Steve Taylor, Ph.D. – As a psychologist, I have been studying what I call “awakening experiences” for a decade, and have recently published (with a co-author) a new study of 90 such experiences in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
Awakening experiences are moments in which our awareness expands and intensifies. We transcend the worries that normally preoccupy us and feel a sense of elation or serenity. Our perceptions of the world around us become more vivid, and we feel a sense of connection to nature, other human beings or the whole universe in general. We feel a sense of love and compassion, and there is a strong sense that we have transcended a limited state, and that awareness has become more authentic than normal. At higher intensities of awakening experiences, we may even feel that we have lost our normal sense of identity and somehow become one with the whole world.
My research has found that there are three contexts that consistently show up as major triggers of awakening experiences. Around a third occur in situations of stress, depression and loss. For example, a woman described how she was devastated by the end of a seven-year relationship, “facing a suffering that I didn’t imagine could possibly exist.’” However, in the midst of this suffering, she “began to experience a clearness and connection with everything that existed…I was in a state of such pure happiness and acceptance, that I was no longer afraid of anything. Out of that depth arose such a compassion and connection to everything that surrounded me.”
The second major trigger of awakening experiences identified by my research is contact with nature. Around a quarter of the experiences take place in natural surroundings, apparently induced by the beauty and stillness of nature. People reported awakening experiences that occurred while they walking in the countryside, swimming in lakes, or gazing at beautiful flowers or sunsets. And the third most significant trigger of awakening experiences according to my research— with a similar frequency to contact with nature—is spiritual practice. This primarily means meditation, but also includes prayer and psycho-physical practices such as yoga or tai chi. The relaxing, mind-quietening effect of these practices seems to facilitate awakening experiences.
However, perhaps the most significant thing about awakening experiences is their after-effects. Even though they are typically of a very short duration—from a few moments to a few hours—they frequently have a life-changing effect.
Many people described an awakening experience as the most significant moment of their lives, reporting a major change in their perspective on life, and in their values. In our 2017 study of 90 awakening experiences, the most significant after-effect was a greater sense of trust, confidence, and optimism. For example, one person reported that even though “that whole experience was brief, it left a little piece of knowing and hope. While I still was and am on a journey of self-reflection, it left me knowing that your inner truth is always there for you.” Another person reported that, “To know that it’s there (or here, I should say) is a great liberation.”
One person had a powerful awakening experience while suffering from intense depression during which she “felt the most intense love and peace and knew that all was well.” The experience only lasted for a few minutes, but in its aftermath, she found that the feeling of dread had disappeared from her stomach, and she felt able to cope again, which led to a new, positive phase in her life. As she described it, “I looked around and thought about all the good things in my life and the future. I felt more positive and resilient.” Another person described how her awakening experience “allowed me a glance into the other side and opened me to the knowing that I am never separate, alone, nor unheld.”
Such changes in attitude sometimes led to significant lifestyle changes, such as new interests, new relationships and a new career. Some people reported becoming less materialistic and giving up high-powered professional careers for a simpler, more altruistic lifestyle.
This shows that awakening experiences have a powerful therapeutic effect. They make us realize that the world is a much more benign and meaningful place than we normally perceive it to be. And once we have glimpsed this, it becomes a permanent reality to us. As the great psychologist Abraham Maslow noted – in relation to what he called peak experiences — ‘A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence.’
HERE COMETH THE ROBODOCTOR AND THE PROTECT AND SERVE CROWD
Sometimes I have to wonder if all those suspicious deaths of “natural doctors” or “homeopathic” doctors, or whatever one wishes to call them, are being done simply to remove the human component of medicine altogether. And sometimes I have to wonder if our “culture” couldn’t possibly become more inhuman, or rather, anti-human. A state legislature applauds what to my mind is for all intents and purposes an infanticide bill; another state governor crows about it. The United States isn’t becoming an ugly anti-human place; it already is. Ugliness is promoted across the board, in the arts, in courtesy and manners, everywhere; life is excoriated, cruelty celebrated and applauded. A Catholic boy shows up to school after Ash Wednesday service, and the teacher wipes off the ashes because they might offend someone. Why not just get rid of the perpetually offending Christians with their ashes and crucifixes by putting them in camps?
Could we possibly become more callous and ugly?
I’m afraid we can, for consider these two stories that several people sent to me (and thanks to you all!):
It doesn’t get any more ridiculous than this folks (from the first article):
The family of a California man is outraged after a hospital used a robotic “doctor” to break the news to their elderly loved one that he is dying from chronic lung disease.
The incident took place on March 3, when a nurse wheeled in a machine with a screen showing a doctor into 78-year-old Ernest Quintana’s hospital room at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center emergency department in Fremont, California.
“The nurse came around and said the doctor was going to make rounds and I thought ‘OK, no big deal; I’m here,” his granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm told USA Today.
Instead of a human being, the nurse wheeled in the robot, who informed Quintana and his family that they have run out of options for medical treatment and wanted to put him on a morphine drip to ease the pain until his passing.
And there’s this from the second article:
Though it’s unclear exactly what the hospital thought was happening in the room, according to Newsweek, “The officer said that the department had received a call from someone who said they smelled weed coming from Sousley’s room.” Officers ultimately found no marijuana or any illegal substance during the search, but did reportedly find CBD Oil (Cannabidiol oil), which is legal.
“If we find marijuana we’ll give you a citation,” an officer threatened as another family member tried to plead with police, saying Sousley’s extreme pain means that doctors allow him a variety of medications. Sousley denied smoking marijuana or ingesting ground-up plants, but acknowledged he uses THC containing capsules for pain management.
The family was visibly upset at the spectacle of multiple police rifling through the sick man’s things. “It’s the only choice I got to live, man,” Sousley told the officers in the video. “We’re Americans. I was born here, it’s my right to live.”
Things got tense when officers demanded to search a bag that Sousley said was filled with his medications and end of life related personal items. He said didn’t want police to “dig through that,” according to the video. “It has my final-day things in there, and nobody’s gonna dig in it,” Sousley said. “It’s my stuff.”
“My final hour stuff is in that bag” — he pleaded, but officers still insisted, and then proceeded to search through it.
Ironically Missouri voters late last year voted to legalize medical marijuana, a law which has yet to take effect (until July 4, 2019). USA Today presents one of the more outrageous moments of the video where police actually acknowledge this, but shrug it off and say “then it’s still illegal”, below:
At one point in the video, Sousley references the legal status of medical cannabis in the state. Last November, Missouri voters overwhelmingly chose to create a medical cannabis system, but the state will not be taking any applications for cannabis patient ID cards until July 4.
Referencing marijuana, Sousley says in the video “medically in Missouri, it’s really legal now. They just they haven’t finished the paperwork.”
“Okay, then it’s still illegal,” one of the officers replies.
“But I don’t have time to wait for that,” Sousley says “What would you do?”
The officer says he refuses to engage in “what if” games.
Shame on the nurse for wheeling in a “robodoctor”, shame on those “to protect and to serve” sorts for raiding a dying man’s hospital room because some twits in a legislature decided to make a plant illegal, and to legalize it on such and such a day, and then hiding behind the letter of the law to kill its spirit.
But beyond that, the pattern seems clear: corporate medicine teams up with bully government, and the people or any sense of common decency and humanity be damned. Dying family member? Wheel in the robodoctor to give them the bad news. Have complaints about our behavior? Contact the customer (non)service department, spend hours punching in numbers on the phone trying to find the right department and a human to talk to, and eventually wind up talking to a human in Nepal with an accent thicker than molasses. “So sorry you had bad experience. Thank you for calling our customer service hotline!”
