Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leonard Coldwell: stupid and dangerous, or simply stupid? (Part 5 of 5)


Leonard Coldwell, fake doctor
and former good buddy of imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, may not be an A-list alt-health "hero" or even an A-list Scamworld player (we discussed some of those A-list health gurus in the previous post in this series), but he still has his small following of passionate fans. Some are nice people who are simply uninformed or misinformed, though a few seem truly deranged. Many are willing make excuses for his increasingly erratic behavior, continuing to cheer him on even as his social media posts grow dafter. Just about every time he opens his mouth or posts something on Facebook Coldwell betrays that he isn't very bright. But is he actually dangerous? And in the larger scheme of things, does he really matter? These are some of the matters we'll cover in this concluding (finally!) installment of a series that has dragged on far too long. And just in case you're wondering why I have devoted so much time to Coldwell on this blog, I'll 'splain that (again) in this post as well. In case you need to catch up, links to previous installments in the series are at the end of the post. OMT: I am fully aware that this post contains anecdotes and screen shots that I previously shared on this blog. Redundancies are intentional.
~CC


Excuses, excuses
As daft as he is, not-doctor Leonard Coldwell still has a small following of loyal fans who don't hesitate to rally against his critics, particularly when he prompts them to do so, as he recently did when
he lied about me poisoning his pit bull dog, Blue. That was an eye-opening experience for me. I think that's when I finally understood that trying to communicate with the most stubborn or (dare I say it?) stupid fans is futile.

It's not that I've had exchanges with very many of them; to the contrary, despite Coldwell's paranoid ranting that I am involved in some awful conspiracy to turn people against him (rantings that include his patently false claims that I have devoted thousands of hours to creating numerous "fake" web sites all over the Internet to defame him, and that I have "harassed" his followers), I have spent surprisingly little time and effort communicating or trying to communicate directly with actual Coldwell fans. I have, however, engaged in conversations with a few of them over the past couple of years. Most of the time they initiated the conversations, though on occasion I have done the initiating, and sometimes it was all just part of a public conversation on social media.

For instance, here is one comment from a Coldwell fan who began a private conversation with me on Facebook on July 17, 2014, in the wake of Coldwell's crazy, unfounded accusations about me poisoning his dog and trying to "defame" him.

Dear Connie Schmidt : I know that you may not agree with everything that Dr. Leonard Coldwell says but I ask you , Please give him the right of free speech and tell his truth. He is a good man and helps many to create a good life. May this be one of the many ways you can show your love . With many blessings - [signed]
"Tell his truth?!?" Spoken like a true SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy/Gal).

I wrote back thanking the person for writing to me and for communicating with me in a civil way. I reiterated a capsule version of my now oft-told story about how Coldwell had made up lies about me out of whole cloth, and had put me in possible danger by posting my full name and address on his social media pages in conjunction with his lies. I mentioned that I had tried in a polite and civil way to defend myself on those pages but my comments were deleted and I was blocked from commenting any further. I mentioned that other folks had tried to politely defend me on those pages and the same thing had happened, and then Coldwell had lied about the content of their posts and had said they were I, writing under fake accounts. "What kind of 'good man' does this?" I asked my correspondent. And I respectfully asked the person to read
my blog post about the dog poisoning allegations.

I had a private exchange with another person who had referred to me as an "evil sick woman" after reading Coldwell's accusations that I poisoned his dog. I initiated this one; I sent this person a private message via Facebook with a link to my blog post about the dog incident. A couple of days later he replied.

I read your post and although Dr. C's may be falsely accusing you of poisoning his dog he concluded that based on you cyberbullying of the past 2 years. Dr C is not the evil man you think he is, he's a hero who dedicated his life to curing other people of cancer after he made that promise to God. He had a very hard childhood and did everything he could to find a way to cure his mother of cancer. You can read all of that in his book "The only answer to cancer". I really feel pity for Dr. C that he's being attacked so hard on the internet and his reputation is being destroyed despite his good intentions.
I responded with a few observations and insights about Coldwell's inconsistent, mostly unverifiable stories about his past, mentioning some of the suspicious details in his narrative -- most notably, the claim that he cured his mom of hepatitis C many years before it was even identified by medical science. I also mentioned to my new friend that, subsequent to the rash of accusations against me, Coldwell had quietly and with little explanation used his Facebook page to post a list of household and yard plants that are toxic to dogs. And I noted that asking legitimate questions about a public figure who makes extravagant claims is not "cyberbullying." The fan responded:
Dear Connie, I agree that we don't have proof of his 35,000 cured patients besides Dr Hohn's affirmation. However if you read his books it's not hard to believe it since he he makes use of several proven alternative cancer cures like Gerson therapy, Dr. Hamer's work, Dr Burzynski, Essiac tea, vitamin B17,... There's a lot of documentation to be found on these if you google them. I'm not sure about the Hepatitis C, but I remember he mentioned his mother getting liver cirrhosis due to a blood transfusion. Maybe he connected the dots and found out it was likely she got Hepatitis C back then? I can understand you feel angry and wronged due to Dr C.'s hasty conclusions, but he acted on the information that was handed to him. He even admited [sic] this himself: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-N83sbPKr5A8/U8b0-2EHc_I/AAAAAAAAEM0/XBciQwxTu3E/s1600/36-Coldwell-More-Accusations-against-Connie-Schmidt-on-Answer-to-Cancer-page-07-15-14-A.jpg Anger is a response to pain, I guess he was so emotionally shocked by the poisoning of his dog that he lashed out at you like that, because you were a "likely" suspect to him. You're probably correct about the reason for posting that list of plants and he seems to be leaving you alone as well at the moment, I haven't seen any posts about you on his FB pages lately. In my opinion it's just all been a big misunderstanding on his part.
Here we have a Coldwell fan -- probably a perfectly nice guy, despite having previously called me an evil sick woman -- trying to cling to his fandom and to the narrative he clearly wants to believe. From the post above you can see that even though shadows of doubt seem to be looming, he is still more willing to make excuses for his hero than to believe me. He would rather believe that Coldwell's accusations were based on anonymous misinformation than to entertain the notion that Coldwell would create a body of vicious lies about me.

Notice too how the fan struggles to rationalize Coldwell's hepatitis C claim, which is one of the larger holes in Lenny's backstory.
Most of Coldwell's narratives leave no doubt that he is claiming to have cured his mom of Hep C back when he was a young lad. This snippet, from his July 17, 2014, screed about fighting the good fight against the forces of evil, is typical:



Regarding some of the examples my correspondent listed in his second message to me, quoted above: In Part 4 of this series I did not cover the work of Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer (inventor of Germanic New Medicine, née German New Medicine and New Medicine). Nor did I mention Essiac tea, or vitamin B17 (laetrile). For that matter, I didn't mention someone else whom Coldwell has cited and my correspondent failed to mention: the late Royal Raymond Rife (1888-1971), who, not surprisingly, blamed a "conspiracy" by the med establishment for the rejection of his work. I did, however, discuss Burzynski and Gerson therapy. As I noted on that post, my list was hardly comprehensive. Hamer, Essiac tea and B17 are additional examples of unproven practitioners and protocols, contrary to the claims of the fan quoted above. All have been disputed by the medical establishment but, I should also note, they have not been violently repressed.

Based upon correspondence he shared privately,
Bernie at GINtruth went through much the same type of exchange with this same Coldwell fan via private message, civilly and patiently explaining to him that contrary to Coldwell's false accusations, Bernie did NOT hack into Coldwell's web site(s), and Bernie is NOT a cyberbully, and Bernie is most certainly NOT a child molester. As was the case with me, the person seemed to become marginally more conciliatory as the conversation with Bernie progressed, but it appears that he never went so far as to accept the possibility that Coldwell was lying. The fan finally told Bernie that Coldwell had made the accusation about child molestation only because Coldwell's buddy and business partner Abe Husein had told Coldwell that Bernie had been caught raping a child.

Bernie and Abe have had their differences, but I'm pretty sure Abe never said anything like that, and I actually thought that Abe wouldn't appreciate his pal Coldwell using his name in that way. Turns out Abe doesn't care, though; when I mentioned it to him on Facebook recently he said he never pays attention to negative things people say or write about him. He added, "To be honest, I don't think that is DR C posting those things from his profile." Uh-huh.

Long before the latest cycle of Coldwell lies, I noticed a pattern in fans' attempts to rationalize his erratic (to say the least) behavior. For instance, there was this fan's defense, which was part of a November 2012 conversation about
the infamous Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina police report and Coldwell's rants about me being a disease-infested former prostitute who is on Big Pharma's payroll:
Dr. C is an emotional man. He loves strongly and when he is unhappy he doesn't pull any punches. I think he is honest and I appreciate that. Besides, most of the time he has the nerve to SAY what we are all thinking anyway but are too nicey-nicey to say out loud.
"An emotional man"... so that's what the kids are calling "bat sh-t crazy" these days. This person had privately told me that she did not believe Coldwell's accusations that I am a former prostitute. Yet she continued to defend him and even told me privately that he is a great man who has accomplished far more than I ever will. She also egged him on in the early days when he was threatening to sue me for trying to "destroy" his business. Even so, I have seen recent indicators that she is not nearly as enamored of him as she once was; I heard buzz that he eventually alienated her with some crude sexual remarks on Facebook. He has a way of alienating people on his own, sooner or later, with no help from the critics.

