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Gary Null

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Gary Null
Gary Null Speaking Out Against Mandatory Vaccination in NYC.jpg
Gary Null "speaking out" against mandatory vaccinations in New York.
Born
Gary Michael Null

(1945-01-06) January 6, 1945 (age 75)
Alma materThomas Edison State University
Occupation
Known forProduction, promotion, and advocacy of pseudoscientific alternative medicine and medical quackery
Notable work
  • The Gary Null Show

Gary Michael Null (born January 6, 1945) is an American talk radio host and author who advocates for pseudoscientific alternative medicine and produces a line of questionable dietary supplements.

Null is hostile to evidence-based medicine and has accused the medical community of being in a cabal with the pharmaceutical industry to suppress novel treatments for economic gains. He has promoted a range of pseudo-scientific and ineffective alternative treatments, including ones for cancer.[1]

He is also a prominent HIV/AIDS denialist who believes nutritional deficiencies are the causative agents of all illneses, and has accordingly promoted fringe, diet-based treatment regimes for curing AIDS and other illnesses.[1] Null holds strong anti-vaccination views and rejects the scientific consensus on topics such as water fluoridation, genetically modified organisms, and electromagnetic fields.[2][3][4][5]

Reactions in the popular press and scholarly community to Null's claims have been generally negative, and Null along with his publications have been frequently criticized for disseminating misleading information which can negatively affect the public's understanding of health issues.

Biography

Null is hostile to many facets of mainstream medicine, arguing that physicians and pharmaceutical companies have an economic interest in promoting rather than preventing sickness, and he has regularly asserted that all diseases are caused by nutritional deficiencies which can be cured by nutritional supplements.[1][6] In place of standard medical therapy, Null advocated lucrative alternative cancer treatments such as Krebiozen, laetrile and Gerson therapy, asserting that "the alternatives have been covered up by those science writers of the national news media who ride shotgun for the medical establishment's solid-gold cancer train".[1][7][8] Null has also advocated for the long-debunked Revici's chemotherapy in one of his radio-shows.[9]

Over the years Null has owned multiple business ventures attempting to sell varied nutritional supplements for a wide range of diseases and disorders, along with a natural gourmet restaurant, a wellness retreat and an organic farm.[10]

In 1979–80, he co-authored a series of articles on cancer research for Penthouse, entitled "The Politics of Cancer", beginning with "The Great Cancer Fraud",[11] which opened: "America's cancer plague has made the medical establishment and its media collaborators rich-even as they suppress new cancer cures". They provided early coverage of the Burzynski clinic, a controversial clinic that offered an unproven cancer treatment, helping to bring it to public prominence,[12][13] alleged that mainstream physicians advocate treatments that killed patients sooner than cancer itself and that conventional therapies amplified the disease.[14] In 1985, Null began writing a lengthy series of reports for Penthouse titled "Medical Genocide" that asserted mainstream medicine was completely ineffective in curing a range of major ailments from cardiac diseases to arthritis.[1] The series also promoted a range of nutrition regimens and alternative treatments for cancer including but not limited to laetrile, krebiozen, intermittent fasting and Gerson therapy as first-line therapy.[1] James Harvey Young noted Null to be a 'zealous journalist of unorthodoxy', in the regard.[15][16]

Null holds an associate degree in business administration from the two-year, for-profit Mountain State College in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and a bachelor's degree from Thomas Edison State College in human nutrition.[17] He says he became interested in nutrition shortly after that while he was working as a part-time cook in New York City.[18] He later enrolled in a Ph.D. program in human nutrition and public health sciences from Union Institute & University,[17] a private distance-learning college headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.[19] Null's doctoral thesis was entitled "A Study of Psychological and Physiological Effects of Caffeine on Human Health"; the degree was conferred in July 1989.[20]

Null's academic credentials were investigated by Stephen Barrett, who expressed sharp skepticism about their quality and the quality of his PhD thesis.[18] At the time of Null's education, Edison State College was a non-traditional institute that had no campus and conferred degrees via an external degree program, and towards which administrators evaluated "college-level learning achieved through work or life experiences, self-study, college courses taken previously, industry-sponsored education programs, military instruction" and other prior learning.[18] Similarly, the rules for obtaining a PhD at Union Institute & University were a lot less rigid and allowed students to design their own course curriculum, form their doctoral committee, and were required to attend only a few seminars; 13 years later, it would be subject to sanctions for failing to meet academic standards.[18] Barrett notes that the core member of the committee had no relevant subject expertise, having been chosen from the field of geology, and the other members (barring the peers) had contributed to Null's books or promoted alternative health supplements.[18] Kurt Butler's 1992 book Consumer's Guide to Alternative Medicine raised similar questions and also noted that Null had long dodged queries about providing any relevant information (including precise time-spans) for his degrees.[1]

