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Leaving the cult of antivaccinationism and alt-med

The other day, I got to thinking about cults. The reason is that it’s been clear to me for some time that the antivaccine movement is a quack cult. In fact, a lot of quack groups are very cultish, the example that reminded me of this having been an excellent report published by a young mother named Megan Sandlin, who used to be antivaccine but is no longer. Her post, Leaving the Antivaccine Movement, reminded me very much of the genre of “deconversion” stories, in which atheists who were once fundamentalist Christians describe the process of their losing their religion or cult members describe how they ended up leaving their cult.

Sandlin begins her story by telling first how she became an antivaccinationist when her oldest daughter was about four months old. It was that time that she described discovering the world of “crunchy” parenting, which led her to a world of cloth diapers, “intactivism,” and home birth. It didn’t take her long to notice that a lot of her newfound friends who raised children that way were hostile to vaccines, which led her to a Google University education that provided her with all the antivaccine “knowledge” and “science” that would mesh with her preconceived notions about “natural” parenting, “toxins,” and the like, and fuel an antivaccine world view. And that’s exactly what it did. However, even at her most antivaccine, Sandlin had more self-knowledge than the typical antivaccinationist (like the one I described the other day), as Sandlin’s musings reveal, or at least, in retrospect she understands where she went wrong:

However, my research was very skewed. I was going into it with preconceived ideas – my anti-vaccine friends had put ideas into my head, such as not trusting government websites. I was forced to rely on whatever I could find while Googling, which were often websites like Mercola or I even started “liking” anti-vaccine pages on Facebook – pages that I now understand masquerade as “information” centers. I got added to Facebook groups like “Great Mothers Questioning Vaccines.”

Even though all of my supposed research was coming from non-scientific sources, I trusted it.

Hilariously, what ultimately led Sandlin to start questioning her nice, cozy world view and her nice, supportive friends was the phenomenon of crank magnetism, in which a person with irrational beliefs in one area tends to have irrational beliefs in multiple areas. In this case, Sandlin started to notice things about her friends’ beliefs that disturbed her:

However, I’ve always considered myself a skeptic, and I began to notice how some of my anti-vaccine friends believed in some other things that I found, well, questionable. For example, several of my anti-vaccine friends posted about chemtrails pretty frequently. I’d never heard of chemtrails, so I did some research and quickly discovered it was just a conspiracy theory easily explained away by people who actually understood how airplane contrails work. I also noticed that skeptic pages I followed occasionally made jabs about “anti-vaxxers” and homeopaths.

It was a slow process, but I gradually began to question my own anti-vaccine views. I stopped posting about vaccines for several months and began seeking out real science that would show me the truth, either way. What I found shocked me.

She went on to describe her process of seeking out real science and real scientific studies and how, more and more, she realized that antivaccine beliefs were not based in science or reason. Ultimately, she did a complete 180° turn and decided that she should be vaccinating her children. So she took her children to the pediatrician and got them their shots, and her two daughters are now in the process of catching up on their vaccines now, which is a wonderful thing. Not surprisingly, however, the reaction of her crunchy friends was not particularly supportive:

The fallout from changing my views was pretty extreme. Within two weeks of “coming out” on Facebook about my new stance, I lost over 50 friends. People who had cheered me on and supported me through my home birth, who had told me countless times that I was an awesome mother and an inspiration, just dropped me like we’d never been friends at all. I was removed from groups and blocked by people I didn’t even know. I was accused of being brainwashed and told that my girls were going to get autism and have terrible reactions. It hurt.

I now view the anti-vaccine movement as a sort of cult, where any sort of questioning gets you kicked out, your crunchy card revoked. I was even told I couldn’t call myself a natural mother anymore, because vaccines are too unnatural. That’s fine. I just want to be the best parent I know how to be, and that means always being open to new information and admitting when I’m wrong.

Notice the characteristics of a cult that I can identify here:

  1. Authoritarian Leadership: OK, the antivaccine movement, being a diffuse, more dispersed movement doesn’t really have this, although it does have heros that it worships who cannot be spoken ill of without severe consequences, like Andrew Wakefield.
  2. Exclusivism: Antivaccinationists have this in spades. The Thinking Moms’ Revolution is a perfect example, in which only the “Thinkers” who have accepted the antivaccine views of the group are viewed as worthy of respect. Everyone else is the enemy.
  3. Isolationism: The isolationism of the antivaccine movement isn’t so much physical but takes more the form of online isolationism, where the antivaccinationists form online communities that avidly try to keep outsiders away.
  4. Opposition to Independent Thinking: We see this in the case of mothers or other antivaccinationists who start questioning the beliefs of the group, like Sandlin.
  5. Fear of Being “Disfellowshiped”: We see this in Sandlin’s case as well. Until she overcame her fear of losing all her online friends, she couldn’t truly be free.
  6. Threats of Satanic Attack: Antivaccinationists (well, most of them anyway) don’t use fear of an actual Satanic attack to keep its adherents in line. It does, however, have Satan equivalents, like Paul Offit, the FDA, the CDC, the government in general, big pharma, and, of course, us skeptics. They are all the enemy that will tempt members from the straight and narrow of the purity of the antivaccine path.

