Horrible ‘human’ Lawrence Stowe indicted

EDIT: See the comments for an update on the near-exoneration of Vincent Dammai.

I’ve been thinking about it. When I first wrote about scam-artist Lawrence Stowe, I called him “a horrible human being”. I now regret that. Allowing him the title of “human” is far too generous. Far, far too generous. Just look at what he did:

Stowe told [CBS’s “60 Minutes”] MS patient that he can reverse her disease with his program of herbs and vitamins to boost the immune system, custom vaccines and stem cell injections. Medical experts say it’s nonsense but it’s the same pitch that we secretly recorded again and again as Stowe claimed to reverse cancer, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s disease and more.

He did this sort of thing to desperate person after desperate person. He scammed people out of their life savings, sometimes putting them into debt and convincing them to sell their homes. He promised cures where there are no cures. He ruined the lives of real humans nearly as much as nature herself was in the process of already doing.

As awful as that all is, there is at least some good news on the horizon:

Three men have been arrested for their participation in a scheme to manufacture, distribute and sell to the public stem cells and stem cell procedures that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Holland of the FDA—Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) and Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson of the FBI.

Francisco Morales, 52, of Brownsville, Texas, was arrested by Customs and Border Protection agents pursuant to a arrest warrant late Dec. 22, 2011. He made his initial appearance the following morning at which time he was ordered held without bond. Alberto Ramon, 48, of Del Rio, Texas, and Vincent Dammai, 40, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., were arrested yesterday. Ramon was arrested as he was about to enter his clinic and has already made his initial appearance in Del Rio, while Dammai was arrested in Florence, S.C., and is expected to make his initial appearance in Charleston, S.C., this morning. Lawrence Stowe, 58, of Dallas, Texas, also charged in relation to this case, is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. The two indictments in this matter, returned Nov. 9 and 10, 2011, have been unsealed by order of the court.

Given the terrible nature of Stowe, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he has already packed up his stuff and moved his operation to another part of the world. Fortunately, the thing with criminals is that they almost always slip up. If he is out of the country, he will return at some point. He can’t hide from his lies and crimes forever.

via SCmom.

The danger of false beliefs

A few months ago Wendy Pollack went to cause harm to people in Tanzania by providing them with false hope. She led sick people – specifically those with HIV – to believe that unproven and even blatantly discredited ‘medicine’ could help them become healthier. It was an awful tragedy and we can all be thankful that she has finally left Africa all together. She still practices her form of harm in America, but she at least faces some regulations here. (A complete outlawing of her shenanigans would be preferable.) It is easier to combat the misinformation of chiropractors and other sham-practitioners in a developed nation, even if they still manage to cause damage. Unfortunately, places like Tanzania do not have the institutions or medical infrastructure to implement procedures to protect its people, so even with people like Pollack safely thousands of miles away, alternative medicine practices still run rampant:

Hundreds of albinos are thought to have been killed for black magic purposes in Tanzania and albino girls are being raped because of a belief they offer a cure for AIDS, a Canadian rights group said on Thursday.

At least 63 albinos, including children, are known to have been killed, mostly in the remote northwest of the country.

“We believe there are hundreds and hundreds of killings in Tanzania, but only a small number are being reported to the police,” Peter Ash, founder and director of Under The Same Sun (UTSS), told Reuters.

This is a tragedy exactly along the same lines as what the entire alt-med crowd does. These random and inane – and often dangerous – faith-based ideas take off within a certain population and real human lives are put at risk. There is no evidence to back up any of these stupid and harmful beliefs, but evidence matters less and less as people get sicker and sicker. That’s one reason homeopaths are so successful in ripping people off.

What is happening in Tanzania right now rises to a level slightly above what most alt-med people do, but it really isn’t that far and away different. Remember Lawrence Stowe? He bankrupted sick people, drawing them away from real treatment. Many of those people died as a result of his actions – and he knew they would. Even where the people were terminal and could not be cured, he hastened death and increased pain. It’s standard practice for the alt-med crowd and I see no difference between that and what’s going on in Tanzania right now.

2010: FTSOS in review, April to June

Here is the second installment of the 2010 FTSOS review. See the first installment here.

Easily the top post of the month (in fact, it is number 5 all time) was the one about the topless march in Farmington. It resulted in a lot of people clicking the Photography tab on FTSOS in search of all the topless women who were marching through the small town of Farmington up here in Maine. Because I guess topless women are rare.

When I set up this blog, I never had the intention of giving a good focus to quacks and charlatans. But I just had to write about the scumbag Lawrence Stowe. The guy was caught on a CBS special stealing from the sick and desperate. He was ought ruining lives and families, laughing all the way to the bank. The guy is easily one of the biggest pieces of shit about whom I have ever read.

There was also the issue of FTSOS commenter Jack Hudson chiding a family member of mine through texts. I made mention of the issue on his blog, but he very quickly edited my comment so as not to reflect his misdeed. As a result – and being someone who hates dishonesty – I had to make a post on FTSOS explaining what had happened. This caused Jack to first deny his actions and then vow never to return to this blog. I later granted the small possibility that he was not guilty, but that did nothing to dampen the hissy-fit. Of course, since the texts came from Minnesota (which is where Jack lives) and since they all referenced a specific Facebook interaction he had with my family member, I had to remain unwilling to retract anything. I stand by that.

