Jan 25 2010

Mike Adams Takes On “Skeptics”

Mike Adams, editor of Natural News, is, in my opinion, a dangerous conspiracy-mongering crank. There is simply no way to be kind to his views and the nonsense he spreads on his website. His intellectual sloppiness is indistinguishable from dishonesty, as he peddles dubious cancer cures, pseudoscience such as homeopathy, and attacks vaccines and effective therapies for AIDS and other serious diseases.

His shtick is familiar – the body can heal itself of anything, “natural” (whatever that means) is the miracle cure that allows that to happen, and just about anything considered standard and scientific is an evil corporate conspiracy. Of course, anyone who criticizes his views or claims must be part of the conspiracy – a shill for the bogeyman – “big pharma”.

One common ploy of those who choose to make their living on the fringes of science and reason is to attack their critics – what I call a “preemptive strike” against those in the best position to know that what they claim is nonsense. This usually means scientists, and increasingly activist skeptics who endeavor to educate the public about science and pseudoscience. I think it is a testimony to the growing impact of the skeptical movement that we are increasingly being targeted by the likes of Mike Adams.

Adams, in fact, has recently launched a broadside against “skeptics” ( he consistently uses the scare quotes throughout his article). This seems to have been prompted by a recent trouncing he had concerning the Shorty awards. Orac and Phil Plait have complete descriptions – but briefly, the Shorty awards are for Tweeting. Adams was up in the health category, but it was discovered that there was some ballot stuffing going on, and he was disqualified. Meanwhile, skeptics were alerted to the contest and this resulted in a flood of votes for my colleague, Rachael Dunlop, who was likely to win in any case. (If you already have a Twitter account, you can vote for Dr Rachie here.)

Adams reacted by launching into a rather childish rant, blaming the whole thing (of course) on a huge conspiracy. Even worse, Adams’ fellow “natural” guru – Joseph Mercola, who is also being outvoted for the Shorty award, like a schoolyard bully has decided to attack Rachael Dunlop personally. On his Facebook page he writes:

An arrogant group of science bloggers that have vilified me for the past few years have started a campaign to have an Australian shill to win a health award on Twitter. This overweight non-physician has arrogantly bashed nearly every alternative therapy and encourages reliance on drugs.

With that as background, let’s move on to the meat of this post – Adams absurd rant against “skeptics.” While Adams likely thinks he has made a stinging attack against his detractors, he has only revealed his own intellectual shortcomings. His post is the equivalent of dropping a crudely fashioned incendiary device onto a strawman factory of his own making. One of the most useful measures of one’s intellectual honesty and rigor is the manner in which they portray the positions of their critics and ideological opponents. With that in mind – take a look at Adams characterization of the skeptical position.

Adams gives no references or links to back up his claims, which is very telling. He writes:

Skeptics believe that ALL vaccines are safe and effective (even if they’ve never been tested), that ALL people should be vaccinated, even against their will, and that there is NO LIMIT to the number of vaccines a person can be safely given. So injecting all children with, for example, 900 vaccines all at the same time is believed to be perfectly safe and “good for your health.”

First of all – the phrase “skeptics believe” is misleading. Skepticism is not a set of beliefs, it is a set of methods for asking questions about reality. Skeptics are also a diverse group – but we do tend to come to similar conclusions on basic questions where logic and evidence is likely to lead a reasonable person to a particular opinion.

Let me also further clarify that I do not presume to speak for all skeptics or for skepticism. I can really only speak for myself. But I do have extensive familiarity with the arguments that my skeptical colleagues have put forth over the years, and will try to represent them fairly as well.

Now – I would not say categorically that “all vaccines are safe and effective (even if they’ve never been tested).” My position is that those vaccines that have been approved have been tested and found to be safe and effective. For many vaccines we have decades of experience with millions of doses – and that is an impressive data set of safety and effectiveness. And of course, any new vaccine has to go through proper testing before it should be recommended. That is the essence of evidence-based and science-based medicine – using scientific evidence to see if treatments are safe and effective before they are recommended – a philosophy Adams does not practice, given the treatments he recommends.

Regarding taking vaccines “against their will” – there is actually a broad range of opinions on this matter, which is more political than scientific. You can believe vaccines work and are safe, and still believe that individuals have the right to refuse them. I actually don’t recall any popular skeptic specifically saying they are in favor of forced vaccination. Generally, adults have the right to refuse any medical intervention. It is a separate question, and one of public health, as to whether those who refuse vaccination have the right to unrestricted access to public facilities – such as public schools. But never mind all that nuance – Adams has some strawmen to eviscerate.

Adams is also a fan of absolutes as a strategy for distorting the position of skeptics. He says we profess there is no limit to the number of vaccines that can be safely given. I don’t recall anyone ever expressing that opinion, or that we can give children 900 vaccines all at once. I suspect that he is referring to Paul Offit’s statement that a child’s immune system could handle 10,000 vaccines. This statement was then taken out of context by the anti-vaccine movement. The point Offit was making was that vaccines do not represent an overload to a child’s immune system, in terms of antigenic challenge. Our immune systems face many more challenges every day than the entire vaccine schedule. However, this does not mean that other aspects of vaccines would be safe to administer in that dose, and Offit was not implying that at all – again, a nuance missed by anti-vaccine cranks.

