Thursday, December 14, 2017

Algorithms--The True Thought Police


I grew up devouring science fiction. By the time I was twelve I had digested every science fiction book in our town's library--everything written in the 1950s and '60s by futurists like Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Le Guin, Vonnegut, and Dick; all of the Science Fiction Short Story anthologies; and every fantastical classic going back to H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and more. I credit my early immersion in the imaginative waters of these prophets of culture and technology for instilling in me an ability to think for myself, independent of the cultural groupthink that characterizes the way most people see the world.  

george orwell's 1984 novelNow I witness a long-foretold dystopian future unfolding before my very eyes, and it's not what I expected. Even as recently as 2009, when I wrote my own dystopian cyber-fiction novel, Reality Crash, I imagined a totalitarian state imposed from the top down in the classically fascistic, authoritarian hierarchy--much like the dictator known as "Big Brother" in Orwell's 1984

It turns out the top-down model is not imposing its dictatorship upon us. It's a grass-roots movement that is fueling our culture's own destruction. And the people who are mistaking President Trump for Orwell's Big Brother have got it all wrong. I'm chuckling as I type this because I just read a NYT article dated 1/26/17 entitled "Why '1984' Is a 2017 Must Read," and I respectfully think the writer of that article has it all wrong, too. Trump is not Big Brother--Social Media is, and the Pandora's Box out of which it sprang is the internet and its greedy, power-driven minions. 

Two days ago, a former Facebook executive went public with his "tremendous guilt" for exploiting dopamine feedback loops in human brains to make Facebook ever more addictive. Even our children are exposed to addictive snares, with teen users spending an average of three to five hours a day online with such apps as Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter rather than hanging out, face-to-face, with their actual-reality friends. A couple of months ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the way his social media platform has been used to divide people rather than bring them together. 

And only yesterday, Consumer Watchdog put out a warning concerning patent applications that will allow Google Home and Amazon Echo devices to monitor your conversations at all times in order to learn your preferences and needs for targeted advertising. Talk about an Orwellian future! And it's not Donald Trump stuffing your mantle stockings with digital assistants this holiday season; it's you! Tell me, are these new electronic conveniences really worth the cost?


Researching this blog article caused me to dip into the academic well for news of the influence of algorithms on society and personal agency. I can assure you, I am not the first person to notice the great and terrible potential of allowing personal decision-making to be given over to mathematical algorithms that sort your choices, your friendship groups, and even your politics, into neatly packaged, clickable sidebars calculated for maximum engagement. Do you really wish to be sorted? Do you want your shopping decisions, your friends, and your political candidates preselected according to some secret formula? 

One social scholar concludes his journal article thusly:

"The algorithm is now a cultural presence, perhaps even an iconic cultural presence, not just because of what they can do but also because of what the notion of the algorithm is used to project. This means that the algorithm can be part of the deployment of power, not just in terms of its function but also in terms of how it is understood as a phenomenon. Algorithmic decisions are depicted as neutral decisions, algorithmic decisions are understood to be efficient decisions, algorithmic decisions are presented as objective and trustworthy decisions, and so on. We certainly need to gain a greater view of the inside of the algorithmic systems in which we live, but we also need to develop an analysis of the cultural prominence of the notion of the algorithm, what this stands for, what it does and what it might reveal." (The social power of algorithms. David BeerInformation, Communication & SocietyVol. 20, Iss. 1, 2017)

In 1984, Orwell clearly foretold our coming age of Loss of Truth and Love. He thought Big Brother would hold the people down through continually biased information coming from a government that only serves the needs of the powerful. I see the fear now rampant in the United States, but I think a lot of worried people are pointing their fingers in the wrong direction. Our Loss is coming about by Social Media's manipulation of information combined with increasing social and economic sorting that is breaking the bonds of true, human communication and culture. And the crazy sad thing is that people are purchasing this technology willingly and giving their lives over to it without any thought to the privacy, liberty, and love they are trading away. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Simple Explanation of Immanence, or Inherent Consciousness

Scientists generally say that consciousness is a by-product of brains, and while organisms without brains may be reactive to stimuli, they are certainly not what you would call "conscious." The Simple Explanation, on the other hand, starts from the premise that consciousness is inherent in all matter.

The Simple Explanation proposes that our universe is fully conscious, from the tiniest material manifestations of the sub-atomic level through material aggregations of ever-increasing complexity and scope until it scales up to the most complex consciousness of all--the Very Large Universal Consciousness encompassing the sum of our universe's aggregate structures and processes. Indeed, the very ground state that forms the matrix of our universe, irrespective of material, is consciousness-without-thought. 
Each piece of material "knows how" to do its job in the niche it occupies. 
As you can see from the diagram, our Universe is organized into increasingly larger and larger aggregations of objects and the processes required to arrange and maintain them. The Simple Explanation is a form of "intelligent design" in claiming that the matter and processes of our universe are driven by the consciousness inherent within it, and not by randomness or chaos. In this sense, the Simple Explanation is reminiscent of philosophies that talk about "Divine Immanence." 

