Mike Adams, Alex Jones and Joe Mercola: How the web turns quacks into science gurus

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Welcome to the vast universe of self-built social media empires devoted to spreading false, misleading, and polarizing science and health news — sometimes further and wider than the real information. Here, climate change is a government-sponsored hoax, fluoridated water is poisonous, cannabis can cure cancer, and airplanes are constantly spraying pesticides and biological waste into the air. Genetically modified food is destroying humanity and the planet. Vaccines are experimental, autism-causing injections forced on innocent babies. We can’t trust anything that we eat, drink, breathe, or medicate with, nor rely on physicians and public health agencies to act in our best interests.

Perhaps the loudest voice in the anti-science news ecosystem is Mike Adams, a Texas software engineer turned media mogul….

Adams insisted that the biotech industry was orchestrating “bioterrorism attacks” on the fast-food chain in retaliation for using non-genetically modified ingredients. His theory was liked, commented on, and shared 127,000 times, including by comedian D.L. Hughley.

“Maximally divisive, maximally paranoid, violent” — that’s how Steven Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine, describes Adams. “He tells readers, ‘Don’t trust anybody, trust me and my pseudoscience, it’s all a big giant conspiracy.’”

But social networks can reinforce and amplify the non-nuanced, non-reported, scariest-sounding fears that people already or want to believe. People googling health information “might be distrustful of a website they just found on the internet,” said Brendan Nyhan, a political science professor at Dartmouth College who has studied why people reject vaccines. “But if a friend shares a story with you and says, ‘This is really important,’ you might be more likely to believe it.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Inside the anti-science forces of the internet

  • CH Shannon

    Mercola dumped tens of thousands of dollars into my city’s anti-fluoridation campaign. He basically used it as a form of target advertising. During the campaign the people talked about how great he was and that they were going to “buycott” his herbal supplements. If they lost and the water did become fluoridated they would buy his special filters. SMH. It was painful to watch everyone get played like that.

    • Esmae

      You don’t speak of the pyschopaths that thought up and dump hexafluorosilicic acid and sodium silicofluoride in public water supply and bottled water selling it as if it’s not
      industrial waster.

      • CH Shannon

        Are you a chemist (I am and I would love to help you out because you sound really confused!), or did you just find some copy and paste some stuff you found on conspiracy theorist sites after five minutes of googling?

        Also, your use of “psychopaths” is incorrect. “Psychopath” has a specific definition in psychiatry and it does not apply to scientists and doctors who use evidence-based medical science to advocate for improving public health.

  • Jim Pickens

    Cancel my subscription. This piece strikes me more as a censorship attempt rather than any possible edification. Pure ipse dixit.

  • Andy James

    i agree with this almost totally but cannabis oil does have an effect on some times of cancer. seen it, done it, someones still walking around 2 years later after being given just weeks to live before getting on it.

  • WeGotta

    All ad based, “foundation” funded, for profit media is biased and all are selling something.

    Any that criticize one for doing the same thing they themselves are doing is a hypocrite.

    Any that think they are the “good” one is deluded.

