Don’t Cry Wolfe: New Age Con-Artistry and Anti-Intellectualism

David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe has made a career out of peddling misinformation, pseudo-science and bold-faced lies. Examining his claims more closely reveals his cynical lack of integrity.

 

For those unaware of who David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe is, he describes himself as a: “health, eco, nutrition and natural beauty expert”. Others have simply called him a scam artist. This article will investigate the seemingly innocent methods he uses to gain followers, making loads of money in the process.

 

People like him have existed for a long time now; Deepak Chopra is probably the best example of someone who uses his image of being genuine and being ‘at one with nature’ to sell very expensive things to naïve people. What differentiates David Wolfe from Deepak Chopra is his approach – his uniquely lazy way of promoting his hoo-ha with no regard for scientific evidence, facts, or anything related to the truth for that matter. Chopra tried to get his products and methods scientifically verified but failed miserably, but it at least shows some effort on his behalf to sound more convincing, and reach a wider, more skeptical audience.

 

What David Wolfe has demonstrated is that you don’t need to be scientifically credible at all to reach a wider audience. All you have to do is speak about things confidently, confuse your audience and invoke a sense of awe through the use of long, complicated words as well as occasionally claiming to have a lab.

 

With almost 6 million ‘likes’ on Facebook at the time of writing, David Wolfe has a much greater social media presence than Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Neil DeGrasse Tyson put together, which is why I find him so problematic. He isn’t just another arrogant, self-righteous, New Age ‘guru’, but on top of that he is very influential to many people.

 

Before going on to dispute many of the things David Wolfe has claimed over the years, I would like to look at what kind of salesperson he actually is. My personal favorite ego loaded extract from his ‘about me’ section is the following:

 

“David “Avocado” Wolfe is the rock star and Indiana Jones of the superfoods and longevity universe. The world’s top CEOs, ambassadors, celebrities, athletes, artists, and the real superheroes of this planet—Moms—all look to David for expert advice in health, beauty, herbalism, nutrition, and chocolate!

…With over 20 years of dedicated experience and having hosted over 2750 live events, David has led the environmental charge for radiant health via a positive mental attitude, eco-community building, living spring water, and the best-ever quality organic foods and herbs.”

 

As you can see, he doesn’t hold back at all – he makes great claims with so much confidence that it might seem convincing to some. Most of the ‘live events’ Dave mentions are in fact conferences such as the “Longevity Now Conference” (at which he will speak in 2016, as he has done in previous years) where he mostly just sells the Nutribullet (an expensive, yet actually very good blender for which he is the official spokesperson) through infomercials disguised as a presentation.

 

This video on the official Nutribullet website is a good example, which humbly claims that instead of just blending your food, this product actually turns your food into a superfood. This sounds great, but considering that the nutrient content of food does not change after being blended, this is clearly just a sales technique.

 

He also repeatedly keeps calling himself an author. Though there are books in which he is credited as having written, they have been shown to be plagiarised to a very large extent. You might be thinking “This guy is clearly an idiot, not me nor anybody else I know would fall for this!” but you will probably be disappointed when you look at his Facebook page and find that he has a much wider audience than you’d expect. This is mainly down to his extremely clever ‘Bait and Switch’ marketing tactic for which he mainly uses social media.

 

First, the Bait

David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe’s site shares many motivational and inspirational memes which many people will be able to connect with such as these:
Naturalistic-335x450 AntiGMO-450x387

 

Many of his memes address current issues which resonate with people. In turn, these memes get shared very widely, and David accumulates a very large number of likes very quickly – which to him is just free advertising, since all these memes include a reminder that they came from his Facebook page. His memes work because they make you see what is wrong, and not why it is wrong – which leads us to react emotionally, and agree.

 

Unfortunately, emotions travel faster and further than facts. The memes being shared are usually quite vague so that they can appeal to as many people as possible, all of whom will probably ‘like’ or ‘share’ the content for different reasons. David Wolfe is as popular as he is because most of his fans like him for different reasons: be it a product he is promoting, one of the many opinions he holds, or even just simply the fact that his ‘game’ is coming across as the cool, honest guy who is ‘at one’ with nature. Once a basic level of trust is established some of his more elaborate woo becomes more prominent.

