Elliot Benjamin
18 min readJun 4, 2021


Review of “What Really Makes You Ill?”

by Dawn Lester and David Parker;

Reviewed by Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D., Ph.D.


This article is a review of the book What Really Makes You Ill? Why Everything You Thought You Knew About A Disease Is Wrong by Dawn Lester and David Parker. The reviewer describes the main features of the book, with its essential premise of the denial of germ theory and the promotion of terrain theory., inclusive of the sub-premise of the dangers of vaccination.. The author conveys the wealth of important information in the book regarding the deadly dangers of toxic chemicals in a wide range of uses that span medicines and vaccinations for a multitude of diseases, as well as the pervasive use in many areas of everyday life, inclusive of what the authors refer to as manufactured poisons and applications, poisoned food, poisoned water, and poisoned bodies, The reviewer also conveys the authors’ descriptions of the destructive consequences from electromagnetic radiation exposures, as well as from globalization and vested interests. At the same time, the reviewer offers his own perspective on what he views as the authors’ narrow-minded, complete, and absolute adherence to germ theory denial, with disastrous consequences in regard to our current deadly worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.


In spite of what I believe are significant faults in Lester and Parker’s (2019) germ theory denial book What Really Makes You Ill? Why Everything You Thought You Knew About A Disease Is Wrong, I also found a great deal of merit in this book. Lester and Parker have backgrounds in the fields of accountancy and electrical engineering, respectively, and it is important to note that they do not have backgrounds in medical science or biochemistry. I view their book as a scholarly but biased academic treatment of their subject matter, with a wide range of topics that includes an anti-vaccination perspective as part of a number of factors that comprise terrain theory and germ theory denial. Although I found Lester and Parker’s (2019) narrow-minded and repetitive continuous complete germ theory denial statements to be wearisome and totally lacking in academic integrity, I must also say that I am quite impressed with the tremendously expansive range of the topics that they promoted, in particular their terrain theory thesis, with over 700 pages of text, a respectable number of academic author references in their bibliography, and numerous internet website references given for each of their 10 chapters. However, it is also the case that their chapter references, which are largely internet website references, and their citations within their text are not academically substantial and detailed, and most importantly, in regard to my evaluation of the scientific merit of their work, they exhibit the major flaw of only using references that promote their generic perspective of germ theory denial, inclusive of anti-vaccination.

In terms of Lester and Parker’s anti-vaccination component of their germ theory denial tome, I could once again evaluate any number of their specific claims in a similar way to how I have done in regard to the claims of anti-vaccination author Mateja Cernic (2018) (Benjamin, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d), inclusive of Lester and Parker’s (p. 463) claim that there is a link between vaccines and cancer, which they share with the claim of the anti-vaccination author William Trebing (2006). But to cut to the chase, Lester and Parker (2019) included a chapter entitled Vaccinations: Ineffective and Dangerous with sections on smallpox, polio, and cervical cancer; a chapter entitled The Germ Theory: A Deadly Fallacy with sections on viruses, bacteria, “antibiotics, resistance, and ‘superbugs,’” fungi, protozoa, and worms; a chapter entitled “Infectious” Diseases: Dispelling the Myth with sections on smallpox, childhood diseases, leprosy, syphilis, the 1918 Flu, the Black Death, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS; a chapter entitled Animals & Diseases: More Medical Myths with sections on rabies, Bovine Tb, BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), myxomatosis, anthrax, and vivisection; a very extensive chapter entitled Poisoning The Planet: Science Gone Awry with sections on what they view as natural poisons: lead, mercury, arsenic, and uranium; what they view as manufactured poisons and applications: chemicals, ionizing radiation, non-ionizing radiation, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and geoengineering; what they view as poisoned food: manufactured food products, food additives, food coloring, food flavoring, monosodium glutamate (MSG), food preservatives, salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, saccharin, aspartame, and genetically engineered food; what they view as poisoned water: water chlorination and water fluoridation; and what they view as poisoned bodies: household products, cosmetic and personal care products, clothes, and dentistry; a chapter entitled “Non-Infectious” Diseases”: More Medical Misconceptions with sections on cardiovascular diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, Gulf War Syndrome, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, allergies, eczema, asthma, arthritis, endocrine diseases and disorders, birth defects, Down’s Syndrome, spina bifida, sudden infant death syndrome, autism, and cancer; and chapters that describe global issues and vested interests which include a number of additional communicable diseases to what they previously discussed, such as hepatitis, influenza, malaria, and parasitic diseases, noncommunicable diseases with an emphasis on mental health, and reproductive health, industry and development, poverty, hunger and malnutrition, globalization and the control agenda, and promulgating deception; and finally a chapter entitled The Real Nature and Causes of Illness that includes sections on what they view as The Four Factors that affect human health: nutrition, toxic exposures, electromagnetic radiation exposure, and stress.

