Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Naturopathy Popular culture Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Carissa Gleason: Embracing real medicine after fake medicine failed her

Many are the stories of those who have embraced quackery to treat their cancer. Few are followup stories when such a person realizes she’s made a mistake and returns to conventional therapy. This is one such story, but you’re unlikely ever to see the media outlets that touted Carissa Gleeson’s choice of quackery to treat her cancer run the story of her having changed her mind and saved her life with real medicine.

I wasn’t sure if I should do this post, mainly because I could find so little information to elaborate on a bit of information that I discovered. Then I thought about it a bit more. Perhaps my not being able to find out will illustrate my point better than a detailed progress report on a woman whom I blogged about once nearly 16 months ago. Also, it’s a hopeful story. At least I think it is, because it looks as though the young woman at the center of it has abandoned quackery.

Basically, this was the story of a young woman with a bad cancer who had eschewed conventional therapy, particularly chemotherapy, in favor of quackery. The reason she came to my attention was because her story appeared in a number of British tabloids, such as—of course!—The Daily Mail, but also a local Australian newspaper near where she lives under the title Cowgirl chooses alternative therapies to treat cancer.

What these stories all had in common was the portrayal of young Australian woman named Carissa Gleeson, who was unfortunate enough to have developed a nasty cancer but, in the manner of patients providing alternative cancer cure testimonials, decided that she didn’t want chemotherapy and that she would cure herself “natural therapies.” How did she come to this decision? While “doing her own research” about her cancer, she came across cancer quack Ty Bollinger’s The Truth About Cancer video series, which is as much a propaganda series for cancer quackery as Eric Merola’s movies about Stanislaw Burzynski are propaganda movies for Burzynski’s cancer quackery. As I pointed out at the time, the problem with propaganda films like Bollinger’s and Merola’s videos is that they can be effective. Cancer patients actually believe them and follow their advice—patients like Carissa Gleeson.

Before I get to what I know about what’s happening with her now, let’s review her story as it was presented in the credulous press in the spring of 2016.

A young woman, 22, who works at a cattle station, is trying to beat cancer by taking high doses of Vitamin C and using an infrared sauna daily.

Doctors told Carissa Gleeson, from outback Western Australia, chemotherapy would give her a 50 per cent chance at surviving five years of synovial sarcoma in her lower back, a rare cancer of soft tissue.

She had visited the doctor with a lump on her back, and was diagnosed with the rare cancer in March last year, when she was just 21-years-old.

According to her GoFundMe page (no longer active), she was also doing this:

In the last 12 months I have made some huge dietary changes, followed a strict supplement routine & done emotional healing. I have also done a lot of cleansing including juice / water fasting, infrared saunas, colonics and hyper baric chamber. We have managed to slow everything down with all of this but we are in need of stronger treatments to start killing off the cancer cells and reducing the tumour size.

I am now doing 3x weekly intravenous treatments including high dose Vit C, ozone therapy, UV blood cleaning, bi carb, polyMVA, glutathione and emotional healing. I am now working along with an amazing team of doctors both in Aust and the U.S and have 100% faith in what I am doing.

Yes, it’s a veritable cornucopia of quackery.

At the time, I noted that soft tissue sarcomas can be difficult to treat, particularly if they are on the trunk. Let’s just start out with this presentation. Gleeson had a lump on her back. We don’t know how large it was. Notice how the news story it says that chemotherapy would only give Gleeson a 50-50 chance of survival. The question becomes why that was mentioned. In actuality, most sarcomas require a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to be treated effectively.

So what does this tell me? Well, the primary treatment for most sarcomas is surgery. Usually, if surgery can be done first safely and without too much disfigurement, it is. Certainly this is the case with synovial cell sarcoma, whose cell of origin is not clear, where wide excision with a negative margin of 1-3 cm all around is the standard of care, and frequently postoperative radiation is administered to decrease the chance of a local recurrence of the tumor in the excision bed. The use of chemotherapy, either before surgery (neoadjuvant) or after surgery (adjuvant) is somewhat controversial and only contributes slightly to survival, which is, roughly, 50-60% at five years and 40-50% at ten years, survival rates that assume successful excision of the cancer.

So Gleeson was briefly famous for her decision to pursue quackery instead of effective therapy. I never heard about her again—until last week, when a reader sent me a link to this image from her Instagram page:

It’s from only four days ago, which means that she finished chemotherapy back in February.

That was all I had to go on. For a while, I couldn’t find anything more and thought that I’d have to go with just this. It’s thin gruel, I’ll admit, but basically on her own instagram page, Gleeson showed a picture of herself with hair about the right length for her having finished chemotherapy around five months before.

