Monday, August 31, 2015

Pouring a little Salt on Scamworld slugs

I'm going to close out the steamy month of August with some good news: For the time being, my pal Salty Droid is back on his blog. It's something for Jason to do while awaiting the emergence of SaltyDroid Phase II, a phase that I speculate will not be good news for scammers but will be really good news for many other people.

In his new post Jason/Salty mentioned, among other things,
the defamation flawsuit in which he and I and several other entities were involved earlier this year as defendants. I hope that in a subsequent post or posts he continues to elaborate on the profound stupidity of that suit and on the hilarious exchanges he had with plaintiff Leonard Coldwell's lawyers. I've told the basics from my side but I suspect that Jason has much more to tell. It seems clear that he really knows how to bring out the crazy in scammers and their lawyers, but frankly, in this case there was a lot of baseline crazy to work with in both the plaintiff and his formidable legal team.

Jason also thumbed his nose at Donald Trump (speaking of loathsome litigious blowhards, which we were, because
Leonard Coldwell is a loathsome litigious blowhard, and so is Donald Trump). Wrote Jason:
Donald Trump is ahead in the polls for the presidential nomination? What the what? I wonder how many terabytes of audio exist of Utah’s boiler room cartels boiling down Trump’s “university” leads into quivering masses of bankruptcy and despair?
Indeed. In 2013 Jason published several eye-opening posts about Trump's MLM scam connections -- this is one of my favorites -- and I hope these posts get a much wider audience as we get into the 2016 presidential campaign. Not that the haters who love The Donald will really care that in addition to being an egotistical blowhard/arrogant one-percenter/endless fount of hate speech, Trump is also a Scamworld player. But some who are on the fence about him might take notice.

There's another Trump connection that is of particular interest to this Whirled: the current head of imprisoned serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's big scheme the Global Information Network (GIN) is Troy McClain, CEO of the AXS Investment Group (of Trudeau's good buddies) that purchased GIN last year. Troy first rose to infamy as one of the more arrogant contestants on Trump's "reality" show, The Apprentice. He has gotten a lot of mileage out of that and proudly quotes Trump as saying that it's guys like Troy who make Murica great.

On his latest blog post, Jason also did a drive-by at the excessively scammy MLM Vemma, which of course he'd previously reported on at length.

The FTC just gave the full smack down to Vemma! Fun. Empty-heart condolences to my BFF Anthony Powell. Back to Herbalife maybe Anthony? Or how about doTerra … I hear it’s all the rage? #pyramidpimp moves on …

Vemma has been shut down,
but apparently only temporarily. Even so, this is news because the Federal Trade Commission rarely takes such radical (read: responsible) action against a multi-level marketing company. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Vemma rise again in a marginally less exploitative version. Historically the FTC has been extraordinarily lenient with MLMs. And MLMs continue to do their insidious work of destroying people's lives (at worst), or, for many millions more, falling far short of the hype -- and all under the guise of "dream building."

The good news is that Vemma's shutdown, however transient, will no doubt put a damper on the efforts of some of the scummiest scammers in Scamworld -- not just the aforementioned Anthony Powell, but also long-time Kevin Trudeau buddy (and current GIN co-owner)
Chris "Voldemort" McGarahan and perhaps especially his Voldemort-in-training spawn, Chris Jr. (Here's a pic of Voldy Junior stylin' the style, from this searing piece of journalism published in July 2014, when Junior was still flying high on the Vemma fumes. A scintillating snippet:
Q:  As a young entrepreneur, what are some of your favorite brands that you love wearing and that actually helps you feel more like an entrepreneur?
CM:  HUGO BOSS.  Couple of factors with that one, the word boss if you are an entrepreneur resonates with you.  One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) people start businesses or become an entrepreneur is because they want to be their own boss.   Then when I first heard the name Hugo Boss, the only reason I bought the clothes is because it said boss on the tags. Hugo Boss really has a fine line between high quality but not out of control prices.  You can look really sharp without spending thousands of dollars.  I wouldn’t have known any of this and would have spent a bunch of unnecessary money if I didn’t connect with a stylist and have been guided through what to do.)

Speaking of GIN, I'll wrap up this August wrap-up with a mention of a rumor that I just heard about the
2015 GIN Family Reunion, which is (appropriately) being held this year at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Sorry, kids, but comments are disabled for that vid. (
Here is the YouTube link.)

Being the savant about dates that I am, I couldn't help but notice that the big party will be held the week after the sixth anniversary of James Arthur Ray's infamous Death Lodge, which happened on October 8, 2009. And this is relevant because the rumor I heard is that Ray will be a speaker at the GIN Disney event.

True or not? I don't know yet. But, as reported here
last year, Ray info-packets were reportedly being passed out to registrants at the previous Family Reunion. And Ray's products were formerly featured in the GIN store (which apparently is in the process of being revamped and will be password-protected). As well, Trudeau publicly defended Ray after Death Lodge happened, and Ray had his marketing people promote Your Wish Is Your Command (the upsell for GIN) even while Ray was still serving his much-too-short prison sentence for cooking his followers to death. More recently, other GIN loyalists/leaders have promoted Ray (see this post, under "GIN promotes killer"). So really, I suppose it is just a matter of time before James himself is paraded live before the GINfolk at a real GIN/AXS event.

Again, I don't know if the rumor about a Ray appearance at the GIN Family Reunion is true -- either the details haven't been finalized or GIN is keeping them under wraps because they fear (justly) negative publicity -- but I am following up on it now. If you've heard anything, please do let me know. If the rumor does turn out to be true, then how pathetic is it that while Kirby Brown, James Shore, Liz Neuman and Colleen Conaway are still dead, Jimmy Ray gets to go to Disney World to help celebrate the fact that he and GIN are still alive? It's a small Scamworld, after all. 
And it's a world that very much needs a Salty Droid in any of his phases.

PS ~ In case you are at all puzzled about the title of this post,
here ya go.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Straight from the horse's a$$

People are free to spend their money on whatever they want--more power to 'em. But just as I don't personally care to "waste" my money on some gazillion-dollar sports car to park in my driveway, I also don't need a gazillion-dollar imported German Hanoverian warmblood in my stable to make my life complete. That's just me. If people really WANT it, okay, whatever makes ya happy. I just noticed, as a casual observer, that there's a whole lotta money being tossed about in [the horse lovers'] world, and if I were the cynical predatory type it would be a consideration to, uh, consider.

Another observation: I would guesstimate from my own experience... that probably 70-80% of the horsie world is FEMALE... So if I were looking for companionship and I were attracted to the female persuasion, it would be a good place to look. Or troll, as the case may be...

...The potential for lots of money and sex: it's a winning combination! Though I am CERTAIN all these people and services you mention
[in the blog post]
only have the animal's (and the consumer's) best interests at heart. I'm just sayin', that's some pretty green grass, there, is all....
~ My friend "Mojo" (being sarcastic) in a comment to an August 2008 Whirled Musings blog post

Note: This post is a bit off of the beaten path -- at least the path I've been riding for the past numerous posts. Enjoy the break; I'll be back to Kevin Trudeau court docs and so forth before long. Meanwhile if you want some good articles and links about the now-imprisoned Kevin and the lasting effects of his mega-scam GIN,
visit Bernie's GINtruth blog.

