Pharma and vaccines turn you into a zombie?

When I saw the latest screed from that very living embodiment of crank magnetism, Mike Adams, I chuckled. I sent it around to some fellow skeptics, including, for instance, the crew at The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, as well as acquaintances and friends of mine because I couldn’t believe it. Adams, as loony as he is, had topped himself. In the meantime, I couldn’t decide whether or not to write about it, particularly after Steve Novella took a swipe at it. After all, there are things that are so loony, so out there, that one seriously has to worry about whether they are the result of mental illness rather than mere crank magnetism. I don’t think that this is the case here, but Adams’ latest opus is bizarre that it defies believability. Steve thinks Adams is being tongue-in-cheek, and to some extent he is. However, knowing Adams’ history I don’t think that he’s being quite as intentionally humorous as Steve thinks he is. Remember Adams’ little minidocumentary The God Within? Adams has made no mistake that he thinks that modern science (and, by extension, science-based medicine) is completely evil and that other ways of knowing are far better. We know that he has complete and utter contempt for science-based medicine and that there is no form of pseudoscience, quackery, or conspiracy theory he won’t embrace enthusiastically. We also know that Adams loves to use tragic deaths, particularly the tragic deaths of celebrities due to cancer (for example, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, and Tony Snow) as a pretext to attack modern cancer therapy as “useless.”

So it’s not surprising that Adams would sink so low as to take advantage of a bizarre and tragic story that was reported over the long Memorial Day weekend to do the same thing.

I have frequently referred to Mike Adams as a ghoul for his fascination with death and dead celebrities, particularly for his proclivity to use them for his own ends. He also seems to have a fascination with zombies. Whether he is doing this because he loves zombies or whether he is simply capitalizing on the recent popularity of zombie movies, TV shows (such as The Walking Dead), and books (such as the recent trend towards adding zombies to classic literature), I don’t know. What I do know is that, unlike his previous light-hearted invocations of zombies (for example, Vaccine Zombie), which, as stupid as they were, were at least intentionally somewhat humorous. True, Adams, as is his wont, couldn’t resist going too far and driving his metaphor into the slime.

In this case, Adams goes straight for the slime. The aforementioned bizarre and tragic story that he delves into for his own conspiratorial purposes is the story of a police shooting. In brief, a naked man was shot and killed on the MacArthur Causeway Saturday afternoon because he was attacking a naked homeless man. Although this story in and of itself is bizarre enough what rockets into the stratosphere of bizarreness is that the man who was attacking the homeless man literally ate that man’s face off:

According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away.Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.

The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots.

According to this article and other sources I’ve read, police think that the attacker was probably suffering from “cocaine psychosis” or that he might have been using “bath salts,” a drug with amphetamine-like properties that looks like, well, bath salts. In any case, given the nature of the crime and the horrific nature of the victim’s injuries, the man having had the skin of most of his face ripped off, his eyes gouged, and his nose mauled. According to this report, all that was let was his goatee. Not surprisingly, the media have been quite prolific with the Hannibal Lector and zombie analogies, and it’s the zombie analogy that Adams goes straight for in his article entitled Zombie apocalypse becomes reality in Miami as police shoot naked, mindless man literally eating the face off another man:

Are we now witnessing the rise of the zombies? Humans who subject themselves to fluoride, aspartame, psychiatric drugs, vaccines and street drugs end up lobotomizing their higher brains. Vaccines, for starters, cause extreme neurological damage, and some vaccines are actually made of aggressive viruses designed to “eat” targeted regions of the brain, resulting in a biological lobotomy.

What’s left is the primal section of the brain, sometimes called the “reptilian brain.” Or the “zombie brain,” to use a pop culture term. This zombie brain has no morals and no logic. It only knows hunger, sex, violence and fear. It is entirely focused on selfish needs and has no ability to consider the welfare of others.

Yes, that’s right. According to Adams, vaccines turn you into a zombie. Fluoride turns you into a zombie. Aspartame turns you into a zombie. Oh, and street drugs turn you into a zombie. Of course, in this case, it was street drugs that were almost certainly responsible for the horrific crime committed by the naked man shot by the police. His crime almost certainly had nothing to do with pharmaceutical drugs, psychiatric drugs, or fluoride. If Adams were honest, he would simply have said that it was probably street drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamines, or bath salts and left out his mention of vaccines, fluoride, aspartame, or pharmaceuticals. While it’s true that some drugs like bath salts can cause severe behavioral changes, including delirium leading to violence. They can cause brain damage. They do so to the extent of leading a man to strip naked and become violent enough to try to commit murder when abused and taken in quantities far beyond any potential therapeutic use. Yet, none of this stops Adams from intentionally trying to link the illicit drugs that drove an unnamed naked man to rip another man’s face off with psychiatric drugs in order to demonize them. The very obvious message, which is so blatant that it is basically says that psychiatric drugs will turn you into a face-eating zombie. Personally, whether illicit street drugs were involved or not, one has to wonder whether it might have been a lack of psychiatric drugs that led this naked man into his rampage.

