Swans Commentary » swans.com August 26, 2013  



Alternative Medicine? Vitamin Crusaders For Cancer And More
(Part III of III)


by Michael Barker



(Swans - August 26, 2013)   Although nutritionists like to pretend that large-scale, well-funded trials on the curative effects of vitamins and anti-oxidants have never been undertaken, this is simply not the case. So while it is true that such studies are not financed by the food supplement industry -- considered to be worth over $50 billion a year globally -- well conceived scientific trials have demonstrated that supplements can actually have a detrimental impact on people's health. (1) Moreover despite the hard done-by public image of the supplement juggernaut, which counter intuitively has been naturally cultivated by a massive propaganda campaign, "there is essentially no difference between the vitamin industry and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries..." (2)

Much like their mainstream brethren, alternative practitioners are keen to ally themselves with ostensibly respectable scientists, and one of the alternative therapy movement's most prestigious centerpieces in this regard is the two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling (1901-1994): a man whose affection for megadoses of vitamin C meant that over time, his "scientific image changed from brilliant individualist to monomaniacal crank." (3) But hey, the not-so-alternative industry would like you to remain firmly focused on his esteemed Nobel Prizes. Thus making a virtue out of Pauling's vitamin-fuelled crankiness, each year a high-achieving disciple of pseudoscience receives the Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award from the Institute for Functional Medicine, one of the more recent awardees of this honour being the right-wing molecular biologist Dr. Bruce Ames, who some ten years earlier had received the Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research. (4) Here in the small and highly connected world of alternative health (rather ill-health) it is appropriate that the founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, had previously served as the director of nutritional supplement research at the Linus Pauling Institute, an Institute that was set-up by Pauling in 1973 to promote his magically-inspired "parody of nutritional science," orthomolecular medicine. (5) It is worth acknowledging here that the Linus Pauling Institute was one of the first two Centers of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine officially designated as such by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (discussed in Part II).

Considering the numerous overlaps that exist between right-wing powerbrokers and the alternative health (freedom) movement, it is fitting that the Linus Pauling Institute's cofounder, Art Robinson, would -- after an acrimonious split with Pauling -- go on to found the misleadingly-named Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. This Institute is best-known for its role in circulating the well-promoted and well and truly debunked climate-denying "Oregon Petition." (6) Connections like this are emblematic of the longstanding love-affair that the radical right maintains for both climate change denial and alternative medicine. With reactionary groups like the ultra-conservative John Birch Society regularly presenting such "anti-establishment" campaigns as cause célèbres of the embattled common man fighting off the unwanted intrusions of regulatory agencies into the proper workings of the free-market. (7)

This problematic collision of pseudoscience and anti-democratic politics is best illustrated by the activities of the Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy (later known as the Committee for Freedom of Choice in Medicine) -- which was formed in 1972 around a nucleus of members of the John Birch Society. Having been raised by her mother on a permanent diet informed by the quack nutritionalists of the day, Maureen Salaman went on to serve as a key activist within this group during the 1970s. Then in 1982 she assumed the presidency of another right-wing organization known as the National Health Federation, which just the year before had celebrated the work of Linus Pauling by giving him an award in recognition of the extraordinary abilities and services he had rendered on behalf of health freedom. Salaman subsequently remained as the president of the National Health Federation until her death in 2006; with one four-year leave of absence during the 1990s when she was temporarily replaced by Dr. Jonathan Wright, author of the best-selling Book of Nutritional Therapy: Real-Life Lessons in Medicine Without Drugs (Rodale Press, 1979). Significantly, just prior to taking up the presidency of the Federation, Dr. Wright had become something of a posterboy for the alternative health movement -- with the aid of generous misreporting by the New York Times -- when he had publicized a video of what he called the "Vitamin-B Bust," which had documented a legitimate raid by the Food and Drug Administration upon his premises. (8)

