Categories
Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine News of the Weird Quackery Religion Skepticism/critical thinking

What’s the harm? An Australian child dies while undergoing a particularly cruel form of quackery

A common criticism aimed at those of us who are highly critical of various alternative medicine treatments and, in particular, of the “integration” of such treatments into conventional medical treatment is: What’s the harm? What, they ask, is the harm of homeopathy, acupuncture, iridology, or traditional Chinese medicine? They argue that it’s pretty much harmless, or, to quote Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about earth, harmless. Of course, fans of the novels know that Ford Prefect, a contributor to the guide, reacting to Earthling Arthur Dent’s outrage that the entry for the planet earth consisted of only one word, assured him that in the next edition the entry would be expanded to read “mostly harmless.” An analogy to this sort of quackery could be made, except that it is anything but “mostly harmless.” It can—and is—often harmful to individual patients, not to mention the corrosive effect integrating pseudoscience into conventional medicine has in general.

I’ve documented various examples over the years, examples such as Madeleine Neumann, a 11-year-old diabetic girl who died of diabetic ketoacidosis when her parents relied on prayer instead of medicine to treat her diabetes. Then there have been children like Daniel Hauser, Katie Wernecke, Abraham Cherrix, Jacob Stieler, an Amish girl named Sarah Hershberger, Cassandra C, and, most recently, two aboriginal girls from Canada, Makayla Sault (who died) and JJ (who will, hopefully, live, although her chances of ultimately surviving were greatly compromised by her mother’s insistence on pursuing a Florida quack‘s medicine instead of chemotherapy). These were all children or teens with cancer whose parents chose (or supported their choice) not to undergo chemotherapy and to pursue quackery instead. Then there was Mazeratti Mitchell, who suffered a spinal cord injury while wrestling, whose mother wanted to rely on a naturopathic quack instead of surgery to fuse his spine. The list goes on and on and on; depressingly so, in fact.

I’m sighing with sadness as I add another one to the list: Aidan Fenton of Sydney, Australia, a seven-year old boy with type I diabetes who died undergoing quack treatments associated with using traditional Chinese medicine:

A Chinese healer, who slaps patients until they produce dark bruising and is now under investigation over the death of a Sydney boy, had brought his treatments to Perth.

Self-proclaimed healer Hongchi Xiao was using slapping therapy on seven-year-old Aidan Fenton to treat type 1 diabetes when the boy died in Hurstville New South Wales on Monday evening.

Mr Xiao brought his traditional Chinese medical treatments to Perth in 2013 and was sponsored by Perth traditional medicine practitioner Chai Chua.

Mr Chua told 6PR Mornings on Friday that anyone, especially children, undergoing Chinese therapy for serious health conditions should be supported by conventional medical advice.

It sounds to me as though Mr. Chua is trying to cover his proverbial posterior here. Basically, Aidan Fenton was taking part in a seven day workshop in Huntsville when his parents found him dead in their hotel room:

Police and paramedics were called to the Ritz Hotel in Hurstville about 9pm on Monday to reports that the boy had collapsed and was not breathing.

His parents’ screams alerted staff at the hotel, who called triple zero. A NSW Police spokesman said the boy died at the scene.

It is believed Aidan, from Prospect, had type 1 diabetes, and police are investigating whether he was no longer taking insulin before his death.

Mr Xiao’s week-long Sydney workshop cost $1800 for participants to attend, and was held at the Pan Health Medical Centre.

This Australian news story includes a video of the sort of “therapy” that Hongchi Xia teaches. I encourage you to watch the brief clip. It shows people undergoing Paida, or “slapping therapy,” during which they are seen slapping themselves on the legs, body, face and other locations until the skin was turning black and blue with some rather impressive bruising, and I call this bruising impressive as a surgeon who’s seen a lot of trauma in his residency and, for a few years after, covered trauma call as an attending. Included with the news story is a photo from Xia’s website showing a man with bruising on his abdomen that wouldn’t have been out of place in a trauma patient pulled from a crashed car.

I perused Xia’s website, PaidaLajin Self-Healing and it’s a frightening place on the Internet. Right on the English home page, it advertises Paida as “DIY,” effective, simple, low cost, safe, and universally applicable, as in “effective on about all diseases” (an exact quote). Elsewhere, we learn that Paida means to “pat and slap external skin areas to expel poisonous waste (in the form of Sha) and to restore health by facilitating the smooth flow of Qi throughout the meridians (energy channels in the body). .” (Detoxification. Of course it had to be “detoxification,” complete with acupuncture meridians.) Xia tells us that he uses disease categories “for convenience only,” and “to self heal and to help others regain health, you are advised to ‘forget the disease name.'” What is the rationale for this treatment? Vitalistic, prescientific nonsense, of course:

Paida /Inducing Sha = Elimination of the toxic waste in the body

  1. Our skin is closely related to meridians (energy channels in the body), limbs, five internal organs, six entrails and nine apertures (including the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, urethra and anus).
  2. Paida enhances one’s faith and power of the heart, stimulates and cleanses relevant meridians to facilitate the Qi flow. Smooth Qi flow will in turn help the circulation of blood. Clearing meridians could cure diseases.
  3. The patted and slapped parts of the body will automatically gather Qi and blood, which then facilitates their circulation. As a toxin-sweeper, the enhanced Qi automatically scans the body to locate and cleanse the blocked meridians. As a result, toxic waste, illnesses and even tumors can be cleared.
  4. From the perspective of Western medicine, Paida is a “proactive sabotage technique” that stimulates the central nervous system, which then activates energy and blood flow, secretions, and the lymphatic, nervous and immune systems to help repair the damaged parts. This is a process of self-healing and rehabilitation, and enhances the body’s immune functions.

