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“Pimping Pseudo-Science”: Carson Denies Obvious Ties To Controversial Supplement Maker

At the CNBC debate, Ben Carson tried to argue that he never had anything to do with an extraordinarily shady supplement company.

That is nonsense. The truth is that Carson had a years-long relationship with Mannatech—a company that pimps pseudoscience and allegedly engaged in unethical marketing practices.

Jim Geraghty broke this story months ago at National Review. Mannatech is a supplement company that sells so-called glyconutrients. Its representatives have suggested the product can treat autism, cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Spoiler: “Glyconutrients” do not cure cancer, and no credible researcher or doctor says they do.

In fact, if Carson had glanced at the company’s Wikipedia page, he would have seen that one top glycobologist said these “glyconutrients” have no identifiable impact on the human body besides making you pass more gas. Seriously.

The state of Texas sued the company, which settled in 2009 by paying $4 million to Texas customers, promising that its representatives would stop saying its products could “cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease.” The company didn’t admit to any wrongdoing.

When Geraghty reached out to Mannatech about their relationship with Carson, spokesman Mike Crouch said this: “We appreciate his support and value his positive feedback as a satisfied customer.”

But Mannatech doesn’t just sell bad medicine. At least one lawsuit alleged it uses astonishingly unethical marketing practices to do so. In 2004, a mother sued after trying to use the company’s products to help her 3-year-old son, who suffered from Tay-Sachs disease. The suit alleged that the company showed naked pictures of the boy—which his mother said she shared with representatives of the company in confidence—to suggest to hundreds of seminar attendees as evidence that its products worked. The worst part? The son died while using Mannatech supplements, according to the suit. The company confidentially settled that suit in 2005 for $750,000.

Anyway, Carson addressed at least three of the company’s annual conferences, according to National Review. His image appeared on its website’s homepage. He praised its fart-inducing glyconutrients on PBS. And as recently as last year, he suggested the company had tapped into God’s secrets for good health.

“The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel,” Carson said in a video touting the company’s products.

“Many of the natural things are not included in our diet,” he continued. “Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health.”

As part of his characteristically lackluster debate performance, Carson tried to distance himself from Mannatech on Wednesday night when a CNBC moderator pressed him on that relationship.

“I didn’t have an involvement with them, that’s total propaganda,” he said, betraying a total misunderstanding of what the word “propaganda” means. “What happens in our society, total propaganda. I did a couple of speeches for them, just for other people, they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it’s a good product.”

To be fair, it is a good product—if you like to fart.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Carson has touted pseudoscientific nonsense on the presidential debate stage. At the last debate, he touted the debunked idea that parents should disregard the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended vaccine schedule and “space out” their children’s vaccinations. As The Daily Beast detailed, that suggestion is a species of anti-vax trutherism. It’s less pernicious than full-on vaccines-cause-autism trutherism, but it is trutherism nonetheless. “Spacing out” your kids’ vaccines has one effect, and one effect only: increasing the amount of time your kids are vulnerable to the diseases from which those vaccines inoculate them.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, October 28, 2015

November 1, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Nutritional Supplements, Science | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Room For Misinterpretation”: Donald Trump Warns Of Diseased Immigrants Coming Across The Border—Adds Insult To Injury

This afternoon, future United States President Donald Trump released a statement intended to clarify his remark that illegal immigrants from Mexico are “rapists.”

Trump is unhappy that people are interpreting his statement to mean that he believes all illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists, when he merely intended to say that some of them are rapists.

Trump, who has publicly speculated that vaccines can cause autism, added that immigrants are responsible for bringing “infectious disease” into America.

Trump’s press release began: “I don’t see how there is any room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the statement I made on June 16th during my Presidential announcement speech.”

The speech, he said, was “deliberately distorted” by the media and to prove it he included an excerpt of his remarks so that readers could see for themselves how they have been taken out of context.

When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) send its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume are good people! But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

“What can be simpler or more accurately stated?” Trump asked. “They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc…On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it.”

Trump then noted that Mexican cartels bring heroin, cocaine “and other illicit” drugs into America via immigrants, and, “Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.”

About those vaccines: since at least 2012, Trump has claimed that vaccines and autism are linked.

During a Fox and Friends appearance to promote his cologne, “Success,” in 2012, Trump said, “I’m all for vaccinations, but I think that when you add all of these vaccinations together and then two months later the baby is so different…” Trump said, adding this was “a theory” but anecdotally, “It happened to somebody that worked for me recently. I mean, they had this beautiful child, not a problem in the world, and all of a sudden they go in and they get this monster shot. Then all of a sudden the child is different a month later. I strongly believe that’s it.”

So that’s it.

Anyway, in the event that you’ve been slumbering unaware since Trump’s June announcement, his remarks about illegal immigrants have resulted in a mass exodus of businesses in the Trump Inc. orbit. Univision, a Spanish-language TV network, announced they would no longer air Trump’s beauty pageants; Macy’s pulled all Trump branded products; NBC dropped Trump’s show, The Apprentice. Trump has filed suit against Univision, for $500 million, and threatened legal action against NBC.

