How the Corruption of Science Leads to the Collapse of Modern Civilization
Richard Gale & Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, January 15, 2019
This new year will likely mark another milestone in science and medicine. Again, Americans will spend more money on diagnostic tests, surgeries and other medical procedures, and patients will consume more drugs and receive more treatments than any other time in US history. We will continue to be inundated with television drug advertisements with the reassuring message, “you don’t have to fight this battle alone. We are with you.” There will be images of laboratories, medical research and happy patients to strengthen viewers’ faith that medical science is progressing and working on our behalf. We will be promised that new cures for life-threatening diseases are on the horizon.
The US will also spend a minimum of $3.5 trillion on healthcare, in addition to a $1.5 trillion loss in work and wages due to illness. Five trillion dollars total. Approximately 18 percent of the US GDP. And tens of millions of additional dollars will be spent to advertise Big Pharma’s message.
And herein lies the fundamental problem. There are more doctors, more hospitals, more pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures than ever before and yet we have not conquered nor made any significant progress in curing any major disease. Instead of making efforts to fund disease prevention and educate the public, prevention has been abandoned altogether. There are volumes of excellent peer-reviewed studies documenting research and clinical experience showing a healthy diet, physical exercise and stress management regimens can either completely prevent or be incorporated into medical treatment protocols successfully. However, there is no profit to be made in prevention. Modern medicine is solely devoted to disease management.
How did we reach this threshold where trillions of dollars have been tossed into the abyss? One reason is that few voices have been able to reach the public to address the widespread corruption in corporate science, especially medicine, agriculture, and environmental issues. Honest, independent science is ignored in favor of proprietary pharmaceutical drugs and genetically modified foods. Fraudulent research has been used to justify nuclear power as a clean green energy. Political officials working on behalf of fossil fuel interests convince us with junk science that hydro-fracking poses no health risks and is environmentally friendly. A single Big Pharma corporation with thousands of employees and billions of dollars in sales and profits is deeply connected to investors, public relations firms, federal health officials and the media. All of these externally-invested parties are in turn dependent upon the corporation’s revenue stream. Money that trickles down is spent bribing medical schools to push the conventional drug agenda’s regime, or funneled to front groups and foundations to buy off so-called experts to debunk critics. Revenues received by the mainstream media networks for drug advertisements are payoffs assuring that no reporting appears that might show the company and its medical products in a bad public light.
The benefit Big Pharma receives from hijacking the federal regulators and legislators is protection from the nation’s judiciary so that when a drug like Merck’s anti-arthritic Vioxx conservatively kills over 60,000 patients and injures an additional 130,000, there is no immediate FDA recall and deaths are permitted until the crisis reaches a tipping point and health officials are forced to step in. Never is a drug executive prosecuted. Vioxx sales earned Merck $18 billion and they only had to pay a $5 billion settlement. Everyone who knew Vioxx was a defective product had engaged in malice aforethought with no deleterious consequences. The company merely paid a fine and returned to business as usual, and the media simply whitewashed the seriousness of Merck’s crimes.
Science creates artificial intelligence, geoengineering, and 5G wireless technology. These are held up as great achievements. We never hear anything about their downsides from mainstream media, and private corporations will not disclose evidence of their risks and dangers. If a scientific invention appears in the peer-reviewed literature, it has already reached a gold standard. Any controversy has been settled. However, we are now finding that the entire peer-reviewed journal system is utterly corrupt. In fact, as we will recount, it is all a fraud, and it will worsen without any efforts made to reform it. Quite simply, there is neither concerted will nor ethical standard to improve the peer-reviewed system because it generates too much profit.
Drugs are being pushed upon healthy people not because they treat a disease, but because we are told they will prevent a disease. Such is the case for new HIV prevention drugs, such as Truvada and PrEp, and statins. There is no definitive science that these drugs are effective enough for anyone to take them. Imagine being healthy and told that starting chemotherapy will prevent cancer. That would be insane.
And now we discover that the world’s largest open source site for medical information is Wikipedia. Articles about medical products and therapeutic regimes are penned by completely unqualified editors with no medical background and many who prefer to remain anonymous. Yet Wikipedia editors state with authority that there are no proven health benefits from non-conventional and natural medical therapies. After reading any Wikipedia entry about chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, naturopathy or energy medicine, the reader will walk away believing it is all pseudoscience or fraud. However, collectively there are hundreds of thousands of studies to support these therapies’ efficacy and safety. Legitimate scientific inquiry has already shown their efficacy. Independent board-certified physicians have been using complementary and alternative medicine for a long time with excellent results, but you will not find any of these qualified physicians being invited to lead a committee at the FDA, CDC or any other national health agency or department. Nor do we find special reports about successful advances in natural health regimens appearing on Dateline, Sixty Minutes, CNN, nor in the New York Times and Washington Post.
So where exactly in the cesspool of modern medicine, food science, and the agro-chemical industry are we to find truth? No one in the scientific and federal health agencies can be trusted anymore. They are all compromised. No mainstream journalist is trustworthy, and no one can be certain whether a paper appearing in a peer-reviewed science journal is reliable. Even the clinical physicians on the front lines of healthcare work in the dark. It is only after large numbers of deaths and injuries, such as with Agent Orange, DDT, aspartame, mammography, etc, that a light goes on – and even then only for a short time before returning to the dark.
