It’s time for another foray into the neverending stream of nonsense that is NewsTarget, the alternative medicine super-site run by bemuscled granola guru Mike Adams.
This edition will be a double feature debunking: two awful articles for the price of none. In the first, Adams himself tries to convince readers that picking your nose all day long once every year is a sensible way to stay healthy. In the second, engineer Sarah Ramratan takes a stock principle from the pseudoscience of homeopathy and drives it off the deep-end. Let’s roll!
In a more innocent age, counter-culture movements would organize sit-ins aimed a raising people’s consciousness. NewsTarget’s counter-medicine movement, on the other hand, is apparently organizing a shit-in. The big “event” is all a flimsy premise to promote the “detox” products of Jon Barron, a nutraceutical researcher eager to clean you out by upping your excretions. As always, ringmaster Adams is careful as always to assure his readers that his endorsement is unpaid: you can trust him because he’s not making any money off his advice. Well, I’m not making any money off my opinions either, and so you can trust me instead when I tell you that these sorts of detoxes are a sidecar shot of hokum in a beer stein of snake oil.
It’s worth noting at the outset that these detox programs don’t even bother with the surface plausibility of trying to treat any sort of diagnosable toxic illness that specific people might really be suffering from. They are simply advertised as a rejuvenating treatment suitable for anyone at all. For all the whining about how conventional medicine isn’t specifically tailored to the individual, Adams and pals sure do seem to be happy to huckster just about any treatment for any person, often hidden under the banner of letting the patient just pick and choose whatever they feel they need.
Given this unbounded audience, the detox product “Metal Magic,” which is billed as an ” extremely effective metal-removing detox tincture,” will probably seem the most gratingly outrageous to skeptics. It’s especially offensive to those that have long fought the misconceptions about mercury poisoning, vaccines, and autism. Despite long decrying the now non-existent and never significant amount of mercury in vaccines that supposedly did so much special and targeted damage, the alt-med implication here is that just about everyone is suffering from some degree of heavy metal poisoning and can benefit from a cleanse.
Now, of course, we do all have heavy metals in our system. Mercury, one of the biggest naturopath boogeymen, is sitting in our bodies right now. Trace amounts of it are in nearly everything you eat: even organic foods. It’s simply one of the many elements floating around in various forms throughout the planet, an unavoidable component of atmospheric and mineral chemistry. And mercury really is deadly toxic to varying degrees in higher concentrations (and depending on its exact chemical state). Drinking the contents of your thermometer because you think it will give you eternal life is something only wise Chinese Emperors should attempt.
Normal levels of mercury exposure are, however, something that the human body is perfectly capable of dealing with. Right now you’re probably passing about 20 micrograms of the stuff with every liter of urine, and even people with slightly higher rates of exposure (such as dentists who prepare mercury amalgam fillings) show no additional ill effects either.
Thus, the sorts of minor chemicals that naturopaths proscribe will, if they even do anything at all, simply cause any mercury that’s currently in your kidneys to be excreted all at once. If, as detox salesman often slyly recommend, you test your urine after taking such a treatments, you’ll see an either satisfying or scary jump in your mercury levels. Of course, if you jam your finger up your nose and fish around for stuff, the “booger” levels in your nasal output will suddenly shoot up in exactly the same way.
And what’s the point? Simply dumping everything that happens to be sitting around in your kidneys every so often is not going to make you any healthier: not even if you actually had a real case of heavy metal poisoning (which is no laughing matter, especially since real chelation therapies are a serious and sometimes dangerous medical matter, and even these very powerful medicines can’t always fix the problem in time to avoid irreversible damage or even death). It’s like speeding 70mph just to stop and wait at a red light.
This same issue applies to pretty much all of these sorts of transient “detoxifications.” Even if they do anything, they are literally no different than taking a laxative once every year for no particular reason. Sure, the laxative will almost completely empty your bowels like never before. But unless you’ve been doing a lot of morphine lately, your bowels should already be pretty good at steadily emptying themselves out as needed. They don’t need any help, and it’s not like pointlessly painful large bowel contractions are enjoyable. Adams himself notes that these detox treatments are “not a fun experience” and can cause side effects like “weakness or moodiness”… both common symptoms of “shat your brains out” syndrome.
In short, while they play on compelling narratives about spring cleaning for your body, or permanently ridding yourself of “toxic gunk,” there’s very little medical sense in any of these detoxes. Your body has entire organ systems devoted to steadily and methodically tossing out toxins, and they are by and large self-balancing. More importantly, if those systems fail, and you really do develop a serious buildup of toxic chemicals in your body (let alone a buildup of whatever Adams thinks “gunk” is made of), then you probably have a serious health problem that no amount of cilantro pills is going to take care of.
Adams doesn’t think so, of course. Adams thinks that if you make yourself feel briefly horrible by taking detox pills, and then get better as you stop taking them, that this equals some form of rejuvenation.
