Cancer quackery going the distance

You’d think that after all these years combatting quackery and blogging about science in medicine (and, unfortunately, pseudoscience in medicine) it would take a lot to shock me. You’d be right. On the other hand, Even now, 15 years after I discovered quackery in a big way on Usenet and ten years after the inception of this blog, I still have enough hope in humanity that even when I come across men like Jerry Sargeant, a.k.a. The Facilitator I am still capable of utter wonder that someone would advertise something as reprehensible and/or deluded as this. I half wondered if it were performance art, but in reality I don’t think it is. I wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all (and in fact I did), but look at the screenshot from his blog above and the photos on Sargeant’s website. It’s as if the dude thinks he’s Doctor Strange, or maybe Harry Potter, or perhaps Gandalf the Grey. I mean, seriously! Emperor Palpatine called, and he wants his lightning bolts back! The guy portrays himself manipulating bolts of electricity, as he makes claims that he can “radically transform your life.”

Of that, I have no doubt, but not in the way Sargeant means. I’m sure patients’ lives are “radically transformed” by wasting huge sums of money on the fantasy magic medicine that is portrayed on that page. Naturally, as is frequently the case for various dubious healers, Sargeant has a “St. Paul on the way to Damascus” moment to relate:

When Jerry Sargeant woke to a loud crash and flying glass in the passenger seat of a taxi cab in Romania, on his way to the airport, he had no idea it would be the birthing process that led him to discover an amazing healing ability.

‘My families safety were all I was thinking about. The taxi was swaying backwards and forwards all over the road. It was crazy. It turned out we had hit two ladies crossing the road and the first lady came through the windscreen, hit me in the head as I was asleep, got sucked back out of the car and landed in the road. I don’t know whether it was the bang in the head or me seeing her soul hovering over her body once I got out of the car that kick started these abilities – maybe it was both’.

This story, of course, tells us very little, other than that Sargeant, assuming he’s telling the truth, was in a cab in Romania when it hit two women. I presume that at least one of them died, given the story about seeing her soul “hovering over her body.” Funny how he doesn’t mention explicitly what happened to them. Did they die? Did they live? Apparently it doesn’t matter; to him they were just a means to his wonderful “powers”! These powers, according to Sargeant, began to manifest themselves shortly after the crash, when he “pulled a migraine from his wife’s head but didn’t think too much of it” and later when he healed a friend in New Zealand who had been in a severe care crash:

“I got my crystals out and lay down on the bed. All of a sudden I was in her hospital room and energy started pouring out of my hands. I mentally put her body back together again. She left hospital in 12 weeks and she walked out. The most amazing part was that once she did she phoned me up and said that she woke one night, looked at the side of her bed and said what are you doing here? She was talking to me. I had imagined myself in her hospital room and she saw me, as clear as day, with her physical eyes.”

Let’s see. His friend spent 12 weeks in the hospital, and Sargeant thinks that he healed her? Twelve weeks is a very long time for anyone to spend in the hospital these days. She must have been seriously messed up. It’s a good thing that she ultimately recovered, but is there any reason other than fantasy to think that Sargeant had anything to do with it? He thinks he did, but there’s no reason other than his delusion to support that idea.

Thanks to one or two dead Romanian women and a friend in New Zealand who took 12 weeks to recover after being in a bad car crash, Sargeant became “The Facilitator.” But why did he choose that name? Well, first you need to know that Sargeant has become a “distance healer,” which doesn’t mean he runs over great distances to heal. Rather, it means that he thinks he can transmit healing energy to virtually anywhere in the world to cure virtually anyone. No, I’m not kidding. That’s really what he claims, and he’s been at it full time for two years, according to his website.

What, exactly, does Sargeant claim to do, except to look serious and to strike brooding poses, his face covered with prominent beard stubble, like the ones in the photos, only without the Photoshopped “energy” added to make it look cool? I must admit, it’s hard to read without laughing derisively or weeping that anyone can take this seriously:

Jerry calls himself ‘The Facilitator’ and doesn’t take credit for what happens. He says the energy does the work. He has simply learned how to direct and instruct that energy through Star Magic.