Lester and Parker’s (2019) book is in one sense an amazing tour de force of toxic chemical exposures, but unfortunately their impressive accomplishment in this sense is severely compromised by their narrow-minded and repetitious absolute and complete adherence to germ theory denial, inclusive of sharing common ground with some aspects of conspiracy theory, that I will describe in the concluding section of this review. To give initially a brief glimpse of my perspective of their “narrow-minded and repetitious absolute and complete adherence to germ theory denial” the following Results and Discussion section contains some relevant descriptions of their perspective on the causes of the 1918 Flu and the Black Death, inclusive of their repetitious to ad nauseam phrase “Nothing could be further from the truth.” This is followed by descriptions of some of their perceived wide range of destructive consequences from the use of toxic chemicals and electromagnetic radiation. I am making ample use of direct quotations from the authors to accurately and informatively convey significant aspects of their extensive book.

Results and Discussion

Richard House (2021), in his review of Mateja Cernic’s (2018) scholarly anti-vaccination book, described the terrain theory approach to disease as relating to the “characteristics of the individual and the population” (p. 23). In this section, I will convey various aspects of Lester and Parker’s (2019) work, beginning with their refutation of germ theory and promotion of terrain theory in regard to the causes of the 1918 Flu and the 14th century Black Death.

“The influenza epidemic of the early 20th century that is generally refereed to as the ‘1918 Flu’ is claimed to have been responsible for the loss of many millions of lives. In marked contrast with other outbreaks of “influenza,”seasonal or otherwise, this epidemic had a far greater impact on a completely different demographic, as it mainlyaffected adults between the ages of 20 and 40. . . . Despite the severe nature of these symptoms and its impact onyoung adults, rather than those in “high risk” groups, the medical establishment maintains the assertion that this wasan epidemic of “influenza” and that it was caused by a virus. . . . Nothing could be further from the truth: a non-livingparticle cannot have a “descendant.” The refutation of the “germ theory” means that no type of influenza can be caused by a virus and this, in turn, means that there must be other more compelling explanations for this epidemic of allegedly ‘infectious’ diseases.“ (pp. 133–134)

“‘The origin of the influenza pandemic has been inextricably linked with the men who occupied the military camps and trenches during the First World War.’ There are genuine explanations for the illness that existed in the military camps and in the trenches; however, although related to a certain extent, these explanations do not rely on the theory that the troops were responsible for the spread of an ‘infectious’ germ. One of the contributory factors for the ill- health suffered by the troops is vaccination; all soldiers received a number of vaccines against a variety of diseases they were thought likely to encounter.” (p. 135)

“One of the consequences of the war was the need for a constant supply of new recruits to replace the soldiers who had been injured or killed. This need for additional troops meant that entry requirements for admittance to the military were, by necessity, lowered. The inevitable result of this was that the new recruits were not necessarily as fit and healthy as the men they replaced, and they were therefore more vulnerable to the effects of the toxic vaccines and medicines and to the appalling conditions they had to endure. In addition to providing aspirin as treatment for ‘influenza,’ the medical establishment also attempted to develop vaccines to combat as well as prevent the disease, which was originally believed to be caused by a bacterium.” (p. 136)

