Per year, around 800,000 Americans die of heart disease:
Per year, around 100,000 Americans die from adverse response to approved medical care:
Or maybe it’s 250,000:
Per year, around 40,000 Americans die from second-hand smoke:
How do we respond to these highest risks which are rapidly getting worse?
We enable them. We amplify them. We definitely DO NOT combat them.
Severe obesity doubled from 2000 to 2017:
Obesity tripled since 1975:
Oversight on medical science has DECREASED dramatically, owing largely to our blank checks for pharma during the pandemic:
Regarding tobacco use, vaping has increased 1,800% among youth:
Returning to medical oversight for a moment, the irony is that the PREP Act was incredibly controversial when it was introduced by a Republican congressperson, Richard Burr, and signed into law by George W. Bush in 2006. Burr has long had unsavory ties to pharmaceutical and medical interests: https://www.statnews.com/2016/10/25/richard-burr-pharma-biotech-campaign/ . And he was implicated in insider trading at the outset of the pandemic: https://www.propublica.org/article/senator-dumped-up-to-1-7-million-of-stock-after-reassuring-public-about-coronavirus-preparedness.
All of a sudden, nobody cared about this when the pandemic struck.
But our willful naivety and complacency regarding medicine didn’t start in 2020. Nobody cared when the American Heart Association was caught red-handed being bought by pharmaceutical interests: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/health-news_b_4398304.
In fact, for the 30 years prior to the trending hashtag #trustthescience, we haven’t been able to trust the science. In modern contemporary science today, MOST published scientific research CANNOT be corroborated: https://www.nature.com/articles/533452a. Not some. MOST. Not a lot. MOST. That’s right: 70% of scientists cannot replicate claims of their peers. SEVENTY PERCENT.
When less than a third of science is able to be corroborated, how did anyone think #trustthescience made sense? Trust evidence. Distrust people. Trust solid arguments. Distrust consensus and popularity.
Scientific and medical institutions did not ascend to Godlike unquestionability in the 20th century, and they don’t mystically remain infallible for all of time. HUGE science scandals hit the news cycle for one or two days, like 16 years of flawed Alzheimer’s research (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/alzheimers-study-controversy-what-does-it-mean-for-future-research#What-might-this-mean-for-dementia-research) or outright physics fraud (https://www.nature.com/articles/news020923-9); but we just go back to our previously-scheduled programming.
Sadly, expert scientific consensus tells us very little about evidence or truth. Look no further than Barry Marshall’s 2005 Nobel Prize, and you’ll find how consensus REJECTED evidence for two decades. The scientific consensus DENIED the truth. In fact, it’s hard to believe we would even know Marshall’s story and the bacterial cause of ulcers if his conclusions hadn’t landed us on antibiotic treatment pay dirt. If wealthy/influential people hadn’t had something to gain, could we rightly believe the evidence would’ve prevailed?
I don’t think so. I see zero evidence that we care at all about genuine evidence, data, or risks. It’s hard to see truth prevailing based on truth anymore. It seems to be more tied to financial interests or popular public feelings.
I mean, again, observe our top risks. The top risks have no social media profile templates, no hashtags, no memes, no attention. I see no evidence that people follow science or care about risk. They follow popularity and worry about “risks” that are popularly trending in their little tribes.
Following the food pyramid kills about 1 million Americans every year. And, if anything, our public embrace of unhealthy eating has accelerated. Look at the stats. Following scientific consensus and medical advice kills another 100,000 to 250,000 Americans per year. But we are becoming LESS skeptical of experts and entrenched institutional organizations. Second-hand smoke kills 40,000 per year. But smoke shops are popping up everywhere and tobacco use is resurgent.
Every single day, these things are killing 3,000 Americans. EVERY DAY. It’s like a 9/11 terrorist attack PER DAY EVERY DAY. Motor vehicle accidents take another 100 to 200 lives daily. DAILY. But there is zero outrage. No outcry. These ARE our highest risks. No opinion. No ideology. No politics.
As we go further down the list, we find that opioid overdose and suicide are making a run for the top risks. Next up: falls. Seriously. After cancers, respiratory conditions, all preventable risks, opioids, suicides, and motor vehicle deaths, your next most likely way you’ll die is from falling.
Not a joke. This one lies directly inside my profession. Weak people are at higher risk of fall. And falling is in the top 8 risks of death.
From 1966 to 2020 the TOTAL number of deaths in American mass shootings was LESS than food/medicine/smoking will kill in the first 12 hours of TODAY: https://rockinst.org/gun-violence/mass-shooting-factsheet/. Each hour medicine kills more people inside peaceful countries than guns kill in war zones. TODAY more Americans will die from food and medical recommendations than there will be mass shooting victims for THE YEAR. This MONTH vehicles will kill more people than mass shootings will kill this YEAR.
This year motor vehicles will kill more American children than 40 years of mass shootings have killed ALL PEOPLE OF ALL DEMOGRAPHICS.
This year clinics and hospitals in America will kill more children than all victims of all mass shootings in all countries combined for all of time.
And every single day, twice as many people will die from taking a fall than the combined total victims in gang shootings PLUS individual gun violence PLUS mass shootings PLUS accidental firearm discharge.
I agree that we should address our 10th through 1000th risks. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the public completely oblivious and carefree about the top 9. The time, energy, money, and outrage people spend on any one of their tribe’s select 10th through 1,000th risks EXCEEDS their concern over ALL TOP RISKS combined.
Be passionate. That’s fine. Join your tribe in its fear-mongering over non-risks which never even break the top 8. That’s fine too. What isn’t fine is totally ignoring all the real top risks.
But imagine what a beautiful world we could enjoy if people cared at all about the top health risks.