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Bad Chart Thursday: The Natural News Spam Machine of DOOM

Did you know that the US government is going to install microchips in our toilets to conduct surveillance on our poop? It’s true! I read it in Natural News.

Many people are aware that Natural News is a conspiracy website, run by Mike Adams, who calls himself the Health Ranger with a straight face, which is impressive. He’s a Birther and 9/11 Truther who believes that the germ theory underpinning all of modern medicine is a hoax. He’s written and published articles promoting these conspiracy theories as well as HIV denial, chemtrails, and various false flag conspiracies surrounding the Sandy Hook shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

These are just a few examples of many ridiculous, often dangerously wrong ideas espoused by Adams and other writers at Natural News along with the misinformation about food and health. All the ideas are rooted in the same profitable business model: Create fear so you can offer solutions to that fear. Imaginary problems lend themselves to fabricated solutions. Even ideas that on the surface seem positive in intent, such as herbs for indigestion, are rooted in fear–in this case, the fear of anything deemed unnatural.

Adams is a particularly intrepid fear profiteer because he exploits people’s fear using modern twists on spamming techniques. He honed this expertise with his company Arial Software, developing email marketing programs that enabled spammers to get around spam filters. Now he uses the bulk email spam technique with websites. Multiple websites link to each other and back to Natural News, each with enough content to avoid the search engine penalty. The resources page at consumerwellness.org, for example, consists entirely of sites run by Adams (registered under his name or his companies, such as Arial Software and Truth Publishing). Similarly, the Natural News reference page lists a bunch of Adams’s own sites and no others.

One of the domains he owns, www.antioxidantnews.com, takes you to TriVita, a wellness products multilevel marketing company, aka a legal pyramid scheme, which is unsurprising considering Natural News takes its marketing straight out of the MLM playbook. Pages and articles throughout his sites contain attempts to capture your email by offering something for free, a technique that opens you up to spam with offers for products and services that further exploit fear for profit. Articles such as this comparison of water filters are obvious advertisements for affiliates. And through the sheer volume of websites, Adams not only has multiple opportunities to draw in potential suckers, he inflates his search engine rank, giving Natural News the impression of being authoritative–no factual information required. Which is good, because he doesn’t provide any.

From this point, Natural News gets its readers doing the spamming for it, much as MLM schemes involve bringing in others to do the work for you while you profit. People who falsely believe Natural News is authoritative share its articles on social media and in comments sections. Some people are no doubt fully aware of the extremes Natural News goes to and share the same conspiratorial sentiments, but I suspect that many have only read the articles on GMOs, organic, natural remedies, and vaccines that are shared most often (because they confirm readers’ beliefs and fears) without realizing that Big Pharma and Monsanto conspiracies are just the tip of a very scary, delusional iceberg.

But they are all part of this iceberg. The thought process that leads Adams to conclude that the government will install microchips in toilets is the same kind of thinking that leads many to conclude that vaccines are a Big Pharma conspiracy. Both are rooted in “what if” fearful thinking without the slightest bit of evidence to support them.

A few years ago, Natural News decided to make it easier for their army of spammers by creating infographics. I came across the full collection here and found them to be the perfect microcosm of Mike Adams and Natural News as a whole.

Back in October, he fanned paranoia and American narcissism and racism with this ridiculous ebola infographic to drum up people for his online pandemic preparedness course.

Infographic-Americas-Ebola-Vulnerabilities

Several of the infographics attempt to scare people away from various foods by listing ingredients that are scary to people who believe they are scary because they scare them. Potential GMO ingredients are the most frequently noted, except without the “potential.” Natural News just assumes all corn products, for example, are from GM corn. And everyone knows GMOs kidnap babies and sell them to aliens and therefore should be labeled so we can get a cut of the commission.

The ice cream sandwich one is worth highlighting because not only does it note those evil GMOs but it lists corn syrup as containing mercury, a scare that has been debunked since at least 2009. (This infographic was made four years later.) Plus, it claims that propylene glycol monostearate is anti-freeze, apparently because anti-freeze contains it. Anti-freeze also contains water. Therefore water is anti-freeze. Not that Big Water will ever admit to it.

Infographic-What-is-in-an-ice-cream-sandwich

This next one takes us a step into the anti-government paranoia of Natural News, as well as the world’s first glimpse of the tiny genetically modified hand Obama has been hiding from us for years.

Infographic-All-the-Ways-the-Government-is-Spying-on-You-640

Note to self: Stop having all those private conversations near lampposts.