According to the Simple Explanation, every unit of consciousness "knows how" to do the job it occupies. The scope of its knowledge and the breadth of its responsibilities becomes greater as it occupies niches of increasing complexity, but even the tiniest sub-atomic particles "know how" to do their jobs, just as a sunflower "knows how" to be a sunflower, a cloud "knows how" to be a cloud,  and a cat "knows how" to be a cat. From the micro level on up, particle-like waves "reach out" to others and "work together" to make larger and larger particles, atoms, molecules, and elements, forming the material bedrock of our universe. 

In this manner, inanimate material "behaves" no differently than life forms. Each of these pieces of material "knows how" to do the job slot it occupies. A hydrogen atom possesses the organizational capacity to be the hydrogen atom; it also "knows how" to reach out to other atoms to make molecules. Similarly, life forms put themselves together by building organelles and cells out of proteins and other cellular precursors, using very complicated arrangements and mechanisms for sub-cellular entities. Likewise, a stem cell mysteriously "knows how" to differentiate into just the cell needed to do the job. 

Oddly enough, while the concept of "very tiny up through very large" works well enough when applied to the amount of information needed to run a physical process, it doesn't really describe the amount of potential consciousness a material unit inherently possesses. This is because each and every unit of consciousness, no matter how tiny or large its vehicle, is a fractal of the entire overarching consciousness and, as such, inherently possesses the potential for all knowledge. 

The amount of information a piece of material can utilize and manipulate has more to do with its place in the overall structure and what it needs to know in order to do its job, not whether it is a life form or not, or whether or not it has a brain. In this Simple model, consciousness is inherent in all material, while knowledge is relative to an entity's niche and point of view, and information is valued according to its personal utility and its usefulness to the overall good.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Learning From Other's Regrets--Mercola repost

Story at-a-glance

  • While a regret can be phrased either as an action or as an inaction, regrets framed as actions tend to be more emotionally intense than regrets about inactions, but inactions tend to be longer lasting
  • One of the most frequently cited regrets at the end of life is not having the courage to be true to oneself but rather doing what others expected
  • Other common end-of-life regrets include: Working too much, not expressing one’s feelings, not staying in touch with friends, and taking life too seriously and allowing worries to diminish happiness
  • Most men, at the end of life, say they regret missing out on family time because of excessive work
  • At the end of life, many finally realize that happiness is an inside job — a choice, not a side effect of living any particular kind of life, and regret taking life too seriously and allowing worries to diminish their happiness
Regrets. We all have them — things said or done; things left unsaid or undone. Paths that weren’t followed; opportunities missed due to fear or insecurity. The list is long, but one of the biggest regrets in life reported by a large number of people is not being there for someone at the end of life.1 In other words, being too busy with “life” to tend to those near death.  
Interestingly, while a regret can be phrased either as an action or as an inaction (“I wish I had not quit high school,” versus “I wish I had stayed in high school”), regrets framed as actions tend to be more emotionally intense than regrets about inactions, but inactions tend to be longer lasting.2
Emma Freud, a columnist for The Guardian, recently explored themes of regret on social media, covering everything from relationships, work-life balance and personal passions, to addiction, illness and death. If you’re so inclined, you can take a look at some of the thousands of responses she received.3 Chances are, you’ll recognize yourself in some of them.

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

According to Bronnie Ware, a former palliative care nurse who ended up writing a book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” based on her conversations with the dying, the biggest, most commonly cited regrets at the end of life are — beginning with the most common regret of all:4
  1. Not having the courage to live a life true to oneself but rather doing what was expected
  2. Working too much, thereby missing children’s youth and their partner’s companionship
  3. Not having the courage to express one’s feelings
  4. Not staying in touch with friends
  5. Taking life too seriously and allowing worries to diminish happiness
Ware goes a step further, however, in that she also delves into solutions for these regrets — ways for you to avoid falling into the same traps. The No. 1 regret is a valuable reminder to not give up too many of your dreams to please others (or conform to conventional standards). “It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way,” Ware says. “From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

Living Life on Your Own Terms Is Key to Dying Without (Too Many) Regrets

Virtually every man in Ware’s care listed No. 2: Missing out on family time because of excessive work. “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence,” she writes, adding:
“By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.”
No. 4 is a closely related topic. Oftentimes we get so busy we forget to keep in touch with old friends, and over time the relationship fizzles out. Then, in old age, loneliness creeps in. It can be difficult to build a friendship at any age, but it certainly does not get easier with advancing age, when poor health starts limiting your ability to get out and about to socialize. As noted by Ware, love and relationships are usually the only things of true, remaining importance when the end of life draws near.
As for No. 3, Ware notes that many “developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried” as a result of holding their feelings in and opting to keep quiet just to keep the peace. If you’re in this category, consider Ware’s commonsense advice:
“We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.”
Last but not least, at the end of life, many finally realize that happiness is an inside job. It’s a choice, not a side effect of living any particular kind of life. “[D]eep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again,” Ware writes, wisely noting that once you’re on your deathbed, you will not be worrying about what others think of you, so why not choose happiness now, while you still have a lot of life left?

