Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here is more damning evidence against Monsanto and their anti-scientific tactics to sell products that are KILLING YOU and YOUR FAMILY and YOUR PETS!  This article is a reprint from Dr. Mercola's website:
By Dr. Mercola
A common corporate tactic, well-honed by the tobacco industry, is to use “third-party experts” to bring the industry’s message to the public under the cloak of independent opinion or expertise. The idea is that academic types are far more credible than industry employees when it comes to defending the industry’s position.
Over the years, I’ve written about many of these so-called “independent experts” that turned out to be anything but. Among them is Henry Miller, who was thoroughly outed as a Monsanto shill during the 2012 Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign in California.

Henry Miller Outed as Monsanto Puppet — Again

The industry-funded “No on Prop 37” placed Miller front and center of its campaign, breaking all sorts of rules in the process. As the Los Angeles Times1 reported at the time, a No on 37 advertisement had to be pulled off the air because Miller was fraudulently identified as being part of the Stanford University faculty. Behind him in the shot was Stanford’s recognizable vaulted campus walkway.
Alas, not only is Miller not a Stanford professor (he’s a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank that just happens to be housed on the Stanford campus), Stanford also has a policy to not take positions on candidates or ballot measures, and does not allow political filming on campus.
Aside from promoting genetically engineered (GE) foods (he was actually the founding director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Biotechnology), Miller also has a long history2 of defending toxic chemicals such as neonicotinoid pesticides, DDT and cigarettes.
He’s even penned articles suggesting radioactive fallout might be beneficial for health, while claiming “Organic agriculture is to the environment what cigarette smoking is to human health” — apparently momentarily forgetting he’s defended the safety of cigarette smoking.3
Miller is also a friend of the infamous industry front group American Council for Science and Health (ACSH), which has defended everything from fracking and pesticides to bisphenol-A and GE foods. Now, Miller has made less than flattering headlines yet again — this time for being fired by Forbes Magazine for submitting articles ghostwritten by Monsanto.

Unethical Ghostwriting More Common Than You Might Suspect

Monsanto isn’t feeding the world as they claim, but they sure are spoon-feeding scientists, academics and journalists. This shameful practice is far more common than anyone would like to think. Fortunately, Forbes had the integrity to do something about it this time.
That doesn’t always happen. The evidence4 against Miller emerged during the court-ordered discovery process of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto by people who claim they developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of glyphosate exposure (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, used by farmers and home gardeners alike).
The documents, more than 700 pages in all, were posted online by the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman,5 which states the documents “allow people to see what is happening ‘behind the curtain’ of secrecy that normally shrouds ongoing litigation … These documents tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation, collusion with the Environmental Protection Agency, and previously undisclosed information about how the human body absorbs glyphosate.” As reported by The New York Times:6
“Documents show that Henry I. Miller … asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015 … A similar issue appeared in academic research.
An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, a former Monsanto employee, appeared to express discomfort with the process, writing in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, ‘I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.’ He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: ‘We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.’”

Miller Fired for Submitting Ghostwritten Material 

While there’s controversy about the legality of the release of these internal emails by plaintiff’s attorneys to the public,7 Forbes’ response was swift. Faced with evidence they’d published material under Miller’s name that was in fact ghostwritten by Monsanto, Forbes not only fired Miller but also removed all of his work from their site.
The article in question, published in 2015, attacked the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, which had classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Email correspondence reveals Monsanto asked Miller if he’d be willing to write an article on the findings, to which he replied “I would be if I could start from a high-quality draft.”
The subsequent article, which was near-identical to Monsanto’s draft, was published in Millers name, with no mention of Monsanto involvement.8 Forbes’ site expressly states that “opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own,” which in this case clearly was not true. Mia Carbonell, a Forbes spokeswoman, told The New York Times:  
“All contributors to Forbes.com sign a contract requiring them to disclose any potential conflicts of interest and only publish content that is their own original writing. When it came to our attention that Mr. Miller violated these terms, we removed his blog from Forbes.com and ended our relationship with him.”

