The old Skeptical Raptor is taking a bit of a break over the next few days to recharge his batteries for all of the pseudoscience that will be coming out in 2020. In lieu of new content, I will be republishing the top 10 most read articles on this blog during 2019. Here’s number 5 – debunking the Medical Medium quackery.
Every time I think I’ve read it all, apparently, I haven’t. I was pointed in the direction of someone – the Medical Medium – who pushes pseudoscience online. Worse yet, he mashes together alternative medicine and psychic readings.
Yes, you read that right. Using psychic readings, he then recommends alternative medicine.
Anthony William, who calls himself the Medical Medium, not because he’s right in the middle of medicine, but because he believes he’s a medium, that is, someone who can speak with spirits. I’m sure he has an Ouija Board.
I should just ignore every quack in medicine, but this one allows me to write some criticism about a pseudoscience – psychic readings – that I thought were long ago debunked. Besides, maybe I can bring a chuckle to some of you.
What is a medium?
One doesn’t really hear the word “medium” much anymore unless you’re watching 1950s horror movies. But it has a real definition. A medium is someone who claims to speak with spirits, non-existent entities that have been the subject of myths since humans could communicate with one another. Most mediums are charlatans who trick people out of giving up their money while using a series of psychological tricks to make it appear that they really do communicate with the nonexistent spirits.
Just to be fair, there are a few “mediums” that call themselves mentalists, who are upfront and honest about their use of psychological and mental tricks (using assistants who provide information) to appear to get information about you from mysterious places. I find them fascinating because it takes a lot of skill to identify cues that help the mentalist dig down into some factoid that appears to come from magic places.
On the other hand, there are mediums who really believe they have some special, magical power. A power that simply does not exist, and has never been shown to exist. A medium generally uses one of two methods to convince the subject that information is being passed to them. The first one is called a “cold reading”, where the medium asks questions that appear to be a spirit passing along information. But these are very open-ended questions that make it appear that the medium knows something special (again, from those nonexistent spirits).
Now, most mentalists (who do this for fun, and, profit) use this method. They are always observing cues in the subject that may lead them to narrow down the questions. I have to believe that a good mentalist should probably become one of those millionaire poker players.
The other method is called a “hot reading,” where a co-conspirator gets real information about the subject. This method is the lazy way to do it, because it takes no skill, other than, in today’s world, access to Google. Let me be clear. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject and concluded there is “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.” (See Druckman, D. and Swets, J. A, 1988).
James Randi, a former magician, and mentalist, eventually became a serious skeptic of spiritualism and the occult. Famously, he had an ongoing challenge that would pay $1 million to anyone who could provide solid evidence that psychics could actually speak to spirits or read minds or do anything without tricks. No one ever got the money.
There are literally dozens of stories where hucksters who pass themselves off as mediums that have been thoroughly debunked by real skeptics everywhere.
The Medical Medium
Unless you accept anecdotes as data (they aren’t) or pseudoscience is more powerful than real science, then there isn’t real, unbiased evidence that Anthony William can diagnose any disease. Moreover, since William has no education, license, credentials or anything in real medicine (he even lacks credentials in junk medicine, like naturopathy), he couldn’t diagnose even the obvious chronic or acute medical conditions afflicting any person.
A real physician can, through observation and casual conversation, diagnose serious diseases like neurological disorders, many cancers, infections, and many many other serious conditions. A cough may just be a cough. It could be an allergy. It could be an infection. Or it could be a symptom of a serious form of cancer.
Maybe William has one a “gift” of superior observational skills and can use psychology to figure out a few medical conditions. But because he lacks medical training and education, beyond maybe watching 15 seasons of E.R. on TV, he can’t diagnose more serious diseases just from his observation.
Anthony William was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time. When Anthony was four years old, he shocked his family by announcing at the dinner table that his symptom-free grandmother had lung cancer. Medical testing soon confirmed the diagnosis.
For over 25 years, Anthony has devoted his life to helping people overcome and prevent illness—and discover the lives they were meant to live. What he does is several decades ahead of scientific discovery. His compassionate approach, which takes into account well-being on every level, not just physical health, has time and again given relief and results to those who seek him out.
Anthony’s unprecedented accuracy and success rate as the Medical Medium have earned him the trust and love of thousands worldwide, among them movie stars, rock stars, billionaires, professional athletes, best-selling authors, and countless other people from all walks of life who couldn’t find a way to heal until he provided them with insights from Spirit.
