Sep 18, 2013

DEPARTMENT OF KEEN CAUTION -- SUZANNE SOMERS: ¨...must be considered a threat to civilization¨ (ignorant dunderhead)*

¨Suzanne Somers, erstwhile TV celebrity associated with shows such as “Step by Step” and “Three’s Company”, is a prominent ignorant-celebrity-turned-self-help-guru. Among her bestsellers are “Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones”, which peddles T.S. Wiley’s scientifically unproven and demonstrably dangerous Wiley Protocol, and “Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer – And How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place”, hardcore cancer woo and conspiracy theories packed into the effective “who cares about clinical trials when we have anecdotal evidence and celebrity testimonials” rhetorical package. Her cancer writings have received apt criticism from the American Cancer Society. Of course, Oprah endorsed it (and received pretty harsh criticisms for it).

In 2001, Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer and declined to undergo chemotherapy (in favor of anthroposophic medicine). She claimed she was diagnosed with “inoperable cancer by six doctors”, which is false – even her doctors did not uniformly recommend chemotherapy, quite the reverse (and she did undergo lumpectomy and radiation, but according to herself it was of course the completely ineffective anthroposophic medicine that did the trick). She was furthermore (possibly) misdiagnosed in 2008, an event that (“invalidated Western medicine” and) seems to have spurred her bizarre crank adventures. Her interviews with frauds and cranks (such as Nicholas GonzalezRussell Blaylock,Stanislaw BurzynskiBurton Goldberg, and Jonathan V. Wright) over the course of 2008 provided the foundation for Knockout, which concerns alternative treatments to chemotherapy (and reality). The oncologists don’t understand cancer, you see. Fortunately Somers does it for them. Or it’s the conspiracies. According to Somers “Chemotherapy is big business, and the business end has been thoroughly thought out. Our med students are taught the company line, and after years of being intensively taught how to administer poisons, they are then graduated to go out and give these lethal medicines. To question this would discourage financial grants, and no one wants to be cut loose from pharmaceutical funding”. Then of course there is the Galileo Gambit (which Julian Whitaker invokes in the foreword to Somers’s book and Lee Schneider invokes at HuffPo).

Somers is also a water fluoridation conspiracy theorist and well into stem-cell woo.

*Diagnosis: Ignorant dunderhead. Lacks any trace of a clue about pretty much everything she writes about and in possession of the critical thinking skills of a mole in a whack-a-mole game. She is probably being widely read by a host of other critical-thinking-challenged people (that is, the “critical-thinking-means-feeling-your-way-to-the-truth” crowd), and must as such be considered a threat to civilization.¨

Thanks to Encyclopedia of American Loons, sidebar


JCF said...

I really don't like the term "woo". It seems to mean "Every idea which has not been proven to MY personal standards of empirical evidence" (nevermind whether an idea is subject to empirical claims in the first place---"not being subject to empirical claims" then dismissed as MORE "woo").

Woo-dissers claim to be objective. I see them as little more than a form of numerology: "Oooh, we attached numbers to our [faith] claims, bow before us!"

Thanks, I'll pass on your number-fetish nihilism. Woo-full, perhaps, but less woeful. ;-/

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I'm with you, Leonardo. When it comes to science and medicine, I believe in numbers. And what that really means is that I believe in the scientific method, peer review, and replicable studies.

There are millions of people who are alive today because of all those "lethal chemicals" Sommers and her crowd decry. Just look at the 5-year survival rates for kids with cancer--the differences in mortality between the 1960s and now are simply astonishing. That did not happen using "anthroposophic medicine."

JCF--I think you are confusing some important things. It is one thing to accuse someone of being "woo" when it comes to faith--which can never be "proved." Christianity is about the most "woo-woo" religion I can think of, so I don't think Christians have any business casting aspersions on other people's religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

It is another thing entirely to call out someone pimping unproven (or DISproven) theories to desperate people. People who don't subscribe to the scientific method should try living in a world with no antibiotics, anesthetic, or even simple cleanliness. Significant rises in life expectancy track very closely with science-based public health measures (sewage treatment, clean water, and vaccinations).

So give me the "number-fetish nihilism," whatever the hell that means. When I have surgery next week, I'll have it under anesthetic in a sterile surgical suite. The growth they are removing will be biopsied immediately to ensure that it's not cancerous--and, if it is, there will be a scientifically grounded treatment. I have no interest in buying what Suzanne Somers is selling--and how come no one seems to notice that she is making a fortune peddling her theories? If Big Pharma and Big Medicine are evil because they are making money off of people's suffering, just what is she doing? Shouldn't she be giving away her "knowledge" for free?

susan s. said...

Having had cancer does not make one an expert. I think she makes this stuff up and then goes looking for supporting 'evidence.' My friend and I both had Stage 3 colon cancer. We both had surgery and chemo was recommended. He did not want to poison his system with all those killer drugs. He started a special diet. He had a friend who had a friend who knew someone who had gone to Germany to have the 'heated blood treatment' and was cured. So he spent all his money on going to Germany to get that. It did no good. All alternative treatments he tried did nothing. He finally went to Mexico to get Leotril(spelling) but they would not treat him until he had 'all that fluid' in his belly removed back in the US. It turned out that 'all that fluid' was his liver. The US emergency room Doc told him he should consider chemotherapy. So then he got chemo. His health improved for a while. But he died 18 months later. I thank God every day that I got chemo for mine.

Anonymous said...

I have been an oncology nurse for 22 years. I administer chemotherapy and care for patients throughout the various stages of their illness-- sometimes right to the end. The saddest cases of all are the ones who started with a very curable cancer, but refused the recommended treatment to try some kind of "alternative". I've seen them later present with advanced disease that is now incurable-- often coming simply for relief from the complications they've suffered. Suzanne Somers is irresponsible to say the least, to be pretending to be an expert on this subject.