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Irony: Mercola as a Watchdog: Buy My Product!

September 9, 2010

“If you’ve been a subscriber to my newsletter over the years, you’ll know my mission is to investigate and report on deceptive and fraudulent practices that can impact your health.” -Mercola

Mercola likes to claim that his merchandise is the best, the most natural, the finest, and that everyone else but him is out to defraud you. Never mind he’s had two warning letters from the FDA. Plenty of bloggers and websites have taken on Mercola, but he remains popular among those into woo. The Better Business Bureau has given his site a C- (thanks to the student who gave me a heads up on this). Of course, Mercola is so confident that he’s legit that he has a website called Dr. Mercola Quack Info.

In his latest email, he’s pushing his immune booster: get all the special herbs and vitamins in one pill! Hey, it must be good, because Mercola writes: “My family has used it. My friends have used it. My staff has used it. And of course, I have used it myself.” Oh, well, there you go. Has to be safe.

These really crack me up:

“The materials we use in Immune Support are the best we can buy.*”

“Now let’s look at the two most important features of Immune Support: how it was made and the purity of the ingredients.*”

“The ingredients in Immune Support are completely natural and the highest quality available.*”

“Over the years, my team and I have developed a reputation for distributing some of the purest supplements in the world so you get all of the goodness without the harm. And as you can see from the ingredients listed below, Immune Support is no exception…*”

“Ancient Greeks were the first to recognize oregano oil for its health-promoting qualities.* It is known to promote a healthy immune response.*”

“And has been used to help build immunity and resistance to stress, as well as supporting periodontal health and healthful aging.* “

What’s the asterisk for? Here it is, buried at the bottom of the page:

“* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

That’s just a portion of the statements on the page requiring the asterisk. Why would folks fall for this? Why isn’t it obvious that it’s woo?

People like to think taking all natural, high quality products will keep them well. Selling immune boosting products is easy to do. We all want a healthy immune system, and wow, Mercola has a spiffy website, lots of videos, he raised his eyebrows a lot, gesticulates even more, and feeds folks’ need to believe that big pharma wants them sick so they can sell them pills. They don’t see it’s the same kind of thing in reverse with Mercola: he wants you afraid of mainstream medicine and willing to do anything to be healthy. He goes on about quality and how he phones around making sure it’s the best stuff possible (not evaluated by the FDA, of course).

And then, having overwhelmed his readers with a nearly 9 minute video and tons of statements not evaluated by the FDA, with the assurances over and over of his quality, he closes the sales pitch with this:

“So… You Have 3 Choices

One… you can do nothing, bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. But that’s just going to keep your immune system from functioning at its best. Remember, your immune system is your body’s bodyguard. Don’t you think it’s worth giving your personal bodyguard every advantage you can?*

Two… you can purchase all of these supplements separately from your local supermarket or health food shop. But you’ll end up paying through the roof for it and going through the hassle and expense of taking ten different supplements…”

No number three. Oh wait. He doesn’t state number three because it is so obvious! You can buy his stuff! Now, having spent the entire page telling you he’s gonna give you all you need in one pill! And indeed, you can buy his magic bullet for half off, 50 bucks instead of a 100, or you can get his amazing Immune Support Variety Pack for 122 bucks, half off. Now, he’s tried to convince you  that you can get all the immune building you need in the one pill, but if you buy that variety pack, his multivitamin is a two month supply but it has 480 capsules in it. So, that’s 6 of the multivitamin a day, with 1 probiotic and two of that 1 pill a day he was promoting. Nothing confusing there, is there?

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