I love horses, and have been fond of them since I was a kid. I've never really been into riding, though I have ridden a few times over the years (not very well, I might add, but at least I know how to get on a horse, and I've never fallen off, so that should count for something). I might actually take up riding for real at some point, but for now, I simply appreciate horses for who they are, or to be more accurate, who they seem to be, based upon my own observations and projections. I don't claim to have any special knowledge about horses but I admire them and find them endlessly fascinating. I love the way they look and feel and move and sound and smell. Having been fortunate enough to live in proximity to (other people's) horses for several years, I have come to appreciate them even more. I completely understand how people can fall so deeply and hopelessly in love with their horses.

I also understand how
expensive and high-maintenance horses are, even in the best of circumstances. Overall it seems that many of them are less hardy than some of their less-romanticized but generally healthier and dare I say smarter cousins (e.g., the long-ears, particularly mules) -- and even though horses clearly have a strong survival instinct, as do pretty much all sentient beings, many of them also seem inordinately prone to sabotaging their survival chances in shocking and costly ways. (The Oatmeal has a humorously cynical outlook on horses; I have probably linked to it before, but here it is again. Of course I do not agree with the whole "I hate horses" sentiment, or with the notion that we should be eating equines, or with the author's general contempt for horses... but it's pretty funny anyway.)

Combine the normal expense factor with the profound love that people have for their horses and their desire to do the very best for their equine friends, and it is easy to see why catering to the horse lovers' market can be lucrative indeed. It's lucrative for legitimate business owners and practitioners, and I certainly do not begrudge any of these people their right to make an honest living. Unfortunately, judging by what I've seen and heard, the horsey market can be pretty profitable for scammers as well. I was reminded of that again recently by an alert reader who is a horse expert and is utterly appalled by the way certain scammers -- who, as it happens, have a connection to now-imprisoned serial mega-scammer
Kevin Trudeau -- are taking advantage of people who have horses with health challenges. We'll get to that specific herd of horsey hucksters in a few moments. But first, some context and history.

Saddle up; you're about to be taken for a ride
In the years I've been blogging, I've managed to work in a few drive-by snarks about New-Wage horseplay. For instance, there's this
August 2008 piece (scroll down to, "The horse is the new dolphin"). That's the post on which my pal Mojo, whose words you saw at the beginning of this post, commented; here's the link to the entire comment.

Nearly a year later,
in July 2009, I used the topic of equine flatulence as a shaky framework for a post about the aforementioned Kevin Trudeau (aka KT, aka Katie) and another huckster Katie was courting at the time, Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale. At the time I wrote the horse-fart post, I had no idea that Katie was getting ready to launch his biggest boondoggle of all, the Global Information Network (GIN), which is currently having its big "Inspire France 2015" event in Paris. (It's free, but you couldn't have gotten in on it even if you'd learned of it on time, because it has been sold out for weeks, according to the web site.) The impending GIN launch was apparently why Katie was courting Joe back in 2009; no doubt he wanted to capitalize on Joe's fame as a star of the New-Wage moviemercial The Secret, as well as get his greedy hands on Joe's mailing list. For his part Joe was over the moon about being sucked up to by one of the most successful marketers of all time, though he has been strangely silent about Katie since the latter's trial, conviction and imprisonment. Anyway, I didn't learn about GIN till a few months after I wrote the-horse-fart post, and it (GIN, not horse flatulence) has been a frequent topic on Whirled Musings since then.

Although the equine-exploitation angle of Scamworld has never been a predominant theme on this blog, I've been aware of it. Apart from the posts cited above, I've mentioned, for instance, Gary Douglas, the founder of the cult-like sex-and-money org
Access Consciousness (aka Scientology Lite). See this post, under "Warning: ACCESSories on the loose". Gary and his younger sidekick Dain Heer have a pretty good horse shtick going with their Conscious Horse Conscious Rider workshops.

Not content to bill himself as a mere horse whisperer, Gary claims that he is an "international horse medium." Back in 2012 my good friend Yakaru did his own drive-by snark about Gary's horse mediumship. Gary maintains a small herd of trained "facilitators" to present his workshop; Texan Suzy Godsey appears to be one of Gary's trail hands. She helps out with the Conscious Horse Conscious Rider workshop scheme and also has a "horse bodywork" shtick going, based largely on Access teachings.

Over the years Gary appears to have targeted rich older women for his various scams and schemes, including rich older women with horses. A few years ago he even told a story on a radio show about possibly missing out on an opportunity to inherit some $67 million because he wouldn't bang a wealthy "older woman" whom he was helping with her horses. But maybe that's fodder for another blog post. I do have a recording of the interview, though, and it kind of disgusted me.

And moving on to even lower forms of equine exploiters (if that is even possible), we have the vociferously self-promoting and profoundly daft Not-Doctor
Leonard Coldwell, a former b.f.f. of Kevin Trudeau. Lenny was a highly paid GIN speaker until his firing in 2012, and even today his profile still appears on one of the Taste of GIN pages on the official GIN web site. But I probably don't need to tell you about his GIN background, which is actually what brought him to my attention in the first place. As it turns out, among his many other claimed accomplishments Lenny is a horse guy too, and according to him he knows all about horses and how to train them and work them.

I'm not insinuating that horses are Lenny's main shtick or even close to it; as far as I can tell, most of his time these days is still taken up with promoting his cancer quackery and other alt-health propaganda, as well as spreading idiotic conspiracy memes on Facebook. In the service of the latter he has made several hilarious attempts over the years to discredit the Internet's most famous conspiracy-meme debunkers, Snopes, as we just discussed here the other day.

Although Lenny doesn't currently seem to be actively exploiting his love and knowledge of horses, a horsey theme pops up every now and again in his public show-and-tell. There is, for instance, a picture of him sitting astride a saddle horse on a recently created page on one of his new-ish German web sites. The apparent purpose of that page is to show off what a successful, well-loved, and wealthy man he is, though frankly I think this picture is much more representative of Lenny than any of the others on the page. Not wanting his English-speaking audience to be deprived of yet another glimpse into his rich and successful life, Coldwell also provided a link to the German page on a thread on his main Facebook page. This shot is from August 13, 2015:

But I digress. Contrary to what a casual observer of the page on the German site might be inclined to conclude, that picture of Lenny on horseback is not a portrait of a wealthy gentleman horse owner on one of his noble steeds. Rather it is a pic of Lenny on a rent-a-horse, taken at a motivational/"spiritual" weekend retreat he hosted in late January 2013 on a dude ranch in Georgia,
the Southern Cross Guest Ranch. In the promotions for that event he clearly attempted to capitalize on his immense horse knowledge, and I wrote about his promotional efforts on a February 2013 blog post (it's up towards the beginning, so you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't care to). The marketing copy I wrote about is pretty icky, and though it is long gone from Coldwell's own sites, this promo video is still on his main site. In the vid he mentions that "horses need leadership," the message being that if you learn, under his expert guidance, to show your horse who's boss, you can be a leader in life. And speaking of icky, there is this cheesy video, produced post-retreat.

