Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics Religion

Natural News should be called Weekly World News

Mike Adams at Natural News claims that 72 nations are openly worshiping Satanic idols, making Natural News less credible than Weekly World New. What does this say about the antivaccine movement and its links to far right Christian nationalism?

The other day, I was perusing that repository of bonkers conspiracy theories Natural News, the website run by Mike Adams, a man for whom no conspiracy theory is too out-there, just to see what was going on in some of the darker regions of the antivaccine crankosphere. Back in the day, I used to be able to count on Natural News to be the wildest and most ridiculous when it came to antivaccine fear mongering; these days, depressingly, others have surpassed Adams. He is, however, still trying, though! Evidence of this comes from a post the other day entitled THE SUMMONING: 72 nations PUBLICLY worship satanic idols in televised luciferian ritual while celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay creepily stalks frightened lambs:

Every western government is run by satanists, and they are now openly carrying out public rituals to celebrate Lucifer’s (temporary) dominion over Earth.

At the British Commonwealth Games opening ceremony this week (involving 72 nations), a horned bull creature representing Baal was rolled out in a hellscape arena, complete with depictions of burning lava fire pits, while dozens of satanic worshipers bowed to the demon creature as part of the public ritual. This was publicly broadcast in broad daylight, indicating that the satanists are no longer trying to hide their rituals in dark forests and secret dungeons… they’re now invoking Satan right out in the open, for an international audience.

The following screen grabs are from a video posted by Amazing World Ministries which has superimposed scripture indications that are relevant to the events. (See 2 Kings, and Revelation chapters 13 and 14 to read up on what you’re seeing.)

In this first frame, the hellscape lava fire pits burn in a rind around the arena as Satanists clad in ritualistic clothing bow down before Baal, the horned demon creature, raging with fire and breath…

I took a couple of screenshots in order to give you a sense of the utter looniness of it all:

Natural News and Baal
I’ll admit that this looks a bit weird, but Satan? Baal? WTF?
Natural News and Baal?
More strangeness, but evidence that everyone is worshiping…Satan?

To be honest, I must admit that I debated over whether to write about this particular bit of Natural News nuttiness. However, I had noticed that some of my readers had already commented on it in an earlier post. So I figured: Why not?. Also, there’s something to say here. Specifically, back in the day Mike Adams used to try to keep his posts, even as wild as they got, at least somewhat plausible. No longer. Granted, he hit the point of not caring about how implausible his conspiracy theories were long ago; the difference now is that he is much more openly pandering to what one might call the far right Christian nationalist conspiracy fever swamp than he used to. Thus, I see this post as fair game and a useful topic for a followup to to my posts about what Neo Confederate “libertarian” (actually, fascist-adjacent) antimasker, antivaxxer, and all-around anti-public health activist and COVID-19 minimizer Jeffrey Tucker says about the attraction between fascism and the antivaccine movement.

I will admit, of course, that this whole thing looks rather bizarre. I had never heard of this giant bull before; so I did what Natural News readers probably don’t bother to do. I did some Googling to find out about it. It turns out that its origin is much less…demonic…than Mike Adams makes it out to be on Natural News:

The city’s association with the bull stems from the Bull Ring, a market area of Birmingham in the Middle Ages onwards where bulls were once held before slaughter. The city’s biggest shopping centre is the Bullring.

Made of mostly aluminium, it took five months and more than 50 people to build the bull, which has become a major tourist attraction since the Games began.

“The diverse history of Birmingham is one of the reasons we were successful in our bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the way residents and visitors have embraced the Bull shows how important this is,” added Ward.

It also turns out that the ceremony itself didn’t exactly portray what Adams claims that it portrayed, such as:

Here, we see how the two groups of humans, one of them representing globalist Satan worshipers, hold their hands in “prayer” before Baal, the demon creature, and worship his presence on the “stage” of Earth.


The iconic image from the luciferian ritual opening is shown below, notice the use of fire and smoke to indicate a “world on fire” while Satan’s Baal demon creature is now glowing with light, center stage, indicating that Satan rules over Earth and commands the nations of the world into war:

In actuality, this is the story that the opening ceremonies told, as ESPN related:

Then came that giant bull… A spectacular looking creation, with thick smoke streaming out of its nostrils, it was ‘dragged’ into the stadium by massive chains, by 50-odd women. (It was mounted on a massive all-purpose truck, of course) They were supposed to represent the chain-makers of Birmingham, who went on strike demanding reasonable working conditions and a minimum wage. A historically important event that has increasing relevance in modern times. Predictably, though, the reason the chains were made in the first place — for use in the colonial slave trade – was glossed over.