The big science news of the month was that Craig Venter created synthetic DNA that worked when put in a cell. It is a phenomenal technical achievement that opens up the door to a whole world of synthetic creations. We can now, at least in theory, go into a computer program, change a few amino acids and come up with new genes and gene products. I suspect this will prove invaluable to cancer research.

About midway through the month I decided to tackle, for the nth time, the idea of objective morality. The truth is, even if theists are right that there is an objective morality, they do not arrive at their conclusions objectively. People are always picking and choosing what they want to believe, how to interpret the things they use for their beliefs, and how those things fit into what they already believe. As I said back in May, even a claim of objective morality is a subjective position.

I also talked about the fact that atheism has never been responsible for an act of evil. Two things arise from this. First, people often go back to that old chestnut, “Ideas don’t hurt people! People hurt people!” Of course, this just ignores the fact that people are composed of ideas. If we are not willing to say that ideas lead to actions, then it is no longer clear that we can even say ideas are good or bad. And what does it even mean to say people – explicitly not ideas – are responsible for actions? If people are not just packages of ideas, then what are they? What does it mean to say “Joe punched Suzy” if we deny that underlying that statement is that Joe had the idea to move his fist towards Suzy? Second, people will point to Stalin, Hitler, etc and say “What about those atheists?” This is silly first because Hitler was an evolution-denying, Christian creationist. The silliness then continues when we look at Stalin (and any other leader who was an atheist) because atheism is not a normative position. Since it is purely descriptive, it does not result in any “ought” or “ought not”; it says nothing of what we should or should not do. Stalin and co never acted out of atheism. It is not logically possible.

The most popular post of the month had to be the one where I told people not to talk to the cops. If the police suspect a person of something, it serves the interests of the police, not the suspect, to get a discussion going. The job of the police is to find out information they can use against people. And even innocent people are at risk. The best way to avoid the whole mess? Don’t talk to the cops. Seriously.

In the race for governor of Maine, we learned that the eventual winner of the election, Republican Paul LePage, is a creationist. He later danced, obfuscated, and dodged the issue. The fact is, the guy is not going to object one bit when some Maine school board thinks it will be a good idea to teach creationism to students.

In skin cancer news, researchers found a certain drug, ipilimumab, which allows the immune system to run free and more effectively fight cancer. Responses to the drug were impressive for those with late stage skin cancers and it is hoped that the treatments can be improved. It was thought the FDA might approve the drug for use this year, but it looks like the decision date is going to be March 26, 2011.

Expect July to September tomorrow.

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…

Lawrence Stowe is a horrible human being

I hate snake oil salesman. I hate them with an ever growing passion. They take advantage of innocent, sick people for nothing more than money. They make the world a worse place and ought to be jailed. Lawrence Stowe is one of the worst.

Con men used to travel town to town hawking medical remedies said to be made of Chinese snakes. Snake oil was useless and dangerous. So the FDA was created to put a stop to it and other food and drug scams.

But, today, quack medicine has never been bigger. In the 21st century, snake oil has been replaced by bogus therapies using stem cells. Stem cells may offer cures one day, but medical charlatans on the Internet are making outrageous claims that they can reverse the incurable, from autism to multiple sclerosis to every kind of cancer.

Desperate people are being bilked out of their life’s savings.

We’ve been looking into this surging crime and we found there is no better window on how it works than the practice of a man who calls himself “doctor,” a man named Lawrence Stowe.

Stowe has been unaware that, lately, some of his patients have been working with 60 Minutes.

I wish 60 Minutes could look into every quack out there, but there are just so many.

Stowe told our MS patient that he can reverse her disease with his program of herbs and vitamins to boost the immune system, custom vaccines and stem cell injections. Medical experts say it’s nonsense but it’s the same pitch that we secretly recorded again and again as Stowe claimed to reverse cancer, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s disease and more.

Honestly. I cannot understand how these people live with themselves. 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. This guy is a piece of work.

Everyone who reads FTSOS knows I rag on Andreas Moritz over and over. A very small part of the reason is that he’s just too dumb to stop showing up on my radar, but far, far, far more important than that is the fact that I view him as legitimately dangerous. I’ve managed to divert a few specific individuals from his potential harm (and I will not mention any specifics because I do not want Moritz contacting and conning them), but I suppose I can at least give him credit for not charging massive sums of money for his ‘services’; his style is to play small ball and take small amounts of money from desperate people. And even though that’s just one of a depressing number of horrible traits that man holds, he’s nothing compared to Lawrence Stowe; there is no comparing the two. Stowe is in a league all his own: if Moritz is Mario Mendoza, Stowe is Babe Ruth. (I would say Ted Williams but it would pain me a little too much as a Red Sox fan.)

Watch these two videos. Every person needs to be aware of the scams that are out there.

Lawrence Stowe is a scumbag part 1.

Lawrence Stowe is a scumbag part 2.