Then I poked around her social media a little more. Her website was not helpful, having been scrubbed of prior entries about her cancer and her beliefs in alternative medicine. In fact, it was scrubbed of basically everything other than recipes and platitudes. There was, however, this photo of her:

This clearly showed her with very short hair typical of someone who’s undergone chemotherapy and is only just starting to see her hair grow back a little. So I did a little more searching. On her Instagram page, there was this:

Hiya, As we come into the beginning of Sarcoma Awareness week here in WA I thought it would be a great time to update you all since I went MIA after my last blog post a year ago. Short answer – I am doing really well. Long answer – A lot has happened in the past 12 months and I'm not quite sure where to start. After my last blog my Dad and I boarded a plane to Mexico where we spent 4 weeks at a holistic cancer centre with the intention of coming home cancer free. My doctor was very confident in my case and was pleased to see my blood results bounce back every week. Unfortunately my scans at the end of the 4 weeks were not what we had hoped for. This is when I disappeared from social media for quite sometime and stopped blogging. I couldn't bear the thought of writing again. The weeks that followed were spent contemplating undergoing the very treatment that was offered to me at the start. Chemotherapy. My oncologist at the time didn't give me a very good prognosis with this treatment which is why I went on a mission in the holistic world and said "Chemotherapy will be my last resort". After returning home from Mexico and weeks contemplating I found myself needing my 'last resort'. I was honestly blessed and was referred to an amazing oncologist by my new naturopath and I began what would be 4 rounds of aggressive high dose chemotherapy, followed by 6 weeks radiation and then surgery. My naturopath helped and continues to help me support my body with natural therapies and nutrition. I have had excellent results and now been given a very good prognosis. (Thankyou Universe)! NOW – I am still recovering from major surgery but I am currently studying psychology and nutrition and will soon be a recognised nutrition and health coach. Planning our wedding, waiting for my hair to grow and starting my blog up again to share everything I have learnt from my experience with anyone who needs it and raise awareness about prevention. Thankyou again to everyone for all your continued support, love and prayers! ❤️All straight back at ya! 😘 #staytuned #sockittosarcoma #tarastrong

A post shared by carissagleeson 🕉 (@carissagleeson) on

First, I have to say something that I rarely, if ever, say. This woman’s naturopath actually did the right thing and sent her to a real doctor. There’s a line in the Dirty Harry movie Magnum Force in which Harry observes, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” This naturopath did.

I also found a version of Gleeson’s story posted as an entry on her blog dated 4/28/2017) through the Wayback Machine at in which she describes a bit more of the quackery that Gleeson tried:

Dad and I flew in a few days early and spent some time in San Diego, before we crossed the border to our new home for the next 4 weeks. The clinic was full of people of all ages from all around the world with a few others from Australia and New Zealand also, all with the same intention.


Some people were there for treatment whilst others were back there for their check ups and having awesome results, with quite a few in remission. This was so reassuring to see and hear of other people having success with these therapies. My doctor was very confident in my case and was pleased to see my blood results bounce back every week. My therapies included IPT low dose chemotherapy, IV VIT C, IV PNC27, ozone therapy, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, PEMF, IV B17, Rigvir, whole body hyperthermia, local hyperthermia and recall healing. We ate a plant based diet with fish twice a week, juices and daily coffee enemas. My days were jam packed.

Unfortunately my scans at the end of the 4 weeks were not what we had hoped for. Absolutely gutted!! I had done everything I was told to, I prepared myself, I had gotten second opinions from world renowned alternative doctors, I done everything right.

Why me? Fuck you cancer!

This is a sentiment I’ve heard all too frequently from patients. Unfortunately, even the best conventional therapy doesn’t always work. Patients die despite optimal therapy. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. It’s horrible. The difference, of course, is that what was being done at that Tijuana clinic was quackery. It never had a chance of helping her, with the possible exception of low dose chemotherapy, which would have been, in essence, inadequate conventional treatment for her sarcoma. I was amazed, though, at the sheer range of quackery offered at what ever Tijuana quack clinic it was where she spent four weeks. “Recall healing”? Coffee enemas? It doesn’t get quackier than that. Not surprisingly, none of it worked. Gleeson didn’t really say what she meant when she said that the scans were “not what we had hoped for,” but it’s not unreasonable to speculate that there was either no change in her cancer or that it grew.

At least she had enough rationality left not to double down on the quackery. Although she wasn’t exactly open to conventional therapy, she wasn’t closed to it either. She was willing to consider another option. Here’s how she came to change her mind:

After returning home I found a new integrative GP and naturopath. After back and forth appointments, many tears and many phone calls I was willing to do radiation and surgery. At this stage there was still no way you could convince me to do chemotherapy. Not a chance.

I had a referral to meet my new medical oncologist, who then referred me to a surgeon and then a radiation oncologist who would all be a part of my recovery. My medical oncologist was freaking amazing and supportive of whatever decision I was to make. He looked into other alternatives and different trial drugs that may be helpful for me as he knew I didn’t have an interest in chemotherapy at the time. Although once again after many more appts, many more tears and many more phone calls I was somewhat willing to do chemotherapy. Honestly the hardest decision I have ever had to make.

Fast forward to now, I have completed 4 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation and am waiting for surgery as I write. All the while still embracing a healthy lifestyle.

I won’t go into too much detail on my treatments just yet as I am working on another blog to share my experience with you all. Plus some of my tips to share with my fellow cancer warriors that helped get me through on my hard days.

Patients like Gleeson are very difficult to deal with as an oncologist. Notice how she talks about it took “many appointments, many more tears, and many more phone calls” before she was willing to undergo chemotherapy and the rest of conventional therapy, including the surgery and radiation. She refers to it in her Instagram post as “major surgery,” which suggests to me that the lump on her back was actually at least fairly large.