Particularly despicable and distorted is Adams’ antivaccine claim that vaccines can cause neurologic damage severe enough to result in a “zombie” like this face-eating man. He invokes the specter of viruses in vaccines, portraying them as aggressive and virulent when in fact they are either dead or attenuated. This is consistent with a favorite metaphor of Adams that he’s used for a long time. In fact, has an entire section of his website called Vaccine Zombie News and Articles. Then, of course, there’s his infamous video Vaccine Zombie, a few of whose lyrics I think are worth quoting again to show you just how far Adams will go to demonize vaccines:

When I took the shot then my face turned blue
I started feelin’ hot inside but I didn’t have a clue what to do
My temperature was hundred and two
Then my nut sack shriveled up and fell off too

The nurse screamed and said something was missin’
she called the physician who said he had a suspicion
that the vaccine caused a neurological condition
and soon I would see the mortician

They started cuttin’ out my brain happy as can be
Bunch of undead doctors from the CDC
I finally figured out what happened to me
When they said we got another vaccine zombie!

Step one: Remove your brain
Step two: Replace with zombie vaccines
Step three: Watch television for further instructions from the Centers for Zombie Control

And the rest of the video:

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Yes, Adams pulls out all the stops, to the point of claiming that vaccines will make your testicles shrivel up and fall off!

Not to beat this issue into the ground (actually, that’s what Orac does best, beat an issue into the ground), but the beauty (if you can call it that) of Mike Adams is how he demonstrates the principle that credulity towards one form of pseudoscience is often associated with credulity towards another form of pseudoscience. Adams is not just pro-alternative medicine. He’s antivaccine. He’s also an all-purpose conspiracy theorist. In fact, he’s so much of a conspiracy theorist that he interprets a CDC initiative that was meant to be a fun way to promote preparedness by mounting a campaign featuring zombies and warning people to “prepare for the zombie apocalypse” and appears to take it seriously. Is the CDC actually saying that we should prepare for a zombie infestation? Of course not! It’s merely a canny exploitation of our current fascination with zombies in the media as a tool to promote disaster preparedness. In fact, I was surprised that our government was capable of producing such a clever advertising campaign. Mike Adams, at least for the purpose of his article, takes the CDC program at face value, as though the CDC were actually worried about a zombie apocalypse.

Right now, you might be thinking: Why is Orac bothering with something as completely loony as this Mike Adams screed? I could respond that it amuses me to do so, and certainly that is part of the reason, but it is by no means the main one. I find deconstructing articles like this one useful because they allow me to try to teach a lesson. In this case, the lessons are two-fold. First, as I said before, Adams is one of the best examples of crank magnetism on the planet, and this article is a perfect example of that. Anti-vaccine fear mongering, anti-pharmaceutical rants, science-free promotion of alternative medicine, financial conspiracy mongering, sympathy to anti-government movements that advocate stockpiling food and weapons, and, of course, claims that secret societies rule the U.S. None of this is surprising, given that Mike Adams got his Internet start peddling dubious Y2K preparedness kits.

The second lesson is not so much a lesson, but something to think about. Adams is such an exaggerated example of crank magnetism, it’s hard for me to understand how anyone could believe so much nonsense, which makes me wonder whether, in fact, Adams actually believes all the idiocy he’s selling. Personally, I have my doubts. Adams, for all his rabid rants, shows an uncanny knack for knowing just exactly what appeals to his readership and delivering it to them. Then there’s his past, which is shrouded in mystery, unlike that of, for example, Joe Mercola. No one knows very much about him, and few people know about Adam’s history of using Y2K to make money. (Personally, I didn’t know about it until fairly recently.) It makes you wonder: Does Adams really believe this stuff, or is he contemptuously giving his marks what they want? In other words, is he a true believer, or is he a scammer? Or is he both? Personally, I tend to lean towards Adams being a bit of both, although I can’t make up my mind whether believer or scammer predominates in what passes for Adams’ mind.

Either way, his latest zombie post demonstrates that, whether he believes his own nonsense or not, there are no depths to which Adams won’t go and not crimes he will not exploit in order to promote his anti-science message.