Everything wrong with the “System” (Trust yourself) [Transcript]

The transcript for my video about some of the perils of accepting conventional practices without question.

In the Movie “Catch me if you can,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character plays the role of Frank Abagnale – a fugitive who is running from Tom Hanks’ character, an FBI agent. There is one scene where Tom Hanks finally gets to the hotel where Leonardo DiCaprio is staying, and instead of running, Dicaprio pretends to be a secret service agent who actually just caught Frank Abagnale. Hanks doesn’t believe him at first but DiCaprio confidently hands him his wallet as proof that he is indeed a secret service agent. Tom Hanks accepts the wallet and takes it as reason enough to believe DiCaprio. After a while he decides to actually open the wallet and he sees it’s just filled with random soft drink and condiment labels.

So… What this channel is is an invitation to open up the wallet. And to explain what I mean by that and what this has to do with taking the time to research things by yourself, let me tell you the story of Jeff:

As per conventional practice, Jeff’s life starts out with his mother lying on her back attempting to give birth to him. The position she’s in makes it harder to push Jeff out so she’s having a lot of difficulty with the birth, is in a lot of pain and an epidural is recommended. The epidural relieves her pain but makes it even harder to actually give birth. It’s getting pretty late in the day and this whole process is taking far too long so a C-Section is recommended. The surgery is completed without complications, and Jeff comes out a healthy baby boy.

A little while after the birth, he is to be circumcized, and since you can’t give a baby anaesthetic, Jeff has his first taste of sugar in the form of a pacifier dipped in a concentrated sugar solution called “sweet ease” . This activates Jeff’s endogenous opioid system, providing an analgesic effect and the procedure is completed without too much fuss.

At home, Jeff’s mother takes great care of him, and after 6 months puts him on Nestle’s good start baby formula. When he begins to eat solid foods, his Mom makes sure it’s a low fat diet with plenty of heart healthy whole grains as recommended by the USDA. His usual breakfast before school would be maybe an egg, some toast, yogurt, cereal (but not the sweet cereal), and a glass of orange juice- which Jeff will get refills on.

While Jeff is a pretty good kid at home, he can’t quite behave and focus properly in school so his teacher tells his Mom that he may have ADHD. They have all these commercials for Ambien, Celebrex, Lamisil, Mirapex, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Rozerem and Crestor that all end with “Ask your doctor about…” [Ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor, ask your doctor today, ask your doctor, ask your doctor] so she decided to ask her doctor about Jeff’s ADHD, and he gave her a prescription for him. At the pharmacy she picks up adderall for Jeff and some Oxycontin for her back pain.

Thanks to the adderrall, Jeff’s behavior and grades improve and he quickly develops a skill for rote memorization and keeping information in his head just long enough to pass the standardized tests. Come senior year of high school he is told he needs to decide on what he will be majoring in college. He’s informed that this decision will ultimately determine the path of his entire adult life so he needs to consider it thoroughly. This is a little bewildering considering he spent the past 10 years learning that disobedience means punishment, and that authority figures should make the important decisions for him. So during 3rd period, he raises his hand to ask permission to go to the bathroom and think about this in private.

After high school, the cost of college is steep but he needs an education to get a good job, so he takes out some loans, gets a part time job and he even got a grant, so it works out. Although he is kind of pissed that half of his classes require the newest edition of each textbook which cost more than a hundred dollars each. There’s barely any difference between the newest one and the 4 preceding editions which are less than half the price, but the class requires the new edition.

College was tough but he got through it and he even landed a reasonable job. Adult life isn’t too bad, he’s making enough money to handle his student loans and live comfortably. He meets a great girl, saves up for an engagement ring and proposes to her. Now that he got that step out of the way, he has to figure out how to finance the wedding. He doesn’t quite understand why it has to be so expensive, but it’s a very special occasion so he tries to make it as extravagant as he can.

“Meet Vicki Howard – she’s the author of Brides Incorporated and an expert in wedding commercialization. Weddings used to be simple affairs but then bridal magazines encouraged brides to marry like the wealthy. It was the birth of an entire industry and now the cost of weddings keeps sky rocketing. The wedding industry systematically overcharges young couples, just because they can. One study found that a majority of flower shops, photographers charged more for a wedding than they did for a birthday party of the same size.”

Over time Jeff gains a bit of weight so he starts counting calories, makes sure to reduce the fat in his diet and he even picks up jogging. He had been hearing that he should reduce his sugar consumption, so he avoids sodas and candies. “Much of the sugar we eat is hidden in foods we don’t necessarily think of as sweet. This oatmeal, 3 and 3 quarter teaspoons of sugar a bowl. You can find sugar added to bread, soup, all kinds of condiments, hot dogs…” He loses a little bit of weight, but he feels hungry and tired all the time. He sticks to it, but isn’t losing weight as fast as he’d like so just in case, he checks with his doctor about any health risks coming from his weight. Jeff’s cholesterol is not super high but his doctor recommends he take a statin just in case. Jeff says “Yea sure doc, give me the Lipitor”

“all of the long term data on the statins show that you will die sooner if your cholesterol is lower, particularly if you are over 55 if you are female or male. There is no benefit to the drugs. The sickest people I have ever seen in my 32 years of practice were people who’s cholsterol was too low. Without enough cholesterol in your system, your immune system can’t work properly.”

