I think it’s important for people to understand why ResearchBased was born. It’s a long and controversial story, so buckle up. It’s also important, so I hope you will read it all.
Working in Research
I started out just like any other bright-eyed college student. I was so excited to make a difference in the world and I thought that research was truly the way to do that.
Throughout college, I had worked for a research conference. I had done a little bit of everything, looking over submitted projects and research, helping get the event together, and public relations which entailed posting on Facebook about the newest and most interesting studies. I had taken a couple of research courses and it became a large part of my minor, so reading these studies and the whole research process was fascinating to me. I went above and beyond to learn about research, how it should be done, how it shouldn’t be done, and everything in between.
Right after college, I started working at a company known mostly for survey research called Qualtrics. The job that I was doing was more consultative, I worked with high touch companies and universities, like Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Yale, Google, Nike, etc. and we would plan out their studies and how we were going to get the participants they needed. I would go and find these participants to make sure the study was all good to go and bill them as they started the project. I was able to talk to some very brilliant people, CEOs, and professors, MDs, and PhDs. I also got to consult with research experts on my team and learn from them as they would design studies and go over data. I aspired to be like them, so I took all the knowledge and every opportunity I could get to learn more about the research world.
I worked in partnership with a lot of new sales representatives who didn’t know very much about research, so I ended up helping design many studies, and I learned a lot about the ins and outs of the research business. However, one thing really started to bother me. As I learned more about our product, the way the studies were being designed and analyzed, and most importantly, data in general I started to realize that most studies are, well, crap.
Sure, you could say that is because I was working in “survey research,” but we actually did a lot more than that. We did in-depth interviews, we did in-home testing, we did all kinds of monitoring, etc. The only thing I didn’t do was work in a lab. Although, I did do some consulting on studies that took place in labs. As I said, I have worked with many Ph.Ds and MDs.
I realized that there are so many ways to manipulate data and outcomes for your benefit or to help you get your Ph.D. etc. I realized that so much of what we believe is just that, a belief. It is not as sure as I thought. We honestly don’t “know” anything, even though we act like we do. I hated that my clients were making huge decisions off of the data I was providing them and that people were being instructed and influenced by these studies. I watched as studies I had helped with were published in journals, used in commercials, and helped people get their Ph.Ds. It made me feel sick to my stomach sometimes.
That doesn’t mean every study is bad, that just means that, just because there are studies that say X does not mean it is true, or, the whole truth. (Which is what happens most of the time.)
I started to feel so…unethical. I knew I couldn’t continue doing this knowing what I know. I think I need to clarify a little bit here, I am not trying to make Qualtrics look bad. It is honestly, not really their fault. You can go to ResearchNow or SSI or Precision and have the exact same outcome. My commentary is on the research industry, and in general, all research and its vast limitations. There are just so many gaps that people do not know exist and that we smooth over and say are fine because there is just no other way to do it and it is true. It is extremely hard to do the research right, in any setting. So, I am in no way blaming the company in general. They are doing what they can.
However, my guilt remained. I knew there had to be a different outlet for me. There was no way for me to continue in my career this way, but I just could not think of where I belonged in the universe.
Then during a meeting with my then manager, he asked me what I was passionate about. I told him I was passionate about helping people (so generic) and fighting for personal freedoms and stopping abuse and a whole laundry list of other things. He looked at me and said, “Have you ever considered going to law school?” It hit me like a ton of bricks, I needed to go to law school. I already had one kid at this point, but I knew I had to go.
Seeing things differently
So, I quit my job at the Q, and I took on dual roles of being a paralegal for a short time, (just to see if I liked it), and subbing in as the director of research for a small non-profit. Around this time, my sister asked me to look into a law: 42 U.S.C. §§ 300aa-1 to 300aa-34. This was called the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. This is what it states:
“Provides that no vaccine manufacturer shall be held liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine injury or death: 1) Resulting from unavoidable side effects 2) Solely due to the manufacturer’s failure to provide direct warnings.”
The more I read, the more floored I became. Due to this law, vaccine manufacturers have NO liability. It is impossible to hold civil action against them. This law also set up the NVICP or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. In other words, you have to sue the US government in order to get compensation for an injury due to a vaccine.
I started looking into this vaccine court. There really couldn’t be that many injuries, I thought. You have to understand, I come from a family full of medical professionals: many nurses, an army medic, a couple of brothers headed to medical school. I was all for vaccines, there was never a question about them in my mind. At first, I was mostly interested in the government ramifications of the court and the fact that no other medical intervention has no liability.
So, I kept learning.
This court also has no jury and no judge. A lawyer from health and human services is chosen to be the “special master” and whatever the special master decides, goes. It is an extremely expensive process and the statute of limitations is absurd. You only get 3 years to sue.