Our research shows that the majority of pharmaceutical corporations have settled lawsuits, some of which are described in this article. At the same time our analysis confirms that over 900,000 Americans die annually from iatrogenic causes. How is it that the pharmaceutical industry and medical establishment has killed more Americans than those who died in Vietnam without any serious consequences? Now wrap your mind around this: if we take a conservative figure of preventable deaths from medicine, 500,000 per year during the last four decades, that would account for approximately 20 million deaths. That is more than all those killed in wars throughout America’s history.
The reason American medicine has turned into the nation’s largest and deadliest battlefield is that for scientific corruption to succeed with impunity, everything must be interconnected. The Surgeon General, the heads of federal health agencies, drug makers, the insurance industry, medical schools and professional associations, and the media operate as a single army waging a war on health against Americans. Corporate interests control everything. Modern medicine has morphed into a religious cult which cannot contemplate the potential of its own vulnerabilities. And numerous patients have been played for fools. As we will see, medicine profits from keeping patients sick.
We understand that you may be confused about this message because it goes directly against everything the medical establishment tells us. The fact is that science is completely vulnerable to corruption, and this has always been the case. Private industry and government know this perfectly. The checks and balances separating private and public interests have collapsed. Today, a sincere person who blows the whistle on government and corporate malfeasance and crimes can find him or herself going to jail. The medical regime is now a single entity. All of its parts are consolidated and entwined into a monolithic behemoth dedicated to protecting its bottom line.
Is it not time we said “enough”?
When we consider Marx’s statement that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” it requires little effort to look back upon history and witness a long legacy of scientific horrors and tragedies. Yet today, matters have worsened. Ever since the Rockefellers privatized American healthcare back in the 1930s, science in the hands of powerful private interest groups and corrupt government agencies has spiraled downward to its current state today: a sad and virulent burlesque spectacle.
If medical corruption had been conducted with the results of vastly improved health in the nation, we might close our eyes. However, as corruption throughout the medical establishment and federal health agencies increases, so has the health of the nation substantially decreased. The monster the Carnegie Foundation unleashed in its Flexner Report to set the standard for medical education back in 1910 has since opened its jaws wider to swallow the little integrity that might remain in American medicine. The nation’s health statistics and annual rise in preventable diseases proves the case.
The US is the world’s most medicated country and yet ranks at the bottom of the pack of developed nations for quality of health. It is also the only nation in the developed world with the average lifespan in decline. A Consumer Report survey estimates that 55 percent of Americans regularly take a prescription drug, and among those, the average person takes four drugs. In 2016, over 4.5 billion prescriptions were filled, earning the pharmaceutical industry over $200 billion. An earlier estimate conducted and published by the Mayo Clinic found that 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and over 50 percent are on two. Twenty percent of patients are on five or more. Over 17 percent of citizens 45 years and older take antidepressants, including one in four women. A multi-year population-based survey conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 32 percent of adults diagnosed with depression were taking medications with depression listed as an adverse effect! These drugs include proton pump inhibitors, analgesics, beta blockers and synthetic hormone contraceptives.
For anyone who cares to take a broad, objective and panoramic view of the illnesses plaguing the American landscape, the situation will be found shocking. Clearly it needn’t be this way. Most people enter the sciences for noble reasons and because of a passion for discovery. So then why do they so often emerge out of the end of the institutionalized treadmill as proponents of products that do more harm than good?
The Dismal State of Modern Science
There have been prophetic voices in the past who have warned about the dire direction in which modern scientific advancement is headed. In his 1924 essay “Icarus or the Future of Science,” the British mathematician and moral philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote, “I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups, rather than to make men happy. Icarus, having been taught to fly by his father Daedalus, was destroyed in his rashness. I fear that the same fate may overtake the populations whom modern men of science have taught to fly.” Later in his essay Russell continues, “whether, in the end, science will prove to have been a blessing or a curse to mankind, is to my mind still a doubtful question.”
For Russell, those who can sincerely call themselves scientists pursue their discipline out of a love for knowledge. Science is supposed to improve conditions necessary to foster our well-being and happiness, and to preserve the planet’s environment in an ethical manner. A scientist who truly pursues knowledge out of love, Russell argues, will desire the fruits of his work and craft to be expressions of kindness for the greater good. On the other hand, science is perverted when knowledge is pursued solely for power and domination over others. He warned about the trends of his day increasing whereby the holders of scientific knowledge become “evil” and science solely serves the ambitions of the powerful and those who control scientific inventions’ utility. “Scientific knowledge,” Russell wrote, “does not make men more sensible in their aims, and administrators in the future will be presumably no less stupid and no less prejudiced than they are at present.”
Since the days when science broke free from religion during the European Renaissance, the blind faith in perpetual scientific progress as humanity’s best of fortunes has persisted to the present day. In fact, in the 21st century, scientific materialism has largely replaced religious beliefs and morals altogether. This is especially evident in the contemporary regressive movements of Skepticism, the New Atheism, Science- and Evidence-based Medicine, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, Randian Objectivism, and scientific positivism, which have all been chained to corporate capital and science’s bureaucracies. This myth of perpetual scientific progress, says Russell, “is one of the comfortable nineteenth-century delusions which our more disillusioned age must discard.” In the end, Russell foresaw that science may be the ultimate cause behind “the destruction of our civilization.” From our own perspective, given our governments’ and corporations’ utter disregard towards climate change, insensitive destruction of the natural world and other species, medical abuse of prescription drugs, and brushing off the lives of those in dire economic and social straits, we have to agree.
