"Bad" Money Funding Medical Schools?
Double-Blind Studies are Unscientific
Desert Storm syndrome has a name
Gilbert (G): The question I asked you is why you refer to yourself as a "quack"?
L: If you look behind me you can see the coffee cup that the Marines gave me.
G: Oh, so you've been called "Quack".
L: I used to be called "Killer Quack". I used to work for Bechtel and Hughes people in covert operations. I was in the Marine Corps Covert Operations in Laos, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
G: Can you discuss anything about the covert operations or were you sworn to secrecy?
L: No, I'm not sworn to anything, because it was a chaotic situation where they just kind of forced conscripts into working for them. No, I've written about it. Say, are we talking about medicine now or do you want to talk about covert operations?"
G: I was interested in the Gulf War. That was my original reason for coming. I wanted to ask you about the vets. You were written up in the newspaper for treating the vets, but when you mention Bechtel, I have my own ideas about their influence in the Gulf War.
G: And the lighting of the oil well fires. In one or two of my issues there are articles suggesting that our side might have ignited the fires.
L: Oh, I don't know that that's true or not.
G: Well, Bechtel got the contracts [for rebuilding Kuwait] so when you said "Bechtel" -- whoosh!
L: Well, to put it sort of succinctly, Bechtel has been influencing this country since 1963, and influencing prior to that, I would imagine. But it became a major, if not "the" major, influence in this country in 1963, after President Kennedy was assassinated. At that time, there is very good, solid evidence that the CIA was involved [in the assassination] and the Chief of the CIA at that time was John McCone, who was one of the founders of Bechtel.
Shortly thereafter, Bechtel got a contract to build Cam Rahn Bay, which was like $12 billion ($12,000,000,000). It would have been very disadvantageous economically for Bechtel if the Viet Nam War, sort of, went away. So, it was very "good" business judgement to do what Bechtel did. So the same is true for the Gulf War. It was good for business. Let me go through this.
The primary purpose of the American Military is to consume the products of the contractors. And combat efficacy is secondary consideration and, in fact, in most cases, it is bad for business.
And the Gulf War was different only because the United States had a vested interest in winning. And, additionally, technically, they were very, very much helped, if not completely controlled, by the Israelis, so they had competent Military Leadership to run the Military Operation, and they had a vested interest in winning, and therefore that's why we had the outcome we had.
The American Military is grossly incompetent, run by cowards, and poorly equipped. Gilbert and Sullivan would have a wonderful time with the American Military.
In order to be promoted in the American Military you have to know the right people and do the right things and avoid combat. I'll tell you that right up front. In the main, the academies -- West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy -- teach people how to avoid combat. So if you get into combat, you are really a bad politician; you don't know how to deal with it right. Clearly, if you kind of peek your eye into combat and get yourself a Silver Star or something, that's fine, like Lyndon Johnson did. But to be in there on a regular basis, that is, as a "grunt," means you don't know very much about how to get out of it.
G: Tell me about your experience in Viet Nam and how you first figured out the connection between the Military industry, the Drug Industry, and Medicine. I mean, how did you get to be a "quack?"
L: Well, it's a long story and I wrote a book on it, though it hasn't been published at all. I started out, kind of, as a very naive person. I was an academic superstar, and I always thought that I wanted to learn to fly. I wanted to fly, as you can see here in this office.
G: I saw the aviation magazines in your waiting room.
L: I love airplanes. Anyway, so when I was in college I dropped out to go to the Naval Air Cadet Program. You know, and everyone said: "Why is a nice Jewish boy doing that?" And they talked me going back into college again. It was 1965. I got drafted. At that point they had the Berry Plan. Basically, what it was is that the medical students would commit themselves to a branch of the Military, you know -- Army, Navy, Air Force -- and in exchange for that commitment, the branch of the Military would allow the medical student to continue his or her postgraduate training to a specialty, and then promised the physician that he or she would practice in that particular specialty.
You know, we had a draft -- otherwise you would just get drafted, and randomly get stuck in whatever part of the Military that just happened to need doctors. So it was a way of guaranteeing your post graduate education and delaying your draft time, and then also guaranteeing what you were going to do in the Military. For instance, if you were training in pediatrics, you'd be in a pediatric hospital, and if you were training in orthopedic surgery, you'd be in an orthopedic surgeon instead of just a general medical officer.
My philosophy was "Just ignore them. Don't let them know who you are and maybe they'll just forget you." I called that "The Levin Plan." That was the wrong thing to do because of what they were doing -- they were planning on having a war. And I didn't know that.
So when I got my draft notice, at that point I thought: "Gosh, this is my license to sow my wild oats, I can go out and learn to fly and no one can complain, because I had no choice in the matter." Because I was supposed to be a professor at Harvard. I was at Harvard.
G: Harvard Medical School?
L: Yes, I went to the University of Illinois and then I went to Harvard Medical School, my last year of medical school, and then as an intern, and then as a pre-doc fellow and a post-doc fellow. So I was there when I got my draft notice, and everybody said: "Go to the National Institutes of Health and go to Walter Reed and do research in the Service." And I thought I knew better.
G: The right career path?
L: Right. And so I went to this Navy Captain and I walked into his office and I told him my name and that's all I had to tell him. He knew where I graduated, where I was, where all my friends were. The guy must have been a genius, anyway. But he had all of us identified, because apparently there were just a few docs, maybe twelve hundred, who hadn't followed the Berry Plan, who just absolutely got axed.
G: You mean because they needed doctors?
L: Yes, because they needed doctors because they were going to have a war. This was before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Obviously, as we now know -- it was kind of like the burning of the Reichstadt -- they tooled up for the Viet Nam War. They said, "We need a war, and we'll have it in Viet Nam, and we have to fill these ranks before we decide to have the war because these guys may not want to come if we're having a war. So, in any case, even then I didn't know exactly what was going on.
You know, he said: "Well, what do you want to do, Son?"
So I said: "I want to fly."
He said: "Okay."
And I said: "You know, I like research."
And he said: "Well, we have an astronaut program. Why don't you go into the astronaut program? We have slots for doctors there."
And I said: "Boy, that sounds great." And he said: "All right. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line, and get your Navy wings, and we'll send you to the astronaut program."
