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Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: 1932 to1972 HUMANS as Lab Rats

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by muffin, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    I think everyone should read what the US government, including all the way up to the Surgeon General of the United States, did to its own population. Think that the US government won't pull this kind of stunt again? Think again. Are WE test subjects or are we the innocents that got nailed by accidental or deliberate release of virus(es)?

    http://www.tuskegee.edu/global/story.asp?s=1207586

    The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for bad blood, their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.
    The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, and they were thus deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphiliswhich can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. As I see it, one of the doctors involved explained, we have no further interest in these patients until they die.

    Using Human Beings as Laboratory Animals
    The true nature of the experiment had to be kept from the subjects to ensure their cooperation. The sharecroppers' grossly disadvantaged lot in life made them easy to manipulate. Pleased at the prospect of free medical care almost none of them had ever seen a doctor before these unsophisticated and trusting men became the pawns in what James Jones, author of the excellent history on the subject, Bad Blood, identified as the longest non-therapeutic experiment on human beings in medical history.

    The study was meant to discover how syphilis affected blacks as opposed to whites the theory being that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis, whereas blacks were more susceptible to cardiovascular damage. How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain.
    Although the PHS touted the study as one of great scientific merit, from the outset its actual benefits were hazy. It took almost forty years before someone involved in the study took a hard and honest look at the end results, reporting that nothing learned will prevent, find, or cure a single case of infectious syphilis or bring us closer to our basic mission of controlling venereal disease in the United States.

    When the experiment was brought to the attention of the media in 1972, news anchor Harry Reasoner described it as an experiment that used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone.

    A Heavy Price in the Name of Bad Science
    By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis. How had these men been induced to endure a fatal disease in the name of science?

    To persuade the community to support the experiment, one of the original doctors admitted it was necessary to carry on this study under the guise of a demonstration and provide treatment. At first, the men were prescribed the syphilis remedies of the day bismuth, neoarsphenamine, and mercury but in such small amounts that only 3 percent showed any improvement.
    These token doses of medicine were good public relations and did not interfere with the true aims of the study. Eventually, all syphilis treatment was replaced with pink medicine aspirin.
    To ensure that the men would show up for a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap, the PHS doctors misled them with a letter full of promotional hype: Last Chance for Special Free Treatment. The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed.

    As a doctor explained, If the colored population becomes aware that accepting free hospital care means a post-mortem, every darky will leave Macon County... Even the Surgeon General of the United States participated in enticing the men to remain in the experiment, sending them certificates of appreciation after 25 years in the study

    Following Doctors' Orders
    It takes little imagination to ascribe racist attitudes to the white government officials who ran the experiment, but what can one make of the numerous African Americans who collaborated with them? The experiment's name comes from the Tuskegee Institute, the black university founded by Booker T. Washington. Its affiliated hospital lent the PHS its medical facilities for the study, and other predominantly black institutions as well as local black doctors also participated. A black nurse, Eunice Rivers, was a central figure in the experiment for most of its forty years.
    The promise of recognition by a prestigious government agency may have obscured the troubling aspects of the study for some. A Tuskegee doctor, for example, praised the educational advantages offered our interns and nurses as well as the added standing it will give the hospital. Nurse Rivers explained her role as one of passive obedience: we were taught that we never diagnosed, we never prescribed; we followed the doctor's instructions!
    It is clear that the men in the experiment trusted her and that she sincerely cared about their well-being, but her unquestioning submission to authority eclipsed her moral judgment. Even after the experiment was exposed to public scrutiny, she genuinely felt nothing ethical had been amiss.

    One of the most chilling aspects of the experiment was how zealously the PHS kept these men from receiving treatment. When several nationwide campaigns to eradicate venereal disease came to Macon County, the men were prevented from participating. Even when penicillin the first real cure for syphilis was discovered in the 1940s, the Tuskegee men were deliberately denied the medication.

    During World War II, 250 of the men registered for the draft and were consequently ordered to get treatment for syphilis, only to have the PHS exempt them. Pleased at their success, the PHS representative announced: So far, we are keeping the known positive patients from getting treatment. The experiment continued in spite of the Henderson Act (1943), a public health law requiring testing and treatment for venereal disease, and in spite of the World Health Organization's Declaration of Helsinki (1964), which specified that informed consent was needed for experiments involving human beings.

