Respectful Insolence

For as many benefits as the Internet and the web have brought us in the last two decades, there are also significant downsides. I could go into all the societal changes brought about by the proliferation of this new technology, not the least of which (to me, at least) is the newfound ability of someone like me to find an audience. After all, pre-Internet and pre-blog, I could try to write books, or I could try to get onto TV and radio, but those are very difficult things to do. Over the last seven years, steadily blogging, I’ve built up an audience. True, compared to the “old media” and the more popular examples of the new media, this blog is the proverbial tiny voice in the wilderness. Normally, I have to actively think about people such as Dr. Oz, Oprah Winfrey, The Doctors, and that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffingto Post, just to remind me how small my influence is when compared to the forces arrayed against science-based medicine.

It’s rather depressing, though, to have it rubbed in my face from a source I didn’t expect.

I’m referring to an article that appeared yesterday in Chicago Magazine entitled Dr. Mercola: Visionary or Quack? Although I agreed with much of what was in the article, which featured some familiar people trying to provide balance to Mercola’s pseudoscience, I must admit that I couldn’t help but find the very title of the article is annoying. Putting the word “visionary” in the same title with the word “Dr. Mercola” is profoundly offensive to anyone who values reason, science, and science-based medicine. I realize the reporter was doing nothing more than being provocative, but it sets the tone in a way that makes it sound as though there is even a controversy over what the answer to such a question is. That answer, of course, is, in my not-so-humble opinion, that Dr. Mercola is a quack. Many are the posts I’ve written right here on this very blog spelling out in painful detail exactly why it is that I think this is so. For one thing, Dr. Mercola is antivaccine to the core, even going so far as to team up with the antivaccine group the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) to spread its propaganda. This article actually provides a tidbit of information that I didn’t know about. In fact, it’s a tidbit so juicy that I’m going to mention it now, even though it doesn’t show up until late in the article:

Mercola says he recently donated $1 million to several alternative medicine groups, including the National Vaccine Information Center, which describes itself as a “vaccine watch dog.” Part of the money, according to the group’s website, was used to pay for an ad called “Vaccines: Know the Risk,” which was shown hourly on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square for several weeks last spring.

Mercola says he is simply trying to ask hard questions about the potential harm caused by inoculations and voice his opposition to government-imposed mandates. “There are virtually no safety studies done [on vaccines],” Mercola says. “We don’t know what the effects of combining them are. We don’t know what the long-term complications are.” He says the government and media downplay very real risks and either underreport or ignore serious adverse reactions. Meanwhile, “we don’t have the option to say no [to getting the shots]. It’s just insane what’s happening, and more and more vaccines [are coming] down the line.”

After wading through the tired, familiar, antivaccine lies, I had to conclude that, this, as they say, explains a lot. The NVIC has always been kind of a shoestring operation. When Barbara Loe Fisher started buying ads in AMC Theaters during the Thanksgiving holiday season in 2010, I wondered where she got the money. When she bought ad time on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square this spring, I wondered where she got the money. When she bought ads with the service that provides video content to Delta Airlines, I wondered where she got the money.

Now I know. What I don’t know (but would love to know) is the identity of the other “alternative medicine” groups to which Mercola donated part of that $1 million.

What I also now know is that Joe Mercola is rich, as in filthy rich, as in “rolling in the dough” rich, as in “raking it in hand over fist rich.” After all, he has $1 million to give away to the NVIC and various other quackery-promoting groups. Many people never make $1 million over the course of their entire lives. And how did Mercola make all this money? Here’s a hint: It wasn’t through practicing standard medicine. Oh, no. He made his millions selling and practicing what I consider to be quackery.

Even though I found the story to be informative and morbidly fascinating in the same way that reading about Jeffrey Dahmer is fascinating, this story was also kind of irritating in that Mercola is portrayed in a familiar journalistic trope: That of the “self-made” man, a veritable rags-to-riches story, portraying him as starting in 1985 in an 800 sq. ft. office as a regular medical practitioner. No, not regular medical practitioner, an allopathic medical practitioner. How I hate it when journalists use that term. The reporter even gets it wrong when he refers to “allopathic” as a “term that originally referred to the practice of traditional health care but has become a mocking putdown by certain alternative-medicine advocates.” No, no, no, no. “Allopathic” was a term that Samuel Hahnemann, the originator of homeopathy, used to describe any medicine that wasn’t homeopathy. It was a derogatory term right from its very creation, a put down by homeopaths against science-based medicine. Similar misfires occur when the article cites the inflated figure of 40% of all Americans seeking “alternative health care.” The problem is that that number is hugely inflated because it often includes prayer and things like yoga, which is nothing more than a form of gentle exercise. Another misfire: The author says that “plenty of the things he advocates are rooted in common sense and even good science.”

Uh, no. They aren’t.

In any case, apparently sometime in the early 1990s, Mercola encountered a patient that he couldn’t help but then “found the answer” in a book called The Yeast Connection. Basically, this is a book that blames chronic pain and all sorts of chronic health problems on chronic yeast infections. It’s pure woo, of course, which makes it appropriate that one of the most popular woo-meisters in existence got his start reading that book. Mercola also repeats the same old story that he’s repeated before:

In 1997, as a way to share what he had found that would be “useful and helpful,” he started Mercola.com. It proved a hit. But because it didn’t charge for content or accept ads, it was also a money drain. In the first three years, Mercola estimates that he spent half a million dollars on the site. To keep it afloat, he says, “I had three options: to get paid subscribers; to sell information, which I didn’t want to do; or to sell products, which is what I wound up doing. . . . The purpose for selling items is to have a revenue stream so we can pay our staff to provide information to educate the public and make a difference and fund [our] initiatives.”

