Respectful Insolence

Ever since I started blogging about a story about a youth named Chad Jessop who, it was claimed, developed melanoma and cured himself of it with “natural” remedies, with the result that his mother was supposedly brought before the Orange County Superior Court and his mother thrown in maximum security prison and denied the right to hire her own attorney, I’ve been fascinated at the contortions of the person most recently responsible for spreading this story, a blogger who goes under the pseudonym of the Angry Scientist. For one thing, the first person to spread this story by e-mail, Thomas Cowles II, seems, after a pathetic attempt to defend the story, to have let it drop, having been called out for using the story to raise funds.

That’s when a blogger, who, like me, blogs under a pseudonym (the Angry Scientist) picked up the story and ran with it, adding numerous details while assiduously refusing to provide verifiable information about any of these details–until yesterday, when he claimed that the judge involved in this case was Orange County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kirkwood, making the hilarious statement, “Now try convincing your flock she isn’t real!” Of course, whether Judge Kirkwood is real or not is not the point. She is. But for all I know, the Angry Scientist could have just perused this list of judges of the Orange County Superior Court and picked one. Verification with Judge Kirkwood’s office is the logical next step, now that the Angry Scientist has provided one piece of independently verifiable information, and, believe me, I will attempt to do that next week. I encourage others to do the same; I’m sure an influx of inquiries would get the court’s attention.

What I find more interesting, however, is the excuses made when the purveyors of this dubious story are pushed for verifiable details, particularly one Lee Woodard, Sr., who started out as a skeptic who concluded that this story was a hoax but then had a come-to-Jesus revelation on the basis of…well, he won’t tell us what evidence, at least not in any way that is useful for anyone trying to verify the story. Now, he’s at it again in the comments, trying to explain why someone who tried to replicate one of his searches on Newsweek couldn’t and then launching off into a rather interesting, self-justifying rant:

I do have hopes of settling this issue of IF by early next week to most peoples satisfaction. I SAID HOPES, it is not a fact yet. Was my search on this issue free of bias? NO. I have done enough work and research in this area to KNOW IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED. If it did I would want to help expose it, and let any family know they had support. That is what I do. Would I help to promote such a hoax? WHY??? What good possibly come from it. Such a hoax would harm the rights movement across the board, and as a result I might as well retire from such efforts and delet my sites.

When I started the first search I confirmed in just a few minutes that the Jessops where real people in Orange County, that Laurie had a history and involvment in alternative cures and that Mr Miller was active in the same community. That was all before I received any e-mails on the subject. Since one of the first things I do is confirm e mail addys to ensure the source of info is what it says it is, I have confirmed that as I would have suspected in such a case that the Jessops and the Cherrix family had been in contact with each other on this matter. Considering the Cherrix family history, is that realy any great surprise.

Personaly I do not have a problem that some want to have someone verify that this realy happened. I do have a problem that it seems to be the main issue. Hell I even have a problem that the medical issues takes second tier to the IF. I do not think that will ever be resolved to everyones satisfaction. To me the issue is How and WHY the family was forced to go through this. It was a violation of so many basic rights. Since it was supported mostly by federal tax dollars it was done in YOUR NAME regardless of which state you live in. Such events have happened before and if unchallenged WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.

This (as well as other blogs) should not be about me, MadScientist, or ORAC, but rather if we will continue to accept the erosion in the USA of our most fundamental rights. If our taxes will continue to support a system that is a total failure, but continues to be rewarded for it. The Jessop story clearly shows how much more abusive the system has become over the last couple decades, and this will not change unless the people DEMAND that change.

(Emphasis mine.)

Also, please, everyone, no snide comments on all the spelling and typos. Apparently Mr. Woodard is not in the best of health. At least that’s what one commenter claims. Maybe he has trouble typing.

