Goop Quietly Deletes Content From COVID-Denier Kelly Brogan

Gwyneth Paltrow has finally had enough of her disinformation-spreading colleague.

Even among the most virulent coronavirus conspiracy mongers, Kelly Brogan stands tall.

A New York State-licensed psychiatrist and “trusted expert,” according to Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop, Brogan routinely spreads false claims that the coronavirus doesn’t exist to her 121k followers on Instagram. She co-founded a website, QuestioningCovid(dot)com, that falsely claims that “masks do more harm than good.” She has even paid for a billboard ad instructing people to “WAKE UP! TAKE OFF THE MASK.”

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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Via an article I wrote for The Daily Beast in March, she also “doesn’t believe the widely accepted germ theory of disease, encouraged viewers to seek alternative theories, suggested that the news media is being controlled by an unnamed pro-vaccination group, and speculated that the U.S. government is planning” to, quote, “link our passports with our vaccination records” in order to gain “totalitarian governmental control not unlike the divide-and-conquer dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust.”

Various science and medical experts have debunked Brogan’s claims. although the most damning indictment of Brogan may be this endorsement from the website of infamous British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who claims that the Royal family are shape-shifting lizards:

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Goop — itself a proponent of potentially harmful pseudoscience — has been giving Brogan a platform as far back as January 2018, when Brogan was invited to speak at a Goop conference as a “trusted [medical] expert,” despite having claimed that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.

Interviews with Brogan and a short biography describing her as a ‘holistic psychiatrist’ were also published on Goop’s website.

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Now it appears that Goop has finally had enough of Brogan. Her two interviews, “How we can learn to tolerate emotional pain” and “The roots of mental health — maybe they’re not in our heads,” both containing dubious medical health claims, have been scrubbed from the site. Her biography has also been removed.

It’s unclear when Goop took down Brogan’s content. But that content was still available on Goop’s website as recently as July, according to information gleaned from the Wayback Machine, which archives web pages.

Here’s what you’ll see if you try to visit Brogan’s biography today:

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David “Avocado” Wolfe is Hawking Unproven Coronavirus Cures

The NutriBullet spokesman and flat-earth conspiracist is selling colloidal silver, medicinal mushrooms, charcoal, and an air purification system.

Wolfe is known for making out-there claims. For example, he claims salt prevents the oceans from levitating off the earth, and gravity is a toxin that can be combated by hanging upside down (as a cure for arthritis). Here he is ranting about flat earth on the conspiracy-friendly YouTube channel, London Real.

Now Wolfe is hawking unproven cures for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Products include: $137 bottles of colloidal silver, his “#1 recommendation against the corona virus”; $44 tubs of “SuperMushroom” tinctures, purportedly “the most effective way to utilize medicinal mushrooms against corona viruses”; $32 packets of “SuperConcentrate” charcoal fullerenes, which purportedly “neutralize viruses”; and the Air Doctor, a $629 non-FDA-approved Japanese product he claims can “clean our homes and workspaces of airborne viruses like COVID-19.”

All of the above-mentioned products, except the Air Doctor — which he’s helping sell at discount as an affiliate of AIRDOCTOR, LLC, according to a link in an Apr. 18 email newsletter — are currently available to buy from Wolfe’s online shop.

Wolfe made the claims about his products’ healing properties in his newsletter and 15-page “Nourish Your Immunity” protocol, currently available online by joining his free-to-view Immunity Summit, a series of video interviews between Wolfe and various alternative medicine proponents. Interviewees include Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an outspoken Donald J. Trump supporter and Massachusetts Senate hopeful who claims that Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a deep state agent. (If you have two hours to spare and a strong tolerance for pseudoscience, you can view the full Ayyadurai interview by clicking here.)

Wolfe has also been hawking his products and spreading debunked 5G and Bill Gates conspiracy theories to his thousands of followers on Telegram, the Russian social media platform.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission recently issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products, including colloidal silver and tinctures. According to the FDA’s site, “consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations.”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Medical Mentor: “God Bless Every Covid Virus”

Goop contributor Dr. Habib Sadeghi is making bizarre coronavirus-themed content.

During a podcast interview last month, Gwyneth Paltrow’s longtime medical mentor and Goop regular Dr. Habib Sadeghi attributed every pandemic from the last 150 years to the “electrification of earth.” Since then, he’s been making increasingly bizarre coronavirus-themed content in a seeming attempt to get people to join his Patreon.

In one video posted on Instagram last Friday, “COVID-19: The Toxin Is The Remedy,” an analysis of the 2012 Ang Lee film Life of Pi, Sadeghi addresses viewers while sitting barefoot at the top of a staircase.

