Saturday, April 19, 2014

#1003: Alex Ortner

Food fads are a great source of woo, and among the stupider ones you’ll find rawfoodism. Alex Ortner is the executive producer of the “documentary” Simply Raw (primarily an infomercial for Doctor of Divinity Gabriel Cousens), and Chief Operating Officer for the Simply Raw website. The guiding idea is that the way to the light is through a raw vegan diet, and the main claim of the movie is that raw veganism can cure diabetes (indeed, the movie’s subtitle is “Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days”). The methodology is to interview six diabetes patients about their experiences at Cousens’s clinic (needless to say the long-term effects are left a bit in the dark). The anecdotes are then augmented with claims by what they judge to be qualified experts (including such luminaries as Michael Beckwith, Gary Null and Julian Whitaker).

If you watch the movie (which I hope you won’t) you’ll also encounter one Dr. Joel Fuhrman claiming that cooking somehow destroys living antioxidants, phytochemicals, and a variety of other compounds, without which the body can’t be healthy and “must break down.” Fuhrman describes processed food as “foods whose life has been taken out of them,” and makes the claim that, without these micronutrients cells accumulate “toxins” that need to be “detoxified,” while touting broccoli and various vegetables as having “incredible medicinal power.” Yes, it’s as complete bullshit as it sounds. Add to that Cousens talking about live cell analysis and Super Size Me star and delusional crackpot Morgan Spurlock failing desperately in an attempt to assess evidence, and you have a good mix of woo and silly.

The movie might not seem to be as crammed with woo as you’d expect (although it provides absolutely no evidence for any of its claims). If you go to the website, however, you’re in for something different. In his mailing list about the movie Ortner promotes “super immunity,” which is longevity and “detoxification” pseudoscience featuring Joe Mercola and David Wolfe; the tapping solution, allegedly a form of “meridian tapping;” or a variety of emotional freedom techniques
and “thought field therapy” – utter quackery claiming that finger tapping along meridians “releases the body’s energy flow” – and not the least Dr. Joe Vitale’s “blood pressure miracle,” which claims to be able to reverse hypertension “naturally” without drugs. Then there is the “seven day back pain cure,” which promises to cure your back pain without drugs, surgery, or much of anything else; and promotion of “holistic” doctor and homeopath Mark Stenger, who is push a method to “balance your hormones”, all naturally.

Diagnosis: Complete and utter bullshit, promoted with zeal and ignorance. As usual. Dangerous.

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