It’s clear from her accounts that Gleeson is still into pseudoscience, but reality has a way of not caring what you believe in. For all her desire to undergo a “natural” therapy (although how low dose chemotherapy or high dose vitamin C can be “natural,” I’ve never been able to figure out), her cancer didn’t care. Cancer doesn’t care. It simply is, and it behaves the way its biology dictates that it behave, regardless of what you believe. It will tolerate your adding some woo to treatment real science-based treatment that targets its biology. It will laugh at attempts to treat it that are based on fantasy.

I’m very happy that Gleeson learned that lesson.

However, I am not happy that the message that the reasons Carissa Gleeson is still alive is because she realized that the quackery she had pursued was not working, had a change of heart, and embraced conventional science-based medicine. She might not have embraced it whole-heartedly, but she embraced enough of it to have a reasonably good chance of living to be a ripe old age. That message needs to get out, and it needs to get out in the media outlets that promoted her story originally 16 months ago, outlets like The Daily Mail.

What are the odds of that happening? Obviously not good. Stories about people who embrace standard, science-based medicine are nowhere near as interesting as stories about people who embrace alternative medicine, even though a story about how Gleeson finally underwent chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation to treat her cancer and gave herself a good shot at long term survival would go a long way towards reversing the damage the irresponsible reporting about her last year.

It would also really irritate Ty Bollinger, which is an added bonus.

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]

156 replies on “Carissa Gleason: Embracing real medicine after fake medicine failed her”

I don’t see why a headline of “I tried alternative treatments for cancer and it almost killed me” for these stories is not of interest.

[email protected]: Same reason you don’t hear anything about the Berkeley physicist (I’ve even forgotten his name) who used to be a climate change skeptic, but then looked at the data and found that the climate scientists were right, and that they were handling the data properly. Both that and the Gleeson case would be headlines of the form, “Experts turn out to be right after all”. I can’t speak for Australia, but US culture tends to favor the underdog, which in this context would be the person or people fighting the experts.

I can’t speak for other cultures, either. But a lot of people HATE to be wrong about anything. They think it makes them look weak to admit a mistake or apologize for anything, and looking weak for some people is worse than dying apparently.

@Panacea #4, that’s why scientific thinking is so hard for people to embrace. Science requires one to admit a hypothesis is wrong and then discard it. People have trouble separating their own pride from the need to self-correct and often find reasons to discard a basic step of science when it is emotionally inconvenient. I think it’s a human thing. Being flexible is not easy.

My very best wishes to Ms Gleeson for a long and healthy life. I remember my family getting a juicer and my mom drinking lots of carrot juice after her lymphoma diagnosis (she also did conventional therapy). My sister and I got into an argument over a squeaky carrot toy in her hospital room when we were taken to visit her on her last mother’s day.

I am grateful that my one aunt is nearing 80 and a breast cancer survivor. At the very least I can use her survival to argue with Mr Woo if I end up with my own diagnosis.

I am slightly fascinated to have had three separate (different body parts) biopsies as part of surgery come back high dysplasia. The most recent one (gall bladder) had the surgeon very excited, and when I wasn’t alarmed by the words she thought maybe I didn’t know what they meant.

I knew. It seems like a pretty regular occurrence is all, and if it isn’t cancer, it isn’t scary.

My best wishes to Ms. Gleeson – I’m glad to hear she’s decided to choose a therapy which has a chance to keep her alive.

and daily coffee enemas. My days were jam packed.

For a moment there I thought the jam was a new treatment.

to Eric Lund @3

Richard Muller founded the Berkeley Earth project:

He writes for Quora among other things and has explained the approach his group took. He was sceptical of the so-called hockey stick model of temperature increase based on his view of how the statistics were done. He got funding to evaluate global warming and concluded that it is real and almost entirely the result of human activity.

Meanwhile, Olivia Newton-John’s cancer has come back. Formerly the host of PBS’s Healing Quest and married to the owner of an herbal supplement company, I’d guess her prognosis is not good. She’s so deep in the quicksand that it’s probably too late to crawl out.

But Eric, the story is about the patient, not the doctors, in keeping with the ‘human interest news’ frame around ‘the fighting spirit of common folk’. That’s why you won’t see Dorit’s peg: it’s too negative for how these stories function in the larger constellation of news. In theory at least, you could see a version of the narrative Orac relates though: persistent woman courageously tries maverick treatment, then even more courageously braves chemo when that doesn’t work. But that’s only possible because the conventional methods have now proven to work. The necessary mythical/ideological element is “you CAN beat cancer if your will is strong”. Had she just chosen to forsake quackery and resume conventional treatment, with no results from that yet to report, it would be too much of a downer.

Ugh, more self-centred bullsh!t – “Thank You Universe”. Love, the universe is cold and indifferent to you and all of us. It’s a disgusting mindset if you scratch the surface – the universe cares enough about you to intervene in your cancer, but what about everyone else fighting a losing battle? What about mothers who lose babies to whooping cough or rare cancers or anything else? What about people who get attacked, brutalised, murdered, while walking home? Does the universe not care about them, or did they not offer enough coffee enema sacrifices?

I saw a patient only yesterday who told me vitamin C cured her cervical cancer 45 years ago, then the doctors decided to give her radiation anyway. Why? BIG RADIATION of course! She told me radiation is the biggest industry in the world, and she suspects that the British doctor who had moved over to be the head of radiation oncology was a PLANT!!1! to drum up business by irradiating people who don’t need it.