Once again I've probably belabored the point, that point being that a handful of people continue to enable Coldwell and support him even as he becomes more erratic. Some who seem to be fighting their own inner doubts about him chalk his lunatic statements up to an honest misunderstanding on his part, or they speculate that Coldwell was simply given bad information, or they theorize that his crazy posts were written by someone else -- an assistant, perhaps, or a hacker... you know, the usual suspects. Those are the excuses Coldwell himself has used on more than one occasion when directly accused of writing something particularly stupid. And when need be, his fans and friends are only too happy to hoist the banner of external blame. It's always someone else's fault. There are so many forces working against this brave and heroic man.


Is it love... or just cognitive dissonance?
Though Coldwell may sometimes seem to represent an extraordinary type of evil, it could be argued that he is just a garden variety psychopath who has found a few themes that resonate with certain types of people: the alt-health hero v. the medical establishment shtick,
the loathsome "the Jews run the world" meme, and various other conspiracy-related motifs. Whether he's extraordinary or garden-variety, there's really nothing so extraordinary about the reactions of some of his fans to criticism about their hero.

Excuse-making, or rationalization, is pretty typical human behavior, and we all do it at one time or another -- either on our own behalf or on someone else's -- to make life a little less painful. For instance, we often do it when we're in the painful process of letting go of some cherished belief. When we are obliged to reevaluate a belief or a person or a situation to which we've grown attached, rationalization shields us, for a while, anyway, from painful truths.

Of course for some people (and some governments, for that matter), excuse making is not part of a painful process; it's just part of doing business and protecting one's income stream, power, or both. It is nothing more or less than cynical propagandizing and disinformation in order to keep the followers (or the citizens) in line.

But I'm more interested in what is going on with the people who are genuinely struggling with "letting go." This means I'm more interested in the Coldwell fans who seem like genuinely nice people struggling with doubts than I am in the cronies and business partners whose behavior indicates, at best, a gaping hole where their conscience or moral compass should be.

Much has been written about the human tendency to defend people or beliefs in the face of mounting evidence that they are defending the indefensible. The gurus being defended may beam and say this behavior is an expression of abject love (in contrast to the "hate" being expressed by critics), but it is anything but love. At best
it is evidence that the gurus' cultish mind-control tactics are working.

This excerpt from the online
Skeptic's Dictionary entry on cognitive dissonance seems appropriate here. In this instance the writer was referring to the followers of a 1950s UFO cult leader, but much of this applies to other "public figures" such as Coldwell or anyone else who somehow manages to create a devoted following.
With this kind of irrational thinking, it may seem pointless to produce evidence to try to persuade people of the error of their ways. Their belief is not based on evidence, but on devotion to a person [emphasis mine. ~CC]. That devotion can be so great that even the most despicable behavior by one's prophet can be rationalized. There are many examples of people so devoted to another that they will rationalize or ignore extreme mental and physical abuse by their cult leader (or spouse or boyfriend). If the basis for a person's belief is irrational faith grounded in devotion to a powerful personality, then the only option that person has when confronted with evidence that should undermine her faith would seem to be to continue to be irrational, unless her faith was not that strong to begin with. The interesting question, then, is not about cognitive dissonance but about faith.
And in the end, that's what really fuels Coldwell's sputtering career: the faith of his followers. To argue with the most deeply faithful is indeed an exercise in futility. It is not my job, nor is it yours, to try to convince them that their noses are up the wrong behind. They will have to find their own way out of that situation.

Coldwell is his own worst enemy
Coldwell has falsely and repeatedly accused critics of
conspiring to destroy his "grounds of business" and seriously cutting into his income. The truth, as discussed on this blog numerous times, is that his income was cut into in a major way when he was fired from Kevin Trudeau's major scam, the Global Information Network (GIN), from which Coldwell profited handsomely for a few years. He was a paid GIN speaker, receiving automatic payments of nearly $17,000 a month, plus he had a downline that he reportedly worked quite aggressively. Here's a little thing from 2011:




Coldwell still hasn't really recovered from his divorce from GIN and Trudeau, although he has made a second career of "exposing" Trudeau's scams and pretending that he was duped just like everyone else.

Beyond his propensity for getting involved in failed scams, Leonard Coldwell is and apparently always has been his own worst enemy, which is just another way of saying that his public behavior and statements make him look far worse than anything any blogger or other critic has ever written or said about him. Virtually everything he says or writes makes him look stupid, scammy, crazy, gullible, or (at best) ill-informed.

He continues to push
his iffy health "advice" as well as every conspiracy meme going around the Net, particularly those that have to do with the New World Order, Obama and the allegations of "false flag" events. When he can combine alt-health crackpottery and New World Order paranoia into one meme he is truly in his element, and the deeply disturbing Ebola outbreak in Africa seems to be providing a prime opportunity for just that. In some of his rants Coldwell has promoted the tale that Ebola was an invention of the NWO and is being brought to the U.S. by Obama in order to weaken the population so that it will be easier to herd Americans into FEMA camps... or something like that. His other pet theory is that Ebola was invented by the big drug companies so they could make a fortune selling vaccines... or something like that.



Fortunately there is colloidal silver to help get the nasty Ebolas out of your system, although
in a recent blog entry Coldwell copied and pasted an article from a guy who says silver is useless for Ebola. Here's some Coldwellian healing advice from August 9:

 
Coldwell is also promoting his buddy "Dr. Rima's" colloidal silver frauducts. "Dr. Rima," who sells something called NanoSilver, is another person who claims to be the victim of a "rampage of disinformation to keep you in the dark about natural ways to dispose of dangerous microbes without damaging your beneficial bacteria."

If you're interested in more scientific information,
here is a good blog post from 2009, which talks about colloidal silver and other forms of medicinal silver, and mentions Ebola in passing.

A couple of days after the Ebola silver silliness, Coldwell weighed in on
the tragic suicide of the much-loved actor and comedian Robin Williams. This time Ebola and Obama weren't the culprits; it was Red Bull with aspartame, suggested Lenny.



Many very bad-taste things have been said and written about Williams in the wake of his death, and I was expecting Coldwell to bring his own unsavory dish to the bad-taste potluck. He did not disappoint, although I will give him this: on the bad-taste meter his statements really couldn't measure up to
Rush Limbaugh's idiotic insinuation that Williams' profound depression was due to his "leftist attitude," or with the piece on the conspiracy site World Nut Daily that strongly insinuated Williams died because he deliberately let the devil in to aid his art... or something like that. But what Coldwell's statement lacked in horrendous taste, it more than made up for in stupidity, for Coldwell seems to have confused Robin Williams with the Brit singer Robbie Williams, who is very much alive and well, and he insinuated that Robin Williams died because he was addicted to Red Bull with aspartame.

Here is Bernie's post about Coldwell's blunder.

I suppose it was in poor taste for Coldwell to use Williams' death as an opportunity to flog his buddy "Dr." Betty Martini's obsessive crusade against aspartame, but the stupidity factor outweighed the poor-taste factor this time. Beyond the major gaffe of getting the two men's identities confused, Coldwell seems not to have read the specific article he linked to very carefully. That piece, apparently written some time in 2009, was all about Robbie-Williams-the-singer making a comeback after some very tough times. There was one passing mention of Red Bull, in the context of a paragraph about Robbie having checked into rehab in the U.S. in 2007. According to the article, there was speculation but no substantiation that Robbie was "addicted to Red Bull and coffee." (By his own account, his real addictions were to more serious substances, such as prescription pain pills.) Moreover, there was no mention of aspartame in the article Coldwell cited. Perhaps Coldwell is unaware that not all Red Bull contains aspartame anyway; only the Sugarfree and Total Zero Calorie versions do, and the article contained no speculation about whether Robbie Williams preferred sugar-free or no-cal to the sugary version.

Granted, Lenny wasn't the only person who had a little bit of identity confusion between the two R. Williamses. Others did as well. On the other hand, the vast majority of those folks were just ordinary people, not highly-educated, all-knowing miracle healers and health experts as Lenny claims to be. As Bernie wrote in his GINtruth blog post about Coldwell's comical mixup:
Sure, the names are similar, but the least you can do when you claim to be a multi-talented-cure-all-lying-piece-of-crap, is check your facts before posting them on the world wide web for everyone to clearly see just how much of a complete and utter moron you really are!

You just can't [be] much more stupid, not to mention shallow in trying to capitalise on someone's misery.