 

Lack of qualifications, and absence of academic credibility

Avocado claims to be ‘faculty’ at the “BodyMind Institute” – an institute built around selling pointless quackery. On their website you have the option to buy the ‘David Wolfe nutrition certification’ for only 600 Canadian dollars. From taking a look at his video lesson sneak peaks I realised that paying such an immense amount of money gives you access to 240 HD videos of David Wolfe taking a walk in the woods, visiting his garden, making a smoothie, and so on. Considering that he would probably want to use his best material to convince people to pay for it, I am really curious to see what you get for the money you pay that is not included in these sneak peeks.

 

Furthermore, in an interview he stated:

 

“I have degrees in Mechanical and Environmental Engineering and Political Science. I have studied at many different institutions including Oxford University. I concluded my formal education with a law degree from the University of San Diego.”

 

However, as you may have guessed at this point, I found absolutely no evidence for any of this being true. To confirm these suspicions I emailed both schools, asking whether David Wolfe ever attended them – at the time of publishing, they have not responded.**

 

The Hoo-Ha

Over the years David has spilled so much verbal garbage that it is difficult to choose what to include. Therefore I will focus on beliefs which would make even Chopra look like a sceptic.

 

  • In a short video Wolfe produces a spectacular word salad in which he says that deer antler is a “cosmic substance” (which he happens to promote and sell).

 

He also believes that mushrooms are from space, and that chocolate is an octave of the suns energy. I won’t even bother to dispute these claims, because I feel that would be a huge waste of time but thought I’d mention them so we could have a laugh together.

 

  • He believes that gravity is a lie:

 

“Gravity is not intrinsic to matter. That Carl Sagan idea that was sold to us on Cosmos on PBS, was sold to us deliberately to actually confuse us just so you know that. There’s people who have known that gravity is a force that can be displaced. There’s people that have known that since the ’50s or even earlier than that. But by screwing up, confusing our mind about things, and giving us incorrect theories we were brain washed into a totally different belief system. That gravity is intrinsic to all matter, we’re fighting gravity, we have to push our way through gravity to launch a craft up into outer space, all this nonsense.” 

 

The great thing about science is that it works, whether you believe in it or not. Notice how, for a person that claims to be reputable and scientific, he avoids sourcing any of his claims. He offers no evidence, nor does he mention anybody of any credibility that agrees with him. As previously mentioned, he is famous enough to not have to do any of this for people to love him. I would be very curious to see whether he could devise an experiment that backs any of this up?

 

 

The problem is not that he holds these beliefs – we should always be inquisitive and question information that is presented to us, even if that that leads us to believe things that clearly go against the norm. However it is a different matter entirely to disregard heaps of evidence, and portray these issues in a manner which makes it seems as though the scientific community is divided on these issues. It isn’t.

 

My issue is that through his enormous social media presence he influences people’s ideas about these topics, and prevents them from doing their own research and forming their own ideas by making it seems like he has it all figured out. Add to this fact that most people will not question his expertise or his academic merit, and very quickly people end up believing that it is completely reasonable to not vaccinate your children, or convincing a loved one with cancer that they should smoke weed instead of getting treatment.

 

A Wolfe in sheepskin?

Looking at everything that he claims to stand for: health, spirituality, love… I am left wondering what this guy’s motivation could be. If he is really only after the insane amounts of money he makes out of all of this, it would mean that he doesn’t actually believe the anti-materialist, down-to-earth things he says such as:

 

“There are many multimillionaires suffering in hospital beds, eating hybridized, genetically modified processed foods, who are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally confused. There are many billionaires even, suffering from poor health and unable to experience the vast number of enjoyments they have spent their life acquiring. I have few assets, and yet I’ve never lacked for anything. I’ve never eaten anything but the best food ever… slept in the best (grounded) beds ever… travelled to the most exotic lands ever… experienced the most extraordinary health ever, shared the company of the most beautiful friends and family, and most of all, met hundreds of thousands of fantastic, wonderful people like you who are hungry for the knowledge I share.”

