Following my recent post about Ben Carson, I got an email from my cousin, the cardiologist/medical researcher whose expertise I often cite here. He was livid about an aspect of Carson’s biography of which I’d previously been unaware: his willingness to use his prominence and medical credentials to hawk snake oil.
Carson first spoke out in favor of Mannatech products over a decade ago when he claimed that the Texas-based company’s “glyconutritional supplements,” which included larch-tree bark and aloe vera extract, helped him overcome prostate cancer….
As the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, Carson’s relationship with the company deepened over time, including “four paid speeches at Mannatech gatherings, most recently one in 2013 for which he was paid $42,000, according to the company.” …
Mannatech supposedly made $415 million in the last 12 months selling pills and powders made from larch bark and aloe, known as glyconutrients, marketed under the trade name of Ambrotose, a so called “nutritional supplement that helps the cells in one’s body communicate with one another”…
During the last debate, Carson denied having a ten-year relationship with the company, which claims its nutritional supplement can cure autism, cancer and other serious illnesses. (Mannatech paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas).
Paul Krugman also noted Carson’s relationship to Mannatech, but went on to comment on the GOP’s sale of “snake oil” more broadly, noting
As the historian Rick Perlstein documents, a “strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers” goes back half a century. Direct-mail marketing using addresses culled from political campaigns has given way to email, but the game remains the same.
Krugman listed several examples, from Glenn Beck’s Goldline, to Ron Paul’s book sales, to the recent New York Times series exposing a number of conservative PACs whose fundraising benefits the people who run the PACs, rather than the causes they ostensibly support.
You might think that such revelations would be politically devastating. But the targets of such schemes know, just know, that the liberal mainstream media can’t be trusted, that when it reports negative stories about conservative heroes it’s just out to suppress people who are telling the real truth. It’s a closed information loop, and can’t be broken.
A world of frightened, uninformed and disoriented people is tailor-made for guys selling snake oil.