Null is also an HIV/AIDS denialist and asserts the existence of government conspiracies to suppress effective diet-based treatments for AIDS.[1][21] As of 1999, his position was reported to be that the role that HIV played in AIDS was not as great as scientists generally believed, a discredited theory.[3] By 2013, however, Null was writing on his blog that "HIV equals AIDS" was a "myth".[22] His book AIDS: A Second Opinion advocated for a range of dietary supplements for HIV-positive individuals instead of antiretroviral medication.[23] Null also produced a variety of audio-visual media featuring other denialists, who spread misinformation about HIV tests and even alleged of anti-retroviral therapy to be the causative agent of AIDS;[24] the OPV AIDS hypothesis was propounded for the first time over one of his radio-shows, by a fellow foot-soldier.[25][26] Some of Null's productions portrayed those patients as the real heroes, who rejected anti-retroviral therapy in favor of his nutrition-based regimen.[24] Null's articles (and alternative treatment regimens) have been featured over the website of Peter Duesberg.[24]

In 1999, Time magazine wrote of Null: "From a young reporter this is to be expected. But two decades later, Null, 54, is still warning of a variety of medical bogeymen out to gull a trusting public";[3] other sources have reported Null's view that HIV does not cause AIDS.[23][27] Salon described his work as "massive, irresponsible and nearly unreadable".[23] AIDS advocacy groups have asked for his works to be censured, as detrimental to public health.[24] Seth Kalichman, professor of social psychology at the University of Connecticut, has decried Null's role as a prominent proponent of AIDS denialism and has accused him of cashing in on HIV/AIDS. In his 2009 book called Denying AIDS, he compared Null's activities to Holocaust denial and described Null as an example of a dangerous entrepreneur who "obviously breached" the balance between free speech and protecting public health.[28] Nicoli Nattrass described Null as a 'cultopreneur'.[24]

In 2010, Null reported that he became ill and had to see his doctor and that six other consumers were hospitalized for vitamin D poisoning after ingesting a nutritional supplement manufactured by his own contractor. In a lawsuit against the company, he alleged that the supplement erroneously contained more than 1,000 times the dose of vitamin D reported on the label. Null received numerous telephone calls from customers while himself in severe pain.[29] The Los Angeles Times wrote that Null's experience "should give pause to anyone lured by the extravagant claims of many supplement makers", and said that it was common for dietary supplements to contain doses "wildly different than those indicated on their label" as a result of weak regulation.[30]

Null had been a keynote speaker at a rally opposing mandatory H1N1 influenza vaccination during the 2009 flu pandemic, leading the New York State Department of Health to hold a simultaneous conference to dismiss Null's claims about the vaccine as "not scientifically credible" by discussing the clinical trials.[31] Null had opposed public vaccination deeming them as unsafe and ineffective treatments; he has also promoted discredited notions of vaccines causing autism and other ailments, including leading to infant death.[32][1][25][33] Discussing Null's anti-vaccination efforts, Harriet Hall deems Null to have a bad track record for scientific credibility.[2]

Jonathan Howard, erstwhile director of Neurology department at Bellevue Hospital, notes that one of Null's books – Death by Medicine (wherein he had calculated conventional medicine to be the single-largest cause of death in America), was statistically flawed and ill-intended, with an aim to gain on a potential rift between patients and mainstream physicians.[34]

Null has been also a supporter of touch therapy and magnet therapy - both of which have been long determined to not provide any tangible health benefits.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] In a product brochure, he falsely claimed of magnets being inserted in space suits to avoid adverse complications in astronauts.[42] He has also promoted homeopathy, vouched for pangamic acid to be Vitamin B15.[32][1]

Butler also notes a lot of fringe assertions from Null in the field of nutrition spanning from claims that fatty meats are difficult to digest, that meats do not provide any energy and milk is not a good source of calcium, to the claim Vitamin C increases body requirements for iron and certain nutrients are preferable to be consumed in daytime, while the rest in night-time.[1][43] Null also recommends coffee enemas and advocates for cranial osteopathy, applied kinesiology and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.[1] Corby Kummer remarked of Null's work - Vegetarian Handbook to have an outlandish combination of plant foods, which were supposedly high in protein.[44]