Well, to make a long story short, that didn't happen.
G: You mean, you signed, and they didn't send you?
L: That's right. I had the "wrong stuff."
G: Did they test you?
L: No, no. When we got to carrier quals [qualifying tests for aircraft carrier duty], among other things, they just didn't like me. My personality was a bit irascible. For example, when we did the carrier qualifications in these little airplanes, the tradition is that they let the wives aboard the U.S.S. Lexington, while you do your carrier qual, and they wouldn't let my wife aboard because I was a reservist. And they would only let the regulars' wives aboard. And so I called the Navy Captain "a senile old bastard."
G: "Oh, great."
L: Those were the kinds of things that didn't make me popular among the Military folks. So I got my wings and they shipped me out to the Marine Corps. The funny part of it was, the truth of the matter was, that I didn't even know how to spell M-A-R-I-N-E. I didn't even know what the Marines were. All I knew was John Wayne.
The only thing I thought about the Navy was that I was gonna be floating off: even if we had a war, the worst thing that could happen was I'd be floating four or five miles off the coast and eating three meals a day and hot showers and having a wonderful time, you know, aboard an aircraft carrier. And that's the worst that could happen to me.
G: When you were drafted you thought you were going in the Navy and they put you in the Marines...
G: And you thought you were going to be an astronaut. But on the phone, you were telling me what actually happened when you were in Viet Nam, how you figured out the purpose of the Military.
L: Well, basically what happened then, as the background, I started out as a very naive person, but at least I was an adult, 27, 28. I guess I was 26 when I was drafted. And I was fully trained. I was basically an adult. It was not like I was a brainwashed Military automaton or that I was a young, impressionable boy. I was really an adult. And being the "wrong kind" of person, I was disposable.
In other words, they figured, they always like to protect their own, like the Academy graduates and somebody from West Point.
They'll try and keep them alive. But the draftees and the rotten guys who don't fit, they go to the front lines to die, because they are disposable. So I was one of the disposable types.
So they shipped me out with a helicopter squadron in the Marine Corps. You know, doing combat, Medevac, helicopter missions and it was absolute hell.
G: What is Medevac?
L: You probably don't, and hopefully will never, know about what Medevac is.
G: You go out into the field and pick up the wounded with the helicopter?
L: Right. Basically it was absolutely asinine. You'd go out after people in the middle of a firefight, and you know the helicopter is incredibly vulnerable. They'd shoot these guys up just so they'd bring the helicopters in, and fire them out of the sky.
The Army was logical. The Marine Corps wasn't. The Marine Corps is wonderful people and I love them dearly and I'm glad I was with them because I wouldn't be alive without them, but they're nuts. I mean they're just nuts. I mean they die like flies. These guys will go into anything, anywhere, at any time. And it's just nuts.
G: You told me on the phone about the weapons not being adequate.
L: Basically, it's a long story. In May of 1967 -- I think I've got the documentation on that -- the Marines were issued a new combat weapon in the field. It turns out that that particular weapon was rejected by the Army prior to the time it was given to the Marines, and it was rejected because it doesn't work.
To give you an example to back it up, the American Military is run by the people who know nothing about combat, because if you know about combat, you don't get into any operational jam. You've got to be able to avoid combat. Eisenhower was the world's best clerk. So when they procure weapons for combat troops, they don't know what they need. A gun means a gun, and so they figure that John Wayne used a gun, so therefore it's okay.
The difficulty is that guns that are used for combat troops have to be very durable. They have to be able to handle dramatic weather changes. They have to be able to handle dirt. They have to be able to handle lots and lots of trauma.
The American Military Commanders know nothing about what it's like to be in combat because they've avoided it. So they don't know that you get dirty!
So this weapon sounded great on paper in that it was a twenty two caliber projectile -- that's high velocity -- so when it entered, it had a very small entry wound, and it would tumble so that when you opened the guy up, it was hamburger. So it was a very, very potent weapon. The difficulty was that it just didn't work. After you popped off about five or six rounds in rapid fire, it would jam.
It was rejected not only by the Army but also by the local police forces for that reason, and you can imagine that a policeman is not going to be like a combat trooper in the boonies. But they gave it to these kids, and it was the Third Marine Division, the First Battalion, Ninth Regiment, that was up there at the northwestern corner of Viet Nam. It's a very well documented story.
Basically, they ran into the first group of the North Vietnamese Regular Army. I think it was the 110th Division. It was a whole division, like 10,000 guys. And they ran into this division, with tanks and all that. And they started with a patrol and then they went to a battalion, and then they went to larger groups, and what was happening was that the weapon wasn't working.
The kids were given the M-16, and the M-14 was taken away from them. The M-14 was a pretty good rifle. It wasn't great, but it was good rifle. It was being used since the Korean War or shortly after the Korean War, and it was well worked-out.
These kids were in active combat with this weapon that didn't work. Basically, what they were given was something like a baseball bat. That's all they had. So the enemy would shoot 'em in the pelvis so they'd die slowly, or they'd shoot 'em in the legs. You know, the kids were trying to drag a buddy out, so they'd shoot the buddies.
A big joke was that one of the enemy stole one of the Marine's rifles, and got into a spider hole and then got up and smiled and then tried to spray these kids, and his gun jammed and so they blew his head off with an M-79. So everyone was laughing because the "gook" got it because of Colt Industries' weapon. You know, they said, "The M-16 is our best weapon. Give them to the enemy and we're in great shape! But you know, this was absolute hell.
G: Is that what made you begin to think about how all this system works?
G: I mean, you went in naive and you came out --
G: -- with a road map of how the Military works?
L: Well, what happened then was that at that point I just didn't understand what was going on. Why didn't they give these kids the M-14 rifle? And I was the only doctor there that was processing the bodies. I mean, there was no medicine at all, you just gave morphine to the guys who couldn't make it, or, you know, just pronounced guys dead, you stuck them at the side of the runway and left them there, because the wounded -- you had to get them out of there as fast as you could, the ones that were salvageable. So there was no real medicine there.
And the first doctor that was there went goofy and actually he's still, he's a Urologist -- interesting enough -- in the East Bay, but he went kind of bonkers, so they shipped me in, and I went bonkers, but he was smart and I wasn't. He kinda got shipped out of the country and spent the rest of his time out of combat, and I just went in deeper because basically I wanted to get killed.