Supposedly, you can even tell what sort of effect the Paida is having by the Sha it produces, which supposedly appears only where diseases are present. in this way of thinking, the amount of Sha indicates the severity of disease and the intensity of the Sha color correlates with the amount of “toxic qi” in the body, with darker colors corresponding to more “toxins”:

According to the position of Sha, one can tell the illness (or potential illness) of the corresponding organs and the Sha itself also shows the body has started the reduction of body endotoxin and the treatment.

The Sha will come out in a minute after Paida with those who suffer from obstructed blood circulation and their Sha comes faster and the color of the Sha is darker than usual.

Some people will have red Sha first, and after more Paida, the color will turn dark purple or even into dark masses.

Yes, it’s called bruising. It’s what happens when the skin is traumatized sufficiently. First it turns red with inflammation, and then the breakage of small blood vessels under the skin leads to bleeding under the skin; i.e., bruises (or, to use the medically fancy term, ecchymoses). Then, as the bruises resolve, as virtually every human being knows, having experienced at least small bruises in his or her lifetime, such bruises turn all sorts of lovely colors from purple to green to yellow, before fading away. Xia notes that sometimes “people will have Sha the first time they have Paida and don’t have Sha afterwards and may have Sha again later, which means their body and mood are undergoing some changes.” No, what it means is that they probably didn’t hit themselves hard enough to cause immediate bruising the first time around and the bruises are showing up later, as they often do with lesser injuries. I know TCM has some really dumb ideas at its heart, such as a concept that links various organs to regions on the tongue, much as reflexology links them to parts of the palms of the hand and soles of the feet, but somehow I had gone all these years without having ever encountered Paida before. This is even dumber than Tong Ren, because at least in Tong Ren the person is hitting a doll instead of himself.

So how, specifically, is Paida done? Xia’s website describes that the proper sequence is to start hitting yourself from the “top down”; i.e., starting at the head and working your way down to the feet until, apparently, you’ve beat your entire body to a bruised pulp. Xia helpfully notes that if you feel the pain of slapping then “you are on the right way” and recommends that you chant mantras while patting or slapping for better results. He even recommends “Paida with your mind,” observing that “when slapping the skin, you can imagine that you are injecting fresh Qi into the body and bringing out the dirty Qi.” You know, it occurs to me that Dirty Qi would be a totally awesome name for a rock band. For a rationale for slapping yourself silly to bring out the “toxins” and treat disease? Not so much.

In fairness, we don’t know yet whether Aidan Fenton died of Paida, whether he had stopped his insulin, or whether he died of something else. However, as noted in Doubtful News, the circumstances look very, very suspicious. It’s also been reported in The Daily Telegraph that Fenton had been made to fast before slapping therapy and that he vomited and died:

It is understood Mr Xiao has claimed participants in the seminar were asked to fast for three days and to undertake the slapping and stretching exercises that can prompt vomiting and dizzy spells, known as a “healing crisis”.

Aidan was among those vomiting during the seminar.

Mr Xiao said Aidan looked well during the ­seminar and had eaten rice but became ill ­on Monday evening after Mr Xiao had gone to dinner.

Police and paramedics were called to the nearby Hurstville Ritz Hotel where the Year 1 student had been staying with his parents after the little boy was found unconscious at 9pm.

Hotel staff said they rushed to the family’s aid after ­hearing screams coming from their room.

Aidan was found in bed. His heart stopped beating on the way to the hospital.

Police are now investigating if the “healer” ­advised his parents to take Aidan off ­insulin and instead encouraged alternative therapies to treat him, including massages and slapping.

Consider the pain and fear of a seven year old. He’s made to fast, and doesn’t understand why. He’s made to slap himself all over until he’s bruised, which is painful, and he doesn’t understand why. Why, he wonders, why are you doing this to me, Mommy and Daddy? If Aidan underwent Paida as it’s described on Xia’s website, it’s hard not to conclude that he was tortured, either by Xia or his parents. That’s why reading quotes like this drives me crazy:

Neighbours of the Fenton family described Aidan as a “beautiful, really good boy” and said his parents had been too traumatised to speak about the incident.

“All we can hear is them crying, all the time,” said a neighbour, whose daughter was the same age as Aidan and played with him over the school holidays.

“They were such good parents, it is really hard to understand why it happened and how it happened.”

