The worst of conspiracy theories.

There are countless conspiracy theories out there with new ones springing up every day. The internet has provided a whole new platform where theorists can bounce poorly sourced anecdotes and links to oddball sites to help reinforce their perception of reality on a subject no matter how far from reality it may actually be.

In the real world, any conspiracy involving more than a handful of people won’t last more than a few months without general exposure to the truth. People simply aren’t all that good at keeping their mouths shut. That doesn’t stop those paranoid few who have managed to convince themselves of conspiracies that involve the complicit participation of thousands and even sometimes millions of people. Conspiracy theorists aren’t always crazy or stupid. These are just a class of folks who somehow feel compelled to set aside all rational evidence on a subject and have convinced themselves that things happen due to closed groups of people (or aliens) with nefarious intent. Usually if a person is into one conspiracy theory, one can find with a few questions that the person in question is into all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Most conspiracy theories are harmless and irritating at worst. Some are even offensive. No big deal. We don’t have the right not to be offended. I usually dismiss people pushing such theories as it is pointless to try and debate them with facts and their theories are not causing any real damage. Things change when we get into medical conspiracy theories though as many of those theories are outright dangerous and may drive some ill and vulnerable people into some very poor medical choices.

I was listening to the radio and the subject of vaccination came up. The usual horde of cranks popped out of the woodwork with their usual bullshit anti-vaccination pap. These folks have convinced themselves that polio and smallpox just vanished all on their own and the only reasons that vaccination is being promoted is to control minds or make money.

While anti-vaccination kooks are damaging enough, it is the anti-cancer care kooks that piss me off even more. Often these kooks are one and the same.

The main basis of the vapid anti-cancer care conspiracy theories is that the evil empire of “big pharma” has been purposely hiding cures for cancer as it is more lucrative to treat the disease than it would be to cure it. I know that facts are wasted on anybody who really believes such bullshit, but I do want to document exactly why this very dangerous conspiracy theory is bullshit as we see some very scared and vulnerable people who have been diagnosed with cancer falling for and clinging to the idiocy of these conspiracy theorists. This is what makes conspiracy theories in this realm dangerous and repugnant in the extreme.

OK. It seems that pretty much everybody can agree that “big pharma” is greedy and only in it for profit. I can live with that. The purpose of private enterprise is indeed to make a profit. There is utterly nothing wrong with that. That fact is also the first one that blows a giant whole in the bullshit theory that “big pharma” is suppressing cancer cures.

There are thousands of pharmaceutical/biotech companies in the world and they are all trying to make a profit. What better crown could any of these companies wear than that of being the one who came up with a cure for cancer (or even one type of cancer)? If a company, small or large came up with a cure for cancer you can rest assured that their share value would immediately rise by billions of dollars. The researchers would be immortalized with world prizes and pretty much everybody at a senior level at the company could relax and retire as a multi-millionaire. Are we really to believe that thousands of companies are all holding back in order to take part in this grand conspiracy? They are willing to make small profits or even go broke before releasing a cure for cancer? That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe.

With thousands of companies we have millions of staff and people involved in the medical field involved with cancer treatment. Are we really to believe that these millions of people are willing to let their loved ones die in order to hide a cure for cancer? Are we to believe that these millions of people are so dedicated to the conspiracy that they will die themselves of cancer before letting the cure leak out? These heartless monsters are willing to watch millions of people endure the grueling conventional treatments for cancer and still will not break away from their conspiratorial group? That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe.

Do you really think that the millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and such would be suddenly unemployed if cancer were to be miraculously cured? There are huge waiting lists around the entire world for every possible kind of medical specialist. We can all rest assured that all of those professionals will still be making good money and be quite busy if they were to be suddenly placed in a cancer free world. I doubt that these millions of people are hiding the cancer cure in order to keep their current jobs. That’s what cancer conspiracy theorists want us to believe though.