That's about the size of it. But I suppose that this whole identity confusion thing is not really that surprising, since Coldwell has a problem keeping people's identities straight. For a long time he thought (and may still think) that my friend Julie Daniel and I are the same person. He thought that
blogger and book author Alexandra Nouri was Bernie, and then later decided Alexandra is I. He seems firmly convinced that someone named "Tina S" is I (more on that below). He thought my friend Tim Donohoe was Salty Droid. And perhaps most comically of all, he thought Jason "Salty Droid" Jones and Omri Shabat are the same person, took both of them to court as such, and, after his own lawyer quit the sham case and Lenny couldn't (or didn't even try) to get another one, he failed miserably. Mistaken identity seems to be one of Coldwell's stocks in trade.

Another Coldwell fave is to dig up old and debunked alarmist Internet memes and recycle them as something totally new. Lots of ignorant people do that, though, so he is in good company. For instance, on August 16, 2014, he posted this on his misinfotainment hub on Facebook,
"The Only Answer to Cancer":




You'll notice that the writing in the post above is much more literate than the usual Lenny offering. That's because he (or possibly one of his dimwitted admins acting with his approval)
copied and pasted from this site -- despite the fact that much of the "information" had been declared a hoax a couple of years ago.

Then there's this snippet of a 2012 interview -- brought to you by a clown who calls himself the Cosmic Cowboy of Internet Radio -- in which the bad Mocktor waxes icky about sex and so forth. We're so uptight in America, he says, as indicated by the fact that families -- mommies and daddies and little kiddos -- don't all bathe nekkid together like they do in Germany and other parts of Europe and other places in the world. "If Germany is such a paradise of freedom and enlightened attitudes, why doesn't the little perv just go back there and stay?" you may be asking. I don't really have an answer to that.

I think you get the point, although I'll be more than happy to belabor this one too, for the sheer bloody fun of it. Apropos of that, we'll have a couple more Coldwell stupidities later on in this post. The point here is that Coldwell's public writings, videos, and speeches about... well, anything he talks about... make him look profoundly unprofessional, to say the least. And
his methods of handling criticism and critics make him look even worse, if that's possible. Rather than ignoring his critics, as most Scamworld players do (though certainly not all -- more on that in a moment too), he goes after them in clumsy, comical, deranged and even illegal ways.

And the more he tries to prove how legitimate he is, the more apparent his phoniness becomes, and the stupider he makes himself appear. His
train wreck of a Bio site is a recent case in point, and it appears he has no intention of stopping there, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the site got its little wings cut due to numerous complaints about the defamatory and legally actionable lies he had published.

Honk if you're horny
Some interesting emails were sent out last week. On August 12, 2014, Bernie received an email with the following header:

From: gonnie schmid <hornyconny@gmail.com>
Date: 12 August 2014 08:38:36 GMT+9
To: Bernard O'Mahony
Subject: wow the info on
www.hornyconnie.com is unbelievable all of your guys past dirt on there unbelievable
On the same day I also received an email from someone going by the name "Tina S" -- which she told me is not her real name. Naturally I was interested, because on July 15 Coldwell had posted that he was getting emails from "Tina S," and he falsely insisted she was I; he made this claim in the context of his equally false accusations that I had been sexually harassing him by email and phone.

In her email to me, "Tina" mentioned that Coldwell had apparently confused our respective identities, and she admitted that she had emailed him. But it wasn't to sexually harass him (I know, I'm as shocked as you are). Tina said she wrote to him about "the ethics (or lack thereof) of his anti-vaccination posts seen by his gullible audience."

She also wanted to let me know that she had received an email with the subject line: "Just saw the content of www hornyconnie dot com Wow I cant [sic] believe it." When I responded to her, I asked her where the email came from, and she said it came from hornyconnie dot com -- the same party who'd sent Bernie the email. She added:

I only recently heard about Leonard Coldwell and his antics. A colleague of mine posted a video of his on our work's communication platform. It was meant to give everyone a laugh (which it did!!). After watching the video, I became curious as to who this guy was and a bit of searching brought me to your blog (along with GIN Truth, Glancing Web, and Salty Droid).
Tina also wrote that having studied microbiology and having worked as a microbiologist, she finds Coldwell's attacks on vaccination to be disgusting, especially since he has the power to influence his followers, who seem to take his words at face value.

Currently there is no content on the new site,
which was only registered on August 5, 2014; it was registered via Domains By Proxy, LLC, and the registrant's name is private. The site is being parked on GoDaddy; presumably because of the word "horny" in the domain, the adbots assume that it is destined to be a porn site.



Beyond the fact that the emails about this new site seem to have been targeted at Bernie and at someone that Coldwell thought and may still think is I ("Tina S"), there are several solid reasons to believe Coldwell is behind this, despite his web person's suggestions to the contrary in a private conversation we had last week. She seemed to be trying to be genuinely helpful but my very strong sense is that Coldwell is not above lying to her or keeping things from her, even though he claims to be her friend.

In any case I am watching the new site and have reported it for potential abuse. If whoever created and is promoting this site actually intended for it to aid Coldwell in any way, the effort is already dead in the water. And until and unless I have credible proof to the contrary I will simply believe that this is one more stupid (and painfully immature) misfire from little Lenny Coldwell, or someone close to him.

So... stupid, yes. But is he dangerous?
Coldwell has demonstrated repeatedly that he is a ridiculous little man, but some have suggested he is also dangerous. Whether he is or not is a matter for debate. I think that he personally is a coward, but he has also demonstrated a desire to incite others to violence on his behalf, and I have certainly taken that into consideration. Some of the threatening things his fans said about me in response to
Coldwell's false accusations that I poisoned his dog gave me pause for thought.

Prior to that, I had heard from sources once close to Lenny that he has been known to make disturbing threats about hiring a "hit man" to take care of anyone who betrayed certain confidences. Whether this was all bluff and bluster or not, I couldn't tell you, but the people from whom I got this information seemed to take it seriously enough. Salty Droid apparently
asked Coldwell directly about the hit man allegations (and numerous other allegations as well), but never received a response.

Apart from an apparently volatile temper and disturbing reports about his personal behavior, some people simply think that Coldwell and his alt-health colleagues are dangerous and should be stopped because they may keep people from seeking conventional treatment for cancer and other devastating diseases. However, as may be apparent from my explanation
in Part 4 about my "middle of the road" views on these issues, I do not agree with this stance.

Beyond anecdotal evidence, I think it is very difficult if not impossible to truly quantify, on any reasonably large scale, any damage done when people opt for natural "cures" in lieu of conventional medicine. It seems to me that there are simply too many variables; every case and every person is different. Some people die of their cancer even when they choose conventional cancer treatments, and no doubt some live when choosing "alternative" or no treatments. I imagine that the reverse is also true; some die when they eschew or delay conventional treatment in favor of alternatives.

Accordingly, I do not advocate the banning or criminalization of all "natural cures" advice, no matter how wacky that advice may seem, nor do I advocate banning the "natural" methods themselves. To me such bans would constitute an untenable restriction on people's freedom to make up their own minds about their personal health. Of course, this does not mean I endorse Coldwell or other quack-titioners; again, see
Part 4, under "The lure of the black-or-white."

Does Coldwell really matter?

Part of the argument about whether Coldwell is dangerous or destructive rests on the question of whether or not he really matters in the grand scheme of things. After all, it could be argued that his most deranged rants over the past couple of years have been on Facebook, to a relatively small audience. If he doesn't have a very broad reach, how dangerous can he really be?

And notwithstanding Coldwell's own tales about daily death threats and running from guns and car bombs, you can get an idea of his insignificance in the grandscape by considering the fact that so far, the skeptical organizations/publications (like Skeptical Inquirer) and the respected science-based medicine bloggers (like Orac, aka Dr. David Gorski, at "Respectful Insolence") have not bothered to write about him. But they have tackled other quacks -- particularly, in the instance of Orac, cancer quacks. (There is a discussion about Coldwell on "Respectful Insolence," but a reader started it on
one of Orac's posts about other cancer quacks. (The Coldwell part begins here.))

And yet... although not the world-renowned, superheroic self-help and alt-health guru he claims to be, Coldwell does have a considerably broader reach than Facebook. He's on just about every conspiracy-nut, fear-mongering radio show on the Internet, though apparently the big guy,
Alex Jones of InfoWars, has refused to have him as a guest. However, his being butt-hurt over being rejected by Alex didn't seem to have discouraged him from promoting Alex's wacko conspiracy theories about the recent -- and long overdue -- indictment of Texas' doltish governor, Rick Perry on two felony charges. I have a feeling nothing will come of the indictment, given the fact that Republican politicians (particularly in Texas) seem to find a way to squirm out of trouble, but the news was welcome to many anyway, though obviously not to Lenny and his little conspiracy nut-buds. This is from August 16:



(For those of you who need a bit of digression or want some background info on Rick Perry's past atrocities,
this October 2011 Rolling Stone article is a great place to begin. And if you want to get caught up on exactly what the Perry indictments are about, this rather optimistic (for those who dislike Perry) piece from HuffPost should prove helpful.)

