Daniel Amen, who promotes Byron Katie, has been disclaimed by the PBS Ombudsman.
As pointed out earlier in this thread, Daniel Amen is just a slick salesman, who sells like he is at an Amway convention. He just drops random factoids like "eat salmon", but the real salespitch is that he is trying to lure people into spending thousands at his Amen Clinics for utterly bogus "brain scans", which are a complete rip-off.
One has to wonder what kind of referral contract and deal the Amen Clinic struck with Byron Katie International?
They really want to take every penny a person has.
The Work/Byron Katie Carol Skolnick Amen Clinic, Brain Scam
(Excerpts from PBS Ombudsman )
Special programs associated with PBS pledge drives have come in for viewer criticism before, especially those dealing with financial and spiritual advice, and have also been the subject of earlier ombudsman columns. But the criticism aimed at Dr. Amen's presentation elevates what usually is controversy over matters of appropriateness in pledge shows into a specific medical and scientific debate about an extremely difficult and emotional subject for thousands of families. ...
PBS had nothing to do with the "Brain" program's content and did not vet the program in any way. Again, local PBS-affiliated stations are independent, locally owned and operated, get material from sources other than PBS and make their own editorial decisions based on their own guidelines about what to air. But, despite all those things that viewers may or may not be aware of, when that pledge special is broadcast on what viewers do know as their local PBS station, it can cause confusion and challenge.
Another Doc Weighs In
Dr. Robert Burton is the former chief of neurology at Mount Zion-UCSF Hospital and, for the past year, has been writing a feature column for Salon called "Mind Reader." Here's some of what he wrote in a May 12 posting:
"It's 10 on a Saturday night and on my local PBS station a diminutive middle-aged doctor with a toothy smile and televangelical delivery is facing a rapt studio audience. 'I will show you how to make your brain great, including how to prevent Alzheimer's disease,' he declares. 'And I'm not kidding.'
"Before the neurologist in me can voice an objection, the doctor, Daniel Amen, is being interviewed by on-air station (KQED) host Greg Sherwood. Sherwood is wildly enthusiastic. After reading Amen's book, 'Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,' Sherwood says, 'The first thing I wanted to do was to get a brain scan.' He turns to Amen. 'You could start taking care 10 years in advance of ever having a symptom and prevent Alzheimer's disease,' he says. 'Yes, prevent Alzheimer's disease,' Amen chimes in.
"Wait a minute. Prevent Alzheimer's disease? Is he kidding? But Sherwood is already holding up Amen's package of DVDs on learning your risk factors for A.D., as well as his book with a section titled 'Preventing Alzheimer's.' Then, as though offering a landmark insight into a tragic disease — and encouraging viewers to pledge money to the station — Sherwood beams and says, 'This is the kind of program that you've come to expect from PBS.'
"If so, that's a shame. One of the messages of Amen's PBS special and his book on Alzheimer's is that early detection of A.D. can lead to methods that both slow the progression of the disease and prevent it. But this opinion isn't shared by the vast majority of the medical community. Despite decades of studies, there are at present no definitive long-term treatments for A.D. or its prevention, as Amen would have viewers and readers believe."
Some Letters and a Response
Here are some of the letters about the program:
I am a long-time enthusiastic supporter of Seattle's KCTS and PBS programming in general. I want to register a strong protest against shows like Daniel Amen's 'Change Your Brain, Change Your Life.' Religious messages in themselves are fine. Shrouding the religion with pseudo-science and then using it to sell products and services is reprehensible. I urge PBS to get this show off the air as soon as possible. I also hope and expect that PBS will institute a formal vetting process for any show which makes scientific claims. We cannot afford to lose PBS as one of the few clear voices of reason on television today.
Dr. Amen's unscientific program regarding the prevention of Alzheimer's disease has no place on PBS. I believe that you are doing a disservice to America in general by allowing such flim-flam to air under the recently respectable auspices of PBS. Additionally, I believe that you are doing a disservice to millions of people who may latch on to the false claims of Amen in the hope of preventing Alzheimer's. If I were you I would be ashamed that your policies permit the dissemination of such unsubstantiated drivel.
Daniel Morris, Ph.D., Dept. of Physics, University of Texas
Why is PBS airing Dr. Daniel Amen's "commercial" for his claimed prevention of Alzheimer's disease?
Fort Collins, CO
When will PBS stop airing tawdry infomercials by the likes of Orman, Dyer, and now worst of all, Dr. Daniel Amen? My husband and I are dedicated PBS watchers and PBS supporters, but as soon as we see them coming, we abjure PBS for the week. Do you really get more contributions when you air such trash?
Nancy Powell, Bethesda, MD
(Ombudsman's Note: The following letter is from a retired family physician, Dr. Harriet Hall, who has been critical of Dr. Amen's work in the past. Her letter, reprinted here in part, was among the first received and it was answered by Joe Campbell, PBS's Vice President for Fundraising Programming. His response follows Dr. Hall's letter.)
I was distressed to see that you are showing Daniel Amen's program and even using him for your fund drive. Viewers come away with the impression that he is providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment for various disorders, that he can "cure" ADHD, that he can "balance" the brain, and that he knows how to prevent Alzheimer's. None of this is true. His ideas are not backed up by any credible published peer-reviewed controlled studies.
He claims to see things on SPECT scans that have not been validated by other researchers; in essence, he has invented a "new phrenology." These scans are still considered experimental for most of the conditions he treats, and have been discouraged by professional groups and insurance companies. They require injection of a radioactive material and may be dangerous, especially for children . . .
Amen's program is based on his opinions, speculations, and personal experience, not on good science. If he admitted that, I would have no objections; but he misrepresents it as scientific truth.
Harriet A. Hall, MD
One of the more confusing parts of public television is that individual stations get their programs from a variety of sources, not just from PBS. While we provide the bulk of the programs you see on your local station, many of those programs come from places like the BBC, alternative public television distributors, like American Public Television, and independent distributors. An easy way to tell if a program is from PBS is by looking for the "PBS Logo" that appears at the end of every program we distribute.
"Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" was distributed by one of those independent distributors, not by PBS. They offered the program to public television stations across the country, and the individual stations decided whether or not to use it according to their own local standards. I hope you will forward your concerns to the station(s) in your viewing area. They may not be aware of the issues you raise about the program. Thank you again for letting us know about your concerns.
Joe Campbell, Vice President, Fundraising Programming
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2008 09:39AM by The Anticult.