As depressing as the litany of quackery and patient harm that I follow nearly every day can become, occasionally I am heartened to learn of a victory for science-based medicine and, more importantly, for the patients being victimized by pseudoscientific treatments. One of the most simultaneously ridiculous and vile of these treatments is a solution known as the “Miracle Mineral Solution” or “Miracle Mineral Supplement” (MMS). MMS is the “discovery” of a man named Jim Humble who, for reasons only understood by antivaccinationists, HIV/AIDS denialists, quacks, and cranks, decided that ingesting or shooting up one’s nether regions a form of concentrated bleach would cure conditions ranging from AIDS to cancer to autism. For that is what MMS is, at its core. It’s a 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water that generates chlorine dioxide when diluted with a weak acidic solution. Often, when MMS is used as a “supplement” or treatment, the acidic solutions used to liberate chlorine dioxide are just citrus juices, like orange juice. Mostly, I’ve written about the use of MMS by the “autism biomed” movement in general and a quack named Kerri Rivera in particular to treat autism by “killing parasites” with MMS, administered orally and by enema, but MMS has been touted for far more than just that.
Aside from other MMS quacks Kerri Rivera, Jim Humble, and a man named Adam Abraham (a.k.a. The Phaelosopher), perhaps the most egregious MMS quack is a man named Louis Daniel Smith. Indeed, we’ve met Daniel Smith before in the context of a risibly inept defense of his quackery by, yes, The Phaelosopher himself, who also took umbrage at my aiming some of that not-so-Respectful Insolence you know and love that I reserve for the most dangerous or plain ridiculous of quacks at his “Genome Healing Workshop.” Pseudoscience about “healing” genes that any first year biology student could demonstrate to be as implausibly ridiculous as homeopathy aside, here’s where the good news comes in. It’s something that happened last week but I didn’t learn about until a couple of days ago. Let’s go to this press release from the US Department of Justice:
A federal jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned a guilty verdict yesterday against a Spokane, Washington, man for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and the common cold, the Department of Justice announced.
Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States. Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide and for hydraulic fracking and wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.
“This verdict demonstrates that the Department of Justice will prosecute those who sell dangerous chemicals as miracle cures to sick people and their desperate loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Consumers have the right to expect that the medicines that they purchase are safe and effective.” Mizer thanked the jury for its service and its careful consideration of the evidence.
The government presented evidence that Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water and drink the resulting mixture to cure numerous illnesses. Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration. According to the instructions for use that Smith provided with his product, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working. The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.
This is excellent news. It’s depressingly rare that the government takes a quack like Smith as seriously as he needs to be taken, to the point of going all in to prosecute him. It’s a prosecution that’s been going on since 2013, when the indictment of Smith and his accomplices was first announced. As Emil Karlsson notes, it might seem strange that Smith ended up being convicted of crimes such as smuggling, defrauding the government and misbranding of drugs. However, under the DSHEA of 1994, it’s very difficult to go after someone like Smith for selling something he claimed to be a supplement, almost no matter how ridiculous it is to call it a supplement. So they got Smith and his fellow criminals another way, basically noting that MMS is often sold with a “wink and a nod” as a water purification solution, much as home brew dichloroacetate was sold “with a wink and an nod” as a remedy for pets. The government was able to prove the case that Smith smuggled sodium chlorite into the United States from Canada using fraudulent invoices to hide the true end use of the product, falsely claiming that the chemicals they were purchasing were to be used in wastewater treatment facilities. Of course, given that they were selling four ounce bottles, the claim seems patently absurd right on the surface.
As Matt Carey explained, this is how the scam worked:
For only $20 you could get a 4-ounce bottle. That’s a savings of $5 off the regular price! Anyone want to do the calculations of how many 4-ounce bottles could be filled with a metric ton purchased for a few hundred dollars?
If one doesn’t want a ton shipped from China, Canada (where this team was sourcing their material) has sellers selling seven pound jars of the solid for $200. Not as big a profit margin as buying by the ton, but still a notable markup.
The “project green life” team point out that they are selling it as a water purification product only. If, by chance, you are planning on doing the “MMS protocol” they will provide you with information “for your safety and convenience”. And just in case, they have a one-stop shop in that they will sell you the second part of the MMS protocol, citric acid.
Wink. Nod. It’s just a water purification product, right? Sold at a huge profit. And for a small additional fee, one could also get the second part of the MMS product.
The most beautiful thing about this story is that Daniel Smith is going to jail, where he belongs. The maximum sentence for his crimes is 34 years in the federal penitentiary, although, federal sentencing guidelines being what they are, unfortunately he will probably get far less. Still, even if his sentence is just a couple of years, at least it’ll keep him out of the autism quackery business for a while. One can only hope they send him to one of the “nicer” federal pens. In any case, we’ll find out in September how long he’ll be locked away.
However long Smith and his co-conspirators are sent away, the fallout from their conviction among some of their friends is a joy to behold. Sadly, I haven’t (yet) seen a reaction yet on Mike Adams’ NaturalNews.com (although there were rants by his minions about “fighting judicial abuse” and the “medical mafia” a few months ago when the trial date was announced. On the other hand, Adam Abraham, the man who put the “fail” in Phaelosopher (the moniker he writes under) followed their seven day trial with growing alarm. A week before the trial began on May 18 Adams published a post entitled MMS and the Bigger Picture. Before you click on the link, let’s see if you can guess what sort of tack Abraham took defending Smith and MMS. Sure, he is outraged by the possibility of a 30+ year sentence if Smith were convicted. Never mind all the harm he and his cronies did by, in essence, selling the tools that enabled the torture of autistic children whose woefully misguided parents thought that shooting industrial strength bleach into their colons would somehow “recover” their child from autism and that Smith is incredibly unlikely to get anything near the maximum sentence. But there’s more. There’s always more.
