That’s how you do it

Remember that scumbag Lawrence Stowe*?

Stowe charges exorbitant sums of money so he can insert IVs into people in some dank, run-down building in Mexico. One family sold their home to pay for Stowe’s bogus treatments. Others have paid tens of thousands of dollars of their savings with no results.

It’s hard to be a big fan of any sort of news that comes from TV these days, but there is still some worthwhile stuff that comes out of investigative reporting. Originating from “60 Minutes”, that information on Stowe should make everyone happy there are still good reporters out there.

In fact, I have to admit I’m a little jealous. I took part in the successful marring of the web presence of Andreas Moritz, another lying quack who steals from sick people. (I only say marred because while there are still hundreds of sites out there that expose him as the quack he is, he has unfortunately regained some footing, at least insofar as Google search** is concerned. However, the hits I get on my posts about him go through the same rough fluctuations as they did when I was number 2 in searches for his name. This isn’t so bad when considering 1) PZ’s post is going to obviously be more prominent and 2) typing “Andreas Moritz” into Google pops up several options, one of which is “quack”.) But this hardly compares with taking down a quack nationally as “60 Minutes” did.

And, of course, there’s our old friend Christopher Maloney. Google searches for his name bring up a lot of unrelated results, but “is a quack” remains a Google suggestion and a search of his name with “Maine” added brings up a whole slew of excellent and honest results. Regardless, this still isn’t much compared to the success of “60 Minutes”.

But these schmucks responded to criticism all wrong. They whined and moaned and tried to get an undergraduate’s blog shut down under the threat of a libel lawsuit and blah blah blah. They’re quacks and they sell snake oil in one form or another by virtue of their ‘professions’, so none of this was that surprising. But Lawrence Stowe is also a sleazy piece of trash; he causes real harm to the health of others, too. But what has his response been? Take a look.

Thank you for your interest in the Stowe Foundation. As a non-profit public charity our mission is to make available to the public an understanding of the human immune system through scientifically validated principles of Regenerative Medicine.

It isn’t until the second page of selling his snake oil that he even mentions “60 Minutes”. And when he does mention the show, he buries its relevance in a hog pile of pseudoscience and lies.

Stowe was clearly a bumbling buffoon when he was pinned down in front of the cameras. That’s what usually happens to snake oil salesman, and I suspect in front of a PZ Myers or Dr. Novella, bosom buddies Moritz and Maloney would suffer the same pathetic fate. But writing, especially on the Internet, is a different beast. Stowe doesn’t have to spend his time responding to every ounce of criticism flung his way; he knows he can’t. Just like the bosom buddies, he knows he’s utterly wrong in all the things he claims. Just as Moritz knows iridology offers no insight into other bodily ailments, and just as Maloney knows black elderberry absolutely does not “block” H1N1, Stowe knows he cannot cure ALS or any other disease. But unlike the bosom buddies, Stowe hasn’t deluded himself. He’s acutely aware that the falsity of his claims are not going to fool anyone. He knows he needs to dodge all criticism, not meet it head-on.

He’s a particularly dangerous snake oil salesman.

*I bring Stowe up again due to a sudden surge in hits. It appears “60 Minutes” updated their article on him (with what particular details, I’m not sure). It also appears that I’m number 2 in Google searches for his name. That would make me much happier if there were another 10,000 posts and articles about the scumbag immediately after FTSOS. (Or before. It isn’t about me; it’s about exposing quacks.)

**Another Google suggestion after searching for Moritz is “Wikipedia”. I took a look. Yes, Moritz has a Wikipedia page. And, gee, imagine that. Not a single disparaging word. Strange, huh? I wonder if that will change any time soon…

Richard Maurer is a quack

I was going over an old post when I realized I had spelled the name of a naturopathic quack incorrectly. I referred to Richard Maurer as Richard Mauler. Whoops.

Immediately after correcting his name, I did a quick search and found his blog. It’s a lot of the traditional malarkey from naturopaths: a lot of noise and a smidgen of Gish Gallop from non-experts who are out of their amateurish field. But this post stood out to me in particular.

In this case the study summary says it all.

“Vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter is linked to lower incidence of influenza A, particularly in specific subgroups of schoolchildren, according to the results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial reported online in the March 10 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”

Sounds reasonable enough, right? Of course it does. There actually is a study which draws that link. But that’s all it does. It cites its small sample size alongside the lack of testing for most compounding factors (such as antibodies) as weaknesses in the research. Anyone who concludes that there is anything more than a link between vitamin D3 and a decreased incidence in influenza A is a quack. And you all know what’s coming. But hang out, I’ll even quote the abstract from the study.

RESULTS: Influenza A occurred in 18 of 167 (10.8%) children in the vitamin D(3) group compared with 31 of 167 (18.6%) children in the placebo group [relative risk (RR), 0.58; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.99; P = 0.04]. The reduction in influenza A was more prominent in children who had not been taking other vitamin D supplements (RR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.79; P = 0.006) and who started nursery school after age 3 y (RR: 0.36; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.78; P = 0.005). In children with a previous diagnosis of asthma, asthma attacks as a secondary outcome occurred in 2 children receiving vitamin D(3) compared with 12 children receiving placebo (RR: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.73; P = 0.006). CONCLUSION: This study suggests that vitamin D(3) supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren.

It’s an interesting result, but no competent doctor is going to make recommendations based upon it. That isn’t to say doctors don’t have other reasons for recommending vitamin D; this just isn’t one of them. But does that stop the quack brigade from marching in the streets? Nah. Check out the title of Maurer’s blog post.

Vitamin D, as suspected, prevents the flu.

Christopher Maloney tried pulling this same garbage when he claimed black elderberry can “block” H1N1. Given the drubbing Maloney got back then in December, it’s curious that Maurer would repeat the same sort of anti-medical trash just a few months later. Vitamin D does no such thing. Maurer is either lying or incompetent. I won’t argue against anyone who claims he’s both.

It’s this sort of stuff that helps to solidify the naturopath’s leadership among charlatans.