    Blowing the Whistle
    The story finally broke in the Washington Star on July 25, 1972, in an article by Jean Heller of the Associated Press. Her source was Peter Buxtun, a former PHS venereal disease interviewer and one of the few whistle blowers over the years. The PHS, however, remained unrepentant, claiming the men had been volunteers and were always happy to see the doctors, and an Alabama state health officer who had been involved claimed somebody is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
    Under the glare of publicity, the government ended their experiment, and for the first time provided the men with effective medical treatment for syphilis. Fred Gray, a lawyer who had previously defended Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, filed a class action suit that provided a $10 million out-of-court settlement for the men and their families. Gray, however, named only whites and white organizations as defendants in the suit, portraying Tuskegee as a black and white case when it was in fact more complex than that black doctors and institutions had been involved from beginning to end.
    The PHS did not accept the media's comparison of Tuskegee with the appalling experiments performed by Nazi doctors on their Jewish victims during World War II. Yet in addition to the medical and racist parallels, the PHS offered the same morally bankrupt defense offered at the Nuremberg trials: they claimed they were just carrying out orders, mere cogs in the wheel of the PHS bureaucracy, exempt from personal responsibility.

    The study's other justification for the greater good of science is equally spurious. Scientific protocol had been shoddy from the start. Since the men had in fact received some medication for syphilis in the beginning of the study, however inadequate, it thereby corrupted the outcome of a study of untreated syphilis.

    The Legacy of Tuskegee
    In 1990, a survey found that 10 percent of African Americans believed that the U.S. government created AIDS as a plot to exterminate blacks, and another 20 percent could not rule out the possibility that this might be true. As preposterous and paranoid as this may sound, at one time the Tuskegee experiment must have seemed equally farfetched.

    Who could imagine the government, all the way up to the Surgeon General of the United States, deliberately allowing a group of its citizens to die from a terrible disease for the sake of an ill-conceived experiment? In light of this and many other shameful episodes in our history, African Americans' widespread mistrust of the government and white society in general should not be a surprise to anyone.
  2. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    I kept thinking about Tuskegee, too. For me, it illustrates how easily people can justify doing something which is almost unbelievable. In the case of ME, I believe it is human nature and the profit motive at work.

    Actually, I was struggling to find the energy to post about it.

    Thanks much for this!
  3. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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  4. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Koan - Thanks for your comments

    My husband keeps asking me if I really do believe that the US Federal labs and government are capable of doing harm like this to the US population. He is also worried that I may look like a crazy person with the tin foil hat and conspiracy theories racing out of my mouth. I have told my husband that I do indeed FERVENTLY believe that there was some sort of cover-up - what I really don't know but I must assume it was a release of a virus out into the public and then a cover-up. There may well be some sort of cover-up or unethical/illegal issue at work that none of us has even thought about too.
    As for being tagged as a conspiracy nut by others, I have told him that actually other sick people also "see" the picture emerging and it is NOT just me. He knows I am very sane and sensible and don't fall for the latest headlines, etc. I'm a skeptic by nature. BUT what else can I conclude about CFIDS and its long history of abuse by our government, the CDC/NIH and the UK shrinks? The government can only be so stupid and incompetent for so long. Then someone picks up on it and screams and it sort of gets fixed. Money? Yes big time money from the insurance companies pleading that they don't want to pay out for disability. But how would that work and for how long without anyone really finding out? HOW? Ego. Yes, ego is involved with the guys who messed up but by now you would expect that the ones coming in behind the old idiots would straighten things out and their egos would not be involved. If you keep trying to figure out WHY we have been damaged, demeaned, abused, called crazy/lazy/malingerers by the Federal Health Orgs (and the idiot doctors who don't think for themselves but just go along with the idiots at the CDC) - well, what else can be concluded???

    And then we have history repeating itself with this XMRV and the 1980's DeFreitas virus and the CDC/NIH hand in the replication and politics/funding. I really am stunned that Hillary Johnson has written a book that is repeating itself in real life again. There are major parts of this book that shock me with the similarity and the prophetic statements that she made in the book.

    So, if anyone can come up with another reason for WHY we have been damaged by Federal Health Orgs, then please put it out there. It's not just money, ego, incompetence - but something far more.

    I really wish that someone within the government (or outside) that really KNOWS and has documentation or other validating information would come forward and tell what they know. You would think that at some point someone would open their mouth and speak. McNamara finally told the truth about his feelings about being in Vietnam 30 years after the war. He had to clear his conscience before he died and he knew it. So I expect that someone will step up to the plate and tell what they know or were involved in. Just like the poor Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment men, someone finally yelled after 40 horrible years of using humans as lab rats. It took 40 years before that experiment was stopped and brought out into the public, but it finally did come out.