Correspondence Reveals Internal Knowledge of Roundup Dangers

The released email correspondence also reveals Monsanto executives are clearly aware there are safety concerns with Roundup as a formulation, and its main ingredient, glyphosate, and have been for well over 15 years. As noted in the featured article:9
“‘In a 2002 email, a Monsanto executive said, ‘What I’ve been hearing from you is that this continues to be the case with these studies — Glyphosate is O.K. but the formulated product (and thus the surfactant) does the damage.’
In a 2003 email, a different Monsanto executive tells others, ‘You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen … we have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement.’ She adds, however, that ‘we can make that statement about glyphosate and can infer that there is no reason to believe that Roundup would cause cancer.’”

Proof of Industry Involvement in Retraction of Damning Research 

The documents also show Monsanto pressured A. Wallace Hayes, then-editor of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, to retract a damning animal study by professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which showed Roundup and GE corn caused cancer and early death. Hayes, it turns out, had entered into a contract with Monsanto shortly before the coordinated retraction campaign began.
While Hayes denies Monsanto had anything to do with his controversial and widely criticized decision to retract Séralini’s study, the email correspondence suggests otherwise.10 As noted by GM Watch:11  
“Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto’s direct involvement …  [Monsanto scientist David] Saltmiras ... writes of how ‘Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal …
Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes … about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign … Sachs writes: ‘I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency …
I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper’ … Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens: ‘
There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided ... makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review.”

Forbes Has Many Shills

Ironically, as recently as November 2016, Miller delivered a critical salvo against a New York Times article in which Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Danny Hakim argued that GE agriculture is a failure because it has neither reduced pesticide usage nor led to increases in yields. Miller was one of the “independent experts” contacted for rebuttal by Forbes contributor Kavin Senapathy. She writes:12
“… Miller tells me via email that ‘[t]he senior management at the Times takes valid criticism seriously, especially when it contains terms like 'bias,' 'dishonesty', and 'inaccuracy.’ He expects there will be an avalanche of complaints to the Times public editor at public@nytimes.com.”
 You can contact Forbes to let them know how you feel about the biased stable of writes they hire by emailing them at readers@forbes.com. You can find similar bias in other articles at Forbes.13 14 15,16
If Forbes really wants to clean up its act, its editors would take a moment to investigate any contributing author relying solely on information from these and other known industry shills and/or industry front groups. It’s a pretty close-knit group of individuals, so the worst actors are not hard to identify based on their associations.
Besides the Genetic Literacy Project and the ACSH, both with ties to Monsanto,17 there are many other industry front groups and websites specializing in astroturfing while pretending to be independent and science oriented. That includes but is certainly not limited to the following.18
Science 2.0
Science Codex
GMO Answers
Center for Consumer Freedom
Independent Women’s Forum
Center for Inquiry
Once you start to investigate these front groups, you’ll find the same names appearing again and again, co-writing articles, interviewing each other and referring to each other’s work back and forth.
Aside from those already mentioned, well-known contributors speaking for the industry include Kevin Folta, professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at University of Florida — who, incidentally, was also contacted by Senapathy for comment on her Forbes piece against Hakim’s “hack job on GMOs,” and Keith Kloor.19

Why Lack of Trust in Science Is Warranted

It’s bad enough that most published research findings turn out to be false due to poor design or bias, organizations such as these willfully promote flawed or flat-out manufactured science to support industry goals, while attacking research that conflicts with their aims — no matter how well done that research is. Complaints have been raised that many are “losing faith” in science and just don’t trust it anymore. Considering the evidence, this makes perfect sense, as so much of it IS false.
As noted in a 2005 paper20 titled, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False,” published in PLOS Medicine, John Ioannidis notes: “Simulations show that for most study designs and settings, it is more likely for a research claim to be false than true. Moreover, for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.”
While science in general fails to hit the truth squarely on the head even under the best of circumstances, the chances of an industry-funded study being wrong is FAR greater than one done by independent researchers, who tend to be less vested in the outcome. There’s really no disputing this.
Not only has funding bias been repeatedly demonstrated in studies looking at funding and study outcomes, if it weren’t true, the industry would not go to such great lengths to secretly hire academics, researchers and journalists to pretend as if they’re speaking as independent experts. Nor would any of these front groups exist — groups pretending to be grassroots efforts by concerned citizens or organizations by science-loving academics, and so on. They wouldn’t be necessary if industry-backed science were trustworthy.