A couple of years before the horse camp, while he was still in GIN, Coldwell apparently gave some horse-loving GIN members the impression that he was a breeder and owner of top German show jumpers and that he had sold many horses in the $100,000 to million-dollar range. That nugget was shared with me by an ex-GIN member who is a seasoned horse lover and owner. This person acknowledged that top show jumpers do indeed command that kind of money, and added that many of the top horses come from a handful of bigwig breeders in Germany and the Netherlands. The ex-GIN member claimed to actually know quite a few of these people but added, "I somehow never heard Coldwell's name come up in those circles. Gee, no surprise there...I don't think he ever trained any horse; he doesn't ride well enough... [but] he's aware of his limited riding skills...If he ever was involved I'm curious who rode for him. It's a pretty small world amongst riders; we compete against each other all our lives. I never got around to asking him [about] that, though. I was already aware of his exaggerations."

And then there are those backyard horses that may or may not exist. In the fall of 2013, Coldwell boasted on Facebook that he was moving into a 17,000 square foot mansion. He posted several shots of the alleged residence, which actually looks pretty generic on the outside and doesn't appear to be even close to 17,000 square feet. Included in one of his boasts was a picture of what he said was his back yard, which looked like a huge open pasture, and he added that "the horses" would be delivered there soon. But he never did share any shots of the horses in his backyard after they were delivered, at least not that I've seen. Maybe they are actually unicorns and don't show up in photographs.

More recently (June 2015), Coldwell was apparently on a throwback kick on Facebook, and he boasted about having had a horse ranch in Virginia a mere two years after moving to the United States from Germany. He claimed it as one of his great "successes." Here are the screen shots:

Suspecting he was fibbing or at least stretching the truth, I reached out to someone who knew him very well when he still lived in Virginia.
Did he actually own a horse ranch in Virginia in the early years after he moved to the U.S.? I read something in the [2007] police report about him having some kind of horse training venture with somebody, but that's not the same as actually owning his own horse ranch. Anyway, he's been boasting about his past on Facebook lately, and yesterday he posted a boast about the success he had at his horse ranch...
The person answered back:
NO he never owned anything in Va - not horses, a house or anything. I don't know where those photos came from but I have never seen them before. I recognize the shirt though. That's actually funny since anybody can find out that he is lying. And as a side bar there are no ranches in VA; they are called horse farms no matter how big they are. LOL.
Virginia apparently does have a few dude or guest ranches, but the type of property Coldwell was talking about does indeed seem to be what they would call a "farm" in that neck of the woods. But beyond the semantics... I know, I'm as shocked as you are that Leonard Coldwell apparently lied yet again. No worries for him, though. His fans did not even seem to question his claims. They simply nuzzled up to him as per usual, whinnying their approval.

Also as per usual, I am willing to seriously entertain notions contrary to what I think I pretty much know to be true. I'm always willing to admit I am wrong if I am. Accordingly if Lenny -- or someone else who knew him back in Virginia when he supposedly had that "horse ranch" -- would like to present me with some concrete evidence that he was telling the truth about being a successful horse breeder who owned a horse operation in The Commonwealth in the 1990s, I am all ears. Or eyes. Drop me a line at one of the email addresses displayed on this page, or via a comment through Blogger.

I would especially love to hear from someone who was in the horse world in Virginia in the mid to late 1990s to early 2000s. Lenny resided in Fauquier County, Virginia back in the day (Remington and Warrenton, I'm told). Do any of you horse people who were living in the area, or anywhere in Virginia back then, recall a short, volatile little German guy with unnaturally black hair, a perma-tan and a porn mustache, who was a highly successful horse trainer/breeder and/or horse farm owner? He most likely went by the name Leonard Coldwell, but could have still been using Bernd Klein or maybe even Bernd Witchner. (He didn't actually
get his name legally changed to Leonard Coldwell till June 1998, but clearly he was using that name for years in Germany and the U.S.)

So let me know. And if I hear anything contrary to what I've written, I will be glad to retract, correct, or amend the above as appropriate, and to restore Leonard Coldwell to his rightful place in the horse world. Otherwise I'll assume that he is just shoveling sh-t as usual and is about as prominent and accomplished in the equine world as he claims to have been in
the martial arts world.*

Trick and Morter
Now -- finally -- let's get to those other flim-flammers, the ones to whom I was alerted recently by my correspondent, who is not only a lifelong horse lover but also a professional horsewoman with what appear to be very impressive creds. This concerns a scampire run by some long-time buddies and business partners of the aforementioned Kevin Trudeau, the
Morters. I've known about them for years and have mentioned them in passing, but have simply never given them the attention on this Whirled that they so richly deserve.

Next to
Fred van Liew, another nearly-lifelong Katie pal to whom I have paid tribute here several times, the Morters are arguably some of the most nefarious in the foul stable of Katie enablers. Unlike Freddy, they weren't mentioned in Aaron Gell's excellent piece for Business Insider, which was published earlier this year (here is my blog post about it). I don't know if Aaron reached out to them and they refused an interview, or if it was just an oversight, but in my book, the Morters deserve their own stars on the Scamworld Walk of Infamy.

The Morter scampire was founded by the late Dr. Milton Theodore (Ted) Morter, Jr., who was apparently good buddies with Katie for many years before his death in May 2013. If you were simply to visit the link above on the Morters' main web site you might think he is still alive, but
here is his obit.

Back in the 1970s, Ted the Elder (one of his sons, Ted III, carries on his name as well as his schemes) invented a health and healing gimmick called Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique, or
B.E.S.T., described thusly on the Morter site:

B.E.S.T. is a non-forceful, energy balancing hands on procedure used to help reestablish the full healing potential of the body. Understanding the body makes no mistakes regarding health and longevity, B.E.S.T. principles acknowledge the concept of Interference we create with our conscious mind. This Interference caused imbalance in the autonomic nervous system leading to exhaustion of our organ systems over time. Researched at major universities, taught in several Chiropractic Colleges and in professional continuing education seminars, B.E.S.T. is recognized as an effective healing science. The principles and concepts of Morter HealthSystem and B.E.S.T. technique are available to families, therapists and health care practitioners.

If think you've heard that kind of stuff before, you almost certainly have, if you've been following some of the snarks on this blog over the years, or if you've been following or observing the New-Wage/New-Age/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health subcultures and industries at all. Most of these "healing modalities" offer pretty much the same line of horse crap, and I mean no offense to either horses or their crap. The schemes just have different names and various other branding details. But if you've seen one you've pretty much seen them all, or, as we like to say on this Whirled, it's
deja screw all over again.

The B.E.S.T. main page goes on to elaborate on various offshoots of B.E.S.T., including something called Morter March ("a technique designed to use contralateral movement and stretching to neurologically update and re-time your body"). Then there's "Physical B.E.S.T" (hands-on stuff "taught to practitioners only" -- you can probably understand why). By "practitioner," the Morters are probably referring to chiropractic -- they are chiros, as was their daddy -- and select other alternative or "holistic" fields.

If you're not a practitioner, no worries, you still have a chance to be taken in by "Emotional B.E.S.T.," which "utilizes advanced technology developed to update higher brain interference from the physical body." Described as the core of B.E.S.T technology, Emotional B.E.S.T. is also, according to the site, "the pattern for health and wellness" which "unlocks the power." Patients as well as practitioners can do Emotional B.E.S.T.

