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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician,
counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a
number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health
. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com
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COVID: To Get Vaccinated Or Not To Get Vaccinated
Stimulated by a Sociologist's Scholarly
Anti-Vaccination Book: Part 1
Writing about vaccination is like opening up a can of vicious worms. Why on Earth would I get immersed in this bitterly controversial no-win helter-skelter quagmire?
Writing about vaccination is like opening up a can of vicious worms. Why on Earth would I get immersed in this bitterly controversial no-win helter-skelter quagmire? Well suffice it to say that I have my reasons, and they are personal/family related in regard to getting the COVID vaccination. So I found myself going down the rabbit hole, learning all that I was able to about the perspectives and arguments from both vaccine opponents and vaccine proponents. And my immersion was directly stimulated by an extensive, very favorable book “review summary” of a scholarly anti-vaccination book. The reviewer is my British humanistic psychology colleague Dr. Richard House , and the book is entitled Ideological Constructs of Vaccination, by Slovenian research sociologist Dr. Mateja Cernic . Let me begin simultaneously with both the book and the review.
House began his review summary as follows:
“With so-called 'anti-vaxxers' currently being subjected to vicious pathologising demonisation [sic] across the globe by forces determined to make the 2020s 'The Decade of the Vaccine,' the need for a sober, informed academic analysis and assessment of the vaccination phenomenon (immune from silencing 'conspiracy theory' tropes and accusations) has surely never been more urgent.” (p. 1)
But my question in this regard is: Does Cernic's book present a bona fide “sober, informed academic analysis and assessment of the vaccination phenomenon”? Or is it more an impressive academic scholarly tour de force promulgation of the anti-vaccination position without giving virtually any serious consideration to research that indicates the picture may be far more complicated than the anti-vaccination position that Cernic depicts through her “impressive academic scholarly” presentation of numerous research studies, tables, and graphs? Along the lines of my previous use of the term “integrative” in a number of my Integral World articles , I am interested in finding a balanced perspective that includes the perspectives and research of both vaccination opponents and vaccination proponents.
At the same time, it is by no means my intention to offer any kind of exhaustive description of pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination research, as this is far removed from my interests, and would likely take a horde of researchers who are willing to dedicate their whole lives to doing this. Rather, my intention is far more simple and perhaps even achievable, though it will likely entail some follow-up parts to this essay. My intention is to discover what I truly think in regard to if the pros outweigh the cons for getting the COVID vaccination. Now I will readily acknowledge that I have already received my two Pfizer COVID vaccinations, but I am still highly motivated to discover what I truly think as I am having ongoing discussions about this with my aforementioned family member, who is leaning toward not getting vaccinated against COVID.
Getting back to Cernic's book, House described his review summary in the following way:
“In this somewhat unusual 'summary book review,' my core aim has been to present a detailed summary of, rather than a critical commentary on, the contents of the book under review. Realistically, a closely argued academic book of almost 500 pages [and over 400 footnotes] is a tome that some, perhaps many, will find daunting to read; yet as will become clear in what follows, I believe it is essential for modern culture that Dr. Cernic's book gets as wide a readership as possible—not least because fateful decisions are being made as I write about the advisability of embracing global vaccination as a response to the Covid-19 virus. . . . In this scholarly book based on, and updated from, the author's Ph.D. thesis, Slovenian research sociologist Dr. Mateja Cernic subjects the vaccination phenomenon to a relentless forensic examination—based on a rich combination of sociological critique, detailed historical trend analysis, and medical and biological research; and she finds the practice of vaccination to be woefully inadequate at many levels. . . . The book contains detailed tables (40 in all), twelve graphs constructed from official statistics in the USA, UK and Australia, and copious references (mostly to medical, research and government bodies' publications). There are 461 references in the Reference list of 27 pages [although there are also a number of citations without references]--many of which are to publications from the mainstream, peer-reviewed medical literature.” (pp. 1-2, 4)
House then listed a number of common claims that medicine uses as a justification for mass vaccination, which Cernic characterized as nothing more than “ideological constructs”:
- Vaccines are safe and efficient;
- Adverse effects are rare, mild and temporary;
- Vaccines do not cause illnesses and long-term damage to the body;
- Vaccination has considerably reduced mortality from contagious diseases;
- Vaccination is the best protection against infections;
- Adverse effects are meticulously monitored and recorded;
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested in rigorous scientific studies.” (p. 2)
According to House:
“[Cernic] addresses, in wide-ranging evidence-based detail, the highly dubious, often false, claims being made for (mass) vaccination, leading to what is a highly disturbing picture of the ways in which captured states, and captured scientific and medical institutions, function in late-modern technocratic society.” (p. 2)
The core of Cernic's book, Part 3, consists of 11 major sections, as follows:
- The Decline in Mortality from Infectious Diseases
- Immune System
- Side-effects of Vaccines
- Safety and Efficacy Studies
- Vaccine Contamination
- The Work of Pediatricians
- Adverse Effect of Monitoring System
- Integrity of State Institutions
- “Herd Immunity” and “Harming Other People”
- Merger Between Science and Pharmaceutical Industry
And my first problem with what Cernic presents can be seen from her first section: The decline in Mortality from Infectious Diseases. House described Cernic's research about this as follows:
“Herein we find, for example, a detailed historical analysis of the mortality time trends for each of ten infectious diseases, in relation to the date when mass-vaccination programmes [sic] were introduced (including the 'manipulation and deception in scientific papers'). . . . The general, 'very problematic' nature of morbidity statistics is highlighted. . . . 'Statistics on death are still very reliable'. . . . [The] factors truly responsible for such a decline (better living conditions). . . didn't suddenly appear with the beginning of the vaccination. On the contrary, their role became even more prominent.” (pp. 3, 10-11)
Now I applaud Cernic for furnishing the extensive and detailed mortality data, graphs, and tables that she did (all the data, graphs, and tables in her book are for the countries of United States, England & Wales, Australia, and Slovenia) and I agree with her findings that much (although certainly not all) of the decrease in mortality was an outcome of improved living conditions, and especially sanitation and childhood labor laws, that occurred in the middle of the 20th century (Cernic, pp. 131-137). It also makes sense to me that morbidity statistics are much less reliable than mortality statistics. But to “totally discount” all the morbidity data for vaccinations over all the years that they have been used is in my opinion an “ideological construct” at least as blatantly unscientific as any of the assumptions that Cernic so vehemently denounces throughout her book, a number of which I share her concerns about as I indicate below and will describe in more detail in subsequent parts of this essay series. Rather, I believe that in the interest of presenting, as House described above, “an informed academic analysis and assessment of the vaccination phenomenon,” Cernic should have presented the relevant data, graphs, and tables that displayed the enormous decreases in morbidity that vaccinations have had an obviously significant effect on for many years, along with a statement that morbidity statistics are problematic and not completely accurate. Then the reader would be able to digest “all” the information and make his or her own determination of how significant “all” the data is. And my own determination is that even though yes morbidity statistics are problematic and are not completely accurate, it is still extremely likely that vaccines have had a profound effect in reducing the suffering caused by multiple diseases.
