Many Anti-Vaxxers Don’t Trust Big Pharma. There’s a Reason for That.

Vaccine opponents often share a conviction that the health care system is more interested in profits and power than helping people. Are they wrong?

Recently, an acquaintance — the mother of a young child — popped up in a Facebook thread discussing a Newsweek story about Russian internet trolls spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. She described the decision to vaccinate as a “very hard choice for parents to make these days.” But personally, she wrote, she was staunchly against conventional vaccines due to concerns over underreported side effects and “zero accountability” on the part of the pharmaceutical companies.

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“We don’t need Russia trolls to destroy our confidence in the Big Pharma,” she wrote. “The facts did that on their own.”

“We don’t need Russia trolls to destroy our confidence in the Big Pharma. The facts did that on their own.”

This sort of “vaccine hesitancy” is on the rise. The World Health Organization identified it as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019. On April 15, WHO reported preliminary data showing that cases of measles, which claimed the lives of close to an estimated 110,000 people globally in 2017, “rose by 300 percent in the first three months of 2019,” compared to the same time period last year. The U.S. is on track for a record-breaking year. As of April 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 626 confirmed cases of measles so far in 2019 — the second-highest yearly total since the disease was considered eliminated in the U.S. in 2000.

That growth is fueled in part by people like my Facebook friend who have lost trust in the systems that are supposed to protect them, according to a recent editorial in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Part of the problem, according to the editorial board, “is that a lack of faith in government, the health care system, and pharmaceutical companies is not always irrational.” In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, they noted that people in regions affected by a deadly outbreak of Ebola are justifiably distrustful of health advice from a government that responded to the crisis by postponing elections — widely viewed as a cynical political move, rather than one motivated by public health concerns.

Similar sentiments of understandable mistrust now percolate in the U.S., the editorial board noted. “In the USA, the country is plagued by prescription opioid misuse fueled by aggressive pharmaceutical marketing,” they noted, “the people of Flint, MI, have been without safe drinking water for three years, and the most basic drugs are often unaffordable because of profit-driven health care.”

In her posts, my Facebook acquaintance asserted that she had diligently researched the side effects associated with vaccines, and sought out what she believed to be legitimate studies on alternatives. She wasn’t anti-science, she said; she just didn’t trust the science that had been sold to her.

“Little wonder that some individuals question the authorities’ desire to prioritize their wellbeing,” The Lancet editors concluded. “It is impossible to build trust while at the same time abusing it.”

Anyone younger than 40 would not remember a time in America when prescription drugs weren’t hawked on radio, television, and in print like toasters and pickup trucks.

“They were now consumers of health care rather than patients who had a doctor who cared for them — cared about them as well as cared for them.”

In the early 1980s, a populist conservative movement swept through the country, bringing with it an anti-regulatory groundswell and a rising tide of consumerism — the perfect environment for companies to test the waters with a few print and television ads for prescription drugs. In 1985, the FDA issued a ruling that allowed direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines as long as it provided a “fair balance” of information and “a brief summary” of possible risks. Then, in 1997, the agency opened the floodgates for broadcast ads by allowing advertisers to include only major risks.

Since then, medical marketing has evolved into a sophisticated, high-dollar enterprise that permeates every aspect of the health care system. In a comprehensive analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January, husband-and-wife team Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz, who served as co-directors of the Center for Medicine and Media at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, traced how spending on drug marketing, disease awareness campaigns, health services, and laboratory testing increased from $17.7 billion in 1997 to $29.9 billion in 2016. (Schwartz, a critic of medical excesses and well-known expert on the science of communicating medical evidence passed away last November.)

“What struck us most is just how much marketing, how much promotion there is,” Woloshin, who still runs the center, told me. He put the spending explosion in context: The nearly $30 billion spent on medical marketing was more than five times the Food and Drug Administration’s budget, he noted, and roughly equal to the entire budget of the National Institutes of Health. “If you look at the GDP of countries around the world,” Woloshin added, “that’s the median GDP.”

