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Why You Can’t Trust the CDC on Vaccines

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The major media dismiss public vaccine policy critics as “conspiracy theorists”, but no conspiracy is required to explain how it can be true that the CDC deceives about vaccines.

  • Reflect On:

    Why is this information constantly ignored and demonized? What's really going on here?

Before you begin...

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As I have covered in previous articles for Children’s Health Defense, the fundamental assumptions underlying the recommendation of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that everyone aged six months and up should get an annual flu shot are unsupported by scientific evidence. Examining a case study from the New York Times, we’ve seen how the corporate media manufacture consent for public vaccine policy by grossly misinforming their audiences about the science—and how, in doing so, the media are just following the CDC’s example. We’ve seen how the CDC uses deceptive fear marketing to increase demand for influenza vaccines, and how the CDC’s claims that flu vaccination significantly reduces deaths among the elderly have been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community.

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As far as the discourse about vaccines goes in the mainstream media, this problem doesn’t exist. The media treat the CDC as practically the most credible and authoritative source for information about vaccines on the planet and unquestioningly amplify the CDC’s public relations messaging. We saw in our New York Times case study just how blatantly the media participate in misinforming the public, with health writer Aaron E. Carroll supporting his argument that everyone should follow the CDC’s recommendation to get a flu shot by citing a study whose authors actually concluded not only that the CDC’s policy is unsupported by the scientific evidence, but also that the CDC deliberately misrepresents the science to support its policy!

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As far as the mainstream discourse is concerned, the idea that the public is being grossly misinformed about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines requires belief in “conspiracy theories”. But no conspiracy theory is required to explain how it can be that the CDC is misinforming the public about vaccines. The media is just demonstrably serving its usual function, as outlined by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, of advocating government policy rather than doing journalism. This is not a conspiracy. It’s just an institutionalized bias stemming from what Chomsky has called the “state religion”—an undying faith in the fundamental benevolence of the US government and its agencies.

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

Likewise, no conspiracy theory is required to explain how it can be that the government agency charged with formulating public vaccine policy is misinforming the public about vaccine science. On the contrary, the CDC’s behavior can be explained to a considerable degree solely by good intentions. Public health officials generally are simply convinced that, in performing their individual function in the mechanisms of government, they are doing good and serving the public interest.

But as economist Milton Friedman once pertinently observed, “Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.” The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes; or, as reiterated in Psychology Today, “If our interventions cause more harm than good, the interventions are not moral regardless of the loftiness of our intentions.”

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Doctors working within the confines of the medical establishment, too, succumb to confirmation bias and fail to question the institutionalized way of doing things

It is only human psychology to be resistant to ideas that challenge one’s own self-identity. It’s not difficult to understand how public health officials might be unwilling to acknowledge the possibility that they could be wrong—that they might be doing harm. The idea that government officials are susceptible to what is known as “confirmation bias”, or the tendency to accept information supportive of one’s personal belief system while dismissive of information that contradicts it, should hardly be considered far-fetched or conspiratorial. Doctors working within the confines of the medical establishment, too, succumb to confirmation bias and fail to question the institutionalized way of doing things.

And it’s not as though the medical establishment has not been wrong before! As Dave Sackett, “the father of evidence based medicine”, once quipped, “Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half—so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.”

Too many people just don’t think for themselves, but succumb to groupthink. And this situation isn’t helped by the pharmaceutical industry’s undue influence on the direction of science. As BMJ editor Richard Horton has commented, “Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Studies examining this problem have shown that an alarming proportion of medical literature gets the science wrong. As a 2013 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation concluded, “To serve its interests, the industry masterfully influences evidence base production, evidence synthesis, understanding of harms issues, cost-effectiveness evaluations, clinical practice guidelines and healthcare professional education and also exerts direct influences on professional decisions and health consumers.”

One of the authors of that study was John Ioannidis, who’s been described by The Atlantic as possibly “one of the most influential scientists alive”. In a 2005 essay published in PLoS Medicine, Ioannidis wrote that, “It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false.” And false findings might not just be “the majority”, but could be “the vast majority”. Rather than majority expert opinion representing scientific truths, claimed findings “may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.”

Among the numerous other problems affecting the quality of research are financial conflicts of interests and institutionalized prejudices. As Ioannidis elaborated:

“Conflicts of interest are very common in biomedical research, and typically they are inadequately and sparsely reported. Prejudice may not necessarily have financial roots. Scientists in a given field may be prejudiced purely because of their belief in a scientific theory or commitment to their own findings. Many otherwise seemingly independent, university-based studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give physicians and researchers qualifications for promotion or tenure. Such nonfinancial conflicts may also lead to distorted reported results and interpretations. Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma. Empirical evidence on expert opinion shows that it is extremely unreliable.”