Modern Medicine: The Exemplar of Scientific Nepotism
Throughout its history, the practice of medicine has been associated with humanitarian and compassionate efforts to relieve the suffering of others. In modern times, we assume that medical science is serving us to find new miracles to save our lives. In ancient systems, medicine was perceived as a divine art and knowledge brought down to humans by the gods. A healer who lived by the ethical codes of his craft was held in high esteem by rulers and peasants alike. Although there have always been medical pretenders who took advantage of the ignorant, the medical arts themselves retained their integrity…. until our modern era. Before outlining the many ways that conventional corporate medicine has become the paragon of a science turned enemy against its essential moral code and the people it is supposed to serve, we might begin with a recent example depicting just how low the medical discipline has sunk into Hades. The state of modern American medicine was accurately summarized in April 2018 when Goldman Sachs released its financial projection report, “The Genome Revolution,” to biotechnology companies. The report doesn’t hesitate to state clearly that for future investment, corporate profits far outweigh the curing of disease.
Goldman Sachs is one of Wall Street’s largest investors in high-growth technologies, particularly pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare services. The report presents the frightening question, “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” Even for the most hardened proponents of natural medicine and opponents of Big Pharma, there are times when a drug developer hits the nail on the head. Such is the case with Gilead Sciences’ drugs Harvoni and Epclusa, which have achieved over a 90 percent cure rate for hepatitis C. This is an extraordinary cure rate. But for Goldman, this is a bad sign for investors and shareholders. The drugs’ success has steadily drained the pool of patients requiring treatment. At their peak in 2015, these drugs earned $12.5 billion. Three years later, they are expected to earn under $4 billion, and revenues will continue to decline. Goldman writes, “In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines … Where an incident pool remains stable (eg, in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise.”
Goldman’s report confirms an observation that we have been voicing for many years. That is, modern medicine is no longer about treating disease; rather, it is all about disease management to keep patients on drugs for life. How did this trend of an amoral medical philosophy and a betrayal of Hippocratic principles come about, since billions of dollars are spent annually to discover cures for disease?
Before the arrival of the Reagan era, most scientific pursuits remained relatively free of commercial efforts to deceive and corrupt. Although federal health agencies have in the past funded witch hunts to squash non-conventional medical theories and practices, such as Chiropractic and more recent homeopathy, overall ethical standards were upheld to approve drugs’ efficacy and safety to the best of their capabilities. Certainly there were serious oversights and failures costing many lives, such as Quaalude-300, PTZ for convulsive therapy, thalidomide and the acellular pertussis vaccine. There were also cases of gross conspiracy and scandal that destroyed numerous lives, such as the 1932-1972 Tuskegee experiment to secretly withhold penicillin from untreated African American males with syphilis. However, it was only during the past three decades that private corporations were able to successfully and rapidly subdue the nation’s health agencies in order to control their executive functions and administrations.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day in 1991, governance was dictated in a bipolar world between two military giants. The governments of the US and the Soviets, and their respective allies, were the sole stakeholders moving the pawns on the world’s chessboard. On the global scene, private industry and civil society would have to wait to grab a seat at the table of governance until American global hegemony was established. Therefore, the collapse of the Soviet bloc opened the floodgates for commercial interests. Large corporations serving primarily domestic interests went international. New markets increased exponentially and private corporations and investment banks took advantage of the openings in these markets. Exploitation of these opportunities commenced unimpeded. Once-national corporations morphed overnight into transnational behemoths, with values competing with national economies, resulting in widespread commercial influence over practically all of our institutions in government, higher education, professional associations and the media. In addition, science became embedded in private economic interests and the governments of the developed nations, notably the US and Britain, were eager to throw in their support to assure unlimited corporate growth could continue. The emerging corporate aristocracy were not perceived so much as uncontrollable rogue entrepreneurs necessitating strict government oversight and regulation to stay in line; rather they became partners as their agendas melted into one and the same.
Ronald Reagan, the first Deregulator-in-Chief, opened a pathway for private interests to gain greater control over the sciences. According to Leslie Janka, a former White House deputy press secretary under Reagan, his entire presidency “was PR.” “This was a PR outfit,” stated Janka, “that became president and took over the country. And to the degree then which the Constitution forced them to do things like make a budget, run a foreign policy and all that, they sort of did. But their first, last and overarching activity was public relations.” Reagan, who consulted astrologers for decision-making, was a scientific illiterate who favored private economic growth over altruism and consumer safety. This meant gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, stripping it of its ability to combat industries’ propensity to evade regulatory hurdles and pollute the environment.
It was also during the Reagan era that pharmaceutical firms infiltrated the halls of the federal government. Through concerted lobbying and persuasion, Reagan signed the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act to protect vaccine makers from financial liability due to vaccines’ adverse effects. Before this bill, only a few firms continued to manufacture vaccines; the financial risks and compensation burden from vaccine injuries were too high for most drug companies. Reagan is therefore credited for launching the current vaccine boom, estimated to be worth $60 billion by 2020, with no legal liability placed upon companies for pushing unsafe and minimally effective vaccines. This trend entered hyperdrive under President Clinton, who perceived himself as the first “biotech president” and invited more corporate executives with conflicts of interest into his administration than any previous president. If the proliferation of GMOs is regarded as a contagion and curse on human and environmental health, then Clinton is ultimately to be blamed.
