You Are the Weaker Side in a War You Don’t Even Know Is Going On

You Are the Weaker Side in a War You Don’t Even Know Is Going On

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
– John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness (1838-1914)

[DISCLOSURE: This is a rant. It is filled with personal opinion based on the science I have read and the facts on the ground as I have observed them. You can do anything from rage in disagreement to nod your head in agreement to learning more about these situations before you lose the war against your health and welfare.]

You are an innocent victim in a war going on around you that you might not be aware of. Yes, it sounds like a conspiracy theory. But in this case the evidence is clear and irrefutable. I will not trouble you with the science (study references) here for the sake of simplicity. If you doubt anything, check it out.

Perhaps the most significant characteristic of your life that has not been taught to you by your doctor, your schools or even what you learn from television or the internet is that you are not just one being. What you consider to be you is the host for billions of tiny microbes, bacteria for the most part, that inhabit virtually every part of your body.

It’s called your immune system. That’s right. Your immune system is actually not part of the cell structure of your body. They are independent organisms that live in symbiosis with you. You can’t live without them and they can’t live without you.

Does that sound creepy? That’s what doctors and the media believe you will think. They believe you will appreciate remaining ignorant about what may be the most important part of your body, certainly the one that keeps you alive every day.

Science can’t tell you how many or even how many varieties of microbes compose your immune system. The reason is that it varies from individual to individual. There could be as many as 10,000 different varieties of microbes in your immune system with anything up to billions of each. If you have a healthy immune system. Which you may very well not have.

Shouldn’t your doctor be able to correct your immune system’s deficiencies? Yes. But they don’t. Antibiotics, indeed most pharmaceuticals prescribed by your doctor will impair or even destroy your immune system. Antibiotics are microbe killers. Trouble is, they kill hundreds of times more good microbes than bad. Yes, antibiotics and most pharmaceuticals (especially the most popular ones) harm your immune system. Drugs kill the wrong things. And you believe the doctors.

If you know a little about good health and the immune system you will likely know that fresh fruits and vegetables will boost your immune system. But conventional industrial farms commonly use pesticides (poisons), herbicides (poisons) and chemical fertilizers on the very same “fresh” fruits and vegetables you will see for sale in your supermarket. Nobody knows what effects the chemical fertilizers will have on your health years later. Nobody ever tests for that. Nobody.

You will have heard of GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods and GE (genetically engineered) foods–same thing, different terms in different countries–and likely read how safe they are. The producers of those chemicals that are put on the seeds they produce that accept those poisons create studies that show how safe the poisons are. But are they? The tests are notorious sources for conflict of interest. Independent studies, which receive little or no attention in the media (that profit from the chemical and pharmaceutical companies–same companies really) become buried, hidden from a public that deserves to know.

Farm workers who apply the chemicals must wear hazardous materials suits that completely enclose their entire bodies.The most famous is Roundup, by Monsanto. Its main active ingredient–glyphosate, claimed to be perfectly safe (yes, a poison they claim is safe)–has been found in mother’s breast milk, in baby foods, in vaccines, in fresh organic foods, in most chemically treated city drinking water, in air samples in a majority of cities, virtually everywhere.

GMO food crops and seeds have been banned in a large number of countries of the world. Glyphosate and similar poisons have been banned in a large number of countries. Banned because they are carcinogens, chemicals that cause cancer. Yet you can buy Roundup freely over the counter in the USA and Canada. And when you apply it you are not required by law to wear a HAZMAT suit like the industrial farmers do. You aren’t even advised to wear a mask or apply it downwind.

Generally speaking, mold, bacteria, insects and many larger animals will avoid eating a majority of food that is available in a supermarket. Some will avoid it even when they are starving because they do not recognize it as “food.” The poison itself is so effective that it kills every living organism in the soil. Everything. How do you think that affects the food chain whose larger organisms feed you?

People are finding themselves allergic to the clothes they buy and the new furniture and draperies they install in heir homes. Others find themselves ill in other ways, including cancer, from the chemicals embedded in the fabric to make it “look better.” You can ask your doctor about any of this.

Your government likely warns you about climate change and advises you that your car emits too much greenhouse gases. Your government does not tell you that airplanes–many fewer than cars–emit almost as much greenhouse gas as cars. They also do not tell you that one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gases is power generating stations that account for almost one-quarter of all emitted greenhouse gases. Those power stations are usually owned by the same governments that want you to cut back on driving your car.

If there is something wrong that is a public hazard, you may be assured that a government will blame you for it. That will distract you from the fact that governments are the greatest hazards to health on the planet. They do not protect you from air pollution. They do not protect you from water pollution. They will not enact legislation that will make your food free from hazardous ingredients. They will not insist on proof that new drugs–always man-made chemicals, never natural products grown in nature–are safe. Testing of new drugs is from three months to a year, usually. Yet they could affect your health years later. You will never know and never suspect it when you are dying and don’t know why.

If you live in a democracy, you vote for the people who make decisions that affect your life and your health and your future. Legislators are ordinary people like you and me. They often make a lot of critically important decisions based on very limited input. Often that input comes from the very people who stand to benefit from their decisions. Or from lobbyists who are paid by the stakeholders.

You should learn. You should teach your legislators. Without your pestering, they may not even know the harm their decisions will make.