Mr. Woodard’s rant above is very informative, though, about his mindset. To him, “IF” seems to be less important that “COULD HAVE.” That it would bother him that whether or not this incident really happened in the manner that Gary Null, Thomas Cowles II, and the Angry Scientist say it did is the most important issue to people calls his critical thinking skills into serious question. Of course “IF” is the most important question to start with, because if this story didn’t happen the way it’s being represented then all the outrage and activism against a “court gone mad” that Mr. Woodard and the Angry Scientist are trying to stoke are based on a lie. That Mr. Woodard seems more concerned about attacking the child protective services program in Orange County than about whether or not this story as presented (1) is true and (2) supports such outrage seems to be at best a secondary concern to him. So, in answer to his question (“Why would I help to promote such a hoax?), my answer would be either: (1) he wants to believe in it so much that he’ll accept very dubious “evidence” that it is true; (2) follow the money; (3) whip up activism against what to him is the evil of child protective services. I tend to think it’s a combination of #1 and #3. Whatever the truth, though, appealing to one’s supposedly pure motives is not a particularly convincing argument. Evidence is.

Moreover, now the Angry Scientist is touting the fact that some free rag of a publication in the L.A. area has reprinted verbatim his dubious story as if that were “evidence” that it is true. I’m glad he did it, though, because at the end of the article was a truly revealing tidbit:

LATEST: The day after this article appeared in the Free Press, Laurie Jessop and Ron Miller started a non-profit organization called CHAD (Choosing Health Alternatives Deliberately) to help cover legal expenses and for reform of the California legal system. It’s Laurie’s aim to pass a bill in California similar to Abraham’s Law in Virginia.

Send tax deductible donation to:

CHAD Foundation
c/o Laurie Jessop
P.O. Box 808
Lake Forest, CA. 92609

I wonder what I would find out if I checked with the State of California to see if the CHAD foundation is a properly registered foundation/charity.

ALL POSTS ON THIS STORY THUS FAR:

  1. The story of the 17-year-old with melanoma being forced to undergo chemotherapy: Urban legend?
  2. Thomas Cowles twisting in the wind defending the “cancer boy” urban legend
  3. An update on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  4. One last update (for now) on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  5. “I have seen the light! The Chad Jessop melanoma story happened. Really.”
  6. Lee Woodard on the Chad Jessop melanoma story: “Why would I promote a hoax?”

OTHER SKEPTICAL TAKES:

  1. Legendary Legend or Mysterious Mystery?

PUBLICATIONS REFERENCED:

  1. Dear Health Freedom Fighters (September 12, 2007)
  2. The Gary Null Show 9/13/2007 (The relevant segment is at approximately the 11:45 minute mark.)
  3. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (October 3, 2007)
  4. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (published in the Los Angeles Free Press on 11/12/2007, PDF here)

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    November 17, 2007

    Also, please, everyone, no snide comments on all the spelling and typos.

    Dam.

  2. #2 Dan
    November 17, 2007

    This is all beginning to sound like an elaborate scam.

  3. #3 Squillo
    November 17, 2007

    If you check with the state of California, I imagine you’ll find a 503 (3) (c) charitable organization called “Chad Foundation for Athletes and Artists.” It was named in honor of Chad Butrum, a young athlete who died suddenly of cardiomyopathy.

    I doubt the putative Ms. Jessop has been able to register her “CHAD Foundation” in California.

  4. #4 Infophile
    November 17, 2007

    I wonder, if this is indeed a hoax/urban legend, could Ms. Kirkwood have grounds to charge Angry Scientist with libel? Claiming something like this about her is a pretty big deal.

  5. #5 Orac
    November 17, 2007

    I agree.

    The Angry Scientist made a mistake posting the judge’s name on my blog, because, unlike the case for his own blog, he cannot erase his comment here. I will honor his anonymity (after all, it would be hypocritical of me to do otherwise, given that I blog under a pseudonym), but I wlll not erase his comment.

  6. #6 Squillo
    November 17, 2007

    The thing Mr. Woodward and Angry Scientist just don’t seem to get is that, to ethical people, the truth actually matters, even if it politically inconvenient.