Oy. That’s really scary considering cervical cancer back then was a LOT more lethal than it is now.

Completely off topic, but I’ve been traveling and may have missed it when this was news. Anybody know anything?


Jake Crosby is editor of Autism Investigated. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Health: Science, Society and Policy and a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. For nearly five years, he was contributing editor to Age of Autism where he eventually encountered resistance to his investigations into the activities of several of the blog’s sponsors (one of which is also an editor) and was ultimately blocked from writing for the site. He was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health, due to academic misconduct by the school’s administration.

@Panacea #4, it’s a very human thing.
I’ve noticed that people prefer their leaders to be resolute and unwavering. A politician who changes his or her mind on a policy or law is viewed with disdain and called things like “wishy-washy” or a flip-flopper, even when it is clear that changing is the correct thing to do.

I suspect the ‘academic misconduct’ was all on Jake the Jerk’s part, and I’d be wiling to bet they and all the students are happy to see him go. I guess his parents’ money wasn’t enough to buy him a degree this time.

From Johnny’s quote: “He was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health, due to academic misconduct by the school’s administration.”

Why are we not surprised? The program dismissed Young Master Jake because due to the fact he could not find a way to force the data to fit his agenda.

Sorry for the bad grammar. In short: young master Jake was dismissed due to several errors, which could not be fixed by rich relatives.

Yeah, actual factual data sneers at exuberant bank accounts. Reality has a bias: towards quantifiable evidence.

The most recent one (gall bladder) had the surgeon very excited

The local hand clinic was nearly ecstatic when I presented with an obviously bad case of ulnar nerve f*cked-upedness. “Look! You can pluck it like a string!”

Then the resident went away to do his thing, and the attending conceded that when he had had a similar problem during his training, he just babied the thing (with a pillow and tape, mind you). I still baby it. Orthopods at teaching hospitals want to cut. So it goes.

re: I don’t see why a headline of “I tried alternative treatments for cancer and it almost killed me” for these stories is not of interest.

There’s another important omission, one that would require help from the patient: how much money and time did she spend going through the failed treatment with the Tijuana & other clinics?

While I don’t expect that daily mail and similar PoS newspapers have an interest for what’s right, at least they could follow up on their original story and put some curiosity in action.

“emotional healing”? Ugh. That’s all part of the blame-the-victim poison that underpins all “alternative therapies” – not only is it your own fault for getting sick, it’s your own fault if you try all their expensive treatments and still end up dying.
How do these “emotional healers” explain babies getting cancer? No, wait, I can guess – it’s the kid’s karma, or else their parents passing on their untreated “emotional” problems.
Sometimes I want to punch some of these people.

It’s a bit out of date – I’m sure there’s a newer version, but on page 21 of this document:

If the student is unable to successfully complete the preliminary examination after
two attempts, the student will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Sounds like the old reason for being dismissed – failing exams / dissertations / oral exams / being a wingnut. A large chequebook can’t help with that at the end of the day.

If the student is unable to successfully complete the preliminary examination after two attempts, the student will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Becky, that is exactly what I assumed had happened, given his major advisor’s c.v. admitting Jake had been a Ph.D. student for no more than 2 years. The preliminary exams have the whole committee present and wingnuttery doesn’t usually cut it.

I suspect the ‘academic misconduct’ was all on Jake the Jerk’s part, and I’d be wiling to bet they and all the students are happy to see him go. I guess his parents’ money wasn’t enough to buy him a degree this time.

Yeah, but it’s very strange that Jake would outright say he was dismissed for “academic misconduct.” Knowing Jake over the years, my guess is that he means he was dismissed because of someone else’s academic misconduct; e.g., his faculty/advisor/whoever.

Knowing Jake over the years, my guess is that he means he was dismissed because of someone else’s academic misconduct; e.g., his faculty/advisor/whoever.

Or he’s trying to insinuate that that’s what happened, while in reality it’s his own doing.

He probably believes he did nothing wrong, and is trying to deflect blame by claiming the University was in the wrong. He probabky handed in a dissertation chock full of anti-vax nonsense and was outraged when hi was laughed off campus.

Johnny (#15) writes,

2013 graduate of The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology. (Jake Crosby)

MJD says,

That’s great and I’d like to congratulate Jake for his academic accomplishments.

Chris: Yeah, actual factual data sneers at exuberant bank accounts.

Several recent elections argue otherwise. People don’t want data, they want to be babied and lied to.

MJD: Read the post again, Dochfus. Jake didn’t accomplish anything aside from wasting time and oxygen and taking up space that other students could have used.

@Orac: I actually think Jake is accusing *the University* of academic misconduct, not saying that’s why HE was dismissed. After all, HE would never do anything wrong, therefore, the error is the University’s.

“He was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health, due to academic misconduct by the school’s administration.”

If he meant the misconduct was his own, there would (hopefully) have been a comma after the word, thus “…due to academic misconduct, by the school’s administration.”

re Jake


Of course he’s saying that the university was in the wrong- how could it possibly be HIM?

This is standard woo-meistery- Andy, Null, Adams whomever.
The establishment is wrong in fact, data and theory and Mr Geniusman revealed the TRUTH and now feels their wrath.