“This is what the Egyptians taught me on my journeys. I was guided to this work, by Spirit Guides and Ancient Civilisations. They are not gone or dead. They are there in the mystical realm of alternate realities, waiting for our re-birth as a planet, so we can unite once more and share these earthly planes. I am using a method of healing that we are all capable of discovering. Star Magic not only has the potential to heal people. It can and will heal the entire planet. My mission is to share this with the world and create an unstoppable wave of love that cradles and inspires the entire human race.”

Wow. So to him it’s not enough just to heal individuals. He has to heal the whole friggin’ planet! I guess I have to give him some credit for at least having ambition, anyway.

But, how again? How does Sargeant achieve these miracles? Read on, friend:

I’m able to edit your Karmic Blue Print and cause huge reality shifts very quickly, with a super-charged form of healing (‘Star Magic’) that uses applied Quantum Physics to quickly release the physical, mental & emotional blocks/stresses/traumas that you may be experiencing, keeping you from creating & living your most extraordinary life.

The key to why this modality is so potent is that all healing’s are done from the zero point energy field (also known as the space of Infinite Possibility/Source Energy) and works on a deep root cellular level. From this space, we immediately align with the most authentic, whole & powerful aspect of ourselves which in itself creates an environment whereby profound healing takes place. This modality has been totally blowing my clients away, and has been considered to be one of the most thorough & alchemising energy modalities available. Tumors, cysts, fibromyalgia, eyesight and much more have been cured. I also use Star Magic to elevate business performance, unlock blocks in relationships and so much more. If you’re not satisfied with life you must try Star Magic.

Quantum. It had to be quantum. Of course it had to be quantum. For woo of this type, it’s impossible not to invoke quantum.

Are any of you Star Trek fans? Those of you who are have almost certainly heard the term “technobabble.” Technobabble was, unfortunately, a lazy trope that writers started using more frequently (too frequently) in later seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Basically, it consists of impressive- and scientific-sounding jargon, full of buzzwords and made up words. Ultimately, all the science-y jargon means nothing. Now, all of this wouldn’t by itself necessarily be an issue. It was a science fiction show. Some level of technobabble is unavoidable in science fiction dealing with technology. The problem comes when writers used technobabble to resolve plots. Indeed, there are even names for tropes based on technobabble, such as when it is used to solve a problem (which it was so many times in ST:TNG), the trope is known as reverse polarity.

So why did I just spend a paragraph describing what technobabble is? Simple. Think of Sargeant’s blather as woo technobabble. Maybe I should call it technowoo-babble. We’ve seen it before many times (for instance, DNA activation), but seldom have I seen such a woo-fully fine example of technowoo-babble in the wild. Oh, in case no one has ever thought of this term, I hear by claim it for my own. Yes, I have seen the term “techno-woo” before (so I can’t claim that), but I’ve never seen “techno-woo” combined with “babble” to produce “techno-woo babble” before. Maybe it’s a redundant term, but I claim it nonetheless.

But back to The Facilitator.

What really gets me about him is not so much his claim that he can heal over distances. Rather, it was his take on cancer, because (of course) I am a cancer surgeon. Shockingly, he gets some things right when he describes the “conventional” view of what causes cancer. For instance, he notes that there are over 100 diseases that “fall under the cancer umbrella.” Of course, it’s way more than 100, but technically more than 100 is accurate. He also acknowledges that mutations are very important in causing cancer. (Well, duh.)

Where Sargeant goes off the rails (well, one of many places) is when he attributes the cause of those mutations leading to cancer to stress due to suppressing emotion or personal trauma. In this, he sounds like a mad, mutated version of the German New Medicine. Given that the German New Medicine is already mad, as are its bastard offspring, that’s saying a lot. Add energy woo to German New Medicine, and you have Jerry Sargeant:

I’ve worked with thousands of individuals who have cancer and the one thing I know is that cancer is nothing more than a part of ourselves that has forgotten who it is. When we are children, we take parts of ourselves that we deem unattractive—emotional responses to situations that are unacceptable, undesirable, or just too upsetting—and push them down deep in our bodies. When we try to stuff something down, hide it away, we literally stop a part of the energetic flow in our own body. So it is with cancer: any time we shove something down and the blood flow can’t get to that area, stagnation can occur, a likely breeding ground for a tumor. A tumor is nothing more than some cells, that literally, have forgotten they are part of you and start to develop at their own rate.

