“Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” pulled from Aussie bookstores

According to a report in news.com.au, the deadly children’s book Melanie’s Marvelous Measles, which extols the wonders of getting the disease as opposed to the vaccination, has been pulled from the shelves of Bookworld, the Australian version of Borders Bookstores.

News.com.au revealed this week that Bookworld was distributing Melanie’s Marvellous Measles, which falsely describes the deadly disease as something that will make children stronger.

The news sparked an enormous backlash from people, including the Australian Medical Association, who wanted the book pulled. There was strong criticism of the anti-vaccination message on social media, and on television and radio shows.

. . . AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the disease was still dangerous, potentially fatal, and that anyone promoting it should be ashamed of themselves. He said children with measles were very ill and at risk of death or brain damage.

The book is widely available online, and was until this morning being sold by Bookworld (formerly Borders) and Angus and Robertson (which is now part of Bookworld).

Bookworld CEO James Webber originally said it would allow controversial content unless it was actually illegal, but in the wake of a vehement response from customers the company has changed its mind.

A spokesman told news.com.au that they listened to their customers and delisted the book.

“(We) usually don’t delist unless it is illegal,” he said.

“But in this case we listened to our customers and believe they have a fair argument and have removed the titles from both pages.”

Ms Messenger said it “doesn’t matter”.

“I don’t care,” she said.

“The book’s written for non-vaccinating families. I didn’t even know it was going on any of the sites, it wasn’t really even for the Australian market.”

Yeah, she doesn’t care.  Nor, apparently, does Messenger care that she’s promoting a behavior that will end more lives than it saves.  It’s literary malpractice.
But the Bookworld decision restores my faith in humanity—at least that part not represented by dangerous kooks like Messenger.
h/t: gattina


  1. Pablo M. H.
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I’m all for anti-vaccination families being less likely to contribute to the human gene pool thanks to books like this. You can’t save everybody, and we have far too many people anyway.

    Some carriers of moronic genes need to go away. Good for humanity, good for the environment.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      That doesn’t seem like a moral statement that many would get behind. The behavior is comorbid with parents mistreating their children and we should rather push for actions like the post featured I think.

      As for “far too many people” it is a weakening argument. I just heard to my pleasure that -12 was a monumental year for humanity. We acquired the 7th billion of the population, but for the first time it was slower coming than any before!

      The 4th billion took some 30 years, the 5th 13 year, the 6th 12 year, and now the 7th 13 year. We are approaching the crest of the population hill according to projections, so perhaps ~ 9 billion at most about the -70ish.

      Time to start thinking on how large we want the population to be – 9 as in the 2070 or 1 billion about 2300 – and make it alluring to have about 2 kids/monoamorous couple. Vaccinated kids, that is.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        Hm. I can’t find those projection curves again.

        I still see the old claim of a 9 billion crest already in ~ 2040 however. So perhaps within the next 1-2 generations even. (Still ~ 25 years generation time, I think.)

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

          Those projection curves are usually very smooth. I suspect that the actual future will have more kinks in the form of serious pandemics, which have been scarce for nearly a century. People like Messenger probably believe the gambler’s fallacy that low mortality is the new normal, and would be genuinely shocked to see the effects of their actions when medical services are overwhelmed.

    • Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I understand that this comment must have been written at least partly tongue-in-cheek.

      But the problem with anti-vaxers is not that they harm themselves. They subject their innocent children to risk of harm or death. And they inculcate their children (and others) who might otherwise have adopted a rational stance on the issue, with anti-vax propaganda. And they subject us all to greater risk by weakening herd immunity.

      This is not an issue on which one can just let them “stew in their own juices.”

      • Marella
        Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        And some children have issues that mean they can’t be vaccinated and must rely on the rest of us to immunize to be safe. As an adult who’s had whooping cough recently I can also attest that adults rely on children to be immunized so as not to get these diseases because many of these immunizations do not last a lifetime.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Anti-vaxxers do not have “moronic genes.” They are reasoning poorly on an issue which has engaged their emotions — like all human beings. I suspect they are what you and I would be had we been raised in a different environment and been put under different pressures.

      I’ll also remind you that, even if the anti-vaxxers WERE morons, the “mildly mentally retarded” can still contribute much to families, societies, and themselves. Eugenics sucks.

