Taxed To Death Very Slowly – The Spam Of The Health Sciences Institute
“Taxed To Death” – That was the subject of the unsolicited email I received this weekend from Paul Amos, Associate Director of HSI.
The email shows all the signs of a spam scam operation. There are live links embedded within a text weaving a vague conspiracy theory that doesn’t match any publicly available information. HSI is never identified. The mailing address left at the end is for a UPS store in Overland Park, Kansas.
Will Obama’s latest disaster destroy Hillary’s presidential hopes?
Why? Because an online video has revealed the biggest government scandal in American history. In fact, at this very moment, over 45 million US lives are being put at risk (including your own) and Obama’s fingerprints are all over the crime scene.
Democrats will do anything to keep this video under wraps… especially with so much on the line for their front-runner Hillary.
I urge you to click here to watch this video now, before the powers-that-be have it taken down.”
Two years ago, an email sent under that name purported to blow the lid off a secret government program to purposefully poison people with dangerous drugs. A month ago, another email warned people that “if you are 55 years old or older, you are right in their sights… with a bulls-eye on your back. Bottom line, you must know the truth before this cover-up kills you or someone you love,” and used the mailing address of a Christian Science building in Baltimore, Maryland.
At first glance, what tickled me this email, enough to get me to read it before sending it to the trash bin, was the claim of being “Taxed To Death”. I thought it was hilarious that someone would be taxed to death, but in those last moments before dying, would have gone to the effort to have produced a video, constructed a web site, then sent out a spam email to promote it.
The deeper story is the fraud being committed by the Health Sciences Institute. These emails on behalf of the HSI appear to be full of garbage, but Paul Amos is a real person. He is the Associate Director of the Health Sciences Institute, a right wing alternative medicine business that spreads unsubstantiated medical information, Christian faith healing scams, and weird conspiracy theories about the Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton.
Two days ago, a senior citizen from Ovid, New York reported agreeing to pay the Health Sciences Institute for a Senior Membership, but was then sent an email informing her that she would be charged $179 for a membership – with an automatically renewal. A member of the Health Sciences Institute from St. Louis, Missouri reports that the HSI refuses to cancel her membership. Additional consumer complaints describe a pattern of unauthorized credit card charges from the organization.
The Health Sciences Institute web site makes it very difficult to gain access to any actual information about the conspiracy theories and health threats that it supposedly has, hinted at in its emails. However, this much is clear: The Health Sciences Institute is claiming to be able to teach people how to cure their cancer using a “miracle mushroom” that has no side effects.
There is zero clinical evidence that mushrooms can eliminate cancer tumors in human beings. There have been a small number of laboratory experiments showing that extracts from some mushrooms can kill cancer cells, but that isn’t evidence of therapeutic benefit. An article from Matthew Jenkin in The Guardian explains, “lots of things can kill cells in a lab, not just mushroom extracts. Whether it is bleach or leaving the incubator door open, there may be many reasons for the positive results. It doesn’t mean they are all treatments for cancer.” Furthermore, although some species of mushrooms are edible in small amounts, there is good reason for concern about the toxicity of any mushroom in large amounts. Jenkin writes, “Eating too many mushrooms could even damage your health because of fungi’s complex mixture of chemicals.”
Any organization that sells products claiming that mushrooms can “defeat cancer” “side effect-free” is committing a cruel fraud.
Last September, Tim Murphy of Mother Jones revealed that Health Science Institute is actually just one part of NewMarket Health, a company that specializes in selling fake cures for deadly diseases – including the fraudulent Bible cures for cancer promoted by Mark Stengler.
Back in 2014, the Health Sciences Institute, like Mark Stengler, claimed to have found a cure for cancer simply by reading the Book of Matthew in the Christian Bible. It should go without saying that browsing through ancient religious texts is not a reliable way of finding cures for cancer. The Health Sciences Institute is hoping that many Americans won’t realize that, and, desperately searching for a cure for their diseases, will provide their credit card information in hope of a miracle.
This Book of Matthew cure for cancer was promoted by, among others, Christian preacher and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. However, it turns out that the supposed cure for cancer wasn’t even really based in the Book of Matthew. The cancer cure was to simply eat fewer carbohydrates – a suggestion that is not present in the Bible, which features stories of The Messiah encouraging his followers to eat bread.
There is no proof that anyone ever has had their cancer cured by any remedy promoted by the Health Sciences Institute. The business has had many customer complaints about dishonest practices. The medical reasoning behind the company’s products is unsound. The marketing techniques used by HSI are disreputable.
In short, the Health Sciences Institute is much more than just a funny right wing conspiracy theory factory. It’s a cynical and dangerous operation that profits from people’s fears, hatreds, and irrational hopes.
The truth is that cancer is a diverse collection of illnesses, not any single thing that can be cured in just one way. Thanks to professional scientists who put faith off to the side, there are some forms of cancer that can be effectively treated – but it’s never easy. Anyone who comes your way promising a simple way to cure all cancers using substances that carry no risk of side effects is nothing more than a snake oil salesman.
The fact that these hucksters are purposefully using right wing memes and power structures to access the most gullible segments of the American population also tells us something unfortunate about Republican politics. The opposition to progressive politics is functioning like a faith healing tent revival, and we can’t expect ordinary methods of rational discussion of facts to easily break through the fervent beliefs associated with it.