Friday, March 31, 2023

#2633: Daniel Cameron

Chronic lyme is not a real disease, and long-term antibiotics are not an appropriate treatment (indeed, it is a very, very inappropriate treatment). But a number of people wrongly believe that chronic lyme exists and, moreover, that they themselves suffer from it. That creates a potential market for cures, and for vultures to swoop in – and sure enough: A number of “lyme literate” doctors have popped up on lists distributed in conspiracy theory media the last few years, offering various kinds of magic, pseudoscience and non-science-based remedies for chronic lyme, including Daniel Cameron. Cameron is a practitioner in Mt. Kisco, NY, and a real MD: according to his website, he is also “a nationally recognized leader for his expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.” Well, he is indeed recognized in certain woo- and conspiracy groups; his star among board-certified infectious disease doctors and other experts is significantly dimmer.


Indeed, Cameron is a former president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), an organization that has developed their own guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of “chronic Lyme,” based on pseudo-evidence accepted exclusively by themselves, and which offers courses on how to become “Lyme literate”. In fact, Cameron is the lead author of both the original ILADS guidelines and its 2014 update, and has testified before several state legislatures to achieve measures that would protect Lyme literate” doctors from being subject to the professional misconduct measures they obviously deserve to be subject to. Cameron also makes presentations and infomercials to Lyme support groups. He has also written articles promoting the idea that  chronic Lyme” exists, and recommending long-term antibiotics as a treatment, to be published in bottom-feeder and borderline fake journals such as Medical Hypotheses. Despite the evidence, and professional agreements on those who actually study it, he also offers his treatment regimes as treatment to people in vulnerable situations.


“But doesn’t his practices amount to medical misconduct?” you may ask. Why, yes, it does, and Cameron has certaintly been disciplined by boards for professional medical misconduct, primarily for his failure to properly diagnose or follow up – but rather offer inadequate treatment – to people who were not, in fact, suffering from chronic Lyme. To his fans, however, such elitist cancellation attempts just cements his reputation as a brave maverick doctor willing to stand up to the system (which, notably, can’t included Big Pharma, given that Big Pharma obviously stands to benefit from Cameron-style advice and treatment regimes.)


Diagnosis: Few topics illustrate the problem of fake diagnoses and pseudoscience better than chronic Lyme nonsense, and Daniel Cameron isn’t merely an example of but a leader in the scam that is ILADs and chronic Lyme treatment. A real threat to civilization.


Hat-tip: Jann Bellamy@Sciencebasedmedicine

Thursday, March 30, 2023

#2632: Erika Calihan

Erika Calihan is a random woman whom former Kentucky governor Matt Bevin for some reason (Bevin called her a “good friend”) appointed to a state government position. Calihan, being a lunatic dingbat and conspiracy theorist, promptly used the opportunity to scour facebook for nonsense related to the 2019 election that Bevin lost, primarily various conspiracy theories and fake news alleging massive election fraud – conspiracy theories that Matt Bevin went on to repeat in public. The claims included for instance references without a shred of evidence, of course – to “thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted”, people allegedly being “incorrectly turned away” at the polls, “a number of [voting] machines that didn’t work properly”, and ballots being stored in open boxes.


Calihan subsequently appointed herself Executive Director of her own astroturf group Citizens for Election Integrity (basically herself and one Kris Stuebs), and became, as such, the de facto leader of the Kentucky gubernatorial election conspiracy activists (in addition to Bevin himself, of course): “We’re newly formed because we heard all the charges just like everybody else,” said Calihan about the group, neglecting to mention that all the allegations came from herself. She demurred when reporters asked for specific evidence, but the group did circulate a press release touting an event in Frankfort where they would present purported evidence (mostly rumors, footage from CNN that the group claims is “video evidence” of “manipulation” at electronic voting booths, and purported irregularities in vote totals reported on county websites). When they failed to provide any actual evidence, Calihan explained that “We’re just two moms” (herself and Stuebs). She didn’t admit to being wrong, of course.


Together with Bevin, Calihan predictably went on to become a semi-professional COVID-19 restriction protestor and heckler.


Diagnosis: Insane conspiracy theorist. Yeah, she’s done and gone, but she’s also strikingly representative of a certain segment of the population.