Illegitimate Science and Fake Journalism Are a Real Threat

The fact of the matter is, these front groups and paid lackeys are not dealing in legitimate science or journalism. To hide that fact, they try to intimidate and shame people as “science-deniers.” Regardless of how this class action lawsuit against Monsanto pans out, it has done a great public service, revealing just how far companies like Monsanto will go to deceive, and the amount of human suffering they’re willing to cause in the name of profitability with nary a thought of remorse.
With the evidence before us, why should anyone trust them, or anyone involved in their scheme? As the old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Some of the released emails reveal Monsanto has not properly tested its chemical formulations, and that they are in fact terrified of doing so, for fear of what might be found.
In document No. 28, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Stephen Adams states, “With regards to the carcinogenicity of our formulations we don’t have such testing on them directly…”
This email was dated December 10, 2010. In an email dating all the way back to 2001, Mark Martens — a former Monsanto employee with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences — addresses the issue of formulation testing, saying, “I don’t know for sure how suppliers would react — but if somebody came to me and said they wanted to test Roundup I know how I would react — with serious concern. We have to really think about doing formulations even if they are not on the market …”21
According to the plaintiff attorneys, “This document is relevant and reasonably likely to be used in this litigation as it contains explicit concerns by Monsanto regarding the biological plausibility of the formulated product to cause cancer.”
Emails written by a Monsanto toxicologist also show the company did not want to conduct any kind of safety studies on glyphosate, surfactant ingredients or the formulations. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but when a company chooses to remain ignorant of its product’s dangers in order to absolve itself from responsibility for its effects, all the public gets are woes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stop Using Monstanto Roundup, People!

Here's a new article I'm reposting from the Dr. Mercola website regarding Monsanto's fraudulent science.

By Dr. Mercola
Did you know that the 2017 spending bill1,2,3 includes a rider allocating $3 million for consumer education and outreach by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to "promote understanding and acceptance of" biotechnology?
The deal was recently passed by the Senate, 79 to 18, “under a bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of September,” The Washington Post reports.4 In other words, if you are American, you are paying for Monsanto to spread their pernicious propaganda. The fact that they can get away with this and slip it in to avoid government shutdown is dystopian, to say the least.
Not only have the government and the food and chemical technology industries fought to prevent the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), your tax dollars are now to be spent on efforts to “assure” you that genetically engineered (GE) foods are of no concern.

FDA and USDA to Promote Biotech and Chemical Technologies

To quote The Washington Post, “The money is to be used to tout ‘the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic and humanitarian impacts’ of biotech crops and their derivative food products.” This joint effort by the FDA and USDA is an outrage. As noted by Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., who unsuccessfully fought to get the rider struck from the bill:5
“It is not the responsibility of the FDA to mount a government-controlled propaganda campaign to convince the American public that genetically modified foods are safe. The FDA has to regulate the safety of our food supply and medical devices. They are not, nor should they be, in the pro-industry advertising business.”
A Pew Research Center study6 published last year found 39 percent of Americans believe GMO foods are worse for health than conventionally-grown foods; 55 percent believe organics are healthier than conventional; and 40 percent report eating mostly or some organic foods.
Still, nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) believe GMOs are no different from non-GMO foods and 10 percent believe GMOs are actually better for health than non-GMOs. Clearly, the chemical technology industry wants to prevent growth of anti-GMO sentiment, but using tax dollars for indoctrination purposes simply should not be permitted.