The most rapid growth has been in direct-to-consumer marketing, which accounted for only 12 percent of expenditures in 1997, but nearly one-third of spending by 2016. Meanwhile, the lion’s share of the marketing dollars are still spent behind the scenes, promoting drugs to health care providers and hospitals through face-to-face sales calls, free samples, meals, travel, speaking fees, and more. All of this has led to more patient visits to doctors and more prescriptions. It also nudges doctors as well as patients to choose newer, more expensive, brand-name drugs over older, cheaper alternatives with a proven track record.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a report published this month by the Lown Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on issues of medical overuse and underuse, found that Americans — especially older adults — are suffering serious consequences from medication overload. Forty percent of adults aged 65 years and older take five or more medications — a threefold increase from two decades ago. Every year, one in five older Americans suffered adverse effects from a drug; more than a quarter of a million were hospitalized because of it.

While some drugs are truly lifesaving, Shannon Brownlee, a co-author of the report and senior vice president of the Lown Institute, says the benefits of many newer, heavily marketed medications are often marginal at best and can have greater risks than people realize. “The pharmaceutical industry, in selling its products to both patients and clinicians, has effectively created this sort of mirage of how powerfully important these drugs are,” said Brownlee, who also sits on the advisory board of Undark, while “very deliberately” emphasizing positives and downplaying negatives.

All of this has helped to erode trust in the health care system, Brownlee says. In focus groups the Lown Institute has conducted with people aged 60 and older, Brownlee says that she has been struck by the sadness people expressed over the loss of relationships they once enjoyed with their physicians. There was “a sense that medicine was all about business and all about money,” she says. “And that they were now consumers of health care rather than patients who had a doctor who cared for them — cared about them as well as cared for them.”

In that context, it can be easy to see how people like my Facebook acquaintance — intelligent, protective parents — could become jaded and suspicious of vaccines, which they often perceive as just one more product being pushed by Big Pharma.

People are more likely to get vaccinated if they trust the government, their health care system, their health care provider, or other members of society in general.

Last year, a systematic review of 35 studies found that trust plays a major role in people’s decisions about vaccines. People are more likely to get vaccinated if they trust the government, their health care system, their health care provider, or other members of society in general, according to the subsets of studies that looked at those measures. A study published in January in the journal Social Science and Medicine, meanwhile, used interviews and focus groups to explore the levels of trust among 119 whites and African Americans in the companies that make — and the government agencies that promote — the flu vaccine. Among the highlights: “Pharmaceutical companies are widely distrusted, often due to perceived motives.”

A recent survey of 1,500 patient groups from around the world found that fewer than one in 10 people rated the pharmaceutical industry “excellent” or “good” at having fair pricing policies.

As it stands, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs that includes product claims. The American Medical Association has called for a ban on such ads, but in all of my years of reporting on the drug industry, no one I’ve spoken to has thought that likely.

Indeed, even enforcement of existing regulations is lax. Aside from a momentary blip in 2010 when the FDA launched a “bad ad” program, the number of warning letters the agency sent to drugmakers for violating advertising regulations has declined sharply over the last 20 years even as marketing has increased. Last year, a study conducted by Yale researchers published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed that few direct-to-consumer broadcast ads for prescription drugs comply fully with FDA regulations. In their January analysis in JAMA, Woloshin and Schwartz wrote that the FDA and Federal Trade Commission should do a better job of enforcing existing rules, and also develop new ones to address the rise of misleading disease awareness campaigns, especially on social media.

Repeated requests, made through calls and emails to pharmaceutical giants Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, for a response to these sorts of criticisms went unfulfilled. And when asked about the role trust plays in vaccine hesitancy, Holly Campbell, a spokesperson for the industry trade group PhRMA, wrote in an email that she could not speculate on individual motivations. “But,” she wrote, “vaccines are one of the greatest achievements of biomedical science and public health.” She pointed out that vaccines have helped eliminate devastating diseases such as polio and smallpox. And companies are ramping up to produce more. “Today,” she wrote, “there are 264 vaccines in development by biopharmaceutical companies to both prevent and treat diseases.”

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Still, the one point in the system that everyone seems to agree has the most potential for building trust is the doctor-patient relationship. “Most of our interviewees trust their personal doctors a lot,” said Amelia Jamison, a faculty research assistant the University of Maryland Center of Health Equity who studied trust related to the flu vaccine.