A couple weeks later his wife complains about his performance in the bedroom so he gets some viagra for that.

“What is one of the major side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs? Impotence is one of the things that is complained about most frequently. Well guess what the same manufacturer’s number 2 selling drug is that makes lipitor? Viagra. Viagra! Heyyyy!”

He’s also feeling a little foggy in the head so he consults his doctor and his doc reassures him he’s just getting a little older and probably just under stress. The doctor finds out Jeff used to have ADHD as a kid, so he recommends Jeff to get back on some ADHD medication. He gives Jeff a prescription for the ADHD and a painkiller for some pain in his back from slipping on the stairs the other day. Jeff swings by the pharmacy to pick up his ADHD medication, the oxycontin, a refill of lipitor and some Listerine for his Halitosis.

Jeff was then getting a lot of relief from the pain killer, but he started to worry about becoming dependent on it. On the weekend he met up with his friend Tony who said he got off the Oxycontin and started using Marijuana to treat his pain instead. Jeff was very wary of illegal drugs, courtesy of Nancy Reagan “say no to drugs.” and the 1987 egg in a frying pan commercial. “this is your brain on drugs, any questions?” When Tony started talking about how Oxycontin is essentially legal heroin and substances like Marijuana only became illegal to benefit Richard Nixon’s political campaign, Jeff politely changed the subject.

“He said quote: The Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: The antiwar left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Later Jeff and his wife have a beautiful son Jack, who has an upbringing similar to Jeff’s. In primary school, Jack’s teacher tells Jeff that his son has trouble focusing so medical attention may be necessary. Jeff recently had gone off the ADHD medication and the Oxycontin because it was making him feel weird and he didn’t want his son to have to go through that. He starts doing some research and learns that Jack’s ADHD may stem from a couple things, one of them being Jack having been delivered via C-Section. Apparently the procedure doesn’t allow the healthy bacteria in his mother’s vaginal canal to be transferred to the baby, making it hard for Jack to develop a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome. This sounded a little cooky to Jeff but it would explain his own difficulties with ADHD as a child. Considering the recommended treatment to improve Jack’s GI microbiome was just to make some changes in his diet like adding fermented foods and probiotics, he figures it’s worth trying before giving his kid prescription methanphetamine.

“The drugs that the doctors are giving us are the same as the drugs being sold on the streets? Take adderrall and ritalin which are made from the same stuff as meth. So basically, those pills that you have your children popping are street legal meth.”

A while after changing Jack’s diet, Jack’s teacher mentions to Jeff that his focus had noticeably improved. They continued Jack on the diet and he kept getting better little by little without any bad effects at all.

At this point Jack is kind of pissed off that he didn’t learn things like this earlier as it could have saved him a lot of trouble as kid. He starts to question other things like whether or not he really needs to be on the statin. Some articles he read suggest that his low fat diet and the sugar in all these things he’s been consuming virtually ever since birth could be causing his weight troubles and some other health problems. The calories in calories out thing never really quite worked for him so he gives that low carb thing a shot even though he’s worried about heart disease. Then he starts to lose weight without feeling like crap and his bloodwork actually shows better numbers. He starts to think that all these potential diseases linked to being overweight are certainly not prevented by and could even be caused by the USDA dietary guidelines.

Later, his son Jack seems to be frustrated with school despite having good grades. After seeing the kind of homework he has to do, Jeff starts to think he might as well save his kid 10 years and a just teach him how to use an Encyclopedia. Then he finds out he doesn’t technically have to have Jack in public school and there are other school systems like ISD’s or Montessori School or Sudbury schools or Charter Schools that are actually more conducive to creativity, critical thinking and better financial achievement later in life.

What Jeff realizes is that more often than not, organizations don’t always have the best methods, and are just saying and doing whatever best suits their interests and their profits.

“In 1971, then president Richard Nixon began the war on drugs. Since then, the war on drugs has cost the US over 1 TRILLION dollars. And the prison population has risen over 700%.”

“But in 1996, a company called Purdue Pharma released a new drug: OxyContin. Purdue spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince doctors that OxyContin was safe and not addictive.”

“Just yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive? I believe nicotine is not addictive, yes. Mr. Johnston? I don’t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive. I believe nicotine is not addictive. I believe that nicotine is not addictive. I believe that nicotine is not addictive. And I too believe that nicotine is not addictive.”

“You know, there were imminent scientists of the time saying this is nonsense, there is no good scientific evidence that either fat or cholesterol y’know is at the root of heart disease. And I have pleaded in my report and will plead again orally here for more research on the problem before we make announcements to the american public. I would only argue that senators don’t have the luxury that a research scientist does of waiting until every last shred of evidence is in.”

“Does the money that students put into their tuition, do they actually get it back? A lot of this extra money that students pay for tuition is not going into the classroom to improve their education but is going for administrators.”

So… Back to Catch me if you can. In that scene, Tom Hanks could have looked inside the wallet DiCaprio gave him much earlier, found that it was filled with a bunch of garbage and catch Frank Abagnale on the spot. So this is what I am encouraging people to do: be like Jeff. Take the time to look inside the standard systems, conventional practices and mainstream products we’ve been asked to buy into, because you may start to find that most of them are filled with random soft drink and condiment labels.

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