You should not be the victim of their ignorance or neglect. Nor should you allow yourself to be a victim of your own ignorance.

Bill Allin in the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about inexpensive and easy solutions that people are not taking to overcome serious problems. The “war against health” is a serious social problem. He has authored hundreds of articles that are available free on the internet.
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Nutrition vs. Big Pharma

Nutrition vs. Big Pharma


It’s all in what we eat. Just as inadequate nutrition will cause our chromosomes to get shorter faster and younger, good nutrition can help us to boost our DNA to help us live longer and stronger and more active lives as we get older.

– “Why I Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements


There is no doubt, health is a very personal and controversial subject. Very personal because each person makes his or her own decision and choices about what to eat and what to avoid.


Controversial because those who take an interest in learning about health matters are battered from all sides with information, often conflicting with other information on the same subject.


The term “Big Pharma” is itself derogatory, used by those (especially by conspiracy theorists who believe pharmaceutical companies plan to keep everyone sick to maintain their profit margins) who advocate good nutrition over running to the doctor with each runny nose.


Many studies have shown that taking vitamin and mineral supplements does little or no good for health. Some even claim supplements can harm health. It should be noted that pharmaceutical companies (the international corporations that make drugs prescribed by doctors) have become skilled at hiding their sponsorship of supposedly independent scientific studies.

It has been said that producers of “real food” and food supplements of value can’t afford to conduct the kinds of studies that big pharmaceutical companies can, which explains why they have so little support from scientific studies. Yet studies exist supposedly “proving” that supplements are useless and foods not enhanced by chemicals from big corporations such as Monsanto and Dow don’t offer dependable product. If producers of ‘real food’ can’t afford to conduct studies but Big Pharma and the chemical giants can, does that give you a clue about who is behind the negative studies?


The claim that advocates of good nutrition and big pharmaceutical companies are at war over health information you receive has merit. They are at war.


When a pharmaceutical company (or a study sponsored by one or more of them) claims that nutritional or vitamin supplements are not covered by law (technically they are not drugs, which are covered), thus their contents cannot be verified by their manufacturers, you have to think “conflict of interest.” They have profit in mind at all times and the money to make the competition look weak or harmful through studies they sponsor covertly.


Nutritional supplements and vitamin supplements derive from nature, from plants that have grown and developed since long before humans inhabited the planet. Have you ever challenged a farmer to prove that each carrot he sells has the same nutritional value as each other carrot? Of course not.


Farmers are not the ones who claim the nutritional value of eating carrots. They leave that to health authorities who have studied the chemical components of carrots and how they affect the health of people. Nature is not consistent. The nutritional value of a carrot grown in one field may differ markedly from that of a carrot of similar size grown in an adjacent field.


No respectable health authority has ever advised people to eat only carrots. They advise people to eat a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, including carrots and plants of other varieties, especially those with strong colours (they tend to have greater health benefits). Yet food and supplement “studies” take these out of context of the normal consumption and digestive systems and find results that make them look bad.


A person who paid attention only to the results of studies that in effect say it doesn’t matter what you eat, it only matters whether or not you are sick, may believe that they can eat anything. If they do get sick, it’s bad luck and drugs or (in extreme cases) a stay in a hospital will fix them up.


Now we can make the distinction between a healthy body and an unhealthy body. Note that you will likely not be able to tell by looking at someone whether their body is healthy or unhealthy. Nature has made us strong and fairly resistant to attacks by pathogens in our young (and therefore reproductive) years.


Once our reproductive years have passed, the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits begin to show. People don’t get sick by accident or bad luck. Generally speaking, they get sick for a very good reason.


Unhealthy eating practices over several years result in an unhealthy body. An unhealthy body is vulnerable to attack by disease bacteria and viruses. The immune system of a healthy body will fight off these pathogens. The immune system of a healthy person will kill those bad guys.


But won’t doctor-prescribed drugs do the same thing if you get sick? Yes, sort of. The number of drugs that will defeat viruses can be counted on your thumbs. The number of viruses that may attack your body is so large that it can’t be counted. The common cold alone has about 200 viruses that cause you to “have a cold.”


As to fighting bacteria, doctors have many drugs they can prescribe. If a doctor doesn’t know exactly which bacterium has caused a disease you have, he will likely prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic. That should get rid of the worst of the bacteria that are attacking you.


The trouble with that is that the antibiotic will also likely destroy most of your immune system. Your immune system, after all, depends almost entirely on its own collection of microbes in your gut, in your mouth and on every organ of your body. Antibiotics kill far more good bacteria–the ones that form the core of your immune system–then they kill harmful bacteria. The doctor takes credit only for killing the bad ones.


Pharmaceutical companies don’t tell you that. They want you to believe that their drugs will kill the bad bacteria. After that, forget about other consequences. If you contract some other illness because you have no immune system to fight it off, the companies want you to believe that you simply have bad luck (take more drugs). But that’s not true. You may simply have a knowledge deficit. And a naïve belief in the ability of your doctor and drugs to cure you of anything.


But drugs don’t cure you. More often than not, they do you more harm than good.


Cancer, for example, is now considered by many outside the medical establishment to be a voluntary disease. That is, you have a choice to avoid cancer. If you eat properly. Same with heart disease and most of the other ailments people suffer from before they reach 90 years of age.


