Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Science—the new frontier for State aggression in the geopolitical age part 2: State aggression against individuals

Our last installment dealt with state aggression against other states. Today's installment will introduce the incredibly vast topic of state aggression against individual rights, a topic covered by numerous sites including Pro Libertate, Lew Rockwell, and others too numerous to list.

The most difficult problem facing the individual victim of state aggression--particularly in democracies--is the sense that any resistance is illegitimate. The problem is commonly worsened by the fact that the State will often refer to some scientific evidence as "proof" that you need protection from some entity or action. Opponents to State policies are, therefore, irrational as well as illegitimate.

The following is a partial list of State policies which are backed by scientific studies, against which any protest is considered both irrational and illegitimate:

Fluouridation of drinking water (in North America)
Composition of the food pyramid
Global warming
Mass vaccination of children
Approval of aspartame
Encouragement of statin drugs
Widespread use of dental mercury fillings
Use of fiat currency
Approval of GM foods

The discussions below are really brief and are not intended to be full treatments of the subject matter.

Fluoridation of water

The fluoridation of water has been proposed to reduce cavities in populations. Opposition to the fluoridation of water is based on ethical grounds (the difficulty for individuals to opt out of the program, lack of informed consent, and the lack of control over dosage); efficacy (it is proposed that fluoride should be applied topically to teeth rather than being ingested); and on health grounds (ingesting fluoride may be unhealthy).

Many Western Europoean countries oppose fluoridation of water for the reasons listed above.

The position taken by typical health officials in North America is reflected in this statement by the former Medical Officer of Health of the City Waterloo, "Every reputable scientific authority throughout the entire world strongly advocates the addition of fluoride to the water." Such a statement is tailor-made to discredit any attempt to oppose the concept of fluoridation.

By contrast, the statements made in position documents of DVGW in Germany question the above statement. They do not specifically discount the effect of fluoride on cavities, but do argue that the additional possible medical, ethical, and environmental costs of fluoridation cannot be justified. 

Food pyramid

I remember reading an article many years ago in which a Canadian nutritional researcher stated she was forced out of her position because she claimed that the food pyramid did not reflect the actual nutritionists' advice, but was largely shaped by commercial interests. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this story again--it is gone into the memory hole.

There are articles by Dr. W. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health arguing for substantial modifications to the food pyramid, including reducing grains and increasing the amount of fats (albeit plant oils) in the recommended diet.

Global warming

I hardly even want to talk about this one. Suffice to say there is a tremendous amount of emotionally charged debate on both sides and ridicule for anyone who dares contradict official pronouncements. Do your own due diligence.

Mass vaccination of children

The number of different vaccinations recommended for children has ballooned over the past several years.

Each of the new proposed vaccines has one or more scientific studies supporting it. Each vaccine, in isolation, may provide a benefit with a reasonably low risk. What is less well-known is the cumulative effects of the large number of vaccines that very young children receive.

In addition, there are reasons to oppose this increase in vaccination. Such arguments include (but are not limited to) the effects of mercury-based preservatives on neurological development; the relationship between vaccination and autism (which may have been refuted); the serious side effects of the flu vaccine, among others; and the effects on the developing immune system of a massive wave of vaccinations.

Approval of aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners on the market, yet its original approval for commercial use by the FDA was heavily contested. Searle (now part of Monsanto) won the day thanks to Donald Rumsfeld's influence, who some say should have a metabolic disorder named in his honour.

In the early 1990's, lab technicians at the lab above mine at University of Toronto reported that rats showed terrible toxic responses to moderate doses of aspartame. One day one of the grad students at the lab in question told me that they had been threatened with immediate loss of all research funding unless they stopped working on aspartame.

Statin drugs

Statins are used to reduce cholesterol. In your blood tests, cholesterol is divided into two types; the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and the low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Simplistically, HDL is referred to as "good" cholesterol and LDL is "bad".

Even within the "bad cholesterol" there are two distinct types--pattern A, which consists of larger and less dense LDL particles, and pattern B, consisting of smaller and denser LDL particles. Of the two, only pattern B is associated with elevated risk of coronary disease, but the cholesterol blood test is unable to distinguish between the two.

Doctors normally recommend any patient with elevated LDL to take statins. The actual level of LDL that is considered to be elevated has fallen over the past decade, meaning that the number of people recommended for statin therapy has similarly increased. But simple blood tests are unable to distinguish between pattern A and pattern B LDL, so patients are asked to risk serious side effects to take a drug that may not actually be necessary.

Science and public policy

As I mentioned above, once a public policy is backed by science, it becomes illegitimate to protest it. What makes this dynamic particularly troubling is that there is a reinforcing dynamic between government and research labs whereby the labs are encouraged through receipt of government funding to produce results which favour government policy. Additionally, certain large industrial interests also fund research which favours usage of their products (whether they be agricultural, pharmaceutical, or military).

Even if researchers begin to produce results at odds with the scientific consensus, it can be difficult to bring about lasting change.

Update: January 25

Here is another article that makes the same point

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