Yes, it is hard to understand how this happened—very hard—if you’re a rational, science-baed person. There is no physiologic rationale why raising welts and bruises would have therapeutic effect for diabetes or any other serious diesease and lots of reasons for it to be harmful. If, as is alleged, Aidan was forced to fast before, then it might actually be even worse if he had still been taking his insulin, because, as all type I diabetics know, taking the same dose of insulin if you haven’t eaten can lead to dangerously low blood sugar. Be that as it may, I must strenuously disagree with the next part. While I have no doubt that they both loved Aidan and are, as described, completely traumatized by his death and suffering profound grief at his lost, it must be said that Aidan’s parents were most definitely not good parents if, as it appears, they took their seven-year-old diabetic child to a week-long session with a quack who advocates beating the “toxins” out of people until they’re bruised all over their body. To subject a diabetic child to such torture—yes, torture—is unconscionable and unquestionably in my mind child abuse, regardless of the parents’ love or good intentions in doing it. Even if Aidan is found to have died of something else, it would still be child abuse in my mind.

What’s the harm? Sadly, Aidan Fenton appears to have learned the answer to that question.

ADDENDUM: Here is a video of Hongchi Xia speaking about his Paida method. Wow, the quackery is thick here.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

268 replies on “What’s the harm? An Australian child dies while undergoing a particularly cruel form of quackery”

What’s the harm?

Damn….I’d call torture and death pretty harmful.

Are there insufficient decent people in the whole of alt-med that would reflexively group and clamor and protest such nonsense out of their alternative midst and out of existence? Anything goes in alt med, alternative medicine again displaying themselves as the most irresponsible group of people imaginable.

“. Xia helpfully notes that if you feel the pain of slapping then “you are on the right way”…It is understood Mr Xiao has claimed participants in the seminar were asked to fast for three days and to undertake the slapping and stretching exercises that can prompt vomiting and dizzy spells, known as a “healing crisis”.”

So, ye of little faith – couldn’t death be part of the healing crisis and a sign that the patient’s toxins have been expelled? Don’t be so quick to judge.

I’ve seen similar bruising after particularly intense games of slap jack. Not pretty. Painful. And indicative of major tissue damage. And I don’t recall anyone’s colds being cured by playing slap jack, let alone major illnesses like diabetes.

How can a person delude themselves to the point where they think that this is a good thing? And to echo DevoutCatalyst, why aren’t other alt-med practitioners decrying this as the abuse it is? Even that Chua fellow that sponsored Xiao is only going as far as to say that the child should also have had real treatment. He’s not even calling Xiao out for this abuse.

Could any of the legal eagles in the commentariat enlighten me regarding the difference between paida and assault? In many Western countries, not even the parents are allowed to do this kind of thing to children. Paida seems to take the notion of “no pain, no gain” to extremes, while its practitioners forget the all-important corollary: no brain, no pain. AFAICT, this isn’t a case of “there ought to be a law”: there is a law, and Mr. Xiao ought to be under arrest for violating it.

Can someone tell me how the “qi” is related to “tai chi”? I have friends who are fanatics for it but I was hoping it was just exercise and not quackery.

[email protected] – Australia mananged to keep Sheri Tenpenny out through sheer hard work publicising her woo to the venues. They cancelled, then so did she. This “therapist’s” woo is so specialised – maybe there just wasn’t enough local negative profile to garner interest. Lord knows he was tagged as a menace in Taiwan ” In 2011, Taiwanese authorities kicked Xiao out of the country and fined him $US1600 for violating medical regulations.”

Also – I heard Chua’s interview on the radio this morning. He claimed HIS diabetes (Type 2) was helped by the therapy and it took a lot of coaxing by the interviewer for him to make the statement that Type 1 children should be under mainstream medical care.

T’ai Chi and Qi Gong can be done just as exercises. But they are tied to the same Chinese Daoist philosophies where the Qi thing and all the other TCM stuff comes from.

Thing is a lot of them are nice gentle range of motion exercises that tend to promote good body posture and improve your sense of balance and have you think about the body mechanics of everyday activities (so trying to move the heavy bookshelf with your whole body and push through the legs rather than trying to push it with just your arms).

What I’m wondering is that most classes I’ve taken do a bit of warm up stretching and often do a Qi self-massage afterward (with very light tapping, you aren’t supposed to get red or raise welts, more like dry brushing some of the wooists of other flavors around here tend to promote). Usually the stuff you do in between is the stuff that gets healing or well-being aspects attached to it.

So did he just take the warm up and cool down to the extreme and attribute all the healing to them and them alone, or were those the origins of the move your joints around a bit first (after all light active stretching before a work out seems pretty mainstream) and tap at the end of a session (this not so much) made much more reasonable from a previously brutal practice?

Sometime hard to know as a lot of people will give some ancient origin story even if the practice is really quite new (even something they made up by themselves just last week rather than having been done for a generation or three)

I can agree with KaYMarie: tai chi instructors may include an exercise wherein one twists the body – to liberate the qi or suchlike- whilst tapping the shoulders, sides etc. I imagine that both forms o are related.

This reminds me a bot of the tales of early Christian self-scourging altho’ less ( visibly) bloody as one beats away sin.

Hopefully, none of those who seek to ‘recover’ a child from autism will learn of this method of toxin elimination.