The purpose of this article is not to give you medical or nutritional advise. Its purpose is to get you to give direction to your thoughts about your ability to control your own health.


You make the choice to be healthy, especially past middle age (though ideally you should begin before that), or to be a medical patient and regular customer of Big Pharma. If you choose the latter, the companies will love you for it. They won’t respect you, but they will love you because you will be one of the geese that lays golden eggs for them.


Bill Allin is the author of Turning it Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book of solutions that are cheap but effective, as well as hundreds of articles that are available on the internet. Yes, health is a big social problem in the world, not just in the west, but everywhere.

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Killing Ourselves with Cleanliness and Trusting the Untrustworthy

Killing Ourselves with Cleanliness and Trusting the Untrustworthy

“But raw milk from a Jersey cow is a totally different substance from what I’d thought of as milk. If you do not own a cow or know someone who owns a cow, I must caution you never to try raw milk straight from the teat of a Jersey cow, because it would be cruel to taste it once and not have access to it again. Only a few people in America remember this type of milk now, elderly people mostly, who grew up with a cow. They come to the farm sometimes, looking for that taste from their childhood.” –

Kristin Kimball, American writer, farmer city-refugee, from The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Perhaps the worst thing that has happened to food in the modern era was the creation of pasteurization for milk, by Louis Pasteur.

In 1862, heating raw milk to eliminate most of the germs (pathogens) seemed like a great idea. After all, people were dying all over the world from mysterious illnesses that Pasteur identified as microscopic organisms, which we now know as bacteria.

We know much more than we did in the mid-1800s about bacteria. Back then was a time when cleanliness was a matter of removing dirt from your hands before coming to supper and bathing once a week (or a couple of times a year, in some cases) to stop the body from smelling bad (if you couldn’t afford perfume, which was invented to cover bad body odour). Surgeons didn’t even wash their hands or butt out their cigarettes before dipping their hands into the bodies of patients on their operating tables.

When Pasteur invented the process that came to be named after him, he was hailed as a hero. He killed germs. Pasteurized milk and other foods would be “clean.”

We now know that our bodies are not composed only of our own cells (and invading bacteria and viruses that sneak in). We have some twenty times as many good bacteria living inside us as we have of our own body cells. These bacteria are so important that we could not live without them. Most are in our gut (they help us digest good) and on our skin (where they protect us against invasion from the environment). In lesser numbers, good and critically important bacteria appear in many other places on and in our bodies.

Milk was, at one time, called “the perfect food” because it contained so many nutrients and beneficial elements (we now know as good bacteria, vitamins and minerals). Now, thanks to pasteurization, our milk is mostly white water, with any goodness being added manually at the dairy, such as vitamins.

Pasteur was so influential on the topic of human health that our ancestors accepted that all microbes were “germs,” bad for us by definition. We came to believe that if we couldn’t see it and it was living, it was bad.

We now know that by killing off so many of the good bacteria that aid our health, we have made ourselves unhealthy. Milk, “the perfect food,” is now perfectly useless for our health, except for the vitamins added after the cow and pasteurization.

We use mouthwash to make our mouths perfectly “clean.” Our mouth is another of those first lines of defence against disease invasion. With a “clean” mouth, our bodies are open to disease against which we have no protection. Clean, but vulnerable.

We use electric toothbrushes to remove that terrible plaque that supposedly causes decay and destroys our health. Many of us spend many minutes each day brushing far longer than a dental hygienist spends cleaning our teeth. This does not make sense, but it delights dentists. Patients keep coming back to their offices when they have weak dentin and super sensitive teeth, for which they must use a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Not necessary. Sensitive teeth were almost unheard of among our ancestors.

We suffer pain, have no protection against disease invasion, but our mouths are “clean” according to the advertisers. Who profit from our ignorance and reluctance to learn what we should know.

Speaking of “clean,” a TV commercial shows CLR efficiently removing calcium, lime and rust from devices in our homes. Then we can just flush it down the drain. “Clean” homes. But sewage treatment facilities do not remove chemicals from waste water, nor do water treatment plants remove them from incoming water before communities downstream of our chemical waste drink “treated” water that has biological pathogens removed, but not chemical waste. Somebody is drinking water with chemical components that are strong enough to dissolve rust.

Back in the days of our grandparents and earlier, kids got sick. Sometimes regularly. Sometimes parents with large families caused all their children to be infected with diseases like measles, just so they would all gain immunity at once. As adults, they got few diseases because their immune systems had been built up in childhood. It’s commopn today for adults to be off work several times during the year because their weak immune systems allowed them to invaded by some pathogen.

Today we have children who must, in some jurisdictions, take as many as 48 vaccinations (with documented evidence to prove it) before they will be allowed to enter school. Their parents may be forced to home-school if they refuse to subject their kids to these vaccines.

And what is in the vaccines? To avoid legal ramifications, I will let you do some research yourself. But here is a quote from

“Suspicions have been confirmed for those wary of vaccinating their children. A recent large study corroborates other independent study surveys comparing unvaccinated children to vaccinated children.

“They all show that vaccinated children have two to five times more childhood diseases, illnesses, and allergies than unvaccinated children.”

