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Healthy Skepticism International News

November 2003


Healthy Skepticism (formerly MaLAM) commenced operations in November 1983 so this month we celebrate with photos from:
1) the AdWatch Launch and 20th Anniversary Celebration (including messages from around the world) and
2) the presentation of a Convocation Medal (Flinders University’s highest award for outstanding graduates) to Healthy Skepticism founder Peter Mansfield.

1) AdWatch Launch and Anniversary Celebration

On 1 October 2003 about 40 guests joined us to celebrate the AdWatch launch, our 20th anniversary, our transition from MaLAM to Healthy Skepticism and the 40th anniversary of the speech that inspired our new name. The celebration was held at “The Library” in the Archer Hotel, North Adelaide. Our guests ranged in age from the teens to the seventies and included a wide range of health professions and others.  Special thanks to our publicist Karen Dawe and to Healthy Skepticism Chair Jon Jureidini, Deputy Chair Rosie Burn and Treasurer Heather Carter for organising a very successful event.

Our party started with a live drive-time radio interview and included a TV interview for ABC Stateline program. (See transcript)  There was a video of the TV report made in 1983 about the launch of MaLAM and the new AdWatch website was accessible on a laptop computer. Publications from the past 20 years and messages from around the world were on display. (See messages below)

Rosie Burn welcomed the guests
Left to right: Rose Burn, Peter Mansfield, Katrina Allen and Ann Nixon

Rosie Burn welcomed the guests including Frances Bedford the Australian Labour Party Member for Florey representing Premier Mike Rann; Teresa Forest and Elaine Smith representing Minister for Health Lea Stevens; and Sandra Kanck representing the Australian Democrats Party.

Twenty years in 5 minutes

Healthy Skepticism Director and Founder Peter Mansfield illustrated the benefits of learning from feedback with the example of his youngest daughter Hannah’s Father’s day gift. Hannah had given him a wheat bag (a non-drug local warmth therapy for back pain) embroidered with the poem: “Your jokes aren’t funny, they’re really bad, but it doesn’t matter, ‘cause I love you Dad.” He read highlights of feedback given by an advertising executive in November 1963 who challenged doctors to develop “healthy skepticism”.  (See Garai’s challenge: The 40th anniversary of the inspiration for Healthy Skepticism)  Peter summarised the 20 history of MaLAM and Healthy Skepticism in 5 minutes and thanked a few of the key people including his family, Joel Lexchin, Agnés Vitry, Danny Csutoros and the wonderful growing team.

Joel Lexchin spoke from Toronto, Ontario about the achievements of MaLAM/HS over the years and the recent expansion and strengthening of the HS team.

Frances Bedford represented the Premier of South Australia

Frances Bedford gave a speech that showed that the state government understands and supports the mission of Healthy Skepticism and AdWatch.

Rosie introduce our first patron Phillip Adams by giving us the dictionary definitions of “patron” which include a lord, a master, a protector, a saint, a former slave owner, a holder of the right of presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice, the captain or master of a Mediterranean galley and: someone invited to hold an office of honour so that an organisation might benefit from his or her position of influence.

Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams spoke of his first job as a teenager writing advertising for analgesics and veterinary drugs. He also spoke of his experiences with setting up the Australian Skeptics organisation. One of that organisations first activities was to bring a Canadian magician: “The Amazing Randy” to Australia to illustrate the power of illusion.  Randy demonstrated his powers of telekinesis by making a cigarette roll along a table top. He did it by focusing attention on his finger tips trembling with power as they hovered over the cigarette. No one noticed that he was making it move by blowing it. Phillip linked that to the way that marketing, the Australian Prime Minister and the American President use distraction. He then spoke of Healthy Skepticism’s role of overcoming such use of distraction in advertising by drawing attention to influence techniques. He predicted that Healthy Skepticism is about to become very big because the time is right. (See Information about Phillip Adams. See Phillip Adams’ report about Healthy Skepticism.)

Twenty candles

Then Peter Mansfield answered questions about AdWatch before blowing out 20 candles on the anniversary cake. The celebration finished with time for HS supporters to get better acquainted.