  2. Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Ironically, the naturematters website that this book is sold from appears to be infected with malware.

  3. Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait for the sequel: “Andy’s Awesome AIDS.”

  4. Explicit Atheist
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The story about Stephanie Messenger is that one of her children died, shortly after being vaccinated, from a rare genetic based illness known as Alexander’s Disease. However, there was never a definitive medical diagnosis, so officially the cause of death was declared to be unknown. She decided the cause of death was the vaccine because her son had an adverse reaction to the vaccine, after she watched the quack Dr. Robert S Mendelsohn on the Phil Donahue show talking about the dangers of vaccination. Her subsequent children were sired by a different father, not vaccinated, and they survive.

    • jesse
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      This is interesting. It shows how deeply emotional this issue is on her part–there are few things as emotional as losing a child.

      It also shows how our modern self-publishing world allows voices like this to be heard more loudly than they would have been back in the days when newspaper editorial boards made a lot of decisions about what we would see.

  5. Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    That is a pretty good development.
    Your last line captures it well, at least there is some hope for humanity 🙂

    • suwise3
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      The last line, “…it wasn’t really even for the Australian market.” is encouraging? Who is the market… USA?

      • Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

        “But the Bookworld decision restores my faith in humanity—at least that part not represented by dangerous kooks like Messenger”

        Those the last line I meant and I even alluded to it in my response. The last line you have quoted I take is from the site selling the books and not the good Prof!

  6. Posted January 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    My eyes were damaged by measles as a child, so that I developed a very serious squint.

    • Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry to hear that buddy.

      • Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        I had an operation to fix it up. It went very well.

        I lived in the Western hemisphere. If I had been in a 3rd world, I might not have been so lucky.

        But I was in a country with good health care, so I was lucky.

        But measles is not a trivial disease. Don’t mess with the M.

        • Posted January 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          I’m glad to hear that my friend. Indeed science has brought well being to humanity, something that all the religions of the world combined wouldn’t cannot do.

  7. Michael Hart
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The idea that childhood diseases are good for our children is also strong in the Waldorf school movement here in Canada. In Australia where Stephanie Messenger writes they are called Steiner schools after the Austrian writer Rudolph Steiner. Steiner called this form of child neglect ‘anthroposophical medicine’. In the ironic Parent Resource Guide at the Toronto Waldorf School (http://www.torontowaldorfschool.com/parent_resources/family_life/childhood_health/index.php), this approach is described as using “the same rigorous scientific thinking as allopathic medicine [the pejorative term used by homeopaths and others to distinguish their brand of woo from Western medicine that actually works] but its methods also include elements of naturopathy and homeopathy, as well as massage, art therapy, and curative eurythmy.”

    • jesse
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      There are a lot of weird things associated with Waldorf schools. I have a friend who co-founded one, and tho she is not personally involved in it as much anymore, she still has some wacko ideas about immunizations and health care, as well as religion. I think the Waldorf focus on the arts and humanities might be so swayed in one direction that the sciences get ignored. Since the Waldorf school became prominent in this little rural town, the number of “alternative medicine” (woo) providers has definitely grown larger.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Waldorf schools have a very flaky spiritual background. Apparently Genie Scott wrote an article on their pseudoscientific views, particularly on evolution, but I can’t find it online at the moment.

      They place a lot of emphasis on art, but they follow an agenda. My understanding is that they discourage line drawings, as well as the use of certain colors. A lot of the rules which make little sense are covert attempts to enhance the children’s spiritual self, based on mystical knowledge pulled out of Steiner’s ass..

  8. raven
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    In the past, I dealt from time to time with HIV/AIDS denialists.

    There aren’t that many around these days.

    There is a long, long list of HIV+ AIDS denialists who have died. Of AIDS.

  9. raven
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    The anti-vaxxers lie a lot. No surprise.

    In one cluster of whooping cough cases, an epidemiologist went to check on a family of a kid who came down with whooping cough.

    They initially said everything was OK. It turned out most of the family, who were anti-vaxxers, had come down with…whooping cough.

    • Posted January 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Whooping cough ain’t nice.

      If you have seen one kid with whooping cough, surely your first thought must be ‘I’ve got to stop this.’

