What's the harm? An Australian child dies while undergoing a particularly cruel form of quackery

A common criticism aimed at those of us who are highly critical of various alternative medicine treatments and, in particular, of the "integration" of such treatments into conventional medical treatment is: What's the harm? What, they ask, is the harm of homeopathy, acupuncture, iridology, or traditional Chinese medicine? They argue that it's pretty much harmless, or, to quote Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about earth, harmless. Of course, fans of the novels know that Ford Prefect, a contributor to the guide, reacting to Earthling Arthur Dent's outrage that the entry for the planet earth consisted of only one word, assured him that in the next edition the entry would be expanded to read "mostly harmless." An analogy to this sort of quackery could be made, except that it is anything but "mostly harmless." It can—and is—often harmful to individual patients, not to mention the corrosive effect integrating pseudoscience into conventional medicine has in general.

I've documented various examples over the years, examples such as Madeleine Neumann, a 11-year-old diabetic girl who died of diabetic ketoacidosis when her parents relied on prayer instead of medicine to treat her diabetes. Then there have been children like Daniel Hauser, Katie Wernecke, Abraham Cherrix, Jacob Stieler, an Amish girl named Sarah Hershberger, Cassandra C, and, most recently, two aboriginal girls from Canada, Makayla Sault (who died) and JJ (who will, hopefully, live, although her chances of ultimately surviving were greatly compromised by her mother's insistence on pursuing a Florida quack's medicine instead of chemotherapy). These were all children or teens with cancer whose parents chose (or supported their choice) not to undergo chemotherapy and to pursue quackery instead. Then there was Mazeratti Mitchell, who suffered a spinal cord injury while wrestling, whose mother wanted to rely on a naturopathic quack instead of surgery to fuse his spine. The list goes on and on and on; depressingly so, in fact.

I'm sighing with sadness as I add another one to the list: Aidan Fenton of Sydney, Australia, a seven-year old boy with type I diabetes who died undergoing quack treatments associated with using traditional Chinese medicine:

A Chinese healer, who slaps patients until they produce dark bruising and is now under investigation over the death of a Sydney boy, had brought his treatments to Perth.

Self-proclaimed healer Hongchi Xiao was using slapping therapy on seven-year-old Aidan Fenton to treat type 1 diabetes when the boy died in Hurstville New South Wales on Monday evening.

Mr Xiao brought his traditional Chinese medical treatments to Perth in 2013 and was sponsored by Perth traditional medicine practitioner Chai Chua.

Mr Chua told 6PR Mornings on Friday that anyone, especially children, undergoing Chinese therapy for serious health conditions should be supported by conventional medical advice.

It sounds to me as though Mr. Chua is trying to cover his proverbial posterior here. Basically, Aidan Fenton was taking part in a seven day workshop in Huntsville when his parents found him dead in their hotel room:

Police and paramedics were called to the Ritz Hotel in Hurstville about 9pm on Monday to reports that the boy had collapsed and was not breathing.

His parents' screams alerted staff at the hotel, who called triple zero. A NSW Police spokesman said the boy died at the scene.

It is believed Aidan, from Prospect, had type 1 diabetes, and police are investigating whether he was no longer taking insulin before his death.

Mr Xiao's week-long Sydney workshop cost $1800 for participants to attend, and was held at the Pan Health Medical Centre.

This Australian news story includes a video of the sort of "therapy" that Hongchi Xia teaches. I encourage you to watch the brief clip. It shows people undergoing Paida, or "slapping therapy," during which they are seen slapping themselves on the legs, body, face and other locations until the skin was turning black and blue with some rather impressive bruising, and I call this bruising impressive as a surgeon who's seen a lot of trauma in his residency and, for a few years after, covered trauma call as an attending. Included with the news story is a photo from Xia's website showing a man with bruising on his abdomen that wouldn't have been out of place in a trauma patient pulled from a crashed car.

I perused Xia's website, PaidaLajin Self-Healing and it's a frightening place on the Internet. Right on the English home page, it advertises Paida as "DIY," effective, simple, low cost, safe, and universally applicable, as in "effective on about all diseases" (an exact quote). Elsewhere, we learn that Paida means to "pat and slap external skin areas to expel poisonous waste (in the form of Sha) and to restore health by facilitating the smooth flow of Qi throughout the meridians (energy channels in the body). ." (Detoxification. Of course it had to be "detoxification," complete with acupuncture meridians.) Xia tells us that he uses disease categories "for convenience only," and "to self heal and to help others regain health, you are advised to 'forget the disease name.'" What is the rationale for this treatment? Vitalistic, prescientific nonsense, of course:

Paida /Inducing Sha = Elimination of the toxic waste in the body

  1. Our skin is closely related to meridians (energy channels in the body), limbs, five internal organs, six entrails and nine apertures (including the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, urethra and anus).
  2. Paida enhances one’s faith and power of the heart, stimulates and cleanses relevant meridians to facilitate the Qi flow. Smooth Qi flow will in turn help the circulation of blood. Clearing meridians could cure diseases.
  3. The patted and slapped parts of the body will automatically gather Qi and blood, which then facilitates their circulation. As a toxin-sweeper, the enhanced Qi automatically scans the body to locate and cleanse the blocked meridians. As a result, toxic waste, illnesses and even tumors can be cleared.
  4. From the perspective of Western medicine, Paida is a "proactive sabotage technique" that stimulates the central nervous system, which then activates energy and blood flow, secretions, and the lymphatic, nervous and immune systems to help repair the damaged parts. This is a process of self-healing and rehabilitation, and enhances the body’s immune functions.

Supposedly, you can even tell what sort of effect the Paida is having by the Sha it produces, which supposedly appears only where diseases are present. in this way of thinking, the amount of Sha indicates the severity of disease and the intensity of the Sha color correlates with the amount of "toxic qi" in the body, with darker colors corresponding to more "toxins":

According to the position of Sha, one can tell the illness (or potential illness) of the corresponding organs and the Sha itself also shows the body has started the reduction of body endotoxin and the treatment.

The Sha will come out in a minute after Paida with those who suffer from obstructed blood circulation and their Sha comes faster and the color of the Sha is darker than usual.

Some people will have red Sha first, and after more Paida, the color will turn dark purple or even into dark masses.

Yes, it's called bruising. It's what happens when the skin is traumatized sufficiently. First it turns red with inflammation, and then the breakage of small blood vessels under the skin leads to bleeding under the skin; i.e., bruises (or, to use the medically fancy term, ecchymoses). Then, as the bruises resolve, as virtually every human being knows, having experienced at least small bruises in his or her lifetime, such bruises turn all sorts of lovely colors from purple to green to yellow, before fading away. Xia notes that sometimes "people will have Sha the first time they have Paida and don’t have Sha afterwards and may have Sha again later, which means their body and mood are undergoing some changes." No, what it means is that they probably didn't hit themselves hard enough to cause immediate bruising the first time around and the bruises are showing up later, as they often do with lesser injuries. I know TCM has some really dumb ideas at its heart, such as a concept that links various organs to regions on the tongue, much as reflexology links them to parts of the palms of the hand and soles of the feet, but somehow I had gone all these years without having ever encountered Paida before. This is even dumber than Tong Ren, because at least in Tong Ren the person is hitting a doll instead of himself.

So how, specifically, is Paida done? Xia's website describes that the proper sequence is to start hitting yourself from the "top down"; i.e., starting at the head and working your way down to the feet until, apparently, you've beat your entire body to a bruised pulp. Xia helpfully notes that if you feel the pain of slapping then "you are on the right way" and recommends that you chant mantras while patting or slapping for better results. He even recommends "Paida with your mind," observing that "when slapping the skin, you can imagine that you are injecting fresh Qi into the body and bringing out the dirty Qi." You know, it occurs to me that Dirty Qi would be a totally awesome name for a rock band. For a rationale for slapping yourself silly to bring out the "toxins" and treat disease? Not so much.

In fairness, we don't know yet whether Aidan Fenton died of Paida, whether he had stopped his insulin, or whether he died of something else. However, as noted in Doubtful News, the circumstances look very, very suspicious. It's also been reported in The Daily Telegraph that Fenton had been made to fast before slapping therapy and that he vomited and died:

It is understood Mr Xiao has claimed participants in the seminar were asked to fast for three days and to undertake the slapping and stretching exercises that can prompt vomiting and dizzy spells, known as a “healing crisis”.

Aidan was among those vomiting during the seminar.

Mr Xiao said Aidan looked well during the seminar and had eaten rice but became ill on Monday evening after Mr Xiao had gone to dinner.

Police and paramedics were called to the nearby Hurstville Ritz Hotel where the Year 1 student had been staying with his parents after the little boy was found unconscious at 9pm.

Hotel staff said they rushed to the family’s aid after hearing screams coming from their room.

Aidan was found in bed. His heart stopped beating on the way to the hospital.

Police are now investigating if the “healer” advised his parents to take Aidan off insulin and instead encouraged alternative therapies to treat him, including massages and slapping.

Consider the pain and fear of a seven year old. He's made to fast, and doesn't understand why. He's made to slap himself all over until he's bruised, which is painful, and he doesn't understand why. Why, he wonders, why are you doing this to me, Mommy and Daddy? If Aidan underwent Paida as it's described on Xia's website, it's hard not to conclude that he was tortured, either by Xia or his parents. That's why reading quotes like this drives me crazy:

Neighbours of the Fenton family described Aidan as a “beautiful, really good boy” and said his parents had been too traumatised to speak about the incident.

“All we can hear is them crying, all the time,” said a neighbour, whose daughter was the same age as Aidan and played with him over the school holidays.

“They were such good parents, it is really hard to understand why it happened and how it happened.”

Yes, it is hard to understand how this happened—very hard—if you're a rational, science-baed person. There is no physiologic rationale why raising welts and bruises would have therapeutic effect for diabetes or any other serious diesease and lots of reasons for it to be harmful. If, as is alleged, Aidan was forced to fast before, then it might actually be even worse if he had still been taking his insulin, because, as all type I diabetics know, taking the same dose of insulin if you haven't eaten can lead to dangerously low blood sugar. Be that as it may, I must strenuously disagree with the next part. While I have no doubt that they both loved Aidan and are, as described, completely traumatized by his death and suffering profound grief at his lost, it must be said that Aidan's parents were most definitely not good parents if, as it appears, they took their seven-year-old diabetic child to a week-long session with a quack who advocates beating the "toxins" out of people until they're bruised all over their body. To subject a diabetic child to such torture—yes, torture—is unconscionable and unquestionably in my mind child abuse, regardless of the parents' love or good intentions in doing it. Even if Aidan is found to have died of something else, it would still be child abuse in my mind.

What's the harm? Sadly, Aidan Fenton appears to have learned the answer to that question.

ADDENDUM: Here is a video of Hongchi Xia speaking about his Paida method. Wow, the quackery is thick here.

More like this

It's been five months since I first started Your Friday Dose of Woo. I started it on a whim, after wondering if I should have a Friday feature, as so many other ScienceBloggers do (Friday Cephalopod, Friday Sprog Blogging, The Friday Fermentable, among others). In those five months, this thing has…
Image of cave dwelling Mexican tetra By Citron via Wikimedia Commons Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) are a fascinating example of divergent evolution. Over time, some of these freshwater river fish washed into caves where they continue to live. With perpetual darkness, these cavefish have…
But why? Why does Brawndo have electrolytes? Because you need electrolytes to live. Every cell in your body uses electrolytes like sodium (Na), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and other critical ions for cellular functions, proper osmotic gradients, enzymatic activity and even…
In the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, U-M researcher Liangyou Rui, Ph.D. and his team report their findings on a protein called SH2B1, a protein in brain cells may act as a linchpin in the body's weight-regulating system. It seems to play a key role in signaling in regards…

What's the harm?

Damn....I'd call torture and death pretty harmful.

Are there insufficient decent people in the whole of alt-med that would reflexively group and clamor and protest such nonsense out of their alternative midst and out of existence? Anything goes in alt med, alternative medicine again displaying themselves as the most irresponsible group of people imaginable.

By DevoutCatalyst (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

". Xia helpfully notes that if you feel the pain of slapping then “you are on the right way”...It is understood Mr Xiao has claimed participants in the seminar were asked to fast for three days and to undertake the slapping and stretching exercises that can prompt vomiting and dizzy spells, known as a “healing crisis”."

So, ye of little faith - couldn't death be part of the healing crisis and a sign that the patient's toxins have been expelled? Don't be so quick to judge.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

I've seen similar bruising after particularly intense games of slap jack. Not pretty. Painful. And indicative of major tissue damage. And I don't recall anyone's colds being cured by playing slap jack, let alone major illnesses like diabetes.

How can a person delude themselves to the point where they think that this is a good thing? And to echo DevoutCatalyst, why aren't other alt-med practitioners decrying this as the abuse it is? Even that Chua fellow that sponsored Xiao is only going as far as to say that the child should also have had real treatment. He's not even calling Xiao out for this abuse.

Could any of the legal eagles in the commentariat enlighten me regarding the difference between paida and assault? In many Western countries, not even the parents are allowed to do this kind of thing to children. Paida seems to take the notion of "no pain, no gain" to extremes, while its practitioners forget the all-important corollary: no brain, no pain. AFAICT, this isn't a case of "there ought to be a law": there is a law, and Mr. Xiao ought to be under arrest for violating it.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Can someone tell me how the "qi" is related to "tai chi"? I have friends who are fanatics for it but I was hoping it was just exercise and not quackery.

DevoutCatalyst@2 - Australia mananged to keep Sheri Tenpenny out through sheer hard work publicising her woo to the venues. They cancelled, then so did she. This "therapist's" woo is so specialised - maybe there just wasn't enough local negative profile to garner interest. Lord knows he was tagged as a menace in Taiwan " In 2011, Taiwanese authorities kicked Xiao out of the country and fined him $US1600 for violating medical regulations."

By janerella (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Also - I heard Chua's interview on the radio this morning. He claimed HIS diabetes (Type 2) was helped by the therapy and it took a lot of coaxing by the interviewer for him to make the statement that Type 1 children should be under mainstream medical care.

By janerella (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

T'ai Chi and Qi Gong can be done just as exercises. But they are tied to the same Chinese Daoist philosophies where the Qi thing and all the other TCM stuff comes from.

Thing is a lot of them are nice gentle range of motion exercises that tend to promote good body posture and improve your sense of balance and have you think about the body mechanics of everyday activities (so trying to move the heavy bookshelf with your whole body and push through the legs rather than trying to push it with just your arms).