There are three primary avenues by which science becomes corrupted and thereby damages the public’s health and the environment. These include: 1) corporate influence over scientific discoveries that are developed into products for public consumption; 2) corruption within the scientific community itself; and 3) the emergence of a positive philosophy towards science that displays to all of the dogmatic trimmings of fundamentalist religious faith and seeks full protection from government to become the reigning ideology of the state.
This latter trend has been termed “scientism,” an incoherent ideology that identifies rationality and reason with science itself. Scientism embraces the premise that science can explain everything. One of the more common criticisms against scientism is its “claims that science has already resolved questions that are inherently beyond its ability to answer.” This scientific hubris particularly plagues the biological disciplines such as mental health, immunology, drug-based conventional medical therapies, neurobiology, the genetic etiology of disease, nanomedicine and genetic modification of plants for industrial agriculture.
One unrecognized consequence of scientism is that it plays directly into corporate hands to advance its financial interests and commercial control over a population. By tossing aside philosophical and ethical considerations over natural scientific discoveries and findings, scientific truths stand alone as sterile and amoral tools that can be used as economic weapons of destruction. This is most evident in the pharmaceutical industry that pushes questionably effective and unsafe drugs to treat physical and mental disorders, or the agro-chemical corporations poisoning the public with carcinogenic pesticides and environment-damaging genetically modified crops.
According to a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Corporations attempt to exert influence at every step of the scientific and policy-making process, often to shape decisions in their favor or avoid regulation and monitoring of their products and by-products at the public expense.” In order to achieve their goals, private interests make every attempt to win over the White House, Congressional legislators, senior federal agency officials and even the judicial courts. One of science-generated industry’s greatest threats is independent evaluation of the scientific research supporting their products. Winning over or buying the allegiance of the heads of congressional committees and the executive tiers of federal agency regulators is therefore a high priority in order to ensure the gears of bureaucracy remain oiled, the licensing channels for product approval stay wide open, and regulatory due diligence and scientific scrutiny don’t intrude on profits.
There are several ways that private corporations succeed in influencing the government to do their bidding, ensuring the judicial terrain is safe for corporations to perpetrate scientific malfeasance and fraud. This includes manipulating and fudging scientific data, preserving and exerting control over scientists, and taking control of peer-reviewed scientific literature. Although these tactics are found in many industries, it is the medical and food sectors that are today the most corrupt, acting with blatant criminality.
Charles Seife and his students at New York University sought to determine to what extent the FDA covers up evidence of fraud and corruption in medical drug trials. They reviewed FDA documents for about 600 clinical trials. How often do federal health officials discover flagrant and intentional misconduct and subsequently decide to bury the evidence out of sight of the medical community? Seife discovered such actions were an official pattern within the agency. Given the high rate of content deleted or blacked out from the documents the FDA provided, the investigators could only determine which pharmaceutical company or drug was involved in 1 of 6 of the reviewed trials. For one trial alone, where FDA inspectors found significant fraud and misconduct, 78 different medical publications printed articles based upon that single study. In an article for Slate, Seife writes,
“Nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses. The FDA has repeatedly hidden evidence of scientific fraud not just from the public, but also from its most trusted scientific advisers, even as they were deciding whether or not a new drug should be allowed on the market. Even a congressional panel investigating a case of fraud regarding a dangerous drug couldn’t get forthright answers.”
In one case, a new anti-blood clotting drug, rivaroxaban, was tested in four large trials, which recruited thousands of patients in clinical sites in over a dozen countries. According to Seife, one of the trials “was a fiasco.” In half of the sixteen clinical sites, the FDA discovered “misconduct, fraud, fishy behavior or other practices so objectionable that the data had to be thrown out.” One Colorado site falsified data. In the Mexican site, there was “systematic discarding of medical records.” Despite these overwhelming problems, the drug trial was published favorably in the prestigious British journal The Lancet. The FDA found similar problems in the three other trials; in one the data was ruled “worthless.” The FDA advisory committee of “expert” reviewers were only informed that inspectors discovered “significant issues” at two sites in one of the trials. Rivaroxaban was nevertheless approved in 2011. Since then, lawsuits for wrongful death from rivaroxaban have piled up.
In another case from 2010, Cetero, a private research company that contracts to Big Pharma, faked data for over 1,400 drug safety and effectiveness trials conducted for roughly 100 drugs, mostly generic knockoffs, that were being considered for the US market. Although the FDA uncovered this fraud, it has refused to make these 100 drugs known to the professional medical community and public.
A possible reason some federal health agencies have been squeezed into an administrative straitjacket pulled ever tighter by private industry is the excessive downsizing and withdrawal of funds during the current and past two presidencies. A decade ago, Jessica Washburn reported on the dire situation at the NIH’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction for Discover Magazine. The Center is responsible for the evaluation of chemicals and their impact on reproductive health. With continual deregulation following the Koch Brothers agenda to permit private industries to flood the environment with toxic substances, this is an enormously important department tasked with assuring the health of pregnant women and protecting their fetuses. Yet the Center only employed three people, one of whom was part-time. The vast majority of the workload was outsourced to a private consulting firm, Sciences International. For almost ten years, this firm, which had been receiving funding from over forty chemical companies, was the primary evaluator of the environmental toxins mothers-to-be were being exposed to. Publication Prejudice, Fraud and Deceptive Favoritism
During the past decade, scientific prejudice, bias, and outright deceit have been endemic to peer-reviewed scientific literature, especially in the medical and psychiatric fields. Medical journals have been thoroughly hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry, as have university departments and research institutions that are principally funded by private interests. It is no longer a secret that industry-funded studies inordinately convey positive results. Positive research is published; negative research is suppressed and buried. Consequently, the reality of robust and honest medical research is skewed and distorted. Physicians and medical clinics thus get only a peek into the actual safety, efficacy and contraindications of the drugs later peddled to them by pharmaceutical sales reps.
