What Do Five Monkeys And One Banana Have To Do With Your Bones?
Have you ever wondered what makes people do what they do? Are you amazed, as I am, at why the majority of people unthinkingly conform to conventional behavior patterns that when analyzed seem completely nonsensical?
Today I’ll share with you a fascinating study that illuminates some startling insights into human behavior. What’s more, they can also be applied to bone health.
And once you read this you’ll understand that “conventional wisdom” isn’t always based on wisdom at all…
Five Monkeys, One Banana, and Some Ice Water
This study1 is really intriguing. For one thing, despite citations, some people claim the study never even happened. Perhaps the insights it provided are just a little too close for comfort…
Here’s how the researchers conducted the study (and please understand that I don’t condone animal research). They placed five monkeys in a cage and hung a banana from the ceiling. They also placed a step-ladder under the banana, and when a monkey would race for the banana and grab it, that monkey and the other four were sprayed with ice-cold water. Eventually the message got conveyed: “No one should go for the banana, because we’ll all get sprayed.”
To make sure no monkey went for the banana (which they had learned would result in a spray of cold water), the monkeys would attack and beat up any monkey that tried to get it.
After a while, the scientists removed one of the monkeys and replaced it with one that had never been hit with cold water. Like clockwork, when the new monkey went for the banana the other monkeys attacked it and prevented it from getting to the banana.
One by one, all the monkeys that had experienced the spraying were replaced with new monkeys that had never been sprayed with cold water. Nonetheless, the learned behavior continued – the monkeys wouldn’t allow anyone to get the banana!
Sounds familiar? If it does, it’s because…
Humans Behave in Much the Same Way
Amazingly, humans tend to behave like the monkeys in the study. And that applies to health as well. But thankfully, this does not apply to the Save Our Bones community.
Here are five interesting examples:
1. Accepting Doctor’s Advice Without Asking Questions
How many people truly question what their doctor tells them? The majority of patients take what their doctor says at face value, assuming that the doctor is somehow “above” the patient. (Just as an aside, isn’t it interesting that the word “patient” ever became a noun to refer to people who are under the care of a doctor?)
Doctors are seen as infallible for reasons that really can’t be pinpointed. Like the monkeys who jumped the newbie going for the banana, most people simply don’t know why they don’t question doctors; they just don’t.
2. Trusting the FDA and its Drug “Approvals”
Despite numerous scandals linked to the FDA, people still continue to believe that FDA approval is the equivalent of a “safety seal.” There are just too many examples of the FDA getting caught with its corporate pants down to cite them all here; but let’s look at a few highlights.
- A Trio of Trouble – In 2010, the FDA neglected to ban three extremely harmful drugs: pain killer propoxyphene (used in Darvocet), diet drug sibutramine (Meridia), and diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), thus recklessly endangering the health and lives of thousands.
- Speaking of Avandia… this diabetes drug has been the center of a major controversy. The latest wave in the Avandia flood came when two members of the US Senate sent a letter to the FDA alleging that the FDA swept dangerous side effects “under the rug” in order to garner approval from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK – Avandia’s manufacturer). Even though a panel member warned that the risk of congestive heart failure was strong enough for a black box warning, conveniently (for GSK), the FDA had that person “removed.”
- Again with Avandia… the FDA halted a randomized, double-blind study on the drug, claiming it was unfair because the study compared Avandia with a safer alternative. But the FDA is supposed to have our safety and best interest at heart, right?
- Yaz, or Yasmin, is a birth control pill containing drospirenone, which the FDA unreservedly endorsed in December 2012. But women who take drospirenone, when compared to women who do not take contraceptive pills at all, are almost 7 times as likely to develop thromboembolism, a blood clot that can (and has been) deadly. Women taking Yaz are also twice as likely to develop thromboembolism as women taking another kind of birth control pill. The FDA allowed its members with a financial interest in the drug to vote on the endorsement of Yaz; but the FDA barred one of its researchers from voting. Why? Because that researcher had found drospirenone to be dangerous.
- Vioxx, Merck’s arthritis drug, has been linked to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths from 1999 to 2003. Merck suddenly yanked Vioxx off the market after an “internal study” by the FDA showed that Vioxx increased the risk for cardiac incidents. The study was not released, and the FDA refused to comment.
3. Drinking Fluoridated Water
Drinking fluoridated water has been proven unsafe time and again. Regular readers will know that fluoride in drinking water harms your bones (as I said above, these examples of health “mob mentality” do not apply to community members!). Numerous studies have shown the negative impact that fluoride has on the body, from thyroid dysfunction to brittle bones. It actually affects your body on a cellular level, changing the permeability of the cell membrane – any cell membrane. Your whole body is therefore at risk for damage by fluoride, including your bones.
Yet municipalities continue to add this costly toxin to the public water supply and the majority continues to drink it.
4. Ignoring Dangerous and Sometimes Lethal Side Effects of Drugs
The belief that drugs are the only way to cure a disease or manage a chronic condition is so deeply ingrained in most people, that they’re able disregard their side effects. Even when side effects are advertised on television, and even when they are drastic (such as death) or horrible (such as cancer), the mob mentality trumps caution and they take the prescription drugs anyway.
Amgen’s injectable arthritis drug Enbrel, widely advertised on many popular television channels, is a good example. Side effects and warnings range from serious infections to cancer. Here are some from the Enbrel2 website itself:
- Infections requiring hospitalization
- Invasive fungal infections
- Potentially fatal lymphoma and other malignancies, especially in children and teenagers
- Skin cancer
- New onset or exacerbation of existing “central nervous system demyelinating disorders,” including transverse myelitis, optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndromes, and seizure disorders.
- Congestive heart failure
- Potentially fatal aplastic anemia
- Hepatitis B reactivation in those carrying the virus
- Autoimmune disorders
- Adverse reactions to the shot such as headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea
After reading a list like this, you’d think that nobody in their right mind would ever consider Enbrel, especially for a non-life-threatening condition!
5. Thinking that the next Osteoporosis Drug will be Safe and Effective
Followers of conventional wisdom actually hope and believe that the next osteoporosis drug will work without bad side effects. They’re somehow convinced that pharmaceutical companies will miraculously change their “modus operandi.”
But here’s a question everyone should ask themselves: if these drugs work, why are there so many of them? Aren’t they all supposed to do the same thing? If these drugs worked, then there would only need to be one of them. But they don’t work, and there never will be a synthetic osteoporosis drug that works without causing collateral damage.
Osteoporosis Drugs Are Not Necessary at All
Any supposed need for osteoporosis drugs has been eliminated with the Save Our Bones Program. Its scientific basis is thorough and sound, so there’s no need to wait for the next “approved” medication from the FDA.
Till next time,
1 Stephenson, G. R. (1967). Cultural acquisition of a specific learned response among rhesus monkeys. In: Starek, D., Schneider, R., and Kuhn, H. J. (eds.), Progress in Primatology, Stuttgart: Fischer, pp. 279-288.