By now everyone knows that I have a fairly low opinion of doctors and most modern medicine. But, I have to note that there are worse things- the alternative “therapies” that are, in fact, entirely non-therapeutic. These “therapies” rely on you, the general public, to be gullible enough or desperate enough to hand over money in exchange for, well, nothing.
One of the best documented cases is an Australian woman named Carissa Gleeson. Gleeson had a cancer, sarcoma actually, a fairly nasty tumor. Initially she embarked on some seriously foolish naturopathic treatments. Eventually she came around to the realization that chemo and living might be a better idea than dying broke from a potentially curable cancer.
But naturopathic quackery is not the only type for gullible patient. Another of my favorites is Anthony William who calls himself the Medical Medium. The breadth of his quackery- and outright fabrications seems endless. Some of his advice is quasi-useful. He encourages consumption of fruits and vegetables- hardly a bad idea. But he encourages it because:
Because they grow from the earth and are showered by the sun and sky, enduring out in the elements day after day as they form, they are intimately connected to the holy forces of nature. They don’t just contain the building-block nutrients we need to function. They contain intelligence from the Earthly Mother and the heavens that we desperately need about how to adapt.
Perhaps the best reason to accept William as a full-fledged quack is that Gwyneth Paltrow likes him! Yes, that Paltrow- the purveyor and peddler of unscientific, potentially lethal items and devices and other gunk (ironically sold at goop.com). It’s not terribly dissimilar different from two Klansmen endorsing each other.
Others that make my “favorites” list:
Geoffrey Ames whose license was appropriately revoked after he was finally found responsible for the death of a patient. But theWashington Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission. Ames initially came to attention because of his use of something called The Life Information System Tens, or LISTEN. The device allegedly tested the patient’s muscle resistance using low-voltage electricity. Eventually Ames abandoned the device because he could obtain the same information “simply by touching the patient.” This form of hoax electrodiagnostics is fairly common.
Clare O’Nan an acupuncturist in Mississippi. Her website claims:
Clare’s focus is primarily on pain and ophthalmologic conditions, including macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, dry eyes, and more. She is the only licensed acupuncturist in Mississippi who specializes in vision treatment and one of a few in the country.
She has a new website now. Her claim to be able to “treat” macular degeneration caught the eye of the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure (MSBML), which licenses acupuncturists. O’Nan noted that she doesn’t treat macular degeneration (for which there is no recognized effective, scientifically valid treatment). She treats the “symptoms.” MSBML took no action.
State medical boards will not reliably protect you from bad care or quacks. You must take an active role in your care and be cautious. Unscrupulous “practitioners” will gladly separate you from your money.