Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Lee Woodard on the Chad Jessop melanoma story: “Why would I promote a hoax?”

Ever since I started blogging about a story about a youth named Chad Jessop who, it was claimed, developed melanoma and cured himself of it with “natural” remedies, with the result that his mother was supposedly brought before the Orange County Superior Court and his mother thrown in maximum security prison and denied the right to hire her own attorney, I’ve been fascinated at the contortions of the person most recently responsible for spreading this story, a blogger who goes under the pseudonym of the Angry Scientist. For one thing, the first person to spread this story by e-mail, Thomas Cowles II, seems, after a pathetic attempt to defend the story, to have let it drop, having been called out for using the story to raise funds.

That’s when a blogger, who, like me, blogs under a pseudonym (the Angry Scientist) picked up the story and ran with it, adding numerous details while assiduously refusing to provide verifiable information about any of these details–until yesterday, when he claimed that the judge involved in this case was Orange County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kirkwood, making the hilarious statement, “Now try convincing your flock she isn’t real!” Of course, whether Judge Kirkwood is real or not is not the point. She is. But for all I know, the Angry Scientist could have just perused this list of judges of the Orange County Superior Court and picked one. Verification with Judge Kirkwood’s office is the logical next step, now that the Angry Scientist has provided one piece of independently verifiable information, and, believe me, I will attempt to do that next week. I encourage others to do the same; I’m sure an influx of inquiries would get the court’s attention.

What I find more interesting, however, is the excuses made when the purveyors of this dubious story are pushed for verifiable details, particularly one Lee Woodard, Sr., who started out as a skeptic who concluded that this story was a hoax but then had a come-to-Jesus revelation on the basis of…well, he won’t tell us what evidence, at least not in any way that is useful for anyone trying to verify the story. Now, he’s at it again in the comments, trying to explain why someone who tried to replicate one of his searches on Newsweek couldn’t and then launching off into a rather interesting, self-justifying rant:

I do have hopes of settling this issue of IF by early next week to most peoples satisfaction. I SAID HOPES, it is not a fact yet. Was my search on this issue free of bias? NO. I have done enough work and research in this area to KNOW IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED. If it did I would want to help expose it, and let any family know they had support. That is what I do. Would I help to promote such a hoax? WHY??? What good possibly come from it. Such a hoax would harm the rights movement across the board, and as a result I might as well retire from such efforts and delet my sites.

When I started the first search I confirmed in just a few minutes that the Jessops where real people in Orange County, that Laurie had a history and involvment in alternative cures and that Mr Miller was active in the same community. That was all before I received any e-mails on the subject. Since one of the first things I do is confirm e mail addys to ensure the source of info is what it says it is, I have confirmed that as I would have suspected in such a case that the Jessops and the Cherrix family had been in contact with each other on this matter. Considering the Cherrix family history, is that realy any great surprise.

Personaly I do not have a problem that some want to have someone verify that this realy happened. I do have a problem that it seems to be the main issue. Hell I even have a problem that the medical issues takes second tier to the IF. I do not think that will ever be resolved to everyones satisfaction. To me the issue is How and WHY the family was forced to go through this. It was a violation of so many basic rights. Since it was supported mostly by federal tax dollars it was done in YOUR NAME regardless of which state you live in. Such events have happened before and if unchallenged WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.

This (as well as other blogs) should not be about me, MadScientist, or ORAC, but rather if we will continue to accept the erosion in the USA of our most fundamental rights. If our taxes will continue to support a system that is a total failure, but continues to be rewarded for it. The Jessop story clearly shows how much more abusive the system has become over the last couple decades, and this will not change unless the people DEMAND that change.

(Emphasis mine.)

Also, please, everyone, no snide comments on all the spelling and typos. Apparently Mr. Woodard is not in the best of health. At least that’s what one commenter claims. Maybe he has trouble typing.

Mr. Woodard’s rant above is very informative, though, about his mindset. To him, “IF” seems to be less important that “COULD HAVE.” That it would bother him that whether or not this incident really happened in the manner that Gary Null, Thomas Cowles II, and the Angry Scientist say it did is the most important issue to people calls his critical thinking skills into serious question. Of course “IF” is the most important question to start with, because if this story didn’t happen the way it’s being represented then all the outrage and activism against a “court gone mad” that Mr. Woodard and the Angry Scientist are trying to stoke are based on a lie. That Mr. Woodard seems more concerned about attacking the child protective services program in Orange County than about whether or not this story as presented (1) is true and (2) supports such outrage seems to be at best a secondary concern to him. So, in answer to his question (“Why would I help to promote such a hoax?), my answer would be either: (1) he wants to believe in it so much that he’ll accept very dubious “evidence” that it is true; (2) follow the money; (3) whip up activism against what to him is the evil of child protective services. I tend to think it’s a combination of #1 and #3. Whatever the truth, though, appealing to one’s supposedly pure motives is not a particularly convincing argument. Evidence is.

Moreover, now the Angry Scientist is touting the fact that some free rag of a publication in the L.A. area has reprinted verbatim his dubious story as if that were “evidence” that it is true. I’m glad he did it, though, because at the end of the article was a truly revealing tidbit:

LATEST: The day after this article appeared in the Free Press, Laurie Jessop and Ron Miller started a non-profit organization called CHAD (Choosing Health Alternatives Deliberately) to help cover legal expenses and for reform of the California legal system. It’s Laurie’s aim to pass a bill in California similar to Abraham’s Law in Virginia.

Send tax deductible donation to:

CHAD Foundation
c/o Laurie Jessop
P.O. Box 808
Lake Forest, CA. 92609

I wonder what I would find out if I checked with the State of California to see if the CHAD foundation is a properly registered foundation/charity.


  1. The story of the 17-year-old with melanoma being forced to undergo chemotherapy: Urban legend?
  2. Thomas Cowles twisting in the wind defending the “cancer boy” urban legend
  3. An update on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  4. One last update (for now) on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  5. “I have seen the light! The Chad Jessop melanoma story happened. Really.”
  6. Lee Woodard on the Chad Jessop melanoma story: “Why would I promote a hoax?”


  1. Legendary Legend or Mysterious Mystery?


  1. Dear Health Freedom Fighters (September 12, 2007)
  2. The Gary Null Show 9/13/2007 (The relevant segment is at approximately the 11:45 minute mark.)
  3. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (October 3, 2007)
  4. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (published in the Los Angeles Free Press on 11/12/2007, PDF here)

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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