And, from the official Birmingham 2022 website:

The huge, armoured Bull was a central part of the Opening Ceremony. The Bull was pulled on stage by 50 women representing the female chain-makers of the Industrial Revolution who made chains used in the slave trade. The segment featured the women breaking free from their chains to symbolise release from oppression. The Ceremony’s protagonist Stella then offers friendship to the Bull highlighting our ability for compassion and togetherness.

The Bull is made from machinery from Birmingham and West Country factories. It stands at 10 metres high, is 2.5 tonnes and can emit smoke and cry tears of blood. It was designed, built, and mechanised by a team of over 50 people from a UK-based special effects company.

The part of the ceremony before the bull appeared included Tony Iommi, the legendary Black Sabbath guitarist, who unleashed a screaming guitar solo. I guess if you’re one of those fundamentalists who view Black Sabbath’s references to Satan and evil seriously, rather than as a typical schtick used by a lot of metal bands that had been pioneered (if you will) by Black Sabbath, you might do what certain preachers whom I used to watch for laughs on fundamentalist cable channels in the 1980s did and conclude that this was indeed one huge Satanic ceremony. Personally, without having seen the whole thing, I can’t judge. However, I will say that I have a hard time viewing any opening ceremony that concludes—as this one did—with a performance by Duran Duran is unlikely to be particularly Satanic.

Apparently, though, the entire city has fallen into the pits of hell. The original plan was to dismantle the giant bull (which known as Brummie Bull and has its own Twitter account) after the Commonwealth Games conclude, but the bull was such a hit that a petition was launched to save it. That petition has been successful, and after the games the bull will be put on permanent display in a location that hasn’t been determined yet.

If you know Natural News, though, you know that one example is not enough for “evidence” that the world is coming under Satan’s dominion. There has to be another, and the one that Mike Adam’s picked is a head-scratcher:

As yet another display of the pure demonism and luciferian evil that is taking over our world, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay — of “Hell’s Kitchen” fame — proudly released a video where he is stalking frightened lambs, declaring, “I’m going to eat you!” and asking, “Which one’s going in the oven first?”

He then stalks the lambs in a Gollum-like posture, invoking the full power of the demons that have seemingly possessed his once-human form, calling out, “Oven time!” and declaring “Yum, yummy yum!”

Then there was the sort of bonkers juxtaposition that Adams is so good at:

Gordon Ramsay on Natural News
I’ll admit that the Gordon Ramsay video sounds very cringey, but this is a bit of a stretch.

I will admit that the reference to Gollum made me laugh briefly, at least before I wanted to yell at Adams to keep J.R.R. Tolkien out of Natural News. I’ve been a fan since I was around age 12 and hate to see one of my favorite works of fiction of all time sullied by Adams.

I haven’t personally seen the Gordon Ramsay video (although I had heard about it before reading the Natural News post), and I will admit that it does sound quite cringey. It sure doesn’t sound like a good look, but it doesn’t quite reach this level, in my not-so-humble opinion:

It’s not merely the fact that Gordon Ramsay thinks his creepy lamb stalking video is suitable for the public, it’s also that he has no idea how evil and demonic he looks — which is exactly what we would expect from someone who is demonically possessed and no longer has any human empathy or compassion.

Even people who eat beef, pork, chicken or lamb don’t stalk individual animals, drooling over which one they’re going to send into the oven to eat them. But for Ramsay, the suffering and killing of an innocent animal appears to be part of the “joy” of his cooking, as if he actually enjoys the killing of frightened lambs.

No doubt, Ramsay will soon be advocating cannibalism and drooling over which humans to send to the ovens first.

Of course, to Adams, these two unrelated events, the use of a giant metal bull in the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games and Gordon Ramsay being a twit, are evidence that the gates of hell have opened, and he says so in Natural News:

The entire point of these demonic rituals is to open portals that allow demonic entities to enter the physical Earthly realm and either take possession of humans or literally take physical form themselves. Demonic influence and possession are now on the rise globally, and as Gordon Ramsay clearly demonstrated, demons tend to target influencers and celebrities in order to seize their bodies and use them to promote death and destruction.