Either way, despite having much political success in their war against the FDA, not everything has run smoothly for the health freedom movement, as the year after Maureen Salaman rose to the head of the National Health Federation, the health-freedom movement then took something of a knock-back when her friend, the legislative advisor to the Committee for Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy, Georgia Congressman Larry McDonald, died in plane crash. This, however, was no normal Congressman, as McDonald was a urologist who had not only served as the former president of the John Birch Society, but was also the cofounder and president of a private domestic intelligence agency known as the Western Goals Foundation. Mrs. Salaman, however, remained unperturbed, and after founding the Populist Party with Holocaust denier Willis Carto, she stood as their vice presidential candidate for the 1984 elections. (9)

This comfortable alliance between right-wing activism and alternative medicine has always been bolstered when mainstream medical organizations have been overzealous in their attacks on alternative practitioners. A suitable illustration here is provided in the instance of chiropractors, who received welcome publicity during the 1970s and 1980s when the juicy details the American Medical Association's (AMA) campaign against them was exposed. This case arose when leaked internal documents from the AMA encouraged chiropractor Chester Wilk to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the AMA as early as 1976. Unfortunately the lawsuit was only resolved in 1987 when the presiding judge ruled in Wilk's favour, giving further fuel to the alternative medicine movements nearly completely fictitious claims to be oppressed by the establishment. (10)

From a different political angle, Democrats obsessed with controlling the federal bureaucracy have similarly become all-too willing bedfellows of vitamin crusaders, one key example being fitness-fanatic Senator William Proxmire (Democrat-Wisconsin), who in the year following the publication of his book, You Can Do It!: Senator Proxmire's Exercise, Diet and Relaxation Plan (Simon & Schuster, 1973), had worked with Senator Richard Schweiter (Republican-Pennsylvania) to sponsor their very "own provitamin, anti-FDA bill." (11) Senator Orin Hatch likewise soon jumped into action, and along with Samuel Hayakawa (Republican-California) sponsored the "Voluntary Vitamin Act of 1981." This "Vitamin Act," however, was never passed as "momentum for the Hatch bill petered out" when a new Food and Drug administrator was appointed, who then proceeded to back off from implementing the proposed FDA regulations which had been drawn up to restrict the distribution of vitamin supplements. This history led one commentator to conclude that: "In their own way, vitamins are at the centre of a cult that is as powerful as any religious movement that has swept across the nation." (12)

The vitamin industry has many good friends, but their best friend, Dr. Linus Pauling, received both fame and notoriety for his two books: Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu (W.H. Freeman and Company, 1970) and Cancer and Vitamin C: A Discussion of the Nature, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment of Cancer With Special Reference to the Value of Vitamin C (Norton, 1979). He also helped develop the equally ludicrous idea that vitamin C could cure schizophrenia, co-editing a book on the subject with Dr. David Hawkins titled Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Treatment of Schizophrenia (W.H. Freeman, 1973). This magical cure for schizophrenia had been proposed by Dr. Abram Hoffer in the 1950s, an individual who would later work closely with his new-found Nobel laureate ally, Linus Pauling, leading to the cross-fertilization of nonsense in their posthumously coauthored book Vitamin C and Cancer: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy (Quarry Press, 1999). (13) Putting the nail in the coffin of such crap, Pauling died of prostate cancer in 1994, seven months after his wife had died of stomach cancer.