Mercola told this story before when he was on Dr. Oz’s show. Dr. Oz asked him whether he didn’t have a conflict of interest because he makes money selling all these “natural” remedies. A lot of money. Mercola’s response, you might recall, was in essence that it was OK because he was selling only “natural” products, that he didn’t sell anything the first three years of his website’s existence, and that he believes in what he sells. Never mind the quackery like Tullio Simoncini’s claim that all cancer is due to a fungus and that all cancer can be cured with baking soda.

Now here’s the most depressing part. Remember how I said I was bummed out to have the differential in influence between various science-based medicine websites and that of someone like Dr. Mercola:

According to traffic-tracking firm Quantcast, Mercola.com draws about 1.9 million unique visitors per month, each of whom returns an average of nearly ten times a month. That remarkable “stickiness” puts the site’s total visits on a par with those to the National Institutes of Health’s website. (Mercola claims his is “the world’s No. 1 natural health website,” citing figures from Alexa.com.) Mercola’s 200,000-plus “likes” on Facebook are more than double the number for WebMD. And two of his eight books–2003’s The No-Grain Diet and 2006’s The Great Bird Flu Hoax–have landed on the New York Times bestseller list.

That’s right. Mercola’s website has traffic equivalent to that of the NIH website. Think about that for a second. On one side, we have a reliable, science-based website (well, except for the NCCAM section). On the other side, we have a quack website. Both get the same traffic.

One thing the article nails is the root of Mercola’s appeal to the gullible. First, he taps into the distrust of government and institutions that is so prevalent today. His messages of “don’t trust the government” and “don’t trust pharmaceutical companies” resonate in our Tea Party-infused time. Mercola, as we have seen, is a master at this, and his followers lap it up. Second, he’s, as the article says, a “gifted marketer.” That much is true. Mercola even says he studied marketing, and it shows:

If there were any doubt about the importance of marketing to the operation, it was dispelled when I was given a quick tour of Mercola’s sprawling headquarters. The lobby of Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Center looks like the kind of well-appointed suburban office where you’d expect vanity procedures such as face-lifts to be offered. As it turns out, only one short hallway is dedicated to patient services. “Marketing and customer service take up most of the rest,” a new-patient coordinator told me.

Based on what I know about Mercola, that sounds about right. One little section of his empire devoted to actual patient care, the rest all devoted to marketing and fulfilling online orders. That’s very telling and entirely consistent with Mercola’s behavior. He might have been a real doctor at one time, but in 2012 he exists only to enrich himself by selling a mixture of the unremarkable, the unproven, and what I consider to be quackery. Certainly the archive of articles on his website is a treasure trove of quackery, antivaccine rants, quack apologia, and rants against the government and big pharma, interspersed with videos and radio interviews, and more. Truly, it’s a multimedia empire of woo. Whenever anyone criticizes him, he invokes the “pharma shill” gambit:

I can see things that are just obvious and clear to me. I don’t need 30 more years of science to support it. Am I wrong sometimes? Sure. Everyone’s wrong [sometimes]. . . . People call me a snake-oil salesman, of course. They’re free to do that.

Consider this Orac exercising his freedom to do just that. After all, Mercola just said he didn’t mind.

Comments

  1. #1 VikingMoose
    February 1, 2012

    awesome stuff!

    the teeth clenching in the article started hier:
    “Not surprisingly, the medical establishment sees things differently.”

    and therein lies the problem. you’re either “medical establishment” or not. it’s not set up as “fucking woo meister peddling crap that has potential to harm” vs “science based medicine”

    you hit this out of the park in the paragraph, “One thing the article nails is the root of Mercola’s appeal to the gullible”

    NICE!!!

    the altmed crowd extends far beyond the tea party – it’s alive and well across the political spectrum (it plays well when teabaggers or hippies are around. it appeals to Green/Mises/teabaggers/paultards). and the sick union intersects beautifully with patients not maxing out their lifestyle/behavior part of the health equation.

  2. #2 S Chapkowski MD
    February 1, 2012

    I have always wondered how rich, rich, doctors made all their money? Here I sit,M.D., seeing patients, spending time to help them, making less than 200,000 dollars a year. Thank you, now I know it’s not b/c I wasn’t the highest grade in my class. a bunch of woo!

  3. #3 DaveD
    February 1, 2012

    Clearly, the NIH is missing a bet by not including a section their web site where they could hawk supplements. My god, we could probably balance the budget on that one alone!

  4. #4 Edith Prickly
    February 1, 2012

    Why stop at snake-oil salesman? Unprincipled charlatan, shameless mountebank, grifter extraordaire, dire threat to public health, greedy f**king bastard…

    I have a couple of FB friends who post bits of Mercola’s nonsense now and then. It takes a considerable amount of effort to critique the posts in a tactful enough manner that I don’t start a flame war. It’s nice not having to be tactful here. :)

  5. #5 palindrom
    February 1, 2012

    Does Mercola knowingly spout nonsense, or does he believe in what he says (and sells)? Does it matter? Discuss.

  6. #6 VikingMoose
    February 1, 2012

    on topic but slightly off message:

    my dusty corner of the intertubez is talking about Terry Wahls and her “cure” of MS from the paleo diet.

    (i think it’s 100% bull, to keep honest and above board)

    is this…
    harm? meh? interesting? promising? rehash of old news? dangerous? potential golden bullet?

    thoughts?

  7. #7 lsm
    February 1, 2012

    He is a deceiver extraordinaire, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I lay the unnecessary death of a family member directly at his doorstep–someone who to tried heal themselves through diet and exercise and vitamin D.