What kids in school have these days are “asthma, reoccurring tonsillitis, chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, allergies, eczema, ear infections, diabetes, sleep disorders, bedwetting, dyslexia, migraines, hyperactivity, ADD, epilepsy, depression, and slower development of speech or motor skills.”

But schools rarely have cases of chicken pox or measles. Vaccines look after that.

Now in my senior years myself, I sometimes face a new medical professional (such as in a lab) who asks if I brought a list of my medications with me. I say I don’t take any. Some don’t believe me until I insist that I don’t take medication because I don’t need any.

They say I’m lucky. I know that luck has nothing to do with it. I am very attentive to my health and that of my wife. I have studied and learned.

That requires commitment to learning what is real about health claims and what is fraud. Or even what is dangerous to human health, even if proposed by a family doctor or in advertising by pharmaceutical companies.

Most people have no interested in doing that much work. The older they get, the more they suffer. They just consider that they have bad luck. They refuse to consider that they were lazy or ignorant in their younger years.

I was born with two autoimmune diseases (technically they are called syndromes) that were in both sides of my family. I studied and learned how to minimize their symptoms and maximize my own potential. Sure, I have problems sometimes, mostly during stressful periods. But my problems are manageable, which can’t be said by many with autoimmune diseases.

Many people consider me lucky. A few know how hard I have studied to learn what I need to know to safeguard my health, without having to depend on doctors and medication. On the rare occasion I pay a visit to a doctor’s office, I come prepared with a description of my symptoms, what I believe causes them and what the doctor might do to help. Rarely do I leave without the doctor agreeing with me.

That’s not luck.

There is no reason why you can’t control your health as well. The internet is filled with health advice. Some is trash, others are treasures. As you are a reader, you can read it and make your own choices. Don’t wait for someone else to provide the best solutions to good health on a platter.

You can make your own luck when it comes to your own health. You don’t need to depend on professionals who earn their living from people who are chronically unhealthy. Or who refuse to learn.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers. Yes, bad health is a social problem. You catch it by listening to advertising. Learn more on this subject at

Stress: Tolerable Today, It Could Kill You Tomorrow

Stress: Tolerable Today, It Could Kill You Tomorrow


The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool.
Jane Wagner, American writer, director and producer (b.1935)

“I work better under pressure.” “I need a deadline to crank me up to do my best work.” These excuses for adopting stress instead of independent work skills and developing an ability to focus on work at hand may be too much cost for too little benefit.


It’s like saying that you can type better with one hand tied behind your back. Or that you perform better at sex when you are impaired with alcohol or drugs. Believe it if you will, but it’s still not true. In the final analysis, stress always does more damage than good.


Long term, stress can shorten a “normal” lifetime (dying of natural causes) by three to seven years. It compromises the immune system, meaning that a reduced immune reaction to an attack by viruses or bacteria means a person will get sick. The hormone cortisol is emitted by the adrenal gland to reduce the damaging effects of stress. It’s part of our natural “fight or flight” response to danger. But if the stress continues, this strong hormone continues to be pumped into the body. That can result in impaired cognitive performance, thyroid problems (the thyroid prompts the brain to act in many ways, so the brain is affected as well), blood sugar imbalances, higher blood pressure. It can even cause an accumulation of abdominal fat. No one is certain today what effects cortisol exposure can have on the brain, including mood, temper, sleep pattern and personality as each person may react differently to its long term effects.


It is known, through studies, that long term exposure to cortisol causes damage to the human hippocampus, which is very important to learning new things and to memory of what a person has learned.


In a 2010 study by the American Psychological Association, money, work, financial future, family and relationships caused the greatest amount of stress for Americans. Stress itself may be tied to cancer, though the exact linkage is unclear.


Can it cause a broken heart? Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome,” occurs when the bottom part of the heart balloons out, caused when grief or another major stressor floods stress hormones into the heart. Yes, a person can die of a broken heart and the causes are both physical and emotional.


High levels of cortisol in pregnant mothers has been associated with lower IQs in their children, tested at age seven. It has also been associated with autism, though whether stress in mother or baby actually causes autism has not been proven.


One way of avoiding job stress is to have a career in a job expected to be obsolete within a few years., in a survey of 200 professions, found bookbinders have the least stress of any in 2011. Firefighters and airline pilots have the most. Another way is to move to a less stressful location. found Salt Lake City, Utah, the least stressful city among 50 studied in the United States. Detroit took top spot as the most stressful.


This may come as a surprise to some, but not at all to others. Texas A&M International University gave 103 test subjects several stressful tasks, then had them play violent video games. Their stress eased considerably. Best results: Hitman: Blood Money and Call of Duty 2. For those under great stress, virtual violence decreased their bodily reactions to stress.


Militaries handle stress differently. They have their soldiers eat veggies. Military Medicine magazine reported that Yale researchers found eating carrots and potatoes boosted a soldier’s cognitive functioning after intensive sessions of survival training. The militaries call it “carbohydrate administration,” but it’s simply eating complex carbs of any kind. Eating simple carbohydrates like cookies and cake didn’t do the trick.