With so many clear associations between the supplement industry and right-wing political operatives, it is not too surprising that Pauling had co-founded the Orthomolecular Medical Society with Dr. Richard Kunin (in 1976), a man who is now the vice-chairman of the National Health Federation. Moreover, the Federation's successor president to the late Maureen Salaman (1936-2006) is an attorney named Scott Tips, who for many years has been writing a monthly column (called "Legal Tips") for Whole Foods Market's magazine. Here one might note that the union-busting libertarian cofounder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, had been awarded the National Health Federation's health freedom hero award in 2010. His receipt of this prize for right-wing activism following fellow awardees, British UFO conspiracy theorist Ian Crane and Congressman Ron Paul, who received the awards in 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Linus Pauling evidently loved keeping company with extremists, and so it is fitting that in 1991 he served alongside Maureen Salaman, Dr. Jeffrey Bland and Dr. Abram Hoffer on the advisory board of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants (then known as the Nutritional Consultants Organization of Canada), an international group dedicated to representing holistic and orthomolecular health practitioners. Profitable, if ridiculous, theories have always been guaranteed some degree of longevity under capitalism, and so it is appropriate that before passing away in 2009, Dr. Hoffer had served on the scientific advisory board of the educational charity, Food for the Brain -- which apparently aims to "promote the link between nutrition and mental health," the CEO of this charity being modern-day quack extraordinaire Patrick Holford, who funnily enough was a former student of Dr. Hoffer.

Keen to build upon his mentors woo-ful success, in 1984 Patrick Holford founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition -- which has now "trained the majority of self-styled nutrition therapists in the UK" (14) -- and which had quickly recruited Linus Pauling (before his submission to cancer) to act as one of their patrons. Since then Holford has arguably done more for vitamin C than any of his misguided predecessors, and has been personally responsible for facilitating the deaths of tens of thousands of people. This is because following hot on the heels of anti AZT-warrior Sir James Goldsmith, Holford has cynically marketed his own vitamin supplements in Africa, aggressively promoting the lie that vitamin C can cure AIDS. Writing in 1997 Holford concludes: "AZT, the first prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful, and proving less effective than vitamin C." (15) (For a much-needed demolition of Holford's profitable commitment to death, see Chapter 9 of Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science.)

This brings us back to the nutritional pill-popping establishment, as Patrick Holford has formulated and designed a range of supplements for the pill company BioCare -- a company which employs him as their head of education and science; BioCare itself being 30 percent owned by the Indian corporate giant Elder Pharmaceuticals. (16) The managing director of BioCare is Emma Ellis, who brings to her job prior experience of working as the product development manager for Holland & Barrett Retail Ltd: a retail group which boasts of being Europe's leading retailer of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements, and counts health czar Dr. Joe Pizzorno, Jr. amongst their well renumerated medical advisors. Here Holland & Barrett's parent company, Nature's Bounty (NBTY) includes Council for Responsible Nutrition board member Harvey Kamil on their own board of directors, an individual who also acts as the president and chief financial officer of MET-Rx -- a controversial brand of bodybuilding supplements owned by NBTY. As one critical report observed in the mid-1990s: "the only proven power of the new 'food replacement' called MET-Rx -- the most hotly promoted such product on the market -- is to build corporate revenues, an estimated $60 million at last count." (17)

Other lucrative brands rammed down the public's throat by NBTY include Nature's Way, (18) which traces their natural origins to the heady days of the 1960s and their prescient decision to exploit/market traditional Native American knowledge of medicinal plants. Nature's Way happens to be based in Orrin Hatch's home turf, Utah; a state that, with Hatch's generous aid, has come to be known as the "Silicon Valley of herbs." (19) Another familiar NBTY brandname is General Nutrition Companies (GNC); but most significantly, just three years ago, NBTY itself was acquired by one of the world's largest private equity funds, the Carlyle Group -- a shadowy enterprise that sits comfortably at the epicenter of the military-industrial complex. (20) One might add that such establishmentarian nutritional companies and their allied nutritionalists are however crucially different and "more dangerous" than promoters of other alternative therapies -- who generally make no pretense to utilize the scientific method -- as by suggesting that they adhere to conventional scientific protocols "they systematically undermine the public's understanding of the very nature of evidence." (21)

