I’ve been writing about misinformation lately, referring to industry misinformation about bills we support. The challenge of countering industry deception at the legislature is a big problem. But today I am writing about an even bigger problem.
Before we dive into a thorny topic, a quick announcement and a tremendous video from the Public Banking folks at Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity.
Our Zoominar on Public Banking scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed due to challenges in organizing the presentation, in part, due to a health condition challenging one of the panelists. We hope to reschedule the Zoominar in October. Stay tuned. In the meantime, please watch and share this tremendous video produced by AFLEP that highlights the kinds of projects a public bank could help finance.
What Do You Do When You Can’t Believe Anyone or Anything?
I get emails from readers all the time, often offering an opinion or an article or book they recommend. Sometimes I immediately download the recommended article or purchase the recommended book. Sometimes I may dismiss the recommendation as it seems like a bridge too far — like when I was told about how the media is failing to report on how the 9-11 attack was actually conducted by the U.S. to offer justification for its ill-fated Iraqi invasion. I wouldn’t have cared how carefully constructed the article was, I simply couldn’t buy that our government would have willingly slaughtered 3,000 innocent Americans for that justification. The history book is too full of our going to war with the slightest provocation to believe this.
That was also my reaction to the handful of folks who wrote about how the FDA and CDC were lying about risks from vaccine(s), the effectiveness of ivermectin treatment, and the ineffectiveness of the shutdowns. But sometimes the credibility of the sender can cause me to explore. So, yesterday, when someone I trust a great deal sent an article describing how big pharma has been suppressing research on the efficacy of ivermectin (and other health treatments), I decided to at least scan the article, “The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1,” by Pierre Kory. Before we begin, the theme to this post is how do lay people, constituents like us, secure firm footing on what we understand if the sources of information are questionable? Kory began:
Dr. Marcia Angell, a former long-time editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) resigned in June of 2000 after twenty years in the post. She resigned because of what she described as the rising and indefensible influence being exerted by Pharma at the prestigious journal and its powerful affiliate societies. So she wrote a book about it instead. Some really important quotes of hers from “The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It” are:
‘Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, big Pharma uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers and the medical profession itself.’ ”The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
Richard Horton, editor in chief of The Lancet said this in 2015:
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.”The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
As I read this, I have to admit nodding my head, silently concurring with the quote. After all, for the last week Roxanne has been reading me excerpts from The Empire of Pain, an exposé of the Sackler family (Purdue Pharma) and its manipulation of medical research to advance their profit on Valium and later Oxycontin. And some months ago we watched Dopesick, a riveting Hulu docudrama on the Sacklers and their disgusting and flagrant marketing of Oxycontin, despite clear evidence of its highly addictive quality and how thousands were dying from overdoses. So I was prepared to believe that pharma was taking advantage of the epidemic, manipulating scientific research to maximize already huge profits. But every instinct reminded me that ivermectin was a miracle cure touted by anti-vaxxers. How do I even go there? But that is the point of this post. When all the “facts” and science appear to be smoke and mirrors, how do you or I make good decisions about vaccines, hydrogen development, or anything else?
Kory goes on to cite Dr. Aseem Malhotra, asserted by Kory to be one of the most prominent COVID “truth tellers” that has remained employed, who recently tweeted a quote from an interview he did:
“We have a wealth of evidence of the fraud that’s been committed by the pharmaceutical industry over the years’ ‘the real scandal is that doctors & medical journals collude with industry for financial gain & the regulator fails to prevent misconduct by industry.”The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
Kory acknowledges that this collusion is largely within the major medical journals, those with the most impact on policy and the most influence among the medical community. He then identifies the six top medical journals
- New England Journal of Medicine
- JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
- BMJ: British Medical Journal
- Nature Reviews Disease Primers
- Annals of Internal Medicine
- JAMA Internal Medicine
With the exception of the Annals of Internal Medicine, all the journals on the above list will feature heavily in this and my next post detailing their criminal collusion throughout the pandemic.
One of the most important powers of these journals is that they can drive headlines like nobody’s business. When a Pharma friendly study gets published in one of those journals, it launches a PR media campaign that no amount of commercials or advertisements could accomplish. Conversely, if Pharma wants to prevent an effective generic drug or vitamin from being adopted widely, they pay researchers to design, conduct, and publish fraudulent studies in these journals. When such a study is published, it triggers an equally effective “negative” PR campaign warning the world and its doctors against using such “dangerous” and “ineffective” therapies.The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
Kory goes on:
Big Pharma and BMGF (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also gives money to a lot of medical journals) essentially control the high-impact journals. They figured out the importance of doing that many decades ago. By doing that, Pharma can get the world to use ridiculous therapies like Remdesivir, Paxlovid and coronavirus vaccines while ignoring and recommending against the use of Vitamin D, hydroxychloroquine, and ivermectin.The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
Shocking as this appears, assessing the veracity of different meta analyses and clinical trials is well above my pay grade, so after one more quote I’ll return to my original point: What do we do if there is no one whose information we can trust? But first, this nugget from Kory:
The high-impact journal editors did four things to suppress the evidence of efficacy of ivermectin in COVID:
1) Rejected all positive trials of ivermectin, even (and especially) the high quality ones, starting as far back as May of 2020. (That is what this post is about.)