What I'm wondering is that most classes I've taken do a bit of warm up stretching and often do a Qi self-massage afterward (with very light tapping, you aren't supposed to get red or raise welts, more like dry brushing some of the wooists of other flavors around here tend to promote). Usually the stuff you do in between is the stuff that gets healing or well-being aspects attached to it.

So did he just take the warm up and cool down to the extreme and attribute all the healing to them and them alone, or were those the origins of the move your joints around a bit first (after all light active stretching before a work out seems pretty mainstream) and tap at the end of a session (this not so much) made much more reasonable from a previously brutal practice?

Sometime hard to know as a lot of people will give some ancient origin story even if the practice is really quite new (even something they made up by themselves just last week rather than having been done for a generation or three)

I can agree with KaYMarie: tai chi instructors may include an exercise wherein one twists the body - to liberate the qi or suchlike- whilst tapping the shoulders, sides etc. I imagine that both forms o are related.

This reminds me a bot of the tales of early Christian self-scourging altho' less ( visibly) bloody as one beats away sin.

Hopefully, none of those who seek to 'recover' a child from autism will learn of this method of toxin elimination.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

- pardonnez les typos-
I accidentally hit the button.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Hopefully, none of those who seek to ‘recover’ a child from autism will learn of this method of toxin elimination.

I was just thinking about that. As if bleach enemas weren't enough.

Do you have any evidence that this "slapping therapy" is "traditional Chinese medicine"? I've never heard of this therapy in 14 years of living in China. When I ask around about this, none of the people I know have heard of it either. It's not in any of the classic texts of Chinese medicine (which would be, you know, almost the definition of "traditional" here). And, most tellingly, the charlatan's web site doesn't seem to actually cite any traditions whilst expounding on his "Paida" or "Lajin" gobbledigook.

I would say that this guy is a step lower than even TCM practitioners in idiocy and dishonesty. TCM practioners have at least "but ... but ... tradition!" to fall back upon. This guy was just making stuff up and killing people.

Here's a little more on Paida and Sha:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-32545591

It sounds to me as though Hongchi Xiao is riffing on the TCM concept of Shaw, basically copied the ideas behind cupping, which is TCM, and put his own spin on them, by using slapping to draw out the "bad qi" or "toxins" rather than the cups.

He also blames the victim if he doesn't get better:

“Many people ask, how long should they perform these methods?

“I simply tell them, if you do it more often, you can recover faster. But sometimes, people are too lazy, and thus, they don’t see any results,” he added.

Unfortunately, because woo-bent theories of disease are so often based upon contamination by toxins, I imagine that this form of self-abuse might be considered desirable to many alt med folk.

I've heard quite a few references to toxin elimination via
- twisting the body in yoga, to squeeze out toxins from muscles
- taking a hot bath with salt
- staying in a steam room or sauna** for long periods
- exercising/ doing yoga in a hot room
- brushing the skin***

A related woo meme is that toxins cause inflammation which yields all manner of illness. Therefore, purging toxins in any way would be the road to health. In their minds at least.

** see adverts @ AoA
*** see Natural News

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Slapping... wow. Although my parents use a milder version (Gua Sha) of this when we were younger to cure nasty cold. They only scratch our back until it bruise to cause the "sha" to come out.

Maybe it's placebo, or maybe it's just the fact that we're all sweaty after the session, but it felt good afterward.

I wouldn't do it on my kids however lol.

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

Eric Lund:

The thing that might give it a shield is the parents having believed the quack when he told them this would heal the child. You are allowed to injure a person to help them; that's what surgery is, after all. The parents would be guilty of medical neglect, not assault. The quack, however, now him I think should be charged with, at minimum, negligent homicide. Ideally, he'd be prevented from doing this to anybody else, but I know from reading the stories of many other quacks just how slippery they can be.

I'm not a lawyer, remotely, but you can look at how faith healing cases have gone. Only recently have religious shields for this sort of thing been removed. Today, in most states a parent can be charged with a crime (sometimes even all the way up to murder) if their child dies because they elected to go with prayer rather than medical treatment. But it's a very recent thing; traditionally, a lot of leeway is given for parents having done what they *thought*, passionately, was the right thing, as long as they learn from their mistake. (They often don't, of course; there are people who have been charged *twice* for the death of a child undergoing faith healing.)

We're starting to appreciate that religion isn't a shield, but I think we're having a harder time with alternative medicine. It seems obvious that prayer won't heal, but does the average person believe we can expect other average people to know that this is bunkum? With everyone being tried by a jury of their peers, that's a very crucial question.

The average person knows that medicine doesn't always work, and that diagnosis isn't simple, and that many medicines have side effects, and that many treatments cause a lot of pain before you can get better. Based on that, the average person may find the claims of this crazy Chinese practitioner to be, if not immediately plausible, at least not totally outside the realm of reality. And thus, even a person who knows this treatment is ridiculous might be unwilling to blame the parents for being suckered by it, and might even acknowledge uncertainty -- the "but what if it *is* true?" mindset. That's what really allows quacks to flourish. Not just the appeal of the credulous. The credulous are who they make money off of. The rest are the buffer that insulates them from criticism.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Addendum: for a comparison, consider how long it took to outlaw rebirthing therapy, which directly killed some kids. Or consider how totally unregulated camps for troubled kids are. These camps purport to offer therapy, but what they really do is torture the kids into submission. Kids have died at these camps, and they are still allowed to operate. In the US. So quite a lot of harm can be done to children, legally, in Western countries. At least, this particular Western country.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

But your critics could point to the millions of people who died while under the care of traditional medicine & many of the people who died while using quacks would have died anyway. Also the mere fact that they were using quacks suggests they might have been doing other reckless things too that could have killed them

Your guilty if the very pseudoscience you criticize. The only way to know quacks do harm is to take a random sample of people with cancer & have a randomly chosen half visit quacks & doctors & the other half visit only doctors & then compare death rates

This just infuriates me. But what we don't know, is how the parents got into this.

They might have been full-fledged True Believers, in which case I would say they are fully morally culpable.

But they might have been innocent dupes, who were charmed into this despite some degree of reluctance. In that case I would say that they are not morally culpable: they too are victims of a vicious fraud. Their extreme grief since the boy's death suggests that this is the likely situation.

Nor would I blame T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, or Taoism, for the fact that a quack used them as part of his mumbo-jumbo. Quacks, frauds, and abusers use what they can find in whatever culture they arise in; in the UK and Europe today it's often Islam; in the USA, Christianity. Xiao, Chua, whoever, the whole lot of the quacks behind this should face swift and stiff justice. Ultimately the fault is theirs, and their arse-covering statements show that they recognise that they are guilty as hell.

Re. Mike Adams and our 'favourite frauds' list: they will seek to duck any questions about this (ducks quack and quacks duck), but reporters and bloggers should keep after them until they can't duck any further. Make them take sides. And then make the obvious comparisons.

Well @Question, if we should both happen to get the same type of cancer at the same time, I'm claiming my spot on the science-based medicine side of the trail right now. The study you want, like the One Study to Rule Them All so beloved of the anti-vaxxers, won't and can't happen, because it's gobsmackingly unethical to deny half the participants access to proven, if flawed treatment, and give the other half a green smoothie and an arse full of coffee.
I do hope you're not seriously attempting to justify this brutal, heinous quackery.

The study would not require denying anyone access to traditional medicine. The experimental group would get access to both traditional & alternative medicine. The control group only traditional medicine.

If alternative medicine causes harm, we should see more deaths in the expirerimental group.

It's easy to cherry pick anecdotes to demonize either traditional or alternative medicine. But real research requires hard hard work.

Never underestimate human stupidity.

The parents are criminally negligent--any parent of a child with type I diabetes has it drilled into them during diabetes education that their child needs immediate medical attention if they start vomiting. They have no excuse for letting their child die. None.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Yep. I have to agree. The very best that can be said about these parents is that they were criminally negligent.

From the same article

In 2011, Taiwanese authorities expelled Xiao from the country and fined him $US1600 for violating medical regulations.

In the same year relatives of a liver cancer patient complained to police after they paid $A4000 to attend Xiao's therapy sessions only for him to die three months later, according to reports in the Chinese media.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

I disagree with Orac in post #25. If they withheld insulin from someone whom is a type 1 diabetic, why is that not premeditated murder? It is well known that insulin is necessary for life and without it, ketoacidosis and death will occur. How is this different from refusing food or water until someone dies? I would argue that that is murder and not simply negligence. If you then physically abused the victim, this would not excuse the withholding of life sustaining food and water. They clearly set out a plan, withholding insulin, that can only lead to death.

That's the most depressing thing I've read in a long time. I'm going to wake my 7 year old now to give her a hug to see if it see me crying. Does hope blind people of reason so completely?

Lurker is correct: charlatans will use anything that can to hoodwink people. Often religion is their first choice.

HOWEVER when another culture's traditional medicine or modern but flimsily disguised quackery is employed, susceptible individuals are even more at sea because they are not usually as familiar with the historical perspective: thus an American or a Brit, when confronted by a quack referencing medicine of the European Middle Ages ( and later), might be wary if anything resembling bloodletting is offered BUT they may be slightly blinded by pseudoscience when the charlatan presents lunacy bathed in the shimmering glow of the "Mysterious East" or "Native American Tradition".I imagine that that's going on here.

BUT if you think about it, much of what so-called Western alt med offers is not that far away from ancient purging and methods of expelling poisons, bad humours or demonic influence. Ayurveda and TCM may have an edge as a selling point because they emit that attractive aura of *mysterioso* without the historical baggage ( see medical care experienced by George Washington and George III).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Chris Hickie@24

...any parent of a child with type I diabetes has it drilled into them during diabetes education that their child needs immediate medical attention if they start vomiting.

Exactly what I was thinking.

From the link in the article:

Mr Xiao is believed to have left Australia after he was questioned by NSW Police.

Of course he would. However much at fault the parents were Xiao is the real problem. He's the Brian Clement of this story and it seems, as with Clement, likely there won't be consequences (serious ones at least).

An article in the Sidney Morning Herald has more quotes from Xiao; he seems wholely unrepentant. The reporting seems disgustingly credulous in light of what happened.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Horrifying. My God. I have a seven year old son. I can't imagine this child's terror.

By NH Primary Care Doc (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Someone needs to SLAP Mr Xiao up side the head until he becomes too demented to continue preying on people who have opened their minds so far that their brains fell out.

Where do people get the money for these things? They need to consider more charity if they have so much excess cash.

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times. I was just debating with a friend of mine yesterday about this issue, and she's in the "what's the harm" camp. I come across articles like this and would love to show it to her as it is filled with examples about the harm, but when it's quack this and quack that, it's not even worth linking to someone. They're just going to dismiss it as hostile and biased. Instead of saying someone died because they went to a "Florida quack", it'd be a lot more useful to simply say a "Florida Naturopath" or whatever brand of quackery was occurring.
Just my 0.02 - articles with this tone really are only preaching to the choir and are only going to raise defenses of the quack-enthusiasts.

Ed. Note: This is obviously not the Chris, who has been a regular around here for a decade.

Question @#20.

You are not seriously suggesting this colossally unethical and illegal 'trial scheme' you describe at all are you? Instead you are using it to highlight how a visceral reaction from the SBM community to a blatantly abusive and dangerous practice is equivalent to an altmeddler rejecting 'mustard gas' or marginally more accurately phosgene to cure cancer? That's what you're getting at, right?

Because if so then you are still talking bollocks.

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

I'm curious who was slapping Aiden. It sounds like they are supposed to slap themselves but I have trouble imagining a child would slap himself hard enough to bruise. Can you imagine what kind of mental/emotional torture it would take to make a 7 year old hit himself until he bruised? If they were doing it "right", to the point that the child was bruised it would either be physical abuse if the parents or Xiao did it or mental/emotional abuse to coerce the poor kid into doing it himself. The more I think about this the more horrific it becomes.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

@Chris: Actually, I only used the word "quack" five times in the post; the word "quackery" once in the post and once in the title. Nowhere near 100 times! :-)

Be that as it may, your pearl clutching over tone is noted. Whenever a child dies, I'm sorry, but I'm going to tell it like it is. No euphemisms. No toning it down. No consideration for the delicate sensitivities of someone like you. None of that. Because I am biased. I'm biased against pseudoscience endangering the lives of children. Sorry if that offends anyone.

Actually, no I'm not. I'm not sorry at all.

There is no need to apologize because I tend to get outraged when children die like this. I'm funny that way. Portraying the horror as horrible might not sway true believers, but then nothing will sway true believers. It will, however, often sufficiently horrify people who can be reached.

Oh, and, in case you didn't bother to click on the link, Brian Clement (the Florida quack) is as big a quack as Hongchi Xia:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/02/11/brian-clement-and-the-hipp…

Quoting a neighbor:

“They were such good parents,"

I'm sorry, but no. They were not.
They may have meant well, but it doesn't change one iota that at the end, they didn't object to submitting their child to a nasty regimen where the main process was to have the child beating himself.
We are not talking about a drug treatment or physical exercise. We are talking about self-inflicted injuries.

As someone who, as a teenager, went through a mild phase of bruising oneself, I can say that the last thing I needed then was to have my parents encouraging this behavior.
I am aghast at the idea that the parents didn't see anything wrong here.
Even more so if they indeed were convinced by the other sadist to drop the use of insulin.

@ Question #20

Defend your favorite hobby horse all you want. But child abuse resulting in the death of the child? Really?
I will say it kindly: please go jump in a fire.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Ed. Note: This is obviously not the Chris, who has been a regular around here for a decade.

Obviously. Our regular Chris is a decent human being.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Chris: "Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times."

How about "crook"? The guy charges thousands as he makes them torture themselves, and as we can see their children, then leaves the country. He is a sadistic crook.

"Obviously. Our regular Chris is a decent human being."

Thank you.

How about 'charlatan'?
Criminal? Liar? Thief? Danger to humankind?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Chris @ #34

Words convey meaning. They carry emotional power and baggage. If the word 'quack' sounds dismissive, carries disapprobation or even downright scorn then good. That is the intention. When Orac or any commentator on these unscrupulous quacks uses the word 'quack' he fully intended the visceral reaction it provokes.

To address your example, in dignifying a quack with the meaningless honorific 'naturopath' - a word which many of the general public do not understand - actually takes a lot away from the statement. In that setting it would sound like Orac were referring to a fellow professional of equal standing with whom he happens to have a minor disagreement. I am convinced that would not be the implication he was aiming for with your putative Florida quack and is certainly not the case with this astonishing TCM quack down in Oz.