Obviously, the analogy isn’t perfect. Cults often have charismatic authoritarian leaders who demand absolute obedience. The antivaccine movement doesn’t really have that, but it does have several cults of personality around its heroes. They also aren’t as isolated as real cults in that most of them mingle just fine with the rest of the world, with possibly no other problem other than annoying some of their friends for haranguing them about vaccines. All the while it celebrates these online communities thusly:

Thank God for them. Through the message boards, Facebook pages, and websites. I have met some pretty awesome people. Some of them I have even been fortunate enough to meet up with in person a few times. But what I love most about the online community is when I’m having a frustrating/down day I can go to my phone or computer and send them a message. We can chat for hours about all things biomed. We bounce ideas off one another, or just vent. And it’s okay because we support each other, and know that deep down the other one GETS IT!

It’s very clear that there are other very cult-like groups going under the alt-med mantle. Perhaps the most prominent one of them is the people who admire Stanislaw Burzynski, which is, if anything, even more cult-like than the antivaccine movement. For example, there is more of a single authoritarian leader who is in charge and about whom no ill can be spoken. He is believed to have powers above and beyond that of average men in that he, apparently alone of all doctors, can cure certain kinds of incurable cancers. For those who believe in him, faith in him is unshakable. No matter how much evidence is presented that he can’t do what he claims to be able to do, no matter how much evidence indicating his malfeasance is presented, faith in the Great Savior never wavers. The enemies are the FDA, the NIH, the Texas Medical Board, and, seemingly above all lately, skeptics.

Examples abound of other alt-med practitioners with the same characteristics. The degree to which each of the six characteristics applies varies, sometimes markedly, which is why I’m not referring to these groups as being strictly cults, but rather as being cult-like. Think Robert O. Young, whose defenders have popped up, although unfortunately for him, his cult of personality is nowhere near as powerful as that of Stanislaw Burzynski. Think Jess Ainscough. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Irrational beliefs have a great deal of power over the human mind. Beliefs such as those at the core of alt-med appeal to our deepest desires, desires for purity, for health, for immortality, for community, for a purpose in life. In these things and others, belief in such treatments shares many characteristics with religion and cults. As imperfect as the analogy might be, it’s still a compelling one. Alt-med, antivaccine beliefs, and the like might not be an actual religion or cult per se, but they share enough with cults for the analogy to help us understand the resistance to evidence, the hatred of outsiders, and the shunning of “apostates” who abandon the religion. Evidence alone can rarely overcome such irrational beliefs, but the case of Megan Sandlin demonstrates, if a member is primed for a deconversion, putting the evidence out there can help it along. It’s part of why I do what I do.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

702 replies on “Leaving the cult of antivaccinationism and alt-med”

#1 indeed

as i mentioned on another thread its strange form a non us-ian perspective because everyone has a foreskin…well i should narrow that down. most european states do not practice routine circumcision unless for medical reasons ( such as phimosis or repeated balanitis, and those are not common) or for religious reasons ( in which case its normally not done by a regular doctor IIRC. A trip to a locker room can confirm this for the doubters. I suppose familiarity breeds contempt so the idea of getting that worked up about not having one is strange. Mind you so is the idea of routinely hacking apart penes shortly after birth ( i exaggerate for effect)


I would posit that limited isolationism also counts as cult-like. See the Hubologists* for an example. They are not living a secluded life, but members of this cult are still encouraged to segregate and flee from “negative” people.

* followers of Dick Hubbell. See the Fallout 2 wiki for more info. Any resemblance to a real cult is purely coincidental, I swear.

Threats of Satanic Attack

Calling Sandlin “brainwashed” and promising her eternal damnation her children will become autistic definitively has shades of “lost to the Devil”.
A lot of Alt-Med uses a rhetoric akin to the Evil Eye, of being punished for not following the path of purity. I agree, these are cult-like behaviors.