Army of Shills Steer Online Discussions

In related news, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto say the company hired an army of shills via third parties to steer online conversations about Roundup — the chemical most commonly used on GE crops — to counter any and all negative comments with corporate propaganda, thereby manipulating and stifling public knowledge about its dangers.7 As reported by Reuters:8
“The plaintiffs alleged that Monsanto targeted all online materials and even social media comments that indicate potential dangers of its products … ‘Monsanto even started the aptly-named ‘Let Nothing Go’ program to leave nothing, not even Facebook comments, unanswered …
[T]hrough a series of third parties, it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals and GMOs,’ the document reads.
On a larger scale, Monsanto allegedly ‘quietly funnels money to ‘think tanks’ such as the ‘Genetic Literacy Project’ and the ‘American Council on Science and Health’ — organizations intended to shame scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and other chemical producers,’ according to the plaintiffs.
The accusations are backed by a batch of emails, used in court as evidence … [Ph.D] William Moar … reportedly said at a conference in January 2015 that the company had ‘an entire department,’ dedicated to ‘debunking’ science which disagreed with the agrochemical giant’s own research.”

EPA Official Colluded With Chemical Giant on Public’s Dime

Documents entered into evidence in the lawsuits against Monsanto also strongly suggest at least one Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official has been working on Monsanto’s behalf — another breach of public trust and misuse of public funds. After the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen9,10 in 2015, Monsanto has relied on the EPA’s 2016 determination that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans.11
Based on the IARC's determination, the California agency of environmental hazards declared glyphosate a carcinogen under Proposition 65, and will require all glyphosate-containing products to carry a cancer warning.
However, evidence suggests Jess Rowland, former associate director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), conspired with Monsanto to protect the company’s interests by manipulating and preventing toxicological investigations. Rowland was a key author of the EPA’s controversial glyphosate report, and correspondence between EPA toxicologist Marion Copley and Rowland suggests Rowland colluded with Monsanto to find glyphosate non-carcinogenic.12,13
Documents also reveal Rowland warned Monsanto of the IARC’s determination months before it was made public,14 giving the company time to plan its defense, which included a vicious, coordinated attack on the IARC,15 going so far as to calling on the U.S. government to defund the organization, despite its reputation for being the global gold-standard for carcinogenicity studies.16
In January 2017, the American Chemistry Council formed a front group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research17(CAPHR), the express purpose of which is to discredit the IARC18 and seek to reform the IARC Monographs Program, which evaluates and determines the carcinogenicity of chemicals.
The day CAPHR launched, the organization took to Twitter with a #glyphosateisvital campaign, proclaiming the weed killer is essential to “maintain the production of safe, affordable food.” All of this goes to show you simply cannot trust the information you get from social media. Many industry defenders are nothing more than sock puppets paid to spread corporate propaganda while posing as independent experts and/or well-informed regular Joes.

Corporate Ghostwriters May Have Influenced US and European Regulators

Court documents also suggest Monsanto employees ghostwrote parts of two scientific reports — one in 2000 and another in 2013 — which the EPA then relied on to conclude glyphosate is non-carcinogenic.19
This, we are expected to believe, is better science than that of the IARC — a world-renowned, global, independent research organization. These ghostwritten reports may also have influenced the European Union’s (EU) decision that Roundup was safe. According to Euro Observer:20
“A Monsanto employee admits in one of the emails that the company wrote a study on glyphosate and later attributed the work to academics. Another study on glyphosate was 'redesigned' with help of company scientists in order to create a more [favorable] outcome, the internal emails suggest.
EUobserver and OneWorld have discovered that both of the studies were relied on by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) when it evaluated the safety of glyphosate in 2015 as part of the EU [license] renewal process.”
Correspondence also shows Rowland helped stop an investigation into glyphosate by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Monsanto’s behalf. According to the email, Rowland said he should “deserve a medal,” were he to pull it off.21,22,23 As it turns out, the review was in fact canceled, suggesting Rowland’s value to the company.
Indeed, emails suggest Monsanto was planning to lean on Rowland’s significant influence for their glyphosate defense after his retirement from the EPA,24 and Rowland’s post-EPA work indeed includes consulting for three chemical companies that are close associates of Monsanto.25,26

