Toxicophobia, fear of toxins

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A new book about fear of vaccination reminds me of a piece I wrote nearly 5 years ago on toxicophobia.

The book is On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. As a review in the New York Times Review of Books, characterizes the person most likely to be afraid of vaccines:

white, educated, relatively wealthy — a woman drawn to doing things “naturally,” who tells us she gave birth without pain medication, medical intervention or an IV.

That “naturally” is key. Our anxieties about industrialization, at how we’ve polluted the world and presumably each other, have given the word its particular luster: “Where the word filth once suggested, with its moralist air, the evils of the flesh, the word toxic now condemns the chemical evils of our industrial world.”

Biss reports from deep inside the panic. “My son’s birth brought with it an exaggerated sense of both my own power and my own powerlessness,” she writes. The world became suddenly forbidding: There is the lead paint in the wall to fear, the hexavalent chromium in the water. Even stagnant air, she was told, can kill her child. “It is both a luxury and a hazard to feel threatened by the invisible,” she says.

Biss is talking about toxicophobia, the fear of toxins, which underlies a variety of “natural” movements from natural childbirth to anti-vaccination to natural parenting. Aficionados of these movements suffer from a pervasive fear of being poisoned. And not poisoned accidentally, either. They fear being poisoned surreptitiously, deliberately, and as part of a giant conspiracy perpetrated by Big Pharma and Big Farma and Big Medicine.

It is axiomatic among quacktivists — anti-vax activists, organic food devotees, homebirth midwives, natural parenting advocates — that conventionally grown food and the water supply are filled with “toxins.” Sometimes these toxins are named; often they are not. In all cases, though, there is no evidence that anyone is actually being harmed by “toxins,” but, of course, proof is not a requirement in the fantasy world inhabited by devotees of quacktivism.

Vaccines supposedly contain “toxins” that cause autism. (N.B. Toxins always and only cause diseases and syndromes whose etiology is still unknown. No one ever claims that toxins cause strep throat, or sickle cell anemia, or gallstones.) Our food supply is purportedly contaminated by toxins too numerous to even bother mentioning by name. Our water supply is supposedly contaminated by the toxins in pesticides. And, of course, all medications produced by Big Pharma have myriad secret and toxic side effects.

Big Pharma deliberately adds toxins to its vaccines. AND vaccine manufacturers know all about this and do it to make more money. AND the government knows all about it, too, and insists that we take more and more vaccines every year. AND the government pays for it. AND the government has granted vaccine makers indemnity from prosecution. It is a wicked world.

Big Farma covers our fruits and vegetables with toxins, and, if that weren’t enough, adds toxins in the guise of preservatives to everything else. And these toxins cause cancer! What kind? Don’t ask, no one knows, and why would that matter anyway? Cancer is cancer. And if all that weren’t bad enough, Big Farma now wants to flood our food supply with … genetically modified food. Horror of horrors, genetically modified foods (they modified the GENES, for chrissakes) are sure to be filled with unnamed toxins of all sorts. And if that weren’t bad enough, Big Farma wants to irradiate our food to kill harmful bacteria (they’re going to expose our food to RADIATION, for chrissakes). Next thing you know we’ll all be gigantic and super-powerful. Oh, wait, maybe we’ll all be stunted and weak. It doesn’t matter; regardless of what they do you can be sure it will “weaken” our immune systems.

We are facing a big problem. Contrary to what the food and medicine toxicophobes believe, it is not the deliberate contamination of our food and pharmaceutical systems. The problem is a sociological problem. Large segments of the populations are suffering from the delusion that industry and the government are colluding to deliberately poison them.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that medications don’t have side effects or that pesticides or preservatives are theoretically incapable of being harmful. Everything has potential side effects, but there’s a big difference between “potential” and “real.” Vaccines, for example, are known to cause brain damage and death in a tiny proportion of children who are vaccinated. That is real. But vaccines don’t cause autism. That’s fantasy.

What is the source of this toxicophobia? In part it stems for Americans’ apparent inability to understand risk. Americans are so obsessed with side effects that they forget about effects. They vastly overestimate the risk of side effects and vastly underestimate the life saving benefits of the treatments in question. That tendency to overestimate side effects is directly related to the sense of control that Americans do or do not feel. Just as Americans routinely underestimate the risks of driving, they routinely overestimate the risk of plane flight. They believe themselves to be in control while driving, yet they develop irrational fears about the risk of an unforeseen and unforeseeable plane crash.

So Americans obsess over the risk of side effects from medication and the theoretical risk of side effects from agricultural methods that have made the food supply larger and safer. They are consumed with anxiety by the belief that they are secretly being poisoned. This obsession is magnified by the belief that Big Pharma and Big Farma know about all these side effects and are hiding them. Do large corporations hide damaging information from the public? Yes, unfortunately, they do. But Big Pharma and Big Farma are no different from other large corporations. Yet no one has stopped driving because they fear the auto industry has designed cars that will blow up at the slightest provocation (even though that actually happened with the Ford Pinto) and no one has stopped crossing bridges for fear that shoddy construction will lead them to collapse (even though that has actually happened, too).

Simply put, there is no basis in reality for this pervasive toxicophobia, suggesting that it may be serving a psychological function. Americans are not being poisoned, but they imagine they are because, I suspect, it is a way to channel their anger at being so easily manipulated by large corporate entities like banks and other special interests, and their frustration at their perceived powerlessness. Toxicophobia projects this fear, anger and frustration onto medications, food, and, most importantly, vaccines. Unfortunately, rather than being protective, toxicophobia diverts attention from the real problems onto imaginary ones. And, paradoxically, toxicophobia doesn’t improve health, it kills people, generally babies, small children and the immuno-compromised.

Anti-vax activism is toxicophobia writ large. And as Biss points out, toxicophobia, like most quacktism is a luxury of the privileged.

  • Justone

    Some fears of toxins are supported by science. By dismissing all fears as ‘quaktivism’ diminishes the opportunities to address real health issues. Consider the National Toxicological Program monograph on low levels of lead found here – https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/hat/noms/lead/index.html. A review of around 600 papers concluded that levels of lead found in the population have adverse health effects. I think that is something to be fearful of.

  • Bugsy

    Oh my gosh. I don’t know what to say.

    So it turns out that my toxicophobe friend’s husband contacted the Dr. Bronner’s soap company and asked them to address the quality of their soap _and_ water. Not only is Dr. Bronner’s all-natural, but they’re also pretty well-known for creating an organic, biodegradable and GMO-free product. What on earth?

    Even the company rep seemed unsure about the water purity reference. I guess he only wants purified water in his soap? Perhaps he would be safest just making it himself. Ermmm….

    http://www.lisabronner.com/dilutions-cheat-sheet-for-dr-bronners-castile-soap/comment-page-3/#comments

  • PhD Mom

    [drops mic]

    You are fabulous. Thank you. x1,000.

  • Bugsy

    I just picked up – and devoured – Biss’s book this week. What a wonderful read. Thanks so much for mentioning it; I’ll be sure to pass the recommendation on to others.

  • Mishimoo

    Speaking of woo, this popped up in my FB feed:

    John Mather -> ‎The Liquid Crystals

    “Lyme Disease is now a thing of the past for the 2 lovely clients that I’ve been working with this year. Their individual journeys of seeking love/acceptance is over, as they both now love and accept themselves for who they are, warts and all.

    They both now understand and celebrate their individual pathways of illness and disease as necessary for them to Remember their true selves and therefore now take full responsibility for their past, present and future experiences.

    People ask me what are the key remedies in treating Lyme Disease, and I reply, its not so much about knowing the Liquid Crystal remedies that do this or that, but more so, it’s about knowing the type of person with whom I’m dealing with that counts most of all. I treat the person rather than treat the disease, so the remedies will be so different from person to person even though they have exactly the same disease.

    Having spoken to both women over this last week there have been tears of relief and joy and an overwhelming sense of self belief radiating from both of them. No longer is life about the horrors of emotional past, now it is about the opportunities for love in the present moment. I’m so proud of both of you, you achieved the outcome yet more importantly realised that it’s all about being in the flow of life.”

  • Here’s the thing about business – business exists to solve a problem and meet a need. If people did not fear toxins – then the natural health and natural birth industries would not be in business because there would be no problem that they actually solve. They are just as motivated by profit and market development as any other business. Difference being – real businesses solve real problems, whereas Big Natura has had to make up a problem for which it is the solution. Sadly, unlike Big Pharma, Big Natura does not have to answer to the FDA.

  • Dr Kitty

    I despair of people sometimes.
    Apparently, saying that vaginal childbirth can cause vaginal laxity and permanent pelvic floor damage is now “promoting misogynist myths”, because vaginas are naturally designed to stretch, and muscles always recover, so all you need is Kegels.

