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15 Life Hacks That Make You More Empathetic (Something The World Needs More Of)

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What if you had no friends?

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You would have no one to turn to and cry with, laugh with, share secrets with, go hungry together with, or just be plain and silly you with. There would be a void and empty hollow where a familiar and cherished person should be. As lonely as it looks, there wouldn’t be anyone to empathize with and comfort you in that sadness.

--> Practice Is Everything: Want to become an effective changemaker? Join CETV and get access to exclusive conversations, courses, and original shows that empower you to embody the changemaker this world needs. Click here to learn more!

Whenever we go through trials and challenges in life, there will always be people we turn to for help. Depending on what we’re going through, we crave for people to understand because they’ve either gone through the same problem before or are currently going through it as well.

So What is Empathy?

Empathy is often confused with sympathy because both relate to how one person deals with the feelings of another. Before we go on, it’s important to establish the difference between the two to avoid confusion and correct any misinformation.

Being sympathetic means you feel sorry for the suffering or hardships of someone. Being empathetic is feeling what someone else is going through at that particular moment. It’s as if you are in their place, feeling exactly what they are feeling.

Empathizing with someone is bringing to life one of the oldest phrases: “I understand how you feel.”

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Empathy is important in relationships. In fact, scientific studies have suggested that those who empathize better have better social relationships. Even American President Barrack Obama has spoken on empathy deficit and why it is important to see the world through others’ eyes.

Empathy is believed to be innate in everyone and it develops as we grow and journey through life. It is indeed one of the best tools humans can use for social change and transformation.

Empathy and the Human Brain

While some believe that empathy is based on the past experiences of a person, scientists believe that it is related to the brain’s processes.

Scientific studies have zeroed in on the relationship between empathy and the human brain. Some have discovered “mirror neurons” which react to others’ emotions and then reproduce them, producing empathy as a result, while others have identified specific parts of the brain that are linked to being empathic.

Researchers from Max Planck have conducted a series of complicated tests to determine how the brain works in relation to empathy.

They discovered that humans tend to be egocentric or self-centred, with no regard for others’ feelings. However, a portion of the human brain called the supramarginalgyrus recognizes this lack of empathy and makes up for it.

It has long been assumed that a person’s experiences develop their empathy. While this is true, this only works when we are in the same boat as that person. If not, our easily adaptable brain uses the supramarginalgyrus once again in order to auto-correct our self-centered tendencies, enabling us to feel as others do.

Additionally, because it is responsible for empathy, this part of the brain helps us to differentiate others’ emotional status from ours — unless we are in a rush to make a decision, in which case it functions poorly, resulting in a lack of empathy.

Intense lack of empathy is a characterization of psychopathy. Research shows that when people with psychopathy visualize other people in pain, their brains act differently from those of regular people. The part that is related to empathy doesn’t activate and it fails to process decisions based on compassion.

Research has also shown that when psychopathic individuals imagine themselves in pain, there is an unusual increase in brain activity in the areas involved in empathy for pain. This suggests that while they react to thoughts about pain, they cannot imagine other people’s pain.

How to Increase Your Capacity for Empathy

A question often asked is if empathy can be learned. And yes, it can! Because we are now more mindful of what empathy is and what it can contribute to any relationship, it is important to take concrete actions to practice stepping into other people’s shoes.

Here are 15 brain hacks we can do to fill our empathy tanks:

1. Practice Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) or compassion meditation.

This type of meditation focuses on harbouring positive feelings for other people. You just need to set aside a few minutes per day to think loving thoughts about your family, friends, strangers, and even those you’ve hit a rough patch with.

2. Expose yourself to different experiences.

Try new things. You can take a class, go where people converge, or travel to near and far places. Dealing with new experiences means learning to deal with new people and new situations, further opening your mind to new possibilities.

3. Be more sensitive.

Use all your senses when you observe people. Notice the tiny details that give out more honest testimonies than words do. Oftentimes, how a person feels is more evident in the tone of their voice, in their body language, in their reactions and responses, and in their overall disposition. Be wary of the salient cues that tell you more than before you are actually told.

4. Reconnect with people.

Don’t forget to call your parents at least once a day. Don’t forget to greet your friends during birthdays or other special occasions. Simple gestures that convey thoughtfulness strengthen your connections, making you more empathetic to them.

