Sunday, November 01, 2009

If it quacks like a quack...

Perhaps all we need to know about Suzanne Somers' much-hyped new book, Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancerand How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place, is that the foreword was supplied by one Julian Whitaker, MD. I wrote about Whitaker a while back, when he was claiming that he knew how to permanently cure COPD in two weeks or less.

He has also variously clai
med that he:

  • knew how to cure asthma in four days.
  • knew how to reverse macular degeneration "instantly."
  • could get rid of osteoporosis by applying a "special" topical ointment.
  • was in possession of a mineral that could erase someone's Parkinson's Disease during a 20-minute office visit. And to think, poor Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali have suffered needlessly all this time!
I concede that I haven't read Somers' book. And since I also skipped her previous best-seller, Breakthrough, a dissertation on the general topic of health and wellness, I guess I feel obliged to get around to reading this one. In general I try to put off such tasks as long as possible in the interest of safeguarding my own blood pressure. I just find these works so infuriatingall the more so because they tend to become instant best-sellers, as we learned with our friend Kevin Trudeau and his unspeakably venal Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About.

Why do we prefer to take advice on important medical topics from former sitcom bimbos who then did soft-porn-inflected infomercials for exercise equipment, rather than from own family doctor, or even, say, from a book like this one? Why are there so many people out there in this grand land of ours who seem to feel that the farther information is from the mainstream, the more credible it therefore is? I do not understand that syndrome or that mindset.

Incidentally, if you don't see the parallels between this and the kind of reckless, baseless stuff James Ray was (quite successfully) peddling in the name of emotional growth/health...then you're not looking nearly hard enough.

(Yes, I'm still working on Part 2 of Tiffany Epiphany. And I mention this only because a few of you have asked.)


Anonymous said...

Somers and Trudeau and their idiot followers haven't the slightest clue about physiology, oncology or even basic biology, but that doesn't stop them from believing that the billions of hours spent on scientific research was all a scam. The tragic thing is that real people get hurt and die before their time chasing these snake oil "miracles".

Didn't we learn anything from Steve McQueen's laetrile experience?

Mynahnni said...

Quote: "Why are there so many people out there in this grand land of ours who seem to feel that the farther information is from the mainstream, the more credible it therefore is?"

Because people want to "believe". Because reality is a ferocious beast which does not distinguish one grain of sand from the other and we are vulnerable to the force of the wind. When one "believes," the colors of the rainbow are there for one's disposal.

And it's fear. You fear the Indian, so you go to a white guy to learn about the Indian. You fear death, so you go to Jesus or Allah or to the nearest snake oil guru because reality loses its' sting when you do. The ego is strange that way.

I have very much enjoyed reading your blog :)

Anonymous said...

I am a new reader, thank you for your site, it is important. \

The mindset, common to all of the evangelical traveling salesmen,is magical thinking. The secret is to click your ruby slippers three times and think of home.

The recklessness of the Ray organization (an organization in stead of a cult, because a profit making corporation. If you charge and make it business, we leave you alone.)resulting in three deaths. It is horrible and unbearably sad.

SustainableFamilies said...

I think western medicine quite often fails or has unwanted side effects. We hear about "another way" and are hypnotized. Insulting western anything tends to be a "credential" in and of itself to many. Western science is great. Holistic can co-exist with modern science and SHOULD. If herbology has real applications, the long term effects need to be studied diligently and scientifically.

Frances said...

One of the more bizarre items on Somers' regimen:

No. Just... no.

LizaJane said...

I agree with SustainableFamilies' comments. No, conventional medicine doesn't have all the answers, but it sure has a lot more of them than I'd like to try living without. Ever have a baby? Ever have a tooth filled? Let's hear it for novacaine, nevermind chemotherapy! And yes, I agreet hat every "alternative" treatment that shows even the remotest chance of efficacy should be tested, studied, and subjected to the scientific method. You really never know. Once upon a time, aspirin was just willow bark tea... it was "herbal medicine." Most of our modern medicine is just plant-based home remedies taken to a pharmaceutical level.

My dad died of COPD (emphysema) last year. I'm wondering how Whitaker can promise a cure in 2 weeks and still maintain his medical license? Surely the AMA will penalize him? How can this be?