The Importance of Relationships and Self-Care

Longevity research strongly supports Ware’s overall findings. The same things that people report regretting are also the things centenarians “get right.” In interviews and surveys with centenarians,5 including the ones interviewed in “How to Live to 100,” two of the most important factors contributing to longevity are having a strong social network of family and friends, and keeping a sense of humor.
The importance of social support has also been scientifically verified. An American meta-analysis6 of published studies found strong social support is actually the No. 1 factor that determines longevity and survival. The influence of social support on mortality is so great, it surpasses the influence of weight and even eclipses the influence of smoking.
A 2012 article7 in Forbes Magazine listed 25 top regrets reported by people. Here — in addition to all of the regrets already listed — one of the biggest regrets was not standing up to bullies, be it in school or at work. In hindsight, many feel they should have spoken out and taken a firm stand, even at the risk of losing their job.
Another regret that is bound to be pertinent for a vast majority of people these days is allowing the smartphone to take up too much of our time and attention. Related to that one is the regret of “not teaching my kids to do more stuff,” be it raking leaves, learning to throw a ball, cleaning their room, camping or any number of other activities. On this list of regrets you also have “not taking care of my health when I had the chance.”  Indeed, many pay no attention to their health at all unless or until there’s a problem.
Unfortunately, by that time, you have a struggle ahead of you, as most health problems are far easier to prevent than they are to treat. Not to mention the emotional and financial strain and stress a chronic health problem can cause. At the end of life, many wish they’d made self-care a priority. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’ve not let self-care slide off your radar. Remember, some of the simplest lifestyle strategies can have tremendous impact, such as:

At the End of Life, Most Wish They’d Lived More in the Moment

Another common regret is regretting not living more in the moment. As constant connectivity via smartphones and other technologies increases, more and more people are bound to experience this regret at the end of their life as the years wear on. “Living in the now” is a major component of happiness, and a significant way to grow in gratitude, both of which also have an impact on health and longevity.
It’s really difficult to cultivate gratitude if you’re constantly running; always looking ahead, or, alternatively, looking to the past. Gratitude requires you to be in the moment, and appreciate what’s in front of you right now. A commonly recommended practice that can be very helpful is to keep a daily gratitude journal. This can be done in a paper journal, or you can download a Gratitude Journal app from iTunes.8
In one 2015 study,9 participants who kept a gratitude diary and reflected on what they were grateful for four times a week for three weeks reported improvements in depression, stress and happiness. A mindfulness intervention, consisting of a mindfulness diary and mindfulness meditation, led to similar improvements. Remember, you tend to get more of what you focus on, so be mindful of the kinds of thoughts you entertain.
Your brain can actually become “hardwired” to feel anxiety, depression, irritability or anger the longer and the more frequent such thoughts are allowed to persist. As noted by Robert Emmons in “The Little Book of Gratitude:” Everything we do creates connections within networks of the brain, and the more you repeat something, the stronger those connections get. The mind can change the brain in lasting ways. In other words, what flows through the mind sculpts the brain.”
If you struggle with pessimism, give the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) a try. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure based on the energy meridians used in acupuncture. It’s an effective way to quickly restore your inner balance and healing and helps rid your mind of negative thoughts and emotions. In the video below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how to tap for gratitude.

Your Life Is Your Own, Live It the Way You Want To

The take-home message here is this: If you’re currently doing, or avoiding doing, something you know you’d regret if you only had weeks left to live, change course now. Don’t wait years or decades. Eventually, you’ll run out of time and be left holding a bag of regrets.
Your life is your own — you’re the only one who can live it successfully, so follow your dreams and passions, and let go of unnecessary baggage and false limitations. At the end of your life, you’ll realize you don’t care about what other people think of you nearly as much as you believe today, and — if you’re like most — you’ll come to the realization that happiness is in fact an ever-present choice.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Life, Liberty, and the Right to Refuse Medical Treatment

Those of us whose personal health choices fall outside of the mainstream's choices regularly face coercion and threats from well-meaning medical professionals. This excellent article explains how forced vaccinations are a form of the discredited ethical position called Utilitarianism.  

From Nuremberg to California: Why Informed Consent Matters in the 21st Century




Story at-a-glance

  • Informed consent means you have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and the freedom to make a voluntary decision about whether or not to accept those risks without being coerced or punished for your decision
  • Informed consent applies not just to risks taken by participants in scientific experiments, but also to risks taken by patients under the care of physicians
  • Vaccination must remain a choice because it is a medical intervention performed on the body of a healthy person that carries a risk of injury or death, and this risk cannot be calculated or determined ahead of time
  • People are born with different genes and a unique microbiome. As a result, we do not all respond the same way to drugs and vaccines, and vaccine risks are therefore not being borne equally by everyone in society
  • Utilitarianism, which decrees that some people are expendable for the good of the majority, is a pseudo-ethic that must be rejected as the moral foundation of public health policy and law

By Barbara Loe Fisher
Since I was asked to make a presentation about vaccine exemptions in 1997 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., I have publicly defended the informed consent principle, which was defined as a human right at the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg in 1947.1
Informed consent means you have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and the freedom to make a voluntary decision about whether or not to accept those risks without being coerced or punished for the decision you make. Informed consent applies not just to risks taken by participants in scientific experiments, but also to risks taken by patients under the care of physicians.2,3,4,5

Informed Consent Principle Applies to All Medical Risk-Taking

Today, when a person publicly advocates for informed consent protections in vaccine laws, an "anti-vaccine" label is usually immediately applied to shut down any further conversation.6,7 Perhaps because a conversation about ethics opens up a wider conversation about freedom. The right and responsibility for making a decision about risk-taking rightly belongs to the person taking the risk.
When you become informed and think rationally about a risk that you or your minor child may take — and then follow your conscience — you own that decision. And when you own it, you can defend it. And once you can defend it, you will be ready to do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom to make it, no matter who tries to prevent you from doing that.