    It’s ironic that Mr. Woodward invoked (in the comments at AngryScientist’s blog) what I can only think he meant was Orwell’s (he said “Orson Wells”) vision of a dytopic future in 1984. In the book, the “Ministry of Truth” was charged with redacting the truth to fit the regime’s political aims. Sounds a lot like what Mr. Woodward et al. are advocating when they claim the truth doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s manipulated for a good cause.

  7. #7 Kent Sharkey
    November 17, 2007

    Funny that there seems to be little on this on the Orange County Superior Court Web site. They are kind enough to allow searches in their various courts, and there seems to be little listed under Laurie Jessop’s name (with the exception of a few traffic issues, and a divorce). (oh, and one jaywalking charge for a Chad Jessop)

    Of course if *they* didn’t want us to find it…

  8. #8 Angie
    November 17, 2007

    I think some have a misconception on Mr Woodard’s value of the if and truth of the matter. He did confirm it to his needs and that of Human Rights USA’s need to support the Jessop’s but knew at this time there was not enough to satisfy everyone. As of today he has only posted one message on the subject in his message board and it is only and expansion of what he has said on the other blog. His concern is simple, will those that have spent so much time and effort on the question of if it happen even care when it is showed that it has, as far as the rights violations that took place.

  9. #9 Ahcuah
    November 17, 2007

    If you go to this URL, you can search through the court cases in the Orange County Superior Court.

    This would most likely be in the Family Cases, except that a search on “Jessup” returns neither a Chad nor a Laurie. Ditto on a search under “Civil Cases.”

    Hmmmm. I wonder what that means?????

  10. #10 Orac
    November 17, 2007

    Whether this case as described by the Angry Scientist is true or not is absolutely, positively the very first question that must be answered. Period.

    If it is true, then all the other questions become important. If it is not true, then all the other questions are meaningless, and an entirely different set of questions becomes important. Mr. Woodard is putting the cart before the horse, as is the Angry Scientist. And it is not a question of “satisfying everyone.” Woodard and the Angry Scientist can’t even provide the most basic corroborations to satisfy even mild skeptics, and it’s also very clear that they both very much want to believe. As for the Angry Scientist, I have taken under advisement his revelation that it is supposedly Judge Carolyn Kirkwood who was involved in this case. Indeed, I am looking into that right now.

    No, I think I nailed it just right.

  11. #11 Dangerous Bacon
    November 17, 2007

    “I think some have a misconception on Mr Woodard’s value of the if and truth of the matter. He did confirm it to his needs…”

    Exactly. He _needs_ it to have happened as described in the dramatic e-mail “revelations”, so it did. Skeptics are meanies for requiring the facts.

    There is so much exaggeration and glurge circulating online that anyone who desires credibility on a story like this _has_ to make the facts his business.

  12. #12 Orac
    November 17, 2007

    Hmmmm. I wonder what that means?????

    That you misspelled “Jessop”? ;-)

    Very interesting. It appears that there have been several recent court dates about spousal support in a divorce/family case, with a hearing scheduled for 11/29/2007.

  13. #13 Michael
    November 17, 2007

    A small aside to the main topic, the president of the Natural Solutions Foundation, which apparently employs the original poster of the story Thomas Cowles, is Major General Albert N. Stubblebine III (U.S. Army, Retired). Stubblebine, although he may have been a competent military officer and had a good career, is as it was once put to me so delicately by a former Army colleague, a “frigging nut.”

    Stubblebine has a long history of advocating unusual beliefs. If you remember reading accounts of the paranormal research done by the Army in the seventies and eighties, one of the people responsible for the millions of dollars of wasted money was Stubblebine. A Google search for his name pulled up a “Lecture on Remote Viewing as a Research Tool” given at the International Symposium on UFO Research in 1982. Another page suggests he is also a 9-11 conspiracy advocate, or he at least believes the Pentagon wasn’t hit by a Boeing jet. His foundation presidency is interesting as he is apparently using that position and his status as a retired general to lobby members of Congress. Apparently he wants legislation to limit the authority of the FDA to regulate herbal medicines. I apologize for drifting from the subject of the posts but it surprised me to follow the attached links and find a name with which I was familiar. Stubblebine was the commander of the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca from 1980 to 1984. When I attended the school in 1985 there was quite a bit of “woo” in the curriculum. I asked a few questions and found out that Stubblebine was responsible.

    http://www.psitech.net/lecture.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Stubblebine

  14. #14 John Marley
    November 17, 2007

    ORAC:

    I commend your diligence here, but as you’ve pointed out in previous posts, the burden of proof is not on you.

