By now everyone has heard about Ben Carson’s Egyptian pyramid story. Specifically, that the GOP 2016 presidential frontrunner believes that Egyptian pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph for the purpose of storing grain. This of course contradicts the archeological consensus that pyramids were in fact built to honor Egyptian royalty. Pharaohs and their families were mummified and their bodies stored with their most prized possession in tombs inside the pyramids. Biblical Archaeologist Jody Magness of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill notes “The use of the pyramids as tombs is verified by both written (literary) sources and archaeological evidence.”
Believe it not, there is another pyramid story involving Ben Carson that is even more outrageous that thinking that pyramids were built as giant grains silos.This one though does not involve Egyptian (or even Mayan) pyramids, but rather a financial pyramid scheme.
For years, the Republican doctor has been a spokesperson and proponent of nutritional supplements sold by a vertical marketing company called Mannatech (MTEX). The company has a questionable record of frivolous claims, for example that its pills can cure everything from cancer to Parkinson’s’ disease to cystic fibrosis. The company has even been forced to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit filed in of all places Texas, a state not particularly known for its consumer rights advocacy record. Current Texas governor and former state’s attorney Greg Abbott’s office handled the case. After the $4 million restitution settlement (with an additional $1 in penalties), Abbott noted “Texas will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting.”
Mannatech is in the multi-level marketing business, where independent sellers not on its payroll purchase its supplements for the purpose of reselling those supplements to other customers. As is the case with most multi-level marketing schemes, the company ends up making most of its earnings from selling its products to the sellers themselves, rather than actual users. 228,000 “members” have purchased Mannatech products in the last 12 months.
Carson already admitted to being paid $42,000 to speak at a Mannatech event in 2013 during a GOP debate. But the doctor was more than a paid speaker. He has touted the benefits of the product for years, even claiming that the supplements cured his own prostate cancer at a vertical marketing networking event filled with salespeople. In a video distributed to prospective sellers by the company, Carson states “Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine, or as a mechanism, for maintaining health. That’s why I was drawn towards Mannatech because it recognized the influence on health of natural foods.”
It is not yet clear if Ben Carson was in fact a true believer in the Mannatech product or simply another con man in it to make as much money for himself as possible. He believes so many crazy things that perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt and conclude that he is simply just another genuinely crazy person seeking the Republican nomination for President.