Whatever Ramsay does (and I’ve never really been much of a fan), I’d say that attributing the promotion of death and destruction to him gives him rather more credit for prominence and influence than he deserves. He’s a celebrity chef with a penchant for subjecting contestants on his reality shows to humiliating rants to entertain his audience. That’s about it.

Adams doesn’t stop there, of course. He finds more “examples”:

The results of this are easily seen everywhere:
  • School teachers turned into transgender demons, preying on innocent children, pushing grooming, pedophilia and genital mutilations.
  • The total corruption of the Church as they embrace homosexuality, transgenderism and child mutilations.
  • National leaders appearing either brain dead (Biden) or possessed with neurological seizures (Clinton), or self-medicating to avoid the pain of the demonic possession (Pelosi).
  • 666 symbolism everywhere, from the Google Chrome logo to the CERN supercollider. Even Monster energy drinks — “Unleash the beast!” — depict 666 using Hebrew numerals.
  • Even the NIH — which funded the SARS-CoV-2 gain-of-function bioweapons development in China — sports a logo that clearly depicts “666.”

As is his wont, Adams hits all the right wing culture warrior “highs,” in particular the recent obsession with the conspiracy theory claiming that teachers and influencers are “grooming” trans teens to come out. I do love the numerology, though, as some of Adams’ examples of “666” take some real…imagination. I’ll include just one example, the NIH logo:

NIH = 666? Natural News goes woo.
I really have to squint to see this one.

Again, it’s easy to laugh at this. Indeed, when I first saw this post, I concluded initially that Natural News had become the Weekly World News. (Remember WWN and “Bat Boy“? And all the alien baby stories?) The comparison might seem somewhat apt initially, it doesn’t take much to figure out that the Bat Boy stories were totally fake, as were the alien stories. There was always an intentional and obvious “wink and a nod” embedded in WWN stories that immediately let the reader know they were a big put-on (that, coupled with the pre-Photoshop era photo manipulations). Here are some examples:

My favorite is the story showing Bat Boy taking a “bite” out of Saddam Hussein. All you have to do is to peruse a few issues (or even a few covers) of WWN to realize that there’s no way that the average reader would consider any of these stories to be true—with the possible exception of the Y2K story given the hysteria of the time. They were intentionally outlandish and included obvious indications that they were fiction.

The WWN comparison to Natural News led me to the depressing conclusion that, even if Adams is including a WWN-like “nod and a wink” in his Natural News articles that they are so over-the-top that you shouldn’t take them seriously, there’s still one big difference left. WWN was clearly intended as entertainment; almost no one believed anything in each issue. I wish the same could be said about Natural News.

I’ve been following Mike Adams since I first discovered him promoting cancer quackery in 2006, all the way to last week and his teaming up with Jane Ruby to promote COVID-19 antivaccine quackery. Through it all, I’ve seen the outlandishness, with perhaps the most amusingly over-the-top posts before this one being his alien conspiracy posts about vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular in which Adams posited a conspiracy theory in which aliens team up with the global “elite” to depopulate the earth using vaccines as bioweapons in order to…profit?

Through it all, Adams has often abused the memory of celebrities who die of cancer after having been treated with conventional therapy, such when former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush Tony Snow died of metastatic colon cancer, when Farrah Fawcett died of anal cancerPatrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer(apparently as payback for an interview Swayze gave before his death telling people to avoid quacks), and Steve Jobs, among many others. Basically, he blames chemotherapy, surgery, and other conventional therapy for having “killed” them, and then, with an air of faux sorrow, laments how they could have lived if only they had embraced “natural healing”. Variations on this theme include, for instance, lamenting how Christina Applegate had been “maimed” unnecessarily when she underwent bilateral mastectomy for her breast cancer and to blame Beau Biden’s death from brain cancer on glyphosate and chemotherapy. In January 2016, he did the same thing after David Bowie died of liver cancer and Alan Rickman died of pancreatic cancer. I could go on and on and on, having written about Adams’ vile nonsense going back to 2006, but you get the idea. None of the examples I just cited includes a lot of the other quackery he’s promoted over the years, particularly antivaccine quackery.

