Respectful Insolence

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it more times than I can remember. Purveyors of unscientific medicine don’t have the goods. If they had the goods, then their nostrums wouldn’t be called “alternative” medicine anymore; they’d just be medicine. Because they don’t have the goods in the form of science and clinical evidence, all that leaves is to attack those who criticize their lack of science and clinical evidence. Most recently, we saw this in the reaction of the British Chiropractic Association, which is suing Simon Singh over the most bogus of reasons, and in the grande dame of the anti-vaccine movement whose star has been eclipsed by that of Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loe Fisher who, while calling for a “fearless” conversation about vaccines, has been cowering behind the law to try to shut down just such a conversation.

This time around, we have a particularly despicable example. Dr. Thomas Lodi, who on his website An Oasis of Healing bills himself as “Homeopathic Physician, Metabolic Medicine, Internal Medicine, Integrative Oncology, and Certified Nutrition Specialist,” has decided that he didn’t like a cancer patient by the name of Seanty criticizing his claims about chemotherapy, has sent through his Director of Marketing Shayla McCallum a legal threat demanding that he take down his post or face legal action for defamation.

The stupid, it burns, my precious.

Shayla is utterly clueless. She’s cowardly, too, as she apparently asked Seanty not to publish her full name. (If you happen to see this, Shayla, be aware that many of my readers know my full name, and I’d be happy to post this elsewhere under my own name.) Either that, or even she knows that what her boss asked her to do was shameful and therefore quite understandably does not want her name linked with it. Too bad. She works for Dr. Lodi and apparently agreed to do his dirty work for him. In any case, All Seanty did was to link to an article (which now appears to be gone). I’d also like to point out that the .sig file of Shayla’s e-mail made me laugh out loud in that it includes the Quack Miranda Warning right in it:

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this e-mail is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease; and any product mentioned in this e-mail is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Furthermore, the information provided hereinabove comes without any warranty whatsoever. Use it at your own risk. Just because a product, program, book, or service, etc. is mentioned hereinabove does not mean that that we endorse or approve of it. All the other standard disclaimers also apply.

It’s comedy gold to include the Quack Miranda Warning as part of the .sig file for a legal threat against a cancer patient who criticized homeopathy as quackery and Dr. Lodi for making highly dubious statements about cancer therapy.

I’m guessing that if Dr. Lodi had bothered to consult a lawyer he would have found out really fast just how idiotic he was being, but it’s probably far cheaper to have his clueless Director of Marketing send a vacuous legal threat by e-mail. Of course, maybe Dr. Lodi’s actually being clever and knows that a faux “cease and desist” order sent by his lackey might frighten someone enough to take down the unflattering information he wanted taken down, information apparently similar to information contained in, for example, this article:

But Fry said she still has concerns. She pointed to the board’s 2002 licensure of Dr. Thomas Lodi of Las Vegas. According to public records, Lodi, a recovering cocaine addict, admitted to the board that he had surrendered his license in Nevada in 1996. Nevada records show that Lodi gave up his license while under investigation by a state program set up to deal with doctors with substance-abuse problems. The Arizona board still unanimously approved Lodi’s license because Lodi held an active license in New York that is still current. Lodi now shares a practice in Mesa with the board’s chairman, Dr. Charles Schwengel.

When Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, learned about Lodi during the meeting, he grew visibly irritated. Waring said he felt that assurances about how doctors are licensed given to him in private meetings with Springer and members of the board did not match their testimony Tuesday.

Assuming this account is true, Dr. Lodi appears to have taken advantage of Arizona’s licensure of “homeopathic physicians.”

I’ve also taken a look at Dr. Lodi’s website and his history of going from being a real doctor to an “unconventinoal” doctor. It is, as I like to say, a “target-rich” environment, full of testimonials and a heapin’ helpin’ of woo, such as heavy metal detoxification and even colon hydrotherapy. If I lack for blogging material next week, Dr. Lodi has supplied me with plenty. For instance, colon hydrotherapy is pure quackery (in my not-so-humble opinion, of course). So is chelation therapy for anything other than a very few indications.

