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Belle Gibson

Salutations, Sailors! Welcome back to the Snake Oil Bulletin, your premium blend of all the latest and greatest in quackery, hackery, and general chicanery. We’ve got a full schedule ahead of us, so let’s nose dive right in to it with some cancer woo.

Cancer-curing health maven probably lied about cancer and also everything else

This week in our Profiles in Chicanery, we introduce you to Belle Gibson, an Australian “natural health” guru and that pretty smiley lady you see above.

Gibson’s official biography, posted all over her now-erased social media presence, is that she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 at the age of 20 and given six weeks to live. She began an intense treatment of chemo and radiation therapy, but nothing seemed to work. Desperate to save her life, Gibson decided to eschew traditional Western medicine completely and instead turned to Ayurvedic medicine and oxygen therapies, completely revamped her diet to be gluten- and sugar-free, and started taking various detoxes to cleanse her body of toxins, improving her health and eliminating her cancer! Wow!

It was an incredible story to be sure, driving Gibson’s wellness blog, The Whole Pantry, to sky-high popularity. In 2013, Gibson released a health app to the iOS with the same name as her blog, rapidly becoming one of the most popular paid apps in the Apple store that didn’t involve chucking barnyard animals at each other. So popular was the app that it was chosen as one of the default applications in the new Apple Watch, excellent for Gibson and even better for the charities to whom she claimed to donate a third of the app’s profits. Her success was just in time soon, as in 2014 Gibson announced to the press that her cancer had spread to her liver, spleen, blood, and even uterus (implying that nothing had been cured after all). Support for Gibson flooded in. Publishers rushed to release the book version of The Whole Pantry, mindful that Gibson could be working on borrowed time, and her story needed to be spread to the world. Ever the philanthropist, Gibson promised that a portion of all proceeds she received through the book sales would go towards charity, only increasing her public profile as a wonderful humanitarian and wellness wunderkind.

Except it was all a lie.

In early March of 2015, word started to spread that the myriad charities to which she had pledged money never received a penny. In fact, of the $300,000 AUD that Gibson had promised to donate to charity, she’d only donated about $7,000 AUD. In fact, most of the charities she’d claimed to have supported responded that they’d never heard of Belle Gibson and hadn’t received a single gluten-free dime from her. Something was rotten in the state of…Australia.

Then the reports came in from her friends and loved ones, none of whom had any idea what Gibson was talking about when it came to her health problems. Not one of them reported seeing Gibson sick or weak during the period when she was supposedly undergoing intensive chemotherapy, and in fact no one even remembered her saying she had cancer at all, including Gibson’s own mother. Hell, tax returns showed that even Gibson’s age was a lie, since she would only have been 17 at the time of her diagnosis in 2009.

When asked about her brain cancer diagnosis by friends and business associates, Belle refused requests to identify the doctor behind the initial diagnosis, and provided no evidence that she even saw a licensed physician, at one point identifying him as “Dr. Phil.”

Dr.Feel-Dr.Phil

In fact, Gibson once claimed to have been at a doctor’s appointment all day when she was just at the dentist getting veneers. She was interviewed by the Australian (whose link doesn’t work because the damn thing is behind a pay-wall so fuck that), and when asked about the whistleblowing, Gibson responded: “I would say that it was more of a misdiagnosis than completely fictional.”

Hubba-what now? Look, honey britches, we’ve all been caught in a lie. But normal people lies generally consist of things like “I never watch the Kardashians,” or “No, I don’t think your septum piercing looks like metal boogers at all!” They aren’t “Oh hey I nearly died a few years back from inoperable brain cancer, no biggie. Gimme some money and I’ll show you my cancer-fighting green smoothie recipe.” (Note: we are not shitting on smoothies. Smoothies are about the only way we can stomach broccoli, but they do not cure cancer)

Since word got out that Gibson was a great big phony, the entire Aussie media is in damage control. Her publisher yanked the international release of her book and her Instagram has suddenly gone empty. Cosmopolitan’s Australia branch, which awarded her a Fun, Fearless Female Award (gag) last year, has admitted that, much like Gibson’s publisher, they did no fact checking of her story. Yet they do bring up the very valid point of why would they? What monster would fake a cancer diagnosis and health food media empire just for unlimited fame, fortune, praise and — oh, we just answered our own question.

Gibson is now under investigation from Victoria police for charity fraud, which for companies is punishable by up to $28,000 AUD and for individuals by 12 months in jail and $14,000 AUD for each individual offense. The key to the best cons is not to avoid getting caught: it’s to have the perfect escape route when you finally do. Shoulda hopped that flight to Dubai when you had the chance, Belle; no extradition means no hay problema!

What Gibson’s story does highlight, however, is the generally non-existent fact-checking that exists within the modern day wellness movement. Scamsters can promote coffee enemas, homeopathic vaccine detoxes, baby-killing bone broth, and even bleach baths, all claiming they can cure everything from cancer to autism to hysteria with absolutely zero evidentiary support. So long as they bedeck their blogs in wood grain and take lots of photos of their spokespeople with vegetables, they generally get a pass by the larger press. A compelling story (or fetching spokesmodel) finds generally no impediment from an obvious fraud. So long as all their dubious claims are labeled “wellness” rather than “medicine” no one can claim they’ve giving medical advice, right? Right.