    My head is throbbing and I have to take a nap now. But thank you for NOT calling me a conspiracy nut - I would expect that other CFIDS/ME sick have thought this through long and hard and have concluded what I (and others long before me) have concluded. There IS a cover-up by our government/Health Orgs - what and why is the question. :sofa:
  5. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Koan: I have asked if we had any lawyers who would take on a class action for us all. No takers yet. I guess we need evidence before we could take the government or individuals on first. BUT, when that info is out there - BAM! the government is going to pay and pay dearly. Actually, not just the government but also the insurance companies that denied us LTD, etc.

    LSD was also used on young people in the US without their knowledge and consent either. Can't remember details, but could hunt it down if need be. Sad but we can't trust our government or at least some parts of our government and the unethical Nazi-like individuals within it.
  6. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Hey Muffin,

    I don't know what to think about "conspiracies". I do know that self interest, denial and much more can convince we human beings to do, sometimes secretly/sometimes openly, or cover up all kinds of bad stuff.

    This may have seemed like a pretty trivial problem when it seemed it happened only once in a while, in clusters, and we could be arrogantly and irresponsibly dismissed as "yuppies", neurotics and mostly women - gender politics are very much at play. By the time people started to understand the magnitude of the problem $cost$ we had become very, very expensive.
  7. dipic

    dipic Senior Member

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    I hate to play the conspiracy game unless there is some amount of evidence involved. Conspiracy theories are the minds way of finding answers where there aren't any by filling in gaps, connecting dots and finding meaningful patterns in random noise. Conspiracy theories, in a strange way, offer us comfort, by allowing us to retain a sense of stability and predictability.

    I feel that where there is a lack of evidence or answers, we should demand them rather than speculating and trying to piece together fragments in order make sense of our suffering. I feel the former is much more productive in our quest for truth while the latter can skew our perspectives and hurt our cause by making it hard for us to be taken seriously (something detractors can easily use to their advantage.)

    We need to find answers, not create them.
  8. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Cover-Up, NOT Conspiracy Theory

    And this is why many of us, including me, have stayed away from conspiracy theories on CFIDS and the CDC/NIH lack of movement and actually destructive attacks on CFIDS sick and research - because we would look like nut jobs. However, after 30 years and nothing but damage done to us by Federal government health organizations, the dots and patterns have connected and lead in one direction - and that is that they do NOT want us to find out what is causing our disease because of the problems it would cause for the Feds. So this mind is not comforted by the fact that our government has failed us miserably, and that is not a conspiracy theory but a fact. A cold, hard fact.

    As for demanding information from the government, we HAVE been demanding and going to meetings and our best doctors and researchers have been fighting like crazy for us all- Drs. Cheney, Peterson, Klimas, Bell, and others have fought our own government to get them to believe we are sick and to get us funding and research and oh yes, SSA money since we are far too sick to work. So demanding information from our government has NOT worked for 30 years and it will NOT work since you can not force the government to give you information they don't want to give you. Ever try getting information from the government using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)? You can wait months and months and you might just get garbage but you will not get the real stuff you need. Why do I know this? I lived and worked in Washington DC. I know the little games the government folks play.

    I have kept my conspiracy theory to myself for 15 years of this disease because I did NOT want to sound like a nut. However, after 30 years of the same song and dance played by the Feds, one can only conclude that they are indeed hiding something. And that something is big and horrible. Actually, I think I will not refer to this anymore as a conspiracy theory - too X-Files, but a government cover-up - that we all know happens and we can believe. Would this cover-up by the US health orgs be predictable? NO, it would not except for the times that they did use humans as test rats (and that was well documented). But no, I don't usually subscibe to theories that our government can get away with too much for too long - too many mouths, too many stupid people messing things up.

    When a pattern emerges and continues to repeat itself over and over for three decades, then you have to conclude the obvious.
  9. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    forgot to add

    Go read Osler's Web with a highlighter in hand. Note the patterns. Not the repeated themes, games played by the government. And remember that this all happened back in the early 1980's - not in 2009/2010.

    First read the book carefully and see for yourself the patterns - time and again you will think you are reading something current and not a history of events that happened 30 years ago.

    I wish Hillary Johnson would give us her take on what she believes vis-a-vis a Federal government health organization cover-up.
  10. Min

    Min Senior Member

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    I thought the Plum Island Lyme disease link and Lyme cover up stories were all nonsense, until I discovered that have chronic Lyme and co-infections (& have probably had them 23 years) that the UK medical authorities deny exist and the UK National Health Service will not treat.
  11. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Min: It just forces one to ask "WHY"????? Why do they deny that these things exist and spend far too much time on the so-called epidemics like Swine Flu? The true numbers for Swine Flu (H1N1) are so low and yet we have over 800 researchers at the CDC working on this faked-out virus. I just don't get it. Can ALL the researchers here and in the UK be so stupid and misguided? Apparently so.