What’s to be done? I honestly don’t know. Part of me hopes that the local communities in which these incidents happened will find out the names of the people involved, and just start shunning them. “You can’t buy your groceries here,” and “you’re not welcome in this coffee shop” and hopefully, if any of these people are local church goers, it’s time for the revival of the example of St. Ambrose of Milan, who once publicly sermonized against the emperor, with the emperor present. And if that doesn’t work, a good old fashioned excommunication of the “you’re not welcome here until you change your ways” sort of thing.
But as I say, in the final analysis, I really don’t know what is to be done about this sort of behavior, nor this constant championing of the ugly and inhuman in our culture. What is to be done about this growing anti-humanity pro-ugliness movement that poses in cute and trendy politically correct garb, or, like the Bolivar police officer doing his job of protecting and serving, hides an inhumane and empty soul behind the letter of the law?
Which brings me to why I’m writing this blog, because I want to know what is to be done about all of this, but I have no idea what. Perhaps you do. And if you do, I’d like to hear about it. Because we’ve got to start thinking and talking about this, and trying to come up with solutions.
Adult stem cell therapy is enjoying widespread success around the world, but if the FDA gets its way, it may soon be banned here in the U.S.
There have been nearly 12,000 adult stem cell therapies performed in the United States with an over 90 percent success healing rate for mostly joint and spinal conditions. It involves using the patient’s own stem cells, so no patent-able drugs are involved.
They are targeting the most influential stem cell scientist in the U.S., Dr. Kristin Comella in Florida.
Differentiating the Types of Stem Cell Therapy
Many consider stem cell therapy the future of medicine. A stem cell can rebuild or create new cells in tissues, even in organ tissues other than those from which they had originally existed.
They could be considered seeds for growing body tissues. They are mostly able to function for cellular repair and growth no matter what organ is in need of repair or healing from chronic inflammation.
There is a considerable controversy surrounding stem cell therapy research, a branch of regenerative medicine.Much of the controversy has to do with not differentiating between adult stem cell therapy and embryonic stem cell therapy.
Embryonic stem cell therapy is the controversial one. It cultures or creates stem cells from terminated or aborted fetuses.
Currently, the FDA is harassing stem cell clinics that do not derive their stem cell solutions from aborted fetus tissue. They extract the stem cells from the patient’s own adipose tissue and inject them into areas where that same patient needs repair. It’s an autologous process called adult stem cell therapy.
U.S. Stem Cell based out of South Florida is one of the clinics being targeted by the FDA, and the clinic’s Chief Scientist is Dr. Kristin Comella, PhD.
Many other nations have been using adult stem cell therapy successfully over the past 15 years, leaving the USA dead last in this field. The FDA is trying to make sure it stays that way and allows costly pharmaceutical versions to prevail.
Dr. Kristin Comella and her clinic have been under attack from the FDA.
This short 3-minute video was produced interviewing Dr. Comella and some of her patients.
Examining and Comparing the Different Types of Stem Cell Therapy
Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) therapy has received most of the media’s attention and government support. But it is the most controversial because it involves extracting tissues from terminated human embryos, aka aborted fetuses.
In addition to moral and ethical issues, human embryonic stem cell (hESC) solutions create cells so rapidly where they’re injected they lead to cancerous tumors. To avoid that, researchers have to use immuno-suppressant drugs to curb the embryonic stem cells’ tendency toward cancer.
Using pharmaceutical drugs to curb hESC cancer side effect issues leads to other unexplored and unexpected side effects from those patented stem cell solutions.
But the profit motive for embryonic stem cell therapies was strong and a lot of government funds had been put into its research. Pharmaceutical companies were motivated because they could patent stem cells created from embryonic tissues.
Bone marrow stem cell therapy was among the first to depart from flawed hESC (human embryonic stem cell) therapies developed over the past two decades. Bone marrow stem cell therapy was the segue into the adult stem cell therapy movement.
Bone marrow extractions are painful, requiring general anesthesia. It’s relatively difficult and expensive compared to adipose (fat) tissue stem cell harvesting.
Bone marrow’s high white blood cell count also encourages inflammation, making it counter-productive for patients already suffering from chronic inflammation or autoimmune disorders.
Most importantly, adipose (fat) tissue yields up to 500 times more mesenchymal stem cells than bone marrow sources, according to Dr. Comella. These are potent stem cells that can differentiate into a wide variety of other cell types. Furthermore, the adipose white blood cell count is lower than bone marrow matter.
Overactive, confused immune responses attack organs continually and create chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases. The lower white blood cell count automatically lowers the risk of further inflammation among patients already suffering from chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
The outpatient treatment involves creating a very small and shallow incision that won’t require stitches on an area of skin covering adipose tissue (fat). From there, liposuction can withdraw a portion of the fat. This part of the procedure requires only a local anesthetic.
Then what is extracted is spun at high speed in a special centrifuge to isolate the stem cells which are then purified for IV drip delivery or injection into the same patient from whom it was extracted. Total costs range from five to ten thousand dollars or more in some cases.
Dr. Comella and her colleagues’ mission is to get adult stem cell therapy available for everyone. Private and government health insurance providers cover medical treatments that are much more expensive.
Why not cover one that would save money with its lower expense and fewer side effects?
Over the years, there have been nearly 12,000 adult stem cell therapies performed in the United States with an over 90 percent success healing rate for mostly joint and spinal conditions as well as heart and lung issues.
But the three known adverse side effect cases continually get all the media attention.
The Panama College of Cell Science, which helped launch Kristin Comella’s research and development, had this to say about her:
Perhaps the most influential clinician on the subject of adult stem cell therapy, Dr. Comella has been able to quietly develop patient treatment protocols and treat patients via collaborating physicians and health care providers using legal patient-specific FDA guidelines, including studies permitted by Institutional Review Boards, patient-specific stem cell clinical trials, and direct treatments using the patients own stem cells that are harvested and re-injected for therapeutic purposes.
Through Dr. Comella’s leadership, she and her team have trained and certifiedmore than 700 physicians worldwide in adult stem cell therapy.(Source)
The interview below allows the energetic Dr. Kristin Comella to give a thorough and upbeat description of adult stem cell therapy.
Big Pharma Is Using the FDA to Eliminate “Unregulated” Adult Stem Cell Competition
Since the late 1990s, adult stem cells used therapeutically were not under the control of the FDA and the adult stem cell movement took off.
There were complaints from some MDs that the adult stem cell practice should be regulated by the FDA. The Panama College of Cell Science responded to those outcries with this statement:
The motive in opposing adult stem cell therapy is money. The big institutions want to keep federal funding of embryonic stem cell research at a high level with the promise that cures are “just around the corner” despite the fact that embryonic stem cells will never be useful in any way for patient treatment because they immediately cause tumors when transplanted. (Source)
Adult stem cell therapy is an autologous treatment method. The stem cells are not lab-created. They are only isolated and purified after extracting them from the patient being treated. Injecting them back into that patient powers up the body’s own healing mechanism to overcome chronic ailments.
The FDA didn’t and shouldn’t have anything to do with regulating stem cells from one’s own body. That situation has recently been arbitrarily and suddenly changed.
Around 2014, the FDA started tweaking their guidance rules for stem cell therapy with the purpose of getting new rules made into laws through Congress that could be interpreted according to FDA whims and enforced arbitrarily. Their agenda is to consider adult stem cells as FDA-regulated drugs.