Not surprisingly, B.E.S.T. isn't just about techniques of hands-on and hands-off woo.
There are boatloads of supplements, kits, and other frauducts and info-frauducts to help relieve you of that burdensome money.

So there you have the foundation of the Morter brand of New-Wage crapitalism -- at least the part devoted to human animals. There's a whole other related realm in the scampire, devoted to non-human animals, and we'll have much more on that in a moment. It's not so much that I'm taking time getting to the point, but rather that there are so many points to make.

Background is important because, I believe, the role that the Morters have played in Scamworld cannot be overstated. They have their own shtick, certainly, but for years they have also been bloated planets orbiting around the bright and toxic sun that is Kevin Trudeau. Though marginally dimmer, Katie's light continues to burn even from within the walls of the federal prison camp where he now resides. Back in 2009 The Morters -- not only the late elder but also his two overfed, smirking sons, Ted III and Tom (horse people might call them "easy keepers") -- were apparently only too happy to jump aboard Kevin Trudeau's GIN gravy train. (
Their sister, "Dr. Sue," doesn't seem to have been involved so much with Katie and GIN, but she is doing her own motivational/pseudoscientific dog-and-pony show and is, among other things, a member of that Scamworld cartel that calls itself the Transformational Leadership Council.)

Even though the GIN assets were sold to
a group of Katie buddies in 2014, the Morter boys are still part of the GIN "faculty," or at least they were last time the GIN site actually listed its "faculty" members. They were also part of a group of investors recommended by the court appointed receiver, Robb Evans, to purchase what was left of Katie's Natural Cures scampire; see page 5 of this document. The group called itself the Business Education Support Team LLC... B.E.S.T. ... get it? And Ted Morter is currently listed as a "faculty" member of the group that bought GIN, AXS. So really, GIN didn't change hands at all.

Speaking of the GIN "faculty," I found it interesting that the public part of the GIN web site now only has a teaser video on
the Faculty page. Do they have such a high turnover rate that they don't feel comfortable listing individual "faculty members" any more? Or were those individuals simply getting too much publicity (positive or negative)? In any case I thought it amusing that the final shot on the current video is a sound bite of Kevin Trudeau himself saying, "Listen to somebody who has what you want, and has been where you are." Well, I suppose that anybody who has aspirations to end up in Camp Cupcake (aka Federal Prison Camp Montgomery, Alabama) could do worse than listen to and follow in Katie's footsteps, though I imagine you would also have to have access to many millions of dollars to feed your high-priced lawyers (a la Katie) in order to be incarcerated in such (relative) luxury. Good luck! Let me know where you end up and give me your inmate number, and I might send you a postcard.

GIN "faculty" or not, it appears that the Morters are still quite involved in GIN, and they still maintain their
GIN Morter Facebook page, which displays a website address that redirects to their main site. The Facebook page has a relatively modest number of "likes" at present -- only a little more than 900 -- but I have no doubt the Morters have profited handsomely from being a part of the GIN scam, particularly in GIN's heyday. However successful they may have been on their own, Katie gave them a huge platform they almost certainly would not have had otherwise.

And they got to have a lot of fun with Katie too, at others' expense. They were privileged to be part of numerous
fishing trips and cruises with Katie, paid for by countless scammed GIN members and other consumers of Katie's frauducts and flopportunities. Here's a pic from happier days, of Old Doc and Younger Docs Morter on a private plane with Katie. (That's pool shark Mike "The Mouth" Sigel in the background.)

And here are Teddy and Tommy and Katie playing the fat-cat role to the hilt -- smoking expensive cigars, drinking expensive booze, and gabbing about energy, GIN, and fishing. It's an August 2011 video and I know I've linked to this one before, but it so deserves another sharing.

Are you disgusted yet? If so, prepare to become even more so.

Talk to the animals...
It's really no big surprise that there is an
Animal B.E.S.T. We love our non-human companions, after all, and horse people aren't the only folks who, with so much love in their hearts, can be especially vulnerable to animal scams. Enter the Morters, who have been only too willing and able to reach deeply into the hearts and wallets of these loving souls with their pseudoscientific flapdoodle. Here's the capsule summary of what Animal B.E.S.T. is all about:

Animal B.E.S.T. (Bio-energetic Synchronization Technique) is energy work, which balances the body and updates memory patterns so animals can heal.

Yup. Same song, different verse.

Early in July I received a comment to
a November 2014 blog post largely devoted to Katie and his scam circle. Rather than re-write what the commenter so adeptly wrote herself, here it is in full:

The Morter System has a B.E.S.T. program targeted on animals. As if taking advantage of the human do-gooder-wannabes isn't enough, they have pulled in innocent animals as bait to bilk more money out of the unsuspecting public.

I had one look at the pics and videos of their supposed "Master'" instructor James W Murphy and knew the con was on. He claims to be a professional horse trainer, showman etc. I KNEW this man had never won a National or World Title as he was claiming. Not possible.

I called Morter Healthcare and asked them exactly what titles that he had won. I pointed out that he was in a video on their site claiming that he was a huge success and endorsed and taught the Morter technique. So...surely they had his credentials somewhere that listed his accomplishments? They said I should call him, that they only knew what he told them, but I could leave a voice message for "Dr. Ted".

I called Murphy himself. After just a few pointed questions from me, he started backing up quickly. He wanted nothing more than for me to go away and hang up. No such luck for him. His final comment was that he was under Confidentiality agreements not to divulge his show record! ( lol alrighty then fraud face). He claimed 73+ World Title affiliations, yet was not able to ["divulge"] one single name of a horse or show or trainer that won said "World Titles"?

Next call was to the 2 major breed associations to check out his judges status that he had touted. Ya well....he never has held a judges card with them. Tsk tsk...

Armed with my personal conversation with him, and backed up with the info supplied by the National Associations, I called Morter Healthcare back. (of course no one bothered to return my call after I had called 3 times and left a voice mail) This time in no uncertain terms, I told the receptionist that they had a fraud on their hands and I felt that they had some exposure there seeing as how they were making money off of his false claims ($2,500 to take the 2 class package that his instruction was among the class choices) oh...and that I would not be letting this go. This time she put me through to "Dr. Ted" himself.

After listing the issues related to Murphy's false credentials, Dr. Ted attempted to turn suspicion around to me. When I pointed out that this was not about me, but rather his failure at due diligence to vet his spokesperson, Dr. Ted became condescending and combative. I gave him the names of the association and told him to get to work. He wanted an email sent to him with my information before he would take it any further. Call me paranoid, but I am not about to give that bunch of money grubbing cons any of my personal information. Nope, not gonna happen.

Suffice it to say that Morter Healthcare Systems is making bank off of the false credentials of their sadly incompetent horse 'professional". BIG bank. They have been put on notice, it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

The horses don't deserve this failure of care. I have viewed youtube testimonials by another idiot that claims to be modifying their genetics by use of the B.E.S.T. technique. One particular horse was obviously suffering from feet issues which needed xrays and corrective farrier work. This honyonker was claiming that the horse needed his energy balanced. Poor horse was lame and being made to move around on hard ground for the video.

