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Avoiding false balance, 60 Minutes nails con men

April 19th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Kudos

Kudos to CBS and 60 Minutes for exposing a couple of con men who prey on the sick and disabled.

Part One

Scott Pelley shows us how it’s done when he ambushes two stem cell ghouls, and calls one guy a con man to his face.

Part Two

The rest of the news and entertainment media could take a lesson from Pelley when they report on unproven alternative treatments for autism, or the next time a news outlet interviews a Hollywood celebrity about vaccines.

Not every story has two legitimate sides. There is nothing positive to say about two characters who lie about their credentials then charge the sick and dying $125,000 for worthless medical treatments.



6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sullivan // Apr 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    The “stem cells as a magic wand” idea is as bad in autism as elsewhere.

    I am still in shock after a post by Promethius describing, amongst other things, how a stem cell “patient” ended up growing a tumor with different DNA than his own.

    A wise man said something to the effect of “medical fraud is a multi billion dollar business and the bad guys know about autism”

  • 2 ANB // Apr 20, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Another wise man said “Stem cells are the next big thing in medicine, and they always will be.”

  • 3 Autism Blog - 60 Minutes exposes stem cell con men « Left Brain/Right Brain // Apr 21, 2010 at 4:01 am

    [...] News Beat has a post, Avoiding false balance, 60 Minutes nails con men. It isn’t autism specific, but it does have to do with a type of “therapy” that [...]

  • 4 codeman38 // Apr 21, 2010 at 9:45 am

    For anyone who has difficulty playing the videos (or can’t follow them because CBS can’t bother to include the closed captions they were originally broadcast with…), here’s the accompanying article/transcript from CBS’ site:

  • 5 Club 166 // Apr 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    To be a con man you have to make yourself really believe (on some level) that what you are doing is real.

    These two guys “believed” in themselves enough that they had the chutzpah to stay and talk for two hours, thinking they’d convince someone they were doing good things.

    I *almost* feel sorry for them, they’re so pathetic.

    But then I think of all the dying people they’ve bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. You’d think they’d at least have a nicer looking office.


  • 6 Prometheus // Apr 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    One small point – it is possible to convert hematopoietic stem cells to pluripotent stem cells (which can then be induced to become neural stem cells). However, it requires either viral vectors (which can lead to cancerous changes) or a very new virus-free method (see:

    However, I seriously doubt that Gonzalez and Stow were doing anything like that to the “stem cells” they were using. In fact, I would be willing to bet money (although not $125,000, as their “patients” were asked to) that they aren’t using any type of stem cells.

    It would be safer – and equally effective – for their “patients” if they were simply giving sterile saline injections.


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