The Amazing Meeting 2014

Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



There Is Only One Disease PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brian Dunning   

I received an email from a listener whose coworker recommended the 2002 book Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It, by Ray Francis. I checked out its Amazon page, and if the book's content wasn't clear from the title, it certainly was from the reviews. The "research" Francis presents are personal anecdotes like the following:

  • After meeting Ray Francis, Albert learned that his diet of processed foods and addiction to sugar were the crux of his problem. Within one week after implementing Francis's eating plan, he felt better physically.
  • In desperation, her parents consulted with Ray Francis who surmised that her newly painted, carpeted and furnished bedroom was a toxic soup. After sleeping in another room, Anne's seizures stopped.
  • Wow! Sounds miraculous. Could all of medical science be wrong, and could the solutions really be that simple? Apparently so, according to Francis' summary of human health:

  • There is only one disease, only two causes of disease, and six pathways to health and disease. His findings and astounding recovery supported his conclusion that almost all diseases can be both prevented and reversed.
  • People aren't actually going to believe that kind of nonsense, are they? They do, in droves. Never Be Sick Again has 36 reviews on Amazon, of which 29 are 5-star. Readers uncritically accept that Francis has discovered the next generation of medicine.  They believe this because of their own anecdotal observations, like this one posted by a reviewer:

  • I am a 10 year cancer survivor. I have had surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. None of it worked. For the past 8 years I have stayed alive on alternative therapy.
  • If the cancer treatment "didn't work", why are you still alive? This kind of self-delusion never ceases to amaze me: For years, this person underwent proper medical therapy to treat his cancer, and is alive today as a result. And yet, for some reason, he considers that treatment a failure, and credits nonscientific quackery with his health ever since. It's not hard to understand why the average person might make such a connection: Cancer therapy can be terribly painful and unpleasant, and alternative therapy generally has no side effects. When you do recover, which treatment are you likely to credit: The one that seemed to make things worse, or the one that was pleasant that was correlated with the time when the chemotherapy effects were wearing off?

    I haven't read Ray Francis' book, and am not likely to. I've seen enough of these scams to be able to guess its contents: Francis' "one disease" is probably "toxicity", and his "two causes of disease" are probably diet and "environmental toxins". It seems so simple, and it's so easy to convince people that it's true based on their own experiences, like that of the cancer patient. It's a simple, clear explanation that appeals perfectly to our tendency toward anecdotal thinking.

    The book's publisher, Health Communications, Inc., (www.hcibooks.com) publishes many such books, and so you might conclude that they have little regard for public health. I certainly choose to personally make such a conclusion, despite their disclaimer inside the book that begins:

  • Never Be Sick Again and the information contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for the advice and/or medical care of the reader's physician, nor are they meant to discourage or dissuade the reader from the advice of his or her physician.
  • I had to laugh when I read that. Of course the book is clearly intended to discourage the reader from listening to his physician. This disclaimer is ludicrous. Did they not read the book?

    One of Francis' chapters is titled "The New Theory of Health of Disease". When you encounter a nonscientific crank who claims to have overturned all of existing science or medicine with his "new theory", you always have very good reason to be skeptical.

    Trackback(0)
    Comments (38)Add Comment
    ...
    written by Willy K, February 06, 2009
    There are TWO diseases...

    #1 - Ignorance
    #2 - Stupidity

    The first can be cured with education.
    I don't think there is a cure for the second. smilies/cry.gif

    Folks who buy believe these kind of books are afflicted with both diseases.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +20
    getting a bit lazy?
    written by MadScientist, February 06, 2009
    Oh, come now, at least Martin Gardner reads (most?) books before trashing them and then complaining he wastes too much time writing about them.

    I'll agree with you though, this would be one of those "look at this new stuff I'm selling you - it's my own unoriginal rehash of crap from at least 400 years ago - listen to me and ignore all those geeks who spend their entire lives learning about what ails people so they can help you and all future generations. Ignorance is bliss, unaldulterated stupidity is nirvana, knowledge is Satan's curse."
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +2
    ...
    written by bosshog, February 07, 2009
    So THAT'S what caused homo neandertalensis to die out: toxic cave paintings and processed wooly mammoth. Amazing!
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +20
    Spontaneous Remission?
    written by StarTrekLivz, February 07, 2009
    It is POSSIBLE that after going through treatment, the cancer patient had a spontaneous (and probably temporary) remission; or that it took that long for the treatments to take effect (medicine is not like Star Trek where Dr. McCoy (or Crusher or Bashir or Phlox) gives you a shot and before the commercial break you're healed).