  8. #8 Denice Walter
    February 1, 2012

    Well, Adams ( early January in Natural News) and Null (recently on radio) have claimed *4* million visitors each! So there! Altho’ accuracy is not known to be either one’s strong suit…

    Quackwatch (see Additions: “FDA Orders Dr Mercola…” updated today) discusses M’s “non-profit coalition”- “Health Liberty” and his partners, as well as showing a photo of his estate.( Photos of other quack palaces have surfaced as well)

    To answer palindrom’s question: I believe that many woo-meisters like Mercola- although they *are* quacks, charlatans and I wouldn’t trust them any further than I could throw them- actually believe part of their own nonsense and follow their own advice- especially the exercise-diet-supplement regimes. He’s thin, he’s tanned and d-mn, I’ll bet he’s working hard, even obsessively, to look the part. I’m sure we’ll hear him carping about the DSM-5 ( as the other two have)entry “Orthorexia” because these fellows may be close to the diagnosis. I often debate whether to use the word, “liar” if a person is either truly delusional or partially believes in the bill of goods that they sell others- however, “charlatan” still works really well for me. I also like “self-aggrandising entrepreneur”and “whimsy-based venture capitalist”.

  9. #9 Vicki
    February 1, 2012

    VikingMoose: Probably harmless, if the person in question doesn’t have food sensitivities such that they can’t get the nutrition they need from that specific diet. It reminds me of the woman I knew who was vegan because she thought that was helping her MS: unlikely to help, but she made sure she got her protein and B-12.

  10. #10 Tom Herling
    February 1, 2012

    I’ve never understood why the alt-med crowd uses the “you’re just a shill for Big Pharma” line when some of their gurus, like Mercola, Andrew Weil and others are blatantly hawking their own line of goods, on their own websites, some with their photos right on the box.

    Yes, I know that Weil claims that “all his profits go to the Weil Foundation,” but I have to wonder how much the Foundation pays him?

  11. #11 Woody
    February 2, 2012

    Robert Todd Caroll had a good bite at Mercola and it’s good to see you enjoy doing so too. No mercy for such quack charlatans. Thank you Orac!

  12. #12 Ricksi
    February 2, 2012

    I somehow found myself on the Mercola spam email list several years ago. I do have one good thing to say about it. I now have a much better appreciation as to just how far people will go to sell you on their bullshit product or idea. I didn’t realize there were so many suckers out there falling for it though. I don’t know if that makes me more disappointed in Mr. Joe Mercola or in the rest of the human race.

  13. #13 pegasus
    February 2, 2012

    I have no problem with Mercola making good money, even though he flogs some ideas & products I disagree with.

    Let’s be honest- SBM is not all science either, just ask Dr Donald Berwick who just finished his tenure at Medicaid.He did state 20-30% of medicine in our country (States)was of no use to patients, costing up to 250billion dollars a year & this was in part due to fraud & overtreatment.

    And don’t forget GlaxoSmithKline, found guilty of fraud & fined $3billion for doing the wrong thing by both doctors & the public in their drug testing & marketing.

  14. #14 lilady
    February 2, 2012

    Mercola is able to donate one million dollars to the NVIC because he runs a virtual supermarket at Mercola.com.

    Not content to hawk his vitamins, supplements, potions and lotions…he now sells overpriced pots and pans, herbal jams, *organic beef* and chicken, free range ostrich meat, grass fed bison, salmon and blueberries…all super natural, naturally.

    He also sells an assortment of tanning beds ($3,000 plus shipping and handling). Joe’s 6 minute video informs the potential sucker about the “benefits” of using his tanning beds. Your skin does not age by using the tanning beds, it gets rejuvenated. It’s all tied into Joe’s pitch about the value of Vitamin D.

    Here’s Mercola’s guarantee of satisfaction with his organic beef:

    “I am so confident that you will be more than satisfied with your purchase of my Organic Beef, I am providing a Lifetime 100% Satisfaction Guarantee so you can try them risk free!”

    LIFETIME 100 % SATISFACTION GUARANTEE!!!!

  15. #15 brsbe
    February 2, 2012

    [According to traffic-tracking firm Quantcast, Mercola.com draws about 1.9 million unique visitors per month, each of whom returns an average of nearly ten times a month.]

    I bet some of them are returning to read the article before it disappears behind the sales pitch!

    (I wonder how much he spends on his despicable internet sales reps who troll cancer sites looking for business…)

  16. #16 nastylittlehorse
    February 2, 2012

    @13 – pegasus

    Right, so because there are inefficiencies in the health service, and have been mistakes (hell, even crimes) made by some pharmaceutical companies, we should all be OK with charlatans and woo peddlers taking advantage of and profiting from the sick?

    How’s about we take the consistent position that none of those things you mention are OK, instead of all of them?

  17. #17 Dangerous Bacon
    February 2, 2012

    “Right, so because there are inefficiencies in the health service, and have been mistakes (hell, even crimes) made by some pharmaceutical companies, we should all be OK with charlatans and woo peddlers taking advantage of and profiting from the sick?”

    Speaking of crimes – there have been instances of police abuse and criminal activity, so obviously we should fire all the police and hire vigilantes, or just gun down whoever looks at us funny.*

    *I am not paid by the Ron Paul for President campaign, however much it sounds that way.

  18. #18 dandover
    February 2, 2012

    @palindrom (5) – I’ve often wondered whether Mercola believes his own misinformation. Most of the time, I find myself thinking that he must be a true believer; how could he live with himself otherwise, knowing full well the harm he does every day. But then, occasionally, I have to wonder if maybe he simply has extreme contempt for the stupid and gullible and his website is his way of making them pay for their stupidity.

