Natural News and a travesty of journalism

Google, and especially Chromebooks, give Christians--and perusers of alternative news like Natural News--an incentive to "search" elsewhere.
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The site NaturalNews.com became an Internet sensation on 22 February 2017. On that date, Google de-listed Natural News and all its pages from the Google search engine. No other search engine has taken such action against Natural News. Google did this abruptly and by direct “manual action.” They then reversed that action within six days—again, with no explanation. (For the record, Natural News shows up at the top of a Google search on its name.)

To date they have never explained themselves publicly. Others have tried to justify, excuse, or otherwise explain Google’s actions. In so doing, they have only embarrassed themselves as unreliable witnesses.

Natural News de-listing in detail

Mike Adams, owner-operator of Natural News, gives his version here. He says someone delivered to him a “thumb drive” containing various screeds against another site, InfoWars. Adams refused to take part in the campaign. In fact he destroyed the thumb drive—probably not wise, since it would constitute evidence of libel. Then, on or about 16 February, someone—Adams won’t say exactly who—threatened to destroy Adams’ own reputation if he did not take part in impugning the reputations of InfoWars and its founder, Alex Jones. When instead he publicized the threat, Adams found his pages gone from Google search results.

That clearly did not last long. A White House petition slamming Google garnered 71,770 signatures. This fell short of the 100,000-signature threshold for White House action. Nevertheless enough people cried out against Google to force them to reverse their own actions six days later.

But the controversy, including articles by detractors of Natural News, remain. Matt Novak at Gizmodo.com weighed in—and likely committed libel himself. The Wikipedia entry on the site descends to self-parody in its own screed against Natural News. (Incredibly, Wikipedia still does not make clear that Google reversed their de-listing.) The site has in the past drawn scathing attacks from sources as diverse as Forbes, Slate, and BigThink.

Mike Adams did not help himself by destroying the evidence he said he had. Nevertheless CNAV can find no evidence to justify Google’s exclusion of Natural News from its search results. Google staff must have realized they could not justify their actions, either—else they would never have reversed them. And when others try to justify such acts, they harm their own credibility.

What does Natural News offer?

Natural News offers commentary on scientific and medical issues from a radically different perspective. They typically lend credence to suspicions that conventional medical treatments are not all they should be. For instance, they point out the correlation between vaccinations and increased incidence of autism spectrum disorders. They also condemn genetic modification of foodstuffs and embarrass conventional medicine by revealing nosocomial infection. Mike Adams has also weighed in on the climate-change controversy—against the alarmists.

That last position alone would draw the ire of the journalistic left. More broadly, Natural News spends most of its space attacking any centralization of medicine or life in general. If the government exaggerates a mosquito-borne epidemic, perhaps they do so to excuse regimenting society. (They may also want to excuse polluting the air and releasing mutant mosquitoes into the wild, regardless of unforeseeable consequences.)

But they are not the only ones to offer such commentary. Joseph R. Mercola, D.O., offers this kind of commentary all the time. He writes in a less incendiary style than does Adams, but says many of the same things. (See, for instance, Mercola’s scathing indictment of the “fraud” concerning the Zika virus “epidemic” that never was.) So why didn’t Google de-list Mercola? Possibly because they wouldn’t dare.

Unreliable witnesses

Gizmodo.com

Of all the witnesses who wrote about the Natural News affair, Matt Novak at Gizmodo came closest to committing libel. He assumed—utterly without warrant—that Natural News’ mobile platform offered misleading redirects to site visitors. CNAV visited the site using a Samsung Galaxy S8. These visits produced no evidence of false or misleading redirects. Mike Adams himself denied ever deliberately redirecting people to sites he did not clearly identify. Furthermore, he said, several Search Engine Optimization experts accused Google of sanctioning Natural News without sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

Adams also accused Google of selective application of its webmaster guidelines. He cited spurious mobile redirects from The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Forbes, and CNN. None of the four suffered de-listing or any other administrative sanction from Google.

Matt Novak made another, even more sensational charge. He accused Mike Adams of publishing a formula for a “do-it-yourself vaccine” against Ebola. No such article appears on the Natural News site or any internal search result. The most Adams has done is recommend colloidal silver and high-dose vitamin C as generalized immune-system boosters. For everyone’s information, Hallelujah Acres promoted, and sold a kit for, just such prophylaxis against Ebola. CNAV ordered such a kit at the time.

The GMO controversy

Both Wikipedia and BigThink accused Adams of calling for violence against employees at Monsanto and other makers and sellers of genetically modified foodstuffs. Tellingly, they offer no link. More broadly, these “witnesses” accept uncritically the notion that genetic modification of crops does no harm. They take no note of articles by others, attesting to the harms of GMO crops, from:

  • Use and abuse of pesticides, including glyphosphate (Round-Up® by Monsanto). Even the UN admits: glyphosphate probably causes cancer. In March, National Public Radio decried Monsanto’s efforts to flood the literature with dry-lab “papers” defending their product.
  • Introduction of artificial genes into the food chain of the wild.
  • Introduction of artificial proteins into human food.
  • Escape of GMO “prototypes” into the wild. Monsanto then often takes legal action accusing farmers of stealing “patented” crops they never meant to plant.

Summing up

In general, whatever Natural News says, people truly interested in the truth can debate. Their detractors accuse them of “pseudoscience” and likely have no idea what that word means. More to the point, they fail to investigate any of the issues Natural News raises. Instead they accept uncritically the accusations and pronouncements of those whom Natural News might embarrass.

Google should never have de-listed Natural News from its search engine. Their actions go further than deliberate manipulation of search results to suppress embarrassing information. They conducted a vindictive, malicious campaign against the site, on specious grounds they finally had to abandon.

Mike Adams has some suggestions. First, he says, find another search engine. CNAV routinely uses Ixquick, the most comprehensive non-censorious search engine today. Adams recommends GoodGopher.com, which likely takes its name from the first pre-Web Internet index. They specialize in alternative media, which makes them complementary, not comprehensive.

Adams also promotes another site: Censored.news. Here one will find the latest posts from Natural News and 19 other active alternative-news sites.

Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

One Response to Natural News and a travesty of journalism

  1. JeffA says:

    For reference, here is the article that Mike Adams allegedly posted and subsequently pulled that has been alleged to be a call for killings.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20140725171529/http://seedfreedom.in/biotech-genocide-monsanto-collaborators-and-the-nazi-legacy-of-science-as-justification-for-murder/

    ” it is the moral right and even the obligation of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those”

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