Null has produced a lot of works (incl. television programs and books) about reversing aging; he rejects the mainstream scholarly deeming the inevitable progression of senescence as normalcy and instead typifies a popular mis-construal about the aging body being an abnormal deviant.[45]

Science-Based Medicine notes Null to be a consistent opponent of evidence-based medicine.[5] Butler noted him to be the foremost promoter of dangerous health-related misinformation to the public and sarcastically remarks that he is so often wrong, it may be better for an average audience to believe the precise opposite of what he says.[1]

Null has been a popular author and commands a large fan following,[10] but he has been also subject to criticism from fellow practitioners of alternative medicine including Andrew Weil, People With AIDS and others.[10] He has been frequently published over Townsend Letter, a periodical focusing on alternative medicine.[46]

Media work

Null began broadcasting a syndicated radio talk show, Natural Living with Gary Null in 1980. His show was broadcast first on WBAI, then on the VoiceAmerica Network and over the Internet. Null's show subsequently returned to WBAI, leading to protests from ACT-UP New York and other AIDS activist groups concerned by Null's promotion of AIDS denialism.[47][48] He continues to host The Gary Null Show through the Progressive Radio Network, which he established in 2005. His shows attracted about a fifth of the total audience-subscriptions to WBAI, circa 1994[10] and he was speculated to have incurred the maximum revenues, in the history of the WBAI station, as it shut down in October 2019.[49] Butler notes Null to have provided potentially dangerous and outright dubious medical advice to a variety of patient-callers via these fora.[1]

PBS

Null has made several self-funded and self-produced documentary films on public policy, personal health, and development. These have been aired by PBS during pledge drives, leading to a surge in sales of his books.[50][51] The use of Null's films in PBS pledge drives has raised ethical concerns for those involved with the network, who felt that Null's claims were pseudo-scientific and that PBS should not promote them.[52][35][53] While Null's films were highly[35] effective in generating financial contributions, the president of PBS, Ervin Duggan, expressed concern that such programming "open[ed] the door to quacks and charlatans".[54] Some member stations have refused to broadcast his programs.[52]

Discover magazine's Keith Kloor condemned Null's 2012 documentary film Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, writing that the film:

... is a classic collection of all the untruths, myths, and tropes commonly used by the anti-GMO movement. The scope of its dishonesty is brazen... This is crazy train stuff said with a straight face. The worldview that allows someone to believe such things cannot be penetrated with legitimate scientific information.[55]