  19. #19 dandover
    February 2, 2012

    @palindrom (5) – I’ve often wondered whether Mercola believes his own misinformation. Most of the time, I find myself thinking that he must be a true believer; how could he live with himself otherwise, knowing full well the harm he does every day. But then, occasionally, I have to wonder if maybe he simply has extreme contempt for the stupid and gullible and his website is his way of making them pay for their stupidity.

  20. #20 aa
    February 2, 2012

    bet mercola, after expenses takes home $10 million – PER MONTH. moron people put doctors on pedestals. and so long as the continue to do so, all doctors will continue to plunder rape and pilage the pools of insurance money, pools of gov’t money, and pools of personal money. the doctors, whether traditional or alternative – with exception of about 2% of them, all suck. its the doctors stupid. occupy the doctor industrial complex. pushing supplements is on par with pushing rx drugs.

  21. #21 Interrobang
    February 2, 2012

    While we’re on the subject of where the money goes, how do you spend half a million dollars “keeping a website afloat” for three years? I mean, I’ve had a website for about ten years now, and I’ve maybe spent $500 on it. Granted, there’s not a whole lot there, and I did a lot of the work myself, but come on, half a million dollars?!

  22. #22 nastylittlehorse
    February 2, 2012

    @16 “obviously we should fire all the police and hire vigilantes”

    Don’t forget, we’ll also need charms to keep away criminals. I have some here for the very reasonable price, only $99.99.

    While they may look to you like a small cloth bag of rosemary and thyme, I personally guarantee they work! Effective against burglary and assault! Now available in a family pack of 4 for only $500 so even junior can be protected!

    Full money back within 30 days if not satisfied* !

    (*if you can find me…)

  23. #23 lilady
    February 2, 2012

    I have a comment stuck in moderation, that details Joe Mercola’s side business of targeting his devotees’ stupidity by the sale of supplements, vitamins, “green” household items and “organic” food. The guy is a one-man purveyor of woo.

    On the NVIC website Mercola.com and the United Way are listed as “our partners”. He actually said he “donated money”, eh. Is that half-million dollar donation, in addition to the advertising fee to become a “partner” on Loe Fisher’s website?

    @ aa: Your smearing of 98 % of medical doctors is totally unwarranted. You’re sounding very much like every moronic conspiracist tea bagger or Canary party member when you make such dumb statements.

  24. #24 Herb
    February 2, 2012

    As a long time reader of Mercola.com, I evaluate his claims and evidence and decide whether there’s merit in what he says. I’d say that about 75% of the time he provides solid valuable information that can’t be found at WebMD or MayoClinic of NIH, etc.

    Yes I believe he’s over the top on vaccines.

    How many lives did he save by warning about the dangers of Vioxx before any of you conventional conformist M.D.’s told your patients the risk of Vioxx. Probably none because your drug rep took you out to lunch or to be less cynical because you believe that if Merck and the FDA say a drug is safe then it is. And so how many people did you kill by your blind acceptance of authority?

    Or warning people years ago that their Vitamin D levels were probably deficient and needed to be checked. How many people improved their health and possibly had their lives saved because of his advice? No doubt thousands.

    I could list many other examples where Mercola was and is way ahead of the medical establishment.

    And so it would be nice if you could acknowledge the good he’s done as well as what you believe to be the not so good. But that’s not your style – your worldview is manichean.So sad and so predictable are your rants – and the oh so clever comments by your followers.

  25. #25 Beamup
    February 2, 2012

    @ palindrom:

    I think it potentially matters quite a bit. If he KNOWS that he’s not telling the truth, then he is guilty of fraud. If he’s delusional and actually believes the BS he spouts to sell his woo, then he isn’t.

    (IANAL, but that’s how I understand the relevant law – that knowing misrepresentation is required.)

  26. #26 brsbe
    February 2, 2012

    @Herb 24

    [Or warning people years ago that their Vitamin D levels were probably deficient and needed to be checked. How many people improved their health and possibly had their lives saved because of his advice? No doubt thousands.]

    Maybe so, but how many people has he (and now la la Oz) sentenced to death with his support for tanning beds…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFsw6S-6Ojg

    http://www.tantoday.com/forums/news-about-tanning/45206-dr-oz.html )

  27. #27 Simon
    February 2, 2012

    “Maybe so, but how many people has he (and now la la Oz) sentenced to death with his support for tanning beds…”

    Lol. Sentenced to death? Wow, there’s good science.

    I don’t know much about Mercola, but it seems inconsistent to portray him as a greedy, money grubbing con man, and then turn around and tell us he gave a million dollars away. Greedy, money grubbing con men generally don’t do that. It all sounds like professional jealousy to me.

  28. #28 Emily
    February 2, 2012

    re Pegasus @ 13:

    I agree with you. I have been saying the same things about the corruption, fraud & non-science nonsense within medicine/bigpharma on other threads relating to Burzynski & Wakefield on this site.

    There is just as much nonsense in conventional medicine as there is in Mercola’s.

    It’s remarkable how people will crucify someone like Mercola but ignore the fact that 55,000 people were killed by Vioxx, when Merck, the company manufacturing the drug, & many doctors, knew there were problems.

    re Herb @ 24:

    True.Yours is a more balanced & reasonable view.

    I read Mercola at times & get more knowledge from some of his articles than I do from my subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine.

    In fact, the NEJM has recently started promoting a CAM supplement called probiotics.

  29. #29 Pegasus
    February 2, 2012

    Simon, professional jealousy is one way to look it. Or it could be described as a turf war, with market share & power the driving force behind it.

  30. #30 lilady
    February 3, 2012

    Emily…so now you subscribe to the NEJM, eh? Jeez Emily why didn’t you hang around the other threads that you posted on?