Dow Chemical Pulls Strings to Void Government Pesticide Findings

Monsanto clearly isn’t the only multinational company pulling strings within the U.S. government. During the Obama administration, the EPA concluded chlorpyrifos, a nerve gas-cum-pesticide made by Dow Chemical, which is widely used on citrus, applescherries and other crops, could pose health risks to consumers.
Even tiny doses were found to impact brain development in infants. A ban of the chemical’s use on food had been proposed, but the Trump-installed EPA chief, Scott Pruitt,27 recently denied the petition.28,29
Earth Justice called the decision "unconscionable," vowing to fight the decision in court. A major problem with this chemical is that it’s become a common water contaminant, and the EPA’s own evaluation found it poses serious risks to 1,778 of the 1,835 endangered plants and animals assessed.
Despite this damning evidence, a legal team representing Dow Chemical and two other organophosphate manufacturers sent letters30to the agencies responsible for joint enforcement of the Endangered Species Act,31,32,33 asking them to ignore the EPAs findings, saying the agency’s scientific basis was unreliable.
It’s interesting how on the one hand, Monsanto claims the EPA is the best judge of toxic chemicals when it suits them, while other industry giants accuse EPA scientists of not knowing what they’re doing when the evidence impacts their bottom line.
Bloomberg recently reported Dow Chemical’s first-quarter lobbying expenditures for 2017 are nearly eight times greater than its 2008 expenditures,34 and financial filings reveal the company hired a lobbying firm to meet with Congressmen in the weeks before the USDA’s and EPA’s deadline to take action on chlorpyrifos.
Trump also appointed Dow CEO Andrew Liveris to head a White House manufacturing council. All of that considered, is it any surprise that chlorpyrifos gets a free pass? With conflicts of interest such as these running the show, the health of Americans is in serious jeopardy. You simply cannot depend on government agencies to protect your best interests anymore.

International Reports Call for Global Phase Out of Pesticides

When you consider the volume of evidence against pesticides, it’s easy to understand why the chemical technology industry is so keen on having government promote their propaganda. They are losing the information war, so they’re upping the ante. Several heavy-hitting, international reports have surfaced in recent years, highlighting the serious impact agricultural chemicals are having on human health, including but not limited to the following:
According to a recent United Nations (UN) report,35 pesticides are responsible for 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, and chronic exposure has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’sParkinson’s diseasehormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.36
The latest USDA report on pesticide residues in food reveals only 15 percent of all the food samples tested in 2015 were free from pesticide residues, compared to 41 percent the previous year.37 This goes to show just how quickly our food is being poisoned, and how significant a source food is when it comes to chemical exposures.
According to Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno,38 founding president of the internationally recognized Bastyr University, toxins in the modern food supply are “a major contributor to, and in some cases the cause of, virtually all chronic diseases.”
The answer, the UN report says, is reducing or eliminating pesticides around the world. It proposes a global treaty to phase out toxic pesticides and transition to a more sustainable agricultural system. Contrary to industry PR, many studies have confirmed pesticide use can be significantly reduced without impacting production:39
A World Health Organization (WHO) report warns environmental pollution — which includes but is not limited to pesticides — kills 1.7 million children annually. To address this problem, the authors recommend reducing or phasing out agricultural chemicals
A report by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics40 warns that chemical exposures, which includes pesticides, now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction41,42
An Endocrine Society task force has also issued a scientific statement43,44 on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs, i.e., chemicals that alter the normal function of your hormones), noting that the health effects are such that everyone needs to take proactive steps to avoid them.
On the list of known EDCs are organophosphate pesticides and DDE, a breakdown product of DDT. Since it lingers in the environment, exposure still occurs via food even though DDT is no longer in use.
Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals costs the European Union (EU) €157 billion ($172 billion) annually in women’s health care costs, infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurobehavioral disorders45,46,47
One in 5 cancers are thought to be due to environmental chemicals and, according to recent studies, not only can miniscule amounts of chemicals amplify each other’s adverse effects when combined,48 this even applies to chemicals deemed “safe” on their own.
Basically, the analysis49 found that the cumulative effects of non-carcinogenic chemicals can act in concert to synergistically produce carcinogenic activity — a finding that overturns and more or less nullifies conventional testing for carcinogens 

Could Your Health Be at Risk From Glyphosate-Contaminated Food?