During our phone conversation, Dr. Comella explained how the FDA ignored testimonies from adult stem cell practitioners during their 2015 public hearings regarding new guideline proposals. Then they arranged to create new rules behind closed door meetings that included pharmaceutical industry allies and insiders.
The result was that by 2017, the FDA’s hands-off policy with adult stem cell therapy came to a sudden halt after years of highly successful stem cell practice.
By 2018, the FDA got nastier with the “the most influential clinician on the subject of adult stem cell therapy” as its target. The FDA started doing inspections of Dr. Comella’s South Florida clinic that are designed for labs that manufacture drugs.
The standards for hospitals and clinics are not as strict as drug manufacturers. Those inspections were inappropriate for a clinic. But those inspections made it easier to create damaging reports.
When the inspectors came by, they demanded to go into rooms while treatments were taking place with semi-nude or nude patients, which Dr. Comella prohibited. The inspectors also demanded to view patient medical records. She allowed that after redacting their names on the copies she gave them.
For her actions to protect patients’ privacy, inspectors allegedly cited Dr. Comella for resisting and obstructing FDA inspections.
Soon after the inspections, the FDA served Dr. Comella with a lawsuit for practicing medicine with unapproved drugs. The “drugs” were only those stem cell solutions drawn from patients to be used on them.
The FDA has allegedly offered to drop the lawsuit if Dr. Comella signed an agreement to stop doing adult stem cell therapy and no longer promote it.
She refused. She said she has witnessed people leave their wheelchairs for good from this therapy. The trial is set for a Federal Court hearing beginning June 2019, in Miami, Florida.
If Dr. Comella loses this court case, adult stem cell therapy in the USA may be forced out of the country and only be available to those who can afford medical tourism.
I recently wrote about the renewed calls for state legislatures to eliminate personal belief vaccine exemptions and restrict medical exemptions, and how California state Sen. Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is even urging the U.S. Surgeon General to push mandatory vaccinations to the top of the federal public health agenda.1,2
According to Pan, “unwarranted vaccine hesitancy” is a threat to public health as it prevents “community immunity, which protects our children and the most vulnerable.” He believes mandating vaccines, as was done for smallpox during the Revolutionary War, would “protect our right as Americans to be free of preventable diseases.”
Herd Immunity and Vaccination
What he’s talking about is achieving and maintaining so-called vaccine-acquired “herd immunity,” the theory which maintains that once a majority of people have been vaccinated, the infectious disease in question can no longer spread and everyone is protected, including the tiny minority who for whatever reason are not or cannot be vaccinated.
The problem with this argument is that it doesn’t work for vaccines. While there is such a thing as herd immunity among populations in which a majority has had the infectious disease and acquired a long lasting natural immunity, vaccines confer only temporary artificial immunity, and so true herd immunity is unlikely to be fully achieved, even if nearly 100 percent of the population are vaccinated.
The measles vaccine, for example, wears off after about a decade3 or two. 4,5 Whatever temporary artificial protection is obtained from other vaccines also fades in time. If you are an adult, chances are that some of the vaccinations you received as a child are not protecting you today.6 What’s more, between 2 and 10 percent of some vaccines result in “primary vaccine failure,” meaning those who get the vaccine do not gain even temporary artificial protection after vaccination. 7
Indeed, public health officials are now recommending adults born in or after 1957 to get revaccinated against measles.8,9,10 Since the Disneyland-related measles outbreak in early 2015, some public health doctors are even suggesting all adults should get a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) booster shot because as many as 1 in 10 previously vaccinated adults may be susceptible to measles due to waning vaccine-acquired immunity.11
Herd Immunity Does Not Work for Measles
It’s quite possible that revaccinating adults still would not achieve herd immunity for measles. Dr. Alexander Langmuir is known as “the father of infectious disease epidemiology.” In 1949, he created the epidemiology section of what became the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He also headed the Polio Surveillance Unit founded in 1955 after polio vaccine safety issues became public.
According to Langmuir and many other experts, one dose of the measles vaccine was supposed to eradicate the common childhood disease. But, of course, that did not happen.
By the early 1980s, more than 95 percent of children entering school in the U.S. had received a dose of measles containing vaccine but, in 1989-1990, there were outbreaks of measles among school-age children and college students. Public health officials responded by recommending a second dose of MMR vaccine for all children. In an article published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews in 1995, researchers stated:
“Measles, which was targeted for elimination from the United States in 1979, persisted at low incidence until 1989, when an epidemic swept the country. Cases occurred among appropriately vaccinated school-age populations and among unimmunized, inner-city preschool children.
In response to the epidemic, measles immunization recommendations have been modified. To prevent spread among school-age populations, a second dose of MMR vaccine is recommended at 5 to 6 or 11 to 12 years of age.”12
A 1994 study13 looking at measles incidence in Cape Town, Africa, indicated that as vaccination rates increased, measles became a disease in populations where the majority of children had been vaccinated. … See *
Examples of Measles Outbreaks in Highly Vaccinated Populations
A recent example of measles outbreaks in a highly vaccinated population occurred in Israel in 2017 in a military population ranging in age from 19 to 37, which had “high measles vaccination coverage.” The first two patients identified had both received two doses of measles vaccine. Patient zero, a 21-year-old soldier, had documentation of having received three doses. … (*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
Natural Versus Vaccine-Induced Immunity
Again, a key factor to consider is that many vaccines do not provide long-lasting or lifelong immunity. Vaccines only confer temporary artificial immunity and sometimes they fail to do that. This has been shown to have important generational ramifications as well. Infants under age 1, who used to be protected in the first year of life by getting natural maternal antibodies from their mothers, who had experienced and recovered from measles in childhood, are now susceptible to measles from birth.
That is because most young mothers today have been vaccinated and measles vaccine-acquired maternal antibodies are far less protective than naturally acquired antibodies.32,33 To understand why this is so, you need to understand a little bit about how your immune system works.
(*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
Delayed Infection Multiplies Risk
The inability to actually achieve herd immunity for many infectious diseases is by far not the only problem.
Using “mathematical analysis to explore how modern-era vaccination practices have changed the risks of severe outcomes for some infections by changing the landscape for disease transmission,” researchers have found that by delaying the age of infection with vaccination, the health risks are exponentially increased in vulnerable age groups within populations.
(*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
DTaP Vaccine Increases Susceptibility to Pertussis
Yet another problem is that vaccination may raise your susceptibility to that very illness and/or other viral illness. We’ve seen this with influenza vaccination, where the flu vaccine appears to raise your risk of contracting other respiratory infections38 and/or more serious influenza.39,40,41 Another example is pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine.
As detailed in a study published in the February 2019 issue of the Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, researchers stated:42
(*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
Portion of Measles Outbreaks Are Attributable to Vaccine Reactions
So, is there really a rapid increase in preventable diseases? Or are the vaccine failures just becoming more pervasive and vaccine reactions more noticeable?
Circling back to measles for a moment, a recent paper48 in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology describes new technology developed to “rapidly distinguish between measles cases and vaccine reactions to avoid unnecessary outbreak response measures such as case isolation and contact investigations.” According to this paper:
“During the measles outbreak in California in 2015, a large number of suspected cases occurred in recent vaccinees. Of the 194 measles virus sequences obtained in the United States in 2015, 73 were identified as vaccine sequences.”