I’m surprised he lasted this long.

IIRC at GW, didn’t he artfully rearrange vaccine data with the help of a Geier? That gives me a clue about what his Texas dissertation might have been about- where he was coming from-
of course he’s trying to blame his dismissal on the TSPH ..

But like other cranks, he has LOTS of places in which to acquire his degree.. maybe we should provide him with some helpful hints.

-btw- when I interacted with him ( in 2011?) I warned him.

Also at that time, I created a list of employment options for him- Natural News writer, PRN show host,Green Med info, web woo-meister.. I suppose he could ring up Alex Jones or Breitbart as well.

Let’s not use the term “wingnut” or “wingnuttery” in regards to Jake. When it comes to his anti vax beliefs, he’s just a plain old nut.

Wingnut has right wing connotations we really don’t need to add to his description, irrespective of his actual political belief system. In other words even if he is a wing nut, his academic ideas are just plain old nuts.

I feel sorry for him in a way. It would suck to put all that time and effort into something to fall short at the very end, and if he would just stop hating himself for being autistic, and embrace his field as is, he could actually find a decent job, have a rewarding career, and make a decent living. If he’d stop with the self loathing and revamp his notions about the opposite sex, he might even become attractive enough for the dating scene and even find himself a wife.

I think the problem with these well-intentioned advice is that it’s asking him to put aside all that was part of his identity for years. At this point, it’s likely too much him to ditch.

@ Dorit Reiss:

I agree.
Actually I think he might make a name for himself in political as well as altie circles-
I just looked at his twitter linked by his site.

The trajectory of a bird with only a right wing or a left wing is to spiral downward.

Love, the universe is cold and indifferent to you and all of us. It’s a disgusting mindset if you scratch the surface – the universe cares enough about you to intervene in your cancer, but what about everyone else fighting a losing battle?

If one accepts the proposition that the perceived world is the unconscious mind, it’s a strong suggestion that internal work is needed.

Of course he’s saying that the university was in the wrong- how could it possibly be HIM?

How time flies:

“You shouldn’t be in grad school if you’re emotions get in the way of your acceptance of facts.”

I could swear there was another appearance around that time when he stated that he was still in the program despite having been delisted from the directory.

It appears that the same person who appeared here pretending to be me is also posting at Jake Crosby’s site, pretending to be me. Crosby is now replying to him.

I just wonder what kind of mental state this person must be in.

Yes, Travis has been known to do that. I shut Travis down as soon as he’s recognized here, but Jake doesn’t appear to care.

@Panacea, 34:
I feel sorry for him, too. He showed some abilities which would have come in handy for being and epidemiologist, but his writings, rants, etc. would probably give more than pause to any health department/agency looking to hire him.
My best advice for him right now, if he were open to advice, would be to shut everything down online and take six or twelve months off. Find a hobby or interest, or travel the world on mom and dad’s dime. Just stay offline. Then, in a year or so, start a blog about the problems of — and within — public health. Nothing too sensationalistic, just what is wrong and how people (not himself) are fixing it. Then morph that into a science writing career that is legit and not full of anger and hatred and copy/paste from InfoWars.
Maybe, just maybe, he can turn it around. Maybe he can become an advocate for autistic people young and old, writing about the lack of services (or access to services), the challenges faced by being autistic in a world designed for neurotypicals, etc.
I know. I know. You can’t change a leopard’s spots.

I shut Travis down as soon as he’s recognized here, but Jake doesn’t appear to care.

Well, Jake already knows that Rebecca is actually Brian Deer, so nobody’s going to get confused.

Jake refuses to discuss his dismissal with Becky/ Brian.
Hopefully, we’ll soon be reading his version of events which transpired.

Ren, I doubt he would take anyone’s advice.
HOWEVER with the amount of money coming his way, he can probably do exactly as he chooses as long as it doesn’t require other people or input from them.
Good luck with that, kid.

Well, Jake already knows that Rebecca is actually Brian Deer, so nobody’s going to get confused.

And Lawrence is Brian Deer and I’m Autism Diva and Emily Willingham and Allison Singer.

Yeah, does look that way. Sorry, MarkN. You go on automatic moderation for a while. I hate to do it, but Travis left me little choice.

Science Mom, we now know what Travis does with his free time when not being an obnoxious twit.

It strikes me that is the Gnat’s statement is very carefully phrased to not clearly say whose academic misconduct it is – it’s not correctly worded for either circumstance, so supporters can give him the benefit of the doubt that it was someone else while detractors can’t prove it to be a lie. Ambiguity for the win?

It strikes me that is the Gnat’s statement is very carefully phrased to not clearly say whose academic misconduct it is – it’s not correctly worded for either circumstance, so supporters can give him the benefit of the doubt that it was someone else while detractors can’t prove it to be a lie. Ambiguity for the win?

My reading of his statement is pretty clear. He was dismissed from his program and he is blaming that on the School. In Jake’s mind, the only way he could have failed his prelims is if there was a conspiracy to make him fail.

I should add for the avoidance of ambiguity that I think the most likely reason Jake is no longer in his Ph.D. program is because he failed his prelims, not because of academic misconduct on his part.

Jake might have intentionally worded his statement ambiguously—but perhaps it’s just bad writing.