    You are relatively new here (it only seems like forever) and you could find many articles about probiotics…but not any on “hygienics”.

  31. #31 T-reg
    February 3, 2012

    he gave a million dollars away.

    I don’t think he “gave away” those million dollars. The way I see it, it is more of an investment. The organisations to which he has donated basically perpetrate his nonsense. They use propaganda which makes people come seeking his services and products. By investing a million dollars, he’s sure to make much more.

  32. #32 flip
    February 3, 2012

    @21 Interrobang

    I had much the same thoughts, being a web admin myself. I suppose if one pays for lots of content staff, web designers and has high fees associated with large bandwidth, then *maybe* you’d end up spending a lot. Not half a mill, especially in three years, but a good chunk of change. Even then, that’s assuming that one can just instantly build a large audience and a need for lots of content, which is highly doubtful.

    @25 Herb

    What do you think of his Emotional Freedom Techniques? Is he also ahead of the curve there?

    You and a few others here also miss the fact that plenty of SBM people get called out on stupid things all the time.

    @28 Emily

    Go back to the other thread and answer some questions there before you move on to new topics.

    I read Mercola at times & get more knowledge from some of his articles than I do from my subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine.

    That’s probably because you don’t understand even the most basic principles of science. Care to share your credentials?

    Put up or shut up.

  33. #33 brsbe
    February 3, 2012

    “Lol. Sentenced to death? Wow, there’s good science.”

    @Simon: I kinda doubt you know what good science is, so I’ll be brief.

    World Health Organization..

    http://www.who.int/uv/health/en/

    University of Minnesota..

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20507845

    Harvard..

    http://aacrnews.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/increased-tanning-bed-use-increases-risk-for-deadly-skin-cancers/

    Yale..
    http://news.yale.edu/2011/12/12/tanning-beds-linked-skin-cancer-young-people

  34. #34 Militant Agnostic
    February 3, 2012

    Simon @

    I don’t know much about Mercola, but it seems inconsistent to portray him as a greedy, money grubbing con man, and then turn around and tell us he gave a million dollars away. Greedy, money grubbing con men generally don’t do that. It all sounds like professional jealousy to me.

    Savings and Loan fraudster Charles Keating (a “greeedy money grubbing con man” if there ever was one) gave a bunch of money to Mother Teresa. Also, as others have pointed out, this “donation” is more of an investment in anti-science that will pay dividends for Mercola.

  35. #35 Pegasus
    February 3, 2012

    re brsbe @ 33:

    Herb @ 24 states, correctly:

    “Or warning people years ago that their Vitamin D levels were probably deficient and needed to be checked. How many people improved their health and possibly had their lives saved because of his advice? No doubt thousands”.

    Where was your criticism when the WHO, Harvard & co, & the stupid American Dermatological Associations, scared people away from the sun, causing serious health problems?.

    That was not scientifically-based advice.

    The WHO is a puppet of industry & cannot be relied on, just like the FDA. Just look at the Swine Flu fiasco & the unnecessary fear-mongering WHO engendered.

  36. #36 Antaeus Feldspar
    February 3, 2012

    The WHO is a puppet of industry & cannot be relied on, just like the FDA. Just look at the Swine Flu fiasco & the unnecessary fear-mongering WHO engendered.

    Sorry, I can’t see that, because I have no reliable information to indicate that there was “unnecessary fear-mongering” from the WHO. I know that the death toll from swine flu was much lower than projections said could have been the case. I’d have to be a real dummy to assume that that low death toll would also resulted from sitting around and refusing to prepare for fear of how some schmuck would second-guess them in the future.

  37. #37 lilady
    February 3, 2012

    “I’d have to be a real dummy to assume that that low death toll would also resulted from sitting around and refusing to prepare for fear of how some schmuck would second-guess them in the future.”

    And, you’d have to be a real ignorant schmuck to post here about flu vaccine manufacturing time lines:

    http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/h1n1_vaccine_20090806/en/index.html

  38. #38 smacky
    February 6, 2012

    Why am I not surprised to find a Viking Moose on this blog :D

    Was just today getting into an argument with someone today about Terry Wahls’ alleged dietary cure for MS. I Googled around for “Terry Wahls and her “cure” of MS from the paleo diet” (well, more specifically I Googled “Terry Wahls quack”) and stumbled on this post, and VM’s subsequent comments. Hope you’re well! xo

  39. #39 Karolyn
    February 10, 2012

    I have followed Dr. Mercola for over 10 years, and what I learned from him has helped me tremendously. At the time I was first introduced to him, I had found out I have Hepatitis C. Thanks to Dr. Mercola and others like him I was able to withstand the pleadings of a gastro to go on chemo and treat my body to good food, supplements and herbs. The result of my protocol were much better test results and living a healthy and productive life, versus taking chemo and getting sicker and possibly ruining my good health. I trust Dr. Mercola and check his site for any health info I need.

  40. #40 crispin
    February 10, 2012

    The guy is amazing. I have researched many brands of vitamins and krill oil. His are the best for me. I kids have many health problems, and their symptoms are more manageable with Mercolas supplements added to their treatment plan. thank you

  41. #41 Chris
    February 10, 2012

    crispin, they are obviously working for Mercola by negatively affecting your reading comprehension. More money for him, and some random mockery directed towards you. Win, win!

  42. #42 lilady
    February 10, 2012

    @ Karolyn: Did the supplements and advice you received from Dr. Mercola reduce the viral load or cure your hepatitis C?

    Have you continued to have your hepatitis C infection and liver function tests monitored by a gastroenterologist?

