Death By Homeopathy: How Peter Dingle and Francine Scrayen guided a gullible woman to her grave

In Western Australia new “tough” cannabis laws, I’m assured, send the “right message” regarding community health. Anyone caught with 10 grams or more now faces up to two years incarceration, a $2,000 fine or both. There is no evidence this approach reduces cannabis use. There is ample evidence health focused leniency has dramatically positive outcomes for individuals and the community.

In Western Australia – indeed all of Australia, one can push and peddle entirely ineffective and indirectly lethal concoctions for any ailment, based on any bizarre illogical reasoning that can roughly tolerate semantic approximation. There is no evidence this approach reduces any ailment beyond placebo effect. There is ample evidence that leniency afforded the charlatans who peddle such, has dramatically negative outcomes for individuals and the community.

Unlike cannabis, so-called alternative “medicine” can and does lead to multiple drug interactions and increasingly contributes to disability and death, by denying effective and timely access to medical care. The attack on modern medicine has found new breath in developed nations with our easy access to the internet. We’ve seen the rise of the anti-vaccination movement and their vicious hatred of conventional medicine. Despite the reality of course that without the vaccinations and medicine that helped create these healthy adults, there would likely be no widespread movement.

The opposition and conspiratorial fantasy that sustains much of their argument is a feature in all reflections of new age nincompoopery. Peddlers of alternative compounds, lifestyle, diagnostics and unproven high risk treatments are adept at pointing an accusatory finger at medicine. Waxing lyrical with outrageous testimonials of callous brutality, experimental guesswork, toxic torture and elitist insouciance, “science” and “medicine” are maligned by a plethora of charlatans. At the same time chiropractors, reflexologists, homeopaths, naturopaths, acupuncturists, wellness practitioners, spiritual guides and more relay stories of certain recovery of vital essence and cosmic connection. In this way the need for demonstrable, robust and peer reviewed evidence is not only diminished, but seen worthy of ridicule.

One of Australias best hands at this is “Dr”. Peter Dingle. Dingle makes a living selling expansive tomes of serious sounding balderdash that urgently inform readers of how our very environment – the envy of many developed nations not to mention the vast bulk of humanity – is killing us. His Is your home killing you? hysteria continues to be a feature in film, audio and text. His latest book My dog eats better than your kids is doing okay ahead of Why Busy People Die Young. Dingle advocates against sound medical advice. Lecturing and speaking as a health and wellness expert, he has no qualifications in either health nor in medicine.

Claiming he does the research to which medicine conforms, Dingle is really naught but a charismatic and motivational con artist able to get people to entrust their health to the scams of an “environmental toxicologist” (his area of training). A John Edward with an Amway smile for the worried well, he can read the mood of the market and beef up his fear mongering accordingly. Crafting opposition to existing health practices by inventing new threats made worse by “toxic” medicine or “chemicals” in treatment regimes, Dingle skims over the accountability to which genuine health professionals are held, sprinkling just enough sciency sounds to get his enraptured moonbeam worshippers to sign on the dotted line.

“Medicine has lost its way”, he wrote of the H1N1 vaccine. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy killed both his father and his wife Penelope he claims, despite COD being complication from metastatic cancers. He has sunk to initially supervising Judy Wilyman, a fierce anti-vaccine lobbyist in her pursuit of a PhD. Wilyman is an AVN devotee having done much to mislead Australians as to how pertussis vaccination works to combat various strains in a cunning ploy to drive parents away from vaccinating. Her attacks, under his mentoring, on HPV vaccination are a crude and bigoted fabrication, steeped in conspiracy and astounding ignorance.

But Dingle’s most gruesome offence was rather recent. His wife Penelope died from metastatic complications from rectal cancer, whereas she had “a good chance of survival” before he and homeopath Francine Scrayen convinced Penelope that homeopathy could cure her. Certainly, Penelope was a willing partner to this agreement. Dingle is an educated man with a PhD, and the dangers of adhering to so called alternatives – even with mainstream treatment – are well documented. Yet Peter Dingle’s greed for glory and the possibility of writing up the impossible in yet another book enabled him to allow Penelope to suffer the unimaginable. His escape clause during a coronial inquest was memory loss. He was found to be an unreliable witness.