– pardonnez les typos-
I accidentally hit the button.

Hopefully, none of those who seek to ‘recover’ a child from autism will learn of this method of toxin elimination.

I was just thinking about that. As if bleach enemas weren’t enough.

Do you have any evidence that this “slapping therapy” is “traditional Chinese medicine”? I’ve never heard of this therapy in 14 years of living in China. When I ask around about this, none of the people I know have heard of it either. It’s not in any of the classic texts of Chinese medicine (which would be, you know, almost the definition of “traditional” here). And, most tellingly, the charlatan’s web site doesn’t seem to actually cite any traditions whilst expounding on his “Paida” or “Lajin” gobbledigook.

I would say that this guy is a step lower than even TCM practitioners in idiocy and dishonesty. TCM practioners have at least “but … but … tradition!” to fall back upon. This guy was just making stuff up and killing people.

Here’s a little more on Paida and Sha:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-32545591

It sounds to me as though Hongchi Xiao is riffing on the TCM concept of Shaw, basically copied the ideas behind cupping, which is TCM, and put his own spin on them, by using slapping to draw out the “bad qi” or “toxins” rather than the cups.

He also blames the victim if he doesn’t get better:

“Many people ask, how long should they perform these methods?

“I simply tell them, if you do it more often, you can recover faster. But sometimes, people are too lazy, and thus, they don’t see any results,” he added.

Unfortunately, because woo-bent theories of disease are so often based upon contamination by toxins, I imagine that this form of self-abuse might be considered desirable to many alt med folk.

I’ve heard quite a few references to toxin elimination via
– twisting the body in yoga, to squeeze out toxins from muscles
– taking a hot bath with salt
– staying in a steam room or sauna** for long periods
– exercising/ doing yoga in a hot room
– brushing the skin***

A related woo meme is that toxins cause inflammation which yields all manner of illness. Therefore, purging toxins in any way would be the road to health. In their minds at least.

** see adverts @ AoA
*** see Natural News

Slapping… wow. Although my parents use a milder version (Gua Sha) of this when we were younger to cure nasty cold. They only scratch our back until it bruise to cause the “sha” to come out.

Maybe it’s placebo, or maybe it’s just the fact that we’re all sweaty after the session, but it felt good afterward.

I wouldn’t do it on my kids however lol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gua_sha

Eric Lund:

The thing that might give it a shield is the parents having believed the quack when he told them this would heal the child. You are allowed to injure a person to help them; that’s what surgery is, after all. The parents would be guilty of medical neglect, not assault. The quack, however, now him I think should be charged with, at minimum, negligent homicide. Ideally, he’d be prevented from doing this to anybody else, but I know from reading the stories of many other quacks just how slippery they can be.

I’m not a lawyer, remotely, but you can look at how faith healing cases have gone. Only recently have religious shields for this sort of thing been removed. Today, in most states a parent can be charged with a crime (sometimes even all the way up to murder) if their child dies because they elected to go with prayer rather than medical treatment. But it’s a very recent thing; traditionally, a lot of leeway is given for parents having done what they *thought*, passionately, was the right thing, as long as they learn from their mistake. (They often don’t, of course; there are people who have been charged *twice* for the death of a child undergoing faith healing.)

We’re starting to appreciate that religion isn’t a shield, but I think we’re having a harder time with alternative medicine. It seems obvious that prayer won’t heal, but does the average person believe we can expect other average people to know that this is bunkum? With everyone being tried by a jury of their peers, that’s a very crucial question.

The average person knows that medicine doesn’t always work, and that diagnosis isn’t simple, and that many medicines have side effects, and that many treatments cause a lot of pain before you can get better. Based on that, the average person may find the claims of this crazy Chinese practitioner to be, if not immediately plausible, at least not totally outside the realm of reality. And thus, even a person who knows this treatment is ridiculous might be unwilling to blame the parents for being suckered by it, and might even acknowledge uncertainty — the “but what if it *is* true?” mindset. That’s what really allows quacks to flourish. Not just the appeal of the credulous. The credulous are who they make money off of. The rest are the buffer that insulates them from criticism.

Addendum: for a comparison, consider how long it took to outlaw rebirthing therapy, which directly killed some kids. Or consider how totally unregulated camps for troubled kids are. These camps purport to offer therapy, but what they really do is torture the kids into submission. Kids have died at these camps, and they are still allowed to operate. In the US. So quite a lot of harm can be done to children, legally, in Western countries. At least, this particular Western country.

But your critics could point to the millions of people who died while under the care of traditional medicine & many of the people who died while using quacks would have died anyway. Also the mere fact that they were using quacks suggests they might have been doing other reckless things too that could have killed them

Your guilty if the very pseudoscience you criticize. The only way to know quacks do harm is to take a random sample of people with cancer & have a randomly chosen half visit quacks & doctors & the other half visit only doctors & then compare death rates

This just infuriates me. But what we don’t know, is how the parents got into this.

They might have been full-fledged True Believers, in which case I would say they are fully morally culpable.

But they might have been innocent dupes, who were charmed into this despite some degree of reluctance. In that case I would say that they are not morally culpable: they too are victims of a vicious fraud. Their extreme grief since the boy’s death suggests that this is the likely situation.

Nor would I blame T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, or Taoism, for the fact that a quack used them as part of his mumbo-jumbo. Quacks, frauds, and abusers use what they can find in whatever culture they arise in; in the UK and Europe today it’s often Islam; in the USA, Christianity. Xiao, Chua, whoever, the whole lot of the quacks behind this should face swift and stiff justice. Ultimately the fault is theirs, and their arse-covering statements show that they recognise that they are guilty as hell.

Re. Mike Adams and our ‘favourite frauds’ list: they will seek to duck any questions about this (ducks quack and quacks duck), but reporters and bloggers should keep after them until they can’t duck any further. Make them take sides. And then make the obvious comparisons.

Well @Question, if we should both happen to get the same type of cancer at the same time, I’m claiming my spot on the science-based medicine side of the trail right now. The study you want, like the One Study to Rule Them All so beloved of the anti-vaxxers, won’t and can’t happen, because it’s gobsmackingly unethical to deny half the participants access to proven, if flawed treatment, and give the other half a green smoothie and an arse full of coffee.
I do hope you’re not seriously attempting to justify this brutal, heinous quackery.

The study would not require denying anyone access to traditional medicine. The experimental group would get access to both traditional & alternative medicine. The control group only traditional medicine.

If alternative medicine causes harm, we should see more deaths in the expirerimental group.

It’s easy to cherry pick anecdotes to demonize either traditional or alternative medicine. But real research requires hard hard work.

Never underestimate human stupidity.

The parents are criminally negligent–any parent of a child with type I diabetes has it drilled into them during diabetes education that their child needs immediate medical attention if they start vomiting. They have no excuse for letting their child die. None.

Yep. I have to agree. The very best that can be said about these parents is that they were criminally negligent.

From the same article

In 2011, Taiwanese authorities expelled Xiao from the country and fined him $US1600 for violating medical regulations.

In the same year relatives of a liver cancer patient complained to police after they paid $A4000 to attend Xiao’s therapy sessions only for him to die three months later, according to reports in the Chinese media.

I disagree with Orac in post #25. If they withheld insulin from someone whom is a type 1 diabetic, why is that not premeditated murder? It is well known that insulin is necessary for life and without it, ketoacidosis and death will occur. How is this different from refusing food or water until someone dies? I would argue that that is murder and not simply negligence. If you then physically abused the victim, this would not excuse the withholding of life sustaining food and water. They clearly set out a plan, withholding insulin, that can only lead to death.

That’s the most depressing thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m going to wake my 7 year old now to give her a hug to see if it see me crying. Does hope blind people of reason so completely?

Lurker is correct: charlatans will use anything that can to hoodwink people. Often religion is their first choice.

HOWEVER when another culture’s traditional medicine or modern but flimsily disguised quackery is employed, susceptible individuals are even more at sea because they are not usually as familiar with the historical perspective: thus an American or a Brit, when confronted by a quack referencing medicine of the European Middle Ages ( and later), might be wary if anything resembling bloodletting is offered BUT they may be slightly blinded by pseudoscience when the charlatan presents lunacy bathed in the shimmering glow of the “Mysterious East” or “Native American Tradition”.I imagine that that’s going on here.

BUT if you think about it, much of what so-called Western alt med offers is not that far away from ancient purging and methods of expelling poisons, bad humours or demonic influence. Ayurveda and TCM may have an edge as a selling point because they emit that attractive aura of *mysterioso* without the historical baggage ( see medical care experienced by George Washington and George III).

Chris [email protected]

…any parent of a child with type I diabetes has it drilled into them during diabetes education that their child needs immediate medical attention if they start vomiting.

Exactly what I was thinking.

From the link in the article:

Mr Xiao is believed to have left Australia after he was questioned by NSW Police.

Of course he would. However much at fault the parents were Xiao is the real problem. He’s the Brian Clement of this story and it seems, as with Clement, likely there won’t be consequences (serious ones at least).

An article in the Sidney Morning Herald has more quotes from Xiao; he seems wholely unrepentant. The reporting seems disgustingly credulous in light of what happened.

Horrifying. My God. I have a seven year old son. I can’t imagine this child’s terror.

Someone needs to SLAP Mr Xiao up side the head until he becomes too demented to continue preying on people who have opened their minds so far that their brains fell out.

Where do people get the money for these things? They need to consider more charity if they have so much excess cash.

Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times. I was just debating with a friend of mine yesterday about this issue, and she’s in the “what’s the harm” camp. I come across articles like this and would love to show it to her as it is filled with examples about the harm, but when it’s quack this and quack that, it’s not even worth linking to someone. They’re just going to dismiss it as hostile and biased. Instead of saying someone died because they went to a “Florida quack”, it’d be a lot more useful to simply say a “Florida Naturopath” or whatever brand of quackery was occurring.
Just my 0.02 – articles with this tone really are only preaching to the choir and are only going to raise defenses of the quack-enthusiasts.

Ed. Note: This is obviously not the Chris, who has been a regular around here for a decade.