Never Do Anything Against Conscience

Albert Einstein, who risked arrest in Germany in the 1930s when he spoke out against censorship and persecution of minorities, said, "Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."8 There is no liberty more fundamentally a natural, inalienable right than the freedom to think independently and follow your conscience when choosing what you are willing to risk your life or your child's life for.
The journey we take on this earth is defined by the choices we make. If we are not free to make choices, the journey is not our own. The choices we make that involve risk of harm to our physical body, which houses our mind and spirit, are among the most profound choices we make in this life.

Vaccine Risks Are Not Borne Equally by Everyone in Society

Vaccination must remain a choice because it is a medical intervention performed on the body of a healthy person that carries a risk of injury or death.9,10 And while we are all born equal, with equal rights under the law, we are not born identical. Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome influenced by epigenetics that affects how we respond to the environments we live in.11,12
We do not all respond the same way to pharmaceutical products like vaccines, so vaccine risks are not being borne equally by everyone in society. Why should the lives of those vulnerable to vaccine complications be valued any less than those vulnerable to complications of infections? And why should people not be free to choose to stay healthy in ways that pose far fewer risks?

Vaccines Carry Risks and Do Not Guarantee Protection

The act of vaccination involves the deliberate introduction of killed, live attenuated or genetically engineered microbes into the body of a healthy person, along with varying amounts of chemicals, metals, human and animal RNA and DNA and other ingredients13 that atypically manipulate the immune system to mount an inflammatory response that stimulates artificial immunity.14
There is no guarantee that vaccination will not compromise biological integrity or cause the death of a healthy or vaccine vulnerable person either immediately or in the future. There is also no guarantee that vaccination will protect a person from getting an infection with or without symptoms and transmitting it to others.15

Vaccine Science Gaps; Doctors Cannot Predict Who Will React

Despite large gaps in scientific knowledge, government health officials direct physicians to vaccinate 99.99 percent of children regardless of known or unknown risks.16,17 Reports published by physician committees at the Institute of Medicine confirm that vaccines, like infections, can injure and kill people, and that:
  • Very little is known about how vaccines or microbes act at the cellular and molecular level in the human body18,19,20
  • The Institute of Medicine confirms that an unknown number of us have certain genetic, biological and environmental susceptibilities that make us more vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, but doctors cannot accurately predict who we are21,22
  • Clinical trials of experimental vaccines are too small to detect serious reactions before they are licensed23,24
  • The U.S. recommended child vaccine schedule through age 6 has not been adequately studied to rule out an association with allergies, autoimmunity, learning and behavior disorders, seizures, autism and other brain and immune dysfunction25

Government Licensed Vaccines Are 'Unavoidably Unsafe'

For these reasons, vaccination is a medical procedure that can be termed experimental each time it is performed on a person. By extension, "no exceptions" mandatory vaccination laws create a de facto uncontrolled, population-based scientific experiment that enrolls every child at birth and never ends, sacrificing an unknown number of vaccine vulnerable children.
Further, the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court have declared federally licensed vaccines to be "unavoidably unsafe," removing civil liability from doctors who give vaccines and drug companies that sell vaccines in what has become a very lucrative multibillion-dollar business in the U.S.26,27
At the same time, the federal vaccine injury compensation program created by Congress in 1986 that was supposed to be a no-fault alternative to a lawsuit — not instead of a lawsuit — has been gutted by federal agencies so that, today, almost no child receives compensation when they are hurt by vaccines.28
Now, a global vaccine injury compensation program is being created to shield multinational corporations from liability for injuries caused by the hundreds of new genetically engineered vaccines governments will mandate in the future.29,30,31,32,33,34
All this, while medical trade groups affiliated with industry and government join forces to lobby for removal of flexible medical, conscientious and religious belief exemptions from state health laws,35 as was done in California in 2015,36 so that those who refuse government endorsed vaccines for themselves or their minor children can be denied an education, employment, health care and other civil rights.

Utilitarianism Should Not Be Foundation of Public Health Law

In 1996, when I was in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., attending a conference on the role of physicians and scientists implementing public health policy during the Third Reich, I looked up and saw an inscription that took my breath away. It said, "The first to perish were the children … from these a new dawn might have risen."
This commentary, which I originally presented in March 2017 at the inaugural meeting of Physicians for Informed Consent in California,37 is dedicated to mothers and fathers whose children died or became brain injured when the risks of vaccination turned out to be 100 percent.
I am arguing that the consequentialist theory of utilitarianism38,39,40 is a pseudo-ethic that must be rejected as the moral foundation of public health policy and law so it can be replaced with a compassionate ethic grounded in respect for the human right to autonomy and informed consent to medical risk-taking, including vaccine risk-taking.