Here is what I have found to be an impactful description of why morbidity statistics, as opposed to mortality statistics, are important to focus on when evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines, in spite of the problematic nature and lack of complete accuracy of morbidity statistics :
“Mortality rates are the incorrect metric when evaluating vaccine effectiveness. . . . Since vaccines are designed to prevent the incidence of disease, rates of disease (morbidity) are the correct metric for evaluating vaccine effectiveness. If vaccines were a drug to treat disease, then case-fatality rates would be the correct metric for evaluation [italics given by author]. . . . Survivors of vaccine preventable disease can be maimed for life—think polio and paralysis, mumps and deafness, measles and mental disability, rubella and birth defects. . . . . Mortality rates are influenced by socioeconomic status, access to health care, quality of treatment and a wide range of other factors. As these factors change, mortality rates inevitably change. By contrast. . . vaccine preventable disease incidence remained largely constant until the introduction of related vaccines. (Isabella B., p.2)
Thus a red flag was raised for me early on when reading Cernic's book, and other red flags have been raised for me as well, along with a number of very valid points that she makes that certainly brought up many concerns for me, not the least of which are the lack of satisfactory studies of the long-range possible harmful side effects of vaccines, the lack of adequate scientific research studies of vaccines before they receive authorization to be used, the role of Big Pharma in regard to the promotion and dissemination of vaccines, and the extensive list of numerous vaccines given to infants. But I'm going to save the thrust of all this for subsequent parts of this essay series, and just focus right now on some of Cernic's admonitions regarding the safety and effectiveness studies of vaccines before they get authorized. Once again my main interest here is in regard to the present vaccines for COVID-19.
Cernic has a number of concerns about lack of adequate methodological inclusions in studies of vaccines as a basis for authorization of their use. I'll go into more detail in subsequent parts of this essay series, but for now I will say that I was relieved to see that Pfizer has satisfied at least some of the important methodological safety and effectiveness research components that Cernic has focused upon: namely a high number of study participants (Pfizer had over 43,000 participants), the use of a bona fide placebo saltine solution (Cernic said this is “practically never used”), a true control group (this was achieved through the Pfizer group that used the placebo), and determining that the vaccine is effective on the basis of it guarding against the disease, as opposed to merely producing antibodies (Pfizer's 95% effectiveness rate is based precisely on guarding against developing the symptoms of COVID-19). Now I'm not putting any medals on Pfizer, as there are certainly Big Pharma concerns that I have about them, not the least of which is their huge amounts of financial penalties, inclusive of unlawful promotion of their products and kickbacks to their drug providers and hospitals (Cernick, pp. 402-403). And although at least Pfizer was not penalized for concealing or falsifying data in their research studies, the same cannot be said for Johnson & Johnson, who produced the third United States vaccination product that has been emergency approved, after Pfizer and Moderna, to fight against COVID-19 (Cernick, p. 403).
But all things considered, at this point in time I believe I made the right decision to get my two Pfizer vaccinations to fight against COVID-19. At the same time, Cernick (and House) have stimulated me to question many of the safety assumptions of vaccines, and in the interest of acquiring valid scientific knowledge, as well as being able to communicate effectively with my aforementioned family member, I intend to learn more about the whole stormy issue of vaccination, and by necessity this includes the whole stormy issue of natural health and nutrition vs. medical drugs and invasive procedures. At any rate, stay tuned for Part 2 of this essay series.
Notes and References
- See Richard House (2021). Book Review Summary: “Ontological Constructs of Vaccination” by Mateja Cernic, Ph.D. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/cernic-vacc-review
- See Mateja Cernic (2018). Ideological Constructs of Vaccination. Vega Press.
- I have included the term “integrative” in the titles and descriptions of a number of my Integral World articles; see www.integralworld.net
- See Isabella B. (2015). Graphical Proof that Vaccines Work (with sources). Retrieved from medium.com
- See Pfizer (2021). Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers, Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers): Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 Vaccine to Prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from www.fda.com