Skeptics believe that fluoride chemicals derived from the scrubbers of coal-fired power plants are really good for human health. They’re so good, in fact, that they should be dumped into the water supply so that everyone is forced to drink those chemicals, regardless of their current level of exposure to fluoride from other sources.

Yes, Adams is anti-fluoridation. Notice the use of inflammatory language about the source of fluoride – an emotional rather than an intellectual argument. The source of fluoride is irrelevant. The evidence shows that fluoridation is safe and effective for preventing tooth decay.

Skeptics believe that many six-month-old infants need antidepressant drugs. In fact, they believe that people of all ages can be safely given an unlimited number of drugs all at the same time: Antidepressants, cholesterol drugs, blood pressure drugs, diabetes drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping drugs and more — simultaneously!

Now this is an issue about which there is much disagreement among skeptics – the use of antidepressant drugs. There is actually much to be skeptical about here, and the pharmaceutical industry is open to legitimate criticism of the ways in which they have promoted such treatments. A matter of particular scientific criticism has been the application of data on adults to pediatric populations. Having said that, I think there is a legitimate role for antidepressant medication in adults with severe depression and in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy (notice all the caveats).

I am also a proponent of rational pharmacotherapy – which means using drugs cautiously and with proper monitoring, understanding their mechanism of action and known and likely interactions, and limiting polypharmacy whenever possible. What I just described is, in fact, the standard of care. Saying that skeptics promote using antidepressant drugs in infants is absurd, and I would like to see Adams provide a reference for that. Saying that we or anyone promotes the use of  an “unlimited number of drugs” is so ridiculous that any reasonable reader should be able to see through such patent nonsense.

Skeptics believe that the human body has no ability to defend itself against invading microorganism and that the only things that can save people from viral infections are vaccines.

Again the childish use of absolutes. Medical scientists understand that the human body has a rather remarkable ability to heal itself and defend itself against infection. We call this latter ability our “immune system” – Adams should familiarize himself with that concept. Or is he claiming (yes, I am being a bit facetious) that skeptics deny the existence of an immune system. Now that’s a reference I would like to see. The well-established fact is – vaccines are an effective way of targeting our immune systems against specific viruses, so that we can mount a more robust defense against those viruses and prevent serious illness and the spreading of infectious disease.

Skeptics believe that pregnancy is a disease and childbirth is a medical crisis. (They are opponents of natural childbirth.)

Even Adams seems to recognize how unfair this characterization is – so that he has to qualify his statement with the clarification that skeptics oppose natural childbirth. He is blatantly exposing his deceptive strategy here – take the position of your opponent and then distort it beyond all recognition with inflammatory and extreme language.  Of course, no one believes pregnancy is a disease. Pregnancy is a natural condition, as is childbirth. I would also not categorically say that childbirth is a “crisis” – but it certainly can become one quickly if things go wrong.

This is where use of the term “natural” become nonsensical. The evolution of bipedalism and large brains in humans required a number of tradeoffs – the complication of pregnancy being one of them. Also, while evolution is amazing, it often produces suboptimal compromises. As a result, childbirth can be risky. Further, I do not favor any particular philosophy of childbirth. I favor what works, based upon the best evidence available. I do not oppose “natural” childbirth, because it is not clear what that even is. Rather, I favor evidence-based childbirth. I also acknowledge that childbirth is a deeply personal and emotional life experience, and many people may choose a childbirth option that suits them, even if it is not optimal purely from a medical risk point of view – and everyone should be absolutely free to make those choices for themselves. I favor only giving people accurate and unbiased information so they can make informed choices for themselves.

I do not recommend scaring them with false claims or confusing them with deceptive philosophy.

Skeptics do not believe in hypnosis. This is especially hilarious since they are all prime examples of people who are easily hypnotized by mainstream influences.

Again, where is he getting this stuff? Hypnosis is a complex phenomenon, and there is no simple way to summarize what it is or the evidence for its efficacy for any particular indication. I think Adams threw this in because he thought the second sentence was a clever dig – and in line with his conspiracy theme.

Skeptics believe that there is no such thing as human consciousness. They do not believe in the mind; only in the physical brain. In fact, skeptics believe that they themselves are mindless automatons who have no free will, no soul and no consciousness whatsoever.

This paragraph is such a mess of confusion it is difficult to know what to even make of it. Of course consciousness exists. I am perhaps the “skeptic” who has written most on this topic. The questions is not whether or not consciousness exists, but how to explain consciousness. The same is true of the mind – the mind exists. My position, which is, by the way, the position of mainstream neuroscientists – is that the mind and consciousness are manifestations of the function of the brain. There is no mind without brain function. This is not the same thing as being a “mindless automaton”.

The question of a soul is a metaphysical question, not a scientific question, and thus science is agnostic toward it. If one wishes to pose the hypothesis of a soul as a scientific question, then I think it is fair to say there is no compelling scientific evidence or plausible mechanism for a soul. The vitalism of the 19th century has been discarded by science as unnecessary.