Hosts and workshop leaders who present themselves as resources for "alternative" health information seem particularly susceptible to Coldwell's dubious charms, a case in point being these two UK ladies,
who recently played host to nearly an hour of Coldwell blathering that tumors are good and that mainstream cancer docs just cut people open in order to give them more cancer and make as much money as possible from them before killing them. And then there's "Dr. Livet" in Trinidad, a former computer programmer whose real name is Uchenna Hackett, who recently (April 2014) had a health-misinfo expo that featured Lenny as a keynoter.And of course he is polluting YouTube as well, boasting about his videos with their cumulative millions of views.

So Facebook is only a small part of Coldwell's outreach efforts. With or without the aid and support of Alex Jones, Coldwell seems to be doing a pretty effective job of playing to crowds who are all too willing to believe in every kind of conspiracy, including and especially the organized conspiracy against natural-cure advocates. The desperate, the bored, and the easily fooled eagerly embrace Coldwell's narratives that Big Pharma and the cancer industry have conspired to destroy his reputation and even kill him. And although some of his crazier fans might be dangerous, I would like to think that most are probably harmless. "Psychopaths are for the most part lazy," another blogger told me on the phone not long ago. And this person should know, having dealt with numerous psycho threats over years of blogging.

That said, I believe Coldwell still has the potential to do harm in several ways, by spreading misinformation or deliberate lies, as well as by abusing his position of "authority," such as it is, e.g.,
taking advantage in various ways of vulnerable people.

Moreover, because he has failed so often in his attempts to silence his critics, he also seems to be growing increasingly desperate and arguably more dangerous in that area. On a larger scale, the attempts by alt-health gurus and other hucksters to use the legal system to silence critics is potentially a matter of concern and could have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression that many of these gurus claim to cherish. Just a few examples: Scientology... Landmark Forum... Tony Robbins... Bill Harris of Holosync infamy... and -- bringing it back to Lenny's field, sort of -- Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski (in Part 4 I wrote in more detail about Dr. B's threats to his critics). It's not a sign of a persecution complex (another matter discussed in the previous installment) to acknowledge that in many cases the critics are under a more serious threat than those they criticize. (For those who are interested, here's a resource about SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) issues.)

Whether Coldwell himself is dangerous or not, though, he is indisputably silly, and lately seems to have ramped up the silliness with a vision of starting his own "sovereign nation." This could either remain silly or become dangerous, depending upon how many people Coldwell can ultimately persuade to follow him on his fool's errand. I give you...

Lennyland: Big dreams of Wootopia

Thanks to my delightful and talented pal
Jonathan Woodliff for this pic.

"When you build upon a scam/With a not-doc who's a sham..."

I will leave it to you to fill in the rest of the lyrics, to the tune of
"When You Wish Upon A Star." On a Facebook thread initiated on or about August 9, 2014, Leonard Coldwell announced his vision for a new sovereign nation -- presumably somewhere in North Carolina if he can procure the land, with possible plans to move it overseas at some point. As usual, his garbled writing fails to make it clear.






Does anyone know what happened to the 130-plus acres that Coldwell claimed to have purchased in South Carolina last year? He made such a big fuss about it in April 2013, even stating that it would be its own town.
We are working on Town-rights and will have our own elected Sheriff etc. The first step towards liberty and freedom. And NO restrictions on what kind of treatment we apply here!
On a later comment on the same thread Coldwell wrote, "All my friends in the Health world will give seminars and possibly treatments there." (Eeeewww.)

But then after that... nothing. I followed up a few months later on one of Abe Husein's Facebook pages where Abe had shared the news of the "purchase." I asked whatever happened to the 130-acre "health resort," but my question was ignored and soon deleted.

And now we have Lenny's newest and arguably larger vision -- an entire sovereign nation, y'all! -- with a whole new, though no doubt considerably smaller, gang of idiots to support it. Lenny used to blather on about Kevin Trudeau being a cult leader and GIN a cult in the making, and Trudeau having visions of
Jonestown. Look who's talking.

It's amusing that Coldwell gripes about America being Orwellian, when he talks about his own vision of a "new Nation built on love and honor..." In that context I think of Coldwell's homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic vitriol, not to mention his history of pathological lying, and his fierce attempts to disguise his past and many of his present activities; if those are examples of "love and honor," then all I can say is:
Newspeak, anyone?

Apparently in support of his new-old vision, Coldwell has returned to one of his favorite themes: the powerlessness of the Federal government and the sovereignty of any nutjob who declares himself or herself to be a sovereign citizen. The screen shot below is from August 17, 2014. Note how one of Coldwell's fans, Gloria, apparently suffering from a bad case of Jeezus fever, advises that everybody needs to rebuke Stan. Who is Stan, and what did he do that deserves rebuking? Gloria, by the way, is one who was very supportive of the idea of my being hunted down and poisoned in punishment for allegedly poisoning Coldwell's dog. Duly noted and recorded.



For a more detailed review of Lenny's sovereignty obsession,
see this March 2013 Whirled post, as well as this one from February of the same year (under "And let's not even get into the fear-mongering, gun-nuttery, and krazy conspiracy theories...").

Coldwell is not the first person in history to have grand visions of an ideal community. At best, his vision will fail to get off the ground and he'll just go on to his next daft idea. It may not even get so far as an actual land purchase -- unlike the potentially disturbing camp/resort/change-the-world thingy that the leaders of the cultish sex-and-money org Access Consciousness seem to be creating in Costa Rica (see "Update 21 August" towards the end of this 2013 post). If it gets off the ground at all, Lennyland will probably end up in the scrap heap of failed utopias. Let's just hope there are no mass suicides or murders.

Why I have spent so much time writing about Leonard Coldwell (in case you're still wondering)
Though Coldwell has at various times lied that
I am a disease-ridden ex-hooker being paid by Big Pharma to discredit him, and (more recently) that I am sexually obsessed with him and write about him only because I am angry that he "rejected" me, the real story is not nearly as satisfyingly lurid as his versions. Many of you know this part already, so feel free to skip it. But as is the case with all of my purely intentional redundancies of late, this is mainly for those who are new, or just want to review.

As I've noted many times before, Coldwell only came on my radar in the first place because he was associated with one of
my frequent blog subjects, Kevin Trudeau. I was writing about what a scammer Trudeau is and what a scam GIN was years ago, back when Coldwell (who later claimed to have been harboring the knowledge of Trudeau's scamminess for at least a year before he was kicked out of GIN) was still happily chewing on the GIN teat and trying to lure thousands of others into his GIN downline. Coldwell caught my eye not only because of his association with Trudeau but also because of the wild claims on his web sites and videos. He would have remained nothing more to me than a clownish sideshow to Trudeau's big circus, and more than likely I would have stopped at my initial (May 2012) post about him, but for the fact that additional information continued to surface about him. I didn't go looking for the information; it came looking for me.

When Coldwell subsequently went on his manic lying rampages about me (and about other critical bloggers) he secured a more permanent spot in the critical blogosphere. That was his doing -- not mine. Not Salty's. Not Bernie's. Not Omri's. Not Big Pharma's or the medical establishment's.

Coldwell brought it on himself.

I had actually laid off writing about him for a while, having grown bored with recording his predictable, almost formulaic, lunacies. Then in June of this year he put up
that awful Bio web site with its atrocious "Defamation" page (which, as mentioned, has since been taken down). So I wrote about that. Shortly afterward, perhaps in retaliation or perhaps it was just random lunacy, Coldwell initiated the appalling dog-poisoning lie about me, and anybody who expected me to remain silent in the face of that atrocity clearly does not know me. Early on in the dog-poisoning saga, when I was making haphazard attempts to defend myself against Coldwell's accusations, one of Coldwell's fans told me I needed to get over myself. "I don't give a sh-t about you, I just care about the dog," he wrote to me. Others had similar responses: "This isn't about you, it's about the dog."

Well, no. It could have been just about the dog, but Coldwell, displaying a characteristic combination of derangement and possibly drunkenness, invited me to the party. After a little over a week of histrionics
he appeared to be acting as if the party was over and the lights were out, the implication being that I should just go home and shut up.

But I will not shut up -- and I am not going anywhere. I am home -- perfectly at home -- on this Whirled.

I will keep on writing, and you can be assured that I will keep striking back with words when I am hit -- even if it makes me appear obsessive. I will carefully and patiently record the lunacies and will report them to the appropriate parties as necessary.