In other words, about 38 percent of suspected measles cases in the 2015 Disneyland measles scarewere actually vaccine-related and not caused by transmission of wild-type measles. You may have noticed that each time a measles outbreak occurs, it’s always blamed on the unvaccinated. Yet a portion of those who become sick may actually have been sickened by the vaccine-strain measles virus.
Cracking Down on Vaccine ‘Misinformation’
As I discussed in a vaccine article last week, the media is currently filled with reports of how tech platforms such as Google, Facebook,49 Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and even Amazon50 are fueling “anti-vax” fears and spreading misinformation (or doing nothing to prevent sharing of vaccine safety related material between users).51
Pinterest has already responded to calls for censorship and now blocks all vaccine related searches.52Amazon has also pulled at least five vaccine documentaries from its streaming Prime Video platform, all of which questioned the safety of vaccines.53
It’s difficult to express just how harmful this censorship is for public health, and what the ramifications will be if all these platforms implement censoring tactics to prevent information about vaccine safety (or rather lack thereof) from being accessed.
It’s especially upsetting when health authorities, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) among them, make statements that are in absolute contradiction to established scientific facts.
Health Authorities Lie to Congress
In a January interview with CBS News,54 Fauci flat out denied the fact that vaccines can cause injuryor death — this despite the fact that the vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 has paid out nearly $4 billion in awards for vaccine damage and death, and that’s just 31 percent of filed petitions for compensation.55
(*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
According to Merck and CDC, MMR Vaccine Can Cause Brain Inflammation
Fisher goes on to present evidence for why Fauci and Messonnier are both wrong, and are in fact presenting Congress with false information. For starters, the MMR vaccine package insert59 published by Merck states that “Encephalitis and encephalopathy have been reported approximately once for every 3 million doses of M-M-R II or measles-, mumps- and rubella-containing vaccine.”
The vaccine information statement (VIS) that doctors are by federal law required to give parents before their children receive a CDC recommended vaccine states that “severe” adverse effects of the MMR60 and MMRV61 vaccines include “deafness; long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness; and brain damage.”
One of the “moderate” adverse events associated with the MMRV vaccine is encephalitis. Fisher also goes through some of the medical literature showing the MMR vaccine can cause encephalitis and encephalopathy. For more data, I recommend reading Fisher’s article62 in its entirety.
(*Go to link for continuation of this section.)
Forced Vaccination Violates Human Rights
In a February 25, 2019, letter63 to the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Physicians for Informed Consent urge the committee to make note of and correct a number of errors in its memorandum for its “Confronting a Growing Public Health Threat: Measles Outbreaks in the U.S.” meeting. Among the errors:
•The claim that one or two deaths occur per 1,000 children who acquire measles is an erroneous calculation error. At most, there is one death per 6,000, but more likely one death per 10,000. (For an explanation of the data for these figures, see the original letter)
•The claim that “CDC has determined that receiving the MMR vaccine is safer than getting any of the viruses” has not been scientifically demonstrated. According to Physicians for Informed Consent:
“In 2017, we reported in The British Medical Journal64 that every year an estimated 5,700 U.S. children (approximately 1 in 640) suffer febrile seizures from the first dose of the MMR vaccine — which is five times more than the number of febrile seizures expected from measles.
This amounts to 57,000 febrile seizures over the past 10 years due to the MMR vaccine alone. As 5 percent of children with a history of febrile seizures progress to epilepsy, a debilitating and life-threatening chronic condition, the estimated number of children whose epilepsy is due to the MMR vaccine in the past 10 years is 2,850.
In addition, we contend that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), as a passive surveillance system, does not adequately capture vaccine side effects and that serious side effects, including permanent neurological harm and death from the MMR and other vaccines, may similarly be underreported.”
Speaking out against calls for forced vaccinations, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) sent a statement on federal vaccine mandates65,66 to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on February 26, 2019, saying forced vaccinations are unnecessary and violate human rights, and that the AAPS “strongly opposes federal interference in medical decisions, including mandated vaccines.”
In recent years we’ve seen a number of credible scientific reports indicating that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices is linked to the development of cancers, including brain and heart cancer. And as the world’s wireless network is upgraded to 5G, we may soon see a dramatic spike in cases of cancer, and people in high places are speaking out to warn the public.
Additionally, warnings about the safety of emerging 5G technology are everywhere, and even the California Brain Tumor Association issued a public warning. But, we’re already living in a world that has grown dependent on wireless and bluetooth technology, with an array of consumer products like Apple’s AirPods which act as wireless transmitters/receivers sitting right next to the brain, nestled among the most sensitive parts of the ear.
This is a recipe for a public health disaster, and to emphasize this, a group of 250 scientists from over 40 countries have signed a petition to the WHO and the UN to warn them about the documented dangers of radio wave radiation from WiFi, cell phones and bluetooth.
“Apple’s wireless AirPods, for example, ‘communicate with one another using a magnetic induction field, a variable magnetic field [one] sends through your brain to communicate with the other,’ explains Dr Joel Moskowitz.
Dr Moskowitz, a University of California, Berkeley community health professor who focuses on cell phone exposures, says there isn’t even research on what this could do to the brain yet, let alone regulations to limit the potential effects.” [Source]
The opening statement of the petition lists a litany of current technological products that are all linked to physiological disorders, disease and even cancer.
“We are scientists engaged in the study of biological and health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF). Based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices. These include–but are not limited to–radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors as well as electric devices and infra-structures used in the delivery of electricity that generate extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF EMF).” [Source]
Read the full petition, here. And for more information on the potential harm of 5G and wireless technologies, please review the following links:
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer forWakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
For centuries bank deposits have come with a comforting guarantee. Depositors have always been able to quickly convert them at par into cash.
But this guarantee is slowly being eroded. Banks in Canada, Ireland, Australia, Denmark, and Sweden are closing full-service branches and adopting a less-staffed “cashless bank” model. In a cashless branch, customers can no longer deposit or withdraw cash over the counter.
The next step will be when banks remove their external ATM machines too. Once this happens, we’ll have entered a strange new world where bank deposits are permanently inconvertible.
But if we don’t want a world with cashless banks, here’s a potential solution. Maybe banks should be allowed to issue their own unique brand of banknotes. By doing so, bankers may have more of an incentive to promote cash availability.
Bankers have been steadily introducing cashless banks over the last few years in response to falling customer demand for cash. With fewer people wanting to withdraw or deposit cash, the cost of offering these services gets harder to justify to shareholders.
Some commentators worry that banks are not simply reacting to customer preferences but are taking an active role in reducing cash usage. In a recent opinion piece, Brett Scott accuses banks of nudging customers away from cash by re-designing the withdrawal and deposit processes to be less accommodating.
As Scott points out, banks have an incentive to move customers into cards and other digital channels because that way they can make more profit off of transactions and suck up more data. Furthermore, deposits compete with central bank-issued banknotes as a form of saving. Banks prefer that consumers lodge cash at the bank because deposits are a low-cost source of funding for banks.
That banks are sole distributors of a third-party product that they directly compete with represents a major conflict of interest. This arrangement is unfortunate given cash’s many benefits. To begin with, it makes for a great back-up payments system — unlike card-based systems, cash can’t crash. It is also used by many people for budgeting purposes. And finally, banknotes allow people to regulate how much personal information they must give up in transactions. I’ve talked about many of these advantages before.
Given that cash is important to society, but banks have a perverse incentive to prevent its circulation, what is the solution? Perhaps the answer is to get banks on side by allowing them to issue their own banknotes. If they have a direct financial stake in the fate of cash, then banks will be less conflicted in the role they play as society’s main distributors of coins and banknotes.