A sudden change of diet can cause stress as well. Going on a restrictive diet quickly (without easing into it) can cause depression or anxiety, according to a study by neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania who studied sudden changes of diet with mice that had been fattened up then had their calories severely limited. What is a stressor to a mouse? One method used by the researchers was hanging the mice by their tails for six minutes.


Louisiana State University researchers tried it differently. They caused their test rats to be subjected to random electric shocks to their feet. Then the rats were allowed to self administer intravenous doses of cocaine. As the stress was increased, the rats gave themselves more cocaine. [Anyone who doesn’t generalize on that finding is simply not thinking enough. Why do we take so many drugs these days? A more pertinent question might be why do we not teach kids in high school how to cope with stressors in their lives before they resort to possibly harmful alternatives?]


Eating excessively and obsessively is a reaction to constant stress. Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Portugal’s University of Minho stressed lab rats then allowed them to self access treats. Trained to press a level to receive treats, stressed rats continued to press the level after the stress had stopped and even after they had been fed a meal. The brains of the rats showed shrunken neurons in the dorsomedial striatum, an area of the brain associated with goal directed behaviour, and growth in the dorsolateral striatum, which is related to habitual behaviour. In other words, constant stress caused the rats to habitually overeat.


Do you wonder if overly stressed researchers reduce their stress by conducting experiments on lab rats and mice?


We will conclude this article with an anecdote that has been circulating the internet in recent months.


A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience.


With a raised glass of water (everyone knew that she was going to ask the ultimate question, “half empty or half full?”), she fooled them all.


“How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquires with a smile.


Answers called out ranged from 8oz. to 20 oz.


She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In every case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”


She continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time,sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.


“As with a glass of water, you have to put it down for awhile and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed. we can carry on with the burden. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night.


Pick them up tomorrow. “Whatever burdens you are carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short.” There may not be so many then and they won’t be so heavy.


That’s one way we can all learn to cope with stress in our lives.


Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents, grandparents and teachers who want to teach their children how to cope with an increasingly stressful world. Better they learn young than depend on medical professionals to try to put them back together when they break as adults.
Learn more about this book and read part of it at

[Primary data source: Discover, June 2011]

I Could Have Killed Someone

I Could Have Killed Someone
If you want to know your past, examine your present conditions. 
If you want to know your future, examine your present actions.
– Buddhist saying
I woke up this morning ready for a fight. The slightest provocation might have set me off. More than that may have resulted in such rage that I would not have hesitated to do anything–absolutely anything–to end the irritation. I felt ready with every fibre of my being. I was in control of my emotions, or so I thought, but only because nothing came along to provoke me.
Not long after, I had fed our cats, made coffee and was sitting sipping and chatting with my wife when my strange mood vanished as quickly as it had come.
My life testifies to my devotion to non-violence, even to the extent of allowing myself to be beaten up psychologically and emotionally sometimes because I refused to fight back. I won’t even fight back with words because: (a) you can never win an argument with an irrational person; and (b) I will never have a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. In this case, I didn’t have an opponent, to my great relief, after the fact.
Why, I wondered, had I experienced this sudden rage with the potential for violence? As a student of human behaviour, I required some introspection. Does a devil hide within me, as some religions might claim? Did I experience a moment of temporary insanity, a defence argument used in some murder cases in courts in the USA? I didn’t care for either explanation. Something else was going on inside me.
Something had made me, in effect, a different person for a short period of time. What could do that? And why? As I pride myself in my ability at mind control (over my own body), why had that ability failed me when I needed it most? I really didn’t like that other person. That other person would have been a social pariah. That person was dangerous. That other person was me, but not me. I was, briefly, my own anti-me.
The explanation for my temporary antisocial behaviour revolves around imbalances in brain chemistry. In my case, perhaps in untold others who are behind bars or in psychological confinement facilities today, has to do with my adjustment to a new level of thyroxine supplement for my hypothyroidism. Under the careful watch of an endocrinologist (a specialist in hormones), I hasten to add. (Those inside institutions may not have been so lucky.)
Each of us has a thyroid gland which produces a hormone that somehow affects (gives orders to) almost every organ of the body, even including the skin and the brain. As a thyroid ages, it may produce less hormone than it used to, or it may produce more if it gets out of whack. Producing too much hormone is called hyperthyroidism, which is not pretty, not comfortable, in fact it can be terrifying.
Family doctors have an “average” range of acceptability (as “normal”) in results of blood tests of the thyroid stimulating hormone. In general, a patient’s TSH level may be brought within range by prescription medication. Low thyroid prescription is nothing more than a supplement of what the thyroid should produce itself.
What I learned the hard way is that a supplement that brings my TSH level into the normal range causes my body to react as if I am hyperthyroid, the opposite of what I am naturally. As I said, that’s terrifying because it messes with brain chemistry. My family doctors for years had said “You must test within the normal range, if I give you a supplement that is too low my medical certificate could be at risk.”
When I could no longer stand the symptoms of hyperthyroidism (Google it to see what they are, grit your teeth and hang on when you find out) and my doctor refused to back off my prescription, I refused to take any supplement. I quit cold turkey. A few weeks later my doctor became so upset (this guy’s going to kill himself this way) that she hurriedly secured me an appointment with the specialist.
The specialist said “It’s okay to not be normal.” The heavens rumbled, the earth moved, the sun finally dawned. Not being normal is okay? Every doctor I had met before this said that I must be made (with medication) to conform to the norms. Now this expert was telling me it was okay to not be normal, that we are each different in how we react to things such as medications.
The specialist started me on a low dose of thyroxine supplement and raised it each week for a month, then let it level off. It was still well below what a family doctor would have prescribed. Adjusting to a new level of thyroid medication can take from six to eight weeks because so many parts of the body have to agree to not misbehave, to react inappropriately. That includes the brain, which counts on signals from the thyroid before secreting its own proteins which affect many parts of the body.
The brain also controls itself. My “not normal chemically” brain has fought the change in thyroid messages kicking and screaming. In practice that meant the equivalent of waking nightmares or anxiety attacks in the second half of my time in bed each night. By morning my wife might have coffee with the normal sweet husband she knows or she might wish I was still a bachelor in transit to Mars. Neither of us had any way to know what I would be like each morning.
In my bad state I had a hair-trigger temper, flying into a rage over the most insignificant matters. They even included errors or oversights I had made myself. My “stupidity” at something insignificant I had done caused me to be angry with myself (and none too quiet about it either). Sometimes I wished I would not have to live out the rest of my day. That’s serious.
I won’t bore you (or over-excite you) with details that deserve to be confidential. Let’s just say I never became physically aggressive or violent, nor did I become verbally abusive. Loud and nasty, yes. Let’s also say that the bad moods never lasted more than a few hours at most. Let’s add that I hated myself every second I suffered with the bad mood because I was incapable of acting like the me I knew myself to be. I knew I was out of control, but lacked any ability to change myself.
People with faulty thyroids do not carry around flags advertising the fact so others can see them and recognize a person with a problem. Many with a thyroid problem may know nothing about their problem. What’s worse, even a person whose blood tests show their thyroid level to be in the average or normal range may be anything but, in the real world. Medical tests are guides, not laws by which we all must live.
As my endocrinologist said, “We will find the right level for you, for your life.” Good. The adjustment was hard. Too bad it didn’t come 20 years ago when I was first identified as hypothyroid.
Norms and averages in medicine are for textbooks, not for people. In real flesh-and-blood cases such as you and me and those we know and love, each of us is very different. “Unique” would not be an out-of-place descriptor.
If you believe you are different from the norm from a health standpoint, speak up to your doctor. You don’t live in a textbook. You live inside your own skin (your doctor doesn’t). You want to continue to do so for as long as possible.
That may mean you have to tell your doctor you believe he is wrong, that you need different diagnosis and treatment. The doctor may need to see the same things, but differently. It may mean seeking other medical opinions. It may make you somewhat unpopular with your doctors, who have their own biases to cherish and dogma to follow. Too bad for them, not you.
Remember, your doctor does not live inside your skin. You do. Try to keep it that way.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who develop socially and emotionally in healthy ways, as schools rarely address those developmental needs.
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Parental Wisdom: Lacking Respect or Missing in Action?