“People are more likely to accept vaccines when their health care providers strongly recommend them,” Jamison said. It also helps, she added, when doctors act as role models, and explain to patients why they choose to vaccinate themselves and their own families.

That trust is also a two-way street says Rachel Grob, a senior scientist in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Grob was one of the authors of a recent essay in JAMA detailing how physicians’ trust in patients strengthens the relationship and improves diagnosis and care. Parents have a lot of expertise in their own children, Grob said. They are instinctively protective, and want what’s best for their kids. “Those forms of lay knowledge and expertise need to be genuinely and wholeheartedly acknowledged and validated,” Grob said, while also making sure parents are properly informed about the risks and benefits of various treatment decisions.

My Facebook friend did not find what she needed to allay her concerns in the mainstream health care system. Instead, she said her family had chosen what she considered a safer and effective alternative: homeopathic vaccines. I tried to point out that the research she linked to had not been published in a peer-reviewed journal and contained serious methodological flaws, but she seemed unlikely to be swayed.

“It’s not that I don’t believe vaccines can work — it’s that Big Pharma has lied over and over and over again,” she wrote, adding a summary of her feelings toward drug makers: “I’m not mad because you lied,” she wrote. “I’m mad because I can never trust you again.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to make clear that while representatives of Merck and GlaxoSmithKline acknowledged Undark’s repeated requests for a response to the many criticisms of their long-standing marketing practices, which were made by both email and phone over the course of several days, neither company actually provided any response to those criticisms.

Teresa Carr is an award-winning, Texas-based journalist with a background in both science and writing, which makes her curious about how the world works. She is a former Consumer Reports editor and writer, and a 2018 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. In 2019, she began penning the Matters of Fact column for Undark.

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30 comments / Join the Discussion

    What are your thoughts on using nosodes from the field of homeoprophylaxis, in place of vaccinations? I ask since the Indian government is using these quite successfully on a large number of people, and there is ample data to show they are more efficacious, far less expensive, and much safer than allopathic vaccines.


    Editors of both The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine have publicly stated that much science-medical research cannot be trusted. The work of Dr John Ioannadis concluded most published research is false.

    Why would anyone trust science-medicine on any count. More to the point, anyone over the age of 55 in most other developed nations even if not the US would have grown up with virtually no vaccinations and given birth to children who might have had 2-3 at older ages. They know that vaccines are not necessary.

    And since most parents questioning vaccines were once pro-vaccine and changed their mind when a child was dead or injured, it is pretty clear, anyone who researches vaccines would doubt what is said by science-medicine.

    Another factor is that younger parents, in their Twenties, who have been subjected to massive levels of vaccines and often suffered from it, are increasingly opting to NOT vaccinate their children because they do not want to do to them what was done to themselves.

    There are too many vaccines, too soon, too often, too multiple, too poorly researched, too experimental and too unnecessary. Those are the facts anyone of moderate intelligence can see.


    Vaccines work, but when you give the PharmCos a special court to handle adverse affects suspicion is sure to follow. CarCos do not get a special court to handle/hide their adverse safety builds. As for vaccines for babies, every intro course in immunology teaches that the thymus during the first two years of life sorts the “self” from the “non self” so that a proper immune system can be built. During this time breast feeding is encouraged as mother’s antibodies protect the newborn. Pushing vaccines in to newborns at day one to two years makes no sense. They should come, but at two years or later in life, when the “self” versus “non self” inventory has had a chance to sorted and processed by the infant to develop a competent immune system. From Pediatrics. 2005 Nov;116(5):e623-33 “Among physicians in Switzerland interested in immunization, a significant proportion of nonpediatricians decline or delay the immunization of their own children with the recommended MMR- or DTP-based combination vaccines,..”


    “a Newsweek story about Russian internet trolls spreading anti-vaccine propaganda” You people are so out of touch it is beyond pathetic.

    The opposite of an anti-vaxxer is a vaccine-pedophile. And we all know this society has a big problem with pedophiles — i mean just look at these MD’s convicted of gross indiscretions, but this industry is so pedophilic, they get to keep their jobs …..