There are all kinds of cancers out there with all sorts of treatments. Some have a very high survival rate with relatively minor treatments. Some have a moderate cure rate with some pretty intrusive treatments. Some have a tiny cure rate and involve horrific treatments and some at this time are simply incurable. This is why upon diagnosis of any kind of cancer that it is so damn important to ignore the cancer conspiracy cranks and find out as much as possible from true, medically trained (not bullshit naturalists) doctors who specialize in cancer before making what literally could be the most important decisions of your life.

My mother was diagnosed with a type breast cancer a few years ago. It took a radical mastectomy and chemotherapy to treat her cancer. Quite an ordeal. I am happy to report that my mother is alive and well today after having undergone treatment and am confident that she would be dead had she refused it. Not all breast cancers can be beaten but we were fortunate in that hers could.

My cousin Shawn was diagnosed with an oral cancer caused by HPV a few years ago. He fought it with all he had. Shawn underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and some horrific radiation treatment that put him through agony. For a short time, it appeared that the cancer had been beaten. Unfortunately, it had metastasized and returned with a vengeance which killed him before he could reach 50.

If he could turn the clock back would Shawn have chosen to undergo those agonizing treatments only to die a couple years later? I suspect that he would have as Shawn indeed lived for and deeply loved his young family. He would fight for every possible minute to stay with them and that is exactly what he did. What a terribly difficult sort of decision to make though. These sorts of decisions happen with cancer patients every day and we can’t let these choices be clouded with bullshit conspiracy theories.

There are countless, shitbag, parasitic fake cancer treatment centers all over the world. Mexico has turned into something of a hub for these heartless pricks. I personally have known a few people now who turned to Mexican clinics for cancer treatment. The mortality rate in my anecdotal experience with those places has been 100% so far.

These ghoulish criminals prey on people when they are at their most desperate and cancer conspiracy theories are one of the most effective tools in their toolbox.

Many cancer treatment prognosis are pretty awful to behold. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be told that you will endure agony caused by radiation and chemotherapy only to have a 20% chance to live for example. Perhaps some people will choose to take the shortened life and eschew the treatment. Perhaps some will take that chance and hope to be in the 20%. I can’t think of a decision more personal or important to somebody. I can’t think of something more sick though than having that decision mired by false promises from some crooks with an “alternative” therapy who will not only kill the patient, but will empty their bank account while they are at it.

I don’t blame people for trying the alternative options especially if the diagnosis from medical doctors has been terminal. It is a desperate choice that I so far have been fortunate enough to not have to try and make. Who knows, maybe if I was diagnose with a terminal cancer I would still fall for a pitch from one of these “alternative” treatment pushers. I despise seeing crooks push false hope with those faith/herbal bullshit treatments though. These cancer victims are suffering enough already.

Some people will say “well if it’s terminal, what is to be lost in going to these alternative clinics?”. Not to be crass but what can and would be lost is money. Tens of thousands or possibly even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent on these witch doctors. While money may not be the most important thing on the planet, it still will be damned important to the family left behind and I would rather see cancer victims leave their money to their children than some repugnant con-artist selling a fake cure.

Go ahead. Talk about how the moon landing was fake. Rant on about how the Illuminati are controlling the planet. Hell, deny the holocaust for all I care. It’s all bullshit but you have every right to believe it. Don’t try to feed me those medical conspiracy theories and keep them the hell away from people who need to make very real and serious medical choices however. You will be causing real damage then and your theory will have gone from a crackpot notion to an assault on an innocent person’s well being. Just keep that crazy shit to yourself and let people make their decisions.

Don’t bother flooding my comment section with links to medical conspiracy shit either. I am pretty open with differing views in the commentary but will not give any time or space to that crap so there is no sense wasting your time and mine.

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Anti-vaccination nuts picking up where the religious ones left off.

whoop

With most conspiracy driven crackpots I generally roll my eyes and let them go on with their imagined world ills. Reasoning with the conspiracy-inclined is an exercise in futility and only invites a barrage of links to youtube videos and blogs that are poorly sourced and created by other conspiracy types as they feed from each other’s paranoia and delusions.

With folks who feel that aliens are among us I can laugh or even those offensive ones who claim 911 was an inside job can be ignored. When the conspiracy kooks get into the realm of healthcare however they can become terribly dangerous to people at large as they try and occasionally succeed in spreading their misinformation.