Parental Wisdom: Lacking Respect or Missing in Action?

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.
Marianne Williamson, American peace activist, author, lecturer, minister (b. 1952)

Where is wisdom in the inevitable transformation that is taking place on our planet? Is it stronger than ever, though apparently disguised. Has it vanished? Do we even recognize wisdom today as we did in the past?

Most people would agree that Albert Schweitzer was wise. Here’s an example:

Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.
– Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)

We could explain so much about our world today using this thought. Where is that kind of wisdom? While Schweitzer’s observation has always been true of our species, the fact that today the leaders of industry knowingly poison the air they breathe and the water they use in their own bodies for the sake of profit should raise alarm. They have put profit ahead of survival, which is clearly in opposition to the instinct of every living thing.

Leaders of industry hold out the promise of jobs as bait so that politicians and bureaucrats will allow them to commit acts that no other civilization in history has done to itself. They argue that, in effect, “my way must be right because I thought of it.” They argue that making their industry eco-friendly will be economically unfeasible, though the evidence on the ground shows that this argument is patently false.

We believe them because we somehow attribute to them wisdom. Or we want the money that derives from the jobs they will create. Today, as in the past, wealth trumps reason. Does that mean that wisdom no longer exists?

These lessons we teach to our children, whether intentionally or not.

Historically, wisdom was the purview of the elderly. Elders traditionally had experience doing much the same activities as the younger generations were doing. Experience derives from making mistakes then learning from them. That learning could be taught, which made the teachers–the elderly, experienced ones in society–considered wise.

A century ago 85 percent of the population of North America lived in rural areas and derived their income directly or indirectly from agriculture. Today 85 percent of the populations of Canada and the United States live in cities. The continuity of experience has been broken. Today’s young adults don’t want to learn skills of farming. Many city dwelling adults today have not accustomed themselves to social and emotional survival methods required in city life, so cannot teach them to their children.

Within the memory span of older people living today women entered the workforce (during the Second World War when men were away fighting), it became acceptable for women to wear pants rather than dresses or skirts to work, women have learned the trades of welding, plumbing, auto mechanics and others, women have become bosses and employers rather than entry level employees and women have even become heads of states in large countries. The continuity was broken. We accept these changes but have little idea how they impact our personal and family lives.