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“God bless every covid virus,” he says in the video, describing the pandemic as an “opportunity to really use this […] instead of really doing the same thing you’ve been doing most of your life, blaming others, attacking others, making them wrong.”

He continues: “I give you my word that that will be the blessing for you because that psychic immunity, that psychological immunity, that psycho-spiritual robustness that you developed for yourself, no one can take away from you. No one. And this is really what you want to gift to your children […] They’ll get it because these understandings literally will bleed through genetically or epigenetically, physically or energetically, to the next generation. You have an opportunity, you’re not couped up, your school is in session.”

There’s no evidence that parents can genetically transfer thoughts to their children.

In another video posted Sunday, “How To Metabolize A Crisis,” Sadeghi eats from a plate of food while watching the 1981 Louis Malle film, My Dinner with André.

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“It’s a movie that’s very rich, just like the food we eat,” Sadeghi says in the video. “If you sit down, bring your attention, and you watch it, slowly, and you hear what it’s telling you, at the end of it, you have found a new friend within yourself. You have found, and moved into, that what we refer to as evolution of consciousness.”

He ends the video by encouraging viewers to “use this time that we have, during this period of self-quarantining, or self-care-cocooning, as a way of learning to metabolise […] our thoughts, feelings, and emotions,” which are “far more important than what we metabolise in our digestive systems.”

Both videos lead with trippy visuals and shrieking horror movie music, followed by a message about “Entelechy Medicine,” a trademarked “evolutionary movement” that appears to draw on the discredited theories of the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a disgraced German doctor who was stripped of his medical license after allegedly killing his patients.

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According to Sadeghi’s Patreon page, Entelechy Medicine “holds the key to your deeper healing” and “recognizes that the body is the theater of our consciousness.” For $9.99 per month, patrons can access such dubious-sounding content as “Surgical Scarring and Blocked Meridians: The Hidden Implications of Scar Tissue.”

The page also links to a Sadeghi’s “conscious lifestyle brand and health publishing imprint,” BeingClarity.com, where customers can purchase his 2017 Goop press book, “The Clarity Cleanse.” The book includes a glowing foreword by Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow.

Another Goop Contributor is Spreading Discredited Coronavirus Conspiracies

Dr. Habib Sadeghi, an LA-based integrative medicine practitioner and personal mentor to Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, has linked the virus to the “electrification of earth.”

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Last month, I wrote for The Daily Beast about Goop contributor/holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan’s coronavirus conspiracy theories. Now another high-profile Goop contributor is spreading similar theories linking the virus to 5G wireless technology.

Dr. Habib Sadeghi, who frequently writes for Goop’s site, has featured in Goop’s videos online, and, according to Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, is a “mentor in many capacities to me,” shared his theories last Monday on the What Matters Most podcast (he’s also been sharing his theories on Instagram).

Here’s what Sadeghi had to say about wireless technology:

In 2003, that’s when the 3G technology was introduced, and shortly after, in 2003, that’s when we got SARS. And so, when we look at some of the various things that we’ve been exposed to, and the technologies that they were introduced — like you look at 2009, that’s when we had the 4G introduced to the world, and that’s when we had the, same year, 2009, we had the swine flu outbreak. So it’s not a far-fetched idea that here we are in 2020, where 5G was introduced to the world, and we’re sitting scratching our head, and we’re saying, what are we going to do with the coronavirus?

According to various experts, fact-checkers, news outlets, and other trusted sources, there is no evidence that wireless technology is responsible for the coronavirus or any other virus.

He went on to link every major outbreak from the last 150 years to the “electrification of earth.” For example, he claimed that the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic may have been caused by the “introduction of radio waves around the world” (radio waves are a naturally occurring phenomenon), that an unidentified pandemic from around the time of WW2 may have been caused by “the introduction of radar equipment all over the earth,” and that the 1968 Hong Kong flu may have been caused by orbiting “satellites emitting radioactive frequencies.”

Like Brogan, it appears Sadeghi doesn’t believe in the widely accepted germ theory of disease, claiming that its originator, French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, renounced the theory on his deathbed — a claim for which there is “no evidence,” according to a 2007 blog post by American oncologist David Gorski.

Also like Brogan, Sadeghi appears to be a follower of the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a disgraced German doctor who had his medical license permanently revoked in Germany after several patients in his care died. On his site, Be Hive of Healing, Sadeghi says he treats “chronic illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune disease” using a “multi-disciplinary approach” including German New Medicine, Hamer’s discredited pseudoscientific theory positing that all illness and disease are caused by psychological trauma.