Not surprisingly, Abraham tries to claim that MMS is not really bleach at all (it is) and that it’s just like an experimental drug. He doesn’t mention the specific drug, but I know that he’s probably referring to NP001, which is basically a modified form of WF10, which is basically sodium chlorite and has been tested with varying results as an immune modulator for various conditions, including the deadly degenerative neurologic disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Of course, this is somewhat true (NP001 appears to be sodium chlorite in a matrix that results in its gradual release), but also irrelevant.
So what’s the “bigger picture”? I think you know. It’s the same cry that we’ve been hearing from antivaccinationists lately about bills designed to make it more difficult for them to obtain nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. Yes, I’m talkin’ freedom, baby, spiced up with rants against conventional medicine:
The significance lies in whether the body politic of the self-professed “united” states of America will continue allowing its government to be an agent of lies and mis-information, calamity, and fear. This is a question you and I can answer, each in our own way.
A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people, need not be feared. Truth should be assumed, as well as equal treatment for all. Presently, 99 percent of the American public are being treated “equally” as indebted serfs and slaves. The health care system is the chief instigator of disease for profit, and killer of health, a fact the 1 percent, whoever they are, would prefer that you not know. This system of lies, deception, conflict, and exploitation began long before the Mayflower reached the shores of North America in 1620.
And, after the verdict was handed down:
It’s really difficult to read the allegations that were so purposefully fabricated and diligently pursued in order to “send a dissuasive message” to the public, and anyone who sells MMS, to “steer a wide berth” around this product. The message they are also sending, however, is that they are not concerned about public health, because they flat-out suggest that the “claims” associated with the use of MMS, are impossible, when reality says, they are true.
Of course, Abraham never really presents any evidence to support his contention that these claims are true, although he is good at doing a sciencey-sounding Gish gallop around the evidence. He does make one point in his accompanying video that I actually hope is true, when he says that this is not just about Daniel Smith but it’s also about the government going after MMS. (He says that as though it were a bad thing.) Certainly, I hope that, after three years of this quackery having spread like kudzu through the autism biomed community that the government is going after MMS quacks like Daniel Smith. It’s long overdue.
Indeed, one wonders if that’s the case. Another delicious incident associated with the verdict against Daniel Smith makes me wonder. We all know that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but I have to wonder if it does in this case. The reason is because the most famous MMS quack among the autism biomed community, Kerri Rivera, went silent a mere week and a half after her “triumphant” appearance at the 2015 edition of the quackfest known as Autism One. (Video here.) Basically, her websites and social media sites disappeared, leading to puzzlement among those of us who pay attention to autism quackery and even a post asking Where In The World Is Kerri Rivera?, which showed screenshots showing just how disturbed some of Rivera’s “admirers” were about her radio/Internet silence:
Yes, her e-mail was not working, nor were any of her websites up any more, although eventually her main website CDAutism.org came back online, perhaps because they realized that their
customers followers were panicking.
You know what would make me happy? I suspect it’s the same thing that would make many of you happy. What would make me happy would be to see Kerri Rivera share Daniel Smith’s fate. She deserves it.
92 replies on “A victory in the long war against autism quackery”
With regards to the maximum sentence he’s facing, I suggest you read this from Ken White at Popehat.
I’ve never seen Rivera’s site before, so I can’t say whether this is a new addition to her quack miranda at the bottom of the page, but it says:
Wonderful news. Children will no longer be (so easily) subjected to this worthless and quite dangerous treatment.
I know there will be continued medical assaults on children by gullible parents, but this one is now on notice.
It’s depressingly rare that the government takes a quack like Smith as seriously as he needs to be taken, to the point of going all in to prosecute him.
That’s in part because, as noted in the post, DSHEA makes it hard to prove cases like this without lots of paperwork, which they have in this case because Smith was importing the stuff. A reasonable analogy would be convicting Al Capone of income tax evasion: you nail them on the charges you can prove.
I am at a loss to know why the above gentleman believes in testamonials without questioning the provenance of the person who writes such articles. I still find it very hard to get my head around the fact that imbeciles believe that giving an autistic child industrial strength bleach up the back side can cure a child of autism. It is a bizarre, cruel and a very dangerous practice which deserves people, who countenance such a thing charged with child cruelty and endangering life.
It seems that all of Smith’s co-defendents pleaded guilty for bonds, leaving Smith to face the music. Given their sentences, Smith will likely only get a shortish sentence and not the full lot possible.
His main activity in defending himself seemed to be in putt I ng off the trial for as long as possible and re-arranging the court room.
The good outcomes seem to be: 1) Smith’s outfit is off the market, 2) Rivera is missing in action and will likely try to sanitise her involvement. Archbishop Jim still seems to be active and no doubt others will join in later. When there is a chance to part chumps from their money, you can be sure the charlatans won’t let the opportunity pass.
In fairness, the chorine dioxide is diluted before consumption or enema, but it’s still ridiculous, potentially dangerous quackery.
The stuff may be diluted but without controls and run by profiteers rather than chemical professionals, the results could be quite dangerous, even explosive.
Chrisp @6 —
Since she probably has a whole lot of bleach handy, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
No one should be surprised that among Daniel Smith’s defenders is NaturalNews, which recently ran an article claiming that MMS “cured thousands of cases of malaria in Africa” (the “miracle” discovery that supposedly inspired Smith’s involvement with the product).
It should also be noted that in addition to any “side effects” actually being a sign that disease is leaving the body, failure of MMS to vanquish whatever ills you’re taking it for mean that you weren’t doing the protocol correctly. As long as MMS promoters keep repeating these mantras, they can avoid feeling any blame for the harm they cause.
As you are probably aware, Lucija Tomljenovic was a featured speaker at this year’s Autism One, where Rivera has appeared for the last three years. It’s appalling that Tomljenovic has effectively lent her support to this cruel and dangerous nonsense. I am in the process of writing to her department head and the dean at UBC Faculty of Medicine. As an alumnus, I have a personal investment in this issue.