The question of free will is more complex, and there is no consensus on this within the skeptical community. A subset, spearheaded I think by naturalism.org, does make the case that materialism does lead to the conclusion that we do not have free will in the sense that the function of our brains is deterministic. But even the most ardent promoters of the “no free will” position acknowledge that we make choices and decisions – they do not believe we are “mindless automatons.”

Skeptics believe that DEAD foods have exactly the same nutritional properties as LIVING foods (hilarious!).

I cannot even address this claim without an operational definition of “dead” vs “living” food. I think the burden of proof would be on Adams to show that there is a difference.

Skeptics believe that pesticides on the crops are safe, genetically modified foods are safe, and that any chemical food additive approved by the FDA is also safe. There is no advantage to buying organic food, they claim.

Finally Adams gets close to accurately stating the scientific position;  although there are plenty of skeptics who advocate organic farming – another area of disagreement among skeptics. I will state my own position: the safety of pesticides and chemical additives, like the safety of all things, is all about dose. So yes, they are safe at appropriate levels. The FDA is charged with the task of assessing the scientific evidence to determine safety levels. I do not claim that the FDA (or any human institution) is perfect, but the evidence does suggest that using pesticides and preservatives has benefit in excess of risk. You are more likely to be harmed by spoiled food than a preservative.

Genetically modified food – just about all food is genetically modified. We have been modifying our food for thousands of years. However, the latest technology of speeding up this process by directly inserting genes into food requires an appropriate burden of scientific evidence for safety before being added to the food chain. I would not categorically say that GM food is safe or not safe – but rather that each GM crop needs to be studied for safety. I think the pseudoscience is in scaremongering about “frankenfoods” and writing off all GM crops as unsafe.

There is no advantage to buying organic? Well – the evidence shows that there is no nutritional advantage to eating organic food. I also think that the promoters of organic food, if they are going to claim it is more nutritious (and charge more for it), bear the burden of proof that it is, and they have not met this burden of proof.

Skeptics believe that water has no role in human health other than basic hydration. Water is inert, they say, and the water your toilet is identical to water from a natural spring (assuming the chemical composition is the same, anyway).

So what is the difference between the water from your toilet and the water from a spring? What exactly is Adams claiming? Is this some weird homeopathy claim?

Yes – H2O from any source is the same as H2O from any other source – the only difference would be what is in the water (which is why I would not be enthusiastic about drinking from the toilet, although my dog does not seem to mind).

Skeptics believe that all the phytochemicals and nutrients found in ALL plants are inert, having absolutely no benefit whatsoever for human health.

Another string of absolutes. And again it is hard to know what Adams is actually claiming here. Like the last statement, he is saying skeptics deny a claim which he is not delineating. What does he mean by “inert?” I certainly don’t claim that chemicals and nutrients are biologically inert – by definition nutrients are biochemically active. And sure, nutrients derived from plants are great for human health. I suspect he is referring to claims made for the health benefits of phytochemicals that go way beyond any scientific evidence.


There is more, but this is the extent of the article you can access without registering, and I don’t want my readers to feel obligated to sign up for spam from NaturalNews. This is also more than enough to get an idea what Adams is all about. I also don’t want to beat a dead horse. It should be obvious from Adams’ post that his intellectual approach to these issues, and his critics, leaves much to be desired.

From a broader perspective, it seems the skeptical movement has really gotten under the skin of some purveyors of pseudoscience recently. They have responded by threatening to sue or actually suing for libel. They have tried to criticize science and science-based medicine. And they have tried to grossly distort the position of skeptics, and call into question our motives and our “faith.”

But the more we irritate them, the more they expose themselves, embarrass themselves, and do our work for us. Adams is just the latest crank to be goaded by skeptics into being hoist with his own petard.


Mike Adams has posted a follow up. In it he basically crows about how upset skeptics are by his original article. We are not upset – we are amused. Thanks for the blog-fodder. In his latest post he writes:

One such skeptic accused me of being a quack because he said that I believe “water is magical.” Was that supposed to be an insult? I do think water is magical!

I think pregnancy is magical. Human consciousness is magical. Plant life is magical. And water is at the very top of the list of magical substances with amazing, miraculous properties, many of which have yet to be discovered.

Thanks for the admission, magic man. I wonder – if the magical properties of water have yet to be discovered, how does Adams know they exist?

In any case, he still does not provide any links or references to back up his claims about what skeptics believe.

56 responses so far

56 thoughts on “Mike Adams Takes On “Skeptics””

  1. Marshall says:

    I saw this off of Pharyngula. I originally posted to all of the members who were praising the author that they were the biggest group of idiots I’ve seen, and that I couldn’t believe that they could think ANY group of people could believe that crap (I don’t even think any religion preaches that pregnancy is a disease). But I didn’t even want to be associated with such a website, so I unregistered.

  2. johnc says:

    He sounds like a nutcase with an anti skeptic axe to grind, and it seems the community have gotten to him in a big way which is great.

