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March 1, 2006
Deception Begins at Home
I recently had an opportunity to look into some self-described autism treatments on behalf of a friend. There are huge numbers of desperate and hopeful parents out there, and there are some desperate and hopeful people selling things to them, too. The stuff I looked at was not, as far as I could tell, a cold-hearted scam, and considering the things you find in such disease areas, that's saying something. I think that the person involved believes, and wants to believe, that he's doing good in the world, and I'm sure his customers want to believe the same things.
At the same time, unfortunately, I don' t think much good is being done, but I can't get as enraged about it as I can some other situations. Take vitamin fraudster Matthia Rath, for example. He has recently withdrawn his lawsuits against a number of people and organizations in South Africa, in a sudden and unexpected move. Among them are the Health-e News Service, the group that broke the story of how some of Rath's alleged anti-HIV success stories involved patients who were taking antiretroviral drugs the whole time. Also off the hook is Dr. Eric Goemare of Medicines sans Frontieres, sued for defamation after characterizing Rath as a liar and a killer (which descriptions I find perfectly fitting, myself).
Says Goemare: "We are pleased that this phenomenal waste of time has ended." Dr. Rath is, of course, an expert at wasting things: people's time, their money, their hopes, their lives. I'd extend that list to include the oxygen he consumes by continuing to walk among us, but perhaps that's just me.
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