Jake wrote: “[Jacob L. Crosby, MPH] was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health, due to academic misconduct by the school’s administration.”

There are two real possibilities:

[Jacob L. Crosby, MPH] was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health due to academic misconduct by the school’s administration.

[Jacob L. Crosby, MPH] was dismissed from the Ph.D. Epidemiology program of the University of Texas School of Public Health, due to academic misconduct, by the school’s administration.

If you read Jake’s nonsensical screed that preceded that sentence, you’ll get the sense that he believes that nothing is ever his fault. Accordingly, Jake and the University likely disagree on the punctuation–but it should be clear that Jake’s interpretation of that sentence (and of the events that it describes) is, um, unusual.

However, a third (and the most likely) posiibility is that Jake just couldn’t cut it, and so he blames the school.

The first comment on Jake’s “about” page is truly bizarre. Judging by the namelink payload, it appears to be one Ashley James impersonating Seneff.

So much for his MODZ! cred.

Narad, unless I completely misunderstand you, no I don’t accept the idea that the perceived world is my unconscious mind. To take one example, are parents right now living through the agony of losing a child because of the poor quality of my unconscious mind? Would me doing more internal work save the lives of others?

I agree that one’s own mind, conscious and unconscious, colours one’s perception of the world. It can make people seem to be attacking you when they’re not, for example. But the idea that my or your or even collectively everyone’s unconscious mind is contributing the reality of FGM, childhood cancer, sex trafficking or any other real-life horror (if that is what you’re saying) draws too long a bow for me.

What I can’t get my head round is what possible self-image a person could have if they think they have the integrity to participate in topics impacting on the safety of children, while pretending to be someone else?

Such a person could only know that they are, at the most fundamental level, a liar, attempting to deceive others.

So, I just wonder about the thinking. Just as I wondered about Crosby’s thinking when he repeatedly lies about The Lancet, claiming that it has exonerated Wakefield. It even wrote to him saying that it hadn’t, and he takes the very letter and presents it as evidence that he had.

I’m sure such people have always been out there, going back to the African savannah, but to see them present themselves in lines of type on a screen I find to be a strange experience.

I’ve thought the same when I encountered that “writer” Martin J Walker and the “scientist” David L Lewis, who fabricated attacks on me: just whole-cloth lies.

We sometimes joke about crank magnets, cognitive dissonance.Dunning-Kruger and so forth. But in these little incidents, I think we see the vaccine topic is infested with individuals who are profoundly dishonest. Not mistaken, or confused, but calculating liars whose pleasure is to deceive.

Tried to treat her cancer with woo. Failed. Treated it with conventional medicine. Succeeded. THANKS ‘THE UNIVERSE’ AND HER NATUROPATH INSTEAD OF THE DOCTORS WHO TREATED HER. Disgusting.

Brian, we see that kind of behavior on playgrounds every day:

Did not! Did so! Did NOT! Did so did so infinity!


Not listening! Nyahnyahnyah!

Or the ever so fun

I’m telling Mom!

Jake simply hasn’t grown out of this behavior, and his autism is not the reason why.

“But in these little incidents, I think we see the vaccine topic is infested with individuals who are profoundly dishonest. Not mistaken, or confused, but calculating liars whose pleasure is to deceive.”

The key factor here is that most of these individuals have convinced themselves that researchers, physicians, health care organizations, drug companies, government agencies and their paid shill allies have all been engaged in a comprehensive deception campaign to show that vaccines are safe and effective, thus it is acceptable to promulgate lies to counter a fantasized campaign of lies by the other side.

This attitude in my opinion mostly reflects a mental disorder rather than simple lying for pleasure.

Leaning on my professional education a little…

Brian, I think that the fact that many anti-vax advocates constantly lie doesn’t mean that they are mentally healthy..

I wonder what leads a person to be so needy that they have to manufacture evidence or create tall tales in order to be recognised as a scientist or writer or sell product to the gullible. Similarly, the fanboys/ girls who maintain sites like AoA/ TMR and myriad facebook groups also have skin in the game.

Self aggrandisement, self protection and face saving seem to be the order of the day on the sites and material I survey.

I venture that they couldn’t compete in the normal way- getting accepted to universities, studying, training, working in the real world and thus, need to battle against its ‘corruption’ in order to prove that THEY themselves are not deficient or the problem but that the system itself is rigged.

And they will ride the cleansing tsunami of paradigm shift as the established order comes crashing down and so achieve their rightful positions as supreme experts and thought leaders. Of course, they can be making money along the way because other great minds accept their line and buy their products or theories.

I truly believe that investing so much time and energy into creating and maintaining such a fabulous system of myths has to be symptomatic of mental difficulties because they deliberately cut them selves off from perceiving reality- they’ll bend and twist whatever they read or hear into supports for their own fantasy. Parents want to believe that their children were damaged by an outside force not by nature.SO they do lie but they also partially fool themselves by believing in their stories.

You’ll notice that although they often scoff at experts and research they decorate themselves with titles and other identifying signatures in cargo cult fashion Read the bios of accomplished woo-meisters like Gary Null or Mike Adams and you’ll see what I mean.

