Bad news continues to accumulate for “pH Miracle Living” quack Robert O. Young

Last night was one of those nights where, for whatever reason, I ran out of steam. Whether it was residual effects from the change to daylight savings time this weekend or just a day in the operating room, I don’t know, but I crashed on the couch hard, at least until lighting and thunder from the storms rolling through between 2 and 3 AM woke me up for a little while.

Fortunately, I do have a little tidbit to post, a very good one as well. Remember, the “pH Miracle Living” quack, Robert O. Young? He claims to be a naturopath, but even that claim, like pretty much everything he claims, seems to be dubious at best. (Yes, he’s even a fake quack.) Basically, to Young, cancer, AIDS, sepsis, and basically all diseases are due to “excess acid,” and the cure is “alkalinization.”

I first discovered Young nine years ago, and, since then, I’ve discussed his extreme quackery from time to time on this blog. Young claims to be able to treat cancer and—as is the case with so many quacks like him—a wide variety of other serious diseases, such as lupus, type I diabetes (you read that right, not type II diabetes), metastatic prostate cancer, and cancer in general. Not surprisingly, Young is also quite antivaccine, publishing anecdotes from parents who believe their child is “vaccine damaged” and appeals to support antivaccine groups like the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC).

Perhaps the most famous incident involving Young was his treatment of Kim Tinkham. At the time she encountered Young in 2008, Tinkham had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, described as stage III, and was being urged to undergo surgery. She refused. In the end, Tinkham paid the ultimate price for her trust in Young.

When last I visited Young’s sordid tale, he had been convicted of practicing medicine without a license, but the jury had deadlocked on the other charges, the ones that would garner him some serious jail time, the charge of fraud being the most prominent one.

Beautifully, Young’s still in jail, and, as promised by the district attorney the last time I wrote about him, he is going to be tried again on the deadlocked charges:

Author of the well-known “pH Miracle” books, and philosophy, Young already was placed in prison Feb. 3. following being found guilty of two charges of practicing medicine without a license.

However a hung jury, after deliberating two weeks, found him innocent of one charge of practicing medicine without a license and didn’t convict him of six fraud and grand theft charges. Jury members voted 11-1 to convict on the two medical charges but deadlocked 8-4 on fraud charges.

Prosecutors said they would retry Young, 64, on the six fraud charges. “We have victims who are entitles to get verdicts,” Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas said after refiling charges.

These are the charges:

Prosecutors in their original 13-page complaint, said Young charged four terminally ill patients at least $50,000 each for treatment. one paid more than $120,0 Prosecution witnesses included family members of cancer patients who had gone to the center and subsequently died.

Pfingst said people sought help from Young specifically because he was a naturopathic practitioner and not a medical doctor. Young never said his technique would cure cancer, Pfingst said. Needles used for intravenous treatments were applied by licensed doctors and nurses, he said.

Quacks like Young frequently retreat to this claim when busted. Never mind that Young has explicitly claim that cancer is cells “spoiled by acid” and that reversing it is easy with an “alkaline diet.” Of course, quacks frequently use weaselly language with plausible deniability, a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” sort of tactic that says they can cure cancer without actually explicitly saying it, in order to be able to defend themselves by claiming that they never told the patient that their quackery would cure them. Never mind that Young’s multiple books and websites are bursting with claims about how cancer and all manner of diseases can be reversed by his methods.

So basically Young is at least as bad as Stanislaw Burzynski.

After nine years of following this quack’s exploits and noting that while his trial was pending he was still traveling all over promoting his “pH Miracle Living” claims, continuing to bilk dying patients, and being very active on Twitter and social media promoting his business, I also take no shame in feeling intense schadenfreude over this:

Young had been out of jail on $100,000 bail earlier this year as his trial started and stopped several times before concluding. He even toured Europe during the last year, continuing to give large public lectures and conduct private consultations. With his convictions, however, his bail was increased to $700,000. His supporters have raised only $16,000 through an online crowdsourcing site for legal bills to date.

Young’s attorney, high-profile former San Diego District Attorney Paul Pfingst, told Vista Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney last week that Young was tapped out financially. A public defender now will represent him.

Yes! True, I have some doubts that Young is truly broke and suspect he must have substantial funds hidden in offshore bank accounts that he can’t access from prison. Also, given that he is now facing a civil suit by a woman with stage IV ovarian cancer who was advised by him not to undergo conventional medical treatment. Even so, it is good to see him experience what so many of his patients did: The extraction of large quantities of his wealth. True, this time it was mostly legal fees and bail, but it’s still good to see.

It would be even better to see Young spend the rest of his life in prison. Given that Young is now 63, it might not be outside of the realm of possibility, although I’d be surprised if he drew a sentence long enough to guarantee that.

Here’s hoping I’m surprised in the coming year. Here’s also hoping that Young will be forced to use prison food to “alkalinize” himself for many years to come.

Robert O. Young