Kevin Trudeau: Pseudo-Advocate for the Consumer

Kevin Trudeau has been a topic of concern since my very first post here at Hot Cup of Joe. I’ve received lots of e-mail and comments and Trudeau continues to be one of the most consistent search hits from places like Google. All this in spite of the fact that my blog is mostly an archaeology and anthropology blog, though I try to concern myself with skepticism from time-to-time.

That being said, I received a recent comment on Part 1 of my Natural Cures review that I wanted to put on the front page. Kevin Trudeau is a self-labeled “consumer advocate” and, as the anonymous commenter below points out, this is naught but a deception to make money. I’ve edited Anonymous’ post for spelling and grammar, but the rest is his/her original words, which you can find in the comments linked above. Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing this with us, and read the rest below the fold:

Listen to all of you who swear by Kevin and his stories are lame there are so many people he has ripped off and continue to rip off I aught to know I worked for his company selling his books. I believed in him until I went into customer service and actually saw how the people that believed in him were treated by the company that does his distribution and shipping


I thought that if I got into the customer service part of the company I could actually help people and that is totally wrong his newsletter cost people a bunch of money all at once and the thing is that half of them never knew it until they had an over draft charge. Their way of dealing with the customers is to have us reps tell them that they will be receiving their refunds in approximately 60 days and you don’t know how many time I had to calm customers down because they were ripped off and there was nothing I could do to help them.

He is the biggest scam artist ever. he prays on old people and poor people that are looking for some cure that his infomercials claim are in the book Yes, if you have a computer and the resources there is some good things in there, but most of it is garbage because I have looked it up on line myself because I refused to order his book which seeing as I worked there I could’ve gotten it for free. I didn’t want it because it is useless.

Don’t get scammed by the new book on weight loss. Please take my advice and don’t bother especially if you have the CD because they are the same with just a hair of different info in them.

I am also going to find the web page for all the complaints against him and post an apology to all the customers I promised I would help because I was never allowed to call them back by company policy -I would’ve had to do it on my own time even though the supervisor tells us to tell them we will call back with info when received she never gets back to rep to do cb even when reminded she is not a bad person either just doing her job

Thank you, Anonymous, for coming forward with your story. Doubtless, there are many die-hard Trudeau followers (he really does have a cult following) that will label you a “heretic” and discount your story as that of a disgruntled employee, but you’ve characterized what I’ve been saying about Trudeau all along: he’s a con man praying on the weak, needy and desperate. He’s not a consumer “advocate” at all, but rather a leach, sucking money from them where he can with his fangs of deception. Trudeau successfully deceives the public into thinking that he’s their advocate and that he’s protecting them against the “establishment.”

The reality is that Trudeau is exactly the problem he claims to be an advocate against: corporate theft of consumer capital with regard to health concerns.

Other Posts on Trudeau, the con-artist:
Review: Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures, Part 1
Review: Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures, Part 2
Yet Another Kevin Trudeau Con
The Pseudoscience of an “Infomercial” Conman

Yet Another Kevin Trudeau Con

Kevin Trudeau is in the news for shenanigans other than the ‘alternative medicine’ scams he’s associated with. The Philippine Daily Inquirer ran an article on October 27, 2006 that exposes his involvement in organizing the International Pool Tour, which included a $3 million World 8-Ball Open in Reno, NV. Unfortunately, for the players, not all is on the up-and-up:

Six weeks after the IPT Open in Reno, Trudeau has yet to pay the winners. He has apologized for the delay, saying he fully understood and acknowledged the players’ frustration and concern.

“Critics quickly alerted players and industry reps about Trudeau’s controversial past,” Panozzo recalled. (Trudeau had spent 24 months in federal prison for credit card fraud and larceny.–MRI)

Of course, Trudeau responded with the same easy rhetoric that he offers critics of his pseudoscience claims in infomercials and books:

“When you create something new, like the IPT, the first reaction isn’t ‘Great!’ It’s ‘Witch! Charlatan!’ That’s what happens,” Trudeau said.

He pointed out that the opening quote in his best-selling book, “Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About,” is by Albert Einstein who said, “Great spirits always get violent opposition from mediocre minds.” His book, which has so far sold more than three million copies, espouses cures and remedies that don’t require drugs and surgery. A pioneer of infomercial, Trudeau is now worth more than $2 billion.