Yep that'll get me good and pissed off. Here's hoping you may get a bit pissed off too!
It did get me a bit pissed off, enough to inspire, as you can see, a more lengthy and more involved blog post than I've managed to produce in a long time. And by the way, here is the link to the video of the guy who claimed to be modifying a horse's genetics. More on him in a moment.
My correspondent (let's just call her Melissa) and I have communicated several times since her initial comment to my blog. She describes herself as a professional horsewoman with numerous championships and world titles in winnings. In short, as Melissa says, "I know horses." I believe her.

For personal and professional reasons Melissa wishes to remain anonymous, and that's one of the things that apparently riled Dr. Ted and James Murphy, as well as the guy whose video I linked to a couple of paragraphs up. That guy is
a Texan named Joseph Agrue, who bills himself as "The Animal Shaman." He is another certified Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner and also a massage therapist -- somewhat of a New-Wage dilettante, it appears.

Melissa sent me correspondence and screen shots to back up her claims that she was treated first with indifference, then with suspicion and rudeness when trying to communicate with these people via phone, social media, and email. It appears that they all tried to turn the criticism on her, calling her cowardly and vengeful, among other things. For instance, in late July she sent an email to the Animal Shaman Joseph Agrue, which read, in part:

...I am an Equine professional and I take exception to those that pretend to be helping horses when in fact they may be causing more harm. For you to pretend that you are qualified to instruct or train others to diagnose the origin of lameness in a horse is potentially harmful to both animal and human. The horse in
your video has front feet issues that require the cooperation of veterinarian and farrier to address. The owner of that horse has wasted time and money on the BEST technique , when that horse could have gotten much needed care and real relief.

The  claims that "the color changed" and that the horse "now has dapples" are ridiculous and patently impossible. That is a scientific impossibility. Also, to encourage inexperienced people to stand directly behind horses to "check their hip alignment" is another issue altogether. Is is just a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured.

Here is the deal; real horsemen know a fraud when they see one. Real horsemen want for the horses and owners to be well and safe. You sir are no horseman and it is glaringly obvious to those of us that are. You have no idea about lameness issues, you do not even use the correct verbiage unique to the industry. The claims being made are bogus and can be proven out by other Equine experts...

Here was the Animal Shaman's response:

I have no doubt you are a vindictive evil woman. I talked to dr. [sic] Ted myself yesterday and he has no idea who you are. Unless you tell us who you are and give us a name and contact infol [sic] you're not going to be taken seriously you are a joke. why are you a coward and afraid to identify yourself?

In my years as a scam watcher, I have noticed that in addition to the usual ad hominem attacks on their critics (accusing them of being jealous losers, evil, or on someone's payroll, for instance), scammers love to call those critics out as cowards when they don't use their real or full names. Actually, though, I understand why Melissa hesitated about revealing her identity when communicating with these New-Wage hucksters. I have seen how angry and vindictive scammers and some of their lunatic fans can be. Some will even resort to
sham lawsuits against their critics, or to serious attempts to physically endanger their critics. So I can't blame any critic or skeptic or questioner for being a little circumspect about his or her identity. That's not cowardice; it's simply common sense.**  

There's another good reason for Melissa to shield her identity, apart from the plausible risk to her personal safety. If she were to reveal her identity and her business, particularly through this blog, she might be accused of engaging in underhanded self-promotion, and for that matter I might be accused of aiding and abetting someone whose agenda is to undermine the "competition." People might think that Melissa is no better than Coldwell and his former partner Peter Wink, who used their vitriol against GIN and Kevin Trudeau as a springboard to launch and promote their own GIN ripoff club,
the IBMS Masters Society. And readers might question my ethics for allowing such promotion on my blog.

After questioning her at length, however, I personally am satisfied that Melissa is not in competition with the frauduct and flopportunity peddlers like the Morters and their "certified" Animal B.E.ST. practitioners. Rather she teaches real-world riding skills that include a variety of English and Western disciplines, including pleasure riding, jumping, trail riding, halter, reining, cutting, barrel racing, Western Dressage, team penning, and ranch sorting. In addition she says that she breeds, breaks and trains show horses. All of her life she has been around horses and horse breeders and trainers on both coasts and several spots in between. She seems like the real deal to me.

And although I have no way of knowing for sure, I think it is very possible Melissa would never have even heard of Animal B.E.S.T. had it not been for the fact that a woman contacted her, wishing to use Melissa's horse for "master certification" work in Animal B.E.S.T. The woman needed to complete and document 20 "cases" in order to receive her certification. Melissa describes her as having bought the Morter gimmick hook, line, and sinker but adds that she was able to teach the woman a few things about horses and the real reasons they do the things they do, which apparently rid the lady of her delusions about the horsey aspect of B.E.S.T. "But she is still into the human bioenergy crap," says Melissa.

My point here is that in most cases, erring on the side of caution regarding one's true identity is a smart thing to do when one is criticizing volatile and unstable people. I know from experience, and learned it years before I'd even heard of Loony Coldwell, that some of those "love and light" people are actually some of the darkest and most hate-filled -- not to mention litigious -- folks around, particularly if they think their income stream is being threatened. I think Melissa has been handling things sensibly, and more than that I think she is coming from a place of deep concern for horses and the people who love them.

Murphy's flaw
As I explained in my response to Melissa's initial comment on my blog, I hadn't actually heard of James W. Murphy and when I looked him up, the first info that popped up was apparently for another James W. Murphy, a Maryland gentleman
who died in 2009. That Murphy was also a horse person, but was involved with horse racing and was apparently credible and respected.

But the Animal B.E.S.T. James W. Murphy is very much alive and resides in Arkansas, where, as it happens, the Morters also hang their hats. If you Google James W. Murphy you have to be pretty specific, and even then you're more likely to get results for the dead Murphy. But there is
this June 2013 video, which is one of the chief pieces of content that really got to Melissa, due to what she felt are Murphy's exaggerated or false claims about his own accomplishments. He also tells a touching back story that raised some serious red flags for her (it even sounded a bit suspicious to me, as little as I know about horses). Melissa explained the credibility gaps to me in detail. We'll have a little more about that in a moment, and I'll link to the video again.

Oddly enough, Murphy's actual web site doesn't seem to pop up very prominently in the search engines,
but here it is. I am thinking that Melissa's efforts to reach out to B.E.S.T. and to Murphy himself had an effect. The above linked video apparently was but no longer is on the Animal B.E.S.T. site, though Murphy is still listed on that site as a certified Animal B.E.S.T practitioner. And more interestingly, Murphy's claims about his horse training creds and whatnot seem to be gone from the "About Us" page on his own site. Melissa sent me a screen shot of the original blurb that captured her interest. Here it is:

And here is how it looks today:

Melissa explained that some of the photos on James' web site were another red flag for her. Take, for instance, the three pics that are currently on
the "About Us" page on his web site. Here's Melissa's critique:

In one, he has the lead rope wrapped around his wrist and hand. A HUGE no-no, any horseman would never ever do that.