  43. #43 crispin
    February 10, 2012

    @41 Wow. Makes no sense that you would want to mock the fact that my kids are doing much better. Our doctor has been very pleased, and I always check to make sure there wont be any problems with the medications they are already taking. What is wrong with you? I think you might not be right in the head, or maybe you have social issues. (obviously, I started to say something with ‘I’ and then thought ‘My’ kids in the post above. It’s called…’It just doesnt matter’… not a problem with reading comprehension)

  44. #44 lilady
    February 10, 2012

    @ Chris: Seems that you are correct about # 41…gone now.

  45. #45 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    crispin, I did not mock your children, I mocked you. This is why I used the words “towards you.” Unless your children are imaginary and live only in your mind, I directed the mocking towards “you”, crispin. The person who proudly posted he was taken in by Mercola’s marketing spiels. At no point was I addressing your children and their medical needs.

    So if you do not like being mocked, work on your own reading comprehension. End of mocking, it is time to be serious.

    You are only providing subjective anecdotes, not objective data. This is something we cannot verify. This means, we must take only your word for what you are saying. Except, with science we know most of the supplements flogged by Mercola are only good for his wallet, not the health of anyone else.

    I have only one child taking medication, and that is for a very severe genetic heart condition (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with obstruction). It is severe enough that open heart surgery has been recommended to prevent the abnormal muscle anatomy from blocking his mitral valve and causing sudden death (the “obstruction” part). But he would still have to take medication.

    I am terribly sorry to read that all of your kids need to take medication. I could see where this would make you vulnerable to the Mercola’s sales pitch.

    But it is just a sales pitch. Mercola does not promote anything unless it helps his bank account. So search this blog for other articles about him, and learn about how he often distorts the truth.

    I think it would be more valuable to your children if you are a parent with an open mind willing to actually research everything, and I mean everything about their health. But you need to know where and how to do the research.

    I was lucky in that my son is older and there was really no Internet when he was young. I researched his issues on the early version of PubMed that was only available at the public library, and at the local children’s hospital “resource center” (which is where I looked up the issues surrounding the ear tubes that were recommended to him).

    But now there is the Internet. A big wide wilderness full of misinformation and hucksters. So I have a wee bit of advice to you that I extend in all sincerity:

    Do not take medical advice from any website that has requests payment in any form. Especially if it sells any products

  46. #46 Chris
    February 11, 2012

    I have a comment in moderation. Crispin, please note that I actually said “towards you”, which means I directed the mocking towards you, and not your children.

    Do read my comment when it comes out of moderation. It has advice on how to interpret advice from the Internet.

  47. #47 Chemmomo
    February 11, 2012

    Pegasus @35 (yeah, I know I’m a week late but this attitude still ticks me off a year and a half later)

    Just look at the Swine Flu fiasco & the unnecessary fear-mongering WHO engendered.

    Clearly said by someone who did not have a family member who contracted the flu in 2010.

  48. #48 Elly
    February 11, 2012

    I used to moderate a private health/fitness forum, so I’ve had discussions with a fair number of folks who were temporarily hornswoggled by Mercola.

    Does he put out a certain amount of legit info on nutrition and health? Sure… but it’s mixed in with quite a bit of half-truths and outright woo – and to the uninitiated and unwary, it’s tough to distinguish which is which. Even worse, his advice is served up with an unhealthy dose of paranoia and conspiracy mongering. His site is the nutrition/health equivalent of Fox News: he never passes up an opportunity to try and isolate his readers from other sources of information.

    Consider this gem I received back in 2005, when I was on his mailing list (out of curiosity, only):

    IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL SUBSCRIBERS: Yesterday, the Mercola.com information servers were attacked by a source that does not want you to know the truth about the medical industry. All of the site’s articles including those in yesterday’s newsletter were therefore inaccessible to you for much of the day.

    Fortunately, we have some of the best IT support on the Net and this attack failed to actually break into our website, though it did prevent access to the site to nearly everyone yesterday.

    While it is difficult to determine the specific source of the attack, yesterday our new Town of Allopath online animated video that in an entertaining way sharply criticizes the current medical establishment spread extensively across the Web — see this Yahoo news item about The Town of Allopath, for example — likely prompting this retaliative attack from a company or organization that financially benefits from the corrupt conventional healthcare model. Please note:

    1. We have repaired the situation
    2. Below is a repeat of yesterday’s newsletter so you can read the articles
    3. We will continue to provide you the truth whether the greedy drug companies and other organizations benefiting from the corrupt current medical system like it or not.

    So his servers temporarily went down – certainly an occupational hazard for ANY large web site. He admitted that he didn’t know the source of the alleged attack, yet he didn’t hesitate to attribute it to various, unnamed enemies – as if there aren’t any malicious hackers out there who enjoy committing mayhem for its own sake.

    The whole thing made me laugh, which is why I saved the e-mail (as well as a few others). If the server outage was truly the work of “a company or organization that financially benefits from the corrupt conventional healthcare model” then they truly are (or were) the gang that couldn’t shoot straight… not exactly the all-powerful, ruthless conspirators he paints them as.

  49. #49 crispin
    February 12, 2012

    @45 Chris,
    You can try to spin it all the ways you want, but you were mocking me for saying my kids were doing better. Shameful person. Their pediatrician approved adding the supplements along with their medications, and I guarantee he is much smarter than you. Who are you to make problems where none existed.

  50. #50 Fred
    February 12, 2012

    @Orac “What I don’t know (but would love to know) is the identity of the other “alternative medicine” groups to which Mercola donated part of that $1 million.”