G: Come on.
L: No, I'm not kidding. I did.
G: Because you were bonkers you wanted to get killed, because it was so horrible?
L: Most guys will tell you that exactly. The biggest tragedy of the Viet Nam vet is surviving. No question, no doubt.
In any case, I ran up to this Colonel, and, you know, this was absolute chaos. You can't even begin to conceive of what it was like.
L: I mean, you're talking about arms and legs and guts and shit on the floor and you're sloshing through clots of blood, and bodies coming in and out, and everybody is upset, and, you know, the biggest issue was that the weapon didn't work. And you're in a bunker, and there's shooting going on, and it stinks like hell, and you're in there for thirty hours, you know, non-stop. You don't piss, you don't shit, you don't eat, you don't drink water. You just keep on going from one body to another.
So, anyway, in the midst of this, I ran out to this Colonel and I said: "Look, you gotta give these guys their M-14's back. The M-16's are not working. So he looks at me and says: "Doc, you are too close to this." He says: "I'm a Colonel, the Marine Corps is my life, I'm an Academy graduate, I'm up for General, I don't give a shit about these kids."
So I saluted and said: "God bless America and f___ you," and ran back again.
I did that. OK. Well, that got me crazy, obviously. But then, after that, about 3 or 4 months later, we were operating, and at that point I didn't know where we were operating. I knew we were operating out in the boonies, and who in the hell knows where Laos starts and Viet Nam ends. One of our operations was to cover this -- "Air America" -- and they were flying these helo couriers in and out of these remote patches.
Actually, these airplanes would land and take off in twenty yards. They were amazing machines. Our squadron would fly gun support for them, killing those who tried to kill the guys that were flying, and nobody really paid a heck of a lot of attention to what was going on.
So one of my friends, a very close friend, "got it" and I had to go out and identify him, to see if I can help him. There was no way I could help him -- he was really gone. And it turns out he was in Laos, and it turns out that he was running gun support, and got hit, and Air America was running heroin, and I didn't know that. And everyone was laughing and, you know, one said: "What do you think that Lady Bird Johnson does for a living?"
One of the guys, an older guy, said "We're running heroin. Our Government." You know he looked at me and said: "Kid, America was based on England, right? What the f--- do you think that England did to build its Empire? It sold opium. Why is that surprising to you?" I said: "Oh, Okay."
Yeah, so we were running heroin. At that point I went absolutely bonkers because we were just getting done over. On top of it, my first wife was not writing me letters, so it was pretty bad. So I volunteered for Operation Phoenix.
G: Where was the heroin produced and where was it sent to?
L: The only problem is, don't talk in past tense because it continues to go on, in a large scale.
G: I mean, in the Iran-Contra thing, it was arms one way and drugs the other, according to a lot of people.
L: What do you mean according to a lot of people?
G: Well, I mean it is not the official view.
L: Gee, whiz. Oh! Well, basically the heroin is grown in Burma and the primary resource, 60% of it, is Kuhmsah, who continues, I believe, still to run the operation. His facility was set up by George Bush, just like Noriega's was.
G: I've never heard anyone connect Bush to the drugs, but I thought he was connected.
L: Of course he is! Again, why would you be surprised when America built its empire based upon how England built its empire? The primary difference between England and America is that America sells its drugs to its own children, whereas England sold its drugs to other people's children.
G: But this is done privately.
L: No! It's done by the Federal Government. It's part of the "black budget."
G: I understand that. That's what I mean, it's not part of the public record. But I thought the money went into the politicians' ---
L: That's absolute bullshit, because if a thirteen-year-old can find cocaine in high school, I think the sheriff can find it, I'm not sure. The average adult American knows full well its government is 100% into drugs -- it's just that they won't admit it.
G: No, they don't know that.
L: Bullshit, they don't. If they can find out who sells their kids lollipops, they should be able to find out who sells their kids heroin and cocaine, right. I mean, it's absolutely bizarre for Americans to say they don't know where the drugs are coming from, or they don't know if their child is on drugs. I don't have kids, but I have dogs, and I know when my dog has a stomach ache.
G: So tell me what happened when you found out our government was in the drug business. You went bonkers.
L: So I went bonkers, yeah. So, I volunteered for this Operation Phoenix, which was a psychological operation. To make a long story short, it would make Charlie Manson look like Abigail Van Buren. It was basically a psychological operation, and it was very well done. Americans have done it many times before and in essence we did it inadvertently in Libya. The theory is you don't kill the leader, you kill his children, or his family.
G: Yeah, we did that in Libya. We got one of El Qaddafi's kids.
L: It works perfectly. It works all of time. We used to do it with Indians all the time, too.
Basically, what you do is you destroy the chief's family very ignominiously, and I mean ignominiously. I mean, Charlie Manson would look like a "sweetie" compared to what this stuff was. And so when the guy comes back, he sees this mess -- you know his wife beheaded, and her infant child stripped out of her abdomen, and beheaded and bleeding on her body, hung from a rafter, shit all over the walls, those kind of things -- that's how you do it. And when that happens, then these guys lose confidence in themselves, and the village loses confidence in them, but they're not martyrs. So the whole operation loses its fighting will. And that's basically "The American Way."
That's how they did it with Blacks, that's how they did it with the Indians, and that's how they did it in Laos and Viet Nam. That's "good, practical warfare".
G: And you were involved in this operation?
L: Yeah, yeah.
G: And this is the one that Bechtel was involved in?
L: Yeah, yeah.
G: Is this the one that Bechtel was involved with?
L: Bechtel and Hughes were the major operations, yeah. And also Bechtel was very instrumental in building air strips from which cocaine is transported in Central and South America.
G: In the Bush Administration, some of his top people were Bechtel -- former CEO and President -- wasn't it Weinberger and Schultz?
L: How do you think Johnson got his job?
G: He knocked off Kennedy, you mean?
L: Come on, none of us were born yesterday. It's all very logical. You know, Kennedy wasn't a good guy, either. I am very, very close to Joe Bonanno, who is almost my father. He just gave me this book. In fact, he autographed it.
G: Who is Joe Bonanno?