Though I have gone on so much about myself for the past few weeks -- even more than usual, if that's possible -- I know that this is and always has been about more than one frequently self-centered (I admit it) hobby blogger. The lies Coldwell has told about me are but a small part of a larger and much uglier picture. So I will continue to ask questions about him and, for that matter, about any other Scamworld guru who strikes me as silly, stupid, crazy, dangerous, or all of the above. I will continue to share information and opinions as appropriate. I will continue to be part of the conversation.

My stories may never be as good or as entertaining as Coldwell's. But all things considered, they always have been and always will be far more truthful than his. And for the most part, that's good enough for me.


The rest of the story...


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leonard Coldwell: the facts don't matter if the story is good (Part 4 of 5)


Leonard Coldwell, fake doctor
and ex b.f.f. of imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, has taken up far too much space on this blog, especially for such a little man, so it's time to start wrapping up this five-part series. Originally this started out as a one-off post about Coldwell's hilarious new Bio/Credentials web site, but it grew a little... and then it grew a lot.

In Part 1 I took a close look at an ill-fated page on Coldwell's new Bio site that contained some seriously defamatory and legally actionable lies about some of the people (including me) whom he claimed were defaming HIM. (For instance, he falsely accused two male bloggers of being child rapists.) In Part 2 I deconstructed Coldwell's medical "lackground" -- the small collection of diploma-mill credentials and miscellaneous certificates that he shared on his "Accredation" [sic] page. In Part 3
I reviewed Coldwell's history of handling criticism. And in this segment, I will explore the possible reasons that Coldwell is a legend in his own mind as well as in the minds of his relatively small (compared to Kevin Trudeau and other Scamworld gurus) band of followers and fans.

I think it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that I am not a professional psychologist or mental health expert and -- unlike the subject of this lengthy series and numerous other Whirled posts -- I don't even play one on the Net, so take all of this for what it's worth. As always, I have made every effort to be accurate and to provide relevant links whenever they are available; beyond that, this post reflects my own opinions, based upon the public writings, videos, and behavior of the bad Mocktor Coldwell and some of his much more successful colleagues.
~CC


Persecution complex, thy name is Lenny C
The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts...
~ H.L. Mencken
On the surface, Leonard Coldwell's main shtick is his questionable "health" advice about "natural" cures for cancer and other diseases. In the wake of recent news events he has had quite a lot to say about the deadly Ebola virus. He has a side-shtick as an alarmist social and political ranter who embraces every whackadoodle conspiracy theory that comes down the pike, particularly those that have something to do with the New World Order (NWO) and the enemies that he believes are threatening America and freedom-loving people everywhere. Recently, though not for the first time, his rants have had a distinct anti-Semitic tinge, the screen shot linked to in this sentence being just one of numerous examples that have polluted social media.

Coldwell's alt-health shtick, and indeed his entire output over at least the past decade and a half or so, are largely built upon the story he tells of being a hero -- nearly a martyr -- who has fought bravely against the medical establishment since he was a little boy or a teenager (it's difficult to pin down the exact age he was when he embarked upon his hero's journey, as he has told several different versions of the tale). He tells of braving death threats -- "about twenty" a day, for goodness sakes! -- and gunshots and car bombs and wicked-bad "defamation" campaigns, all in order to continue delivering his priceless information to the people in need.

The narrative itself appears to be driven by what I can only describe as a serious persecution complex, to use a rather old-fashioned and possibly outmoded term. In turn, that complex -- or whatever one wishes to call it -- is nurtured and stoked by fans, followers and various members of the nutjob "alternative" media, who, for their own reasons, have a need to believe, or at least to pretend they believe, Coldwell's story.

The RationalWiki site --
where, as it happens, I recently found a hilarious entry on Coldwell -- has an interesting article about the persecution complex. Of particular interest for our purposes here is the section on the phenomenon in pseudo-science and alternative medicine.
Proponents of pseudoscience regularly rail against the scientific establishment and what they see as concerted efforts to quash anyone who would compete with the orthodox line. A common example of this is the creationist line that the prevalence of evolutionary biology is less to do with scientific evidence, than it is a conspiracy to push ideology or protect the jobs of scientists who toe the party line. The same claim is made by global warming conspiracy theorists. Medical conspiracies follow a similar line in that proponents of obviously flawed treatments, such as homeopathy, are not dismissed due to lack of evidence, but more because Big Pharma won't tolerate any threat to their ability to hawk their pills.
That would seem to be a fair description of Coldwell. On the other hand, it is possible that what he has is not exactly a persecution complex, which (at least by my understanding of the term) implies that the person truly believes, at some level, that he or she is being persecuted or oppressed or repressed. And most of the time I lean towards thinking that Coldwell's narrative is cobbled together by cynical lies, distortions, and gross exaggerations, not because he actually believes any of it but because he is well aware that such a story is a powerful attractant for gullible followers. 


It is entirely possible, however, that Coldwell has taken at least some of his own nonsense to heart; for many people there is a perverse satisfaction (or at least a handy excuse) in the conviction that one is being held back by forces beyond one's control. The author of the persecution complex piece on RationalWiki shared this snippet from a June 2005 post on John Rogers' Kung Fu Monkey blog:
...one of the great secrets of human nature is that the one thing people want more than love, security, sex, chocolate or big-screen TV's is to feel hard done by. Why? Because being hard done by is the shit. Feeling hard done by is the sweetest of drugs. If you're being persecuted -- it must mean you're doing the right thing, right? You get the mellow buzz of the moral high ground, but without arrogantly claiming it as your own. You get an instant, supportive community in a big dark scary world of such scope it may well literally be beyond rational human processing. When you are hard done by, you get purpose in a life where otherwise, you'd have to find your own. And when you ride that high, then no amount of logic, no pointing out that in actuality you and your beliefs are at a high point of popularity and influence for the last hundred years -- is going to pry that sweet crack-pipe of moral indignation from your hands.
(In his brilliant book, Pity the Billionaire, Thomas Franks explores the persecution complex of the political right wing -- Tea Party folk, certain Republicans, and so forth -- in the United States. The persecution narrative is very popular among these factions: why should racial and ethnic minorities have all the fun?) If you follow the link in the quotation above -- which was embedded by the RationalWiki author and not the original blog writer -- you'll see a very pertinent entry on Argumentum ad martyrdom, "a pseudo-Latin term used for two different logical fallacies favored by some Christians." And, I might add, by some alt-health and other Scamworld gurus too -- including a certain fake-doc who claims to be a Christian.

In any case, I think it's pretty easy to understand the payoff for Coldwell regarding the persecution story, whether or not he literally believes all of it. He gets attention, emotional satisfaction, and financial gain from his tale of the hero's journey. I think most of us can also easily understand the payoff for alt-media and Internet "radio" hosts who, after all, must constantly fill their schedules with entertaining, sensationalist guests -- in many cases, the nuttier, the better. The facts don't matter if the story is good.

But what about Coldwell's fans and followers; what stake to they have in believing his stories?


The myth of the alt-health hero
It seems to me that one reason some folks are still so willing to believe Leonard Coldwell's stories -- even in the face of what to most people would be glaring evidence that he is far from credible -- is that they have already bought into the folklore of the "natural cures" hero who bravely fights the medical establishment. Said establishment includes not only doctors and the mainstream healthcare profession but also the big drug companies who, of course, are all out to suppress those "natural cures" and destroy the natural-cures healers and advocates in any way possible -- either by discrediting them, attempting to decimate their reputations and their businesses, or, in extreme cases, trying to kill them.

The dramatic tales have undeniable entertainment value, so for that reason alone I think it is pretty easy to understand why the uncritical and unquestioning would be enthralled by Coldwell's yarns of narrowly escaping guns and car bombs and other physical threats, as well as his whoppers about the nefarious "defamation conspiracy" that he claims has been going on for years. It is the stuff of movies and TV shows and thriller novels, and as such it is so much more interesting and entertaining than real life.

Coldwell has repeated his thriller narrative countless times in interviews, on web sites, and of course in his books. He has also repeated the defamation-conspiracy story many times. Turning again to his 2008 magnum dopus
Instinct Based Medicine:
You can buy Instinct Based Medicine on Amazon (the link is in the sentence immediately preceding the graphic), or you can preview it on Google Books here, though not all pages are available for preview.*

Coldwell's hero/martyr story has been repeated ad nauseam not only by Coldwell but also by his fans, followers and promoters all over the Internet.
In Part 3 of this Whirled series (under the subhead, "Strategy number 1" etc.), I mentioned an October 2012 conversation between Coldwell and a minor-league conspiracy-monger named Glenn Canady. The link to the conversation that is embedded in that article no longer works, but you can listen to it here.

At the time I first wrote about the interview I had not yet listened to it but I have now done so. It contains Coldwell's well-worn narrative of being fought at every turn by the medical establishment. He talks about the groups that he claims have spent millions of dollars to "defame" him and says he knows exactly which groups are working against him, though he fails to name them. He also repeats
his "million dollar" challenges: he is prepared, he says, to offer a million bucks to anyone who can either beat his own claimed cancer "cure rate" of 92.3%, or who can prove him wrong. He reiterates his excuse that he would gladly set up clinics and cure cancer patients for free if only the American system would let him do so legally. And he insinuates that as part of the great conspiracy against him and his work, Google and Amazon have somehow conspired to keep his books off of all of the bestseller lists, even though, according to Coldwell, he has sold millions and millions of the things.