Just to give you a good understanding, that is UNHEARD OF, for any other kind injury you could get up to 50 years to sue or longer. The other part that was very curious to me was that any plaintiff must absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your injury was caused by the vaccine. In any other injury court, there is not such a high standard. You just have to prove probable cause or have the jury believe that you have been injured.
Before this, I had no idea that there was an actual vaccine adverse reporting system at all. Many of the medical professionals in my family had never heard of such a thing.
The VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) program is supposed to allow for doctors and parents to report adverse reactions, however, there is no training on what to look for or how to report. I asked my pediatrician and he didn’t even know what VAERS was.
If no one is learning about it, how can anyone know what to look for, or how to report injuries, I thought. So, I kept digging deeper.
I was shocked when I learned that Harvard Pilgrim had been hired by the CDC to find out how many vaccine adverse reactions were being missed. Moreover, the study came back and said that less than 1% of vaccine adverse reactions were reported. Each year around 60,000 adverse events are reported to VAERS, so if it truly is less than 1% that number could look more like 6 million.
This information was extremely disturbing to me. If there is no liability, how do we insure that we are getting a good product?
Well, they must be really well tested so there’s no need to worry, I thought.
So, I went on the FDA and CDC websites to prove myself right. And what I found didn’t quell my concerns, it only heightened them. As I read through both websites and the package inserts from the manufacturer, I was shocked to find that vaccines are only tested against other vaccines, not placebos.
The WHOs most recent statement (in 2016) about this says:
“If a product has shown a benefit to a consumer, it is unethical to not give both groups that benefit. Therefore, as a general rule, participants in a new trial must receive an established effective intervention.” (International Ethical Guidelines for Epidemiological Studies Prepared by the Council of International Organizations for Medical Sciences in collaboration with the WHO, 2016 pg. 9,11)
The wording “effective intervention” means another vaccine. I saw this all over the trials, instead of a real placebo, it was last years flu shot or another approved shot. Even the ones that just said placebo, when I would look further into the study, it was the DTP shot, not an actual placebo.
Here are a couple of examples:
1. “Ten double-blind studies involving 2,252 subjects showed no significant difference in the frequency or severity of adverse experiences between ENGERIX-B and Hepatitis B plasma-derived vaccines…All subjects were monitored for 4 days post-administration.”
2. Pediatrix: DTaP + polio + Hep B in one combo shot
“Placebo” = DTaP+ polio +Hep B given as separate shots
I also noticed as the ENGERIX-B insert shows that the number of participants was extremely small, especially for an intervention that is intended to be given to everyone, and that the monitoring for adverse events was EXTREMELY short, post-administration.
I also learned that vaccines are not considered a drug, but, a biologic, and as such, they do not have to undergo the same standard of testing. Every vaccine is only tested on healthy people, which is a big problem if we are going to give them to everyone. If you read the inserts you will see that there is no way that anyone could know if there are any long term effects to vaccination, because, there are no long term studies. The monitoring is not long enough to find any kind of chronic illness or systemic reaction. No matter how you look at it, it’s just not good science. You can’t say that not having a placebo is “good science.”
Grappling with Reality
After having worked in the research industry, I thought that I knew a lot of the problems with research. I thought that I was open-minded and had learned my lesson that we don’t “know” anything, but this was still shocking to my system. I had a deep-seated belief in our medical system and our government agencies that I didn’t even realize was there. I didn’t understand that these feelings went so deep. I did all that I could to prove myself wrong.
I read the whole CDC website surrounding vaccination. I looked at the studies. I read pro-vaccine blogs and books, including Deadly Choices by Dr. Paul Offit. He seemed to be the spokesperson for a lot of things, so I read his page and listened to his videos, but much of what he said conflicted directly with what was written in the inserts from the manufacturer and that bothered me. Every argument seemed to be the same, just rewritten. They were all appeals to authority, not actual science. Everything seemed to be, look around you, obviously, they’re safe. But, I already knew there was no way to actually know they were safe based on the actual safety testing.
It was like two parts of my brain were fighting each other. Two parts of myself. The one that wanted to believe so strongly in the narrative I had been told me whole life. Everyone believes this, you have to believe this. Then there was the extremely disillusioned and skeptical side of me, telling me I had to learn more. I couldn’t just trust, I had to know for myself.
So, I started looking at the ingredients.
They gave me pause. Aluminum Hydroxide, Bovine EVERYTHING, thimerosal (yes, it is still in the flu shot, look it up, and if you read the fine print, you will see that they cannot remove it completely from most vaccines so, many vaccines still have some, even if it doesn’t have to be on the label), polysorbate 80 (linked to infertility), formaldehyde (linked to cancer), SV40 cells (linked to cancer), and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue (linked to cancer and also, disgusting).