Apparently, so weak is Dr. Lodi’s case that instead of providing actual evidence that his therapies work (testimonials don’t count; that first one about a breast cancer patient who has refused chemotherapy is almost exactly the same as that of Suzanne Somers and meaningless for the same reasons) or that his criticisms of chemotherapy are valid, instead he got his clueless Marketing Director to whip off a threatening e-mail to Seanty, who apparently lives in the U.K. Maybe Dr. Lodi read about the Simon Singh case and thought he’d engage in a bit of libel tourism himself, or at least use the threat of the U.K.’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws to his advantage. Whatever the reason, his action is despicable in its cluelessness, cowardice, and insensitivity.

Finally, if Dr. Lodi or Ms. McCallum send me any such e-mails, they both should be aware that I will post them verbatim right here to be ridiculed by you, my readers.

Comments

  1. #1 Geek Goddess
    January 9, 2010

    I have a special place in my black, black heart for people who prey on cancer patients.

  2. #2 Dave W.
    January 9, 2010

    If they had the goods…

    I’ve been saying for years that if even just 0.1% of the claims made by the alt-med crowd were true, we’d all be living, disease-free, to age 150 or so.

  3. #3 John McKay
    January 9, 2010

    “All Seanty did was to link to an article (which now appears to be gone).”

    I think this is the missing post:
    http://community.macmillan.org.uk/forums/p/12846/212711.aspx#212711

  4. #4 lucy
    January 9, 2010

    FYI, the actor Stanley Tucci might be one to watch for in the future. He was on NPR, and briefly described how traditional treatment of cancer is what killed his wife, not cancer – even saying that they found alternative treatments, but the traditional ones had already done too much damage. He also said he now knows how to “help” other people with this information. It was only a small part of the interview, but he might be worth keeping an eye out for in the future.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122250033

  5. #5 Anthro
    January 9, 2010

    Why is there an ad over here on my right for “Autism Speaks”?

  6. #6 Marilyn Mann
    January 9, 2010

    A “director of marketing” sending legal threats? Truly pathetic and ridiculous.

  7. #7 Jon
    January 9, 2010

    I blogged about some of An Oasis of Healing’s claims earlier today. Not impressed by their use of the evidence. One would have hoped they could have addressed the evidence base for what they promote, rather than resorting to legal threats.

  8. #8 Melissa (oddharmonic)
    January 9, 2010

    @Anthro: I believe that ScienceBlogs’ ads are not necessarily selected to jive with the individual blogs they appear on. I use the AdBlock extension with Firefox though, so I rarely see ads.

  9. #9 Tsu Dho Nimh
    January 9, 2010

    orac –
    It this the article: http://www.azcentral.com/health/news/articles/1109homeopath09a1.html

    “State [Arizona] lawmakers on Tuesday called for a full-scale audit of the homeopathic medical board that has licensed four felons and at least six other doctors who have lost their licenses or been disciplined elsewhere.”

    “But Fry said she still has concerns. She pointed to the board’s 2002 licensure of Dr. Thomas Lodi of Las Vegas. According to public records, Lodi, a recovering cocaine addict, admitted to the board that he had surrendered his license in Nevada in 1996. Nevada records show that Lodi gave up his license while under investigation by a state program set up to deal with doctors with substance-abuse problems. The Arizona board still unanimously approved Lodi’s license because Lodi held an active license in New York that is still current. Lodi now shares a practice in Mesa with the board’s chairman, Dr. Charles Schwengel.”

  10. #10 Tsu Dho Nimh
    January 9, 2010

    Our licensing of quacks is a disaster … but so far the legislature soesn’t see the harm in allowing quackery.

  11. #11 FreeSpeaker
    January 9, 2010

    ut Fry said she still has concerns. She pointed to the board’s 2002 licensure of Dr. Thomas Lodi of Las Vegas. According to public records, Lodi, a recovering cocaine addict, admitted to the board that he had surrendered his license in Nevada in 1996. Nevada records show that Lodi gave up his license while under investigation by a state program set up to deal with doctors with substance-abuse problems. The Arizona board still unanimously approved Lodi’s license because Lodi held an active license in New York that is still current. Lodi now shares a practice in Mesa with the board’s chairman, Dr. Charles Schwengel.

