I received an email from a listener whose coworker recommended the 2002 book Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It, by Ray Francis. I checked out its Amazon page, and if the book's content wasn't clear from the title, it certainly was from the reviews. The "research" Francis presents are personal anecdotes like the following:

  • After meeting Ray Francis, Albert learned that his diet of processed foods and addiction to sugar were the crux of his problem. Within one week after implementing Francis's eating plan, he felt better physically.
  • In desperation, her parents consulted with Ray Francis who surmised that her newly painted, carpeted and furnished bedroom was a toxic soup. After sleeping in another room, Anne's seizures stopped.
  • Wow! Sounds miraculous. Could all of medical science be wrong, and could the solutions really be that simple? Apparently so, according to Francis' summary of human health:

  • There is only one disease, only two causes of disease, and six pathways to health and disease. His findings and astounding recovery supported his conclusion that almost all diseases can be both prevented and reversed.
  • People aren't actually going to believe that kind of nonsense, are they? They do, in droves. Never Be Sick Again has 36 reviews on Amazon, of which 29 are 5-star. Readers uncritically accept that Francis has discovered the next generation of medicine.  They believe this because of their own anecdotal observations, like this one posted by a reviewer:

  • I am a 10 year cancer survivor. I have had surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. None of it worked. For the past 8 years I have stayed alive on alternative therapy.
  • If the cancer treatment "didn't work", why are you still alive? This kind of self-delusion never ceases to amaze me: For years, this person underwent proper medical therapy to treat his cancer, and is alive today as a result. And yet, for some reason, he considers that treatment a failure, and credits nonscientific quackery with his health ever since. It's not hard to understand why the average person might make such a connection: Cancer therapy can be terribly painful and unpleasant, and alternative therapy generally has no side effects. When you do recover, which treatment are you likely to credit: The one that seemed to make things worse, or the one that was pleasant that was correlated with the time when the chemotherapy effects were wearing off?

    I haven't read Ray Francis' book, and am not likely to. I've seen enough of these scams to be able to guess its contents: Francis' "one disease" is probably "toxicity", and his "two causes of disease" are probably diet and "environmental toxins". It seems so simple, and it's so easy to convince people that it's true based on their own experiences, like that of the cancer patient. It's a simple, clear explanation that appeals perfectly to our tendency toward anecdotal thinking.

    The book's publisher, Health Communications, Inc., (www.hcibooks.com) publishes many such books, and so you might conclude that they have little regard for public health. I certainly choose to personally make such a conclusion, despite their disclaimer inside the book that begins:

  • Never Be Sick Again and the information contained in this book are not intended as a substitute for the advice and/or medical care of the reader's physician, nor are they meant to discourage or dissuade the reader from the advice of his or her physician.
  • I had to laugh when I read that. Of course the book is clearly intended to discourage the reader from listening to his physician. This disclaimer is ludicrous. Did they not read the book?

    One of Francis' chapters is titled "The New Theory of Health of Disease". When you encounter a nonscientific crank who claims to have overturned all of existing science or medicine with his "new theory", you always have very good reason to be skeptical.