5. Avoid premature judgment.

Judging too quickly will not do anything to help increase your empathy. Rather, try to avoid forming quick opinions on a person’s situation. Not only won’t it increase your empathy, but it could breed conflict in effect.

6. Exercise regularly.

A tough workout can help you be more empathetic to the suffering of other people. It’s like leaving your comfort zone to feel struggles that others experience. It will make you more sensitive to pain while your health reaps the benefits. You can sign up for a gym membership, or you can exercise outdoors or even at home.

7. Talk to strangers.

Greet your doorman or the barista at your favourite coffee shop. You can also strike a conversation with the old lady sitting next to you on the bus. As you expand your social circle, you get to know people from different walks of life and get a glimpse of how they live theirs.

8. Understand yourself.

To understand the emotions of others, it is important that we first know ourselves and how we react to different situations. Distinguishing our reactions from others’ will help us become more empathetic.

While a person whose response is similar to yours will help you relate to them more, knowing how it differs in others helps you widen your mind and appreciate each person’s uniqueness.

9. Don’t rush decisions.

As mentioned above, empathy decreases when we are rushed to make decisions. Take the time to think things over and consider different scenarios. Also, avoid pressuring the person to act.

Those who are on the listening end often find themselves frustrated at the slow or lack of action from the part of the person empathized. You have to remember that being external to the situation makes you think more clearly than those who are directly involved. Each person has a different coping mechanism and follows a different pattern and timeframe.

Remaining patient and understanding and constantly encouraging will help you abate your expectations.

10. Listen!

Listen quietly but actively. Ignore distractions and give your undivided attention while keeping an open heart and mind. This will help you focus on the other person better and be more perceptive of the emotions involved.

11. Volunteer.

You can sign up at the local shelter or the nearby retirement home. Volunteering can open opportunities for you to meet people from different backgrounds who somehow need the same thing: support.

Being able to fill a need in a person’s life results in the satisfaction of your own sense of purpose. Little do people realize that empathy does wonders to both the giver and receiver.

12. Borrow someone’s shoes.

Not literally, of course. But maybe you can experiment with living like someone else so you can get a feel for that person’s life.

Try living one day as a street artist, for example, and see the world through that person’s eyes. Though struggling to find money for food and shelter, how can a street artist still come up with mesmerizing artworks? By doing this, you will understand more than just a person’s struggles; you will unlock their strengths as well.

13. Read more books and watch more movies.

When we are exposed to different characters, even though some of them are fictional, we find ourselves thinking or feeling as they do while going through the story. Books and movies give us a chance to dive into the thoughts, beliefs, and insights of other people, thereby providing good exercise for our empathy muscles.

14. Engage in people watching.

Hang out in your favourite coffee shop or at the park and just watch people walk by. Try to observe things about them that might help you decipher what they are currently feeling. Soon, you will get used to these cues and you will be a better listener and empathizer to your peers.

15. Challenge yourself.

This pertains to your biases and opinions. While it is important to have a stance in different situations, being open-minded will help you be more receptive and appreciative of contrasting viewpoints. Just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean they are less deserving of your empathy.

This may seem like a long list to work on, but as you can see, you don’t need to do something drastic or extraordinary to be more empathic.  Most often, it’s about shifting the spotlight from you to others, focusing on their needs more than your own.

If you think about it, empathy calls upon us to be selfless — not that we think less of ourselves but that we think of ourselves less.

Think about it: If people started minding other people’s business with a genuine desire to help, understand, and encourage, how wonderful would that be? How wonderful would the world be if everyone were to set their personal agendas aside to give way to other people’s needs?

Recalibrate your priorities. Rechannel your energies. Choose to be there for someone, and be there 100%.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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New Research Adds Evidence That Weed Killer Glyphosate Disrupts Hormones

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New research is adding worrisome evidence to concerns that the widely used weed killing chemical glyphosate may have the potential to interfere with human hormones.

In a paper published in the journal Chemosphere titled Glyphosate and the key characteristics of an endocrine disruptor: A review, a trio of scientists concluded that glyphosate appears to have eight out of ten key characteristics associated with endocrine disrupting chemicals . The authors cautioned, however, that prospective cohort studies are still needed to more clearly understand the impacts of glyphosate on the human endocrine system.