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-boy-aidan-fenton-attended-slapping-wor…

"After working with them, I learnt that diabetes, hypertension and many other problems got cured! They are indeed my teachers," [Xiao] said.
...
Australian man Ben James organised Mr Xiao's first tour of Australia in 2013, runs a Facebook page promoting paida lajin, and practises paida lajin daily.
...
"If you already have some medical issue or condition, you should take it to a doctor and get professional advice," [James] said.
...
"I'm passionate about this. It's also now why I'm so shocked about [the death of Aidan]," [James] said.

The Pan-Health Management Centre tries to abdicate responsibility:

"As a health care provider of more than 20 years history, we see every life as precious, especially those young ones. The loss is tragic and we wish to express our deepest condolences to the boy's family.

"From the information that we have, the boy was not a patient of Pan-Health and had not been treated by any of our doctors.

"Mr Hongchi Xiao rented a room from our centre to conduct what was described to us as a series of health seminars. The boy and his mother were participants in the seminar."

Crooks and liars, the lot of them.

In the articles I'm reading the closest the journalists come to critical reporting is something along the lines of "Critics say it simply results in bruising." I can understand not wanting to say bad things about the parents but Xiao should be getting shredded.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

@ Gemman Aster:

I sometimes wonder if I am wrong to refer to quacks and woo-meisters as 'alt med practitioners', 'natural health advocates or by similar euphemisms- it can sound respectful

I'm usually not at a loss for words so I'm certain that I'll find the correct terminology to express my disdain.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Someone needs to SLAP Mr Xiao up side the head until he becomes too demented to continue preying on people who have opened their minds so far that their brains fell out.

I disagree.

The goal of Paida is to promote the flow of qi, or life force. As all life springs from the genitals, I would suggest we practice Paida, with a baseball bat (or cricket bat, for our fine friends down under or across the pond), on Mr. Xiao's dick until the sha has been completely expelled from the region.

Denice Walter@#45

Honestly, I think you are - I think you give them too much credit.

Sometimes there is good ground to be gained by trying to find a middle way. Yet, that requires there to be anything positive to find on their side of the equation. Now, coming from yourself who are so obviously extending a hand as it were solidly from the SBM territory it can be taken as purely that - a reasoned gesture at building bridges. When mealy-mouthed journalists do it or worse still, the (genuine) paid PR shills dispatched by the quacks themselves then all that happens if you let it stand is another, tiny but perceptible creep towards the accepted mainstream.

Another point to bear in mind is you who you are writing to or communicating with. If you are trying to convince someone you care about or even just a truly open-minded individual then of course you do not approach them full bore. However if you are commenting on an obscenity such as the Australian case in point then absolutely you go after them and don't blunt your words!

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

If it's quackery, its quackery, and not calling it such is granting the quack false legitimacy. This guy Xiao needs to be jailed, and the kid's parents as well. negligently inflicting harm is still inflicting harm.

How about ‘charlatan’?
Criminal? Liar? Thief? Danger to humankind?

How about "murderous f*cking scumbag?"

"I would suggest we practice Paida, with a baseball bat (or cricket bat, for our fine friends down under or across the pond), on Mr. Xiao’s dick until the sha has been completely expelled from the region."

Tough, but fair.

I think quack is too kind. Someone who offers worthless treatments in good faith could, I believe, be called a quack. Rightly or wrongly, I've heard doctors who are simply incompetent called quacks.

These are scam artists, con men, fraudsters, quick buck artists, snake oil salesmen, insert your epithet here.

By Lost Silmaril (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

According to his web site, he has a number of workshops coming up in Germany:

Lecture: Tuesday. 12. Mai, 17:00 h, Technische Universität
Workshop: Thursday. 14. Mai, 10:00 h, Praxis Molari

Paida-Lajin Tages-Workshop: Donnerstag 14. Mai 2015, 10:00 – 18:00 Uhr (Christi Himmelfahrt)
Tuesday 19. May 2015, 18:00 h, Volkshochschule Heilbronn
Venue: VHS im Deutschhof, Room 401, Kirchbrunnenstr. 12, Heilbronn
Contact: Mr Tan, E-mail: Tjoangie@gmail.com Tel. 0049-7131-84092,
Fee: 13,- €

Thursday 21. May 2015, 18:00 h, Centre Elbe 20, Hamburg
Venue: Seminar Centre Elbe 20. Elbblöcken 20, 22605 Hamburg
Contact: Mr Rudi Plagemann, E-Mail: rudiplagemann@web.de, Tel. 0049-40-28477122
Mobil 0176-48230656
Fee: 30,- €

He has quite a few more scheduled.

@ Gemman Aster:

I often speak carefully so as not to alienate those on the fence- and believe or not, I do know quite a few people socially who may drink from the fountain of woo at times-
but occasionally, despite my ridiculously perfected manners, I do use NSFW vocabulary. As we well should.

@ JP:

You are correct. I'm glad that you used that particular expression rather than 'pond scum' because what did tiny, chlorophyll based life forms ever do to harm children?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

@ Johnny:

Altho' I am loathe to correct your important observation, I believe that at least *some* TCM true believers (tm) hold that life- or qi- originates from the lower central abdomen or dan tien rather than from the genitals so perhaps the bat might more apropriately be applied to that area instead .

BUT you heart's in the right place.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Tai chi is actually an effective combat martial art, much to the horror of a lot of pacificist New Age enthusiasts who don't realize that the flowing 'ward off left and roll back' is a devastingly effective means of breaking an opponent's arm at the elbow.

But I seem to remember the jing (life force from the parents is in the lower dan tien rather than the middle one in the abdomen as you do have an upper middle and lower one even if most people only talk about the middle one).

Not sure if the beating will pull all the jing out of the sperm, but usually IIRC when you run out of jing your lifespan is up.

As a teacher, I've heard a LOT of people say "I'm a good parent! I love my kids!". Nope. Loving your kids is not being a good parent; it's the prerequisite for being a good parent.

Good parents would not put a child with a chronic illness through the deluded ravings of this waste of skin. These idiots were bad parents. They loved their child; but killing your child is pretty much the definition of bad parents.

The "but people die in conventional care" BS burns my britches. Collectively, real medical care facilities across nations run up millions upon millions of patient-hours in a year. They deal with patients who will die while in care, because nothing the care providers or anyone else could do will prevent the deaths. They deal with desperate situations where hope for patient survival is minimal. Sometimes they do make fatal errors, but try to learn from and prevent future errors. Disgusting (any many more words, for which my mother would have clipped me round the ear 'ole, had she been inclined to clipping) quacks kill people because they are money-grubbing, arrogant, incompetent, stupid frauds. And then they move on to the next victims, unless outside forces stop them.
Perhaps some of the commenters who work or have worked professionally in health care, and perhaps even our esteemed host could comment on what happens after the fact when a child, or anyone, dies in hospital from anything that even remotely appears to be error or negligence. I doubt there is an "Oops, my bad" box to check on the patient history.

Collectively, real medical care facilities across nations run up millions upon millions of patient-hours in a year.

It's like the caution "Most accidents occur in the home!".

That isn't because your home is inherently more dangerous than all other possible locations one might be, but simply because we all spend far more time at home than anywhere else an accident might happen.

Mike #6: I'm fairly sure that the "chi" (or "ji") in t'ai chi / taiji is not the same as "qi" ... just two Chinese words that happen to sound somewhat alike. (Which isn't to say that the concept of "qi" isn't part of the mainstream practice of t'ai chi -- it is. But how much it is invoked varies hugely. I don't think I've even once heard my current teacher use the word.) T'ai chi, of course, can be extremely wooey or not wooey at all, depending on the inclinations of your teacher.

JGC #55: And knowing the combat application is tremendously helpful in getting the form right, even if you never plan to use it for fighting. It's one of my favourite things about t'ai chi-- going through this graceful, flowing form while the instructor calls out something like, "block the wrist, strike the temple, slice the throat!"

Some of the loveliest, most graceful movements are in fact groin strikes. :)

By delta-orion (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Tai chi is actually an effective combat martial art

As Dave Barry says somewhere, you watch all those geriatrics in China practicing their Tai Chi en masse in the public squares, you have to wonder what are they planning?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Hongchi Xiao invented Paida Laijin himself

You gotta come up with something special to distinguish your grift from all the others if you want to bring people to the $1800 / week seminars.

The only way to know quacks do harm is to take a random sample of people with cancer

I would be more inclined to believe that "Question" @20 had bothered to read the feckin' post if it had actually been about cancer.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Other Chris@34:

Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times. I was just debating with a friend of mine yesterday about this issue, and she’s in the “what’s the harm” camp.

If your friend is more distressed by harsh words than by butchered children, might I suggest you find a better quality of friend?

Mike #6: I’m fairly sure that the “chi” (or “ji”) in t’ai chi / taiji is not the same as “qi” … just two Chinese words that happen to sound somewhat alike. (Which isn’t to say that the concept of “qi” isn’t part of the mainstream practice of t’ai chi — it is. But how much it is invoked varies hugely. I don’t think I’ve even once heard my current teacher use the word.)

They are, in fact, just different transliterations (which isn't exactly the right term, as Chinese does not use an alphabet) of the same word.

@60

Ah yes, one of my favorites. Strike groin, Turn hand over. Cup "fruit" Rise up on one leg and white ape "offers fruit" over the lifted knee.

It is a gentle art. Sometimes I think the slow motion serves to make it all the more horrifying.

@ KayMarie:

I DO recall something similar including that this subtle essence runs out after 12 cycles ( age 84) so that anyone older than that HAS had to be doing internal arts to cultivate qi or suchlike. Then there was shen.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

AFTER 7 12 YEAR cycles

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

I DO recall something similar including that this subtle essence runs out after 12 cycles ( age 84) so that anyone older than that HAS had to be doing internal arts to cultivate qi or suchlike. Then there was shen.

I have a centenarian great-uncle I would like to introduce the alt-medders to; he jokingly credits his long life to the same lunch in the field every day: a can of pork 'n beans, a hunk of cheese, and a raw Walla Walla sweet onion eaten as if it were an apple. Oh, and at least a shot of good whiskey every day.

@ JP:

Right. I've had several extreme elders in my family. They all also liked cheese but varied on the whisky issue altho' cake was very well appreciated.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Is cheese the elixir of life?
( I've leave the Joycean references out).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

They all also liked cheese but varied on the whisky issue altho’ cake was very well appreciated.

Cake?! We don't need no steenkin' cake!

Is cheese the elixir of life?
( I’ve leave the Joycean references out).

Probably.

I'm actually rereading Ulysses as part of a far-flung book group at the moment, ring-lead by a good friend of mine from college. Sadly, I probably won't be able to make it up to Chicago for the Bloomsday celebration, as I'll be teaching intensive Russian at the time, and it's going to be on a Tuesday.

Tell me, does Paida come with a complementary hair shirt? O_O

JP #64

Are you sure? I don't speak or read Chinese but everything I've read about it says that "ji" and "qi" are two different words, represented by different characters and having distinct (but related) meanings.

Either way, I wasn't expecting to see so many t'ai chi enthusiasts around here. Pretty cool.

By delta-orion (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

They are, in fact, just different transliterations (which isn’t exactly the right term, as Chinese does not use an alphabet) of the same word.

Ji (极) is "utmost"; qi (气) is, well, "gas."

JP@64

...transliterations (which isn’t exactly the right term, as Chinese does not use an alphabet)...

Romanization maybe?

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

My bad, but it would help if there were one standard system of Romanization; the word for "energy" or whatever, as well as the word for "utmost" can both be spelled "chi."

^ Pinyin 'ji2' (jí) and 'qi4' (qì), respectively.

@capnkrunch:

Yeah, the word I was looking for was "Romanization." I am used to dealing with Cyrillic.

^ We do have one standard Library of Congress system for transliterating Cyrillic characters from all sorts of languages, for instance. It is a huge improvement, if you ask me, over the chaos of decades past, when people were just sort of making up systems of diacritics based loosely on the Western Slavic alphabets as they went along.

^ Cyrillic letters, not characters. Bleh.

^^ 'j' and 'q' are apparently the unaspirated and aspirated affricates, respectively, in addition to the tones on the vowel.

‘j’ and ‘q’ are apparently the unaspirated and aspirated affricates, respectively, in addition to the tones on the vowel.

Good to know. I would relate a joke I sort of accidentally made once about the "voiced bilabial affriacte" in Ukrainian, but it is not in good taste.

^^^ The corresponding English consonants are indeed 'j' and 'ch', although I don't know how close they are to the Chinese ones; hold your hand in front of your mouth while saying "jerry" versus "cherry." Neither do I have much of an intuitive feel for the mechanics of making the sounds.

Oh, wait. I should probably have said "voiced bilabial fricative." In any case, it is somewhat similar to the Polish sound represented by "ł," but somewhat closer to an English "v."

@Narad:

Well, "j" and "ch" are just voiced and unvoiced versions of the same consonant, actually. Slavic languages lack the voiced version, which is why they hate first names like mine. (I often just go by "Zhenya" in Russia.)

I thought the elixir of life came from a drowned sandworm?

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Re: "j" and "ch": if you hold your hand over your voicebox while pronouncing them, you can feel what is basically the only difference.

Well, “j” and “ch” are just voiced and unvoiced versions of the same consonant, actually.

Well, "affricate" is a pretty broad term; like I said, I'm not sure that the machinery in its unmonitored state* is doing exactly same thing in my case, but neither am I in the mood to stare at my mouth in the mirror.

* I seem to aspirate 'j' unless I'm paying attention, but just not as much as 'ch'.

I speak Russian without any noticeable foreign accent, and my students are always asking me to teach them how to do it, and I do try to teach phonetics to an extent. Sometimes it becomes impossible, though: like when they ask me how to roll an "r" convincingly. "I dunno, you just do it!" I do try to explain it as kind of like an extended "d" sound tongue flap against the roof of the mouth, but... it doesn't really help in a practical sense.

like when they ask me how to roll an “r” convincingly

I can't roll an 'r' at all. I suspect that trying out the 'd' trick with Salvador over at the dollar store might completely crack up his normally taciturn-bordering-on-somber demeanor, though.

Growing up with Spanish-speaking cousins might have helped, I suppose; learning to roll an "r" was a milestone of the same level as learning to whistle.

I remember being a college kid and taking my first Russian lessons; I had signed up for an intermediate classes, but it was promised in the blurb that beginners were welcome and there would be separate lessons. There were, for the first quarter or so, and then I was thrown into the intermediate class and out-shone them all. (No false modesty here. I am still bemused at my weird talent.)

