Julie Cook is the author of Unvaccinated, Homeschooled, and TV-Free: It's Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots. She lives in Howell, Michigan and is homeschooling her daughter using the unschooling method. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, an M.A. in Instructional Design, an M.S.A. in Business Administration and a PhD in Psychology. She works full-time as a manager in one of the world's largest global technology firms. She's spent the past 23 years "climbing the ladder" at fast-paced technology and consulting companies, and acquiring formal degrees along the way. While living an outwardly mainstream life, she has "quietly" been making non-mainstream decisions for her daughter based on years of research, knowledge, and intuition.
Questions and Answers
by Trung Nguyen
The first chapter of your book, “Cord Blood Banking”, grabbed my attention and as a result I finished the book in one sitting. The choices as to whether “clamp the umbilical cord” and use umbilical cord blood banking at birth were ideas that were new to me. I think this is knowledge that every couple, particularly women, expecting a baby should be aware of because it could mean the difference between having a healthy child and one prone to illness. How did you come across that knowledge yourself?
I think this information is very difficult to come by. A typical person would never even consider the possibility that cord blood is vital to the baby at birth. I only came upon this information through interactions with my midwives. I was planning a homebirth for my daughter. During one of my appointments with my midwives, I mentioned that I'd be banking the baby's cord blood and asked if they knew if one particular banking company was better than the next. They exchanged troubled looks. When I asked what their "looks" were about, they were hesitant to say anything because they don't like to "push" their opinions on people. All they would say is "look into what cord blood is and you'll see". I then started researching it and because I was a PhD student at the time, I had access to all of the medical journals and psychological journals around the world, through my school. I found a plethora of information that was absolutely stunning and shocking.
I think every parent or parent-to-be should read the first two chapters of this book on cord blood banking and vaccination. Also, I found the link between people who were vaccinated and those with cancer was alarming. Will you be doing anything more to spread this information?
You know......I'm not really sure yet. I know that I will be speaking at an unschooling convention to spread the word about intrinsic motivation and it's relationship to unschooling. I may also be coordinating with midwives to speak to their clientele about the cord blood banking and vaccine chapters.
On vaccines, you wrote, “In the real world of vaccines, we have no proof that they prevent the acquisition on any disease. In fact, we have proof that they bring on diseases and in many cases, the very disease they were meant to prevent.” In your book you’ve cited many research papers to back up those assertions. But despite the fact, vaccines are still being aggressively pushed onto the public. What can be done to change that?
Vaccines are pushed because money is made by doing so. I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't believe anyone "at the top" has a secret agenda to push vaccines with the intent of shortening lives, causing suffering, causing illness, etc. Those things are side effects of the proliferation of vaccines. There are a couple ways to change the aggressive pushing of vaccines: 1) Severely limit the profitability of vaccines across all of the industries that currently benefit from them, 2) Provide massive media campaigns designed to educate the public with the true facts about vaccines including the dangers, the ingredients, etc.
Vaccine pushing can be controlled through the regular supply and demand system. If pushing vaccines remains as lucrative as it currently is, then vaccines will continue to be pushed. However, if demand drops off then profitability will fall and the pushing will lessen. So, how do we make demand drop? By honestly educating the public so that all people can easily acquire the information they need to reject vaccines. The general population blindly believes whatever is reported on the news and in newspapers and on TV. So, we'd need to start there. Since we are a supply and demand society, it's perfectly fine for someone to sell a bad product, an inferior product, and even a harmful product.
We assume the public won't buy a bad product, an inferior product or a harmful product thereby killing demand and causing the seller to stop manufacturing the product since it's not profitable. Many years ago, this was a pretty decent system - back before 99% of people were glued to the TV set, hanging on the announcer's every word and believing anything that was said. Back then, we could assume most people would make intelligent decisions and would create demand accordingly and cause demand to diminish accordingly. These days, people get their information from the media and they make purchasing decisions based on what the media reports. When someone buys a ridiculous product that they learned about on TV, someone might say, "Well, he wasted his money on a product that doesn't work because he was dumb enough to listen to the media so he got what he deserved". That's a pretty reasonable opinion to have when the only crime was that a person wasted their money and some company gained profits for a silly product.
But, it's a whole different story when adults are making these kinds of decisions, based on media reports, for their children. And, rather than just wasting their money, they are causing extreme harm to their children. That's when blindly following the media goes from being really stupid to being sickeningly tragic. As long as people are going to blindly follow media, then the only way to adequately educate people is through media (unless the information is so compelling that it can quickly spread from being a grassroots effort to infecting more and more of the population, which I'm hoping will happen).
