Some months after California nutritionist and food rights advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz died three years ago in Thailand, I was hearing reports from a couple of his former associates that he had been sighted in the Los Angeles area. The individual they saw had had plastic surgery to alter his appearance, they said, but they were sure from his gait and general appearance that it was him. When they went to get closer to him, he rushed off, and disappeared into the urban landscape, they said.
The sightings confirmed theories by some of his former health and food associates that Vonderplanitz had staged his death from a fall off the balcony of his home in Thailand, in order to avoid growing legal problems stemming from conflict with the former associates over food safety and government raids on Rawesome Food Club in Venice.
The notion of a Vonderplanitz conspiracy to stage his death was very much in keeping with his personality. In nutrition talks he gave to followers around the world, he loved to regale his audiences with tales of government and Big Pharma agents on his tale to injure or kill him. I remember at one talk in southern California a year or so before his death, he showed red spots on his arms where he said agents had injected him with poisons that put him out of commission for months. He also wrote after that about how he and his girl friend had been followed by unknown agents and their SUV forced into a ditch as he drove in rural Thailand.
I was reminded of the various Vonderplanitz conspiracy theories recently by controversy over the deaths of holistic health care practitioners. Various web sites and Facebook pages report on the deaths of holistic practitioners as “another suspicious death,” or similar. An article last year in a health publication known as Health Nut News claimed that 60 holistic practitioners had died within a year, supposedly as a result of a Big Pharma conspiracy. The article shows photos of practitioners, and wonders about the strange circumstances of many of the deaths. It was apparently picked up by other sites, like Natural News and Alex Jones’ Infowars.
Another publication that checks on potentially significant rumors did some probing and digging, and lo and behold, concluded that all but five of the deaths were entirely explainable—suicides, murders by relatives or other known assailants, natural causes. The Snopes conclusion: “There is no conspiracy afoot. Instead, there are simply 61 individual tragedies that have been inelegantly strung together by an alternative health website whose not-so-subtle innuendo has subsequently echoed through the darkest and most paranoid corners of the internet — and which has begun to leak into mainstream media outlets as well.”
Of course, crazy conspiracy theories aren’t unique to the holistic health community. Our tweeter-in-chief for years pushed the “birther” conspiracy theory that Barak Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and thus couldn’t be President. His fascination with conspiracy theories encouraged a flood of them during the last presidential election campaign, such as the one about Hillary Clinton being involved with a pedophile ring out of a DC-area pizza shop.
But somehow, the holistic health community in particular seems to be a hotbed of conspiracy theories that get told and re-told, and are believed as fact. Theories about chemtrails, world government, and an evil mainstream media are just a few that hold unending fascination. I saw a link on Facebook from a food rights advocate that mammoth forest fires in the Northwest were being purposely ignored by the mainstream media because of some supposed bias I can’t even remember now.
And then there was the one, posted on Facebook in the last few days by another food rights advocate, that Hurricane Harvey was “a geoengineered storm” that was “fabricated by the NWO (new world order?) globalist cabal (and) fastidiously manufactured and directed at Texas.” Why? In the quote used by the food rights advocate on Facebook, “Because Texas has been at the forefront of the anti-illegal immigration movement.”
That interesting theory got me thinking….maybe the rain storm that wiped out my special outdoor dinner party a couple years back was “geoengineered” by the same outfit, because of my activities on behalf of raw milk. And maybe that blizzard a couple years ago that forced me to cancel some meetings, that same group may have arranged it. There is no end to the possibilities.
Why do conspiracy theories have so much appeal to health advocates? I suspect it has something to do with a deep desire for truth in complex areas of life, particularly health challenges, that don’t lend themselves to easy explanation. Death, in particular, happens to be a natural occurrence that will befall all of us, but it retains huge mysteries no one will solve in this realm. So blame it on conspiracies. Yes, Big Pharma is a negative influence in many areas of modern life, but that doesn’t mean its desire for revenues and profits extends to devoting unimaginable resources to arranging the murders of health professionals who mostly have nothing to do with Big Pharma research and meds.
I also sense that conspiracies by a nameless and faceless “enemy” fit in well with our recent political tendency toward authoritarian rule. Tyrants on both the left and the right have long been adept at blaming organized enemies for unpleasant events that helped the tyrants consolidate power. Hitler blamed communists for the fire that destroyed the German parliament (Reichstag) in 1933, when his own Nazis actually carried it out. Vladimir Putin in 1999 blamed Chechnyans for terrorist bombings of Moscow apartments that were likely carried out by his own regime, outside journalists have concluded. Our president has an affinity for conspiracy explanations of events as well–the mainstream media is one of his favorite culprits.
Once you begin gravitating to conspiracy theories to explain all of politics and natural disasters, well, there is no end to what you can come up with. Like the New World Order creating hurricanes to fight immigration policy.