But at one of my very first lessons, I was reading a passage aloud, and the instructor - a tough military type with a history PhD - had me read it over again. And then again. And then he said "You read that with basically no discernible foreign accent at all. Do you realize how rare that is?"

"No?"

Part of having two systems is Wade-Giles is older and before the whole two Chinas thing.

Taiwan stuck with the Wade-Giles and Mainland China came up with pinyin. Sometimes which one uses has to do with which particular Chinese people you associate with.

And that is how Peking became Beijing. I don't know why in Wade-Giles they don't use all the letters in English but do a lot of this stuff where a T by itself sounds more like a D so Tao sounds more like Dao (and don't get me started on Tao Auto a shop near here that is pronounced Tay Oh Auto ) but T'ai in the T'ai Chi (with a ' after the T) sounds like Tie rather than Die.

Wikipedia tells the story of Beijing this way,

"The English spelling is based on the pinyin romanization of the two characters as they are pronounced in Standard Mandarin. An older English spelling, Peking, is the Postal Map Romanization of the same two characters as they are pronounced in Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries. Those dialects preserve the Middle Chinese pronunciation of 京 as kjaeng, prior to a phonetic shift in the northern dialects to the modern
pronunciation."

By DevoutCatalyst (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Not being an expert in Chinese, I can't speak to the use of the apostrophe there, but it does have a very specific use in the transliteration of Russian. It represents the "soft sign," which kind of looks like a lower-case "b." It's not a sound in its own right; what it does is to palatalize the preceding consonant. (In Russian, as in all the Slavic languages I have familiarity with, consonants come in pairs: palatalized, or "soft," and unpalatalized, or "hard." English does not have this distinction formally, but we do sometimes palatalize consonants: the "t" in "tree," for instance, or the "d" in "drug.") Thus the name "Olga" is more properly transliterated from the Russian as "Ol'ga," recognizing the soft "l," though many English speakers have a hard time hearing, let alone reproducing, the difference.

We do have one standard Library of Congress system for transliterating Cyrillic characters from all sorts of languages, for instance. It is a huge improvement, if you ask me....

I'm reminded that although Hangul is supposed to have been phonetically designed, there has been no shortage of romanization schemes.

Oh geez, don't get me started on trying to translate Russian Cyrillic transliterations of other languages. This was a major headache when I was doing translations (for good money, at least) of Russian notes on archaeological digs in Central Asia. The worst part was that some of them were apparently filtered through French, up to an including just straight-up using French words for things - like "engobe" - that have perfectly good Russian equivalents. Grumble grumble.

Yep, Denice Walter and Panacea, the first thing I thought of was self-flagellating monks, too.

As if we needed more evidence that the alt-med crowd are, at heart, religious fundamentalists who believe they deserve punishment for their sins, we have this. Actually beating yourself black and blue, in order to "release your toxins," (ora pro nobis...)

I find it sad, actually, how desperately they cling to any bit of nuttiness that comes along in the hopes that it will somehow make them happy or perfect or whatever it is. I dunno. Perhaps I'm in a philosophical mood. But it's kind of pitiful to congratulate oneself on being open-minded and free while at the same time committing any manner of abuse upon oneself in the feverish, obsessive desire to be "clean." (I'm speaking in generalities here, of course; I don't feel particularly sorry for any of the people involved in this case except that poor child. Or, I feel sorry for his parents, because not only have they lost their child, they'll have to remember every day for the rest of their lives that they actually paid someone to kill him, but that doesn't mean I don't think they ought to be held criminally liable for it. And that quack ought to be strung up by his toes.)

And then yep, they insist they bear no responsibility for what happens in their "wellness centers" or "healing clinics" or whatever else, and refuse to condemn someone whose crackpot "physically atone for your sins toxins" "Healing method" murdered a child...and yet Orac and the commenters here are the mean, cold, and unfeeling psychopaths.

@Question: Such a study was done, actually, or at least such a study was begun, several years ago. The alt-med patients (in this case, patients put on the Gonzalez protocol for cancer treatment, which involves coffee enemas and peach pits, basically) had such shockingly low rates of improvements--which is to say, zero improvement--and their quality of life was so much lower than patients receiving chemotherapy that the study was terminated. It was cruelty to continue it. Orac wrote about it several times, the most relevant post I found in a quick search was this one:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/09/14/the-gonzalez-protocol-wors…

So there's some non-anecdotal evidence for you. Still want to say quacks do no harm?

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

I myself am a stickler for using the Library of Congress system when it comes to transliterating Russian; we can at least stick to that within fecking academia, no?

Luckily Northwestern Press, whose standards I must apply fastidiously during this summer's project of fact-checking my advisor's manuscript, feels the same.

Oh, squee, we go from Chinese martial arts to phonetics! I don't chime in on the comments very often, but I like this thread!

The difference between a voiced consonant and a voiceless one (at least for stops and affricates) is the voice onset time. Broadly, consonants can be voiced, voiceless unaspirated, or voiceless aspirated, depending on if phonation of the following vowel starts before, at the same time as, or after the release of the consonant. The only difference between /t/ and /d/, or /j/ and /ch/, is when you "turn on" your voice for the vowel.

In English, we don't treat aspirated/unaspirated as a meaningful contrast -- that is, we perceive both an aspirated and an unaspirated alveolar stop as being /t/. Voiced/voiceless is meaningful, however -- one is clearly /d/ and the other clearly /t/.

In Chinese, they treat aspirated/unaspirated as the meaningful contrast rather than voiced/voiceless.

Soooo...

The Wade-Giles system used the apostrophe to indicate that the sound was aspirated; no apostrophe meant unaspirated. Phonetically accurate, but confusing to westerners. Pinyin seems to be more *phonologically* accurate -- it assigns a distinct letter to each meaningful sound, rather than using the same letter for two distinct sounds, differentiated only by an obscure diacritic.

I don't speak Chinese... but I assume that pronouncing a word like "tao" with an initial /d/ makes it sound like you've got a bit of an odd accent, while pronouncing it with an initial aspirated /t/ makes it sound like you're saying a different word altogether.

By delta-orion (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Getting rather off topic for a moment, I am currently in very much of a Johnny Cash mood; his pronunciation of the English is very close to my native dialect, especially of the word "you," and most especially when I start t'drinkin." As evinced by my cousin Kelsey, my 87-year-old grandmother is still answering random landline calls with "WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?" ... With much the same pronunciation as Johnny Cash.

Oh, hey! And I know about the R rolling thing too!

The rolled R in Spanish (and a bunch of other languages -- it's actually the most common R sound) is an alveolar trill -- the sound is made by vibration of the tip of the tongue against the ridge behind your teeth. (Same spot you put your tongue to make a /d/.) The trick to it is to get the tip of your tongue into just the right position so that the airstream will make it passively vibrate. So yeah, an extended /d/ is about as good a way to describe it as you're ever going to find. (And no, I can't do it. I *can* however do the uvular trill that is used for the R in standard German, some dialects of French, and those old Tim Hortons RRRoll up the RRRim to win commercials.)

By delta-orion (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

The Chinese government has been trying to get everyone to use one standard romanization system for decades—they even use it in China. The problem is that there's more than one Chinese government, and the one on Taiwan has its own system or uses the old Wade-Giles system. Postal Atlas of China is yet another system: "Peking" is the old Postal Atlas of China Romanization for the name of the capital city, which is "Beijing" in pinyin and would I think have come out as "Peching" if done as standard Wade-Giles. ("Peiping" is not a different transliteration, but an actual different name, though more similar to an Anglophone ear than New York/Nieuw Amsterdam or Istanbul/Constantinople.)

Also, what pinyin is romanizing is one of the Chinese languages/dialects*, putonghua/Mandarin; place names may be similar in Cantonese and other Chinese languages, but that's not true of a lot of other words.

*the one with an army, navy, air force, and space program

(And no, I can’t do it. I *can* however do the uvular trill that is used for the R in standard German, some dialects of French, and those old Tim Hortons RRRoll up the RRRim to win commercials.)

Yeah, I can do both. I keep trying to get a straight answer about which "r" I should use in Yiddish, but the best I get is "it sort of varies from person to person, even within one dialect." I basically stick to the rolled "r," since it helps me sort of differentiate between German and Yiddish, and helps keeps me from Germanizing the Yiddish too much. (I mainly speak Yiddish for the sake of theater, which makes the rolled "r" even more appropriate."

Half of the current generation indulges in magical thinking of some sort. They believe in homeopathy, acupuncture, "energy balancing," fortune-telling, astrology, "crystals," purging, colonics, and reflexology. They imagine that the President can create real jobs with the wave of a pen. They are doomed.

By JG Collins (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

*the one with an army, navy, air force, and space program

Ha! I was under the impression that this was an old Yiddish joke. "What's the difference between a language and a dialect?" "A language has an army, a navy and an air force..."

I hope this asshole and the parents are prosecuted for the death of this poor little boy. This makes me so sad.

@Dr. M:

Part of me feels like they should hang, even though I don't actually support the death penalty.

Agreed that this chinese guy is a quack and the parents were misguided. I do not agree, however, that the parents were BAD parents. That's just the first step towards giving medical doctors the right to 'decide' whether or not to treat a terminally ill child or to END that CHILD's LIFE.... LIKE IS DONE RIGHT NOW IN DENMARK, thereby disallowing the PARENTS of children to determine the course of their treatment. Medical doctors are JUST AS LIKELY to be 'quacks'. I base that on the FACT that my identical twin sister has been DEAD for over 40 years now due to a 'medical doctor' misguided and totally WRONG diagnosis of her ailment. As for ME, I got RID of diabetes two and saw evidence that a close personal friend is now FREE of type ONE diabetes (at the age of 38) due to a radical change in diet (vegan, with no processed food of any kind and mostly raw vegetables), and a daily strenuous cross-country speed walk of 4 to 8 miles (or a total of 40 miles a week). I am almost 67, looking MUCH younger, naturally, with a resting pulse of 62-63 (from a 'normal' 2 years ago of 105), and bpm of 106/68 from 159/129, and absolutely no medication either. You can look at my picture on twitter.com/geekiestwoman, that is only several months old, btw. So, you have some good points, but basically most doctors think DRUGS are the CURE for what ails anyone. WRONG. That's why quacks like the chinese guy can get away with murder... there's NO ONE WORTH TRUSTING with regard to physical or mental illness.

By Violet Weed (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

During and after WWII- "Instead of taking the time to attempt to treat and rehabilitate as many people as possible, the Wall Street Journal discovered that about 2,000 soldiers were given lobotomies—many against their will. And, just like civilian victims of the lobotomy, many of them received the treatment for absurd things like depression and the other symptoms that were likely from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and also sometimes homosexuality."
projects.wsj.com/lobotomyfiles/

“Instead of taking the time to attempt to treat and rehabilitate as many people as possible, the Wall Street Journal discovered that about 2,000 soldiers were given lobotomies...."

It's unclear to me how the WSJ figures this substitution is supposed to have worked.

ken@108
Walter Freeman might has the dubious honor of having been a worse person than Xiao. Though when comparing people who harm children any difference is academic. My Lobotomy by Howard Dully is an absolutely terrifying but worthwhile read.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

^ Oh, silly me, that was just playing fast and loose with "so-called" "quotation marks."

I can scarcely imagine how this "Listverse" item was sourced.

Darren #29, I hope it was a lovely hug. Now, this vile quack's on his way to Germany. Would a consumer campaign make venues change their minds about hosting him? It worked here in Oz with Tenpenny.

Violet Weed @110:

the first step towards giving medical doctors the right to ‘decide’ whether or not to treat a terminally ill child or to END that CHILD’s LIFE…. LIKE IS DONE RIGHT NOW IN DENMARK

What in the name of bollocks are you on about?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

Allow me to be a devils advocate. Firstly very sad and regrettable this 7 year old boy lost his life. Of course if he was taken off his medication anyone familiar with diabetes would tell you that would kill him without a doubt. Whether it was because of paida is still yet to be decided until the coroners report comes in. Yes I agree its a brutal form of therapy but western medicine is no angel sometimes when it comes to intrusive methods. If we didn't invent the painkiller there would be many more painful treatments than paida. I should know because I've experienced it. And lets not forget there are many thousands of people who die in hospitals each years from medical errors by surgeons, doctors and drug company medication yet no one blinks a eyelid. My wife who's been a nurse for many years has told me numerous horror stories that go on within our hospitals by people we are supposed to trust. Please don't misunderstand me here. I think western medicine is amazing and has saved millions of life but it also has limits just the same as alternative medicine does. Do I think this therapy should be done on a child? absolutely not. The practitioner was stupid and reckless plain in my opinion. RIP Aidan

By drtooradin (not verified) on 01 May 2015 #permalink

All those many idiots in the world must be punished. But even then ... they will run to the next hoax and spend their money again for a fraud.

@ KayMarie
Groningen is in the Netherlands, not Denmark, but perhaps Violet Weed needs a geography book.

Since we know there are previous victims in a number of countries. This freakish monster could well be prosecuted for reckless endangerment or manslaughter and I think our (aus) authorities should try and extradite him.
I also believe the parents should be charged. How is this different from denying food or throwing a non swimmer into a pool?

What happens when I post before having enough coffee and was distracted by all the Belgium links the google-fu popped up with Denmark in the search string so got too excited to see a not-belgium and forgot which country I was looking for.

got too excited to see a not-belgium and forgot which country I was looking for.

I know the feeling.

drtooradin@118

Allow me to be a devils advocate.

I think you are using that phrase incorrectly. You agreed that taking a type 1 diabetic off his insulin is clearly a bad idea (even if he wasn't, he was made to fast for 3 days, equally boneheaded I'm sure you'll agree) and that Paida is a brutal "treatment." Then you transition into a screed against conventional medicine. That's not playing devil's advocate that's simply taking potshots at something you dislike. There's no need to defend the other side here. A little boy was abused by an ineffective, sadistic "treatment" and killed by medical neglect. I can't imagine how anyone could defend Xaio or his parents, except maybe the actual devil.

Whether it was because of paida is still yet to be decided until the coroners report comes in.

It seems pretty apparent it was complications of diabetes that killed him. If you are a doctor as your 'nym suggests the history, fasting, and vomiting would've clued you in. Whether he was on or off insulin being told to fast for 3 days in and of itself could be fatal. The fasting, from the available information, appears to be part and parcel with Xaio's slapping. Paida is just adding insult to injury (or injury to insult?) by abusing a young boy before neglectfully killing him.