His attitude is summarised in the quote below, written the day after part one of an account went to air. Almost dead after seven months of madness, Penelope eventually did abandon homeopathy and seek surgery and treatment. Her quality of life improved significantly for two years, until metastasis again reared, ultimately leading to her death. Penelope had written about her small chance of survival. Peter Dingle knew very well indeed that statistically her chances were small. Nonetheless, facts have never gotten in Doc Dingles way before. He argued on July 5th that Penelope died from “experimental chemotherapy”, and he wonders why her “actual death” wasn’t investigated;

Homeopathy is a primary feature of most anti-medical movements. Absolutely implausible it carries its own language, belief system, code of obedience and perceived transgression to “out-group” thinking. It is in all ways a cult. ABC’s Australian Story aired Desperate Remedies, which covers the full sad and sordid tale. It’s presented below with additional slides of the Coronial Inquest into the circumstances surrounding Penelope’s death, and a synopsis or three. It’s a story of stupidity, gullibility, cowardice, opportunism, narcissism and power. Penelope’s letters to the truly cruel and callous Francine Scrayen who lied to save herself can be accessed here.

We must, however, as fair minded individuals remember Peter Dingle did lose his wife and “best friend”. He did – until the last – strive to convince Penelope that she could cure herself with positive thinking. He himself laboured in preparation of his Dingle Deal nutritional miracles. Calling him a “callous bastard” is quite simply not befitting for a fair and critically minded observer. He is without doubt, also a first rate narcissist.

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13 Responses to Death By Homeopathy: How Peter Dingle and Francine Scrayen guided a gullible woman to her grave

  1. andy says:

    Although public response to “Desperate Remedies” has been largely condemning of Dr Dingle’s actions (Oz Story Facebook & Twitter), I do think the story went pretty easy on him. There was no questioning as to how it is that he “knew so much” about mainstream cancer treatment but apparently knew nothing, and still knows nothing, about a treatment under which his wife endured unimaginable suffering. When asked why he didn’t condemn alternative therapies, he told the coroner he didn’t want to disparage something that might work – yet he shows little restraint in condemning a whole host of conventional approaches, which clearly do work for an awful lot of people. The following exchange is from the Coroner’s report…

    “Why didn’t you make some sort of inquiries to find out it wasn’t full of toxic substances? – – – Because it hadn’t occurred to me to look for toxic substances in anything that was being prescribed to Pen by a practitioner.

    Why not? It’s not as though she’s a registered medical practitioner. She’s a homeopath about which you said you knew almost nothing? – – – Yes. She went and got them from a – we got those from a pharmacist, or from Francine during the time, so I have no reason to believe that there would be anything toxic in them.

    This from a man who doubted the advice of an oncologist and who regularly questions the toxicity of everything from sunscreen to shower water to chemotherapy.

    I just don’t get it.

    • Admin says:

      Yes, his testimony is seemingly fallacious. His new wife is a homeopath, so I fail to see how given his rusted on obsession with alternative approaches and quest to discredit conventional med’ he could “still” know nothing.

      Or his testimony that he eventually wailed about how stupid he had been… how blind. Then marries a homeopath. I don’t want to judge his new wife but I think it says a lot about his confidence in belief systems as treatment.

      I think he manifests true narcissism and the host of emotional incapacity that comes with it. Even today he continues to censor his blog and rather creepily writes about himself in the third person.

      I think at many levels he’s a self serving egotist, who lied to save his career.

  2. Paul says:

    Thank you for this excellent article.

    I watched Australian Story and the claims made by Doctor Dingle seemed to imply that the whole tragic episode was orchestrated by his wifes insistence on following the commands of her (despicable) homeopathic ‘practitioner’, Francine Scrayon, and that he took on, more or less, a type of ‘carers’ role.

    Also – I don’t know whether it was the way the program was edited but he seemed more concerned about the damage to his own image than the death of his wife in extraordinarily painful circumstances.

    This article does explain why the coroners report was quite negative towards him and shows that his role was a lot more instrumental in his wifes death than he appears to convey in his interviews.

    The Australian Story episodes were very good but I’m disappointed they did not do more to expose homeopathy as a proven sham treatment by high quality clinical trials.

    I read the letters of Penelope Dingle and I really feel very sorry for her. Yes she made poor judgments but I suspect most of those poor judgments were in trusting dishonest, cowardly and selfish people.