With the military-establishment now securely profiting from alternative health remedies, the very types of powerbrokers who have actively undermined public faith in mainstream medicine are now the same ones cashing in on popular discontent with mainstream medicine. In relation to such profiteering, one hugely popular magazine that has worked wonders in foisting all manner of nutritional nonsense upon the general public is Prevention, which in essence is "a slick device that helps manufacturers of expensive vitamins and minerals hawk their wares." (22) Prevention was founded in 1950 by J.I. Rodale, a consummate faddist who published his own ode to vitamins in 1966 as The Complete Book of Vitamins. Prevention magazine, along with numerous other "health" related lifestyle paraphernalia (like Organic Gardening), (23) are published by J.I. Rodale's self-named Rodale Inc., which is still very much a family affair being headed by J.I Rodale's granddaughter Maria Rodale.

As one might expect Rodale Inc. naturally has plenty of room for right-wingers in their management, with one stand-out board member being William F. Baker, who is a director of the libertarian media company Freedom Communications: a media enterprise which in-turn is closely associated with the infamous private equity firm, the Blackstone Group. Given the fondness of right-wing activists for propounding alternative (non)medical propaganda it is appropriate that a long-standing senior executive at Freedom Communications, Dick Wallace, is a trustee of the misnamed Reason Foundation -- a philanthropic enterprise endowed by the infamous billionaire Koch brothers. William F. Baker is also the former president and CEO of WNET/Channel 13 (1987-2007), the PBS station in New York City -- a station that counts David Koch among their current trustees. Another board member of Rodale Inc. is Fabiola Arredondo, who is a director of the trendy fashion retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, and former board member of the UK's largest food retailer Tesco plc. However, not all conservatives with prior associations with Rodale have been happy about the New Age claptrap printed ad nauseam by Rodale. Hence, Steve Salerno, after working as the editor of the Rodale-owned Men's Health magazine's book program, went on to write the highly incendiary Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (Crown Publishers, 2005).

More recently, in November 2010 biodynamic gardener Mark Smallwood became the latest executive director of Rodale Inc., coming to this position after working at Whole Food's organic empire -- where he had just received their national award being named the "Best Whole Foods Market Spokesperson." (For criticisms of the magical thinking at the heart of biodynamic gardening see "Rudolf Steiner and the organic movement"). With such a spiritual man at Prevention's helm it is little wonder that the magazine has not departed from its long-standing commitment to rubbish (which is perhaps better recycled than read). Thus in late 2012 Rodale Inc. announced a "major brand re-invention," such that "the new Prevention will showcase a more elegant, upscale, clean design sensibility within an enriched editorial aesthetic to connect with the female boomers' sophisticated palette." The allegedly new Prevention was launched with the magazine's January 2013 issue, which featured columns by the esteemed practitioner of nutritional nonsense Dr Andrew Weil and his protégée Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, who joined Prevention's other established all-star New Age contributors like popular television quack Dr. Mehmet Oz. (24)

The Future of Medicine

For large numbers of the public to reject a rational approach to medicine in favour of ineffective alternative therapies is dangerous; especially considering that such a flight from reason fails to address the root causes of their health concerns. Therefore it is vital that all concerned members of the public should join together to demand that medical research and pharmaceutical corporations are effectively regulated to serve the public interest, and swiftly brought under public ownership so they can be democratically run to prioritize public health, not corporate profits. With the legal system stacked in the favour of the powerful pharmaceutical corporations, be they retailers of mainstream or alternative medicine, justice is clearly not a priority for our bankrupt political representatives. This is evidenced by a recent example that shows that despite the fact that corporate giant Merck knew of the dangerous side-effects of their well-used painkiller Vioxx, they failed to admit liability, and instead proposed a $4.85 billion settlement which was sadly accepted. Such serious problems could easily be avoided if there existed a "public, open, and properly enforced" clinical trials register, but, needless to say, this is not likely to eventuate under capitalism. (25)