In the middle one, he is all off center with his saddle slipping off to the right. His right stirrup is hanging lower than his left and he is twisted in the saddle. All because his cinch isn't even secure. Enlarge the photo and it is evident that the cinch tongue isn't through the
latigo hole on his saddle. ...not to mention he has his horse over bridled, and by the look of the bit shanks, the curb strap isn't positioned correctly.

Then in the far right photo, his halter is not placed correctly on his horse's nose...  I have 6 yr old beginner riders that know better than that!

When I pointed out to Ted [Morter] that people were paying big money to learn about horses from his so called expert, using false credentials, that's when he got touchy.
I'm no riding expert so I can't judge the photos myself. I'm just passing along what Melissa said. The money is definitely an issue I think I understand, though, and big money it is, potentially. Even if it is not huge money by the standards of Scamworld or the larger world of commerce, it still adds up. Melissa wrote:

They charge $2,500 for people to attend their classes in order to be certified as practitioners for Animal B.E.S.T. (the Morter technique). [The woman who contacted me about using my horse] witnessed about 60 people at these animals classes. There are at least 4 per year which includes Paris, France as a venue. The animal classes have been going on for 8 years. Do the math...then these scammers charge naive pet owners $100 to "balance" their pets. They are in the process of requiring that all of their practitioners that wish to be certified in their human B.E.S.T. attend the animal classes. This will bump their sales up significantly as they offer at least 15 other events for certification. 

Of note, the B.E.S.T. event going on in Paris, France this as-we-speak-end coincides with the GIN Paris event. That's cozy! Here is
the schedule of upcoming B.E.S.T. events. And if you want more info about B.E.S.T. courses and their costs, go straight to the source and ask the horse. Not all of the links work correctly; some of the enrollment links lead to the Morters' frauducts catalog page. But at least one link directs properly, revealing the price for the course being described. The whole issue of the actual course costs is a little confusing to me, though, particularly after reading the FAQ page. In any case, it seems the training isn't terribly cheap, whether it's human B.E.S.T. or Animal B.E.S.T.

Another point of contention for Melissa was
Murphy's video, which I mentioned above. It's not real new; it's from 2013, but Melissa assures me that it was up on the Morters' site until recently, when she began making noise about it. For Melissa the first red flag in this video was Murphy's apparent claim that he had more than 70 world titles. She wrote, "Hell, I'm accomplished, and having five to ten is damned impressive!"

Then there is the story Murphy tells in the video about how his horse Patches saved his life. I recommend that you watch the vid and hear it yourself, but I'll summarize it here. Murphy says he was riding Patches in traffic one day when an eighteen-wheeler made a big boo-boo, causing all sorts of mayhem and panic. He tried to get Patches to turn in a certain direction to avoid disaster, but Patches, for the first time EVER, ignored his instructions and turned sharply in the opposite direction. What happened next with the truck and the surrounding mess was a complete surprise to Murphy, but he says that he realizes that if Patches had obeyed him instead of going his own way, they would have both been killed. So... hero horsey, humbled rider.

But poor Patches hurt his back terribly from the sharp turn, said Murphy. He was so bad off that vets and horse experts told Murphy he should just have the horse euthanized. But how could Murphy do that to his faithful friend who had saved his life? Then Murphy heard about Animal B.E.S.T. He took Patches to an Animal B.E.S.T class to be worked on by the class. They all worked on Patches all day, and voila! Patches was healed and even better than before. So Murphy decided the right thing to do was to try to get in on some of that Animal B.E.S.T. action himself.

Here is Melissa's take on the story:

In Murphy's testimonial video he described how his horse "turned very quickly and hurt his back". I promise you Connie, nothing turns faster and harder than a Cutting Horse. They do it over and over and over without hurting their backs. lol. He did not mention that the horse fell...nor slipped...he only mentioned that it turned hard. That alone shows me his inexperience. Then he claimed that the horse would lie there and not get up. Again, I am here to tell you that a horse cannot lay down for long periods without creating a much more serious problem. His story is crap. And IF that horse were SO injured that a qualified lameness expert could not help it, nor get to stand, that damn BEST flimflam hocus pocus would not help! ...Plus, I asked him for the name of the attending veterinarian and what tests were reply. *crickets*. But what a heart tuggingly new age feel good story that was eh? Horse saves man from death, BEST saves horse? Bull....

Of course if James W. Murphy (the live one, not the dead one) would like to contact this blog and counter any of the above, he is welcome to do so.

Melissa says her only motivation in making a stink about these frauduct and flopportunity peddlers is to promote the welfare of horses and the people who love and work with them. She says she even went so far as to persuade the Texas State Chemist to send Morter a cease and desist order against their pet feed supplements. "I have Ted's attention, and he sent me an email that pretty much reads as an offer of a bribe," she told me. I have seen an email where Ted asked what it would take to make her happy, so I suppose that could be open to an interpretation of bribery. It appears to me that what would make Melissa happy would not be bribe money, but a world in which scammers would stop taking advantage of good, decent people.

That would make me happy too.

Horse sense and nonsense
I know this post has already dragged on more than long enough. But here's one final point. While we were on the subject of animal scams, Melissa and I also discussed the contemporary craze for various types of equine assisted therapy, which I snarked about it in one of those blog posts a few years ago. Melissa said that this therapy certainly does have its value in some contexts but is often misused. She wrote:
I have worked horse therapy with children with issues. It was really rewarding as the children were more active and attentive when interacting with the horses. However, there is now a push to use horses in all sorts of therapy. As you pointed out, they are the new dolphins!

...It is a racket filled with wannabes that can't wait to pretend they know something about horses.

The problem is how they use the horses....those therapists miss the real deal of what working with horses can do. They zero in on catch phrases like "trust" and use anthropomorphic reasoning to relate horses and humans. That is where they lose the whole basis on how horses can help humans work through issues. They do not understand the horse's viewpoint and how that can help the human. I get livid listening to their BS. Typical example is the Sandra Bullock film
28 Days, where she is in horse therapy and is told to "trust the horse" in order to pick up its foot. Ridiculous crap like that abounds. There is a very deep and real way that working with horse can help people, but first one has to truly understand the horse. And sadly not many people do.
In a subsequent communication she wrote:
People like think that horses are these mystical, all knowing animals that are half fairy dust and half quantum particles. They are an animal that is hard wired to react in a given way. Yes they have different personalities, but they are innately horses, period. You can call me from France and tell me about a problem with a Polish Arabian that was an embryo transfer from a Dutch Warmblood and I can tell you how to fix the problem. Horse behavior is not unique nor it is a "feeling". It is what it is...a learned herd behavior of a prey animal. Period.
Call me a neigh-sayer, but I'll take the word of a genuine professional horse person over that of a New-Wage frauduct or flopportunity peddler any day.