Question @#20.

You are not seriously suggesting this colossally unethical and illegal ‘trial scheme’ you describe at all are you? Instead you are using it to highlight how a visceral reaction from the SBM community to a blatantly abusive and dangerous practice is equivalent to an altmeddler rejecting ‘mustard gas’ or marginally more accurately phosgene to cure cancer? That’s what you’re getting at, right?

Because if so then you are still talking bollocks.

I’m curious who was slapping Aiden. It sounds like they are supposed to slap themselves but I have trouble imagining a child would slap himself hard enough to bruise. Can you imagine what kind of mental/emotional torture it would take to make a 7 year old hit himself until he bruised? If they were doing it “right”, to the point that the child was bruised it would either be physical abuse if the parents or Xiao did it or mental/emotional abuse to coerce the poor kid into doing it himself. The more I think about this the more horrific it becomes.

@Chris: Actually, I only used the word “quack” five times in the post; the word “quackery” once in the post and once in the title. Nowhere near 100 times! 🙂

Be that as it may, your pearl clutching over tone is noted. Whenever a child dies, I’m sorry, but I’m going to tell it like it is. No euphemisms. No toning it down. No consideration for the delicate sensitivities of someone like you. None of that. Because I am biased. I’m biased against pseudoscience endangering the lives of children. Sorry if that offends anyone.

Actually, no I’m not. I’m not sorry at all.

There is no need to apologize because I tend to get outraged when children die like this. I’m funny that way. Portraying the horror as horrible might not sway true believers, but then nothing will sway true believers. It will, however, often sufficiently horrify people who can be reached.

Oh, and, in case you didn’t bother to click on the link, Brian Clement (the Florida quack) is as big a quack as Hongchi Xia:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/02/11/brian-clement-and-the-hippocrates-health-institute-cancer-quackery-on-steroids

Quoting a neighbor:

“They were such good parents,”

I’m sorry, but no. They were not.
They may have meant well, but it doesn’t change one iota that at the end, they didn’t object to submitting their child to a nasty regimen where the main process was to have the child beating himself.
We are not talking about a drug treatment or physical exercise. We are talking about self-inflicted injuries.

As someone who, as a teenager, went through a mild phase of bruising oneself, I can say that the last thing I needed then was to have my parents encouraging this behavior.
I am aghast at the idea that the parents didn’t see anything wrong here.
Even more so if they indeed were convinced by the other sadist to drop the use of insulin.

@ Question #20

Defend your favorite hobby horse all you want. But child abuse resulting in the death of the child? Really?
I will say it kindly: please go jump in a fire.

Ed. Note: This is obviously not the Chris, who has been a regular around here for a decade.

Obviously. Our regular Chris is a decent human being.

Chris: “Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times.”

How about “crook”? The guy charges thousands as he makes them torture themselves, and as we can see their children, then leaves the country. He is a sadistic crook.

“Obviously. Our regular Chris is a decent human being.”

Thank you.

How about ‘charlatan’?
Criminal? Liar? Thief? Danger to humankind?

Chris @ #34

Words convey meaning. They carry emotional power and baggage. If the word ‘quack’ sounds dismissive, carries disapprobation or even downright scorn then good. That is the intention. When Orac or any commentator on these unscrupulous quacks uses the word ‘quack’ he fully intended the visceral reaction it provokes.

To address your example, in dignifying a quack with the meaningless honorific ‘naturopath’ – a word which many of the general public do not understand – actually takes a lot away from the statement. In that setting it would sound like Orac were referring to a fellow professional of equal standing with whom he happens to have a minor disagreement. I am convinced that would not be the implication he was aiming for with your putative Florida quack and is certainly not the case with this astonishing TCM quack down in Oz.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-boy-aidan-fenton-attended-slapping-workshop-before-his-death-20150501-1mxhf6.html

“After working with them, I learnt that diabetes, hypertension and many other problems got cured! They are indeed my teachers,” [Xiao] said.

Australian man Ben James organised Mr Xiao’s first tour of Australia in 2013, runs a Facebook page promoting paida lajin, and practises paida lajin daily.

“If you already have some medical issue or condition, you should take it to a doctor and get professional advice,” [James] said.

“I’m passionate about this. It’s also now why I’m so shocked about [the death of Aidan],” [James] said.

The Pan-Health Management Centre tries to abdicate responsibility:

“As a health care provider of more than 20 years history, we see every life as precious, especially those young ones. The loss is tragic and we wish to express our deepest condolences to the boy’s family.

“From the information that we have, the boy was not a patient of Pan-Health and had not been treated by any of our doctors.

“Mr Hongchi Xiao rented a room from our centre to conduct what was described to us as a series of health seminars. The boy and his mother were participants in the seminar.”

Crooks and liars, the lot of them.

In the articles I’m reading the closest the journalists come to critical reporting is something along the lines of “Critics say it simply results in bruising.” I can understand not wanting to say bad things about the parents but Xiao should be getting shredded.