I will, of course, be referring to this post in my letter.
Thanks for the mention!
I am at a loss to know why the above gentleman believes in testamonials without questioning the provenance of the person who writes such articles.
It’s very simple: he puts great value in evidence which supports his position, and little or no value in evidence which contradicts his position. That, not the provenance of the evidence, is what determines the quality of the evidence for such people. It’s a tendency most people have. One of the most important parts of scientific training is to get scientists to resist this tendency. As Richard Feynman (among others) noted, it is very easy to fool yourself–far easier than to fool anybody else.
Is Rivera’s website still down?
“CDAutism,” at least, is up. I’d never looked at it before, and man, is it one big lump of awful. I keep just sort of staring at this:
I seem to remember a series of Peanuts cartoons where Snoopy was a world famous advice columnist.. His response would be perfect for this.
Those mafiosi of monkey-science are like Al Capone, sure they will not go down for mass-murder of vulnerable people but for misbranding. I guess they didn’t see this coming.
When I try Rivera’s website, I get “Sorry, access to our website has been blocked for your region. :-)” (I’m in the UK).
I’m not bothered enough to use a proxy but I do wonder why we in Europe are forbidden from reading Rivera’s priceless pearls of wisdom.
Seems that access to cdautism.org is blocked for my region….
This causes discomfort in some people.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
I’d be more worried about a child that didn’t show discomfort from MMS treatments. That would tell me that the child’s pain receptors are not functioning properly. There is a reason people who work with bleach as part of the job are supposed to use proper skin protection.
“Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration. According to the instructions for use that Smith provided with his product, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working. The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.”
I will put in my usual 0.02 on these issues. First, these con artists must realize that they are harming people. Claiming that the well documented side effects are evidence of efficacy?! Pure sophistry.
Second, I get so irritated with the ‘health freedom’ crowd crying about civil liberties.
Far too often these nutjobs view their children as their possessions that they can experiment upon however they please, not as autonomous people with their own protected rights.
Make no mistake, this issue IS about individual rights. It’s about the rights of the child being protected from their own parents, the people who SHOULD be championing their rights. Yet all these narcissistic parents focus on is themselves.
Kind of like how when they show the mug shots of parents from those faith healing cults, I’ve noticed that many of them are wearing glasses in the photo.
So they are willing to ‘leave it up to God’ to heal the type 1 diabetes in their children, risking severe injury/death, yet they won’t trust something as simple as myopia to their supposed omnipotent healer. It’s a lot easier to have ‘strong convictions’ when it isn’t your hide on the line…
A few notes on the law enforcement (LE) angles of the case:
FDA did the case in cooperation with the Postal Inspectors. The US Postal Inspection Service is our oldest federal LE agency, going back to Ben Franklin himself. Lest anyone underestimate them, Postal Inspectors are held in high regard by FBI agents. They are ferociously capable and they get solid convictions. It would not surprise me if the Postal Inspection Service was the lead agency in the investigation.
In general, federal LE takes a very pragmatic approach to cases: use whatever charges have the highest probability of getting a conviction and appropriate sentence. Per Eric @ 4 above, Al Capone & tax evasion. While this method may deprive the rest of us of the emotional satisfaction of knowing that our favorite arch-enemies have been convicted of the crimes that are the most obvious descriptions of their immoral deeds, in the end what matters is the clang of steel bars.
Thus, the method used in this case has nothing to do with the lax treatment of supplements, and everything to do with the fastest route to a prison cell. We the taxpayers should be happy that the feds are using our money wisely.
Delicious tidbit: One of the defendants decided to turn state’s evidence, in other words “rat out” the other ones. Per the article in the Spokane _Spokesman-Review_ newspaper, Chris Olson bottled the poisonous brew, “at a facility in Hillyard, where he operated a hose and belt manufacturing plant.” Olson claimed that he did not know that what he was doing was illegal. For all we (here) know, that might be the honest truth: he could have been suckered into this by Louis Smith and might not have had the slightest clue that he was breaking the law.
Other: Everything we know about Smith sounds as if he’s a classic narcissist. He styled himself an Archbishop, he demonstrated grandiosity during the trial, and now he’s making noises about freedumb. Yes, he even raised the 1st Amendment, the last refuge of modern scoundrels.
I’m going to predict he gets ten in the pen, with a slight reduction for time served if any, and ends up serving eight years. That won’t quite make up for the tortures inflicted on autistic children, but it will keep him out of circulation and deter others who might think of profiteering on industrial chemicals as magic medicines.
The warden should assign him to the prison janitorial crew. That should permanently cure him of his attitudes about bleach.
“The warden should assign him to the prison janitorial crew. That should permanently cure him of his attitudes about bleach.”
That’s a freaking good idea.
Someone linked to a Popehat post which explained federal sentences and how what we hear frequently reported are exaggerations so to speak. That being the case, I don’t think Smith is going to be doing as much time as we would like to see. Also, I thought federal time did not have any reductions for good behaviour or probational release? So what the convicted gets sentenced to is what they serve?
This is indeed good news however some slob will see the vacuum and seek to fill the void. I would love to see the parents who use this actual toxin on their children do time as well. JB Handley, Kent Heckinlively and Kim Stagliano just for starters.
Given Keri Rivera’s sudden internet departure and attempt to distance herself from this, I can’t help but wonder if Smith wasn’t her distribution operation. AutismOne should be so proud to host the most egregious charlatans of the curebie world.
Gray Squirrel & Quark — cue the Lord High Executioner’s song.
My object all sublime
They shall perceive in time
To make the punishment fit the crime
The punishment fit the crime!
There’s a chance that the Wayback Machine might be able to help you there.
Oops, my #26 was meant to be addressed to @CTGeneGuy #2.
From what I understand, definitely in Capone’s case and I suspect somewhat in this case as well, even ‘the clang of steel bars’ is often at least partly a means to an end as well: disconnect the criminal from the support structure so he can’t interfere while you analyze the structure for other possible crimes and then dismantle it so he doesn’t have anything to get back to.