Ireland is an interesting case study. The Bank of Ireland is the largest private bank in both the Republic of Ireland (a separate country) and Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK). Oddly enough, even as the Bank of Ireland threatens to make most of its branches in the Republic of Ireland cash-free, the northern arm of the bank is rolling out new polymer banknotes in 2019.
Banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland enjoy a long tradition of issuing their own banknotes. Of the four note-issuing banks in Northern Ireland, the Bank of Ireland is the largest issuer followed by Ulster Bank, Danske, and First Trust. As of the end of 2018, the big four had issued £2.9 billion worth of banknotes. These banks aren’t obligated to provide Northern Ireland with cash. They print it because their customers want it.
The Bank of England, UK’s central bank, requires Northern Ireland’s private note issuers to “back” each pound they issue with at least 60 cents in Bank of England notes or coins. The other 40 cents in backing can be held in an interest-yielding account at the Bank of England.
Northern Ireland’s cash-issuing banks thus enjoy two advantages relative to banks that cannot issue cash. Since they needn’t pay any interest to their banknote customers, but enjoy interest on the backing assets held in their account at Bank of England, they earn a recurring flow of income on each note that they put into circulation. Secondly, the circulation of their particular brand of banknotes serves as a form of free advertisement. The more of its notes that a bank can get the public to use, the more visibility it steals from competitors.
Thus, the Bank of Ireland’s northern operations have an incentive to ensure that cash is always available to depositors. But the bank’s southern arm, which distributes euro banknotes, does not have the same incentive, since it doesn’t directly share in the financial advantages of promoting cash usage.
The benefits of issuing cash can be sizable. For instance, at the end of 2017 Ulster Bank has issued £803 million in banknotes. This accounts for 7% of the bank’s total £11,501 million in liabilities. Given that Ulster Bank currently pays as much as 0.85% on its other liabilities, including savings accounts, the ability to issue notes at 0% significantly reduces its funding costs. I doubt that Ulster Bank would want to sabotage this gift.
Critics will point out that allowing banks to issue cash comes at the expense of the tax payer. That’s true. All of the profits that the Bank of England earns are paid back to the state, and ultimately the taxpaying citizens. By directing a bit of interest to the Bank of Ireland and other private issuers, that leaves less for the state.
But notice that Bank of England strikes a careful balance. It only allows the Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, and other private issuers to keep 40% of their backing assets in an interest-yielding account, the other 60% being lodged in no-yield Bank of England banknotes. So the current Northern Irish arrangement illustrates how it is possible to accommodate both taxpayers, banks, and their customers.
Alternatively, banks could invest the 40% in a higher yielding loan portfolio. Although some people might have financial stability concerns, we know from Selgin and White’s explorations of free banking that private banknote systems can be quite sound.
Allowing private banks to issue banknotes may seem like a radical solution. But by fixing the dysfunctional relationship between banks and cash, this option may help prevent an equally radical scenario from emerging; a world with only cashless banks.
In the battle to gain an edge over competitors, companies spend millions of dollars to understand consumers through focus groups, surveys, and sophisticated analytics. But too often, because most people don’t really know what they want, these methods waste time and resources. There is a better way: educating consumers, rather than listening to them.
Consider, for example, three very different products: coffee, diamonds, and smartphones. Billions of people around the world have enjoyed coffee for over five centuries. But our understanding of the product has changed dramatically since Starbucks debuted in Seattle in 1971 and grew to a global powerhouse with more than 28,000 locations. Similarly, DeBeers took a luxury gemstone — diamonds — and created a broader market for it by associating it with romance and marriage. By 2013, diamond sales topped $70 billion, up from virtually nothing in 1932. The stones were the same, but consumers were taught that they had a new meaning — and value. Finally, in the case of smartphones, Steve Jobs famously argued against the traditional approach: “Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do…People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
To better understand how firms succeed by educating consumers, we studied the U.S. wine industry. Winemaking has remained largely unchanged for 7,000 years, but the United States wine industry has ballooned from just over $30 billion in 2002 to more than $60 billion today, making it the largest in the world. The number of U.S. wineries has grown by 50% to nearly 10,000 just in the past decade. Some have redefined great wine, gained the loyalty of passionate consumers, and command extraordinary prices.
How did these firms achieve the benefits often associated with disruptive innovation in an industry in which the technology has remained largely unchanged for millenniums? To explore this question, we have since 2010 immersed ourselves in the wine industry, focusing primarily on U.S. producers but also studying a few from Italy and France for whom the U.S. market is important. These ranged from small, boutique wineries to large multinational firms; some were established in the last 30 years, while others date back to the 14th century. We met with winemakers, vineyard workers, marketing executives, CEOs, critics, writers, importers, and we observed and interviewed consumers in their homes and at wine shops, multi-vendor events, bars, restaurants, and wineries. From 58 interviews, we produced more than 2,300 pages of transcripts, field notes, documents, and photos. We found that, like Starbucks, DeBeers and Apple, wine producers shape markets through vision and social influence. Here’s how they do it.
Step 1: Envision something extraordinary
Wine producers see customers as having limited expertise and demonstrating inconsistent, difficult-to-predict preferences. This is why, rather than seeking and responding to consumer input, they seek to influence tastes.
Christian Moueix, best known for producing France’s legendary Château Petrus from Pomerol, offers an example. Moueix purchased a vineyard in Napa Valley, where vintners make rich, lush, wines that are high in alcohol. Industry professionals call these wines fruit bombs, and the most popular sell for hundreds of dollars. But Moueix told us that he “hates” this style of wine, and he rejects many common California practices. Instead, he prefers an approach he developed in Bordeaux, which includes no role for consumer input. “I make what pleases me,” he explained.
We heard versions of this sentiment again and again. One American winemaker told us that consumers “don’t respect the product … don’t understand wine … don’t care.” Another executive said: “I’m not going to be asking the market what it wants because they don’t know what they want until I show them.”
Some producers even wear their lack of interest in profit as a badge . “We are not here to break even, we are here to break the rules, break records, and break through,” one California winery owner proudly proclaimed.
Instead of responding to consumers or chasing financial returns, winemakers pursue a vision, much like an artist imagines a work. Constrained only by the vineyard and history, they aim to make a personal contribution.
Step 2: Mobilize those with influence
Even as wine producers dismiss customer input and the pursuit of profit, they value the opinions of peers and influential media and critics, including Karen MacNeil, Jancis Robinson, The Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Vinuous Media, and The Wine Advocate’sRobert Parker.
Critics typically score wine on a 0-to-20 or 0-to-100 scale and provide tasting notes; an additional point from Parker generates €2.80, or $3.00, of revenue per bottle, according to one analysis, while a difference of ten points can mean millions of euros for a large-scale producer, and a perfect score of 100 can support a three- or fourfold price increase.
Some producers engineer wines to earn high scores, but those that shape markets are more subtle. They aim to build influential relationships with industry movers and shakers, rather than to please them. They educate these experts in their histories, winemakers, and visions for the future and thus gain some control over the stories that reach the public. They provide the language needed to help people “discover the soul” of their wines.
One producer we interviewed invites sommeliers, journalists, and others to experience the harvest at his vineyards in France each fall. A small group of five to six guests stay at the elegant home of the owner. Accompanied by the winemaker, the guests stroll through the vineyards, taste wines from previous vintages, and discuss their experience over dinner. The event is designed to make them feel connected to the brand and then advocate for it.