Monday, March 27, 2023

#2631: Roland & Lennell Caldwell

Roland Caldwell is a pastor affiliated with the fundamentalist Burnette Baptist Church (also a TV channel). Lennell Caldwell is too, and we assume (but can’t verify) that there is some relationship between them – Lennell Caldwell apparently enjoys the position of “Apostle” with the church (as well as being a pastor at First Baptist World Changer International.) Neither of them likes gay people.


So the Caldwells, joining forces with e.g. Stacy Swimp, reacted stupidly to the 2014 Michigan ruling that the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, and claimed that civil rights should not be upheld by the courts if doing so conflicts with the opinions of the majority – where “majority” doesn’t mean majority, of course (if it did, there would be no criticism of the ruling), but in line with what the Caldwells happen to think. As for proponents of same-sex marriage, Roland Caldwell made his position clear: “You are my enemy! Anybody that’s an enemy of God is an enemy of mine. And now the fight is on!


Roland and Lennell were apparently behind organizing pastors and churches in Michigan to protest the aforementioned ruling, the goal apparently being to send a message that there are yet still pastors in the city and state who stand by both our Michigan Constitution and our Judeo Christian values, according to Lennell Caldwell. (Of course, they did explicitly not stand by the Constitution. Details.)


Diagnosis: So yeah, there are a lot of these around, but although the Caldwells are hardly major forces in the fundie deranged wingnut movement, they’re incredibly silly and hateful, and worth mentioning just in case anyone should ever run into them.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

#2630: Cherie Calbom

a.k.a. “The Juice Lady”


Juicing, according to its proponents, is the process of removing toxins from the body by consuming only juice for days in a row – preferably by using an expensive juicing machine to prepare the product, since effective New Age magic transmutation rituals require class-exclusive and gentrification-typed spell components. (It also removes all fiber; who needs fiber?). The idea, like all other detox ideas, is utter nonsense, of course.


But juicing has a significant number of fans and proponents, such as Cherie Calbom, self-declared “The Juice Lady, who also claims to be Americas most trusted nutritionalist, whatever that means. Her evidence, to the extent that she feels the need to provide any, consists primarily of anecdotes, often involving herself, such as when she rid her body of “a tumor the size of golf ball after consuming nothing but juice for five days – an achievment that, if it at all indicates anything that actually happened, ought to convince you never ever to take advice from her on absolutely anything.


Calbom has written a number of books, many of which are concerned with weight loss, such as The Coconut Diet: The Secret Ingredient For Effortless Weight Loss (with one John Calbom). The books contain absolutely nothing of value to anyone but instead a plethora of questionable health claims, and some of them aren’t completely innocuous, especially those made in her series The Juice Ladys Remedies for, which includes at least “Asthma and Allergies” and “Stress and Adrenal Fatigue”. Needless to say, juicing has absolutely no beneficial effect on real diseases, nor will it help remedy the conditions people interpret in light of fad fake diseases either. Among her more disconcerting titles, you’ll also find The Complete Cancer Cleanse: A Proven Program to Detoxify and Renew Body, Mind, and Spirit (with Michael Mahaffey and John Calbom again) – note that the authors are careful to merely suggest but not outright claim that their suggestions actually have any effect on cancer whatsoever; there are good reasons for that. (Despite Calbom’s complete lack of knowledge or understanding of cancer, some altmed crazies, like Judy Seeger, apparently take the title of her rant to indicate that she is something of a cancer expert). Among her titles are also some attempts to branch out into new territories, such as “Souping: The New Juicing”.


Calbom apparently holds a a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition from Bastyr University, which is not anything to be proud of.


Diagnosis: Complete and utter tripe, quackery and nonsense. But there is a rich market for this kind gentrified bullshit, and we admit that Calbom has figured out how to exploit it.

Monday, March 20, 2023

#2629: Joetta Calabrese

Joetta Calabrese is a homeopath, and as homeopaths are wont to do, she offers terrible advice on a range of issues. Ebola, for instance: According to Calabrese, “in the case of Ebola, no conventional treatment or vaccine is available. Fortunately for us, homeopathy has great renown for its healing ability in epidemics.” Homeopathy has no benefit for anything whatsoever, and insofar as that is reasonably well known, the statement might technically count as true, though not for the reasons Calabrese imagines it to be. She offers a range of what she considers to be treatment options, though – “remedies” homeopaths would push, without evidence of efficacy, for other diseases that, to Calabrese’s mind (to the extent that it’s there), “match this symptom picture” (homeopathy, of course, is all about symptoms) – all of which consist of water soaked into sugar pills. And, to repeat, Calabrese seems to believe these things, if her website is any indication. She also has a book, The Survivalist Guide to Homeopathy, which suggests she might be into other nonsense than medical nonsense as well.