The World Wide Web was (and still is) the enabler for such cult’s proselytism.

As you have shown, debunking quackery is not enough by itself because converts are members bound to a social group, not just the core doctrine of the group (the quackery). Each member will support and defend their social group irrespective of whether or not they believe its core doctrine(s). The fear of being disfellowshipped is much stronger than perhaps most outsiders realize.

The other problem being that search engines list results in order of their popularity rather accuracy, which is the opposite of science, reason, and best medical care.

Ah, my html tags for striking words didn’t carry out.
Guessing which words I wanted to strike out is left as an exercise for the reader.

Preview, where are you?

Notice what was the first crack in the wall for Megan Sandlin: running into ‘friends’ posting about chemtrails. How easy would it be to get other antivaxxers to loosen up and post their own favorite bits of crank magnstism, the more magnetic the better? ‘Past lives’ as Royalty, radiation from TVs, anything to do with ‘signs and portents,’ etc.

Re. ‘crunchy,’ I’d like to suggest we use the word ‘mushy’ for that and make it go viral. Hard science is crunchy, woo is mushy, like crisps past their expiry date.

Cult alert:

Ray Kurzweil, the AI guru who promotes the idea of transferring your mind to a computer to achieve immortality, is reported to take 120 supplement pills a day, with the full support of his doctor, Terry Grossman. Last year Kurzweil was hired by Google to run their AI research centre, which gives him a much bigger stage for promoting his brands (plural) of pseudoscience among people who really should know better but apparently don’t.

A quick search shows Terry Grossman is head of something called the Frontier Medical Institute in Denver USA, which is listed in Yelp under ‘acupuncture, naturopathic/holistic.’ He wrote a book titled _Fantastic Voyage: Live long enough to live forever_ (no comment needed!). This situation bears watching.

I agree that the anti-vaccine folks don’t have a single charismatic leader- they have about 12. More like the Greek gods:

Tenpenny, Larry Palevsky ,Sayer Ji and Kelly Brogan at Greenmedinfo, Mercola, Gary Null, Barbara Foe Fisher, Dr. Sears, Aviva Romm, Jay Gordon, Mayer Eisenstein, Suzanne Humphries, and Toni Bark.

Of note, most sell their own or directly profit from the sale of supplements, in ways that would make them lose their license if they were doing this with pharma companies.

Truth be told when conversing with antivaxxers cult is very nearly the word which pops to mind.

Nice post, Orac. Just the other day, I had someone comment on my post about the deep pockets of the anti-vaccine movement, saying that they understand how funding from pharma can be a red flag (after all, they’re out to make a profit), but they couldn’t understand why someone (Tomljenovic and Shaw) would jeopardize their scientific careers just based on belief. I tried to explain how powerful belief can be, and how there are other motivations that may not necessarily have anything to do with money.

Then I came across Ms. Sandlin’s account, which perfectly illustrated a couple of the points I was trying to make. Wonderful timing.

How easy would it be to get other antivaxxers to loosen up and post their own favorite bits of crank magnstism, the more magnetic the better? ‘Past lives’ as Royalty, radiation from TVs, anything to do with ‘signs and portents,’ etc

*Anecdote on* My own experience is that they too often go hand in hand. My sister is an anti-vaxxer who hits every stereotype: calls herself “natural” and rails about vaccines, chemtrails, flourination, GMOs, dyes…while smoking her Marlboro (full-tar), drinking a Rock Star Energy Drink, and doubling up on her Adderall prescription. Sometimes reasonable people get caught up in fear and misinformation, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met an antivaxxer who didn’t also hold some crazy ideals while still maintaining a level of cognitive dissonance that is damn near pathological. Of course, my sister’s issues all stem from a simple hatred of authority.

*Anecdote* off

Good for Megan.
If she thinks she was being picked on before for her conversion to rational thinking, she had better be prepared for a hurricane of vicious antivax backlash, now her opinions have been more widely disseminated on the web.

Short list of things that are not natural:
* Clothing.
* Electricity.
* Man made structures – buildings.
* Computers.
* Cities.
* Tools.

So, when can we expect the whole lot of “nature” obssesed alties disappearing naked in the wild?

IMO, like most cults and cult-like organizations, anti-vaccine organizations, and their analogues in the wider world rank quackery alternative “medicine” emphasize the concept of ritual purity, and the formation of a community dedicated to maintaining it, almost above all others.

I mean, what is a wishy-washy concern about “toxins” (as compared to a concrete concern about specific known dangerous organisms or compounds – e.g. measles or lead poisoning) other than a desire to be physically/ritually pure? In this view, a vaccine could be a contamination of one’s purity, especially if one takes the view that vaccines cause a variety of developmental or other disorders.