To bring it back to my discussion of how the antivaccine movement has been subsumed by the far right as just another grievance-fueled part of its overall grievance narrative, with antivaccine narratives just another tool to radicalize people against government, I get the impression that Adams has over the last few years been increasingly pandering to this fringe and flirting with far right or even fascist beliefs. This isn’t the first time he’s done this, either. The first time I noticed him explicitly appealing to Christian fundamentalism was nearly a decade ago with his evolution-denying video The God Within, which also blamed science for the Holocaust (because of course it did). It’s just that, more and more, skilled grifter that he is, Adams realizes that his audience is not just the far right, but the Christian nationalist far right that doesn’t immediately laugh dismissively at Natural News articles like the one about Brummie the Bull as evidence that the world is being taken over by Satan, but takes them seriously. Adams’ effort to appeal to these people is just one more piece of evidence suggesting that the antivaccine and “natural health” movements are increasingly being subsumed into larger far right wing movements.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

32 replies on “Natural News should be called Weekly World News”

The 666 thing from Mike Adams really sounds like a blast from the past. I remember someone stating the ELP logo could be read as 666.

And if you go a bit down the road from Brum into the Black Country (ooooooooh, scary!) you will find a pub known locally as the Bull and Bladder (real name The Vine) in Brierley Hill…Makes you think, dunnit?

Actually, what it makes me think of is drinking many excellent pints of Bathams Best in there, while crunching on their equally excellent home-made pork scratchings…

But I must be some sort of Satanist, as my dad’s family came from the Black Country and ran a coal yard, clearly for the flames for the well-known Satanic worshipping in Whitmore Reans.

Mikey has outdone himself yet again!
Both he and Null have really been carrying on of late which I imagine has something to do with the economy: when people are worried about inflation and paying bills, they may be less interested in buying expensive supplements and foods. Business must be off.
I think that the end times scenario may turn off some of his followers. He also rants about the oncoming Collapse ( of everything) which necessitates learning how to survive: stockpile weapons and ammunition, learn to grow your own foods, get satellite phones for when the grid goes down and of course, buy gold and silver ( the phone provider and precious metals seller are sponsors of his show).
He mentioned that the only decent foreign leaders were Putin, Orban and the PM of Poland- all autocrats. Who would have guessed?

I also don’t see how the videos in his article support his Demon World script:
Hell’s Kitchen refers to an actual area of NYC which used to be populated by the poor and petty criminals that has since gentrified in recent decades becoming a gay enclave and restaurant mecca. Years ago, fledging actors and comedians lived there because of cheap rents. Celebrity chefs/ food writers lived there and thespians attended the Actors’ Studio. A new ultra posh development dominates the scene.
— also does a Tolkien fan, he misspells Smeagol ( not a demon at all)
and Ramsey is crappy but a real person who likes to eat lamb

In other news..
Del ( the Highwire, yesterday) interviewed his parents and siblings explaining his background: where he got his backwards ideas about health- and it’s just as bad as you might expect. New Age tinged Christianity, natural health, stage struck people, Native culture, meditation, Edgar Cayce, anti-vax/ anti-education

Adam’s fringe conspiracy theories have seemed at odds with his business interests. We imagine the market for “Natural Health” products to include lots of folks who would be turned off by hyper-right-wing lunacy— the granola crunchy Whole Foods yuppie stereotype.

However, yesterday, the world learned just how profitable working this conspiracy theory edge can be, as the Alex Jones trial revealed InfoWars was taking in up to $800,000 a day, Jones net-worth is in the hundreds of millions, and actually went up after he was deplatformed from YouTube, which apparently only increased his appeal to the grievance-and-conspiracy obsessed, who appear to be larger in number than even a pessimist like me might have imagined.

I wonder if Adams is anticipating a decline of Infowars as Jones faces more and more legal trouble, and is positioning himself to fill that opening. Even if he’s just following Jones lead, you can read that screed about Satanic globalism in chorus with the results of GOP primaries (Blake Masters especially) and wingnut political media rhetoric as indicating that there’s no bottom to the darkness of the Christian Nationalist imagining, no hot take that is too extreme to become a meme.

OTOH, that statue of the bull on Wall Street is no doubt a sign that capitalism is the spawn of Satan, and after the daily bell the traders all flick to one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants to drink cocktails tinged with the blood of cannibalized reality-show contestants.

And Duran Duran? Take a look at these and deny the influence of the Beast!