Q. My wife seems very uncomfortable during childbirth. What should I do?
A. If you see a birth like this, increase the dose of beer. Your wife feels like she’s dying as a giant 8 pound lummox is being released into the lady garden on its way out of the body. This causes discomfort in some people.
Well, I just went to CDAutism and read the FAQ, and there goes the rest of my day. Fuck this person and fuck the parents who do this TO THEIR CHILDREN!!! Jesus wept.
Q: How do I dose my child when he/she is at school from 8:30 am to 3 pm? I work full time so “dropping in to dose” is not an option.
A: Give a dose at 7:30, one at the door of the school at 8:30 and the 3rd dose of the day at 3pm at the door of the school.
“Oh, don’t mind us over here, Mrs. Jones, little McBraydynnleigh will be in as soon as I’ve finished destroying her innards.”
Can one of our legal beagles explain if using MMS per Rivera’s protocols qualifies as child abuse? To me, it must.
Here is the draft text to my letter:
As a graduate of the UBC Faculty of Medicine and Pathology Residency Program, I wish to register my concern that members of the UBC Faculty of Medicine were featured speakers at the Autism One conference in Chicago in May 2015. I refer to Drs. Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw. This conference is a hotbed of quackery about Autism, including notorious activists against vaccination as well as promoters of unproven and dubious “biomedical treatments” of autism. You are aware, I’m sure, that Tomljenovic and Shaw are in the
forefront of this unscientific and harmful movement, attracting much deserved criticism of their activities.
What has prompted me to write is that they are appearing with, and effectively supporting speakers who promote fraudulent autism “treatments” that, in my opinion and in many others’, amount to child abuse. For instance, Dr. Mark Geier is a proponent of Lupron treatment for autism. Dr Geier has lost his medical licence in several US states as a result of his practice. Lupron is a chemical castration agent that has no credible evidence of effectiveness in “curing” autism. Worse is the appearance of Kerri Rivera, who promotes giving autistic children repeated enemas with a corrosive industrial bleach, chlorine dioxide. This, again, has no known “curative” effect on autism, but strips the intestinal mucosa and causes severe pain and suffering to the children supposedly treated. She has removed herself from the internet a few days ago since the conviction of another promoter of this substance.
It is a disgrace that two UBC Faculty members are supporting this abuse by their
appearance as featured speakers at this conference. I understand that university faculty who espouse controversial opinions require the protection of tenure, but can there not be an exception made when faculty members support the abuse of the most vulnerable among us?
TBruce, I believe that Mark Geier has lost his license to practice in all states
Is that fella you mention in the 2nd paragraph *really* calling himself “Fail-osopher”?
in my opinion and in that of experts in the field of autism, amount to child abuse.
A bit problematic especially if she was there and didn’t represent herself as faculty because you are calling for censorship. I’m not sure what to suggest as an alternative though.
A bit problematic especially if she was there and didn’t represent herself as faculty because you are calling for censorship
I imagine we can check the program, but I’d be surprised (I’d be staggered, actually) if the Autism One crowd doesn’t play up the academic credentials of their speakers for all it’s worth.
I think this is mostly Tomljenovic’s show (at least, Shaw has a real lab), and she’s not faculty.
It’s all well and good that they were able to get Louis Daniel Smith,but isn’t Smith just one of the little fish? As long as Kerri Rivera and Jim Humble are safely hiding out in Mexico,Central America,or wherever they are,they are still free to peddle their dangerous quackery.What are the chances of Humble or Rivera ever being extradited to the US to face charges?
I would suggest you add something about Andrew Wakefield speaking at every AutismOne conference.
Thank you Shay and Narad, I should’ve just looked it up. http://www.autismone.org/content/hpv-vaccines-and-cancer-prevention-science-versus-fiction
Of course her affiliation with UBC is touted and looks like her post-doc is full-on anti-vaxx research. She obviously went with Shaw’s blessing though.
@ EBMOD #21
It’s the old surgeon/physician dichotomy.
For a disease with a visible physical cause – a broken limb, a pustule… – call a mechanic.
For a disease with no visible cause, call the magician.
And I almost forget, in the later case, blame the fairies or the old crone next door.
@Delphine (29) – Ok that cracked me up. At 36+ weeks pregnant and having delivered already a son (at 8 pounds and 9 ounces) I can attest that his passage through my ‘lady garden’ was indeed not pleasant. Despite the epidural. Not that I want to try it without the epidural mind you, it helped immensely. Particularly for the stitches I had afterward. I agree with you, I can’t read the testimonials parents leave about this. It makes me cry to read about parents lovingly abusing their children and being encouraged and vindicated while doing so. It makes me so terribly sad to see the delusions these parents harbor and their utter complete desperation to ‘cure’ their child. I don’t understand why they can’t embrace the child they carried in their body for 9 months (9 looooooong months) and give them the tools to reach their full potential. They may not be neurotypical but that doesn’t mean they are less, or damaged, or wrong for that.
Q. My wife seems very uncomfortable during childbirth. What should I do?
A. If you see a birth like this, increase the dose of beer.
The Frau Doktorin was very decent and let me share her nitrous.
Thank you all for your comments. I will refer to Tomljenovic’s title as given in the conference blurb. I will mention that Shaw, a faculty member, was prepared to step in if Tomljenovic couldn’t make it (maybe she got mumps?) I will mention Wakefield briefly. I had him in originally, but my narrative was getting too long. I will edit ruthlessly.
1) Letters from individuals have no influence in University policy unless they come from large donors. The administrators only care about money and prestige, and unless your complaint poses a threat to the school in those terms, they just ignore it. On the other hand, if you write under the letterhead of an organization that might have some clout in terms of publciity, they might pay attention. This sounds like a job for SfSBM. You could be the author of the letter (as an alumnus), but if you have the Society’s endorsement, you’ll get more traction.
