When my mother was preparing her will she came to a curious decision. “Kent,” she said, “there’s a section in which I have to name a person to decide, if I’m incapacitated, whether heroic measures should be made to save my life. I think your father and brother would get too emotional about it. But I think you’d make the rational choice.”
Kind of a dubious honor, don’t you think? Getting to decide whether your mother lives or dies? And does this mean I was her favorite? Luckily, we had a family discussion and decided it would be a group decision between the three of us.
I tell this story to underscore the point that throughout most of my life I’ve been regarded as the calm, rational one. A nickname for me in the family is “the diplomat” because of my ability to see both sides of a dispute, and not offer offense to anybody.
Which is why it was absolutely puzzling to me when I started raising questions about the harm from vaccines, so many of my friends and family acted like I’d gone completely nuts. After all, what happened to the previous thirty-nine years of being the calm, rational, honest to a fault person?
Which is why when I read Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book, it was as if a light went off in my head. The main question raised in his book is why interactions with people often go spectacularly wrong.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was his discussion of the disgraced financier, Bernie Madoff, who stole billions from investors. It should have been an open and shut-case. Madoff was reporting consistent returns for his clients, regardless of what the stock market was doing. Could he really be that good? I mean, is there anything more black and white than a balance sheet?
Default to Trust?
Gladwell posits the idea that the vast majority of us have a “default to trust.” That means people looked at Madoff’s past as founder of the very successful Madoff Investment Securities, his elegant office tower in Manhattan, his service on the board of prestigious financial industry associations, and how he moved between the wealthy of the Hamptons and Palm Beach, and they couldn’t see a crook, even when his financial statements made no sense.
Gladwell says this “default to trust” serves us extremely well in most of our lives, except when we come up against somebody like Madoff. We do not see the wolf in our midst.
How about “Default to Distrust?”
But Gladwell takes the question even further. Are there those among us who are uniquely tuned to root out deception? Let’s say these people have a “default to distrust.”
Among the first people who raised questions about Bernie Madoff was a guy named Harry Markopolos. It seems among those who have a “default to distrust”, most had early experiences which showed them people were often dishonest. For Markopolos, it was working in his family’s chain of restaurants, where people would often “dine and dash,” and he’d chase after them.
In business school, Markopolos told a professor he’d miscalculated his grade.
He’d earned an A-minus, not an A. In his first job out of business school, at a brokerage house, he reported that many of his fellow brokers were NOT reporting their trades within 90 seconds, as required by law.
Given his background, it’s not surprising that in 2002, when Markopolos started investigating Madoff’s clients and practices, he raised alarms. In 2008 Madoff was arrested and in 2009 he pled guilty to several charges. The size of Madoff’s fraud is estimated at somewhere between $10-17 billion dollars.
So, is Markopolos our shining hero? Is he somebody to whom we should always listen? Well, when Madoff was convicted, don’t you think that would provide a measure of relief to Markopolos?
The answer is no.
Markopolos was convinced that his records of negligence by the Securities and Exchange (SEC) commission made him a target of the government.
Markopolos now sleeps in his house with a twelve-gauge shotgun, modified to hold an additional six rounds, and a gas mask from his army days, waiting for the assault he believes is coming to get his records of SEC mismanagement.
And so I understand a little better the failure of people, even those closest to me, to understand my warnings about vaccines. They aren’t bad people. They simply have a “default to trust,” which makes most of their life work very smoothly.
It’s also a warning to me. Yes, I’ll continue to work to bring down this corrupt Big Pharma empire, but I should probably hold off for now on getting that shotgun and gas mask.
The book is co-authored with Judy Mikovits PhD. It is an indictment of the “Fake Science” we find so prevalent in the US.