Through these kinds of experiences, a consensus emerges about which wines are excellent, and which are extraordinary, and ultimately this is what defines the winners and the losers in the industry. Moueix’s Dominus Estate offers a case in point. When he released the first vintage of Dominus Estate in 1988, it was neither a Napa Valley fruit bomb nor a Moueix wine from Bordeaux, which prompted debate: Was it more French or more Californian? Was it really worth $40? Moueix explained his vision to critics and journalists, as a songwriter might explain the meaning of a lyric. He wanted the wine to express its terroir — the soil, the weather, the sunshine, the natural environment — of its legendary Yountville, California vineyard. He also favored dry farming (no irrigation), thinning the crop, and harvesting grapes early. Thus, Dominus Estate became understood as a unique blend of “Napa terroir, Bordeaux spirit.” Over time, critics began describing it as a new benchmark for the region, and high scores followed. Parker awarded the 2001 vintage 98 points. Three critics awarded the 2013 vintage a rare 100 points—perfection.
Step 3: Let consumers react and share
Consumers looking to buy a bottle of wine confront thousands of choices. In fact, many of the shoppers we spoke to described the experience as stressful; they were fearful of making a poor choice and looking ignorant or of missing an opportunity to make an evening more special. To navigate, they invariably turn to those experts that the wineries have worked so hard to influence.
Despite questions about the objectivity of wine scores, critics still drive the behavior of retail and hospitality buyers and consumers. One retailer conducted an experiment in which he stacked two California Chardonnays next to each other and posted their Wine Advocate scores and tasting notes below the bottles. The bottle with a score of 92 outsold the bottle with a score 84 ten to one. When the same wines were displayed with tasting notes only, sales were roughly even. As another example, Moueix sold every case available from the 2013 Dominus Estate vintage and bottles that remain on retail shelves bear price tags of $300 or more.
The chain reaction is clear. Vision flows from producer to critic. Retailers stock wines critics and other experts praise, and sommeliers add their newest discoveries to wine lists. Retailers and sommeliers then share their favorite wines with consumers, who share what they’ve bought and enjoyed with their friends and families. The most dedicated visit celebrated wineries, join wine clubs, learn more, and share what they have learned with others. From beginning to end, the process is an educational one.
Producers of wines deemed extraordinary define categories and set benchmarks. Consumers become fans and pay premium prices, despite the availability of literally thousands of excellent alternatives. This ensures the financial success of those firms, even as they reject consumer input and feign the pursuit of profit.
From learning to educating
As products become more complex and consumers feel more pressed for time, we believe that firms in all industries will increasingly succeed by having a unique vision, cultivating expert advocates through authentic connections, driving expert consensus, and allowing consumers to react and share. Firms that gain advantage through simply responding to customers are vulnerable to disruption. Those that shape markets using social influence and education can endure.
Ashlee Humphreys is Associate Professor of Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications, and Associate Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management. She is author of Social Media: Enduring Principles.
How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful than You
Your boss proposes a new initiative you think won’t work. Your senior colleague outlines a project timeline you think is unrealistic. What do you say when you disagree with someone who has more power than you do? How do you decide whether it’s worth speaking up? And if you do, what exactly should you say?
What the Experts Say It’s a natural human reaction to shy away from disagreeing with a superior. “Our bodies specialize in survival, so we have a natural bias to avoid situations that might harm us,” says Joseph Grenny, the coauthor of Crucial Conversationsand the cofounder of VitalSmarts, a corporate training company. “The heart of the anxiety is that there will be negative implications,” adds Holly Weeks, the author of Failure to Communicate. We immediately think, “He’s not going to like me,” “She’s going to think I’m a pain,” or maybe even “I’ll get fired.” Although “it’s just plain easier to agree,” Weeks says that’s not always the right thing to do. Here’s how to disagree with someone more powerful than you.
Be realistic about the risks Most people tend to overplay the risks involved in speaking up. “Our natural bias is to start by imagining all the things that will go horribly wrong,” Grenny says. Yes, your counterpart might be surprised and a little upset at first. But chances are you’re not going to get fired or make a lifelong enemy. He suggests you first consider “the risks of not speaking up” — perhaps the project will be derailed or you’ll lose the team’s trust — then realistically weigh those against the potential consequences of taking action.
Decide whether to wait After this risk assessment, you may decide it’s best to hold off on voicing your opinion. Maybe “you haven’t finished thinking the problem through, the whole discussion was a surprise to you, or you want to get a clearer sense of what the group thinks,” says Weeks. “If you think other people are going to disagree too, you might want to gather your army first. People can contribute experience or information to your thinking — all the things that would make the disagreement stronger or more valid.” It’s also a good idea to delay the conversation if you’re in a meeting or other public space. Discussing the issue in private will make the powerful person feel less threatened.
Identify a shared goal Before you share your thoughts, think about what the powerful person cares about — it may be “the credibility of their team or getting a project done on time,” says Grenny. You’re more likely to be heard if you can connect your disagreement to a “higher purpose.” When you do speak up, don’t assume the link will be clear. You’ll want to state it overtly, contextualizing your statements so that you’re seen not as a disagreeable underling but as a colleague who’s trying to advance a shared goal. The discussion will then become “more like a chess game than a boxing match,” says Weeks.
Ask permission to disagree This step may sound overly deferential, but, according to Grenny, it’s a smart way to give the powerful person “psychological safety” and control. You can say something like, “I know we seem to be moving toward a first-quarter commitment here. I have reasons to think that won’t work. I’d like to lay out my reasoning. Would that be OK?” This gives the person a choice, “allowing them to verbally opt in,” says Grenny. And, assuming they say yes, it will make you feel more confident about voicing your disagreement.
Stay calm You might feel your heart racing or your face turning red, but do whatever you can to remain neutral in both your words and actions. When your body language communicates reluctance or anxiety, it undercuts the message, Weeks says. It sends “a mixed message, and your counterpart gets to choose what to read,” she explains. Deep breaths can help, as can speaking more slowly and deliberately. “When we feel panicky we tend to talk louder and faster. You don’t want to be mousey or talk in a whisper, but simply slowing the pace and talking in an even tone helps calm the other person down and does the same for you,” says Grenny. It also makes you seem confident, even if you aren’t.
Validate the original point After you’ve gotten permission, articulate the other person’s point of view. What is the idea, opinion, or proposal that you’re disagreeing with? Stating that clearly, possibly even better than your counterpart did, lays a strong foundation for the discussion. “You want your counterpart to say, ‘She understands.’ You don’t want to get in a fight about whether you get her point,” Weeks explains.
Don’t make judgments When you move on to expressing your concerns, watch your language carefully. Grenny says to avoid any “judgment words” such as “short-sighted,” “foolish,” or “hasty” that might set off your counterpart; one of his tips is to cut out all adjectives, since “they have the potential to be misinterpreted or taken personally.” Share only facts. For example, instead of saying, “I think that first-quarter deadline is naïve,” you can say, “We’ve tried four projects like this in the past, and we were able to do two in a similar time period, but those were special circumstances.” Weeks also recommends staying neutral and focused: “Lay off the players and be vivid about the problem. Try to make it an honest disagreement, a worthwhile advancement of thought.”