Pediatrician Censored for Reporting Infant Deaths After DPT Shots

I remember the day in the spring of 1982, when I was a young mother with a 4-year-old son struggling with the effects of a serious DPT vaccine reaction.
I had just seen the NBC television documentary "DPT: Vaccine Roulette"41 and was networking with parents of DPT vaccine injured children in the Washington, D.C., area when I decided to attend a press conference at the American Academy of Neurology to hear a young pediatric neurologist talk about his study in which two-thirds of the babies, whose deaths were classified sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), had died within three weeks of a DPT shot.
This pediatrician was concerned that DPT vaccine may be a major unrecognized cause of early childhood death, including SIDS, and he suggested that more research be done. As soon as he finished, his physician colleagues launched a vicious attack on his professional expertise and personal integrity that left him physically trembling in a cold sweat. I had never seen anything like it.
During the break, I was approached by a Ph.D. scientist who, at the time, worked for the National Academy of Sciences. This scientist asked me why I was there and I told him I wanted to know more about DPT vaccine because, when I was taking my baby to be vaccinated, I had no idea that vaccines — which were supposed to keep children healthy — could actually kill them.
He got this quizzical look on his face and said something to the effect that it only happens once in a million kids. And instinctively I said, but if a vaccine kills even one, how can all children be legally required to get it? He looked surprised, uncomfortable, and walked away mumbling something about vaccine benefits far outweigh the risks, and sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the greater good.
And I thought to myself, "But the benefits didn't outweigh the risks for my child, or for the babies who died after DPT shots in the study that young doctor tried to talk about before he was figuratively lynched for suggesting that DPT vaccine benefits might notoutweigh the risks." Why was my child's health sacrificed without my knowledge or permission, and what is "the good" that is made greater by child sacrifice, and who defines it as "good?"

Playing DPT Vaccine Roulette With My Son's Life

When I became a mother in 1978, my son, Chris, was the light of my life. Happy, healthy and precocious, he was saying words at 7 months, speaking in full sentences by age 2 and identifying words in the books we read together every day. One doctor told me he was cognitively gifted.
Everything changed in 1980 when, within hours of his fourth DTP shot, I witnessed the eyes of my 2-and-a-half-year-old son roll back in his head and his head fall to his shoulder as if he had fallen asleep sitting up. I carried him, pale and limp, to his bed, where he did not move for hours. I thought to myself, "Oh, he is tired and just taking a really long nap, or maybe he is coming down with a cold."
When I finally was able to wake him he couldn't sit up or walk or speak coherently; when he had terrible diarrhea and only stayed conscious for a few minutes before falling into 12 more hours of deep sleep, I did not understand I had witnessed a classic post-DPT vaccine convulsion and  "hypotonic/hyporesponsive reaction and brain inflammation."42,43,44,45 Chris was not just taking a really long nap; he was unconscious in his bed and could have died that day.
I did not know because my pediatrician had told me nothing about how to recognize a vaccine reaction, including symptoms of encephalitis — brain inflammation that has been a well-documented complication of vaccination for two centuries.46,47,48,49 I did not know that the unusual local reaction after his third DPT shot was a warning sign, or that our family history of severe allergies and autoimmune disorders could increase vaccine risks.50,51,52,53,54,55,56

Misplaced Trust

Even though I came from a family of doctors and nurses, had a college degree and had worked at a teaching hospital — like most parents back then I believed that vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective.
And in the following days and weeks, when Chris could no longer concentrate or do what he could do before, when his personality changed and he was constantly sick with ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, new food allergies and severe weight loss, my family and I could not understand why Chris had regressed physically, mentally and emotionally and become a totally different child.
His doctors told us there was no explanation and said I should take him home and love him. Eighteen months later, when I, and millions of other parents in America, watched the Emmy award-winning "DPT Vaccine Roulette,"57 I called the TV station and asked if I could have copies of the medical literature used to anchor the documentary.
As I read case history descriptions of DPT vaccine injury and death in the pages ofPediatrics,58,59,60 the British Medical Journal61,62,63and New England Journal of Medicine 64 that exactly matched the symptoms of brain inflammation I witnessed my son suffer that day, it was then I knew that physicians had been talking in medical journals for more than 50 years about the fact that pertussis vaccine could brain damage children, but no one had informed the mothers dutifully bringing their children for DPT shots legally required to go to school.

The Walking Wounded

As I tried to help my son cope with multiple learning disabilities that included dyslexia, fine and gross motor skill delay, auditory processing and attention deficit, and short-term memory delays so severe they confined him to a special ed classroom throughout his public school education, and as I interviewed hundreds of mothers for the book "DPT: A Shot in the Dark," I came to know many families whose children had died or were much more severely vaccine injured than my child.65,66
Chris has worked hard to compensate for his learning disabilities and he is a productive member of society today; but many vaccine injured children, tragically, are not.67 My son is among the walking wounded in what has become an unprecedented and still unexplained chronic disease and disability epidemic now plaguing millions of children and young adults in America.68
It is an epidemic of learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma, seizures, autism, diabetesdepression and other types of brain and immune dysfunction marked by chronic inflammation in the body that has perfectly coincided with the tripling of the numbers of vaccines given to children — from 23 doses of seven vaccines starting at 2 months through age 6 in the early 1980s — to the current 69 doses of 16 vaccines starting on the day of birth with 50 doses given before age 6.69,70
In 1982, it was my curiosity about the truth of the matter that pushed me to research the science, policy, law, ethics, history and politics of vaccination and spend two decades participating in public engagement projects at the Institute of Medicine and Department of Health and Human Services, where I served as a consumer member on vaccine advisory committees at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,71 a journey that has now spanned half my life. So, I offer you my perspective from that vantage point.

