What Can You Trust?

alienclint

Recently I wrote about how people need to stop sharing crazy conspiracy theories on Facebook.

To be clear: You really should stop sharing conspiracy theories on Facebook. 

Now, of course people fired back with a bunch of stuff about how the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theorist” in order to stop anyone from questioning the official government narrative.

I am not doubting that.

Honestly; it’s probably true.

The government has historically been very successful with propaganda and it’s entirely possible that they did coin the term. But if they did, you need to think about why.

Look: There have always been a certain group of people within the population who are overly susceptible to anything. They are gullible. That is why myths about fairies and gods and things have persisted. It’s why the Weekly World News exists. Those people are a small group of people who cannot tell fact from fiction. And as a society, we have always made fun of them. Sorry, but we have.

So if the CIA really did coin the term “conspiracy theorist” then they did it to lump you in with those people.

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The best example of this problem can be found at The Free Thought Project. They have banned me on both my private and public accounts because they don’t like me posting links that disproves their bullshit.

And let me be say: 90% of what they post is bullshit. It’s not true. It’s just crazy shit that has been disproved by science.

But because 10% of it is true, all of a sudden they are a “credible news source” in a world where no one knows who to trust.

Reality Check: The Free Thought Project is garbage, and if you share their stuff you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It’s very important to learn to sort out the difference between fact and fiction. These days it is a necessary life skill.

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So what do you look for?

Here are some tips!

First, please ask where the thought came from.

First, Please note the country that the story originated from. Some countries have more reliable media than others. You can do this by looking at the ending of the web address. If a story came from a French News Source, it will have “.fr” at the end. If it came from the United Kingdom, it will have “.uk” at the end. (And so on.)

Now this is important, because countries like the UK, Canada, and France have laws that hold media outlets accountable for lying.

The United States does NOT have any laws restricting the media. In fact, they have ruled that the media can lie.

Follow me because this is complicated:

Two journalists wanted to do a story of why Bovine Growth Hormone was banned in other countries but not in the US.

They did the research, and then were stopped by their employer (Fox News.)

They argued: Fox suppressed our findings because they get money from Monsanto, and they are therefore stopping the truth from being heard. 

Fox Argued: We’re not actually a news site. Our name is Fox News, but we are an entertainment site, and therefore have no responsibility to the truth. 

So what did the judge say?

The first amendment does not restrict the media in any way, and even a real news site could outright lie and it would still be protected by the Constitution.

Does this mean that you can’t trust any source in the US?

Not really.

You can absolutely go straight to the source. If you don’t like the spin about what congress is doing, that’s fine. Go find the CSPAN video of the actual hearing, and listen to what the people in congress are actually saying. If you want to know who is pushing the Dakota Access Pipeline, find out who is building it (just go to their website) and who will profit from it (also on their website.)

You have to go to the source.

Ask yourself: Where did this information come from? Who is the originator of the thought? 

If you can always ask where the thought came from, and then track it down, you will have an easier time determining if the thought is true or false.

Remember to always go for the source!

Okay. Do you know where the thought came from?

Good!

Now dig into it.

google-scholar

If the story is about, say,  Bovine Growth Hormone:

Who sells this product?

Well, a quick Google search shows that it is Monsanto. They actually make a lot of money off of the product. Okay. So now what?

Well, I always go international first. So I would check on how many countries allow Bovine Growth Hormone, versus how many have banned it (and in those who banned it, I would ask why.)

I do a Google search and I see a lot of garbage sites. There is some natural news nonsense, and some other free thought kind of thing. I skip those. I am looking for an official source. Something in the neighborhood of a scientific study.

The first thing I find that is credible is this publication page from a government hearing on the subject in Canada.

I find that in the hearing, Monsanto provided certain evidence that Bovine Growth Hormone was safe. The list is:

  • the United States National Institute of Health, in December 1990;
  • the Joint FAO-WHO(1) Expert Committee on Food Additives, in February 1992;
  • the Commission of the European Community, in January 1993;
  • the Center for Veterinary Medicine of the United States Food and Drug Administration, in November 1993;
  • the Joint FAO-WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, in February 1998.

Now clearly, these are publications being used to tell a government that they should not ban a chemical, and that means they will be technical. That’s okay. You are smart enough to read a technical document. It just takes a little more thought.

I take the first one, and I put it into Google. This brings up the study, which like all government studies is public.

Turns out that Monsanto gave the wrong information to the Canadian government in that hearing. The study they sited did NOT relate at all to BST (Bovine Growth Hormone.) I am willing to bet that was intentional. The staffer charged with doing the research probably brought up the technical report, couldn’t find Bovine Growth Hormone in it, and assumed it was his/her mistake.

So we know at the very least that the “evidence that it is safe” is suspect.

That’s a good start.

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Now I go to “scholar.Google” and search for technical publications. What I find is that Bovine Growth Hormone is proven to be unpleasant for the cow. It is also proven to increase milk production, which is what all the US studies talk about. So we know for sure that it is not very good for the cows, but it is very good for the dairy farmers. But is it harmful to me as a human, or to the environment?

That is more complicated. To know that, we would need someone to fund a study. As far as I can tell, no study has actually been done on this beyond rats and salmon. So the answer is: We don’t know.

Some governments have banned it because we don’t know (they won’t approve it until it is studied) and some governments have made it legal because we don’t know (No harmful effects found? Okay!)

Who is right? I don’t know. All the studies suggest that is is probably not bad for humans in the levels that it occurs in milk, and it is killed by the process we use to make yogurt.

So here is the really frustrating part: If we could fund studies on human tissue, we could find out for sure. But we can’t afford it, because we are just a bunch of poor wage slaves in the US, right?

So what can we know?

Well we know that Bovine Growth Hormone is found in milk. So you are exposed to it. But we don’t know if it hurts you or not, so it’s up to you to decide if that is a risk you want to take.

We know it is also released into the environment through the farming process, and we know that it was given to salmon. It does not seem to harm these salmon, but that is all we know. We don’t know if it effects any other animals in the wild. So, it is up to the government’s regulatory agencies to decide if it is an acceptable risk.

What I can promise you is that if you drink, smoke cigarettes, or smoke pot, then you are exposed to far worse chemicals. So please keep it in perspective. Those folks who are smoking a cigarette while talking about the dangers of chemicals should probably re-evaluate a few things.

So, we can’t know much for sure. There are not how life works. A lot of time we don’t get nice, neat answers. So beware websites that try to sell you nice neat answers. You’re looking for facts, and facts are often messy.

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