I’ve asked Goop for comment.

The Daily Beast: Goop-Approved Doctor Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracies

Goop contributor/psychiatrist Kelly Brogan has been spreading junk scientific claims and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Here’s my latest for The Daily Beast.

Via “The Gwyneth Paltrow-Approved Doctor Pushing Wacky Coronavirus Conspiracies” by Dean Sterling Jones, The Daily Beast, March 24, 2020:

Last week, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop announced it was closing stores in the U.S. and U.K. to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus currently sweeping the globe. Meanwhile, Paltrow’s psychiatrist-associate Kelly Brogan, a high-profile Goop contributor, has racked up tens of thousands of views on social media spreading discredited pseudoscientific claims that the coronavirus might not even exist, and that symptoms attributed to the virus are likely being caused by widespread fear…

Click here to read the full story.

The story was subsequently picked up by the New York Post, The Independent, The Evening Standard Insider, Yahoo Style, Los Angeles Magazine, and The A.V. Club, among others.

Via “Goop-approved shrink says there’s ‘no such thing’ as coronavirus” by Melissa Malamut, New York Post, March 24, 2020:

Just when you thought telling women to stick stone eggs up their vaginas was the worst medical advice she could give, a once-Manhattan-based psychiatrist, anti-vaxxer and Goop-approved pusher is going viral again. But this time, it’s for her dangerous social-media posts that call COVID-19 a hoax.

Kelly Brogan (who has an MD from Cornell University and a master’s from MIT, according to her website) said in a video posted on Facebook last week that there is “potentially no such thing as the coronavirus” and that the reported deaths from the virus are “likely being accelerated by fear itself.” Further, she “personally [doesn’t] believe in germ-based contagion…”

[Brogan] has doubled down on her words, calling her message “personal empowerment,” and suggesting that people subscribe to her newsletter if they’d like to hear more of her views. She also then posted a screenshot of the Daily Beast article and a link to the video that is now available on Vimeo.

Via “Goop Expert Says Coronavirus Doesn’t Exist: ‘There is Potentially no Such Thing'” by Chelsea Ritschel, The Independent, March 24, 2020:

…According to The Daily Beast, Facebook and Instagram removed Brogan’s videos after determining that they “violate our policies”.

In a recent post to Instagram, Brogan acknowledged the removal and encouraged her followers to subscribe to her newsletter “rather than just following me here, because, well, you know…”

“Because censorship is real and underway,” she continued in the caption. “Two posts removed and one blocked in the past week. What a purification process this is!”

Via “Goop contributor Kelly Brogan peddles ‘nonsense’ conspiracy theories about coronavirus, cites 5G and vaccine companies as real causes” by Megan C. Hills, Evening Standard Insider, March 25, 2020:

…There is no scientific basis for any of Brogan’s claims. Speaking to the Daily Beast, British pharmacologist David Colquhoun said, “She’s a very, very dangerous fantasist. I wonder whether she takes antibiotics if she gets a bacterial infection?”

The deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer, a publication that critically examines fringe science claims similar to those that Brogan made, also weighed in. Benjamin Radford told the Daily Beast, “There’s always been this sort of populist appeal by people who reject science, and that’s exactly what’s going on here.”

“Unfortunately, outbreaks like this are exactly the wrong time to bring these things up because…they divert people from legitimate evidence-based treatments,” he continued.

Via “‘Very, very dangerous’ Goop ‘expert’ slammed for bizarre coronavirus video” by Elizabeth Di Filippo, Yahoo Canada Style, March 25, 2020:

…To Brogan, this was a form of censorship, which she said could potentially be part of a future government agenda to enact control. She cites the alternative narratives regarding current affairs as the remedy to her fear.

“This level of totalitarian government control that is not unlike the divide and conquer, dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust,” she said. “This is where my mind can go. That is extremely fear inducing for me and probably as fear inducing as those that are washing their hands dry.”

Goop representatives have declined to comment on the video, however they did release a statement.

“We would suggest reaching out to Dr. Brogan directly as she didn’t make those comments on Goop’s platform,” they said.

Via “Please, for the love of god, don’t get your coronavirus advice from the Goop people” by Reid McCarter, The A.V. Club, March 24, 2020:

…The video keeps going and going, becoming more deranged as it rumbles on, but these points are probably enough to sum up why Brogan—an “expert” featured on Goop’s website and at its events—shouldn’t be listened to at all. If you want the total run-down of why Brogan and, by extension Goop, are dangerous horseshit, read the rest of the Daily Beast article.

