The decade's most triggering comedy
The exponential rise in adolescent girls adopting a trans-identity and seeking medical transition should give anyone pause, but few are willing to speak out against the prevailing political narrative. Proponents of child sex changes frequently point to the U.S.-based medical authorities that currently endorse its practice to dismiss any and all criticisms.
Pediatric “gender-affirming” care is often touted as the “medical consensus,” despite little evidence to support its practice. Prominent Democrats, influencers, and even comedians like John Oliver and Jon Stewart have made the appeal to authority, a logical fallacy in which the opinion of a purported authority — like U.S.-based medical associations — is used in place of reason and evidence.
“Arguments from authority carry little weight – ‘authorities’ have made mistakes in the past,” the late great Carl Sagan said in his prolific book, “The Demon Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark.”
“They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts,” Sagan added.
U.S.-based medical groups have used poor evidence to support their positions, and have refused to conduct systematic reviews. Instead, they have “devoted themselves to promoting deeply flawed and ideologically driven research,” according to Leor Sapir, a Manhattan Institute fellow who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the rapid proliferation of the “transgender rights movement.”
Arguably more progressive countries like Sweden, Finland, and England have conducted the necessary evidence reviews, as has Florida’s Boards of Medicine, with each concluding that the risks of pediatric medical transition far outweigh any purported benefits. This resulted in the closure of prominent gender clinics, strict restrictions on the use of cross-sex hormones, and banning gender-related surgeries for minors. Italy, Australia, and Spain’s medical bodies have also recently raised similar concerns.
In the United States, children are put in the driver’s seat of their own sex change operations, despite the fact that a body of research indicates that roughly 60–90% of children who identify as transgender, but who do not socially or medically transition, will no longer identify as transgender in adulthood and many will grow up to be gay and lesbian adults. The “gender-affirming” model of care discourages therapy that could help minors feel more comfortable in their bodies and instead provides puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries, to “affirm” minors in their chosen trans-identity.
Many young women who formerly identified as transgender have come forward detailing the accelerated process of obtaining gender transition services, sometimes after a single phone call. They describe the clinicians who neglected to assess their mental health before prescribing cross-sex hormones, which can cause irreversible changes to the body, and referrals to have their breasts removed. Several “detransitioners,” as they’re called, have even filed malpractice suits against their medical and mental health providers – and more lawsuits are anticipated in the coming years.
The medical establishment is not immune from mistakes, corruption, or succumbing to political pressure; many past catastrophes were the result of putting blind trust in authorities and dismissing critics of the dominant narrative. Perhaps it’s time to take a lesson from history; as Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
While the United States looks back in horror at such atrocities during the first half of the 20th century as the Tuskegee experiments, lobotomies, and committing women to asylums after diagnosing them with “female hysteria,” the medical scandals that have taken place in recent decades are seemingly overlooked or forgotten entirely.
The medical establishment played an integral role in the promotion of a now-discredited theory of depression, which antidepressants — a $17 billion a year industry that is set to grow to nearly $22 billion per year by 2027 — purported to correct.
The “chemical imbalance” theory, which posits that depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities in the brain, was widely endorsed by the medical establishment since the 1980s. Not surprisingly, the popularization of this theory coincided with the introduction of Prozac — an antidepressant that was marketed as a treatment for depression by increasing levels of serotonin.
Randomized double blind placebo control (RDBPC) studies, considered the “gold standard” of epidemiologic studies, have continuously found that antidepressants are no more effective than placebos at treating depression in the long term, (however they may help some people with mood regulation in the short term). Despite antidepressants not doing what they claim to accomplish, approximately 13% of American adults take antidepressants annually. The rate is much higher for women, with 18% being prescribed the medication.
Over the years, scientists and researchers have attempted to put the chemical imbalance myth to rest, but were largely ignored. It seems that little else was done to correct the public’s perception, until a systematic umbrella review in July 2022 – that found that 85-90% of the public still believes that depression is caused by low serotonin or a chemical imbalance – attempted to finally put the narrative to rest.
This “chemical imbalance” theory was heavily touted by the pharmaceutical industry, but also by reputable professional organizations like the American Psychiatric Association. The umbrella review determined that during the period 1990–2010, there was considerable coverage of and support for the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression in the medical literature.
