Robert Dowling

So you’ve just discovered a cure for cancer. It works 100% of the time without any exceptions. Do you announce it to the world from your research clinic? Do you labor over publishing exhaustive studies proving the efficacy? Do you trade it to a drug company in exchange for a small island nation of your choosing? Or do you take it on the road in an RV, driving around the country and recruiting people to join your health club, never staying in one location for too long?

Three of these things are what doctors or researchers or lucky geniuses would do. One of them is what a confidence artist would do. And on April 20th, Robert Dowling brought his “cancercured.com” RV to Jackson, Mississippi.

Robert Dowling is not a doctor. He graduated from Texas Christian University and the infamous correspondence school, The Clayton College of Natural Health, which proclaims him a “naturopathic doctor.”

Of course, if you’ve been following the blog, you know he claims to cure cancer. So when he came to Jackson to state his claims, well – the Jackson Skeptical Society was there.

Dowling gave a two hour presentation, replete with cries of “amen!” and promises of a bloody revolution. There was bullshit piled on top of bullshit and the mountain of excrement grew to a pile unable to be contained. Contradictions were plenty. One moment Dowling was fishing for investors, because his system was “a good investment.” The next, he was delivering stinging invective, saying that drug companies didn’t want to use his system, because it didn’t make money. He claimed he wasn’t there to insult anyone, then launched an attack on Steven Barrett’s Quackwatch before insulting cancer patients for taking chemotherapy, even using goofy voices to impersonate their cries for help as they died.

The standard True Believer tactics were in play. Dowling attacked “traditional” medicine constantly. Not there to insult anyone, he claimed that most drugs came from Nazi experiments, that mammography was the “worst technology ever,” and that any woman who got one would “die an early, horrible death.”

Of course, what a woman SHOULD do, according to Dowling, was to get his thermal scans. In the back of his RV. For a huge fee. So he could tell you that you had “oral pathology.”

According to Dowling, oral pathology is the magic cause of all disease. He said it caused cancer, heart disease, and alzheimers. And when people asked what else might be caused by the bacteria in your mouth, well, Dowling was pretty sure that those pesky bacteria were the culprits. Lupus. Fibromyalgia. Parkinsons. Diabetes. Never mind that his brother is dying of Parkinsons and doesn’t trust Dowling to give him a treatment. Never mind that Dowling himself has diabetes. Never mind that these diseases have completely different causes, mechanisms, and treatments. If your doctor offers you blood pressure medication for your cancer and chemotherapy for your parkinsons – RUN.

When someone says something works every time, you should be skeptical, unless it’s Billy D. Williams with a Colt 45. And when the oral pathology that’s killing you is caused by cavitation in old dental work, well, sound the alarms.

Dowling claimed that neurotoxins from oral bacteria travel through the body, causing diseases. He has a simplistic manner through which he knows this: if his thermal cameras find this “oral pathology” in the right side of your head, then the cancer is on the right side of your body. If it’s on the left side, the cancer is in your left side. These pesky bacteria are literally killing you in a very symmetrical manner.

Of course this is nonsense. Dowling would not identify the bacteria, claiming only that they were the same ones in your mouth as always (giving you a mouth full of neurotoxin, all the time). Even if such a mechanism were real, then the blood leaving your “cavitation” with the lethal payload would travel throughout the body – or at least concentrate the cancers near the source of the infection.

After the steaming piles of pseudoscience flew right and left, the skeptics in attendance asked our questions: what bacteria cause this? Why would doctors cover up a cure for cancer? What studies have you done? Where were they published? How long have you followed your patients? Are you a doctor? We asked far more questions than the rest of the audience combined, even though they outnumbered us six or seven times. I doubt that Randi, Dennis, Brad, Don and I were the only ones skeptical of his claims – but we were the only ones voicing that skepticism.

Dowling did not have our answers. After claiming to have published studies, after claiming a 100% cure rate, after calling himself a doctor, he said that he had the proof. And when we asked for it, we got dodgy answers, evasions, and even the confession that he was not in fact a doctor. Of course, he was only a few semesters away from a medical degree in the Caribbean.

This is not surprising. What is surprising is the cultish, exploitative manner in which Dowling operates. In order to get the cure for cancer, you have to jump through a lot of expensive hoops.

First, you have to fill out a questionnaire on his website. The website is an interesting showcase of the red flags of quackery. First off, it looks exactly like his other website. Also, it claims to be an educational institution, but has a “.com” domain. Then there is one of my all time favorite quack techniques, claiming that they have “peer reviewed studies” by publishing and reviewing the studies themselves.