In 2009, Harvard’s Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor for the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, wrote,
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor.”
Later, the editor of The Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton stated, “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” A large percentage of published studies and trials have either not been reproduced or failed to be reproduced. For example, in 2012, a scientist and his team at Amgen attempted to reproduce 53 published cancer studies and only succeeded in reproducing six. In another project published in Nature, only 39 of 100 psychology studies could be replicated. Although Horton is optimistic that the proverbial cat is out of the bag and the medical community has been warned, he despairs that “the bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system.”
Doctors at Children’s Hospital Boston undertook the task of reviewing 546 drug trials listed in the government’s Clinical Trials database. They found that industry-funded trials showing positive results were 70 percent more likely to be published than research funded by federal health agencies.
In 2010, a multi-institutional review of studies for twelve antidepressant drugs that cumulatively enrolled over 12,500 patients was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The group, representing researchers from Oregon Health and Science University, Harvard, the University of California Riverside and others, identified a deeply biased and deceptive trend in publication of these drugs’ respective trials that was highly selective. Thirty-six of the 37 favorable studies were published. On the other hand, only 3 of 36 unfavorable trials found their way into print. The consequences are obvious. By giving the false impression that over 90 percent of studies confirm the value of antidepressant drugs while burying almost the same number of adverse trials, the entire risk-benefit ratio of these drugs is skewed.
There’s also the matter of private corporations reaching out to public relations firms and independent technical writers to ghostwrite articles on behalf of their research and commercial products, which first came to light about a decade ago. Despite growing awareness, the practice continues and in fact has become more common during the last several years. Ghostwriting has become a global cottage industry. Although ghostwriting is generally regarded as improper, it is not illegal. Parallel to the alarming revelations that scientific journals were publishing increasing amounts of junk science, there was the problem of scientific authors’ personal biases due to their financial ties to private interests (and hence the very research and products they were positively writing about). For many decades, this was not considered a serious problem, but increasingly authors would hide their financial conflicts of interest. Consequently, the most respected science journals require authors to reveal their associations and conflicts of interest with private companies and private for-profit institutions that may compromise the objectivity of their articles. To get around this requirement, companies reach out to ghostwriters who can paint themselves as independent and conflict-free to submit favorable articles.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, stated, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Unfortunately this millennium-old tenet was forgotten long ago. Enter the agro-chemical giant Monsanto, which has its fingers in the majority of food products consumed in the US. Monsanto has become notorious for relying upon a wide network of ghostwriting resources to intentionally undermine governments’ regulatory agencies and deceive the public. The company has made a habit of contracting public relations firms and wooing compromised writers for over a decade. Following a California court ruling in favor of a plaintiff who developed cancer, the company’s flagship weed-killing chemical glyphosate, trade name Roundup, is under growing international scrutiny as a carcinogen. Monsanto again is relying upon its army of ghostwriter goons to conduct damage control.
Journalist Carey Gillam has been tracking Monsanto’s shenanigans for many years. In 2016, the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology published a “special series” of science articles reviewing glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential. The World Health Organization had already ruled the chemical might cause cancer, and European health officials were seriously deliberating on banning the herbicide from the continent. “Four independent panels” from the journal declared, “Neither any Monsanto company employee nor any attorneys reviewed any of the Expert Panel’s manuscripts prior to submission to the journal.” However, Gilliam’s investigation into manuscripts released during the litigation found this was a complete lie. One of Monsanto’s leading scientists not only reviewed the manuscripts, but also edited them. In one internal email within the company, the Chief of Regulatory Science had admitted he reviewed an entire document with suggestions for omissions and a few edits of his own. Other internal documents identify ghostwriters and strategies for recruiting outside scientists to compose articles giving the weed-killer credibility. Attempts to have the papers retracted from the journal have yet to be heeded.
Besides ghostwriters, corporations hide behind shadowy non-profit organizations, front groups and shill think tanks that project the public image of being legitimate and expert scientific institutions. This strategy has been a means to covertly get corporate messages out under the illusion of being generated by independent scientists. For example, a flurry of studies have appeared in recent years proving that sugar-loaded sodas and beverages are substantially contributing to the nation’s obesity and Type 2 diabetes crises. This message is reaching the public. Soda consumption has dropped by 25 percent. To counter the scientific assault on its revenues, Coca-Cola — the world’s largest manufacturer of junk sugary beverages — teamed up with a corporate sponsored non-profit, the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN), to promulgate the message that “weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise.” GEBN, which has recruited many prominent scientists and health professors, swears by its independence from Coke’s influence. However, Coke started the non-profit initiative with a $1.5 million startup donation. Since its founding, the partnership has unleashed a media blitz across medical journals, professional conferences, mainstream media and social networks to get Coke’s message out. New York University professor of nutrition and food science Marion Nestle has labeled the GEBN as “nothing but a front group for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s agenda is very clear: Get these researchers to confuse the science and deflect attention from dietary intake.”
