Pharyngula

Mike Adams, blustering scoundrel

We all know about Mike Adams, notorious quack, conspiracy theorist, quantum dork, and raving nutball around here, right? If nothing else, you must have enjoyed Orac’s regular deconstruction of his nonsense.

Jon Entine has published a profile of Mike Adams in Forbes magazine that distills all the lunacy down to a relatively concise summary. For instance, it documents his recent public obsessions.

Adam’s latest crusade: the world’s governments are covering up the fact that the doomed Malaysian Airlines jetliner was pirated safely to a desert hideaway by Iranian hijackers, and is now being refitted into a stealth nuclear bomb.

In recent months, Adams has claimed that high-dose Vitamin C injections, which he conveniently sells, have been shown to “annihilate cancer” (doctors warn high doses of vitamin C can be dangerous); that measles and mumps are making a comeback because vaccines are “designed to fail” (he’s an anti-vaccine campaigner); and that fluoridated water causes mental disorders. He is also an AIDS denialist, a 9/11 truther, a Barack Obama citizenship ‘birther’ and a believer in ‘dangerous’ chemtrails.

But his most heated attacks—and the ones that generate the most traffic and business on his websites and what has made him a oft-cited hero of anti-GMOers—are directed at conventional agriculture, crop biotechnology in particular.

In a recent screaming but typical headline, Adams claimed that research at his Natural News Forensic Food Labs—another of his bizarre websites—has turned up unequivocal evidence that corporations are intentionally engineering “life-destroying toxins” into our food supply, with genetically modified corn as one of the chief ‘weapons against humanity.’ His recommendation: buy the natural products that he sells and rid the world of GMOs.

It also digs into his past published works, and it’s quite clear that he’s an amoral con artist out to make a heck of a lot of money by bilking the gullible — and that he’s been busy playing the SEO game.

Adams is quite open about his business model: play on fear to make as much money as possible. To dispel any doubts about his real motivations, in 2008, he bragged publicly in his self-published book, The 7 Principles of Mindful Wealth, that his operating philosophy was “Getting past self-imposed limits on wealth… Karma doesn’t pay the rent. Good karma isn’t the recognized currency in modern society: Dollars are!”

To peddle the alternative nostrums that have helped build his fortune, Adams operates a string of fringe health scare sites, including prenatalnutrition.org, expectant-mothers.com, NewsTarget.com, HoodiaFactor.com, EmergingFuture.com, SpamAnatomy.com, VitaminFactor.org, CounterThink.com, HealthFactor.info, JunkScience.info, BrainHealthNews.com, LowCholesterolDiets.DietsLink.com, PublicHealthNews.org, PharmaWatch.info, HomeToxins.com, PoisonPantry.org, DepressionFactor.org, webseed.com and ConsumerWellness.org.

Promoting terrorist scares is Adams stock and trade. In 1998 he launched the Y2K Newswire promoting apocalyptic claims of impending software disaster whileoffering sales of emergency preparedness products and foods. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, he wrote, falsely, that the Japanese radiation, “spans oceans and continents” to panic his readers into buying useless “FDA approved” potassium iodide treatments and storable uncontaminated super foods that he shamelessly sold on his site. That got him a mention on the sin qua non of conspiracy programs, the wacky Alex Jones Show, which Adams had previously guest hosted—further stoking his notoriety among the fringe set.

All of his claims are documented with quotes and publicly available information (pdf). It’s a very thorough piece of work. It won’t affect his business at all — the kinds of people who respond well to paranoia, fear, and weird invocations of pseudoscience aren’t going to pay much attention to the evidence at all. But guess how Mike Adams has reacted?

Mike Adams is threatening to sue Entine and Forbes for libel. Of course.

It’s pretty much the routine response nowadays to getting hit with evidence that leaves one dangling guiltily — call up the lawyers, try to intimidate the accusers into silence, and even if one’s suit doesn’t stand a chance in hell of succeeding (or worse, will just drag more exposure of one’s unpleasant behavior into an open court), one can hope that a good loud cease-and-desist letter will intimidate someone. It shut Forbes up, anyway — they pulled the article from their website. You can always trust a corporate lawyer to play turtle and shell up at even the most bogus legal threat.