L: My God! Joe was -- Who's Joe Kennedy? [Joe Kennedy is the father of JFK, Bobby, and Edward.] Joe Bonanno and Joe Kennedy started as partners. He outlines it in the book.
G: Extreme Justice Is Extreme Justice? He was your Godfather?
L: Yeah. A wonderful, wonderful man. He and I share a birthday. Anyway, so basically what happened was that America's been in drugs ever since it started, obviously. Joe Kennedy started bootlegging Scotch, and then he got into heroin, too. And so now, Bonanno split from Kennedy because Kennedy was a vicious murderer. They used to run Scotch from Canada to the United States. And the yachts would run low in the water. Because the Coast Guard would look for that, he would throw the crew off -- Cubans. He would tie them with flimsy ropes. If the ropes broke, too bad, the guys were dead.
G: So the boats wouldn't go so far down in the water?
L: That's what (Joe) Kennedy did. That's how the Kennedy Empire was built, as is well documented. There is no question about it.
So that John F. was involved with the Mafia and drugs is not surprising. In fact, he owned a piece of a casino in Cuba. You know the CIA and the Mafia are very closely tied, right?
G: I don't know that.
L: Because they dropped Lucky Luciano into Sicily for the Sicilian invasion. Yeah, the CIA and the Mafia have been "like that," especially since World War II.
G: I know just from reading "007" [James Bond] that they use whomever they need to use.
L: The point is they are very close, and they should be, and they are both very good organizations and they play hardball. They are very good organizations. So we don't really want to play stupid games and say "It's bad to do these kinds of things." That's what built America. If you think killing women and children and destroying families is bad, then you think America is bad, right? Because that's what America is founded on. That's how we built ourselves. If drugs are bad, then England shouldn't exist. Right? Hong Kong should not be there.
L: Yeah, right. And that should not surprise you. Okay, so then I get back to the United States, and I decide -- among other things -- I was really badly treated. But one of the things that was going on, which blew my mind, was -- I sequestered myself as a cancer researcher in Immunology at UCSF when I came back -- and low and behold!
What was going on was that the Chief of the Department of Medicine was lobbying for Howard Hughes' funds, Hughes Industries! Now, the Hughes Medical Foundation, and I'll say this: most of its funds come from Hughes' black budget, Hughes' CIA contract. So, I had worked with these guys in Operation Phoenix, and here this very same money that was generated by that company was going to build this Institute at the UCSF.
G: OK, what you call "the black budget" -- that's the part that isn't public -- this is where the drug money goes, into the black budget, right?
L: Well, the drug money is part of it, but the drug money also goes into the pockets of the politicians.
G: Well, I assumed as much, but it goes into the black budget which gives them more money to do more things that might not be appropriated by Congress publicly?
L: Right, but most of the congressional people are either being paid from drugs, or know who is getting paid from drugs. That's not a secret. I think that even Diane Feinstein can find drugs in the Tenderloin, I'm not sure! But I think so.
G: Well, finding drugs and knowing the structure are two different things. I lived in New York. Guys on the street would, you know, offer to sell me drugs, but that doesn't mean I understood the connections.
L: Do you think you were smart enough to find out? What you're telling me is that you didn't want to find out.
G: No, no, no. I'm saying there is not a necessary connection. I mean, a lot of people go into the supermarket to buy milk and they don't know it comes from a cow.
L: But is it that hard to find out? And if your job was to find the cows, and you didn't find the cows, what would you think? Either you are awfully stupid or somebody is paying you. So the same thing is true for the sheriffs, and the judges, and the Congressmen.
G: They're all in it, otherwise they'd make the stuff legal and it would knock all the pushers out, overnight.
L: You're right. There you go!
G: I mean, it's so rational.
L: OK. So UCSF was lobbying for Hughes Industries, and then of course then they want Al Levin gone, because Al Levin knows where Hughs Industries' money comes from; so there is this battle at UCSF. So, "Throw Levin out!" At the time I was in the Department of Medicine.
G: And Hughes' money comes from?
L: Hughes' CIA contract.
G: OK. You said it.
L: I was doing very well in research. I was, again, an "academic superstar". So my boss, who was a wonderful human being, a little crazy, shopped around to find a department to put me in, 'cause I was in the Department of Medicine, and its chief, who was basically running the show, was the guy who was lobbying for these funds.
G: On what pretext would an aircraft company give money for cancer research? Because they are good-hearted? I mean, what's the connection there?
L: You could say the same thing about Rockefeller at the Rockefeller Institute, the same thing about Sloan at Sloan-Kettering.
G: Is it to shelter funds for tax purposes?
L: Possibly with Rockefeller, with Carnegie, and with Sloan, it was to help people. With Hughes, Bechtel, and McDonnell Douglas, it is a big sort of conspiracy that I will describe to you in the next 10 or 15 minutes. It was very well orchestrated and it is very complex.
Anyway, what they did was they stuck me in the Department of Dermatology, because the Chief of the Department of Dermatology was a World War II combat vet, who knew exactly what I was going through. And so he kind of sequestered me in his Department. Since then my wife and I have been in the Department of Dermatology in San Francisco. So that is why I am in Dermatology in San Francisco. That's my background.
Now you ask -- let's go a little further -- why did Hughes get into medicine?" This is my interpretation why Hughes got into medicine.
Basically what has happened was that the last century was the century of the munitions manufacturer, and basically the defense contractors ran the world.
G: That's what my parents used to tell me when I was a little kid, and they were not educated people.
L: They were very bright! They were right on. And that's who runs the world. I guess the defense contractors learned that from the Napoleonic era when there were men building cannons. Defense contracting was very profitable.
The difficulty today is that in the past the defense contractors could sit back, comfortable in their own country, and have a war someplace else and really have no problems, but today the war would come home. So it's not quite as profitable.
Also kids are getting smarter. They don't want to fight. And you know, it's a pain in the neck to get some guy out there and strip the guts out of an enemy or to cut their head off. It's kind of tough to take a nice, sweet, eighteen-year-old boy and make him a killer. It's not as easy as it used to be.
And so, basically they decided they needed another industry, and medicine looked like the place to go.
G: I never heard this before.
L: Well, it's the truth.
G: It's certainly an interesting idea and I'd like to hear about it.
