Maher, for his part, does inject a little “skepticism” when he asks, in essence, how come nobody else knows about this if it’s so great? Interestingly, as is so often the case (I’m talking to you, Stanislaw Burzynski), Chachoua has a lovely conspiracy theory in which he claims UCLA and Cedar-Sinai Medical Center “came courting” him to test out his work in the mid 1990s, which might actually be true given that the NIH was at the time being politically pressured to examine alternative cancer cures. As is the usual case, this collaboration, if it ever happened, didn’t turn out well. If you believe Chachoua, “they published it on their own and buried it.” Well, certainly there are no publications by Chachoua about it. Searching PubMed didn’t turn up anything. There is another Chachoua who has published about AIDS, but it obviously isn’t Samir Chachoua...Gorski gets into the details of what Chachoua claimed on both "Real Time" and the "Dr. Oz" show -- and then dissects every piece of it to expose the pure quackery. While scientifically dense, Gorski's piece is well worth your time.
In the past, I’ve said that nothing Maher could say or do would surprise me anymore. I was mistaken. As highly critical as I’ve been of his promotion of antivaccine pseudoscience and outright quackery, even I never thought he’d fall for such an obvious cancer quack hook, line, and sinker like this or that he’d let this quack repeat such obvious misinformation, all while admiringly lapping it up.
Apparently this quack also pulled a dramatic stunt – he reports that he injected Sheen’s blood into himself, to show him how confident he was that Sheen was cured. No reputable doctor would ever do this. This was a clear stunt, and only demonstrates how desperate the con artist was to convince his celebrity mark. He knew what was at stake – and it worked.Dr. Novella will join me tomorrow at 1:35pm CT when I fill in on KTRS to discuss this further.
In addition he claims lab tests that show Sheen is HIV negative, and claims the first cure of HIV in an adult. Without independent verification, this is worthless, of course. Fake lab tests are all just part of the con.
Another part of the psychology here is that people want to feel that they are one-step ahead of the herd. Getting standard treatment available to everyone just seems so mediocre. If, however, you do “research” and find that there is a reported better option, that you can get a treatment that is safer or more effective than the regular treatment, that has a huge appeal. You can congratulate yourself on your cleverness and ingenuity, your open-mindedness, and your wisdom in seeing how corrupt the system is. You are not only one of the enlightened few, you will use your knowledge to cure yourself.
This view also creates a massive disincentive to ever admit that you were wrong. Admitting error, even when the disease that could have been cured or managed by modern medicine is now ravaging your body and killing you, is just too difficult. You would have to abandon your entire self-image. You would have to admit that you were not being clever, wise, and open – just naive and desperate.
Con-artists know this and count on it.
Labels: science, skepticism, television