At first, NaturalNews.com seems like standard clickbait garbage, with articles about how taking coconut oil will lead to weight-loss, or how meditation can lead to weight loss, or why you should juice your potatoes (spoiler: the reason is weight-loss). This stuff is fairly standard, and easy to debunk. For instance, here’s an article from 2015 claiming that Gluten Sensitivity can lead to “virtually every…neurological disorder.” Here is a study from 2013 by Peter Gibson (the man who first discovered Gluten Sensitivity) proving that Gluten Sensitivity doesn’t exist (he was wrong). Boom. Done.
But it gets a bit darker once you realize it’s also an anti-vaxxer site. And not just the garden variety “vaccines cause autism” crap. They go far beyond that, accusing the CDC of infanticide and claiming that vaccines are part of a depopulation scheme. Of course this stuff is all based on information carefully selected to mislead the reader. For example, here’s an infographic and article they shared from vaccineimpact.com:
108 sounds like a big number, but it’s pretty small when compared to the 4 million children born in the US each year, 95% of which were vaccinated for measles. And when you factor in ten years in which these 108 deaths occurred, that comes to about 40 million children born, and roughly 38 million vaccinated. So, that would be 108 deaths out of about 38 million vaccines, or 0.00028421%. Now, that’s a pretty soft number; aside from using a rounded birthrates, I didn’t account for infants who die before vaccination, or adults and older children receiving vaccines. But it’s close enough to put that 108 deaths into perspective, and proves any idiot (i.e. me) can manipulate numbers to prove their point. Also, it’s worth noting that, since Natural News posted this, someone died of the measles.
Encouraging parents not to vaccinate their children is nothing new these days, but it’s still dangerous, stupid, and irresponsible. It’s as bad as a telling cancer patients to forgo chemotherapy…which is also something Natural News does. Repeatedly. Instead, they promote a variety of alternative treatments, like Cesium, Selenium, carrots, and seaweed (and it recommends Chinese herbs to cure Ebola). Look, I can understand why people battling cancer would try anything to beat it, but for the love of God, try those things IN ADDITION to your doctor’s advice, not INSTEAD of it. Anyone who tells you to disregard your doctor’s instructions better be pretty damn qualified…like, say, a better doctor. Just how qualified are the authors of Natural News? Let’s have a look.
The guy who suggested you cure you’re cancer with carrots was Paul Fassa.
In his blog over at beforeitsnews.com, he says he’s “…come to realize that the mainstream medical and food industries are making us sick for profit and keeping us ignorant in the process. So I’ve decided to be a writer warrior in the war for our health and health freedom.” His qualifications? He’s a self-proclaimed “Health Maven.” That’s it. I can find no other credentials other than that title…which he gave himself.
But that’s just one guy. How about another, let’s say Dr. David Jockers.
He’s the guy that believes Gluten Sensitivity will cause neurological disorders. But he must know what he’s talking about; I mean, he’s a doctor, right? Well, actually no. At least not a medical doctor. Jockers has a Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University. His masters was Exercise and Sport Science and his bachelor was in Physical Education and Leadership. So essentially, he has a doctorate in cracking your back with a background in gym class. Some people might say it’s a little misleading to call himself “Dr. Jockers” on a website dedicated to health advise…and by “some people,” I mean me. I am saying that. David Jockers is not an MD, so unless you have back pain or you’re looking for a personal trainer, the safest thing you can do is disregard his advice.
But all of Natural News’ authors pale in comparison to its founder, Mike Adams, the “Health Ranger.”
Adams is the author of the sites most virulent anti-vaxxer material, as well anti-GMO propaganda and fluoride conspiracies. I could spend hours researching him to tear apart his anti-science ramblings…but smarter people than me have already done that, so why don’t I just quote them? Sacha Feinmen summed up his views well, saying they “…span the ideological spectrum. His belief that poisonous vaccines are nothing more than a plot by Big ‘Pharma’ to drum up corporate profits…that 9/11 was an inside job, a faith that onions, garlic and cauliflower will cure cancer, and a confidence that the James Holmes/Aurora shooting in the summer of 2012 was staged by the FBI,” (her links, not mine). And Jon Entine offered some insight into his motives; “Although he fashions himself as a lone ranger fighting against corporate giants, Adams is the C.E.O. of Arial Software, whose clients reportedly include Microsoft, Ebay and DHL. He boasts that he has 10,000 customers and an estimated $50 million in annual sales.”
I don’t have much to add to the conversation about Adams, except to point out that he is narcissistic enough to create and star in multiple music videos. They’re all terrible, but the worst are the ones in which he raps.
But I want to go back to what Mr. Entine said about Adams being motivated by sales, because that seems to be the key to Natural News. If you pop over to the “Store” section of the site, you’ll conveniently find many of the alternative cures they’ve been promoting. Remember Selenium, which is supposed fight cancer? They’ve got it:
Or how about the seaweed that was also supposed to cure cancer? Well, don’t say directly that this is magic cancer curing seaweed, but they do say it’s, “been one of our best sellers since Fukushima…and for good reason.”
If this isn’t enough, Mike Adams wrote a book, The Seven Principals of Mindful Wealth, which explicitly lays out his argument for why he should profit so heavily from his Health Ranger persona. It doesn’t get any clearer cut than that.
The most frustrating thing about Natural News is that, for many of the topics that the site creates a delusional conspiracies for, there is actually something to be seriously concerned about. For example, there is no evidence that GMOs cause any harm to humans. However, there is real concern that patents on genes will give companies like Monsanto ownership of the world’s food supply. And there is plenty of controversy around the pharmaceutical industry as well; look at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). They paid out $750 million in 2009 for quality control failures and $3 billion in 2012 for pushing their drugs for unapproved uses. They also created the drug Mirapex, which was initially used to treat Restless Legs Syndrome, a disease which GSK essentially made up. And they are just one company in and industry rife with fraud.
However, you should never take a healthy skepticism of these industries and replace it with a blind faith in quacks like the Natural News crowd. Because the people at Natural News are nothing more than modern snake-oil salesmen. Or in this case, coconut.