In order to identify efficacy, you had to do some strange, so-called "scientific" studies. They are not very scientific. The double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are totally unscientific! I'll go into that later. I am a scientist.
Gilbert [G]: I am, too. Doctors swear by that (the double-blind studies).
L: Doctors are not very well trained in science. That's the problem.
G: Research, scientific logic, and all that. I agree.
L: I can go on for hours on that one.
So basically then, the mandate for bringing drugs to market became totally unrealistic. So the average drug that may have cost a million dollars to go to market in 1963 now would cost $200 million to go to market, and much of the money goes to investigators, patent attorneys, and to clerks.
G: Because they need to prove that "it works."
L: Right. So you have this strange situation where you have this nonscientific way of proving a drug -- this double-blind, placebo-control -- which means nothing.
Whether a drug makes it to market simply only means that someone has had enough money to put it through, and pay the right politicians. That's all. It doesn't mean it works or it doesn't work. And you can think of the FDA as you do the Post Office. It's the same mentality, the same level of competence. So, basically, we have this very strange situation and, in addition to that, we have the concept of capitation grants.
Now, what happened was that the Government thought that doctors were too busy as small business people, you know, worrying about income tax, rent, personnel management, and all that, and that if they took these people and put them into the universities, and took all these responsibilities away, then these physicians would then be totally dedicated to teaching and research, and be more effective. And that sounded great!
Prior to that, the full-time academic was considered to be a nerd. The old saying was: "If you can't do it, teach it." When I was in medical school, we used to wait for the "real" doctors to come in, and teach us real medicine because the guys in medical school had never seen patients, and they didn't know anything. But then after that the drug companies kind of took over, and they started funding these full-time academics.
So basically you got this nefarious tie between the drug companies, who are trying to prove something that couldn't be proved, and the academics, who really had no responsibility for patients. So, the average full time academic today -- physician, professor of medicine -- has at least four people between him and the patient. You have the fellow, the resident, the medical student, and the intern. And then you have this entire institution protecting him, so the average academic physician really is not prepared to handle sick people.
G: I want to back-track a second. What's your critique of the double-blind experiment?
L: First of all it was designed by people, both of whom are friends of mine. One continues to be a very close friend of mine. The first one, Joe Nehman, died, and my wife was his doctor. The other one, Bush LeCam, is a very close friend. My wife shares a birthday with him, and his daughter is a patient. We're very close.
So we're very familiar with the people who developed the double-blind, placebo-controlled study. And we know what they know about medicine and science, and they all admit that they don't know anything about it.
The problem with the placebo controlled, doubled-blind study is that you are using two human beings as controls against one another. There is no more out-bred species on Earth than two human beings. A person from the North Pole can procreate with a person from the South Pole, and can have an infant. There is no animal on Earth that is as out-bred as human beings, including two identical twins, they are not the same. Because, as soon as the zygote divides there are different positions, there's different antigens to which they are exposed.
G: But in the experiments, they are not done on just two people.
L: Let me go on. Two human beings are different from one another. That's the first problem.
The other problem is the problem of diagnosis. Diagnosis is simply a pigeon hole into which a doctor places a patient. So Mr. A has "A's Disease" and Mr. B has "B's Disease" and they share some symptoms and lab tests, so we call them "diabetic." But they don't have the same disease, and they are not going to respond to the same treatment course, and they are not going to respond to the same doses.
So if I took 100 people that the competent physician would diagnose as "diabetics" today and followed them for ten years, some of them will have eye disease, some of them will have heart disease, some of them will have kidney disease, and some of them will have gangrene of the big toe. Some guy ten years from now will say: "How could this stupid guy make this diagnosis of 'diabetes' on Mr. Jones who had gangrene of the big toe, and Mr. Smith who has eye disease?"
The bottom line is that this is simply a pigeon hole into which to place a patient to give you helpful guidelines for treatment, but it is not hard and fast. It is not locked in granite. So, basically, what you've got is that you are trying to make a diagnosis; and you make a diagnosis of "diabetes" on two different people who are two different animals, with two different diseases, and then you are studying the effects on this. So you need large numbers, and you need statistical significance, so basically what you do is you expand the numbers.
Well, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study may make sense if you had 100,000 people in each arm, but you don't. Usually you have about 30, or 40, or 50, or maybe 1,000, on each arm, but even then it's not enough. But when you do this you get into a situation that if you get five people who are absolutely cured and 95 who go on and have the same disease process, you probably have a cure for five people, and that's a subset of the disease that is cured by "Drug X."
But if you went to the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, it would probably wash out because it is not statistically significant. [Publisher's note: This means that the "double-blind" study ignores a significant amount of information, which could help certain people.]
Now what is the alternative? How do you do these studies so you know what's going on? You use the patient as their own control. [Publisher's note: This means you compare the patient's health before and after the use of medication, rather than comparing the average result of an experimental group of people who get the medication against the average of those who don't the treatment.]
You follow biochemical parameters of progression and regression of the disease. For example, if you did a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of insulin in diabetes, and used that as an influence, that would be what the average physician does today.
On the other hand, if you measured blood glucose, you could get more information without the suffering.
The difficulty is that the physician has to understand blood glucose. Now, it's that simple. That's what we're dealing with today.
The average, so-called "medical scientist" really doesn't know science. When you get to the situation where you are trying to study the efficacy of AIDS drugs (and I got into this situation): I was measuring different parameters, B- and T-cells, T-4, T-8s, Beta 2 marker globulin, P-24, sed (sedimentation) rates, all sorts of biochemical parameters, and I was adjusting treatments according to these biochemical parameters. The problem was that I got a lot of flack. Why? Because these people were doing their double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, using death as an end point.
But I said: "Well, why don't you use these biochemical parameters?" And they screamed and hollered, and then they called them "surrogate markers" and I said: "Well, fine. So now you are following surrogate markers." Well, "respiration" is a surrogate marker for "life." "Pulse" is a surrogate marker for "living." Right? I mean bullshit they are surrogate markers!
These are what real doctors use (biochemical parameters). This is what science is. This is how you treat patients. You don't wait for them to die.
