Here's an older draft post I've found again and decided to put up, regarding the AVN:
For those of you who haven't heard of them, the Australian Vaccination Network (or AVN) is an organisation devoted to preventing children (and indeed anyone) from being vaccinated.
They maintain they are pro-choice and that they merely wish people to be given the full story on vaccinations and their dangers. The dangers of which they speak are autism and other conditions that appear in children around the age of early vaccinations. This is supposedly caused by the dangerous levels of mercury in the vaccines.
I could go into the reasons this is codswallop, and perhaps at some point I will. But not here, not right now. It's all been said over and over.*
The Stop the AVN (or SAVN) group has been tirelessly posting on the AVN site's pages, forums and facebook page to name just a few places in order to make sure parents realise just how misinformed the AVN really is.
Parents are understandably concerned about their children's health and to take advantage of these fears by peddling nonsense, citing falsified or dishonestly presented statistics and papers on vaccinations is truly something only a callous individual would do.
I don't doubt that many members of the AVN truly believe that vaccines are dangerous. That they can believe this despite all the evidence to the contrary does surprise and sadden me, but that does not mean that they should be allowed to spread misinformation and unfounded fears simply because they are not aware they are wrong.
The media often attempts to have balance in their reporting of issues, which, while seeming fair, often means that a fake balance is being presented to unsuspecting viewers. We do not expect to have an astrologer give an alternative opinion on what is happening in the cosmos, nor do we expect to have a neo-nazi holocaust denier have his opinion given equal weight when discussing the events of World War II. This same attitude should be carried towards the AVN and other anti-vaccination groups. They should be given a voice equal to the weight of their evidence. That is to say, at present, inconsequential weight.
Since I wrote up the above, the AVN has thankfully fallen into some public disrepute, with various radio announcers and interviewers calling the AVN out for the dangerous, lying, fear-mongerers that they are.
Sadly, that doesn't mean that the AVN has stopped, or renounced its scientifically unsubstantiated ways, but that they've merely crying victim more loudly to their followers and to anyone who'll listen. Thanfully the list of people who will listen is getting shorter and here's hoping that one day, ideally soon, the AVN will be a mere annotation in the textbooks of history, warning of the dangers of being belligrantly ignorant.
* First two points. Autism just happens to manifest itself in children starting from the same age as their first vaccinations. Remember, correlation is not causation. Secondly, Autism rates did not go decrease when Thimerisol, which isn't even the element Mercury, was removed from vaccines.