The authors, Juan Munoz, Tammy Bleak and Gloria Calaf, each affiliated with the University of Tarapacá in Chile, said their paper is the first review to consolidate the mechanistic evidence on glyphosate as an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC).

Some of the evidence suggests that Roundup, Monsanto’s well-known glyphosate-based herbicide, can alter the biosynthesis of the sexual hormones, according to the researchers.

EDCs may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones and are linked with developmental and reproductive problems as well as brain and immune system dysfunction.

The new paper follows publication earlier this year of an assortment of animal studies that indicated glyphosate exposures impact reproductive organs and threaten fertility.

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, sold in 140 countries. Introduced commercially in 1974 by Monsanto Co, the chemical is the active ingredient in popular products such as Roundup and hundreds of other weed killers used by consumers, municipalities, utilities, farmers, golf course operators, and others around the world.

Dana Barr, a professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, said the evidence “tends to overwhelmingly indicate that glyphosate has endocrine disrupting properties.”

“It’s not necessarily unexpected since glyphosate has some structural similarities with many other endocrine disrupting pesticides; however, it is more concerning because glyphosate use far surpasses other pesticides,” said Barr, who directs a program within a National Institutes of Health-funded human exposure research center housed at Emory. “Glyphosate is used on so many crops and in so many residential applications such that aggregate and cumulative exposures can be considerable.”

Phil Landrigan, director of the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health, and a professor of biology
at Boston College, said the review pulled together “strong evidence” that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor.

“The report is consistent with a larger body of literature indicating that glyphosate has a wide range of adverse health effects – findings that overturn Monsanto’s long-standing portrayal of glyphosate as a benign chemical with no negative impacts on human health,” said Landrigan.

EDCs have been a subject of concern since the 1990s after a series of publications suggested that some chemicals commonly used in pesticides, industrial solvents, plastics, detergents, and other substances could have the capacity to disrupt connections between hormones and their receptors.

Scientists generally recognized ten functional properties of agents that alter hormone action, referring to these as ten “key characteristics” of endocrine-disruptors. The ten characteristics are as follows:

EDC’s can:

  • Alter hormone distribution of circulating levels of hormones
  • Induce alterations in hormone metabolism or clearance
  • Alter the fate of hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells
  • Alter hormone receptor expression
  • Antagonize hormone receptors
  • Interact with or activate hormone receptors
  • Alter signal transduction in hormone-responsive cells
  • Induce epigenetic modifications in hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells
  • Alter hormone synthesis
  • Alter hormone transport across cell membranes

The authors of the new paper said a review of the mechanistic data showed that glyphosate met all of the key characteristics with the exception of two:  “Regarding glyphosate, there is no evidence associated with the antagonistic capacity of hormonal receptors,” they said. As well, “there is no evidence of its impact on hormonal metabolism or clearance,” according to the authors.

Research over the last few decades has largely focused on links found between glyphosate and cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL.) In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.

More than 100,000 people have sued Monsanto in the United States alleging exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused them or their loved ones to develop NHL.

The plaintiffs in the nationwide litigation also claim Monsanto has long sought to hide the risks of its herbicides. Monsanto lost three out of three trials and its German owner Bayer AG has spent the last year and a half trying to settle the litigation out of court.

The authors of the new paper took note of the ubiquitous nature of glyphosate, saying “massive use” of the chemical has “led to a wide environmental diffusion,” including rising exposures tied to human consumption of the weed killer through food.

The researchers said that though regulators say the levels of glyphosate residue commonly found in foods are low enough to be safe, they “cannot rule out” a “potential risk” to people consuming foods containing contaminated with the chemical,  particularly grains and other plant-based foods, which often have higher levels than milk, meat or fish products.

U.S. government documents show glyphosate residues have been detected in a range of foods, including organic honey, and granola and crackers.

Canadian government researchers have also reported glyphosate residues in foods. One report issued in 2019 by scientists from Canada’s Agri-Food Laboratories at the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry found glyphosate in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.

Despite the concerns about glyphosate impacts on human health, including through dietary exposure, U.S. regulators have steadfastly defended the safety of the chemical. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that it has not found any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate.”

Written by Carey Gillam, research director of U.S. Right to Know, where it was originally posted. 