    • Roy Williams

      Yes, it seems to be true that “for profit” media present a biased view of nearly everything. However, that is not the topic of this essay. I suspect that you are referring to legally non-profit operations, such as are discussed here.
      *
      Once again, you are trying to establish equivalence between individuals who, like Mike Adams, are evidently completely ignorant of, or choose to ignore for ideological reasons, the preponderance of scientifically obtained evidence on a topic, and individuals who have a decade or more of formal academic training in a particular topic, and also are established research scientists.
      Some of the stuff Mike Adams says is about as verifiable as saying that the oceans are normally orange.
      ACSH is completely on target to call out Adams, Jones, and Mercola for the nonsense they promote.
      *
      In matters of religion, there is clearly no one set of observations that can be repeated to determine which vision of a Higher Authority is correct. The beliefs of a person who adheres to the Mormon faith have equal standing with the beliefs of a person who is a Muslim in matters relating to the correct way to worship, honor, and obey the Higher Authority.
      *
      However, in matters of scientifically obtained evidence about the universe around us, from the farthest galaxy to the individual atoms that make up the trillions of cells that make up your body, there is room only for those concepts, theories, and hypotheses that are supported by the available evidence that meets the standard of scientific inquiry. That means, only that evidence that can be obtained by any appropriately trained individual who has access to all necessary equipment and knowledge to reproduce the evidence in question.
      *
      Against the standard of scientifically acceptable evidence, the stuff put out by Adams, Jones, and Mercola is on the same level as saying the oceans are orange. If the claim that the oceans are orange were scientifically acceptable, anyone who looked at the ocean would declare the ocean was orange. However, in all but a very few cases, people observe that the ocean is blue; this can be verified by looking at the spectral image data that has been constantly collected by earth satellites for fifty years.
      *
      The world we live in today is hopelessly artificial; we live in areas of extremely high population density that have never before been successfully supported in human history.
      Bringing tens of millions of people together in the small confines of the great cities of the world is a new challenge never before faced by humanity. This challenge is now compounded many times over by rapid intercontinental air travel that spreads new pathogens to every corner of the developed world within a few days. The growth of cities with populations exceeding 20 million people, and population densities approaching or exceeding 10000 people per square mile is the most extreme “experiment” ever imposed on humanity, and history and accumulated biological knowledge informs us that in the absence of modern public health interventions, primarily vaccinations, most of us would soon die.Without modern biomedical science, we would not have all of the public health initiatives and policies that allow millions of people to live in all the great cities of the world without repeated waves of disease killing tens of millions of people with every new wave of infection.
      *
      Adams, Jones, and Mercola pose a significant threat to the rule of law and to civilized society. While they are not demanding the overthrow of the U.S. government, they are attempting to destroy credibility of hundreds of years of scientifically obtained evidence that has allowed the world’s population to increase four-fold over the last 70 years, without plagues or other diseases killing a third of the population of the Americas, Europe, and China within a few years (as happened in Europe during the Black Death).
      This is the public danger in the nonsense promoted by people like Adams, Jones, and Mercola. If their ideology were implemented in public policy, within a generation there would be only a small fraction of the population of the developed world left alive.
      No one “experiment” by itself supports what I just said. My claim is based on the knowledge of many past pandemic and epidemic events, both in humans and in other species, as well as the available scientifically verifiable knowledge about the spread of diseases. I’m sure that expert epidemiologists and immunologists might disagree in their speculation about how fast the human population would be decimated, but there would be no disagreement that we would see a sharp decline in the world’s population, with billions of people suffering the agonizing death that many diseases bring.
      Finally, if we allow public policy to be dictated by ideology or religion whim, we no longer have a democratic society that is open and free. Absent any objective factual basis for public policy, we can no longer have rational discussion about public policy, since facts are excluded. This is exactly where Adams, Jones, and Mercola are attempting to lead us, as surely as are the many religious zealots who are attempting to impose a “my way or no way” rule in many places (including, unfortunately, the U.S.). At least religious arguments are clearly identified as such, while Adams, Jones, and Mercola are dishonestly attempting to cloak their agenda under the guise of “science”. They deserve no audience at all.

  • Esmae

    FYI Alex Jones is controlled oppostion. We are so beyond AJ
    and the rest of the the people you think are the leaders of truth.
    The jig is up. Self bulit instead of Tavistock and Bernays… laughable.

  • Esmae

    Stephanie M. Lee as for your statement “airplanes are constantly spraying pesticides and biological waste into the air.” Try this spraying their newest science darling, nano particles or millmeters of silve iodide, silver oxide, aluminum, barium, strontium and a host of other to modifiy and control the weather which has been on going since 1940’s.
    http://www.water.ca.gov/waterdatalibrary/docs/historic/Bulletins/Bulletin_16/Bulletin_16__1965.pdf
    http://www.weathermodification.com/projects.php?id=50