Editorial 0riginally published in Volume 22, Number 1, 2007
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this year’s annual meeting of the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators, and Reporters (WHOPPER).
“Let us get right to the point. Many of our members and affiliates have complained about what is, for us, an alarming and dangerous segment of health care: so-called orthomolecular medicine. We wish to assure you, although this therapeutic approach is, unfortunately, very effective in preventing and treating disease, that we will make sure the public will never learn of it. We can say this with considerable confidence, since for over 50 years we have managed to keep virtually all psychiatrists from using niacin to treat schizophrenia; we have kept cardiologists from prescribing vitamin E; and we have kept general practitioners from prescribing vitamin C for viral illnesses.
“Yes, it’s really been a triumphant half-century. How did we do it? It is really quite easy. Here is a summary for those of you that may have missed the last WHOPPER meeting.
“Our guiding principle is, keep the public afraid. Any fear will do, but we have been especially pleased with, and therefore recommend instilling, the fear of new strains of flu viruses, fear of vaccine shortages, and most especially, the fear of vitamin toxicity. Our success with this last one has been nothing short of spectacular.
“Of course, you know that decades of poison control center statistics show that there have been virtually no deaths from vitamins. You also know that properly prescribed drugs, taken as directed, kill at least 100,000 Americans annually. Clearly, the last thing we want is for the public to actually figure out that vitamin therapy is tens of thousands of times safer than drug therapy.
“Therefore, we endorse the following tactics:
“1) Always demand 100% safety and 100% efficacy from nutritional therapy. This is particularly effective when you, at the very same time, continually remind the public that they have to expect and accept a reasonable amount of dangerous, even fatal, side effects with drug therapy. And, if one drug does not work, there is always another, still more expensive drug that might.
“2) Always give priority to publishing research that shows that vitamins are ineffective, or outright harmful. Select the low-dose vitamin study; ignore the high-dose study. Pick the one negative vitamin study; ignore the hundreds of positive vitamin studies. If a positive megavitamin study is submitted to your department, medical society or journal, reject it on a technicality, and take a year or two to do so. Better still, make the authors publish in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. After all, whatever is published there will not be indexed by the National Library of Medicine. Therefore, the public’s annual 700 million MEDLINE searches will utterly fail to find it. People cannot read what cannot be located.
“3) Obfuscation works. Cloud and confuse the issue. Never let the truth stand in the way of a good press release. This we learned from the tobacco industry: If you cannot wow ‘em with wisdom, baffle them with baloney. Remember, with vitamins, always highlight the negative; ignore the positive. Never let the facts get in the way of a good argument. A good argument is one that you win. It’s about politics, not health.
“4) While half of the population takes vitamins, fewer than 1% of physicians practice orthomolecular medicine. That is a very small minority. How hard can it be to shut them up? After all, look what we did to Linus Pauling. When he spoke out for vitamin C, we got the entire medical world to openly snicker at the only person in history to win two unshared Nobel prizes. Talk about a WHOPPER!
“5) Take heed of what behaviorist B.F. Skinner said: Education is a very large number of very small steps. The secret is to keep plugging away, every chance we get. Every time we tell a WHOPPER in the news media or in the medical press, it is one additional, cumulative step towards washing the public’s mind clean as a whistle, and stamping out nutritional medicine for good.
“Now go back to your word-processors and get to work. Wade through those nutrition studies and latch onto the negative ones. The news media are waiting to hear from you.”
OK: my story of WHOPPER may be (slightly) fictitious, but the problem is real enough: Negative stories about vitamins indeed have been front-page leads, yet vitamin cures rarely make the evening news.
This is changing rapidly. The media are now regularly hearing from orthomolecular medicine. One way is through the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (OMNS), a project of particular interest to the late Dr. Hugh Riordan, who often said that he wanted ‘orthomolecular’ to be a household word. OMNS intends to accomplish precisely that.
OMNS began full operation on March 2, 2005. Today, OMNS press releases go out to over ,000 media outlets, including newspapers, radio and TV stations worldwide.
OMNS asserts and reasserts the positive messages:
1) Orthomolecular medicine saves lives.
2) The number one side effect of vitamins is failure to take enough of them.
3) Vitamins are not the problem; they are the solution.
OMNS press releases are reviewed by members of an editorial board consisting of Abram Hoffer, M.D., Harold Foster, Ph.D., Bradford Weeks, M.D., Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., Erik Paterson, M.B., Thomas Levy M.D,. J.D., Steve Hickey, Ph.D., and Andrew Saul.
If you would like to receive this wire service style email news feed without charge, please go to http://www.orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html. All previous OMNS releases are archived at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml and may be freely reprinted with attribution.
–Andrew W. Saul, Assistant Editor