2) Frame the latter in terms administrators understand. They don’t care if someone associated with the school appears at a ‘controversial’ conference. They care if the school is getting bad pubicity. Thus, as an alum, you might not just express concern that someone appeared at Autism One, but note this has already generated a lot of negative pub for UBC in the blogosphere, press coverage of issues around the Smith conviction, etc. Something like “I know UBC maintains high personnel standards overall, and it saddens me to learn that the self-aggrandizing activities of these ‘outliers’ are besmirching the reputation of everyone at the school.”
3) NEVER suggest interference with tenure unless you want to get your letter dumped into the trash immediately. What schools can (and do) do to wayward faculty is apply various sorts of subtle pressure on some false pretext — which can cause the parties to curtail their ‘bad behavior’ or, if troublesome enough, seek employment elsewhere. E.g.:
“I understand that university faculty who espouse controversial opinions require the protection of tenure, but I would hope the University could find a way to discourage members of its community from supporting abuse of the most vulnerable among us.” In light of the bad pub circulating around the university’s name (as you’ll be pointing out) you might call for (demand?) the school to issue a statement clarifying it’s own position. “We the undersigned faculty and administrators want to be clear that we do not support child abuse in the form of medical malpractice.” or something to that effect.
I should have added: it helps if you can propose an action that turns a potential LOSS for the school into a potential WIN. E.g. if a press conference was called to make a strong statement against Smith-esque quack-fraud, the school could gain POSITIVE publicity as a leader in opposing child-abuse-through-quackery. You could argue this would help the school get out in front of any legal action that the Canadian authorities might be considering in light of the Smith conviction.
Keep in mind, though, that UBC is the single largest recipient of funds from the Dwoskin Foundation: $950,000 for the research on aluminum which Tomjenovic works on. They’re probably spending a chunk of that money in ways that help other research efforts as well, and they’re not going to alienate the Dwoskins by messing with ‘their’ researchers. So the best you can probably hope for is that Tomjanevic and Shaw can be persuaded to mix less with the wackos at Autism One, and to draw a hard line between their ‘legitimate scientific research’ into possible causal factors of ASD and various illegitimate conspiracy theories and schemes like MMS that can harm patients. ‘We abhor that, and we don’t do that!’ I.e., they be more quiet about how they spend the Dwoskins’ money. It would actually be good for UBC, Tomjanevic and Shaw, and the Dwoskins if they all got some distance from Wakefield, Handley, Rivera etc. etc., as the Dwoskins are close friends and big donors to Hillary Clinton. As her associates come under scrutiny in the coming campaigns, there could be a lot of heat headed at the Dwoskins and UBC for political reasons.
You might even draft a letter (with institutional backing or co-signers) to the Dwoskin Foundation, pointing out that their interest in ‘legitimate’ inquiries into causes of ASD is now running the risk of being subverted by the UBC-associated folks rubbing elbows with scam artists participating in conspiracy, smuggling and fraud. (If the Dwoskins tell Tomjenevic to cool the public presentations, she certainly will…)
Thanks for the advice Sadmar. I will consider it thoroughly.
Actually I have no illusions about my influence. I’m a common non-academic medical drudge (a niche I prefer). I don’t expect to hear that T and S have been sacked. I primarily wanted to express my disgust as an alumnus, and secondarily let a few people know that UBC is indirectly associated with the promotion of abuse.
herr doktor bimler, we don’t have nitrous here. I was only offered “sterile water injections” and I took them because let’s face it, what could be more fun than four bee stings in one’s back at the height of a contraction?
After that I did ask if they had a stick for me to bite down on. Nobody laughed. A$$holes.
I’m glad your better half was reasonable. I vomited on Mr. Delphine’s Very Favourite Phil Lesh T-Shirt and he asked me rather timorously if I could stop clinging to him so he could change. I may or may not have screamed “Who the f&ck do you think you are CHER?!”
It’s a small Scamworld, after all…
Remember alt-health cancer quack Leonard Coldwell, whom you tackled on an October 2014 post? You know, the guy who supposedly cured his own mama of terminal liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and Hep C when he was a young lad, and who claims to have a 92.3 percent cancer cure rate, using his own natural protocols? Well, Jim Humble, “discoverer” of MMS, happens to be Coldwell’s publisher for his German-language books (through Humble’s company Jim Humble Verlag). Coldwell describes Humble as his very dear friend. The two of them were cozying up to each other at a recent quackfest in Germany (more on that below). On his Verlag web site Humble also promotes numerous books by other alt-health quacks, as well as links for MMS and other health frauducts.
Humble was front and center in the “heroes of cancer European tour” that Coldwell was boasting about late in 2014. The “tour” turned out to be the Spirit of Health alt-health “Kongress,” which was scheduled to be held in several European cities over a period of months. It is, as you might imagine, a traveling snake oil show. A couple of the gigs were cancelled, however (e.g., in the Netherlands), and I believe that this was due to stringent protests from skeptics, scientists, and real doctors. But one went on as scheduled in late April in Kassel, Germany. That was the one Coldwell showed up at, along with numerous other luminaries including Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and Tullio Simoncini. And Jim Humble, of course.
Humble and his cohorts are still trying to take their quackfests around Europe and even some parts of the U.S. — I believe that one is coming to Utah soon — but for obvious reasons the promoters are generally very circumspect about details such as venue.
I’m not sure how the conviction of Daniel Smith will affect the MMS promotion activities, but I imagine they’ll just go a little further underground. Many of you may know that in an effort to skirt various laws, Humble formed a “church” back in 2010, the Genesis II Church, and the health frauducts Humble promotes are described as “Genesis II Church Sacramental protocols.” Humble and virtually anyone else who joins the “church” are “archbishops.” (Coldwell also had his own “church” for a few years, The Church of Inner Healing.)
