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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Connecting the Dots

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The big news flash as we write this is that our tap water contains drugs. More specifically, 41 million Americans live where the water provides them with a dose of someone else’s prescription, free of charge. It seems that not all of your neighbors’ anti-convulsive drugs or hormonal contraceptives or antianxiety medications were absorbed into their systems. Some of it entered the water supply, along with small contributions from many others in whatever neck of the woods you happen to be.

TV news reporters reacted with their customary bland outrage, saying things like the amount of drugs in tap water are “below therapeutic levels” and that “long-term effects are unknown,” before moving on to the next item on the teleprompter.

The next day’s news brought two more stories of interest. The first was brought to us by a government official who proclaimed that we should give our children a vaccination for chickenpox. He also advised us not to miss the booster shot.

No one asked him about side effects or potential long-term complications, or who will pick up the bill for injecting everyone with the vaccine. Nobody even asked about the benefits of the vaccine, if any benefits exist in exposing our kids to this “new and improved” virus, instead of the version that our immune systems have been successfully battling as a rite of passage for generations.

If that wasn’t enough, at the bottom of a CNN newscast appeared a teaser: “childhood/autism link.” But the company that promised to tell us about the childhood/autism link first shows us a Walgreens commercial. Apparently these drugstores are making such high profits that they can help CNN pay their bills and bring us the news.

But the autism story did not appear after the commercials—viewers had to sit through another recap of the news stories we’d just watched. The childhood/autism story was about a lawsuit. That’s it. Maybe we’ll hear more when there’s settlement and a dollar amount can become the headline. That’s more attention-grabbing, the news producers must think, than whatever it is that’s causing this epidemic of autism—possibly the vaccines dispensed by companies with the knowledge that the shots’ ingredients aren’t always beneficial. Not surprisingly, CNN made no effort to connect the autism news to the chickenpox vaccine announcement that had occurred a few minutes before. What’s more, no connection was made to the earlier news flash that unwanted pharmaceuticals are in the water supply of 41 million Americans.

All of these things are happening, according to the most mainstream, uncontroversial sources. But the information is defused, stripped of context and presented in separate packages to fill a news segment for 10 or 30 seconds, then forgotten unless needed later.

Unless the outrage grows too much for them to ignore, the TV news readers will find something else to chat about tomorrow. But if enough people actually get irritated and act on their outrage, that could be tomorrow’s news. Ty Wade, D.C., received his doctorate from Palmer College of Chiropractic. DavidWade teaches clinical anatomy and physiology at Blue Sky School of therapeutic massage. They can be contacted at wellness@shepex.com.

Look for the next Wellness Warriors column in the April 17 issue of the
Shepherd.
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