Admitting a genetic factor in autism spectrum disorders, among parents who say such things as “the light left my child’s eyes”, would be admitting that they themselves are somehow “contaminated”, or inherently impure. Displacing this horror onto vaccines, and the potential self-loathing onto external enemies – doctors, the government, vaccine manufacturers, and skeptics – seems like a very natural reaction if physical/ritual purity is a priority.

The formation of a more-or-less insular community dedicated to maintaining, and even promoting this notion of purity also strikes me as a very natural thing to do. People like to be in community with like-minded people. When the community has a general feeling of being “under siege”, or at risk of contamination from malevolent outside forces, it strikes me as very natural that the reaction would be to close ranks – and to punish or expel doubters in the community’s midst.

All of the above is idle speculation, of course.

This story resonates strongly with Bruce Bartlett’s extraordinary article, “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community”, on the American Conservative site. It’s a great piece, and not too long, either — recommended to all.

I was thrilled to see this article, and yes, “cult” has often sprung to mind when I see the antivax believers sharing their screed. And yes, I think that the loss of community and the “shunning” is probably one of the most frightening aspects of being part of one of these cults. You can put up with a lot of cognitive dissonance if you’re afraid of losing all your friends.

BTW, I didn’t see Jenny McCarthy listed there. . .she was a pretty big charismatic leader there for a while. I don’t know whether she’s still on the hit parade, though.

In 1994 I was diagnosed with tinnitus and told to just “live with it.” Nurses I worked with told me I should be “glad I didn’t have cancer.” NEVER ask someone to make that kind of comparison, the guilt is overwhelming.
So I turned to the alt/med community…bc there is always something they can offer. None of it worked, but I certainly felt like I had some control.For a while.
It wasn’t until I totally fell apart and was put in anti anxiety/anti depressants that my head cleared up, the noise calmed down. -I still hear the noise, but I no longer listen to it
Now—thanks to information on blogs like yours (and with permission from you and yours), I teach my students critical thinking skills in a topic “skeptic’s guide to complementary & alternative medicine.” I haven’t quite lost friends, but my oldest friends are quite into homeopathy, one’s brother in law is a naturopath…it is a challenge, but at 59, I guess you pick your battles.

One of the defining characteristics of religious faith is how it shifts the issue from the rational to the emotional, from the objective to the subjective. The “choice” to believe or not is supposed to be a matter of the heart, not the head. It defines the sort of person you are.

Religious faith involves a commitment to become a believer. It’s not based on insufficient evidence as such. It’s based on evidence which is sufficient for those who can love; it can never be enough for those who can’t. It all comes down then to picking out which group seems to have the best hearts. Choose your identity.

The alt med proponents I know personally are all heavily into Spirituality and the crank magnetism is high. They’re very up front and center about homeopathy or reiki being a matter of faith — or, sometimes, one’s “paradigm.” They’re not just buying into a particular remedy, it’s an entire world view. And alt med is also a self-view.

Sometimes in my coffee group I’ll hear someone bring up a new name. The question is often asked “Is she open?”

That’s a code. They mean “does she believe in alternative medicine?”

A marvelous post and timely too. I’ll be reprising my “Escape from Wooville” talk tonight at the Bay Area Skeptics talk in . . . Berkeley (cue theramin music) the very heart of The Axis of Me-Ville™.

#11 I enjoyed your list and I’d like to add the following:
* Sex for any purpose other than reproduction.
* Antibiotics.
* Pain medication.
* Hospitals.
* Cooking.
* Artificial lighting and heating.
* Reading and writing.
* Religion.
* Telephones.
* Television.
* Toilets.
* Transportation.
* General knowledge.
* And last, but not least, critical thinking skills (the only item on our lists that all cult members seem to have successfully avoided using).

Composer99 wrote:

I mean, what is a wishy-washy concern about “toxins” (as compared to a concrete concern about specific known dangerous organisms or compounds – e.g. measles or lead poisoning) other than a desire to be physically/ritually pure?

I wonder if this may explain in part aversion to food additives. While, of course, there can be legitimately harmful food additives, the automatic assumption that an additive tested for safety has to be worse for you than an unstudied natural ingredient makes more sense from the point of view of ritual purity than that of toxicology.