    Why did you go and have to ruin it by mentioning fluoridation?

    Calcium fluoride is fine, and is present in many foods we eat, the shit they put in the water supply (sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate, and fluorosilicic acid) is totally unnecessary and it’s safety and efficacy is questionable.

    Baby and bathwater once again disposed of in a similar fashion…

  3. cfeagans says:

    Finally! It was well worth the wait 🙂

    You elucidated things about this guy that I wasn’t aware of from the article on his site.

    He’s a bigger creep than I initially thought!

  4. OnceWasLost says:

    For what it’s worth, it should be noted that this is just the nomination phase of the shorty awards. After this, the top 6 nominees in each category get voted on again, then the winner gets a free trip to New York.

    Go Dr. Rachie!

  5. superdave says:

    this rant makes so little sense and has such venomous hatred in it i think even a lot of pro alternative medicine people would take issue. some of those claims go past wrong and enter into crazy territory.

  6. KathyO says:

    I’d be interested to know how many people who are believers in alt med. and followers of Adams would read his frothing lunacy and say, “wow, I didn’t realize skeptics were so ridiculous and evil,” and how many are going, “hey, wait a minute….that doesn’t sound right.”

    As Superdave suggests, is it possible that Adams’ rant will turn his own people into skeptics?

  7. eiskrystal says:

    As Superdave suggests, is it possible that Adams’ rant will turn his own people into skeptics?

    Probably. The guy is one burning goat short of a herd. I would be surprised if many people take him seriously.

  8. sonic says:

    Adams claims-
    “so I did a little research and pulled this information from various “skeptic” websites.”

    Yet I couldn’t see any links to or mentions of the websites he visited.

    He trys to make a number of points and makes none. (I did get the impression that he is upset…)

  9. rulesandwisdom says:

    I’m really glad to see Steve’s article on this. I was intrigued by a headline about the ‘Swine Flu Hoax’ yesterday, and was given my first experience of the worthless site that is NaturalNews. Apparently Google are now using NaturalNews.com as one of their feeds for Google News – I’ve contacted Google and ask them to remove the site because the site is “biased/contains offensive content” (their categorisation). If anyone sees ‘articles’ from NaturalNews.com appearing on Google News, I encourage them to do the same:


    The fact that NaturalNews is also a massive online store for ‘natural’ and ‘alternative’ medicine, combined with the ridiculous claims and conjecture, should hopefully result in the site being removed.

    Just as I was losing faith in humanity, Steve publishes an article which expresses exactly how I was feeling! Great work.

  10. Marius Vanderlubbe says:

    “Calcium fluoride is fine, and is present in many foods we eat, the shit they put in the water supply (sodium fluoride, sodium fluorosilicate, and fluorosilicic acid) is totally unnecessary and it’s safety and efficacy is questionable.”

    In that case, I put the question that I put to all anti-fluoridationistas.
    Where are all the adversely affected (by artificial fluoridation) people? Wouldn’t you expect to see a spike in the numbers corresponding with the introduction of art. fluoridation?

    Burden of proof. Where is your evidence?

  11. whatislogic says:

    Mike definitely has an axe to grind with skeptics. Skeptics are having a positive impact against his lunacy. Also sounds like the guy needs to laid in my opinion.

  12. SteveN says:

    Excellent rebuttal, Steve. It’s a pity that very few of Adam’s followers will ever read it. It would give all but the most fervent of believers pause for thought, I expect.

  13. Stylus Happenstance says:

    I’d heard of Natural News, of course, but not Mike Adams specifically until the Shorty awards started. The more i read about him, the more I’m convinced that he’s not a true believer.

  14. johnc says:

    @Marius Vanderlubbe

    Prove what? I said unnecessary and questionable.

    The burden of proof lies with those who believe it’s safe and effective, as it does with any substance, especially if it’s a medicine or nutrient administered via our water supply.

    If I wanted to put something in your water you’d expect the same I’m sure.

  15. Justin L. says:

    I have to say Adams gave a spot on description of my beliefs, but he left out the part about eating a baby for breakfast every morning in order to control the surplus population.

  16. SquirrelElite says:


    For starters, I went to the CDC web site on fluoridation.


    There I found the following tidbits:

    “Nearly all water on earth contains naturally occurring fluoride at levels below, equal to, or above those used in community water fluoridation. Investigation of the decay preventing effects of naturally occurring fluoride in water led to the start of community water fluoridation in 1945.”

    So, most drinking water already contains fluoride, anyway. Fluoridation of public drinking water mainly serves to standardize this concentration at a level which has been determined to be safe and effective. (Sort of like pharmacognosic drugs!)

    There was one note about a possible concern that is being studied:

    “A study published by Bassin and colleagues suggests an association between drinking fluoridated water and osteosarcoma in adolescent males. The findings from a larger study on this topic, conducted by the same institution, are expected soon.”

    We will have to wait and see on that. However, the consensus remains:

    ” The safety of fluoride in drinking water at levels recommended for preventing tooth decay has been affirmed by numerous scientific and professional groups.

    Scientists have found a lack of evidence to show an association between water fluoridation and a negative impact on people, plants, or animals.”