Ha! “The Wild Boys”? I remember the video because at the time, if memory serves me correctly, it was the most expensive video ever produced, having cost over £1M to produce, a previously unheard-of sum in 1984 for a music video. If the organizers of the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games really wanted to show their Satanic cred, they should have invited Ghost to perform.

Black Sabbath is so 1970s and Duran Duran so 1980s. At least Ghost is 2010s-2020s, which is far more recent.

As I also recall, Mike Adams had a regular video segment on Alex Jones’ network for a few years, but the two had a falling out but seem to have made up given that I saw a post yesterday complaining, “First they come for Alex Jones…” In any event, the two appear to have alternated between competing with each other and collaborating with each other.

You might have a point, though, about Adams seeing an opportunity in Jones’ legal troubles. Adams is nothing if not a skilled grifter going back to his Y2K scams. He’s proven quite adept at reading the zeitgeist and adjusting his conspiracy theories for maximum profit potential.

On his broadcast today, Mike said that he wasn’t sure if he was to fill in for Jones today or not because of the verdict and that that outcome was fixed any way. It seems that he does an hour of the show regularly.

The whole point of having Duran Duran play is that they are from Birmingham. If the organisers of the games really wanted to mess with Mike Adams’ head, the should have invited ELO along.

I hope, for his sake, he doesn’t believe this nonsense. Don’t get high on your own supply.

Adams should realize that “Satan” is just an anagram of “Santa.”

I’m a Seitan worshipper. Also a pastafarian.

Adams has failed to single out the most alarming manifestation of Satanism in American society. In baseball, an umpire invokes the Beast by calling out “Play Baal!” at the start of every game.

On the other hand, there’s been telltale silence at RI following the NN revelation that corpses of vaccine-killed innocents are ground up and spread on crops, in a horrifying real life version of Soylent Green.

Oh, if only Christoper Hitchens was still alive. I read this whole article with a smirk which slowly turned into a snarl. I don’t have much truck with crazy bible thumpers, but generally MOST Christians are decent folk and Adams paints a corrupt picture.

Mike hasn’t always been so Christian-centric although I can’t recall exactly when he turned. A Christian blog , Health Wyze, even criticised his New Agey position in the past.

I imagine that he learned that his audience was religious and shaped his message to fit.
Another altie, Gary Null, also has recently emphasised his Christian background such as doctors who prayed over their patients in his hometown. Indeed both of them focus upon more traditional values such as farming, family life, natural foods and folk medicines.
HOWEVER I doubt that their idealised audience of 1950s family farmers would take advice from corporate operators like them so they play up their daily lives as farm workers and animal caretakers who are very religious/ spiritual not money oriented. I swear they say this despite their incomes and estates.

You absolute bam, linking to Lying Weiner without even a health warning: Will Cause Vomit. And here I was hoping for the next hilarious chapter of Alex Jones’s How I Got Kerb Stomped By a Gang of Dead Kids to lift up the end of my week.

Twitter also gave Katie Wright a red misleading label ( @ katiewr31413491) because she posted a photo of her skin rx to a soap that supposedly has the same ingredient as Covid vaccines.

“Permanent suspension” is kind of final-sounding, almost.

Maybe their sock puppets will be allowed back in another dimension.

Baal was the victim of an early disinformation campaign by the uppity monotheists. People were so confused at first that they thought their newly-minted one god’s name was Baal. After a lot of exasperated shouts of “no, not that god, this god!” they portrayed this poor old god of fertility/weather/etc. as a demon lord. Of course they also had to invent demons for Baal to be lord over, causing further confusion. After several centuries the lies finally stuck; they foolishly neglected to invent social networks to speed the process. No one’s quite sure what the demons thought of it all.

I find that the tv series ‘Spartacus’ is my only religious inspiration. When the poo hits the fan, the immortal words of Batiatus are a comfort.

Mike and other alties present themselves as clean living, upstanding, spiritual individuals who are trying to inform and help people protecting them from evil doers after their souls and wallets. Over the years, I’ve found many references that convince me that they also are in it for the money. Mike manages a shitload of websites and businesses that sell a variety of products. He has been associated with spamming software, MLMs and real estate schemes ( Health Wyze, Rational Wiki, Wikipedia). In addition, he owns a ranch ( Bastrop, Texas) and warehouses and other buildings ( Cedar Creek, Texas) where he manufactures and distributes his products. He publishes via his company in Taiwan and maintains a “lab” to demonstrate the purity of his products.