This is a HUGE aside, which you can skip if you like, but here goes:
No one ever believes that there is really aborted fetal tissue in vaccines so, I am going to link straight to the insert here. Look all the way down at the bottom, number 11 where it says “description” there are a few strains since this is combined, but the first one you will see is “WI-38 human diploid cells from lung fibroblasts.” If you need further proof, this is Dr. Paul Offit talking about it, he created the rotavirus vaccine and is usually the doctor the media calls in to talk about vaccines in general. One thing they do omit in the article is that there were more than just 2 elective abortions, there were many babies tested in order to get the tissue we have now. You can learn more about this from the excerpts of Dr. Stanley Plotkin’s deposition under oath. He created 6 of the vaccines we have now. He is seen as the world’s foremost expert on vaccines and he literally wrote the textbook on them.
All of this was disturbing, as were the IOM reports (the IOM, or Institute of Medicine, is the arbitrator chosen by congress to audit the CDC. You can also find their reports at www.vaccinesafety.edu) These reports admitted so many things I thought were totally bogus. Like the fact that vaccines had never all been tested together and that there were many conflicts of interest at the CDC and the FDA they were concerned about, that they are not sure if the DTaP or DTP could cause autism as there has been no research done, the worst thing was that according to the IOM, not enough science had been done to show sufficiently that vaccines were “safe.”
Here is just one excerpt from the IOM and their major concerns with vaccine science as it is done today:
“1) Inadequate understanding of biologic mechanisms underlying adverse events; 2) Insufficient or inconsistent information from case reports and case series; 3) Inadequate size or length of follow- up of many population-based epidemiological studies; 4) Limitations of existing surveillance systems to provide persuasive evidence of causation, and 5) Few published epidemiological studies.”
You can find the quote in this congressional report.
I was told that vaccines don’t make any money for pharmaceutical companies, however as I looked up their financials, each of these companies was making more money from vaccines than any other product. Here is a quick look from Statista. (I won’t make you hunt all over the place.)
I was at this searching and researching for months. I had so many questions, as I am sure you do, my brain could not stop fighting itself. I was raised by a nurse for heaven’s sake. I believed whole heartedly in vaccines. I had vaccinated my son. I was told there was no danger, everyone who said anything bad about vaccines was crazy and didn’t know what they were talking about. And here I was reading the actual report and questioning. It caused so much anguish down to my soul. I wanted to just forget about it and be like everyone else.
I kept asking people for answers, to teach me. But, honestly, it seemed like I knew more about it than my doctor or others I asked. I didn’t realize that there was so little training on vaccination. But, there was SO MUCH cognitive dissonance (which you may now be experiencing, as this is probably very uncomfortable for you and you think I am just “misunderstanding.”)
I have spent thousands of hours studying this. I watch ACIP meetings and I read CDC and IOM reports. I read inserts. I am PRO-SCIENCE. Real and true science and I go where data leads me, I don’t just follow consensus.
I am specifically talking about this subject, vaccination, not because I really want to, but, because it was part of my journey to come to the understanding that we need to be critically thinking about everything in our lives that we are told. Again, just because a study or an authority figure says X does not make it true.
As I sifted through this issue, I found that it connected to many others. There were so many issues unraveling beneath my fingertips. There were so many illusions we were living under as fact on the basis of “the research says so” without even auditing the studies. As I talked more to friends about it, I realized there was a giant gap.
I could do much of the reading that I did because I have a research background and I was willing to put in the time, but not everyone can do that. Not everyone knows how to read inserts or decipher medical jargon or understands how research should be done. Not even trusted professionals.
So, I decided that I needed to help people unwind the data. Help them understand what good research is and what bad research is. I wanted to deal specifically with these controversial issues because there is so much more beneath the surface, a fraction of which I have shared with you in this post. My goal became helping people to think for themselves.
However, to do that, you have to help people learn how to listen again. You have to be able to actually have a conversation with someone without them getting angry which is where a communications degree comes in handy. I realized that I had the tools and that I would be selfish not to share them. So, I got over my fears of being shamed and hated for going against the mainstream and I created my courses.
Courses that teach people how to decipher research.
Courses that help people learn how to communicate about research and other controversial topics without getting punched in the face. That helps their message actually stick.
Courses that teach about the research behind these controversial issues like vaccines.
I thought it would be a long time before anyone signed up for these courses, but I was blown away by the immediate response. Especially from the educated community. I had doctors, P.h.Ds, chiropractors, environmental scientists, and others immediately take my course and I knew, people need this. You would be so surprised how many professionals have confessed to me that they don’t know how to read the research. They don’t know anything about these controversial issues. They just trust. Like all of us, don’t we just trust?
I am not looking to change anyone’s mind, just to open it. To help people go behind the research and understand it. I want the everyday person to be able to feel confident and know how to choose for themselves. It is time to reinforce the marketplace of ideas, not homogenize it. It’s time to lift the veil of scientific opacity and breakdown the research for the everyday person. So, I hope you’ll join me, here on ResearchBased.