“The ‘war effort’ inevitably created a substantially increased demand for the industrial manufacture of machinery, equipment and weapons, many of which needed to be welded; welding is another hazardous occupation. . . . It is clear that many factors can produce severe illness and symptoms that may have been attributed to influenza. . . . The war veterans talk about the atrocious conditions they had to endure; that they were often up to their stomachs in water and that their dugouts were just mud and filth. They report that in the freezing winter weather their wet boots froze overnight on their feet, leading to the numbness that is referred to as “trench foot.” Some also described how they were “casual” in their latrines and “casual” in burying their dead. They also provide useful insights about the poor diet they endured, stating that it consisted of a little meat, bread, chocolate and cheese; in addition, most of them smoked. They carried their water in petrol cans and occasionally had a rum ration; they claim that the quantity of food they had was poor, but clearly the quality was extremely poor. It should be obvious that many of the conditions they suffered can be likened to the insanitary and unhygienic conditions that prevailed in the centuries before sanitary reforms were introduced. It is therefore unsurprising that many men were ill and died as the result of the years they spent living in such conditions; it seems remarkable that any men were able to survive such atrocious conditions.” (pp. 140–141)

“The audio recordings also explain that, as well as those who were directly involved in the war, there were others, women mostly, who assisted the war effort by working in munitions factories, for example. Their jobs included filling the shells with cordite or ‘the black powder’ as they called it. They also worked with hazardous substances like TNT, which is trinitrotoluene, a highly toxic substance. It is abundantly obvious that the “epidemic” represented a unique time in history; that it involved the sickness and death of many millions of people. It is also abundantly obvious that these high levels of morbidity and mortality were not due to a disease caused by a virus, but that there were many contributory factors that acted together and synergistically. . . . ‘If the ‘epidemic influence’ were the cause of the epidemic then all who come within its range would develop the ‘epidemic disease’.’ This clearly did not occur during 1918 and 1919. Eleanor McBean, who was a child during the epidemic and assisted her parents to care for the sick, reports that she failed to become ill despite her close proximity to many people with the allegedly “infectious” disease. It is abundantly obvious that there was no ‘epidemic disease.’ The stresses of war and combat, the multiple toxic vaccinations, the use of toxic ‘medicines,’ the appalling conditions in which soldiers lived and fought, the exposure to deadly chlorine gas and other toxic materials provide ample evidence to adequately explain the epidemic of illness and the devastating loss of life. These factors, which acted synergistically, provide a compelling explanation for this singular event without the need to invoke the existence of an elusive virus.” (p. 141)

“It is generally claimed that the [14th century] Black Death erupted spontaneously; that it spread rapidly around the world; and that it caused millions of deaths; the WHO [World Health Organization] fact sheet claims the total mortality to have been an estimated 50 million people. . . . A new hypothesis about the likely causes of the Black Death has been developed by a dendrochronologist, a scientist who studies tree-rings to identify different growth patterns. . . . and included the study of ice-core data. . . . ‘There have been masses of dead fish, animals and other things along the sea shore and in many places trees covered in dust. . . . and all these things seem to have come from the great corruption of the air and earth.’” (pp. 142, 144)

“The corruption of the atmosphere certainly must have been extremely severe to have been able to generate a “clear environmental trough”; it was sufficiently severe to have been able to cause death from respiratory problems. . . . It is clear therefore that ‘something’ must have occurred to have caused such a severe corruption of the atmosphere over a large portion of the world. One interesting and undisputed fact is that a major earthquake erupted in Europe on 25th January 1348. . . . The presence of ‘evil-smelling chemicals” would certainly explain the documented reports about the “corruption of the atmosphere’; their toxicity also explains how these chemicals would have caused severe respiration problems and rapid death from asphyxiation for those people in close proximity to the dense atmospheric poisoning. . . . These conditions can be explained by comets, comet debris and earthquakes; they cannot be explained by rat fleas “infected” with disease-causing bacteria.” (pp. 144–146)