Yes I agree its a brutal form of therapy but western medicine is no angel sometimes when it comes to intrusive methods.

The major difference being of course, efficacy. Paida is simply sadistic, surgery can be lifesaving.

If we didn’t invent the painkiller there would be many more painful treatments than paida.

Ah, but we did. Even prior to that surgery sans anaesthesia could at least be effective. For example, you need to amputate a gangrenous extremity and if all you have to do it is some whiskey, a hacksaw and a few strong men to hold the patient down it is still going to be livesaving.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. I think western medicine is amazing and has saved millions of life but it also has limits just the same as alternative medicine does.

Pretty tough not to misunderstand consideri g you just got done saying:

And lets not forget there are many thousands of people who die in hospitals each years from medical errors by surgeons, doctors and drug company medication yet no one blinks a eyelid. My wife who’s been a nurse for many years has told me numerous horror stories that go on within our hospitals by people we are supposed to trust.

Not to harp on the same point but the differnce is that alt med has saved 0 people. The limits are not the same. Alt med's limits are being based in reality.

Do I think this therapy should be done on a child? absolutely not. The practitioner was stupid and reckless plain in my opinion. RIP Aidan

I can't tell if you are distancing yourself from Xaio while apologizing for alt med as a whole or using this boy's death to push your negative views of conventional medicine wrapped in the guise of reasonableness by criticizing Xaio and the same time. Either way it's disgusting. Why can't you just say "this is a tragedy, Xaio is a monster," instead of "this is a tragedy, Xaio is a monster but...?"

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

If I thought that slapping yourself silly was all it took to cure yourself of various diseases, then I would be all for it. Considering that there is no plausible explanation of how this could work, and no evidence that it does, there is no justification for this treatment. I cannot understand those who defend it.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

Looking at the picture illustrating the post, I don't see how all those bruises could be self-inflicted. If I reach around to ht my spine, my fingers clearly stretch across my back and would leave bruises beside my spine. Trying to hit my own shoulder blades with any force is difficult so I don't see how that person could have managed those injuries in those positions, short of throwing himself backward against a wall.

If the child's bruises were anything like that, then he was clearly beaten by someone else. Someone who belongs in prison.

@LW:

I dunno, is a child being beaten by somebody else really any worse than a child being compelled to beat himself into a state like that? The latter actually seems significantly worse to me, in a way. Whether or not this quack actually laid hands on the boy, he belongs in prison, and his parents do too.

JP@130

The latter actually seems significantly worse to me, in a way.

Right? I can't even imagine what you would have to do or say to a child to get them to slap themselves to the point of that kind of bruising.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

@LW based on the googles a fair number of places sell hands shapes on a stick to extend your reach for this kind of thing, some with testimonials about curing diabetes (so far only type II)

...I believe that at least *some* TCM true believers ™ hold that life- or qi- originates from the lower central abdomen or dan tien rather than from the genitals…

I do not wish to get into a debate/argument/discussion on where some made up force, that can't be measured or detected, but can be manipulated, flows from or to because it would be silly and have no objective end. However, I do know where babies come from, and the roll that genitals play in the process, so it makes sense that the genitals would be a good place to start. Besides, it would be less satisfying to wail on Mr Xiao's abdomen with a bat.

It is likewise pointless to discuss how to romanize a language that uses a different alphabet. It could reasonably be argued that anything that gets you close is close enough. For another example of the fools errand, see
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/513/how-are-you-supposed-to-sp…

++++

My bruising story -

I've previously noted that I donate platelets. The basic process is that blood is withdrawn, thinned out a bit, separated, platelets and a bit of plasma skimmed off, and everything else returned. It's a mostly continuous process, with a needle in each arm, one arm is supply, one arm is return. The process cools the blood somewhat, and even on the hottest day of the year, it's normal to be covered with a blanket or three.

One busy day, I was getting chilled, and was waiting until a slowdown to ask for another blanket, when the return arm had a problem. It seems that the vein had constricted just enough that the needle went all the way thru and out the other side. It didn't hurt, it just felt different.At that point I called out, and a slight repositioning of the needle had everything back on track.

By that time, some quantity of blood was pumped just under the skin. It didn't look like much at the time, but the next morning, boy, howdy, it was impressive. All around above and below my elbow for a good 14 to 16 inches started turning all sorts of colors, and it carried on for over a week.

The bruise didn't hurt, but it looked like it should have. It was the topic of many conversations around the water cooler.

As an aside, if there are any other Red Cross blood donors here who have the Red Cross Blood Donor app, I've started a 'Science Based Medicine' team. If there is any interest in it I'll keep it open, otherwise I'll let it drop.

It is likewise pointless to discuss how to romanize a language that uses a different alphabet. It could reasonably be argued that anything that gets you close is close enough.

No it is not pointless. I'm guessing you don't work with other languages/literatures/cultures in an academic sense, or you would realize what a silly thing you just said.

“Instead of taking the time to attempt to treat and rehabilitate as many people as possible, the Wall Street Journal discovered that about 2,000 soldiers were given lobotomies"

Wait, what, the Wall Street Journal should have taken the time to attempt treatment and rehabilitation?
English. Someone does not speak it.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

perhaps Violet Weed needs a geography book.
Danish, Dutch, NEAR ENOUGH.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

For another example of the fools errand, see

The article is silly, too. Let me put two quotes from it in proximity, but in reverse order from where they appeared in the article:

n standard Arabic, the initial consonant qaf is pronounced like a throaty k, midway between the English k and the German ch, as in Bach. The second consonant, dhal — two dhals, actually — is pronounced like a double dh, which is similar to English th, only with the tongue pulled back a bit behind the teeth.

***

To make matters worse, the Library of Congress and the Middle East Studies Association, to whom one would ordinarily look for guidance, have a fondness for Qadhdhafi, which is an abomination unto God.

So what's wrong with Qadhdhafi, then, it is the closest representation of phonetic reality of the Arabic? Is the problem that it looks weird? Is that any kind of a cogent argument against using it?

^ if it is the closest representation of the phonetic reality of the Arabic.

So what’s wrong with Qadhdhafi, then, if it is the closest representation of phonetic reality of the Arabic? Is the problem that it looks weird?

The problem seems to be that the Straight Dope writer has already been exposed to the several mutually-contradictory misspellings that slosh around in popular culture, so the novelty of encountering an accurate transliteration is enough to render it abominable and unworkable.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

LW - perhaps they are allowed to use whips or boards for their self-flagellation. Add a good chant and you've got a religious experience that will last the whole week.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

No it is not pointless.

On a scale of motherfucking god damned fucking irrelevant to a dead child, it is god damned mother fucking irrelevant.

I read this sort of thing and I really hate living on this bloody planet.

By David N. Andre… (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

I really hate living on this bloody planet.

]
It isn't the planet that is so bad. It's we who inhabit it.

It is likewise pointless to discuss how to romanize a language that uses a different alphabet. It could reasonably be argued that anything that gets you close is close enough.

No it is not pointless. I’m guessing you don’t work with other languages/literatures/cultures in an academic sense, or you would realize what a silly thing you just said.

My initial response was to think "close enough for what?" The name of the game is merely encoding. There's a reason that the coin of the information-exchange realm in baking finally became weight.

No it is not pointless. I’m guessing you don’t work with other languages/literatures/cultures in an academic sense, or you would realize what a silly thing you just said.

By way of illustration -- I have a couple of papers in the pipeline involving cross-language comparisons, one of the languages being Udmurt (from the Finno-Ugric group). So some of the data files are in Cyrillic transcriptions, with extra diacriticals to handle the Udmurt phonemes; some have been transliterated from Cyrillic to Roman. The relevant literature is mostly available in English, but Udmurt words have undergone various paths of translation on the way, sometimes involving Estonian.
Fortunately my co-authors are far more knowledgeable than me and speak many more languages, and they can tell me that XXX in one paper or data file is equivalent to YYY in another paper or file, just transliterated differently. But on the whole, no, it is *not* :reasonable" to argue "that anything that gets you close is close enough".

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

I'm not a linguist, but I have dabbled with a number of languages. There are sounds that it is almost impossible for non-native speakers to get right. In Arabic there's a vowel sound that I was told an English speaker knows they are getting close to getting right if it feels like they are about to vomit. In Hindi, there's a consonant that sounds somewhere between an English T and an L (in the word Thōṛā, meaning 'little', for example), but all my efforts to get it right resulted in great hilarity from my mentors.

Conversely, there is no P in Arabic, so native Arabic speakers have trouble hearing the difference between P and B (P is unvoiced, B is voiced) - when I was last in Egypt a chap called Paul was constantly ribbed with "Ball, like football?". Hindi speakers have trouble with V and W as there is no V sound in the language.

Given that, and I'm sure there are many more examples from other languages, I think it's reasonable to argue that for some sounds we have to settle for "close enough" when transliterating for general purposes, but not for linguistic purposes.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Long-time lurker, first time poster here.

As an adult type 1 diabetic (diagnosed aged 4-nearly-5 in 1969). IF Aidan's insulin had been withheld, even if fasting, he probably went into DKA, unless his honeymood period was still in force and he had a half-reasonable endogenous insulin function still operating (the honeymoon phase where islets of Langerhans die off can last a few years). Even so, he would have felt absolutely dreadful and been in immense pain even without the slapping.

If it wasn't withheld, the slapping could have increased adrenal reactions causing higher blood glucose by itself.

AFAIK we don't have terms like "negligent homicide" here. We have murder, manslaughter and a very grey area I don't fully understand called "illegal killing", which is seldom used. Murder and manslaughter are determined on intent, and I'm fairly sure there'll be a robust police investigation into charging manslaughter against Xiao, and probably neglect/abuse against the parents.

There are sounds that it is almost impossible for non-native speakers to get right. In Arabic there’s a vowel sound that I was told an English speaker knows they are getting close to getting right if it feels like they are about to vomit. In Hindi, there’s a consonant that sounds somewhere between an English T and an L (in the word Thōṛā, meaning ‘little’, for example), but all my efforts to get it right resulted in great hilarity from my mentors.

Sure; in fact, there are sounds in languages which are written with the Roman alphabet which are difficult for English-speakers to pronounce, since English doesn't have them. Typically they are represented with diacritics, extra characters, or letter combinations. The "szcz" combination in Polish, for example, is one sound; in Cyrillic it is written with one dedicated letter, which makes more sense, but then Cyrillic was literally made for Slavic languages. (Or the Slavic language, as it basically was at the time.)

The thing is that when you're switching between different alphabets, you want to represent each letter the same way every time it occurs; having one standard makes it a lot easier to research a foreign author or subject in the English literature, where foreign words are likely to be transliterated.

In fact, having a common standard ultimately trumps linguistic accuracy - that's why Slavists use older, widespread transliterations of famous people like Dostoevsky, Tolsoy, Brodsky, etc., instead of the Library of Congress system. Names in general are sort of a special case, since they're much more often transliterated than other words, and in much broader contexts, so it's not surprising that there are a million versions of "Qadhdhafi" out there.

Of course, English itself uses letter combinations to represent sounds that the Roman alphabet had no letters for - "th," "ch," and "sh," for instance. And "th," of course, used to have its own dedicated letter.

Great, can you cover the horrifying quackery of Jim Humble and Kerri Riveras convincing parents that autism is caused by "rope worms" and the treatment is to give them bleach enemas, bottles, eye drops, and baths - especially during the full moon? Yes, this is a thing, and they are profiting while parents abuse their children.

@doug.
Welcome to the internet

I guess I see your point if we had immediately launched into some other topic without ever at any point addressing that the events in the blog post are horrific.

That discussions often wander off after everyone has had a chance to express their horror and eventually something sparks a side conversation happens on pretty much every single extended conversation on the web and sometimes is part of what allows people to form community and understand each other better as people is what happens in the side conversations.

You may want to avoid all comment sections of blogs or other extended conversations on the internet if off topic musing are intolerable.

This bruising looks a lot like something I underwent in my "pre-rational" days, in which a practitioner of TCM took a spoon and scraped the side edge along my spine, mostly. she also tried to hit the major organs and my shoulders. It was very painful and the bruising looked just like this.

As someone who was fully immersed in the alternative medicine mindset when I was very young and very sick, I have to agree, at least in part, with the post regarding the term "quackery". I guess the question is, who are you trying to reach? If you are trying to change minds, this article might not even get through to a true believer. And if you say to me that a true believer is beyond hope, then I'm here as living proof to tell you that is not true at all. Many true believers have simply not been presented with a different way of thinking about things, or are very young adults with much room to grow. If you are just talking to each other, that is fine, too. I enjoy the articles. i like the dismissive tone, for myself. From time-to-time, I would like to share an article with someone, though, and have them read it instead of dismiss it.

Whats the harm? Your article is very slanderous. It will hurt the TCM community and you have no idea what the cause of death is. you should be absolutely ashamed of making this claim when you have no idea what actually happened. And the fact that you said.. "I know TCM has some really dumb ideas at its heart, such as a concept that links various organs to regions on the tongue, much as reflexology links them to parts of the palms of the hand and soles of the feet, but somehow I had gone all these years without having ever encountered Paida before. " shows your level of understanding. Learn about the quantum physics. learn about the law of similar, read the holographic universe. educated yourself before you speak.

Stacie: "Great, can you cover the horrifying quackery of Jim Humble and Kerri Riveras convincing parents that autism is caused by “rope worms” and the treatment is to give them bleach enemas, bottles, eye drops, and baths – especially during the full moon?"

Here you go:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/?s=mms

susie: "Whats the harm? Your article is very slanderous."

Your defending someone who has run into trouble in other countries and advocated beating a child.

susie: " Learn about the quantum physics. learn about the law of similar, read the holographic universe. educated yourself before you speak."

That is hilarious. I love when folks show their depths of ignorance when they give an optical method mystical properties.

For a "science blog", you certainly haven't offered much forensic evidence or scientific data as to the cause of death. Furthermore, you use the word "quackery" repeatedly, with no qualification. I'm not defending that the boy died, possibly due to negligence. But it's unbecoming of you as a journalist (if one can refer to you as that), short-sided and simple minded for you to lump together a sophisticated medicine which is thousands of years old (and together with other East Asian medicines serves over a billion people on the planet) and practices of "quackery" like religious prayer. Furthermore, the methodology with which you measure Chinese medicine is inherently flawed -- meaning that (and you should understand this as a scientist or physician) at a certain threshold, the mechanisms of the body defy basic Cartesian thinking and logic. You're trying to measure a glass of water with a ruler, and invalidating the water because you cannot measure it with a ruler. If you're going to use one case of negligence to debunk an entire medicine, you should start with the number of people who take too much or the wrong kind of pharmaceutical and die as a result. In the US, there are over 10,000 deaths per year due to negligence by conventional medical professionals. Your article, which is opinion-based and not founded on much science, is damaging to an entire profession around the world. It belongs on Facebook not a "science blog".