“I have lost a lot during this Presidential run defending the people of the United States,” Trump said in the Monday statement. “I have always heard that it is very hard for a successful person to run for President.”

Well, now he knows.

 

By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, July 6, 2015

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigrants, Immigration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Highly Situational Principles”: How The Vaccine Controversy Shows The Limits Of GOP Libertarianism

As a demonstration that anything can become political and you never know what issue is going to take over a campaign, every potential presidential candidate is now thinking very carefully about what they should say on the topic of childhood immunizations. Chris Christie kicked things off when he answered a question about a spreading measles outbreak with some comments about parental choice that he sort-of walked back, but the real news came when Rand Paul — a graduate of Duke University medical school, which I’m fairly certain is a real thing — gave an interview to CNBC in which he said, “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

Needless to say, this is utterly bogus. What Paul should have noted was that this question has been studied exhaustively, and there is no evidence whatsoever that vaccines cause autism or any other “mental disorder.”

But if you thought that every GOP candidate would be rushing to pander to people’s fears about big government forcing them to stick needles in their kids, you’d be wrong. In fact, the ones we’ve heard from so far have been clearly pro-vaccine. And this shows just where the limits of libertarianism within the Republican Party are.

As the New York Times noted this morning, Mike Huckabee has in the past advocated that vaccines be widely used, and specifically dismissed the debunked connection to autism, while Rick Perry has also touted his administration’s efforts to increase vaccination. You’ll recall that Perry was criticized by his Republican opponents in 2012 for mandating that girls in Texas public schools receive the HPV vaccine (though he eventually reversed himself when he was convinced by other Texas conservatives that giving a 10-year-old girl a shot to prevent her from getting cervical cancer after she becomes an adult would obviously turn her into a sex maniac). Ben Carson also made clear that mandatory vaccination is critical to preventing disease, no matter what religious or philosophical objections people might have. John Boehner too said that every child should be vaccinated.

While there are a few candidates we haven’t yet heard from, it may be surprising that Paul isn’t getting more company; indeed, he’s probably surprised, given how much Republicans have talked about individual liberty in the last few years. Paul doesn’t deny that there are risks to not vaccinating children, but he says that it’s a matter of personal freedom: parents, not the government, should make the choice. However, it turns out that other Republicans don’t agree. In this case they believe that the welfare of the community trumps the individual’s right to decide.

What that tells us is that the broader Republican commitment to libertarian principles is highly situational. Libertarians laud themselves for their philosophical consistency (though Rand Paul is a quasi-libertarian at most), but ordinary conservatives are picking and choosing based on who’s getting what and who’s paying what. In the case of something like guns, where there’s an analogous situation (individuals want to make a choice that potentially endangers others), conservatives see the gun owner getting a benefit, and one many of them enjoy. When they say that companies should be released from environmental regulations, they’re thinking about people and organizations they admire getting the benefit of unconstrained market freedom, and the cost (environmental degradation) is something they’re only marginally concerned about.

But in the case of vaccines, the beneficiaries are a bunch of wackos and conspiracy theorists who are gaining nothing more than the ability to endanger their own children, at the cost of endangering everybody else’s children. And I’m guessing it also matters that a lot of the vaccine truthers who get attention are liberals, the Marin County types who think that because they feed their children organic food that the kids will have super-charged immune systems and therefore can’t become sick. (It should be noted that vaccine trutherism is a non-partisan affliction: liberals are no more likely than conservatives to think vaccines cause autism.)

What’s more, while it’s also true that advocating for vaccines requires conservatives to agree with Science, this issue isn’t like climate change, where many on the right think the entire scientific community is engaged in a vast conspiracy of deception. On climate, people fear that they’ll lose something (like their SUVs) and have to change their lifestyle in order to address the problem; the issue also threatens their traditional allies in the energy industry. There are few such considerations in the vaccine issue.

So the vaccine issue demonstrates that while nearly every Republican agrees with libertarian ideas on some issues, this doesn’t necessarily reflect just an inviolable philosophical commitment to individual liberty. When being a libertarian means getting something they want without having to give up anything they like, they’re happy to wave the anti-government flag. But if it means their kids might get sick because some people are dumb enough to take their medical advice from Jenny McCarthy, the needs of the many begin to look much more pressing than the delusions of the few.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, February 3, 2015

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Communicable Diseases, GOP, Libertarians | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No, No, A Thousand Times No”: What Chris Christie Gets Wrong About Vaccine Deniers

Chris Christie is in England, because like so many candidates before him, he knows that the way to show American voters that you will make wise foreign policy decisions is to demonstrate that you have, in fact, visited another country. And while he’s there, he managed to make news by taking a position that is not only controversial but spectacularly wrong, on the topic of the spreading measles outbreak caused by unvaccinated children:

“Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health,” Christie told reporters here Monday. But the likely Republican presidential candidate added: “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

And it gets worse: Christie said, “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official.”