Here's a fun fact. I was working one day last month and a high level manager in my company (an extremely bright person) sent me an instant message that said "are you going to get your daughter the swine flu vaccine". I wasn't sure how to respond so I was honest and I said "no way". He then said "I think you should - I was watching an episode of The Doctors and they all agreed that children should be vaccinated against the swine flu". I saved that instant message because it was so sad but also so indicative of society today. Even the smartest of the smart people seem to be hanging on every word of media personalities. So, that person got his child vaccinated for the swine flu because someone on The Doctors TV-show said to. It was such an important decision......given no thought at all.
On doctors you wrote that, “If they look under the covers, there is no going back, they must make a difficult decision, they keep on keeping on, knowing the harm they are bringing, or they take a stand and risk their practice and financial future. Neither is appealing." Where do you think this leaves patients? Is this a case of caveat emptor when it comes to your health?
Most doctors went to traditional schools so they too have the "just go along" mentality. I'm sure that many doctors have their doubts about vaccines just like many parents do. But, because we are all products of traditional schools we are forever living in a "classroom" where the "teacher" is setting the rules and those around us seem to be happy enough to follow them..... so we do too, without question. Even the most intelligent among us, including doctors, are still living with the classroom mentality - believing someone else knows better, and that what everyone else is doing must be right. Many doctors must really know the truth, but they doubt that knowledge because everything around them seems to be contradicting that "truth".
Patients need to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. Doctors are professionals and most do what they truly believe is best, but even still, nobody will have the same level of interest in YOU or your health as you do. So, you must be your own advocate and research your health issues and know the facts. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to the doctors for myself armed with more facts than the doctor knew existed, and by the end of the appointment, he'd be writing down the data I was stating and noting the journals and websites so he could do his own research there. Doctors are aware that they don't know it all - they are more crunched for time than most people so they have much less time than average people to do pertinent research.
Let me tell you a story.......About 10 years ago I was married to my first husband who was in his mid 20s. He repeatedly went to the doctor for sinus issues and had a sinus surgery. But, the symptoms kept coming back. We began to do our own research and after we were done, we were certain he had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - it was the only explanation. Only we could have done that research - only we knew the more subtle symptoms that were occurring. We told 2 different doctors about our suspicions and they both poo-poo'd it. They were convinced we couldn't be right. Finally, months later another sinus surgery was needed and during the surgery, they found the cancer and it was Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - stage 4. Had anyone listened to us months before we may have caught it at stage 1 or 2.
This is just one example of many whereby I had to do my own research to facilitate and supplement what doctor's were saying. Every patient must care enough about themselves and their families to spend the time doing the hard work themselves - to supplement the knowledge of the medical professionals and to help them, help you. It doesn't mean you have to go out and get multiple degrees. It means you have to open your mind to all of the possibilities and investigate them all with any means available to you. It's time-consuming and it's dull. But, it's necessary.
Mark Twain wrote that, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." You wrote that you now often times use instinct, intuition, and feelings to draw your own conclusion even when they disagree with popular opinion. Besides the topics covered in your book, what are other mainstream health ideas that do not sit well with you?
In my next book, I discuss some of the other mainstream trends that I haven't adopted. Here are a couple of them.
Teaching fairness - I don't know how many times I've heard kids say "that's not fair". It even comes out of the mouths of 2 year olds and 3 year olds. It implies an expectation of fairness. I think it is incredibly irresponsible to ever teach a child that things should be "fair" and to expect and even demand fairness. Of course, when playing a board game, there are rules to be followed, etc. and that is a whole separate thing. In general, I teach Genevieve that "it is what it is" and I stress that the fun of life is that it isn't fair and you can't expect it to be or you will always be disappointed. Instead of expecting fairness, children need to realize that what is, IS.
As adults we can objectively look back and agree that not much of life is what we'd call "fair". We all know young, healthy people who developed cancer, we all know people who got straight As in school and are now unemployed, we all know people who are kind and giving and ended up in abusive relationships, we all know people who are highly effective at work and were the first to get laid off. If we teach children to expect and demand fairness, we are neglecting to teach them how to accept and cope with what IS. I am continuously teaching Genevieve that we can make plans for our lives and the weekend, and take the steps to make those plans a reality but the fun thing is - anything can happen to change the plans or get in the way of plans and that's not a bad thing or a good thing - it's a "surprise" thing and we then get the chance to react to that "surprise".
Wellness perspective - Ever since Genevieve was a tiny baby, I've talked to her about how strong and efficient her body is. When she gets a sore throat, rather than running to the medicine, I have told her "I know your throat hurts but it will be better tomorrow because your body will get the germs out and fix it for you. If it's so sore that it keeps her awake at night, I will give her some medicine but I always downplay the impact of the medicine and ensure she believes that her body is going to be getting well on it's own and the medicine will help her deal with the pain. She has high confidence in her bodies ability to get through fevers, sore throats, skinned knees. I never wanted her to view medicine as a "crutch". We also teach her that staying in shape and staying healthy is her responsibility (and my responsibility as her parent). She knows that if she has a sweet today, that she must first have had vegetables, fruits and gotten exercise. I've always fed her vegetables with her breakfast since she's hungriest in the morning and less likely to put up a fight. Then, if she wants something less healthy at lunch, I'm OK because I know she has some good food in her already.