2) Retracted positive ivermectin studies even after they passed peer-review and/or were already published (these actions were unprecedented in our careers as physicians and researchers). That is what my next post will be about.
3) Published fraudulent trials and fraudulent meta-analyses, with the latter technique identical to that employed in the WHO’s corrupt recommendation against ivermectin here. This is a known Disinformation tactic called “the Fake,” defined as “conduct counterfeit science and try to pass it off as legitimate research.”
4) Published numerous anti-ivermectin editorials, which is also an already named Disinformation tactic called “The Diversion.”The Criminal Censorship of Ivermectin’s Efficacy By The High-Impact Medical Journals – Part 1
What to make of all this?
I want to stick with pharma for a minute before shifting to other germane issues where faux research or misinformation are prominent. When in college, Roxanne became a vegetarian and very into nutrition, herbs, and supplements, an interest she has maintained to this day. Roxanne eventually brought me around to alternative treatments, but I recall reading how supplements and more holistic practices like acupuncture are not subject to serious scientific studies and, as a result, can’t tout benefits except anecdotally. Kory’s piece makes the reason for this apparent. Big pharma can’t make much money on Vitamin C, D, or E, but they have a coterie of drugs they will cheerfully sell you that may have far less benefit than simple vitamins and actually do you harm. If pharma was interested in people and their health more than their profits, they would not oppose and squash efforts to research alternative therapies, as outlined in ‘Big pharma doesn’t want you to know about alternatives“, an article from Drug Watch. They point out that due to big pharma’s stranglehold on what can be studied, a raft of alternative treatments never are subjects of clinical trials, despite showing considerable benefit in the modest studies that are conducted. And so most insurances won’t cover:
- Ayurvedic medicine
- Chiropractic care
- Nutritional counseling
- Traditional Chinese medicine
- Tai Chi
- Body movement
- Electromagnetic therapy
Big Pharma is not the only industry to control research related to that industry. As reported by NPR in its piece, “How The NRA Worked To Stifle Gun Violence Research,” since 1996, under pressure from the NRA, Congress has refused to fund CDC research on gun violence. This suppression of research came as a result of 1993 CDC-funded research disproving NRA claims that having a gun in your home offers increased safety for family members. From NPR:
Federal limits on both research into gun violence and the release of data about guns used in crimes are powerful reminders of the lobbying group’s advantages over gun control activists. For decades, the NRA pushed legislation that stifled the study and spread of information about the causes of gun violence.
The NRA was motivated to support the amendment [halting CDC research on gun violence] after a landmark 1993 study that concluded that having a gun in the home was more dangerous than not having one.NPR: “How The NRA Worked To Stifle Gun Violence Research”
That big pharma and the NRA have their grip on research related to their industries should not be a surprise. Reflect back 60 years to the iron grip the tobacco industry had on research on the impact of tobacco use or second-hand smoke, and dating back to the ’70s, gas & oil’s control of research related to climate change, car emissions, and now hydrogen. And so, in a world replete with misinformation, we now must question science itself. Where does this leave us?
To be a thoughtful 21st century citizen, must each of us be social science research experts on hydrogen? Medication? Gun violence? Or any number of other issues? And if so, how do we trust the source research upon which we form our understanding?
I wrote all of the above yesterday, feeling confident that with a quick review, it would be ready for Roxanne’s eyes and then yours. But upon getting up this morning and reviewing what I had written and cited, I began to question whether I was attributing scientific merit to a quack (Kory). Indeed if you Google Pierre Kory, one of the first articles you will encounter is from Scientific America: “Fringe Doctors’ Groups Promote Ivermetin Despite Lack of Evidence.” From Scientific American:
Derived from a compound discovered in a soil microbe in Japan, ivermectin has been called a “miracle drug” and “the penicillin of COVID” by Pierre Kory, a critical care physician in Madison, Wis. Kory is president of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a group of physicians and scientists who champion ivermectin, along with other drugs and vitamins with dubious efficacy against COVID. The organization, along with two others called the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (BIRD) Group and America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS), have drawn criticism from many other physicians and scientists. Yet treatment protocols, links and videos from these groups are sweeping through social media, promoted by vaccine skeptics.Scientific America: “Fringe Doctors’ Groups Promote Ivermetin Despite Lack of Evidence.”
So, after hours of research I’d come full circle. That Kory would be subject to criticism from mainstream medicine is entirely consistent with his point. While the article cited throughout came from Kory, the very first citation is of Kory quoting Dr. Marcia Angell, the former long-time editor in Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) who resigned in June of 2000 after twenty years in the post, precisely due to the kind of undue influence pharma exerts and Kory underscores.
I return to the question that introduced today’s theme: What do we do if no one can believed? I’ve tried to explore that theme, but have largely come up empty on the answer to the question. So, I ask you: What do we do? Must we all become researchers? Or do we pick a few resources we respect and trust that they’ve done due diligence? Put another way, if you have to choose and can’t really be certain of the truth behind your options, do you really have a choice? What do you think?
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne