New disinformation series promotes terrain theory pseudoscience

I sign up for far-right, MAGA, and conspiritualist (conspiracy + spirituality) groups and listservs, as part of my research, so I'm always getting interesting/disturbing emails, like the one I got today from "Disinformation Dozen" darling Kelly Brogan, an MD turned COVID denier.  The email announced a new project she's part of, called "The End of COVID," which, according to the email, is "an online education, featuring 90 interviews, short films, and presentations – covering every aspect of the C@V!D "pandemic" – plus the pandemics before it. Like a podcast, there's over one hundred hours of content, organized into ten modules – like an online class."

In her email Brogan encourages readers to "bid adieu to victim consciousness," and explains:

Victim Consciousness thrives in germ theory and it's really one of the only elements of the plandemic I'm interested in focusing on . . . So join me and my favorite all-stars in a marathon of courageous conversation and a culmination of the deep dives that the past several years have invited us to explore…and may we transcend blaming anyone for anything, especially an invisible particle for illness.

Because I am, dear reader, your intrepid comrade, I signed up so I could investigate, so you don't have to. The first thing I found was an introductory video, and I transcribed it so you don't have to watch. Kelly Brogan, providing the narration for the video, says:

You've definitely seen this show before. It's been on air since TVs were in black and white, since Walter Cronkite was reporting on polio and Ronald Reagan was addressing the AIDS crisis. For decades, this show has been rerun, rebooted, and recast, with a new virus starring in the lead role. Every time, the plot starts with a pathogen, and the danger of infectious disease. There's panic, PCR tests, and face masks. And at the end? Salvation in the form of vaccines. At this point, the story is a stale well-trodden, tired cliché. And Coronavirus is simply the latest spin off. The good news is it's the last one! Introducing "The End of COVID," an online education to end every pandemic. After this, we can all turn off the broadcast. Finally, the show is over.

The "educational series" is produced by The Way Forward, Alfa Vedic, and the Sovereign's Way, and is directed by Kelly Brogan, MD, Alec Zeck, Dr. Amanda Vollmer, Mike Winner, and Dawn Lester. It also features a whole host of additional "MDs" and "PhDs" including at least two members of the "Disinformation Dozen" (Ben Tapper and Christiane Northrup; Brogan is also part of this group) that the Center for Countering Digital Hate deemed were responsible for spreading up to 65% of anti-vaccine content in Spring 2021.

I took at peek at the curriculum. Here's how the modules are described on the website:

Over the course of ten modules, we'll dive into the details of all that's happened over the past three years.

The first few modules will establish the narrative. The setting of the stage. We cover the basics with topics like "The COVID Origin Story," "The Spike Protein," "The Health Implications of Masks," and many, many more. The first 30 pod-classes are dedicated to dissecting every scene from this show called "COVID."

After that, we move on to the spin-off: The COVID Shots. We cover what's inside the needles, and how you can detox from them. We discuss the damage they've caused and reveal the corrupt "science" behind them.

Module 7 takes us back in time, to the beginning of the germ theory. We introduce "Bechamp vs. Pasteur," and "The History of Virology." We talk AIDS, pox, and polio – to reiterate the point that we've seen this show before – and the science has never been proven.

The next module moves into "The Agenda," "The Great Reset and Digital IDs."

Then, we discuss The Way Forward. The ways in which we can start to re-write the script, is we never have to face this again. We'll get into natural law, and alternative modalities of health – from "Homeopathy" to "Esoteric Biochemistry."

In total, there are 90 pieces of long-form content, organized into a complete education. After this, we can all move on. But only after we unlearn.

Beginning July 11th, class is in session, and we're wiping the slate clean. We're unlearning everything we thought we knew about health, and revisiting the history behind what we've been led to believe.

So, basically, it's a disinformation extravaganza grounded in "terrain theory," which is a widely debunked ideology that denies that germs cause disease. If you didn't know that there are growing numbers of people who don't believe in germ theory, surprise! Sadly, this online course will no doubt grow these numbers. If you haven't heard of terrain theory, Isobel Whitcomb has a great overview in Popular Science, which you should check out. Here are some excerpts:

The COVID-19 pandemic has breathed new life into a 160-year-old rivalry. Science skeptics are flocking toward a fringe set of beliefs called "terrain theory," an ideology that ranges from total denial of the existence of viruses and bacteria to the belief that lifestyle choices alone force otherwise benevolent microbes to transform into pathogens. The central gist is that the body's "terrain," not germs, creates disease—reasoning that offers legitimacy to skeptics of masks and vaccines . . . 

Followers of this movement have chosen an unlikely martyr: Antoine Béchamp, a French chemist and underdog who died with little recognition for his accomplishments, still bitter toward his arch-rival, Louis Pasteur. Béchamp was the father of terrain theory. Scientists and historians say his ideas weren't totally wrong—but somewhere along the way, fueled by the conviction that Béchamp was unfairly ignored, an entire pseudoscience movement has cropped up around his discoveries.

Let's be clear: No reputable scientist today refutes germ theory. "Germ theory is a basic understanding that has held up wonderfully for well over a century now," says John Swartzberg, a physician and expert in infectious disease also at the University of California, Berkeley. "Really, there's nothing to controvert that." When a vaccine eradicated smallpox, we saw germ theory at work. When antibiotics made previously deadly childhood infections like strep throat easily treatable, that was another win for germ theory. 

While there may be tiny kernels of truth in some of Béchamp's ideas (yes, the vast majority of microorganisms are benign or even critical for survival, yes, pathogenic bacteria don't cause disease in every single person), those truths are actually already part of germ theory, which never claimed that all germs cause disease. In the whole, though, "the majority of Béchamp's ideas were totally wrong." Again, Isobel Whitcomb:

There is no scientific basis to the idea that microzymes lie dormant in human cells, waiting to turn into pathogens, Swartzberg says. More fanciful still—and more dangerous—is the modern interpretation of the chemist's ideas. 

"[Béchamp] seems to offer some historical legitimacy to the view that what matters is diet, healthful living, and a whole bunch of life-style factors," Laqueur writes in an email. One member of "Terrain Model Refutes Germ Theory" suggested that it was sugar and alcohol, and not disease, that killed an estimated 90 percent of Native Americans after the arrival of Europeans. Commenters on another post offered advice to a mother whose young adult daughter had just learned she had HPV and an irregular pap-smear with suggestions like detoxing, switching her daughter to a fruitarian diet, and never getting a pap-smear again. This extrapolation of one concept into something completely different is a common theme in pseudoscientific movements, Swartzberg says: "People will take a kernel of truth and then build a whole idea around it that has no scientific nor historically plausible basis for it." 

Denying germ theory and instead focusing on diet and healthful living—which includes, of course, in good conspirituality grifting fashion, selling tons of products to help you get and stay healthy—is exactly where the folks involved with "The End of COVID" go. I did some poking around to learn about some of the sponsors of the "online education," and here are some of the players:

First up is "Farm to Freedom Texas." They describe themselves as a "community is made up of like-minded individuals who share a passion for freedom and a deep connection to the land. Together, we sow the seeds of sovereignty, cultivating a future where we all thrive and reclaim our God-given rights!" Which is, of course, incredibly vague. Turns out the company was founded by Ali Zeck, who describes herself as "one of the most censored and deleted voices on social media," and explains that "Farm to Freedom is fueled by the rebellious spirit of those who are fed up with the status quo." In a video introduction Ali describes the company:  "I created Farm to Freedom, a clothing and provisions brand, as a rallying cry for those who were lost and who have reclaimed themselves as sovereign. It is a celebration and a testament of us coming home to ourselves, to God, and to the land. It is a cry to others who understand we are at a pivotal point in humanity, and that we know a different world is possible." 

They sell t-shirts that say "FARM OVER PHARMA" and "SOVEREIGN SOUL," which should tell you all you need to know.

Another sponsor is "Alfa Vedic," which is a farm founded by Dr. Barre Lando who, surprise surprise, says he specializes in "Biological Terrain Medicine." He practiced "Integrative Medicine" for 40 years and is now retired, although he "remains active in the internal martial arts, health consulting, creating formulations for his herbal company and developing innovative medical protocols based on the principles of Wave Form Physics." Alfa Vedic sells "innovative micro-nutrient and body care strategies for a healthy bio-terrain."

The next sponsor I researched is called "The Sovereign's Way," which describes itself as "a private membership club that shares knowledge of law and the way to be free in the world." They sell a series of writings called the "Law for Mankind" (for $997), which, from what I can gather, is basically their version of how to be a sovereign citizen. If you don't know what the sovereign citizen movement is, here's a succinct definition by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which also provides this great overview article:

Sovereign citizens believe they are not under the jurisdiction of the federal government and consider themselves exempt from U.S. law. They use a variety of conspiracy theories and falsehoods to justify their beliefs and their activities, some of which are illegal and violent.

The Sovereign's Way first sets the stage for their curriculum by painting this dire picture:

Right now, the world is heading in a very dangerous direction…

The knowledge of our rights that allows us to be free is being lost,

The economy is crumbling,

More and more of mankind exchange their rights for benefits and privileges of government,

Trespass by way of unlawful mandatory vaccinations and other frightening prospects loom on the horizon for those who are not aware of the difference between mandatory and law,

Those of mankind who run small businesses are being driven into the ground because they don't understand how to charge agents for orders,

Every day, little by little, the doors to this knowledge are closing,

A big change is needed…

Given this situation, they have the solution, of course. They explain that they will teach you, among other things:

how to set your own laws as a man or woman over your own property, including your body; how to present your law through the use of notices to uphold your rights before they come knocking at your door; how to enforce your rights at a court of law as a man or woman; how to use that knowledge to protect your little ones while they are in the care of others;

The last sponsor I looked at is called "The Way Forward," which is another "wellness" organization. They provide this overview:

The Way Forward is a grassroots movement focused on dissolving illusions and systematic conditioning while realigning mankind towards a path of health, freedom, and awareness.

"The Way Forward" creed focuses on "six primary pillars": Land, Community & Law, Health Freedom, Questioning the Narrative, Consciousness, and Health & Vitality. They also host summits and retreats where they sell a "variety of solutions to the challenges the health and freedom communities face today." Their last retreat was in March and featured "experts and leaders across the wellness, regenerative agriculture, consciousness, and sovereignty fields" that shared "vital information, tools and resources designed to educate and empower you along your path towards a more sovereign, vibrant life."

Poking around the website, the organization seems to be grounded in terrain theory and, to nobody's surprise, sells memberships that give you access to exclusive content from company founder and owner Alec Zeck and other "prominent thought leaders in our space," as well as "exclusive discounts on amazing courses on topics such as common law, crypto, regenerative farming, empowered birthing, and various health and wellness topics." They also sell goods for "healthy living," including herbal supplements, organ meat supplements, infrared saunas, and t-shirts with slogans like "Do Viruses Exist?" and "Germs Don't Cause Disease." 

So there you have it. One giant cesspool of already-debunked science. If you want to take a look at the entire "The End of COVID" curriculum, here you go. And please, if anyone in your circle starts talking about this new online series or terrain theory, please forward the credible sources I've provided here: Center for Countering Digital Hate's analysis of the Disinformation Dozen, Isobel Whitcomb's overview and debunking of terrain theory in Popular Science, and Southern Poverty Law Center's overview of the sovereign citizen movement.