Office “pencil pushers” of the past now press buttons on keyboards. The more skilled among them program software to operate to the specific needs of companies. Today’s older people have stories to pass along to younger generations, but those stories are considered by young people to lack usable information, thus don’t count as wisdom. Old folks just don’t “get it.”

Young people in North America now text their friends 300 times a day, on average, while their grandparents may still be reluctant to pick up a phone to call someone because they “may be busy.” While many of today’s parents of teenagers grapple with the thought of teaching “sex” to kids younger than 16 years, close to half our kids have sex before their thirteenth birthday and the number who have sex before their ninth birthday is closing in on double digit percentages.

Somehow our adult generations have come to believe that ignorance is important in children. They call it “innocence” as if they can stop kids from behaving in certain ways as they can stop certain behaviours of family pets.

The disconnect here is that childhood is the time people are supposed to learn about adulthood, not be protected from learning about it. The whole purpose of childhood is as a training period for adulthood. Conventional “wisdom” says that the world is too ugly for children to be exposed to, yet evidence shows it is actually more peaceful, organized and orderly than ever before in history. What parents believe becomes what children accept as fact.

Children know that they should know the facts about certain things, even if they are not certain of exactly what they should know. It’s a gut feeling. A child of 12 who has sex understands that he or she should know more about what they are doing than they do, but has no idea where to learn the needed information, from whom or even what they should know. What they do know is how to put tab A into slot B, as every child knows, and nature provides them with the hormones to make the convergence more compelling.

An interviewer on a U.S. national radio network asked me not long ago, on air, when I lost my virginity. When I told him he all but called me a liar because he expected me to say age 12 or 13. He said so and his on-air colleagues agreed. This is the world of today.

Parents and grandparents who are not fully connected to that world or who are in denial of the facts will not connect with children who are constantly growing and experiencing outside of home. In turn, the children will not see their parents or grandparents as wise, maybe not even credible. Not only will many adults not tell the kids the facts they want to know, they refuse to tell them and they deny what the kids are living every day. And what they are learning, often inaccurately, every day.

How can we expect young people to consider their parents or grandparents wise when they aren’t? “Innocence” equals ignorance. Denial equals stupidity. Stupidity is prolific. When kids can’t get answers from their parents they turn to others who will answer. Just as with making friends, the people who are easiest to get answers from are the most dangerous and undependable. For example, drug dealers hang around outside many elementary schools today, ready to give free advice as well as “samples.”

Wisdom exists today, but those who want access to it must search for it. The internet has answers to all questions. Some of the answers are wrong, even dangerous. But some are dead-on right. Rather than teach children how to evaluate what they may find on the internet, many parents deny their kids will look at such things and others put kid-control programs on their computers.

Today kids can find computers all over the place and the average six-year-old can figure out the passwords their parents put on. Denying kids access to information they want makes them believe their parents are stupid or oppressive, not wise. Indeed, parents who do not avail themselves of the opportunities to teach their children what they want to know and what they need to know–the primary objective of parenthood after having sex and giving birth–do not deserve to be considered wise.

Wisdom exists today, but not in conventional places or sources. For example, you learned something by reading this article that your parents could not have imagined a generation ago.

Pass it on.

Bill Allin is the author of Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for teachers and parents who want to know what to teach their children, and when, to help them develop socially and emotionally as well as they expect schools to help them develop intellectually. It’s not what most parents think.
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What Can We Do With Sinners And Losers?

Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.
Simone Weil, French philosopher, mystic, activist (1909-1943)

I have never met a person who, as a child, wanted to grow up to be a criminal, a drug addict, a gulper of prescribed drugs, a divorcée, a workaholic, a gambling addict, an alcoholic or a wife beater. Nor have I ever heard or read of one.

Yet somehow so many of us grow into these roles in life.

Are we a society of losers?

A recovered alcoholic, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, considers himself a lifelong addict. Does that mean we should consider him a lifelong loser and treat him as a social pariah, as human detritus?

If not, then how should we think of and treat such people? How, indeed, should we think of and treat those who still “suffer” daily with their affliction? Is it even possible to have our governments provide sufficient assistance to help a significant number of them recover? Many people believe it’s not possible.

The subject of helping people to recover from their life problems is so enormous that most of us prefer to not think about it. “It would just cost us more taxes.” Of course those people don’t realize how much of their taxes already go into dealing with the social problems these people create, including the cost of health insurance and maintaining prisons and rehab facilities for them. Some estimate that figure as high as half our taxes today.

We don’t want to face up to the fact that society has failed them. Especially because we have no clue about how we could have failed them. Fair enough. Let’s worry about what we can fix.

Now return to my first sentence. We, as parents, as teachers, as relatives and neighbours, grow our own children from scratch. They learn what we teach them.

They learn what we teach them. They learn what we teach them. So let’s teach them what they need before they need it. Before they break.

Too many of us believe that children should be kept in innocence for as long as possible. Such people are wrong and dangerous to society. The whole purpose of childhood is to learn how to cope with the rigors of adulthood. Not to turn childhood innocence into adult ignorance. A child that doesn’t learn as early as possible about the pitfalls as problems of adults is doomed to fall victim to them and not have any defences at the ready.