    The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) recently came up with big bucks to have a Times Square JumboTron ad campaign that ran shortly after the anti-vaccine ads. ILADS also had a JumboTron ad at the Super Bowl.
    http://www.ilads.org/media/ilads_jumbotron.php

    Dr. Mercola recently mailed out his interview with Dr. Klinghardt, a so-called LLMD (Lyme literate medical doctor). The lengthy interview was entitled “Why is Lyme Disease Not JUST a Tick-Borne Disease Any More?”

    The Mercola-Klinghardt interview seems to have taken place last fall and was posted as a seven part series on YouTube. Something seems to have postponed that original interview from going out in his official daily newsletter, however, he did finally send it out on February 5, 2012.

    Mercola has offered a full endorsement of ILADS as well as some specific ‘Lyme-literate’ testing laboratories.

    We just had a full moon about a week ago, so in case you are feeling poorly, you should know that they discussed how “Bacteria move into blood when there is a full moon”. Be sure to warn your patients. ;-)

    Historically, ILADS has always claimed to be a medical organization that specializes in tick-borne diseases. However, this endorsement seems to have undeniably launched them completely into the alternative medicine realm.

  51. #51 Chris
    February 12, 2012

    crispin, I don’t really care what you think. Especially when you have so much trouble with reading English.

    You were mocked for being gullible. And you could probably buy the same supplements cheaper elsewhere.

  52. #52 Anonymous
    February 14, 2012

    The whole medical INDUSTRY in this country is a sham and a shame…repeat..shame. Most doctors now are nothing more than pill pushers in the pockets of big pharma. They know nothing about nutrition nor do they care about it. There are SO MANY cures out there for Cancer, Aids and other things that will never see the light of day because Cancer etc is a Big business. Thank God for the few brave doctors like Mercola who are not afraid to stand up and speak the truth and really try to help people find an alternative, especially to things like vaccines. I don’t care how much money he makes..more power to him. And I feel sorry that there are so Many of you who try to discredit any kinds of alternate ideas. You are a herd of sheep full of fear!

  53. #53 Chris
    February 14, 2012

    Shorter Anonymous:

    Real medicine = bad

    Mercola (even though he makes big bucks off of good people) = good

    Lots of claims without evidence.

    You are a herd of sheep full of fear!

    Oh, the irony!

  54. #54 Kae
    February 14, 2012

    “We just had a full moon about a week ago, so in case you are feeling poorly, you should know that they discussed how “Bacteria move into blood when there is a full moon”.

    You should know Fred that as a parent of a child with autism, I can set my “full” moon calendar by the increase in illness and behavior, that the full moon brings on in my child.

    And one more thing…..I’ve discovered many more parents just like myself, who at first thought, “what a crazy idea”.

    It was crazy, right up until we started keeping track of the full moon cycle.

  55. #55 Fred
    February 15, 2012

    “We just had a full moon about a week ago, so in case you are feeling poorly, you should know that they discussed how “Bacteria move into blood when there is a full moon”.

    You should know Fred that as a parent of a child with autism, I can set my “full” moon calendar by the increase in illness and behavior, that the full moon brings on in my child.

    Are you suggesting that the increase in autism symptoms during a full moon is in fact due to bacteria relocating within the body and shifting into the bloodstream, as they claim? I would think that this event would easily be evidenced with lab work.

  56. #56 Beamup
    February 15, 2012

    About half of all medical issues come up within a week of a full moon! So obviously there’s something to it.

    Or not.

  57. #57 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    Kae; I’m also the parent of a child with autism, and I’ve never seen any correlation to the phase of the moon. This despite the fact that she is interested in astronomy and consequently is often aware of the Moon’s phase. Have you considered that you may be encountering an observer’s bias? This is not an unusual thing, and nothing at all to be ashamed of. It’s probably impossible to do a blinded study of your own child’s behavior in relation to the phase of the moon without recruiting third parties unaware of the hypothesis, so I’m not sure you’ll be able to rule out observer’s bias. That is, are you sure you’re not just taking more notice of the symptoms between first quarter and last quarter?

  58. #58 NANA
    March 6, 2012

    I wonder if the website has nothing sensible and useful to offer the 1.3million unique visitors, would these visitors come back 10 times more than necessary? I dont think just mere sleek adverts can draw that many traffic; lets be real, we need a long over due balance and scientific debate for both so call science based medicine and the other alternative medicine that the “charlatan” Mercola largely respresents now. Are some people getting “green eyed” courtesy the plush crib of Mercola? Some Mega churches in America make more than Mercola makes, just hawking salvation and prayer. I dont think all the over 1million people are daft though, what do you think dud?

  59. #59 W. Kevin Vicklund
    March 6, 2012

    Obviously, some of the 1.3 million people are going there to “engage the enemy.” Aside from that, I can easily believe that there are over a million people that want to believe what he’s selling is true.

  60. #60 Beamup
    March 6, 2012

    I wonder if the website has nothing sensible and useful to offer the 1.3million unique visitors, would these visitors come back 10 times more than necessary?

    When they’re being taken in by what amounts to a massive fraud, they certainly would. Bernie Madoff was popular too!

  61. #61 Pegasus
    March 7, 2012

    I have to laugh when I read all the comments abour Mercola from all the sceptics. You never hear one beep out of them when the drug companies get fined billions eg GSK 3 billion dollars (a pittance!) for fraud. And then what? The doctors prescribe their drugs (often fraudulently tested)which are then given stronger warnings or recalled, even killing people.

    Now we have statins implicated in dementia & diabetes.I wonder what will be next? It’s a bloody litany of horror!@

    If this is science, I’ll take Mercola.

  62. #62 salyabyum
    March 9, 2012

    If I can briefly address the ‘full moon’ theory of any medical situation. The argument goes, when the moon is full the gravitational forces increase/decrease and this causes an action in human beings or animals.

