Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hangin' with the zombies

Natural News is the best. The absolute number one, no question. If you are looking for the biggest source of bullshit on the internet, Natural News is the place to go.

There are all kinds of crazy stories on that site, mostly about how the healthcare industry is a huge conspiracy to keep people sick and how there are natural and "chemical-free" remedies for everything from indigestion to cancer (and of course the healthcare conspiracy is covering them up). But this article takes the cake. This is the granddaddy of them all – the one that combines all the different conspiracy theories together.

It's called "Everything is rigged - health, politics, finance and more - but here's how to beat the system". The author says that multiple industries – food, health, government, banking, justice, news, even war – are "rigged to cheat you, to suppress you, and ultimately to suppress your human potential". Nowhere does he say why, other than the generic and evidence-free claims of corporations maximizing profits by taking advantage of their customers. He also implies that corporations and banks are in control of the government, though again he doesn't say how or why. There are almost no links in the article that don't go back to Natural News itself, so all of these conspiracy claims are just stated as if they're common knowledge (they're not) and don't need evidence (they do).

What's the author's way to beat the system? Don't play. Don't send your kid to "government-run indoctrination centers known as public schools, home school them." Right, because everyone has that option. Don't watch cable news propaganda, get your news from Natural News. Just a touch self-serving, no? Don't vote for any president at all, since "voting for a presidential candidate legitimizes the corrupt system", but "it's definitely important to vote for local candidates". So the federal system is corrupt but the local one isn't?

He doesn't even seem to realize the conflicting claims he's making. He claims that the "food system is rigged with GMOs* that actually poison you while spreading genetic pollution across farms and fields everywhere." He also says that "Government regulators are completely rigged. The FDA looks out primarily for the interests of Monsanto* and drug companies, not the safety of the American people." Then later, he suggests we "buy organic and avoid the GMOs". <sarcasm> Because you know that food marked organic meets all the standards for that label. You know that the organic farm isn't being doused with "genetic pollution". You know the farmer isn't using pesticides and such and just claiming it's organic so he can charge three times as much money for the same apples. How do you know these things? Because the government regulates use of the term "organic" and won't let – but wait! These guys don't trust the government or their regulators!

* – Monsanto is a huge American biotech company that is pioneering research into genetically modified crops, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

They state that the government is trying to poison everyone. If that's true, what better way for them to do it than to come up with a word that tells people "this product is SAFE!" and then just slap that word on stuff whether it's safe or not? And while they're at it, they should triple the price of organic things so they make more money at the same time! Unless you personally go to the farms and watch the entire farming process from beginning to end, you kind of have to trust the government regulators, don't you? Assuming the government is corrupt and trying to poison us almost guarantees that the organic industry is part of it.

Finally, the author comes up with five levels of "awareness / awakening" numbered, oddly enough, from 0 to 4. Level 0 is "Zombie", someone who is ignorant of all of the conspiracies previously discussed. This is apparently 90% of people. He then lists some "keywords and concepts that typically relate" to such Zombies: "Football, sports scores, TV sitcoms, processed junk food, vaccinations, playing the lotto, following doctors' orders, submitting to apparent authority, going along with the status quo." Wow. Not too judgmental.

Level 1 is "Awakened", and this describes people who are just starting to ask questions about all of these conspiracies. These people "read ingredients on foods" and watch "documentaries instead of sports". But if the food industry and government regulators are both corrupt, what good does reading the ingredients on foods do? They're obviously mislabeled so the Zombies don't find out about the mind-control chemicals the government puts in everything. Except organic stuff, of course. And the bit about documentaries makes total sense because once you realize that government and Big Pharma control the entire food and healthcare industries, obviously you lose your interest in something unrelated like sports.

Level 2 is "Informed", consisting of people who have "taught themselves a significant amount of real history and the way the world really works". (The emphasis on "real history" is his, not mine.) They even mention that these people should have a knowledge of "basic science". Obviously he's hoping nobody that reads Natural News has reached this level or they'd realize what a load of crap it is.

Level 3 is "Mastery", which is people with great influence – the "innovators, creators and often communicators". The idea is "achieving relevance in a world largely populated by utterly irrelevant people". Since he's already said that this is less than 1% of the population, he just called over 99% of the world's population irrelevant.

Level 4 is "Enlightenment", and "far less than one in a million" people ever get here, and only through "the highest dedication to spiritual awakening". At this level, "individuals become withdrawn from the material world and really have no interest in interacting with individuals of lower levels of awareness". He says this like it's the pinnacle of human achievement, but I don't think I'd want to be there. I kind of like interacting with my fellow Zombies.

The author never states which group he considers himself a part of, but it's obvious he thinks he's at the top. One of the scariest parts of the article is the list of facebook comments below it. It's filled with people who also consider themselves at level 4 and honestly say things like "It can be so difficult and lonely at this level" and "it's lonely at the top of the mountain". First off, if far less than one in a million people reach level 4, then there are less than 7,000 level 4's in the world today. We should feel honoured that a bunch of them all decided to interact with us Zombies. But these are people who "really have no interest in interacting with individuals of lower levels of awareness" – and they've joined facebook? If reaching level 4 turns you into a holier-than-thou douchebag, I definitely don't want to get there – especially if you're a lonely holier-than-thou douchebag.