One dangerous conspiracy theory is the one claiming that a cure for cancer is being suppressed by evil big pharmaceutical companies which is always rationalized by the profoundly simplistic, standalone statement of: “They make more money treating cancer than they would curing it.” Yes folks, tens of thousands of researchers, company presidents and doctors are all in on this and none leak while their friends, family and even they themselves die of cancer. Just take a short trip into the world of capitalism and project what really would happen if a pharmaceutical company came out with a cure for cancer. I assure you that every senior person in that company and investor would become quite rich as shares explode and the company moves to the top of the very competitive pharmaceutical ladder.

Those folks who believe that the cure for cancer is being hidden tend of course to feel that conventional treatment for cancer is a sham. These folks then can be prone to telling vulnerable and frightened, newly diagnosed cancer patients to seek alternative treatments. This is where a huge line has been crossed by these assholes. Mexican clinics and countless other sham herbalists and “alternative” providers are more than happy to suck the money from a person with cancer while that person dies in need of real treatment. While conventional cancer treatment can be ugly and awful to endure, the cure rates are quite good with many cancers as compared to those God damned Mexican herbal clinics with a near 100% mortality rate.

Now on to the anti-vaccination nuts. Despite overwhelming evidence showing the benefits of vaccination, an enduring movement still exists that wants to take us back a couple centuries where the life expectancy was around 30 years or so. While science does not support this movement (or even simple common sense), celebrities often do and they are given a platform to spew their dangerous nonsense on vapid daytime shows such as Ophrah Winfrey which unfortunately lends an air of credibility to their crap. Playmate model Jenny McCarthy has championed anti-vaccination pap for years and now has a seat among the hens on The View where she doubtless will be spreading more of her garbage.

Diseases like measles, whooping cough and even tetanus are harming children in the developed world again when they had been nearly wiped out by vaccination due to fools listening to air-headed celebrities rather than their doctor.

The HPV vaccine has been found to be more important than ever in preventing a whole host of cancers in both men and women if it can be applied early enough. This vaccine was fought vigorously by hardcore socially conservative groups and fools who feel that this vaccine would somehow encourage promiscuity. This nonsense has been losing steam and HPV vaccinations have been becoming more widespread and among both genders. I wrote awhile ago on my cousin Shawn’s battle with a cancer caused by HPV. The shot years ago would have saved him much more agony than any misguided efforts to preserve his chastity could have. Shawn and his wife have been working tirelessly to get the HPV vaccine extended to boys in Alberta as it had been predominantly given to girls.

The anti-vaccination gang while stinging from being utterly and totally discredited in their “vaccinations cause autism” bullshit have now put HPV solidly in their sights so that they may fill the void of idiocy left as the social conservatives gave up their opposition to this important vaccine. Armed with more links to conspiracy sites, youtube videos and other unfounded bullshit sites the anti-vaccination crowd is working hard to ensure cancers caused by HPV continue to harm people in the next generation. New conspiracies are being created along with more fabricated risks from vaccination.

I am long winded enough and I think I have made my thoughts pretty clear on the anti-vaccination bunch. I will save you some google time and provide two links below that put lie to this latest wave of idiocy and battling against beneficial medicine.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/08/09/antivaccinationists-against-the-hpv-vaccine-round-5000/

http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/gardasil-researcher-against-vaccine-myth-debunked/

Don’t let the anti-vaccination conspiracy gang get a toehold on HPV vaccines. Let’s nip their misinformation in the bud and folks, get yourself and your kids vaccinated. You need only visit an old cemetery to see the young deaths that were so common prior to vaccination to see how it was. If you really want a dose of reality, ask some polio survivors what they think of people opposing the vaccines that would have saved them from childhood agony and a lifetime crippled.

vaccination

 

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By every measure the Canadian reserve system is an abject failure.

For decades Canada has been doing everything possible to try and repair the grossly broken native reserve system. Every year expenditures directed to reserves are increased by all levels of government. Veritable armies of consultants are sent to reserves to improve conditions. Summits, conferences and special events are held constantly trying to address challenges on reserves in Canada and academics churn out endless long-winded but hollow papers expounding on how reserves are essential to the well being of natives in Canada.

Despite all of these efforts, the socioeconomic misery of native reserves continues and is actually growing worse. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in misery on these race based enclaves with utterly no sign of relief in sight.

When will it be time to face reality and accept that the reserve system itself is a total failure? How much more time will we let pass before coming to this general realization? How much more suffering has to happen?

One of the main things that has neutered politicians and the press alike has been the tactic utilized by people invested in the status quo of labelling all who criticize the system as racists. The tactic has now been so overused that it really is beginning to lose effect. True native leaders are beginning to surface and seek systemic change and self-serving activists like Pam Palmater & Theresa Spence are finding themselves delegated to the sidelines due to their own extremism

I am going to list the stats below that clearly demonstrate the catastrophic failure in the system. It is not racist to do this. I am not claiming these stats are like this because of the shortcomings of a race. These stats are like this due to people living in the apartheid system of racial segregation that we call reserves. Any race would be dysfunctional in the circumstances that reserve-born people find themselves in under the Indian Act.

Please look at those stats and honestly try to think to yourself how any of them will change in the current system. We can do some things to ease these issues, but as long as we have a separate class of people segregated racially and living under different set of laws, these conditions simply will not change.

 

The stats below came from here.

 HEALTH

Healthcare is always a dominant issue in Canadian politics. It is cliché but true that if you don’t have your health, you truly have nothing. While supporters of the status quo love to quote a discredited study showing apparent increased cancer rates among natives near oilsands areas, they neglect to mention that natives on reserves suffer from higher cancer rates on pretty much every reserve in Canada due to lifestyles that create health problems.

Teams are sent to reserves and health education programs tailored to on-reserve natives are myriad. Despite that, the health issues and challenges faced by reserve dwelling natives are untenable.

While over 76% of Canadians are non-smokers now, only 41% of natives on reserve are non smokers.One doesn’t need to be a doctor to see how this increases cases of cancer on reserves.

Drinking and other substance abuses are well above and beyond those suffered by off-reserve citizens.

Obesity rates are more than double that of off-reserve Canadians. This leads to all sorts of complications such as diabetes and heart disease.

Suicide rates among native youth are 5-6 times that of non-native youth.

All of these factors among others lead to a general and unacceptable gap in life expectancies between natives and non-natives.

In 2000, life expectancy at birth for the Registered Indian population was estimated at 68.9 years for males and 76.6 years for females. This reflects differences of 8.1 years and 5.5 years, respectively, from the 2001 Canadian population’s life expectancies.

Many health issues are related to the overwhelming poverty of residents of reserves.

Housing and poverty 

Housing is a chronic issue on native reserves and I have written on why it will never improve in the current system here.

Members of the Indian Industry and others who personally benefit from the current system keep insisting that if we simply increase expenditures on housing that problems will end. That has been proven wrong so many times that it is depressingly laughable. The capacity to absorb resources for housing on reserves is infinite.

Davis Inlet was a perfect and prime example. Like so many reserves, Davis Inlet hit the wall and hit an untenable wall of substance abuse and housing shortcomings. At a cost of $200 million the entire community of a few hundred people was moved to a brand new location.  Despite that move, the issues remain and continue in the town’s new location. It is the system, not the lack of expenditures that is destroying these people!

Native housing falls below normal standards by every measure.

Sewage, water and emergency services all fall short on reserves despite money spent as well.

Generating local taxes on reserves is one idea but with the appalling differential in income between on and off reserve natives, it simply will not work. The money is not there.

Education 

Education is often and correctly pointed out as a means to ease native poverty. Despite this knowledge, despite extra-spending through scholarships, grants, affirmative action in post-secondary institutions and countless other native education plans and programs, the outcomes simply are falling short.

Just over a third of reserve residents manage to even graduate high-school.

The inspiration to pursue education simply is not there for a dependent people who see no future for themselves no matter how many opportunities are presented.

CRIME

 As can be seen below, crime rates are incredibly higher on reserves as compared to off of them. Much goes unreported of course in cases of domestic abuse and animal cruelty that are difficult to monitor. What do we expect with people locked into isolated locations of poverty and misery?

Criminal Code incidents reported to police on-reserve, 2004 
Location of incident
On-reserve Outside reserves
Number of incidents Rate per 100,000 population Number of incidents Rate per 100,000 population
Homicide 41 13 581 2
Attempted murder 24 7 693 2
Robbery 162 50 27,315 93
Assault 20,804 6,464 225,843 770
Sexual assault 1,694 526 21,840 74
Other sexual offences 123 38 2,502 9
Abduction 30 9 605 2
Total violent crimes 22,878 7,108 279,379 953
Breaking and entering 7,276 2,261 267,441 912
Motor vehicle theft 2,887 897 166,657 568
Theft over $5,000 257 80 17,037 58
Theft $5,000 and under 7,586 2,357 673,299 2,297
Possession of stolen goods 594 185 34,806 119
Fraud 691 215 96,400 329
Total property crimes 19,291 5,994 1,255,640 4,283
Prostitution 9 3 6,484 22
Gaming and betting 2 1 191 1
Offensive weapons 1,289 400 16,713 57
Arson 603 187 12,545 43
Bail violations 5,337 1,658 98,997 338
Counterfeiting currency 282 88 159,607 544
Disturbing the peace 13,721 4,263 103,301 352
Mischief (property damage over $5,000) 810 252 11,836 40
Mischief (property damage $5,000 and under) 15,990 4,968 325,025 1,109
Other 12,883 4,003 209,047 713
Total other Criminal Code offences 50,926 15,823 943,746 3,219
Total Criminal Code offences 93,095 28,925 2,478,765 8,455

Increased law enforcement will not ease this epidemic of crime. Natives are already hugely over-represented in our justice system. Again we have to change the system rather than trying to patch the current failing one.

We often hear of people trying to claim that we need to maintain the reserve system in order to preserve native culture. As with so many things, that is failing dismally. Language and cultural practices are vanishing  quickly on reserve. When one starts looking into the more accomplished native artists and performers out there, they will invariably find that most of those people have left their reserves or were never on one to begin with. As has been said before; poverty will kill culture far faster than prosperity ever will.

Do Chinese Canadians need utter separation from society in order to retain their culture? Jamaican Canadians? Ukranian? Of course not.

Ending the reserve system is not cultural genocide nor assimilation!

I really get tired of idiots perpetuating the crap above. Cultures flourish all around the world without segregation and native ones can and will too. The current culture being fostered on native reserves is simply one of dependency and misery. Hardly a reflection of some kind of noble past culture that some naïve academics and activists appear to envision.

Nobody can honestly look at the trends and numbers with regards to the Canadian reserve system and claim that it is sustainable or even humane. It is a catastrophic failure being held together by the racist Indian Act. We need to work to get away from both the Indian Act and the reserve system as it stands or things will only get worse for everybody concerned.

I understand that we can’t simply end these sorts of things overnight. Until we set ending the system as an end goal though, all we are doing is futilely trying to fix a system that needs ending rather than repair.

I look forward to informed and realistic discussions seeking ways to end the cycle of misery that we have in Canada with the reserve system under the Indian Act.

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A cousin with a cause.

In many ways 2011 was simply not a good year in my family particularly when it came to cancer. Jane and I lost a sister-in-law to lung cancer (she never smoked a day in her life), a niece lost an eye to cancer and my cousin Shawn went through a gruelling ordeal and treatment for oropharynegeal cancer from which he is still recovering. Cancer is such a horrible disease and it effects everybody and every family eventually.

In 2009 I was found to have a tumour on my submandibular salivary gland. While it turned out the be benign, the waiting through multiple tests and the fear was life changing. I wrote on it here.   I still have that mass under my jaw but it still is not causing problems thankfully so we can continue to defer it’s removal.

 I still am not a health nut but I still don’t smoke. While cancer can be unavoidable, there are many life practices and other things that can be changed or done to reduce our chances of getting hit. There is no sense inviting this terrible disease into our lives.

 This brings us back to my cousin Shawn. HPV is a virus that we really are only beginning to learn about as a modern society. It has been known for some time that it can cause cervical cancer in girls and a vaccine has been developed. Currently only girls are covered for vaccination though as proven by Shawn’s battle the virus can cause horrific damage to men as well. Shawn and his family are recovering. Shawn’s wife Susan however is not stopping at simply their own recovery. She is now working to help fight preventable cancers through increasing the scope of HPV vaccination.

 Below is the story and plea from Susan. Please take it under serious consideration:

 

My husband Shawn Morgan was diagnosed with Oropharynegeal Cancer August 17, 2011. Stage IV. His cancer is the result HPV. They found a tumour at the base of his tongue (also common with HPV cancer) and the cancer cells metastasized to his lymph nodes. He is 43 years old and has never been sick. He actually was the picture of health – worked out daily – coached our boys’ sports teams – ate well – social drinker.

Now our lives have been completely changed by this cancer. Shawn endured 7.5 weeks of treatment chemo and radiation. For this type of cancer the radiation is all in your mouth. For 35 days your mouth is essentially burned. These patients have open sores in their mouth, on their tongues; some lose the ability to properly swallow. Most end up on a feeding tube because they cannot endure the pain of eating. Most patients lose 20 – 50 lbs. Once done treatment they slowly have to try and eat again – however they now have thick mucus in their mouth that they constantly gag on when they try to swallow food and they have no saliva.

Currently my husband is slowly recovering – what are his side effects: no taste buds, no saliva, no appetite, a constant sore throat and thick mucus in his mouth. He forces himself to eat and one meal can take up to 90 minutes. Without saliva you have to chew your food very fine before you can swallow it. They cannot tell Shawn how much better he will get so at 43 he is left to wonder is this as good as it gets… eating is a form of torture.  

When I realized Shawn’s cancer was the result of HPV– I could be a carrier – can be transmitted skin to skin – or touch not just sexual activity I was ASTOUNDED!! Then when I was told girls get the vaccination in grade 5 but not boys I was angry……. I want to make a difference I want to put a face – a family to HPV so the general public understands what it can cause and why vaccinating boys is so important.

This year I want to spread the news about HPV vaccinations and why the provincial government needs to vaccinate boys. The cost factor does not make sense… if you think about how much money the Tom Baker Centre spent treating Shawn and several others in his group who had HPV– the cost of their treatment has to be harder on the health care system then direct the cost of vaccination program. Then there is the basic truth you will save young men from suffering a horrific cancer – seems very straight forward to me!

I know over the next several years we are going to see more cancers related to this virus and I do not want any families to go thru what we have. I WILL NOT STOP until my story is heard, told many times over and MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

I know the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization will be meeting shortly to review the HPV vaccination program for boys and I want to make sure Dr. Corriveau remembers my story. I want to make sure Dr. Corriveau our Chief Medical Officer for Alberta does what is right and supports the public interest. 70 % of the population are carriers of HPVthe majority of us fight off the virus and nothing happens. Those whose immune system cannot fight the virus get cancer. My Husband, Shawn Morgan was one of those unlucky few and I will not stop telling our story until someone listens.

Susan and Shawn Morgan

 

Please email Dr. Corriveau directly:  andre.corriveau@gov.ab.ca

 

CC: our Health Minister Fred Horne: health.minister@gov.ab.ca

 

In the subject line put: It’s okay for boys to get cancer. THE HPV VACCINATION PROGRAM DISCRIMINATES

 

In the content put:

 

The HPV vaccination program should not discriminate. Both boys and girls are HPV carriers and both can get cancer. Do what is right!

 

We want the HPV vaccination program provincially funded for boys. Shawn and Susan and their boys have suffered and still continue to suffer as many others do as a result of HPV cancer. I do not want that to happen to my family. The Provincial government should stop discriminating and support a HPV vaccination program for boys.

 

 

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