@ Pete Attkins

Just to split hairs:

The Bonobo tribe next door would have liked to lecture you on the naturalness of your first item, but they are busy having an orgy.
(on second thoughts, let’s not start a debate on which type of sexual intercourse is natural – quite a hot topic)

I would also nitpick on your last item, critical thinking, and move it into a different list: “things which are natural but apparently the all-natural brigade didn’t get the memo.”
A bit long for a title, but self-explanatory.

@Helianthus: Who appointed bonobos to be the arbiters of naturality? Any animal that does cultural transmission of behaviour is on the slippery slope to Big Pharma if you ask me.

Until people accept their their “noggin” is a deception engine and embrace the evolutionary path it has taken and the reasons we are wired that way can a person truly begin to develop critical thinking skills. And it is only then that a person can truly be free of the shackles of irrationality and magical thinking. Acknowledgement of my ability to be fooled is what has helped me in my path to a greater understanding of what ot means to be truly human.

I’ve been slumming again, at AoA. Yesterday’s post was about the supposed new information that SafeMinds had located in the Simpsonwood transcripts. There is only one link to the SafeMinds website…and it is a dead end link. Which one of the AoA editors is moderating the comments and which editor checked the copy, before the article went online?

Go and view the comments, filled with all sorts of invective, conspiracy, theories of genocide, and vows to criminally prosecute each and every researcher ever involved in vaccine development.

Finally, one commenter tried to open that dead end link and posted this…

“When I clicked on the highlighted “See Simpsonwood transcript p.p. 41-42” here in Jim Thompson’s article it brought me to the SafeMinds website but the message read:

“Sorry, “The page you are finding seem doesn’t exist”

Is anyone else having a problem accessing it too?
(Also note the ungrammatical phrasing.) Seems to me it’s being blocked.

Posted by: Julie Penny | February 13, 2014 at 01:00 AM”

More proof that most of the commenters on AoA don’t actually read the articles and just post their usual dreck on every article that appears. Pathetic.

P.S. The broken link still has not been fixed.

A “friend” of mine of facebook who is rabidly antivax has absolutely no problem taking bong rip after bong rip of marijuana all day long. She also is very grateful for the new mouthful of dental implants she got and for the anti-nausea meds she took all throughout her pregnancy. When I asked her about that, she told me that her doctor assured her it was safe during pregnancy.

Yes that is just an anecdote, but I am sure she is pretty close to representing the deep thinking skills of most antivax moms. They absolutely do not reject modern medicine at all; when it is convenient and rewarding for THEM, then they absolutely love being in the pockets of big pharm and big medicine.

Another antivax “friend” immediately took her baby to the hospital when she suffered a bad burn. But then she was having a huge ethical and moral crisis when the doctors said her baby needed a tetanus shot. You could tell from her post that when she made the decision not to vaccinate, that it never even occurred to her that there is a very real reason why babies need vaccines. Until it happened. To HER. This is the selfishness, the obsession with one’s own brilliance, and the belief that YOU always know what is best for YOUR baby that has sparked the whole thing.

Reminds me of the GMO crowd. Or the animal liberationists who invade the mice labs and turn rodents loose all over the streets.

There is only one link to the SafeMinds website…and it is a dead end link.

Seems to be working now. IIRC, Thompson is “sdtech,” which would add amusement value to the screwup.

While there are fully immersed, fanatical alt med communities who depend on one another (re: cults), many are much more casual about it, all on their own. They are uneducated dabblers who know it is frowned upon but have their secret hopes for a cure, or are just covering their bases. I know many of these.

I also know those for whom alt med is a religion, and years ago they had me buying into the supplement scam for a few months until I realized that:
1. I felt no different whether I took supplements or not
2. Despite their “purity of body,” there was no difference anecdotally in who contracted cancer, arthritis, thyroid issues, bad colds, etc.
3. The government conspiracies were beyond belief with the slightest whiff of critical thinking
4. I found this website!

Or worse Brock, the morons in the UK that turned loose thousands of Minks (who are rather vicious to begin with) into the wild, only to see most of them get run over by cars & numerous others attack small children, pets, etc….these people really don’t have a rational bone in their body.

@Helianthus #22
I was aware of Bonobo behaviour, but just for a change I succumbed to using poetic licence instead of science 🙂

I totally agree with your nitpick regarding critical thinking because it’s something I take very seriously in the domain of health care and other vitally important domains that I occasionally comment on.

Until people accept their their “noggin” is a deception engine and embrace the evolutionary path it has taken and the reasons we are wired that way can a person truly begin to develop critical thinking skills.

