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    • The short answer is "I don't know"

      I do know that I tend to have more faith in Merck or Eli Lilly or Pfizer than a small unkown company on the far side of the globe - Large major pharmaceutical firms have more to lose aka reputation and resources at risk - than a small easily bankrupted firm in Nowherestan with unavailable records or no records at all.

      There are many German, English, French, and Japanese firms that are highly regarded, but much of the generic firms are less well known. Some are excellent, but as we found with the losartan, et al incident, some certainly are not. Generally Sandoz and Novartis are well regarded, but they apparently bought damaged merchandise to use in their final fabrication of drugs and didn't verify its safety before using it. They trusted the firms they bought from apparently.

      I was in Sam's Wholesale recently and I needed some Aleeve - Na naproxen , cheap relatively safe at over the counter doses in most healthy folks - and a product of Bayer, a reputable German firm. I found two different sets of bottles for sale - one with a red top that was labeled Made in India, and one with a yellow top labeled made in China. No other information about the manufacturer could be found on the bottles. I could find no bottles labeled made in Germany or UK or USA. Which would you buy, or would you buy none? I KNOW that both countries have the ability to reliably manufacture very safe drugs - but at what price?

      You can buy Na Naproxifen in large quantities on alibaba which I ran across the other day - but would you want to for human consumption? Without a lot more information at the very least.

      I don't generally buy the very cheapest foods that I can find since I intend to eat them. Pharmaceutical chemicals are the same. The funny thing, of course, is that large numbers of folks buy elicit drugs without any idea of their provenance other than they bought it from their "dealer" who they apparently trust a great deal.

      I think about this every time I shop for dog food too - remember the melamine contamination of dog food from China? Even dog food is sourced from many various spots around the world these days.,

      Properly made pharmaceutical drugs should be able to show their provenance of agents used at each step in manufacture - that does cost significantly more, of course.

      Do you believe your pharmacy benefits manager takes this in to account for its recommendations?

    • I delved deeper and think I understand Facebook's reluctance to shut down the anti vax groups: they represent golden advertising prospects.

      They are overwhelmingly young, white, affluent, college-educated mothers with purchasing power. They live in wealthy enclaves so they think the risk of their children contracting disease is low.

      They are most influenced by friends on social media, which makes them ideal for Facebook's advertising machine. They feel made fun of by pro vaccination forces, which makes them angry so they avoid mainstream media and seek validation where it can be found — on Natural News. We worsen this by calling them uninformed conspiracy theorists.

      The vast computational behavior engine of Facebook precisely pinpoints the ads they are most likely to respond to: natural remedies from fake news sites like Natural News, which is really a front for selling natural remedies, drawing people there with scary tales of vaccination damage.

      When you go to Natural News to read an anti-vaccine story, you get this pop-up on the home page before you get to read the story:

    • So the weakness is pride and- surprise - thirst for social media validation. This seems no different than a team of street con artists concerted efforts to prey on their audience.

    • I read the original NPR interview with the researcher and what I concluded is that these “highly educated” parents were guilty of the same herd mentality of less educated parents.

      The school they sent their children to made it OPTIONAL to get vaccines.  (Was it optional for your parents?)

      Parents who were planning to get their kids vaccinated now wondered if it was okay not to vaccinate.  

      One of the attributes psychologists have identified in entrepreneurs like Elon Musk is a low rating on the scale for agreeableness (source). What that means is that they are less afraid to disagree with community norms and beliefs.  Most people, regardless of their education, are susceptible to the need to belong: if you don’t follow the group norms, you’re no longer part of the group.

      @Chris , when you’re done reading To Say Nothing of the Dog, you might enjoy Connie Willis’s novel on influencers and the herd mentality.

    • Thanks for pointing that out, it was late. Although Cake spell check seems to have a special way of working (at least for me it takes several right clicks to allow spell check suggestions to appear) but in this case it was user error.

      Back to the topic at hand of the OP, if such manipulation of user's audience - regardless however smart or less smart they may be - is found to be proven and brought to their attention as used for either monetary or other kinds of profit, it'd be interesting to think how would one classify the site owner's attitude.