It’s so important that you know that cancer is not a death sentence, but an invitation from your body to your psyche to integrate that forgotten part back into wholeness. It’s equally important that you know that you didn’t do anything wrong: you are not at fault; you did not bring this cancer on. Life forces and circumstances, many if not all of them out of our control, put us in situations where we turn to defense mechanisms that we learned as children that encourage us to deny parts of ourselves. Think of the cancer as a message from a part of you, asking you to bring that part back to yourself, even a part that before you deemed unlovable. It is by working with that deepest part of yourself that will affect you the most, in the most positive way. No matter what the physical result of your experience with cancer, if you do this vital work to make yourself whole, you will be the winner. It’s time to listen to your body and re-kindle that love.

What if you die of the cancer?

This is, of course, the worst sort of cancer quackery, a variant of cancer quackery that drives me utterly nuts when I see it. Yes, Sargeant repeats the “right” words over and over: It’s not your fault that you got cancer. You can be damned sure that it’s your fault if you don’t embrace Sargeant’s woo and start to “work with that deepest part of yourself” and “do this vital work.” Of course, even if you do both of those things, you could still die.

It gets worse from there. First, Sargeant invokes chakras (of course), going on and on about this:

I’ve worked with people who have cancers of every type imaginable, and I do see common patterns. For example, cancers of the reproductive organs, especially Breast Cancer, is often accompanied by feelings of having taken on too many responsibilities — total overwhelm. What woman today doesn’t feel like she is supposed to be superwoman, finessing her job, the kids, the house, her partner, her aging parents. She has little time left over for her own needs.

And:

Energy Healing is an important component in the treatment of cancer. Because it will address the root cause, and it can help the individual focus on the underlying factors and reverse them. It also opens the channels so that treatments such as chemotherapy can work more efficiently. Conversely, it can also remove chemo from the body after it has done its work, thus reducing the toxic load on the body. I have seen many individuals sail through chemo with zero side effects, who have worked with Star Magic Energy Healing.

To give you an idea of how woo-ful this is, I noted that in one of the testimonials one woman claimed that her DNA had been “upgraded.” All I could think of when I heard her say that was this:

Jerry Sergeant The Facilitator will upgrade your DNA for only £1,990. Fail to pay, and you will be deleted.

Jerry Sergeant The Facilitator will upgrade your DNA for only £1,990. Fail to pay, and you will be deleted. Of course, if you do accept upgrading, The Facilitator will make sure your bank account is deleted.

Yes, I’m a Doctor Who geek.

I will give him “credit” (if that’s the right word) for not saying that he can cure cancer himself and patients shouldn’t undergo conventional therapy. However, it is utter quackery to make the claims that he does, and to me this is the perfect scam. Because patients undergo conventional therapy, if they get better he can take some or most of the credit. If they don’t and die, then there obviously must have been too much toxicity for him to eliminate or the patient couldn’t forgive or release her anger.

If you don’t believe me that Sargeant gets the credit, just look at his testimonial page. (Of course there’s a testimonial page. There’s always a testimonial page.) Heck, the very first one is about a woman with stage IV breast cancer whose doctor told her she only had 5-6 months to live. She rejected chemotherapy and radiation and underwent Sargeant’s distance healing. This completely contradicts what Sargeant says and tells me that he’s a cancer quack every bit as bad as other cancer quacks claiming “cures” for cancer.

It’s such a bargain, too! Get a load of this price list:

  • Energy Healing Journey Together Package £1,990
  • Full Private Healing Consultation £275
  • Private Healing Session – 15 minutes £90
  • Private Healing Session -30 minutes £180
  • Pyramid Home Cleansing/Healing (POA) £925
  • Pyramid Light Structure & Energy Flow at Work (POA) £1,150
  • Shadow Parasite Cleansing/Healing (POA) £725

I particularly like the last one:

Many times, astral entities or shadow parasites will intrude into our fields. They will desperately be trying to cling on and hinder your pathway to enlightenment. Whether conscious or unconscious we make agreements with them when we have moments of fear or need. These entities will attach themselves to us, usually promising some aspect of ourselves comfort in exchange for living vicariously through us.

And it only costs £1,150 to have Jerry Sargeant take care of that for you. Nice work if you can get it.