Saturday, April 6, 2019

#2169: John Robbins

John Robbins is a New Age and alternative health author, environmentalist & animal rights activist, nutritionist (the quack kind) and fringe anti-GMO conspiracy theorist. Robbins was originally heir to the Baskin-Robbins icecream empire, but decided to make a career as a woo guru instead. He has subsequently published several books promoting vegan diets and cancer quackery, characterized by little concern for factual accuracy but great affinity for conspiracy theories; they include Diet for a New America (successful enough to make it onto this list of non-recommended health books; some of the inaccuracies and straightforward lies of the TV version of the book are discussed here), Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples (the phrase “scientifically proven” at least shows rather nicely that the claims have little to do with science or scientific evidence), Reclaiming Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Source of True Healing (oh, yeah) and Voices of the Food Revolution: You Can Heal Your Body and Your World with Food! (hint: you cannot; food is not medicine). Robbins is known to write compellingly and convincingly, which is actually not that hard if you can use whatever falsehood and inaccuracy you could think of as premises for your conclusions (your readers, being non-experts, wouldn’t be able to tell anyways). Robbins is also on the advisory board of Naked Food Magazineand the founder of EarthSave, which was created as a response to the success of his book Diet for a New America. Not the least, Robbins participated in the conspiracy flick Thrive, though has later admittedly distanced himself from the core nonsense of that movie. Currently, Robbins is promoting his bullshit (such as “empowerment packages”) together with his son Ocean Robbins.

Robbins is a relatively significant figure on the anti-GMO activist scene. In 2013, for instance, Robbins (John and Ocean) organized, together with fringe lunatic and former yogic flying instructor Jeffery Smith (this guy), a “GMO Mini-Summit”, featuring an impressive line-up of GMO-related conspiracy theorists such as Thierry Vrain and Consumer Reports’s Michael Hansen, and an equally impressive range of PRATTs, denialist talking points and references to the spectacularly debunked and retracted Seralini study.

John and Ocean Robbins are currently running the “The Food Revolution Network,” a chemophobia-promoting, veganism-hyping organization well-known for its commitment to delusional pseudoscience, such as the 11-part video series “The Quest for Cures … Continues” (available at the thetruthaboutcancer website, a conspiracy page nicely illustrating Badger’s law), featuring Ty Bollinger as well as Ocean Robbins. The series is reviewed here, and there’s another good review here. “If you ignore the information I have to share with you, you are leaving yourself open to getting one of the diseases we all dread,” warns Ocean Robbins in a promotional video. “Alternative facts” does not even begin to describe the character and amount of misinformation that follows. Apparently the Robbinses at one point attempted to hoodwink Sanjay Gupta into service for one of their quack summits, but Gupta – otherwise no stranger to hype and shaky evidence foundations – wisely shied away from their rambling trainwreck of woo and conspiracy mongering.

Diagnosis: Another marketing-savvy quack, and a dangerous one: to those with little background in science or medicine, Robbins’s claims may perhaps come across as more reasonable-sounding than the wild-eyed, semi-coherent conspiracy theories of, say, Ty Bollinger or Mike Adams, but that’s a result of marketing savvy, not because any resemblance of a foundation in evidence, accountability or fact. 

No comments:

Post a Comment