 

Either he is knowingly lying to everyone simply for the sake of profit – which would be in line with this video in which he proclaims to be the richest hippie on earth and also with this very awkward response he gave when someone asked him about his motivations – or he actually believes the nonsense he spews and does not see the irony in his actions. Given the abnormal size of his ego, I wouldn’t put it past him.  One very applicable quote comes to mind:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way down through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false sense that democracy means ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’ ” – Isaac Asimov

I do not believe that David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe is a smart and calculating evil genius, and a part of me is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, despite all of the above and the fact that he has been accused of sexual harassment in the past. I think his mind works in a relatively simple, yet efficient way by learning what ideas people around him seem to respond well to, then propagating these further in order to increase his popularity.

 

It seems that what it’s ultimately about for him is popularity, and acceptance by the people he surrounds himself with in order to maintain the superhero image he has of himself. He has become incredibly good at selling himself and his ideas through this constant method of trial and error. This would also explain why he has held so many mutually exclusive beliefs at different stages of his life (first it was only about health, then it was about being vegan, then it was about being a raw vegan… before it became about selling deer antler extract).

 

If he is a calculating con artist after all, then his marketing is so good that even though I am sat here writing a critical article about him, he still manages to convince me that he is “just” a person looking for acceptance.

 

** UPDATE JULY 2016: I have received the following response from the University of Oxford, in response to asking whether David Wolfe ever attended their university as he claims to have done.
Wolfe Reply

This is the first of a two part series about David Wolfe. My next article explores why his particular brand of fraudulence is so harmful to legitimate eco-activism and other similar movements. 

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46 Comments on “Don’t Cry Wolfe: New Age Con-Artistry and Anti-Intellectualism

  1. OK, I see your point. I recognize that a lot of stuff he spouts is ridiculous. I’ve never questioned that and I do chuckle with you over some it. It just never occurred to me that people aren’t smart enough to see through much of this stuff not to recognize it. I didn’t realize that he influences so many people. I just found it entertaining like you might find many things entertaining that you can’t quite figure out or believe. But your points are well taken.

  2. Mushrooms are from outer space? His article seems well written and given references to his ideas…….—-> 3. Martin Beech, “On Meteors and Mushrooms,” Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 81, no. 605 (April 1987), 27

    1. That article is a look at how folklore explained where mushrooms come from. It isn’t saying that mushrooms come from space. It’s saying people believed that was one explanation of how mushrooms appeared, seemingly from nowhere. Along with thinking that lightning caused mushrooms to appear.

      1. JohnMcC: “Along with thinking that lightning caused mushrooms to appear.”
        ——————————-

        Actually lightning from summer thunderstorms do trigger truffle formation after a a few days. This was written about by both Greeks and Romans and also known by Africans who always know to collect Kalahari Truffles after Lightning storms. Unfortunately we live in a world where modern day intellects discount anything others say on a matter if they do not have the usual Alphabet Soup initials after their names. For years such accounts were heralded as myths and fables. Recent research work has shown that these related accounts associating mushroom appearances after lightning storms to be true. The fact that these people relating these experiences didn’t have the supposed academic background did not mean the experiences were untrue. They were. On the other hand other mycologists I follow and enjoy are people like Paul Stamets, but sometimes even Paul Stamets can go over board. For example his speeches on how Mushrooms can save the world. But anyway, here is some info on the lightning phenomena.

        http://creating-a-new-earth.blogspot.se/2015/12/snap-crackle-pop-rumor-has-it-that.html

        1. isn’t it more likely that rather than lightning causing truffles to grow, it is actually just plain old RAIN???? hello….use your brain please. Lightning is electricity in the sky, how on earth would that cause a truffle to grow wtf.

  3. I was at a conference at Alex Grey’s chapel of mirrors few years back and saw him speak about mushrooms. He literally told people that if a mushroom grows on a tree its safe for consumption. It is my understanding that this is false info that could be lethal if someone were to make that assumption.
    Also he lost me a long time ago with his whole cocoa marketing fuckery

  4. Nice hit piece. For a “science is my religion” type, you may want a few more references, and a few less opinions.

    Yes, the only way a person can be healthy is to eat plants loaded with glyphosate, get shots with aluminum in them, and gobble pills that treat symptoms while creating entirely new chronic diseases in the process.

    “My skin cleared up, but now I have lymphoma. Thanks Humira!”

    For being such pseudo-intellectuals, you guys who regurgitate misinformation that Monsanto and the pharmaceutical industry have paid good money for, are absolute morons.