Diagnosis: Completely delusional. If you suffer from anything, you’re better off trusting random chance selections of remedies than the advice of Joetta Calabrese. A significant threat to her surroundings.


Hat-tip: Respectful Insolence

Friday, March 17, 2023

#2628: Dan Calabrese

Dan Calabrese is a serious wingnut, conspiracy theorist, and editor-in-chief of the North Star Writers Group, which was operative a decade or so ago. Calabrese went on to be editor-in-chief of Herman Cain’s Best of Cain website, a position he used to promote various anti-gay nonsense and general wingnuttery. According to Calabrese, gay rights advocates and websites like OKCupid are promoting fascism and Bolshevism while acting just like The Borg of Star Trek: This movement is evil. The gay movement understands something. They understand that in order for their movement to ultimately succeed, they need to turn the entire culture into a mindless army of obedient adherents like the Borg on Star Trek.” The occasion was the CEO of Mozilla stepping down after being revealed to donate to a campaign to repeal marriage equality in California in 2014. What it has to do with Bolshevism is unexplained but obvious enough. It’s instructive, however, to note that Calabrese thinks trying to get people to agree with him means turning them into a “mindless army of obedient adherents”. Don’t agree with Calabrese is the obvious lesson here.


Calabrese has weighed in on a number of equality-related issues, however. When Burger King launched an LGBT pride themed burger at one San Francisco location, Calabrese complained that when he was eating lunch, he didn’t want to “be thinking about is dude-on-dude action.” It’s unclear why he would, but he desperately yelled at Burger King that “You’re the ones who are making it an issue, not me.” But that’s incorrect; it’s Calabrese who makes it an issue because he can’t stop thinking about dude-on-dude action. “I don’t remember the last time adulterers, murderers or drunk drivers convinced a burger chain to name a product after them,” he lamented, because gay people are exactly like murderers and drunk drivers.


And that happened at the same time then-President Obama ensured he would keep gay people “in a state of demonic oppression” since he backed efforts to curtail the practice of conversion therapy on minors. Homosexuality is “demonic” and a gay person is in need of “a deliverance minister [who] can help him to get rid of the evil spirit.” Obama, by extension, is a phony Christian.


He was also, in 2014, appalled that Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer chose to pick Lisa Brown to be his running mate, since Brown in 2012 mentioned the word “vagina” in a House floor speech against an anti-choice bill. That’s a word no civilized person would use for a body part (at least unless it’s prefaced by ‘grabbed’, we suspect), and to Calabrese, Brown will forever be the Vagina Woman (it is, in other words, OK to use the word as a slur, but not to refer to a body part – you see the difference?)


Meanwhile, activists working to reform marijuana laws are “idiotic” and “dumb. They are dumb primarily because they overlook “the spiritual implications of this issue”, namely that smoking marijuana “invites demonic infestation” and “puts a person at serious risk of demonic attack”. You see, “strident marijuana activists” have turned marijuana into their “god” and thereby given themselves “over to the spiritual enemies of God.” So there. Dumb.


Calabrese was also one of the main proponents of the Hilary Clinton shoe truther conspiracy theory. It’s not his only Clinton conspiracy. His ability to assess information is, in general, questionable.


Diagnosis: “Everyone who disagrees with me is possessed by demons!” is not a good starting point, but Calabrese starts and ends up there. Idiotic. Dumb.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

#2627: Marco Cáceres de Iorio

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is an old beast among anti-vaccine groups, and one of the most unhinged – yes, it is Barbara Loe Fisher’s group. The Vaccine Reaction (TVR) is a house organ of the NVIC, and one that continues to spew out antivaccine propaganda covering every anti-vaccine PRATT and trope we have encountered (the VAERS database, anyone?), applying no discernible judgment as long as their claims, accusations and conspiracy theories might resonate with their audiences. Marco Cáceres is the editor of TVR, and seems to have written most of their articles.