    The main thing that made me suspicious of learning about vaccine courts that are secret. That’s crony capitalism and on the government and pharmaceuticals , not just big business.


    I am a fan of “the other side of the story”. Not to say it is necessarily valid, but I want to hear it.

    Perhaps the most famous of the “anti-vaxxers” is RFK, Jr. There is a great interview with him on youtube with Tucker Carlson. At the very beginning, he says he vaccinated his own children. He really isn’t anti-vax, he just is skeptical about vax every one for everything all the time.

    Watching the interview is a good ten minutes well spent.


    That’s a big part of the problem – if anyone on any level says anything not over the top supportive of forced vaxxination, they are labeled an anti science anti vaxxer.. all that hate and labeling for people who are actually applying the scientific method and doing their research rather than be ruled by fear and the unscientifically applied idea of herd immunity.


    Forced vaccination, especially uniformed of the risks is plain bullying but at the criminal level.


    The dialog regarding the safety and effectiveness is muddled. We the terms ‘anti-vaxxers’ and ‘pro-vaxxers.’ Those terms are not useful, and it is the medical industrial complex that is happily using those terms. They imply that all vaccines are either equally safe and effective, or all vaccines are not equally safe and effective. Science and common sense support the latter. In that case, it is incumbent for those in charge to secure information about any and all information about the vaccines they are considering.

    I’m neither pro- or anti-. However, I am deeply concerned about our overall approach we are taking toward the development and implementation of vaccines the way we are doing it today. Concerned, too, that cautionary information about vaccines is virtually censored.


    When our third son got his vaccination I expected it to go just as it had for his 2 brothers. When I called the health unit 2 hours later to say his injected arm was swollen to twice the size of the other arm, his entire body had gone flaccid and could barely be roused to open his eyes, they told me he must have a cold. Are you kidding me? No aid offered or responsibility taken. Not one to let absurdity stand, it took 4 more phone calls before a physician in the health department said they took note of it. My trust was shattered that day. My son’s reaction was exactly as described in the documentary Vaxxed with the difference between those parents and us was that our son came back to us rather than being lost in the neuroimmunologically mediated catastrophic loss of neuroplasticity which is autism. Research has shown a mother’s immune reaction to a virus while the baby is in utero can create proteins in the child’s brain leading to autism. Nobody would be able to get research funding to see if this is the same reaction for post-vaccination autism cases. Maybe the fuzz they licked off their little teddy could cause that kind of immune response in the brain and give you that same result. Maybe just an imbalance in newborn gut flora could do it. But when they tell parents you just didn’t notice their child’s autism and that the challenge of that intervening shot couldn’t possibly be what caused this reaction. Those parents know they have been lied to. And parents talk. So I am now very vaccine hesitant. Maybe a shot will help me or maybe it will result in life-long autoimmune dysfunction. What I do know is that I don’t trust profit driven pharmaceutical companies to hold good science and my good health ahead of their own interests.


    not surprised.. when your child is damaged or dies from a vaccine and you’re told that’s not what happened! This happens all the time..


    Many people who are considered anti-vaxxers have researched the topic and find there are many discrepancies with the evidence from the pharmaceutical and medical communities. I have witnessed a number of infants that experienced seizures after an MMR shot. It affected them for carrying time frames, and no one knows the long term health consequences. They are not completely harmless, and it truly is a shot in the dark. Those with severe reactions to vaccines are considered the acceptable risk factor to protect the rest of the population. No one knows who will be the susceptible ones, but companies are okay with some becoming.
    It is interesting how people are avoiding vaccines as much as possible with their dogs and cats, because of the proven health consequences of vaccines, yet it is not drummed up to be such an issue. I believe the media is buying into the hype and misleading the public.
    Many people use homeopathic nosodes instead of vaccines and have a much safer protection. Others are doing blood tests(titers) to check their immunity before having a vaccine or using nosodes. No one is talking about this in the media. Science has proven the efficacy and safety of nosodes. Our family uses Lyme nosodes for protection and they work wonderfully.
    Media has to cover all sides and not run with hype all the time.