    The probability that Ray Francis's "cures" did it seems to be somewhere between "null" and "void."

    While one should read a book before reviewing it, sometimes a mere casual perusal can indicate its value; not to mention I wouldn't want to contribute any $ by making a purchase.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +3
    ...
    written by jeff in chicago, February 07, 2009
    Makes one wonder why people got sick before the Industrial Revolution. Sheesh....
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +4
    ...
    written by wackyvorlon, February 07, 2009
    There is a minimum threshold of quality below which an argument is unworthy of a detailed response. In these situations, "You're an idiot." will suffice. This is just such a case.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +5
    ...
    written by Kuroyume, February 07, 2009
    Makes one wonder why people got sick before the Industrial Revolution. Sheesh....


    Vapors and 'swamp gas"? smilies/wink.gif

    Sometimes one doesn't require a full reading of something in order to realize that the premise itself is flawed. Unfortunately, for "Immortality", one had to read about half the book before this ocurred.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 07, 2009
    We can't even know if the people offering testimonials even exist. Do we suppose it's beyond these charlatans to simply make up people and make up their testimonials as well?
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +4
    testimonials
    written by MadScientist, February 07, 2009
    @cuddy joe:

    Sure people can invent the testimonials; sadly, there is no need to. The TV preachers have volumes of genuine letters from deluded people who ascribe their 'miraculous' cure to the preacher. In some sad yet perversely comical events, the cured soon die of the affliction of which they were 'cured' - for example, type 1 diabetes.

    Looking at the Amazon reviews of that trash, for example, most 'reviewers' write to praise it. Did the author and his cohorts need to write those reviews? I don't think so. At least one 'reviewer' wrote in to poo-poo the book apparently because he has better (haha) books on the subject. I'd like to write the following review:

    "Save your money folks, this book is for the gulls and dodos courtesy of the vultures. It doesn't even make good toilet paper."

    Unfortunately I can't remember the details of my Amazon account and I don't consider it worth my time registering as a new user just to use my awesome psychic powers to write a review of a book I'll never waste time reading.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +2
    ...
    written by Resume, February 07, 2009
    Yet another load of untested, undocumented truck. That in the twenty-first century there are naifs that can beguiled with this nonsense suggests that we are doomed as a species. The credulous will drag the rest of us into that dark night.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ...
    written by BillyJoe, February 07, 2009
    Stanfr,

    I think you have overstate the case for the mind-body/placebo effect in recovering from cancer.

    Placebo effects can be very powerful and have significant physiological and biochemical effects, but they play virtually no role in recovering from cancer. You might, however, feel better while you're either dying of cancer despite medical treatment or being cured of cancer because of medical teatment.

    BJ
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +1
    ...
    written by tefter, February 08, 2009
    Unfortunately, Brian Dunning has been moving away from scepticism lately. This article cleraly shows it. He has not even READ the book smilies/shocked.gif Instead, he just thrashes it routinely. Worse still, he makes assertions without any backing. Where the hell is the scepticism here?! I was especially disappointed with his rhetorical question "Could all of medical science be wrong?", clearly implying it could not. WTF?!?
    He did not use to be like that. Pity...
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -8
    ...
    written by jensfiederer, February 08, 2009
    While you can give a book a more THOROUGH trashing after actually reading it, if even the early signs are enough to make you gag, why bother?

    Save your time for books that actually teach you something or at least entertain you.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +8
    ...
    written by BillyJoe, February 08, 2009
    Yes, it would be different if you were actually being paid to do a review in a newspaper. Then you would be expected to read the whole book.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ...
    written by Roo, February 09, 2009
    My mum has had cancer twice (survived thanks to proper medical treatment). I have clinical depression. You can be sure that neither of us CHOSE to have these illnesses. Books like this are dangerous. They plant the seed in the minds of the gullible that sufferers are somehow responsible for their illnesses.smilies/angry.gif That can do a lot of serious damage to someone looking for answers in an often inexplicable situation.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +8
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 09, 2009
    From the book: "There is only one disease, only two causes of disease, and six pathways to health and disease."

