What Hunting Bigfoot Taught a Republican Congressman about Misinformation, Political Extremists, and Grift (washingtonpost.com) 105

What Hunting Bigfoot Taught a Republican Congressman about Misinformation, Political Extremists, and Grift (washingtonpost.com) 105

Posted by Editor David on Sunday November 29, 2020 @11:34AM from the facts-don’t-matter dept.

Republican congressman Denver Riggleman was once a defense contractor for America’s National Security Agency. But in 2004, he paid more than $5,000 to join an amateur expedition searching for Bigfoot. Not because he believed in the mythical ape-like creature said to live in the woods, according to the Washington Post, but “to indulge a lifelong fascination: Why do people — what kind of people — believe in Bigfoot?”

“Now in one of his last acts as a Republican congressman from Virginia, Riggleman is asking the same questions of QAnon supporters and President-elect Joe Biden deniers.” Months after his ouster by Rep.-elect Bob Good (R) in a contentious GOP convention, Riggleman has become one of the loudest voices in Congress warning of the infiltration of conspiracy theories into political discourse… To Riggleman, the book, Bigfoot… It’s Complicated,” mirrors the way pockets of the country are falling into conspiracy wormholes — everything from extremist fringe groups such as QAnon and the “boogaloo” movement to President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud. Like the Bigfoot hunters in the Olympic National Forest, they see what they want to see…

Bigfoot believers have plenty in common with political extremists on both the far right and the far left, Riggleman said, lambasting a political ecosystem where, oftentimes, “facts don’t matter.”

“They’re all bat—- crazy. Right?” he said, not really joking. “All of them ascribe to a team mythology that might or might not be true. And they stay on that team regardless. And that is what’s so dangerous about politics today. That’s what I’ve been trying to say.”
Riggleman also criticized political operatives “asking for donations to help in a mythological quest of things that can’t be proven,” arguing this shared mythology can turn into a grift.

“I saw it with Bigfoot. I’m seeing it with QAnon. It’s about money. And sometimes crazy and money live in the same space.”

Spinal decompression marketing by chiropractors investigated

Spinal decompression marketing by chiropractors investigated

by Stephen Barrett, M.D. <sbinfo

A FairWarning investigation has concluded that lax regulation and press apathy have enabled chiropractors to continue to advertise scientifically unsupported back pain relief claims for treatment with mechanized tables for spinal decompression that cost patients thousands of dollars insurers won’t cover. Patients pay thousands for a back pain treatment promoted by exaggerated claims. FairWarning, Nov 18, 2020] Patients have complained of injuries from the machines and some have received monetary damages in lawsuits. But the report notes:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory authority over medical devices, has not responded to several complaints made by Dr. Stephen Barrett about advertising for spinal decompression machines.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has not sent warning letters to any manufacturers of the machines over the past two decades.
  • Eight state chiropractic boards contacted as part of the investigation have not taken action against individual chiropractors advertising the machines in recent years.
  • Newspapers are sustained by their advertisers, spinal decompression machines are aggressively advertised in some newspapers, and newspaper editors can be reluctant to publish investigative reports about products advertised in their papers. [Hill J. A story 12 years in the telling. Fair Warning,
    Nov 18, 2020]

FairWarning is a nonprofit (501(c)(3)) investigative news organization that focuses on public health, consumer, workplace and environmental issues, and related topics of government and business accountability. Aetna, which has evaluated published studies of decompression treatment for more than 20 years, has concluded:

Aetna considers vertebral axial decompression (e.g., by means of the VAX-D Spinal Decompression System, the Accu-SPINA System, Axiom Worldwide DRX2000, Axiom DRX3000, Axiom DRX5000, the Axiom DRX9000, the DRS (Decompression Reduction Stabilization) System, DRX, the Alpha-SPINA System, the Dynatron DX2, the Lordex Lumbar Spine System, the Saunders 3D ActiveTrac, Spinerx LDM, Tru Tac 401, NuChoice Medical Healthstar Elite Decompression Therapy, the Antalgic-Trak, the Cert Health Sciences SpineMED Decompression Table, Integrity Spinal Care System, MTD 4000 Mettler Traction Decompression System, or Internal Disc Decompression (IDD) Therapy, also known as Intervertebral Differential Dynamics Therapy) experimental and investigational. Currently, there is no adequate scientific evidence that proves that vertebral axial decompression is an effective adjunct to conservative therapy for back pain. In addition, vertebral axial decompression devices have not been adequately studied as alternatives to back surgery. [Vertebral axial decompression. Aetna clinical
policy bulletin, Oct 1, 2020]

Chirobase has additional background information on spinal decompression devices.