@ Gemman Aster:

I sometimes wonder if I am wrong to refer to quacks and woo-meisters as ‘alt med practitioners’, ‘natural health advocates or by similar euphemisms- it can sound respectful

I’m usually not at a loss for words so I’m certain that I’ll find the correct terminology to express my disdain.

Someone needs to SLAP Mr Xiao up side the head until he becomes too demented to continue preying on people who have opened their minds so far that their brains fell out.

I disagree.

The goal of Paida is to promote the flow of qi, or life force. As all life springs from the genitals, I would suggest we practice Paida, with a baseball bat (or cricket bat, for our fine friends down under or across the pond), on Mr. Xiao’s dick until the sha has been completely expelled from the region.

Denice [email protected]#45

Honestly, I think you are – I think you give them too much credit.

Sometimes there is good ground to be gained by trying to find a middle way. Yet, that requires there to be anything positive to find on their side of the equation. Now, coming from yourself who are so obviously extending a hand as it were solidly from the SBM territory it can be taken as purely that – a reasoned gesture at building bridges. When mealy-mouthed journalists do it or worse still, the (genuine) paid PR shills dispatched by the quacks themselves then all that happens if you let it stand is another, tiny but perceptible creep towards the accepted mainstream.

Another point to bear in mind is you who you are writing to or communicating with. If you are trying to convince someone you care about or even just a truly open-minded individual then of course you do not approach them full bore. However if you are commenting on an obscenity such as the Australian case in point then absolutely you go after them and don’t blunt your words!

If it’s quackery, its quackery, and not calling it such is granting the quack false legitimacy. This guy Xiao needs to be jailed, and the kid’s parents as well. negligently inflicting harm is still inflicting harm.

How about ‘charlatan’?
Criminal? Liar? Thief? Danger to humankind?

How about “murderous f*cking scumbag?”

“I would suggest we practice Paida, with a baseball bat (or cricket bat, for our fine friends down under or across the pond), on Mr. Xiao’s dick until the sha has been completely expelled from the region.”

Tough, but fair.

I think quack is too kind. Someone who offers worthless treatments in good faith could, I believe, be called a quack. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve heard doctors who are simply incompetent called quacks.

These are scam artists, con men, fraudsters, quick buck artists, snake oil salesmen, insert your epithet here.

According to his web site, he has a number of workshops coming up in Germany:

Lecture: Tuesday. 12. Mai, 17:00 h, Technische Universität
Workshop: Thursday. 14. Mai, 10:00 h, Praxis Molari

Paida-Lajin Tages-Workshop: Donnerstag 14. Mai 2015, 10:00 – 18:00 Uhr (Christi Himmelfahrt)
Tuesday 19. May 2015, 18:00 h, Volkshochschule Heilbronn
Venue: VHS im Deutschhof, Room 401, Kirchbrunnenstr. 12, Heilbronn
Contact: Mr Tan, E-mail: [email protected] Tel. 0049-7131-84092,
Fee: 13,- €

Thursday 21. May 2015, 18:00 h, Centre Elbe 20, Hamburg
Venue: Seminar Centre Elbe 20. Elbblöcken 20, 22605 Hamburg
Contact: Mr Rudi Plagemann, E-Mail: [email protected], Tel. 0049-40-28477122
Mobil 0176-48230656
Fee: 30,- €

He has quite a few more scheduled.

@ Gemman Aster:

I often speak carefully so as not to alienate those on the fence- and believe or not, I do know quite a few people socially who may drink from the fountain of woo at times-
but occasionally, despite my ridiculously perfected manners, I do use NSFW vocabulary. As we well should.

@ JP:

You are correct. I’m glad that you used that particular expression rather than ‘pond scum’ because what did tiny, chlorophyll based life forms ever do to harm children?

@ Johnny:

Altho’ I am loathe to correct your important observation, I believe that at least *some* TCM true believers ™ hold that life- or qi- originates from the lower central abdomen or dan tien rather than from the genitals so perhaps the bat might more apropriately be applied to that area instead .

BUT you heart’s in the right place.

Tai chi is actually an effective combat martial art, much to the horror of a lot of pacificist New Age enthusiasts who don’t realize that the flowing ‘ward off left and roll back’ is a devastingly effective means of breaking an opponent’s arm at the elbow.

But I seem to remember the jing (life force from the parents is in the lower dan tien rather than the middle one in the abdomen as you do have an upper middle and lower one even if most people only talk about the middle one).

Not sure if the beating will pull all the jing out of the sperm, but usually IIRC when you run out of jing your lifespan is up.

As a teacher, I’ve heard a LOT of people say “I’m a good parent! I love my kids!”. Nope. Loving your kids is not being a good parent; it’s the prerequisite for being a good parent.

Good parents would not put a child with a chronic illness through the deluded ravings of this waste of skin. These idiots were bad parents. They loved their child; but killing your child is pretty much the definition of bad parents.