“The evidence from contemporary records as well as tree-rings and ice-core data demonstrates the existence of a ‘corrupted atmosphere’ during the 14th century. The earthquakes and impact of comet debris provide credible explanations for that corrupted atmosphere and for its ability to have permeated a significant portion of the planet. The toxic substances known to be associated with comets and comet debris provide an extremely compelling explanation for the rapid onset of severe respiratory problems, asphyxiation and death. The medical establishment theory about fleas infected with bacteria that were spread by small animals to humans is entirely unsupported by the evidence; the theory that the Black Death, or any other epidemic of ‘plague’ can be caused by a bacterium is shown to be fatally flawed.” (p. 146)

I think that Lester and Parker have furnished us with creative ideas about possible causes that contributed to the Black Death and especially the 1918 Flu. However, their determination that this is compelling evidence for the complete dismissal of germ theory and the evidence for bacteria and viruses causing infectious diseases is a poor and exceedingly dangerous misrepresentation of science, which has deadly current implications in regard to people getting vaccinated against Covid-19 (Benjamin, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d, in press). Nevertheless, these authors have presented a substantial wealth of material in regard to the dangers of toxic chemicals in support of their promotion of terrain theory, supplemented with their concerns about the damaging effects from chemically processed food and electromagnetic radiation, and their exposure of governmental and organizational vested interests that they claim to have resulted in adverse and deadly medical consequences for people in both “developed” and “developing” countries. I will therefore include in this brief description of their work some relevant passages in this regard, which also includes their minimization of the damaging and deadly effects of climate change.

“The plethora of substances that are inherently toxic include, not only the vast majority of the chemicals and compounds synthesized in the laboratories of the chemical industry, but also a number of naturally-occurring substances that have been exposed or brought to the surface from deep underground by the activities of various industries. . . . Their inherently toxic nature means that these substances are incompatible with the human body’s biochemical processes that sustain life; which means that they should not be ingested, inhaled, injected or otherwise absorbed into the body at any dose or exposure level. . . . Although different substances may cause different degrees of harm, they all cause damage at the cellular level, because the mechanism by which most, if not all toxic substances cause harm, is through the generation of free radicals that induce oxidative stress and lead to damage to the body’s cells and consequently to tissues and organs. The growing body of evidence that recognizes oxidative stress to be the underlying mechanism common to most chronic health problems further demonstrates that the relationship between ‘toxic substances’ and ‘disease’ is direct and causal.” (p. 709)

“The ability to expel toxins and regenerate the liver are two of the reasons that the human body is able to withstand certain levels of exposures to toxic substances. . . . Unfortunately, one class of “toxic substances” that are known to cause damage to the liver are the pharmaceutical products used as “medicines” to treat diseases, including diseases that affect the liver. . . . More than half of all Americans take at least one prescription medication. . . Americans take far more ‘pills’ than the people of any other country. . . . If pharmaceutical drugs were safe and effective, as the medical establishment claims them to be, then Americans ought to be the healthiest people in the world, but this is not the case. . . reports that show Americans to be some of the least healthy population of a ‘developed’ country. . . . “Almost 1.3 million people went to U.S. emergency rooms due to adverse drug effects in 2014, and about 124,000 died from those events.”. . . . Another group of “harmful substances” to which people are commonly exposed are those collectively referred to as pesticides, the intended purpose of which is to destroy a wide variety of living organisms considered to be pests.” (pp. 710–712)

“Despite the incessant media reports which erroneously claim that climate change due to high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide poses the most serious threat to humanity, there is a small, but growing level of public awareness that the very real and far more serious threat to humanity is posed by environmental pollution caused by the toxic substances produced, used and discharged by many different industries. . . . As previously discussed, he body possesses innate mechanisms to expel toxins, repair damage and restore health. Although these mechanisms and the processes they regulate will be damaged and their effectiveness weakened by continual exposure to toxic substances, this damage can be mitigated, but it requires ongoing efforts to minimize exposures to toxic substances. It also requires efforts to maximize the intake of nutrients, especially antioxidants to counteract free radicals and prevent them from causing damage within the body. . . . Toxic chemicals are entirely unnecessary for the manufacture of a huge variety of products. . . there are safer, less toxic alternatives for many of the products people use on a regular, if not daily basis. It is equally clear that choosing safer alternatives will contribute to a significant reduction in each person’s level of toxic exposures.” (pp. 715–716, 719)

“Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that extends over a range of frequencies and wavelenghts collectively known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Although different sections of the spectrum have been given different labels, such as visible light and microwaves, for example, all forms of electromagnetic radiation are categorized as either ionizing or non-ionizing according to the intensity of the energy they possess. . . . Environmental levels of ionizing radiation have continued to rise mainly as the result of the ongoing operations of the nuclear industry, especially nuclear power plants. . . . The natural electromagnetic environment has also been altered by ‘unnatural’ non-ionizing radiation, the level of which began to increase after the introduction of AC (alternating current) electricity as the main power source for virtually all machines and equipment, both domestic and industrial. . . . It is clear that the Earth’s electromagnetic environment has been irrevocably altered at an incredibly rapid pace and over the course of an incredibly short period of time. . . . The problem with this man-made sea of energy is that it interferes with the functioning of the natural electrical systems of living organisms, especially humans. . . . Human health can be adversely affected by exposures to ‘harmful influences,’ such as “man-made” electromagnetic radiation, as well as “harmful substances,” such as ‘man-made’ chemicals.” (pp. 719–720)

“‘Everything,’ including the human body, is electro-chemical in nature. . . . Ionizing radiation possesses sufficient energy to break molecular bonds and release free electrons. . . . those produced by ionizing radiation are far more dangerous to living cells. . . . ‘Acute health effects such as skin burns or acute radiation syndrome can occur when doses of radiation exceed certain levels.’. . . . In common with all other “harmful substances and influences,” electromagnetic radiation exerts its adverse effects through the mechanisms of oxidative stress that induces free radical damage at the cellular level; EM [electromagnetic] radiation is, however, particularly detrimental to the organs and systems that operate electrically. One of the main organs that function electrically is the heart; it is therefore unsurprising that. . . a relationship exists between exposures to EMFs [electromagnetic fields], oxidative stress and cardiac problems. . . . Of particular concern, however, is that EM radiation has been shown to affect the blood-brain barrier.“ (pp. 721–722)

“The classification of RF [radio frequency] and ELF [extremely low frequency] as merely “possible” carcinogens is no longer tenable; there is a large body of evidence, which demonstrates that a relationship exists between EM radiation and oxidative stress, cellular damage and cancer, and this relationship is both direct and causal. . . . have shown radiofrequency radiation to increase the risk of cancer. . . . Unfortunately, the continually growing body of evidence that demonstrates exposures to non-ionizing EM radiation to be associated with serious adverse health effects, is largely ignored by the telecommunications and related industries that are preparing for the imminent introduction of 5G, the fifth generation of wireless infrastructure, which is intended to facilitate the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT). . . . According to the WHO, most exposures to ionizing radiation are the result of medical examinations and diagnostic procedures; X-rays and CT scans for example; these exposures are avoidable. . . . All electrical equipment and appliances produce electromagnetic fields in the ELF (extremely low frequency) range that interfere with the body’s delicate electrical system and are associated with a number of adverse health effects, including leukemia and brain tumors.” (pp. 724–726)

“The most widely used device is the mobile phone, it is also the most widely studied; the adverse effects on the brain, especially tumors, are well documented. . . . Safer alternative exist. . .“Worldwide, many regions are investing in wired, fiberoptic connections which are safer, faster, more reliable, provide greater capacity and are more cyber-secure.” (p. 727)