    If you have evidence that contradicts these statements, the onus is on you to cite that evidence and provide a link for our benefit. You might want to forward your concerns to the CDC and the EPA.

    In other words, the ball is in your court.

  17. Benjamino says:

    @SquirrelElite & @Marius Vanderlubbe

    Watch The Senior Vice President of the EPA Headquarters Union discusses the dangers of fluoride in our drinking water

    And checkout this series of articles on “The (Skeptic’s) Health Journal Club” which cite multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies.
    Part 1 – http://healthjournalclub.blogspot.com/2009/11/water-fluoridation-part-i.html
    Part 2 – http://healthjournalclub.blogspot.com/2009/11/water-fluoridation-part-ii.html
    Part 3 – http://healthjournalclub.blogspot.com/2009/11/water-fluoridation-part-iii.html

  18. banyan says:

    “Thanks for the admission, magic man.” Good stuff!

    I get the impression that he thinks that only absolute beliefs are possible. Why does he think that skeptics believe all GM food is safe? Why, because he believes that all GM food is unsafe, and we disagree. Either you’re with us or against us, right? Same with vaccines, and even nutrients; since we don’t think they’re literally miraculous, we must think they’re “inert.”

    I’m sure dealing in absolutes saves him a lot of cognitive time and energy, but it’s not doing his readers any favors.

  19. banyan,

    You are exactly right, and that is a point I should have made myself – as some of my colleagues have made previously (I think I first heard this observation from Mark Crislip). CAM proponents seems to lack any tolerance of nuance or ambiguity. They live in a black-and-white world. If we defend the efficacy of vaccines – they we believe that ONLY vaccines work, that ALL vaccines are safe, that you can use UNLIMITED vaccines without fear, etc.

    Adams’ rant is an excellent example of this.

  20. Michelle B says:

    Stuff that Adams called magical are wonderful, as is science-based medicine.

    Magic is illusion. Maybe being an magician of the caliber of a Randy is too difficult for Adams so instead he plies his crass inanity.

  21. Dave Kahn says:

    Apart from confirming the importance of magic in his world view Mike Adams’ follow up reveals that he doesn’t grasp basic chemistry. “Water is made up of two gases, each of which is a combustible fuel on its own,” he asserts. Does he understand the difference between a compound and a mixture, and does he understand the properties of hydrogen and oxygen?

    Water is not “made up of two gases” but is a compound of oxygen and hydrogen. In elemental form these are gaseous above certain temperatures; in compound with each other they are water which is also gaseous above a certain temerature. Oxygen of course supports combustion but is not itself combustible. The various properties of water that Adams describes as magical are indeed remarkable but are well understood in scientific terms. No magic required.

  22. gdjsky01 says:

    Thanks Doctor, this is going to be my new signature quote, “Skepticism is not a set of beliefs, it is a set of methods for asking questions about reality. ”

    Great post. Love your work. Run for office. 🙂

  23. canadia says:


    How people like this can exist in a world so bedecked with the wonders of science and reason is something that will never cease to amaze me.

    It is a great comfort to me that people like you (steven) are taking the battle to these people. They are a serious threat to everything this species has built.

  24. CW says:

    With a lot of kids drinking filtered/bottled water, I wonder if there will be an increase in tooth/gum disease? And whether we’ll see a noticeable decrease in ailments that people think flouridation is causing? I hope scientists are studying this.

  25. canadia says:

    as posted on his article page…

    Mike, after reading your post I just had to register and leave a comment. You are unbelievable! That someone as superstitious and uneducated can actually use a computer to post your thoughts is amazing! I can only hope that eventually improving science education and critical thinking will teach the new generations to ignore quacks and mystics like you. Clearly much of the current generation is hopeless, but there’s hope. Furthermore, and wonderfully so, natural selection will eventually solve what education cannot. All your disciples, with their reliance on unproven magical alternative treatments, will have a much high death rate, because it just doesn’t work. Their vaccinated children will die of measles more often, their vaccinated teenagers will struggle with herpes. Slowly but surely they will come to accept the ineffectiveness of shamanistic quackery, or they will die. Eventually whatever genetics lead to such backward thinking will be weeded out of the gene pool. Till then, enjoy that snake oil!

  26. RickK says:

    Marshall, registering and commenting on Mike Adams’s site will get you nowhere. He filters out almost all negative comments, and likes to ban people permanently if they say anything he doesn’t like.

    I don’t know how someone like Mike Adams lives with such personal dishonesty. Mike Adams viciously suppresses any dissenting opinions on his site. Why?

    Because he’s SELLING something. The “skeptics” he complains about – the hosts of Neurologica, Pharyngula, Respectful Insolence, etc. are not selling products from their websites (other than the occasional t-shirt with an octopus on it). So the skeptical websites are open to free expression of idea – whether in agreement or disagreement with the hosts.

    Not so on Mike’s site. He FEARS truth, because it will cut into his product sales. And all those sheep in the comments section (if they are in fact real people, and not just fabricated as a marketing gimmick) have completely missed the fact that they’re being conned by a salesman.