If William isn’t a charlatan, but genuinely believes he has a gift (based on real evidence-based observation skills), and if he were a real physician, he probably could do good things. But, are you going to trust your diagnosis to someone who thinks he speaks with nonexistent spirits? Sadly, over 1 million people “Like” his page on Facebook, so we have to assume that a lot of people do trust their diagnosis to someone like the Medical Medium.
The Medical Medium and junk medicine
Unfortunately, his pseudo-medicine actually gets worse. Even if we could assume that William cold communicate with spirits (no evidence of this, but let’s imagine), what kind of medical advice will you get?
Well, there’s a lot of evidence that he is a total believer in alternative medicine. For example, he’s a supporter of homeopathy, which we all know is nothing but water and has no clinical usefulness other than quenching thirst.
There is no robust, repeated, published evidence that homeopathy can treat any disease beyond a placebo effect, which means it has no effect.
In fact, the whole basis of homeopathy is the pseudoscience of water memory, which has been shown to be thoroughly implausible according to every single bit of physics, chemistry, and biology known to man. If water memory was real, the discoverer would be honored throughout the scientific community, and we’d have to throw out all that we know in science.
Of course, it would remember all of that whale poop in it. How does that help?
Sure, maybe someone will win that Nobel Prize by showing that water has a memory and homeopathy works, but then again, maybe someone will find that Precambrian rabbit too.
Homeopathy is nothing by a pseudoscientific scam.
I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter if homeopathic nonsense is in water or ethanol – it doesn’t work.
Next up, artichokes
Enough with homeopathic potions, which don’t do anything but allow scam artists to take money from gullible individuals. Let’s talk about artichokes.
The Medical Medium claims that artichokes stabilize blood sugar – control of glucose levels in the blood is the most important issue for diabetics. Sure, choosing the right foods can help maintain a proper blood glucose level.
But artichokes will not do that alone. For type 1 diabetics, there’s only one thing that can control blood sugar accurately, and it’s injected insulin. Period. End of story.
A type 1 diabetic can eat all the artichokes they want, all day long, and without insulin, they will die. Moreover, since one cannot live on artichokes alone, a real diabetic examines all of the parts of their diet, along with physical activity, to control blood sugar.
Yes, there is an artichoke that may be important to blood glucose control. Jerusalem artichokes, which are unrelated to the artichoke we eat, maybe useful because of a particular type of glycoprotein in the tuber, which can add fiber to other foods.
In other words, it doesn’t do anything to blood glucose directly, it merely decreases uptake of glucose from the gut – but any glycoprotein in any food would do the same thing.
So, once the Medical Medium diagnoses diabetes with his magical abilities, he’s going to recommend eating artichokes as a treatment? There’s simply no evidence, except for small studies published in really bad journals, that artichokes can reduce blood sugar.
Plus, let’s not forget he seems to be conflating an edible artichoke with the totally unrelated Jerusalem artichoke, which isn’t actually an artichoke.
Next up on the quack list, cucumbers
So, cucumbers are the next superfood according to the Medical Medium? William, using his magical abilities to speak to nonexistent spirits, has diagnosed you with a long list of diseases, and recommends a freaking cucumber?
First of all, cucumbers are 95% water. So, there’s not a lot there. Cucumbers are not “rich in nutrients,” except for Vitamin K, which is important to blood clotting.
And there is NO erepsin, a term that has been deprecated for decades because it is inaccurate, in cucumbers. Erepsin, a group of intestinal enzymes, is produced by the intestinal tract and is not from a cucumber. And it’s not going to destroy parasites since most have evolved resistance to these enzymes over millions of years.
But let’s go on. Are cucumbers diuretic? They contain no compounds that are diuretic, except for that 95% water. I guess if you ate a dozen cucumbers, your osmoregulation would expel some of that excess water.
It does not contain high fiber, maybe 1g of fiber per one cucumber. Seriously, a slice of wheat bread has 5X that amount.
There is no evidence that cucumbers can treat the list of medical conditions that the Medical Medium claims. If I give him the benefit of the doubt that he can actually talk to these nonexistent spirits about a particular medical condition, William’s “treatment plan” wouldn’t do anything he claims.
Worse yet, he makes claims about depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid diseases, and many other complex medical conditions that require serious treatment plans managed by someone who understands science-based medicine, not magical spirits in the sky.
Let’s look at depression. It is extraordinarily complex and can be a part of a broader diagnosis, like bipolar disorder, borderline personality, and psychotic disorders. Untreated depression can lead to a psychotic break, which could lead to suicide or violent behavior.
