Have you ever noticed how trying to keep something quiet sometimes has the opposite effect? That’s called the Streisand Effect and it is one of the most powerful tools in the modern skeptic’s toolbelt. It’s like trying to put out an electrical fire with water; you only make things worse.
That’s what I hope will happen to Francine Scrayen, an Australian homeopath whose incompetent treatment of a seriously ill patient led to a woman dying a terribly painful, prolonged, and possibly avoidable death.
Dan Buzzard, an Australian skeptic, first wrote about this terrible incident in February 2011 in an article in which he highlighted the findings of a Coroner’s report into the death of Penelope Dingle. Here is a highlight of that report:
In my view the deceased’s rectal cancer was present and causing bleeding and other symptoms from at least 31 October 2001. During the period 31 October 2001 until at least the end of November 2002, the deceased regularly described the symptoms of her rectal cancer to a homeopath, Francine Scrayen. It was not until November 2002 that Mrs Scrayen and the deceased discussed the possibility of reporting her rectal bleeding to a medical practitioner and it was not until 5 December 2002 that she first reported those problems to a doctor.
I accept that Mrs Scrayen believed that the deceased had suffered from haemorrhoids years earlier and the bleeding and pain was “an old symptom coming back”, but a competent health professional would have been alarmed by the developing symptoms and would have strongly advised that appropriate medical investigations be conducted without delay.
Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional. I accept that Mrs Scrayen had minimal understanding of relevant health issues, unfortunately that did not prevent her from treating the deceased as a patient.
That is pretty damning. And it turns out that Scrayen is now being sued by the victim’s family as a result of the pain and suffering she caused, not only to Penelope, but to her family as well.
I agree with Dan in his contention that Scrayen should face criminal charges for the death of her patient through her own negligence. She was clearly NOT suitably qualified to deal with Penelope’s illness. What is even worse is that she was too ignorant to realise her own inadequacy in the situation.
Scrayen has now issued Dan with a Cease & Desist notice, demanding that he remove his criticism of her from his blog on the grounds that it is factually incorrect, and that he publish a retraction immediately.
While Scrayen has not faced criminal charges, and she was not the only person influencing Penelope to refuse science-based medicine, the Coroner’s report makes it clear that she bears the greatest burden of responsibility for the failure to seek proper medical care that led to Penelope dying in the way that she did.
And her attempt to gag Dan is absolutely deplorable. Is she still peddling her snake oil to unsuspecting people? Is she still making guarantees of the curative power of homeopathic treatments for potentially fatal illnesses such as fucking rectal cancer? I think we should send her a Cease & Desist notice and demand that she stop being such a callous, ignorant fuck-wit.
If you have any way of spreading the word about this, please do. The only way that we, as skeptics, can put a stop to the concealment of information through bullying is by making it too damn expensive for people to even try it.