    I believe that if NY was aware of his history, as he is obligated to report, NY would have at least suspended his license.

    Someone should make NY aware of his history, as his licence is currently active and up for renewal.

  12. #12 Greg Fish
    January 9, 2010

    Trying to silence criticism with threats of lawsuits is pretty cowardly, especially in light of the fact that the people who do it like to use the Quack Miranda warning and cheap populism to risk people’s lives based on the personal fantasies about medicine. And if I can indulge in a little link to my post on the subject…

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2010/01/08/silencing-skeptics-one-lawsuit-at-a-time/

    For those who’s like a one sentence summation, this sort of legal action is a technique of public discourse on par with driving past a house and making a throat-slitting gesture with the side of your hand as you look your intended victim in the eye.

  13. #13 Militant Agnostic
    January 10, 2010

    Pro Tip – Avoid any doctor that employs a “Director of Marketing” like the plague. I realize that due to a lack of plagues in recent times most people are out of practice at avoiding something like the plague. However, I understand that Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loelife Fisher and Jay Gordon are working hard at rectifying this.

    Anthro – stop looking at the hole and start looking at the doughnut. Get clicking on the Age of Autism add and transfer a few pennies from them to Orac. I would, but I am running Adblock in Firefox.

  14. #14 Azkyroth
    January 10, 2010

    For instance, colon hydrotherapy is pure quackery (in my not-so-humble opinion, of course).

    And colon cephalotherapy, as Dr. Lodi is practicing, is actively harmful to oneself and others.

  15. #15 DLC
    January 10, 2010

    Depressing.
    But, what did you expect out of homeopaths ?
    They don’t care what you did before applying for license, they just want your 500 bucks or whatever the license fee is.
    I wonder how many more people these quacks will get to kill.

  16. #16 MikeMa
    January 10, 2010

    Anti-abortion protesters doggedly pursue patients at clinics with signs and yelling, etc. It is despicable but legal to do so. I wish we could somehow re-focus that energy on quackery and have them hold signs in front of quack clinics.

  17. #17 J Dubb
    January 10, 2010

    Anthro,

    Autism Speaks is not the same as Age of Autism. Autism Speaks is a mainstream organization that values science. You won’t find any anti-vax stuff there.

  18. #18 Chris
    January 10, 2010

    Think again, J Dubb. They have had some dubious public relations and science, enough so that Alison Singer resigned due to their vaccine stance.

  19. #19 epador
    January 10, 2010

    re: 16 MikeMa

    Bringing abortion into the discussion is a bad idea. Very close to getting munched on by the Hitler Zombie. If you believe it is murder, then the number of deaths it causes far outnumber the deaths due to quackery, the fetus is not the one choosing to die, etc.

    But to get back on track, I think that there may be some sort of legal backlash, especially since the Marketing DIrector was used, that might be capable of shutting this current operation down.

    Any Legal Eagles out there who can help?

  20. #20 FreeSpeaker
    January 10, 2010

    Just to be clear, Lodi is licensed in NY:

    Name : LODI THOMAS L V
    Address : MESA AZ
    Profession : MEDICINE
    License No: 168225
    Date of Licensure : 10/20/86
    Additional Qualification :
    Status : REGISTERED
    Registered through last day of : 05/10
    Medical School: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII Degree Date : 05/19/1985

    Since his NY license was active in 1996, he had an affirmative duty to report the circumstances vis-a-vis his surrender of his Nevada license. Failure to do so violates the law and subjects him to discipline.

  21. #21 Katherine
    January 10, 2010

    re #19 epador:

    Abortions save lives, even if you believe that it is murder. Since when did we talk about beliefs on here except to ridicule them when they disagree with modern medicine? I hope you realise that protesters outside many clinics are hassling people that are there to get their birth control (preventing abortions!), STD checks and other medical procedures that are not abortions.