This Goop Author is Spreading Discredited Pseudoscientific Theories About the Coronavirus

Kelly Brogan, M.D., a New York Times bestselling author/psychiatrist who writes for Gwyneth Paltrow’s alt-med Goop newsletter, has accrued over 30,000 views on Instagram by claiming the coronavirus likely doesn’t exist. [UPDATE: Click here for my follow-up to this story in The Daily Beast.]

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is a self-proclaimed “lifestyle brand” and online newsletter aimed at “start[ing] hard conversations, crack[ing] open taboos, and look[ing] for connection and resonance everywhere we can find it.”

It’s also a major proponent of pseudoscientific claims and such questionable products as the Jade Egg, an egg-shaped gemstone that purportedly “harness[es] the power of energy work, crystal healing, and a Kegel-like physical practice” when inserted in the vagina. (In 2018, Goop was fined $145,000 in civil penalties for falsely claiming that the $66 egg was able to “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.”)

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Now one of Goop’s high-profile contributors is spreading false claims that the novel coronavirus currently sweeping the globe, and which has caused over 20,000 deaths worldwide, potentially does not exist.

Kelly Brogan, M.D. — a Manhattan-based holistic psychiatrist and co-author of New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives — made the claim in a March 16 video she originally shared with subscribers of her online “health reclamation” programme, Vital Life Project, then subsequently reposted on her personal site and social media accounts.

In the video, “A Message to Help Dispel Fear,” Brogan claimed that “there is potentially no such thing as the coronavirus” because “it’s not possible to prove that any given pathogen has induced death,” and that the rising death toll is “likely being accelerated by the fear [of the virus] itself.”

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As of publication, the video has accrued approximately 30,000 views on Brogan’s Instagram account, and has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. (Brogan has also twice uploaded a version of the video — “by popular request!” — with Spanish subtitles).

Brogan attributed her claims to the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a German doctor and virulent anti-Semite whose discredited theory of disease, German New Medicine, has resulted in dozens of patient deaths in Europe, the youngest being 12-year-old Susanne Rehklau, who “suffered a painful death” in 2010 after Hamer gave her the all-clear.

According to Hamer, illness and disease are caused by unresolved psychological trauma, with specific traumatic experiences said to correlate with specific physical symptoms. For example, a child who is forced to live under the conservative – or “inflexible” – rule of an overbearing parent might develop rigid joints. A recently-divorced woman might, in the absence of intimate physical touch, develop a skin condition. And so on.

To self-heal, Hamer claimed, patients must disavow conventional western medicine (which he believed was an elaborate Jewish conspiracy involving “death chips”), and learn to overcome their unresolved trauma using non-pharmacological — or “natural” — treatment methods, including talking therapy.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

Medical authorities have widely denounced Hamer’s theories as lacking “any scientific or empirical justification,” and in 1986 he had his medical license permanently revoked in Germany after a number of patients in his care died. He was later convicted and imprisoned multiple times for illegally continuing to put his theories into practice.

In her video, Brogan took a more positive view of Hamer’s contributions to science and medicine.

“German New Medicine has really given me a lot of material to work with around identifying potential emotional conflicts that […] have a method of explaining cancer and contagion that have nothing to do with pathogens,” she said. “Could it be that so-called viruses and bacteria are bystanders […] blamed for being at the scene of the crime, which has another origin that is more complex?”

She also hinted at a global conspiracy orchestrated by an unnamed pro-vaccination group, suggested that viewers should not believe mainstream news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged them to seek alternative theories in order to “feel that you can live in a story that eases your fear and stablises your nervous system,” and offered her own unfounded fears for the future, as follows:

Because I believe any story other than the one we’re being fed, I can also find myself in a place where I begin to look at future government plans to link our passports with our vaccination records and restriction of travel, and that this being a new normal of this level of totalitarian governmental control that is not unlike the divide-and-conquer dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust. This is where my mind can go, and that is extremely fear-inducing for me. Right? And probably as fear-inducing as those who are washing their hands dry.

Comments on posts of the video show that many viewers accepted Brogan’s interpretation of Hamer’s theories.

“MIND BLOWN I needed this message more than I could ever say in words,” read one comment.

“Wondering what you recommend to help start transitioning thought patterns,” read another. “I’d love to look back and say, ‘Oh, that old Steph – bless her, but she believed in infections.'”

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Brogan isn’t the only high-profile Goop contributor who advocates GNM. Habib Sadeghi — a California-based alternative medicine practitioner and author of “Clarity Cleanse: 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing” (foreword by Paltrow), and whose fans include Hollywood actors Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Tim Robbins — on his site says that he uses GNM to treat patients with chronic illness, including cancer sufferers.