On his "levels of awakening" scale, I'd call myself a level 2, since I'm making an effort to be informed on "real history" and basic science. I listen to a number of science-based podcasts and follow science news on the internet, I do read ingredients on food, and I do enjoy watching documentaries. But I also watch sports and I'm skeptical of pretty much everything on Natural News, so that probably pushes me back down to level 0. If that's the case, so be it. I'd much rather hang out down here with my fellow Zombies than with people who consider themselves in a group that's better than everyone else just because they believe the same bullshit.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anti-vaccination messages are the real danger

There was a letter to the editor in the Flamborough Review this past week about how harmful vaccinations are. I felt compelled to respond, not only because I'm a skeptic and get angry when I read crap like this, but because this is in my local paper, and if people read this misinformation and decide not to get vaccinated, that could directly affect me and my family.

Interestingly, the letter was written by the same guy who wrote another letter to the editor, that one about teachers, that I responded to a little over a year ago.

Here's the text of his letter, reproduced here in case the link above vanishes sometime in the future.

I wanted to voice my opinion, backed by evidence, that vaccines, of any sort, are dangerous.

The first vaccine was developed in the late 1700s in England when cowpox pus was inserted under the skin of an eight-year-old in the belief that it would make people immune to smallpox. What happened over the next century was an epidemic of small pox incidents, to 95 per cent of the population.

A 2012 study by Dr. Witt, an infectious disease specialist in California, found  whooping cough is more prevalent in vaccinated children that those who are not vaccinated. In 2010, a mumps outbreak occurred in New Jersey in more than 1,000 children, over 80 per cent of whom had been vaccinated with the MMR shot. A study in New Zealand found that children born after 1977, who were vaccinated, were 25 per cent more likely to contract asthma. Finally, in June of this year, a couple in Italy won their court case when it was conclusively established that the MMR vaccine had triggered autism in their child. The MMR shot in Italy contains the same “ingredients” as in North America.

There are web links to dozens of cases that have proven vaccines trigger all sorts of diseases in children. Allopathic medicine is not interested in curing. It only treats symptoms and pushes invasive procedures of surgery and medicine that create more complications. Also, Health Canada does not perform any independent studies of any drug. They simply review the data supplied to them by the companies seeking approval.

Do your due diligence, become enlightened and educated about what is going in you and your children. Hopefully you will realize you are being deceived and much of the information you need to know is being suppressed.

Kevin Inglehart

Here's my response. I wasn't able to include my references in the letter to the editor, but I've included them here.

After reading Kevin Inglehart's rant against vaccinations, I had to respond in order to provide a counterpoint in the hope that local people will not be convinced by this misleading information to skip their flu shots.

In Mr. Inglehart's letter, he cites a study by a Dr. Witt that found that "whooping cough is more prevalent in vaccinated children than those who are not vaccinated." If you look more closely at the study, Dr. Witt's actual conclusion was that the whooping cough vaccine IS effective, but its effectiveness doesn't last as long as originally thought. The number of whooping cough cases increased as the vaccine's effectiveness diminished, and then decreased as children received their booster shot at age 12. The original claim, that most of the cases were in vaccinated children, is true but only because vaccinated children were the majority (78% on average in North America) in the first place. This is like saying that the number of right-handed children who get whooping cough is higher than the number of left-handed children who get it. Absolutely true, but it does not mean that left-handers are less likely to get sick. In general, unvaccinated children are eight times as likely to get whooping cough as vaccinated children.

Ironically, right in the middle of the front page of Dr. Witt's clinic's web site, there is a notice urging people to get their flu shots. If Mr. Inglehart is looking for a doctor to agree with his anti-vaccination position, he will have to look elsewhere.

Yes, outbreaks can still occur among vaccinated children, as evidenced by the mumps epidemic mentioned by Mr. Inglehart. However, such outbreaks are far smaller and the symptoms far less dangerous than if the majority of children were not vaccinated. The facts speak for themselves: The mumps vaccine was first used in 1967 and since then, the number of reported cases has decreased in the US from 186,000 per year to less than 500 per year.

Thousands of children have died and hundreds of thousands have become sick from diseases for which there are effective vaccines. On the other hand, the number of cases of autism that have been conclusively and scientifically proven to have been caused by vaccines is zero.  The Autism Science Foundation itself states "The studies are very clear; there is no relationship in the data between vaccines and autism." In the court case in Italy, the autism-vaccination link was "conclusively established" by the judge, not by scientists. Actual scientists are outraged with the finding since it, and most anti-vaccination arguments, stem from a single study in England from the late 1990's that was later proven to be not only false but also fraudulent.

If you believe that the entire health care industry (including millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, scientists, and other health care professionals around the world) is a global conspiracy to keep people sick, then nothing I write here will change your mind. For the rest of us, vaccinations are a safe and effective defense against many diseases including the flu. For the record, I am not a member of the health care industry, just someone who has done exactly what Mr. Inglehart has suggested - my own research.

References for all the claims I have made above are available at

Graeme Perrow

Update: My letter was not printed, but they did print another similar one from a professor at the University of Guelph. While it would have been cool if they had printed mine, I'm very glad they printed something, and something from a professor might carry more weight with people than from a regular guy like me. If there's anyone who read the first letter and was considering not getting a flu shot because of it, hopefully this one will convince them otherwise.