Being goal oriented - society as a whole focuses on goals in every possible way. We tell children how important it is to set goals and achieve them. At work, we reward employees for meeting goals. In school, they focus on grades. In families we focus on having time pass quickly so we can get to our vacation. All of this focus on goals is so intense that the process is entirely overloooked. When a goal is reached, we can only revel in the feeling of success for a short time and then it's on to the next goal But, the process and time it took to reach the goal was so much more meaningful - it's where most of our time is spent.
With Genevieve, we never focus on goals but instead, focus on the process. In the winter, if Genevieve wants to spend 20 minutes getting bundled up and I know she'll only play out in the snow for maximum 5 minutes, I never mention that. I let her get dressed in her coat, boots, etc and take as long as she wants. Sometimes it takes her 1/2 hour to find all of the equipment she needs, get it on herself and then go outside. To me, getting outside isn't so important that I would rush her through the process of getting boots on, hat on, finding matching gloves, etc. I allow the process to take as long and be as enjoyable as Genevieve wants. When you focus on the process and view each piece as valuable then you learn not to rush. I never rush Genevieve because I want her to see value in every step of the process and never make goals so important that she gives up her minutes and hours rushing through them.
It appears that you and I share the notion that drugs and vaccines are being pushed onto the population because they contribute to the profit of pharmaceutical companies and that there isn’t any conspiracy at work. It’s all profit driven. In your book, you have provided more than ample evidence against vaccination. I know that you have agreed to disagree with those who disagree with you, but do your friends, acquaintances and colleagues share your views?
You know, I've been very private about my views. My family members know that Genevieve isn't vaccinated but they haven't really asked too many questions about why. Some friends know that we didn't vaccinate and many of them didn't either - but some have. I think we all know it's a very touchy subject and nobody wants to ruin our relationship by prying too much one way or the other. Some of my co-workers know I don't vaccinate and sometimes they question me but there is no way I can take 5 hours out of my day and explain to them all the reasons why - I gloss over it and move on.
You wrote that, "Whenever money is at stake, there is the potential for deception or abuse or hidden agendas." You tend to do your own research and not go with mainstream opinion. How is mainstream opinion shaped? Who shapes them?
Mainstream opinion is shaped almost entirely by media - TV, newspapers, and magazines. If I polled 10,000 people and asked why they vaccinate, I bet not one of them would tell me about all the research they did and cite studies that convinced them it was the best thing to do. I think nearly 100% of them would state reasons that came from media sources like TV. I actually had a co-worker send me an instant message that said "I think you should reconsider vaccinating Genevieve for the Swine flu - I was watching an episode of The Doctors and they said everyone should vaccinate their children for it". This was a highly educated person in a global technology firm with a high level position. No joke.
You work for a global technology company and with all your degrees, what events led you to the field of life coaching and health research?
I work full-time for one of the largest global technology firms, in their Learning and Development department. I manage the America's division and I have global counterparts in Asia Pacific and Europe. We specialize in developing online game-based learning events and web-based training for corporate clients. Before this company, I was with several other large consulting and technology firms. In this industry, it's incredibly difficult to achieve a decent work-life balance, and it's extremely competitive. Over the years, I think I've figured out some things - how to remain a top performer as well as having work-life balance. I started out doing some life-coaching in these areas and then branched out from there. I was led to health research by the incident with my first husband, whereby we had to do all of the research to "prove" that he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. After that incident, I was suddenly aware that I should have been doing that kind of research for all of my own health issues (which thankfully, have been very few). From that point on, I always remembered that doctors are people too and don't know everything and don't have time to know everything, so I did my own research for everything. Then, once I had my daughter, every decision seemed to be magnified in importance so I really got into heavily researching even the most minor issue.
Your book is full of valuable advice on child rearing. I like the quote you used from Mark Twain, “The first half of my life I went to school, the second half of my life I got an education.” My opinion is that school teaches us how to become an integral part of the system or what is considered “conventional” thinking and methods. How did you deviate from that?