While it is easy to blame private industry for producing the junk science appearing in peer-reviewed journals, we mustn’t lose sight of the corruption within the publications and among senior editors as well. The reason is simple: There is far too much financial incentive for professional journals to approve and publish corporate funded research. An article confirming the therapeutic value of a new drug, for example, can go a long way to bring enormous revenues to publishers. Pharmaceutical firms will order thousands of copies of the article to be disseminated throughout their sales force and sent to physicians, medical schools, clinics and hospitals. The Lancet receives 41 percent of its income from reprints purchased by drug makers. The American Medical Association’s journal gets a whopping 53 percent.
Finally, Big Pharma engages in a form of bribery to get journal editors to ensure their research gets into print. Jessica Liu at the University of Toronto’s Medical School conducted an analysis of payments US drug makers made to 713 editors employed by 52 high impact medical journals. Fifty percent of editors were identified as playing this corporate game and received payments for services that included preferential treatment towards article submissions and appointing peer reviewers. Liu and her colleagues estimated that the mean payment for general articles was $28,100; for research submissions, $37,900. The worst example is the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, with all of its 35 editors on the take. Cumulatively, the journal’s editors received almost $15 million in “bribes” from Big Pharma. Corporate Control of Scientific Information
Private corporations have full and complete control over the proprietary research and trial data in their possession. This means they have the discretion to decide what data to release. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, the US government makes no demands for a company to release all its clinical trial data and results for any given drug or vaccine submitted to the FDA or CDC respectively for approval and licensure. This is also true for “selective publication” of studies in medical journals. In 2008, the French multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi completed 92 studies on drugs in their pipeline. Only 14 were submitted and approved for publication. What should we think about the remaining 78 trials that were withheld? Clearly it would be foolish for financial reasons alone that Sanofi would want its negative trial results to appear in peer-reviewed literature. The professional medical community and institutions rely heavily on the scientific publications to keep abreast of the latest studies and news. Nevertheless, federal authorities would not require Sanofi nor any pharmaceutical firm to submit research data that might jeopardize its approval on issues of safety, serious adverse effects and clinical efficacy. Consequently, federal reviewers are only being provided with trials and data favorable to Big Pharma’s bottom line.
Dr. Steven Nissen is a highly respected cardiologist at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic who worries about the demise of independent research outside of pharmaceutical control. Among the targets he has investigated is Glaxo’s blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia. Unable to acquire original patient information from the drug maker, Nissen turned to the internet and “stumbled upon a cache of data belonging to Glaxo,” which had been submitted during a lawsuit filed by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In addition to discovering that only 15 of 42 clinical trials for Avantia had been published, the company had been suppressing the data that the drug increased risks of heart attack by 43 percent. Nissen published his findings in the New England Journal of Medicine; two days later the FDA slapped a “black box” warning on the drug.
Nissen also uncovered a story about Glaxo’s antidepressant drug Paxil that was equally disturbing. The company’s research had shown that children on Praxil were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than kids taking a placebo. Nevertheless Glaxo had withheld this information from health officials and the medical community.
However, Nissen’s challenges did not end there. Among the deplorable tactics corporations adopt to protect their commercial interests, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, is “scientific coercion.” This includes harassing scientists and institutions that bring to light corporate misconduct or raise obstacles to their revenue flow. Companies will go a long way to silence their opponents in the scientific community, including litigation threats and putting pressure upon institutions and universities to impose demotions, loss of tenure, or blatant censorship. In retaliation, Glaxo let lose its attack dogs to defame and discredit Nissen. The hitmen included Dr. Valentin Fuster (Chairman of Glaxo’s educational foundation), Peter Pitts (senior vice president at the Manning Selvage and Lee public relations firm that represents Glaxo), and Douglas Arbesfeld (and FDA communications consultant). Scathing articles against Nissen appeared in the Washington Times, Nature and Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine. A caustic email was also sent out to the wider media deriding Nissen’s credibility.
Others stories include direct covert bribing of countries’ health officials to get sympathetic support for a drug approval. This was the case when Eli Lilly bribed Swedish officials to get its antidepressant drug Prozac approved. Dr. John Virapen, a former Eli Lilly executive in sales, blew the whistle after personally bribing the Swedes. In 2012 the US SEC slapped the company with a $29 million settlement for bribing government officials in Russia, Brazil, China and Poland through offshore accounts to push its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa and antidepressant drug Cymbalta. The corporation later in 2013 repeated a similar crime, bribing Chinese physicians to start prescribing Prozac.
These are only a few examples among many that have been reported upon extensively by sincere investigative journalists and alarmed scientists. We mustn’t take lightly the extreme measures private corporations will descend to in order to silence critics and remove barriers to maximizing their economic bottom line.
Manipulation of the Media
Turning to any major television network, we inevitably find advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs. Even the drugs that are being promoted tell us something about the networks’ viewing audience: middle years and older who are aging and at a higher disease risk are more receptive to the drugs being shilled to their eyes and ears. There is no law that prevents the mainstream media from taking fees to advertise products from the pharmaceutical industry. What we are less clear about are the contractual conditions between the private advertisers and the networks over journalists reporting health news or negative findings about the specific drugs being plugged in the ads. Only the US and New Zealand governments actually permit drug advertisements on television networks, so this is once again an example of the special relationship that exists between federal agencies and the drug companies. Big Pharma had to first succeed in seducing federal FCC officials to win access to America’s airwaves.
