers are subjected to. How can anyone support burying other perspectives? It has been proven time and time again that attempting to create societies that don’t allow for free thought only leads us into atrocious circumstances.
A writer from Science Blogs apparently shares such Nazi sentiments, as well as basic confusion over how things work.
I bring all this up mainly because I’ve just learned of a PhD candidate who really, really needed to have some very uncomfortable questions asked by her thesis committee and at her thesis seminar and defense, questions that apparently were not asked. [Note added: I’m informed in the comments that Australian universities don’t do the traditional public thesis defense done in the US and Europe, but rather the thesis has to be read by two experts external to the University and the supervisor gets to make the call. Ugh.] Most supervisors take that responsibility carefully. Some, however, apparently do not. I’m referring to the case of Judy Wilyman, a prominent antivaccine loon from Down Under, whose PhD thesis has apparently been accepted by University of Wollongong:
In his scathing piece, he has to add an addendum after the fact because clearly, he didn’t understand the subject matter of which he was writing. And the source? A random comment. Meaning commenters on his article had to educate him on how the process of reviewing a thesis for a PhD works. He didn’t know, but that didn’t stop his scathing attack. He accuses Wilyman of being uninformed, the irony is not lost on me. His second point is a fallacy: “some, however, apparently do not (take the responsibility in reading a thesis serious).” Where is his evidence in this? His evidence is merely that he, the writer, doesn’t agree with the perspective, so it must be wrong. That’s a fallacy. If that were in a thesis, it would be indefensible and it would thereby fail to pass the logic test.
The real issue at hand here is that some people aren’t comfortable living in a world where everyone doesn’t agree with them. And that’s not the kind of world I am comfortable living in.