I’ve written several times about how so many conservative websites, organizations, magazines and even candidates make a fortune by renting out their email lists to con artists pushing gold, survival supplies and the like. Scott Brown and Mike Huckabee did it last week for an add by an anti-vaccination doctor yammering on about fluoride in the water.
Those who opened an email from former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Wednesday expecting an announcement that he is running for Senate in New Hampshire received a surprise instead: a message from a doctor and noted vaccination opponent claiming that vaccines, and even too much exercise, lead to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Dear Patriot,” wrote Brown. “I thought you might be interested in the offer below from our sponsor Newsmax Health,” the medical advice affiliate of the popular conservative news website. The email includes a video titled “5 Signs You’ll Get Alzheimer’s,” which touts the claims of “renowned neurosurgeon and nutritionist Dr. Russell Blaylock.”
In it, Blaylock warns people not to drink fluoridated water or use toothpaste to avoid the “dramatic destruction of cells” seen in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. The video also touts research showing that those who get a flu vaccine yearly for 3-5 years increase their risk for Alzheimer’s “ten-fold,” a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, a 2001 study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal foundthat flu vaccines may actually decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s.
The video also addresses other brain disorders, warning that the following ubiquitous items cause “brain inflammation” that leads to Parkinson’s: pesticides and herbicides; harmful ingredients in foods and beverages; toxic metals in the air, water and consumer products; various sugars and sugar substitutes; omega-6 fats; vaccines (including flu shots); and even “too much aerobic exercise.”
In a very real sense, the conservative movement is just as much, if not more, about cataloging lists of suckers to exploit for profit as it is a political movement. Many of the obsessions of right wing fanatics go back to these kinds of grifts. For instance, gold buggery and the obsession with the gold standard is widespread because grifters make a lot of money convincing their marks that hoarding gold will protect them against some sort of social and economic collapse. Alternate health care schemes cropped up to exploit paranoia about Obamacare. And then there’s the biggest con of them all: The gun industry. Overwrought, paranoid emails that race-bait and suggest that there’s a coming war lead to more and more gun sales as right wing nuts build up their stashes for a war that is never coming. The survivalist grift is part of this, too.
So, no, none of this is a surprise. It’s also unbelievably frustrating, because conservatives are never going to see that their leaders basically view them as a bunch of marks to be exploited. The “our followers are marks” mentality seeps out of every pore, and once you see that’s how the conservative movement works, it’s hard not to see it everywhere.
About a year ago, Newsmax approached me about making a deal to put a widget on our sidebar that linked to the articles on their site. I had a lot of fun mocking the person who sent it, who falsely claimed to be a “huge fan” of FTB. But I said no not only because it wouldn’t fit here at all but also because I have no desire to help them continue to fleece the ignorant and the credulous with these kinds of scams.