Philosophy: Love of Wisdom

Here we are in the 21st century, where the electronic communications revolution has created a virtual global public square on the World Wide Web, where more than 3 billion people are talking to — and sometimes yelling at — each other about ideas, values and beliefs, just like they did in the public squares of ancient Athens and Rome, and in universities, newspapers, and on radio and television since then. Throughout recorded history, people have disagreed with each other about how to answer big questions, like:
  • Where do we come from?
  • Are we only physical matter or do we have an immortal soul, a consciousness that survives physical death?
  • What is truth and how can we know it?
  • What is ethical behavior and how can we define it?
Most of the formal debates about these questions have been described in the history of philosophy,72 which the ancient Greeks defined as "love of wisdom," that included study of knowledge; reasoning; nature of being or metaphysics; aesthetics and ethics. The philosophy of science emerged as a separate discipline in the 18th and 19h centuries after mathematicians and astronomers mounted a successful challenge to the authority of organized religion.

Science Now Dominates, Affecting Cultural Values and Laws

Since then, science has invaded and dominated every other branch of philosophy. As we are reminded every day in so many ways, science and math rule, and scientific evidence determines what is true and what is not.
In fact, those who practice and submit to the authority of science insist that not only must science be used to define ALL truth, but leaders in science and medicine are authorities who should define "the good," that is, define moral behavior and what kind of cultural values we should have, and what kind of beliefs we should be allowed to hold and teach our children, and what kind of laws should be passed in order to limit the ability of individuals to make "unscientific" choices that presumably endanger the public health and welfare.73
That's a whole lot of pressure for many physicians, who do not want to be put on a pedestal and required to exercise that kind of authority over the lives of fellow human beings because — first and foremost — it interferes with developing a relationship with patients based on mutual respect, trust and shared decision making.
But, the stark reality is that the scientification of every branch of philosophy has elevated prominent scientists and physicians promoting "consensus science" into positions of authority, whose judgment should never be questioned. Long held cultural values, such as respect for freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religious belief are being called into question, which in turn affects court decisions and the making of laws.
Nowhere is this more visible than in public health law using the materialist philosophy of utilitarianism to legally require all Americans to use an increasing number of vaccines without their voluntary informed consent. So how did we get here? How did science come to dominate how we define what is true and good for the individual and society in the 21st century?

Old Arguments About What Is True and Good

Although conversations about the meaning of life and what is good started before written history and is embedded in tenets of five surviving major religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity — it was the classical Greek philosophers who began recording the debate.
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle believed that we are physical matter animated by a vital spirit, and we can use innate knowledge and reason to perceive what is good. Epicurus disagreed and said humans are only physical matter and have no spirit or innate knowledge and that seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is the highest good and guide to moral behavior.
For 1,500 years following the birth of Christ, the highest good was defined as knowing and loving God in western cultures adopting Judeo-Christian moral values — until the Scientific Revolution when 15th and 16th century scientists Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Francis Bacon developed methods for determining what is true that put the existence of God on trial, along with the definition of what is good.
Although between the 16th and 19th centuries, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel and other philosophers argued that humans are both physical matter and spirit and can use reason to understand scientific truth, as well as to perceive the natural law that serves as a guide to what is good, the materialist philosophers Hobbes, Hume, Bentham, Comte, Marx and Nietzsche argued that science proves there is no God or human spirit because we are only physical matter, and there are no absolute moral values but, rather, science can be used to define what is true and good.
This included the idea that a mathematical equation can be used to judge whether or not an individual action, government policy or law is moral. The authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence agreed with the philosophers who argued that humans have a physical body animated by a soul or spirit, and that we can use reason given to us by God to perceive the natural law, which includes natural rights, that belong to all individuals and limit the authority of government.

Utilitarianism: Mathematics, Vaccination and Public Health Rising

The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution contains strong language protecting exercise of natural rights.74 These have been defined internationally as human rights, including freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religious belief.75,76 But today, it is not respect for natural rights that guides public health policy in the U.S., it is the philosophy of utilitarianism, created by Jeremy Bentham, a 19th century British attorney and social reformer.77,78
Bentham mocked the U.S. Constitution for mentioning God and affirming natural rights protected in the First Amendment. Like Comte, Marx and Nietzsche who followed him, Bentham did not believe that man has a soul or innate intelligence, so he returned to the hedonistic Epicurean philosophy of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain to define what is good.
Bentham's utilitarianism uses a mathematical equation that judges the rightness or wrongness of an action by its consequences. Bentham said that an action is only moral or ethical if it results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. With its emphasis on numbers of people, Bentham created utilitarianism primarily as a guide to state legislative policy, and vaccine cost-benefit analyses are rooted in utilitarianism.
Bentham was a contemporary of British physician Edward Jenner, who took pus from a cowpox lesion and scratched it onto the arm of a young boy in an effort to prevent smallpox. Jenner's experiment, repeated over and over again in lots of people, created a live human-cow hybrid virus called vaccinia.79
The new chemical industry took that vaccinia virus, added some chemicals and bottled it, selling it to doctors and governments. The mass smallpox vaccine campaigns that followed expanded the authority of a new branch of medicine focusing on population-based disease control, called public health.80
Nineteenth century physicians were enlisted by government to give infants and children smallpox vaccine and were persuaded to look the other way when some of them died or were left permanently disabled after developing raging vaccinia virus infections and inflammation of the brain. Fully embracing the utilitarian rationale, public health officials viewed individual smallpox vaccine casualties as necessary losses to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Utilitarianism Codified Into US Law: Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)