    This is a major red flag and signal for pseudoscience, the reduction of the entirety of diverse and complex biological pathologies to just one disease (which makes everybody a customer), just two causes (any idiot can keep up with just two), but six pathways back to health (and hopefully you'll pay for and try out all six before you figure out you've been had).

    One needn't pick up and taste a cow pie to know it's crap - the smell and prior experience suffice. Likewise, one needn't bother to read this book to know it is pure quackery.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +3
    ...
    written by tefter, February 10, 2009
    Of course you don't ned to eat a cow pie, unless you like it. However, Dunning's implied statement that medical science COULD NOT be wrong, is pure bullshit. (This doesn't mean it is wrong in this case, of course). However, Dunning's attitude in this case is very disappointing. He seems to have abandoned critical thinking.
    He used to be a true skeptic once. I hope he will be again.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -4
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
    Your problem, Tefter, is that you've taken Dunning's statement out of context. He in no way implies that medical science is always right. Including the full context, he wrote:

    "In desperation, her parents consulted with Ray Francis who surmised that her newly painted, carpeted and furnished bedroom was a toxic soup. After sleeping in another room, Anne's seizures stopped.

    Wow! Sounds miraculous. Could all of medical science be wrong, and could the solutions really be that simple? Apparently so, according to Francis' summary of human health:

    There is only one disease, only two causes of disease, and six pathways to health and disease. His findings and astounding recovery supported his conclusion that almost all diseases can be both prevented and reversed.

    Properly read, he is responding to the last bit about there being only one disease, only two causes of disease, and only six pathways to recovery. This flies in the face of the entire set of medical research and understanding. In order for it to be true, all of medical science would have to be in error.

    The idea that you provide good counsel on how a True Skeptic ought to think is utterly laughable. You are knowingly taking a statement out of context in order to smear a skeptic. You fool no one with this tactic. Well, except yourself, which is the ironic result of those who would enlighten us poor, benighted skeptics.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +4
    ...
    written by tefter, February 10, 2009
    "Smear a skeptic"?!? When did you see that happening? I don't think you should be so emotional. I am at perfect liberty to criticize whoever I please. I won't tell you my name cause it'll kind of surprise you, but that shoul not matter. Please curb your emotions and think rationally.

    Cheers smilies/smiley.gif
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -5
    ...
    written by jensfiederer, February 10, 2009
    "I won't tell you my name cause it'll kind of surprise you"

    Please.....mysteriously suggesting you have hidden powers is SO junior high school....
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +1
    ...
    written by tefter, February 10, 2009
    See? Too much emotion.

    Suit yourself smilies/smiley.gif
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -5
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
    Oh criminy, he's got delusions of fame. You've failed to effectively defend the fact you took Dunning out of context, and it becomes clear you came here with a pre-existing bone up your ya-ya for Dunning. Hmm, what's the term for that? Oh yeah. Troll.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +1
    ...
    written by tefter, February 10, 2009
    I see you started the name-calling already smilies/smiley.gif That doesn't speak well for your argument, does it? smilies/wink.gif
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -4
    You didn't read the book?
    written by Griz, February 10, 2009
    How does bashing a book based on someone's email message make you any less biased and uninformed than the author? You just "know" it's wrong? In the same way fundies "know" the bible is right?

    Come on, Randi, et al, let's get back to objectivity. It is, or used to be, one of the great things about this web site.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by jensfiederer, February 10, 2009
    Dunning made NO claim of having read the book, and was quite upfront about it.

    He also bashed specific excerpts. Are you claiming these excerpts were not actually from the book?

    Recognizing patterns and acting based on that recognition is a fundamental skill of being alive.

    The fact he has not read the whole book DOES disqualify him from writing a thorough and informed book review. If he were claiming to do so, and it came out he had not read the book, THAT would be grounds for bashing him.
    Not the case.

    Personally, I have decided not to be a Muslim without ever having read the Quran in the original Arabic. I have decided not to follow the ancient Egyptian religion without having read all of the Book of the Dead. I'll take care of my health without reading the Francis book.

    Life is too short.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +1
    ...
    written by BillyJoe, February 10, 2009
    In my opinion, jensfiederer has the correct slant on this.

    If you are being paid to do a book review for a media outlet, you must read the whole book.
    If you are going to claim or infer that you have read the whole book, you must read the whole book.