Film

Null has written, directed and self-produced dozens of documentary-style films. Poverty Inc was released in 2014 to poor reviews from critics.[56][57][58] Other films include Autism: Made in the U.S.A. (2009)[59] and Gulf War Syndrome: Killing Our Own (2007).[60]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Butler, Kurt (1992). A Consumer's Guide to "alternative Medicine": A Close Look at Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Faith-healing, and Other Unconventional Treatments. Prometheus Books. pp. 42–48. ISBN 9780879757335.
  2. ^ a b Hall, Harriet. "Swine flu vaccine fearmongering." Skeptic [Altadena, CA], vol. 15, no. 3, 2010, p. 16+. Gale In Context: Biography. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Park, Alice; Jeffrey Kluger (May 17, 1999). "The New Mister Natural". TIME. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  4. ^ Fumento, Michael. (1996) Science Under Siege: How the Environmental Misinformation Campaign is Affecting Our Laws, Taxes, and Our Daily Lives, W. Morrow, p285. ISBN 9780688147662.
  5. ^ a b Gorski, David. "The Null hypothesis: Gary Null attacks science-based medicine". SBM. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  6. ^ Novella, Steven (October 4, 2018). The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How To Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 299. ISBN 9781473696419.
  7. ^ Null, Gary; Robert Houston (1979). "The Great Cancer Fraud". Penthouse. pp. 76–78, 82, 268, 270, 272, 274, 276–278.
  8. ^ Kluger, Jeffrey (May 9, 1999). "The New Mister Natural". Time. TIME Magazine. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Herbert, Victor (1992). "Unproven (Questionable) Dietary and Nutritional Methods in Cancer Prevention and Treatment". In Lehr, Jay H. (ed.). Rational readings on environmental concerns. Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 508. ISBN 0442011466. OCLC 634225762.
  10. ^ a b c d Avenoso, Karen (January 24, 1994). "Healer or Hustler : Some call Gary Null the prophet of the alternative health movement. Others say he's just a profiteer". New York Daily News. pp. 37–38.
  11. ^ Null's Penthouse articles on alternative cancer therapies include:
    • Null, Gary; Robert Houston (1979). "The Great Cancer Fraud". Penthouse. pp. 76–78, 82, 268, 270, 272, 274, 276–278.
    • Null, Gary; A. Pitrone (1980). "Suppression of new cancer therapies: Dr. Joseph Gold and hydrazine sulfate". Penthouse. pp. 97–98, 160, 162–163.
    • Null, Gary; L. Steinman (1980). "The politics of cancer. Part five. Suppression of new cancer therapies: Dr. Lawrence Burton". Penthouse. pp. 75–76, 188–194, 196–197.
  12. ^ Gorski, David (July 2, 2013). "Stanislaw Burzynski: The Early Years". Science Based Medicine. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  13. ^ Smith, Murray E. G. (1992). "The Burzynski Controversy in the United States and in Canada: A Comparative Case Study in the Sociology of Alternative Medicine", The Canadian Journal of Sociology, 17:2 (Spring 1992). pp. 133-160.
  14. ^ Kelly, Matthew (2017). The Sounds of Furious Living: Everyday Unorthodoxies in an Era of AIDS (Thesis). Columbia University. doi:10.7916/D8DJ5T1J.
  15. ^ Young, James Harvey (2015). "Afterword". The Medical Messiahs. Princeton University Press. p. 460. ISBN 9781400868698.
  16. ^ Young, James Harvey (2014). "The foolmaster who fooled them". American Health Quackery: Collected Essays of James Harvey Young. Princeton University Press. pp. 43, 47. ISBN 9781400862917.
  17. ^ a b "Gary Null credentials" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 11, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c d e Barrett, Stephen (January 29, 2012). "A Critical Look at Gary Null's Activities and Credentials". Quackwatch. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  19. ^ Goetz, Kristina (March 27, 2004). "Union Institute rules get stricter". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  20. ^ Barrett, Stephen; Jarvis, William T. (1993) The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America, Prometheus Books. ISBN 9780879758554. pp 378-379.
  21. ^ Nattrass, Nicoli. "The social and symbolic power of AIDS denialism: AIDS denialism has proved socially resilient because dissident 'hero scientists' provide legitimacy, 'cultropreneurs' offer fake cures in the place of antiretroviral treatment, and HIV-positive 'living icons' seem to provide proof of concept." Skeptical Inquirer, July-Aug. 2012, p. 34+. Gale In Context: Biography. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
  22. ^ Null, Gary (March 7, 2013) "HIV equals AIDS and Other Myths of the AIDS War" The Gary Null Blog
  23. ^ a b c Kurth, Peter (May 21, 2002). "Quack record". Salon.com. Archived from the original on October 2, 2002. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  24. ^ a b c d e Nattrass, Nicoli (2012). "HERO SCIENTISTS, CULTROPRENEURS, LIVING ICONS, AND PRAISE-SINGERS: AIDS DENIALISM AS COMMUNITY". The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back. Columbia University Press. pp. 116–118, 128. doi:10.7312/natt14912. ISBN 9780231520256. JSTOR 10.7312/natt14912.
  25. ^ a b Largent, Mark A. (2012). "Sources of Doubt". Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 52, 59, 64. ISBN 9781421406725.
  26. ^ Katrak, Sarosh. "The origin of HIV and AIDS: An enigma of evolution." Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, vol. 9, no. 1, 2006. Gale General OneFile. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
  27. ^ Nattrass, Nicoli and Kalichman, Seth C. "The Politics and Psychology of AIDS Denialism" in Rohleder, Poul; Swartz Leslie; Kalichman, Seth C.; Simbaya, Leickness Chisamu eds. (2009) 1HIV/AIDS in South Africa 25 Years On: Psychosocial Perspectives. Springer. p.124. ISBN 9781441903068