A couple of the infographics are so long they defeat the purpose of creating them. I’ll crop to some of my favorite parts. This first one is titled S.O.S.: Stop Out-of-Control Science. Apparently, S.O.C.S. just didn’t have the same ring to it, which is fine by me because that’s the name of my robot cat.

Much like all of Natural News, the following infographic section is a mix of misleading information and information that seems out of place (deliberately), mixed with moments of WTF just happened?!, especially when you get to Level V.

Danger Levels of Science

No wonder they didn’t want to name the chart after my robot cat.

And finally we get to the infographic that shows us the mulifaceted inanity, paranoia, narcissism, and blatant fear profiteering of Mike Adams and Natural News all in one place. You can see it in its full ridiculous glory here. In this post, I will present just the highlights of Nutrition Alert for Patriots.

It opens with multiple unsubstantiated claims all in one: Unfounded conspiracy about government intent and involvement (how does the government make people ingest aspartame?) and a bunch of chemicals each with their own unsubstantiated claims of harm as “mind-altering chemicals” that “dumb you down.”

Mike Adams quoting himself here and throughout the infographic is so inspirationally narcissistic, I teared up a little. You had me at chemtrails, Health Ranger. You had me at chemtrails.

Nutrition Alert for Patriots 1

Next, you’re reading along through the list of things to avoid and things to consume, and both lists are baseless but predictable, but then you get to this:

Nutrition Alert for Patriots 2

Yeah! Get healthy before . . . the coming collapse?

And of course the blatant affiliate plugs, but they’re not really endorsements. No, of course not.

Nutrition Alert for Patriots 3

Next, I was relieved to find that with my essential oils inhaler and secret bird flu remedy, I’m ready to go back in time to another country just to avoid refugee camps. This is the kind of practical information I need in my life:

Nutrition Alert for Patriots 4

Then, Adams suggests stockpiling all the anti-freeze we can get our hands on. Or water. Same thing. Then blah, blah, blah, ending with some of the most asinine government conspiracy theories I have ever heard in my life.

Nutrition Alert for Patriots 5

NUTRITION = VICTORY <—– I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote from Ben Franklin.

Nearly every single Natural News infographic somehow manages to mock itself, but this is fitting for a site that essentially cites itself to support the bullshit opinions it espouses. Natural News even started its own Forensic Food Lab where, according to his bio, Adams conducts the research himself into food contaminants because apparently a computer science background easily translates to expertise in atomic spectroscopy research. I mean, it's got the word "science" in it, right?

Natural News and all its affiliates do not have science in them. At all. To such a degree that choosing among the many problems to write about was extremely difficult, but I don't have time to go into them all. I have to pack my kids' lunches while I can still do so without a prison sentence.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

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7 Comments

  1. May 28, 2015 at 11:20 pm —

    Brain matter cleanup on aisle 2.

  2. May 29, 2015 at 6:45 am —

    In the list “How to survive the next great pandemic” he forgot to add vinegar in the spray bottle to disperse the pandemic contrails.

  3. May 29, 2015 at 8:54 am —

    All the ideas are rooted in the same profitable business model: Create fear so you can offer solutions to that fear.

    Now where have I seen that business model before? Oh yeah, politics and religion.

    If your going to copy bullshit you might as well learn from the masters.

  4. May 29, 2015 at 11:05 am —

    Re- SOS eeevil science —especially when you get to Level V.

    Well not the universe certainly but I’m thinking mother nature is starting to have second thoughts.

  5. May 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm —

    To be absolutely fair to Mr Adams, psychiatric drugs do indeed affect the brain.

    Level V is interesting because there’s a side quest in Chrono Trigger in the cyberpunk after-the-end future where an artificial intelligence does just that. Well, sort of. Mother Brain knows the Lavos Spawn are a threat to the universe, and concludes this planet could sustain them so they never leave, provided there were no humans around.

    (Surprisingly, with the commonly held ‘Chrono is Jesus’ fan interpretation, no one has written down that Mother Brain is Haman. Until now.)

    • May 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm —

      True about the drugs, but they don’t dumb people down.

      The AI killing humans for the sake of the planet is so sci-fi (Age of Ultron is another recent example). Adams’s blending of fiction with reality makes his work seem like satire.

      • May 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm —

        Yeah, it is an old plot. The one where the machine is Klaatu (two SF clichés for the price of one!) is almost something totally new, but Chrono Trigger did it first.

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