There I was, at the hairdresser (where else do you expect a celebrity of my calibre to spend her Mondays?) when one of my best-friends-forever pinged me on Facebook.
“Have you heard? Have you heard? You’ve been nominated!”
Me? Little me? Nominated? Surely it was a joke!
But no, my BFF sent me a link and, there it was in black and white: my name listed among a veritable glitterati of co-nominees. It was all I could do not to pull out my iPad while I sat in the hairdresser’s chair so I could start drafting out my acceptance speech. (It was only after the excitement died down a little, I realised I don’t actually own an iPad!)
What would I wear, what would I wear???? I frantically planned a visit to the big girls’ section of Big W!
Would there be some kind of ceremony? I pictured myself looking humble but uber-gorgeous as I wafted up the stairs to collect my award. And then, while the hairdresser was snip snip snipping away, I snuck a look in the mirror and tried one of those supremely insincere, “Oh-I-lost-but-really-I-was-just-honoured-to-be-nominated” looks.
So, what a thrill!
Oh, you want to know what I was nominated for?
An Academy Award for looking uncannily like Magda Szubanski only taller?
The Nobel Prize for Prattling?
The Miles Franklin award for a book-not-yet-written?
A Logie for services to Q&A?
A Moe award for being even more annoying than Catherine Deveny?
None of the above! I was nominated by anti-vaccination, conspiracy theorist, Judy Wilyman as one of her top ten Big Pharma shills! Yes! Me! Little me! (Picture frantic girly hand-flapping in front of face, here.)
And what a star-studded line-up of nominees Ms Wilyman has assembled! Hang on to your seats, folks! (Insert Bugs Bunny theme music here!)
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 1: The Australian Skeptics
First there’s the Australian Skeptics – what a bunch of know-nothing thugs! Prominent patrons of this ‘so-called’ skeptical group are Australian broadcaster Phillip Adams AO and Living National Treasure and entrepreneur Dick Smith AO, former Australian of the Year, recipient of the US Lindbergh Award for his contribution towards balancing advances in technology and nature and a Consulting Professor in the Department of Biology, School of Humanities and Sciences of Stanford University.
And you thought Dick Smith earned his fortune by founding and selling Dick Smith Electronics? Clever Ms. Wilyman can see through it – that fortune has Big Pharma shill written all over it!
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 2 – Ken McLeod
The second nominee is Ken McLeod, a retired air-traffic controller and search and rescue coordinator.
Yes! I was shocked too! He looks so respectable!
McLeod is nominated for his role in defending the parents of a baby who died of whooping cough after they were harassed and maligned by Ms Wilyman’s little friend, Meryl Dorey of the Australian [Anti] Vaccination Network. The bastard!
I’ve met and cuddled Ken McLeod – he’s a pretty shifty character and a strong contender to take out the award as Big Pharma Shill of the Year.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 3 – Dr Matthew Berryman
Next on the list of nominees is Matthew Berryman. Here’s some strong competition! Unlike Ms Wilyman (and me!), Dr Berryman actually managed to finish his PhD.
There is some concern about nepotism in Berryman’s nomination, given that both he and Ms Wilyman are at the University of Wollongong. But Dr Berryman actually works at the University as a Senior Research Fellow while Ms Wilyman is yet to actually produce anything of merit – so, bit of a difference there.
Dr Berryman is widely published. His 2007 PhD thesis completed through the University of Adelaide’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering was entitled: “A Complex Systems Approach to Important Biological Problems”. Another paper co-written by Berryman (and obviously the work of a two-bit no-talent academic hack) is “Mathematical principles underlying genetic structures”, From Stars to Brains: Pathways to consciousness in the natural world” published by the (very inconsequential) Australian Academy of Science, ANU, Canberra.
What more can I say? Berryman’s obviously a strong contender for Shill of the Year.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 4 – Dr Rachael Dunlop
Next – oh be still my beating heart – is Dr Rachael Dunlop.
Oh. My. God. I used to watch her at the movies when I was just knee-high to a grass-hopper!
Oh, whoops! No! That was Audrey Hepburn. Easy to mix them up, though. In the science community Dr Dunlop is ‘da-bomb’.
I’ve hugged her too – one of the highlights of my skeptical career .
(Oops, did I say ‘career’ – that would imply I get ‘paid’ wouldn’t it? Shhhhh!).
If Wilyman is looking for Big Pharma shills she needn’t look much further than Dr Dunlop.
Dr Dunlop is another one of those damned people who, unlike Judy Wilyman (and me!) actually manged to complete her PhD.
Dr Dunlop’s thesis examined the mechanisms of impaired degradation of oxidised proteins with a focus on the consequences for heart disease. Her current project is unravelling a role for the incorporation of non-native amino acids into neuronal proteins and how this might contribute to cell death, specifically with respect to sporadic MND motor neuron disease) or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). In particular, Dr Dunlop is looking at the role of the cyanobacterial toxin BMAA and how it might contribute to ALS.