    Maybe I’m just lazy, but if the people pushing this story won’t provide solid evidence, and resort to bad logic and empty rhetoric to justify themselves, I’d just write it off as a hoax, and move on.

    Okay, I am just lazy. Thanks for fighting woo in all its forms, so I don’t have to.

  15. #15 Ahcuah
    November 17, 2007
    Hmmmm. I wonder what that means?????

    That you misspelled “Jessop”? ;-)

    Well, crap. That does make a difference, doesn’t it?

    Very interesting. It appears that there have been several recent court dates about spousal support in a divorce/family case, with a hearing scheduled for 11/29/2007.

    But, I notice that the judge is not Kirkwood, so if there is anything to this at all, it’s another example of incorrect information.

    From the “Register of Actions”, it appears to me to be just a standard case of the husband, Markus, falling behind on child support (the order to show cause that rejuvenated the case on 8/20 was in all likelihood an order to show why Markus hadn’t paid, or had fallen behind). His “Income and Expense Declaration” was then a response to that, and then the hearing on 11/29 is probably to determine whether his child support should be modified.

    Anyways, there is nothing in this case to indicate some sort of conspiracy or child endangerment.

  16. #16 DLC
    November 17, 2007

    Let’s see. morphing details, legal actions that are illegal , unethical and most importantly unreported in the court documents. Sorry, but in order for me to believe this tale I need some real, confirmed evidence. As someone else once said: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    In this case, I’ll settle for ordinary evidence, so long as it’s verifiable.

  17. #17 HCN
    November 17, 2007

    Michael said “Stubblebine was the commander of the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca from 1980 to 1984. When I attended the school in 1985 there was quite a bit of “woo” in the curriculum. I asked a few questions and found out that Stubblebine was responsible.”

    Oh. My. Word.

    Thanks, now I know what to get my brother for Christmas. He was in the Army for 20 years, mostly in the Signal Corps which meant being assigned in Ft. Huachuca off and on from the mid-1970s through the late 1980s (spending his last decade with back to back assignments in Germany). Now that I think about it, his son was born there in 1982, so he must have known about Stubblebine.

    I enjoyed Ronson’s book “Them”, so I hope my brother will find his other work amusing. Of course, he has been the recipient of odd things from me. Because his wife was then a fundamentalist we received a very bizarre video tape one year for Christmas telling about all the evils of Dungeons and Dragons, Yoga, and other “non-Christian thinking”. I retaliated by giving him a year long subscription to “Skeptical Inquirer”, http://www.csicop.org/.

    Now back on topic: It was noted by a commenter earlier that Laurie Jessop has tried to influence legislation in the State of California. I did a search for “Jessop” at http://www.legislature.ca.gov/ and found nothing. Surely if she had petitioned the legislature, there would be something. I even went to the state’s main page and found 40 some pages with “Jessop”, but nothing to do with Laurie or Chad.

  18. #18 Dangerous Bacon
    November 18, 2007

    Another interesting factoid about General Stubblebine: he is featured in a book (“The Men Who Stare At Goats”) about the U.S. Army’s forays into the bizarre in the field of special operations. The title has to do with a project in which military personnel supposedly spent hours staring at goats in an attempt to kill them via thought power. Stubblebine’s activities appear mundane by comparison:

    “Some of the characters involved seem well-meaning enough, such as the hapless General Stubblebine, who is “confounded by his continual failure to walk through his wall.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Men-Who-Stare-Goats/dp/0743241924

    More hilariously, there are numerous alties who view Stubblebine as part of a government plot to subvert the alt health movement, rather than as a real life version of Gen. Jack D. Ripper of “Dr. Strangelove” fame.