Well, why do you (academics) call them "surrogate markers?" Because you don't understand what they are. You aren't well enough trained in science to understand what a P-24 antigen is, and what it means. You are not well enough trained to know what a T-4 cell is. But you're a 'professor of medicine' at UC San Francisco, and you are supposed to be an expert on AIDS, and you 'poo poo' it (biochemical parameters). It doesn't mean anything, right?
The bottom line is that these double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are run by people who don't know much about science.
Let me give you another very classic one. It's done by this guy, Frederick Stare, who was a professor. [Publisher: At Harvard, I believe].
G: Oh, I know, the "nutrition doctor" that said vitamins are no good?
G: He said, "Chocolate chip cookies are good (for you)?"
L: Chocolate chip cookies. Sugar is good for you.
G: He's a scandal.
L: But he's a classic.
G: Right. But everyone cites him, right?
L: Oh yeah, yeah. But that's the bottom line. That's what it's all about. So these are the kind of people you get, and they are being used by the drug companies because, who cares? It's the same kind of thing. "I don't care if the thing works; I just want to make money on it." So that's what's happened.
Basically, we have the situation where we have the full-time academics and we have the drug companies with their ridiculous mandate from the FDA; and so they marry one another and we have what we have today, which is this bizarre situation in which medicine is run by these people who really are not very good at Science.
I'll give you an example. This is the New England Journal of Medicine, okay?
G: I thought that that was one of the better ones, too, I mean more liberal.
L: Really? Eighty-three percent of its revenues comes from drug advertising. What do you think this costs? Eighty-three percent of its revenues comes from drug advertising.
In addition to that, the very highly touted drug called "Mevacore," lovastatin, is a drug that lowers cholesterol. Now, this is my opinion: The purpose of Mevacore is to allow Joe Six-Packs to eat his Twinkies and Ding Dongs and not worry about his cholesterol. You are not going to get very much about diet control in this journal because Mevacore doesn't want it. You know, Merck, Sharp, and Dohme doesn't like diet control because obviously diet control cuts their profits. So, this is simply a trade journal. That's what it's all about. It's a nice one. I like it. But it's not a credible journal. It's not really good science, but it's fun to read. Kind of like National Enquirer.
G: So the people who make money off the Military are now getting into the drug business? This is an area in which they can make bucks, right?
G: Build a little "empire?"
L: Yeah, right. So basically, what have we got today? We've got Lockheed who owns Dialog Data Base. McDonnell Douglas runs 70% of the hardware and software of all the hospitals in the country. Hughes Industries runs the largest research programs as we talked about, at Hopkins, Harvard, and UC San Francisco. Their budget for so-called medical research is greater than the Federal Government's in the Year 2000! FMC works with Hypertech on mononuclear antibodies. Colt Industries works on urinalysis. General Dynamics, General Motors, General Electric, Delco -- they're all into medicine and into defense. Now, that's the bad news.
The good news is that when I went around hollering that the M-16 rifle was bad, or that the CH46 helicopter was bad, or the A21E helicopter was bad, or the F14 was bad, nobody really cared. They laughed about it. And it's a joke that the Military equipment doesn't work. Everyone joked about the so-called "smart bombs" that weren't very smart, or the stealth bomber. You know the pictures, that everything is just sort of photographs so that you look at these war toys and everybody talks about them, but they don't really care that the kid that's running it, an eighteen year old boy, is going to get killed. That's not important, because eighteen year old boys in the United States are not important. You can feed 'em drugs, you can feed 'em pizza, and send them to the Military, have them go crush 8,000 Arab boys -- then hang a medal on 'em, give 'em a flag-draped coffin and you're in fine shape. And that's The American Way, that's how they feel about boys.
But the cannon fodder in this war is 'Joe Six Packs' -- the consuming public and Joe Six Packs. You can fry his kid, he doesn't give a damn, but don't get into my genitals, or my hairline, or my breasts, you know. That's the problem.
G: For the first time, I'm having trouble following you.
L: Well, what I'm saying is that average American adult is more driven by his or her hairline, how hard his penis is, or whether her breasts are soft, than they are about the well being of their son. So basically, I used to run around the country and say the trichlorethylene causes birth defects and learning disabilities and childhood leukemia; and everybody said: "Well, that's irresponsible. We need more studies and more epidemiology."
G: Well, what is that?
L: It's de-greaser in the water. It's very common.
G: In drinking water?
L: Yeah, yeah. Then, I used to run around the country saying the same chemical causes wrinkles and impotence and soft breasts, and snap! -- it's illegal!
The bottom line -- and so now we are getting to Joe Six Packs -- and like I say, the M-16 rifle doesn't work and the F-14 doesn't fly, and they even make a goddamned movie about it, and nobody gives a shit.
You know Top Gun was all about the fact that the F-14 didn't work, and yet nobody even picked it up. I mean, the goddamned machine doesn't work in combat, but that wasn't what people saw. They saw this 'honcho' kid running around.
But they do know that if they can't get it up that night, maybe it's the trichloroethylene in the water -- and I'm getting to them, and that's one of the reasons that the chemical companies hate my guts.
G: I'm surprised they let you live!
L: They can't do me in.
L: No. Yes, they can. The only people who could do it are people who are friends, and it can happen.
G: You have protection?
L: Yes, Ma'am.
G: Like Joe?
L: Yes, Ma'am. It's not Joe. It's not Joe at all. It's professionals. Government-paid professionals.
G: They're your friends?
L: You'd better believe it. I gotta tell you, these guys are very honorable and they have the same goals that I have. They are good people. They just play hard ball.
G: That goes over my head, too.
L: That you don't have to know.
Basically, so right now, I'm hated more than Ralph Nader was hated at his peak because I'm getting to Joe Six Packs. And of course Bill Rea and I vie for who's "No. 1 Quack" in the country. I've been written up in Forbes Magazine and Galileo's Revenge. The latter was used by Dan Quayle in his attack. It's part of the "Tort Reform Act." They talk about "junk science" in the courtroom, and I'm the "junk scientist." It's a very widely used book by the chemical companies. The author's name is Peter Huber.
G: So how did you get into environmental medicine (clinical ecology)?
L: Through Phyllis Saifer.
Basically, then, after kind of running amuck with the university and all of the politics, I went into the practice in pathology. I still stayed at the university and my wife is still at the university, but I went into the private practice of pathology. I'm a pathologist.