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading

Alternative News

Portuguese Court Rules That The PCR Test “Is Unable To Determine” A COVID-19 Infection

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A Portuguese court has determined that the PCR tests used to detect COVID-19 are not able to prove an infection beyond a reasonable doubt, and thus determined that the detainment of four individuals was unlawful and illegal.

  • Reflect On:

    With no clear cut answer, and many doctors and scientists contradicting each other, should governments be allowed to take measures that restrict our freedoms? Instead of force, should they provide the science and simply make recommendations?

What Happened: The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test “is unable to determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that such positivity result corresponds, in fact, to the infection of a person by the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, said the Lisbon Court of Appeal. (source)

A Portuguese appeals court has ruled against the Azores Regional Health Authority, declaring the quarantining of four individuals is unlawful. One of them tested positive for COVID using a PCR test, and the other three were deemed to be high risk due to exposure, and as a result, the regional health authority forced them to undergo isolation. The appeal court heard scientific arguments from several scientists and doctors who made the case for the lack of reliability of the PCR tests in detecting the COVID-19 virus.

The court found that, based on the currently available scientific evidence, the PCR test is unable to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that a positive test actually corresponds to a COVID-19 infection for several reasons, two of the main reasons were that the test’s reliability depends on the number of cycles used, and the test’s reliability depends on the viral load present.

This was also brought up recently by tech mogul Elon Musk who recently revealed he had four tests completed in one day. Using the same test and the same nurse, he received two positive results and two negative results, causing him to state his belief that “something bogus” is going on here. He then asked his Twitter following

“In your opinion, at what Ct number for the cov2 N1 gene should a PCR test probably be regarded as positive? If I’m asking the wrong question, what is a better question?”

In the Portuguese appeal hearing, Jaafar et al. (2020) was cited, stating that “if someone is testing by PCR as positive when a threshold of 35 cycles or higher is used (as is the rule in most laboratories in Europe and the US), the probability that said person is infected is  <3%, and the probability that said result is a false positive is 97%.”  The court further noted that the cycle threshold used for the PCR tests currently being made in Portugal is unknown.

They also cited Surkova et al. (2020), stating that any diagnostic test must be interpreted in the context of the actual probability of disease as assessed prior to the undertaking of the test itself, and expresses the opinion that “in the current epidemiological landscape of the United Kingdom, the likelihood is increasing that Covid 19 tests are returning false positives, with major implications for individuals, the health system and society.”

The court also made the point that a medical diagnosis is a medical act, thus only a physician can determine if a person is ill, no other person or institution has a right to do that.

The court concluded that “if carried out with no prior medical observation of the patient, with no participation of a physician certified by the Ordem dos Médicos who would have assessed symptoms and requested the tests/exams deemed necessary, any act of diagnosis, or any act of public health vigilance (such as determining whether a viral infection or a high risk of exposure exist, which the aforementioned concepts subsume) will violate [a number of laws and regulations] and may configure a crime of usurpação de funções [unlawful practice of a profession] in the case said acts are carried out or dictated by someone devoid of the capacity to do so, i.e., by someone who is not a certified physician [to practice medicine in Portugal a degree is not enough, you need to be accepted as qualified to practice medicine by undergoing examination with the Ordem dos Médicos, roughly our equivalent of the UK’s Royal College of Physicians].”

In addition, the court rules that the Azores Health Authority violated article 6 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, as it failed to provide evidence that the informed consent mandated by said Declaration had been given by the PCR-tested persons who had complained against the forced quarantine measures imposed on them….From the facts presented to the court, it concluded that no evidentiary proof or even indication existed that the four persons in question had been seen by a doctor, either before or after undertaking the test. (source)

According to Vasco Barreto, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Chronic Diseases (Cedoc) of the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa,  it was irresponsible the way two magistrates dealt with the case. “PCR tests have a specificity and sensitivity greater than 95%. That is, in the overwhelming majority of cases they detect the virus that causes covid-19,” he said. This is indicated in a scientific article that is cited in the judgment, but that is read “completely wrong” by the magistrates, according to Germano de Sousa, former President of the Ordem dos Médicos and owner of a network of laboratories.

You can read more on why this judgement was “unscientific” according to them, here.

