Thursday, January 10, 2013

Messenger's muddled message (updated)

or something along the lines of that. Stephanie Messenger wrote a little book about measles and how great they are - for kids aged 6 to 10. Stephanie's first son died of what she thinks was a vaccine reaction (heartbreaking picture warning), but her sister says was Alexander Disease. Losing a child is very very sad. It doesn't give anyone the right to spew dangerous nonsense and advertise vaccine refusal and taking carrot juice against measles instead. You say "what"? Here's blurb (you can also read Skepticat's summary - it is way cool):
Melanie has measles, so Tina and her mum go over to play and bring healthy food, including carrot juice, because of the vitamin A, which makes measles not so bad. Tina doesn't get measles, because she eats so healthily, which means that Melanie's mum must be a bad mum, because she didn't feed her Melanie enough carrot juice or something. Measles also makes you strong and is great to get, but when junk food guzzling vaccinated Jared gets the measles, it'll hopefully teach him to eat well. Not sure how something that is great to get teaches you a lesson.
Ridunculous! A lot of bloggers have been enraged (it is those details - that the teacher in Melanie's class is pregnant for example), see these insights and well-deserved insolence.

However, what made me (and Katie) really angry is the similarity of the rhythm of "Melanie's marvellous Measles" with "George's marvellous Medicine" a book by Roald Dahl. I cannot possibly know whether this intentional. I do know for sure, though, that while Stephanie thinks measles make kids "mature", and that kids "can feel hot for a day or so" with measles, Roald Dahl knows that they kill. They killed his daughter, Olivia (the smiling girl in the foreground).

Roald Dahl knows that measles are a dangerous illness - he writes:

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything. “Are you feeling all right?” I asked her. “I feel all sleepy, ” she said. In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead. The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her. On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles.
 (my bold - again, read the whole thing, this man has a way with words)

So, how does one limit the reach of a dangerous disease door-to-door saleswoman? After some initial resistance, one supplier, Booktopia, took Messenger's marvellous Megalomania off their shelves - here's the press report (worth listening to if just for the lovely accent):

For those who are so inclined, there is a petition asking Pearson Australia Group (Angus and Robertson, and Bookworld) to end sales of ‘Melanie's Marvellous Measles’ in any forum (form?). I am not sure that banning bad books is the way forward, although peddling deadly diseases to kids is pretty far out there. It appears Stephanie Messenger is not going to leave it at that anyway and is planning Messengers Marvellous Movie - making use of another media and providing blog fodder for many posts to come.

Sad really.

ETA (11/1/13) Bookworld have now announced that they will no longer sell Melanie's Marvellous Measles. Messenger says this "doesn't matter". I am afraid she is right...


  1. Could a petition be started to get this book off of Amazon's shelves? The yanked a book that advocated pedophelia. This is imo another form of child abuse. At the very least this is incredibly dangerous health advice

  2. Sure, I don't see why not but then again, do we want to call attention to Messenger's drivel?

    I can only guess that her "movie" is a YooToob feature.

  3. Actually, some of the comments are very amusing. While most of the five star reviews are satire, the real ones have some interesting comments.

  4. My favorite five-star comment said that measles is a this one:

    "Measles was never a dreaded disease. Fred Flintstone and Gomer Pyle had television episodes on it that clearly showed what a benign illness these things were just a generation ago."

    She must have thought they were documentaries, she must also think humans used to ride on dinosaurs.

  5. While it's good to see distributors pulling the book due to customer pressure, I also have to say that this probably isn't the best way to go about things. Yes, I'm happy to see it made less available, but I'm also not big on imposing censorship. A better strategy, I think, would be to heap on scorn and mockery, pointing out how out of touch with reality she is and how her book is a work of complete and utter fiction.

    1. This is one of those rare instances where public safety needs to override the "individual freedoms" of idiots. And she's getting loads of scorn & mockery on Amazon, so.....

  6. I agree Todd, especially since I'm such a fan of heaping scorn and derision on menaces like Messenger.

  7. Anonymous, what was the title of the book that advocated pedophilia? Just curious for the same reason I was curious about Messenger's book: to get a cheap laugh off ludicrous concepts.

    1. Same poster as I am "replying" to above ^ Also wanted to add that I agree with Todd and think that is a good strategy for other crazy crock propaganda. I apologize for my sub-par posts, my sleep medicine is starting to kick in.