At the turn of the 20th century, utilitarianism was fashionable in intellectual and political circles. It was the philosophical argument used by attorneys in 1905 to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a utilitarian ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts.81 Lutheran pastor Henning Jacobson and his son had suffered severe reactions to previous smallpox vaccinations and Jacobsen argued that genetic predisposition placed him at high risk for dying or being injured if he was forced to get revaccinated.
The court dismissed Jacobson's concern for his own health and life. In a split decision with two dissenting votes, the Court that included Oliver Wendell Holmes, issued an opinion that would affirm the legal right for U.S. state legislatures to assign police powers to public health officials to restrict or eliminate individual liberty in order to "secure the general comfort, health and prosperity of the state."82
The Court maintained that all citizens can be compelled to receive smallpox vaccinations because the happiness and welfare of the majority outweigh the happiness and welfare of a minority. In other words, individual human sacrifice is ethical and legal if it is done for the common good. Georgetown law professor and mandatory vaccination proponent Lawrence Gostin has described it as the most important Supreme Court opinion in the history of American public health law.83

Eugenics: Eradicating the 'Unfit' in Buck v. Bell (1927)

In 1927, then Chief Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used the Jacobsonruling to give the state of Virginia the green light to sterilize Carrie Buck, a 17-year-old young single mother who doctors and state social workers had incorrectly judged to be mentally retarded, "just like her daughter and mother," they said.84
Self-identifying as a Darwinian atheist and utilitarian, Chief Justice Holmes' admiration for exercise of power is reflected in his legal opinions.85 Holmes did not believe in the concept of natural rights and said, "Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force."86
He believed scientific knowledge should be used to improve the human race and said, "I can imagine a future in which science shall take control of life, and condemn at once with instant execution what now is left up to nature to destroy."87 And, so, when it came to Carrie Buck, Holmes, the eugenicist, coldly proclaimed: "The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes."88
In this merciless 1927 Supreme Court decision, just as in the 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision, Holmes achieved his goal of stripping cultural values and ethical principles from U.S. law. His logic was that if utilitarianism could be used to ensure the common good and protect society from infections through compulsory vaccination laws, then forced sterilization laws could be used to immunize society against becoming infected with bad genes.

Social Darwinism and Eugenics in America Inspired Hitler

Darwin's theory of natural selection led to Social Darwinism89 and eugenics that was viewed as a new science by U.S. intellectuals during the 1920s and 1930s.90
American biologist Charles Davenport had founded the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island in 191091 to improve the human race and soon courses on eugenics were offered at Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Brown and other universities. The National Education Association had a Committee on Racial Well-Being to help teachers integrate eugenics content into public school textbooks.92
By 1932, California and 28 other states had passed compulsory sterilization laws and the practice of eugenics was endorsed by leading U.S. scientists, medical doctors, lawyers, professors, businessmen, politicians, philanthropists, and social reformers like Margaret Sanger. The next year, in 1933, Hitler adopted eugenics as a central piece of his plan to protect the common good by eliminating individuals he considered to be a threat to the health, security and economic well-being of the state.
By the time eugenics became politically incorrect in the 1940s, physicians implementing government health policy had performed more than 60,000 involuntary sterilizations on mentally disabled or chronically ill Americans.93 Hitler was influenced by Marx and Nietzsche and inspired by U.S. eugenics laws. He blended utilitarianism with social Darwinism and nationalism to create a view of the State as one biological entity or body that must be kept healthy and free from disease and threats from unfit individuals.
Enlisting the assistance of physicians and public health officials, the first minority considered unfit and expendable were severely handicapped children, the chronically sick and mentally ill — the so-called "useless eaters."
And when the reasons for why a person was identified as a threat to the health, economic stability or security of the State grew longer to include minorities who were too old or too Jewish or too Catholic or too opinionated or simply unwilling to believe what those in control of the State said was true — as the list of those the state branded as persons of interest to be demonized, feared, tracked, isolated and eliminated grew — so did the collective denial of those who had yet to be put on that list.

Doctors' Crimes Against Humanity: Judgment at Nuremberg

When doctors were charged with crimes against humanity at the Doctor's Trial at Nuremberg for carrying out horrific scientific experiments on captive children and adults in the concentration camps, including vaccine experiments, they pointed to U.S. eugenics laws and invoked a utilitarian defense, claiming it was moral to sacrifice the health and lives of individuals to advance scientific knowledge that could save the lives of many more.94,95
Out of the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg came the Nuremberg Code, of which the late Yale law professor and physician Jay Katz said, "if not explicitly then at least implicitly, commanded that the principle of the advancement of science bow to a higher principle: protection of individual inviolability. The rights of individuals to thoroughgoing self-determination and autonomy must come first."96
The First Principle of the Nuremberg Code is: "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential."97 The Doctor's Trial at Nuremberg put a human face on individual victims of immoral government health policies. The Nuremberg Code stands as an uncompromising affirmation of the value of every human life and the natural right to self-determination, a timeless guide to ethical behavior by scientists and physicians.
While post-World War II Europe had to process what they had learned from The Doctor's Trial at Nuremberg and the Holocaust, things were very different in America. In our country, prominent members of our society who had promoted and participated in the practice of eugenics were never required to look in the mirror and reflect upon what they had done, or face public disgrace.98 They just went underground.