    Yeah…nope.
    Sometimes pushing a baby through your vagina will have a permanent and detrimental effect on your continence and sexual function.

    • Ash

      It’s also really cruel to say stuff like “I did perineal massages so I didn’t tear” or “My midwife/doula/doctor did guided pushing/relaxation exercises/whatever so I healed really well”
      It’s just crappy because some women will always lose at the luck of the draw.

      • sdsures

        Yep.

      • Young CC Prof

        Natural-health fans, wellsplaining again.

      • guest

        Especially for women who have experienced damage from perineal massage. I’ve seen some women puff up like balloons with minimal massage.

    • Young CC Prof

      Because denying the reality of pelvic floor injuries is SO empowering to the women who’ve experienced them.

  • just me

    I’ll also add that the anti-fluoride, vax, etc. crowd sees no problem with drinking raw milk, etc. E. coli people! Not to mention consuming actual toxins like silver. (Sigh)

    • Guest

      Sometimes human milk is for human and cows milk is for cows but coconut milk is a great substitute for breast milk!

  • just me

    Thank you! This is closely related to chemophobia which drives me nuts as a former chemist. All matter contains chemicals by definition! No such thing as chemical-free! Gah!

  • Roadstergal

    I do think there are a lot of commonalities. The book gives no answers, but brings up some intriguing possibilities…
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1594484988/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1412951871&sr=8-1&pi=SL75

  • Jocelyn

    OT: Just found out my crunchy, pregnant stepsister has started drinking raw milk. Sighhhhh. And there’s really nothing I can do to talk her out of it; she’s got a couple mental problems that make her really unstable, and she distrusts the FDA and doesn’t believe in “statistics” (yes, she references the word in quotation marks).

    • Sara

      If adults want to drink raw milk, I don’t care. If they want to feed it to their kids I am trying to find a nice way to say “that’s really stupid.”

      My current method makes me a fearmonger. I send them a few links of kids who have died, or survived with permanent health problems, drinking raw milk from meticulously well-maintained, pastured dairy co-ops (the ones that are supposed to solve all of those problems).

      http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/a-mom-and-a-dairymans-plea-dont-feed-children-raw-milk/

      • Bugsy

        Sara, I admire you for standing up for their kids’ safety. I truthfully don’t have the guts to do so, unless it affects my kids in turn (i.e: not vaccinating). What type of response do you get?

        • Sara

          Silence.

          • Bugsy

            Ahh, like my toxicophobe friends after I enquired about their son’s vaccination status. Got it.

          • Sara

            I don’t even ask about vaccine status anymore because, sadly, I know too many people who do not vaccinate for the most illogical reasons.

            I fill my social media pages with links that show off my adoration for vaccines and hope that my antivaccine friends will avoid *us*, since me and my whole family are obviously shedding vaccine particles. I.e. we’re contaminated.

          • Bugsy

            Lol, love the picture of being shedding vaccine particles. Most of our friends are quite mainstream and we live in a city with a 95+% compliance rate on vax, so it thankfully hasn’t been much of an issue for us.

            The only times I’ve generally asked are if I suspect they may be anti-vax (due to other beliefs, alternative lifestyles and/or all-natural ideologies) and when it seems like their kids’ other contacts are largely other unvax kids. Frankly, it’s not a topic I am as concerned about with my more mainstream and medically-savvy friends.

          • Sara

            Have you seen this Onion article about vaccines? From the article:

            “‘So far I’ve made my own tetanus and meningitis shots, and I’m working
            on an HPV one right now,’ she continued, boasting that her all-natural
            injectables produce just as strong an immunity as the kind you get at
            the doctor’s office. ‘I get to grow the cultures myself using my
            favorite artisanal yeasts. It’s great.'”

            And other hilarious satire.
            http://www.theonion.com/articles/pharmaceutical-industry-reeling-as-more-moms-makin,36028/

          • Bugsy

            Love it!!!!!!

          • guest

            That’s great! I love this one from Gomerblog too:

            “In what is being hailed as a huge victory for the anti-vaccine movement, Big Pharma announced to the world today that they’ve been fooling everyone all along, that vaccines don’t work, and that they’ve secretly been trying to kill off a huge chunk of the global population by putting various toxins into all vaccines.”

            The only thing is that the anti-vaxer’s will actually believe it..

            http://www.gomerblog.com/2014/09/vaccines/

          • Sara

            Yeah, it’s almost not even funny because it sounds just like something you’d find on an antivaccine site.

            Not surprisingly, NVIC — Mercola’s pet antivaccine group– recently posted a satire article as if it was real news. “Flu vaccine linked to MRSA”

            http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2014/08/the-national-vaccine-information-center-falls-for-a-satire.html

          • guest

            I can definitely see the anti-vaxer’s falling for that one! It looks “legit” if you didn’t know otherwise! I think most people who read gomerblog are doctors, nurses and so forth.. I love the nursing ones.. a lot of them are pretty funny.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        You should care about the adults too. They can and do contract tuberculosis and spread it to other people.

        • Sara

          Well, they don’t care. That’s the thing. They usually know some things about the pathogens, but it’s always “well our grandparents didn’t get sick drinking raw milk.” (Yes, they did.) Or something about FDA conspiracies.

          I feel bad for the kids because they don’t know. Mom or dad just gave them a glass of milk.

          • Trixie

            The argument that has worked a few times for me is that the E. coli in raw milk today is a new mutation that was first documented in 1985. It is far more dangerous than the old E. coli from Grandpa’s day. That is the truth, but it also plays into a crunchy worldview about overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, so I’ve had success in persuading a couple people not to give it to their kids.

          • Sara

            I found a perfect infographic saying as much, but I’m afraid it only appeals to people who “believe in” science.

          • Trixie

            Play up the “it’s all the fault of antibiotics!” bit.

          • Sara

            So I kind of tried this. I felt like a big meanie coming in to ruin the party with my facts. The responses I have gotten are kind of congruent with that. I am probably about to get kicked out of my mommy group.

            Do you say this to people who are actively and enthusiastically drinking raw milk, or to people who are considering it?

          • Trixie

            Just as well, they probably don’t vaccinate either.

          • Stacy48918

            Hey Trixie, I’ve been thinking of you and our prior conversation. Major changes in the Stacy household. I actually separated from my husband and while we are trying to work things out it comes with the requirement that the kids get vaccinated. I’m planning to call next week to schedule appointments for them. Much like my exit from the homebirth woo, I credit this blog (and Paul Offit’s books) with changing my views on vaccination. It will take a while, but my kids will be up to date as soon as possible. 🙂

          • Sara

            I had to do a catch up schedule with my first. It wasn’t so bad.

            I love Paul Offit’s books! I used to fuss and grumble about him (and Dr. Amy, too, for that matter)… but then came my humbling conversion, etc,etc. Now I *really* appreciate what they do.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            It seems to me that people should not feel humbled by changing their minds;; it’s actually something to be proud of. It means that you:

            1. had the courage to seek out information that didn’t confirm what you already believed

            2. you had the courage to consider it

            3. you had the requisite knowledge to understand it

            4. you had the strength of character to make the difficult choice to change your mind rather than the easy choice to pretend you could ignore the new information.

            The vast majority of homebirth advocates and anti-vaxxers are incapable of doing even one of these, let alone all four.

          • Sara

            It was humbling to realize that the world didn’t revolve around me and
            my family, and that I couldn’t create reality just by thinking it up.

            I was indoctrinated into this stuff when I was very young and there’s a multigenerational tendency toward pseudoscience mysticism in my family. I had family members manufacturing supernatural conspiracy theories THE DAY I found out my brother died from suicide, just a year ago. It tore away all (or many) of the delusions I had about life and my desire to cling to them.

            My skepticism started somewhat before that, but in order to apply your points 1-4 to these discrete areas of my life (toxins, vaccines, natural birth), I had to deal with the emotional fallout from that much bigger shift in thinking.

          • Maria

            I am so sorry for your loss.

          • Sara

            Thank you

          • Trixie

            I’m so sorry, Sara.

          • Stacy48918

            Yes, exactly. My husband and I had a conversation (argument…) a while back about being a true “skeptic”. He felt he was and I was blindly following medical recommendations. Yet I am the one who was deep in the woo, read things I didn’t agree with at first, saw their truth and was willing to change my mind. Being a skeptic isn’t just being “anti-establishment”.

            Thank you again Dr. Amy for all that you do. You’ve helped change my mind in several areas and I and my children (and others’ children!) are safer, healthier and happier because of your work. 🙂

          • Stacy48918

            I don’t think it will be too bad to catch them up either…especially as my son is 5. There are several that he doesn’t “need” due to his age that his younger sister still does.