“Our research provides evidence that the psychiatric profession acted as a willing and often enthusiastic conduit of the serotonin theory of depression …” the report reads. “… The profession must bear some responsibility for propagating an unsupported theory and the mass use of antidepressant drugs that has accompanied it, with all the problems that [it] has produced.”
The pharmaceutical industry is largely to blame for the opioid epidemic, but the national catastrophe that struck the U.S. claiming nearly one million lives could not have taken place without doctors prescribing the opioids and the medical bodies and journals promoting them. The medical establishment uncritically adopted many of the marketeering ploys used by the manufacturers of opioids against their better judgment.
Pain clinics dispensing opioids were once thought to be legitimate and necessary while operating under the medically-accepted guise of “pain management.” After people caught on to their illegal conduct, approximately 600 pain clinics were shut down and given the stigmatized nickname “pill mills” to denote the cavalier way they dispensed dangerous narcotics to addicted patients.
In collusion with pharmaceutical companies, one of the leading medical societies, the American Pain Society (APS), instituted the marketing campaign, “pain as the 5th vital sign” in 1996. This declaration did not come with a device which could objectively measure pain, as was done with all previous vital signs like blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature, making it the first and only purported vital sign that was subjectively determined by the patient.
The APS was eventually shut down after investigations found they took nearly $1 million from the leading opioid makers, including Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.
As incredible as it sounds, the completely farcical “pain as the 5th vital sign” campaign was initially widely supported by many medical societies including American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, The Joint Commission, The American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, as well as regulatory organizations and pharmaceutical companies.
And of course, the opioid epidemic couldn’t have taken off without the help and failure of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that gave OxyContin a special label describing it as a “non-addictive opioid,” despite all evidence to the contrary.
In the ’90s, scientists at the pharmaceutical company Merck exaggerated the positive effects and downplayed the increased cardiovascular risk of an arthritis drug, Vioxx, in order to get FDA approval. When the drug was approved in 1999, it quickly proved fatal, but stayed on the market for five years.
FDA scientist Dr. David Graham estimated the drug had resulted in 55,000 premature deaths and 100,000 heart attacks in the U.S. alone, and testified before the Senate that it was the “single greatest drug safety catastrophe in the history of this country or the history of the world.”
Although Merck is largely responsible for the loss of life, “systemic failures at the FDA allowed Vioxx to remain on the market,” according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy group. The report outlined how the FDA attempted to censor criticism from scientists trying to raise the alarm, allegedly by threatening and intimidating the whistleblowers. Because of the culture of fear and lack of oversight in the drug safety system, Dr. Graham said that the FDA was “incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx.”
It’s no secret that the pharmaceutical industry, or even Big Tobacco, has influenced science for financial gain, but in recent years the food industry has come under fire for similar misdeeds. One of the food industry’s most effective tactics is the funding of nutrition research that favors their companies’ products.
In the 1960s, the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF), known today as the Sugar Association, paid scientists to publish influential research that downplayed the role of sugar and promoted dietary fat as the cause of coronary heart disease. The scandal only came to light in 2016 during a special issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that exposed the internal industry documents.
In 2016, the Associated Press investigated the candy trade groups that funded flattering research after journalists came across a study that said, “Children who eat candy tend to weigh less than those who don’t.”
In 2015, The New York Times wrote an exposé on Coca-Cola and the millions of dollars in research it paid to shift the blame from cutting calories to exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight and downplay the link between sugary beverages and obesity.
Even as recently as 2020 to present, the U.S. medical governing bodies have warranted ample criticism of their pandemic response. COVID was a novel virus, which allows for some leeway, but even America’s leading health agency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has copped to making copious mistakes, prompting a dramatic overhaul in management.
“To be frank, we are responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes — from testing, to data, to communications,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, in a statement in August.
History has shown that atrocities can happen when we put our blind trust in authorities and ignore the warning signs of a pending disaster. Carl Sagan knew this, which is why he said that authorities must prove their contentions, just like everyone else.
“One of the great commandments of science is, ‘Mistrust arguments from authority,'” said Sagan. “Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong.”