With regard to the alleged efficacy of some alternative treatments, it is of course possible for some individuals to argue that people who subscribe to such treatments are on average healthier than the rest of the population, but this conflates a number of other factors including their socio-economic background. Indeed, people who take vitamin supplements, or have the spare cash and time to engage in alternative health therapies, may already be healthier in many other ways and engage in other practices, like taking regular exercise. But here even making lifestyle choices to improve personal health is "hard to do on your own, and in reality [improvements in public health will] require wholesale social and political changes." This is because: "One of the most significant 'lifestyle' causes of death and disease, after all, is social class." (26)

So for all those who are truly interested in promoting public health for all, it is essential that such class issues are tackled head-on. It is the ruling class who profit from the continuing public confusion about health matters. And it is they who are quite happy to engage in scaremongering and diversionary tactics to prevent the rest of us from addressing the one issue that has the most detrimental impact on human health worldwide... capitalism.


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1.  Ben Goldacre, Bad Science (Forth Estate, 2009), p.105. "Sometimes whole areas [of medical research] can be orphaned because of the lack of money, and corporate interest. Homeopaths and vitamin pill quacks would tell you that their pills are good examples of this phenomenon. That is a moral affront to the better examples. There are conditions which affect a small number of people, like Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Wilson disease, but more chilling are the diseases which are neglected because they are only found in the developing world, like Chagas disease (which threatens a quarter of Latin America) and trypanosomiasis (300,000 cases a year, but in Africa). The Global Forum for Health Research estimates that only 10 per cent of the world's health burden receives 90 per cent of total biomedical research funding." Goldacre, Bad Science, p.204.  (back)

2.  Goldacre, Bad Science, pp.108-9. "Key players include companies like Roche and Aventis; BioCare, the vitamin pill company that media nutritionist Patrick Holford works for, is part-owned by Elder Pharmaceuticals, and so on. The vitamin industry is also- amusingly -- legendary in the world of economics as the setting of the most outrageous price-fixing cartel ever documented. During the 1990s the main offenders were forced to pay the largest criminal fines ever levied in legal history -- $1.5 billion in total -- after entering guilty pleas with the US Department of Justice and regulators in Canada, Australia, and the European Union." (p.109)  (back)

3.  Thomas Hager, Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling (Simon & Schuster, 1995), p.13. Unfortunately Hager had been swayed by Pauling's advocacy of vitamin C, writing: "But in the late 1980s and early 1990s new evidence emerged to form a more complex picture of the effects of vitamin C. That picture, although still fuzzy, increasingly supports what Pauling had been saying for decades." (p.13) One reason for Hager's wavering on the efficacy of vitamin C perhaps owes a lot to the nonsense cast upon the controversy by vitamin C historian Evelleen Richards, whose influential articles defending a post-modern or relativist 'scientific' position have only led to further confusion. This is similar to the way that anarchist scholar Brian Martin's intervention in the fluoridation debate have unwittingly supported anti-fluoridation activism, see Pam Scott, Evelleen Richards and Brian Martin, "Captives of controversy: The myth of the neutral social researcher in contemporary scientific controversies," Science, Technology, & Human Values, 15 (4), 1990, pp.474-94.

Linus Pauling was won over to the therapeutic power of megadoses of vitamin C politics in 1966 while based at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions -- the same year J.I. Rodale's The Complete Book of Vitamins was published -- although Pauling only openly espoused his conversion some years later. The 1960s saw Pauling become increasingly radicalized politically, such that by 1967 he joined the Peace and Freedom Party and "adopted the rhetoric" of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); quite a move for a liberal whose peace activism had seen him received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. (p.570) Anyway despite his ongoing commitment to left-wing speechifying, in 1973 he co-founded the Linus Pauling Institute with the self-defined "libertarian/conservative" scientist Art Robinson.

