[12/26/16] If you don’t know who Mike “Health Ranger” Adams is, he may be a steadfast presence in your social media newsfeed without your knowledge. Awarded the top slot on Real Clear Science’s “Worst Websites for Science in 2016” list, and with its founder touted by Dr. Oz as “the Renegade Health Ranger,” Natural News is a thorn in the sides of all who hold legitimate science dear. But bad science isn’t Adams’ only offense. Natural News is a fake news fixture, with articles on Obama birtherism, HIV/AIDS denialism, and the Sandy Hook tragedy as an elaborate hoax by FEMA to promote gun control. With the current uproar about fake news, the website and its founder should top lists of spurious sources.
Despite its outlandish stances, Natural News has been a staple since 2003. Attracting millions of unique visitors per month, you probably know at least a couple people who follow the website (just go to Facebook and see how many of your friends “like” the page).
Now, dozens of science supporters (including me) have launched a grassroots New Year’s resolution campaign against both Adams and his website, tagged with #NaturalNonsense. The message went out via a graphic simultaneously posted on Facebook by a host of public pages, from the popular Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast to the Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memesorganization, at 8:10 am eastern time on Thursday:
“Natural News is one of the most egregious purveyors of fake news. Starting January 1st, 2017, we pledge never to share content from this source, and ask others to do the same.”
Molecular geneticist Layla “Biochica” Katiraee explained to me why she is part of the campaign: “Natural News has routinely peddled incorrect information and misled its readers in attempts to sell its nutritional supplements and organic goods that Adams claims protects consumers from a wide range of maladies, ranging from Zika to cancer. Not only do his claims harm the individuals who purchase these with the hope that their own condition will be improved, but it harms public health initiatives that can be impacted by pseudoscience and false information.”