Now, you’ll have to buy and read his book, only $30.00. Then you’ll pay $35.00, a dues fee which you’ll pay every year. Then, you’ll need a gallon of “enzyme booster” at $100.00 a gallon. Then you’ll pay an undisclosed amount for a “thermal scan.” Then some more for some tests. Then you’ll be told if you need a real cancer scan – and you probably will, since “risk factors” include pulled teeth, root canals, braces, “trauma to the mouth,” and crowns.

Dowling gave out a pamphlet on what to expect when you sign up for his “Quantum Health Management.” He said that he couldn’t say where his treatments were performed, or what they consisted of, or anything else about the studies, unless I joined Quantum Health Management. So I took the stack of papers. But I don’t have them anymore.

And that is where the story gets good. We showed up at this “seminar” only to call the quack into question, to politely show people that something was up by simply asking a few questions. I think we had a bit of success there. Obviously the crowd did not turn on Dowling, and we got our fair share of nasty spoiler looks. But we were not hostile, and came across as seeming curious and, of course, skeptical. We showed the crowd that Dowling was at least suspicious, and certainly didn’t have any answers.

That was a victory. The other, more appealing victory is that the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure issued Dowling a cease and desist order the next day. A few phone calls got me on the speakerphone with several of their investigators. That afternoon, the investigators interviewed me in the George Street Grocery, where I described the events of Monday night. When I asked where I should start, the director of the investigations bureau got to say “from the beginning,” probably just for my amusement.

The next day Brad got on the phone to tell the Chief Investigator Dowling’s location – a local pentecostal church. The cease and desist order had been issued Tuesday afternoon, the investigators had taken my handouts, used them as evidence of Dowling’s wrongdoing, and tracked him down before five o’clock. Score one for the JSS.

Wednesday, Brad contacted the church and told them what Dowling was doing. They asked Dowling to leave. We repeatedly tried to track him down or schedule appointments so that we could find him, but his handlers were cagey, cautious, and unwilling to reveal any information. His “publicist” wouldn’t publicize his location. So we didn’t find him operating in violation of the order, but – maybe he left town early. He was only staying four days, anyway – long enough only to take money and leave people with false hope and bad psuedoscience.

We’re going to warn the Southern Skeptical Society about this guy, and if any of my readers out there hear anything about Dowling, please let us know. If he comes to your town, he can cause real harm. The dental techniques he espouses are dangerous, he warns women NOT to get mammograms, and he could easily poison a relationship between a fence-sitter and scientific medicine. At the very least he will take your money and offer you nothing more than a gallon of “enzyme booster” in return.

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24 responses to “Robert Dowling

  1. Found this on skepchick, and you guys are awesome. Great job on this, absolutely great.

    Also, do you think we can Billy D. Williams to come to Dragon Con so Randi can administer the Million Dollar Challenge to see if Colt 45 does indeed work every time?

  2. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Extensive, and painful, testing by dedicated members of the JSS has shown the Colt 45 promise to hold up every time, but I don’t think it qualifies as “supernatural.”

    Thanks for the support, Heidi. We do what we can.

  3. Really superb work. Thank you so much for being polite and patient. A shining example of what active skepticism should be when face to face. Aggression and jibes work well for a captive audience, but for the public or even those favouring the quackery, only a well-mannered response is appropriate. You guys are great.

  4. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Well, that’s what skepticism has done for me, personally. Sometimes if you let someone talk long enough, they talk nonsense.

    Sometimes they realize it’s nonsense. Sometimes you realize it first. But unless they know that they can talk to you for a long time without you getting in their face, you’ll never make it to that point.

    Of course, sometimes a guy just asks for it right off the bat. They usually enjoy being all crazy. So…

    Thrilled by the response. It’s been about 2 hours and I’ve gotten triple my normal daily viewings.

  5. jacksonskepticalsociety

    You know, when I wrote this, I didn’t know how sleazy this sounded:

    Of course, what a woman SHOULD do, according to Dowling, was to get his thermal scans. In the back of his RV. For a huge fee. So he could tell you that you had “oral pathology.”

    But now, re-reading it, I have to say it sounds dirty.

  6. “When someone says something works every time, you should be skeptical, unless it’s Billy D. Williams with a Colt 45.”

    That quote is about as good as the rest, and the rest is pretty damn good.