    As homeopathic remedies usually contain nothing but water, they cannot possibly have anything more than a placebo effect. Scepticism about medicine may be warranted, but combining that with acceptance of homeopathy is farcical.


    I understand your perspective, but homeopathic remedies are very closely evaluated by what is called “provings”. They evaluate the responses of thousands of people taking the remedy. Most of this was done many years ago, before double blind studies were done. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, having used them for over 30 years for all kinds of things, including a cat almost dead with feline leukemia. She returned to perfect health. That can not be attributed to the placebo effect. I agree that, before studying homeopathy, the premise sounds insane! Once, I thought so , too. I was trained in allopathic medicine and always look for objective evidence. It took some research and studying and objectively observing results, along with my personal experiences of healing using homeopathics that changed my mind. It was quite a revelation, as it didn’t make sense! Now, after studying it, I understand it better. It’s my first “go to” for all minor health problems.


    Would you share where you get your nosodes? I’ve been looking into this for my family, but I want a reputable company. Thanks!


    “Vaccine hesitancy” is a very good term.

    I know no “anti-vaxxers”. Even those parents I know who have decided not to use vaccines at all would never ban them from use by other people. Many parents I know use some vaccines and not others, or vaccinate on a schedule different from the CDC recommendations; that’s not being “anti-vaccine”, that is an attempt to responsibly weight risks and benefits not just for their families but for the wider community.

    I’m not a doctor, but I have studied history, and when a group is misrepresented as monolithic and extreme in government public communications to gain the end of motivating the population to obey government directives without question, that’s not a public health program — that’s propaganda. Folks like myself, who might be inclined to highly favor vaccines as a useful product, are driven to be more skeptical when we feel like we are being coerced with disinformation and the pressure of public mocking.

    This is an excellent story, and addressing these issues would see a rise in vaccination rates in this country.


    Why do we recognize the dangers of polypharmacy everywhere except in vaccines?

    Meredith McBride MD


    I lost faith and trust in the entire profit-based, corporate system of medicine after being hurt by a commonly prescribed antibiotic – ciprofloxacin. Here is a post I wrote a couple years ago giving the list of reasons why I don’t trust any of them –

    On December 21, 2013, The Huffington Post published an article entitled “Americans Have Little Faith in Scientists, Science Journalists: Poll.” The article noted that, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, “only 36 percent of Americans reported having ‘a lot’ of trust that information they get from scientists is accurate and reliable. Fifty-one percent said they trust that information only a little, and another 6 percent said they don’t trust it at all.”
    People trust science journalists even less, with only “12 percent of respondents said (saying) that they had a lot of trust in journalists to get the facts right in their stories about scientific studies.”

    I was raised by an engineer with a science background. I don’t have any religious beliefs that keep me from believing what scientists say about human or earth history. My political and ideological beliefs don’t conflict with those of scientists, generally. I believe that science is the best method of seeking the truth that humans have found thus far. I believe in the efficacy of the scientific method.

    But I am one of the people in the 51 percent who only trust the information provided by scientists “a little” and one of the 88 percent who doesn’t trust science journalists to get the facts right. I haven’t fully lost my faith that scientists will eventually get to the right answers, but I have lost my trust that they are on the right path. Here are a few reasons why:

    I know more about my mysterious condition than they do. I had an adverse reaction to Cipro, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, and that triggered Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome – a syndrome that is more similar to an autoimmune disease than an allergic reaction to a drug. There are hundreds of reputable, peer-reviewed journal articles about the effects of fluoroquinolones on human cells. I am thankful for those articles (and the scientists that did the research and wrote the articles), as they have given me much of the information that I have. But there is no consensus among research scientists about how fluoroquinolones affect humans, or even human cells. Fluoroquinolones are chemical creations of humans. Their effects on human cells should be testable, verifiable and known (they have been on the market for more than 30 years), but they’re not. The effects of fluoroquinolones on human cells are complex and multifaceted. But there are causes and effects and truths to be found, yet victims of these drugs are left to do the research about how these drugs work and put together the pieces as to why they are ill, because the experts, the scientists and researchers, aren’t. This isn’t okay.
    Rise in chronic mysterious illness. People are sick with “diseases of modernity.” Doctors and scientists don’t seem to have any answers as to what diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adverse reactions to drugs (including vaccines), autoimmune diseases, allergies, and others are caused by, or how to fix them. When you, or a family member, become ill, and there is nothing that your doctor can do to help you, yet your pain and suffering are definitely real; the natural and reasonable tendency is to lose trust in those who are failing to give you answers. We expect answers to medical, biological, and chemical problems from doctors and scientists, and when they fail to give us those answers, we lose faith in them.
    Publication bias. Publication bias is “the practice of selectively publishing (drug) trial results that serve an agenda.” It’s an ethically disgusting practice and most scientists agree that it should be eliminated, somehow. Yet it continues. The Huffington Post article noted that many people distrusted scientists and science journalists because they believed that the scientist’s findings were influenced by political ideology or the influence of the companies sponsoring them. No system has yet been put into place to minimize or eliminate bias.
    Scientists aren’t seeing the big picture. There is a struggle between specialization and detail, and the so-called “big picture.” Journal articles will point out details of a problem, then fail to link those details to the big picture. For example, there are journal articles that note that fluoroquinolones deplete mitochondrial DNA. What that means for human health and how that affects the person who takes those drugs, is not noted.
    Scientists aren’t taking a stand. There are journal articles about the disastrous effects of some drugs on human health, but there seems to be little screaming about the limiting of the use of those drugs based on the findings. Rather, the warning label is simply updated, and people continue to be hurt, when their pain, suffering and death could have been prevented.
    Nonsense explanations. In an article in The Atlantic entitled “Living Sick and Dying Young in Rich America” about how an increasing number of young people are coming down with chronic illnesses, especially autoimmune diseases, the explanations put forth by the doctors and scientists interviewed as to why young people are sick with autoimmune diseases bordered on ridiculous. Junk food and a lack of exercise were asserted to be the main culprits. Junk food and lack of exercise will certainly make a person fat and they may cause some chronic illnesses like obesity and diabetes, but they aren’t likely to trigger an over-expression or over-stimulation of immune system cells (unless the junk food is made from GMOs and immune-system altering chemicals, in which case it’s possible), which is what causes autoimmune diseases. Perhaps pharmaceuticals that have been shown to stimulate immune system cells should be looked at as a culprit, instead of the victim’s diet and exercise habits.
    Faith-based assertions. Almost every journal article I read about the safety of the drugs that hurt me, fluorouquinolones, has a faith-based, incorrect statement that they are “generally regarded as safe.” Many of the articles then go on to note deleterious effects of fluoroquinolones on human cells, but those truthful findings don’t seem to inspire revision of the presumptive statement that they are “safe.”
    Faith-based following. To be accused of being anti-science is a huge insult. If you question the safety of a drug or vaccine you risk being accused of being anti-science, and the assumption is that you must be irrational, dangerous, or opposed to the progress that has been made with other pharmaceuticals or vaccines. The demonizing of those who question scientists is, ironically, anti-science, as science is built on questioning assumptions and faith-based beliefs.
    Conflicting results. When questions are asked that should have a yes or no answer, and those questions can be verified in a laboratory setting, different groups of scientists should be able to get consistent results. Replicability is a tenet of science. Yet there are conflicting results to many important, answerable questions throughout scientific journals. It’s frustrating and it decreases the credibility of scientists that questions that should be answerable aren’t being answered.
    Changing stories. Is butter good for us or bad for us? How about coffee? How about fluoride? What about statins? The story changes constantly. This destroys the credibility of the people telling the story – doctors, scientists, nutritionists, and others.
    Disbelief of patient reports. If one patient comes forward asserting that a pharmaceutical or vaccine hurt him in an unusual way, it is reasonable to think that the patient might be mistaken, that there might be another explanation for his pain. However, if hundreds or thousands of patients come forward with the same, or similar stories, their assertions should be listened to. Unfortunately, their stories are being systematically disregarded and denied by doctors and scientists alike. Hurt patients have no reason to lie, they have no conflicts of interest (generally), so they should be listened to and believed. In systematically ignoring them and their pain, doctors and scientists are being callous and un-curious, and they are losing credibility.
    Not asking the right questions. Mitochondrial dysfunction is related to many diseases including, “schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis” (source) and others. Many pharmaceuticals, including statin drugs, synthetic antibiotics, antidepressants and others, adversely affect mitochondria. Yet the affects of drugs on mitochondria are not systematically examined before drugs are put onto the market. If mitochondria are not being looked at, the right questions are not being asked, and if they’re not asked, they won’t be answered. We count on scientists to ask the right questions. When they don’t, they lose credibility.
    The list above saddens me. If I can’t trust scientists to give me answers, who can I trust? Is there an alternative? I’m not the type to start an alternate belief system, and I truly do believe that the scientific method is the best way of finding truth that we have. But scientists are failing to find the answers as to why, for example, an increasing number of young people are suffering from chronic autoimmune ailments than at earlier times, or appalling autism rates keep getting worse and worse, and people are suffering because of the lack of answers provided. So I have lost trust in them. Sadly, I have more trust in personal reports (which are, of course, anecdotal) that I read on the internet than I do in scientific studies. At least I know that the people screaming about their pain, their struggles, their need for answers, etc. aren’t subject to publication bias with their screams.