Now Mike Adams’ has attempted a rebuttal — he’s playing the poor pitiful me card, claiming to just be an honest scientist doing his best with his very own lab equipment to make the world a better place — while not mentioning that it’s all dubious crap that he uses to peddle quack supplements on his various websites. He also doesn’t mention where his reputation as an “AIDS denialist, a 9/11 truther, a Barack Obama citizenship ‘birther’ and a believer in ‘dangerous’ chemtrails” fits into his imaginary scientific credentials.

I predict this will go nowhere. A few lawyers will get a little richer. Adams will bluster and use the Forbes article as evidence to his conspiracy theorist followers that the Man really is out to get him, and he will get a little richer. Jon Entine would be silenced by corporate cowardice, except that the internet will make his article even more well-known.

But maybe someone, somewhere will read about Adams’ scam and steer clear, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Comments

  1. […] By PZ Myers […]

  2. #2 Mary M
    May 18, 2014

    I’m kind of astonished that this hasn’t generated more outrage among the science writer community. Forbes took down the post–is this the kind of thing Forbes science bloggers tolerate?

    But also in the wider science writing community, there’s kind of an odd silence on this lawsuit piece.

    Are we gonna let cranks run the table?

  3. #3 Fourat J
    May 18, 2014

    I’m with you on that MM. I suggested to a bunch of our fellow friends on Twitter that we should all post Entine’s post in full across our websites. Didn’t take though.

  4. #4 G
    May 19, 2014

    What’s needed here is email _and phone calls_ and also _postal mail_, from a handful of prominent scientists with public track records, to the editors at Forbes.

    Ideal case: one such scientist gets a bunch of his/her colleagues to each write a letter, print it and sign it, and mail it in to him or her. Then s/he takes all of them, puts them in a large manila envelope, and hand-addresses it to a specific person at Forbes, and sends it to Forbes via certified mail with signature required and a return receipt. The added effort of printing & signing, and waiting in line for fifteen minutes at the post office, and spending something less than ten bucks for certified mail with return receipt, will be worth it for the impact it will have compared to email.

    J Fourat @ 3: Try sending letters via postal mail to a few colleagues, hand-write their addresses on the envelopes, include your phone number under your signature, and see what happens. Testable hypothesis: postal mail gets a significantly higher response rate than Twitter. Inferred mechanism: postal mail has a better signal to noise ratio than Twitter and email.

    If anyone’s up for some mischief, try quoting Adams’ stuff about vaccines _and_ 9/11 trutherism and Obama birtherism, on anti-vax forums. Use the 9/11 stuff on antivax boards where conservatives hang out, and the Obama stuff on antivax boards where liberals hang out, and the chemtrails stuff on both.

    The point is not to convince the regulars on those boards. The goal is to convince the lurkers and undecideds, that the proponents of anti-vax conspiracy theory, are also proponents of other CTs that they will find personally offensive to their politics and downright crazy.

    The best remedy for Mike Adams’ BS is an overdose of Mike Adams’ BS.

  5. #5 Nescio
    Internet
    May 19, 2014

    Two words: Simon Singh

  6. […] like it at all, not one bit. In fact, he likes so little that Keith Kloor and P.Z. Myers have both, Streisand Effect-style, reported that Adams has threatened to sue […]

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    May 19, 2014

    Two words: Simon Singh

    But the case would be under US law, where the truth is a defense, because both Adams and Forbes are based in the US. Also, US law does not allow enforcement of libel judgments from jurisdictions that don’t provide comparable protections–that provision was added specifically to prevent plaintiffs like Adams from getting judgments in notoriously plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions like the UK.

    Not to menton that Singh actually won his case, in the UK no less.

  8. #8 Nescio
    May 20, 2014

    @Eric Lund
    Merely pointing out how litigation is the default defense for the evidence-lacking-promotors of woo.

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