          • Young CC Prof

            Sorry you’ve got marital friction, but glad to hear your kids are getting their vaccines!

          • Stacy48918

            Thanks YCCP.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Just wanted to send you strength and hope, from the anonymous Internet horde.

          • Stacy48918

            Thank you.

          • Amazed

            Centaurs to the rescue! I mean, if these internet folks can undermine one’s confidence, why shouldn’t THOSE internet folks be able to bolster it?

            Much luck to you, Stacy. In everything.

          • Dr Kitty

            Stacey, I’m sorry you’re going through that, it must be tough. I’m glad you’ve found the courage to do what you needed to do for your kids.

          • Medwife

            Wishing you all the best, Stacy. I’m sure this is a tough thing to go through. You’re an amazing mom!

          • Amazed

            I was thinking you’d get them vaccinated, Stacy. I was thinking it.

            Sorry for your marital troubles, though. One has nothing to do with the other. But I bet you’d feel more relaxed knowing that they are protected.

          • Trixie

            I was thinking about it, too.

          • Stacy48918

            Thanks for your thoughts. You’re right – the vaccination and homebirth/hospital birth issues were symptoms and not the root cause of our troubles…but we can’t go forward without dealing with both and we are, which is good.

          • Mishimoo

            Thinking of you! Hope everything works out for the best. You’re an amazing person.

          • I hope everything works out well. Separations are never easy.

          • Trixie

            Stacy, that’s awesome! At least, the vaccination part. I’m not sure how you or they feel about the separation, but I do hope things move forward smoothly and in a positive direction for you!

          • Stacy48918

            Thanks Trixie. As I said, I’ve been thinking of you a lot this last 2 weeks or so. At the moment the separation is a good thing. It’s forcing us to deal with stuff that’s been neglected for a long time. I appreciate your thoughts.

          • Trixie

            Geez, here I thought I might have been too mean. Glad this anonymous internet person could help. I hope you can come to an agreement about your, and the kids’, bodily autonomy and right to evidence-based medical care.

          • Stacy48918

            You were only saying things I already knew…just didn’t have the courage to act on at the time. And I knew it.

            It’s all good. 🙂

          • Trixie

            I knew you already knew, or I wouldn’t have bothered. 🙂

      • Jocelyn

        It sounds like she is giving it to her young kids, too, from what I can gather.

        • Sara

          I also just noticed that you said she’s pregnant. Ugh!

          • fiftyfifty1

            listeria

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      Oh that is horrible. I really wish this raw milk trend would end.

  • Sullivan ThePoop

    Now the fraud babe is joining the campaign against the oral glucose tolerance test. I am really starting to hate these people. The almighty dollar is always more important to them than someone’s life or health

  • Dr Kitty

    IMO a fear of toxins is just another anchor for someone with free-floating anxiety to hitch themselves to.

    If you’re anxious, this not only validates your feelings, but gives you something you can do to make yourself feel safer.

    Some people channel their anxiety into eating disorders, working out, cleaning or hoarding. I’m pretty sure some people are channelling it into toxicophobia.

    Thus, I think that it isn’t just about science education, or debunking quacks, or that sort of thing. You’re asking people to give up their coping strategy for how they manage their anxiety, so you need to offer a healthy alternative strategy they can get on board with.

    I’m guessing very few anti-vax people would get behind a “vaccines are safe, you should consider CBT and SSRIs” approach though.

  • Sue

    My discourse with the anti-vax/antiOB/anti-fluoridation/pro-homeopathy folks reveals an astounding amount of paranoia, ignorance, vulnerability and just plain hubris. Then there’s the no-sugar-high-fat-paleo people and the cannabis oil spruikers.

    This blog is one of my refuges – I can run back and feel the comfort of rational people again!

  • Mishimoo

    I have an enduring love for the DTaP shot – tetanus scares the hell out of me, and I’m so glad that it only takes one tiny little needle to avoid it.

    • Who?

      I know, right. We can all kid ourselves that measles ‘isn’t so bad’ and mumps is not a ‘big thing’, but tetanus is just plain nasty, and not contagious so much as the result of having an accident, which even nut job control freaks can’t help.

      There a boy in NZ last year who got it, and ended up in all sorts of trouble in hospital:
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855638
      The parents are now vaccine converts.

      • Mishimoo

        My husband’s paternal grandfather caught polio while in the navy and survived with a bad leg. He caught mumps as an adult and nearly died; was on bedrest for 8 weeks and his wife had to run the farm. These are also things I’m very glad that we can prevent!

        I used the story of that poor kid in NZ to try and explain to an antivaxxer that yes, it still happens despite good hygiene. It was written off as a ‘furphy’ and “He was probably vitamin deficient”. *sighs*

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Also, you do not develop effective natural immunity to tetanus because it takes so little of the toxin to kill you it is not enough for a good immune response. Of the people who survive tetanus because of modern medicine only about 10% develop partial immunity.

          • Sara

            And you can’t hide in the herd with tetanus.

          • Mishimoo

            Which I’m luckily able to do with Rubella, since I seemingly don’t gain immunity from the vaccine.

  • Trixie

    I was talking to my dentist today. She says she’s seeing more and more people denying fluoride treatment for their children because of things they read on the internet. She said, “their children keep getting cavities and they keep on believing fluoride is harmful and the children suffer for it.”

    • Maya Manship

      My mother swears up and down that fluoride is poison and I should not give it to my daughter. So I don’t tell her that I give it to her. My mom means well but unfortunately she takes these things she reads as the gospel truth.

    • Roadstergal

      Precious Bodily Fluids…

    • Hannah

      Can’t they just teach their kids to spit the toothpaste out instead of swallowing it? Or is even the teeeny amount you might ingest really that awful?

      • Young CC Prof

        In the Land of Reality, no, it is not harmful when young children occasionally swallow instead of spitting their toothpaste. It’s only harmful when a child manages to get hold of the tube and eat the whole thing.

        However, in Crunchy-land, they have trouble with comprehending how variations in dose affect the outcome of exposure. Which might explain the popularity of homeopathy…

        • Trixie

          Actually, the new advice for babies over 6 months and young children is to use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, and not worry about rinsing at all. No more baby toothpaste without fluoride.

          • Young CC Prof

            Yeah, I heard that the other day. Time to start brushing Baby Prof’s teeth. Well, tooth.

          • Trixie

            That way YCCB’s blood-brain barrier will be primed to receive the government mind control nanobots from the flu vaccine.

          • Young CC Prof

            How else can he take over the mind-control machine from within? We’ve been training him machine language ever since his eyes could focus on a screen, so we figure he ought to be ready by kindergarten.

      • Trixie

        No, I mean, they avoid fluoride treatment at the dentist, fluoride toothpaste, fluoridated wate . no fluoride in their special, cavity-ridden snowflakes.

        • Hannah

          Yeesh. I briefly fell for the anti-flouridation of water thing, but at that time, everything was saying ‘good for teeth but a buildup in the body can be toxic’. My main complaint when they upped the fluoride content back when I was living with my parents was it made the water taste like soap. Luckily my dad agreed and installed a filter… but holy crap even then I wouldn’t have avoided it in toothpaste!

          • Trixie

            There’s no way in the word you could taste fluoride at the level at which it is maintained in public water.

          • Hannah

            *shrugs* All I know is, it started tasting awful and when I complained, found out the only thing that had changed about that time was fluoride levels. I have no idea what else it could have been. But that was five-ish years ago and I now live in a different country, so if it was something else, there’s not much incentive to find out 😛

          • Trixie

            Probably they got a whole new system that did other stuff, to .

  • SisterMorphine

    A neighbor of ours–something of a gun-nut “prepper” survialist, but a decent fellow–happened to chat with my spouse about the Ebola outbreak. They apparently talked normally for a few minutes, till he said, “Yeah, I’m stocking up on colloidal (sp?) silver.”

    DH was pretty puzzled, thinking he meant the metal. “Uh, you think silver futures are going up or something?”

    Our neighbor looked at him as if he were crazy. “No,” he said. “It CURES Ebola!”

    Huh? I have no idea what that even is, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t done research using it on actual Ebola victims. This guy mistrusts “Big Pharma” yet takes tons of supplements a day. I daresay they aren’t doing him any harm, and possibly even some good, but he’s basically giving his $$ to the same people. Does he think all his “supplements” are manufactured by Keebler elves in organic yurts?