    • I reluctantly went browsing following APM's recommended search above and soon realized how preposterously facebook is populated with plenty of intelligence insulting content, while speakers keep a perfectly straight face, like in this example.

      It really reminds me of a much better video I love watching, over and over:

    • I wasn’t trying to be petty or OCD, I saw just a dash of humor in the autocorrect insertion of “pray” for “prey”. One could then wander into computer intelligence, the need for compassion for others, and other directions from what I was pretty sure was your actual intention. Homonym swaps by autocorrect can sometimes be quite funny

    • whew I got nauseous and lost faith in humanity listening to that 90 off vaccine docuseries promo. But then died laughing at the end of Carlin’s sketch and recovered. 🤣

    • I wasn’t trying to be petty or OCD

      I didn’t think your comments were petty. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t funnier. 😉

      Seriously, it can be ridiculously tough to convey tone via posting, especially when friendly humor and genuine snarkiness can seem the same in print.

      A general h/t to Cake. I’ve never seen a heated discussion on here that wasn’t solved by a genuine apology over miscommunication.

      I’m sorry if I insulted your intelligence if the above is obvious. (I used to be a teacher, so some habits die hard.)

      Re: drugs that have been processed in countries with sketchy safety and compliance programs. It reminds me of companies like Nike that outsourced production to local sources in India and then put the blame on the local suppliers.

    • drugs that have been processed in countries with sketchy safety and compliance programs. It reminds me of companies like Nike that outsourced production to local sources in India and then put the blame on the local suppliers.

      Corporations love globalizing for profit. Now they also use it for an excuse?

    • No worries, no insult was perceived by me; I just wanted my gentle humor about autocorrect to not be received by you as anything other than the lightest gentlest awareness of pray verses prey, and specifically not the ire of someone’s OCD. I hesitated to post my comment initially but then decided the gentle humor in my tone would be apparent and avoid the misunderstandings that text can convey so much more readily than face to face communication.

      I find autocorrect wandering behind my zone of attention for me fairly frequently as I type, and quietly destroying my meaning in text of mine - I frequently wonder if autocorrect doesn’t cause more harm to my text than my misspellings. At least misspellings are apparent as errors, while autocorrect can really alter what I am saying in very negative ways, without me being aware, unless I go back and carefully reread each sentence as I type it.

      I find this occurs not uncommonly today in national newspapers, where a correctly spelled homonym has been inserted in a sentence, but the meaning of the sentence is obviously incongruent with the authors tone and intent. The words present are not misspelled words, but the meaning of the sentence has been wrenched to a different axis altogether - this sometimes is funny, as in humorous, but sometimes quite disconcerting - especially in published text that was purportedly edited.

    • I would expect and hope that pharmaceutical firms purchasing chemicals destined for use in fabricating drugs for humans, or livestock, would have purchasing contracts specifying the purity of the basic agents they require. And then they would test at a suitable frequency of times to verify that the agents purchased met their contracted requirements. Or as President Reagan used to say “Trust, but verify” . If one has a contract, one has a reasonable expectation not to be a victim of a breach of contract, but one still has to monitor that contract performance in some manner.

    • It reminds me of how furious my father became at mandatory seat belt laws.

      I think not everyone accepts societal imposed blanket type rules, even if they are benefic. And if you think about it, it makes sense, for some people individuality is more important to them than certain safety.

    • I normally don’t just paste a link with little comment—Cake isn’t Twitter—but I had to share this example of another platform where their algorithms are pushing “popular” content to the top of the timeline that is anti-vaxxer nonsense and conspiracy theories.

    • The problem with mainstream media frenzy on this topic is that there is no dialogue. There is only one side of the story which is vaccines are safe and whoever is against them (so called anti-vaxxers) are idiots who believe the Earth is flat and are endangering the population.

      However, statistically majority of the so called anti-vaxxers (many of whom are in fact pro vaccine but for safety of them) are highly educated people (holding masters' degrees and above). Quite a few of them were not born anti-vaxxers and believed the same way as many others in absolute safety of vaccines. However, when faced with adverse reactions they have started questioning their safety. Being an anti-vaxxer these days is way more difficult than going with the mainstream, so no matter how the media tries to present it, this is the decision that is not taken lightly.