Oh, wait. I just checked my traffic, which went through the roof starting a few hours ago because someone must have posted this to a high traffic Facebook page. Perhaps that explains how CT found this post, although it doesn't make his/her arguments less silly.

I hope the healer and both his parents go to jail!

I love when folks show their depths of ignorance when they give an optical method mystical properties.

The holographic principle being invoked isn't the one that involves diffraction and interference; it's the putative string-theory solution to the black hole information paradox.

Which is why washing the walls is the same as cleaning up a room.

CT: "(and together with other East Asian medicines serves over a billion people on the planet)"

Bit of racist nonsense. Denies the very real medicine and research done in a major portion of this planet. Probably doesn't know a couple of vaccines used in USA were developed in Japan.

"You’re trying to measure a glass of water with a ruler, and invalidating the water because you cannot measure it with a ruler."

Definite math illiteracy. Ever heard of solid geometry? Do you ever check your car's oil level with a dipstick?

Your article, which is opinion-based and not founded on much science, is damaging to an entire profession around the world.

Since when are your profit margins anybody else's problem?

I thought I heard that lonesome whistle - it's the crazy train making an unscheduled stop.

"Your article is very slanderous. It will hurt the TCM community"

Funny, I don't hear voices when I stop by this site.

What really hurts TCM is practitioners who use dangerous nonsense like "slapping therapy" on kids with insulin-dependent diabetes, as well apologists for such quacks.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Narad: "The holographic principle being invoked isn’t the one that involves diffraction and interference; it’s the putative string-theory solution to the black hole information paradox."

It was stupid in the 1990s when someone first tried to tell me. I gave her my copy of Skeptical Inquiry that shredded the mystical idiocy. Looking at my SI from a DVD archive I find the Summer 1991 issue has this book review:
Holography, Hyperbole, and Hooey
The Holographic Universe. By Michael Talbot.

That is the nonsense being spouted by susie.

*measure*?? I think *sample* is a better word.

Narad #161; The holographic principle? Really?

Implicate order and explicate order are concepts coined by David Bohm to describe two different frameworks for understanding the same phenomenon or aspect of reality. He uses these notions to describe how the same phenomenon might look different, or might be characterized by different principal factors, in different contexts such as at different scales.

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

...Managed to kill every theory around him but, like a poor marksman, he keeps missing the target... Bohmmmmm!!!!

'Summer 1991 issue"

Gonna blame my glasses: Summer 1992 issue

Oh wow, that book is still in print, and Talbot has branched off into video:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Talbot_%28author%29

First paragraph of SI review:
According to the cover of Michael Talbot's latest excursion into pseudoscience, his Holographic Universe provides "a remarkable new theory of reality that explains: the paranormal abilities of the mind; the latest frontiers of physics, and the unsolved riddles of brain and body." Unfortunately it does none of these things, since a mere analogy is neither a sufficient nor a satisfactory explanation, particularly for matters as complex as the mind, physics, the brain, and even the paranormal. As a whole, the book is simply incredible. If the platypus is an animal that has to be seen to be believed, then Talbot is a writer who has to be read to be disbelieved.

Way off topic- told Constance Garnett was the best translator of Tolstoy- Opinions anyone?

Orac@159
I don't think you could count them even with 2 rulers.

MB@154

...in which a practitioner of TCM took a spoon and scraped the side edge along my spine...

Ah yes, the original abusive TCM treatment that's "not really abuse." The first time I ever saw coining I told the receiving nurse that we suspected abuse. She said we didn't need to report it because it was just an alternative treatment. Cultural considerations be damned, I'll call DCFS on that every time.

I guess the question is, who are you trying to reach? If you are trying to change minds, this article might not even get through to a true believer.

I can't speak for Orac but my impression was that this was more of a cautionary tale for fence sitters if anything. Also, as Orac said before it's tough to be calm and collected when a child was neglectfully killed.

And if you say to me that a true believer is beyond hope, then I’m here as living proof to tell you that is not true at all.

What was most effective in changing your mind? Like tone, content, person delivering the message, etc. I think it's important to learn from ex-true believers like yourself so we can be more effective communicators in the future.

susie@155

It will hurt the TCM community and you have no idea what the cause of death is. you should be absolutely ashamed of making this claim when you have no idea what actually happened.

If this harms the TCM community, all the better. We actually have a pretty good idea of what happened. A type 1 diabetic boy was made to fast for 3 days, vomited, became unresponsive, and died. Anyone who even knows a diabetic will tell you that it was almost certainly complications of diabetes. Personally, I think it sounds more likely that he was kept on his insulin and was killed by hypoglycemia but the difference between that and being taken off insulin and dying from DKA is really academic. A young boy died of neglect and you feel the need to defend his killer because you're worried that it makes TCM look bad. Absolutely disgusting

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Goodness, I didn't mean to start a board war about the finer points of transliteration.

I used the letters 'qi' to represent the nonexistent Chinese life force, and around that grew up a discussion of is it correct to 'qi' or or 'ji' or ''chi' or 'ki' or maybe even 'jing'. It doesn't matter to me what letters we use, but if I were king, we'd use 'nonexistent Chinese life force'.

Then I said "It is likewise pointless to discuss how to romanize a language that uses a different alphabet". I'd like to walk that back somewhat, and change it to "It's pointless to argue how to romanize a language that uses a different alphabet in a blog post comment thread dedicated to a different topic". That question will not be solved here, and may well never be solved anywhere, simply because there may not be a correct answer. As Krebiozen noted, and I agree -

…I think it’s reasonable to argue that for some sounds we have to settle for “close enough” when transliterating for general purposes, but not for linguistic purposes.

In the hopes we can all get along, and as a gesture of peace and goodwill, let me say -

JP, I apologize for getting your dander up, and as a gesture of my true and honest hope we can put this behind us, I will in the future use your choice of 'qi' or or 'ji' or ''chi' or 'ki' or 'jing' to mean 'nonexistent Chinese life force', just let me know which you prefer. Likewise, I will use your preference of Muammar Qaddafi, Mo'ammar Gadhafi, Muammar Kaddafi, Muammar Qadhafi, Moammar El Kadhafi, Muammar Gadafi, Mu'ammar al-Qadafi, Moamer El Kazzafi, Moamar al-Gaddafi, Mu'ammar Al Qathafi, Muammar Al Qathafi, Mo'ammar el-Gadhafi, Moamar El Kadhafi, Muammar al-Qadhafi, Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi, Mu'ammar Qadafi, Moamar Gaddafi, Mu'ammar Qadhdhafi, Muammar Khaddafi, Muammar al-Khaddafi, Mu'amar al-Kadafi, Muammar Ghaddafy, Muammar Ghadafi, Muammar Ghaddafi, Muamar Kaddafi, Muammar Quathafi, Muammar Gheddafi, Muamar Al-Kaddafi, Moammar Khadafy, Moammar Qudhafi, Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi, Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi, as well as your preference for Leo Tolstoy, Lev Tolsztoj, L.N. Tolstoi, Lyof Tolstoi or Lav Nikolajevic Tolstoj, or any other combination of letters, for any of these three people or things.

@Johnny:

Is there something to put behind us? Don't worry about it. I am often blunt, but it takes a lot to make me genuinely angry. I have fond recent memories of standing on a front lawn at 5 in the morning in Madison, WI, with one of my best friends, finishing a bottle of whiskey and yelling at each other about Israel. That's my idea of a good time.

I wouldn't say there was much of a war going on; we were having a sort of general side-topic discussion, which you may have misread, and then you said something pretty Dunning-Krugerish - that's all.

That question will not be solved here, and may well never be solved anywhere, simply because there may not be a correct answer.

It was never my argument that there is One Correct Way to Romanize or transliterate a language, but that it is better in many ways to settle on One Standard Way. There are real practical reasons for this.

In any case, thanks for the bouquet of spellings of names, and it actually isn't about my personal preference, but if you are ever in one of my classes, you will spell Tolstoy's name "Tolstoy," unless it is contained in a quotation which you are transliterating from the Russian, in which case you will use the Library of Congress system - in which it would be "Tolstoi."

Susie says,
" Learn about the quantum physics. learn about the law of similar, read the holographic universe. educated yourself before you speak."

Thanks for the Monday morning laugh, fruitloop.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

This article is disturbing. I would like to attempt defending TCM practitioners a bit without being ganged up on.

I have NEVER heard of someone with a Masters in Chinese Medicine do this slapping thing. TCM practitioners have an ethical stance here. Harm none, not much different from a Dr taking the oath.

No practitioner in there right mind would ever have a diabetic fast or anyone fast for that matter. They may or may not perform guan sha on them but NEVER on someone who is weak or susceptible to infection. Most will not do it on a diabetic at all.

This is the type of crazy that gives professionals a bad name. This article says he is a self proclaimed healer. Would you go to a self proclaimed surgeon? Self proclaimed Dentist? Self proclaimed fertility Doctor? Self proclaimed Lawyer?

People need to do their due diligence into the credentials of the people they intrust with their health and well being.

This article is a joke as far as debunking TCM. Its sadly another article of the parents of a sick child putting their trust in the wrong person.

I have NEVER heard of someone with a Masters in Chinese Medicine do this slapping thing.

Not a True Scotsman!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

@ Orac

Can anyone count the fallacies and nonsense in CT’s comment?

About one every three words.
Same for susie, actually.

Their recriminations about a "lack of science" right under a few posters talking about the deadly effects of insulin withdrawal on a diabetic person (capnkrunch #127, torifrog #148) is revealing of their blindness.

@ susie and any other alt-med apologist

Short version, choose your battles more wisely.

Long version:

Your article is very slanderous. It will hurt the TCM community.

Good.
Maybe the TCM community will do some effort to regulate its sh!t. And if they don't, maybe our politicians will.

A little story from my country:
In December 2008, in the hospital Saint-Vincent de Paul, in Paris, a nurse hooked-up a 3-year old kid with an IV bag of magnesium chloride instead of a glucose solution, by mistake. The bags were kept in the the same drawer of the mini-pharmacy of the hospital's service.

The boy died horribly, in front of his family.
To add insult to injury, the hospital's staff, being overworked and a bit too jaded, at first dismissed the family's calls for help as brown people's hysterics (the euphemism "Mediterranean syndrome" was used), until it was too late.

The nurse spent a few days in jail, until it was decided that no criminal charges would be levied (mixed responsibilities and so on...)
The hospital staff was sternly encouraged to reorganize their pharmacy to avoid the same mistake in the future.

Could mainstream medicine do better? Yes, certainly. Definitively.

Are stories of medical errors like the one I just gave a reason for being lenient and soft-spoken about alt-med excesses? Certainly not in this case.

There is a difference between being negligent and being willfully ignorant.
With the former, issues arise because a mistake was done. If someone had sorted and separated these frelling IV bags, the French boy would still be alive.
With the latter, issues arise because the method is flawed. The Australian child died while following Xiao's directives - fasting, slapping, etc.. These are completely nonsensical treatments for a diabetic.
It's not a bug, it's a feature.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

@ Heather:

How is a person to know WHICH TCM practitioner is qualified ?

Do they have a system of education, examination, training and oversight like doctors do?
Is it possible that qualifications vary by institution or association?
Which ones are trustworthy?
Is there any oversight or a concept like malpractice?
Does this vary from place to place?
Aren't some healers self-ordained historically?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

I agree with Heather. This man is as bad as a phony MD practicing w/o a license. He should be indicted for manslaughter. Unfortunately the parents had a "cult" mentality.

Heather: "This article is a joke as far as debunking TCM."

The same can be said about your comment, and the others from your fellow TCM apologists.

. Would you go to a self proclaimed surgeon? Self proclaimed Dentist? Self proclaimed fertility Doctor? Self proclaimed Lawyer?

Nope. I also wouldn't employ a self-proclaimed magic carpet pilot, but I would be equally unlikely to employ a magic carpet pilot trained and certified by the Magic Carpet Flyer's Association of America.

The Holographic Universe. By Michael Talbot.

That is the nonsense being spouted by susie.

Ah, I didn't recognize the title. It seems arguable that the misinterpretation would be superior for someone explicitly complaining about the statement "I know TCM has some really dumb ideas at its heart, such as a concept that links various organs to regions on the tongue, much as reflexology links them to parts of the palms of the hand and soles of the feet."

susie - Whats the harm?

As I said at #148 (perhaps swallowed by the linguistics discussion)
" IF Aidan’s insulin had been withheld, even if fasting, he probably went into DKA, unless his honeymood period was still in force and he had a half-reasonable endogenous insulin function still operating (the honeymoon phase where islets of Langerhans die off can last a few years). Even so, he would have felt absolutely dreadful and been in immense pain even without the slapping.
If it wasn’t withheld, the slapping could have increased adrenal reactions causing higher blood glucose by itself."

In other words, just this practice can hinder diabetic management, which is vital for prevention of long-term complications. That's just the start of the harm in this particular case.

Also, isn't the T in TCM for traditional? And yet ... it was established earlier in this thread that it was invented RECENTLY by Xiao - who still claims it as TCM. If that's not evidence of lying I don't know what is.

Hindi speakers have trouble with V and W as there is no V sound in the language.

I thought it was the other way around.

Mr Xiao brought his traditional Chinese medical treatments to Perth in 2013 and was sponsored by Perth traditional medicine practitioner Chai Chua

I am not sure how Chai Chua became a "traditional medicine practitioner" in the eyes of the press. He's director of an on-line scam selling new-age tchotchkes and Organic Supplements, but apart from the medicinal-mushroom part of his inventory, there's no "traditional medicine" there. more "biothermal heat pads".

http://www.ganovital.com.au/company-vision.aspx
(calls itself "network marketing" rather than MLM).

In his personal testimonial for self-flagellation he presents himself as merely an enthusiastic amateur:

ht_tp://pailala.org/index.php/en/sharing/127-austrialian-couple-s-hypertension-diabetes-levels-dropped-weight-reduced

Some time in the last few weeks, Chai Chua scraped the page from his website in which he promoted and sold tickets to Xiao's seminars, but it still exists on the Wayback Machine.
ht_tp://web.archive.org/web/20150423115317/http://ganovital.com.au/paidalajin/

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

I'm not sure which language of India was his native dialect but I had a botany prof who used to say, "and de utter way around," to avoid people who found wisa wersa more amusing than they should.

