The 5 Worst Quacks Around Today

[Re-posted at The BEAST]

I’m going to have to limit this list to people who are currently practicing some form of quackery, because if I tried to make a historical list I’d feel compelled to handicap for that person’s period in history. So Isaac Newton, who was literally one of the smartest people ever, believed in alchemy. The great 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler believed in astrology. Lots of the ancient Greek philosophers believed in demons. Demons that controlled their thoughts. Seriously. But you’ve really got to cut them some slack because of how primitive human understanding was in their times. If you’re living in a technologically advanced society today, as the five below are, you really have no excuse for that kind of ignorance. So to make it a level playing field, here are what I think are the worst purveyors of antiscientific pseudomedicine around today.

Jenny McCarthy

There’s a significance to this picture. The website advertised across her boobs is one McCarthy used to run, and it no longer exists. You wouldn’t know it from reading her antivaccine rants on the HuffPo nowadays, but Jenny McCarthy used to believe that her son was a something called an “indigo child.” Indigo children are supposed to represent the next stage of human evolution, according to some New Age whackaloon named Nancy Ann Tappe. It’s apparently pretty important that they have blond hair and blue eyes. They are supposed to have paranormal powers, and exploring those powers early in life seems to have the effect of making them appear to be somewhere on the autism spectrum. But they’re NOT AUTISTIC. They’re just… you know, special. Like little, supernatural, card-counting, Aryan snowflakes.

But the problem with Indigo Children is that eventually they grow up to be Indigo Adults and are expected to take on Indigo Responsibilities and an Indigo Spouse and an Indigo Mortgage, maybe even get an Indigo Job which allows them to make an Indigo profit off of their Indigo paranormal powers. And the problem with this (SPOILER ALERT) is that the whole idea of the Indigo kids is a ridiculous lie. So they never manage to demonstrate their paranormal abilities in any meaningful test comparable to any test a normal employer would use on a job applicant.

So if her child’s still going to be a precious and unique snowflake, Jenny McCarthy would need to find a new narrative which doesn’t involve him reading minds or astral projection or that kind of crap. This is where the disgraced Dr. Andrew Wakefield enters the story with his stories about how the MMR vaccine causes autism, even though it doesn’t. And this meeting of Wakefield’s data manipulation and lying with McCarthy’s (and her then-boyfriend Jim Carrey’s) abuse of celebrity status is the origin of the modern antivaccination movement.

The gist of it is that antivaccers think that “toxins” in vaccines cause injuries to children. One of those injuries we refer to as autism. And what’s funny is that the “toxins” still allegedly cause those injuries years after they’ve been removed from the shots. You might consider that and think that it proves them wrong, but you’re stupid for thinking that. It really proves just how super-powerful these “toxins” get when they cause autism without even actually being there.

I’m sure lots of former and current models are intelligent and thoughtful people, but McCarthy really does fit the stereotype of the ditzy blonde, combined with a jaw-dropping arrogance and cold-heartedness. For example:

Response to a question about her interacting with actual medical doctors: I did a lot of digging on my own, the “University of Google” (source)

My greatest lesson is always to trust the mommy instinct. Always trust yourself. Always trust the gut instinct. It will never let you down. (source)

Response to how scientists disagree with her: My science is Evan. He’s at home. That’s my science. (source)

Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentlessly sucks life’s marrow out of the family members, one by one…(source)

I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their fucking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s shit. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism.(source)

You might be thinking that spreading this kind of weird, eugenics-y conspiracy theories would only affect those who buy into it. If a parent wants to have their kid die from an easily preventable disease, that’s their right, right? But even if you accept that those children are just the property of their parents, refusing to vaccinate still affects others by threatening herd immunity. More on that later.

But there is a lighter, unintentionally funny side of McCarthy. Here she is on CNN:

Mercury is the second worst neurotoxin on the planet, and that’s a fact. Get it out of our shots!

OK, got that? Jenny McCarthy does not want anyone injecting the second worst neurotoxin on the planet. But what about the first worst neurotoxin on the planet?

I love Botox, I absolutely love it. I get it minimally, so I can still move my face. But I really do think it’s a savior.

So when you’re injecting something with trace amounts of neurotoxins to immunize against preventable diseases, that’s an outrage that must be stopped. But when you’re injecting something with trace amounts of neurotoxins to get rid of a few wrinkles, that’s the act of a “savior.”

Leonard Horowitz

Horowitz is on a mission to tell the world about how AIDS was created by the government. If you’ve ever wondered where Jeremiah Wright got that idea, this is the guy.

Horowitz runs a publishing company in Idaho called Tetrahedron which sells his books and DVDs about how you can use the Bible to cure diseases and walk on water and how the government 9/11’d the WTC themselves and how the Apocalypse is imminent and much, much more. He also sells lots of “alternative medicine” (i.e. not medicine) through the “Healthy World Store.” Let’s take a look at some of the products.