Depression isn’t a mystery, as William claims, many aspects of the disorder are well-understood. Treatment is complicated, requiring a team of mental health professionals, like cognitive behavioral therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. And yes, real medication.
The Medical Medium wants to make it simple to diagnose and simple to treat.
How on earth can you rely on someone who speaks to spirits to treat a real mental health issue? I am frightened that someone thinks they have anything to say about depression who hasn’t thoroughly studied it. Once again, William is NOT a psychotherapist.
The Medical Medium shouldn’t give medical advice
Let me repeat the disclaimer given by the Medical Medium to all readers of his Facebook page:
Anthony William, Inc. dba Anthony William, Medical Medium (“Anthony William, Medical Medium”) is not a licensed medical doctor, chiropractor, osteopathic physician, naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, pharmacist, psychologist, psychotherapist, or other formally licensed healthcare professional, practitioner or provider of any kind. Anthony William, Medical Medium does not render medical, psychological, or other professional advice or treatment, nor does it provide or prescribe any medical diagnosis, treatment, medication, or remedy.
The information provided on and accessible from this page/website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be healthcare advice or medical diagnosis, treatment or prescribing. None of this information should be considered a promise of benefits, a claim of cures, a legal warranty or a guarantee of results to be achieved. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professionals, or any notifications or instructions contained in or on any product label or packaging. You should not use this information for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has not evaluated any statement, claim, or representation made on or accessible from this page/website. Nor has the FDA evaluated any food, product or service mentioned on, or available from or through, this page/website. No food, product or service mentioned on, or available from or through this page/website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
The information provided on and accessible from this page/website does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Anthony William, Medical Medium and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page/website is not intended to create a client relationship, and access to or receipt of information included on or communicated through this page/website does not constitute such a relationship. Information disclosed on this page/website does not remain confidential and may be viewed by the public. Therefore, do not disclose anything on this page/website that you expect to be held in confidence.
This page/website may contain links to other resources on the Internet. Those links are provided as citations and aids to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest, and are not intended to state or imply that Anthony William, Medical Medium recommends, supports, sponsors, or is in any way affiliated or associated with any person or entity associated with those links, or is legally authorized to use any trade name, registered trademark, logo, legal or official seal, or copyrighted symbol that may be reflected in the links.
You may also contact us through our website at www.medicalmedium.com Please remember that Internet e-mail is not secure and you may wish to take steps to encrypt sensitive or confidential materials before sending them on the Internet.
Let me digest that down to the basics:
- Anthony William, the Medical Medium, completely lacks any credentials in any area of medicine, including junk medicine like naturopathy or chiropractic.
- The FDA has not reviewed or been provided with any data whatsoever that the Medical Medium has the ability to diagnose disease nor the skills to treat those diseases.
- Typical of these types of disclaimers, William states that his diagnoses and treatments should not be substituted for real evidence-based medicine.
- The Medical Medium lacks any credibility or knowledge of any real field of biomedicine. For example, his inane quackery about immunology would cause any first-year medical student to break down in wild laughter.
- His medical information is not vetted by anyone with a biomedical science background.
Not only do I think that the Medical Medium shouldn’t be practicing medicine, but he also states it publicly and in big bold font.
Anthony William is a throwback to a primitive, prescientific age. Our ancestors listened to shamans and witch doctors; we should know better today. There is no reason to think the voices William hears are divine guidance; they are hallucinations until proven otherwise.
His advice is not science-based, evidence-based, or reality-based; it is fantasy-based. He does emphasize eating more fruits and vegetables, which is a good thing – which is why doctors recommend it. He may get a few things right by chance, but it’s impossible to tease out those few things from the masses of chaff that engulf them; and much of what he says is demonstrably wrong.
Either Anthony William is a deliberate charlatan cynically making stuff up for profit, or he is a self-deluded believer who interprets his inner voices as real communications from the spirit world and is reinforced by cold reading and confirmation bias. Either way, it would be foolish to rely on him for health advice.
The Medical Medium uses the pseudoscience of spiritual readings plus the pseudoscience of alternative medicine to diagnose and treat patients. Be aware. Be very aware.
He’s a shaman, a charlatan. He’s inventing junk medicine out of thin air with only a marginal link to real science to make a profit. Ignore him.
Editor’s note – this article was first published in December 2015. Because it remains one of the most popular articles on this website, it has been updated to fix broken links, to improve formatting and style, and to add new information.
- Druckman, D. and Swets, J. A. eds. (1988). Enhancing Human Performance: Issues, Theories and Techniques. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. p. 22. ISBN 0-309-07465-7.