Although I do imagine that mental problems are rife in this sector I do not think that they should NOT be held responsible for what they teach or promote. They aren’t psychotic or severely intellectually disabled- especially if they make money or court fame through their activities. They counsel parents about how to care for their children and the latter are the ones who could be put at risk. AoA / TMR feature many people who have no background whatsoever in medicine, psychology or education yet they preach and teach regularly to younger parents- they enjoy the prestige which makes up for other lacks in their life.

On page 24 of the aforementioned pdf, there is these bits:

If a student is unable to successfully complete (i.e., demonstrate competence in) the preliminary examination after two attempts, the student will be dismissed from the DrPH program. That student may be provided an opportunity to complete the MPH degree program (if the student does not already possess a MPH degree), but the opportunity is not automatic, and acceptance into the MPH program is decided collectively by departmental faculty.

Alternate reason of dismissal from UTexas might be the vaccination requirements (if any, I didn’t check) for the practicum but I’m not sure that is the real reason for the dismissal in my opinion.


Anecdotal: I hope a triumph for my year will be that I convinced a smoking diabetic friend who suffered a catastrophic stroke six months ago and just now got a squamous cell diagnosis that she needs to put herself in the care of people who actually treat these things with real medicine. They be distasteful methods and difficult, but they are proven to work. She was receptive, thank goodness. Otherwise I suspect she would consider this a minor cancer and would have ignored it.

Something people ignore or dismiss is that people in the US who have no access to these kinds of “holistic” ideas are generally fatalistic. The live their lives in traditionally destructive ways, and if they die, they die. I see this all the time among the ignorant fatalists around me (please don’t kill me for being a satanist elitist). In the Deep South of the US where I live, we cannot discount this kind of fatalism. She is not the first person who thinks this is her fate and that it is pointless to fight it. That is her rigid view. Sad.

Sorry…..Many typos in my message.

My point was that some people are amenable to receiving the idea that real medicine could save them. It took many days and many conversations to convince my precious friend who already was suffering from a massive stroke that the area of her squamous cell needed to have the care of real oncologists who have treated these things according to methods that are known to work. It was a real struggle, though. Sorry for all the errors in my earlier post.

Denise @ #60: I have zero professional training but a family member who’s into treating autism with HBOT. No data here, but based on what I’ve seen you are spot on. The attraction of woo is that it’s an easy path to instant credibility. My family member was making a bundle (upper middle class) in medical sales 20 years ago, but that niche was virtually eliminated by online sales. He moved into mold remediation (middle class), and suddenly every illness was mold-related and he was an expert. When that gig ended (probably due to fraud by the company owners) he drifted into HBOT and autism remediation; at one point he worked for a’murdered’ holistic doc. Now he works part-time as a ‘contract worker with no benefits. Every step down the economic ladder pushed him further into quackery. Correlation does not equal causation but the relationship is striking.

You identified a taboo within the skeptical world. This susceptibility to woo is entirely the province of those who can smell quasi-ignorance–not outright, overt, ignorance, but sloppy, inadequate education that is easily masked by native intelligence. So, so many people get led down the garden path of their Dunning-Krueger-ness. They are just smart enough to be wooed by the woo but don’t know what they don’t know. I see it over and over again. When I see the red flag of D-K, I pretty much say sayonara and leave such people to the consequences of their arrogance. Sometimes they never learn, though, that there is real science that may be somewhat beyond their comprehension and quite complex, and there is more convenient fake science that anyone can fake and pretend to understand. To paraphrase the ultimate wooster, S.A.D.

Congratulations! Very good.

What’s funny though is that the people I know that love alternative medicine are quite different than the people you describe. I find they love miracle stories and conspiracy stories. ” I don’t have to worry about cancer – I’ll just go on an all-organic
juice diet and cure it myself!” or “There’s a diet I found on the internet that is supposed to be amazing…”

The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” has never been intelligentually absorbed.

Melissa Stigler and Melissa Harrell are were Jake’s academic advisors. They would know the details of any dismissal, presumably

Jake claims to have been a student on the PhD program since 2013. That means he must has passsed his prelims (!), and the reason for his dismissal must have been academic misconduct on his part, which he is trying to turn back onto the school.
The course looks quite hard, and i’d be surprised if Jake has the ability, knowledge base and objectivity to successfully complete the content and exams, but if that were the case he would just have “failed”, rather than been dismissed.
Maybe he was due to fail, and had an incredible hissy fit.

Can you clarify, Alain?
If he was on the PhD doctoral program, why would he not be a “candidate”?.
And if he has been “dismissed from the program” what did that make him?

PS Orac, can the mod hammer be lifted from my posts?

@ dingo199:

IIRC universities may require that he pass a qualifying/ comprehensive exam before he is a candidate within a set period of time/ number of attempts.

From my experience, PhD student which is how I interpreted your comment “Student on the PhD program” mean just that while, PhD candidate was reserved for those who passed quals.

If I go by my usual logic (which tend to be shared by at least, a few other autists and aspie), Jake was indeed a student (as one can be an university student), on a PhD program (can be any program, the one he choose and was initially accepted was a PhD program); that doesn’t make it a candidate.


Quick question for anyone knowing about PhD quals:

Do PhD student get to choose the subject of their quals or it is handed (multiple choice maybe) from the PhD comity?



I haven’t started my DNP yet, but when I did my MA in History, I selected the members of my committee. They wrote both my orals and my written exam questions based on the courses I had taken from them. If I’d chosen other professors, I would have had different questions.