Clearly, this makes her eminently unqualified to speak authoritatively on matters pertaining to science – although she is very good at reading from a Big Pharma script with a large cheque printed on the back of it.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 5 – Peter Bowditch
The fifth nominee is Peter Bowditch, and a more disreputable character you’re unlikely to meet anywhere. Oh wait! I’ve hugged him too! But I think I might have been a wee bit drunk at the time.
Bowditch is a management consultant, IT expert, TAFE teacher and former president of the Australian Skeptics. A bit of an under-achiever, really.
Bowditch has a BA from Macquarie University where he majored in Cognitive Psychology, with other work in the areas of statistics, experimental design, psychological testing, linguistics, philosophy of science and epistemology. Bowditch also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Technology Management.
An executive of the Australian Computer Society, and a member since 1978, Bowditch is a Certified Technologist. Obviously, none of this requires a great deal of brain power, so he spends his idle hours shilling for Big Pharma.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 6 – Dr David Hawkes
Dr David Hawkes is one of the few nominees I don’t seem to have hugged. Come on Dr Hawkes – front up!
Dr Hawkes works at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in the Peptide Neurobiology Group. He undertook his PhD at the Burnet Institute in molecular virology, examining the role of viral membrane components on the early stages of HIV-1 replication. He has recently competed postdoctoral work within the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne using viral vectors to examine the contribution of free radicals to the cardiovascular and behavioural responses to emotional stress. His current research interests focus on driving the use of cutting edge viral and molecular (including pharmacogenetic) tools to examine the neurobiological nature of neuropeptide signalling in vivo.
You got it – just another Big Pharma shill.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 7 – Paul Gallagher
I reckon I’m a shoe-in to beat Paul Gallagher, a fellow blogger whose skeptical blog, Losing in the Lucky Country, is obviously financed by Big Pharma – how else could he afford all that bling???? – well, to be honest, no bling, but there’s a photo of Parliament House. THAT couldn’t have been cheap!
Gallagher, one of Australia’s leading skeptics, has a Bachelor of Applied Science and works as an allied health professional. Phhht! You’re dead meat, Gallagher!
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 8 – Rick Morton
And then there’s Rick Morton. Rick is the dark horse of the competition, but I reckon if I could get him into a dark alley, I could take him down.
Oh, did I say that aloud? I mean, I’m just incredibly honoured to be nominated alongside Rick!
Morton was previously the news editor at mamamia.com.au, He is now a journalist at the Australian newspaper. He has a degree in journalism from Bond University and is no doubt using the buckets of money he receives from Big Pharma to repay the fees.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 9 – Mia Freedman
Mia Freedman is one of Australia’s best known journalists. Following a stellar career in magazine publishing, during which she was named Editor of the Year by the Association of Magazine Publishers Australia, Freedman worked as creative director at the Nine Network before starting Mamamia – one of Australia’s most successful professional blogs.
It is rumoured that the recent $3 billion buy out of Channel 9 was largely financed by the money Freedman receives for her weekend job as a shill for Big Pharma.
Big Pharma Shill of the Year Nominee No. 10
Me! Chrys Stevenson! I just can’t believe I’m in such illustrious company! Me! Who, like Judy Wilyman, never actually managed to finish my PhD.
But, just like Ms Wilyman I did manage a poor second by winning the Griffith University Medal for Academic Excellence with a near perfect grade-point average for my undergraduate work and first-class honours thesis – or, was that just me? I get so confoozled some days, my poor little blonde head just hurts!
As Ms Wilyman points out,I have no background in science, vaccination policy, environmental health or health promotion and, unlike Ms Wilyman, I have never pretended to. Silly me, eh?
In fact, what I have done is look at what ‘actual’ experts say in ‘actual’ peer-reviewed science journals and report on that – not my opinions, their opinions.
But hey, let’s not nit-pick. The money is pouring in from Big Pharma and, like my illustrious co-nominees, I never have to think about what to say or write about vaccination. Once a month, a long black limousine pulls up at my door, a spook in a trench-coat and dark sunglasses emerges, tests me with the ‘secret phrase’ (“the birds fly south in winter”), then he presses a brown paper bag into my hands. Stuffed full of hundred dollar bills, the bag also contains the pro-vaccination script for the next month. Lickety split! All I have to do is transcribe it onto my blog.
Obviously, I am nowhere near as well-qualified as the other nominees, but I reckon I deserve points for the sheer brazen hussiness I’ve displayed in getting myself a guernsey in this little Wilyman conspiracy fantasy.
So, I’d like to thank the Academy and say to Ms Wilyman, “You LIKE me, you really LIKE me!”