According to Cáceres and the TVR, the numbers of people who “have been sickened or injured by the toxins in our environment, foods, and pharmaceutical products” (i.e. vaccines) is enormous and on the rise. They know this because they have already decided that it is the case, and will do anything to make the evidence fit the hypothesis, regardless of what medical science might say. Indeed, a central ploy of the TVR is, unsurprisingly, to try to spin virtually any medical event of note to concern vaccines, even when they really know it doesn’t. So when former Senator José Peralta died of sepsis at 47, Cáceres rushed to point out that the CDC admits that the flu vaccine can cause allergic reactions. He didn’t say outright that Peralta was killed by the flu vaccine, of course. Sepsis is, after all, not an allergic reaction. But you get no prize for answering the question “If Peralta died of sepsis, why did Cáceres bring up allergic reactions to the flu vaccine?”


And on the other hand, one can always go disease denialism. When the zika virus led to an increase in incidence of microcephaly in Brazil (thus suggesting a market for, you know, a zika virus vaccine), Cáceres was quick to lament how viruses are always the easy scapegoat (and “the same thoroughly unscientific mentality has been disseminated widely with regard to bacteria, disease, and fever”) – after all, viruses are natural: “we carry lots of viruses within us all the time, and they don’t harm us in the least bit. And some of them actually do good things for us,” says Cáceres, as if it were remotely relevant to the issue. But it is important to remember that germ theory denialism often lurks right beneath the surface in antivaccine thought.


And oh, is he (and antivaccine activists in general) persecuted! And in his post “Internet Trolls Attack Anyone Resisting Vaccine Party Linehe connects the dots: it’s the shills! All those social media friends and people showing up to tell you that vaccines are safe and effective: they are either backed by shadowy pharma-financed people or rely on information that originates with a small number of shills – apparently using a number of aliases to make you think there are more of them than there are. And one of the notable things about these nasty fellows is how mean they are – they resort to slander and personal insults [i.e. correct people like Cáceres using the mean and offensive technique of appeal to evidence], and when you do that, it shows that you have lost. No, Cáceres didn’t grasp the irony of his claim. But conspiracies are, unsurprisingly, strong with Cáceres, and with them comes the right to dismiss any research or evidence on the basis of perceiving ulterior motives: For instance, Cáceres could easily dismiss research on antivax media by noting that the lead author of a study was an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health – in other words, the author was interested in public health and thus clearly not a disinterested party.


Diagnosis: One of the really central producers of antivaccine propaganda, and as such a serious threat to human health an well-being. Dangerous.

Monday, March 13, 2023

#2626: Roman Bystrianyk

We’ve already – long ago – covered quack, antivaccine activist, and fake news and pseudoscience (including homeopathy) promoter Suzanne Humphries, but we’ll get another opportunity to mention her shit here by covering her sometimes coauthor Roman Bystrianyk. Together, Humphries and Bystrianyk have written the book Dissolving Illusions, an antivaccine screed brimful of alternative facts about polio, a topic of major significance to publice health, and where lies and mischaracterizations like the ones Humphries and Bystrianyk are pushing may have real-life disastrous consequences. There is a review of the book here, and more details here. In essence, the book is an attempt to use falsehoods to minimize the significance of polio – an “insignificant” disease, according to H&B – in order to push an antivaccine agenda; after all, if vaccines contributed nothing to public health by eradicating polio, what good are they? The main reason polio wasn’t a big deal is, according to H&B, apparently that it was relatively uncommon, and that some of the paralytic cases attributed to polio in the 1950s were probably misdiagnosed (almost no one reasonable would consider the 3,145 deaths from polio, mainly children, in 1953 – which was certainly not misdiagnosed –  to be particularly significant, would they?) H&B’s nonsense has apparently had some impact in antivaxx circles.


It’s not Bystrianyk’s first foray into this kind of antivaccine gambits. In a rant about measles vaccines, he tried to pull a similar claim about measles, claiming that measles deaths had “almost” been eradicated prior to the introduction of the vaccine. There is a graph about measles and the vaccine. It is here. Bystrianyk doesn’t show it. Instead, he points out that in 1963, the whole of New England had only 5 deaths attributed to measles. And who cares about five dead kids? Measles is “not dangerous in well-nourished people,” says Bystrianyk. That’s a lie. (He’s got other lies about the vaccine to share, too, but we don’t feel the need to repeat them.)