Unlike my look at Gary Null’s businesses/ lifestyle, I haven’t been able to find hard figures about Mikey’s earnings or net worth but I imagine they are quite large. Frequently, he mentions that his latest drop of Ranger Buckets ( emergency food packs) sold out 1000 ( at over 300 USD each) almost immediately. He has a few sponsors for his broadcasts ( selling satellite phones and precious metals). Recently, we learned that his pal, Alex Jones, is worth hundreds of millions USD. Perhaps Mike aspires to this role model?

I imagine that their con works like this:
get people on your side by agreeing with their gripes and CTs, stoke their anger at the “powers that be” ( governments, corporations, celebrities, professionals, rich people) , show how you are a good Christian/ spiritual person only out to help others- to save them- and “more informed” than the so-called experts who are all corrupt and then sell them expensive products so that they can reward you for your good works.

Whilst they chastise Big Pharma for huge markups, no one asks why dried rice and beans costs so much.

“I imagine that their con works like this: …”

It’s even simpler than that:

Find people who want to believe, and sell them whatever it is that they want to believe in.

They will buy it, entirely independent of whether it is true or false, because it fulfills their need.

@ has:

Those crafting altie messages perhaps share the same peculiarities as their audience. Birds of a feather.

I’ve outlined findings of psychologists studying anti-vaxxers/ CT believers / contrarians who think that they are special, not ordinary, ahead of the common herd. They don’t believe in hierarchies of expertise or ability.

The other night, I watched Bill Maher and one of his guests agree that “we don’t know that much” about Covid, medicine etc. This attitude encapsulates their mindset
because we cannot precisely predict outcomes and entirely shut the virus down what we know/ do is worthless to them. They don’t recognise shades of difference and degrees of improvement.
I frequently ask that if it is ‘all or nothing’ ONLY, would they refuse a 20% tax cut or airline tickets at half price?**

So more subtle language is important as you note elsewhere. ALSO with mental illness as causative of dodgy beliefs, you are right on. There are many people who are self sufficient, have careers, homes and families but believe the most bizarre things. We can’t call RFK jr or Covid contrarians “mentally ill” BUT they do have odd ideas.

Sceptics should follow anti-vaxxers’ Twitter to understand.

** -btw- I always acquire low priced airfare on first rate airlines to popular destinations in summer because I have secret plan which I will reveal for a small fee. Heh.

Yeah I saw that, too. Something about: “I don’t need you sitting there in your white coat telling me about my health?” Might be a misquote but that was the gist. My reply to the TV was: “Who still wears that thing around who hasn’t co-opted it from physicians?” 😀

@Denice: “Those crafting altie messages perhaps share the same peculiarities as their audience.”

Some do, e.g. the Jess Ainscoughs of the world. They need to believe, and part of that need is requiring reinforcement from others. We’ll pencil that one as the narcissistic spectrum as it operates in service to her personal ego above all else, up to and including at the cost of others’, and sometimes even her own, lives. We cannot reason them out of a position that they did not reason themselves into. It’s all about their feeeeeeeelings and how dare you criticize that.

Others exist on the psychopathic spectrum. Their egos are greedy and opportunistic, as opposed to pathologically dependent addicts. Mike Adams falls on that. And credit due to Mikey: he is a rationalist who follows the scientific method, forming a hypothesis (“X scam will make me power and money”), tests (sells) it, and then updates his hypothesis according to the results (in this case, pivoting seamlessly from crunchie granola leftie liberal putty-brains to end-times dominionist radicalized far-right extremists as the more efficient provider of paranoid and narcissistic marks).

It’s not a clean split, of course, e.g. Andrew Wakefield would be happily at home on either so it’s a coin toss which he actually is. And narcissism and psychopathy are themselves kissing siblings with most characteristics common—the only significant distinguisher is whether their own ego buys their own nonsense or not. Yet the difference is an important one, as each demands its own tactics to combat effectively, and what works on one is useless on the other.

Human psychopathology fascinates me; if only at a pop-psy level as my own brain is far too broken to absorb the real academic stuff. (Hey, I work with what I got.)

But understanding why abusers abuse, and that, just like cancers, there is not a single type but multiple kinds with their own very distinct expressions—and vulnerabilities—in addition to the common etiology that underpins them all: their absolute ability to hurt others to profit themselves.