Glyphosate-contaminated food may pose serious health risks, and this is perhaps one of the greatest selling points of organic foods. Tests by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) show 93 percent of Americans have glyphosate in their urine,50 and food is the biggest source unless you live in an agricultural area or dispense glyphosate-based chemicals at work or at home.
Contaminated drinking water is another. Disturbingly, a recent animal study51 found Roundup causes fatty liver disease at 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water, which is 14,000 times lower than the concentration permitted in U.S. drinking water (700 ppb). According to Health Research Institute Laboratories, the average level of glyphosate in the U.S. population is 3.3 ppb52 — 33 times higher than the level at which rats developed fatty liver.
The OCA's urine testing also suggests Americans have a daily intake of glyphosate that is about 1,000-fold higher than the level found to cause fatty liver disease in animals. Another recent study found Roundup adversely affects the development of female rats' uteruses, increasing the risk for both infertility and uterine cancer.53 So why is no action taken to protect human health?
It really boils down to the fact that without glyphosate-based herbicides the GE seed business would collapse, and chemical technology companies, with their vast resources and revolving doors into government regulatory agencies, have managed to deceive people into thinking there's no problem.

How to Get Tested for Glyphosate

The USDA promised to begin testing food for residues of glyphosate as of April 1, but then canceled the plan,54 further delaying the truth about glyphosate contamination55 from emerging.
According to Health Research Institute Laboratories, desiccated crops such as non-GMO oats, wheat, garbanzo beans and lentils can contain glyphosate levels exceeding 1,000 ppb. I recently used this test for glyphosate and had no detectable levels — likely because I eat organic foods and rarely eat at restaurants.
The Health Research Institute has developed a glyphosate test kit for public use. I've recently gained access to a limited number of these kits, and no profit is made on their sale. I provide both a glyphosate water test kit and an environmental exposure test kit in my [Dr. Mercola's] online store for those who want to assess their exposure. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why Is the Left Terrified of Trump?

President Trump strikes terror into the hearts of Liberals and Progressives. This terror manifests itself as anger clothed in the garb of righteous indignation. Every news cycle prompts fresh rounds of hand wringing and tears of frustration from the Left. Each new Presidential tweet provokes apoplexy. You can see the fear and anger on the faces of Progressive marchers, town hall protesters, and pop culture icons. You can hear it in the strained questions of reporters at press briefings and the opinions of pundits at round-tables. 

The target of this Trump-terror is broader than the President and his staff--it affects every one of us. Those who voted against Trump have not settled down post-election, but continue to rage, rage, rage against the Trump machine. Those who voted for Trump now stand in for the Administration as localized whipping boys of Liberal indignation, buffeting wave after wave of hyperbolic sidewalk insults. Ask anyone who wears a certain red ball cap how it feels.

One of my best and dearest friends said a ridiculous thing to me at my brother's funeral. After many touching tributes to David's selfless devotion to others, my friend said to me, "I'm surprised your brother was so active in charity work and the mission field--I thought he was a Republican." Tempers quickly flared, words like "Trump" and "racist" were exchanged, and he and his partner left in a huff.  By the time I got home, there was an email cancelling an upcoming visit, signed "Best Regards."
David Puett teaching orphans in Brazil.
David Puett repairing water pump at Malawi orphange.
David Puett and his buddies at Malawi orphanage.
No doubt about it--the schism between Left and Right is deep, and we can make sense of it in terms of the Simple Explanation's meme exchange dynamics

First, a simple explanation of memes:  memes are simply the meaning of bits of communication, whether the meaning is carried by a word, an image, or any other way we communicate meaning to one another.  If you need a better explanation of memes, please read the "When Meme Chords Collide" article from 2015 .

The memes we cling to form sets of memes that I call "meme bundles." The totality of our meme bundles form the belief system we hold. The more your meme bundle overlaps with someone else's meme bundle, the more kinship you feel with that other person. The less your meme bundles overlap, the less you have in common and the greater your distrust of one another.

