The Pseudoscience of Victim Blaming: You’re Not Healthy Enough, AKA The Mike Adams

‘Alternatives’ to the germ theory of disease have been known from time to time to blame the victims of disease, and though the inventors and backers of these dubious theories may believe that they’re fighting for some kind of hidden truth, the reality is that their explanations are both patronising and potentially dangerous.

The King of the former is a man many of you will know and occasionally raise your eyebrows at, Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. An anti-establishment, conspiracy theory-toting sort of guy, he would probably be the first to argue that he empowers victims rather than blaming them. The thing is, you don’t get to decide how your ideas come across (a fact I am painfully aware of as a person with opinions on the internet), and his personal philosophy says something about the extent to which the naturalistic fallacy can be stretched. Simply said, disease is supposedly caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and diet- by extension, if you’re ill, you’re unhealthy. For healthy people, this could seem patronising, for unhealthy people, this points and scowls at a facet of their life already demonised by society and demands that their illness is of their own doing.

Forms of pseudoscience that claim control on the part of the victim are dangerous, and are largely what this series is about. With diet and exercise as the conditions by which disease is decided, the onus is entirely on the victim, though Adams uses this angle to argue against mainstream medicine and its supposed culture of lies.

The difference here is that unlike ideas such as chi and spiritual healing, is that there is a small foundation in fact. Improved diet and exercise regimens can improve your overall health and can be used as preventative measures for some diseases (such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes), but correlation does not equal causation, and just because there are measures you can take against some diseases does not mean that the overall problem of sickness goes away, unfortunately.

There’s a big difference between giving advice to an audience, even if you’re wrong, and talking down on your audience, and by assuming you alone know the secret to curing disease, and that everyone else needs to be like you to achieve it… well, you need to tread lightly.

Mike Adams doesn’t.


(image credit: Surly Amy)

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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.

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