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Why we should question………..everything! July 25, 2022

Posted by shaferfinancial in Self Reflection, Uncategorized.
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A newly published study calls into question the low serotonin = anxiety/depression theory. In fact this meta study puts a huge dent in that theory to the point that doctors should change their prescribing habits. One of the fastest growing prescriptions of the last generation is SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to help people with anxiety/depression. These class of drugs have significant side effects. Turns out that their primary action (increasing serotonin) does not actually decrease depression.

Conclusion from the study found at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-022-01661-0:

Our comprehensive review of the major strands of research on serotonin shows there is no convincing evidence that depression is associated with, or caused by, lower serotonin concentrations or activity. Most studies found no evidence of reduced serotonin activity in people with depression compared to people without, and methods to reduce serotonin availability using tryptophan depletion do not consistently lower mood in volunteers.

What does this tell us? First, this is another example of how medicine isn’t a science. Or at least, it demonstrates how physicians methods aren’t scientifically verified as most people assume. I did my PhD dissertation on an entire occupation that was based on the use of a technology that for 20 years was used increasingly until someone finally looked at it using the scientific method and found it wasn’t accomplishing what physicians assumed. It disappeared from use, while the workers remained. But let’s not pretend that this is all on medical practice. The vast majority of what we think is scientifically verified in all parts of life isn’t. It is theory based, but lacks verified evidence.

But do SSRIs work? Maybe, but it looks like when it does, it is some combination of a placebo effect and the overall masking of all emotions. This masking effect is what is described by many of its users; no more highs or lows, just the middle. This should give folks pause as the pandemic has increased anxiety/depression acutely in teenagers and young adults who are the prime candidates for being prescribed this class of therapeutics.

In a study published on the CDC website it states that over 13% of adults had used SSDIs WITHIN THE LAST 30 DAYS (2015-2018). Let that sink in. In any given month during that time period 13% of all adults had been taking a drug that doesn’t have any direct effect on the problem it was believed to alleviate. So before you get all up in arms, it’s not my intent to call into question a lot of well meaning people trying to help others. Yes, this is an indictment of the medical industrial complex, but that is not the take away I am looking for.

In order to go about modern life we need to take a whole lot for granted. It would be impossible to get through a day not doing that. But maybe, the life skills needed to be taught, is when one might want to do actual research into things they are asked to do and how to go about that research? (Have to say that last part because going to some ideologically driven website to parrot someone else’s critiques isn’t doing research). Now in practical terms, we know that most people don’t have the time nor the ability to read scientific journals and decipher what each study might mean. And the folks who are suppose to do that for us, journalist, are an archaic occupation that largely doesn’t exist. But, next time some “expert,” no matter what alphabet letters they have by their name, asked you to do something that could have life altering consequences, maybe folks should at least try. We do have the internet now which puts information at our fingertips. Maybe folks will at least get some questions to ask the expert and can evaluate their reaction to help guide them to a decision.

Finally, we should all recognize the inability of anyone or any method to be 100% right about anything. A little humble pie for those who think they might have answers including yours truly.

Experts; What does it take to be called an expert? April 28, 2008

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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Bad news travels fast.  Real Estate market is lost for a generation.  Stocks falling in the face of a recession (depression). Interest rates dropping on CD’s, annuities, savings, etc.  Yea, it is all out there now.  Every naysayer with a keyboard is opining about the “fall of the empire.”  Just a few years ago it was opposite.  All these keyboard experts were talking about “flipping houses,”  the stock market rebound, and “trust deeds.”

And then everybody, I mean everybody had a real estate license.  The other day my neighbor had a city exterminator over to catch a rodent.  He saw her for sale sign in the yard.  Suddenly, this guy, a self disclosed part-time real estate agent was rendering  advice.  “I predicted this bad real estate market,” he says.  “You should take your home off the market and sell in 2011.”  No comment on whether he sold houses to folks in the 2003-2005 period while he was predicting a market devaluation.

Truth be told, the majority of real estate agents ignored the truth of what they were doing.  They knew they were selling  homes, lots of them for over market values.  They knew how the appraisers were appraising homes over value.  They knew their clients couldn’t afford the homes, got questionable loans, etc.  Yet, they just smiled and sold homes.  I suppose you could argue that since so many of the agents were new or part-time they were incapable of seeing the truth.  Just like those internet keyboard experts, they were making judgements without knowledge or experience.

Folks, if you follow the herd, you will be hurt.  If you don’t figure out how to think independently, or at least hire folks who can think independently for you, you will be hurt. 

I talked to two folks over the weekend about the Shafer Wealth Academy(www.shaferwealthacademy.com).  It was interesting.  They started to tell me about the economy and what to invest in.  I asked them what their net worth was.  Neither of them had a positive net worth.  Think about  this, you call someone up who is offering to help you build your net worth, and start to tell them about good investments.  Yet, you are poor.  Oh, and by the way, they were both “former” real estate agents!  So far I have talked to several real estate agents, mortgage originators, mutual fund/insurance salesmen, a CPA, and a stock broker.  All were basically broke.  Think about that the next time you get advice from a so-called expert!