We have long established traditions for teaching children what they need to know. One is called schools. The other is called parents. If that sounds patronizing, remember that these are the primary sources of education for children, all children. In a Canadian study of teens a few years ago, 89 percent of them claimed that most of what they learned about life came directly from their parents.

In general, schools are not allowed to teach what kids need so that they can cope with the rigors of the adult world they are growing into. Schools are directed, by curriculum and policy, to teach what kids will need to be employable, to be good employees. However, schools suffer from the lack of need satisfaction in the teens they teach through discipline problems. Students who can cope with their problems suffer from loss of classroom time when the troubled kids act out.

Most young parents know little or nothing more than what they learned about parenting from their own parents. Which is grossly insufficient. Which dooms their children to develop the kinds of problems mentioned at the start of this article.

New parents whose goal is to be better parents than their own parents were to them are lucky. They know they need to do something different. Unfortunately, they don’t know what to do. They know what they want to be different for their kids, but not necessarily how to achieve it. They have no easily accessible source for that information.

Western societies are extremely lucky that they don’t have more social problems than they do. They must be doing something right. After all, western societies have few problems with terrorism, war and other forms of rampant violence found in other parts of the world, parts that claim that parents do know what they should be teaching their children. Maybe not.

No matter where in the world you look, social problems abound.

Does that mean that social problems are unavoidable? No. It means that, in general, people in all parts of the world have no clear idea what to teach their children to help them cope with life in the 21st century.

Sadly, the last time our ancestors did have a good idea about what to teach their children to help them to cope with life, they all lived in tribes. In tribes, the social norm is that every adult bears some responsibility for teaching every child. As little changed from one year to the next, from one decade to the next, knowing what to teach children was adopted as social policy for the tribe. Everyone taught children the same things. Every child got the same message.

We don’t do that today. If anything, parents go out of their way to make sure their kids don’t grow up like other kids. That’s a social norm. Everyone should be different, we believe.

Yet everyone is the same in many ways. We all have the same needs, for example, with few exceptions.

Schools address the needs of employers. Parents address the needs of their children so long as they know what those needs are. However, so many of the needs of children are unknown mysteries to many parents. Most parents learn parenting “on the job.”

Many parents don’t teach their children about drugs for fear that the kids will “experiment” with drugs. By the time the parents decide to teach the kids about drugs, the kids have already learned about drugs on the street, in the schoolyard, in the parks, virtually everywhere they go. Some kids already take drugs by the time their parents decide it’s time to teach them about drugs.

How’s that for timing, for knowing what kids need and when?

Why would a child, an adolescent, an adult need to turn to drugs? Simone Weil said it’s an attempt to fly from emptiness. What’s empty?

Better to say that human needs have gone unfulfilled. The need for fulfillment of needs is what is empty.

Does that sound like psychobabble? That’s what many people would say, people who don’t know what children need at all, let alone when they should learn stuff that will fulfill their needs. Ignorant people often have strong opinions against evidence that they are ignorant.

It’s true that children are not small adults and should not be treated that way. If they were, we would have to punish them for offences they didn’t know were offences. For misdeeds they did because they didn’t have the words to explain to their parents and teachers what they needed. For bad stuff they did out of frustration because they needed something they couldn’t talk about, but adults didn’t know either so they ignored the needs of the children, thinking they were just misbehaving. Yet that is what most punishment of children is about.

A child needs to know how to deal with every social situation he experiences. We know that for adults, so we provide ways to teach them social skills, sort of. Few children receive any significant amount of instruction about social skills. They learn the hard way, by making mistakes. Or by watching what happens when other kids make mistakes.

But that is teaching what not to do in social situations, not what to do proactively, before the information is needed. We need to teach social skills to children, to address their social development when they need it most. They need the skills before they need to put the skills into practice. In teaching skills to children, especially social and emotional skills, timing is critical.

We also need to address their emotional development. Huh? Why do so many adults experience heartbreak when a relationship with a mate who is incompatible with them breaks up? Why do more than half the couples who marry get divorced later? That number should be even greater except that many couples today skip the wedding part and simply live together until they separate later because one of them “failed” the other or they “grew apart.”

Understanding emotional skills and knowledge is part of what we need to get along well with others. As a social species, we need to have social interactions with others. In most activities people do–either personal or work related–they need to interact with others.

Socially and emotionally well adapted and developed children and adolescents become socially and emotionally well adapted and developed adults. Moreover, socially and emotionally successful adults are not only well liked and appreciated, they do a great deal to help others in their families, their communities and their countries. They gain great public respect because they do things they seem to understand–almost intuitively–are right. Nobel Peace Prize winners, for an example.

Teaching to the social and emotional needs of children and adolescents is not hard. We simply have not put into place the mechanisms for doing it. The needs themselves are not secrets, they’re public information. Unfortunately, most of that information is contained in psychologists who specialize in fixing broken people rather than in teaching everyone before they break. And in sociologists who manipulate us by advertising, religion and politics because we don’t want to listen to what they know otherwise.

While we long for innocence, what we get is ignorance. There is nothing pretty or beneficial about ignorance.

We have schools, but we use them almost exclusively to train children to be successful employees, not successful adults. The change would be easy and cheap, but someone has to make the first move in every community.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow socially and emotionally well developed and balanced children, not just intellectually well developed employees.
Learn more at