(Swans - October 7, 2013) Raised by a family owning two Rolls-Royces, successful marketing executive Lynda Resnick is proud of her canny ability to sell just about anything. You might have received some exorbitantly expensive flowers from her in the past (she runs Teleflora), or perhaps you quench your thirst with the billionairess's very own brand of bottled water (Fiji Water). In the later instance Lynda has truly worked propaganda miracles, turning a business she and her husband purchased from notorious human rights and environmental abuser, David Gilmour (he is the cofounder of Barrick Gold), into a brand that epitomises sustainability (for the gullible) while selling your something that comes out the taps in your own home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in 2011 Fiji Water, who have courted controversy for years, were accused of greenwashing yet again.
Lynda and her husband, Stewart Resnick, are also the proud owners of POM Wonderful, a lucrative purveyor of that tasty luxury product, pomegranate juice, and manufacturer of the less satisfying pomegranate supplement pills. In her autobiography, Rubies in the Orchard (2009), Lynda recounts how she made the case for the curative powers of pomegranates (rubies) to her husband and his fellow executives; calling it "the real deal... a gift from God -- perhaps the healthiest natural product on the planet." In a more reflective mood she tones down her misleading rhetoric saying that the juice "had the power to heal people." Apparently, "People needed pomegranate juice in their lives," she continues, "(even if they didn't know it yet), and I knew they would pay what it was worth."
Lynda refers to the Internet -- perhaps rightly so -- as the "Web of Wonder (and Deceit)," observing that it's "full of more lies and phony elixirs than a snake oil salesman's carnival wagon." On the lies front, a gargantuan contributor to our ever-expanding world of misinformation is certainly News Corporation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, one of Lynda's intimate dining buddies -- who according to Lynda is one of POM Wonderful's "most devoted customers."
And well, as for phony elixirs she need look no further than her own "healing" juice. Although with no hint of irony Lynda writes: "Too often, brands promise more than they can ever hope to deliver." POM Wonderful, however, is a case in point, as just last year her "not so wonderful" company was ordered by the US Federal Trade Commission to stop advertising their ludicrously expensive refreshments as being capable of preventing heart disease and cancer, a phony promise based upon on the faulty research undertaken for POM by various alternative health practitioners, the most famous one being Bill Clinton's very own physician/quack, Dr. Dean Ornish, who is also the medical editor at the Huffington Post.
Here one should recall that the Huffington Post is run by another of Lynda's close friends, Arianna Huffington, whose online outlet provides its very own microcosm of a snake oil salesman's carnival wagon, a haven of quackery no less. Just a handful of the many well-known purveyors of nonsense (other than Dr. Ornish) whose new age wonders work grace their digital netherworld include Ervin Laszlo (who has published four books on psi-fields), Judith Orloff (who is "accomplishing for psychiatry what physicians like Dean Ornish and Mehmet Oz have done for mainstream medicine" -- promoting mumbo jumbo), Sandra Ingerman (author of such gems as Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide), Dana Ullman (who is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy), and last but not least Deepak Chopra.
Despite the fact that Lynda's pomegranate juice is not the "gift from God" that has the "power to heal people" of prostate cancer, she remains deluded enough to think that some of the scientific studies she has funded in the past suggest this is the case. (Faulty prostate research undertaken in this instance having been conducted by one Dr. Allan Pantuck.) This "evidence" is unfortunately enough for bankster-turned-cancer-czar Michael Milken, the corporate criminal who, upon leaving prison in 1993, founded what would become the highly influential and well-financed Prostate Cancer Foundation, which includes Lynda and other leading power brokers (like David Koch) on their prestigious board of directors.
Lynda herself is evidently well-chuffed with her close friendship with Mr. Milken, and while wholesale ignoring his previous life of crime, she describes him a "creative genius" who is one of the few people she knows who can "really, truly 'think outside the box'." Indeed, despite his Prostate Cancer Foundation mostly engaging in the funding of legitimate scientific research, Mr. Milken likes to dabble outside of the scientific box as well (as does his foundation to a degree). Thus in order to remedy his own prostate cancer (diagnosed in 1993) he partook in both conventional and unconventional treatments -- the latter lying securely outside the realm of Western medicine.
During Milken's time "thinking outside the box" he read Norman Cousins's seemingly "inspiring book" Anatomy of an Illness (1979), a misleading tall-tale about the power of the mind to cure all. He then "spent a week" at the Maharishi Center in the Berkshire Mountains "with Indian Ayurvedic medical practitioners to learn more about alternative therapies." This was followed by a consultation with Deepak Chopra, and he later even "moved an Ayurvedic physician into his house for several months to supervise alternative therapies in conjunction with traditional Western medical treatments."
So at the very time that Milken founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation he simultaneously decided to take thinking outside the box to its limits. "For me, this began a period of embracing Eastern medicine," Milken recalls in Geoffrey Moore's prostate hagiography, A Call to Action (2004). "I went to Russia in the summer of 1994 and met with a healer. The next year I was in China to interact with 'chi' doctors."
This extreme "thinking" had the magical effect of focusing Mr. Milken's interest even more intently upon nutrition; as even before these discoveries, in 1990 his Milken Family Foundation had bestowed a Cancer Research Award upon controversial researcher Dr. Ernst Wynder -- controversial because Dr. Wynder is famous for being the man who first exposed the fact that smoking causes cancer, and then decided to spend the rest of his career secretly accepting funding from the tobacco industry to fund research that demonstrated how nutrition might be a major factor in causing cancers. His toxic sponsors no doubt loved this undisclosed diversion!
On this nutrition front, Mr. Milken is the coauthor of The Taste for Living Cookbook: Mike Milken's Favorite Recipes for Fighting Cancer (1998); while his Prostate Cancer Foundation "has been a pioneer in funding research to determine how nutrition affects cancer and other serious diseases" with one major recipient of such largess being Dr. David Heber. Thus "In 1997, the PCF published a monograph, Nutrition & Prostate Cancer, featuring the work of Dr. Heber; Dr. [William] Fair; Dean Ornish, M.D., president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute; and Dr. Wynder, the dean of nutrition researchers."
Dr. Heber, in addition to being the director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, happens to have produced one of the not-so-scientific journal articles that touted the miraculous benefits of pomegranate juice -- with his research funded by POM Wonderful, of course. On top of all this nonsense Dr. Heber happens to be the chairman of the nutritional board of advisers for Herbalife, a global nutrition company whose best-known patron is Senator Tom Harkin: that is, the legislator who along with Senator Orrin Hatch has been credited with having the greatest responsibility for the overall nurturing of alternative medicine with the vast medical-government complex in the United States! Here's to your good health!
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Michael Barker is an independent researcher who currently resides in the UK. In addition to his work for Swans, which can be found in the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 archives, his other articles can be accessed at michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com. Please help fund his work. (back)