That Tribal ‘Forward’ Instinct

Facebook, WhatsApp and other News Media have only consolidated our beleaguered self. We want to spread the news before anyone. Any sensational news, irrespective of its impact on the common man, or the society in general, are circulated without due diligence.

I have two interesting stories to share – first, a hoax that is spreading on cancer and the second one, a notion that our religion or faith is under threat or fire.

For those without any technical understanding on cancer, it is a disease that is a consequence of loss of control by the body mechanism over it’s ability to stop incessant multiplication and subsequent spread beyond the organ of origin. This spread correlates with the stages of cancer, which most of my non medical readers are aware. Transformation of a normal cell to cancer is one of the most complex mechanisms, and every organ has multiple pathways of deregulations and within each organ, subtle differences exists that make certain cancers more dreaded than others. However, suffice it to say that current scientific literature is devoid of any evidence that links Vitamin B17 (Amygdalin or Laetrile). It is DEFINITELY NOT DUE TO DEFICIENCY OF VITAMIN B17.

Amygdaline

You may visit one of the latest landmark work in this field by Bode and Dong, ‘Toxic phytochemicals and their potential risks for human cancer’ (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289646/).

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Cancer is not a disease but a deficiency and manufactured by the drug industry

The hoax:

Cancer is not a disease but a deficiency of Vitamin B: It was a Sunday morning and as usual, a friend forwarded that. Of course his understanding on cancer is miniscule. However, worst, the same story was received from a retired professor from a medical school.

Sometimes, I fail to understand the logic. Some semi-experts who work on the fringe or periphery of the field, having some semblance of understanding about cancer, put up facts and fiction and circulate these stories. It is mainstream fashion to add little science and mix with much fiction (not tested hypothesis) and make a juicy story that will catch the imagination of the common man. I also fail to understand how these people think that all the researchers, all the medical practitioners and the entire paraprofessionals working in the field lack ethics and values. They ultimately try to prove that are the demystifier of the falsehood and the ultimate revealers of truth. By falsely claiming so, they not only malign and tarnish the ethos, values and hard work of all the people working in the field but end up widening the existing sense of trust deficit within the system.

The truth:

If you carefully see the picture below or review this with a doctor who has had fundamental learning (didactics) in pathology, I bet by consensus, you will find them disagreeing on the picture of cancer below. Anyone having seen cancer cells under a microscope will agree that the picture below has no resemblance to cancer cell. However, it has a closer resemblance, possibly to an imaginary octopus.

The link to that hoax – cancer is not a disease; it is a business. Cancer consists of only a deficiency of vitamin B17.

In our quest for knowledge, we are striving to understand, diagnose and manage the menace of cancer afflicting mankind. Much can be said about the progress that has achieved with cancer. However, we are humans and we are learning, every time we cross a barrier, we dismantle our earlier understanding and expand the horizons of our learning. Consequently, we see changing guidelines, part of the reason why we see differences in the practice from a decade and now.

Several links to the truth are innumerable, an important one here –

http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v10/n8/full/nm1087.html

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Our religion is under attack:

Though I cited an example of Muslim faith, Islam is not the only religion in the world that feels so. Recently, Hindus, Christians and other faith leaders are gradually immersing their ideology and believers to this proposition. So, let us understand these as phenomenon rather than a criticism for a particular religion.

It has become an in-thing to believe that one’s religion or ideology is under threat. If you presume, I am talking about Muslims, you need course correction. Believers, irrespective of religions feel their faith and ideology is under threat, or at least their so called guardians or believers want everyone, including those practicing, to believe so. The killing of a young woman in Virginia is a case in point.

Of course, this is another forward from a Muslim friend (but Muslims are not an exception) who shared news on how a Muslim girl, while leaving a Mosque after offering prayers, was killed as a consequence of a hate crime. Obviously, he wanted me to believe this happening. Being outside his religion, I could clearly see the bias and I pointed out that we should wait for the crime detection agencies to validate the cause. It can be any roadside ragamuffin who might have mugged/ attacked and it may not be a premeditated hate crime. The question was simple – a person bent on retribution will do a newsworthy act, not a roadside attack on a single person. To me, that was clearly an act of robbery rather than hate crime.

We have that tribal instinct deeply embedded within us that makes us spread rumors without validating those. It is that rudimentary instinct that does not think about responsible civic behavior. It has that uncanny childish attitude of keeping itself as the center of attraction. All these are at the cost of society, civil norms and years of systematic learning. While doing all these, we tend to forget the toll it takes on the society, the time consumed in discussing unrequired rumors, the trust deficit and the polarization that ensues.

The Hoax – The initial link from a news channel on the isolated hate crime

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fairfax-loudoun-police-searching-for-missing-17-year-old-reported-to-have-been-assaulted/2017/06/18/02e379ac-5466-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html

My obvious argument was to wait for the law agencies complete their investigation and prove the motive, then make an impression. Of course, such logical arguments are not liked or appreciated. As usual, this friend labeled me as ‘non-sympathetic’ towards his religion. In next 18 hours, the same newspaper published another news on the same incidence.

The truth – The story posted by same news channel 18 hours after the incidence

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/killing-of-muslim-teenager-not-being-investigated-as-a-hate-crime-police-say/2017/06/19/e7670f0a-54f0-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.ac8cd960e97a

Let us think or validate before forwarding

We all have a responsibility to filter the information and think through the consequences of forwarding newsworthy items. Spreading sensational, unvalidated news without understanding the impact amounts to irresponsible civic behavior that may cast doubt on our character. It is closer to our tribal instincts and drowns all the civilized efforts and education we so much fashion ourselves with.

4 thoughts on “That Tribal ‘Forward’ Instinct”

  1. The social media is just a tool in the hands of vested interests to push forward their view point to a target audience and gain some materialistic, economic, religious, political benefit. But the target audience who has suffered any of those parameters has to be there and social media can be used to whip up a frenzy, ignite a symbolic spark to create a detonation.

    In olden times, speeches live or recorded, advertisements etc. were used which were were somewhat costly and had logistics issues. Social media is fast cheap and very effective. The only solution to avoid its pitfalls are education, transparency and a sense of equality otherwise it take Goebbelsian proportions.

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  2. Why to bring in tribals in this. My experience with tribals brought me to the conclusion that “tribal instincts” are closer to nature and have no cunning designs. Please don’t label crooked designs of the so called civilized society this way.

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    1. True, uncivilized irrational irresponsible behavior is derogatory and cannot be equated to Tribal Behavior. It is deplorable to see such random acts of forwarding without responsible behavior and has no parallel to any norms community living.

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  3. Give a stupid boy a mobile with internet and a social media account – it won’t take much long when he would start to think that he is one of the geniuses in the world. No doubt social media has advantages but humans have always been bad at controlling himself and immensely lack discipline (majority of them) if not so we won’t be obese and diabetic when we know what makes us so.

    Social media has ruined the “curiosity” and general common sense. People forward such messages without even caring to check its source or authenticity – and the worst part is that they do so with a broad smile on their face as if they are doing a social service. I recently deleted my facebook account and keep my whatsapp to only work related use to avoid such insanely stupid people. I am an introvert but this craziness among today’s generation is pushing me to be an misanthrope (afraid they would win).

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