    On the other hand, if you are writing a small piece on a sceptic website about a book that is so obviously BS from it's major premise alone, and you are upfront about not having read it, I see absolutely no problem at all.

    In fact, If I were being paid to do a review of this book I'd give the money back and criticise it just on it's premise like Brian Dunning has done.

    Get real people, your criticism of his critique is entirely misplaced.

    BJ
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 10, 2009
    It's basic Smelly Cow Pie Theory - if the premise is bad, you don't need to consider any details of the premise.

    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +1
    ...
    written by Griz, February 10, 2009
    First, the admission that he didn't read the book was well past halfway through the rant.

    There are five bullet points which appear to excerpt the book. Of them, one (two causes of disease, etc.) is obvious nonsense. The other four are impossible to evaluate outside the context of the book. The final one (not intended as a substitute for advice...) he responds to by saying, based, remember, SOLELY on the previous four snippets of text, that the purpose of the book is clear.

    This is irresponsible journalism. Yes, it's probably just another crackpot bunch of crap to make money. That doesn't mean that people "reviewing" it shouldn't still do their homework to give it an objective evaluation.

    What is published here is one person lashing out at something he personally percieves as wrong. Is the JREF the right platform for that? Because let me tell you, it looks suspiciously similar to what they do in fundie churches to things and people they don't think conform to their standards. Aren't we supposed to be better than that here?

    Or does the E in JREF really stand for Evangelism?
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by Griz, February 10, 2009
    Cuddy Joe: the world's religions couldn't agree more with your smelly cow pie thoery.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ...
    written by tefter, February 10, 2009
    Griz is right on.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    Come on, a sense of proportion please.
    written by BillyJoe, February 10, 2009
    the world's religions couldn't agree more with your smelly cow pie thoery.

    That's right, when a christian fundamentalist advises fellow fundamentalists on his website not to read a book called "Was Darwin Wrong" because the book concludes that "NO, Darwin was NOT wrong", he does not need to have read the whole book. He needs simply to have ascertained that the book is an anti-creationist book.

    On the other hand, if that same fundamentalist was to do a review of the book, rather than a criticism of its major premise, he would certainly be required to read it and give a detailed deconstruction of its arguments.

    How many of you have read a book without first getting some sense of what the book is about from the blurbs on the jacket and brief reviews from those who have already read it. How many of you have then decided against reading it because of its patently absurd premise. This is exactly what Brian Dunning has done.

    If that book subsequently became a best seller, or merely as an intellectual exercise, he might then read the whole book and do a comprehensive review.

    BJ
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
    With only minor exceptions, and those often coming decades or centuries after the fact, the 'world's religions' stick to the dogma of their respective religions regardless of the evidence.
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: +0
    ...
    written by Griz, February 11, 2009
    Cuddy Joe: Precisely why we need to adhere to a higher standard. Why do we want to be like them?
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 11, 2009
    Who says we want to be just like them? I'm not tracking you on that. And for clarity's sake, whom do you mean by 'we'?

    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by Griz, February 12, 2009
    To continue to answer questions with questions: do you win many arguments with deliberate obtuseness, or do you just think you do?
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -1
    ...
    written by BillyJoe, February 12, 2009
    Griz,

    I think he means they are all we but we are all individuals. Does that make sense.

    regards,
    BillyJoe
    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -2
    ...
    written by Cuddy Joe, February 12, 2009
    "To continue to answer questions with questions: do you win many arguments with deliberate obtuseness, or do you just think you do?"

    Thanks for the unintended irony. Very funny. No, I was being quite sincere. I did not track what you meant and asked instead of assuming. I apologize for that. (?)

    In response to my mention that religions tend to adhere to dogma rather than evidnce, you replied: "Cuddy Joe: Precisely why we need to adhere to a higher standard."

    That we should adhere to a higher standard than religion I consider to be so obvious as to not require mentioning - it's a given from what I posted - so I figured you must have meant something different, so I asked. (?)

    You said: "Why do we want to be like them?"

    I don't follow this. What makes you think we want to be like them? Since much depends on who you meant by 'we', I asked who you meant by 'we'. (?)

    If this constitutes "deliberate obtuseness" to you, I'll guess I'll just have to assume what you mean when it makes no obvious sense to me. (?)

    Yikes, lol...







    report abuse
    vote down
    vote up
    Votes: -2

    Write comment
    This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
    You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

    busy