    I have not bothered to find out if I have Lyme since what can be done about it? I spent more time outside in the heavy woods running around bare legged/armed and shoeless than I did inside a house when I was a kid/young teen. So given the huge numberr of Deer and other animals out there in those woods I just assume I and my siblings got nailed by ticks. And given where we grew up, it would NOT be uncommon to find that we all do have a long-standing Lyme.

    Maybe the "Lyme Rage" is making me more and more irritable and willing to take on everyone about everything related to CFIDS/ME - others have noted my "fighting spirit" which really is deep rage. Rage not for me, but for my new baby nephew and my 9 year old niece who seems to be moving down the same odd paths as I did as a kid BUT at a far younger age.


    Only time will tell what all these diseases mean and how they came about. I really do hope I am alive to find out what went on.
  12. lebowski

    lebowski

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    wasnt the way to facts in science ,was something like ; theory - hypothesis - fact ??
    if no one makes theories no facts ( answers ) can be derived ..

    created answers - found answers .. what is the difference .. there is not such two different ways , there is only wrong theories and right theories , right ones can go to the facts and wrongs go nowhere ( well i have lots of free time to waste ) ..

    if no theories( wrong or right ) r made as u suggested, with the fear of their being wrong/conspiracy theories, there will be no answers in the end ..

    i m sure this is not what u want .. ( or is this one a conspiracy theory too ? )
  13. dipic

    dipic Senior Member

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    Lebowski, my last sentence, in retrospect, doesn't make as much sense as I had hoped, it seems, but I think you're missing my point. I just don't find conspiracy theories productive is all. I think it only hurts our credibility.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

    Although you may disagree with me whether or not the claim is indeed extraordinary or a conspiracy theory at all.
  14. Dr. Yes

    Dr. Yes Shame on You

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    From Min:
    Sorry, the anal-retentive science side of my brain requires me to comment:
    The scientific process is more like: observation/fact - hypothesis - more facts - theory.
    That's why saying "evolution is just a theory" incorrectly minimizes evolution, which is also a scientific fact. And why we don't say that gravity is "just a theory" (even though it is explained by gravitational theory).

    :Retro redface: Sorry if that was a bit OT..

    Anyway, the label 'conspiracy theory' is used pejoratively by anyone who doesn't like a 'theory' or finds a certain group to be paranoid or otherwise unreliable (or politically problematic). I agree with Min (substituting the word 'hypothesis' for 'theory', perhaps :ashamed:) that it is extremely important to air these different interpretations of events in order to get at potentially undiscovered truths... It's also vital to better educate people about scientific and other epistemological tools so they are better able to formulate their own interpretations and to critically analyze those of others, be they by the 9/11 Commission , 9/11 Truth, Simon Wessely, or whoever.
  15. lebowski

    lebowski

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    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"

    yes .. and when this proof is found then it is an " extraordinary fact " , not a claim anymore ..

    i say " extraordinary things happen in the world " and to prove them to the point of fact , first there must be an exordinary claim/theory ..
    if the fear is " this theory is too exord. so they ll laugh at me (credibility) so i must keep it to myself , then no theory will be made and no extraordinary fact can be reached at the end ..

    of course if u claim " exord. things do not happen in the world " and it is a fact , which needs to be proven , then i m wrong totally ..

    and such theories shouldn't be spoken out by the professionals like wpi etc. of course , but this is a forum for pwc .. pwc shouldnt be in need of proving their theories ..

    and those conspiracy theories online can be the main thing , they cant go too far hurting people .. who r they , and what do they do for hurting people and why .. i dont know .. but if everyone is afraid of being called mad/ paranoid and do not make theories and talk to each other , and if there is something like "they" , then "they" will be free to make anything they want ..
    well i prefer being called mad ..
  16. lebowski

    lebowski

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    "That's why saying "evolution is just a theory" incorrectly minimizes evolution, which is also a scientific fact."

    hi dr.
    i might be wrong but i think evolution theory coudnt be proven yet because there was a missing form of animal in the ladder from monkey to man .. and i might be meaning " law " when i say" fact " indeed .. so , sorry for the mistake ..
  17. Dr. Yes

    Dr. Yes Shame on You

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    Whoops, I may just have opened a totally off-topic discussion... so I better close it up quick! I'll just say that evolution is both a theory and a fact; a scientific theory is an explanation of facts; facts are basically data. Gravity is a fact (it has been observed in many ways), but to explain how it works you need a theory, which makes sense of all the observations we have about gravity. Similarly, evolution is an established fact; evolutionary theory tries to explain how it happens. It's been established as a fact more thoroughly than almost anything else in biology, via transitional fossils (tons of them between earlier primates and humans, for example), geology (incl. nuclear decay dating), and molecular biology (comparing, for example, the DNA sequences of different organisms).