    • Cobalt

      Colloidal silver, if I remember correctly, not only doesn’t cure anything, but also cannot be removed from the body. It just gets stored permanently in the skin. If you take enough, for long enough, your skin will actually turn a bluish greenish color (assuming you’re white, the people on the TV special about bizarro remedies where all white). I think it also has some nasty side effects beyond the cosmetic, but I don’t remember the details.

      • SisterMorphine

        Wow. I’m no doctor, but I can’t imagine storing that stuff in your body is a good thing, Ebola or no Ebola.

      • Bugsy

        …but see, the blue-green colour will be frightening enough to scare off everyone else. Frightening off others = no exposure to outside illness = likelihood of contracting Ebola: zero! 🙂 Hehehe.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          Ebola or Elfaba?

      • Sara

        I don’t think it actually takes a large dose or a long time. At least from the few case studies I’ve read, just a week or so of using silver ear drops turned a woman blue/gray for life.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        Not just your skin but it also deposits in other tissues. You can remove some silver but it has a very long 1/2 life

    • Mishimoo

      Some of the people in the Credence Health Group on facebook are selling it as such. Go and have a look, if you don’t mind feeling like your brain is about to leak out your ears.

      • SisterMorphine

        I got as far as a post from a guy saying he wanted to use it on his 1-year-old in the hospital. I had to stop.

        • Mishimoo

          I got a bit further down to a post asking about fixing Long QT – no one has been willing to answer it yet.

          • SisterMorphine

            I actually read a bit further. Well, these Credence people certainly have heart–thanks to Ebola, they’re giving us a 10% discount! How nice of them! I think I’ll tell my neighbor.

          • Mishimoo

            And it’s only 18ppm colloidal silver, so none of those nasty side-effects!

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I just saw a video earlier of a guy on shark tank trying to sell them on his homeopathic colloidal silver product and the panel ripped him a new one.

          • guest

            I bet “Mr. Wonderful” had a hay-day with that one! lol!

    • Medwife

      I guffawed! Wow, the Ebola epidemic must be a huge moneymaker for the prepper industry. Colloidal silver, hadn’t heard that one in a while.

    • Dr Kitty

      Colloidal silver is an excellent example of why in vitro effect doesn’t always translate well to in vivo usefulness. Colloidal silver will kill germs, but it isn’t a good medicine.

      Just like you’d put bleach in your toilet to kill germs, but probably wouldn’t drink it, colloidal silver is best used outside people, not taken internally.

      • Julia
        • Sara

          What’s wrong with drinking bleach?
          It has oxygen in it. Oxygen is super good for you.

          • Young CC Prof

            I, personally, am made of white porcelain. I have no objection to drinking bleach. Other people, however…

          • Sara

            I’m glad I know this about you.

            I just like the way bleach makes my intestines spic-and-span. The detox effects are kind of painful and scary, but at least I know it’s working!

        • Cobalt

          I’ve heard of parents using bleach enemas to treat autism. I can’t imagine how whacked out you have to be to make that sound like a good idea.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            See my comment the other day about the harm that Jenny McCarthy has caused, due to her “increasing awareness” of autism.

        • sdsures
  • Bugsy

    Yes, these people do actually exist!

    This could have been written about my oldest friendship. Ever since her child was born 5 years ago, they’ve gone off the extreme end of this. An elevated lead test led to their threatening to sue companies they claimed made products with lead in them. A so-called change in personality following her son’s 4-month shots caused them to stop vaccinations. Those were some of the first, relatively gentle, steps. They’ve since shunned all restaurants, are attempting to free their house (as well as their cars) of all plastics, became allergic to GMOs, refused to use blankets in the dead of winter until they could get a hold of specially-made organic versions, and set up an urban homestead extreme enough so that they brought their own foods when visiting relatives…800 miles in a truck filled with storage tubs of dirt encasing their homegrown living lettuce.

    She and her husband are constantly crusading against companies, pharmacy, the government, chemtrails, toxins in the air and environment. Their Facebook pages have become walking Public Service Announcements and attacks on anything or anyone who doesn’t share their values. I’m not sure what’s worse – that, or her husband’s decision a few months ago that in order to escape all chemicals, their next step would be to randomly move to the South Pacific…without money, jobs, visas or needed health care.

    Now that I am a mom myself, I’ve found her way of life to be off-putting: it’s wearing and high-strung, not to mention incredibly judgmental of everyone who chooses a less extreme path. In her eyes, I suppose we’re simply uneducated and naive heathens.

    Sadly, the quickest way I’ve found to end such a 25-year friendship is to ask such a mom about her unvax child’s vaccination status (since our own policy is to keep our child away from close contact with unvax children). We haven’t heard from her once since; I suppose the question – done to protect our young toddler from kids who have a 23x greater likelihood of spreading whooping cough, among other illnesses – was instead perceived as a criticism of her parenting choices.

    I always knew her values were extreme, and no doubt I’ve judged some of her choices as well. However, losing this friendship taught me not only how resolute extremists are in their values, but also how shaky those values have made them as parents who are fearful of…well, the world.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife

      “are attempting to free their house (as well as their cars) of all plastics”

      What, like taking out the dashboard and steering wheel?

      • Bugsy

        Pretty much. Her husband seriously posted on FB that he was ridding their cars of plastics. I have no idea how/what, but remind me to never ride with them. (It was bad enough that their kid’s car seat wasn’t properly secured and would have ended up as a projectile during an accident…)

        • sdsures

          If they actually tell what bits they’ve removed and the car is still legal to drive, please share!

          • Bugsy

            Lol, I try to avoid their Facebook accounts as much as possible…but will let you know if I see anything. Would love to know how he intends to replace the plastic around the wiring, that’s for sure.

    • araikwao

      Um, paranoid delusions, perhaps?

    • yugaya

      ” A so-called change in personality following her son’s 4-month shots ” – physical and psychological growth and development at four months of age is happening so fast and at such radical rate that something as slight as “changes in behaviour” can be attributed to pretty much anything going on at the time. The fact that they “know” it was the toxic vaccines that caused this tells you how little they actually know.

      • Amazed

        Change in personality… at four-month-old. Gosh.

        My oldest friend’s little boy suffered a change of personality at his vaccinations, as well. He became aggressive. We were about to take YCCP’s advice and enroll him to boxing classes. Visions of getting rich danced before us… but before we had the time, he changed personality once again and reverted to the sweet little boy who gives a warning cry and then waits for someone to come, figuring out that since he isn’t abandoned, a single cry would do. Goodbye, tons of cash.

        He keeps changing personality after vaccines. His mom’s solution? Hand him to his great-grandma who adores him even when he’s grumpy. His mom’s certainly doesn’t.

        • sdsures

          “Change in personality… at four-month-old. Gosh.”

          OH NOES!

          *chuckles re boxing classes*

          • Amazed

            Yeah, that’s what we got for believing in vaccines! In vaccines that change personality, I mean.

            I blame Young CC Professor, though. She was the one who planted the idea in my head. I, in turn, planted it in my friend’s head. And then POOF! – the kid reversed back to his normal self.

            OT: Same kid, a short while ago: I was visiting and he tasted my hands. My fingers, in fact. He’d suck at one, spit it out, play with the red bag of the present I had brought over, and then he’d suck at another finger. Spit another finger out.

            It took a while but we finally realized what was happening: I had painted each nail in a different shade of polish, all bright and summery. The kid was probably thinking, that’s a nice red finger, let’s try it. No, not tasty. Let’s see the lilac one? Ugh, it tastes just like the first one. And what’s that? Toes? No, not interesting. All orange. Nope, nothing for me here.

            An explorer’s mind, this kid has! Vaccines made him smarter!

            ETA: Shouldn’t the personality person, provided that he’s of good health, be able to wipe their own behind before insisting on personalityhood?

          • Young CC Prof

            Actually, these days I’m thinking vaccines turned my kid into the Incredible Mini-Hulk. All he does all day is pick up spoons, sticks, etc and bang them on everything in sight. Hard. Any number of previously child-safe items have had to be confiscated after they became weapons.

          • Amazed

            Fortunately, you have your job to escape to… err, I mean go to labour at. I am reminded of the words Mark Twain ascribes to Adam: Lord, I now know why you created workdays – so that I can have a rest from Sundays!

            Your CC kid sounds lovely. Maybe he’s hungry for real, grown-up food and he’s showing his teeth, eh, tooth.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        Notice that we are hearing more about changes in behavior after the 2, 4 and 6 mo shots these days. It used to be that the changes in behavior came after the MMR vaccine, but since the link between MMR and autism got hammered so hard to be senseless, including the observation that pre-autism symptoms can be apparant by 6 mos, they’ve had to abandon that whole line and find a different boogeyman. So now they are switching to DTaP.