"Then, a series of events led him to embark on an unprecedented quest to rediscover Chinese culture and to learn CCM. His is an almost forgotten way of travelling: Yun-You, i.e. to rove. With the wisdom of a scientist and the spirit of an explorer, Xiao has travelled to all possible corners of the world: to monasteries, temples, and even deep forests in China and overseas, and to places ranging from Mt. Wudang to Mt. Qingcheng, from Luguhu to western Hunan, from Mt. Emei to Tibet, from Hong Kong to Australia, and from Los Angeles to New York, etc. "
http://www.amazon.com/Hongchi-Xiao/e/B00B3FW5F4

His biographical note goes on in this vein.

TCM on breast cancer. ( For information purposes only-I do not endorse TCM)
"preparing for breast cancer treatment"
breastcancer.com/dnttreatment.html

Narad: "Ah, I didn’t recognize the title."

I probably would not either if I had not had another mom who I hung out with start talking weird stuff about holograms after I had gone by a certain display in a university engineering building several times over a couple of years... plus received a current copy of Skeptical Inquirer.

Let me just say the whole notion struck me as whackadoodle. so much so I remember it after over twenty years.

And, yes, I subscribed to SI from the early 1980s until life with kids got complicated close to 2000. I am not a newby.

Chris@188
I did a book report on that book in high school. I found it in the science section by a quantum mechanics book I had previously read but I quit reading it pretty early on after realizing how nuts it was. Lots of nonsense about mystics, placebo, psychedelics, etc. Didn't stop me from bs-ing a report about it. Oddly appropriate looking back on since I pulled my report out of the same place Talbot pulled the book from.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

According to the cover of Michael Talbot’s latest excursion into pseudoscience, his Holographic Universe provides “a remarkable new theory of reality that explains: the paranormal abilities of the mind; the latest frontiers of physics, and the unsolved riddles of brain and body.”

Karl Pribram shares the blame with David Bohm for introducing this piece of magical thinking into the lexicon of woo, even if both of them set out aiming for something more substantial and quantifiable than a mere metaphor.

Learn about the quantum physics.
My first degree being in that topic, I was hoping that Susie would come back to explain how she intended to define and solve the Hamiltonian. Alas, she seems to have been a drive-by troll. Or else her location was so well-specified to Comment 155 that her momentum was completely unspecified and has now taken her somewhere else entirely.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Qi is fundamental healing base for acupuncture and TCM for 2,000 years. If the world approves acupuncture, the world accept the concept of TCM.

I have tried Slapping therapy. It works. For those of you who never experience it, please shut up. You are not qualified to comment on something you don't have any experience in.

By Donald Hwong (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

I just can't understand. Like Orac said, for a science based mind, this is just too much. How in the world (in a god damned 'educated' country with access to school) someone can believe that self mutilation will help you ? I mean, someone hitting or cutting himself is not seen as 'sane' or in the way to going better.
I can't understand, really. It's a really sad story. People with diabetes can live a normal lives today, it's a gruesome murder, no less.

Donald Hwong @ #192, I have no experience in being bitten by a venomous snake, but I can still comment on how dangerous they are. Your comments lack basic logic.

PS. "The world" doesn't approve acupuncture as any kind of treatment better than placebo.

Narad,

"Hindi speakers have trouble with V and W as there is no V sound in the language."
I thought it was the other way around.

I think to be more accurate the sound व in Hindi is equivalent to neither W nor V, it's somewhere between the two. There's a discussion about the distinction here.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

225,000 deaths caused by medicine each year in the US. Enough said.

By Lonny Jrrett (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

@Lonny

And that justifies starving and beating a child to death exactly how?

By what mechanisms do alternative healing methods collect, analyze, record, or in any other way measure their harms in any format of any kind?

How many deaths where a pharmaceutical was given are because people only turned to proven medications after all else failed and they were at death's door? I'm sure if we had emergency chakra alignment centers where people showed up with gunshot wounds or in cardiac arrest they might accumulate a few deaths as well.

At least the physicians don't blame the patient when the medication harms them.

@lonny - how about providing an actual citation for that number too....

Karl Pribram shares the blame with David Bohm for introducing this piece of magical thinking into the lexicon of woo

I take it you don't care much for Bohm, herr doktor bimler #191? And yet, a pilot-wave theory is being revisited:

This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.

http://www.wired.com/2014/06/the-new-quantum-reality/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Broglie%E2%80%93Bohm_theory#Pilot-wave_….

I see that he was sympathetic toward the concept of 'orgone energy'. After reading of the vehemance of the FDA in destroying Wilhelm Reich, his research, his devices, and his books, my interest in 'orgone energy' is now non-zero.

Cloudbusting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pllRW9wETzw

Wow, Lonny really believe$ in this crap:

Lonny has been active in the field of Chinese medicine since 1980 and is recognized worldwide as a leading practitioner, author, scholar, and teacher of Chinese medicine. He holds masters degrees in both acupuncture and neurobiology. A founding board member of the Acupuncture Society of Massachusetts, in 1993 he was elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is a graduate of the Traditional Acupuncture Institute and studied pulse diagnosis intensively with Dr. Leon Hammer. Additionally, Lonny has achieved the rank of fourth degree black belt in the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do. His work in the field of neurobiology has been published in leading scientific journals and in 1993 one of his electron micrographs of DNA was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lonny maintains his full-time practice of acupuncture and herbal medicine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Lonny moderates NourishingDestiny.com, an online community of 3000 practitioners dedicated to evolutionary, ecological, and integral perspectives on Chinese medicine.

About Spirit Press Path

Spirit Path Press was founded by Lonny S. Jarrett in 1999. We publish and distribute the highest quality texts in the field of Chinese medicine. We are interested in those works that convey a leading edge synthesis of the history, philosophy, and practical application of Chinese medicine. Of particular interest are those works that embrace integral, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives of health, healing, and medicine."

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

@#197 Lonny...

Only 225,000 iatrogenic deaths (Starfield, 2000)? Get up to date! Most alties usually tout the 2004 number of 783,936 (Atkinson, 2004). Or, for greater impact, why not use 3,000,000 (Leape, 1997)?!

Let's do the numbers... According to 2012 annual CDC statistics for the USA:

> 1 Billion outpatient visits
> 100.7 Million hospital outpatient visits
> 136.3 Million Emergency Department visits
> 35.1 Million hospital discharges

Equals 1,290,100,00 OPPORTUNITIES for an iatrogenic death! And only 0.017% deaths?

Lonny,
When you consider that the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 estimated global deaths due to adverse effects of medical treatment at 141,700 per year, it seems unlikely that the US could possibly have "225,000 deaths caused by medicine each year".

You also need to look at how many lives were saved by medicine, and how many people's quality of life was significantly improved. As I pointed out on another thread earlier, active life expectancy have been steadily increasing in the US for the past several decades, which does not appear to be consistent with your implication that medicine does more harm than good.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

His work in the field of neurobiology has been published in leading scientific journals

That would seem to be news to Pubmed.

Sheesh - "has been steadily increasing"

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

RobRN@203
You forgot 400,000+ (James, 2013). Published in a journal even!

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

His work in the field of neurobiology has been published in leading scientific journals

Perhaps the purview of neurobiology includes such topics as "Chinese Medicine and the Betrayal of Intimacy: The Theory and Treatment of Abuse, Incest, Rape and Divorce with Acupuncture and Herbs-Part I" -- published in the Am. J. Acupuncture.
Or "The Use of Exit and Entry Points in Traditional Acupuncture" -- from the shortlived J. of the National Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Conceivably Lonny had a day-job once as a technician in a electron microscopy lab. That would explain how "in 1993 one of his electron micrographs of DNA was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

@Donald Hwong - perhaps you can point to the studies that show that slapping therapy provides a clinically significant benefit for some medical condition. Thanks.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

After I heard what happened to Aidan Fenton,
I was really sad and depressed.

I am living in Canada, age 57.
I went to the California paida lajin workshop on April 2014.
I have experienced the effect from paida lajin personally.
The workshop experience was great, I have lost weight, more flexible,
the coloration of my face looks better and younger than before.
My fatty liver disease decreased too.
Everyone who sees me now kept on saying how great I look after paida lajin
and asked me what I had done for the past months.
Even though I have paid for the workshop but I also gained lots healthy benifits from what I learned.

Are surgery, operations and medications from doctors free?
Are surgery, operations and medications 100% guaranteed full recovery without any risks?

This paida lajin self healing is a really low cost.
Even the tools such as stretch bench can be homemade or a regular chair will work too.
There is no secret, or any hidden ingredient hiding behind this self healing process.

If you never been to and tried paida lajin, you have no idea what paida lajin is.
How can you only judging a book by it's cover? So it is the best to give it a try.

I was deeply saddened by the news of Aidan Fenton passing.
My heart felt condolences to you and your family.

Bill

Please read media releases from Australia's Chinese Medicine associations.
http://acupuncture.org.au/Portals/0/AACMAFiles/PDFs/Media%20articles/Me…
http://www.fcma.org.au/en/publications/news?aid=40
This is an unfortunate incident indeed. However before painting all alternative therapies with the same brush, be aware that this person is not a registered practitioner of Chinese Medicine in Australia. Registration with AHPRA exists to protect the public by requiring minimum standards in education and ethical and responsible practice, for practitioners of Chinese Medicine, Western medicine and many other disciplines.

After I heard what happened to Aidan Fenton,
I was really sad and depressed.

And yet you feel totally okay about promoting the quackery that killed him.

The workshop experience was great, I have lost weight, more flexible,
the coloration of my face looks better and younger than before.
My fatty liver disease decreased too.
Everyone who sees me now kept on saying how great I look after paida lajin
and asked me what I had done for the past months.

Did you by chance change your lifestyle? Been eating better? Exercising more?

Even though I have paid for the workshop but I also gained lots healthy benifits from what I learned.

Dude, you've paid a few $K to a lying liar who lies, and taken his advice to slap yourself silly. After that, how seriously do expect us to take your opinions?
If you want to save money, I charge considerably less money to advise you to slap yourself silly.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Bill@210

Are surgery, operations and medications 100% guaranteed full recovery without any risks?

No, but does paida have > 0% chance of full recovery? For insulin dependent diabetes, patients need insulin not paida. There's no excuse for making a diabetic fast for 3 days and ignore signs of distress (vomiting) until he is unresponsive. A
You are apologizing for a murderer and that makes you almost as bad.

As a comptent adult you are free to pursue whatever silliness you like. But slapping or force a child to slap himself to the point of bruising is abuse not matter how you cut it. You are despicable.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

herr doktor bimler@212

If you want to save money, I charge considerably less money to advise you to slap yourself silly.

Save yourself the trouble of needing to slap yourself. I provide a service where I will slap you free of charge! It's a public health thing.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Between Bill @210 --

"I went to the California paida lajin workshop on April 2014. I have experienced the effect from paida lajin personally"

and Donald Hwong @192 --

"I have tried Slapping therapy. It works. For those of you who never experience it, please shut up"

-- I am almost beginning to see the con-man's perspective. I mean, Hongchi Xiao is only scamming from people who are basically too dim to come in out of the rain... if he didn't take their money, they would just lose it some other way. And he has done his best to warn people that the whole line of made-up malarky is a scam, by making no end of absurd and easily-disproven claims about his career. He has done everything short of putting up a big sign, "Dupes Only".

If you're sufficiently sociopathic, it must be quite a buzz to stand up on a podium and watch a whole hall-full of eedjits and barmpots slapping themselves into contusions simply because you told them to, and because they have already paid you thick wads of money for the advice. A pity about the ones who stop medication and die. But hey, evolution at work.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

herr doktor bimler,

He has done everything short of putting up a big sign, “Dupes Only”.

That reminds me of the Nigerian email scams that are deliberately constructed so clumsily that only the most gullible respond. That's according to 'Think Like A Freak' by the authors of 'Freakonomics': "Anybody who doesn't fall off their chair laughing is exactly who they want to talk to".

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

I'm more interested in the mental state of the con-man's Australian agent, Chai Chua. What's going on in his head? He is profiting from the scam, what with retailing tickets to seminars and selling special Lajin benches, but at the same time he seems to be a True Believer -- judging from the photographs he included in his personal testimony, proudly displaying the extent and the colourfulness of his self-inflected contusions. Of course we know that fraud and self-delusion are not mutually incompatible.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

@Denice Walter

How is a person to know WHICH TCM practitioner is qualified ?
Do they have a system of education, examination, training and oversight like doctors do?

Yes they do. NCCAOM is a certifying body. There are national Board exams that you have to pass. CCAOM for clean needle technique. Schools are Accredited. There is also CPR and first aid certification in order to take the clean needle class/test. There are also continuing education requirements.

Is it possible that qualifications vary by institution or association?

Qualifications vary by state but you can look at the state requirements and there is a minimum. Most states you have to apply for and get a license.

Which ones are trustworthy?

Just like a DR. you have to be able to ask for the persons credentials and training.

Is there any oversight or a concept like malpractice?

There is a malpractice requirement, absolutely!!!

Does this vary from place to place?

State to state which is why it is important to make states require education so quacks can't hurt people by practicing without proper training.

Aren’t some healers self-ordained historically?

In this country like I mentioned you should be licensed and degree holding. There is patient accountability. ASK FOR THEIR CREDENTIALS

I appreciate your questions!!!!!

Heather

If someone really wants a slapping, I could easily locate a few retired senior staff non-commissioned officers who used to make it an art form. And I don't think they'd charge $1,800, either.

@ Heather:

Although I don't have time now ( I have to leave for an appointment) to answer this in detail, I can assure you that Orac has.

SURE there are general safety measures about cleanliness and CPR which also may be applicable in a nail studio BUT is there any substance and science upon which these therapies are based?

Is a degree in homeopathy valid? Or is one in the study of meridians, qi and imagined organs systems meaningful?

Orac has written extensively about various US states allowing such quasi- professionals to operate somewhat unrestricted. Use the searchbox to find his ruminations about this issue.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter@221
Though it's naturopathy and not TCM I think Britt Hermes writing has a lot of good parallels.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Oops, wasn't done yet

@Heather
Personally, I think you would haveuch more credibility if you could look at this and say, "this man is awful" instead of "this man is awful but..." Heck, say "I'm a TCM practitioner and I find Xiao terrible." I'd look at that and think "very reasonable, I guess we can at agree on this." Quite frankly, I find your (and others) need to focus more on the defense of TCM than the tragedy at hand revolting.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Qi is fundamental healing base for acupuncture and TCM for 2,000 years.