    The only way to find answers to chemical, biological and medical problems is through science. Scientists must be the ones to step up to do the science. They must be the people to find the answers. Substantive, reliable, replicable, truthful information cannot be gained without them and their methods. We are at their mercy in finding answers to many of life’s problems, especially those having to do with human health. I trust that some brave scientists will step up to rectify some of the criticisms that I listed above. I certainly hope so.

    I don’t expect scientists to be perfect. I don’t expect them to have all the answers. I don’t expect them to be infallible. But I do expect them to be curious, humble, truth-seekers who minimize bias and conflicts of interest to the best of their abilities. I expect them to be ethical and moral. I expect them to take responsibility for the bad that comes along with the good of their creations. I expect them to be prudent and careful when dealing with chemicals that can mess things (human bodies and the environment) up in ways that can’t be fixed. I expect them to be honest. I expect them to be outraged. I expect them to be curious. I expect them to seek answers to the real problems and dilemmas that people face. Perhaps I’m naïve. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from my fellow humans who happen to have the title of Scientist. Perhaps I’m not being fair. I apologize if that is the case. We are all just people trying to do the best we can to make the world a better place. I just wish that I was still sure that, collectively, scientists were making progress toward making the world a better, not worse, place. Until I gain some reassurance, consider me one of the doubtful and untrusting. I am truly, deeply saddened by this.


    I share the skepticism on scientific studies in some cases and how it’s portrayed. It’s very interesting how many industry funded studies come up with a result that support that industry.
    However I must say I support vaccines. I have skepticism but maybe it’s because I have known multiple polio sufferers. I must say as well we are being exposed to huge numbers of chemicals and pollution on a daily basis and very rarely are those things implicated in any disease in spite of believe it or not Richards Nixon’s comments on chemicals.
    Also I must make a comment on junk food and lack of exercise being implicated in disease. If excessive consumption of junk food causes obesity, we know it’s a factor and obesity causes chronic inflammation. Exercise reduces inflammation according to some articles. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a number of chronic diseases.


    Why would people not question this age of dominance by science-medicine when people are not healthier but more sickly and children even worse?

    We have epidemics of Autism, Brain Cancer, Diabetes, Asthma, Allergies, Coeliac Disease, Behavioural and Learning Difficulties, Auto-immune diseases in children and young people in ways never seen before.

    Whatever ‘miracles’ science-medicine might think it brings, it does not bring good health. It is currently expected that younger generations will not live as long as their parents, let alone their grandparents who were fortunate enough to grow up before the age of ultrasounds, vaccinating to the max, overuse of antibiotics and medicating every symptom.

    Certainly, if your situation is crisis-trauma or you require surgery, conventional or Allopathic medicine is the way to go. But, if you want good health, avoid it like the plague and say no to the antibiotics, vaccines, medications and unnecessary meddling.