* Speaking of martial arts and horse whispering, here's the latest offering from one of Lenny Coldwell's nuttiest friends/supporters/sycophants: stoner filmmaker, low-budget movie star and kick-boxer Ian Jacklin of iCureCancer infamy, who was supposedly going to be doing another breakthrough film about natural-cures heroes, featuring Lenny. No telling what happened to that; apparently he couldn't get sufficient funding. This vid is all about Ian, not Lenny. There's a lot in the vid about vaccination evils, wholistic cancer curing and even sovereign citizenry, though, all of which offer clear clues about why Lenny and Ian have been consistently masturbating each other. The horse whispering part of the new vid appears to be a mini-saga of Ian trespassing into someone's pasture to make friends with a nice horsey; it starts at about 12:00 and goes on for several minutes. Apparently Ian had been spending a great deal of time trying to get into the pasture, but was too stoned to figure it out until he finally discovered he could have just opened a gate and walked in all along. Watch the whole thing if you have time, though. It's hilarious. It's not quite Harold and Kumar quality, but still fun. And honestly, I can't tell if Ian is just a harmless stoner or deeply disturbed and potentially dangerous... or maybe just in character, playing a deranged activist. I'll leave that up to mental health experts and/or film critics to determine. Maybe "deranged" is just part of his persona, like his doppelganger Seann William Scott of Stifler/American Pie fame, who like Ian seems to be a little on the washed-up actor side. Except Seann may be a has-been, and Ian... well, he seems to be kind of a never-was...

** Regarding cowardice and anonymity: Even though I don't think it is necessarily a mark of cowardice to want to be anonymous online, I do think that the people who send anonymous death threats or abusive comments to
critics and skeptics and questioners are cowards. I hear from such cowards all the time. Even so, I continue to allow anonymous comments on my blog. (Note: I'm not claiming that everyone who disagrees with me and chooses anonymity is a coward -- just the abusive ones.)

Some people have told me I am a fool for revealing my own identity on this blog, but I have a feeling that if I had tried to disguise it I would have been outed anyway, as my pal Salty Droid was not long after he began blogging. At any rate I'm "out," and have been facing the consequences for more than nine years now. Among many other things I, like my new friend Melissa, have been called an evil and vindictive woman (and worse).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Snopes versus dopes: the battle continues, and Snopes seems to be winning

For years I have been a fan of the urban legend and conspiracy theory debunking site, And let's get one thing straight before you start lecturing me about being a Snopes worshiper: I don't consider Snopes infallible, any more than I consider any other information source, online or off, to be infallible. But it appears to me that the Snopes folks are generally diligent researchers, and certainly are a far more credible source than the "alternative" media sites that thrive on selling largely baseless fear and outrage to the conspiracy crowd. (I'm talking to y'all, Alex Jones, WorldTruth.TV, Before It's News, et al.)

At the very least Snopes is a reasonable place to embark upon your own path of inquiry whenever someone shares a meme on social media that seems too bizarre or funny or horrible to be true, or -- equally as important -- that fits too neatly into prevailing social and political biases (even and especially your own). Whenever this happens, which it frequently does, I first check the link in the meme to make sure it's not a satirical/fake news site like
National Report. If it is truly being presented as serious news, then, yes, I will very often go to Snopes first, because more than likely they've covered it. But I generally don't stop at Snopes, although I may end up sharing the Snopes page on threads where the meme is being presented as real news.

Snopes, as many know, began as a hobby in the mid 1990s for
a California couple named David and Barbara Mikkelson. As far as I know, the Mikkelsons have never pretended to be anything but what they are: a couple of hobbyists whose hobby grew into an obsession and a web presence with a huge following. Except for the "huge following" part, I can very well identify with the whole hobby-turned-obsession thing, because I've been hammering away at this Whirled for more than nine years now. The important point to stress is that despite the frequent claims of their detractors, the Mikkelsons have never pretended to be experts or authorities or the last word on anything.

But here's one thing they have accomplished: again and again has made fools of conspiracy fans and followers of the "alternative" (read: nutcase) media. And this, I suppose, is precisely why said fans and followers work so hard to counter and "expose" Snopes and paint Snopes fans as the fools. In doing so, however, the conspiracy fans invariably make themselves look even more foolish. But that doesn't stop them, and there remain large numbers of people who passionately hate Snopes and whose wrath often encompasses Snopes fans, whom the anti-Snopesers accuse of being stupid, gullible, uneducated or lazy.

Liberal, schmiberal
One of the frequent complaints about Snopes is that they have a "liberal bias," and the corollary to that claim is that Snopes is being secretly funded by one or more nefarious liberal organization(s) or some other special interest group. Back in March 2013, the Skeptoid blog published
a credible post debunking the "liberal bias" accusation. (It was cross-posted on the Skeptical Libertarian blog the following month.)

That article, written by Eric Hall, was a response to the infamous (in some circles, anyway) "Snopes got snoped" article that is STILL going around the Internet and is frequently hauled out to discredit Snopes and try to make the conspiracy believers look smart and the people who consult Snopes look stupid. The original source of the article was the aforementioned conspiracy-fan site WorldTruth.TV.
But the article appears to be gone now from the original site, although numerous other enthusiastic bloggers picked it up. You can read it here and on several other sites.

Eric Hall's cross-posted Snopes-defense piece makes a very good point that I too have attempted to make numerous times in discussions about Snopes' credibility as opposed to that of WorldTruth.TV:

A larger look at the site called reveals something very hilarious. The claim that Snopes shouldn’t be trusted because it is only run by 2 people (the Mikkelsons) comes from a website run by 1 person who only identifies himself as Eddie. From’s “about us” page:
My name is Eddie and WorldTruth.TV  is my way to share all the knowledge and information that I have acquired and been blessed with in the last 32 years of my journey on this planet.
WorldTruth.TV is a website dedicated to educating and informing people on regular basis with well-researched articles on powerful and concealed information. I’ve spent the last 32 years researching Theosophy, Freemasonry, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, the Bavarian Illuminati and Western Occultism. I remember when I first learned about the “Truth” and it wasn’t pretty. I remember learning about how the mass media lies to our faces consistently. About how the educational system only teaches the youth what they need to become obedient workers.
I have to rub my forehead every time I read it. The website making a claim Snopes cannot be accurate because they do not have a large team is supposed to be trustworthy when being run by one person. If someone can make sense of that logic, please feel free to comment!

A more recent (April 2014) effort to defend Snopes appeared in the Houston Press, courtesy of Jef Rouner. Take a few moments to read it if you will; it's worth it. I'll wait. Not that Jef's effort has had any effect whatsoever on the die-hard Snopes detractors, who still apparently imagine themselves to hold the factual, intellectual and in many cases the moral high ground.

Health Nut goes nuts over Snopes piece
Take "Health Nut News" blogger Erin Elizabeth (please). Last month she got all bent out of shape because, she says, Snopes misrepresented a couple of things she had written about the much-buzzed-about
holistic doctors murder "conspiracy" (note: the link is to a blog post that takes a skeptical view of the "conspiracy"). Erin is, among other things, the personal and business partner of alt-health guru and osteopath Dr. Joseph Mercola. (Here are some skeptical links about Mercola, and I also wrote about him on a post last year (see under, "Joseph Mercola: sitting pretty at the top of the alt-doc heap").)

Given her partnership with Mercola and her role as a natural-health blogger, Erin clearly has a stake in fanning the flames of the dead-doc drama. Don't get me wrong; I'm not making light of anyone's death, nor am I discounting Erin's distress over the loss of anyone who may have been a friend or associate, but there seems to be something more going on here. It centers around Erin's insistence that she has been careful to avoid any mention of a conspiracy regarding the high numbers of "suspicious" deaths among alt-health doctors, practitioners and advocates. She's just calmly reporting, don't you know. But to me, reading
even one of her posts about the ongoing saga makes it pretty clear that she is playing on the conspiracy theme. You don't have to use the word "conspiracy" to do that.

