It’s Not Rocket Science

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’ve been thinking a lot about writing, I just haven’t actually written anything down. Much like writing recipes, I have gotten to the point where I only want to write something that’s meaningful to me.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to create and make something consistently.  And then I end up not wanting to do anything at all.  Run the other way, if you will. 

According to my doc, it’s making my blood pressure go up.  That scared me.  I will 50 years old in 6 months, and I refuse to take medications. So, I’m going to try the opposite approach and give myself some space.  It is there where I imagine I will find my creativity again and hopefully regain my peace.   

Highly medicated

Speaking of medications, I get my second  Covid shot in a few weeks. I’m excited. I’m also a bit flabbergasted by those who still think the vaccine is going to make them sterile, or it’s deep state government trying to change their DNA, or it’s the mark of the beast.  These are most likely the same folks who are taking 2-3 different pharmaceuticals already.

I say this confidently since nearly 70% of American’s take at least one prescription drug, and more than half take two, according to the Mayo Clinic.  Things like statins, anti-depressants, and immunosuppressants, are the most common. These are also the same drug manufacturers who are making the Covid vaccine.   Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

Why then are American’s so suddenly concerned about what they put in their bodies?   Between the food they eat and their lifestyle medications, it’s the Covid vaccine that’s got everyone all up in arms?  On one hand, it’s strange to me, but on the other hand, it’s not surprising.   I remind myself that I live in a country that spends more money on healthcare than anyone else in the world.  Yet, we are also the sickest of all of the industrialized nations.  

I get it, a significant concern for many is the limited amount of testing and safety trials. While this is understandable, did you know that for a major pharmaceutical company to get drug approval, they only need to have two trials that show the drug is effective and safe? So, a drug company could have run 100 trials against the placebo, and even if 98 trials indicated they were not effective but at least two of them showed they were effective, they could move on to the next phase of getting them out to the public. Two is all they need.  

Science Matters

My good friend Dan is a biochemist and QA Manager at Pfizer.  He is also one of the scientists who worked tirelessly to help create the vaccine against Covid-19.   In the human trials at Pfizer, the vaccine was compared to the placebo in 43,448 people.  During the study, 170 participants developed Covid.  When the blind study was revealed, 162 of the patients were in the placebo group. In other words, they did not get the vaccine.  Of the ten most severe cases, 9 out of 10 were also the placebo group. Moderna’s results were very similar.  There were 185 cases, and all but 11 were in the placebo group.  But of Moderna’s most severe cases, 30 out of 30 were in the placebo.  They both show 90% effectiveness.   

Aside from the vaccine, the best cure for covid might just be education.  My daughter and I took a walk behind our house the other day.  We live in the woods, and there is an old cemetery about ¼ mile out of our backdoor.  When I say old, it’s between 150-220 years old.  She was fascinated by how young people were when they died back then. We counted only a handful of people who were over the age of 70.  We talked about the kinds of things people died from, including smallpox, tuberculosis, typhoid, mumps, measles, rubella.  

You get my point.  Vaccines have helped us more than they’ve hurt us.   Science matters, and it’s essential to our survival.  Social media can help speak the truth, but it’s also the new National Enquirer in many ways.  And it should not and cannot be one’s only source of information.  

Conspiracy theories

When 11 percent or about 39.6 million American’s believe the government is mandating a switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs because the light bulbs make people obedient and easy to control, we have a problem on our hands.  Disinformation and conspiracy theories have become a cultural pandemic. And experts see this spread of disinformation as a public health emergency that’s threatening democracy, increasing the risk of further violence, and straining family relationships.  

This misinformation includes those who believe that the vaccine has a tracking device, or a chip, implanted in it.  Some of these people are Christian right devotees for whom politics has become their new religion. The idea that the chips will allow the government and corporations to surveil people who get the vaccine is complete unproven nonsense. Also, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and cell towers using 5G technology are also allegedly involved.  Apparently, there’s a video on the internet that Gates made about COVID-19 vaccines and it has convinced some they can change DNA, the molecule that contains a person’s genetic code.

How far are we willing to allow these people to take us?  Certain estimates are that only 47% of people in the US are willing to get vaccinated.  That is not enough for us to obtain herd immunity and finally move past this.   When ignorance and fear take the place of logic and science, I fear we are doomed.   

Robert Kennedy Jr., the son of Robert Kennedy, FINALLY got banned from social media for promoting his unproven claims about vaccines. “Over the years, Kennedy’s misguided idée fixe has snowballed and gained impressive momentum. “He has propagated numerous falsehoods about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He has been a mainstay at the AutismOne conference, which attracts fake experts convinced that vaccines cause autism. In his last appearance as keynote speaker, he incited attendees to evangelize for the anti-vaccination movement, concluding that he would see them “on the barricades.” Kennedy is anti-science, and not just anti-vaccine; by many recent accounts, he is one of the princes of the anti-vaccination movement, if not its king.”

Let the past be our guide…

So how do we untangle the truth?  It turns out the best way to fight a conspiracy theory isn’t with facts.  If you’re trying to debunk them on Facebook, you’re likely wasting your time, said Geoff Dancy, associate professor of political science at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts. “Debunking means saying, ‘Hey, look, there’s this fact that your theory can’t explain. So you shouldn’t believe it anymore, right?’ Why doesn’t that work?

Well, conspiracy theorists are remarkably resilient to that kind of a thing,” Dancy said. “To change a conspiracy theorist’s ideas or susceptibility to the actual truth, you have to change the way that you interact with them.” Seeking the truth together, developing trust, and encouraging people to read information from various credible sources can be helpful.  

Many people with lower levels of education tend to be drawn to conspiracy theories. And we don’t argue that’s because people are not intelligent. It’s simply that they haven’t been allowed to have or haven’t been given access to the tools to enable them to differentiate between sound sources and wrong sources or credible sources and non-credible sources. So, they’re looking for that knowledge and certainty but not necessarily looking in the right places.  The truth is, we don’t need to look anywhere else but in the past.

Before vaccines, the average lifespan at the time was around 35 years. Over the last 200 years, U.S. life expectancy has more than doubled to almost 80 years (78.8 in 2015), with vast improvements in health and quality of life.  Yes, some people will have side effects, and in comparison to the enormous number of lives that are saved because of them, it is worth it.   

Unfortunately, measles is now resurgent in the United States and in many other countries. We cannot let historical amnesia or misinformation be why we end up with a resurgence of diseases like polio, diphtheria, and measles.  And we cannot let Covid-19 be what kills us.  

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