The first significant outbreak of illness from raw milk this century occurred in late 2005 from milk produced by a small dairy in Washington state, Dee Creek Dairy. At least 18 people, most of them children, were sickened by E.coli O157:H7, and a few were hospitalized.
As state test results pointed the finger at Dee Creek over a period of several weeks, one party remained firmly in denial. Sally Fallon-Morell, founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, wrote a lengthy article in 2006 in which she pointed at a number of other potential culprits to explain the illnesses among customers at Dee Creek. There was a mysterious “presence of a car parked across the street of the pickup house. A driver sat behind the steering wheel,” according to Fallon-Morell The car drove off about 20 minutes after being spotted by a Dee Creek customer.
The Ecoli O157:H7 might have come from other sources besides the raw milk, she speculated. “Just two months before the Dee Creek incident, in September 2005, E. coli O157:H7 was found in water samples in a north Spokane water district, prompting a health alert.”
She speculated further that the “ultimate source of the virulent Ecoli strains could well be genetically engineered soy, created by using fragments of E. coli micro-organisms as a vector for gene insertion, fragments….”
I was reminded of this long-ago example by an announcement that Fallon-Morell is co-author of a new book (with Thomas Cowan, a physician) also based heavily on denial: It’s called “The Contagion Myth,” and it argues that Covid-19 isn’t caused by a virus, but rather by 5G wireless networks.
But they don’t stop there—they also insist that the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed about 50 million people worldwide, also wasn’t caused by a virus. They don’t let the fact that there was no 5G wireless stop them; in a web post, they say: “Scientists from the U.S. Public Health Service were never able to prove that the Spanish Flu of 1918—which burst on the scene with the worldwide rollout of radio towers–was contagious…” So how did the Black Plague get going in the 1300s, electromagnetic rays from the sun?
The whole thing is so outlandish that Amazon has refused to sell the book. Fallon-Morell complains about “censorship,” but likely the issue for Amazon is not wanting to put out blatantly false information.
For me, the discouraging thing about Fallon-Morell’s book is much the same as for her position on the Dee Creek illnesses: the endless denial of reality and basic science.
Some might argue that it’s wise to be skeptical of government scientists, and I can go with that, but there is a big difference between skepticism and denial. I’ve expressed lots of skepticism on this blog about declarations from the CDC and FDA about the dangers of raw milk, but I accept the basic truth that raw milk can make people very sick. Many others appreciate this distinction, which is why the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI) has achieved acceptance and helped improve raw dairy safety protocols.
But total denial is a refusal to accept much of reality—especially unpleasant reality– regardless of the evidence. So we have denials of institutional racism, of mass deaths from the Holocaust, of mass school shootings, of Russian disinformation to upset the 2016 presidential election, of the theory of evolution, etc., etc.
Yet many of the same people who deny such events and occurrences embrace conspiracy theories for which there is little or no substantive evidence. Many of these people have lately come together into a cult, known as QAnon, which preaches, among other things, that Donald Trump is leading a secret effort to eradicate a worldwide pedophilia ring run by liberals, and that the Covid-19 pandemic is a hoax designed to get government infectious disease scientist Anthony Fauci rich. Curiously, it has attracted support from a number of food-rights activists who used to be active in WAPF and often commented on this blog. One of them is Ann Marie Michaels, best known as Cheese Slave, who does periodic updates on the QAnon cult on YouTube.
About half a dozen other food rights activists have unfriended me on Facebook over the last few months when I took issue with some of their conspiracy theories. For example, QAnon people made a big stink several weeks back about a French movie, “Cuties.” They wanted Netflix to ban it because they argued it was “soft-core pedophilia.” When I argued on one food rights activist’s Facebook page that “Cuties” appeared from its trailer to be a creative look at how a bunch of poor 11-year-old girls strive to become popular, she unfriended me for endorsing pedophilia. (I don’t want to name her or others who have unfriended me, because they haven’t publicly declared their commitment to Qanon like Ann Marie has. Suffice it to say that selecting pedophilia as your main cause sets up a dynamic where anyone who takes issue with you on anything must favor pedophilia; who wants to argue with that?)
The whole subject of denial and cults is, of course, tied up in the unsettled political and social scenes playing out in American life. But I find it curious that people who were once outspoken about food rights and are outraged by Facebook and Twitter crackdowns on misinformation are increasingly subsumed by the expanding conspiracy theories put forth by cults like Qanon and endorse banning a not-especially-noteworthy movie).
More fundamentally, I suspect the growing attraction of denial and cults has to do with the emotional difficulty increasing numbers of people are having accepting the reality of change—ever-faster technological change, social change, scientific change, political change. So people escape these realities by embracing delusions like those offered by QAnon, which at their most basic amount to a desire for a super (cult) leader to tell them what to do. In political terms, it’s the lure of fascism.