    The term 'law', by the way, is no longer really used in science, except for the sake of historical clarity. Theory is pretty much the best it can get. Newton's Law of Gravitation, for instance, was found by Einstein and others not to be a 'Law', i.e. universal at all levels, after all... But I know the word theory is used very differently in popular usage; it just creates problems when people then try to understand science, as in the 'debate' about evolution.

    I do think it's very important for all of us PWC to understand scientific reasoning and process, not to mention for all doctors, as it is precisely the weakness of understanding of fundamental scientific principles that has led to the psychosomatic 'theories' of CFS. A great deal of psychology is not very scientific at all, and the 'somatization' school is very bad in that regard. Any science that has practical applications must use falsifiable hypotheses or theories, i.e. they have to be able to be objectively proven wrong. Unfortunately for us, most of what comes from the 'psychologizers' of CFS and other physical diseases is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific; it is a 'belief' rather than science.

    Wow did I go off topic. Sorry, I'm tired. :Retro redface:
  18. Samuel

    Samuel Bedbound with NO DOCTOR

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    This is all correct, but it is probably worth pointing out that psychiatry, clinical psychology, and experimental psychology are different fields. The most scientific is the last one. It has produced such work as that of Stanley Milgram, which does have value. The first two should not be called science. If they ever had the right, they lost it. The denialists saw to that. Massive checks and balances are necessary.

    Denialists spout beliefs that cannot be tested. They also openly dictate from their positions of influence and authority NOT to test the ones that can be tested.

    Just trying to forestall confusion.

    Good article on Tuskeegee, muffin. I already enlightened several people using it.
  19. lebowski

    lebowski

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    "Wow did I go off topic. Sorry, I'm tired"
    i think not .. i needed the updated version : ) .. so no more facts but good and bad theories ..quality of evidence makes it bad or good .. and to call a theory conspiracy theory has no place in science but has it in politics .. this form is easier to work with ..
    but i dont understand this part ; "Similarly, evolution is an established fact; evolutionary theory tries to explain how it happens"
    before it was established as a fact, it was a theory , before the geological and dna evidence etc . and when it is explained how it happens then with repeatable experiments etc , that part will be accepted as an " established fact " right ? .. this takes us to the old version again.. sorry really : ) ..
    anyway on the main point i think we agree ; people should feel free to make theories .. ( on the other point i m just tring to learn )
  20. Tammie

    Tammie Senior Member

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    Well, I too, have hesitated to mention conspiracy theory stuff, bc I have tended to be skeptical in nature and bc I know that most such theories are not well received; however, I have done a ton of research over the last 5 1/2 yrs and after all the verifiable evidence I have read re the science and politics behind it all, I have to say that I am about 99% convinced that there is, in fact, a cover up going on related to CFS. I don't have the energy to get into all the reasons and evidence I have for saying this, but it is all there, some of it hidden, and some of it blatant. Money, ego, etc are big motivators, but even they would not seem to be enough reason for all that has happened and all that continues to happen; all the evidence that has been covered up, distorted, and outright ignore, all the psudeo evidence that has been pushed, the threats towards (and actual firing of) those who try to spread the truth about CFS and who try to get CFS included in medical education, the fact that the UK has a secret file on ME/CFS, the fact that they have not allowed people with it to give blood even though they insist it is a psych disorder, etc, etc, etc. History has repeated itself over and over in the teim since the CDC got involved in CFS. Even the name and the constantly changing definition have served the psych sides' purpose astoundingly well.

    Also, more along the lines of the original post in this thread, there is a movie coming out called, Under the Eight Ball. I don't know much about it, or about how factual it is overall. It could be very good or could be wildly inaccurate; however, I can say that the experiments that it details are possible to verify, and they involve our govt allowing CHILDREN to be injected with all sorts of experimental illnesses. They also apparently used the structure they refer to as the 8 ball to put toxins into the environment. If even a small part of this is accurate, it sure says a lot about the lengths our govt will go to, and the risks they will knowingly expose their citizens to.

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