The CDC’s mission to create hysteria and boost drug sales

Logo of the Centers for Disease Control.
Logo of the Centers for Disease Control.
Logo of the Centers for Disease Control.

Readers have undoubtedly heard the perennial reports of disease outbreak and impending danger to public health. The routine messages seem almost deliberately crafted to induce fear and provoke a consumer response. It turns out, that’s exactly how the bureaucrats designed it.

Official presentations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveal that the agency purposely designs its message to scare Americans into running to the doctor. What might appear as a routine press release may very well be an example of carefully designed propaganda spread with the intent of manipulating public perceptions and behavior.

Dr. Glen Nowak
Dr. Glen Nowak

This can be observed by analyzing the work of CDC’s Dr. Glen Nowak. Nowak served a variety of adviser and senior management positions for the CDC between 1999 and 2010, including the agency’s Chief of Media Relations.

Nowak appears to have played a central role in the CDC’s acceleration of scare tactics in the last decade. When the agency decided that the public was not sufficiently committed to buying annual flu shots, it sent Dr. Nowak to shake things up.

“The manufacturers were telling us that they weren’t receiving a lot of orders for vaccine,” Nowak told NPR, while serving as Associate Director for Communications at CDC’s National Immunization Program. “It really did look like we needed to do something to encourage people to get a flu shot.”

Suffering corporate sales led the CDC to develop a “Recipe that fosters influenza vaccine interest and demand.” In a series of PowerPoint presentations (see here and here), Nowak instructed bureaucrats and health authorities on how to effectively manipulate the public through fear.

THE RECIPE FOR MANIPULATION

Nowak’s slides reveal an unusual insight on what drives America’s persistent and hysterical fear over getting sick. Below are some excerpts from official CDC presentations.

According to one slide, “Medical experts and public health authorities [should] publicly (e.g. via media) state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes) – and urge influenza vaccination.”

The recipe was expected to result in “Significant media interest and attention… in terms that motivate behavior (e.g. as ‘very severe,’ ‘more severe than last or past years,’ ‘deadly’).”

Slide 28 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.
Slide 28 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.

The recipe included fostering “the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza” and exhibiting “Visible/tangible examples of the seriousness of the illness (e.g., pictures of children, families of those affected coming forward) and people getting vaccinated (the first to motivate, the latter to reinforce).”

Slide 29 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.
Slide 29 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.

The CDC’s strategy hinged on manipulating the “perceptions” of unwitting patients, such as the “perception or sense that many people are falling ill,” and the “perception of sense of vulnerability to contracting or experiencing bad illness.”

Slide 30 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.
Slide 30 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.

The agency’s “success” depended on the generation of “media stories and information that create motivating (i.e. high) levels of concern and anxiety about influenza.”

Another “challenge” the Communication Director said the CDC faced was in “inducing worry, raised anxiety, and concern” in consumers.

Slide 32 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.
Slide 32 of a CDC presentation by Dr. Glen Nowak.

To reiterate, the CDC openly instructs public health officials to generate hysteria through slanted media reports, use emotional ploys like dispersing pictures of sick children, and trump up statistically miniscule dangers as “deadly threats.”

The CDC’s formula is nothing less than quintessential propaganda in every sense of the word — overt social engineering.

Given the incestuous relationship between the CDC and pharmaceutical corporations, one might draw the conclusion that the agency is playing a role as an unofficial marketing front for the drug industry. (Recall in 2009, CDC Director Julie Gerberding moved on to become the president of Merck’s vaccine division.)

This information shatters any illusion of obtaining an unbiased opinion from the CDC and its emissaries. This kind of flamboyant advocacy for corporate interests is incompatible with a free market and a free society.

 

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