  10. Posted January 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I have defended the free speech policies of various European countries, which do not allow public speeches espousing Holocaust denial or Naziism. In response, I have been derided, usually by Americans, that the answer to bad speech is more and better speech, not censorship.

    Shall I wait patiently, and likely in vain, for these same free speech advocates to decry the de facto censorship involved with pulling this book from the shelves, or can I triumphantly conclude that some ideas really are too dangerous, and add too little real value, to our national conversation to be considered safe?

    • raven
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Shall I wait patiently, and likely in vain, for these same free speech advocates to decry the de facto censorship involved with pulling this book from the shelves,…

      Yeah, you should wait up. For months if need be.

      A bookstore refusing to sell a goofy book isn’t the same as censorship.

      It’s still available. You can download it off the internet if you want.

      • Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        A distinction without a difference in this case.

    • Marella
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      This misguided woman is not being put in gaol for her wicked lies, but I should remind you that she is an Australian and we do not have a Bill of Rights, only the Common Law to protect freedom of speech, your rules do not apply here. Even in the USA however freedom of speech does not mean that bookstores have to stock your malicious and dangerous book.

      • Posted January 13, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Right- so when people who profess to love free speech cause bookstores to drop all their holdings of a particular book, that is NOT censorship?

        I would argue that of course it IS censorship; it certainly is not the exact action that people who love to shout that the answer to bad speech is more speech would make.

        • ThickSantorum
          Posted January 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          A privately-owned bookstore can decide not to sell any book they like. That’s no more censorship than a privately-owned restaurant refusing to sell Pepsi.

  11. Filippo
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    What will she write next, “Polly’s Peregrinating Polio”? “Mikey’s Mellifluous Mumps”? “Ruby’s Rampaging Rubella”? A whole anti-vax series?

  12. drnkgrl
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Gordon’s groovy gonorrhoea.

  13. Posted January 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    “News.com.au revealed this week that Bookworld was distributing Melanie’s Marvellous Measles, which falsely describes the deadly disease as something that will make children stronger.”

    How very odd; the Australian Medical Association falsely describes vaccinations as something ‘good’ for children. Imagine that!

    They’ve also ‘encouraged’ the government to ensure all who do not comply, are turned away from public education and childcare services.

    As an added incentive, the removal of all government family financial support from parents who don’t obey was put into place – y’know, until they see the error of their ways, bow down, kiss the feet of drug companies and quacks, and agree to the poisoning their children.

    Ah yes, I remember freedom of choice; that was the first thing to be abolished in the world’s biggest nanny state called ‘Australia’ – along with freedom of speech.

    • Dawn Oz
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      As a book aimed at children, it was a heinous crime. We all live in cultures with enough herd immunity so that we are free of various diseases.

      We don’t have freedom of choice about many things, including the road rules, owning a gun, building any kind of house, noise levels and ensuring that children have a basic education. Those freedoms are available in many third world countries, should people wish to enjoy them. We take our advice from science, not opinion.

      An uncle of mine contracted Polio as his childhood was prior to the Salk vaccine and I’m glad that I was ‘nannied’ so that this option wasn’t available for me.

      I think I will just keep quoting the remarkable Issac Asimov:

      ‘Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

      • Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        Well said.

        I speak of some of the children whose parents were patients of my fathers, and whose children became deathly ill as a result of vaccinations. My own parents refused to have me vaccinated for just those reasons, but for smallpox, which was necessary at the time to travel.

        I do believe there have been medical studies and papers written countering the catch cry that vaccinations are necessary. In the end, though, where freedom of choice has not yet been banned, it will always be a matter of making one’s own informed choice, as best as humanly possible.

        No parent wants their child to get sick and die, whichever way their decisions fall.

        • matthew
          Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          I kinda wondered when an anti-vaxer would pop up. Well, I guess I could refute your post line by line, but I’ll start slow instead.

          My father was a director of public health for a large, American city. He was involved in the day to day evaluation of public vaccination programs. And he personally vaccinated all of his children, himself, annually, without fail. So there’s the informed choice of an expert in the field with a broad overview of the population.

    • Desert Froglet
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      The Queensland Health Dept has just issued an alert for Brisbane and Mount Isa after a traveller returned from overseas with those ‘marvellous’ measles.