In later years the Linus Pauling Institute would focus its fundraising efforts on "cultivating a few wealthy donors" from the ruling class, with two notable ones being the right-wing mogul Ryoichi Sasakawa and the oil magnate Armand Hammer. (p.615) During the Second World War Sasakawa had founded the National Essence Mass Party, a Japanese fascist group, and in 1959 served with Kodama Yoshio as advisors for the right-wing All-Japan Council of Patriotic Organizations -- a federation "that included hybrid yakuza and right-wing groups..." Around this time Sasakawa decided took up philanthropy with a vengeance, "and contributed substantial funds to the United Nations and to the World Health Organization in particular..." During the 1970s Sasakawa worked closely with Jimmy Carter, was a well-known supporter of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, created the United States-Japan Foundation in 1989, and in 1986, at the ripe old age of 87 he founded the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. As late as 1974 Time magazine reported on Sasakawa's open espousal of fascism, so it is a little concerning to say the least that he has received the Martin Luther King Peace Prize and the UN Peace Prize. Here one might conclude that much like Sasakawa, the chairman and founder of Occidental Petroleum (cum latter-day cancer activist), Armand Hammer, tried hard in his latter years to become a Nobel prize laureate, and other than by befriending individuals like Jimmy Carter and Prince Charles, he probably saw making donations to Linus Pauling as just one way to curry influence within the human rights community.

Eiko Maruko Siniawer, Ruffians, Yakuzu, Nationalists: The Violent Politics of Modern Japan, 1860-1960 (Cornell University Press, 2008), p.160, p.156; David Kaplan and Alec Dubro, Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld (University of California Press, 2003), pp.64-5.

For a great review of the Linus Pauling vitamin debacle, see Paul Offit, Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013); an excerpt of which appeared in The Atlantic, "The vitamin myth: why we think we need supplements"; a magazine that ironically is not adverse to publishing the type of nonsense that Dr. Offit rails against (see "Blatant pro-alternative medicine propaganda in The Atlantic"). Also see David Gorski, "High dose vitamin C and cancer: Has Linus Pauling been vindicated?," Science-based Medicine, August 18, 2008.  (back)

4.  In 2010 Dr. Dean Ornish of pomegranate juice infamy (see Part II) received the annual Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award. Ornish is the founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California; an organization that has received the support of right-wing philanthropists like the late Theodore Forstmann -- a man who is most famous for "creating a business model that today is known as the private equity industry." In addition to serving on the board of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, Ornish has been a physician consultant to Bill Clinton since 1993 (and serves alongside Clinton on the advisory board of the exclusive elite retreat known as Renaissance Weekend), and has been celebrated by Forbes magazine as being "one of the seven most powerful teachers in the world." Additionally, Ornish serves with the likes of New Age guru of capitalism, Paul Hawken, on the advisory board of the mystically-inclined Center for Contemplative Mind in Society; and with Dr. Jeffrey Bland on the advisory board of Dr. Oz's Healthcorps.  (back)

5.  Richard Hicks served as the executive vice president of the Linus Pauling Institute between 1977 and 1992 and until very recently served as a board member of US Dataworks, which is "a trusted advisor and payments platform provider to many Fortune 100 businesses, financial institutions and government agencies..." Notably Hicks joined the board of US Dataworks in 2009 along with Anna Catalano, the former group vice president of marketing for BP plc, and current board member of Mead Johnson Nutrition (of banned Metrecal infamy during the late 1970s). The board chairman of Mead Johnson Nutrition is James Cornelius, who is the chairman of one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Squibb.  (back)

6.  George Monbiot, "The denial industry," The Guardian, September 19, 2006.  (back)

7.  John Fried, Vitamin Politics (Prometheus Books, 1984), p.19. Fried quotes Birchite Gary Allen writing in the September 1973 issue of American Opinion. Right-wing activists like Allen rail against establishment bodies like the American Medical Association which was founded by the major liberal foundations in the early twentieth century (see "Rockefeller's medicine men"). Thus countercultural and radical libertarian criticisms of the medical establishment come together in a toxic brew that suggests the problem is government healthcare provision. For the seminal and highly problematic countercultural critique of the medical establishment, see Ivan Illich, Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis - The Expropriation of Health (Marion Boyars, 1975).  (back)

8.  Stephen Barrett, "'Health freedom' crusaders: fighting to make quackery legal," in: Stephen Barrett and Willliam Jarvis (eds.), The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America (Prometheus Books, 1993), pp.397-421; for details of the "Vitamin-B Raid" see Dan Hurley, Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry (Broadway Books, 2007), pp.84-6.  (back)

9.  Frank Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture (Greenwood Press, 1985). In the following presidential election the Party's presidential candidate was white supremacist David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  (back)

10.  Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial (Corgi, 2009), p.202, p.206. Singh and Ernst provide a critical overview of the mystical origins of chiropractic therapy, but conclude that the scientific evidence suggests they are only worth seeing if you have a back problem: even then they offer sage advice on how to consult with a chiropractor, the most important advice being to make sure you are not treated by a fundamentalist chiropractor, that is those who believe every word of the mystical founder of chiropractic therapy, B.J. Palmer. (p.206) The E-meter, which is now most famously used by the Church of Scientology, was invented during the 1940s by a chiropractor named Volney Mathison. (p.201)  (back)

11.  Fried, Vitamin Politics, p.27. In the same year, with the aid of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, Senator Proxmire published the report Can Congress Control Spending? The year before, in 1972, Proxmire delivered the keynote address at the Natural Products Association's convention in Washington, D.C.  (back)

12.  Fried, Vitamin Politics, p.28, p.45.  (back)

13.  For a detailed review of Dr. Abram Hoffer's early "discoveries," see Fried, Vitamin Politics, Chapter 4, "From Saskatchewan: an answer for Schizophrenia."  (back)

14.  Goldacre, Bad Science, p.177. Leading nutrition therapists in the UK, trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition include "Vicki Edgson from Diet Doctors on Channel Five, and Ian Marber, owner of the extensive 'Food Doctor' product range." (p.177)  (back)

15.  Patrick Holford, The New Optimum Nutrition Bible (1997), p.208. This dangerous book is a 500,000 best-seller. Since 2007 Holford has sadly also been a patron of the South African Association for Nutritional Therapy.

Another tragic 'AIDS dissident' is the former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008), "who gave credence and support to claims of a small band of campaigners who variously claim that AIDS does not exist, that it is not caused by HIV, that anti-retroviral medication does more harm than good, and so on." (p.184) Mbeki helped promote the vitamin supplements marketed by a powerful man called Matthias Rath as a 'nondangerous' alternative to AZT; notably Rath's "colleague and employee, a South African barrister named Anthony Brink, takes the credit for introducing" Mbeki to many of Rath's dangerous ideas. For example, in 1999 he wrote an article about AZT in a Johannesburg article titled 'A medicine from hell.' (p.185) For a full discussion of this tragedy, see Ben Goldacre, "The doctor will sue you now" (pdf) in Bad Science (Forth Estate, 2009). Also see, Mark Heywood, "Price of denial," Development Update, 5(3), 2004; Nathan Geffen, "Echoes of Lysenko: State-sponsored pseudoscience in South Africa," (pdf) Centre for Social Science Research Working Paper No.149, University of Cape Town, 2006.

Another 'AIDS dissent' is Gary Null, whose 2001 book AIDS: A Second Opinion was published by Seven Stories Press, ostensibly a progressive publisher. For background on Null's sickening conspiracy theories, see Harriet Hall, "Death by medicine", Science-Based Medicine, June 24, 2008. Finally by way of another example, the novelist Jeanette Winterson has championed homeopathic treatment for AIDS sufferers in Botswana in the pages of The Times. Goldacre, Bad Science, p.82.  (back)