David, Qi has never been shown to exist.

Acupuncture meridians have never been shown to exist.

Acupuncture has never been shown to be more effective as a treatment for non-self-limiting illnesses and injuires than are placebo treatments or sham acupuncture.

The acupuncture that is in use today using thin needles at purported meridian points, dates from the cultural revolution and bears no resemblance to the acupuncture that may have been in use '2000 years' ago, when it was a form of bloodletting using lancets.

The world (if by that you mean qualified health care professionals and their clients) rather than accepting acupuncture unequivocally rejects it.

There are TCM practices that integrate SBM. Xia is a criminal, should be indicted and should not be associated with TCM.
I think that TCM can be helpful to recent Chinese immigrants or those with traditional backgrounds who may be fearful of SBM treatments such as chemo etc. Here is what I found......
“preparing for breast cancer treatment”
breastcancer.com/dnttreatment.html

@ken - but since the vast majority of Chinese practice SBM, why would they be interested any type of "fake" TCM that we might show them here?

You have to paste the link. They talk about preparing for chemo, radiation and other SBM treatments.

@Ken - and why would you possibly want to wrap basic medical advice (rest up, relax, etc) in terms that are just BS?

Some people don't believe in qi. I don't believe in god. I certainly wouldn't ridicule people who did.

I said there are people who might be more amenable to SBM if it was presented this way. Walk through Chinatown in NY and tell me that all those people practice SBM- you know the herb sellers etc.

I'd ridicule the heck out of someone who substituted prayer for medical treatment, myself.

From what Ive read of the comments, a lot of you are just ranting about this horrible injustice and trying to place blame. One person made a request for a more professionally written article and they get attacked? Shame on all of you! I do not support the 'sensitive movement' of such recent societies however I do support being able to link an article about a horrible young man's experience with alt med to a peer support worker, someone who actually makes contact with these naive people multiple times daily. Unfortunately, I am forced to pass this 'word' on through a more appropriately written article. Sometimes, cleaning your fuckin' shit up serves a better purpose.

By Mareeya Gingras (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Ah, another one clutching her pearls at how very, very "strident" my post was...

Look, I can write sensitive and professional and restrained. I have written sensitive and professional and restrained many times before (i.e., about Stanislaw Burzynski patients, victims of cancer quackery, etc., religion, and any number of posts to which I could provide you links if you really were interested). This case didn't call for any of that, in my estimation. It called for outrage and telling it like it is, which is what I provided. Yes, I am capable of writing in more than one style and more than one tone. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

Or are you saying that the death of a child under such circumstances doesn't call for a bit of outrage?

There are mentally ill people who do substitute prayer for medical treatment. Why do you ridicule mentally ill people who are taken advantage of by criminals?

May depend on education and region, but most Chinese I've met may use herbs or ointments for the same sorts of OTC complaints we use OTC medications for but tend to go to the science based hospital for anything we would go to the hospital for.

Kinda like buying Tiger Balm instead of Icy Hot but going to the ER if you think you broke it rather than sprained it or instead of NyQuil for cold you take some herbs brewed in a tea or you roll them up in a ball of honey for the kids.

I'm sure there are in China some portion of die hard alt med types as we have here but don't assume country of birth means they cannot see modern scientific medicine as a good thing they want more access to and something they have no idea existed so must be scared of.

I love that Orac is getting tone trolled by someone who uses "fuckin'" to make her point.

Clean up your fuckin' act, Orac! Goddammit.

I must confess that that deliciously nonsensical aspect of the whole situation hadn't actually occurred to me. I mean, if I were ever going to ask someone to read a counterpoint to why I shouldn't get angry over cases like this in a calm, respectful manner that wouldn't cause him to be turned off, I'd send her straight to Mareeya! :-)

"Why do you ridicule mentally ill people who are taken advantage of by criminals?"

Because I can. Geez, ken, can you be any more whiny and irrelevant?

Let's not jump on to the band wagon to castigate TCM, with some claiming that it lacks scientific basis and hence borders on quakery. Just because someone dies after attending a healing session doesn't invalidate the effectiveness of such treatment for many others. How many people have died from the ill effects of chemotherapy? Why so few crucify western medicine for contributing to these fatalities? The Chinese have been benefiting from TCM for thousands of years. Are the Chinese so stupid as to persistently practise quakery?

By Aberchini (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

I'm not aware than there are a lot of Chinese Quakers, but I'm not an expert on that sect.

an article about a horrible young man’s experience with alt med

You might want to rethink your word order, Mareeya.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

"Let’s not jump on to the band wagon* to castigate TCM, with some claiming that it lacks scientific basis and hence borders on quakery."

What has been discussed in this thread does not "border" on anything. It's quackery, pure and simple.

"Just because someone dies after attending a healing session doesn’t invalidate the effectiveness of such treatment for many others."

Who has been cured of insulin-dependent diabetes by "slapping therapy"? The answer is "none".

"The Chinese have been benefiting from TCM for thousands of years. Are the Chinese so stupid as to persistently practise quakery?"

Where exactly in the ancient venerable texts of the Old Chinese Masters is "slapping therapy" extolled?
There are some Chinese dumb enough to think this is a good idea, just as there are some "Westerners" who embrace the concept. Most Chinese people however are smart enough to seek evidence-based medicine, not quackery that is glorified because it's, well, ancient.

"Why so few crucify western medicine for contributing to these fatalities?"

Haven't spent much time on the Internet, I see. :)

*you've got to be careful about jumping on the bandwagon and falling off, incurring red Sha and perhaps an unwitting healing crisis that could be confused with death.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Let’s not jump on to the band wagon to castigate TCM, with some claiming that it lacks scientific basis and hence borders on quakery.

Between Donald Hwong and Aberchini, evidently many people do accept the conman's claim to be a practitioner of TCM. After all he says "qi" a lot.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

How you write is your decision, I'm not trying to tell you how to write. Simply stating an observation and my own experience with your article. I would think someone so outraged about the death of this seven year old boy would be willing to do whatever in their power to aid in preventing this tragedy from happening again. Alas, you seem to be like every other internet user so this exchange will get us nowhere. farewell.

By Mareeya Gingras (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Mareeya actually seems to leap straight from complaining about the comments to asserting that there is a problem with the post for the flounce.

Aberchini

Just because someone dies after attending a healing session doesn’t invalidate the effectiveness of such treatment for many others.

True enough. Perhaps you can point to the studies that show that slapping therapy, or some other TCM treatment, provides a clinically significant benefit for some medical condition. Thanks!

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

How you write is your decision, I’m not trying to tell you how to write.

I have no qualms in telling Mareeya how to write: Do it better, so as not to call the dead child "a horrible young man".

an article about a horrible young man’s experience with alt med

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

There is patient accountability.

I.e., it's your own damned fault if it "doesn't work."

ASK FOR THEIR CREDENTIALS

What would a typical set of these look like? How would anyone know whether they meant anything at all?

^ But I just pointlessly conflated her with Heather, sorry.

^^ A bit more thought leads me to realize that that demands a formal apology, which I offer to Mareeya and the commentariat.

Indeed, it appears that she may figured out the nature of the operation before it all came crashing down. I was carelessly and inappropriately hostile.

@ Narad:

Exactly.

Advocates may do research, publish journals, inaugurate institutes and hand out credentials like penny candy but it doesn't mean that any of it has value or a basis in reality.

See Tooth Fairy Science- Harriet Hall

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

@Denice

The guy in this article is shameful and the death of a child is horrific. It's disgusting to me for someone to profess to belong to a profession that they have no rights staking claim to.

Ignorance about something does not constitute a valid opinion. I will gladly put my education, knowledge and practices above 90% of the people I know or don't know for that matter.

Knocking something that you truly don't understand is sad.

I will wish everyone in this thread well. If someone was really and honestly open there are plenty of really good studies out there.

Please keep in mind that I have the upmost respect for a skeptic and someone capable of critical thinking. Someone that values evidence to support a claim. I can't imagine that such people would have a closed mind and be unable to consider new data presented by western doctors and scientists using modern methods to evaluate the therapeutic uses for TCM.

I would suggest to someone that is capable of critical thinking that they take care to ensure that their own conformation bias doesn't get in the way of maintaining an open mind otherwise you are not truly a skeptic and critical thinker and you are just being dogmatic.

I will not be responding again and wish you all well.

Heather@253 (on the off chance you are still following this thread)

The guy in this article is shameful and the death of a child is horrific. It’s disgusting to me for someone to profess to belong to a profession that they have no rights staking claim to.

I'm always wary of of people who feel the need to voraciously defend something in this way. When I hear of negligence by healthcare workers, I don't immediately jump to "but no good healthcare worker would have done that." This is merely my personal opinion but if I feel the need to offer more than my condolences, I think it's far better to say "I am a healthcare worker myself and I think what they did was unacceptable." Qualifying a statement with 'but' weakens that statement. When the original statement is that someone who negligently killed a child is a monster I don't think there's any valid reason to follow it with a 'but'. That's what I find disgusting. Food for thought.

I can’t imagine that such people would have a closed mind and be unable to consider new data presented by western doctors and scientists using modern methods to evaluate the therapeutic uses for TCM.

You're new here and I guess they didn't teach you in TCM school but when you make a claim you need to provide your own references. Well designed, peer reviewed studies are always good but in this case I think it's far more important that you provide some basic A&P references demonstrating the biologic plausibility of your belief system (qi and whatnot). Because absent that, any study showing efficacy is either poor design, false positive, or a case of a stopped clock being right twice a day.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

It’s disgusting to me for someone to profess to belong to a profession that they have no rights staking claim to.

He's more Calgon than anyone named "Heather" is, and that's all that the orientalism of the "traditional" label being peddled to the round-eyes amounts to.

Was just rereading Heather's original comment #175 and noticed I originally missed this gem:

I have NEVER heard of someone with a Masters in Chinese Medicine do this slapping thing. TCM practitioners have an ethical stance here.
...
They may or may not perform guan sha on them but NEVER on someone who is weak or susceptible to infection.

Because causing bruises by slapping is absurd but when it's done by gua sha it's medicine. The no true TCM practitioner argument falls even flater than I originally thought.

I suppose I should also clarify my comment #254. Although Heather never out and out qualified her statement that Xiao is shameful with a 'but', the 'but' is inherently implicit in any "no true Scotsman" argument. Of note is #253 where she says

The guy in this article is shameful and the death of a child is horrific. It’s disgusting to me for someone to profess to belong to a profession that they have no rights staking claim to.

The second sentence implies that a real TCM practitioner wouldn't not have been as irresponsible or negligent as Xiao. Given that this immediately follows the condemnation of Xiao it's not hard to read this as "The guy in this article is shameful and the death of a child is horrific, but no real TCM practitioner would do that."

It's also interesting that while Xiao is "shameful" and the boy's death "horrific", what Heather truly finds "disgusting" is Xiao's claim that he is a TCM practitioner. The worst thing Xiao did wasn't murdering a child it was that in doing so he cast TCM in a negative light. And this is what I find disgusting.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

How is a person to know WHICH TCM practitioner is qualified ?
Do they have a system of education, examination, training and oversight like doctors do?

Yes they do. NCCAOM is a certifying body. There are national Board exams that you have to pass. CCAOM for clean needle technique

This guy from China, plying his grift in Australia, should not be associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine because he has not registered with the American guild.

There are a lot of people in China who aren't registered with the American guild, so however they advertise themselves, they can't be practicing TCM either.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Knocking something that you truly don’t understand is sad.

Tell you what, Heather -- when TCM is held to the same clinical standards "western" medicine is, then I'll stop knocking it.

Just because someone dies after attending a healing session doesn’t invalidate the effectiveness of such treatment for many others.

I agree: it's instead the total lack of credible evidence demonstrating it is effective for anyone that invalidates such treatments.

herr doktor bimler@257 quoting Heather (emphasis mine)

Yes they do. NCCAOM is a certifying body. There are national Board exams that you have to pass. CCAOM for clean needle technique

Because clean needle technique is such a high bar. Claiming a mastery of general aseptic technique as one of your qualifying certification is not going to gain you any credibility here.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 06 May 2015 #permalink

Wandering a bit here (but dont' we always) -- to me, that is the single biggest argument against acupuncture. You're going to stick me with the needles you just used on someone else? Not on your nelly.

You’re going to stick me with the needles you just used on someone else? Not on your nelly.

My tattooers have had higher standards. (Hey, kids: if you ever get a tattoo, check to make sure the place has an autoclave for the machines, and that the tattooer gets the needles from a sealed package. Hepatitis, as I understand it, is no fun.)

Because clean needle technique is such a high bar. Claiming a mastery of general aseptic technique as one of your qualifying certification is not going to gain you any credibility here.

But at least it's rigorous.

Is this the right time to remind everyone that May is Hepatitis Awareness Month?

The no true TCM practitioner argument

Suppose that some Scotsman in Glasgow gets sh1tfaced on whisky and commits some heinous violence (unlikely, I know, but this is just a thought experiment). Then suppose that the Shetland-Island Association in Palmerston North (NZ) puts out a press statement saying "That guy was not a True Scotsman by our standards, he was probably a Campbell and he's never even been in Palmerston North; therefore his actions are no reflection on the Scottish".
That's more-or-less where Heather is coming from.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 May 2015 #permalink

I am no longer an Australian lawyer, but it's not clear how much protection Aiden's parents will get from their belief that they were doing a good thing. There will be a coronial inquest and charges may be laid against the parents and the Australian sponsor/s of the horrible man who did this or incited Aiden's parents to do this. (I do not believe a seven year old would be able to slap themselves hard enough to cause severe bruising, unless they were forced to continue. I think it is more likely that his parent/s or the practitioner hit him.) Unfortunately Australia does not have a current extradition treaty with China so this man is not likely to face Australian justice.

In a much older Australian case, the parents of a baby who died of malnutrition after being only fed "rice milk" were charged. This diet was chosen for the five-month-old baby daughter on a naturopath's advice. They were acquitted of manslaughter. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/04/07/1049567621694.html .

By Mavis Mae (not verified) on 06 May 2015 #permalink

Ashamed to be Australian right now. Actually, I've been ashamed of that since Abbott was elected, but now it's worse.

And as an aside, loving the word 'ecchymoses'