I watched Alex Jones give his viewers health advice. Here’s what I learned. – Vox

ble work, and the HIV epidemic was actually created by the American government (which has incidentally been part of a Russian disinformation campaign about the US government).Jones often talks about the pedophile rings that elites are helping to organize, and his suggestion that Hillary Clinton was running one out of a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, was the reason a man walked into that shop with a gun last year threatening to kill people, in what has become known as Pizzagate.Inciting violence is one problem with the show. Less obvious but equally worrying is that over the years, scientific experts and doctors have been popular targets, and empiricism and rationalism are under constant attack.An imagined “fungal epidemic” and miracle supplements to stop itAccording to Infowars, vaccines are just one part of a “serious attack on our health.” It’s also happening with fluoridation of the water supply, GMOs in our food, the chemicals in the environment, and the medications prescribed by doctors.More recently, Infowars has aired segments about another health problem you’ve probably never heard of: “a rarely discussed fungus epidemic [that] is spreading throughout America.” It’s a useful example of how the site spreads misinformation and denigrates science.Instead of actual researchers, the fungus segments feature Infowars associate Dr. Edward Group. Group is not a doctor but a naturopath who also frequently alleges that researchers and mainstream medicine are colluding with government in a mass conspiracy to poison people. He’s said Food and Drug Administration officials raided his office because he was onto a promising cure for cancer. (I reached out to Group to interview him for this story. He declined the request.)To establish this fungus epidemic, Group draws on science — or the feeling of science. He talks about all the research he’s done, and refers to citations from stacks of papers in front of him to support the idea that fungus and yeast overgrowth is causing everything from brain tumors and brain fog to skin conditions, itching, difficulty with vision, anxiety, fatigue, and the obesity epidemic.“It really is a problem most people are not familiar with,” Group says on the show. The scientific community is deliberately hiding this fungus from view. “As a matter a fact, most doctors and hospitals really do not take the time to check people for fungal infections.”Not to worry: Group and Jones have the solution.They are peddling supplements called Myco-ZX to fight an epidemic they’ve invented. Group claims the pills cleanse the body and boost the immune system “to fight fungal overgrowth.” These fungus fighters are one of numerous health products hawked on the show.Myco-ZX, a supplement to cure a fungus epidemic Infowars invented.Watching these segments, I felt confused, disturbed. I understood why people might believe Jones and Group. It’s hard to falsify many of the health claims they make. They also draw on real uncertainty and problems in science — medical studies are often funded by the drug industry; the industry has done shady things — to undermine the entire research enterprise.The health care system has also failed many people. Doctors make mistakes and leave patients jaded and suspicious of their expertise. Medicine has come so far over the past century, but it often falls short of patients’ expectations. It’s not difficult to see why the quick fixes and simple solutions Jones offers — the “game-changing” pills to fight the fungus that’s really causing all your health woes — might resonate with millions of Americans.There’s also the current political climate to consider. “An environment in which people are distrustful of institutions can be fertile ground on which to promote conspiracy theories,” said Brendan Nyhan, a professor at Dartmouth College who researches misperceptions about politics and health care. With Infowars, Jones is tilling that soil.Why Alex Jones is more dangerous than Dr. Oz or other quacksExaggerating scientific uncertainty to sow doubt and confusion is nothing new. We saw this during the tobacco wars. We see this in the ongoing “debate” about climate change (which scientists agree is not actually a debate). “Fake news” isn’t novel either, nor is medical misinformation on the internet.What’s different about Infowars is the concerted effort to undermine institutions and politicize topics that have mostly been neutral — like immunizations for children.Dr. Oz may have brought anti-vaccine campaigners on air or spread magical thinking about health, but he didn’t wrap it up in identity politics. Jones and his associates do, making a rejection of the medical establishment and science part of what it means to be on the populist right.“If to be skeptical of vaccines means to be a good conservative, [there’s a problem],” said Alan Levinovitz, a professor of philosophy and religion who has been studying pseudoscience. “This misinformation is dangerous when it gets tied up with pol

Source: I watched Alex Jones give his viewers health advice. Here’s what I learned. – Vox


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