Front row from left to right: Heather Carter, Tanya Wittwer, Leigh Newton, Hannah Mansfield (Peter’s daughter), Eve Hurley and Richard Mansfield (Peter’s father)

From left to right: Katrina Allen, Richard Heah (representing the Australian Medical Association), Helena Williams (representing the Southern Division of General Practice) and partially obscured Melissa Raven and Robyn Clothier (Peter’s wife)

From left to right: Peter Mansfield, Phillip Adams, Jon Jureidini and Rosie Burn

Phillip Adams getting better acquainted with one of his fans: Eve Hurley

2) Flinders University Convocation Medal

The Flinders University 2003 Investigator Lecture was given by Lech Walesa (former Solidarity Trade Union leader and former President of Poland) on 27 October this year to a capacity audience at the Adelaide Town Hall.

Two Convocation medals were presented at the lecture. Convocation medals are Flinders University’s highest award for outstanding graduates. Recent winners include pioneering Aboriginal businessman John Moriarty (best known for the Wunala (kangaroo) Dreaming paintings on Qantas 747 aircraft), author and educator Mem Fox (best known for the children’s book Possum Magic), film maker Mario Andreacchio (best known for the film Paradise Found) and actor, TV presenter and children’s issues and environmental activist Noni Hazlehurst (best known for her work on the TV programs Play School and Better Homes and Gardens).

One of the 2003 medals was awarded to a librarian: Margy Burn (who is Rosie Burn’s sister) for her work on making Australian heritage documents such as the papers of James Cook and Eddie Marbo widely available in digital form.

The other medal was presented to Peter Mansfield “for outstanding leadership in the advancement of professional practice and service to the community in the safe use of pharmaceutical drugs”.

Peter Mansfield making a joke during his Convocation Medal acceptance speech watched by Sir Eric Neal (Chancellor of Flinders University) and partially obscured Stephen Hains (President of the Alumni Association and Convocation).

After the Investigator Lecture
From left to right: Professor Anne Edwards (Vice Chancellor of Flinders University), Peter Mansfield, Lech Walesa, Stephen Hains, Margy Burn and Eric Neal

At the Mayor’s reception
From left to right: Michael Harbison (Lord Mayor of Adelaide City), Robyn Clothier (Peter’s wife), Lech Walesa, Peter Mansfield and Eric Neal

Messages from around the world for our 20th anniversary celebration


Congratulations and the best luck with the new endeavour.
Dr. Luis Justo
Cátedra de Bioética, Escuela de Medicina
Universidad Nacional del Comahue


New South Wales

Australian Prescriber looks forward to seeing Adwatch.
Dr John Dowden
Editor, Australian Prescriber.

I would like to convey my congratulations on twenty years of important work by MaLAM/Healthy Skepticism and wish you every success with the launch of AdWatch.
Judith Mackson
National Prescribing Service

I wish you every success with the new/old venture and I think its importance is no less in today’s society than it was at the inception.
Best wishes—Tony Smith
Chair, Curriculum and Training Working Group, National Prescribing Service.
Chair, Complementary Medicines Evaluation Committee, TGA

I have put in a suggestion to the Brit Med J for a story about it all. Will let you know how it goes.
Melissa Sweet


I am so terribly sorry to say that I will have to be an apology for this wonderful event of which you should be so terribly proud. I still admire immensely your courage, tenacity and survival skills. Take care, and best regards to all who gather for the anniversary celebrations.
A/Prof Frank May
Pharmacy School, University of Queensland

Keep Up the Good Work!
Anthony Stevenson
Department of Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, Cairns Base Hospital

South Australia

Thankyou for your tireless effort and advocacy, it is always a privilege and rich learning experience to work with you.
Joy Gailer, Drug Information Pharmacist
Drug and Therapeutics Information Service,

Please give my apologies - will be teaching students to be skeptical at that time
Prof Felix Bochner
Pharmacology, University of Adelaide