Why This Is Important: When it comes to the testing used to detect a COVID-19 infection, there is a wealth of information making it quite clear that the  (PCR)  tests are inadequate and unreliable for determining who is infected and who isn’t. As a result, there seems to be a strong possibility, according to many experts, that the number of cases recorded around the globe probably include a great number of false positives, meaning people who tested and do test positive for the virus don’t actually have it.

But is this true?

There is also a great deal of information making it quite clear that the PCR tests being used are indeed accurate, and very accurate. So, ask yourself this, how can there be “clear” information on both sides? What’s the correct information? How do we know what to believe? Are you open to consider another perspective about this pandemic, one that opposes what you believe? Can you see from the perspective of another person even though they may disagree with you?

There are many examples to choose from that reflect the idea that PCR tests are not accurate, and that they are. For example, the Bulgarian Pathology Association claimed that they are “scientifically meaningless.”  They cite an article published in “Off Guardian” that makes some very interesting points.

It’s been a common theme. Well after this, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that:

“The false positive rate is very high, so only seven percent of tests will be successful in identifying those that actually have the virus.”

In July, professor Carl Heneghan, director for the centre of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University and outspoken critic of the current UK response to the pandemic, wrote a piece titled: “How many Covid diagnoses are false positives?” He has argued that the proportion of positive tests that are false in the UK could be as high as 50%.

Former scientific advisor at Pfizer, Dr. Mike Yeadon argued the proportion of positive tests that are false is actually “around 90%”.

How declaring virus pandemics based on PCR tests can end in disaster was described by Gina Kolata in her 2007 New York Times article Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.

On the other side of the coin, According to Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal:

”The rate of false positives with this particular test is quite low. In other words, if the test comes back saying positive, then believe it, it’s a real positive.”

According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, Senior Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing.

False negatives – that is, a test that says you don’t have the virus when you actually do have the virus – may occur. The reported rate of false negatives is as low as 2% and as high as 37%. The false positive rate – that is, how often the test says you have the virus when you actually do not – should be close to zero. Most false-positive results are thought to be due to lab contamination or other problems with how the lab has performed the test, not limitations of the test itself

It also seems to be accepted by many scientists in the field that the number of infected persons is much higher than what we’ve been made to believe from testing, thus driving the infection/fatality rate even lower than what we are seeing. Estimates of infection fatality rate are on par with seasonal flu from this perspective according to many scientists and health professionals.

For example, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist created The Great Barrington Declaration opposing lockdown. Approximately 45,000 doctors and scientists have now signed it. The compares COVID -19 to the seasonal flu.

The Physicians For Informed Consent (PIC) recently published a report titled “Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) Compares COVID-19 to Previous Seasonal and Pandemic Flu Periods.”  John P. A. Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Stanford University has said that the infection fatality rate is close to 0 percent for people under the age of 45 years old, explaining how that number rises significantly for people who are older, as with most other respiratory viruses. You can read more about that and access that here.

These are a few of multiple examples.

Is There Conflicting Info Due To The Politicization of Science? 

Kamran Abbas is a doctor, executive editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has recently published an article about COVID-19 in the BMJ, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine.

In it, he offers some food for thought,

Politicians and governments are suppressing science….Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.

Globally, people, policies, and procurement are being corrupted by political and commercial agendas…The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.

The stakes are high for politicians, scientific advisers, and government appointees. Their careers and bank balances may hinge on the decisions that they make. But they have a higher responsibility and duty to the public. Science is a public good. It doesn’t need to be followed blindly, but it does need to be fairly considered. Importantly, suppressing science, whether by delaying publication, cherry picking favourable research, or gagging scientists, is a danger to public health, causing deaths by exposing people to unsafe or ineffective interventions and preventing them from benefiting from better ones. When entangled with commercial decisions it is also maladministration of taxpayers’ money.

The Takeaway: Politicization of science was enthusiastically deployed by some of history’s worst autocrats and dictators, and it is now regrettably commonplace in democracies. The medical-political complex tends towards suppression of science to aggrandize and enrich those in power.”

Are we really going to get anywhere if we are constantly polarized with regards to what we believe about this pandemic? More important than information and facts is our ability to empathize with another person who does not share our own beliefs and try to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do. It’s also important for them to empathize with you, and at the end of the day we all must do this with each-other if we want to move forward. Polarization and separation, constantly arguing and fighting with one another will never get us anywhere at all, and simply leaves us open as a collective to harmful responses by governments.