$2 billion!? If you flip open the front cover of his Natural Cures book, you see the announcement that he makes no money from his work, but donates it all to furthering the cause of alternative medicine and ‘natural’ cures. $2 Billion?! I wonder what funds he’s given to whom for the good of alternative medicine?

Review: Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures, Part 2

Previous entries about Trudeau:
Review: Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures, Part 1
The Pseudoscience of an “Infomercial” Conman

In Part 1 of my review of Trudeau’s Natural Cures (linked above), I spent a bit of time examining his claim that he “should be dead” and that his mitral valve prolapse was cured by a “dermatron.” I also commented on his claims that cellular injection therapy are legitimate. The post continues to draw quite a few hits and there are several comments made by some significance-junkies and Trudeau followers that are offended that someone would dare choose science over quackery.

I’ll continue the series with a bit more brevity.

In chapter 2 of his book, “what’s wrong with health care in America?,” Trudeau continues with logical fallacy after logical fallacy and with his refusal to cite any sources of verifiable information. He states that the medical establishment is “absolutely, 100%, failed in curing and prevention of illness, sickness, and disease.” Not a single source for his information. Not a single statistic cited. Nada.

Obviously this is completely and utterly false. One need only think of diseases such as polio and small pox and realize that it is medical science that eradicated these from most of the world. A casual look at a biology book or text on sociology that examines global trends and it becomes clear that where western medicine is prevalent in the world, infant mortality declines and longevity increases. Such data is so easy to come by, I’ll not even bother to link or cite it. Of course, the significance-junkies and conspiracy-nutters that see Trudeau as a hero turn blind eye to any facts that don’t already fit their conclusions.

Trudeau continues his chain of logical fallacies by stating in this chapter that more people get “X” than ever before. For “X,” simply insert whatever disease or condition you prefer: MS, cancer, diabetes, lupus, asthma, acne, dandruff, etc.

This is actually true. More people today *are* afflicted with these diseases than, say, 100 years ago. Of course, the population in the United States has more than tripled since 1900! So it shouldn’t even be surprising that more people are also being treated medically than “ever before.”

The gist of Trudeau’s 2nd chapter is that medical science has failed “absolutely, 100%.” Yet he fails the reader by at least this same measure since he utterly refuses to show how he arrived at that conclusion, an insult to the intelligence of the reader as it seems that such a failure assumes them incapable of understanding the reasoning. Or, more likely, because the data exist only in Trudeau’s head, invented and concocted for the sole purpose of appealing to popularity in making himself appear as though he’s a voice for the people, fighting against the “establishment” bent on keeping us all sick and in need of medicine.

I’ll not pretend that there are no problems with the the health care industry. There are. Trudeau may even be right about some of them. However, one cannot solve real problems by lumping the entirety of medical science in with those that engage in price-gouging, monopolistic control of specific drugs, pressuring physicians to back specific drugs, convincing the public they need unnecessary drugs for vague symptoms advertised on television, etc, etc

Trudeau’s exploits the natural frustrations that people have with health care to make a dollar. He’s a criminal.

Review: Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures, Part 1

As many who are critics and fans alike are aware, Kevin Trudeau, scam artist extraordinaire and mongrel of multi-level marketing, has a new book out, which is titled, More Natural Cures Revealed: Previously Censored Brand Name Products That Cure Disease. This one is a follow-up to his previous work of pulp fiction, Natural Cures "They" Don’t Want You to Know About.

I wrote a critical review of Trudeau’s infomercial in which he provided some very bogus information (known by critical thinkers as "lies"), which you can find at this link.

I thought it prudent to review his first book, Natural Cures, especially since in his latest work of admitted fiction, Trudeau instructs his readers to read it if they haven’t already. I spent the better part of two or three afternoons in my local Barnes & Noble, sucking down coffee (of course) and making notes from their copy of Trudeau’s nonsense. I refused to actually pay for it.

The following is my brief review on Natural Cures "They" Don’t Want You to Know About.

Trudeau structures his book in 15 chapters and three appendices:

  1. I should be dead now
  2. What’s wrong with health care in America?
  3. It’s all about money
  4. Who are "they"?
  5. Why are we sick?
  6. How to never get sick again
  7. Why people are fat
  8. How to lose weight effortlessly and keep it off forever
  9. How to read food labels
  10. Not convinced?
  11. Frequently asked questions
  12. Still not convinced?
  13. "Natural" cures for specific diseases
  14. Naturlcures.com
  15. The Solution

Appendix A. Free Bonus Materials: Newsletter articles
Appendix B. No-Hunger Bread: a true FDA horror story
Appendix C. How to find a health care practitioner

 

As is the case with all con-artists that wish to avoid legal problems due to their bogus "self-help" books, Trudeau begins with a disclaimer:

Before you read this book you had better check with your medical doctor, your friends, your politicians, your priest, your rabbi, your psychic, and anyone you feel is smarter than you, and see if you can get permission to read what I have to say.

Trudeau sets his tone of the book right from the beginning. He seeks to appeal to the natural human tendency to root for the underdog, but I hope, as I construct this criticism of his work, that it will be revealed that Trudeau is anything but an underdog. He is a con-artist. A fraud. Indeed, his "books" are frauds perpetrated on the real underdogs: the consumers that Trudeau pretends to be and advocate for. Trudeau is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, which seeks to fleece the pocketbooks of people with a genuine need to find solutions in healthcare.

And so the tone of the book is begun, the affronted underdog, oppressed by "the establishment" who is restricting his rights to free speech. He then goes on to impart that everything in the book is his "opinion" and anything done by the reader without medical supervision is done at their own risk. The book, he maintains, is for "educational purposes only" and only a medical doctor can prescribe medications, punctuated by Trudeau’s commentary of "how sad!"

The "educational purpose" of Natural Cures would seem to be on how a con-artist is able to appeal to hopes and fears of his mark in order to get them to spend $30 on a book and potentially hundreds more on junk newsletters and a subscription website.

Kevin Trudeau Should be Dead.

Or at least that’s what the title of his first chapter would indicate. In it, Trudeau begins with a personal anecdote of being diagnosed with a heart problem: mitral valve prolapse (MVP). This heart condition, which Trudeau calls a "severe" condition, took days to get diagnosed by "three of the top heart specialists in America" who used "the most advanced medical diagnostic devices" was discovered by a single new age nutbar (Dr. Yiwen Tang of Century Center in Reno, NV) with a magical meridian energy device (the "Dermatron ") was able to find his MVP in just a few seconds! Moreover, it was a "natural, inexpensive, quick and painless" treatment that cured him. A "treatment" so secret and "forbidden" in America, that it is illegal!. But Trudeau claims that just two months after his "treatment," further diagnosis by doctors (real ones, apparently) revealed no heart problem.

Folks, this is how the book begins, and it continues in exactly the same bullshit fashion throughout. Let me explain:

Mitral valve prolapse is a common heart condition which affects up to 25% of the population. Those that have MVP typically have a minor problem with their mitral valve that allows small amounts of blood to leak back in the heart when the valve doesn’t properly close. Even the most novice of nurses trained to listen for it can hear the tell-tale "clicking" that accompanies the normal heartbeat and certainly any medical doctor could diagnose the condition in only a few seconds with a simple stethoscope (simple but definitely the only "advanced diagnostic device" needed!). You see, mitral valve prolapse is also known by its more common name: heart murmur; a late-systolic murmur to be exact.

]

CORRECTION: I’ll leave the incorrect information in the paragraph above intact. Wondering if I was right about the ease with which MVP is detectable (I based my assumption on a conversation I recall with a nurse I once worked with a few years ago), I asked a pediatrician to fact check for me. That pediatrician is Clark Bartram over at Unintelligent Design, and I owe him a big thank you for setting me straight. I should have asked him sooner!

As it turns out, MVP is bit more complicated than most heart murmurs: “There are a number of cardiac issues that can lead to a murmur and not all murmurs are pathologic. Also the click is not always present, nor is a murmur. It is often an incidental finding with no significance (Clark Bartram).” He also noted that, while even skilled nurses and doctors might not be able to diagnose MVP with a stethoscope, as I so wrongly stated, the condition is easily detected by echocardiogram, which still makes Trudeau’s anecdote of taking weeks to be discovered through the most advanced diagnostic equipment a bit of balderdash.

Also provided was a new source of information, eMedicine, which notes: “In the US: MVP can be identified by echocardiography in 3-4% of the general population, and it is identified in 7% of autopsies.” The MV Prolapse site I linked to above gave a figure of 5-20%.

Trudeau says that physicians told him that the condition was "incurable," which is true if what is expected in the definition of "cure" is something that can be ingested or consumed to change the body’s physiology. But in cases that are serious, the mitral valve can be operated on, replacing the valve itself, thus "curing" the individual. The valve itself is faulty and a hereditary condition. Yet Trudeau claims to have a magical cure that he refuses to share with the world.

This magical cure is as much bullshit as the diagnosis he alleges to have received from the new age nutbar. Trudeau claims that the "Dermatron Machine" was able to diagnose his MVP. The only truth Trudeau offers in this chapter appears to be that the "Dermatron " is illegal and so is the treatment he claims: cellular injection therapy. There are good reasons.

The Dermatron

A good source of information on this quack device can be found at QuackWatch.com (Barrett 2005). From Dr. Barrett’s article there:

Proponents, claim these devices measure disturbances in the body’s flow of "electro-magnetic energy" along "acupuncture meridians." [1] Actually, these devices are little more than fancy galvanometers that measure electrical resistance of the patient’s skin when touched by a probe. The device emits a tiny direct electric current that flows through a wire from the device to a brass cylinder covered by moist gauze, which the patient holds in one hand. A second wire is connected from the device to a probe, which the operator touches to "acupuncture points" on the patient’s other hand or a foot. This completes a low-voltage circuit and the device registers the flow of current.

The information is then relayed to a gauge or computer screen that provides a numerical readout on a scale of 0  to 100. According to Voll’s theory: readings from 45 to 55 are normal ("balanced"); readings above 55 indicate inflammation of the organ "associated" with the "meridian" being tested; and readings below 45 suggest "organ stagnation and degeneration." The size of the number actually depends on how hard the probe is pressed against the patient’s skin.

Such devices aren’t complicated or magical. Nor do they do what their proponents claim. Not a single valid study has been conducted that demonstrates that they work. And it would be a simple experiment for the proponents to validate. Simply set up a double-blind experiment using both ill and non-ill subjects of whichever disease or ailment the proponents of the device are most comfortable with and record the results. Either it will detect and cure or it won’t.

Trudeau’s fans will doubtlessly note that he doesn’t indicate in chapter one that the device "cures" but others do elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the con-artist Trudeau is willing to support these claims if it furthers his own agenda –which, clearly, is to pad his wallet.

Devices similar to the Dermatron are used and claimed by other alternative medicine nutbars such as Hulda Clark, author of The Cure for All Cancers, and the idea was born of Reinhold Voll, a 1950s acupuncturist. The circuitry of modern devices of this sort are simple square-wave oscillators with a one or two resisters and capacitors and a potentiometer to give an oscillation, all running on a small battery of, perhaps, 9-volts. Clark’s claim is that such a device is able to cure cancer and provides instruction in her book to build such a device for minimal cost.

One wonders why there are no documented cases of cured cancer. That is, unless you buy into Trudeau’s crap. Trudeau uses a logical fallacy (among many, many others) called poisoning the well by setting up the reader to believe that the reason such claims aren’t validated is because "Big Pharm," the government, and medical doctors are suppressing it. And he expects you to believe it.

Never mind that going public with verifiable evidence for cures that can cheaply and quickly solve problems like cancer and MVP would make instant heroes and celebrities out of the doctor, government official, or pharmaceutical engineer that can validate them. Never mind that there are peer-review and oversight entities that would prevent such things. Never mind that even if most of the thousands of people who work in these fields were actually dishonest, that there would be almost zero chance that all of them are. Surely one of the "honest" government, pharmaceutical, or medical personnel is able to go public with evidence that a simple, $15 square-wave oscillator can dowse or divine what ails you and even cure you of cancer!