Oftentimes, belief systems, or "meme bundles" aren't held by individuals alone, but are shared with other people and with institutions we belong to. Not only do we share memes with others, it is the job of institutions to maintain the integrity of their meme bundles by keeping believers in and non-believers out.  From my 2011 article, "Meaning is in the Memes"

"I realized the other day that each and every cultural institution we belong to (family, workplace, church, mosque, tribe, nation, etc.) not only comes with its own bundle of shared memes held in common by its members, it also comes with a filter that prevents members from acknowledging or adopting incompatible memes. Memes are even more important to an institution than its members in the sense that members come and go, but memes persist." 

"Institutions are defined as much by their excluded memes as they are by their included memes. An exclusive institution holds tightly to the identity provided by its memes; its border is strong and its filter powerful. An inclusive institution allows members more latitude in the memes they may hold; its border is less defined; its filter less opaque. An "open-minded" institution acknowledges the fact that there are memes out there in the greater culture that may have value, and is willing to consider new memes; its border is permeable and its filter thin." 

When you view politics through the lens of the Simple Explanation's theory of meme exchange, today's turmoil begins to make sense.  Seems obvious, but here it is:  The Left and the Right hold different meme bundles that appear to be mutually exclusive.  In other words, if I like people who like the memes I like, then I am made uneasy by people who reject the memes I hold. And vice versa. And the more polarized politics becomes, the less my meme bundle is likely to overlap your meme bundle. 

Furthermore, Conservatives have less permeable boundaries than Liberals--it is their function to "conserve." Liberals have more open, permeable boundaries because it is their function to welcome new memes. Conservatives are less likely to welcome foreign memes and those who hold foreign memes. Conservatives expect newcomers to adopt American memes. The open/closed aspect of Right and Left is not a moral short-coming of either side; it is their essential character and mandate. 

I think the extreme emotionality of politics today stems from not respecting one another's meme bundles.  Does holding exclusive meme bundles bring the end of civility? Not if we allow one another our beliefs.  Clashes over meme bundles only occurs when others are forced to adopt memes they do not hold. "Live and let live" is the only motto that assures peace among those who disagree. 

"Live and let live" acknowledges that there is more than one way to view reality. "Live and let live" acknowledges that someone else with another point of view may actually have a respectable meme bundle--just not one you happen to hold.  In other words, it is possible to disagree with someone, yet still respect their moral integrity and their right to their beliefs.

"Live and let live" is a meme that ensures civility amongst competing institutions.  "My way is the only way--death to all others" is a meme that ensures strife and warfare. Totalitarianism is the attempt to eradicate all meme bundles (and their believers) that differ from the tyrant's.

This American election cycle has brought an unprecedented level of mistrust between the Right and Left because they no longer appear to have anything in common. But is that really true? Not really.  We all share the same basic memes in common--Truth, Justice, Love, Family Values are just a few of the memes shared by the Left and Right. Most importantly for our country, we all agree that we want a functioning federal government and laws fairly applied all. We all, Left and Right, sign on to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights--which are our founders meme bundles written down. What we fear from the "other side" is that they don't really believe those founders' memes. And it is that fear that inspires such mistrust.  

The reason for the mistrust is the rhetoric, not the reality. The Left says terrible things about President Trump. The hyperbole, the exaggeration of fault, the accusations of treachery--these are rhetorical devices designed to emphasize Trump's supposedly crazy, self-centered meme bundle. The problem with this rhetoric is that it paints an unrealistic version of Trump's memes that are over-the-top evil. In the vacuum of Trump's vaguely-defined policy memes or omissions of fact, the Left impugns the President with memes of pure devilry from their own imagination. It is important to realize that the rhetoric is not the reality--it is an interpolation of imagination borne out of fear.

I wish there were some way to reassure my friends on the Left that most of what they fear is hyperbole and not fact. Time will tell whether the Administration's motives lie in their public declarations or not. The proof lies in a "wait and see" approach. It's my belief that the gap between the Left's meme bundle and the President's is not nearly so large as they fear.