Stay humble Emphasize that you’re offering your opinion, not “gospel truth,” says Grenny. “It may be a well-informed, well-researched opinion, but it’s still an opinion, [so] talk tentatively and slightly understate your confidence.” Instead of saying something like, “If we set an end-of-quarter deadline, we’ll never make it,” say, “This is just my opinion, but I don’t see how we will make that deadline.” Weeks suggests adding a lot of “guiding phrases” like “I’m thinking aloud here.” This will leave room for dialogue. Having asserted your position (as a position, not as a fact), “demonstrate equal curiosity about other views,” says Grenny. Remind the person that this is your point of view, and then invite critique. Weeks suggests trying something like, “Tell me where I’m wrong with this.” Be genuinely open to hearing other opinions.
Acknowledge their authority Ultimately, the person in power is probably going to make the final decision, so acknowledge that. You might say, “I know you’ll make the call here. This is up to you.” That will not only show that you know your place but also remind them that they have choices, Grenny says. Don’t backtrack on your opinion or give false praise, though. “You want to show respect to the person while maintaining your own self-respect,” says Weeks.
Principles to Remember
Explain that you have a different opinion and ask if you can voice it.
Restate the original point of view or decision so it’s clear you understand it.
Speak slowly — talking in an even tone calms you and the other person down.
Assume that disagreeing is going to damage your relationship or career — the consequences are often less dramatic than we think.
State your opinions as facts; simply express your point of view and be open to dialogue.
Use judgment words, such as “hasty,” “foolish,” or “wrong,” that might upset or incite your counterpart.
Case Study #1: Show respect for the idea Victor Chiu, a business development manager at Centaria Properties, in Vancouver, was concerned that his boss, Patrick, was making a hasty decision. Weak Canadian oil prices had created favorable economic conditions for snatching up real estate, and there was a small plot of land with an operations warehouse in Alberta that Patrick thought the company should buy. At the time, Victor says, “Alberta’s economy was just starting to feel the pinch. Oil was at $45 a barrel and was still on its way down — without any signs of stabilization.” He was worried that the company would be overextended if it made the purchase, so he decided to speak up.
Victor looked his boss in the eye, spoke in a “smooth, casual tone,” and asked Patrick to keep an open mind about the proposal. He said, “I think it’s a great idea, but with oil just starting to slide and with no bottoming out in sight, bigger and better opportunities should present themselves in the near future.” He knew it was important to show respect for Patrick and his idea and to emphasize that he wanted the best for the company. He also made sure to propose a solution: “Let’s wait a bit to see if we can get a better deal, and then pull the trigger.”
“When you disagree with someone more powerful than you, you should always have a constructive reason to oppose. In my case, the reason was timing,” Victor says. Patrick didn’t take offense and was curious to hear more about Victor’s reasoning. Ultimately, they decided to hold off on making the investment.
Case Study #2: Make it about the company, not you Mike McRitchie, owner of the consultancy Critical Path Action, has had reason to disagree with people more powerful than he on several occasions.
In a previous job, as the director of operations for a small consulting business, he disagreed with how his boss, the owner of the company, wanted to handle a health insurance decision. The boss wanted to survey the staff about two different options, letting them make the final choice on which one to adopt. But “as leaders, this was a decision I felt we should be making rather than delegating it to the whole staff,” Mike explains. “I’m all for getting feedback, but when it comes time to make a tough call, it isn’t fair to put that responsibility on the staff’s shoulders.”
Mike decided to share his opinion, emphasizing his commitment to the firm and making sure that his body language was not “at all unsure or tentative.” His boss was shocked at first; Mike had a reputation for being reserved, so open disagreement was “out of character” for him. But his boss could see that “I cared for the company and our leaders and staff,” Mike says. “I had no personal agenda.”
The boss agreed to abandon the staff poll idea, and “he’s respected me to this day,” Mike adds. “If you make it about the company’s best interests, instead of about you, then you have the best opportunity to win.”
In their purported fact-checking of a report by CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, Snopes spewed propaganda, not real facts, in an attempt to discredit the report and the potential vaccines-autism link
Snopes wrote the article without contacting Attkisson, who went on to state that they also listed claims she never made, then declared them to be false, and even were incorrect in one of their own claims
It’s dangerous to rely on any one source or group of individuals as authorities on truth, as it sets up the path for inevitable censorship
Industry propaganda and censorship of health and media information that strays from the mainstream is a growing problem
In your search for the truth, always follow your own guiding light — not one maintained by Snopes or any other internet watchdog or censorship authority that tries to lead you down their own biased path
In the barrage of information you come across daily online, how do you know what’s true and what’s nothing more than hearsay, gossip or all-out lies? Some people use Snopes as their go-to source for online fact-checking, believing it to give the unbiased and credible final word on all those widely-circulated stories.
If you’re relying on Snopes as your arbiter of truth, however, you’re in for a surprise: Snopes engages in massive censorship of natural health and general promotion of industry talking points. What started as a tool to investigate urban legends, hoaxes and folklore has manifested into a self-proclaimed “definitive fact-checking resource” that’s taking on topics like whether or not vaccines can cause autism.
Yet, in their purported fact-checking of a Full Measure report1 by award-winning investigative reporter and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson,2 Snopes simply spewed propaganda, not real facts, in an attempt to discredit the report and the potential vaccines-autism link. In the end, though, they actually ended up confirming the main point of Attkisson’s report. For this, Attkisson wrote, “Snopes gets an ‘F’ for predictable propaganda in [the] vaccine-autism debate.”
Snopes Attempts to Discredit Investigative Report on Vaccines-Autism Link
Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, is a pro-vaccine expert witness the U.S. government used to debunk and turn down autism claims in vaccine court. “Zimmerman was the government’s top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn’t cause autism.
The debate was declared over,” Attkisson reported. “But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information,” she said in the Full Measure report, adding:3
He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government’s own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out …
And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and [the] United States government, the Department of Justice [DOJ], suppressed his true opinions.”
Zimmerman declined to be interviewed for the report, but referred Attkisson to his sworn affidavit, dated September 7, 2018, in which he stated that, in 2007, he told DOJ lawyers he had “discovered exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.
“I explained that in a subset of children … vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation … did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder,” Zimmerman wrote.
This reportedly “panicked” the DOJ, which subsequently fired him, saying his services would no longer be needed, but essentially attempting to silence him. According to Zimmerman, the DOJ then went on to misrepresent his opinion in future cases, making no mention of the exceptions he’d informed them of.
“Meantime, CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] – which promotes vaccines and monitors vaccine safety – never disclosed that the government’s own one-time medical expert concluded vaccines can cause autism – and to this day public health officials deny that’s the case,” according to the Full Measure report.4
Attkisson’s report also reveals how Congressmen who wanted to investigate the autism-vaccine link were bullied, harassed and threatened. Dan Burton (R-IN), Dr. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are among 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who told Attkisson they were warned by PhRMA lobbyists to drop the vaccine safety issue.
Snopes Gets an ‘F’ for Fact-Checking
In an article that attempts to fact-check Attkisson’s investigation, Snopes calls out many of the claims as false while clearly attempting to “debunk” vaccine-autism claims. However, in a rebuttal, Attkisson explains that Snopes earned a failing grade for its reporting.
“[T]he Snopes article debunks claims that were never made and uses one-sided references as its sources – other propagandists – without disclosing their vaccine industry ties.”5
For starters, Snopes labeled Zimmerman as a supporter of vaccination, as though this was something that Attkisson hid. In contrast, this point was central to Attkisson’s story and a large part of what makes his statements regarding vaccines and autism so noteworthy. Some of the additional egregious tactics Snopes used to try to discredit Attkisson’s report included the following:6
Snopes claimed Attkisson’s reading of Zimmerman’s sworn affidavit was flawed when she “simply quoted from the affidavit”
Snopes states that Zimmerman’s view is “not held by many scientists,” but did not survey several reputable scientists who hold the view
Snopes fails to address what its headline promises: the question of whether the government censored its own expert witness’ opinion
It’s important to note that Snopes also wrote their article without contacting Attkisson, who went on to state that they also listed claims she never made, then declared them to be false, and even were incorrect in one of their own claims, specifically that the existence of a potential link between vaccines, mitochondrial disorder and autism was not news at the time of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services omnibus autism proceedings in 2007.