Why is so much information being censored? Why is everything that’s controversial these days deemed a “conspiracy theory” and not really explored by a large majority of people? Given we are deeply feeling the need to make sense of our world, is it time we begin to look at developing the inner faculties necessary to move beyond ideology, limited thinking patterns and truly begin looking at what evidence around us says?

If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need to change the way we think and how we relate with one another. Obviously, the measures being forced upon us are difficult, and may be causing a lot more harm than good, if any good at all.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading

Alternative News

British Medical Journal Editor Argues “Medical-Political Complex” is Corrupt & Suppressing Science

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Kamran Abbas is a doctor, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has published an article about COVID-19, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine.

  • Reflect On:

    Can we rely on government and government health agencies to provide the citizenry with accurate information on COVID-19? Why are different perspectives from health professionals completely ignored by mainstream media?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has witnessed the suppression of not only science, but a number of prominent scientists and doctors from around the world. These doctors and scientists have shared their research, observations and opinions about COVID-19 that directly contradicts the information given to the citizenry by the World Health Organization (WHO) and government health authorities in dozens of countries.

Mainstream media is constantly giving attention to government affiliated scientists and is only sharing one perspective on this pandemic. Social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitter have all been actively censoring a number of scientists and doctors, but why? Why censor information if it’s not true? How can tens of thousands of doctors and scientists be sharing a perspective that’s constantly ridiculed by mainstream media?

I’m not talking about the more controversial films or messages like what has been touted by David Icke or the film Plandemic, we’re talking about real science from tens of thousands of respected and credentialed health professionals. Why are they not allowed to be heard? Why are there ‘fact-checkers’ going around the internet telling people what is and what isn’t?

These scientists have not backed down, for example, Michael Levitt, a Biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University criticized the WHO as well as Facebook for censoring different information and informed perspectives regarding the Coronavirus.

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School created “The Great Barrington Declaration.” It now has approximately 45,000 signatures from doctors and scientists, the declaration strongly opposes COVID lockdown measures, stating that they do more harm than good and are not really effective.

Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, one of the most cited scientists in German history, who was chair of Medical Microbiology at the University of Mainz along with his wife Karina Reiss Ph.D  have published a book titled “Corona, False Alarm? Facts & Figures.“  They are part of more than 500 German doctors & scientists who have signed on as representatives of an organization called Außerparlamentarischer Corona Untersuchungsausschuss. The organization opposes measures taken by governments worldwide.

These are just a few of countless examples out there from so many different countries. COVID-19 has united prominent scientists and doctors from around the world in large numbers, yet their concerns go unheard. Sometimes it seems like the mainstream media can make the minority feel like the majority, and the majority feel like the minority.

The general theme among these groups is that COVID-19 is not as dangerous as it’s been made out to be, and that there is manipulation of science and data on several different levels, from the infection/fatality rate, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19, the number of cases that are actually out there, and the idea that the virus is being made out to be much more dangerous than it actually is.

What Happened: The latest example comes from Dr. Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the prestigious British Medical Journal, editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, and a consultant editor for PLOS Medicine. He is editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and JRSM Open.

He recently published a piece in the BMJ, titled “Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science.”

In his article, he writes the following:

Politicians and governments are suppressing science. They do so in the public interest, they say, to accelerate availability of diagnostics and treatments. They do so to support innovation, to bring products to market at unprecedented speed. Both of these reasons are partly plausible; the greatest deceptions are founded in a grain of truth. But the underlying behaviour is troubling.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science.

The UK’s pandemic response provides at least four examples of suppression of science or scientists. First, the membership, research, and deliberations of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were initially secret until a press leak forced transparency. The leak revealed inappropriate involvement of government advisers in SAGE, while exposing under-representation from public health, clinical care, women, and ethnic minorities. Indeed, the government was also recently ordered to release a 2016 report on deficiencies in pandemic preparedness, Operation Cygnus, following a verdict from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Next, a Public Health England report on covid-19 and inequalities. The report’s publication was delayed by England’s Department of Health; a section on ethnic minorities was initially withheld and then, following a public outcry, was published as part of a follow-up report. Authors from Public Health England were instructed not to talk to the media. Third, on 15 October, the editor of the Lancet complained that an author of a research paper, a UK government scientist, was blocked by the government from speaking to media because of a “difficult political landscape.”