It's incredibly difficult to break free from the mental chains that traditional schooling locks us in for the rest of our lives. I'm not entirely free of them yet. I think the only reason I had the courage to dig deep, think hard, and listen to my intuition, was because my mother did something unusual and brilliant for me, during my school years. Let me explain. Most parents push the school's agenda on their children. If their children get poor grades, parents stress the importance of good grades and push them to do better, work harder, do more. If school expects children to attend everyday, parents urge their kids to get up in the morning, get moving, get to school on time. Most parents provide a united front alongside the school system. So, for children who think that school is not useful, or suffocating their creativity, or hurting their self-esteem, they then see that EVERYONE is against them including their parents - everyone, even their most trusted parents, seem to fully believe in what the school system is doing. That really kills a kids resolve and they just give up and give in.
My mother did something wonderful for me. When I received a poor grade, she would talk to me alone and say "I never understood that stuff myself and I don't think it's useful or important and it's a waste of your time to study it. I disagree with the school's pushing of that subject/topic". And, if I didn't want to go to school because I just needed to be home in my house, with my family, she'd write a note for me, getting me out of it for the day. And, when I had so much homework I couldn't eat dinner with the family or play outside, she'd loudly complain about the useless homework schools dish out. So, while I did have to go to school, I felt that my dislike of it was valid since my mother often agreed with me. I knew that someone older than me, who was intelligent, and responsible, and trusted, was actually on my side.
That was very empowering and while the system was dictating something, and everyone seemed to be going along blindly.....I learned that I wasn't the only one with doubts. The feeling that my opinions were validated kept me going and kept my doubts alive. I never gave up because even the trusted adults in my life seemed to be nodding their heads in unison with the system. I had a trusted adult who was secretly validating my thoughts about the uselessness of some topics and the stupidity of so much homework that there was no family time or play time.
As an adult, I know many parents who will tell me that they are disgusted with the amount of homework their kids get and the subjects they are being taught. But, when their kids complain, they aren't honest with them - instead, they pretend they agree with the school system and understand why it's all important. That is just so tragic because the kids then have nobody on their side - they really do, but they aren't aware of it. So, it has the same effect. The kid gives up.....even the parent is in agreement with the hours spent with schoolwork and learning these topics, etc. My honest mother saved me from going with the flow for the rest of my life. I was able to keep questioning regardless of what "everyone else" was doing.
What is Intrinsic Motivation to a child?
Research has demonstrated that there are two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation develops when a person engages in a specific activity because it brings them internal satisfaction - an individual engages in an activity even if no one else is aware. Extrinsic motivation occurs when a person engages in a specific activity because of the expected reward. When people are intrinsically motivated, they engage in an activity because they enjoy it or they are interested in it. When people are extrinsically motivated, they engage in an activity for reasons other than interest and enjoyment, such as receiving an award. People are born with intrinsic motivation and curiosity to learn.
When a baby starts pulling himself up to stand and holds on to the couch for balance and then falls and tries again and again, this is intrinsic motivation. Even if the parents leave the room, the child will continue to try - the child wants to learn to stand and walk because they are interested in doing so and not because they will receive a reward if they do. This is intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation has shown to be the dominant force until which point intrinsic motivation is undermined through rewards. Many studies have shown that when a child engages in a creative activity for the love of the activity, they produce highly creative results. Once a reward is offered for that same task, the level of creativity plunges AND the child loses interest in an activity that he previously loved and didn't need a reward to engage in.
Intrinsic motivation is so important because years of research has shown that it leads to creativity, innovation, better conceptual learning, persistence, deeper task engagement, greater self-acceptance, better health and well-being. Many employers administer tests to ensure their top level employees are mostly intrinsically motivated. Extrinsically motivated people are less creative, more likely to be depressed, less innovative, and more anxious.
Children are intrinsically motivated at the start and then gradually lose that as rewards begin to undermine their intrinsic motivation. Studies show that the first big plunge in intrinsic motivation happens around the 3rd grade and then the 2nd big plunge happens at 8th grade. Keeping children intrinsically motivated is not only necessary for their optimum health and well-being, but also necessary for society as a whole. We need creativity and innovation as a country in order to survive in the conceptual age.
Any parting words for our readers?
We've all experienced times when we get stuck in the daily grind and we move through our lives with our eyes half open. Sometimes it doesn't even seem like we have choices anymore - we just keep going and doing and going and doing. But, we do have choices - about nearly everything. When it seems like everyone around you is doing "something" and the media is reporting favorably about that "something", it feels like there are no other choices. I've had people say to me "I had no idea we didn't HAVE to vaccinate our kids", or "don't you have to vaccinate in order to send your child to school".
The vast majority of people never research anything - they just go along. So, when I hear someone say "ninety percent of people vaccinate, and they can't all be wrong", I know they don't understand what they are saying. Of that ninety percent, it's unlikely that more than five percent actually did the level of research that is done by the people who make unconventional decisions. I never care that people arrive at the same conclusions that I did. I only care that they personally put in a level of effort that corresponds to the importance of the decision.
To find out more about Julie's work, visit: http://www.noregretslifecoaching.com/