The “but people die in conventional care” BS burns my britches. Collectively, real medical care facilities across nations run up millions upon millions of patient-hours in a year. They deal with patients who will die while in care, because nothing the care providers or anyone else could do will prevent the deaths. They deal with desperate situations where hope for patient survival is minimal. Sometimes they do make fatal errors, but try to learn from and prevent future errors. Disgusting (any many more words, for which my mother would have clipped me round the ear ‘ole, had she been inclined to clipping) quacks kill people because they are money-grubbing, arrogant, incompetent, stupid frauds. And then they move on to the next victims, unless outside forces stop them.
Perhaps some of the commenters who work or have worked professionally in health care, and perhaps even our esteemed host could comment on what happens after the fact when a child, or anyone, dies in hospital from anything that even remotely appears to be error or negligence. I doubt there is an “Oops, my bad” box to check on the patient history.

Collectively, real medical care facilities across nations run up millions upon millions of patient-hours in a year.

It’s like the caution “Most accidents occur in the home!”.

That isn’t because your home is inherently more dangerous than all other possible locations one might be, but simply because we all spend far more time at home than anywhere else an accident might happen.

Mike #6: I’m fairly sure that the “chi” (or “ji”) in t’ai chi / taiji is not the same as “qi” … just two Chinese words that happen to sound somewhat alike. (Which isn’t to say that the concept of “qi” isn’t part of the mainstream practice of t’ai chi — it is. But how much it is invoked varies hugely. I don’t think I’ve even once heard my current teacher use the word.) T’ai chi, of course, can be extremely wooey or not wooey at all, depending on the inclinations of your teacher.

JGC #55: And knowing the combat application is tremendously helpful in getting the form right, even if you never plan to use it for fighting. It’s one of my favourite things about t’ai chi– going through this graceful, flowing form while the instructor calls out something like, “block the wrist, strike the temple, slice the throat!”

Some of the loveliest, most graceful movements are in fact groin strikes. 🙂

Tai chi is actually an effective combat martial art

As Dave Barry says somewhere, you watch all those geriatrics in China practicing their Tai Chi en masse in the public squares, you have to wonder what are they planning?

Hongchi Xiao invented Paida Laijin himself

You gotta come up with something special to distinguish your grift from all the others if you want to bring people to the $1800 / week seminars.

The only way to know quacks do harm is to take a random sample of people with cancer

I would be more inclined to believe that “Question” @20 had bothered to read the feckin’ post if it had actually been about cancer.

Other [email protected]:

Although the pseudoscience you refer to is indeed quackery, I would you would be a little more objective in articles like this and not use the terms quack and quackery 100 times. I was just debating with a friend of mine yesterday about this issue, and she’s in the “what’s the harm” camp.

If your friend is more distressed by harsh words than by butchered children, might I suggest you find a better quality of friend?

Mike #6: I’m fairly sure that the “chi” (or “ji”) in t’ai chi / taiji is not the same as “qi” … just two Chinese words that happen to sound somewhat alike. (Which isn’t to say that the concept of “qi” isn’t part of the mainstream practice of t’ai chi — it is. But how much it is invoked varies hugely. I don’t think I’ve even once heard my current teacher use the word.)

They are, in fact, just different transliterations (which isn’t exactly the right term, as Chinese does not use an alphabet) of the same word.

@60

Ah yes, one of my favorites. Strike groin, Turn hand over. Cup “fruit” Rise up on one leg and white ape “offers fruit” over the lifted knee.

It is a gentle art. Sometimes I think the slow motion serves to make it all the more horrifying.

@ KayMarie:

I DO recall something similar including that this subtle essence runs out after 12 cycles ( age 84) so that anyone older than that HAS had to be doing internal arts to cultivate qi or suchlike. Then there was shen.

I DO recall something similar including that this subtle essence runs out after 12 cycles ( age 84) so that anyone older than that HAS had to be doing internal arts to cultivate qi or suchlike. Then there was shen.

I have a centenarian great-uncle I would like to introduce the alt-medders to; he jokingly credits his long life to the same lunch in the field every day: a can of pork ‘n beans, a hunk of cheese, and a raw Walla Walla sweet onion eaten as if it were an apple. Oh, and at least a shot of good whiskey every day.

@ JP:

Right. I’ve had several extreme elders in my family. They all also liked cheese but varied on the whisky issue altho’ cake was very well appreciated.

Is cheese the elixir of life?
( I’ve leave the Joycean references out).

They all also liked cheese but varied on the whisky issue altho’ cake was very well appreciated.

Cake?! We don’t need no steenkin’ cake!

Is cheese the elixir of life?
( I’ve leave the Joycean references out).

Probably.

I’m actually rereading Ulysses as part of a far-flung book group at the moment, ring-lead by a good friend of mine from college. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to make it up to Chicago for the Bloomsday celebration, as I’ll be teaching intensive Russian at the time, and it’s going to be on a Tuesday.

Tell me, does Paida come with a complementary hair shirt? O_O

JP #64

Are you sure? I don’t speak or read Chinese but everything I’ve read about it says that “ji” and “qi” are two different words, represented by different characters and having distinct (but related) meanings.

Either way, I wasn’t expecting to see so many t’ai chi enthusiasts around here. Pretty cool.

They are, in fact, just different transliterations (which isn’t exactly the right term, as Chinese does not use an alphabet) of the same word.

Ji (极) is “utmost”; qi (气) is, well, “gas.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: