Mercola— The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online NYT

jaybee00

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https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/24/...action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage


The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online
Researchers and regulators say Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, creates and profits from misleading claims about Covid-19 vaccines.



“Dr. Mercola, 67, an osteopathic physician in Cape Coral, Fla., has long been a subject of criticism and government regulatory actions for his promotion of unproven or unapproved treatments. But most recently, he has become the chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, according to researchers.

Over the last decade, Dr. Mercola has built a vast operation to push natural health cures, disseminate anti-vaccination content and profit from all of it, said researchers who have studied his network. In 2017, he filed an affidavitclaiming his net worth was “in excess of $100 million.”

“As his popularity grew, Dr. Mercola began a cycle. It starts with making unproven and sometimes far-fetched health claims, such as that spring mattresses amplify harmful radiation, and then selling products online — from vitamin supplements to organic yogurt — that he promotes as alternative treatments.“
 
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“As his popularity grew, Dr. Mercola began a cycle. It starts with making unproven and sometimes far-fetched health claims, such as that spring mattresses amplify harmful radiation, and then selling products online — from vitamin supplements to organic yogurt — that he promotes as alternative treatments.“
:_

Fortunately, I sleep on futons.
 
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“Dr. Mercola, 67, an osteopathic physician in Cape Coral, Fla., has long been a subject of criticism and government regulatory actions for his promotion of unproven or unapproved treatments.
I'm having trouble finding "unproven" treatments. His recommendation of Vitamin C and Vitamin D supplementation has substantial evidence of effectiveness. It sounds like he's just a pain in the ass for those who wish to profit off of more expensive treatments.
 

pamojja

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It sounds like he's just a pain in the ass for those who wish to profit off of more expensive treatments.
Rather unproven accusations. And what a pain in the ass:

Story at-a-glance
  • Hundreds of patents show SARS-CoV-2 is a manmade virus that has been tinkered with for decades. Much of the research was funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) under the direction of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and may have been an outgrowth of attempts to develop an HIV vaccine
  • In 1999, Fauci funded research at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to create “an infectious replication-defective coronavirus” specifically targeted for human lung epithelium. This appears to be the virus that became known as SARS-CoV
  • U.S. Patent 7279327 shows we knew the ACE receptor, the ACE2 binding domain, the S-1 spike protein, and other elements of SARS-CoV-2 were engineered and could be synthetically modified using gene sequencing technologies
  • The CDC holds patents to a SARS coronavirus that is 89% to 99% identical to the sequence identified as SARS-CoV-2, as well as the PCR test to diagnose it
  • 120 patents detail supposed “unique” features of SARS-CoV-2: the polybasic cleavage site, the spike protein and the ACE2 binding, proving it’s not a novel virus at all
 

Learner1

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I think Mercola has done a lot to share some decent science on nutrients and evidence based alternative medicine.

Unfortunately, he seems to have gotten full of himself and stepped over the cliff of doing his readers a great disservice.

It's important to read anything about medicine and science with a critical eye and do one's own fact checking.
 
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Unfortunately, he seems to have gotten full of himself and stepped over the cliff of doing his readers a great disservice.
I'm a strong and vocal believer in natural approaches to healing wherever possible, and almost always as a first stop when dealing with pretty much anything medical other than broken bones and third-degree burns.....

That said, I find Dr. Mercola to be largely a highly skilled and unfortunately extremely effective snake-oil salesman, who seems to have no compunctions about putting lives and well-being at risk if it generates profit for his products, and a huge personal income stream for himself.

For instance:

There’s this, from Wikipedia:

An article in BusinessWeek criticized his website as using aggressive direct-marketing tactics, writing:

"Mercola gives the lie to the notion that holistic practitioners tend to be so absorbed in treating patients that they aren't effective businesspeople. While Mercola on his site seeks to identify with this image by distinguishing himself from "all the greed-motivated hype out there in health-care land", he is a master promoter, using every trick of traditional and Internet direct marketing to grow his business ... He is selling health-care products and services, and is calling upon an unfortunate tradition made famous by the old-time snake oil salesmen of the 1800s."


And this:

Phyllis Entis, a microbiologist and food safety expert, highlighted Mercola.com as an example of websites "likely to mislead consumers by offering one-sided, incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information."[23]

In 2016, Mercola agreed to pay up to $5.3 million restitution after federal regulators complained that he made false claims about tanning beds that he sold.[24]


And this:

He was warned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2021 for selling fake COVID-19 cures.[38][39] In March, the Center for Countering Digital Hate named Mercola as one of the 12 most prominent sources of COVID misinformation in a report later cited by US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.[40]


And this:

During the 2020–2021 COVID-19 pandemic, Mercola, his company, and social media site were warned again by the FDA for falsely advertising the efficacy of high doses of vitamin C, vitamin D3, quercetin, ad pterostilbene products to "mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure" COVID-19 disease.[59]


And then this:

A long, detailed, and well-supported investigatory piece in the Washington Post, which I;ve redacted for easier reading, and also because it’s behind a paywall:

A 2019 ARTCILE IN THE WASHINGTON POST. HERE’S THE GIST …..

A major funder of the anti-vaccine movement has made millions selling natural health products
https://www.washingtonpost.com/inve...c01078-c29c-11e9-b5e4-54aa56d5b7ce_story.html

The nation’s oldest anti-vaccine advocacy group often emphasizes that it is supported primarily by small donations and concerned parents, describing its founder as the leader of a “national, grass roots movement.”

But over the past decade a single donor has contributed more than $2.9 million to the National Vaccine Information Center, accounting for about 40 percent of the organization’s funding, according to the most recent available tax records. That donor, osteopathic physician Joseph Mercola, has amassed a fortune selling natural health products, court records show, including vitamin supplements, some of which he claims are alternatives to vaccines.

Last month, Mercola wrote on his website that measles “continues to be a Trojan Horse for increasing vaccine mandates.” A page that was recently removed said that “vitamin C supplementation is a viable option for measles prevention.” Elsewhere on the site, a page about vitamin D includes the headline, “Avoid Flu Shots With the One Vitamin that Will Stop Flu in Its Tracks.”

Mercola, whose claims about other products have drawn warnings from regulators, has also given at least $4 million to several groups that echo the anti-vaccine message. His net worth, derived largely from his network of private companies, has grown to “in excess of $100 million,” he said in a 2017 affidavit.

In 2005 and again in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola that he was illegally claiming some of his products, including coconut oil, could help prevent or treat heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. The agency told him that many such products could be marketed as “dietary supplements” if claims about treating or preventing disease were removed. His website now includes the statement: “These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

In 2011, Mercola received another warning from the FDA, this time regarding his claims about thermography, a procedure in which an infrared camera detects patterns of heat and blood flow in the body. The agency wrote that he inaccurately claimed thermography was more sensitive than mammography in detecting diseases such as breast cancer and threatened to impose fines or take other action if those statements were not rescinded.

In 2016, in response to a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, Mercola refunded nearly $2.6 million to more than 1,300 people who bought tanning beds that he claimed could reduce the risk of skin cancer. The FTC said the claims constituted a “deceptive act,” pointing out that the product could actually increase the risk of skin cancer.

“Defendants have been unjustly enriched as a result of their unlawful acts or practices,” the agency wrote in the complaint, which was settled when Mercola agreed to pay the refunds.

And now I'll don my anti-bomb and flack jacket and personal protective dome and hope for the best ....
 

Learner1

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I'd not heard of him until this thread.

So what's the point in buying them?
That statement protects sellers of supplements from the US FDA going after them calling whatever they're selling a drug and expecting them to go through the full drug approval process for whatever, or cease selling it until it does. As some things, like vitamins, are not patentable, this is not really possible.

However, there are numerous studies on the health benefits of many of these supplements, so there are very good reasons to take them even though they aren't FDA approved drugs.
 
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However, there are numerous studies on the health benefits of many of these supplements, so there are very good reasons to take them even though they aren't FDA approved drugs.
I totally agree. All of my improvements have come from judicious, well-researched trialing with supplements, herbs, alternative hoo-ha's, whatever.


And when you consider the many, many, many, incredibly large number of killer drugs and 'treatments' that the FDA has approved, and kept on the market in spite of mounting and irrefutable evidence that they were killing people .... well, what can I say ....

It isnt the fact that Mercola's products aren't FDA approved, it's the attributes that he claims they have after stirring the great, ever-simmering pot of fear and ignorance and turning up the burner til it's boiling violently that raises my ire ....
 
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pamojja

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It's important to read anything about medicine and science with a critical eye and do one's own fact checking.
I'm glad I did and didn't pursue any of the FDA approved drugs for the treatment of conditions where there is little hope on getting better (maybe only 1 in hundred who take those drugs only have a 5-year mortality reduction after 5 years of taking, for example with statins. Prescribed for life but never trialed that long and side-effects underreported by FDA approved pharmaceutical companies.)

At the same time took anything Mercola recommends, though not from him due to his high prices. Yes, also threatening whole body sun-exposure. And experienced remissions. Prohibeted by the FDA to even mention that possibility by sellers for not to lessen the revenue from those companies many polititians are in bed with, via millions in lobbying. And making it impossible through the drugs-tailored approvement process, that any cheap and safe nutrient could ever be marketed as drug.

With my own differentiation on guard, for me its absolutely clear who is the only snake-oil salesman.
 

Learner1

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I'm glad I did and didn't pursue any of the FDA approved drugs for the treatment of conditions
With my own differentiation on guard, for me its absolutely clear who is the only snake-oil salesman.
Unfortunately, this strategy hasn't aways been successful for me. I've found alternative approaches to be both successful and spectacularly unsuccessful, and FDA approved drugs to be the only thing that worked in some cases, while harmful in others. I've also used some drug that used to be a supplement, and has been successful, but that was patented and that became FDA approved. Just because it's FDA approved doesn't mean it's bad, and just because it's a natural substance doesn't mean it's good.

With experience and hindsight, I found its best to have a large tool box above a variety of tools to tackle the myriad problems that patients with complex diseases like this have.
 
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pamojja

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Just because it's FDA approved doesn't mean it's bad, and just because it's a natural substance doesn't mean it's good.
FDA approved usually means prescription only, and very expensive for paying the wastefull approval process usually not needed for natural substances the human know how to metabolise since millenia. In other words, it becomes unaccessible to me with my little income. That means it right away becoems useless to me.

Natural substances also react differendly to different bio-chemical individualities. However, from the 250 natural substances I ingested the last 13 years I had no serious side-effect (except nutrient imbalances possible to correct). While with only 2 pharmaceuticals I had bleedings with baby-aspirin, and need to double up the doses of B9, B12 and CoQ10 to balance seriously induced deficiencies by metformin.

So for me tolerating and even profiting from 250 natural substances without any serious side-effect, and the only 2 pharmaceutical taken 100% with side-effects, does for all practical means mean FDA approved = bad, natural = good. As long one remains self-informed thoughout with each.

I do understand though that in other cases like yours there were serious needs for FDA approved. And though I couldn't afford it if I would be in your shoes, I'm genuinely glad your able to and successful.
 

Celandine

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I'm having trouble finding "unproven" treatments. His recommendation of Vitamin C and Vitamin D supplementation has substantial evidence of effectiveness. It sounds like he's just a pain in the ass for those who wish to profit off of more expensive treatments.
On the Mercola store you can buy everything from overpriced basic vitamins to springless pet beds to expensive fluoride removal systems. Seems clear this is a major money making enterprise. I hate to link to it, but here--https://www.mercolamarket.com
 

Celandine

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FDA approved usually means prescription only, and very expensive for paying the wastefull approval process usually not needed for natural substances the human know how to metabolise since millenia. In other words, it becomes unaccessible to me with my little income. That means it right away becoems useless to me.

Natural substances also react differendly to different bio-chemical individualities. However, from the 250 natural substances I ingested the last 13 years I had no serious side-effect (except nutrient imbalances possible to correct). While with only 2 pharmaceuticals I had bleedings with baby-aspirin, and need to double up the doses of B9, B12 and CoQ10 to balance seriously induced deficiencies by metformin.

So for me tolerating and even profiting from 250 natural substances without any serious side-effect, and the only 2 pharmaceutical taken 100% with side-effects, does for all practical means mean FDA approved = bad, natural = good. As long one remains self-informed thoughout with each.

I do understand though that in other cases like yours there were serious needs for FDA approved. And though I couldn't afford it if I would be in your shoes, I'm genuinely glad your able to and successful.
Yes, those substances have been around for millennia, but you might have noticed that human life expectancy has increased massively--more than doubled-- since the introduction of more complex pharmaceuticals like antibiotics, vaccines, etc. Herbals are really good in some instances, but they are weak anti-virals, for instance. I try to go the herbal route as a first attempt (for example, tried liquorice root rather than fludrocortisone for my daughter and horse chestnut instead of midodrine) but I think it's foolish not to also include pharmaceuticals in your arsenal. I don't really understand that approach. When the horse chestnut stopped being effective we switched to midodrine with excellent results.