Desperation and anger
Apart from the desire to be entertained and perhaps even inspired by tales of heroism, there are of course more serious reasons that some people take Coldwell's nonsense to heart. Some people are truly desperate, or angry, or both, on their own behalf or on that of loved ones. Their desperation and anger are understandable, for establishment medicine has failed people in many ways. Despite attempts at reform in some of the more affluent countries, including the U.S., quality health care remains inaccessible to many. And then there is that whole "doctors are gods" mythos, which, though arguably not quite as influential today as in the past, still fosters an arrogance in many medical doctors. Even those who are truly kind and caring are, more often than not, hopelessly overworked.

This July 2013 review of a then-new book about alt-med (Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul Offit, M.D.) touches on some of the issues.
Arthur Caplan, the director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, says alternative healers satisfy patients' needs for more personal attention.

"Medicine does a very poor job of addressing the emotional, spiritual and even psychological side of things," Caplan says. "When you are not good at doing important things, other people rush into that vacuum."

Yet people who put their faith in alternative healers and supplements may be putting themselves at risk, Caplan says.

The alternative therapy industry capitalizes on a number of common sentiments, Offit says, from a naïve belief in the safety of all things natural to distrust of government regulation.
In addition, doctors do make mistakes, sometimes fatal ones. A very good friend of mine came close to dying because his aggressive neck cancer was misdiagnosed -- twice -- by some of the finest doctors in one of the most reputable medical complexes in the world. Fortunately the third time was a charm, and after a series of grueling treatments he appears to be in good health.

Of course misdiagnosis can also work in the opposite direction: a doctor's incorrect opinion or a false negative on a test result can prompt additional and more invasive testing or treatments that can wreak havoc on a patient's physical health, emotional well-being, and finances. Mistakes made in hospitals -- such as incorrect drug dosages or surgical blunders -- have cost lives. And hospitals are notorious Petri dishes for all types of virulence. In medicine, the cure or treatment is sometimes as bad as or worse than the disease. (But this is not always the case; here, from the Quackometer site, is some perspective on the word/concept of "iatrogenic.")

Even in the best of circumstances, the unhappy truth is that conventional medicine simply cannot save everyone or heal every disease. And more than anything, people want hope and the promise of healing. Alt-health quacks offer that hope, often with a healthy dose of feel-good platitudes.

That many people have an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical industry is also understandable. Big Pharma's innovations have saved millions of lives but have also destroyed many. Pharmaceutical companies have, for instance,
been known to cover up research results that pointed to lack of efficacy or to devastating and potentially deadly side effects of their products.

We've all read horror stories, and perhaps some of those stories have hit close to home. Another good friend of mine had been taking an aggressively advertised osteoporosis drug that ended up crumbling her jawbone. Her pain is barely manageable at best, unbearable at worst, and she will never be able to live a normal life again. She became part of a huge class action lawsuit, and according to her husband, the physicians and attorneys involved agreed that hers was one of the most extreme cases they had ever seen. It should have been a slam-dunk case, particularly since they had the very best lawyers available for this type of case. But the case has been dragging on for years now and they recently found out that the settlement, if it is ever actually paid, will be paltry -- probably only around $10,000 -- to compensate for a totally wrecked quality of life.

And my friend's case is just one of many thousands of stories of people who have been harmed by relentlessly promoted prescription drugs whose side effects are often more devastating than the condition they were supposed to treat. So, while not giving short shrift to the lifesaving medicines developed by the pharmaceutical companies, I will say that I am aware of their atrocities and I am aware of how the game is rigged in their favor. I get it.

The lure of the black-or-white
But to get the problems with mainstream medicine and Big Pharma does not mean that by default one embraces the smarmy alt-health gurus and pretend doctors such as Leonard Coldwell, who clearly have their own agendas. That there are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize doctors, the medical industry, the health care system, and Big Pharma would seem, on the surface, to lend credence to the tall tales of the alt-health gurus. It is precisely this "truthiness" factor that served Kevin Trudeau so well in building up his fan base (more on that below).

But legitimate criticisms do not make the tall tales true, and do not render the gurus or their "cures" legitimate. The defenders of alt-health often employ that logical fallacy known as
a false dichotomy (or false dilemma), or "black-or-white": you are either totally for alt-health or totally for Big Pharma and the docs. "Don't mess with Mr. In-Between!"

In truth, there is an enormous gray area between that black and white.

Where I stand in the "war" between conventional med and alt-med
As you may be more than aware by now, Coldwell's most frequent accusation against his critics is that they are engaged in a fight against "natural cures" and natural "healers," with a focus on destroying him. And as I've noted, he generally accuses us of being paid by the "enemy" to engage. His claims are completely unfounded, at least regarding the bloggers and all of the other critics whose writings about him I have read.

Regarding my own stance on "natural" cures versus establishment medicine, perhaps you got a hint of that in the above section about people's disillusionment with medicine. I'm actually more on the fence about this than either my skeptic buds or my natural-cures friends would prefer, but because they are my friends, it doesn't matter. Where medicine versus alt-health is concerned I'm as much of a Ms. In-Between as
I have been for years in the larger skeptics-versus-believers battle. I don't have a stake in either side of the controversy. I am very well aware of the mistakes medicine makes that can cost lives, as well as the arrogance of many doctors, and I'm pretty well versed in the misdeeds of Big Pharma. I know that the government agencies that were formed to protect us are often in the pockets of big businesses. I have learned some of this from personal experience and much from my reading credible investigative sources for many years -- sources that do not include Kevin Trudeau, Leonard Coldwell, or Mike Adams the Health Ranger, about whom I will have more in a moment.

My own health habits aren't nearly as dramatic as the narrative spun by Coldwell, who (among numerous other lies) has repeatedly and falsely accused me of being a "druggy." Apparently he is either obsessed with drugs himself or is stuck on "druggy" as a knee-jerk accusation to discredit anyone who dares to criticize him, though he apparently fails to take into account that drinking copious amounts of bourbon makes one a druggy too. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs there is when used to excess, which is why I quit drinking alcohol many years ago.

In the unlikely event that you are interested, here is my drug profile: I take some vitamins and nutritional supplements. I take a few over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, generic Excedrin, and generic Benadryl. My "recreational drugs" are a cup of coffee in the morning, which I often don't finish, and the occasional indulgence in chocolate. I used to enjoy one or at most two cans per day of Red Bull -- the original, sugar-sweetened stuff, not the sugarfree version with aspartame, which I hate -- but I gave it up years ago, and these days, even thinking about the taste of Red Bull or other caffeinated "energy" drinks nauseates me. I rarely go to doctors, though I have a strong respect for (not to be confused with a worship of) modern mainstream medicine.

I have certainly been known to make fun of and criticize extravagant claims from alt-health gurus, but frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn if you follow their advice or not. I don't stand to gain or lose anything whether you're an alt-health fanatic, a staunch believer in "allopathic" medicine, or an advocate of "complementary" medicine. I think you should be free to eschew medical treatment, if you wish, in favor of "alternative" methods, or you should be free to combine the two as you and your practitioners of choice see fit. You should be free to take the supplements you want to take, whether or not there's any credible clinical evidence that they do what you expect them to do. You should be free to snort Himalayan pink salt, give yourself a coffee enema or a food-grade hydrogen peroxide douche, put aromatherapy frauducts in your ears or colloidal silver up your hoo-ha, guzzle baking soda and maple syrup smoothies, or do anything that any alt-health wacko tells you to do to cure or prevent cancer or any other devastating disease.

In other words... your body, your business. I believe that people should have choices.

But I believe those choices should be informed ones. Accordingly, I also strongly believe that I have the legal right and -- I'll go so far as to say the ethical duty -- to make fun of, and to criticize, and to question, any and everything that alt-health/selfish-help/McSpirituality/New-Wage gurus say or do that I believe to be questionable, dangerous, or just plain silly. That does not make me part of a
"conspiracy to destroy grounds of business" (Coldwell's completely made-up term for the "crimes" he alleges the critics have committed against him). It makes me a legitimate voice in the conversation. It makes me a voice that apparently scares the bejeezus out of quacks who truly have something to hide.

And while we're on the subject of rights, those alt-health wackos do not actually have a right, legally or ethically, to make up and publish lies about me or any other critic who dares to question them. The things Coldwell has written about some of his critics are textbook cases of unprotected speech.

But I guess there's no stopping stupidity.