    What a sad little corner of humanity is represented on that site. I’d like to see his nonsense laughed at in mainstream media, but I fear the attention would only improve his sales.

  27. rrpostal says:


    If that’s the best you can do I’m still unconvinced. The link you give (which also has the video you link to) is minor sparsely used blog by an unnamed source. The “skeptical” site also includes a video about vaccine complicity with autism, BRP scare, natural vitamin ads and other wonderful non-skeptical things. The video was from a union VP while with a misleading title. He did not represent the EPA, rather government employees. This doesn’t invalidate them. I’m one too. It’s just misleading. I had to dig a bit to find some decent claims from noted sources.The best evidence I found were the editorials by Dr Burgstahler, whose office happens to be two blocks from where I live. But they are less than recent.

    Check out the root directories for more info.


    For some reason Medline keeps rejecting this journal


  28. Charlie Young says:

    Being a dentist, I couldn’t let a minor grammatical error pass: fluoride is safe and effective for the prevention of tooth decay not “preventive tooth decay.”

    Other than that minor quibble, I strongly back you in you quest to have reason return to the public discourse. Those absolute, inflammatory statements Mike makes are meant to strengthen his position with his minions but also, unfortunately, give him a soapbox on which to promote his dubious claims to an unsuspecting public.

  29. skepticat says:

    Mike Adams appears to be deranged. Thanks for a superb post.

    I liked what you said about natural childbirth. I’m a skeptic who opted for a home delivery for my second child. I had the full support of my doctors and community midwives because I had attended all ante-natal checks and there were no contra indications. I had an evidence-based delivery.

  30. Enzo says:

    “His post is the equivalent of dropping a crudely fashioned incendiary device onto a strawman factory of his own making.”


    I don’t normally congest the Comments section by re-quoting lines that amuse me…But that was hilarious. I believe we call that a nerd snap.

    I wish I could argue with Mr. Adams in front of some of my less skeptically minded friends. He is so over-the-top that he ends up encouraging skepticism about his own obnoxious claims.

    Well done.

  31. provaxmom says:

    I like his rant. If you pick it apart, you can tell he rarely misses a day of clicking on all of your blogs and reading them. The thought of him, at home at his computer, checking all of your blogs on his bookmarks while his blood pressure goes up (and up and up since he undoubtedly wouldn’t take a medication for it)….the vision of all that makes me smile. You all obviously drive him nuts.

  32. kato says:

    Regarding the linked article on organic food nutrients, I don’t think I was ever under the impression that organic food had more nutrients, but rather less Bad Stuff. Are there any studies comparing levels of Bad Stuff for conventional vs organic?

  33. tmac57 says:

    Skeptics believe that Mike Adams is full of “blog-fodder!!!

  34. zoe237 says:

    Thanks for this Dr. Novella. I sure wish you spoke for all skeptics.

    The black and white world thing is a big problem, particularly in science education.

  35. Enzo says:


    Define “bad stuff.” The difference between organic farmed food and traditionally farmed is the exclusion of soluble material (that can get into crops) and the substitution of synthetic pesticides with “natural” pesticides. Organic farmers often claim that their pesticides are also more unstable and thus do not linger on the crops as long, but this is not really accurate — not to mention that some “natural” pesticides have been shown to cause harm or prove insufficient at preventing things like fungal growth. Overall there are as many as twenty treatments crops are subjected to, organic or not. You have to prevent bugs and microbes in one way or another.

    A quick Google Scholar or PubMed search for organic farming pesticides or “organic and conventional farming” will allow you to read a lot on the subject, which I believe is fairly straightforward.

    It’s also interesting to note that organic farming is more expensive, requires more land and generally produces smaller crop volume. The health risk of using traditional vs. organically grown are miniscule if at all different. The argument rages on about nutrients but it seems that there are tradeoffs on both sides.

  36. SquirrelElite says:


    I had similar thoughts on Benjamino’s links when I looked at them, but didn’t have time to post a response.

  37. eiskrystal says:

    It’s also interesting to note that organic farming is more expensive, requires more land and generally produces smaller crop volume.

    Scale probably matters. Pesticides are necessary for large industrial type farms, but probably aren’t cost effective for smaller ones. There is also run-off into the environment, cost of the pesticides/fertilizer etc… to consider.

    It would be perfectly possible to view organic food as “normal”, stable farm production and see the artifically increased yields as using a large excess energy and chemicals in order to have small gains in production.

  38. kato says:

    @Enzo: “Bad Stuff” refers to anything added to the process that you wouldn’t eat directly such as pesticides and fertilizers. As well, I suppose anything like a fungus or microbes that should have been cleansed.

  39. Organic vs. “Bad Things”: I assume here that we’re also talking about meat, dairy and poultry products. If that’s the case then the “Bad Things” would include the Omega-6s we get from the corporate products as opposed to the more healthy Omega-3s from Organic farms. Here’s a link to an interest lecture on the subject at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; http://www3.mdanderson.org/streams/MDACCFlvPlayer2.html?xml=integrativeMed%2Fconfig%2FAnticancer_cfg

  40. catgirl says:

    Skeptics believe that pregnancy is a disease and childbirth is a medical crisis.