“The real reasons that people, both young and old, experience cognitive impairments and neurological problems that may be diagnosed as “mental disorders,” are many and varied; but, like all other ‘diseases,’ they are caused by exposures to various combinations of stressors, both physical and emotional. . . . All stressors increase the utilization of the body’s supply of antioxidants. This inevitably places even greater emphasis on the importance of good nutrition and the regular intake of antioxidant-rich foods to ‘scanvenge’ free radicals before they cause harm, and to provide support for the body’s endogenous antioxidant production system. The nervous system, and especially the brain, can also be protected by avoiding or at least minimizing exposures to substances and influences known to have harmful neurological effects.” (p. 734)


From the preceding descriptions of Lester and Parker’s (2019) extensive work, clearly there is a great deal of important, valuable, and lifesaving information in regard to what the authors perceive as the destructive and deadly consequences from the widespread use of toxic chemicals and electromagnetic radiation. I think the authors have made a very strong case for the continued investigation of both these factors, with a much greater promotion of public awareness. However, at the same time, the authors have conveyed their repetitive narrow-minded complete and absolute denial of germ theory as the cause of disease, and this is where I believe they significantly falter and seriously detract from the above merits of their book. The bottom line for me is that I think it is a matter of “both and” rather than “either or,” as I have previously described in my essays related to Mateja Cernic’s (2018) anti-vaccination book (Benjamin, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d). In other words, yes it is undeniable that poor living conditions, etc. contribute greatly to disease, and I think especially Lester and Parker’s (2019) indictment of toxic chemicals is very warranted in this regard. But at the same time, I think that the authors’ complete denial of germ theory, inclusive of their complete condemnation of vaccinations, does not accurately reflect our current scientific knowledge or the tremendous benefits that vaccinations have been demonstrated to have in regard to combating many diseases, inclusive of our current Covid-19 pandemic, and that their germ theory denial is having disastrous consequences in regard to our current fight against Covid-19 (Benjamin, 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d, in press). As a basis for their germ theory denial beliefs, the authors (Lester and Parker, 2019) give much tribute to long-term virus denialist and conspiracy theorist Stefan Lanka (Visser, 2021a), and for their link of vaccinations to autism they give much tribute to the debunked and invalidated research of Andrew Wakefield (Benjamin, 2021c). They also made the unfounded claim that is apparently lacking in any supporting evidence (Visser, 2021b), that the 5G technology “will, unless prevented, generate a considerable increase in a variety of adverse health problems” (Lester and Parker, 2019, p. 254). These associations are concerning and cast even further doubt for me on the scientific merit of their work. Thus in conclusion, I believe that there is a good deal of very important information to seriously consider in this book, but that the basic germ theory denial premise of the book is unscientific, invalid, and dangerous.


Benjamin, E. (2021a). COVID: To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated: Stimulated by a sociologist’s scholarly anti-vaccination book: Part 1. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin121.html

Benjamin, E. (2021b). COVID: To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated: Stimulated by a sociologist’s scholarly anti-vaccination book: Part 2. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin122.html

Benjamin, E. (2021c). COVID: To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated: Stimulated by a sociologist’s scholarly anti-vaccination book: Part 3. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin123.html

Benjamin, E. (2021d). COVID: To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated: Stimulated by a sociologist’s scholarly anti-vaccination book: Part 4 the finale. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin124.html

Benjamin, E. (in press). Germ theory denialism, anti-vaccination, and Covid-19. Journal of Brain Research.

Cernic, M. (2018). Ideological constructs of vaccination. Vega Press.

House, R. (2021). Book review summary: “Ideological constructs of vaccination” by Mateja Cernic, Ph.D. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/cernic-vacc-review

Trebing, W. P. (2006). Good-bye germ theory: Ending a century of medical fraud and how to protect your family. Xlibris.

Visser, F. (2021a). Stefan Lanka’s Vanishing Virus Act: The Corona Conspiracyk Part 7. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/visseret175.html

Visser, F. (2021b). Corona, oxygen, 5G: The paranoid worldview of David Icke: The Corona Conspiracy, Part 1. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/vissert166.html



Elliot Benjamin

Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, psychologist, mathematician, musician, and writer, with Ph.Ds in math and psychology. 4 published books, and over 200 articles