As The Atlantic noted, Ioannidis has estimated that “as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed”, and “he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.”

That certainly also applies to the CDC, where corruption and conflicts of interest are an endemic problem.

The Endemic Corruption at the CDC

Perhaps the most infamous example is how the head of the CDC from 2002 to 2009, Julie Gerberding, left her government job to go work as president of Merck’s $5 billion global vaccine division. Merck’s CEO understandably described Gerberding as an “ideal choice”. She held that position until 2014 and currently holds the Merck job title of “Executive Vice President & Chief Patent Officer, Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy and Population Health”. That is to say, the former CDC director is now in charge of Merck’s propaganda efforts. One might say she’s basically doing the same job now that she did for the CDC, but even more lucratively. Apart from her salary, in 2015, Gerberding sold shares of Merck worth over $2.3 million dollars.

A more recent example came in January 2018, when CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald was forced to resign after Politico reported that, after assuming leadership of the CDC on July 7, 2017, she “bought tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in at least a dozen companies”—including Merck.

In August 1999, the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform initiated an investigation into federal vaccine policy, the findings of which were reported in June 2000. As its report stated, “The Committee’s investigation has determined that conflict of interest rules employed by the FDA and the CDC have been weak, enforcement has been lax, and committee members with substantial ties to pharmaceutical companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings.”

Examples of the corruption included the following:

  • “The CDC routinely grants waivers from conflict of interest rules to every member of its advisory committee.”
  • “CDC Advisory Committee members who are not allowed to vote on certain recommendations due to financial conflicts of interest are allowed to participate in committee deliberations and advocate specific positions.”
  • “The Chairman of the CDC’s advisory committee until very recently owned 600 shares of stock in Merck….”
  • “Members of the CDC’s advisory Committee often fill out incomplete financial disclosure statements, and are not required to provide the missing information by CDC ethics officials.”
  • “Four out of eight CDC advisory committee members who voted to approve guidelines for the rotavirus vaccine in June 1998 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.”
  • “3 out of 5 FDA advisory committee members who voted to approve the rotavirus vaccine in December 1997 had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that were developing different versions of the vaccine.”

US Senate report from June 2007 noted how surveys showed that Americans “overwhelmingly” viewed the CDC as doing a good job at keeping them healthy, as well as how the CDC took advantage of that perception by seeking ever increasing levels of funding year after year—and yet the CDC had little to show for its exorbitant spending.

The Senate report named Julie Gerberding as an example of the problem. Under her leadership, bonuses for the people managing the CDC increased dramatically. The top three CDC financial officers, for example, had “taken in more than a quarter million dollars in bonuses” over the previous several years. A New York Times analysis, the Senate report noted, had found that “The share of premium bonuses given to those within the director’s office has risen at least tenfold under Dr. Gerberding’s leadership.”

Contractors who previously were employed by the CDC appear to have found a lucrative way to make their CDC connection pay off.

Another problem was the “revolving door” of Washington. Citing examples, the Senate report commented that, “While CDC employees’ pay may not be equal to those in the private market, contractors who previously were employed by the CDC appear to have found a lucrative way to make their CDC connections pay off.”

The Senate report was appropriately subtitled, “A review of how an agency tasked with fighting and preventing disease has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars for failed prevention efforts, international junkets, and lavish facilities, but cannot demonstrate it is controlling disease.”

2009 report from the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services found that “almost all” financial disclosure forms for “special Government employees”—such as the people who sit on the CDC’s vaccine advisory committee—were not properly completed. For 97 percent of them, there was at least one omission, and most of the forms “had more than one type of omission.” Furthermore, looking at the year 2007, 64 percent of such employees were found to have potential conflicts of interest that the CDC had either failed to identify or failed to resolve. The CDC also failed to ensure that 41 percent of such employees received required ethics training, and 15 percent of such employees “did not comply with ethics requirements during committee meetings in 2007.” In sum, the Inspector General’s office found “that CDC had a systemic lack of oversight of the ethics program” for special government employees.

A particularly salient example was the aforementioned June 1998 recommendation of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that all infants receive the rotavirus vaccine. We’ll examine that particular case in a forthcoming article. Be sure to sign up for the Children’s Health Defense newsletter so you don’t miss it!