In 2016, the FDA had a major announcement and selected a small group of media firms, including National Public Radio, to release the news. But there were conditions, known as close-hold embargoes, that demanded journalists could only interview and ask questions to sources that were officially sanctioned by the federal agency. Seeking outside comments was forbidden. The FDA’s intention is clear: to control the flow of information and assure that press reports are stamped with the agency’s seal of approval. Upon hearing of the FDA’s repression of journalistic integrity in the science media, the journal Scientific American filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The publication uncovered the FDA’s attempt to mislead the media and public by creating “a coterie of journalists” who would do the FDA’s bidding. These journalists are given the privilege of receiving advance notice about science news before anyone else. Reliable independent journalism relies on pursuing outside sources to receive comments and verification for accuracy. Although the FDA claims it has ceased close-hold embargoes on reporters, the practice has continued unabated and is now embedded in the FDA’s media strategy. Many of the medical and health stories coming out of the FDA have followed this principle, and as a result, all of the media outlets parrot the same FDA directive. Journalist watchdogs, according to the article’s author, become the FDA’s “lapdogs.” Reporters are then reduced to “stenographers.”
Shortly after the release of the controversial documentary Vaxxed, co-directed by the discredited British physician and GI specialist Dr. Andrew Wakefield, we undertook and published our investigation into the shadowy forces pulling mainstream media’s strings to demonize the film. The film was not intended be an anti-vaccine diatribe. Rather, it told the true story about a senior vaccine scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. William Thompson, whose guilty conscience motivated him to turn whistleblower. Dr. Thompson released thousands of pages of classified documents to an independent professor and House Representative Bill Posey that contained unquestionable evidence that the CDC had intentionally covered up data showing a direct correlation between the MMR vaccine and rising autism rates among African American boys – as much as a 240 percent increase. In fact, Rep. Posey spent years trying to get Thompson to testify under oath before a House subcommittee and was consistently blocked by CDC pressure on his colleagues. The CDC had committed an enormous crime against the African American community. If Thompson were permitted to give testimony to the American people, the entire vaccine industry would have been jeopardized. The industry’s profits and survival are far more important than the lives of small Black children. And the media was equally criminal in whitewashing this story.
The question we asked ourselves was: how can a film that had not been released for public viewing become the target of such vicious attacks by numerous news outlets within a 72-hour period? In addition, beneath all of the media’s criticisms, we identified a single suspicious written template that all the journalists had been relying upon for their reports. What might account for this anomaly? Clearly, there was no independent journalism being permitted within ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the UK’s Guardian, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and LA Times, New York Times, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and many others. Nor did any of the journalists ever view the film. The entire case was noxious.
Many federal agencies have sophisticated public relations departments. In the case of the CDC, its media activities have more in common with an intelligence operation. Seeking an explanation for why so many mainstream journalists could pen identical screeds to denigrate the film Vaxxed, as well as vaccine safety and vaccine-autism associations in general, we identified a joint program between the agency and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Scores of health editors and reporters through the nation’s leading mainstream media corporations have passed through the CDC’s Atlanta campus through this alliance to be indoctrinated in national public health policies. Journalists who complete the program receive special privileges, including access and instructions to the CDC’s surveillance database and publications to assist in their investigative reporting. In addition, these journalists join the CDC’s exclusive club and receive advanced notices about stories to report and prepared scripts to work from. An example of a CDC script disseminated to these journalists instructs what and how to report collective fear during the influenza season in such a way that people will rush with their kids to their local pharmacies to get their flu shots.
Fear-mongering is one of the more successful strategies to seduce the public into adhering to a specific message that benefits the fearmonger. Monsanto succeeded in this emotional scheme to persuade California’s electorate away from voting in favor of GMO labeling. By shifting the debate away from GMO’s health issues to an economic threat that would increase families’ food bills if labeling were to be approved, people voted on their financial rather than health fears. Political candidates from both parties engage in this practice consistently. Yet perhaps the largest dose of propaganda to generate fear ritually takes place during every annual flu season. The media barrage warning the public of their pending death from a flu infection is completely orchestrated out of the CDC, its advisers and consultants, and its broad network healthcare affiliates.
Ironically, on its website, the CDC vows “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data.” Yet as Dr. Peter Doshi at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine points out, when it concerns the flu vaccine, the CDC’s motto couldn’t be further from the truth. Among all public health policies, flu vaccination programs are not only the most aggressively forced upon the public, but also the most scientifically deceitful. Doshi notes that upon close examination of the CDC’s flu vaccine policies, “although proponents employ the rhetoric of science, the studies underlying the policy are often of low quality and do not substantiate official claims. The vaccine might be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza appears overstated.” In his evaluation published in the British Medical Journal, the flu vaccine is an example of government “disease mongering.” During the 2016-2017 flu season, the government purchased as many as 168 million doses of the vaccine; that is a lot of doses of an ineffective drug to dispense.