  7. Daniel J. Andrews

    Bravo folks!! Nicely done! It is also encouraging to see the regulatory body moving so fast too. Applause for them!

  8. Great reporting, JSS. What fun that was!

  9. Hello-
    My Uncle in law just sent us this crazy book “Cancer cured…the coming storm- Am I Dead…or do I just feel like it” and I skimmed it…WOW! He sent it b/c my 14 yr. old son was recently diagnosed with cancer and he just finished proton radiation treatments but I can smell a scam when I see one! Unfortunately my uncle has muscular dystrophy and he buys into all this. I decided to look on the web to see what I could find out and I ran across your sight- Sounds like this guy is a snake oil salesman from the dark ages- The only good thing in his book tells people that they need to eat better. That’s a no brainer! I am going to send him your website. Maybe he will be enlightened.

  10. I also must add that I am a born again Christian but that doesn’t mean that everything someone who is a Christian is says is true just because they are a believer. We live in a fallen world and we are easily swayed, believers or not. I believe that through modern medicine and Jesus Christ along with the fervent prayers of believers my son has been healed. I am wary of people who try to make $ off of others just because of who they claim to be. There are many snakes who pass themselves off as being “Godly” people…Even Satan believes in God and can quote the Bible.

  11. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Well, beliefs aside, you should certainly not believe a word of what Dowling says. His whole schtick, from “cavitations” to his “treatments” are a scam.

    Hearing that someone ran across this when checking Dowling out does my heart good. I’m glad you didn’t buy into what he’s selling, having a child with cancer cannot be easy, and when someone like Dowling presents you with such an easy way out, it takes real courage to see it for baloney and turn them down.

    Just out of curiosity, did Dowling come to your town, or did your uncle just give you the book? We’re still “after” him and would love to know where he is now.

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  13. He was in Ecuador last week with my dad. Yes, unfortunatley my parents are psuedo-science suckers & I can’t seem to do anything about it.

  14. I know Dr Dowling personally – and some of the people he HAS cured. Even if he is wrong in saying cancer is caused by mouth pathology – still the question remains why do so many people have jaw-bone infections?

    I asked my personally dentist if mouth – infections are common. Answer: yes. Can a person have jaw-bone infection and not know it?
    “Yes”.

    Ask your own dentists those same questions.

    I had a bed-sore like lesion on my right shoulder in 2007 and I thought I had skin cancer. An upper-right molar erupted in Dec of that year and I had to have it removed. I knew I had a hidden infection there because of Dowling’s infrared imaging. After the tooth was removed and the infection cleared out, the lesion disappeared.

    Now you might say that I cannot rule such cause-and-effect in and I’ll say you can rule it out.
    Dr. Dowling is an honest man – and many of you are skeptical like Pope Urban VIII was skeptical of Galileo and it’s implications and had him under-house arrest.

    What Galileo found was truth!

    Fact is one cannot convince a hostile mind of anything!

    It is healthy to be skeptical but total cynicism blinds one to the truth when it comes along.

    For you doubters I suggest you contact Fred Huges – the biographer (“Am I Dead or Do I just feels that Way”) and who benefited from Dowling’s discoveries and work.

    • Way to go with your courage to stand up to those who have fallen for the Medical Establishment. I worked for doctors for 15 years and saw they were bought off by Big Pharma. This led me to looking at the simple folk who just want to find simple solutions for our ills. I have treated my children all holistically and without Big Pharma pushing me to vaccinate them, for example, I have seen dogs live 17 plus years because the owners didn’t vaccinate them. I had 5 root canals over 10 years ago and now am 57… tho I try to eat 80% alkaline foods, I know I have the “cavitations,” even from wisdom teeth pulled in my 20s…today am suffering from arthritis in small joints and occasional chest pains…having no genetic propensity in my family to such.

      January of 2011, One root canal was pulled and chest pain disappeared 30 minutes later in the dentist chair. The neurotoxins from the other 4 teeth (dead) eventually pull down the Immune system.

      I read “Am I Dead…” a book well written. Years ago Dr. Thompson invented “Thomsonian Medicine” and was proclaimed a Quack. Quacks will always exist for those refusing to open their minds and hearts to truth.