    So nice to see the dying art of real journalism. This is well done and a breath of fresh air to counter the mainstream propaganda, but doesn’t mention the fact that the majority of people who are labeled “anti-vaxxers” trusted completely, only to see themselves and/or their children irreparably harmed, as well as the fact that the pharmaceutical companies are not liable and have not been since 1986 for those injuries and deaths. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund has paid out over $4 billion. Those who researched before their children were born and choose not to vaccinate at all are a fraction of a percent within the movement to maintain bodily autonomy, informed consent, choice, and medical privacy against the powerful pharmaceutical lobby which is known to control both our government and our media. (


    The problem with vaccines is that the medical system is asking for our trust, but not providing good evidence. On the contrary, the science showing that vaccines distort children’s immune system and cause both acute and chronic health issues is overwhelming. If you care to look at the science, a good starting point is


    We need more independent labs investigating the contents of vaccines. Corvelva is one such lab and found vaccines to contain much that should never be in a vaccine, such as HERV-K, MLV – both are retroviruses.


    Independent lab testing only works if the labs don’t need money. If a lab gives bad or negative results on a product, the pharmaceutical companies won’t use that lab and it goes out of business. The labs that give the results big pharma wants get paid and won’t stay independent for long.


    I believe most people, certainly parents, in the world would donate money for a fully independent study comparing health and disease rates in fully, partially and unvaccinated children.

    That would settle it once and for all. Why has it not been done? Because the vax-pushers say it would be unethical to not vaccinate some children even as millions of parents would be delighted to have their child unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.


    In 1954 I was one the youngest child in the polio vaccine trial. I got sick afterward. But there was no follow up. Is that good science? I believe my CFS/MCS stems from that vaccine screwing up my immune system.


    This is the first non derogatory, even keeled article on vaccine hesitancy I’ve ever seen. Many parents don’t trust pharmaceutical companies because they lie about everything else so why should we believe they aren’t lying about vaccines?


    Great article. I can totally relate to people who question vaccination. When I was seventeen, I started having some mental health issues and was put on medication; not only did the medication fail to help me, it worsened my condition and even gave me side effects that almost cost me my life. Because of that as well as awareness of all the scandals coming out of Big Pharma, I have zero trust in conventional medicine. Ironically, when I started getting into things like yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and vegetarianism (stuff which is considered quackery by Big Pharma) I actually got healthier. Also, I haven’t received a shot since I was seventeen and I never get these flus and other viruses; whereas I have friends who stay up to date on their shots and not only are they sick all the time they even get the illnesses which they were vaccinated against.

    However, your comment on homeopathy is not correct. Dr. Isaac Golden has studied homeopathic vaccination and found it to be very effective with fewer side effects than pharmaceutical vaccination. Also, homeopathy has been successfully used to fight epidemics in Cuba, Brazil, and India. Plus, the science of hormesis states that just a little bit of a toxin can improve health which gives homeopathy scientific legitimacy. One last note, according to Dr Victoria Wong, many medical journal editors do receive money from Big Pharma which is why it’s hard to find peer reviewed studies on homeopathy.


    Great article, spot on in many aspects. And you didn’t bring up Andrew Wakefield! One error is about vaccines irradiating small px and polio is a well worn lie by Big Pharma. Thank your plumber and the people responsible for banning DDT. Otherwise, good job!


    Yes, the smallpox and polio flags are waved to push vaccines and both are based on lies. Smallpox was diminishing in mortality and incidence long before vaccines.

    And Polio had long been with us, manifesting in 92% of cases as no more than mild flu-like symptoms. So, what caused the Fifties epidemic of severe paralytic Polio?

    Two factors were recognised at the time, one being the removal of tonsils and adenoids, common from the early part of the 20th century when antibiotics made surgery safer and doctors could not figure out what they did and decided nothing and whipped them out by the millions, making a fortune in the doing, and the other was the link between vaccination and SPP, paralysis often beginning at the injection site. This was particularly the case with children.

    Vaccines were no doubt well-intentioned, but they have long ridden on the back of ego and greed in science-medicine and the insanity of pushing vaccination from 1-2 at older ages in the Seventies, to more than FIFTY in the first five years of a child’s life, beginning within hours of birth if not in utero, and rising to SEVENTY FIVE by the age of 18, is likely to be ultimately seen as the most criminal act and experiment in the entire history of modern medicine and science.

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