    You have no critical thinking or deductive reasoning skills, rendering you literate parrots. Too funny.

    Now you’ll have to excuse me, I need to go read a corporate funded study on what think about the world.

    1. Damn, how did you know I work for Monsanto?!

      Also you seem to be someone who confuses googling with research. Skepticism is great, and you should always be skeptical of information you come across- you seem to understand that. I don’t get why you can’t apply that same skepticism to the ‘alternative’ views points you come across, but only to mainstream opinion. Being selectively skeptical leaves you wallowing in your own confirmation bias.

  5. Tell me, Wolfe supporters, is it possible to criticise him for his idiotic, anti-intellectual, scientifically unfounded claims and his banal platitudes and not be working for Monsanto or other corporations?

    1. Yesterday I mentioned that the final of WordPress 2.0 was close – well, that’s become closer today with the release of WordPress 2.0 Release Candidate 3  (information here , here  and here ).

  6. Creating an article just to throw shit at someone else is very low. If you had any dignity you’d let people make their own personal choices what to think and believe. Now you come out as a childish judgmental person with too much spare time.

    /K

    1. I’m not forcing my opinion on anyone, merely writing a critical piece about someone who I view as being detrimental to society, for selling lies and false hope. The idea is that people either:
      1) Agree and have a laugh with me
      2) Disagree and try to find evidence refuting my claims for a constructive discussion

      I wish people did their own research- the problem is people confusing googling with research.

    2. Yet shit-throwing is DAW’s foundational marketing strategy (fear-mongering) and his go-to defensive strategy when challenged. Asymmetric insight, indeed.

    3. there’s a sucker born every day, after all. problem is, by making said statement, you’re allowing a known con artist to continue plying his ‘trade.’ i guess you won’t care until you’re affected, right?

  7. Thank you for this article. I am in complete awe at the ridiculousness and ignorant ‘natural’ methods to ‘cure’ things like late-stage tooth decay David Wolfe purports.

    His drivel has the potential ( most likely already has for some time ) to cause serious harm to people’s health.

    Most people either don’t take the time to or don’t really know how to research what he is reporting. I have read the comments on some of his posts and medical doctors have called him out with no response from him. He lets his mindless, adherents argue for him even though they fail, miserably.

    May the ‘SHIT’ rain down on him for the harm he causes.

  8. I find it interesting that Oxford replied how they did. my suspicion is that he is the “David Wolfe” that did not complete that course – just so he could legitimately claim he “studied” at Oxford. Wow.

  9. There are many out there who are out there for the buck. Do any of you know of Esther Hicks who has been channeling an entity called Abraham? For like 40 years she has been soaking folks.

  10. David Wolfe totally lost any respect I had for him having any knowledge at all, when he as someone who had espoused a “raw vegan” lifestyle as being great, then started selling deer antler extract – which is as vegan as suggesting I should chew leather….

    1. While I am not a DAW fan what-so-ever, I did want to point out that antlers fall off naturally at the end of the season, so while not being vegan, you don’t have to kill the animal, making it “vegetarian.”

  11. I wonder if the Wolfe supporters are more angry with those who scoff at this obvious fraud .. or if they are angry with themselves for being suspicious that they unconsciously know they have been conned.

  12. Snake oil salesmen were considered miracle workers..you put enough true facts with a whole bunch of total quackery and many folks will believe..i agree with you, there are way too many lies and inaccurate information that he hands out for folks who are looking for quick miracles….i jus loved how he put out that cranberry would cure an infection and so many people defended him for it being a fact..it makes me wonder how many folks he has hurt or killed with his opinions on curing their ails..but i see that forrest’s mother was right..stupid is as stupid does..

  13. I personally your attacks unsubstantiated. Maybe he changed his name since he went to College. It is likely Wolfe is not his real name. He has brought a lot of good to the world. Educed a lot of people. Changed a lot of lives. Why should he wait for modern science to catch up and validate the theories…. He is a pioneer. I am not saying everything he says is 100% true and I see he is a business man, but I also appreciate the good he has brought to the world. I am bit confused about his now fascination with grass fed been though, which is a major jump from veganism… but we all change. Hats off. Why shouldn’t hippies be rich. You dear author sound jealous and narrow minded to me and guilty of not substantiating your arguments, which is what you accuse of him most….. hmm

    1. You clearly have a lot of faith in that man considering that you find it easier to believe that he changed his name than that he is full of sh**. Thats ok though, not a problem.