“In fact, this suspected link was not previously known before the so-called ‘omnibus’ groups of vaccine-autism cases litigated a decade ago, and it is not widely known among doctors or the general public today; at least as of recently. That’s why it has proven to be so newsworthy,” Attkisson wrote, adding:7
Snopes demonstrates reckless disregard for the truth when disparaging my reporting by falsely stating that it contains ‘misleading claims’ …
Refuting claims never made in my report and putting out one-sided vaccine propaganda makes one wonder whether Snopes author Alex Kasprak even read or watched the report he attempts to criticize, or just blindly printed the propaganda provided to him by vaccine industry interests.”
Snopes Author Uses Industry Sources for ‘Facts’
November 16, 2016, Snopes looked into claims made by Food Babe that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might have shut down its residue testing of glyphosate due to complaints from Monsanto. “False,” Snopes declared.8 Ironically, the page declared that no corporate influence played a role and “the broad scientific consensus is that [glyphosate] is not a risk.”
Yet, a Twitter exchange clearly showed that the fact-checker for Snopes, Kasprak – the same author who wrote the critical review of Attkisson’s investigation – got his information about glyphosate’s safety from Kevin Folta, Ph.D.9
Folta, a University of Florida professor and a vocal advocate of genetically modified organisms(GMOs), who vehemently denied ever receiving any money from Monsanto, was caught lying about his financial ties to the company in 2015. The most flagrant piece of evidence against Folta shows that not only did he solicit funds from Monsanto, but he did so with intent to hide the financial connection between them.
Ironically, getting back to Attkisson’s case, the Snopes report ended up confirming exactly the point she was trying to make, stating, “Zimmerman, a scientist with serious credentials who was once a government expert on vaccines, believes that narrow circumstances might exist in which the combination of preexisting mitochondrial dysfunction and vaccination could trigger ASD [autism spectrum disorders].”10
“Snopes fabricates claims that were never made, debunks the fabricated claims,” Attkisson wrote, “and then ultimately agrees that the report I produced was accurate.”11
Snopes Founders Embroiled in Controversy
It’s dangerous to rely on any one source or group of individuals as authorities on truth, as it sets up the path for inevitable censorship. Even under the best circumstances, everyone is subject to their own biases, but in the case of Snopes, it was founded on fabrications from the start.
Snopes was created in 1995 by Barbara and David Mikkelson, who posed as “The San Fernardo Valley Folklore Society” in the beginning in order to gain credibility. Such a society does not exist as a legal entity, according to an investigation by the Daily Mail.12
The company soon expanded, but ultimately its founders divorced – amid claims that David Mikkelson embezzled company money for prostitutes and Barbara Mikkelson took millions from their joint bank account to buy property in Las Vegas.
According to Daily Mail, Mikkelson’s new wife, Elyssa Young – a former escort, self-proclaimed “courtesan” and porn actress who ran for Congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004 – was then employed as a Snopes administrator, even though the company claims to have no political leanings.
In response to the allegations, Forbes published an article weighing whether it was just another case of fake news, but ultimately was astonished by the lack of transparency given by the company’s founder when asked for comment, who stated that he was unable to respond due to a confidentiality clause in his divorce settlement. According to Forbes:13
This creates a deeply unsettling environment in which when one tries to fact-check the fact-checker, the answer is the equivalent of ‘its secret’ …
At the end of the day, it is clear that before we rush to place fact-checking organizations like Snopes in charge of arbitrating what is “truth” … we need to have a lot more understanding of how they function internally and much greater transparency into their work.”
Hardcore Censorship of Alternative Health and Media in Progress
Whether it be the recent flu shot stunt at the Golden Globes or the industry-driven “facts” published by Snopes, it’s clear that industry propaganda and censorship of health and media information that strays from the mainstream is a growing problem.
In a 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy, 73 percent said they believe the proliferation of “fake news” on the internet is a major problem, and only half feel confident that readers can get to the facts by sorting through bias.14 And the fact is, fake news is a real problem. But it’s important to do your own research before believing even “fact-checked” sources like Snopes.
NewsGuard is another outlet to be wary of. The entity is setting itself up as the self-appointed global arbiter of what information is “trustworthy” – based on nine “credibility and transparency” factors – not only for information viewed on private electronic devices, but also for information accessible in public libraries and schools.
Once you’ve installed the NewsGuard browser plugin on your computer or cellphone, the NewsGuard icon rating will appear on all Google and Bing searches and on articles featured in your social media news feeds.
These icons are meant to influence readers, instructing them to disregard content with cautionary colors and cautions, but I believe the true intent will be to bury this content entirely from search results and social media feeds.
It is very likely Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will use these ratings to lower the visibility of content – making nonconformist views disappear entirely. It’s a concerning prospect, especially since NewsGuard received much of its startup funds from Publicis Groupe, a global communications group whose history of clients includes the drug and tobacco industries.
Now more than ever, it’s important to be aware of what companies may be filtering your news media and how their own agenda may color what you see. In your search for the truth, always follow your own guiding light – not one maintained by Snopes or any other internet watchdog or censorship authority that tries to lead you down their own biased path.
For additional research on the underreported adverse effects of vaccination visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject.
Dr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site, Mercola.com, a NY Times best-selling author, and a thought leader in the field of alternative and integrative health. Read his full biography on his website.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
Feeling hungry? You may want to read the rest of this article before you head to your favorite fast food restaurant and order your usual chemical and prescription drug-ridden meal. Did you know you’re likely eating crushed beetles and or duck feathers with your fast food burger? Here are some of the most disgusting additives you’re eating when you hit the drive-thru:
Nothing helps mass-produce bread like ammonium sulfate. Unfortunately, nothing fertilizers soil or kills bugs like it either. Read more about ammonium sulfate and other nasty bread additives here: 5 Dangerous Additives Hidden In Packaged Bread
Chicken McNuggets are full of dimethylpolysiloxane, a silicone oil that is often used for making contact lenses and other medical items. Learn more about your beloved McNuggets here: The Chicken That Should Be Banned
By testing feathers, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found some very interesting characteristics of factory-farm-raised poultry. And you thought the pink slime scandal was bad? Anti-depressants as well as other prescription drugs are added to chicken feed for fast food “poultry” items. That’s right, those McChicken sandwiches and McNuggets come from chickens that were raised on a steady diet of prescription, over-the-counter, and even banned drugs. Learn more about it here: 3 Dirty Chicken Facts Exposed
You’ll find this in almost any fried fast food menu item and also in silly putty, contact lenses, caulking, shampoo and conditioners, cosmetics, polishes, heat resistant tiles, and the list goes on… Learn more about Dimethylpolysiloxane by following this link.
This industrial sand is used in things like Wendy’s chili to keep it from clumping together. Mmm… industrial sand. Learn more about silicon dioxide HERE.
Cooking your own food has never sounded more appealing. If you think you can’t afford it, follow this link to learn how to grow your own organic produce. What’s that all you have is an apartment? Check out these tips for apartment gardening!