And I was running the first immunology lab in the area, in the late 1970's, and this colleague of mine, Phyllis Saifer, who I thought was a "quack" -- a delightful quack, but a quack -- used to run around talking about these people who had strange reactions to perfumes and cigarette smoke and all that kind of stuff. So I kinda shined around because she was a real nice lady, and I said "Why don't you measure T-cells?"
I don't know why I said that. I am the first person upon whom T-cells were ever tested. I'm in the first paper ever describing T-cells, so I am very familiar with T-cells. And at the time, I thought I knew all there was to know about T-cells and at that time I was an arrogant academic, anyway.
So then one day my tech came into the office and said: "There is something wrong with our assay because the controls are fine, but patients are all low." So I went in and looked, and they were all Phyllis' patients! And so then I began to interview the patients and they all had the same strange symptoms.
To make a long story short, it made logical, perfect sense. What was going on was that toxic chemicals were damaging their immune systems and they were developing autoimmune disease. It was perfectly logical.
In the meantime, being a lousy businessman, busting my own lab, I decided to go into private practice, and since she had such an interesting patient population, and since her office was closer than my other friend's, who is a traditional allergist, and I loved them both, but she was closer -- so I decided to go to her office to learn how to practice medicine. And so I worked with her and she taught me how to run a practice. You know, Workers Comp and all that business.
At that point she told me about a controversy between the Clinical Ecologists and the ordinary Allergist, and I couldn't believe it! I couldn't really believe that the Allergists were going to say something about what clinical ecologists did, because as far as I knew, it was kinda like a left-handed surgeon and a right-handed surgeon arguing about how to take out a gall bladder. And it didn't make sense. In the beginning I didn't believe it.
But then I began to see, indeed, there was this controversy, and I began to question what it was. And they started talking about it's the allergists who are worried about the clinical ecologists are going to take their revenues away. I said, "No, that's not it. It's not that at all. Doctors aren't smart enough to do that. There's something more there."
Then I began to look a little closer, and I began to say, "Gosh, you guys are talking about food allergies, and you're talking about allergies to chemicals. What does the food industry and the chemical industry have to do with this so-called 'battle?'" I began to look, and lo and behold! There it was: Funds, directly given to the academic Allergists to attack us, from the drug companies, and the nutrition companies.
G: Really? This wouldn't be a research contract, this would be like perks?
L: Right. There are even bounties now being given by drug companies to go after doctors who treat Nutrition.
G: Some doctors in New York have lost their licenses.
L: I know. I'm involved with a lot of those things. Anyway, so people are given bounties to turn these people (doctors) in.
G: You mean, like a patient will go and turn them in.
L: Yes. Or a doctor will be given 'x' thousands of dollars in order to turn in a doctor. Yes. And this is well documented.
G: And this is being done to protect the food industry and the chemical and drug industry?
L: Yes. I can go in the State of California, as late as five years ago, it was illegal to say bad things about pesticides and herbicides. You could get your license taken away. You could make love to your patients [unethical], you could do drugs IV [illegal], you could sell drugs out of your office, and you'd be okay. But if you treat with nutrition, or preventive medicine, you're risking your license.
I could go to any hospital in this state, because I'm qualified in Cancer, and give 5-Fluorouracil to a colon cancer and kill them. I can show you now twenty articles that prove that 5-Fluorouracil doesn't work in colon cancer. If I used this same patient and hung a bottle of intravenous Vitamin C on that same patient, I risk losing my license, even today. Why?
It's the companies. It's the chemical companies. It's the drug companies. That's what it's all about. So it's pretty clear that this particular controversy between clinical ecologists and conventional allergists has nothing to do with the science of medicine. It has to do with economics.
G: I didn't realize on what scale.
L: Oh, it's enormous!
G: As a sociologist, I just thought it had more to do with the stuff you learn, which becomes your "reality," and this is a threat to reality when these other people are doing something else. I thought it was on that level that the problem existed. I didn't realize that it was much more, you know, organized.
What I don't understand, what I wanted to ask you, if you can explain to me -- people like to think of themselves as good people, okay; so how do these doctors who are bought off maintain their self-image as good when they are harming patients? Isn't there some self-deception involved?
G: Like, they feel they believe that anyway, so it's okay to take the money?
L: To some extent, yeah. Everybody's got car payments. That's what it's all about. And, yeah, they'll lie and cheat and steal and testify. The Nazis testified. And I don't know that the Nazis were all bad. Hughes is no better than Hitler was.
G: How's that?
L: I described to you what was going on. The major difference between Hitler and Hughes was that Hitler went after Jews. Laotians and Cambodians didn't scream quite as loud as the Jews did.
G: Well, they talk another language.
L: And they looked different. The difference between the Arab government and the American government is the Arabs sacrifice 14 year old boys for greedy politicians and the Americans sacrifice 18 year old boys for the same reason, so I guess the Americans are a little more honorable. Who knows? Yeah, let's face it. The bottom line is that these people are scoundrels, but they justify themselves. Carnegie was classically a scoundrel and so was Rockefeller, but they put a lot of money into that. What do you think that Nobel did? He made dynamite to blow people up. And we have the Nobel Prize. I mean, give me a break. People are proud of having a Nobel Prize. What for? They made the money from blowing up women and children. If you didn't know that, it's because you didn't want to know.
G: And a lot of doctors say, "Well, this is just stress."
L: Right. They have to, in order to keep their licenses.
G: Others say, "Well they had this oil smeared all over them. They were breathing the fumes.
L: Ha! What do you think?
G: Who was the one that interviewed Dr. Rea before they got sick? And who published "Can oilfire smoke affect your health?" in Blazing Tattles? [Me, me, me.]
G: It affected my health, I was living in Florida and I had to wear a mask some days to go out.
G: Because I am extremely sensitive.
L: Do you remember, we used to use X-ray fluoroscopy to see if our shoes fit. If you talk to a ten year old boy today, he would say: "God, I can't believe people would be that stupid. It's gotta be a lie." And if we are successful, ten years from now I'm gonna tell a ten year old boy that we used to spray pesticides from airplanes and this boy will say: "God, that's stupid, those are poisons. You wouldn't do that!"