A friend of mine who is on the Genesis II mailing list just received an email promoting, among other things, the Farnham, Surrey, England Genesis II Church Seminar June 12th-14th. There will also be two seminars in Ecuador in July, details to be announced. For those who cannot attend the seminars (church services?), there are plenty of info-frauducts for free or for sale, e.g. The New Genesis II Church Online Video Course for $149.99 U.S. Heck of a deal.
The quackery continues unabated.
There’s a reason they didn’t used to allow fathers in the delivery room.
Yes, and then the Society For The Preservation Of Phil Lesh T-Shirts was overthrown.
I just at a look at the MMS pages at cdautism. Cripes, one convenient dose from good people at Fleet and the whole site would be gone.
Who you gonna call? Eneman!!!
L. Ron Hubbard has a lot to answer for.
We have a church down here, the Church of Conscious Living, which is actually registered as a company. Its only tenet is that thou shalt join in order to request a religious exemption from vaccination.
There was a time when I couldn’t find a trace of her there anywhere; I’m inclined to wonder whether she had a year off or something.
She seemed to have a year here writing articles with Yehuda Shoenfeld.
I feel a little embarrassed that we foisted her on the world, but then you gave us Meryl Dorey.
The long fight against autism quackery looks set to continue.
Over at the cesspit they have taken to recycling old posts, reporting breathlessly what RFK Jr says about autism and posting abstracts of papers.
This study from Egypt is being touted and contains the worrying result “Significant decline in the blood level of lead and mercury with the use of DMSA as a chelating agent. In addition, there was decline in the autistic symptoms with the decrease in the lead and mercury level in blood.”
Hold on for another round of chelation therapy.
Please keep pushing Where in the World is Kerri Rivera. All her personal business sites, including everything associated with her “clinic” in Mexico are still down, and others associated with Humble are “cleaning up” their online presences, coaching each other on how to get themselves off search engines. We can’t allow these snakes to slip into hiding.http://ashearus.blogspot.ca/2015/06/important-immediate-social-media-blitz.html
@Lori #60: Which of Humble’s associates are cleaning up their profiles?
@Connie #50: I was involved in the campaign to stop Jim Humble and Spirit of Health from being held in Brighton last month. I tipped off “The Argus,” the local paper in Brighton, about his scam, which led to coverage of the event and massive backlash from the locals. Two venues (a school and an Anglican meeting hall) cancelled on Spirit of Health, which forced them to secretly disclose the third location only to attendees. But that didn’t stop the “Daily Telegraph” from sending a hidden camera into the room and writing articles about what was being promoted.
Orac would be interested to know that besides the Smith verdict, the MMS operation is going through hell in the British Isles. Ireland has launched a criminal investigation into the Genesis II “minister” there, Patrick Merlehan, as well as Irish parents who have used MMS on their children. A few nurses and GPs are being investigated as well. And the meeting in Brighton caused a few British MPs to call for MMS promoters to be investigated in the UK as well. If you notice, Genesis II is saying that Surrey will be their last European event for the year. Gee, I wonder why.
It’s interesting to see the silence coming from the anti-vaxxer movement now that the law is beginning to go after MMS promoters. “Age of Autism” has not put up any defiant posts defending the Irish parents being questioned by police (even though they have invoked Orwell over a lot less). Kent Heckenlively, who has admitted using MMS, and J.B. Handley, who praised Humble and Rivera, have not chimed in. Maybe because they realize MMS could expose them for the monsters they are?
It is *amazing* how fraudsters can take a thing that they know hurts people and sell it as snake oil. Like Brinkley, the Goat Gland Doctor. How does a person decide to do that? I mean, placebo operations would seem to be even cheaper to perform, so a larger profit margin. Why, then, all these elaborate and dangerous maneuvers?
I think part of it is ego — selling magic water is cheap, but boring and everybody’s already doing it. You want something distinctive. And that feeds into the other part — profits. With a novel treatment, you have few or even no competitors, and you can take advantage of novelty to explain why doctors don’t know about it and make it look like the bleeding edge of medicine. If you don’t give a damn about your customers’ health, selling poison is pretty much the same to you as selling magic water, provided not too many patients are actually dying before they get a chance to pay you.
I’m guessing he stumbled into something that was cheap, could be made broadly plausible to anyone who didn’t look too closely, and could already legally be sold. None of the rest mattered. He’d found his hustle, and wasn’t giving it up.
Chris P #58
Can you access that whole paper? The abstract obscures more than it reveals. How were the bairns assessed for ASD for a start (you know what I’m like about that topic)? How was “improvement” measured?
It looks to me that certain assumptions were made right from the start, eg that ASD is analogous to the neurological problems caused by certain heavy metals…
They cite one of Seneff’s Entropy papers. Hang on.
Yes, it is saved on my computer. It seriously looks like made up crap.
“Follow up of these autistic children during treatment,
especially in the milestones (ability to speak and perform sentences) revealed that improvement of the level of speech
with the decrease of the lead and mercury level, in the form
of increase number of words, and perform understandable
And MMR vaccination.
But the references, oh the references. What a woefull (or should that be woofull) tale.
James B Adams of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Author MS., final (PDFs).
^ P.S. Don’t spread it around. They’re not all stupid enough. I probably should have opted for the torrents.
How can you expect to overcome belief in quackery when we still have the inanity of religion? Is the belief in Magic Mineral Solutions any more stupid/gullible that the belief in a “God”? or the power of prayer or that some bloke who may or may not have lived in Judea 2000 years ago knew all the answers to morality and truth?
