The various preventable outbreaks of measles around the world represents another step backwards for humanity. With its misery, complications and deaths the fact that measles is avoidable make it all the more sad. The antivaccine industry has a lot to answer for and this brings me back to Dr Joe Mercola, who is for me (despite plenty of competition) the world’s leading antivaxxer.

The anti-science juggernaut

While a he might seem like a small cog in the increasingly big machine peddling anti-science, he is hugely influential. Trump’s Republican Party, media outlets like Fox News, popular websites like the Joe Rogan experience and a burgeoning network of far right commentators, and now Republican officials at many levels as well the presidential candidacy of RFK Jr are daily making life difficult for medical and climate scientists and public health doctors in a way I can only describe as chilling. 

Through his supplement business, he funds various antivaccine organisations such as RFK Jr’s Children’s Health Defence, and the National Vaccine (mis) Information Centre, all of whom are doing far too well on the backs of pandemic. This adds to his daily posts read by millions and the products which fly from his warehouses, create his profits and do so very little for health. Countering misinformation is now a huge medical challenge. I’m trying to do my bit.

Blood on their hands

This matters. Looking back, it’s clear that many Americans died due to the vaccine avoidance he and others encouraged. Figures vary according to methodology, but it’s likely to be in the region of 200,000, the majority in Trump voting states.

Mercola, meanwhile uses frankly unbelievably dishonest methodology to claim COVID vaccination caused the deaths of 822 people per million vaccinated. A statement which I can hardly believe I’m reading. A very rough calculation would lead his devotes to actually believe that 2.8 million people have been killed by the vaccine globally. It is entirely wrong, yet the hateful myth is believed by millions of citizens, patients and voters.

Conservative libertarians, including doctors have an ability to tap into the understandable disaffection of the struggling millions and turn that against the very agencies which are charged with trying to help improve society. Public Health Doctors, regulatory agencies, academics, Universities, climate scientists are all targeted, diverting blame from grim undeserved wealth by the few which leaves far too many people behind, struggling, frustrated and angry. Extremism is never far away.

Is Mercola now going a bit bonkers? 

Dr. Joseph Mercola

It is far from impossible – only ever interviewing or being interviewed by and surrounding yourself with those who adore your controversial views is not a recipe for a balanced mind or an appropriate sized ego. Despite being a prolific broadcaster, he studiously avoids any critical journalist who would challenge his rhetoric or put him on the spot.

He even bans any dissenters from commenting on his website. Reports on his behaviour are automatically labelled as “attacks” or “hit jobs”, to further inflame his followers. 

His new mission

A recent scam was to hide his website posts behind a paywall after 24 hours, fabricating imminent censorship to generate subscriptions of $50 a year. He has now changed his mind.

We can once again have access to all his massive pile of pseudoscience for free! Mercola is being re-born! It appears his new mission is to transform our lives by giving us the ability to experience Joy! With his usual loose command of wordsmithery, he states:

True empowerment stems from a connection to Spirit, and Joy serves as a guiding metric for making decisions that empower and enrich our lives”. Who would have thought it – happier people do better! Modestly, he adds:

“While I have played a pivotal role in enlightening millions about the truths of health, my newfound objective extends far beyond that. My goal now is to guide you through a transformative approach focused on increasing joy”

Really?

This has been criticised even by the Natural Products Insider, a website for Supplement producers – Dr. Mercola consulted with psychic before axing top executives”, they headline.

It seems the sacking of his top staff, including his long serving sister, took place after his consultations with a mediumwho claims to be an “ancient and wise high-vibration entity from the causal plane.” The medium in question is someone called Kai Clay who channels the voice of Bahlon, the ‘psychics psychic’ and “Hollywood’s best kept secret”.  Oh Boy.

There are those who wonder if he has developed delusions of grandeur.

Does it matter?

So why am in interested in all this crazy stuff? Well for one thing, crazy stuff is interesting. For another JM has millions of followers including some who are true devotees, and who may be ready to experience the Joy only He can lead them to. Rather like a cult. For another thing, misinformation can be deadly, it matters. 

His ire is directed mainly at regular doctors, regulators, government and especially demonises Dr Fauci and other health leaders who have had to put up with personal and family threats on the back of his style of pernicious rhetoric. As I said, many scientists now need security to live their lives and do their work.