Conclusion

In sum, while the CDC is the mainstream media’s go-to source for information on any vaccine-related story, the public has every reason to be skeptical of the information coming out of this agency. It is certainly no “conspiracy theory” to claim that the CDC is misinforming the public about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. On the contrary, that the CDC does so is demonstrable and recognized in the scientific literature.

It also requires no “conspiracy theory” to explain how this can be so. It certainly does not follow from the assumption that government officials in positions of power are acting out of benevolent intent that therefore their policies are not harmful. The institutionalized confirmation bias and endemic corruption are more than sufficient to explain how it can be that the CDC is misinforming the public about vaccines.

Written by Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent journalist and analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, author of several books, and father. Read more of his writings at JeremyRHammond.comTo stay updated with his work on vaccines and download his report “5 Horrifying Facts about the FDA Vaccine Approval Process”, subscribe to his free newsletter.


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Lebanese Hospital Becomes The World’s First To Go 100 Percent Vegan (Food)

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu.

  • Reflect On:

    Are people aware of the physical and emotional torture the majority animals we eat go through? Are people aware that a diet free of animal products can be very beneficial for human health. Are people aware that animal agriculture is destroying Earth?

Before you begin...

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At the beginning of March, Hayek Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon became the first hospital in the world to serve 100 percent vegan only meals. Prior to this change, patients had a choice between animal based meals and vegan meals, and included with that was information about the health benefits of choosing plant-based foods versus the dangers of consuming animal products. The hospital made the announcement via their Instagram page, stating that “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs…the very food(s) that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place.”

When the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a group 1A carcinogenic (causes cancer) same group as tobacco and red meat as group 2A carcinogenic, then serving meat in the hospital is like serving cigarettes in a hospital. When the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) declare that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious disease comes from animals. When adopting a plant based exclusive diet has been successfully proven not only to stop the evolution of certain diseases but it can also reverse them. We then, have the moral responsibility to act upon and align our beliefs with our actions. Taking the courage to look at the elephant in in the eye.

Their various statements also point to the role that animal agriculture plays in spawning infectious diseases, citing the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate that 3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. “We believe it’s well about time to tackle the root cause of diseases and pandemics, not just treat symptoms,” they note.

This was a great statement. The modern day medical industry only seems to be focused on medications, and only medications that can turn a hefty profit, to treat and cure disease instead of addressing root causes. It’s good to see things changing, but a big problem remains. If a plant that grows in abundance, for example, has the potential to cure a disease, will we ever hear about it? Will the medical industry be interested in it? Probably not, but when a drug is made and patented from that plant in a specific way, that’s when we will. This is not to say that modern day medicine is useless, but today now more than ever a big problem exists, and this problem may be killing more people than it’s helping.

Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), a Harvard professor of medicine and also a former Editor-in-Chief of NEMJ, was frustrated that “the medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (source)

According to Forks Over Knives,

While Hayek is the first hospital to completely purge animal products from its menu, a number of hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. Both New York and California have enacted laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal. In 2018 NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue launched the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program to help patients transition to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle.

The American Medical Association passed a resolution in 2017 calling on U.S. hospitals to provide healthful plant-based meals to promote better health in patients, staff, and visitors. The American College of Cardiology has issued similar recommendations.

In my opinion, “veganism is a very fine form of nutrition” (Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, heart surgeon), and as mentioned above, there is plenty of science to back up that statement.  I’ve written about it many times before from a health perspective.

Here’s an article that goes into more detail and science if you’re interested, it also addresses history, and how our teeth and guts are designed and more. Here’s another one regarding a study that found a strong association between eating animal protein and a premature death from all causes, including multiple cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The studies cited in that article note that meat eating is strongly associated with up to a 75 percent increased chance of early mortality, and that protein from animals may cause harm, while protein from plants may help reverse disease and have a protective effect.

There are hundreds of these studies, and the ones I cite are just a few examples.

This is obviously a very controversial topic in the eyes of many, and it’s not hard at all to find conflicting information on the subject. I am no doubt bias in my beliefs and opinions here.

One thing is for certain, the way we treat animals on this planet is extremely heartbreaking and unnecessary. Animals are separated from their families, raised for slaughter and are kept in torturous conditions on a daily basis. It’s truly unbelievable and horrific. It’s the biggest genocide and example of both physical and emotional torture the world has ever seen. I don’t think anybody can witness what really goes on in most slaughterhouses can come out not being impacted.

