Monday, April 19, 2010

Why Trust?



"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis 1820

First off, happy birthday wishes to two lovely actresses, Ashley Judd and Catalina Sardino Moreno!
Last night I was forced to take a break from watching the same movies I've seen a hundred times before on cable television (they advertise these things as if they had just been discovered in some vault that hadn't been opened for the last 60 years ("The network premier of 'The Mummy,' on AMC. Story matters here."), when this was the 20th time they've shown the thing that week), and watched the CBS news program, "60 Minutes."
The first half of the program was entitled, "21st Century Snake Oil," and described a modern day con man, in this case a man, if you can call him a man, named Lawrence Stowe, and his partner Frank Morales. These two pray on the fears and anxieties of terminally and chronically ill patients who suffer from various fatal diseases, such as ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and multiple sclerosis, by the use of stem cell therapy. For a certain price ($125,000.00 was mentioned last night, the price of the "permanent fix." Supposedly there is a "temporary fix" that costs less) Stowe claims he will completely reverse the debilitating effects of the disease, in a word, "cure" them, saving their lives in the process. He'll sit right in your living room, smile to your face, and make these claims, all the while knowing they are completely bogus, and those individuals who have already been dealt a poor hand in life, who out of fear of a certain lingering death, who embrace the empty promises of Stowe and Morales, will just face further unnecessary suffering, for them and their families, at the hands of these two inhuman monsters.
There is no cure for ALS or MS. At the present time those who are diagnosed with these diseases face a slow, painful death. Stem cell therapy is the standard of care in only leukemia and certain, rare, diseases of the blood - nothing else. Intelligent, well educated people who suffer from diseases such as ALS and MS ofttimes are susceptible to the false claims of con men like Stowe because they've heard something about the possible miracle cures due to stem cell research, but don't know enough about the subject to be able to counter persuasive arguments, even if they wanted to, which quite often they don't. Those suffering from ALS will slowly lose their ability to move, to breath, and face certain death. Who wouldn't reach out for any chance of avoiding all of that and indeed make a full, long lasting recovery? Put in that position, even I might grasp for that chance. And sociopathic assholes like Stowe and Morales know that, and take advantage of that, and them, in order to do what? Steal these poor unfortunate people's last monies from them, adding more than just insult to injury.
But last night Stowe got caught. CBS reporter Scott Pelley had secretly taped the claims Stowe had made, then confronted him, on tape, with his intended victims present.
Interestingly enough, even when presented with insurmountable evidence that he was a certain fraud, Stowe sat for more than two hours still attempting to advance his argument that he offered these terminally ill individuals their only and last chance at recovery, and complete rehabilitation. Now he knew that these claims were baseless. He knew he was lying, and that he in fact offered no hope whatsoever to these sick people (unless you take into account the position that he had lied so much and so often that he actually believed his own lies, which in itself is just another form of pathological mental illness). His final words to Pelley were to the effect that Pelley was condemning those patients who believed he was a fraud to certain death and insurmountable misery. He tried to make Pelley feel guilty for not believing his lies.
This man is clearly a sociopath. He doesn't come after you with a knife like Halloween's Michael Myers, but he has no sense of how others feel, no empathy. He doesn't have that ability. He doesn't care. He is terminally selfish, and anything that does not affect him personally he just couldn't care less about.
And there are hundreds of millions like him.
Now I've just written that given the extreme circumstances surrounding being confronted with a terminal illness, even I might grasp at any chance of survival, even that which is offered by Stowe (who is still at large and operating a foundation ("any amount of donation is acceptable") which can easily be found on the Internet. The Food and Drug Administration is "investigating.") if I couldn't find anything else... but probably not. Why? Because I've been trained... trained to be skeptical.
Of everything!

To be continued.

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