  19. #19 Harry Abernathy
    November 18, 2007

    Orac, I want to apologize for pushing you to pursue the truth in this case. While all of this is certainly providing everyone with lots of drama, I do regret that you’re taking time out of your schedule (which involves saving the lives of people with cancer, right?) to search for facts for people who refuse to do it themselves. This is probably the reason why the “mainstream media” is not covering the case, just as they don’t cover Area 54 and Bigfoot stories…

    Putting aside Mr. Woodward (whom I believe is sincere, just misguided), I don’t want to see this ‘Angryscientist’ get an overinflated image of himself due to the recent attention his website has generated. It’s Tim Slagle all over again (except that Tim does appear to read from sources). Now, I don’t mind you having self-purported “arch enemies”, but it’s like watching Superman take on the Prankster. Is it really a fair fight?

  20. #20 Brendan S
    November 19, 2007

    WHAT ELSE is at PO Box 808?

    http://www.goldkhu.com/contact.htm

    Hmm….

  21. #21 Infophile
    November 19, 2007

    So the comments here are the only place Angry Scientist has mentioned the judge’s name? Even though I maintain he shouldn’t have mentioned it (unless, of course, it somehow happens to be true), the fact that this is the location at least means that little harm should come to her reputation. Most of the people here would be more likely to side with the stance that this is a hoax. It would instead be a much more significant libel issue if it were up at his site, where the readers would be prone to believing it. Hopefully he won’t end up doing that.

  22. #22 obscurifer
    November 19, 2007

    GoldKHU has some tie to the “Centre for Implosion Research.” Wow! A Centre! With metric spelling!

    They’ll send my the Wand of Horus. At least it’s not his father’s wand. I’m not sure how you’d package and deliver the Wand of Osiris.

    Heh.

  23. #23 Orac
    November 19, 2007

    You guys obviously don’t regularly read Your Friday Dose of Woo.

  24. #24 Brendan S
    November 19, 2007

    Oh, I totally do, I just found it amusing how lazy they are trying to fraudulently take people’s money, since a web search for ‘Lake Forest’ and ‘Box 808′ turns this up pretty quickly.

    You’d think they could afford another PO box number for their NPO. Also, isn’t it fraudulent to present yourself as an Tax Deductible org without registering as an NPO with the IRS?

  25. #25 Squillo
    November 19, 2007

    Infofile:

    Unfortunately, he also posted the judge’s name in the comments on his own blog. Also unfortunately (for him), in an attempt to establish credibility, he compounded the error in judgment by posting a link to an online “journal” that essentially reposted his blog entry, and to a Newsweek website that apparently posted links to other blogs on which the story had been discussed. All of which makes the “damage to reputation” requirement for libel just that much easier to meet, should the “evil judge” part of the story turn out to be untrue.

  26. #26 Nodtveidt
    November 25, 2007

    This story is a complete and utter hoax. Amazing how quickly it spread, and how long it went without widespread disbelief.

  27. #27 Angry Scientist
    November 28, 2007

    Chuck Aubrey aka The Baron interviewed Laurie Jessop about this “complete and utter hoax” on his Gnosis show on KJLL in Tucson, Arizona on November 3 between 6 and 7 PM. If anyone wants to get a copy of the show, send a request with your snail mail address to dashoak@netzero.net

  28. #28 Orac
    November 28, 2007

    And this is supposed to “prove” exactly what?

    Nothing, that’s what.

    By the way, I’ve been in contact with the court. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

  29. #29 tonyl
    November 28, 2007

    By the way, I’ve been in contact with the court. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

    Arghhhh, your killin’ me! I gots’ta know what the court said. Please tell me you are planning to provide an update post in the not too distant future! Hopefully sometime before Christmas.

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