But is there any truth (or at least truthiness) to the persecution story?
Perhaps you have figured out that Coldwell's hero/martyr narrrative is part of a larger pattern. Indeed it is; some version of his "they're out to get me" story has been used by numerous other hucksters, perhaps most notably
Coldwell's former b.f.f. Kevin Trudeau, whose "Natural Cures" publishing scampire and Global Information Network (GIN) were totally built upon a foundation of so-called "forbidden" information.

The infamous Trudeau has been a huckster for all seasons and all reasons, and his tales of being persecuted by the government were always good for polishing his image as a hero for consumers and
for the First Amendment/freedom of expression. As I'd noted in previous posts, there is just enough "truthiness" in some of his stories -- because yes, the government has done and continues to do some atrocious things -- to lend a painfully thin veneer of credibility to his narrative. And as I noted above, there are plenty of reasons to criticize the medical profession and the large pharmaceutical companies, and some of those factors almost certainly contribute to people's willingness to believe the alt-health evangelists. But is there any truth to the claim that the alt-health docs or advocates are actually being persecuted?

Coldwell is certainly not the only questionable "healer" who has exploited the folk meme of the hounded and harassed health hero. Some practitioners who have actual medical degrees, having been under fire for their controversial and questionable practices, have also used the health-hero narrative to advance their cause, and the true believers have gleefully embraced that narrative. Let's look at three of the most commonly cited alt-health heroes who,
unlike Leonard Coldwell, are (or were) real doctors.

I know, of course, that there are scads more doctors, fake doctors, scientists, and fake scientists that I could mention here. (The late Wilhelm Reich is but one of many.) I'm sure you can name a few too. I know that every one of these folks has hundreds of apologists and detractors alike. This isn't meant to be a comprehensive account by any means; the following three were chosen because they have been frequently cited by Coldwell and his fans.
 
Max Gerson: long dead, though the legend (and the coffee-enema protocol) live on
We'll start with the late Dr. Max Gerson, inventor of Gerson Therapy -- which he claimed could cure cancer as well as most chronic degenerative diseases. Being decades dead, and having died in allegedly mysterious circumstances, he is frequently mentioned as a genuine martyr to to the cause of "natural cures." He died in 1959 -- 55 years ago as I write this -- which in many ways deepens the mystery. His death is the stuff of alt-health conspiracy fandom; the story goes
that even though pneumonia was listed as the official cause of death, Gerson was murdered by persons or persons unknown, acting on behalf of the medical establishment, of course. Gerson's daughter Charlotte has said that someone put arsenic in her father's afternoon coffee. (Here is a link to a 2004 interview with Charlotte on the DoctorYourself.com site.)

Gerson's protocol includes coffee enemas, a very restricted diet, and a slew of supplements. As is so often the case with alt-health therapies and "protocols," there's a lot of anecdotal evidence but precious little formal research evidence to validate them. Moreover, there are grave health and safety concerns around the protocol, including the possibility of severe electrolyte imbalances; serious illness and deaths have reportedly occurred as a direct result of those coffee enemas.

As with all "alternative" therapies, there is always the question of possible harm done simply by patients' choice to avail themselves of the alternative rather than to choose conventional methods. A client and friend of ours died of colorectal cancer years ago, and some of the people closest to him told Ron and me that they believed he may have been doomed by his choice to initially use alternative methods -- such as coffee enemas -- rather than going for conventional treatment, which might have saved him. It's impossible to declare with certainty what would have happened had he made different choices; I am just anecdotally repeating the opinions of those who knew him best and loved him the most.

Oncologist and surgeon Dr. David Gorski has much more than anecdotal evidence against Gerson's work, and has much to say about Gerson in
this November 2008 post on the Science-Based Medicine blog. The much-loathed-by-Coldwell-and-cronies American Cancer Society has also weighed in.

So Gerson was criticized while he was alive, and the criticism of his "treatments" continues today. To a true believer that may seem like persecution, but to me it seems like simple common sense to question any therapy, particularly one that includes squirting coffee up your behind. Whether or not Gerson was deliberately poisoned, and whether "someone" from the medical establishment was ultimately responsible or not, is something that will probably never be known, but I'm thinking that this question is pretty much irrelevant to those who have already made up their minds, and who care more about the story than the facts.

Joseph Mercola: sitting pretty at the top of the alt-doc heap

Dr. Joseph Mercola, who is one of Coldwell's heroes, is another controversial alt-health doc; actually he is not an M.D. but is a D.O., or a doctor of osteopathy. He has managed to position himself -- brilliantly, some would say -- in opposition to much of the medical establishment. If you're not familiar with the controversies surrounding Mercola, you can mostly catch up by reading this Feburary 2012 piece in Chicago Magazine.

In his role as a natural health advocate/supplement huckster Mercola has faded heat for
everything from his advocacy of pseudoscientific ideas (e.g., his claims that HIV doesn't cause AIDS) and his cherry-picking of facts to promote his agenda, to his aggressive direct-marketing tactics. He has received warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for violations of various U.S. marketing laws, e.g., for making false and misleading claims.

He's all about the controversy.

Controversy, however, doesn't equal persecution, and even the unwelcome attention from the U.S. government hasn't really seemed to hurt him. (Even I have found some of the information on his vast site to be helpful,
in particular, the pet care info presented by some of my favorite author veterinarians.) Despite the fact that many in the medical establishment, such as Quackwatch creator and retired doc Stephen Barrett, M.D., have spoken out against Mercola -- and RationalWiki has some witty observations as well -- he doesn't seem to be hurting, financially or in any other way. As is often the case, the controversy seems to have served him quite well. But the alt-health fans, and the B-listers like Coldwell, seem happy to support any narrative that paints Mercola as the persecuted hero.

Stanislaw Burzynski: cancer is good business, and critics are bad for business
A current high-profile example, and apparently another hero of Coldwell's, is
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, whose cancer protocols have been, to say the least, controversial, even though of course he has his passionate defenders. His Texas clinic is best known for various brouhahas surrounding something Burzynski calls "antineoplaston therapy," which is actually a form of chemotherapy that uses compounds Burzynski calls antineoplastons (a word he made up to describe a group of peptides, peptide derivatives and mixtures used in his "alternative cancer treatments"). Dr. B originally devised the protocol in the 1970s and administered the therapy initially to 21 patients before administering it more widely as an "experimental treatment."

For
over three and a half decades Burzynski has been catching flak from the medical establishment, the FDA, the Texas Medical Board, the American Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, among others. His treatment has been deemed ineffective and has been called bad science, and he has also been reprimanded for unethical behavior, including money-grubbing -- overcharging the most vulnerable patients for the privilege of submitting themselves to his unproven protocol. He has certainly had his share of legal issues too.

It's no surprise that journalists and bloggers have written critically about him. Perhaps one of the better known efforts
was that by USA Today. One of my favorite Houston journalists, Craig Malisow, award-winning reporter at the Houston Press, has also tackled Burzynski; start with this 2008 article and follow the links on the page to more recent efforts (under "Related Stories"). The aforementioned Dr. David Gorski, who writes the excellent Respectful Insolence blog under the name Orac, has written about Burzynski numerous times as well.

It will probably come as no surprise that Burzynski has rattled the legal saber at his online critics. A few years ago, using a "web reputation manager" named Marc Stephens who masqueraded as a lawyer for a while, Dr. B. threatened bloggers, including a teenage blogger. (Hmm, this is beginning to sound familiar.) Here is an April 2014 piece on the CSI/Skeptical Inquirer site about skeptical activists acting on behalf of Burzynski's cancer patients. In contrast to the bloggers (including myself) who have written about Lenny Coldwell, some of the efforts to inform people about Burzynski have been organized, though this hardly constitutes a conspiracy against him; the skeptics' stated purpose has been to help the patients. The article concludes:
Skeptics have been so effective that [the] most recent Burzynski hagiography spends a lot of screen time demonizing critics. Burzynski’s supporters have contacted our employers, have complained to state licensing boards, and defamed a number of us publicly. We are fully aware that when the Clinic dismissed Marc Stephens that it pointedly failed to retract the possibility of lawsuits against critics, a threat that hangs over all of these activists every day. If skeptics’ concerns are founded, however, the risks to activists pale in comparison to the risks already posed to those patients on whose behalf we are working.
If Marc Stephens -- whoever he is and wherever he is -- is looking for work after being booted out of the Burzynski propaganda machine, maybe Lenny Coldwell can hire him to intimidate his critics. In any event, although Burzynski is continually under fire from the medical establishment -- as well as from mainstream and independent journalists and bloggers acting independently of the medical profession or the big drug companies -- this hardly constitutes persecution.

But the persecution story is such a good one.