Breath of the Earth Hawaiian Holy Water
HYPERCHARGE NATURAL HEALING using Hawaiian Holy Water researched by Dr. Len Horowitz and Dr. Masaru Emoto. This water holds the spiritual blessing of the Big Island of Hawaii, revered by Kahuna’s as the sacred rebirthing place spiraling down from the center the universe. This supercharged blessed water is recommended for its “purgative and restorative” properties. It ousts negativity and general pathology, and lays the foundation for the creation of paradise.
Price: $24.20

Yeah, that’s right: $24 for a bottle of water. And the justification for that in its description is basically a bottled water commercial on acid. That’s the least expensive product, tied with a colon cleansing product. Here’s another product Horowitz is trying to sell to the gullible:

Holy Harmony Perfect Circle of Sound Tuning Forks (Complete Set)
Used for healing, chakra balancing, or instrument tuning, the 9 Holy Harmony Tuning Forks contain the 6 frequencies (“the original Solfeggio”) found in “Healing Code” by Dr. Leonard Horowitz and Dr. Joseph Puleo; plus 3 newly discovered frequencies completing this numeric series and creating “God’s Perfect Circle of Sound.”
Price: $188.00

Yeah, that or you could just buy a set of tuning forks from Amazon for under $20. That’s somewhere close to a 1,000% mark-up, just for the pleasure of having Horowitz’s name and delusional ravings about magical frequencies attached to it.

One of his old products was deleted from the internets, but Horowitz claimed that it could treat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome back in 2003 when that was a thing. The “treatment” was a naturopathic / homeopathic nasal spray. The FDA did their job and explained to Horowitz that they weren’t having any of it, which explains why you need to use the Wayback Machine to find the original and hilarious press release.

OK, now here’s the most despicable one of all:

C-Cure Membership
Few products can honestly claim to cure cancer, but C-CURE challenges the risky old slash, burn and poison approach of chemo and radiation therapies and even expensive and risky removal of many skin cancers. C-CURE stands for Concentrated – Cancer Undermining and Restorative Emulsion. THIS PRODUCT IS FREE FOR EXPERIMENTAL USE ONLY AS PER FDA’s EXTORTIONISTIC COERCIVE REGULATIONS SOLELY SERVING THE CANCER INDUSTRY.
Price: $386.00

How much cognitive dissonance can the human mind stand? Well, it’s apparently enough to be able to rant about the “CANCER INDUSTRY” within a short description of a sham product you’re selling for almost four hundred bucks. Notice how it mentions curing cancer, but doesn’t actually say that it is a cure for cancer. It “challenges” normal cancer treatments. That’s a trick these hucksters use to get around the OPPRESSIVE AND TYRANNICAL REGULATIONS OF THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION. As a quick side note, if you listen to the first link in this section, which is a debate between Horowitz and a grad student on HIV/AIDS, you’ll notice that he really does speak in caps-lock mode very often.

Speaking of that debate, I’m going to finish this section with how his opponent broke down what is wrong with this kind of approach to an attempt at medicine and how it reveals what she perceives as Horowitz’s deceit regarding the supposed efficacy of these products:

Lets pretend [Horowitz] really, REALLY thinks that [his crap] can ‘help people’. Why doesnt he do what is necessary to get this information mainstream (and I dont mean publishing straight to consumer books)? Why doesnt he get in a lab and do research? If I screwed up in the lab and accidentally *cured* HIV with a mixture of Flonase, coffee, and calcium, I would beg my boss for a few supplies to run some preliminary experiments! If they turned out well, I’d call the people who make Flonase and beg them to give it a try. If they ignored me, ‘Id take it to their competition. If they ignored me, I’d write a grant and try to do it myself. I would not stock up on Flonase, coffee, and calcium and make little bottles of it in my bathtub and sell it to AIDS patients for $189.99. Nothing about his behavior makes me think he thinks the crap he’s selling actually works, especially considering the gravity of the diseases he proclaims he can cure.

Jim McCormick

Admittedly this guy doesn’t have the track record of his colleagues on this list. He’s really only known for one thing, and it doesn’t involve Satanic vaccines or Nazi doctors who hate mothers or anything like that.

McCormick is the inventor of a product called the ADE 651. It made the news a while back in the NY Times and Esquire and the BBC and NPR and… well, you get the point.

The James Randi Educational Foundation is credited with bringing attention to the ADE 651 so-called “bomb detector” and the British company (ATSC) who manufactures and profits off of it. The JREF issued a simple challenge for anyone to test it under controlled conditions with positive results. If anyone could do that, they would win a million dollars from the JREF. So far the challenge has remained unmet.

The ADE 651 initially didn’t even contain any electronic components. It’s basically just a stick in a box. Here is what it looks like:

Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that this thing was being used by our troops in Iraq up until recently. And some Iraqi police are still using it. Here is what one of the device’s defenders had to say about it:

Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is detecting bombs. I don’t care what they say. I know more about bombs than the Americans do. In fact, I know more about bombs than anyone in the world.
-Major-General Jehad al-Jabiri of the Interior Ministry’s General Directorate for Combating Explosives

Even though the aforementioned JREF challenge had been in place since October of 2008, the media outrage over McCormick’s fraud really took off during a series of IED bombings while the ADE 651 was being widely used in Iraq. The British government was similarly outraged, arrested the executive of ATCS, Ltd. – after the government had already paid that company at least $85 million for these devices – and banned the export of ADE 651s.