It is part of understanding myself; and as age and damage enables me to turn my own empathy on and off as a switch, I get to play the ethical psychopath myself and walk around in their skin. And while these worst of the Cluster Bs may look human, sound human, and tell you that they’re human if you ask them, they are not. Not entirely.

I describe them as “vampires” (not the glittery but the Wattsian sort). Not just as a literary pretension but because it captures accurately how much alike and simultaneously unalike to us they really are. They are humans that predate other humans.

The “low-functioning” kind are the ones we are most culturally familiar with as dread boogeymen: the serial killer. John Wayne Gacy. Hannibal Lecter. But those are relatively few. The ones that are far more dangerous to us, as individuals and societies, are the ones that convincingly pass as fellow humand; for 1. they are many, and 2. they are skilled at gaming us too.

How dangerous? The narcissist Hitler murdered 11 million. Stalin, a psychopath, killed maybe 20 million. Mao (probably both), twice that. Of course, that’s not counting the 60 million combat deaths that WW2 added on top. And while those are the elite of the elite, the truly exceptional, the could not reach such heights without the mass complicity and assistance of everyone else.

They subvert us. And we enable that control, easily without realizing.

They do so, not only by exploiting our own fears and vanities, but by deliberately hacking (whether logically or instinctively) our own theory of mind; the mental model that each human independently constructs to improve both our own understanding of ourselves and to predict the behaviors and motivations of those around us. And this model is dangerous because it explains the behaviors of almost other people so well. People who, for all their external differences are are just like us at heart, possessed of fear, ambition, empathy, guilt. So when we apply this successful model to the one person who utterly contradicts and confounds it, we desperately try to make that model fit anyway. We know our explanatory model works, because it has always worked brilliantly before, so we just need to make it work this time as well. And so we compromise ourselves!

This is why I like science: because science itself is wholly predicated on a simple, natural, perfectly unobvious insight: that just because your tests #1—99 all yield the same answer, it does not automatically follow that test #100 will too. And if #100 does tell you something radically different, then do the thing: trust, but verify. In science, your reputation may hang on it. In abuse, it’s your life.

The scientific method acknowledges that the human component is flawed and sets out a process for reasoning that works despite this flaw.

That psychopaths and narcissists do not fit our mental model does not make our mental model wrong. But it does mean that mental model is wrong for them. They survive, thrive, and succeed on our reluctance to critique and challenge ourselves—our natural inclination to resolve the impedance mismatch between prediction and observation by ignoring, minimizing, excusing whatever does not fit. But to quote Claude Bernard: “When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted.”

The scientists who replicated Millikan’s famous experiment took years to discover that Millikan was wrong, because when their own observation contradicted what they already knew was the answer they made it fit that existing knowlege anyway, incrementing only slowly toward the right number within the limits of their error bars. (Feynman mentions this comedy of error in his Cargo Cult Science.) Yet had the first scientist who tried to replicate stood up and declared “Millikan is Wrong!” there’d have been a huge wing-ding, tempers and tenures on the line, cats and dogs sleeping together; the whole kaboodle.

Humans get terribly upset when their comfortable preconceptions are disrupted. The scientist learns to push through the pain regardless, not because it is nice or easy but because that is the only correct thing to do. Just as the soldier learns to push through the fear and distress of murdering another human. I learned to push through my own desperately-held Need To Believe, but only after doing dreadful damage to myself and terribly hurting others around me who cared. So I absolutely understand exactly where this most human of flaws is coming from. It is hard. There will be tears.

The Adamses and the Ainscoughs of the world do not care. They have made their choice, run the math and concluded: defying the prediction profits me more. That choice made, they will do what it takes to protect it.

That their choice hurts—abuses—people is irrelevant. In full APDs/NPDs, it is not that they don’t care; it is that they can’t. The neural wiring that turns the rest of us into social empathetic animals does not exist in their skulls. It is what makes them what they are. Not a human just like us. A natural apex predator, acting perfectly accordingly to its nature, while dressed in a human skin suit to fool us.

So when our own carefully constructed, already-proven theory of mind is broken by them, we must accept this result, set that model aside, and build a completely new model from ground up to accurately predict them, test and revise that model, until we’ve got them down pat. And they are predictable; eminently so compared to the mushy haphazard randomly-spooking sloppy brains of us humans.

