I won’t try to stop you if you want a flu shot.

There is something unsettling about the notion of reducing my personal risk for a disease or a disaster. Risk is a relative term that only applies to groups. If all is held equal in a group, changing one element can increase or decrease overall risk for the group, but NOT the individuals who make up the group.

What’s the point in making a change that can lower the risk of disease by 5% for a group? If there are one thousand people in the group, that change could mean better odds for 50 people. But, which fifty? The reduction is true only when every member in the group is similar to the others, and remains that way after the change. Something as simple as a minor accident can change a person such that he/she no longer possesses the characteristics of the original group.

If I do something to reduce my personal risk factors (eating better, for example) and the other group members do something to increase their risk (start smoking?), the group risk might go up, but mine may decline, especially when I do healthier things.

There is an old saying about how we can never step in the same stream twice. More accurately, we can never step in the same stream once. Nothing is static and all is variable. Knowing which variables are likely to make significant changes in our risk factors would be a good thing. Sadly, it cannot be achieved with any level of certainty. Measurable risk changes can only be associated with the group.

The concept of risk factors is bogus and should be eliminated from health discussions. In place, we need to decide for our self what life we will lead and how we will react when things don’t go our way. For example, if I eat well, drink cleaned water, take supplements, avoid processed food, eat organic, exercise and don’t take drugs, what WILL I do at age 70 if a lab test tells me I have a serious disease? Will I change my diet or life? Will I seek drugs, surgery, or radiation treatments that might work? Will I live as happily as possible or dwell on the possible negative aspects? Those are all choices that I make for myself. While I may consult others and seek their input, the final choice must remain private.
This is important. Others must not tell me what I should decide. Also, they should not abandon me when my decision is different from theirs. This is what has historically been referred to as LIBERTY. People have fought and died to be free, yet modern medicine seems bent on forcing all of us into regimens they feel are best (drugs/vaccines, surgery, and radiation).

Beliefs are fine. We all have them and, for the most part, they drive what we do – even when they are false. I must be free to have my beliefs and you can have yours. Neither of us should be allowed to force our beliefs on another. One vital exception is the right/responsibility of parents to guide their children in the beliefs they want them to have.

Modern medicine believes that the “standard of care” in a community trumps all other approaches to health. That would be fine if the standard was helpful and good for everyone in the community. Flu vaccines have become a standard. If you decide to be vaccinated because you believe that lowering the risk of the entire group will somehow protect you, go ahead. Don’t however, insist that I do likewise.