Here is
the July 21, 2015 Snopes article with which Erin took issue. The article was not written by one of the Snopes principals, Barbara or David Mikkelson, but rather by a longtime Snopes board participant named Kim LaCapria.

And here, if you can access it,
is the link to the Facebook thread on which Erin shared her video explaining how Snopes done her wrong. (I'm sorry that I can't seem to find a more universally accessible (e.g., YouTube) link.) In her video Erin seems a tad overwrought, declaring that the Snopes piece might just be the most irresponsible piece of journalism she has seen this year, or perhaps even in a whole decade. She is shocked, shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you! And shocked (in case you didn't get it the first three times).

Mostly Erin seems shocked about the Snopes article's insinuation that she is spreading "conspiracy" rumors, but she also spends an inordinate amount of time in the video quibbling about
one of the missing doctors' home state: Montana or North Dakota? She even insinuates that the confusion over the doctor's residence, exacerbated by Snopes, might be a reason nobody can find him. As well, Erin seems to be royally pissed off because she has been misquoted and misrepresented by other journalists -- not Snopes, as it happens, but even so, she is laying most of her outrage on Snopes for this video.

That video wasn't the first time that Erin has dumped all over Snopes. She previously huffed that they are doing a disservice to the health world.
Here's an August 2014 rant. The big headline is:

Many quote “Snopes” like they’re scientists or doctors, but they’re just 2 ole couch potatoes who may be coerced by special interest groups

To bolster her accusations, Erin posted a much-shared picture of the Mikkelsons sitting on a couch, with a clearly overweight orange tabby cat perched behind them.

Again I think it important to emphasize that as far as I have ever been able to see, the Mikkelsons have never claimed to be anything but what they are: two folks interested in researching various unbelievable claims. Unlike some of the pond scum (no offense to ponds or scum) that I have written about on this blog, they haven't masqueraded as doctors or scientists. And I doubt if most people who cite Snopes do so believing that either one of the Mikkelsons is a doctor or scientist. That headline seems to be a reflection of Erin's own defensiveness at work.

And as for the ad hominem accusation of being "ole couch potatoes," the Mikkelsons have never claimed to be health nuts either, as far as I know. The well-known picture of the Mikkelsons, which admittedly isn't very flattering, is frequently shared by people who seem hellbent on discrediting them. It appears to be a candid photo taken in a moment of levity. Maybe they now regret ever allowing it to be taken or shared; I don't know.

But I do know that as the "Health Nut," the youthful looking and attractive Erin Elizabeth has a very carefully crafted public persona, and my guess is that she is quite picky about the pictures of herself that she allows to be shared publicly. She seems to be unnecessarily rubbing it in that she's cute and the Mikkelsons... not so much.

Moreover, she describes herself as having "a passion for the healing arts for nearly 25 years" and as being "an author, public speaker, and advocate for healthy living." But when it comes right down to it, having a passion and taking that passion public really doesn't make her an expert of any type -- except, of course, the self-described and relentlessly self-aggrandizing sort of expert. The New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality/alt-health world is full of those.

Not-Doktor Stoopid joins in on the Snopes sniping (again)
Recently Snopes came under fire yet again from the stuck-on-stupid contingent, and
Leonard Coldwell, former b.f.f. of serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, gleefully joined in. You've met Lenny on this blog previously, and are possibly still trying to rinse your eyes out and clear your mind. I'm sorry to stymie your cleansing campaign, but he has been such a vociferous detractor of Snopes that he belongs in this post.

Lenny is a proud follower of the tradition of Snopes detractors making themselves look stupid in an attempt to discredit Snopes. Recently, for instance, he shared links to a hoax article -- which was plainly labeled as such -- about the supposed arrest of Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson.
Here is the original link, though Lenny shared a link from someone else who had picked up the article on their site. However, on the second site the piece was also clearly labeled as satire.

Not only was the article to which Lenny linked tagged as satirical, and not only was the photo of the "arrest" plainly a bad Photoshopping job (you'd think that the Snopes-haters would recognize Mikkelson's face from the standard Snopes-couch-potato shot), but there are also numerous silly cues within the text that it is not to be taken at all seriously. I mean, really: "attacking the messenger?" "Shooting the piano player?" (Actually it was a player piano, which makes the story even more blatantly silly.)

But Lenny, a long time Snopes loather, posted the announcement of David Mikkelson's arrest on Facebook as if it were real news, accompanied by his customary arrogant and semi-literate I-told-you-so message. He even aggregated the hoax article for the blog on his main web site, presenting it as actual truth. It stayed up on that site for several days, and during this time I tried twice to write a public comment to the post, explaining that the article was satirical. Here are the two comments I tried to post (as usual, click on pics to enlarge):

Neither of my comments was published, though as you'll see in the second screen grab, Coldwell did publish an apparently supportive comment from a reader (who was obviously using a fake name) who claimed not to be surprised by the "news." But
the article now seems to be gone from Coldwell's site. Not a word of apology to his readers, though, and as of today, his "I told you so" post is still on his Facebook page:

As the old saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Here's Lenny from two years ago, blathering about the "trailer trash" that runs snoops [sic]:

So deeply does Lenny despise Snopes that he has been known to throw temper tantrums on his social media whenever anyone dares to cite a Snopes article. A couple of years ago he practically had a meltdown when my pal Julie Daniel, whom I have yet to meet in person but who has become someone I consider a close friend nonetheless, cited a Snopes article to counter Lenny's hysterical sharing on Facebook of the meme about Obamacare and compulsory RFID chips. At least I think that was the meme. It was one of those silly things that are constantly surfacing and resurfacing, anyway. Lenny quickly turned his Eye of Sauron upon Julie, writing, "I know who you are!" as well as publicly issuing what appeared to be several threats to her. She was actually concerned for her safety for a while.

As it turned out, Lenny apparently thought Julie was I, writing under one of numerous aliases (he has publicly and falsely accused me of using more than 70 fake names and accounts to defame and destroy him). But I am not Julie, and Julie is not I. We, do, however, share a contempt for Lenny as well as a respect for

If, after reading all of the evidence that they are not evil incarnate, you're still prejudiced against Snopes yourself for whatever reason, below is a list of alternatives. For your own sake, always check out wild rumors before sharing them on or off the Internet. And for gosh sakes, don't rely on WorldTruth.TV or anything with the name "Leonard Coldwell" in it as your source.

  • (mostly focusing on U.S. politics)
  • Politifact (mostly focusing on U.S. politics)
  • The Straight Dope
  • The Skeptic's Dictionary

  • Update 24 May 2016: I just now discovered a wonderful blog, Just Bad For You, by novelist, screenwriter, children's book author and critical-thinking advocate Jeffrey E. Poehlmann, who is currently fighting cancer. On this April 2016 post he discusses, among several other topics, the dead-docs conspiracy tale and Erin Elizabeth's role in fanning the flames (see under "Murder, Black Ops and Cover Ups by Big Pharma").

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