Many happy returns.
Sounds like an excuse for a 21st next year!
Peter Greenberg

I find the information from both MaLAM and the Healthy Skepticism site very useful. Keep up the great work.
Di McNamara
Psychologist and Critical Care Nurse

I am sorry that I can’t come.
Thanks for the invitation.
Prof Frank Shann
Paediatric Intensive Care

Happy birthday and congratulations Peter. I’m pleased to know that you
are still there pushing for justice and a better world!
Rosey Panelli
Postgraduate study (psychosocial outcomes in epilepsy)


I appreciate Your initiatives.
I will not be there, but maybe another time.
Best regards,
Prof. Christoph Pechlaner
Univ-Klinik Innere Medizin


Best regards,
Arthur Schafer


Thanks to you
Alain Martinole


Dear Peter and all other Healthy Skepticists,
Many years ago Peter Mansfield visited our office in Bielefeld, Germany. I still lively remember this first meeting. Over the years we have learned a lot from MaLAM which changed to the even smarter name “Healthy Skepticism”. Without this inspiration we would not have developed such a critical eye on commercial “information” which is an ongoing topic in our newsletter “Pharma-Brief”.
In times where public private interactions are becoming an epidemic, scientists and patient organisations deem it normal to be sponsored by industry, a critical eye on the impact of open and much more so on the hidden communication driven by pharmaceutical company interests is needed more than ever before.
We wish Healthy Skepticism all the best for uncovering misleading information in the future.
Jörg Schaaber
BUKO Pharma-Kampagne

Papua New Guinea

Sorry I wont be able to make the meeting- but very best wishes.
John D Vince.
School of Medicine and Health Sciences

New Zealand

Obviously I can’t attend from NZ but would like to send a message of support and of appreciation-it is very supportive and reassuring to belong to an organisation of like-minded people so that I don’t feel a lone crusader and have comprehensive resources available to me through the website.
Good luck with the launch.
Dr Joanna MacDonald
Department of Psychological Medicine
Wellington Medical School

Northern Ireland

Would love to come but it is a bit far to travel from Ireland for a party. Best wishes and keep up the good work.
Jeni McAughey
Royal College of General Practitioners


Congratulations, Healthy Skepticism - carry on the good work!
I can’t get from Norway to Australia for the celebration but I’ll be in Adelaide in about three months time and hope to see you then. In the meantime we all go on working in our separate ways - my latest is a Regulation on Drug Advertising and Promotion for the Government of Afghanistan - requiring prior approval of all advertising and promotional activities!
Very best wishes,
Prof Graham Dukes
Editor, Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs
Professor of Drug Policy Studies, University of Oslo


We, Mercedes (my wife, a GP herself) and me, love Australia. Not just because Peter Mansfield lives there but because the nature and the population we have found in our two trips there. But now, from more than one decade, also because we have found an invisible friend, Peter Mansfield and MaLAM, later healthyskepticism. Invisible most of the time; we have had the honeur of having Peter as a guest, only a few hours, in our home, in Madrid (Spain). We are not any more alone in the field of rational use of medications. Thanks to Peter, his family and the whole skeptics group, all over the world.
Recibe un abrazo del médico de Canencia de la Sierra (Madrid, Spain)
Juan Gérvas

The Netherlands

Congratulations from all at Health Action International Europe on your 20th birthday. You have made the world aware of unethical and inappropriate drug promotion and advocated at all levels for policy-makers to address these issues. May you continue your good work for the next twenty years.
Have a wonderful party (as only we from down-under can!)
Marg [expat Kiwi]
Margaret Ewen
Health Action International (Europe)


Happy Birthday
Sorry I could not come. Have a drink for me!
Dr. Mohga Kamal Smith
Health policy advisor
Oxfam GB


Congratulations to you and to all skeptics of medical promotion on your 20th anniversary.
No regulation is a more powerful incentive to truth in drug promotion than knowledge that an informed profession can turn its back on promoters it cannot trust. In that context, Healthy Skepticism is the honest drug firms’ best friend.
James B. Russo
Executive Director
The Partnership for Quality Medical Donations

Good luck from New York
Leonore Tiefer




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