But it all started with one “entrepreneur” named Jim McCormick who decided to put some plastic together and sell the Ideomotor Effect for profit at the expense of innocent lives. What a class act.

Kevin Trudeau

If you’ve ever found yourself in a drug-induced haze in front of a television at 3:45 AM during the middle of the last decade (and let’s face it – if you’re reading this then that applies to you), then you know Kevin Trudeau. He’s the infomercial guy who wants to tell you about all the natural cures “they” don’t want you to know about. He also wants to tell you about the free money “they” don’t want you to know about. But have you heard about Kevin Trudeau’s larceny, credit card fraud, SEC lawsuit for running an illegal pyramid scheme, Federal Trade Commission fines, contempt of court charges, and subsequent prison sentence – all of which “they” don’t want you to know about?

Kevin Trudeau started off his career as a fraud by running credit card scams. He went off to Prison University for that, where he teamed up with a fellow inmate “they” don’t want you to know about. On the outside they started up a multilevel marketing scam “they” don’t want you to know about. So he was originally selling Horowitz-esque products, like a necklace with a magical piece of metal to stop cell phones and radio waves from microwaving your brain. It’s not quite a tin-foil hat, but it’s pretty close. He’s also very into colloidal silver, which gives your skin a nice, permanent silvery hue which “they” most certainly don’t want you to know about.

By 2004, the Federal Trade Commission was so fed up with Trudeau (and rightfully so), that they banned him from selling anything on infomercials other than “informational publicans,” which are protected by the First Amendment.

Now you’ve really got to kind of begrudgingly admire Trudeau for how he took hold of the crisis of being banned and Jujitsu-flipped it into an opportunity to rake in even more cash. From there, he kept on making those infomercials most people know him from, but this time he just sold his books. Since the products he was selling on television were just his books, he was only obligated to tell the truth about the contents of his books – which of course themselves were simply advertisements for his products in book form. His book could say that purple rabbits will invade the Czech Republic tomorrow; but as long as he remembered to insert a phrase like “in my book” in the middle of his late night squawkings, he could talk about the purple rabbits and still legally be considered “informative.”

So instead of buying airtime to hock his useless products directly to his marks, Trudeau was buying airtime to sell his advertisements to an audience which would then pay him again for those same products. So the FTC decision to ban Trudeau from infomercials with a loophole unfortunately had the opposite of the deterrent effect it was intended to have. So much for that shadowy government conspiracy always keeping the non-working naturopath man down.

His books encouraged a lot of thoughtless behavior, like avoiding chemotherapy when you have cancer, sunscreen, deodorant, vaccinations and really any form of medicine. Eventually Trudeau couldn’t help but violate the terms of his infomercial loophole by lying about the contents of his own book about weight loss secrets, which he had allegedly written. In the press release “they” don’t want you to know about, the FTC fined Trudeau $5 million and banned him from infomercials altogether.

And the real bitch of it is that even after all that, the guy still has a net worth of $10 million.

Oh, and by the way, here is a shot of a page in one of his books where he endorses Dianetics:

Meryl Dorey

Meryl Dorey is antivaccine activist in Australia, but she was born in America. She heads the Australian Vaccination Network. They lobby against vaccination, speak out against it – along with all other medicine – and in favor of homeopathy. Even though their mission statement claims that they are “dedicated to the idea that health can be achieved and maintained without the use of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines,” until recently they claimed that they weren’t anti-vaccine. They claimed they were just spreading information so that people could make their own choices. As if frightening parents and lying to them and then mumbling, “But do what you want,” afterwards doesn’t count as advocacy.

Dorey also wrote in her book Voodoo Children that nobody dies from diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and other vaccine-preventable illnesses. This is just not true, and that fact was brought home to her when a four week old child named Dana McCaffrey died from pertussis. The McCaffreys lived in an area of New South Wales, Australia, which had a very low rate of vaccine compliance. This stopped herd immunity in the region, which is supposed to protect infants and people who for legitimate medical reasons can not take vaccinations.

The AVN immediately began harassing the bereaved parents, claiming that they and the government were lying about their baby’s illness. When those conspiracy theories were debunked, Dorety started claiming that the pertussis vaccine wasn’t effective even though it is.

If you wanted to invent a fictional character that started off with a dangerous and misanthropic belief who denied all the contrary evidence and twisted around facts so that they were more complicit with her conclusion, then that character would be indistinguishable from the real-life Dorey.

Now the bright side to all this is that Dorey’s organization is in financial and legal trouble. The New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming, & Racing has been investigating their legal authority to raise funds, and just two weeks ago they ruled that they had “detected a number of breaches of charity fundraising laws.” Dorey hasn’t commented yet, but hopefully they’ll find some nice little island for her somewhere near Antarctica. No vaccines there, you see.

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One Response to “The 5 Worst Quacks Around Today”

  1. Vote For Me, I’m Incompetent « Atheist Hobos Says:

    [...] Republican congressional candidate called Art Robinson. He’s a funny guy who reminds me a lot of Lenny Horowitz in both his views and how he presents them. And there’s a lot of funny things to be said about [...]

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