        • Sara

          A friend who just had a baby was telling me his wife heard that her boss’ newborn baby developed autism from a birth dose of the HepB vaccine. How did they know this? The homeopath said so.

          There was nothing I could say without insulting everyone involved in that chain of communication.

        • Mishimoo

          The antivaxxers in my area in the 90’s blamed DTP for everything, and used the release of the DTaP vaccine as ‘proof’ that their campaigns had worked + they were right. Now they’re using DTaP as proof that no vaccines work, as the protection against Pertussis doesn’t last as long as previously thought. It really rather annoys me.

    • Kupo

      It’s a pity they are teaching their kids to be afraid of the world. I’m a fine one to talk – I’m fairly control-freakish myself. Good thing I have two kids to dissipate my anxieties.
      Life is too short for unnatural stress.

      • Bugsy

        I agree. I like to be in control of things, too…but yet our goal is to expose our child to the world around him, not shelter him from potential evils hidden in every corner. (Yes, they are homeschooling him now as well.)

        • Rachele Willoughby

          Aw man, I hate that. All the crazies drown out us “I just like to hang out and watch documentaries with my kids” homeschoolers. I promise though, that some of us do homeschool even though we’re not crazy or religious.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I promise though, that some of us do homeschool even though we’re not crazy or religious.

            Bofa’s Law

            “Not all people who homeschool are whackos…”

  • Sara

    I saw one strange example of this yesterday. A meme about evil milk-based coffee creamer. I think it’s an offshoot of the FoodBabe pumpkin latte panic.

    Why is CoffeeMate so evil? Because it has “15 chemicals (ingredients)”
    The solution? Make your own with just 3 ingredients: milk, sweetened condensed milk, and torani flavored syrup.

    But wait! If that’s not enough effort and worry (and doesn’t really solve the vague ingredient math problem), there’s an even more labor-intensive version that requires soaking hazelnuts overnight, mixing with various extracts, coconut oil and purified waters in your Vitamix (and cheesecloth, and some other stuff that is never in my house), put it in your mason jar and DONE!

    Nevermind, I’m going back to bed.

    • Cobalt

      If you have time for all that, you probably don’t really need coffee.

      • Dr Kitty

        Or you can put milk in your coffee and get your hazelnut fix by licking Nutella off a spoon like the rest of us.

        What’s that?

        Nobody else does that?

        Ok, you don’t know what you’re missing.

        • araikwao

          Oh no, other people DEFINITELY do that. Uh…so I’ve heard…*looking guilty*

          • Mishimoo

            *hides spoon* Nope, no evil Nutella here

        • Amazed

          OK, OK, time for truth. WHEN DID YOU STEAL TO MY HOUSE AND FILCH MY NUTELLA? I know it was you since I thought I was the only one who was unenlightened this way. Now, it comes that I have an evil unenlightened twin.

          Maybe one day we’ll end up in a common grave for toxin-lovers, Dr Kitty. After we are all ill and bankrupt because of evil Nutella.

          Now, back to the matter at hand: WHERE IS MY CHOCOLATE? Yesterday, it was here. Today, it isn’t.

          Oh wait, I might have licked it off the spoon *sheepish grin* Sorry.

          And I don’t even put milk in my coffee. Milk is evil, IMO. But in my defense, I’ll add I don’t add sugar either! My coffee is as black as them horses I see on the TV each time I watch a historical TV series. (Never warmed up to the White Queen, though, and PG herself has been disappointing me with her last books.)

        • deborah

          She must have stolen my Nutella too! There’s no other way we could have gone thru that large jar in less than a week.

    • Bugsy

      …but if you’re using a Vitamix blender, you haven’t fully understood the dangers of (a) the plastic – not glass – container and (b) the potential radiation emitted by the blender. It’s better just to use a glass bowl and a metal spoon to mash it all up by hand.

      (Completely tongue in cheek)

    • Hannah

      I’m exhausted just reading that… so much effort to replace a few-dollar bottle of something you use a tiny amount of each day! Just save yourself the effort and lay off the coffee!

      • Sara

        I know. It’s a convenience item… for a reason.

        • Amy M

          Yeah, but convenience is cheating and therefore full of toxins.

      • me

        Or just use half and half or regular milk or even cream. If you don’t like coffee so much that you need it flavored with all manner of spices and extracts to make it palatable for you, why are you drinking it in the first place?

        • Sara

          Right? Remember milk and sugar? Or even butter, if you’re paleo.
          Whatever happened to drinking coffee black?

          I’m wondering if soaked hazelnuts impart any nice flavor at all. They should be roasted. I think that part of the recipe is for people who are horrified that pumpkin spice lattes have no real pumpkin.

          Hazelnut coffee creamer MUST have real hazelnuts (even if they have to be strained out with a cheesecloth later, and you still have to use hazelnut extract to give the flavor.)

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I like a lot of cream in my coffee and drink it a lot. Let us not get all santicoffee

          • Sara

            Me too.

            I’m mostly just amused by the apparent assumption that we’ve all been hoodwinked into drinking CoffeeMate without any other alternatives… until now. There are recipes to help liberate us from this tyranny.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I’m mostly just amused by the apparent assumption that we’ve all been hoodwinked into drinking CoffeeMate without any other alternatives… until now.

            Yep, there is a reason CoffeeMate was invented.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Isn’t pumpkin itself really, really nasty? I always thought so. The nutmeg and ginger is the good part (with the sugar).

          • Sara

            I actually like pumpkin in various things, like soups and rice dishes. Not in my coffee, though.

          • me

            And half and half is cheaper than coffeemate and has fewer calories and a pretty long shelf life (longer than milk anyway, no as long as coffeemate, but still). I don’t understand people. If coffee is gross without all the flavorings to jazz it up, try taking some No-Doze with a beverage you actually do like! There. Problem solved – caffeine fix without having to invent a way to choke down something you find distasteful.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            If coffee is gross without all the flavorings to jazz it up, try taking some No-Doze with a beverage you actually do like! There. Problem solved – caffeine fix without having to invent a way to choke down something you find distasteful.

            Crystal Lite Wild Strawberry. Love it, and drink it despite the caffeine (I would be perfectly happy without the caffeine).

          • Young CC Prof

            In the world of academic mathematics, caffeine is deliberately and without excuses used as a performance drug. Not a way to do without sleep, just a way to be sharper. The traditionalists drink coffee, but many of the younger generation prefer tablets. Why? More precise dosing. A perfect example of the difference between a plant-based remedy and a refined version.

          • sdsures

            Does making naturally-sourced hazelnut milk FROM SCRATCH include going out to the pasture yourself and lassooing the hazelnuts?

          • Sara

            First you have to move to a climate where you can grow hazelnuts.
            And you can only get there by covered wagon.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      Why is CoffeeMate so evil? Because it has “15 chemicals (ingredients)”

      Let’s see, CoffeeMate is evil because it has 15 chemicals.

      Someone should tell this person what’s in the coffee.

      (I see the point has been made below)

      • Trixie

        CoffeeMate is gross, through.

    • me

      I did replace the coffeemate with half and half a while ago. Why do I think coffeemate is bad? Too much sugar, hydrogenated oils, and quite a number of ingredients I don’t recognize as “food”. Do I think coffeemate is “evil”? No, I still buy it for my lactose-intolerant husband (he can’t use regular cream, much less milk of half and half without unpleasant side effects). I wanted to cut sugar and starch to manage weight and blood sugar, and cleaning up my coffee seemed as good a place to start as any. But, no, I do not go the extra step of flavoring my half and half…. I learned to enjoy the flavor of coffee.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        I also don’t buy coffee mate, but it is because I don’t like the taste

        • me

          I always liked it. Still do. If that’s all someone has I will put it in my coffee. But it does have about 10 times as much sugar as half and half does and for someone watching their sugar, that does add up. Especially when you drink a lot of coffee 🙂

      • sdsures

        We recently learned I’m intolerant to cow milk but goats milk is fine. Does goat milk have lactose? Whatever the reason, my tummy is happier.

        • Dr Kitty

          Probably cow milk protein intolerance rather than lactose. I have a relative with that. She’s fine with butter and anything made from sheep or goat milk, but any cow’s milk or with milk solids of any kind and she gets sick.

          I’m the crazy lady who buys three different kinds of milk. 1% for my husband who chugs a protein shake after he runs, 4% for me and the kiddo and lactose free for the cat.

          I take my coffee with milk and two sugars, I drink at most three cups a day and I do not function well without it.

    • Deborah

      You’d better have your own cow and hazelnut bushes too. FROM SCRATCH is a very strict thing.

    • Joy

      Because the Torani syrup is just one ingredient, right? From the Torani plant.