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  16. All these comments are applauding the skepticism without reviewing the information that Dowling presents as to the scientific basis for his claim that dental bacteria inhibit the body’s response to the presence of cancer.
    Shame on all of you!
    You can see the science behind it all at http://northcarolinainstituteoftechnology.com/gpage5.html and I urge you to read it all despite the fact that much of it will be over your heads.
    When skeptics are skeptical just because they are biased against alternative medicine then that is not true skepticism. The true version is skeptical but open to learning the whys and hows of peoples claims before claiming they are frauds. Shame on Living Better Skeptically for misrepresenting skepticism.

  17. jacksonskepticalsociety

    That would be so true if it were, you know, true. I didn’t go into the nitty-gritty details of why, exactly, it’s bunk – the complete lack of plausibility would be a hint, the cavitations and lack of presented evidence would be the clincher.

    But if you want to see a real live cancer doctor tear Dowling apart…

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/05/a_cancer_quackery_i_had_never_heard_of_b.php

  18. Darlene Swayze

    I can only say good things about Dr. Dowling. I was diagnosed with cancer tumers in both breasts. I contacted NCIT and read Fred Hughes book. Dr. Dowling is a scientist, not a medical Doctor, however he put me in contact with a real medical doctor, a real hospital where I had a cryo ablation as an outpatient, which destroyed the tumors. A year later I am still cancer free, having had no surgery, no chemo or radiation, no pain. Dr. Dowling is not the only one recommending thermo grams in stead of mamograms, which are safer and more accurate. Have you never heard of those patients with cancer who took the cut, burn and poison treatment, spent a fortune and still died. Thomas Edison would have been many more years discovering the light bulb had there been a quack list in his day. I might add that I have also had my dentist remove the mercury and root canal teeth. Do a computer search on root canals and cancer. Dr. Dowling is not the first to come up with this discovery.

  19. Dr. Dowling is a wonderful man, who’s number one goal is to eradicate cancer. He charges a minimal amount of money to treat people, especially when compared with the average annual cost of using standard protocols, which include surgery, chemo and radiation. ($250,000) Do some research about the AMA and the huge pharmaceutical companies. Cancer is big business. Without it many hospitals would be bankrupt. (Guess I’m a skeptic, too, in that regard!)
    I know Dr. Dowling and many of the people he has cured. He is a blessing, and I really hate to see him get attacked. He can take it, but there are people who will be scared off, and that is a shame.
    If you have been diagnosed with cancer I encourage you to do your own research. Read the books that were mentioned above, in addition to “Knockout” by Suzanne Somers. You won’t regret it.
    By the way, I know all of this first-hand. I watched my youngest sister die of cancer and knew that I couldn’t go the slash/burn/ poison route. Thank God for Dr. Dowling!!! He saved my life.

  20. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Joanna;

    So hospitals refuse to use Dowling’s methods because they work, and there’s no way a hospital would just jack up the price? It’s an odd bit of logic. I’m not suggesting that you’re wrong in being a bit skeptical of the role of money in health care, but you should extend a little critical thinking towards Dowling.

    While I would recommend research for anyone with any disease (or without) it’s vital to do some real thinking here; Suzanne Somers’ book is dangerously misleading, the hormone therapies she recommends are known to actually cause cancer – and it’s not even “alternative” medicine – it’s medicine that was tried, and rejected for being dangerous and useless. Almost all of the therapies and regimens she suggests in her book are discredited not because of some conspiracy (after all, you can charge a lot of money for even the idea of a cancer cure) but because they do not work.

    I would love to hear your story about what happened with you and Dowling – the diagnosis and technique as well. I am quite interested in what he does, and real information would be worth a read.

  21. I was also a “member” of Mr. Dowling. I still have my cancer….after spending thousands of dollars! He has helped some but in the process damaged many many more. He opened a “clinic” in Ecuador but as of today is at his home in Hot Springs NC…

  22. Sorry for the long wait for a reply. I haven’t checked back and did so on a whim today.
    I was diagnosed with a malignant breast tumor in June, 2010. I went to an oncologist and was presented with the available options. I had watched my younger sister die of breast cancer in 1995. She spent 14 months, from the time she was diagnosed, until her death, undergoing surgery, chemo, radiation and, finally as a last resort, a bone marrow transplant. I really didn’t want to go that route. I realize that some people are cured by the standard treatments, but quite often the cancer returns, in a more virulent form, in another part of the body.
    A friend of a friend gave me the book by Fred Hughes and I read it right away. Of course I felt very hopeful about it and spoke with Dr. Dowling. I called and spoke with a woman who had been in Ecuador for treatments and had returned cancer-free, and she encouraged me to go. A week later my husband and I flew down to Ecuador and I began treatments for almost a month. I had the thermal scan done first and both the tumor and the oral pathology showed up very clearly. The oral pathology was from a wisdom tooth that had been pulled many years prior. (That is not the cause of the cancer, but does suppress the immune system and keeps it from doing it’s job as efficiently. There are many people with oral pathology who never develop cancer, perhaps because they have stronger immune systems to begin with.)

