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Old-Time Sales Tricks on the Net

Should a popular alternative-doctor's Web site be allowed to blur the lines between business and medicine?

Sometimes even if you don't like an entrepreneur's business style, you have to give credit to his ability to promote and sell. So it is with Joseph Mercola, a Chicago-area osteopath (a type of physician, who tends to be holistically oriented). He is one of a fast-growing number of alternative-health practitioners who seek to capitalize on concerns about the conventional health care system -- in his case relying on slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics (see BW Online, 05/29/06, "Medical Guesswork").

I came across Dr. Mercola's Web site ( while doing a Google search on raw milk -- milk that is unpasteurized and is considered by many health-care practitioners to be healthier than the pasteurized stuff. What struck me wasn't his claim that pasteurization destroys many important nutrients in milk -- many alternative-care practitioners say that -- but his requirement that I supply my e-mail address before he would send me a link to view his article.