Journalist Gary Matsumoto discussed his research into a dangerous anthrax vaccine that has been administered to U.S. soldiers since 1991, and which he contends is the cause of a host of maladies known collectively as Gulf War Syndrome. The experimental vaccine was rushed into production during the run-up to the Persian Gulf war because the military feared the existing anthrax vaccine would not effectively protect soldiers against Saddam Hussein's biological weapons, he explained. In addition, the pre-1990 vaccine required six doses over a period of 18 months in order to confer protection against the disease -- time the military did not have, Matsumoto noted.
Research at the time showed promise in a new vaccine that could protect soldiers from Hussein's aerosolized anthrax with only three injections given over the course of one month, he continued. The experimental vaccine, referred to as "Vaccine A", used an oil called squalene as a supposed 'safe' delivery vehicle for the injection's main ingredient and as an immune system stimulant. According to Matsumoto, the injected squalene closely resembles oils found in the body and as a result, the body's immune system starts attacking itself. Matsumoto believes this reaction is why Gulf War veterans suffer from increased incidents of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Scientific studies have demonstrated the same cascading autoimmune response in animals, and Matsumoto's own investigation uncovered a one-to-one correlation between illness in troops and the administration of vaccines that contained squalene. This may not bode well for the U.S. civilian population, he warned. Certain elements in our public health system have ignored this research, he said, pointing out that federal law may one day force Americans to take similarly unsafe vaccinations during times of national emergency.
Are You Superstitious?
In the first hour, Ian spoke with cognitive development scholar Bruce Hood about superstitions -- notions that cannot be explained by scientific inquiry and seem to run counter to natural laws. Hood pointed out that everyone has some amount of superstitious belief by posing the following questions:
- Could you wear clothing that belonged to a serial killer?
- Could you swap your wedding ring or other sentimental object for a duplicate?
- Could you stab a photograph of a loved one through the eyes with a pair of scissors?
To further illustrate the power of superstitions, Hood referred to a study that found more Californian Asians die on the fourth day of the month than any other day. The Chinese and Japanese words for the number 4 sound just like their word for 'death', he noted. Rituals, such as those performed by athletes before their games, can help people gain a sense of control over their superstitious beliefs, Hood added.