Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#780: Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is – as most of you know – the socialite founder of Huffington Post. Despite other potential virtues, the Huffington Post’s attitude to science, especially in their health and well-being sections, is more than questionable; indeed, Huffpo is an abysmally shameless pusher of pseudoscience and woo, including anti-vaccinationism, Deepak Chopra-style altmed garbage; and self-help articles most of all reminiscent of The Secret. Luminaries who have written for the site include self help guru and pseudo-“Native American” spirituality rip-off peddler James Arthur Ray (to be covered); John Morton, current spiritual director of the new-age group John-Roger's Movement for Inner Spiritual Awareness; altmed loon Andrew Weil; as well as homeopath and internet troll Dana Ullman (see this, for instance). Reasonable people have thus repeatedly called for a boycott, and there is a good discussion of Huffpo’s preference for bogus claims about medicine over reality here - Huffington herself says that “[w]hen it comes to health and wellness issues, our goal is to provide a diverse forum for a reasoned discussion of issues of interest and importance to our readers.” Or, in other words, the Huffpo will not try to distinguish the correct from the wrong or even crazy, instead trying to promote a false balance.

The thing, of course, is that – like Oprah – Huffington herself is a big fan of such matters. She is, for instance, a longtime follower of John-Roger's MISA, and the dreadful piece “A Personal Case for Homeopathy” by Judith Acosta was published not only in Huffpo but on Huffington’s own blog. When Huffpo’s new science section was announced she presented it in a manner that is, well, rather revealing with regard to how she views science: “Rather than taking up arms in those misguided, outdated battles [between science and religion], HuffPost Science will work in the tradition of inquisitive minds that can accommodate both logic and mystery,” Or in other words, they will continue to push new-age woo and disregard that boring notion of trying to align their claims with reality. Which of course is exactly what they did.

Even quackwatch has been forced to list Huffington as a promoter of questionable methods and/or advice.

Diagnosis: A severe threat to life and well-being, Huffington’s views may not be among the most extreme, but like Oprah she has enormous influence, which she unfortunately misuses in the worst possible way. Extremely dangerous. Boycott Huffpo as much as you’d boycott the WND.

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