Science and Math Rule: History of Philosophy Forgotten

Our perception of what is true and good is very much influenced by the prism through which we are taught to view the world. In today's public schools, education is focused on science and math. The study of philosophy and its impact on human history is not valued or taught that often. There is no discussion about the kind of utilitarian thinking that made eugenics acceptable in America.
Few Gen Xers and millennials, who will steer our nation into the second half of the 21nd century, understand the ramifications of allowing utilitarianism to guide public health policy and law, even as the specter of genetic engineering to change what it means to be human is already underway.99,100,101
Do they understand the influence of utilitarian philosophers like Dr. Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton, who says it is ethical to euthanize disabled babies in the first 30 days of life, and it is ethical to euthanize elderly and disabled persons who are not aware they serve no useful purpose in society because, he says, the life of a severely intellectually disabled person has no greater value than that of a dog or pig?102
Dr. Paul Offit, and other contemporary utilitarians who develop vaccines, make vaccine policy and promote "no exceptions" mandatory vaccination laws103 are forcing us to kneel before them at an altar reminiscent of the one that a 19th century August Comte built for his Religion of Humanity.
We are not allowed to talk about what is true or good in the public square unless we have medical or academic credentials and even then, only if we strictly adhere to promoting their consensus science, a code word for censorship that delegitimizes freedom of thought and dissent.

Debate About Forced Vaccination Transcends Vaccination

Today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again. But the vaccine science is settled, say the utilitarians, who refuse to compare the health of vaccinated children to unvaccinated children. Vaccines do not injure and kill, they say, or — if they do — it is so rare that requiring some children to sacrifice their lives without their parent's informed consent is ethical in order to enforce mandatory vaccination laws that serve the greater good.
It is for this reason that the debate about vaccination transcends vaccination. It is the tip of the spear in a much larger war that is being waged on cultural values and beliefs in America, which is why I call it The Vaccine Culture War. Because if the state can tag, track down and force citizens against their will to be injected with biologicals of known and unknown toxicity today, there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow.
Today the battlefield of the 200-year war on microbes is littered with human casualties far too numerous to count while, in a natural fight to survive, the microbes have evolved to evade the vaccines.104 And the scientists and physicians in leadership positions determined to win that war continue to fire away, stepping around the bodies of vaccine-damaged children lying on the ground.
Do I think that public health officials flying the science flag with a utilitarian star on it wake up every day and say to themselves, "I want to hurt a child today?" Of course not. Most doctors and scientists want to help, not harm people. Do I think they have lost their way, blinded by a utilitarian pseudo-ethic that makes it easy to ignore the bodies lying on the ground so they can allow themselves to believe that human sacrifice is ethical when it serves the greater good? Yes, I do. They have forgotten to ask themselves this question:
"When one individual is considered expendable for the good of society, how many more can be considered expendable? Is it 500, 5,000, 50 million — or more? How many is too many to sacrifice for the happiness of the rest, and who gets to decide which ones among us are expendable?"
Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel said, "When you take an idea or concept and turn it into an abstraction, that opens the way to take human beings and turn them, also, into abstractions. When people are turned into abstractions, what is left?"105 He is right. Abstractions are much easier to write off as coincidences.
Abstractions are easier to add up in a column when there is no name or a face put to them. Abstractions do not live or breathe, bleed or convulse, scream or die. Abstractions can be dismissed and buried in files where nobody ever has to look.

Rejecting Utilitarianism and Embracing an Authentic Ethic

After surviving four concentration camps, physician Viktor Frankl called on mankind to reject the materialist view that a person only has value if he is useful to society, which makes him a slave to the state. Frankl said:
"The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment — or, as the Nazis liked to say, of 'Blood and Soil.' I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka and Majdanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers."106
Transcending the horror of what he had witnessed, Frankl was able to see that, "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." It is this spiritual freedom — which cannot be taken away — that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
In the 21st century, all of us are called upon to choose whether or not we will embrace what Albert Schweitzer called "a reverence for life."107 It requires us to turn away from materialist philosophers like Hobbes, Bentham, Comte, Marx, Nietzsche and Singer, who say that individual life does not matter, that life has no meaning, and that morality can be reduced to a mathematical equation.
Enlightened physicians and scientists with compassion and courage are called upon to take back leadership of their professions from those who have lost their way. Even as those, who have been victims of utilitarian health policies, must continue to witness in the public square. Only then can we reject utilitarianism as a guide to the practice of medicine so consensus science orthodoxy will give way to real science that yields the truth about vaccination and health.
Only then can we transcend the horror of what has happened to far too many children in the name of the greater good and adopt an authentic ethic, one that values individual autonomy and freedom of thought, speech and conscience — civil liberties that have been an antidote to tyranny in its many forms throughout human history. Our mission continues. No forced vaccination. Not in America.