Oh, I’d dispute that. In fact, I’d never even come across this seeming article of faith until running into self-labeled skeptics. There’s no evolutionary explanation needed for a simple desire to avoid being wrong and directing attention to recognizing when you don’t actually know something. It’s not as though analytical thinking didn’t exist before evolutionary theory.

(In the third grade, we actually had a weeklong exercise that culminated with a prize of being awarded a small pin with text reading something like “when I don’t know, I look it up” around a question mark. The eight-grade science teacher did something similar every Friday, handing out completely optional questions designed to send us scurrying off to the library. I think the prize was exemption from the next week’s quiz. Two of the questions were “What are the bond angles in H2O?” and “What’s the world’s largest wooden structure?” It’s just cultivating basic research skills.)

Lurker @5: “Crunchy” is meant to suggest granola, a breakfast food associated with hippies and other anti-authoritarian types. It’s an allegedly natural food that actually isn’t that much better for you than many of the highly processed alternatives.

And it’s a good analogy for lots of alt-med types. They promote certain remedies as being “natural”, implying that these remedies are somehow better than what science-based medicine has to offer, but most of them have no demonstrated effect, and most of the ones that do are actually harmful.

#32 Narad,

Am i right that the answers to the questions are about this much ( waves hands vaguely) and George W Bush?

but also although an evolutionary knowledge is not necessary for critical thinking the avoidance of wrong is not the same thing- thats what the antivaxxers do. they avoid being wrong by making sure that their version of events is trumpeted by the choir.
I suspect that past a certain level a knowledge of neuroscience is necessary to understand how wrong our instincts are, and why.

One of the most telling features of altmed/ anti-vax cults is that they instruct followers into what is taboo to eat or drnk and what particular foods/ beverages increase your ‘mana’ or chi** ( so to speak). Obviously they also subscibe to a variety of ritual purifications.

Ingesting food and drink enables us to incorporate parts of the external world and transform them into *ourselves*: symbolically this is a big deal- altho’ it is strictly true on a chemical level: we eat calcium and turn it into bone and need iron for haemmoglobin, etc.

But the religious aspect of alt med declares that there are ‘good and bad’ choices that go beyond whether they are nutritional or not: in particular quarters, meat, dairy products, processed foods or GMOs arescorned and characterised as quite evil and damaging to life; I occasionally hear more than a hint of self-righteous indignation that people who eat fast foods and standard fare are somehow corrupt and decadent, being made so by their dining choices. Thus they deserve their ultimate fate: the wages of sin is death.

** many arcane vegetable-based nutrients too numerous to name but easy to merchandise.

What irritates me about crunchies — and I apologize in advance if I step on the toes of any parent regulars here whom I respect — is that assumption that motherhood automatically confers a mystical knowledge and some spiritual and cognitive gifts that no one else possesses*.

So you’re a mom (or dad although warrior daddies seem to be thinner on the ground). Big fat hairy deal. You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.

(*Mandatory disclosure statement; I am childless but I work in the public sector; if having children automatically turned the average woman into a loving and omniscient goddess, we wouldn’t need DCFS, would we.)

#35 your answers may be superficially true but mine have a deeper spiritual meaning

You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.

That’s not exactly the posture during feline delivery.

if having children automatically turned the average woman into a loving and omniscient goddess, we wouldn’t need DCFS, would we

I happen to be reading this (PDF) at the moment. It might be more accurate to say that we wouldn’t need something like what DCFS is supposed to be.

@ Shay:

But you see, giving birth is a rite of transformation changing a woman into a demi-goddess. If you have more than one, you are officially a full** goddess- these things add up.

What did Goethe’s Faust say: “The Mothers!” (( shudder))

** which may be spelt differently if referring to TMR.

Granola may be not very “healthy” but it is delicious.

Denice – at my local grocery store they sell a bottle of concentrated cherry juice for twenty-three bucks. You can get ordinary 100% cherry juice in another aisle for three-fifty, but it doesn’t come with all those over the top health claims. Or hey, you can get cherries in the produce department.

You’re the one in a cult, Orac. And your god is vaccine. Everyone else just wants to be left alone but you and your cultist followers have to use the law to force vaccination on the public. Vaccine extremists such as yourself tell each other what a miracle vaccines are, imagine mild illnesses to be killer diseases and celebrate occassions such as teen vaccine week, adult immunization month etc. Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t. You’re simply a bunch of science nerds and or germaphobes rejected by mainstream society that have developed a fixation on vaccies in order to generate a false sense of self importance. This is usually the case with people who must meddle in the lives of others

Right, cherry juice concentrate is currently being hawked as an arthritis med, sleep aid, method of rejuvenating collagen and hence the appearance of aging skin- and probably has other miraculous uses for its antho- and/ or proanthcyanidins of which I am unaware.