G: I lived in Florida years ago and they sprayed right over my house!
L: There's several reasons for the problems we have. One is the inertia of the average medical community, which is legitimate. Physicians should be conservative, but the problem is here that there are special interest groups which are funding the maintenance of the status quo. These are the manufacturers of Mevacore, Inderol, steroids, and all that.
G: So it's the food industry and the drug industry, and now you have your defense contractors.
L: It's exactly the same mentality and ethics as when they ran the wars. They burned the Reichstag, they sank the Maine, Pearl Harbor was a "sneak" attack, the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a nefarious thing. It's the same bullshit all over again. Same thing. But the difference is, I say, is that we now have a foothold because the cannon fodder is a "real American." It's not a 17 year old boy: it's a guy who can buy a politician, who can invest in a political action committee, who can buy an attorney.
I mean real Americans -- people who hold mortgages, and pay taxes, real Americans -- are being poisoned. They are dying of cancer.
G: How are they making the connection? I mean when I was a kid, cancer was "an act of God." Like my father's uncle died of cancer when I was 4 years old. In those days, it was an act of God. But today most cancers are environmentally produced.
L: Right. Right.
G: So how does the adult American know this now? Because there's so much stuff in the mass media?
L: One of the reasons is that our law suits are high profile. In fact, I've got to tell you honestly that I got involved with the clinical ecologists for this very reason, so we could get Joe Six Packs involved. Unfortunately, I made a lot of trouble for the clinical ecologists because they were considered to be a sweet little group of nothings until I started moving them, and then they are just really just considered the pariah.
There's an attorney who is the Chief Counsel for Monsanto, and after the District Court's decision on Sterling vs Velsicol, the Chemical Manufacturers Association had an emergency meeting. This same attorney at that time was the chairman of the committee, and he's quoted as having said that if people believe Levin's theories, he can single-handedly bankrupt Corporate America. This was like 1981 or 1982. It turned into a big, big thing.
Like I say, it's the chemical companies, drug companies, and all that. And it's really kind of funny because these people are chasing their tail. For example, among the people in Dow Chemical Company who claim that Bill Rea is a quack, many of them go to him. You know, board chairmen go to him because they're sick. They know it's true, but it's not good for business. We're gonna make it good for business.
I mean, basically we don't want to shut the chemical companies down. We want people to be less cavalier about the use of these chemicals.
For instance, when we used to use x-ray fluoroscopy to see if our shoes fit, we used much less x-ray than we do today, but we were just a lot more cavalier about it. And that's what I want, and that's what we all want, with chemicals. We don't want to shut the plants down, or stop using them, or anything, we just want to be less cavalier.
And if you look at the way computer chips were made five years ago (they are changing now), the way they were manufactured in the United States and in Japan was really striking. They were doing exactly the same process with exactly the same chemicals. In Japan, people were wearing masks and respirators and working behind hoods and wearing protective clothing. In the United States, people were dipping things in and out and smoking and eating lunch.
G: And they were getting this "disease that has no name." I read about that.
L: Right. The same thing that these Gulf War people got. It does have a name: "Chemically Induced Immune Dysregulation."
Let me show you what Immune Dysregulation in my opinion is. This is kinda my favorite thing. Let me just finish up with this. We'll start off here.
G: The blind men? I did my doctoral thesis on that.
L: Oh, good. Before the turn of the century there was a group of scientists and physicians who were injecting bugs into rabbits. And the injections exempted the animals from the cost of disease.
G: Oh, vaccination.
L: Yes. So they called themselves "immunologists," and about the same time there were people studying endocrinology, neurology, and psychiatry. After the turn of the century people began studying hay fever and they were allergists. These were all separate disciplines until the 1920s when neurology and psychiatry got together because they were the same discipline. And in 1967 allergy and immunology got together for the same reason.
In the late 70s and 80s, everybody go together. They're all studying biological response modification, and are all looking at the same system. And, this system really isn't an immune system: We were not endowed with it to protect ourselves with hazards from the environment: We were endowed with it to control growth and differentiation of virtually every organ from the mesodermal layer of the embryo. And so I as an Immunologist am looking at only one component, but this is "chemically induced disorders of biological response." And that is what this disease is. That it has no name is bullshit!
G: So lawsuits are the vehicle by which the adult Americans are beginning to realize that these things are affecting their beauty, health.
L: I have never seen a vehicle of social change that works as fast and effectively as the toxic tort arena. Never. And the toxic chemical lawsuits have done more for humanity than anything else. And the bigger the settlement, the better it is.
And let me tell you this: We are wearing safety belts, not because someone published in The New England Journal of Medicine, but because somebody kicked somebody's tail in a lawsuit. That's the only way to get people to turn around, you have to hit 'em where they live, you have to cost them money. So these lawsuits are wonderful things, and the more money that is generated from them, the better it is for humanity.
G: It costs the industry money, or whoever is being sued, but on the other hand, what you said before, it sounds like the benefit is that it makes people aware.
L: Right. Right. It makes them aware of what is going on. These lawsuits are incredibly beneficial. And if you had tort reform you would really cause a lot of problems because then there would be very little way you could get at people who are doing very nasty things.
G: Is that why there has been a movement underway to control the amount of money people can get in lawsuits?
L: Yes, oh, yes.
G: It isn't just to protect the insurance companies.
L: No. Not at all. Basically, it's to allow people to maintain the status quo.
G: Do you want to say anything about the way you treat people whose immune systems are damaged?
Time ran out here. I was handed a published article to answer this question (Alan S. Levin, MD, and Vera S. Byers, MD, PhD, "Multiple Chemical Sensitivities: A Practicing Clinician's Point of View, Clinical and Immunologic Research Findings," in Toxicology & Industrial Health, 8, No. 4, 1992, pp. 95-109). It has subsequently been summarized in Blazing Tattles.
For collectors' item, complete transcript of Levin interview, which includes laughter, expletives, and typos, send US$5.00. Where? Blazing Tattles, P.O. Box 1073, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.
The World Wide Web presense of Blazing Tattles is brought to you by the Immune Mailing List Homepage. All editorial comments should be directed to Claire Gilbert, firstname.lastname@example.org.Cyndi Norman / email@example.com / Last Modified: 8/10/97