  • Ellen Mary

    I think the anxiety comes from two places: the first is that the corporate voice has never ever been 100% correct before, it has always been pretty gloriously incorrect, so it cannot be 100% correct today, but we can’t have the perspective from the future to know where it is spectacularly incorrect . . . So the tension between knowing it is a fundamentally unreliable voice, but know knowing exactly how so.

    Also the tension between knowing that there ARE environmental risk factors in the development of cancer on a macro level, and that these *are* underemphasized in the messages directed at the general public, but being unable to know exactly what those are and at times unable to meaningfully act to modify them . . . But knowing that they *will* be more clearly identified in the future . . .

    • Medwife

      There’s another place, which is that Americans are undereducated in science, and it makes them gullible.

      • Life Tip

        So true. From the posts I see on Facebook, I assume that many Americans don’t really even know what a “chemical” actually is.

        • Medwife

          I saw “organic” table salt in the store the other day. Organic NaCl! It’s a miracle!

          • Trixie
          • Mishimoo

            That made me laugh so hard! Oh my, the comments.

          • Trixie

            There are many great reviews of that product.

          • Medwife

            That’s it!! That was the salt! It’s gluten free, too!

          • Dr Kitty

            Zero sugar!
            Zero carbs!
            Zero fat!
            All natural!
            Non GM!
            Just one ingredient!
            Made from an essential element your body can’t make!

            Salt!

            It’s practically a health food!

          • Young CC Prof

            Trust me, when you’ve just been on a seven-hour hike in heat so brutal getting of the couch could wear you out…

            Salt is a health food.

          • sour_sadie

            If you’re talking about iodized salt, it’s very, very dangerous. PInk salts are very good for you, very theraputic. /sarcasm

          • Cobalt

            Is it also sugar free?

  • Ellen Mary

    The teddy bear in a gas mask here is super cute tho! Great choice for a graphic . . . .

    • Amazed

      He looks like my Anna Maria, the best and very first buddy I personally chose from the toy shop when I was 3, trying to eat my vacuum cleaner.

  • Ellen Mary

    Just pointing out that one of the issues that GM Pro types ALWAYS gloss over is that GM food is GM to DO something . . . And right now, what the main commercial varieties are GM to do is to allow for blanket Herbicide applications, which they are resistant to (Round Up Ready Corn, Round Up Ready Soy . . . ). 2,4D resistant crops are now being licensed too. So at least for me, it is not anxiety about the actual GM process, but the commercial interests involved, specifically interests who are joint marketing of Glyphosphate & increasing (instead of decreasing as originally promised) chemical applications . . .

    • Trixie

      Roundup does vastly decrease chemical applications. That’s why farmers use it. It’s cheaper. Reduces fuel costs, too, and allows for no-till farming which reduces erosion and keeps streams cleaner.

      • Sara

        I love roundup. I was really dedicated to organic gardening until I got a horticulture license and started doing landscaping work. It made the job so much easier. Most of the herbicides are fairly safe if they are used properly. And like you say, it’s ideal for no-till.

        I just don’t use it when I’m pregnant/nursing.

        • S

          Completely agree. I used to work in habitat restoration, where herbicides are a very necessary tool for dealing with invasive (usually exotic) plants.

    • Cobalt

      My issues with GM foods have very little to do with the technology and a lot to do with the corporate behavior of the producers of the technology.

      • Trixie

        What, specifically?

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        Most of the corporate behavior you hear about is not actually true

    • Mariana Baca

      which feeds into the toxiphobia towards glyphosate…

    • Sara

      Bt is the other thing. The pesticide that comes from bacteria. They put the gene in some plants and it reduces pesticide use and death of non-target species. In my view that’s a good thing but I haven’t read into it much.

      • Mishimoo

        Fun fact: Over here (Australia), Bt spray is a registered Organic Input. Which is why I am amused by people informing me about the evils of “stomach-exploding Bt toxins” while raving about organic food.

        • Trixie

          BT is organic here, too, unless you engineer it into the plant.

        • Sara

          I think it is here, in the US, too. I knew an organic farmer who was talking about it, and its approval for organics. They spray it in ditches where I live to control mosquitos.

          It’s only evil when it’s in the plant. Dr. Amy pointed out why: “(they modified the GENES, for chrissakes)”

  • Amy M

    One of my favorites also, is when the toxicophobes claim that X (formula, vaccines, some kind of food or medication) is NOT regulated or tested, but then they go and buy some homeopathy garbage. Clearly they do not understand basic FDA/USDA rules, or maybe they are seriously lacking in reading comprehension skills. It says right on the box/bottle if something is NOT regulated, which means there’s no way to know exactly what’s in it, how much is in it, if the same amount is in every lot, if there are any side effects, any drug interactions, etc. Actual food and drugs, including formula and vaccines, must undergo rigorous testing, and quality control before they can be sold to the public. Medication cannot be marketed with claims that it can cure things that it can’t. All possible side effects are listed, etc. It’s amazing to me that those same toxicophobes are so blase about tossing back “herbal remedies” and homeopathics because they are “all-natural.”

    • Liz Leyden

      I continue to be amazed by people who abhor Big Pharma, but trust Big Vitamin.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        Of course, they are, to a large extent, the same.

        You think Big Pharma isn’t happy to jump into the Supplement market?

        • Sue

          Big Tincture is even worse – an infinitely dilutable product, essentially no ingredient costs or R&D… leaves Big Pharma’s business model in the shade!

    • Dr Kitty

      Being blasé about Homeopathic remedies, I get. It’s water, it can’t possibly hurt you.
      Can’t help you either of course…

      • RSM

        Unfortunately, this is just not true. Just because its supposed to be water does not mean it is. Remember the Hylands teething tabs, with all the Belladonna? Isn’t Hylands a homeopathic company?

        • Amy M

          Well, a lot of companies that sell homeopathic remedies (water), also sell other stuff which isn’t homeopathic–its usually herb-based or an alcohol tincture, but the public just lumps it all under “homeopathy.”

          • Elaine

            There’s a so-called “homeopathic” lice spray out now which is actually just 1% sodium chloride with a fancy name. It seems theoretically possible that could actually work, but I do wonder how they justify having sodium chloride (called something else) on the homeopathic formulary.

          • Sue

            Not sodium chloride, Elaine! It’s NATRIUM MURIATICUM. (salt works better in Latin).

            ANd 1% is much too weak. Remember, the more dilute, the more potent.

          • Amy M

            I could make that in my kitchen. So could any of us. Who is wasting their money on this?

      • Sue

        Two main problems with the Magic Water: first, can be contaminated; second, dangerous if people forgo effective treatment for serious disease.

        I can’t understand how the manufacturers and sellers are allowed to get away with selling something that can;t be shown to contain what is says on the label, though. How can you tell if your little bottle of ”remedy” no longer contains any molecules of Nat. Mur. or no longer contains any Rhus. Tox?

    • Maria

      I think a large part of this is that people also distrust the government, of which the FDA/USDA are representatives. Therefore they don’t believe the regulations are actually based on evidence and are instead based solely on whose money is lining the pockets of said regulators. Again, and overblown view of the potential for corruption of an individual regulator projected onto the entire department.

    • Bugsy

      The toxicophobe in my life (above) was told by her midwife that her vitamin D levels were low earlier this year. My OB put me on vitamin D a few years earlier, so I mentioned the mcg to her. Her response, keeping in mind that her complexion is paler than a sheet of white computer paper and that her family now shuns sunscreen out of cancer fears?

      “Some of the moms I know said that you can OD from vitamin D. I instead go out in the sun and let myself burn every day. It’s okay because I put food-grade refrigerated aloe on it every night. It soothes my skin, and my burns are no longer as bad as they once were.”

      Uhhh….

      • Dr Kitty

        Swapping a mild vitamin D deficiency for skin cancer is not a good trade off.

        Is she vegan?
        If not, dud she consider a nice cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel with scrambled eggs and a glass of milk as an alternative to sunbathing to the point of melanoma?

        If you don’t want to take supplements, there are good dietary sources of vitamin D. Yes, they are mostly animal products.

        • Bugsy

          I completely agree…from what I understand, they are in the Mercola camp that it’s the sunscreen and not the sun that causes cancer.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            OK, I can understand random people knowing nothing about biochemistry, but there is no excuse for Dr. Mercola.

          • Dr Kitty

            What part of “The sun is a giant nuclear reactor emitting radiation. Radiation can damage cells and cause cancer” does he have an issue with?

    • Deborah

      Well, you don’t really need regulation for homeopathic stuff. Plain water is plain water.

      • Amy M

        Of course—but the gullible brainiacs who buy it don’t know that. And the ones that aren’t homeopathic–the ones with actual herbs in them—should be regulated.