Bystrianyk’s background is in software development, not medicine. But he’s done his own research on vaccines!


Diagnosis: Garbage, at absolutely every conceivable level.


Hat-tip: Joel Harrison & sciencebasedmedicine

Friday, March 10, 2023

#2625: Roger Byrd

Roger Byrd is, or at least used to be, pastor of the Jonesville Church of God in Jonesville, South Carolina, and he managed to ascend to internet immortality back in 2008 when he put up the signOsama, Obama, hmm, are they brothers?” in front of his church. Apparently the question struck Byrd because the names ‘Osama’ and ‘Obama’ are similar enough to be distinguished by a single letter, which is the pattern parents typically follow when they name siblings. Confronted with the silliness, Byrd tried to explain:See, it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know. At least he managed to make it clear to the rest of us that, yes, Roger Byrd is the kind of person who could put up a sign like that and think he was clever. And being dimly aware that some people associate being offensive with something negative, he hastened to reassure us that the sign wasn’t intended to be offensive: “It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there that does not believe in Jesus Christ.” Whoops! That sentence exceeded the three-word limit Byrd tenaciously needs to observe if his utterances are to express even semi-coherent thoughts.


Diagnosis: Not notable at all, but sufficiently hilariously inept to be worth a mention. His congregation probably loves him. Possibly dangerous.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

#2624: John Byrd

John Byrd is a fundie creationist village idiot and sometime guest columnist for the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. Byrd does not like science. In particular, Byrd does not like how science doesn’t invoke God to explain natural phenomena. “By limiting scientific inquiry to ‘natural’ explanations for observed phenomena,” says Byrd, “what was considered good science often becomes ‘religion’.” Yeah, science was better before – and notice how he explicitly invokes ‘natural’ phenomena as a presupposition for science rather than (more accurately) the results of employing appropriate means for investigation and confirmation of hypotheses.*


Byrd’s primary target is, of course, evolution: the reason creationism isn’t taken seriously as an alternative is not because it contradicts the evidence and offers no explanation for anything but because people who conclude with the Bible rather than evolution are ostracized from the scientific community by fiat (it’s an interestingly post-modern, Edinburgh-school like view of science Byrd is espousing). He does struggle mightily with distinguishing science from religion, though; according to Byrd, “Darwinism is an atheistic theory that attributes all that we see to chance and natural causes,” and “[t]eaching Darwinism in biology class is tantamount to teaching Atheism 101.” (And no, he really doesn’t get evolution – in particular, he doesn’t get the point about evolution being precisely not a matter of random chance – and goes all in on Hoyle’s fallacy). And as for evidence? Not only does Byrd deny that it’s there, he even attempts to claim that the fossil record is evidence against evolution, mostly because he doesn’t bother to actually look.


Yes, it is, in particular, a disaster that creationism isn’t taught in public schools, especially when it is adopted by so many people Byrd finds admirable for their intellect; and make no mistake, “[i]f it weren’t taught in science classes, most of us would say it takes a complete fool to believe [evolution].” And then, because he is unable to distinguish a scientific theory supported by empirical investigation from a moral theory, he blames being taught the theory of evolution for kids today ostensibly being engaged in “immoral and directionless” behavior (they “wallow with the lascivious hogs”). Indeed, by not using public schools to evangelicize, “we have become a nation of fools.” (Yes, there is an irony there that Byrd couldn’t possibly appreciate.) Indeed, Byrd thinks that teaching science in science classes not only should be but is illegal.


In his letters and columns, Byrd has run more or less the full gamut of intelligent design creationist gambits, including invoking Stephen Meyer as an authority and standard creationist misunderstandings of information. (More or less all of his writings also feel the need to take the effort to point out that “One Nation Under God” is part of the US pledge of allegiance.) Then he quote mines Supreme Court judges.


Diagnosis: Yeah, a fairly typical specimen: He does not understand the theory of evolution, and he does not want to try to understand it, but he does have deep opinions about it nonetheless and will use all his efforts to try to flail against the strawman he has constructed. Given that he is, at least, able to formulate grammatical sentences, there is a bit to learn from his flailings for the rest of us.