      Which of my claims do you believe to be unsubstantiated? It would be good to know for future notice, and hopefully I can convince you otherwise by expanding on those claims. I am really all for an open and genuine debate, as my mission is to expose fraud.. not to insult people I secretly wished I could emulate.

      I understand he has changed many peoples lives, however my point is that he has done so for the worse. In my new article which will be published in the coming days i discuss exactly why i believe him to be so detrimental to society- and how he is damaging a lot of people with his fraudulent methods- I will gladly link you to it.

      “Why should he wait for modern science to catch up and validate the theories…. He is a pioneer” . This is not how science/technology/innovation works, I won’t even begin to argue with that statement.

  14. These sheep like Wolfe think they/’re being natural, but they are the complete opposite. They are anti-nature. There is nothing in nature that allows for their beliefs to be true. No part of nature allows for water to have a memory, or for chocolate to be an octave of the sun, and all the other nonsense. They totally direspect the true wonders of nature, and assume nature will somehow fit in with their made up beliefs. And when it doesn’t, they just deny it. They are totally anti-nature, have no interest in learning it’s true wonders, and have a very ego-centric view of the universe. And Wolfe is overweight too. Rant over.

  15. My friend who works maintaining a cancer database has confirmed that advice to cure cancer by trying natural cures or eat healthy can be lethal. Many people try this and when it doesn’t work, they come back for conventional treatment. For many of them, their cancer had progressed too far and it’s too late for treatment.

    1. Many people come to try an alternative treatment after their immune systems are destroyed by chemo and radiation. Blaming the alternative treatments is inappropriate.

  16. Actually the scientific community IS very divided over issues of gmo foods, conventional cancer treatments, and vaccines. Since you got that so wrong, I don’t need to read further.

  17. As vaccines almost killed my 4th child I did do my own research that led me to several pediatricians, vaccine researchers and an immunologist who all confirmed that vaccines can and do cause harm and death. One cannot believe everything they read and it is important to do your own research. My 5th child is not vaccinated, is 14 years old and has never had a sick visit to the Dr. I can’t say the same for my vaccinated children.

  18. The bottom line is simple: David Wolf may be a bit on the egotistical side and may also make claims that he has not substantiated. However, a lot of what he says are not specifically his own theories but often validated concepts shared by many many people who have dedicated their lives to research. You on the other hand, come across as someone who has ulterior motives. At least with David we all know that he has created a brand around himself and uses this brand to market his products. You have spent a lot of time, energy and effort to ridicule him. Either you have some personal history with him or you have other motives. I refuse to believe that you have sacrificed your time and energy simply to enlighten people of the evils of David Wolf?

    These sort of name and shame tactics have been used for centuries. When someone comes along that challenged big pharma or energy companies the firs thing they do is try to paint the person as a quack or a nut job. Much like what happened to Tesla… I;m not at all saying that David Wolf is even close to being in the same league as Tesla..but like you said he has a large audience and helping people realise that pharmaceuticals and the medical industry itself is driven purely by profit and it’s one big con. So to protect their business being the dodgy skanks that they would likely employ the services of freelance bloggers to write content to ridicule those who threaten their business.

    1. You are a gullible sheep who is a victim of bullshit. There is no big pharma conspiracy against Wolfe because he doesn’t offer any valid effective alternatives. He is simply are a narcisstic snakeoil salesboy.
      You are a victim of bullshit marketing by big alternative and it is you that needs to wake up. One day your life will depend on it.

      Good luck
      The Illuminati

  19. Shame, are you jealous???? Doesn’t every lifestyle change go with necessities & consumables? Isn’t it obvious if a life path is being followed that a brand ambassador would be someone on that path…athletes are sponsored (and paid) to promote branded sportswear, that’s how the world works.. I’m sure the brands would not allow their product to be represented by a person who doesn’t live the lifestyle… shame on you, go make your own fortune from something you love rather than trying to be destructive about someone else…you are sad!

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