Gofundme jumpstarts a golden era of snake oil as desperate people raise millions for quack homeopathy cancer "remedies"


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/06/suicide-by-water.html


*Reads URL*



Had there ever been a GoFundMe that wasn’t a scam or neo-nazi legal fund?




Yeah, there’s lots of people trying to pay for (real) medical treatment, too. (In the US, obviously, because: America.)




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BB is one of the few sites I allow ads from, because I like to support them. I just wish I didn’t also have to support predatory ad networks?


Yeah, unfortunately way too many people use gofundme for legitimate medical expenses because they have no other way. It is basically the GOPs plan for healthcare in the US.


You are not responsible for your favourite websites’ poor choice in monetization strategies. If they choose to try to make money using malware infested, spam festooned ad networks, that is on them, not on you.

Best practices for good computing health and peace of mind on the internet:

  • Install an ad blocker and never turn it off.
  • Install a killfile extension and use it against the people who raise your blood pressure on forums and comment threads


Compared to two thirds who were desperate to live and turned to alternative medicine because it was the only choice for their circumstances, or because they wanted to try every possible option.(1)

That’s the thing that really bugs me about these anti-alternative medicine articles. First, they ignore the fact that for a significant number of patients, conventional medicine either can’t do much for them, or presents them with a menu composed only of shitty choices (“you can die of cancer in two years or take chemotherapy that might give you an extra three years but the chemo will permanently damage your health and you’ll never feel well again”). Second, they trivialize or ignore the extraordinary power of the placebo effect.(2) Those sugar pills, administered by someone with a convincing shtick and a good bedside manner, have the power to activate the patient’s own (incredibly poorly understood) self-healing processes, enabling them to feel better, to dramatically reduce their pain levels, and (probably not for cancer but for other illnesses), to even get somewhat better.

(1) Quote from lancet article:

83 (38%) individuals used alternative treatments as
complementary to traditional treatment. They wanted
to try “every treatment method available”, often
seeing homeopathic treatments as something that
would “enhance” traditional treatments. 63 (29%) of
220 campaigns were for individuals who chose to forgo
traditional treatment because of a fear of its effects or
scepticism about activity. They often felt alternative
treatments were a more natural alternative to “synthetic
medicines”. Individuals who could not pursue traditional
treatment for financial or medical reasons comprised
69 (31%) of the campaigns. A characteristic example
of one of these campaigns included one recipient who
saw alternative treatment as their “last and only hope”.

(2) Citation:


Which of course is horrible in it’s own way.


I had an uncle set one up when my aunt was dying from complications from a fall she took.

Re: Scam. Yeah. Almost none of us thought that money went to her healthcare. Some of us thought he might have pushed her down.


So is the point that we should support predatory con-men because the alternative is not so good either?

One of the big beefs I have with alternative “medicine” presenting itself as the equivalent of better than current medical technology is that often people who do actually stand a chance avoid legitimate proven therapies because of the fear factor, and end up slowly killing themselves by avoiding effective treatment. If you avoid chemotherapy or radiation therapy because of the known (and often horrible) side effects, and placebo isn’t enough for you, you will progress beyond a point where known therapies are effective.

Example: I knew someone with lymphoma, who was so scared of chemotherapy, that he pursued all sorts of alternative therapies, all the way to his death. His daughter is a doctor, and couldn’t convince dear old dad that the insanely high remission rate achievable with the modern multi-drug regimens was worth the transient shittiness that his life would have during therapy. Instead he pursued all sorts of quackery, ended up feeling quite shitty anyways, then died (leaving behind young grandchildren that certainly could have used a few more years with PaPa).

With some cancers, you’re relatively fucked as soon as they’re diagnosed. With some, you actually have a really good chance of long term remission with minimal or no long term side effects.

Perhaps we need not tolerate “alternative” as a valid medical concept, but need to focus more on realistic honest discussion of prognosis and efficacy of available therapies, with some much more serious investment in the mind/body link, and methods of promoting “self cure”.

Because, as someone who has lost friends and family members to cancer, when you even begin to suffer con-men with “a convincing schtick” as valid medical therapy, there are all sorts of ethical issues that arise in my mind.


Yuck. Sorry to hear that.


It seems likely that BB expects you to be using an adblocker. That’s why they have articles that are themselves ads, like the current one for NordVPN.


No one’s telling you to donate to these efforts. But if someone wants to get money for something and people are willing to give it, well, I don’t see that big of a problem.

People have been doing stupid things with their money and their health for all of time. GoFundMe becoming a medical gatekeeper isn’t something I see as a good solution.

Maybe some people will be helped by the placebo effect. Others might have their mood brightened by the fact that people care enough to donate money. Maybe that’s all they need to keep their spirits up during their struggle and maybe it’s the difference between death and a random remission. Or maybe as expected it does no good whatsoever.

I would think that going after those who are charging for fake treatments would be a better idea than making GoFundMe become an HMO.


The only thing worse than western medicine is non-western medicine.

The truth is that there is not “alternative” medicine. If something looks like it is likely to work, it’s adopted and if it ends up not working it’s rejected.

The issue with what’s billed as alternative medicine is that there is no reason any of it would actually work in a reality based world.

I work as a nurse and I hate the dehumanizing aspects of modern medicine but if I god forbid got a treatable form of cancer I’d want a big fat hot tube of western medicine ASAP. And if I had an untreatable form I’d like a credit card with no limit and then a nice pile of good old morphine for the final show.


Reminds me of the joke:

There’s a name for alternative medicine that actually works. It’s called “medicine.”