I’ve got a bottle of that regular cherry juice in my fridge right now. Good stuff, but I don’t need an excuse to drink it.

Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t.

Project much, Mr. Schecter?

You’re simply a bunch of science nerds

And you’re simply a bully.

your answers may be superficially true but mine have a deeper spiritual meaning

“One morning, during Yong Maeng Jong Jin at the Providence Zen Center, a student walked into the interview room and bowed to Seung Sahn Soen-sa.

“Soen-sa said, ‘What is the true way?’

“The student shouted ‘KATZ!!!’

“Soen-sa said, ‘That answer is neither good nor bad. It has cut off all thinking, so there is no speech, no Buddha, no mind, no way. Tell me then: what is the true way?’ The student said, ‘The sky is blue.’

“Soen-sa said, ‘That’s true enough, but it is not the way.’

“Then, holding up his Zen stick, ‘What color is this?’


“‘Yes. When I ask you what color is the stick, you don’t answer, ‘The bell is yellow,’ even though that’s perfectly true. It would be scratching your left foot when your right one itches. It’s the same when I ask you what is the true way and you answer, ‘The sky is blue.’

“‘Go ask a child about the true way. A child will give you a good answer. Zen mind is children’s mind. Children have no past or future, they are always living in the truth, which is just like this. When they are hungry, they eat; when they are tired, they rest. Children understand everything. So let me ask you again: what is the true way?’

“The student stood up and bowed.

“Soen-sa said, ‘This is the Great Way, the Buddha Way, the Tao. It is not the true way. Do you hear the sounds outside the window?’


“‘What are they?’


“‘Where are these cars driving?’

“‘Over there.’

“‘What is the name over there?’

“The student was confused and said nothing.

“Soen-sa said, ‘It is Route 95. That is the true way. Hope Street is the true way. Doyle Avenue is the true way. The way is only the way. There is nothing beyond.’

“The student bowed and said, ‘I understand. Thank you.’

“Soen-sa said, ‘You’re welcome. Now what is the true way?’

“The student said, ‘Route 95 goes from Providence to Boston.’

“Soen-sa closed his eyes.”

Most of you have no lives and vaccine worship and or fantasizing that you are saving lives is a mechanism you use to delude yourselves into thinking your lives have meaning. They don’t.

When’s Pigasarius Publishing going to release its next first title?

Building the fan base first. Almost 45,000 Facebook fans. It’s called business.

This “Leaving the Anti-Vaccine Movement” article cited here is great! I’ll save it in my tool bag (weapons arsenal) for use when countering anti-vax inanity.

Building the fan base first. Almost 45,000 Facebook fans. It’s called pretending to have a business.


Pressarius Publishing

March 2009 – Present (5 years)

Groups and Associations:

Book Publishing Professionals
Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing for Business
On Startups – The Community For Entrepreneurs
Publishers & Book sellers association

These aren’t even real trade associations, they’re LinkedIn “groups.” You’re a random dildο with a Facebook page and delusions of grandeur, not the president of a publishing company or, for that matter, seemingly competent at your self-identified specialty of “writing and editing.”*

How are your engagement numbers? Oh, right, you can’t afford professional metrics.

* Check out this declaration of war on style and usage.

Narad…I already checked out Offal’s most recent blog post. How proud he must be that L. Hubbs posts comments on his blog.

“You spread your legs, popped out the kid, and now you’re an Oracle? Hell, my cat can do that.”

I’ve always wanted an Oracle cat. You should put him/her on Twitter.

You’re the one in a cult, Orac

A cult supported by 30 years of legitimate research, dickwad.

Denice @36:

But the religious aspect of alt med declares that there are ‘good and bad’ choices that go beyond whether they are nutritional or not: in particular quarters, meat, dairy products, processed foods or GMOs arescorned and characterised as quite evil and damaging to life;

This is well illustrated by the fact that you can, if you wish, purchase “GMO-free” salt. Whenyou pointed out that salt cannot be genetically modified, the anti-GMO loons tell you that the GMO-free label is applied to the minute amount of dextrose filler added to packets of table salt; you point out that dextrose is just a chemical molecule without any genes and get the reply is that it’s derived from corn, which *can* be genetically modified.
In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs. It’s as bad as the purity rules of the Roma; worse, in fact, as the Romas’ rules have a basis in practical hygiene

I got my flu vaccine a mere 49 days ago, and now I am struck with the dreaded coryza AND steternation AND tussis WITH sputum. It’s a vaccine injury, I tell you.