*Yes, it’s that point again: the myth of “methodological naturalism”, the idea that scientific research relies on assuming certain metaphysical ideas (about causation, the nature of phenomena, and so on), and is, as such, prevented from discerning other possibilities. The idea is common among denialists and those who desperately want to shield their ideas from scientific inquiry, and it is utterly silly (how would one get any foray into quantum mechanics, or investigate (and refute) paranormal phenomena – which we do – if that were correct?). In reality, science is committed to basic empiricism, the idea that the source of confirmation of hypotheses (including, of course, hypotheses about unobservable phenomena) comes from the observations and patterns the hypotheses predict. And the current hypotheses about phenomena like the origin of life or the universe are accepted because they yield the most successful predictions and explanations of those observations. If you prefer to entertain a “non-natural” hypothesis – fine: What you have to do, then, is to show that it yields better predictions of observable patterns and data. That’s the bar. “non-natural” hypotheses aren’t barred; it’s just that, at present, none of the “non-natural” hypotheses some people like does a good job – or any job at all – in yielding good predictions of data, and certainly not at a level comparable to, say, evolution or the Big Bang. Science doesn’t need to rule out any type of explanation by fiat.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

#2623: Mack Butler

Demented antivaccine activist Hilary Butler is a New Zealander. We don’t know if Mack Butler is antivaccine, but he is certainly a full-blown science denialist, conspiracy theorist and wingnut, so it would not surprise us much.


Butler, an electrical contractor, was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018, representing Etowah County and St. Clair County, and is, as of 2022, running again. He is most famous for sponsoring a bill to make it harder to remove Confederate monuments in Alabama, ostensibly because “What happened in America was horrible, and it’s important we learn how horrible it was”; he did not specify what he was referring to as being horrible (and we don't dare guess). He also thinks that abortion is “human sacrifice”, and that all supporters of abortion (and all members of the Democratic party) are “pure evil and guilty of murder by association”.


For the purposes of this entry, however, we are most interested in Butler’s incessant attempts to have creationism taught in Alabama public schools. In 2015, Butler introduced a bill that encouraged science teachers to teach whatever they pleased, without accountability or oversight, in science classes, particularly when it cane to issues prone tocause debate and disputation, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning.” According to Butler, it “takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution because he is unable to distinguish between believing something based on evidence and believing something based on faith. The bill died in committee.


In 2017, however, Alabama adopted his House Joint Resolution 78, which adopted language straight out of the creationist Academic Freedom Act promoted by the Discovery Institute (the Discovery Institute was thrilled). Butler said his resolution on science instruction in public schools was an effort to encourage students and teachers to discuss intelligent design, thus ensuring that the resolution would never hold up in court: “In the development of critical thinking, we need to make it welcoming at least for a student or teacher to bring up another theory.” It should bother you that before becoming a representative, Butler was a school board member at Etowah County Schools for 10 years.


Diagnosis: If the thought occassionaly crosses one’s mind that surely, given his tactics, Butler must be secretly working to subvert denialist efforts in Alabama, then that is unfortunately extremely unlikely to be the case. Butler is just a dense, wingnut conspiracy theorist.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

#2622: Zach Bush

The official strategy of integrative medicine is to integrate poorly researched health claims with scientifically based medicine. One obvious obstacle to taking that strategy seriously is that the claims of integrative medicine practitioners blatantly contradict science – integrating pseudoscience with science is not only going to fail to make science better, but has to be based on rejecting science. Zachary Bush is a case in point. Bush is an MD (a professional degree, not a scientific one) who runs something called the M Clinic and “Intrinsic Health” center in Charlottesville, and who sells his own RESTORE line of supplements.


Bush is excited about genetics, but seems to fail its basic concepts (unless his claims just rely on potential customers failing basic concepts of genetics). According to Bush, genetically speaking, humans are pathetically simplesince we only have 20,000 genes whereas fungi have 2 trillion: that’s PIDOOMA, of course – fungal genomes are similar to ours in size, but people like Bush aren’t going to let vulgar facts stop them. To Bush, the difference, which isn’t there, means thatif microorganisms were the enemy, we’d be dead, because microorganisms are of course a unified group with a single mind – either they’re with us or they’re against us (he has also claimed that human and pig DNA are identical: the bits have just been scrambled in different positions to yield different animals). Fortunately for us, the DNA repair enzymetravels near the speed of light (he’s off by some impressive 16 orders of magnitude). Also, junk DNA is a myth because “there’s no waste in nature; so-called junk DNA is really microRNA, as Bush imagines it. And microRNA can be transmitted by breathing: yes, you can go to the gym and, instead of working out, just breathe in others’ microRNA, and get the workout benefit by fooling your cells to think that they worked out. On the other hand, eating microRNA from “bored” corn grown in a monocultural field of corn will make us afraid of diversity, and is thus a central cause of racism and mass shootings. Oh, yeah.