There is a dreadfully common refrain amongst new arrivals to the community support forums I linked earlier above: “I can’t understand how another could treat me like that!” Time and again. And the veterans, who have all been through this first, share sympathy and share their own notes. The newest victim cries in relief that she is not in fact losing her mind, but that the feeling she is is just her abuser at work, hacking her mind, wrapping her own theory of mind around itself until it chokes her blue.

Because that is Power.

Not the power to abuse—they’ve already got that—but the power to convice us that we are the ones who need to apologize. Once they have that, they have won. And they are very skilled in extracting it.

All this stuff is already known, written down, tested, proved. Just like the scientific method. And yet most people don’t look, whether because it makes them uncomfortable, or doesn’t directly serve their own interests, or simply don’t realize it even exists.

How Abuse Works. (And how—and how not—to fight back.) Stories, millions of them, all written in blood.

Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge Itself is Power.” Nigel Tufnel once said, “These go to eleven.” Both knew what they were talking about and its importance to getting their messages out.

Now I genuinely appreciate all the work that fine, honorable humans like Orac and his loyal minions do, laboring to get their small part of truth into the world. But if you want enough of this world to listen to what you say to make any real difference, you will have to weave a far better narrative; one that ties all these seemingly disparate threads into one vast, terrible, unified, empowering whole. A message that no-one who is human inside will dare to ignore.

’Cos our comfortably complacent privileged societies are now out of time, and the Adamses and Tuckers only the clowing heralds to far greater true monsters advancing fast. Forget the psychopaths themselves; it’s the legions of humans whose own humanity they have already successfully reprogrammed. For together they have crafted a vast, unified, compelling narrative of their own—one that casts them as the heroic heroes ready to serve their vigorous eager audience of self-aggrieved need-to-be-victims—and no prizes who’ll play their antagonist part; and who will really be served, on a platter.

“Weekly World News” is apt (albeit a slur on that august journal) because what matters is not whether a story is believable or unbelievable; only how many people choose to believe it. WWN proved in the small there’s a real market for fabulous stories. And the last time that ordinary humans bought a story as enormously unbelievable as this, that even in WWN would look ridiculously out of place, we called them called them “Good Germans”. Because their ability to see what was screaming in their face was confounded by their inability to believe it.

Now Facebook, Twitter et al have fully automated this story-telling process, accelerating, amplifying, and broadcasting to audiences of billions. Mass production of which even 20th-century titan, Joseph Goebbels, could have never conceived. The 21c. hackers of our humanity only have to subvert a single percent of us—and they are very close now. By as soon as November it could all be over; a perfect [initially] bloodless coup.

Science may run on facts; that is honorable and important, and we want more of that. But for everything that is human—and science is included in thish—it is Belief that’s the key.

Belief. Crude, messy, regularly unpleasant; distateful to the minons and their gracious host, I know. But you have to capture it. Whoever wins it, wins out. And nothing persuades humans to Believe like a Narrative they cannot ignore.

Pen a killer. Peace. /Out

“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”—John Stuart Mill, 1867

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”—Ash, (1979) 2122

I just wish we still had Stringfellow Hawk and Dominic Santini. They’d have sorted out the problem within an hour.

To an awesome theme tune as well.

The fabulous Kevin Trudeau was released from prison earlier this year and is no doubt engaged in charitable good works. As he noted in an e-mail from lockup earlier this year, he’s in excellent company. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“The email that hit the court’s docket Thursday is classic Trudeau. He quickly brought up Nelson Mandela —quoting the late South African leader — and he told the judge, “when I come back to society, you will see a wonderful happy and peaceful new man, ready for a new life with only gratitude and love in my heart.”

If he also had a song in his heart he could be the next Lawrence Welk, only with bonus spirituality.

Trudeau still has admirers on Facebook, where there are at least three Trudeau groups (two of which are private; the public one seems to be dominated by hustlers trying to get in on some of his action).* Overall membership is only in the few thousands, but it probably takes time to build up the brand again.

*sample gushing worship: “Kevin is truly a legend and I have the upmost (sic) respect for him”
**Altie grifters have learned how to mostly stay clear of legal entanglements (or at least, to avoid prison time), except when they fly their freak flags a bit too prominently by calling for the death of scientists, or aggravate the FTC.

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