  28. ^ Kalichman, Seth C. (2009). Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy. Springer. pp. 12, 89. ISBN 978-0-387-79475-4.
  29. ^ Andreadis, Cleopatra (April 29, 2010). "Alternative Health Guru Sues Company Over His Own Product". ABC News. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  30. ^ Healy, Melissa (April 29, 2010). "Supplements guru sues over his own product". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  31. ^ Scribona, Charles (November 2, 2009). "Health workers angry over mandatory swine flu shots". Legislative Gazette. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  32. ^ a b Novella, Steven. "Gary Null's Attack on SBM". SBM. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Laskowski, Marysia. “Nudging Towards Vaccination: A Behavioral Law and Economics Approach to Childhood Immunization Policy.” Texas Law Review, vol. 94, no. 3, Feb. 2016, pp. 601–628. EBSCOhost.
  34. ^ Howard, Jonathan (November 28, 2018). Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: A Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine. Springer. p. 11. ISBN 9783319932248.
  35. ^ a b c Williams, Robyn (2000). Scary Monsters and Bright Ideas. UNSW Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780868407074.
  36. ^ Rosa, Linda; Rosa, E; Sarner, L; Barrett, S (April 1, 1998). "A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch". JAMA. 279 (13): 1005–1010. doi:10.1001/jama.279.13.1005. PMID 9533499.
  37. ^ Ades TB, ed. (2009). "Therapeutic Touch". American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). American Cancer Society. pp. 248–251. ISBN 9780944235713.
  38. ^ Trick or Treatment. Corgi. 2008. pp. 267–268.
  39. ^ O'Mathúna, DP (May 3, 2016). O'Mathúna, Dónal P (ed.). "Therapeutic touch for healing acute wounds". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (Systematic review). 5 (5): CD002766. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002766.pub4. PMID 27140910.
  40. ^ Russell, Jill; Rovere, Amy, eds. (2009). "Magnetic therapy". American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). Atlanta, Ga.: American Cancer Society. ISBN 978-0944235713. See archived online version "Magnetic Therapy". November 1, 2008. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012. Electromagnetic therapy is a related field. See chapter in ACS book just referenced, and archived ACS webpage on that.
  41. ^ Park, Robert L. (2000). Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 58–63. ISBN 0-19-513515-6. Not only are magnetic fields of no value in healing, you might characterize these as "homeopathic" magnetic fields.
  42. ^ Park, Robert L. "Three More Little Adventures on the Voodoo Science Front." Skeptical Inquirer, Nov. 2000, p. 6. Gale In Context: Biography. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
  43. ^ Davis, Alan (Spring 2001). "Not Responsible for Items Forgotten or Lost". The Hudson Review. 54 (1): 141–147. doi:10.2307/3852833. JSTOR 3852833.
  44. ^ Kummer, Corby. "What vegetarians don't get: the answer isn't what you think, and it can be a problem for meat-eaters, too." The Atlantic, June 1991, p. 106+. Gale In Context: Biography. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
  45. ^ Covino, Deborah Caslav (2004). "Making over Abjection" (PDF). Amending the abject body: aesthetic makeovers in medicine and culture. New York: State University of New York Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780791462317. OCLC 897112826.
  46. ^ "Gale Power Search - Results - Author ("Gary null") And Publication Title (Townsend Letter for Doctors And Patients)". link.galegroup.com. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  47. ^ "Letter to Indra Hardat, interim general manager, WBAI/Pacifica". ACT-UP. January 17, 2006. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  48. ^ "WBAI: Do not put Gary Null's dangerous show on the air". aidstruth.org. November 17, 2010. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
  49. ^ "End of an Era: Radical Station WBAI Shuts its Doors". www.ny1.com. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  50. ^ Katz, Richard, Null zeroes in on PBS, fills void in coffers, Variety, December 23, 1998. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  51. ^ Quinn, Judy Gary Null's Book Sales Get Healthier, Publishers Weekly April 12, 1999. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  52. ^ a b Farhi, Paul (December 26, 1998). "PBS'S New-Age Answer to Age-Old Problem". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  53. ^ McCauley, Michael P. (2005). "A Civilized Voice in a New Media Environment". NPR: The Trials and Triumphs of National Public Radio. Columbia University Press. p. 109. doi:10.7312/mcca12160. ISBN 9780231509954. JSTOR 10.7312/mcca12160.
  54. ^ Bedford, Karen Everhart (January 25, 1999). "Gary Null special sparks debate on pledge program standards". Current. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  55. ^ Kloor Keith (May 31, 2013). "Gary Null, Cultivator of Dangerous Woo, Plants Seeds of Death". Collide-a-Scape. Discover. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  56. ^ "'Poverty Inc.' gives long lecture on the banking world". LA Times. December 4, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  57. ^ Gates, Anita (December 4, 2014). "The Corporate Creation of a New Class Structure". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  58. ^ "Doc Poverty Inc. Fails to Inform or Guide". www.villagevoice.com. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  59. ^ Variety Review: 'Autism: Made in the U.S.A.'; Andrew Barker
  60. ^ Miami New Times Gulf War Syndrome: Killing Our Own (NR)

External links