Cellular Injection Therapy

Yes. It’s illegal. And for good reason since the concept involves injecting cellular material from other species of animals into people.

Again, Dr. Stephen Barrett (2003) offers some well-researched information, useful to the lay-person who may be deceived by con-artists and fraudsters who care about your money and not your health as they claim. I’ll include Barrett’s citations.

  • A 1957 survey of 179 West German hospitals revealed 80 cases of serious immunological reactions, 30 of them fatal, in cellular treatment recipients (Gelband et al 1990).
  • In 1975, the AMA’s consumer magazine Today’s Health described how two men died from gas gangrene following injections of fetal sheep cells at the New Life Clinic near Fort Meyers, Florida, operated by Robert A. Peterson, Jr., D.O. The article noted that: (a) Peterson falsified the cause of death on the death certificate in an attempt to conceal what had happened, and (b) in Germany alone, 35 deaths had been traced to practitioners who had tried to use Niehans’s technique; and (c) Peterson subsequently had his license revoked and was indicted for mail fraud and tax evasion (Lindemann & Cubbison 1975)
  • In 1981, allergic reactions to calf thymus tissue derived from 5-day-old animals were reported in a study of patients with histiocytosis X (Osband et al 1981).
  • During the 1980s, cases were reported of polyradiculitis, leukoencephalitis, Guillian-Barré syndrome, immune complex vasculitis, encephalopathy, and a blistering skin disease resembling bullous pemphigoid (de Ritter et al 1987; Goebel et al 1986; Bohl et al 1989).
  • In 1987, the British journal Lancet reported on the death of a popular female athlete who had received several hundred injections of various cell preparations. She had developed a painful nerve condition, had been given dipyrone (a dangerous drug), and had gone into fatal shock (Lancet 1987).

In closing of this portion of my review, I’ll add that there are good reasons why the Dermatron and "cellular injection therapy" are both illegal. They’re harmful. They’re sole purpose is to deceive those that are desperate for health care and take their money, regardless of the risks to their health or the shams they’re based on.

Throughout his book Trudeau condemns modern Western medicine and uses another logical fallacy, which is the appeal to the ancients or tradition. Trudeau maintains that alternative treatments, cures, and lifestyles are healthier and more advantageous and gives whole lists of "problems" with modern medicine, health and hygiene (many if not most items are simply wrong, out of context, or out-right lies). No one can deny that there are improvements that can be made in modern healthcare, and let us hope this will always be the case… who would want to live in a society where healthcare and medicine are rigid and unchanging where progress is absent? But it cannot be overlooked that modern Western medicine works. The average lifespan of cultures where Western medicine has not been introduced is far, far less than that of Western societies. Anthropological and archaeological evidence is very clear. Earlier humans had lifespans of about 40-45. In some African nations where Western medicine has yet to be consistently introduced, the average lifespan is about 35 even today.

I’ll continue this with additional parts, reviewing other chapters of Trudeau’s book of pseudoscience, lies and deception if this one gets a lot of hits and comments (good or bad).

 

References:

Barrett, Stephen (2003). Cellular Therapy. QuackWatch.com

Barrett, Stephen (2005). Quack "Electrodiagnostic" Devices. QuackWatch.com

Bohl J et al (1989). Complications following cell therapy. Zeitschrift fur Rechtsmedizin 103:1-20.

Gelband H et al (1990). Cellular treatment. In Unconventional cancer treatments. Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office, pp 97-98.

Goebel HH et al. (1986). Fresh cell therapy followed by fatal coma. Journal of Neurology 233:242-247.

Lancet (1987). Cell therapy suspended. Lancet, Aug 29, p. 503.

Lindeman B, Cubbison C: (1975). Cellular therapy: A shabby clinic offered rejuvenation but delivered death. Today’s Health 53:36-41.

Osband ME et al. (1981). Histiocytosis-X. Demonstration of abnormal immunity, T-cell histamine H2-receptor deficiency, and successful treatment with thymic extract. New England Journal of Medicine. 304:146-153.

de Ridder M et al. (1987). Two cases of death following cell therapy. Deutsche Medizinische Wochenshrift 112:1006-1009.

 

 

 

 

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