Of course, none of the above agencies or individuals are free from errors, mistakes or bad practices, but his well-presented, polished and misleading science really does no good for the health of those he convinces to be vaccine detesting, climate change denying, suspicious, and hateful. In a nation where about half the population are gullible enough to believe in creation, and vote for someone whose relationship to reality is wafer thin, purveyors of scandal need to be careful, he stands as living proof that medical regulation in the US is toothless.

Joe’s frustration

His total misunderstanding of life, the universe and everything is for me is contained in this single, sentence from his ‘life transforming’ post:

“…Yet, remarkably, most people, even if they’re handed the knowledge of how to optimize their health on a silver platter, will not implement it. They refuse to adopt the changes required to achieve health.”

Yes, can you believe it! They actually refuse!! This is very frustrating for Joe. Yes, if only we all had the ability to listen to Him, eat His supplements for breakfast dinner and tea, never have any vaccinations, buy His clothes, pet food, and so much more, all would be well. For me this hits a nerve, because I know what he means. 

Health decisions

People do make pretty poor decisions about their health. You may see me as a paragon of sensible advice (anyone?), but I, for instance, was daft enough to smoke tobacco for most of my young life. As a young man, I remember sitting in Wimpey cafés, drinking Coke and eating burgers which resembled carpet underlay in between two foam sponges, made edible only by lashings of sugary tomato sauce. Just about the worst food ever eaten.

The reasons for poor health decisions are driven by external factors. Political policies, poor education, fashion, culture, the increasing stresses of normal life, poverty, hardship, the lived environment, genes, back luck and misfortune. Never mind pandemics, climate change, war and famine.

Mercola, and others have become fabulously wealthy by selling usually needless and often overpriced supplements to ‘control your health’ rather than ever looking at the underlying causes of illness. He surrounds himself with those who agree with him and lead him to believe in and exaggerate his ‘special’ hero status. For a doctor, this is really the pits.

Saving the world

So what next for Joe? To achieve his aims of transforming the world he is going to write 12 books (gospels??) starting with “The Power of Choice”, highlighting the American Dream (delusion) that health and spiritual enlightenment is all about your choice. 

Its harmful implication is that those who are unlucky, endowed with faulty genes, living in health damaging environments and struggling with poverty, dreadful jobs etc etc only have themselves to blame. When you connect to the Spirit, (and part with some cash) all will be well. Simple as that.

So although I won’t be buying his joyful gospels, I will continue to glimpse into the crazy world of  Mercola.com from time to time to see what patronising, misleading bullshit he will come up with next. Or will he save the world? Or will he only save those who buy his books and experience his Joy? We will see. One thing I’m sure of, the far right anti science juggernaut has just started rolling and is spreading across the world.

Joy or fear?

How’s this playing out? The following day, he promoted the “Foundation for Freedom Online”, a conservative group run by a far-right Michael Benz who has some very disturbing opinions and believes there is a deep state online conspiracy against the people as well as the notion that Democrats are intentionally replacing white people through immigration. 

The day after that he inaccurately claims that medical errors are costing 784,000 American lives a year. That would be an absurd one in three of all deaths. Just like Trump, he just says anything he wants and damages the minds of millions.

Whatever this is, it certainly is not Joy!


4 thoughts on “The world leading antivaxxer?

  1. Thanks Colin, for another insightful read. I used to quite rate Mercola a decade or so ago – found his recipes for fermented veg pretty tasty – and the whole set up seemed quite small and low key. He’s not the first guy with some good ideas to go all messianic on a guru trip, and won’t be the last, because we’re hackable animals and easily led by our fears.
    Regarding anti-science, we’re enjoying an exposé related to this on Netflix called 3BodyProblem….

    1. Thanks Jackie, I’ll have a view. The far right and anti-science are now conjoined and a major threat to the future of humanity. Mercola is a scoundrel. I feel offended that he can use the title Dr, though he is a ‘DO’ – Osteopath.

  2. Colin, ketchup is most definitely got a bad name but it is far more heathy than its reputation. The redder it is the better . It was probably the healthiest bit in your burger. It provides one of the highest dose of antioxidants known and is in a form far more easy for the body to extract than in the raw fruit. It is over maligned and suffers a bad reputation from what people normally put it on. It also has this near magical property of making the unappetising for a 4 year old into ambrosia.

    As an aside there is a school of thought that cloudberry jam (bet you have never seen one of them in Britain) butties enabled Amundsen to beat Scott to the South Pole in that the vitamins that were still left in the jam after processing protected the Norwegians from scurvy.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022316622031327

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