    I absolutely hate guys like this who make this claim. Pregnancy isn’t a disease, but it sure as hell has a lot more symptoms than most common diseases. If there were a disease as common as pregnancy that caused daily vomiting that lasts for months and medications for symptom relief were heavily restricted, it would be an epidemic. And childbirth may not be a “crisis”, but it is certainly life-threatening (although less so now, specifically because of modern medicine). Babies are great, but the method of getting one is worse than any disease I’ve ever had.

  41. Matt Novack says:

    @kato & @eiskrystal

    I recommend listening to Skeptoid podcast #166 “Organic vs Conventional Agriculture” (transcript here: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4166).

    It’s a good overview of the differences between the two, and Dunning even goes into detail about fertilizers:

    “The biggest misconception is that organic farming does not use fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides. Of course it does. Fertilizer is essentially chemical nutrient, and the organic version delivers exactly the same chemical load as the synthetic. It has to, otherwise it wouldn’t function.”

  42. Benjamino says:


    The blog source is named as ‘Paul D Maher, MD MPH’ formally of the FDA.
    (You can find that and more info under the heading ‘About Me’ in the right hand column of any page in the blog)

    Re: The video. The union VP does represents employees of the EPA. He clearly states this in the first 30 seconds on the video.

    Thank you for the link http://www.fluoride-journal.com/03-36-2/362-079.pdf (As an aside both it and the first blog post I linked to in my first post reference the same Chinese study.)

    While I may not have convinced you maybe the last sentence of that PDF should a least give you pause for thought.

    “In short, despite growing evidence of serious neurotoxicity
    for both fluoride and lead,1-6,11 U.S. safety standards for fluoride in water have been moving in the opposite direction to those for lead in blood. From a scientific standpoint, this reversal is very difficult to understand or to justify.”

    p.s. when you mentioned the “BRP scare” were you meaning BPA? If so this article might be of interest

    An extract:
    “The newspaper had the containers of 10 items tested in a lab – products that were heated in a microwave or conventional oven. Bisphenol A, or BPA, was found to be leaching from all of them.

    The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals. The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer.”

  43. skeptologic says:

    I’ll tell you what this skeptic believes. I believe that watching Dr. Novella take down idiots like Mike Adams is a thing of beauty. What a crank, he must be related to Neil Adams.

  44. SkullVodka says:

    Who would be dumb enough to spout such obvious lies in a forum where it is saved and archived for all to see and scrutinize for the rest of eternity. This is nothing that could ever be lived down, or be forgotten. What happens on the internet stays on the internet. What an unbelievable douche bag. And I do mean unbelievable in every sense of the word. Wow, just wow.

  45. tl;dr says:

    I just read this article now.

    Dr. Dunlop is actually in 2nd place, ~1000 votes behind Mercola for the Shorty #health award. IIRC, when Mercola was not in the lead he said, “Now I could care LESS about this stupid Twitter award”

    Yet now he “urgently needs your voice and vote.” It’s a matter of health freedoms!!11! Lulz.

  46. wichitarick says:

    While I cannot address ALL of these views from either side I can show very real cases of friends dieing after dropping what their medical doctors were telling them and using “alternative” methods.(R.I.P.)
    My way of referring to a lot of the material that “Mr Adams” is using I call the “DUH” factor. It is really that simple to do a little reading/research and draw your conclusion instead of believing what is screamed from the pulpit RC.

  47. Tom Coward says:

    Interesting post. Concerning ‘organic’ foods: I tend to prefer them not because they are more nutritious (I know that they generally are not) or that they taste better (sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t) than non-organic, but rather because the way they are produced is generally less burdensome on the ecosystem. Also, meat, milk and eggs produced by ‘organic’ methods tend to involve less pain and suffering to the animals involved.

  48. Chicago Skeptic says:

    How does Mr. Adams – having such an non-scientific mindset – expect the “miraculous properties” of water to be discovered? I am sure his answer would be quite informing.

  49. E says:

    One surprising thing I recently learned about this Mike Adams is that he lives in Ecuador. Guess that’s so he can be freer to carry out his health freedom nonsense and be freer to sell tourist getaways to his new neighborhood – the “Valley of Longevity.”

    Too bad that escape, oops I mean move, to Ecuador didn’t work out so well for “herbal formulator,” Greg Caton. And if anyone’s interested in hearing a good one, listen to podcast “Health ranger report #84.” It’s short, sweet and amusingly chock full of everything from how the mean old FDA has apparently gone global…to Mike Adams using phrases like “chemical holocaust.”

    Oh yeah, and in another “Health Ranger report” podcast, Mike Adams inadvertently reveals how slick these guys really are when he explains that he doesn’t sell herbs, supplements or remedies; but only sells books with information about herbs, supplements or remedies (Greg Caton got apprehended because he apparently continued to sell the actual items).

    The only award I hope Joseph Mercola wins is a good long sentence and a fancy orange jumpsuit.