[…] The treatments are, unsurprisingly, directly related to what the specialist offers. Chiropractors who fall into this category, therefore, offer adjustments for whatever ails you. Naturopaths offer a wide range of nonsense, but often involve supplements and dietary changes. Often times the treatments are packaged as “natural” or “holistic” and are generally optimized for marketing purposes. However, interestingly, some are harsh, like the recently exposed scam of industrial bleach being sold as an autism cure. […]
First, belief in religion is metaphysics, and not open to disproof by science. Specific religious tenets are, of course, but that’s not the same thing. A lot of quackery is a form of secularized religion – belief in magic powers – but a person can be dissuaded that a specific scam – MMS, say – is bogus fake magic w/o giving up belief that some magic thing is indeed ‘out there’. I.e. sane people have recognized the truth of physics for centuries w/o giving up their metaphysics (e.g. Thomas Jefferson). So, yes, belief in MMS is far more inane than the belief in a Deity.
There is ‘religion’ in general, and there are specific religions: a belief in God does not translate into a necessary acceptance of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. That is, most religious people consider most other religions to be bogus. So could it be with any specific form of quackery, or even ALL of quackery – the magic could get pushed back to the metaphysics box where it ‘belongs’. Easier said than done, of course, and there are powerful social reasons religion has been turning toward fundamentalism, and general spiritualism has been turning toward quackery. But these things are contingent, change over time, and aren’t essential to the general concepts.
I sometimes think atheists can be divided into two ‘camps’ for heuristic purposes. For some of us, the absence of God is just so obvious, and we feel so confident in it, that we don’t really feel threatened by religion in general. We view religions the way cultural anthropologists view mythologies: as normative systems that may perform any number of pragmatic functions within a community. We observe from our little outpost outside the mainstream that the vast majority of homo sapiens sapiens adhere to some large chunks of some sorts of nonsense. But in different communities, the prevailing nonsense is deployed in different ways — sometimes leading to behaviors we abhor, but sometimes leading to behaviors we endorse (e.g. the role of certain forms of Catholicism opposing fascism in Latin America, the role of the church in the civil rights movement, etc.) Taking a certain level of mysticism among our fellow humans as a given, we look to the contestations between different religious factions/ideologies/etc. and have no problem pulling for ‘the good guys.’
The other camp, of course, are the New Athiests who consider all religion essentially pernicious, a threat to the social good, and a threat to themselves. If Richard Dawkins is the paradigm of this group, I’d offer Terry Eagleton as a paradigm of the first. A fairly hard-core marxist scholar, Eagleton’s own beliefs are as atheistic as anyone’s, yet (largely in response to Dawkins et. al), he’s been writing a lot over the last few years about the positive/progressive aspects of certain religious traditions.
IMHO quackery is proliferating in part because it ‘fills a hole’ in relatively hard-wired human needs for ‘spirituality’ in the wake of the decline of traditional ‘mainstream’ religions. It so, we could imagine that hole being filled by something other the the profiteering of con-artists peddling dangers to public health. However, as that’s what we’ve been getting, the problem may not be religion at all, but capitalism.
How can you expect to overcome the prevalence of health scams in a society dedicated to a-moral pursuit of profit? Is selling/buying MMS any more nefarious/gullible than the deals swung of the big investment banks on various groups of ‘marks’? What is Jamie Dimon but a more clever and well-positioned version of Mike Adams?
They didn’t look at performance changes for anyone who didn’t take the drug, and their definition of high and low levels didn’t seem to match general practice (the threshold was too low for mercury and too high(!) for lead)
@Delphine (49) – where did you give birth? I thought the epidural was fairly widespread and beats the pants off of nothing. I even got a shot of fentanyl with small child before the epidural. Pure bliss I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours at that point of the induction and I slept for about two hours after that.
Thanks; I only had time to grab the published version and deidentify the source. (Thanks, random UUID generator!)
^ That is, I haven’t actually looked at it yet.
Author MS., final (PDFs).
Final link is 404-ed. I tried reading the Author version but there were too many silly typos (e.g. 120 = 55 + 45 + 10) to judge it fairly.
G-DDAMMIT. I’ll try to fix it, but I can just E-mail you a copy if you want. The author version already held the DOI, so I had to go the PMID route, which seemed to work.*
* Upon further examination, it did, but it hasn’t been mirrored yet.
@#72 Kiirii, it was a hospital with anesthesiologists who all seemed to be very busy doing other things. I didn’t ask until I got to 9 cms. They did whatever they did to call him and he didn’t come, and then said he’d be there shortly. The midwife left briefly to look for him, leaving me with my husband, mother, and the student midwife. At that point my membranes ruptured. Student midwife ausculted the heart, found it was doing funny things, ran to get the other midwife. My mother had me lie down and had a look and a feel. Cord had prolapsed so she held it away or off or whatever from the baby. Nothing quite like having your mother’s hand in your vagina! The anesthesiologist got there not long after that but too late, Delphinette was vacuumed out in short order.
I’ve never had an epidural. The first two births when I was dilated enough for the nurse anesthetist to come, he took so long to give the required information that I was then too dilated for it.
The third time I was just glad I got to the hospital and on to a birthing table in time.
The Wayback Machine says that before 2015, cdautism dot org redirected to mmsautism dot org. The earliest record for mmsautism is this one from 2012: https://web.archive.org/web/20121016002956/http://mmsautism.org/ Note that, at the bottom, it has the same quack Miranda. So the possibility of it being a response to this trial can be ruled out.
Sadmar @ 70: what you said, all of it.
1) Brilliant strategy: separate the most-harmful woo in someone’s life, from less-harmful wooey beliefs they may hold, via the route “magic X is bad, magic Y is OK.” For instance “putting bleach in your rear end won’t cure your cancer and it can kill you, but doing yoga is good because it’ll strengthen you to deal with chemo.” (And, if the patient has a yoga placebo effect that reduces nausea & pain, wonderful!, nothing wrong with that.)
2) I agree with you about “two camps” of atheists, as you said. And I also see the same mechanisms at work regarding affirmative beliefs in religion, and regarding sexual orientation. There are probably many more examples to be found.
The mechanism is the person’s reaction to agreement or conflict between a) their natural or intrinsic feelings about (subject matter) and b) the feelings they believe they _should have_ or that they _wish to have_ about (subject matter).