Support for Hamer’s discredited theories has been steadily building in the U.S. and Canada for the past decade. Organisations and people who practice Hamer’s theories include: The International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an LA-based alt-med organisation blamed for causing patient deaths in Norway; The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, run by the founder of IMMA; Melissa Sell, based in California; Biologie Totale, based in Quebec; New Medicine CA/GNM Online Seminars, based in Toronto; and GNM Education, based in Vancouver.

Alt-Medicated in Beverly Hills

Founder of “cult-like” alt-med cancer charity Johannes Fisslinger took donations from Clint Eastwood and other celebrities to fund breast cancer research. But now Fisslinger says the money wasn’t used to research breast cancer.

Another celebrity says Fisslinger used her name and image without her consent to promote a high-profile breast cancer research fundraising gala in LA: If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

Johannes Fisslinger is an LA-based proponent/teacher of complementary and alternative therapies, and the founder of the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation (LPF) medical programme, recently the subject of a report by BuzzFeed UK (click here to read).

According to a recent e-mail sent to subscribers of that programme, Fisslinger once received a donation from renowned actor Clint Eastwood intended for Fisslinger’s now-defunct breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer Foundation (HBCF).

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What Fisslinger doesn’t mention in his e-mail is that money supposedly given to him by Eastwood and other celebrities wasn’t used to research breast cancer, and might even have been used to fund a “cult-like” alternative medicine programme whose members were later blamed for causing the deaths of three cancer patients.

Another celebrity, whom it was claimed had a major role in a high-profile charity fundraising gala organised by the HBCF, now says Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and used her name and image without her consent.

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

HBCF was founded in 2004 as the research arm of the International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), a California-based alternative medicine non-profit that teaches the discredited theories of the late German doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Hamer claimed that all diseases are caused by sudden or prolonged emotional trauma, and argued that conventional medicine, which he believed was a Jewish conspiracy, should be rejected in favour of non-pharmacological – or “natural” – treatment methods, including talking therapy.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

In 2007, IMMA held a charity fundraising and awards gala in Beverly Hills to raise money “to research the cause and natural healing mechanism of cancer” and “to honor six of the leading proponents in integrative medicine.”

The gala, which was promoted by the TODAY show and lampooned by the Washington Post, featured an all-star cast of big names and famous faces, with tickets costing up to $30,000 to attend.

RSVP Card - Heal Breast Cancer Awards Galasource

The money was supposed to fund the following research projects:

• Brain Relay Diagnostics – confirming the Organ-Brain Connection
• Traumatic Life Events causing breast cancer
• Pre-tumor breast cancer diagnosis and prevention

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However, Fisslinger now says he did not carry out any research with the funds raised at the gala, except for a small study that was never published in any medical journal.

“Our intention was to do research,” said Fisslinger. “But then we found out quickly that it is very, very difficult to do preventive research into breast cancer and that the needed funds are very difficult to get.”

While Fisslinger didn’t say how much money was raised at the gala, public records show that for the financial year 2006-2007, IMMA grossed over $135,000 – significantly more than the organisation has made in any one year before or since.

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So where did the money go? According to Fisslinger: “We did a small research project with Prof. Reiff from Cairo University but it was actually never published in a medical journal – then we basically decided to focus on teaching/training and helping clients.”

That’s when the bodies began to pile up.

In 2009, a Norwegian television station reported that at least three cancer patients died after they were advised by high-ranking members of IMMA’s Advisory Council, Dagfrid Kolås and Bent Madsen, to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2 headline, April 17, 2009 (source)

Last year another prominent IMMA practitioner from Mumbai, Anu Mehta, wrote that a severely ill cancer patient she had treated for depression using “crayon drawing analysis” committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Fisslinger insists that IMMA practitioners follow a strict code of practice. However, he was unable to provide any research to verify Hamer’s theory that diseases are caused by emotional trauma.

“At this point we just don’t have double-blind studies and research to verify that specific life experiences, emotions, stresses affect specific organs,” said Fisslinger.

He added: “The reality is that over 1,000 health professionals [use] this knowledge daily in their work with clients. They wouldn’t do that if it [didn’t] help them in their analysis and in helping clients heal.”

I also spoke with some of those said to have been involved in the 2007 gala.

Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author/former White House public health advisor under the Clinton and Obama administrations, said he had “no relationship” with HBCF or IMMA.

Centre: Dr. Dean Ornish at the HBCF Awards & Gala (source)

Dr. Robert M. Goodman, professor of Applied Science at Indiana-Bloomington University, said he had “very limited contact from the Foundation and did not contact them” or do any breast cancer research while on HBCF’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Robert M. Goodman (source)

Marc Neveu, PhD, an honorary fellow at the T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, said he only had “a minor role on the advisory board and was not able to attend the event.”