    I had the cavitation taken care of while I was in Ecuador and it was a nasty infection that I had not even been aware of. This type of infection is anaerobic and caused by neurotoxins, so doesn’t show up the way a regular infection would. The surgery to remove the toxins and to scrape the jaw-bone was videotaped by the dental surgeon and I was awake and aware during the procedure. My husband was also in the same room while it was taking place. I felt a difference almost immediately, as if a drain on my energy, that I hadn’t even been aware of, was gone.
    While I was having the oral pathology taken care of I was also undergoing other treatments. The centerpiece was a series of ablations, which consisted of putting a very thin needle into the tumor and heating it with radio frequency waves. I watched the procedure on a screen and could see the tumor being destroyed. This is becoming a more mainstream treatment now, and is also being performed at places like the Mayo Clinic.
    There are other treatments I underwent, including drinking the enzymes, and I returned home cancer free. I will be taking another test in a few weeks to see how things are looking now. I think I am probably healthier than I’ve been in a long time.
    One of the reasons I feel so thankful to Dr. Dowling is that I saw him in action for three weeks and never saw him turn anyone away for financial reasons. He is by no means wealthy, and lives very simply. I paid a minimal amount for what I received and have a lifetime guarantee. If the cancer returns, other than the transportation costs to get there, I’ll never have to pay another cent. That says a lot to me!
    I probably do have an over-abundance of skepticism regarding the AMA, the FDA, and the big pharma industry, but I have heard some really horrifying stories from people I know and trust. Most medical folks that I have interacted with are good people who are trying to do their best. I have no argument with them at all.
    As far as Suzann Somers goes, I have only read the one book and found the information very interesting. Not all of it resonated, but I think it is important to at least stay open to new ideas. Some of the research described in her book seems quite sound. I realize there are charlatans around and that some skepticism is probably called for, but there are also people who are finding cures for diseases and are being run out of the country.
    So, that’s the end of that, for now. Hope the info is helpful.

  23. My wife’s uncle is currently being scammed by Robert Dowling. He and his sister (my mother-in-law) tend to shy away from the inconvenient truth and lean more toward government-level conspiracy theories, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when they announced that conventional hospitals were trying to kill him to conceal some “secret information” he has concerning the “real” workings of our government.

    I have no medical training whatsoever, but even I could tell that Uncle had a serious problem with skin cancer. What began as a small red spot on the crown of his head several years ago had grown into a large, angry-looking, crusty, raised scab that was leaking fluid down the back of his head. Finally realizing that it wasn’t going to “clear up” by itself, he went to a dermatologist and eventually landed in a hospital with a 3” x 4” patch of scalp removed. He began having problems with infection, decided that the hospital was trying to kill him, and promptly checked himself out. The next thing we know, he and my mother-in-law are getting emergency medical passports (with forged paperwork, because Dowling isn’t a real doctor) and flying to Ecuador, where Dowling can practice his art without the pesky FDA getting in his way. The only good that came of this is that a nurse there found a stitch left in his head, and the infection cleared up. That was none of Robert Dowling’s doing though, and when my wife called the clinic after hours, the recording SPECIFICALLY stated that they are not affiliated with Dowling! Two months later, they return in a hurry because Dowling had been evicted from the rented house that he was using as his “cancer treatment center.” I couldn’t believe what I saw! Uncle looked terrible! Gaunt, pale, and he almost seems to have had a stroke! Apparently, a side effect of one of the “medications” he received is swelling of the brain. He is having to re-learn all his motor skills, wears a diaper, and cannot even feed himself. I haven’t seen the crater since they returned, but his room smells like rotting meat and I’m afraid of what’s beneath those bandages. They have been back for about 2 weeks now, and Dowling stayed a bit longer to wrap things up, I guess. He’s back now, and HE’S BRINGING HIS RV HERE TODAY to continue treatments for an unspecified length of time. I live beside my in-laws on the family land in the middle of nowhere, I think he might be trying to hide here or something. We’re about 4-5 hours from his home town of Hot Springs, an hour south of Raleigh, NC. I have a feeling that things are going to get interesting here…

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