Now, a new example concerns the controversy over point-of-care antibody testing for covid-19. The prime minister’s Operation Moonshot depends on immediate and wide availability of accurate rapid diagnostic tests. It also depends on the questionable logic of mass screening—currently being trialled in Liverpool with a suboptimal PCR test.

The incident relates to research published this week by The BMJ, which finds that the government procured an antibody test that in real world tests falls well short of performance claims made by its manufacturers. Researchers from Public Health England and collaborating institutions sensibly pushed to publish their study findings before the government committed to buying a million of these tests but were blocked by the health department and the prime minister’s office. Why was it important to procure this product without due scrutiny? Prior publication of research on a preprint server or a government website is compatible with The BMJ’s publication policy. As if to prove a point, Public Health England then unsuccessfully attempted to block The BMJ’s press release about the research paper.

Politicians often claim to follow the science, but that is a misleading oversimplification. Science is rarely absolute. It rarely applies to every setting or every population. It doesn’t make sense to slavishly follow science or evidence. A better approach is for politicians, the publicly appointed decision makers, to be informed and guided by science when they decide policy for their public. But even that approach retains public and professional trust only if science is available for scrutiny and free of political interference, and if the system is transparent and not compromised by conflicts of interest.

Suppression of science and scientists is not new or a peculiarly British phenomenon. In the US, President Trump’s government manipulated the Food and Drug Administration to hastily approve unproved drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir. Globally, people, policies, and procurement are being corrupted by political and commercial agendas.

The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines. Government appointees are able to ignore or cherry pick science—another form of misuse—and indulge in anti-competitive practices that favour their own products and those of friends and associates.

How might science be safeguarded in these exceptional times? The first step is full disclosure of competing interests from government, politicians, scientific advisers, and appointees, such as the heads of test and trace, diagnostic test procurement, and vaccine delivery. The next step is full transparency about decision making systems, processes, and knowing who is accountable for what.

Once transparency and accountability are established as norms, individuals employed by government should ideally only work in areas unrelated to their competing interests. Expertise is possible without competing interests. If such a strict rule becomes impractical, minimum good practice is that people with competing interests must not be involved in decisions on products and policies in which they have a financial interest.

Governments and industry must also stop announcing critical science policy by press release. Such ill judged moves leave science, the media, and stock markets vulnerable to manipulation. Clear, open, and advance publication of the scientific basis for policy, procurements, and wonder drugs is a fundamental requirement.

The stakes are high for politicians, scientific advisers, and government appointees. Their careers and bank balances may hinge on the decisions that they make. But they have a higher responsibility and duty to the public. Science is a public good. It doesn’t need to be followed blindly, but it does need to be fairly considered. Importantly, suppressing science, whether by delaying publication, cherry picking favourable research, or gagging scientists, is a danger to public health, causing deaths by exposing people to unsafe or ineffective interventions and preventing them from benefiting from better ones. When entangled with commercial decisions it is also maladministration of taxpayers’ money.

Politicisation of science was enthusiastically deployed by some of history’s worst autocrats and dictators, and it is now regrettably commonplace in democracies. The medical-political complex tends towards suppression of science to aggrandise and enrich those in power. And, as the powerful become more successful, richer, and further intoxicated with power, the inconvenient truths of science are suppressed. When good science is suppressed, people die.

The Takeaway: What does it say about our world when so many voices are silenced? Why is this happening? How can so many doctors and scientists be wrong, ridiculed, completely ignored and censored to the point where not many people are even aware of the information they are sharing? Why do we only get one perspective from the mainstream media? Can we continue to rely on government, and government health agencies to provide us with real information and recommendations that have the best interests of the people at heart, or is everything we are seeing an attempt to not only control, but profit off the human race? Why have so many people lost faith in their government and the ability of it to deliver accurate and real information to the people?

Is it time to take matters into our own hands? Do we really live in a democracy when the voice and the will of so many people continue to go unheard and unacknowledged?

We’re in a time where these very questions are more important to answer than ever before. Action is needed, worldviews are shifting, practice is everything.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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