Mark Neveu, PhD (source)

One famous actress whom it was claimed had a major role in the gala and whose name I’ve agreed to withhold, said Fisslinger misrepresented her involvement and later used her name and image, without her consent, in a 2015 promotional video for an event in Hawaii.

Here’s what her agent told me:

[Fisslinger] misstated and admitted to [redacted] NOT being involved with the breast cancer event.

He used her name in the Hawaii conference without approval in order to generate business.

He used her name/image (unauthorized) for the video.

I’ve told him that if he removes [redacted]’s name from any and all references to him, his company, mission, etc, I will be still.

He said he would do it.

I don’t like misrepresentations at all.

Clearly those who do it use [redacted] to enrich themselves and in so doing, they are misrepresenting her name, goal, intents, etc.

I don’t want to be further involved and will never have anything to do with this man/org. moving forward.

I know many of those with whom he deals.

If someone misleads once, they will do it again. We won’t be used.

Fisslinger didn’t reply when asked to clarify if he used other celebrities’ names and images without their consent, but here’s a list of those who were said to have been involved:

Benefit Committee
Ben Stiller
Geena Davis
Tommy Lee Jones
Sir Ben Kingsley
Rosie O’Donnell
Kathy Griffin
Paula Abdul
Teri Polo
Lisa Vidall
Shaun Toub
Mario Lopez
Alfre Woodard
Harold Perrineau
Kendall Payne
Allison Janney
Tyler Hilton
Lourdes Benedicto
Antonio Sabbato Jr.
Laura Innes

Honorees
Dr. Dean Ornish
Eckhart Tolle
Susan Ryan Jordan
William Arntz
Dr. Christian Northrup
Dr. O. Carl Simonton

Celebrity Guests
Laura Dern
Ben Harper
Seane Corn
Ron Moss
Jon Seda
Lili Haydn
Caitlin Crosby
Elaine Hendrix
Kelly McCarthy
Dr. Raj Kanodia

Scientific Advisory Board
Robert M. Goodman, PhD, MPH, MA
Friedemann Schaub MD, PhD
Andrew S. Baum, PhD
Bruce Lipton, PhD
John C. Pan, MD
John Gray, PhD
Gerhard Schwenk, MD
Richard Flook, PhD
Ruediger Dahlke, MD
Mark Neveu, PhD
Nicki Monti, PhD
HP Christa Uricher

Board of Directors
Erich Haeffner
Anton Bader, MD
Johannes R. Fisslinger, PhD
Danijela Haric, MA
HP Jutta M. Fisslinger

The Trump Network: Caveat Emptor

A quick look at Trump’s failed new-age pyramid scheme

“At no time in recent history has our economy been in the state that is today. It’s a mess. The economic meltdown, greed, and ineptitude of the financial industry have sabotaged the dreams of millions of people. Americans need a new plan. They need a new dream” – Donald Trump, POTUS

No, that’s not Trump’s election pitch to the American people, but the pitch he gave to participants of The Trump Network, a new-age pyramid scheme that offered “millions of people new hope with an exciting plan to opt-out of the recession” and “develop your own financial independence.”

The Trump Network was born in 2009 when Trump licensed his name to Ideal Health, a multi-level marketing business founded in 1997 by Lou DeCaprio and brothers Scott and Todd Stanwood. Ideal Health invited independent salespeople to do their own marketing to sell a customised vitamin supplement package, which was determined by conducting urine hormone tests using the company’s signature product, the PrivaTest.

In a 2008 review article for Alternative Medicine Review, the test’s inventor, J. Alexander Bralley, claimed that urinary biomarkers “provide insight into diseases possibly caused or complicated by toxin accumulation and detoxification responses.”

But experts questioned the test’s medical value.

“Urine tests do not provide a legitimate basis for recommending that people take dietary supplements,” wrote Quackwatch founder and retired psychiatrist Stephen Barrett in 2003. Barrett later speculated that Ideal Health had acted illegally by falsely claiming that the PrivaTest could “improve” and “support” physical and mental health.

That didn’t stop Trump hawking branded PrivaTests on the now-defunct Trump Network website, where they sold for a whopping $139.95 per box.

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Speaking to STAT in 2016, executive president of The Trump Organization Alan Garten said that Trump “was endorsing the idea behind the business” but that his role “did not amount to an endorsement of the products” themselves.

However, in a “personal letter” published on the Trump Network site, Trump appeared to give his stamp of approval.

