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Gulf War Syndrome Archives
"Why Do We Continue to Believe Bizarre Things?" my AOL News article
By Michael Fumento
Why in an age saturated with information, do we believe bizarre things? Things like crop circles, alien abductions, and 9/11 conspiracy theories? Why do we believe wild Toyota stories like the 94 mph "runaway Prius"? The gearbox allowed shifting into neutral by merely reaching out a finger, but the driver told credulous reporters he was afraid to do so because he needed to keep both hands on the steering wheel. And regarding that cell phone in his hand?
Why a steady stream of mass hysterias, like swine flu last year and Toyota sudden unintended acceleration.
At the core is that despite our computers and communications devices and other gadgets, and despite all the scientific discoveries made, we still have pretty much the same brains as Paleolithic man some 40,000 years ago. That brain looks for magic and it looks for patterns. And unlike Paleolithic man we have modern institutions like the media, government, and lawyers who exploit those base thoughts.
I hope and think you'll find my article a real eye-opener in EXPLAINING so many of the things I've made a career writing about.
May 15, 2010 10:33 PM · Permalink
"Why the undying 'mystery' of Gulf War Syndrome must die," my NRO article
By Michael Fumento
Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) is back in the news, thanks to a new study released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and so is the persistent effort to label it a "mystery." See, for example, the story by a HealthDay reporter headlined "Gulf War Syndrome Is Real, but Causes Unclear: Report." Says the article, "its causes, treatment, and potential cure remain unknown."
A definite mystery, right? Well, no, as I explain in my NRO article "Why the undying 'mystery' of Gulf War Syndrome must die."
There are two "causes" of GWS - the second of which is actually quite interesting, but not mysterious. The first explanation is a normal background rate of disease. That is, among the over 700,000 Americans who served in the Gulf War, there is no more sickness, and the death rate is no higher, than you’d expect in a group of that size and of those demographics after 19 years.
As I conclude, "Perhaps you can argue that if we demand mysteries, the media are merely doing us a service in providing them. But there can be a dark side. Is this how we should repay 700,000 people who sacrificed of themselves for us?"
There's also a tie-in to my current "crusade," against another hysteria, the one involving Toyota. I originally teased a lot of people saying I was going to show how Toyotas were like pit bulls. They laughed and called me mad! But I showed them here. Then I teased that I was going to compare the Toyota hysteria with vomit that glows in the dark. Again, they laughed and called me mad! Well, here's where I show it.
My next article will show how Toyotas are like jelly doughnuts. Again, they'll laugh and call me mad! Wait a second, I would be mad if I said that. Well, skip it. But don't skip this article.
April 28, 2010 03:47 PM · Permalink
On being a modern day Cassandra - or when scientific methodolgy hurts you
By Michael Fumento
The following is from an essay on why people love conspiracy theories:
The reality may be that all too many of us actually prefer to believe the fantastic over the mundane. Maybe the sky is falling, but isn't life also a bit more romantic with the nervous thrill that maybe the end really is at hand? And even if the sky isn't falling, aren't the nights more exciting with beings from other worlds buzzing around in them? These are exciting times for those who believe themselves to be living in the biblical "End Times," shortly to be called to do Apocalyptic battle with the forces of Satan. On a whole other level, a national poll reveals that some 70 percent of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. What the pollsters didn't ask was whether those 70 percent of Americans felt better believe that their president was killed by an elaborate conspiracy than by some isolated nut with a mail-order rifle and a head full of sour politics. If the lone nut could get the president, didn't that make life so random that anything could supposedly happen to anyone at any time? In the traumatic wake of the JFK assassination and the subsequent murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, the concept of conspiracy offered a certain degree of chilly comfort. At least it possessed sufficiently evil stature to explain the pain.
Unfortunately, most people in our culture don't seek enlightenment in their daily reading. They seek either confirmation bias or entertainment, or better yet both together. The last thing they want is a simple explanation for a phenomenon, for example that Gulf vets are getting sick and dying for no other reason than that everybody gets sick and everybody dies and fact is Gulf vets are getting sick and dying at exactly the same rate as matched controls who didn't deploy.
And disasters are also entertaining. So if a presidential council says swine flu could kill as many as 90,000 Americans this year it's page A1 news. When I write that the evidence indicates we'll just have a typical flu season in terms of deaths, that's so BORE-ING. Important? Absolutely! But unless you're among the minority to whom enlightenment is exciting, such a piece may be considered dull, dull, dull.
It makes you a sort of modern-day Cassandra. People don't believe your predictions. And it's not because they're not based on solid science but, to a great extent because they are based on solid science. Solid science just isn't what they're looking for.
September 2, 2009 11:33 AM · Permalink
No such thing as Gulf War Syndrome -- who knew?
By Michael Fumento
Since 1993 I have been arguing that Gulf War Syndrome, or "Gulf Lore Syndrome" as I titled one of my articles, is a myth. I wrote almost 30 articles on the subject. And I received the sort of invective you'd expect, questioning my patriotism and loyalty to the troops for putting science ahead of hysteria and political considerations. Now the Institute of Medicine has released a report based on a review of 850 studies and found "the results of that research indicate that ... there is not a unique symptom complex (or syndrome) in deployed Gulf War veterans." Of course, out of 700,000 men and women who went over some have fallen ill and some have died. It's been 15 years, after all. But they don't have anything non-deployed vets have, or for that matter civilians. Not that this will stop the activists, one of whom, Cpt. Joyce Riley, is being routinely identified in stories about the IOM report as a Gulf vet even though she never got closer to the war than San Diego. Riley, who also claims Henry Kissinger ordered the invention of HIV/AIDS, sees this latest report as nothing more than part of a grand conspiracy. In fact, "GWS" is actually part of a conspiracy of sorts -- a conspiracy to continually fabricate one syndrome after another by pretending that normal background rates of illness combined with hysterical reports (such as one vet's claim to have glowing vomit) indicate mass mystery illnesses. It began with Agent Orange and in its most recent guise is called World Trade Center Illness. But it's all the same nonsense. And nobody suffers more than the exploited alleged victims whose lives can be ruined by the constant psychological battering of being told they have or may have a disease that doesn't even exist.
September 12, 2006 10:32 PM · Permalink
A Joyce Riley siting, complete with glowing ejaculate
By Michael Fumento
Oh my, Michael!
I should think if you could make pills that would turn semen fluorescent you could make a fortune.
September 22, 2005 10:55 PM · Permalink