        • Young CC Prof

          Yes, there are products which are labeled homeopathic but actually contain potentially active doses.

  • Gozi

    I just want to say that some of the people I know that are supposedly selling organic vegetables in my community are using more pesticides than you can imagine. How they are getting away with it is beyond me. There are probably a lot of people paying for organic vegetables who are not getting what they think they are paying for.

    • MS

      “Organic” doesn’t mean the lack of pesticides. It means the lack of synthetic pesticides. The “all natural” pesticides allowed in organic farming may, or may not, be more dangerous than run-of-the-mill pesticides. It’s a common misconception. It makes me believe, more and more, that “organic” is just a marketing ploy to charge more money.

    • RSM

      And those “naturally” derived pesticides are just as toxic. Worse, often they don’t work as well, so you end up with so much more chemical use than the conventional alternative.

      I learned this when I went with a friend who was looking to buy an organic blueberry farm. The old farmer told us about the pesticide he used, and said they had to use a load of it because it didn’t work so well. He said using it enabled him to be labelled organic, which means more money, so it was worth it. He did find this pretty backwards.

    • Trixie

      You have to use more pesticides to raise organic, because no one will buy wormy produce, which is the natural result of not using pesticides. And organic pesticides aren’t usually as effective.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      Organic farming uses more pest control in general. It also pollutes the environment more.

      • Trixie

        That will vary by the plant and the growing medium. It’s pretty easy to grow indoor hydroponic lettuce without pesticides if you maintain the environment properly.

  • DiomedesV

    You can tell that someone doesn’t have real problems in life when they obsess over the side effects that aren’t listed with a medication. These people are the worried well.

    What a real problem looks like: desperately needing relief from symptoms and hoping the drug will supply that, but also worrying about real, and common side effects. No drug is perfect. It’s a constant balancing act, one best undertaken with a physician who has the time to listen to you, doesn’t assume that increased longevity is the only outcome worth having, and appreciates your perspective on what you’re living to live with and not live with.

    • Ellen Mary

      And I have many relatives that don’t even understand ANY side effects from medication . . . Even when they are printed right on the information they receive when they pick it up . . . They are totally baffled & in the dark when they experience one . . . There has to be a middle ground . . .

      • DiomedesV

        Are your relatives illiterate?

        • Gozi

          Some people can read words but not really fully understand what they mean.

          • DiomedesV

            Very true. I shouldn’t have been so flippant.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    it will “weaken” our immune systems.

    People really just don’t understand immunology. The immune system is an intricate system of checks and balances. It’s “strength” is not always a good thing. What kills people with epidemic flu? Frequently cytokine storm, i.e. the immune system’s over reaction. What kills people with autoimmune disease? The immune system going wrong. How do you treat it? Weaken the immune system. A carefully modulated immune system is desirable. A “strong” one? Not necessarily.

    • Amy M

      I know that. You know that. But when people say “weaken the immune system” they seem to be referring to tendency to get sick. In that world-view, someone with a “weak immune system” gets sick a lot, and someone with a “strong immune system” doesn’t, because the “strong immune system” properly fights off disease, and the “weak” one doesn’t. We know it’s not that simple, but the immune system is wicked complicated. I think people used to refer to it as a “constitution.” As in, a healthy person had a robust constitution. Maybe we should go back to that. 😉

      • Young CC Prof

        But then we’d have to roll 3 d6 to find out what it is.

        • Amy M

          My husband is the d&d geek, not me.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      Quick question: are allergies the result of a weakened immune system? Or an over-active immune system? Or it’s not that simple?

      • Amy M

        An over-reaction of the immune system to something that shouldn’t really be a problem. Not the whole immune system though….only certain components. IgE and IgA, I think. Mast cells are involved.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Well, the most common allergies are associated with IgE antibodies and mast cells. The next most common are associated with the different IgG antibodies, but they are very different than IgE allergies because it takes a threshold of antigen instead of any amount of antigen like IgE allergies and there are different symptoms for the different classes. The least common is IgA and causes vomiting.

          • araikwao

            And then T-cell-mediated response like in FPIES

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            You’re right I left out the non antibody type

          • KarenJJ

            I think the IgA one is the one I’ve got for shellfish. Fun times working that one out…

      • mishabear

        Over-active immune system – IgE and mast cells releasing histamines against harmless antigens. It’s hypothesized (or was when I was in grad school) that IgE etc. was supposed to target parasites. Since parasite exposure is highly uncommon in industrialized countries those B-cells with nothing to do seem to be reacting abnormally to harmless stuff. Also, generally more hygienic conditions seem to interfere with tolerance – process by which the immune system figures out which (harmless) antigens to ignore.

        • Medwife

          I imagine a crazy old guy blasting away with a shotgun at teenagers crossing his lawn. That’s my immune system during allergy season.

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        It may be neither. It could just be that IgE antibodies have little to do because we have so few parasitic infections.

    • Josephine

      Yeah, my son’s immune system is so strong it just up and started murdering pancreatic beta cells earlier this summer! Good times.

      …A “strong” immune system is seriously overrated. But these are people who are squarely living in a shared reality very different from ours.

      • Young CC Prof

        Yikes, sorry to hear that.

    • Medwife

      Yes. I have a friend with MS. He came to me looking for miracle cures that us witchy midwives might know about. He’s been to a nutritionist who’d given him a long list of herbal “immune system strengtheners” to take. (The nutritionist thoughtfully had them for sale in his office! Handy) my head met my desk that day.

      • araikwao

        Now that’s an immune system that doesn’t need strengthening.

    • KarenJJ

      I don’t understand how something can “strengthen the immune system” as well as “reduce inflammation”. My immune system has a problem in the innate immunity that causes chronic inflammation and I take a medication to suppress that part of my immune system. Wouldn’t “strengthening the immune system” also include increasing inflammation?

      • Young CC Prof

        It’s Nano, and that means it runs around telling individual immune cells and molecules what to do. “Okay, you, you and you, chill out. But we need to seriously ramp up production of

        you guys.”

        That would actually be nifty. But you aren’t going to find it in a supplement bottle.

  • Amazed

    One of my most cherished childhood memories is the day my grandfather considered me old enough to take me with him in the garden as he was poisoning, aka toxifying our grapevines. Until then, I had been forced to stay chained in Home Prison with Jailer Grandma as he committed said crime.

    It feels good to eat toxin fruit. At least, you get SOMETHING to eat. As in, not giving worms plenty of food.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      One of my most cherished childhood memories is the day my grandfather considered me old enough to take me with him in the garden as he was poisoning, aka toxifying our grapevines.

      Me, too. Here’s a picture of me out using the pesticide in the garden with my grandfather. However, not all my memories of being in the garden with my grandfather are so cherished.

      • Gozi

        Awwww!!!

      • Amazed

        Wow, Bofa, you were such a cutie.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          I was. I should have been an actor. I bet Francis Ford Coppola would have liked me in one of his movies.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Then again, by the time I got to my first communion (at Lake Tahoe, it was), that cuteness had worn off. But hey, I was able to stay out of the family business and have always been happy with my career in the opera.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        Here’s a better picture, of me with my grandfather in the garden.

        • Sue

          LOL. Pity about his collapse amongst the tomato plants, Bofa!

    • guest

      I just saw a string of posts for people in my area looking for apple orchards that don’t spray pesticides. Here’s what cracked me up (and, shockingly (sarcasm), no one caught the irony). Of 5, all but 1 had gone out of business because the orchards failed to produce any fruit. And the 1 left had very low production. Like I said, not a single person made the connection. Amusing and rather sad.

      • RSM

        Yep. I love to glean apples from trees on abandoned property, but finding one that isn’t worm food can be tough. This is just one crop you must spray.

        • Trixie

          Unless you — OMG! — GMO all the apples.

    • Lost

      It takes a lot of work to grow good looking food. The Japanese do it in severely controlled and monitored conditions. Each product – melon, peach, etc – look fabulous. Onlys costs a gazillion billion million yen. (I could be exaggerating on the price. The crop looks truly fabulous.)

      In my mother’s backyard, she wraps each green plum in plastic bag to stop the birds getting to it before she does.

      • Dr Kitty

        IIRC a French hypermarket chain (Carrefour maybe?) did a promotion where they sold all the ugly, misshapen fruit and veg that normally gets composted because it doesn’t look pretty enough for the supermarket shelves. The ugly produce was sold at discount prices and it sold out.

        It isn’t just about pests. The average consumer in the developed world doesn’t want to eat amusingly anatomical carrots or lumpy potatoes, even though they will be perfectly fine. We waste a lot of food because it won’t win a beauty contest.