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To promote the company’s “cutting-edge,” “revolutionary” products and multi-level marketing concept, Trump even had planned an all-out publicity tour that was set to be “the biggest media campaign in the history of network marketing,” and “the legacy he leaves with all Americans.”

Trump would be seen “on the likes of Oprah, the Tonight Show, Larry King, the Today show, numerous press releases, online news broadcasts, major business magazines, and every daily newspaper in America – as well as newspaper business sections.”

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In reality, the job of promoting the company was largely left to independent marketers via “personal self-replicating” sites and other, more innovative methods.

Results varied.

In one misplaced attempt at viral marketing, a Trump Network recruit used Google Books to issue a press release under items relating to Trump.

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Curiously, the author of the release gave only modest ratings of Trump’s books. One book, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire, received a meagre two stars.

And the fun doesn’t stop there.

In August 2009, Wikipedia deleted a page that was created for The Trump Network after it fell foul of the site’s abuse guidelines. The page, authored by a user named “Trumpwellness” and signed-off by “Donald J. Trump,” was deleted by admins because it contained “obvious advertising or promotional material.”

Rejected Trump Network Wikipedia entry (source)

Another innovative way marketers sought to enlist new recruits was by speaking to them directly using online forums. Going by some of the responses, this approach might have worked. But as the company fell into decline, pending lawsuits and accompanying PR disasters, it too failed to take.

In 2011, Trump’s licencing deal with Ideal Health expired and was not renewed. The assets were then sold to a “health and wellness” company named Bioceutica, which still sells the now-rebranded Trump Network vitamin packages and urine tests.

Last year it was revealed that, between 1999-2004, the Federal Trade Commission received 56 complaints against Ideal Health. According to official documents, marketing recruits complained that the company “made money off of marketers by misrepresenting what their marketing system can do” and placing “pressure on marketers to purchase all the companies tools in order to succeed.”

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Hamer’s House of Horror

Celebrity doctors Dean Ornish, David Katz, and Caldwell Esselstyn to headline “cult-like” pseudoscience event next month

They are set to speak at the upcoming Lifestyle Medicine Summit alongside prominent anti-vaxxers and other proponents of “natural medicine.”

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The event is organised by the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, whose website promotes anti-vax conspiracies, and states that cancer sufferers “are solely responsible for their own illness.” The website also lists outspoken flat earth conspiracy theorist David “Avocado” Wolfe as one of its “partner affiliates.”

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation was founded in 2016 by Munich native Johannes Fisslinger, inventor of the “Aura Video Station.”

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

Fisslinger previously ran the “cult-like” International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA).

A 2009 report by a Norwegian television station said that three cancer sufferers died after being advised by members of IMMA’s Advisory Council to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2, April 17, 2009 (source)

Both IMMA and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation teach “the art and science of self-healing,” a highly speculative model of disease based on the discredited theories of criminal ex-doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

According to Hamer, specific traumatic experiences cause specific physical symptoms. For example, a child raised by conservative, or “inflexible,” parents might develop rigid joints.

Medical authorities have widely denounced Hamer for his theories and illegal treatment of cancer patients, most famously in the case of six-year-old Olivia Pilhar.

Headline: A Dangerous Saviour – Once again, the judiciary has to deal with the controversial “cancer healer” Ryke Geerd Hamer, who is no longer allowed to work as a doctor or a naturopath. Nevertheless his followers trust him blindly.

Der Spiegel, August 9, 1997 (source)

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation itself recently attracted criticism when it held an event at Regent’s University London, a prestigious British university.

BuzzFeed, March 15, 2017 (source)

Speaking to BuzzFeed UK, British MP Matt Warman (of the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee), said that the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation promotes “unproven quack cures.”

In a separate comment, British pharmacologist David Colquhoun was even less sparing, calling Fisslinger’s ideas about disease “utter bollocks.”

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I asked Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, the famed American physician and one of 14 “visionary speakers” set to speak at the Lifestyle Medicine Summit, for his opinion.

In his reply to me, Dr. Esselstyn dismissed the criticism.

“A number of highly respected colleagues of mine have been on this program and like myself are eager that people should become acquainted with the hard science of proven research and evidence based scientific strategies,” said Dr. Esselstyn, adding: “I am simply not familiar with the observations you have sited [sic].”

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (source)

Someone who ought to be familiar with the macabre origins of the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation is Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and White House policy adviser during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

In 2007, Dr. Ornish was awarded the distinction of “Excellence in Integrative Medicine” from IMMA’s defunct breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer FoundationHe later appeared in Fisslinger’s 2010 film, Titans of Yoga, and was at one time slated to host the 2013 “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit.”