    “I realize that due to a lack of plagues in recent times most people are out of practice at avoiding something like the plague. However, I understand that Jenny McCarthy, Barbara Loelife Fisher and Jay Gordon are working hard at rectifying this.” This quote is the best comment of all time. Thanks, Militant Agnostic at #13

  22. #22 David N. Brown
    January 11, 2010

    I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to call the message a threat… Compared to broadsides from Wakefield and JB Handley, it could be considered restrained and polite.

  23. #23 David N. Brown
    January 11, 2010

    As long as “extra-legal” methods are under discussion, I nominate the “ecoterrorists” as agents who would be useful in taking down quacks. They seem to be quite good at doing major damage to facilities and equipment without actually killing anyone.

  24. #24 Paul Browne
    January 11, 2010

    “As long as “extra-legal” methods are under discussion, I nominate the “ecoterrorists” as agents who would be useful in taking down quacks. They seem to be quite good at doing major damage to facilities and equipment without actually killing anyone.”

    Bad idea, for two obvious reasons.

    1) Nothing is more likely to encourage sympathy for the alt-med crowd than harassment or criminal attacks on their property.

    2) Most ecoterrorists/animal rights extremists that I’ve encountered are into alt-med woo in a big way, it fits neatly into their world view.

  25. #25 Scott
    January 11, 2010

    @23:

    You’re the first one I see discussing “extra-legal” methods. MikeMa suggested protesting outside of quack clinics, which is completely legal.

  26. #26 LovleAnjel
    January 11, 2010

    “extra-legal” is like “alternative”. It doesn’t make it ok just because you’ve given it a different name.

    The view from the high ground is always the best.

  27. #27 pst314
    January 11, 2010

    “Lodi, a recovering cocaine addict…”

    Why wasn’t a homeopathic dose of cocaine enough for the homeopathic “doctor”? :-D

  28. #28 David N. Brown
    January 12, 2010

    “It doesn’t make it ok just because you’ve given it a different name.”
    An “extra-legal” option means breaking the law to prevent a greater evil for society. It does not mean avoiding the consequences the law may impose. I consider such things to be a matter of individual conscience.

  29. #29 BlueMaxx
    January 12, 2010

    RE Dr LOdi and his NYS licensing status…

    a search of the on line public access datebase for disciplinary history yields:

    On: 01/12/2010 10:43 AM
    You searched for: Name: LODI ———– License: 168225 ———– Type: ————
    You searched for: Effective Date: ———– Update Date: ———–

    * If there is a list of name(s) above, click on each name to see the disciplinary
    information. If there is no list of names, there is no public disciplinary action that
    matches what you entered for the search.

    Reminder: This database contains public disciplinary actions for 1990 and later.

    SO it seems he was either not “disciplined” by NYS, they were/are unaware, or the actions that may have been taken were not placed in PUBLIC files. HMMMmmm!!!

  30. #30 Antaeus Feldspar
    January 12, 2010

    @David N. Brown @ 28

    The fact remains that you were the one who said “As long as “extra-legal” methods are under discussion”, when “extra-legal” methods were not under discussion. Period. I don’t know what you thought you read, but we are not responsible for your misreadings.

    If anyone touched upon in this discussion is engaged in “extra-legal” activity, it would be Barbara Loe Fisher, who might yet be sanctioned for filing a frivolous lawsuit. I mention this not because I think Fisher’s lawsuit — though frivolous — necessarily meets that threshhold, but rather to emphasize once again: no one was discussing “extra-legal” methods. To the degree that we were discussing what might be called “extra-ethical” methods, we were discussing solely their usage by anti-science forces and deploring the fact that those forces had chosen to employ extra-ethical methods of intimidation. How any person of normal reading comprehension could think from that that we were looking for methods to employ ourselves which would lower us further than our opponents have already gone, is beyond me.

  31. #31 David N. Brown
    January 13, 2010

    What was discussed was demonstrating directly against a place of business (with some mention of pro-life groups). That, in itself, may involve defying the law (eg refusing if the owner orders you off the property). There is a continuum from there to more extreme and direct action.
    As I said, I believe only the individual can decide what action is justifiable under what circumatances. (I suppose, in this regard, I lean in the direction of anarchism.) I do not intend to try to influence anyone else in this regard.

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