Thus we get a straightforward comparison:
a) Naturally feel X, should feel X: For example: “Natural atheists” such as yourself who simply do not perceive the existence of a deity in the universe and whose “should” feelings are congruent with that. “Natural theists” do perceive the existence of a deity in the universe and their “should” feelings are congruent with that. Natural heterosexuals, natural gays/lesbians/etc., same thing: they are naturally attracted to (whatever gender) and their “should” feelings are congruent: they accept themselves for who they are.
The generalization for this category is “at peace with themselves,” whereby they have no internal conflict over X.
People in category (a) are usually highly secure in their identities, and have no problem forming practical alliances, friendships, and even romantic relationships with those who differ from themselves. (Anecdotally, I have seen numerous cases of “I’m an atheist, my husband/wife is a member of the XYZ church (or vice-versa), we’re still in love & best friends 20 years later…”)
b) Naturally feel X, should feel NOT-X. The most obvious examples are ferocious homophobes who later turn out to be covertly gay after an affair is exposed. I also saw the reverse of this in college: otherwise-heterosexual men who sought to be bisexual in order to live up to a particular ideological belief about feminism and male identity (their gay relationships never worked out). And we also see this dynamic in religious extremists who are obsessed with “the war on religion” and so on (e.g. “the war on Christmas”): I would hypothesize that these people are actually “natural atheists” who really do not perceive the existence of a deity in the universe, and thereby become obsessed with people who feel as they do but “have the temerity to say so.” Whatever degree of faith they can muster is weak, so they feel threatened by those who espouse non-belief. And I’m also inclined to say it happens on the other side of the fence: some of the New Atheists are actually “natural theists” whose brains are wired for religious beliefs and who therefore have to make extra effort to overcome those tendencies, such as by espousing an aggressive rhetorical stance. Sam Harris’ history of spiritual/religious “seeking” comes to mind here.
The generalization for this category is “at war with themselves,” whereby they are internally conflicted over X and seek to resolve that conflict by espousing a strong rhetorical position based on their “should” beliefs.
People in category (b) are not particularly secure in their identities and have to shore-up the identity they prefer, which also entails pushing the other aspect of themselves as far away as possible, and condemning it vociferously when they see it in others.
The moral of the story, as it were, is that people should take the time to scope out their actual feelings and beliefs, and then either accept themselves for who they are, or accept the fact that they have an internal conflict between “is” and “should,” and then make a conscious choice of which aspect to live by. I don’t think this is a matter of raw intelligence, because there are plenty of smart people whose lives are dominated by their conflicts and by unhealthy reactions to those conflicts. I wouldn’t call it a sign of wisdom either, because it seems more like “common sense” to accept the facts of one’s own life whether they are convergent or in conflict.
Thanks ChrisP and Narad!
So, DSM-5 criteria for autism were used, but no indication is given as to how assessment was carried out: not good. No indication is given as to how assessment of any “improvement” in autistic symptoms was carried out nor by whom: not good either.
Unbelievable that you choose to advocate for conventional medicines that have claimed millions of lives-some medicines have even been linked to mixture of human urine. Whats worse? What about all the testimonials from the autistic kids that got cured by MMS? Tell us Orac, how many chemicals are in your prescribed medications with warnings? Please, take a simple antibiotic medicine and see for yourself the warnings in the name of “side effects” that will make you think that you are taking a prescribed poison. I am tired of medical lies and in my opinion, Smith and Kerri are far better off compared to the atrocities that modern doctors have on their hands and the pharmaceutical industry’s genocide. Hands off Kerri you sick misguided advocates of greedy pharmaceutical rubbish called medicines. We know the agenda. You only care about how much you make with your medicine lies. SHAME upon you all.
Well, I suppose that depends on how one defines “better off.” I’m sure he’ll appreciate a note from you every once in a while: http://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/
Hands off? She’d need to be doused in MMS first and thoroughly rinsed – there’s no telling where she’s been.
some medicines have even been linked to mixture of human urine.
Antineoplastons come to mind.
Of course you are aware that at least one of those “testimonials” concerning a “cure” for ASD was made up in order to point out the unreliability of the claims?
Personally, as a former CAMHS person, we would have loved to see cures for ASD. Unfortunately they don’t exist ‘cos we would use them if they did.
Testimonials are evidence? By the by those “testimonials” aren’t from the children getting bleach shoved up their bums and forced to drink, they’re from the scumbag parents gruesomely abusing their children.
Let it also be said that personal testimonials played a major role in medieval medicine (mostly bleeding) and patent remedies (mostly alcohol). It wasn’t until proper studies were done when it was shown that these primitive techniques were killing patients instead of saving them.
You Americans and your unnecessary interventions! Twice I gave birth without pain relief in a bath. Both were perfectly normal low risk births through my local hospital’s birth centre. Epidurals are for caesarians. Water births hurt less, tear less and are less prone to stall as long as you don’t get in the water too early. About two thirds of the births at my local birth centre use the bath. Because it’s paid for publicly there’s a lot less incentive to bring in a bunch of unnecessary specialists that encourage poor outcomes. The midwives know when to call a specific specialist and when to press the panic button that summons one of everything.
[…] feeding children bleach and forcing them to take bleach enemas.) So, hot on the heals of a major seller of MMS being convicted of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States, leading to […]
[…] been convicted Bradstreet could have faced up to 20 years in prison. Of course, we all know from a previous autism quackery conviction that Bradstreet would probably never have been jailed that long, given that sentences in these […]
Even by the standards of quackery this is pretty shocking. There is a subsidiary point, not made by any previous commenters or in the post itself, but which you can deduce from this, my most successful ever blog post: https://aspiblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/autism/
I will be including a link to this article in a blog post some time soon.
[…] link, courtesy of scienceblogs, and therefore reflective of one of my biggest interests, about a victory in the war against quackery. Even if the treatment that has earned the person pushing it a jail sentence was not cruel, […]