Adams even claims that he’s seen detox products cure cancer. Not just prevent it: he’s seen it cured. In addition to just being an outrageously vile offer of false hope to real cancer sufferers, this claim makes no sense whatsoever. Cancer cells don’t thrive on toxins or whatever “gunk” is. They thrive on warm, juicy, oxygenated human blood. Even if detox products worked as advertised and permanently reduced built-up toxins, this would be a boon for cancer cells, not a hindrance.
But enough with Adams. If you’re done detoxing from detox hype, it’s time to find out why you may be in danger from the traumatic recovered memories… of tap water.
Recent Discovery Shows Water Has A Memory, by Sarah Ramratan
If you’re a good skeptic, probably the first thing you’ll notice about this “recent” discovery is that the man who “recently” discovered it, Dr. Jacques Benveniste, is dead. Not even just recently dead either: dead for nearly 4 years now. Worse, the controversial research she’s citing is of an even older vintage: Benveniste’s original paper on purported water memory was published way back in 1988, and his “digital biology” claims date back to before 1997, when he founded a company named DigiBio to try and develop products based on the idea. Unless death is no barrier to being an active contributor to the field of alternative medicine, Sarah really seems to be stretching the word “recent” to the breaking point here.
But no matter. Sarah asks us to note that “other scientists have duplicated his(Benveniste’s) experiments.” She rather wisely does not provide a comprehensive account of these attempts. While the experiments in question have indeed been replicated, the results have not. Most famously, a team sent to investigate Benveniste’s original claims uncovered evidence of outright fraud in his testing process, showing that Benveniste’s laboratory assistants could influence the results, and that when the control and experimental were properly “double-blinded,” the claimed effect mysteriously disappeared.
Benveniste, for his part, always seemed like a sincere and fiercely loyal man who refused to believe that his homeopathic activist assistants had hoodwinked him. But the fact that only homeopaths with poorly controlled procedures seemed capable of producing positive results plagued the rest of his career. At one point, Benveniste even managed to convince the US Department of Defense to run an experiment of his final digital biology idea. The exact same pattern emerged: when one of Benveniste’s assistants ran the experiment, the surprising results showed up. When someone else ran it, nothing happened.
Now you might expect, given that Benveniste’s ideas about water retaining structural memories are widely lionized amongst homeopaths, that Sarah is working up to a pitch for “natural cure” of homeopathy. But that wouldn’t be quite wacky enough for a NewsTarget feature: instead, Sarah is out to warn us about the nefarious memories stored in water all around us.
Controversy aside, if you think about these findings for a minute you may become shocked! Water holds a “memory” that we can digitally record; and we are able to digitally re-write other water, even when the substance is no longer in it.
We have put countless things in our water, and supposedly “removed” them. Right now, there are pharmaceuticals (among other things) in the water, which no water treatment plant was ever designed to remove. Our water is holding this in its “memory”.
You see, it apparently isn’t bad enough that evil, unnatural pharmaceuticals are proscribed by doctors. Those same pharmaceuticals may now be giving water all over the world “bad memories,” merely by some water somewhere having been in contact with them. And since water treatment plants aren’t set up to remove memories (only, you know, chemicals), we’re all defenseless.
What’s especially surprising is not that Sarah is so ignorant of homeopathy’s status as baseless psuedo-science, but that she seems ignorant even of the core principles of homeopathy that even Benveniste devotedly observed. Nowhere does she reference or acknowledge the principle of succussion which most homeopaths claim is necessary to give a specific dose of water a specific imprint. Nor does Sarah seem to be aware of the homeopathic law of similars, which is the idea that if you highly dilute something that in large doses would cause harmful symptoms (and dilute it to the point where not even a single molecule is likely to remain), it can then cure those symptoms or even a disease that causes them.
Now, of course, if agitation + dilution could produce some sort of powerful effect, then washing machines around the world would be churning out huge quantities of homeopathic socks. There’s not a lot of plausibility to homeopathic principles to begin with, and certainly no evidence. But when Sarah said that the discovery of water memories was “recent,” what she probably meant was that she had only recently heard about this area of alt-med wooery. For Sarah, homeopathic principles apparently don’t apply to pharmaceuticals, which instantly convey their imprint onto water… which then retains their deadliness even as liquid memories.
Perhaps most bizarre, however, is Sarah’s conclusion that we “are all best off drinking clean, pure water” (as if mainstream science was advising that you drink out of the toilet?) In light of what she’s described, this advice seems almost sadistic: according to her own explanation of things, it would be literally impossible for anyone to tell what water is pure and what isn’t. How are you supposed to know whether or not your bottle of Avian “remembers” some distant contact with someone’s flushed aspirin or toenail clippings? What if even the purest of spring water brushed up against an earthworm’s butt as it was rising to the surface?
In conclusion: does water have a memory? You’d better hope not, considering all the nasty things you’ve done in it!
In closing, I can’t resist pointing out this last article: Strategies On Making Positive Changes In Your Life by Violet King. Bless her, but King’s “strategies” all boil down to: don’t let yourself get depressed, it’s bad for you. I really can’t argue with that, I guess, and her cheery counsel never once mangles either science or even pseudoscience. She doesn’t even suggest that positive thinking has any mystical quantum effects on reality.
Beats me how she ever got published on NewsTarget, then.