  • Mel

    I’m a member of Big Dairy (a subsidiary of Big Farma).

    Do pesticides scare me? Hell, yes. That’s why everyone on our farm who is allowed anywhere near our multiply-locked, specially constructed pesticide shed has a pesticide applicator licence. I’ve seen the side-effects the elder generations (my grandparents age) has dealt with from over-exposure to pesticides when they were applying them….

    Oh, on my food, you mean? Um….no. The half-life of the pesticides are measured in days at the longest. Since I usually buy from a grocery store, the veggies and fruits are way to old to have more than than 1 nanogram….

    I’ve tried to grow enough fruits and veggies for my family (two adults) for a year for the last four summers. I’ve never quite been able to do it yet. There is always some new insect or mold that takes out an entire crop family. The good news is that I can go to the store and buy replacement food.

    • Amy M

      Ha! Sure, chugging pesticides by the gallon’s a bad idea. 😉

      • Mishimoo

        Speaking of which, when glyphosate first came out, that apparently was part of the sales pitch. My husband’s paternal grandparents used to have a farm, and Nan tells us how surprised they were when the salespeople used to go “And when properly diluted, it’s safe enough to drink!” Which, given that Nan had become rather sick from arsenic and had been banned from spraying (doctor’s orders), glyphosphate being safe was a godsend.

    • Sara

      Growing food is hard. I’ve been trying and keep trying, but yeah, it’s like it’s wiped out by something totally different every year.

      As you point out, it’s the agriculture workers who really have to be cautious about pesticides. Those are typically people on the other side of the income gradient from the chemophobes (but not always. I know plenty of lower income “crunchy” people.)

    • Trixie

      I tried to grow Brussels sprouts last year and the @@#$%@ing harlequin beetles were unstoppable. Spread to everything else that was remotely cruciferous. There is no way you could grow unsprayed Brussels sprouts. No way.

  • Cobalt

    We grew all natural totally organic corn one year. The worms that ate what the deer didn’t loved it. Out of a half acre plot we got enough corn for one dinner.

    I’ll take the “toxic” corn I can eat over the all organic corn I only get to look at.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      My least favorite is “organic” food that has no signs of having been attacked by insects. If something’s organic then insects should want to eat it. If they don’t, I’m not sure I do either. Particularly since food can be labelled “organic” and still be treated with certain “natural” insecticides–including many of the older, more human toxic ones. I’d rather eat an insecticide that has been engineered to inhibit enzymes that I don’t have but insects do. OTOH, the tiny, tiny bits of actual fresh and completely pesticide free food I get from my garden are the best, IMHO. (Apart from the fact that I’d starve if I tried to eat nothing else…)

      • deborah

        I can get really clean fruit by using bags on the fruit — basically pantyhose. But that’s me and my 3 trees. I don’t think farms would do that, and if they did it would be like $3 a peach.

        • Cobalt

          I read somewhere that if you do that with apples and there is a solid design (like a word or logo) on the bag the design will show up on the apple skin, like a reverse suntan. I really want to try it out, but our apple trees are old, overgrown and don’t produce anymore.

      • DiomedesV

        That food is treated with pesticides that were grandfathered into the “organic” label. Ironically, some of them are quite toxic and no longer used by “conventional” farmers for that reason.

        • RSM

          Is copper sulfate one of those?

      • Amy M

        Yeah, the veggies from our garden this summer were fabulous. But we’d starve if that were all we could eat…not nearly enough for a family of 4 to get through the winter. We’ll be done with the last of the tomato sauce and salsa this week. However, we bought the plants as seedlings, so they were probably GMO-tastic mutants that were pest-resistant. And we put a little commercially available fertilizer in the soil when we planted the seedlings. So I guess our toxic vegetables just tasted better. 😉

        • Amazed

          OK, I’ll spill my little dirty secret out: I HATE, hate, hate organic fruit and vegetables, or what they sell as organic here anyway. They have no taste, hold no allure for me to overdo it (the mark for being the bestest best thing around), and cost quite a lot. I’d much prefer good old-fashioned toxic things.

          I am NOT giving up my coffee money for organic vegetables, period.

          • Amy M

            Honestly, I’ve never bought organic, at least on purpose. I suppose I might have and not realized it, but I don’t see the need to pay extra money for the same nutrients in my food. Like I said, we grew some veggies in a garden this past summer—for a hobby, and because I like home-grown tomatoes. Not because I have any issues with conventionally grown food. 🙂 I totally agree with you.

          • Amazed

            Plus, I don’t trust any home or not homegrown food that looks… well, shiny.

            I don’t place in my mouth anything I need not fear worms would have liked to put in theirs if not toxified.

          • KarenJJ

            It also just doesn’t seem to be a big thing in Australia. In the UK it seemed to be a much more mainstream thing to buy organic. My family are all farmers (mostly grain crops – eg wheat – and livestock – eg sheep) and they’re living long and healthy lives, so I’m not overly bothered. Grandpa lived until he was over 90 and nobody’s farm is organic.

          • Mishimoo

            Same here, they’re just so yummy. I use the term ‘organic’ to describe my gardening practices even though I don’t really use pesticides because it’s easier than explaining the hows and whys, especially since I’d hate to sound preachy.

    • Trixie

      Well, most organic corn is sprayed with the same Bt that’s in GMO corn — but with more waste and more fossil fuels.

  • jhr

    How vividly I remember fearing polio in the early 1950s, with the image of my peers in leg braces or worse, in iron lungs. How proudly our parents lined us up in the elementary school gym when I was about 7 years old to get the first Salk polio vaccine that would protect us from those fates. These parents, like mine, also had memories of the cousin, “who was not quite right in the head” after having had measles, of stories about the uncle whose death as a child from diphtheria haunted his siblings’ childhoods and made their parents old and bitter, How my grandparents would have crawled over ground glass to have their children vaccinated.
    Incredible times, these.

    • Amazed

      My maternal grandparents were each one of three children in the family. My grandfather was the only one who grew old enough to start a family of his own. My grandmother had a sister, instead of a sister and brother as she did in the beginning. That was in the period when around here, economical development started letting peasant families have less children and invest in them, as opposed to have as many as possible to have a few who would survive and work on the family fields.

      One out of three and two out of three. Great chances, eh? Better hygiene wasn’t much help against diseases anti-vaxxers now think so benign.

  • Amy M

    This is one of my HUGEST pet peeves. I can’t STAND that whole “the toxins will KILL us all!!” thing. Here’s an argument I like to fall back on:

    I work for a Big Pharma company. While I believe they are ultimately motivated by their bottom line (the dollar), in order to earn that dollar, they have to produce a top quality product that helps people. Millions of people’s lives have been saved thanks to some of the products from my company and other products have improved the quality of life for millions more. If the customers consuming these products were suffering ill-effects, they would sue the company and that would affect the bottom-line. Stock would drop, shareholders would be very unhappy. The company might even go under. Killing customers is bad for business.

    (Disclaimer: I work in the science end of things, with research scientists who seem mostly concerned with the helping-people aspect. I don’t know anyone in sales/marketing or anything about sales/marketing.)

    • Amazed

      Ah yes, toxins will KILL us all! Love this.

      Let’s see…

      Now, we have…

      Better longevity than ever before.

      Better protection against all diseases than ever before.

      A better chance to end up with as many kids as we start with than ever before.

      A good deal more teeth at age 40 (admittedly, that might be because age 40 is NOT an old age now in the developed world. See longevity.) than ever before.

      Damned toxins.

    • RSM

      It does you no favors to sell things that kill or harm, either. You get the best repeat business from people that can trust what you tell them and give them- people are busy so if they can take a short cut by listening to you, al the better. Go out selling deadly stuff and you will have some serious issues on your hands.

      People always think of sales like a one time event (like cars), so selling deadly stuff wouldn’t matter. This is not usually true, and pharma sales is driven by growing repeat business in your market. There are only so many docs and hospitals in one area, you could never make your numbers if you had to sell to a different one each time. So reputation matters.

  • ChadwicktheJones

    One would think the government, corporations, etc. would want to give us “toxins” to make us more productive, not less productive, especially when it’s of course, all about the money. Money can’t necessarily be made if your population is sick and unproductive.

    • Sara

      This is why I’m always confused by the whole thing. Always a condemnation of the “sheeple” who apparently don’t realize they are about to be poisoned. Everyone I know who has livestock takes reasonable measures to keep the herd healthy even if profit is the primary concern, otherwise it’s worthless. I don’t know any cattlemen who think they are doing themselves a favor by plotting to lace their feed with arsenic.

      Now, we know the fate of livestock animals, but that’s based on the profitability of their delicious meat.