No, no, a thousand times no. It’s great that Christie vaccinated his children, but it’s also completely irrelevant. And what he thinks as a parent is absolutely not more important than what he thinks as a public official. Want to know why? Because he’s a public official. That means that he has a responsibility for the health and welfare of the nine million people who live in his state. I am so tired of politicians who say, “My most important title is Mom/Dad.” It isn’t. When you decided to run for public office, you accepted that there would be times when you’d have to act in the public interest regardless of your family’s interest, or your friends’ interest, or the interest of the town you grew up in. When you took the oath of office you made a covenant that you’d work on behalf of the larger community. The fact that you’re a parent can help you understand other parents and their concerns, but it doesn’t change your primary responsibility.

One can certainly express some measure of understanding toward anti-vaxxers while still holding that their views are not just mistaken but profoundly dangerous. Fear for the health of one’s children is a powerful force. As a general matter there’s nothing wrong with distrusting the pharmaceutical industry. One can understand how someone might end up with such views. That being said, there’s about as much real evidence that vaccines cause autism as there is that volcanoes cause post-nasal drip.

So the responsible thing for a governor to say would be, “As a parent, I get where they’re coming from. But as a public official it’s my responsibility to say that they’re wrong, and in their error they aren’t just threatening their own children’s health, they’re threatening the entire community.” You don’t have to think parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should be arrested, but their ideas ought to be condemned for the harm they do. If Chris Christie has sympathy for them as a father, that’s fine. But he has a more important job to do.

After getting some criticism over his initial remarks, Christie clarified through a spokesperson that he believes all kids should be vaccinated. Which is good, and I hope that this episode provides a lesson for him and other officeholders. Politicians are always trying to tell us that they’re just regular folks like us, and all you need to succeed in high office is common sense and a strong memory of your humble roots. It’s baloney. We choose them for those offices because we need them to make complex and difficult decisions that require more than common sense. We don’t try to elect the best dad to be governor or president, we try to elect the person who’ll be the best governor or president.

Are Republicans more likely than Democrats to fall into this regular-guy routine? Politicians from both parties do it, but the GOP has certainly embraced know-nothingism on other issues. “I’m not a scientist” has become the standard Republican way to say we shouldn’t do anything to address climate change. For a long time they have played the identity politics game, which requires demonstrating that you’re “one of us” and your opponent is alien and contemptible, with particular vigor. That’s an argument that denies there’s anything special about public office; all we need is to find a candidate with “[insert our state here] values,” and everything will be fine.

But it won’t, and it would be nice if the people vying for office stopped pretending otherwise.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, February 2, 2015

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, Public Health, Vaccinations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With HPV Vaccine Rumors, Michele Bachmann Is The New Joe McCarthy

Joe McCarthy knew how to rile up the base. He knew his political hot buttons. He knew how to stoke fear and create a movement. He knew how to build a following by ratcheting up the rhetoric, the facts be damned.

Sadly, Rep. Michele Bachmann has followed in his mold: questioning the  patriotism of members of Congress, fanning the flames of hatred of gays  and lesbians and, now, attacking the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

This  HPV political maneuver may be her last. This should be her “have you no  sense of decency” moment, just as the Army-McCarthy hearing was in the  1950s.

Somehow, the anti-vaccine movement has gained steam in the United  States. Rumors that traditional vaccines caused autism began to spread.  They were disproved but not before many parents declined to vaccinate  their children.

A Science Times article in the New York Times (“Remark on  Vaccine Could Ripple for Years”) points to a three to four year drop in  vaccination rates after such publicity. Diseases such as measles and  whooping cough, supposedly under control, have seen outbreaks. According  to the Times, “measles cases in the United States reached a 15-year high last spring. ”

The  HPV virus is, unfortunately, far too common. More than 25 percent of  women 14 to 49 have been infected, 44 percent in the 20 to 24 age range.  Not only can HPV cause cervical cancer but it can cause other cancers  as well.

Last year only 32 percent of teenage girls had been given the vaccine.

If Michele Bachmann’s scare tactics prove true to form, there will be  a drop in the number of girls and women protected. By putting out false  information, by repeating the statement of someone at the debate that  the vaccine caused mental retardation, she set back the effort to save  women’s lives. Hardly a pro-life position.

In fact, the vaccine can prevent unnecessary surgery for several  hundred thousand women a year and even allow women to successfully carry  a pregnancy to term.

Over 35 million doses have been distributed without any serious side  effects. Thank goodness doctors and clinics and reputable research  organizations moved quickly to take on Michele Bachmann.

But,  make no mistake, she even stayed on the issue in Thursday’s debate. This  woman won’t quit, no matter the facts or the implications of her  actions.

She sees a political opening and she takes it, she sees a chance to  rile the base and she seizes it, she sees a good sound bite and off she  goes.

If, in fact, the experts are correct and this will set back  vaccinations for years, Bachmann will need to do more than apologize for  her McCarthy-like tactics. As he ruined innocent lives, she may  responsible for doing the same. She will have to look herself in the  mirror and know that her actions led to more women losing their lives.

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, September 23, 2011

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, GOP, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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