  50. daniel.oliveira says:


    Thanks for another excellent post!
    Your rebuttal is an good example of why one should stay tuned on Neurologica on a frequent basis.
    Skepticism scores again!

    Steve rocks, Adams “cranks”!

  51. Woof says:

    You can get the full content of any article on the Health Ranger Moronathon site by clicking on the “Printable Version” button, no registration required.

    Direct URL in this case is http://www.naturalnews.com/z028012_skeptics_medicine.html

  52. gijacklin says:

    You’re kidding me right? All you did was rant and rave about someone else ranting and raving only you obviously have been living under a rock. Western medicine is good for car accidents and that’s about it. Autism rates went up when the vaccinations went up. Chemo kills you before the cancer in most cases. Has about a 3% success rate. Do you even know anyone that went through western treatments for cancer where it didn’t come back? I don’t but know many, many people that used holistic therapies and are still here 10 years later and up. I don’t need statistics I just talk to people that have successfully cured themselves of cancer and ask them how they did it. It’s called treating the cause not the symptoms.

    You are far too intelligent to believe what you write. And I can only surmise you spent so much time on cutting up one article of Mike Adams (which really was boring of you) because you can’t truly deny that naturopathic medicine is the wave of the future. That everything Mike Adams is about is good and wholesome and right. Which means you are either being paid by big pharma or just writing from the opposite point of view cause it’s your job. No one can deny that big pharma is Satan and has no place in our world anymore.

    You should write about something that matters. If your child or wife got cancer I can’t imagine you would let them do conventional methods on them with out at least investigating alternative. For the love of God I hope you would. Western medicine is a business and they don’t care about we the people at all.

  53. ThomasT says:

    A Mike Adams reader here! I’m also also a commenter, as unfortunately many of his ‘writers’ merely repeat meaningless studies from mainstream medicine that ignore that we do have the heart disease prevention and cure, that for cancer etc. Mike rarely writes anything about health himself these days, but does write absurd political rants, which I don’t bother with.

    I got onto this site when linked to the Billy Meier et contact story, which to all mainstream scientists, neurologists etc baldly state must be a hoax. My point is that if even one single part of Meier’s story is correct, that single one taken from his 1800 pages of et contact notes, from 1000 pre-Photshop 35mm film, from cine film, from sound recordings, from the metal fragment analysis by IBM scientist M. Vogel. etc. then the phenomena exists. As a retired airline training Capt. I have had excellent UFO sightings, even carrying ‘official’ UFO report forms in our nav. bags in 1972.

    As example let’s take the Jet Propulsion Labs photo-analysis of his 35mm film,that of the Swiss Air Force Mirage Fighter in the same frame as a UFO. In the analysed photo from JPL, there is an ‘energy field’ encompassing both craft. At that time, according to Meier, the et pilot told him, via telepathy, (which can’t exist in mainstream neuroscience), that she was ‘melting down’ the gun-control of the fighter jet which had ‘locked-onto’ her craft. (My son is in neuro-science in Vienna)!

    Another example is the accurate planetary information published by Meier before nasa’s ‘discoveries’ .


  54. ThomasT says:

    Just a little follow on, hopefully being on topic for this disciussion, so not getting censored.

    Mainstream medicine is NOT squeeky clean, Doc. Steve.


    and , is this why you try to discredit Mike Adams and Natural News?


    BTW I am 75, in robust med-free health, my last non-insurance/licence type medical was a freebie at an alternative health conference in Hawaii in 1979. You can knock the alternatives, but they are science based and many that have ‘recognised’, now fall under the radar. Others have been refused publication, to protect Industry.

    An examole. Dr Robert Good, the leader of Immunology in US, in the mid 1980s, carried out the first bone marrow transplant, had publsihed 2000+ studies and had been nominated for the Nobel Prize 3 times. Dr Good discovered the dietetic, enzymatic cure for pancreatic cancer, BUT was refused publication in ALL med. journals..

    Luckily, for those of us who live outside ‘your box,’ we have Dr H R Clark, PhD ND, who made over half a million repeatable so scientifically valid bio-resonance tests to precisely identify the causes and pathways of all cancers. It remains illegal for mainstream medicine to even mention Dr Clark, as she publsied privately. It remains legal for the time being anyway, for any person to access this info. and thus prevent 99% and to cure cancer, assuming the chemo has not yet destroyed the immune system.

    Your attack on Dr Mercola was in r5atehr poor taste, IMO. He only writes 2 articles for each biweekly newsletter, an dthey are well researched.

    Example. Eating more than 20gms of fructose daily raises uric acid levelsm, that in turm raise BP, cause fatty liver, and raise risk of gout and kidney damage. Johnson R U of CO, 2012, (in mercola.com).

    Dr Mercola has also done excellent work on grains, with grains’ lectin phenols that desensitise cell membranes to insulin, causing insulin overproduction, and grains’ leptin hormones that interfere with signalling between the liver and pancreas, disrupting insulin production. These leading to diabetes2 and obesity. Anecdotal evidence shows those on the natural, (not commercial) Palelithic high sat. fat, high animal protein and zero grain and sugar diet kick diabetes2 in a month.

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