The question that changed my course

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Have you ever had a time when you had a heartfelt conversation with a friend that challenged your belief of something? I had that several years ago when a friend challenged me to look into the safety of products I had always believed to be safe. She had recently made a discovery that shocked her, but knew me well enough to know I needed to research on my own. 

So what did I do? I started reading the book she recommended. Then started diving into numbers, research, safety studies, death rates, reaction rates, I looked at it all. I simply could not believe that a product that so many people used was not actually safe. How did it pass regulations?!?

What I found shocked me. The companies who made the products, weren’t even liable if there was a severe reaction or death from them. In 1986 all those companies were made legally exempt from liability, by congress! If a company isn’t liable for harm by their product, meaning they can’t be sued if harm occurs, how and why would they be guaranteed safe?

Then I started to compare the numbers. I looked at death rates prior to the product being released, and turned them into percentage (number of deaths in a year / US population that year). This made the number comparable across time. Then I looked at the reaction rates to the products once they were widely being used and turned them into the same percentage. You know what? The reaction rates were higher than the death rates on every one!

Knowing all of this I started to look into the safety testing of the products. They were only tested for less than a year usually before being marketed to the public! No wonder there were so many reactions. 

So what can you do? Do your research. Do not be afraid to question anything. Take your time to make decisions and use google.scholar for the real hard studies, not google. I am no longer afraid to challenge my own thought process and try and prove my opinion correct using science. One of two things will happen. Either I solidify my position, or I change my mind. 

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