In the early 1990s, there was a glimmer of hope that safe and effective drug development might get on the right track. The emergence of a movement within the medical establishment known as Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) has been touted as one of the great medical advances of the twentieth century. EBM has become a dominant paradigm in the modern medicine and all medical research institutions and medical schools adhere to it. It is most prevalent theory in use today to determine the accuracy of peer-reviewed journal articles, clinical trials and medical claims to improve healthcare decisions.
One of EBM’s early and greatest achievements was the creation of the world renowned Cochrane Database Collaboration, a network of 37,000 professors, doctors and researchers from over 130 countries that performs meta-analyses on existing scientific literature for pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, medical devices and supplemental products to determine the veracity of their health claims. As we have detailed, the journals increasingly fail to maintain high standards for the research they publish and are riddled with authorship violations with author conflict-of-interests and ghostwriting that have threatened the integrity of reliable medical literature reaching those who daily diagnose and treat patients. Although many excellent Cochrane meta-analysis reports were released to show that drugs and medical procedures were in fact ineffective, unnecessary and even dangerous, the citadels of medical bureaucracy and national health ministries paid little heed. This was the case for reports on human papillomavirus (HPV) and influenza vaccines, many antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, and statins, which fell on deaf ears.
However, today the Cochrane project, once an optimistic international and independent grassroots effort to bring sanity back to clinical medical practice and national health drug policies and regulatory processes, has fallen to the same level of corruption that now infects the entire Big Pharma-controlled medical establishment. A recent scandal indicating that the organization has been hijacked by private pharmaceutical interests is the removal of Cochrane’s internationally recognized co-founder, Dr. Peter Gotzsche of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Dr. Gotzsche is the author of Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare, a devastating and meticulously-documented condemnation about our broken healthcare system which earned the British Medical Association’s first prize book award in 2014.
His ouster from Cochrane’s Governing Board this year, and the subsequent termination of his job at the Rigshospitalet medical facility, are indications that dissent based on sound medical science is no longer tolerated. Witnessing a trend that Cochrane was progressively becoming less independent, less transparent, and compromised by a growing faction of pro-Big Pharma and its allies in government health ministries, Dr. Gotzsche made efforts to restore the organization back to its founding principles. The “power struggle between two factions,” as he explains, was waged between himself and “Cochrane’s CEO Mark Wilson [who] opposes open scientific debates on the quality and reliability of Cochrane reviews and emphasizes ‘brand’ and ‘business’ rather than getting the science right.” After receiving email correspondence acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, it was Wilson who orchestrated Gotzsche’s firing in retaliation.
Thus comes to an end the single ray of hope within that has persisted within the corporate and state-mandated medical regime.
When the Roman Catholic Church ruled over Europe, its mission was to grab and sustain absolute control over kings and queens and the masses. Dissent resulted in excommunication and even death under threats of eternal damnation in the infernos beneath the earth. This kept the population in line until brave souls, Russell’s lovers of knowledge, staked their lives to publicly expose the delusional world the Church lived within. Has that much really changed over the past thousand years now that science has replaced the Church?
Rachel Carson was labeled “hysterical” by the chemical industry for bringing attention to the documented health risks of DDT in her 1962 book Silent Spring. An editorial campaign was launched to persuade the public that the book was deceitful and filled with fallacies. Dr. Andrew Wakefield exposed an association between the gastrointestinal inflammation found in autistic children with the MMR vaccine. He never stated the vaccine actually caused autism; nevertheless he was pilloried, tried in a kangaroo court, and banished by the Glaxo-controlled British health ministry. And now there is Dr. Peter Gotzsche, and there are hundreds more whom the church of medical science has demonized and destroyed for speaking up about scientific errors and against power and corruption among medicine’s priesthood and its corporate lords.
The average person is hypnotized by the images science projects through newspapers, television news, serials and mainstream media health stories. Repeatedly science and medical news begins with “Experts say,” or “Scientists have confirmed,” or “All doctors agree…” Who are these experts, doctors and medical authorities? And why should any of us believe them? Wearing a white coat has become a sign of authority because these people are glorified and idolized to create the impression that they possess an esoteric scientific knowledge beyond the masses’ comprehension. And with mainstream media incessantly bombarding us with this fallacious image, we come to believe in their message. This is the medical Matrix in which most Americans find themselves, and the only pill worth taking is the red one offered by Morpheus to free us from the medical fascism that is ruling our lives.
At the conclusion of his essay, Bertrand Russell writes, “Science is no substitute for virtue; the heart is as necessary for a good life as the head.” If Russell were to witness the rotten state of medicine today, he would undoubtedly conclude that medical science had surgically removed its heart years ago. This has led to the “collective passions” of our medical aristocracy being “mainly evil” giving rise to “hatred and rivalry directed towards other groups [eg., scientific and medical dissenters].” He would also acknowledge that our situation now threatens “the destruction of our civilization” as he predicted.
Russell might also opt for his second option to this regime of scientific power and control; that is, he writes, “the collapse of our civilization would in the end be preferable to this alternative.” NOTES
5 Russell, Bertrand. “Icarus or the Future of Science,”
7 Mark Hersgaard On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency
8 Hughes, Austin. “The Folly of Scientism,” The New Atlantis.
30 Gale R, Null G, “Why is the CDC Petrified of the Film Vaxxed?” Progressive Radio Network, April 3, 2016
32 Gale R, Null G. “Wikipedia: Our New Technological McCarthyism, Part Two,” Progressive Radio Network, May 10, 2018
34 Russell, Bertrand. “Icarus or the Future of Science,”