As the flu season has dragged on, so has the controversy about H1N1 and its vaccine. On TV, on the blogs, and especially on Facebook, people are saying that they don't trust the safety of the vaccine, that it hasn't been tested enough, that it's worse than the swine flu, that they would never give it to their children, that it is all part of a vast conspiracy to keep the people sick. I've spent a lot of time researching the subject and talking to both skeptics, anti-vaxxers, and people who believe everything they hear on the television. Because of this, I've come to two conclusions. First, everybody is an expert about the H1N1 vaccine. Regardless of their medical knowledge or their research on the topic, everybody has an opinion about the vaccine that they are willing to defend, even if it's based on an anonymous forwarded email that showed up one day in their in-box. Second, I've come to believe there is actually a vaccine conspiracy.
A conspiracy, by definition, is a plan by multiple people to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act. It only takes a quick Google search of "vaccination conspiracy" to find hundreds of sites dedicated to the various flavors of this vast conspiracy. Some border on the crazy, claiming chemtrails and sprayable microchips are causing the swine flu in order to either control the minds of the population or to kill us all. The ultimate motive varies from site to site. The more believable conspiracy, and the one that I'm hanging my hat on, is that there is a group of people who stand to make a lot of money off of sick people. This group of people is spreading lies and misinformation to the public, in order to sell them a "cure" that has had little to no testing, can be cheaply manufactured then sold for a huge profit, and has no medical value, but has people coming back for more because they can never truly be cured of what ails them with this medicine. Am I talking about the medical establishment with their Big Pharma overlords? No, I am referring to complimentary and alternative medicine movement.
Complimentary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is a modern-day snake oil. They have a cure for whatever ails you. Some will give you herbs, some will try to align your chi, some will give you magic water, some will even believe in what they are trying to sell you. None of this is part of modern medicine because none of this works. The thing about today's medicine is that it has to proven to work before it goes on the market. Sometimes this takes years of studies. CAM treatments, on the other hand, either haven't been studied or have been shown to have no effect at all. Some are actually harmful. The proponents of these treatments simply ignore this data. Either they are knowingly committing fraud, or they are deluding themselves. Either way, the results are the same. They want your money.
The best way to get your money is to first spread fear about the treatments that actually work. In the case of vaccines, which have one of the best benefit-to-risk ratios in all of medicine, they do one of two things. One, publicize the very rare, sometimes one-in-a-million, side effects to make them seem much more common and frightening, or, two, just make crap up. Both of these tactics have been used very well in regards to the H1N1 vaccine. Up to 50% of the population believe that the vaccine is worse for you than the swine flu. I'm not going to debunk all those fear-mongering claims in this post, but you can go here to find out the truth about them.
After these frauds have eroded your faith in modern medicine, they then step up to fill that hole with their own "natural cure". This can be anything from echinacea and vitamin C, to homeopathy, which is really nothing more than water and sugar pills, to acupuncture. All of these "treatments" are designed to separate you from your money and that's all. None of these treatments have been shown to work and almost none of their proponents have medical licenses. These people want you to believe that because they have taken a few night courses that taught them that, despite all known laws of nature, water can have cure-all properties, that you should trust your health and sometimes your life to them.
Not only is this immoral, but it is criminal. But somehow CAM found away around it. But that doesn't make it any less vile or evil. Yes, I believe there is a conspiracy to keep people sick and to rob them of their money and we should do everything we can to bring this conspiracy to the light of day.