      Thank goodness, the govt has more sense than my compatriots here. And I’m someone who thinks that the current Qld govt is made up of the sweepings in the shearing shed.

      • Posted January 12, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        I had measles as a child – and mumps; I’m still here, despite not having received vaccinations.

        I’ve also had dengue fever, for which, as far as I’m aware, there are no vaccines.

        • matthew
          Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          No one argues that measles and mumps are the black plague; that anyone who catches them is doomed. However, the mortality rates from both diseases is vastly higher than serious adverse reactions associated with their vaccines.

          • Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            Yes, indeed – and I don’t disagree with you at all. I disagree with measures taken to prevent parents from making informed choices based on published medical arguments both for and against.

            • matthew
              Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

              I’m sorry you disagree with the modern notion of public health. In countless cases such as disease reporting, food handling, and public smoking, we don’t allow people to opt out on a whim and endanger the rest of us. Frankly, in the US, anti-vaxers have it pretty easy.

              As for arguments against public vaccination, there really are not any substantial medical debates. The regular vaccination program already accounts for children who are immunocompromised and/or have some condition which requires a different schedule. Parents refusing to vaccinate a child against medical advice are simply making a horrible, potentially dangerous decision.

            • Dawn Oz
              Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

              My HH,

              I think what we are debating about is the construct of ‘an informed choice’. I have a few degrees, which allows me to read and critique the literature in those areas. Everything else, I listen to Cochrane which summaries the literature. http://www.cochrane.org

              I couldn’t arrogate to myself that I could understand the science of immunology, or even the finer points of evolution. I’m also careful to separate emotional decisions from logical ones. I wonder how you do?

        • raven
          Posted January 12, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

          A century ago, the average US lifespan was 47 years.

          It is now 30 years longer, 77.

          That was before most of modern medicine of course. Including most vaccines. Those 30 years are broght to you by modern medicine.

          You can see what your fantasy life would be like without vaccines. Just move to a third world basket case. The average lifespans still run around 47 years.

          When I was a kid, a lot of the older adults limped in various ways. We all knew why. Polio.

        • raven
          Posted January 13, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

          I had measles as a child – and mumps; I’m still here, despite not having received vaccinations.

          Oh. A meaningless story.

          So did I. There weren’t any vaccines for measles or mumps back then.

          The fact is you and I were lucky. 2 or 3 people who get measles will simply just die, and I’ve seen one kid go from SSPE. More will be permanently damaged. That is just a fact.

          One of the kids in my school died of polio. And this was some years after the vaccine, which for some reason his parents didn’t believe in.

          • raven
            Posted January 13, 2013 at 12:13 am | Permalink

            Anothe story, not that meaningless.

            I used to have long, involved discussion with HIV+, AIDS denialists. But not for a while now.

            Most of them have died. Of AIDS.

            A few went on HAART and don’t buy the AIDS denialist mythology any more. I run into one of them occasionally. He looks a lot better now than he did when he was getting opportunistic infections and heading for an early death and will probably live a normal lifespan.

    • raven
      Posted January 13, 2013 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      They’ve also ‘encouraged’ the government to ensure all who do not comply, are turned away from public education and childcare services.

      There is a reason for that. If you had the slightest knowledge about biology, you would know it.

      Thanks to the anti-vaxxers, we have on ongoing whooping cough problem. A disease that was so rare, most people had never even heard of it.

      In my area, it hit the local primary school and then jumped to infants too young to vaccinate and a few adults. The school sent all the unvaccinated kids home and set up a website for classes. Between that and an emergency vaccination program, the epidemic cluster promptly stopped.

      No one died although a few babies came close. At least a dozen died on the west coast USA though, all very young children and babies.

      The unvaccinated act as reservoirs and courriers for the rest of us. You can be a selfish idiot but that threatens us and our kids. I wouldn’t let an anti-vaxxer near any newborns and no one who understands biology will either. Nothing personal, just common sense.

  14. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I just had an online keyboard chat with an Amazon rep & put forward my complaint about the book

    I did it by clicking the “CHAT” button bottom right here:-

    Perhaps others would like to do the same?

    HERE’S a screen shot of the chat

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      P.S. To got the CHAT button to activate ready for clicking [turn yellow instead of greyed out] you have to go through the hoops selecting the category of help required ~ it’s all on the page I linked

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