The mind blowing grandiosity of quacktivists Jennifer Margulis and Kelly Brogan


Ever notice how quacktivists often suffer from grandiosity?

According to Wikipedia:

Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority … as well as to a sense of uniqueness: the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people …

Take Jennifer Margulis, for example.

I’ve written many times about Margulis and her wacky theories. My personal favorite is the stupidest excuse for homebirth deaths ever.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#fe8d23″ class=”” size=””]Margulis and Brogan come across as pitiable, but they are also dangerous.[/pullquote]

Margulis doesn’t do well with criticism. Her latest book received a scathing review in The New York Times Book Review. She couldn’t do anything about that, but she did try to manipulate the Amazon reviews of the book.

But she’s outdone herself this time. She’s actually written to Linda Birnbaum, the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offering to explain the purported rise in autism.

What are Margulis’ qualifications to opine on this topic?

I’m an award-winning science journalist and book author with an interest in children’s health and autism. I am also a Fulbright grantee — I lived and worked in Niger, West Africa in 2006 – 2007. I was also in Niger in the 1990s, working in part on a child survival campaign. I think it is important to have a global perspective on health.

I have a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Emory.

Her degrees are in English language and literature! As far as I can determine, she has no training in science, medicine or statistics. In her grandiosisty, she thinks she doesn’t need them.

My extensive research has a journalist has led me to suspect that two environmental factors may be directly contributing to the autism epidemic:

1) Over/ill-timed exposure to prenatal ultrasound…

2) The use of Acetaminophen, especially before or after infant vaccination.This may be the smoking gun…

No matter that the theories are incompatible with each other, let alone the fact that there is no proof for either one. Perhaps most pitiful is Margulis’ offer to educated Dr. Birnbaum,  a toxicologist with a PhD in microbiology whose dozens of publications focus on “the pharmacokinetic behavior of environmental chemicals; mechanisms of actions of toxicants, including endocrine disruption; and linking of real-world exposures to health effects.”

I imagine you are already familiar with these issues but I’d be delighted to send you more information or to talk on the phone, if that would be helpful.

While Margulis’ grandiosity is pathetic, that of “holistic psychiatrist” Kelly Brogan is frightening.

Consider her latest piece, ironically titled Sacred Activism: Moving Beyond the Ego, which is a paean to outsized self regard:

I was seemingly born with a fire in my belly and a sharp tongue. My mind stays sharp under pressure – maybe it even gets a touch sharper – and I’m notorious for saying what I mean. Just ask my family. These qualities made me a pretty righteous babe my entire young adulthood. Strong opinions, lots of critical thinking, a heaping portion of skepticism, and belligerent atheism, I took a vow of matrimony to science in my late teens.

But Brogan is just getting started:

I felt an ancient fire kindle inside me that churned and twisted with my own native force. I held my sword aloft. I began writing, speaking, lecturing. I changed my practice. And, of course, I was given the gift of my own health challenge to initiate me into the realm of self-healing and the power of food as information. Now I had proof – my recovery, and then the recovery of dozens of my patients as I began to arm them with what they intuitively knew to be the reason they had been stuck: our systems are making us sick and then profiting off of our ongoing illness.

The monstrous path of the righteousness

I was lionized. But I also felt alone. I felt awash in a sea of thinkers, doctors, and scientists, each with one pet interest they were willing to stick their neck out for. The anti-GMOer who would trust the same corrupt industry with their life if they got a cancer diagnosis. The anti-vaxxer who ate Twinkies for breakfast. The homeschooler having their babies at the hospital, just in case “something went wrong”. The green revolutionary screwing curly Q mercury-laced bulbs into every socket. The anti-fluoride campaigner turning a blind eye to escalating prescription of stimulants to toddlers. And the list went on.

Her thoughts are ugly:

… I would sit at my daughter’s birthday parties disgusted by parents handing out epi-pens and asthma inhalers to their pizza-eating, juice-box guzzling kids. I longed for the Schadenfreud [sic] of a prominent political figure struggling with vaccine injury. Somehow further news of catastrophe at the hands of industry would only validate my beliefs and intuition that everything was wrong.

And downright scary:

There were times the Truth felt so oppressive I wanted to be dead. I wanted not to have brought children into this corrupt, twisted world where everyone is self-sedated and complicit in evils beyond all imaging. Playing sports and watching TV while babies are being experimented on in the name of sound science and the greater good.

I won’t bore you with the rest of her logorrhea. The key point for Brogan is that she, in her monstrous grandiosity, seeks to spread the “Truth.”

I understand now, that I have a choice – a choice to put my energy toward that more beautiful world I do believe in, or to seek to feed my wounds and my ego by dwelling in the misery of how far off the golden brick road we have wandered. Both in my office with patients, in my teaching and writing, and with my daughters, I hope to offer an experience of the Truth. And a glimpse of what we all know is still possible.

Margulis and Brogan come across as pitiable, but they are also dangerous. As quacktivists, their grandiosity leads them to spew deadly health misinformation … and the children of those who believe their nonsense are the ones who pay the price.