FDA maybe going to evaluate homeopathy drugs finally

Speaking of obvious frauds, homeopaths are finally getting some recognition. Hurray! Oh wait, it’s recognition from a federal regulatory body. Boo!

Yes, it seems that the FDA, after decades of ignoring the problem, has finally decided to start investigating homeopaths, and they’ve put out a live call for anyone who wishes to testify on the subject at a public hearing.

For a refresher, homeopathy is the pseudoscience that diluting a substance makes it more potent, even if that dilution passes Avogadro’s limit and thus has no chance of even having any of the original substance left. “Nonsense,” a homeopath would say, “That just makes it stronger! That’ll be $44.95.”

As it stands the FDA barely regulates homeopathic “medicines” even though they are ubiquitous in pharmacies. Congress last ruled on homeopathy in 1938, when Senator Royal Copeland, himself a practicing homeopath, managed to get his sugar pills classified as drugs, thus making the FDA rather unwilling to examine their efficacy because they were part of their founding standards. Thus we have a situation in which homeopathic tinctures are classified as drugs by the FDA, even though the FDA admits they have no medicinal value at all.

Now it seems after the general outcry over the last few years (and homeopathy’s general ability to hang onto the fringes of medicine like a leech), the FDA has finally decided to maybe look at their 80-year-old regulatory framework, why not? We’ll update you on the hearings when they come down on April 20 and 21 because they are guaranteed to be a hoot. In fact, you too, dear reader, could be featured in your beloved Wonkette if you sign up for the hearings and make a big enough ass out of yourself. Haha, just kidding. Wonkette does not endorse you doing that (Seriously, don’t.) Let the homeopaths make asses out of themselves. They’re so much better at it.

The hearing is an open call to all interested parties, but spots are on a first-come first-serve basis, so sign up today!

Illuminati messages in Taylor Swift song, according to dude who believes Illuminati killed Robin Williams

We’ll end our Bulletin today with a weekly dose of crazy to clear all that messy “sanity” right out of our system. You weren’t using it anyway.

Today’s dose is brought to you by Vigilant Christian, an e-preacher who has finally cracked the code to that most secretive of Illuminati documents accessible to only the most elite of the international mind control cabal: Taylor Swift’s new music video.

We’ll head over to Vigilant Christian’s website for more hard-hitting analysis. If our middle school English class taught us anything, it’s that “symbolism” means that any work of fiction can mean literally anything anyone wants ever. Is Taylor Swift’s song about a break-up? Sure, if you only believe the people who wrote, storyboarded, directed, edited, and distributed it. But is it really about Illuminati mind control techniques designed to break you of your resistance and implant alternate personalities in your psyche? You bet your bippy it is.

This isn’t the first time VC (real name Mario) has exposed the Illuminati’s secretive mind control agenda which for some reason they announce openly. For an organization so committed to controlling things from the shadows, the Illuminati are quite camera-friendly. Mario has previously exposed the Satanic conspiracy to kill Robin Williams, carried out by the secretive assassins Randy Quaid refers to as “star whackers.” We think that it’s cute that Mario refers to C-list-on-a-good-day Randy Quaid as a “Hollywood insider.” Take note of the videos Mario links to EXPOSING various Illuminati mind control channels and/or victims, including Paul Walker, Peaches Geldof, K-Pop stars, Family Guy, and Roseanne. Those Illuminati have their fingers in some interesting pies.

Mario has also exposed how Heath Ledger was really a human sacrifice for Illuminati rituals to do…something? He never quite identifies why these assassins want multi-billion-dollar actors dead when it seems like it’d be smarter to leave them alive to keep making the Illuminati money, but maybe the Illuminati got a really good return on their taxes this year and they’ve got some money to burn. Mario is also pretty great when it comes to the latest who’s who of witches in Hollywood (answer: ALL OF THEM), as he lays out in his thoroughly peer-reviewed video “Nicki Minaj Demon Possessed Satanic Witch EXPOSED !!!

Naturally Mario doesn’t limit his ministry to just one YouTube channel. What are you, crazy? Ya can’t market fear spread the Gospel if you limit your exposure. Mario also has a personal channel, a Bible study channel, and even a hokumy “wellness” channel. He’s also part of the Christian Truthers Network and the Godly Brothers channel, following Jesus’ commandment to network, my son. Heaven is reserved for those who got the hookup.

Flotsam, Jetsam, and Hokum

Lastly, a smattering of quackery as reported by your congressional fan fiction account, your Wonkette!

  • The party of small government decided that the best way to inform women about their abortions is to lie to them about abortions. Brilliant.
  • Thank goodness Dr. Chaps is here to set those poor misinformed abortion ladies straight: kill your baby and God will punish you by killing other people’s babies. Uh…
  • Ted Cruz has no fucking clue who Galileo is or what he is talking about with anything.
  • Oh hey, remember when Obamacare was gonna bankrupt all the precious Americas? Yeah, it didn’t do that. Sorry, Republicans. No horror stories for you.

[Silicon AngleCosmopolitan / The Spectator / Sydney Morning Herald / The Australian / FDA.gov / Science Blogs / Science Based Medicine / Vigilant Citizen]

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