This story shows just how dangerous some pseudoscience can be.
A doctor (for now) in California is selling unproven homeopathic sound files — essentially indistinguishable hissing sounds — by marketing them as cures for Ebola, swine flu, and other serious illnesses.
Dr. William Edwin Gray III promises his unproven — and unregulated — hissing sounds can cure everything from SARS to diarrhea to malaria. But because his “treatment” isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has never been shown to work on anybody (because why would it?), the state of California is threatening to revoke his medical license.
“Thirty-six out of 37 people were cured of their malaria symptoms within three to four hours with just a few doses,” Gray, 75, said in an interview. “It works really well in practice, and I’m still trying to develop investors and so on to promote it so it can be marketed and more widely used.”
Not if the California medical board has its way. Earlier this month, the board filed a five-page accusation against Gray alleging “gross negligence,” and threatened to take away his medical license for selling the recordings.
“There is no well-documented evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature that homeopathic remedies can be transmitted electronically via sound waves,” the accusation says.
Revoking Gray’s license to practice medicine seems like a logical step, but is it enough? He went to a legitimate medical school (Stanford) but has been practicing as a “homeopathic doctor” for years, meaning he doesn’t prescribe real medicine or order medical tests. In other words, taking away his license wouldn’t stop him from continuing to sell his nonsense recordings.
Gray said he barely uses his medical license as it is, since he doesn’t prescribe conventional medicines or order medical tests. He works full-time as a homeopathic practitioner in Los Gatos and would still be able to do that without his license, he said.
So he has decided not to contest the allegations, leaving his punishment up to the medical board to decide in the coming weeks. Fighting the board would cost too much money, he said.
“Frankly, I think we’d lose anyway,” he said.
He’s not wrong. And what’s sad is that he may still come out of this a winner because his gullible patients don’t trust associations with evidence-based medicine. A degree from Stanford doesn’t impress them; a confident man promoting sham science as a catch-all cure does. His claims aren’t only ridiculous, they’re dangerous, because he actively encourages people to use his “eRemedies” instead of real medicine, the state says.
The medical board’s accusation said Gray could be diverting patients from standard medical care, which is particularly dangerous for those with “serious conditions that, without proper treatment, could prove fatal.”
Gray “implies on his website that the eRemedies can be used to treat Ebola, swine flu and SARS,” the accusation says. ERemedy “sound files have not been scientifically proven to be safe and effective for the uses for which [Gray] offers them.”
Gray doesn’t give a damn that he might lose his license because the “medicine” he practices never requires expertise. He’s putting lives at risk with his unproven “cures,” which he says he creates by placing vials of homeopathic treatments in a wire coil and recording the resulting sound.
He found a way to make homeopathic medicine even less useful.
It’s all the more reason homeopathic practices need to be regulated by the government. Without any state intervention, pseudoscience purveyors like Gray can basically do whatever they want, no matter how many lives they ruin in the process.