@ Alain:

We had choices across different areas where the essay questions were written by different faculty members but we were somewhat restricted because we had to pick a few in experimental, a few clinical/ related, research design as well..I chose much in cognition/ developmental.

Profs hinted early on that we answer using data from studies to support our positions. So I focused on studying that way.

To expand on my question which is more an hypothesis test, I was thinking about Jake’s quals:

hypothesis 1-: He choose a subject, cherry pick his cite and get grilled at the oral.

hypothesis 2-: the comity choose [1,2,3] subjects, Jake pick one of these in case of many subject offered. cherry pick citations and get grilled out.

There may be more hypothesis but for now, those suffice.



How quals work is usually up to the department. Most allow students some input in choosing the committee, some allow students input in the subjects of the questions. The faculty have to agree, of course. My PhD wasn’t in the sciences, but I had a discussion with my advisor about who would be appropriate committee members. I had some suggestions, he had some, we settled on a list and he did the invites. He could have done that without my input, or against my choices, but he didn’t. He also wanted each member to work with me on choosing a broad general area for each of my questions, so I’d have some clue what to prepare, so they were in for that before they agreed to be on the committee. A couple of them wound up forwarding me more or less the actual question they would ask, others were more vague…

The written answers were only the first step of the process – the real nitty gritty came in the oral defenses of the exam and later the dissertation. I both cases I had no idea what questions would be directed to specifics of my written work, and had to be on my toes to respond to challenges. In my dis defense, one outside member posed great hard on-point questions I was thankfully able to respond to adequately. A member from my department (the least qualified in my field) threw me some OT curveballs and seemed only grudgingly to accept my somewhat wtf? responses. A third departmental member had nothing to say, really, and slept through the whole thing…

So, in all, I’d say the process relied on the advisor to insure the academic integrity of the process by whatever means they found appropriate to the individual case, yielding an exam with both appropriate rigor and fairness. Basically, if poorly qualified students get past their orals, everyone knows it and that reflects very badly on the advisor. They need to produce good new PhDs to maintain their individual status in the field, and the status of the department in the field and the university, which comes back to them first in the form of promotion and after they reach Full Professor to other perks like endowed chairs, research funding and so on. Different advisors take different approaches to filtering out the marginal students. For example, one professor where I got my MA was notorious for throwing curveballs in the exams, and sending some candidates back for major rewrites on their dis multiple times after their defenses. My advisor just didn’t let you advance unless/until you were prepared, so almost all his students passed the first time. Both of them were highly regarded in their fields for the quality of their former students… but I’m not sure I could have survived the psychological torture that other prof would likely have put me through.

Hypothetical process 3: the student’s advisor chooses the committee whether the student likes them or not (the assumption being an advisor wouldn’t just toss an advisee to a pack of wolves), they write one question each getting approval only from the advisor (no multiple choice), and if the student doesn’t cut the mustard on those, they fail. Dismissal would only come after repeated failures.

Hypothetical process 4: As above, but the exam committee is chosen by the Department. Department’s that do this may wind up with defenses that turn into shark fights between rival faculty, spilling the students’ blood on the floor.

I don’t know of any programs that dismiss students after one fail, but I suppose there are some. Most attrition before achieving PhD – in the humanities anyway – comes from students dropping out on their own volition after getting discouraged. Again, the point is that whatever the method, graduate schools and departments with good reputations get those reputations by turning out lots of highly qualified PhDs and very few duds. There are many ways to do that, many points where the true winnowing comes.

Also, afafik there’s no standard for whether ‘PhD candidate’ is reserved for ABDs or applied to anyone admitted to the program and on track to the degree.

As for Crosby, his cryptic comment offers no reliable clues into why he’s no longer in his former program, since he’s not necessarily giving us the straight dope. He might have gotten through his equals, might have flunked them, might not yet have taken them, might even be saying he was “dismissed” despite pulling the parachute cord himself. If he was indeed canned, that could be a flunk out, or something else entirely (just one example, losing his advisor and not be finding anyone else to take him on… which in turn could be for any number of reasons…). If he did in some way get flunked, that could be for trying to sling anti-vax BS, or just not mastering some unrelated stuff considered fundamental material in the field by the committee. There’s not really any point to speculating that I can see…

In the biomedical sciences (my PhD is in Physiology and Biophysics, although really my thesis project was pretty much straight up molecular biology), generally students and their thesis advisors pick the student’s thesis committee after the student has passed his prelims and picked a lab to work in. During the PhD candidate’s thesis work, he presents to the committee periodically (usually 2-4 times a year) to solicit input, advice, and criticism and make sure he’s on track to finish in a reasonable amount of time. Most biomedical PhDs take 4-5 years total, usually two years before prelims and roughly three years after. If a project is taking much longer longer than three years the thesis committee starts getting worried, although I do remember one graduate student in my department who managed to stretch his graduate school out to seven years. I rather suspect that he liked the graduate student lifestyle too much, and because his thesis advisor had grant money he didn’t mind paying for what was in essence cheap labor longer than he should have. That meant that neither the student nor his advisor had much motivation to make sure the student finished in a reasonable amount of time. The university, however, did have guidelines and standards; every year beyond five had to be justified to the university.

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