      Had vaccines were absolutely safe, they would not have been Vaccine Injury Court which had paid more than $1 billion in compensation (may be even more now). Vaccines as any other even most benign medications may cause severe side effects and should be taken seriously. Since 1986 vaccine manufacturers cannot be held liable for vaccines adverse reactions, even death; as a result, manufacturers are immune. Their incentives on improving vaccine safety are no longer there.

      There are no studies on cumulative health effect of administering multiple vaccines at a time. Studies are based on one vaccine at a time and on healthy kids only yet kids nowadays are administered several vaccines at a time (sometimes up to 5 shots each containing up to three vaccines).

      If excerpts to vaccines are studied (how many pro-vaxxers can claim they have studied them?), multiple side effects including death are listed there. Yes, the percentage of those exposed to those risks may be low, but the risk is there nevertheless. Vaccines as any other medication should be taken with caution taking into account health condition of a particular individual. For example, it is an established fact that those with MFTHR genetic mutation (it is estimated that at least 15% of Americans have it) have way higher risk of adverse vaccine reactions ranging from eczema, IBS syndrome and neuropathological responses than general population. However, how many people know they have it? How many parents know their kids have it? Had there been a screening process, more safety studies done as to who is more at risk, the so called anti-vaxxers would be more at ease to have vaccines administered. They may have selected vaccines with lower risk to their health and opted out of others. Instead, they stay away from them completely as no one wants to discuss pros and cons with them.

      As for Facebook, it is one way for people to connect and share their stories with each other without being bullied online or in real life. Closing down the groups will be detrimental and will be a direct attack on the first amendment. There should be a dialogue so that everyone could benefit from learning more on the topic and continuous work on safety of vaccines.

    • Closing down the groups will be detrimental and will be a direct attack on the first amendment. 

      I don’t believe that the first amendment is under attack if a private entity decides to shut down groups that contribute to outbreaks of measles, which can cause deafness and even death.

      In addition, the right to falsely yell fire in an auditorium and create a panic is not considered protected speech:

      Justice Holmes [stated] in Schenck v. United States, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

      I also don’t believe that having a college or university degree guarantees that you are making the best decision for your family when it comes to medical decisions. Educated people are just as susceptible to the herd mentality when it comes to following what their friends or family are recommending over the advice of a primary care physician.

      Clearly, there’s a vast difference between our views on this subject. And I don’t think we’ll convince each other. But I will suggest your watching the videos in this post ⬇️. I would be extremely curious as to your thoughts after watching them—they’re each relatively short in length.

      @Chris and @Pathfinder may have additional thoughts on this subject.

    • Hi tornadik and welcome to Cake. 🙂

      I agree with you that people who are concerned about vaccines tend to be college educated and do quite a bit of reading, and there's no doubt they want the best for their children. From the data I've seen, the majority are college educated, middle class mothers of youngish children. Am I right so far?

      I have a son-in-law who is a family physician and he has cautioned me to be respectful of parents who are concerned about the safety of vaccines and to hear their concerns. It's hard for him to give parents enough time in his medical offices because of the time pressure physicians are under, but he tries hard.

      For example, it is an established fact that those with MFTHR genetic mutation (it is estimated that at least 15% of Americans have it) have way higher risk of adverse vaccine reactions ranging from eczema, IBS syndrome and neuropathological responses than general population. 

      Do you have some reference to this? I think a lot of us would be interested.

      The biggest problem I have with closed or secret groups is they can be (are) used for some truly terrible things.

    • Thank you, Chris. Happy to join.

      I would try to fish out MTFHR links. As far as I remember they are also listed as one of medical exemptions from vaccination but I don’t remember for sure. I studied this subject in depth a few years ago due to adverse reaction experienced by one of my kids. I was a true believer and honestly didn’t give much thought to the subject. After my kid had gotten affected within days after the vaccination, I still didn’t connect the dots and it took me another month of research to start making sense of my kid’s condition. Then another full year of in depth research of the root cause and another two years of in depth research to find treatment that may not ever fully restore my kid’s health but would make him almost whole yet running a risk of a relapse at any point. By now, I no longer research the issue of vaccination but know enough to keep my kid’s immune system healthy in other ways.

      If we think about it without hysteria associated with this topic, we should focus on why some people do not get sick during plagues/outbreaks. What keeps their immune system healthy and able to resist even deadly viruses that other people’s immune systems cannot? Are there more ways to stay healthy and strong? There is so much on this subject, we just keep our ears shut.

      I am thankful there are doctors like your son-in-law. Kudos to him for keeping an open mind. Majority of pediatricians are not open to learn anything different from what they learned in school and they shame anyone questioning the subject.

    • Forgot one more point. There wouldn’t be closed groups on this subject or would be too few to matter had people not been bullied openly on this topic. It is one of the most touchy subjects at the moment. The things “anti-vaxxers” are accused of are similar in nature to what Nazis were accused of. Open groups are no longer worth it. We all want some peace in life and only history would judge...

    • After my kid had gotten affected within days after the vaccination

      Thank you. I'm so sorry to hear that.

      One confession I have to make is my background is science and unfortunately there's a painful, emotional gap between scientists and the majority of the population which I learn more about every year.

      I think the biggest gap is that to most scientists, we don't easily make the connection between two things that just happened. It's infuriating to the majority of the population because intuitively it's just obvious that there must be a connection. Jenny McCarthy's son was diagnosed with autism after receiving a vaccine. What could be more obvious? Why can't we get it?

      To the majority of people, what happened to her son Evan raised grave suspicions about the safety of vaccines for their children and nothing could be more emotional than that. To a scientist like me, it only raises the question of whether children who get vaccines are diagnosed with autism more often than children who don't. It seems so callous, but to us the vaccines and the diagnoses happen close to the same age so they may or may not be related.

      I can prove that bad things happen to people after anything, and that's a reason people fear black cats. It's simply true that people face grave accidents and even death after a black cat crosses their path. There are many documented cases. I'm not making light of a serious situation with vaccines because if vaccines do cause autism, that would be tragic and something we would all try desperately to avoid. But we cold-hearted scientists have to see data to believe. We too believe tragic things happen within days of vaccinations, all of us see them happen, it's just a central premise of science to remove the overpowering human emotion that persuades us to assign a cause that doesn't turn out to be true.

      In the case of vaccines, it's incredibly emotional because so much is at stake. To a physician like my son-in-law, he has to see the unimaginable tragedies that strike the unvaccinated. It's thoroughly soul-destroying to medical workers and most of us never have to see it.

      Btw, scientists like me get bullied too, even in closed Facebook groups. Doctor burnout is at an all-time high because it's so hard for them to deal with angry parents about such an emotional issue as this.

      Here's some info on the MTHFR gene. I like 23andMe because they do have access to a ton of data that gives us some understanding of cause.

    • I understand that scientists have a tendency of taking things differently and that is important. However, it is incredibly hard to prove causation to the Vaccine Injury Court and often take years to have a case settled, yet people get compensation establishing the causation of vaccines on their injury.

      As for my kid’s health, he had a physiological damage (not autism related at all) at the early enough age that was out of the blue. His condition did not run in our family from either side. I later saw in the excerpt to one of the vaccines administered to him that it was listed as a side effect. However, I am not trying to convince anyone, I am just sharing my personal experience.

      I along with the majority believe that antibiotics save so many lives, yet we know now that the excess use leads to dire consequences. Some people are truly allergic to certain antibiotics and should not be taking them or should be taking only certain kind. Does it mean they are all bad? By no means it does not. Does it mean you have to take them with caution understanding your overall health condition and your potential allergies? I hope we agree that you do. Same with vaccines. There is no fit all approach when it concerns people’s health. There are too many sick people around with chronic conditions and not taking specific health circumstances into account prescribing all the same approach is reckless endangerment, in my opinion.

      Thank you for the discussion.