Bush’s health- and wellness persona is built not only on incoherent ramblings about genetics, however. His website offers a range of alternative therapies and pseudoscientific bullshit, often supported by “Deepak Chopra like nonsense-statements”. On COVID-19, for instance, Bush can tell us that “May this respiratory virus that now shares space and time with us teach us of the grave mistakes we have made in disconnecting from our nature and warring against the foundation of the microbiome. If we choose to learn from, rather than fear, this virus, it can reveal the source of our chronic disease epidemics that are the real threat to our species.” Yeah, no. But Bush does want to sell you products that can boost your immune system. Of course he does. He also promotes various COVID conspiracy theorists, including the infamous Plandemic movie.


His nonsense has had some impact among those seeking pseudoscience for autism; Bush promotes the idea that gut health as the root cause of autism, and although the hypothesis has been (barely!) on the fringy edge of the table, Bush is decades ahead of the research and the evidence: he’s already got remedies to sell you! To audiences at the Autism One quackfest in 2016, Bush for instance advertised his “plant-derived mineral supplement, RESTORE ($49.95 for a one-month supply) to strengthen cell membranes in the gut to keep toxins from leaking out.” Asking for at least tentative evidence or research just shows that you’re a paid shill! And of course Bush pushes the autism epidemic myth – “We are on target to experience 1 in 3 children with Autism by 2035,” says Bush, for what better way to market his products by some fear, uncertainty and doubt, regardless of how utterly detached from reality it may be?


But even what we have mentioned is just scratching the surface. Bush is on record promoting germ theory denialism – viruses don’t really cause disease (viruses, according to Bush, are merely ways for Mother Nature to update our genetic software and can’t cause disease in healthy individuals), and we can cure ourselves by tapping into ecstasy (if we could only avail ourselves to the “orgasm” of biting into a fresh tomato, our hormonal surge would give us “the opposite of cancer”)  – and vaccine denialism. Instead of true statements, Bush claims that all chronic diseases are caused by mitochondrial malfunction, for which he offers month-long “immersion” programs ($495), premium eight-week programs ($1,495), and various supplements based on conspiracy theory claims about e.g. pesticides and health (glyphosate, of course, which but according to Bush is “the most abundant antibiotic on Earth”; glyphosate is not an antibiotic), some cherry-picked and misrepresented science, and his own grand, unified theory of health according to which Mother Nature is a “miraculous hyper-intelligence. He’s got products to help with gut health, immune health, and sleep, e.g. a mineral supplement that ostensibly helps with “damage from toxins such as glyphosate” (there’s a version for your pets, too). He also rejects the theory of evolution: his false claim that human and pig DNA are identical, just scrambled together differently, means that Darwin was wrong: new species do not slowly transition out of older ones but miraculously appear overnight after radical genomic shakeups. Facts and evidence, once again, are just not the relevant standards here.


And the road to COVID denialism is obvious, for how could there be a COVID pandemic when viruses can’t make you sick? According to Bush, the media has usurped science to create a climate of fear – unlike himself, of course – for the way Bush reads it, the science is already there to prove the damage” from vaccines. No, he’s not reading science.


In 2019, Bush even succeeded in having some pseudoscientific spam reprinted in an article in Scientific American, who at least admitted their mistake.


Diagnosis: Given how judiciously selected and designed his marketing strategies are, and how aware he seems to be of the limits to what’s legally actionable, it is hard not to suspect foul play. Medika concludes their profile of Bush by juding him to be “a health predator, no matter how you dress him up, and he is an embarrassment to traditional medicine and the healthcare profession in general”. We have nothing really to add.


Hat-tip: Chad Hayes; medika; Jonathan Jarry