Saturday, December 18, 2010

Your health is important; and so are our sales.

Every now and then, I stumble across articles from Dr. Joseph Mercola, D.O. He's an Osteopathic Physician who has combined his medical expertise with his passion for technology (and apparently marketing) to create mercola.com, a site containing articles on health topics, most of which push products that he sells. Talk about a conflict of interest.

For the critical thinker, his goals are clear: write health articles of interest to a wide variety of people, add in a little (okay, many) scare tactics to hype you up, and then offer the relief of a cool-down by way of the myriad products he sells that cure problems you didn't know you had.

I like to do public service things every now and then, so here is my public service attempt for the day. Note: I am not in the medical field. I'm just your average Joe, a concerned citizen. Only my name's Mike.

I took an email "newsletter" of his--that he sends three times weekly--and analyzed it. What I found was that 90+ percent of the newsletter was just advertisements, basically, that led to products he sells. They masquerade as health articles, but they're really just well crafted, long-winded ads with half-truths, non sequiturs, with a sprinkle of value.

The other 10% of the content? A cartoon about doctors and patients, which is actually kind of funny, except when you realize it's just there as a filler because there are too many ads and not enough quality content.

Articles abound of reasons to question Dr. Mercola, including this one from Joseph Albietz, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, Denver, and The Children's Hospital, where he spends time in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Then there was the order by the FDA for Dr. Mercola to stop claiming that his products prevented and fought cancer (seriously).

Most of his articles invoke fear tactics, such as this one, where it only took two comments before someone said "I'm scared."
"My god it's scares me to think I have been drinking Diet Coke for over 25 years and I am a full-blown addict. I can't stop . . . Anway, I would advise to never try or get used to it because it is impossible to quit! I hate Coke corp."

But you liked them for 25 years up until today?

And then there's the less scientific Google Suggest, which after you type in the query [ Joseph Mercola ] comes up with the following suggestions:
  • [ Joseph Mercola quack ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola quackwatch ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola md ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola d.o ] <---interesting that he's actually an Osteopathic Physician, and not a Medical Doctor (MD), though the two are very similar in many regards.

I guess the moral of the story here is that it's important to exercise your critical thinking skills; this guy purports to be a medical expert, but he's really more of a marketing expert in my eyes. He knows his target audience, he knows how to scare them into submission, and has mastered the art of relating medical products to every day issues (for example: see the 60 Minutes video in his newsletter; he links this to Pfizer, a drug company, which is his competition as he is a 'natural medicine' guy.)

By the way, this isn't to say that I don't believe in the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and other natural ways of taking care of your body. I do believe in them. What I take exception to is this man's attack on everything that doesn't relate to his cause. Let me give you a perfect example of how I use both in my life: I recently injured my while moving my mom into her new place. The injury was muscular, and I needed an anti-inflammatory to lessen the swelling and pain (i.e., to treat the SYMPTOM) so that I could (a) get through my day without concentrating on the pain, and (b) start working on back strengthening exercises (i.e., a natural healing method to treat the ROOT CAUSE.)

See how there's room for both? Dr. Mercola seems to disagree, based on everything of his that I have read.

Click on the image for the full analysis. WARNING: You may be SHOCKED at what you find! ;)

Posted via email from michael paul's posterous