On top of this, animal agriculture is one of, if not the greatest contributer to environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. Animal agriculture is actually the leading cause of deforestation. Every single day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice.

Final Thoughts: At the end of the day it seems that, from a health perspective, processed meats, and other meats are no doubt harmful to human health. People can make the argument that other animal products may not be and that we are meant to consume them. People can also make the complete opposite argument. One thing that can’t be argued is, again, the torture, physical and emotional abuse that comprise the source of where animal products come from for the majority of people who eat them.

There is a big split, as with many other topics, amongst people on this issue. There are even vegan influencers who are creating splits within the ‘vegan community’ itself, which is unfortunate. I personally believe that, from a health perspective, animal products are not at all required for anybody and are again, overall, harmful to human health.

The more pressing issue, again, is the treatment of our animal brothers and sisters, and how we are constantly using and abusing them. It’s indicative of world that lacks empathy, compassion, understanding and love, as well as our inability to see ourselves in another. This can be seen in many aspects of the current human experience, be it war, human trafficking and more. That being said, it’s great to see human consciousness shifting towards a more compassionate, empathetic type of awareness. This is evident by the “vegan” movement alone, as it’s become quite large over the past few years and will continue to grow. Some of the biggest animal food producers have already gone out of business, and it’s great to see more people in the health community as well recognize that it’s a win for health, a win for environment, and most importantly, a win for the very emotional, intelligent, animals, who are similar to us in so many ways. We have so much to learn from them.

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Awareness

Caloric Restriction vs. Fasting: Why One Can Result In Weight Gain While The Other Helps Burn Fat

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CE Staff Writer 3 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Dr. Jason Fung explains the difference between caloric restriction and sending the body into "starvation" mode compared to fasting.

  • Reflect On:

    Fasting has been used as a health intervention for thousands of years, and is being used today by doctors who are educated on the topic. Why is it completely ignored by mainstream medicine? Is it because "big pharma" can't make any money off of it?

Before you begin...

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Some would say that the best solution to weight gain is eating right and exercising. I couldn’t agree more. Obesity is one of the deadliest problems humanity faces today, and just as important as diet and exercise is for addressing this issue, even more important are the emotional and personal reasons as to why so many people damage themselves and make themselves more prone to serious disease.

Apart from diet and exercise, initiating a proper fasting regimen can have tremendous health outcomes, especially for overweight people. It wasn’t but a decade ago when fasting to lose weight was considered unhealthy and dangerous. Today, we have a tremendous amount of science that’s been published clearly showing that fasting can be an effective health intervention for people of all body types, especially for people who are overweight and suffer from certain diseases. It’s an excellent way to help your body burn fat. Fasting has been used and is currently being used as an intervention for type two diabetes, cancer and more. Fasting has been shown to trigger stem cell regeneration, autophagy, which in turn can help clear out toxins and damaged cells, repair DNA, improve metabolism, lower blood sugar, boost brain function, reduce the risk of age related disease, lessen inflammation which improves a wide range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and more. It’s no wonder why so many ancient cultures from different parts of the world used fasting as medicine and as a health intervention.

As shown in the science, fasting is generally safe for everybody. This many not be true if you already have underlying health conditions or are taking certain medications. This is why it’s important to consult a health professional about it, but the issue is, the majority of health professionals are not well educated in fasting interventions. Those who have educated themselves have been treating their patients with fasting and are drawn to it due to its ability to provide so many benefits.

One of these doctors is Dr. Jason Fung, who on his blog and his YouTube channel, as well as the books he’s written provides a wealth of information and science regarding fasting. I often refer people to the work of Fung, or others like Dr. Valter Longo if they want to begin their own research about fasting. Again, there is a wealth of science and “scholarly” articles available on the subject for anybody who wants to search for it as well. It’s not heard to find.

In the video below, Fung explains why fasting is much different from caloric restriction or having your body go into “starvation mode.”  You can also check out his article, “The difference between calorie restriction and fasting” for some great information as well.

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Health

Study Suggests Risk of Death From Loneliness May Be Greater Than Obesity

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    According to a study at Brigham Young University, heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

  • Reflect On:

    At the deeper levels, is "loneliness" the problem or is it our mindstate? Is it our perception of loneliness that's a problem? Some thrive with a lack of social interaction, that being said, most of us are indeed social beings who desire connection.

Before you begin...

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Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”

Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:

Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.

Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”

Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?

From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.

The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.

The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.

The Rise of Social Media

I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.

If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.

On Being Alone  

One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.

Our Next Step

Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.

Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.

We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.

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Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

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