She’s not as smart as a Gumbie cat but she’s much more photogenic.

You should see the cheesecake-photo poses my penultimate rescue kitten (well, ~8 months) is putting on offer now that her belly fur is growing back in. It’s shameless.

Further to Mrs Grimble #59:

This is well illustrated by the fact that you can, if you wish, purchase “GMO-free” salt.
In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs.

“Support for my theory continues to accrue at an alarming rate.” 🙂

/(hyperlinks provided to provide context for reference)

Mrs Grimble,

In other words, ordinary chemicals can be magically contaminated and made ritually impure by second-hand and even third-hand contact with GMOs.

Years ago I remember a chap on some CAM forum I used to peruse mentioned that he could not tolerate corn, especially GM corn. This caused a problem as he took huge amounts of vitamin C, which is mostly made from glucose derived from corn. He explained that he had found a solution, and bought his vitamin C from a company that offered an expensive, corn-free, organic variety of the panacea.

Curious, I dug a bit deeper, and tracked down the source of this amazing vitamin C from information on the company’s website. It was made from good old US GM corn, of course, hydrolyzed to glucose with acids, then put through some extremely unnatural sounding industrial processes. I never had the heart to tell the corn-intolerant person this.

Mrs Grimble @59: Two days ago I listened to a man talk to himself (or his phone, it was hard to tell) about if he should buy the regular saline nasal spray, or the organic saline nasal spray. I desperately wanted to ask how any carbon-free chemical could possibly be organic, but I’ve learned not to ask chemistry questions of the possibly crazy people at my grocery store.

Just wanted to say thanks for discussing my article! Your commentary was spot on. The cult similarities became so apparent once I began questioning the antivaccine movement.

“Sid’s” facebook page ( i.e The Vaccine Machine) does have about 45K friends BUT I wonder what that has to do with business:

parents who doubt SBM and wish to evade vaccinating their children** frequent this page and trade information about how to get exemptions, find anti-vax tolerant doctors, ask for and discuss natural cures for all-wot-ails-ye.

Although he might be building an audience for like-minded patrons (like AoA or TMR sell books and ads for supplements and services), it seems that one of this site’s selling points is that it IS free. People trade information w/o fact checking or SB peer reviewing. They just talk.

So how do you make money off of that? I guess he could set differently ( off FB) and sell ads.

** sometimes their pets also like today.

Rustichealthy found naturalmomma
Thank you for your response

So, you’ve not tried vitamins and natural remedies for yourself, and that’s what I was wondering. I’m in process of writing (trying to finish:) a book on what I call “rustic” healthy i.e. natural health 🙂 having lots of information, (based on science too 🙂 I’m not a professional, just my experience, and what I’ve found in the last few years. But, thank you again, wish you the best, hope your little one is doing better. Peace.


Whoa whoa whoa. You don’t have my permission to use anything I’ve said in your book. I have tried natural remedies for myself, some of them at least, but I do not give you permission to use anything in your book. Asking me a question meant for a book without telling me is dishonest.

@ Mrs Grimble:

According to its website/ labels, Celtic Sea Salt is GMO Free, raw, Kosher Pareve, vegan and gluten free.

It apparently doesn’t contain any Celts either.

@ Bill Price:

HOWEVER he who insists upon this product is of the keltoi.

Actually the salt doesn’t taste half bad: at 10 (?) times the price of regular salt, it’d better.

The other day my hubby went into a grocery store for bread, and the woman at the cash register enthusiastically told him that they had organic bread. He said, “Oh, good. That must mean that you also have inorganic bread.” She paused, and said, “I’ll have to check on that”. Heh.

@ Megan Sandlin:

To me, the most important common feature is that alt med/ anti-vax advocates seek to LIMIT informational sources that their followers might encounter-
so they teach that-
standard references are all ‘compromised”: experts are ‘in the pocket of Big Pharma’, governmental agencies, medical associations and the media are also out of the question.
That leaves only their woo.

Ms Klemperer-Wells: “Rustichealthy found naturalmomma”

Oh, deer. Rustichealthy is very special:

WLU….small pox, diptheria, viruses, measles, mumps… even polio..are all actually nutrient deficiencies…babies/children, especially, with low immunities contract them..of course, if they’re living in climates that don’t have all the healthy food they need. Today we have not only the food available, but the vitamins to boost immunity. They’re vitamin deficiencies. Perhaps before the discovery of vitamins..vaccinations (called immunizations) were warranted..not now.

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