Lenny: always a booster, never a hero
Predictably, many of Burzynski's defenders -- including Coldwell -- believe that all of the above, including the efforts of the critical journalists and bloggers, are just part of the "conspiracy" by the trillion-dollar cancer industry. I find it noteworthy that "antineoplaston therapy" is a form of chemotherapy, and ordinarily Coldwell loathes chemotherapy and any other category of cancer treatment currently accepted by the medical establishment. (In fact he provides himself and "the Dr. Coldwell way" with a big out by indicating that his own "protocol"
can only be absolutely guaranteed if the patient has had NO prior surgery, radiation, or chemo.) But "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," and Coldwell has spoken up for Burzynski because Burzynski has been at odds with the medical establishment for decades. Had Burzynski been just another oncologist, Coldwell would have either ignored him or thrown him under the bus with all of the other the evil conspirators.

It is the controversy that draws not only Coldwell but also the alt-health fans to Burzynksi, even though Burzynski is a real M.D. and has at least taken a stab at a scientific approach to his treatments. Because of the controversy, he is revered by many as a hero who is being hounded and persecuted by the establisment. Burzynski is one of the cancer "healers" featured
in a documentary called "Cancer Is Curable Now," a nearly-two-hour video which I have not watched in its entirety because of my bandwidth limitation issue. But I fast-forwarded through the entire thing and saw that Coldwell was not featured in the actual documentary. However, this did not stop someone from bringing Lenny and his "work" into the conversation on this August 6, 2014 piece on the misinfotainment hub, "Before It's News."

"Doctors silenced!" There's that dramatic theme again. Drawing from Coldwell's
Only Answer to Cancer page on Coldwell's main site, the author, who can't seem to get Coldwell's name right (he calls him "Leon"), quotes "Leon's" oft-repeated narrative and series of excuses about how he has been stymied by the cancer establishment."
Since all 7 siblings of my mom had cancer, as well as my grandmother dying of cancer, and even my father and stepfather dying of cancer I can tell you that Im sure no one else has the amount of experience with cancer that I have. I have seen it as family member, son and grandson from the start until it killed my relatives. [There's some arrogance for you. "Nobody's life has been affected by cancer to the extent that mine has!" ~CC]
In my time I have seen over 35,000 patients [notice that this is different from saying, "I have cured over 35,000 cancer patients. ~CC] and have had over 2.2 million seminar attendees that have written to me, sending in their comments and life stories. I have over 7 million readers of my newsletters and reports. I am the doctor that has, in the opinion of leading experts, the highest cancer cure rate in the world. In fact, I am convinced I could cure at least 90% of all cancer patients if I had the legal platform to work with these people the “Dr Coldwell Way.” As long as the patient is willing and still able to do whatever it takes and has no surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, there is no reason Cancer cannot be cured in most people.
I am sure I could cure them within weeks or a few months. But since the law and the ones that make money on your suffering and even death, dont [sic] allow me to treat you the way I know would produce results, I legally cannot even tell you what to do or not to do. That’s how the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry protects their Trillion Dollar Cancer Industry. They “make politicians install laws that kill citizens or at least make them sick, and laws that make sure they cannot be cured. They can only be treated to more illness and eventually death by the medical profession with toxic, dangerous and murderous treatments.
Besides the "Cancer Can Be Cured Now" video, the Before It's News article also embeds Coldwell's infamous "All Cancer Can Be Cured in 2-6 Weeks" vid.

Although Coldwell himself is not on the A-list of alt-health gurus (or the A-list of any other sector of Scamworld, for that matter, including the motivational-speakers sector), he seems to do his level best to swim in their wake with his mouth wide open, to borrow an apt metaphor from
a Salty Droid post about Coldwell. And there may always be a few fans who will gladly place him in the pantheon of the A-listers. But they're not fooling anyone.

Who is oppressing whom?

It would appear that contrary to the way the plot usually runs in the alt-health hero story cycle, some of the alt-health advocates are the ones who pose the genuine threats of violence. They're certainly great at rabble-rousing and inciting. Consider another alt-health "hero," the aforementioned tough-guy Mike Adams, aka the Health Ranger (
whom I wrote about last year). He's no doctor and unlike his buddy Coldwell he doesn't pretend to be, although he has apparently tried to convince the masses that he is a legitimate researcher of some sort, since he claims to have his own "testing lab." As the owner of the Natural News web site and numerous other advocacy sites, Adams has a huge audience. Not surprisingly he claims to have received more than his share of death threats in the course of his career. Supposedly he even had to leave a health expo a few years ago, and cancel another appearance, because of the death threats.

But in July 2014 he brought a lot of heat on himself when he published an incendiary piece about GMO scientists and researchers, not stopping at comparing them to Nazis but also all but inviting his fans to seek a violent solution to the GMO problem. In fact, when I went Googling for stories about the death threats the Health Ranger had been receiving,
the top results were all stories about Adams supposedly making death threats against scientists and researchers who wrote critically about Adams' and others' anti-GMO position.

Here are just two of the links:

A couple of months before that big flap, in May 2014, Orac -- one of the bloggers who is apparently on Adams' blacklist -- wrote a post about Adams' threats to sue his critics. (It appears that Adams really hates that guy at the Genetic Literacy Project.)

You get the drift. With Adams, if it's not implied incitement of violence, it's lawsuit threats. Sigh... it's becoming a cliche. Or as Orac wrote on the May 2014 blog post, "To me, this incident is yet another in a depressingly long list of examples of a promoter of quackery trying to use the legal system to bully a critic into silence."

Again, though, you couldn't exactly say that Adams is being persecuted. In fact you couldn't say that at all with any reasonable accuracy. He thrives on the controversy; it makes him that much more of a hero in the eyes of the fans and followers.

Coldwell, as I indicated above, is a big fan of Mike Adams. Whether the reverse is actually true or not I really don't know, but they've stroked each other in public and
have had their pics taken together at various events.

And speaking of violence,
one of Coldwell's other buddies -- a little guy in Florida named Will Pelton, whose claim to fame is that he is a firearms expert -- has also suggested a violent solution to the GMO problem, or more specifically the Monsanto problem. This is from May 2014, around the time of the worldwide "March Against Monsanto."

After all of the above, we're really no closer to a definitive answer to the question about whether or not alt-health heroes truly are persecuted. Like most matters that set the conspiracy fans on fire, however, the truth is probably more on the mundane than the dramatic side. In my experience it is nearly impossible to find very much objective information about this subject on the Internet. But here is something of which I'm pretty certain: online or off, no amount of evidence in favor of a more nuanced narrative would sway the people who fiercely embrace the myth of the alt-health hero.

What most of us can probably agree on is that public figures often get death threats, whether their stances are particularly controversial or not. And if they are controversial, all bets are off. One of my new favorite authors --
a man who goes by the pseudonym Horus Gilgamesh and is the creator of the delightful parody series Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children's Bible -- recently felt compelled to cancel his appearance at an atheist's convention in Seattle. Even though he had taken such great pains to protect his true identity that some of his own relatives didn't even know he was the creator of the scathing books, he received some very disturbing death threats in his home mail box, from a presumably "religious" type who signed the threats, "God's Little Helper." The letters made mention of the upcoming Seattle convention, saying, "See you there!" (In a show of solidarity, numerous attendees wrote the name "Horus Gilgamesh" on their own name tags.)

For that matter anyone who voices an opinion in a public forum is subject to hate mail and death threats and random heckling; the Internet has only made this phenomenon worse. In the eight-plus years that I've been blogging I have certainly received my share of anonymous death threats, death wishes, and hate mail, and I'm a nobody. I don't consciously play to a world stage or do much of anything to attract followers, but some people apparently hate me (and some, like Coldwell, also apparently fear me).

My sense is that the persecution stories from today's alt-health quacks are for the most part exaggerated and that actual death threats or dangerous situations are relatively rare. But they are, above all, good marketing hooks, and of course the fans take them to heart and exaggerate them even more, thus perpetuating the cycle. For the reasons noted above, believers will continue to believe, and they will not hesitate to speak up fiercely in defense of their idols, even when there is no evidence to support their stance.

The facts don't matter if the story is good.

[To be concluded (finally!) in the next post.]

* You may notice that on page 27 of Instinct Based Medicine Coldwell mentions that "over 30 years" has passed since his mom was cured. Even setting aside that this book was published in 2008, which was six years ago as I write this in 2014, there is a difference between "over 30 years" and "over 40 years" or "42 years" or "43 years," which Coldwell has also cited as the span of time since he "cured" his mom. Now, technically speaking, 40, 42, and 43 are all "more than 30." Even so this points to his characteristic inconsistency. In some of his narratives he insinuates that he totally cured Mommy when he was a young boy or a teenager. In Instinct Based Medicine, however, he writes that by the time he was 22 she was "completely recovered from cancer" (which was noted in Part 2 of this series when I cited page 45 of Instinct Based Medicine.) And again I would like to mention, as I have so many times, that in Instinct Based Medicine there is no mention of his having cured her from Hepatitis C at that time. The Hep C claim only made it into later narratives. I explain the probable reason in Part 2, under the sub-head, "About that 92.3% cancer cure rate (and other cure claims)."


The rest of the story...

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