    I always find this baffling because the gravitational pull of the moon is not determined by what phase the moon is in, but rather how close or far the moon is from the earth, and that is not directly correlated to the phase. So… how does this work then?

  63. #63 ROSITA
    March 18, 2012

    How many of you who have posted a comment here have suffered with some ailment NOT nailed by a conventional medicine doctor, and is still suffering, seemingly needlessly? And, how many of you have seen a child almost die–or die–and not sure of the reason for this death? It seems as if the American people live with their eyes closed and their ears blocked! Or, are you all so drugged up that you don’t realize that America is a nation of drug-pushers!!! Regardless to what you all say about Dr. Mercola–and I am not for or against him–I know what “I” have suffered and what “I” have seen and heard. When someone has high blood pressure, is it because they are lacking Norvasc? Or is someone lacking Pravachol when they have high cholesterol? Is someone lacking Prozac when they are depressed? NO!!! Our bodies were made to assimilate products from “NATURAL” SOURCES WITH ALL THE NUTRIENTS INTACTED! We are not to foul up our body systems with isolated chemicals! The FDA has given permission to the conventional medicine field, and the pharmaceutical industry to poison this nation! Why should I be forced to drink water contaminated with Fluoride against my better judgment??? It is said that America is a free country, but one wonders WHO it is free for, for it certainly isn’t free to those who want to make informed decisions about their medical health and their dietary intake! In other parts of the world governments are informing their citizens about, and taking things off the market that could be harmful to their health, why isn’t America leading in this instead of tagging behind or worse, not even being found in the picture? You all can say what you want, but as human-kind created by a loving and compassionate Creator, we are called to be stewards for everything we have access to, and that especially includes caring for the bodies we live in. In the Judgment of all mankind, at the end of the world, we will all be called to give an account on what we did to maintain our health and strength in mind and body in order to make wise decisions for our lives and to encourage those who are in our care to do the same. If you all want to continue to believe a lie, you are only setting yourselves up for the greatest deception of all which will culminate in the final hugest crisis that will come upon every man, woman and child on this planet, and guess what, America will be at the helm of the biggest deception, doing the devil’s work in the end. IT’S IN THE BIBLE! READ REVELATIION CHAPTER 13, VERSES 11-18 (with someone who is a Bible prophecy expert.) Trouble is we are too close to this time of the hugest final deception, and the deceptions we live with daily are only preparing those of us who refuse to become informed on the correct methods of caring for the body, for the hugest deception in life’s history! This all has to do with doing what is right in “Creator-God’s” sight, and knowing what is wrong in His sight. The Bible also says that he who destroys the Earth will also be destroyed himself! (Revelation 11: 18, last part of verse.) Your body is a part of planet Earth, and you are destroying it if you are filling it with toxins from your foods, drink, and articles of medicines, the things you choose to put into your mouth to “so-called” heal yourself from your ailments! So this thing is much bigger than the Dr. Mercolas of this world, it’s about the war against what is right, the war against Creator-God! Anything and anybody who encourages us to treat our bodies as if it is a garbage bin is warring against Creator-God Who created us! We ought not be afraid of those who can torture and kill the body, but He Who can kill body and soul in hell!!! Will you fear Creator-God and take care of what you put into your bodies, or will you fear the FDA and anyone who is in business to deceive and corrupt society and suffer for using drug-laced products for “so-called” health and wellbeing? If you are not guided by the Holy Spirit Who can guide you on how to take care of your body and health, you will be guided by the Evil one who will only guide you to destroy your health which in turn will destroy your ability to reason and to make the right decisions for your health. QUACKERY is all about leading people astray, to do the wrong thing for their health; tell me, who ever heard of injecting cow puss into a healthy human child in order to protect them from illness??? DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO YOU??? THIS, my friends, is the “HEIGHT” of quackery!!! YET IT IS ALLOWED BY THE FDA!!! CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES OR SUFFER AND DIE FOR NOT CHECKING IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES!!! IT IS “YOUR” CHOICE.

  64. #64 Chris
    March 19, 2012

    Rosita, do you think we are going to even read your semi-literate wall of text? Try again when you are calmer, have learned some basic English (paragraphs are more than a concept, they are useful), and have some actual scientific documentation for your claims.

  65. #65 JGC
    March 19, 2012

    IT’S IN THE BIBLE! READ REVELATIION CHAPTER 13, VERSES 11-18 (with someone who is a Bible prophecy expert.)

    Rosita, you’re speaking as if the bible were known to possess some inherent authority or likely to represent an accurate depiction of past or future events. Why?

    (BTW, Revelations was written as basically a rant against the Roman Empire circa 95 CE, for the purpose of giving hope to the inhabitants of seven major cities in Asia Minor(Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea) suffering under Roman rule that God’s justice would prevail and their Roman persecutors would be condemed–not as a prediction of apocalyptic events which would transpire during some undefined future ‘end time’. Perhaps you’re the one who should pay more attention to Biblical scholars.)

  66. #66 Get Over It
    April 19, 2012

    Why does it matter what Dr Mercola says? There isn’t a doctor out there that doesn’t pettle a product. Let people make there own god damn health choices. If you don’t like what Dr Mercola says then don’t read his site. His work is not hurting anyone. You don’t see his WOO products on tv being pushed for lawsuits for damages like ” science based drugs” like lipitor, birth control, blood pressure meds, etc.

    The only gullible people are those that can’t make here own opinions, and those who listen to the government as if only what they promote is the truth.

  67. #67 Narad
    April 19, 2012

    There isn’t a doctor out there that doesn’t pettle [sic] a product. Let people make there [sic] own god damn health choices.

    So, basically, the idea is that pointing out that he’s full of crap is some sort of meany-mean restraint of trade?

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