16.  Goldacre, Bad Science, p.165.  (back)

17.  Lisa Krieger, "Miracle food or fad?" San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 1995. For further details, see David Lightsey, Muscles, Speed, and Lies: What the Sport Supplement Industry Does Not Want Athletes or Consumers to Know (Lyons Press, 2006).  (back)

18.  Ken Murdock's former company, Nature's Way, played a key role in founding an environmental group known as Seacology in 1991, and until very recently Ken served as their president -- a position he handed over to Michael Burbank, an executive director with Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. After serving as the executive director of the Goldman Fund for eighteen years, in 1999 Duane Silverstein became Seacology's executive director. One particularly notable organic power-broker residing on Seacology's board of directors is Joe Scalzo, the former Coca Cola executive who is the is the president and CEO of WhiteWave and Morningstar Foods Companies, maker of leading organic brands Horizon Organic and Silk soymilk. Finally Seacology's advisory board is home to all manner of free-market environmentalists including the likes of Sylvia Earle, E.O. Wilson, and Jared Diamond. The presence of the latter individual on the advisory board of a environmental outfit funded by a leading member of the alternative supplement establishment is especially interesting given that Diamond is also a member of the editorial board of Skeptic Magazine which publishes highly critical articles of alternative therapy, like for instance: "The Immortal Lily The Pink: The 100th anniversary of the FDA marks a milestone in medicine before which cranks and charlatans ran amok."  (back)

19.  Eric Lipton, "Support is mutual for Senator and Utah industry," The New York Times, June 20, 2011.  (back)

20.  Dan Briody, The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group (Wiley and Sons, 2003).  (back)

21.  Goldacre, Bad Science, p.xi. This is a problem because for many people who are hostile to the idea of science it is merely "a monolith, a mystery, and an authority, rather than a method." (p.1)  (back)

22.  Fried, Vitamin Politics, p.14. Liz Vaccariello the current editor-in-chief of Readers Digest, formerly served as the editor-in-chief of Prevention (2006-10): she is the author of Flat Belly Diet (or Flat Belly Diet!) with Cynthia Sass (Prevention's nutrition director). Cynthia herself describes herself as a registered dietitian who is Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, of which is a former spokesperson. It is significant that the corporate sponsors of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics include the likes of Coca Cola, General Mills, Cargill, and Unilever.  (back)

23.  J.I. Rodale played a central role in promoting alternative agricultural practices, as in 1942, he started Organic Farming and Gardening Magazine, today known as Organic Gardening. This greenie styled magazine thus was thus well positioned to fulfill the countercultures insatiable demands for information about organic farming, and as a result in the late 1960s the magazines readership literally exploded.

It is significant that Rodale Inc. are the publishers of numerous other personal fitness magazines like Men's Health, Runner's World, Women's Health, Bicycling, and Running Times. For a critical discussion of this unhealthy fixation on personal health issue, see James Whorton, Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Reformers (Princeton University Press, 1984).  (back)

24.  Steven Novella, "Are You Ready For the Oz Manifesto", Science-based Medicine, January 30, 2013. For a detailed critique of Andrew Weil, see, Arnold Relman, "A trip to Stonesville: Some notes on Andrew Weil," The New Republic, December 14, 1998. It is noteworthy that his Weil Foundation, which was set up in 2005 to promote "integrative medicine," includes on their board of trustees leading members of the ruling-class like Daria Myers (Estee Lauder's senior vice president for global innovation and sustainability) and Adele Smith Simmons (the former president of the MacArthur Foundation). Likewise, the president of the Weil Foundation is Woodward Wickham, who is a former vice president of the MacArthur Foundation.  (back)

25.  Goldacre, Bad Science, p.219. "What's truly extraordinary is that almost all these problems -- the suppression of negative results, data dredging, hiding unhelpful data, and more -- could largely be solved with one very simple intervention that would cost almost nothing: a clinical trials register, public, open, and properly enforced." (pp.220-1)  (back)

26.  Goldacre, Bad Science, p.111, p.132.  (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published August 26, 2013