Last year, I informed Dr. Ornish about IMMA’s association with Hamer, and asked him about his own decade-long association with Fisslinger, which he denied.

Dr. Ornish said his upcoming appearance at this year’s Lifestyle Medicine Summit is not an endorsement of the views expressed by Fisslinger or the notorious Hamer.

Dr. Dean Ornish (source)

“I often speak at conferences – including prestigious scientific meetings – where I do not always agree with what other speakers, organizers, or affiliates may be presenting or with their views on other subjects,” said Dr. Ornish.

“I am not endorsing the conference or other speakers; I’m just presenting a summary of 40 years of research that I’ve directed, published in the leading peer-reviewed medical journals, in hopes that this may be helpful. I am responsible only for my own comments.”

Co-headlining the event is Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of the CDC-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre and a vocal critic of the anti-vax movement.

Dr. David Katz (source)

In 2013, Dr. Katz gave a talk via Skype at the “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit,” videos of which later appeared on the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation website.

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Last year, I asked Dr. Katz about his relationship with Fisslinger, IMMA, and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation. Dr. Katz said he had “no relationship with any of these people,” insisting that he’d “never endorsed any program or product of theirs.”

This time when I asked him about Fisslinger, he said he “didn’t know this was the same person” I’d asked about previously.

“A Skype interview sets a pretty low bar- I do not conduct a background check,” said Dr. Katz. “I can only ever take responsibility for what I say – and that I do.”

He continued: “I have heard questionable commentary at almost every conference I’ve ever attended- but I have never felt that speaking at the same conference implied my endorsement of commentary by others. That said, I do tend to know far better those with whom I interact in person. This was merely an interview, and I do several a week. Sometimes I know the interviewers fairly well, but more often I do not.”

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In my follow-up questions to Dr. Katz, I asked if he’d ever refused to speak at an event because of a disagreement with the scientific views of the organiser; and for his response to the argument that by speaking at a pseudoscience event he lends credibility to the organisers they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Here is Dr. Katz’s reply:

My only additional response to you at this point, Sterling, is that I have no better idea who you are, than who Johannes is. For all I know, you are his personal stalker.

He has only ever asked me about things in which I have a genuine interest, and invited me to discuss them unimpeded- whereas you have only ever asked me about him. Of the two of you, your behavior has been the more concerning to me.

I’ve asked Dr. Katz if he intends to ask Fisslinger about the issues raised in this post, but haven’t received a reply.

The Lifestyle Medicine Summit will take place between June 1–7, 2017. Speakers include retired surgeon and Quackwatch regular Dr. Bernie Siegel, prominent anti-vaxxer Sayer Ji, and Dr. Stephane Provencer, who practices “holistic child health care.”

 

Unappealing

Crisis management reps for complainant in “Banting for Babies trial” say they were inspired by controversial “apartheid architect” Hendrik Verwoerd

I recently blogged about the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), whose former president reported University of Capetown professor Tim Noakes to medical authorities for a single tweet in February 2014 (click here to read more).

ADSA hired crisis management company Hewers to field questions about its uncertain role as complainant in the case subsequently brought against Noakes by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

After a lengthy legal battle lasting just under two years, last month Noakes was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct. The HPCSA is currently appealing the verdict.

Professor Noakes during Banting for Babies trial” (source)

Trying to get answers from Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo about ADSA’s role proved futile, but last week I got an interesting tip regarding the etymology of the name “Hewers.”

Via Irvine, CA Ophthalmologist Dr. James H. Johnson:

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The Hewers website states that “the name Hewers was inspired by a speech by apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd,” and even quotes “the late politician” as saying that “black South Africans ought to be trained to become ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water.’”

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Verwoerd is a hugely divisive figure in South Africa.

As prime minister during the late fifties and sixties, Verwoerd “introduced numerous laws to establish the raced-based discriminatory system known as apartheid – earning him the title, architect of apartheid.” (Robertson, 2010)

Hendrik Verwoerd (source)

In March 1960, government forces in the South African township of Sharpeville opened fire on a crowd of peaceful black protesters, killing 69 people. Speaking to the British press one year later, Verwoerd described apartheid as “a policy of good neighbourliness.”

In the mid-thirties, Verwoerd (himself an immigrant to South Africa) protested the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany.

I’ve asked Neeran Naidoo if he believes that openly taking inspiration from such a divisive figure helps with his company’s stated goal of “protecting personal and brand reputation.”

I’ve also asked ADSA’s current president Maryke Gallagher for her take.