    We need to bring in laws to help stop this type of thing happening again. Or, at least if it does, people such as Francine Scrayon, will be prosecuted for a very serious crime.

    • Admin says:

      Thanks Paul.

      Yep, poor Penelope was a “Magic Realist” who mixed with other space cadets and thus was a sitting duck. She herself is a tragic example of science illiteracy, mumbo jumbo gone mad and unregulated – pushed by unconscionable people, funding submissions in many treatment agencies seeking to “keep up” with community trends and certainly health insurance underwriting useless fish slapping practices.

      I agree with your sentiments on prevention. Sadly there are many smaller tragedies occurring all the time: older people spending their life savings, mortgaging the house only to pass on and leave the family with massive debt, spooked parents not vaccinating yet using expensive snake oil or Asian herbs tainted with poisons/heavy metals, chiropractors making fake diagnoses and tricking people into “treatment contracts” and the new buzz of very expensive “new age diagnosis” bursting with sciency words but which preys on fears of our “toxic world”.

      These individuals are involved in a belief system and like fundamentalist anything always see themselves as under attack, or defending against an urgent malignancy.

      I’m pleased to see the AMA recently point out chiropractic promising to repair DNA, cure diseases and boost immunity beyond needing vaccination (as well as urging against vaccination) should relegate them to quackery central and remove any government rebates/Medicare/insurance provider number access.

      The TGA has reviewed it’s practice of allowing garbage to be sold void of a.) telling buyers it has no clinical values and b.) not being able to detect fake claims of evidence backing due to c.) registering products on a risk only basis. It may take a while to see changes – if much at all – and the paper tiger status of their complaint process and action to prevent scams may well remain:

      http://luckylosing.com/2011/07/26/transparency-review-of-the-tga/

  3. EoR says:

    Also – I don’t know whether it was the way the program was edited but he seemed more concerned about the damage to his own image than the death of his wife in extraordinarily painful circumstances.

    What a hurtful thing to say! Why, the man is valiantly reinventing himself at his blog, presenting lists of all those dupes he’s given talks to (including Balya Cancer Self Help and the Cancer Support Association — what’s the betting he told them to seek urgent medical advice from an oncologist?), as well as the schools he’s given “his hard hitting and honest information” to. I hope he was honest about how well alternative therapies work, and hard hitting about how they can kill. And what can only be described as a deranged rant about why he’s better qualified to give you health advice than doctors (from which your screenshot above comes). I bet he’s also better qualified to give you plumbing advice, by the same reasoning.

    • Admin says:

      Yes, that writing about himself in the 3rd person is creepy. I’ve had it pointed out to me he once wrote “no-one puts Peter Dingle in a corner”, but haven’t chased it up myself.

  4. Pingback: Judy, Judy, Judy…are you attempting to censor others’ right to free speech? | reasonablehank

  5. myrtle says:

    excellent article I agree totally and I cannot believe this guy is still getting speaking engagements.

  6. Envirobot says:

    I’m disappointed at the vitriol poured on “alternative” therapies in this article. May I remind you that things like homeopathy and naturopathy have been around for a lot longer than ‘scientific medicine’? Chiropractic too, in my experience, has something to offer, but i wouldn’t claim any of them as the sole answer, just as our current medical system isn’t. The AMA is a self-interested body, that’s always been clear.
    I knew Peter Dingle at uni, he was a lecturer of mine, and I was appalled by his lack if professionalism on occasion and, yes, his narcissism. He has a talent for engaging people though and does make a good teacher when he’s not spouting rubbish. He offered me an Honours project, but I didn’t want to work with him.

  7. Brielle7 says:

    Typical media… Just like the pharmaceutical companies that have BIG money invested in an evermore ailing society, you are not presenting all the facts either. You have put your own spin on this story. Do you understand that coronial inquests can take 3rd and 4th hand ‘information’ as fact without ever checking that it is a ‘Chinese whisper’? They did not even look into the last two years of Penelope’s life. They looked at a period of time TWO years before she died. Dr Dingle did take his wife to seven different conventional medical doctors and she did receive conventional medical treatment.
    Dr Dingle does, in fact, have qualifications in health – he wrote units and lectured on health for a university in Western Australian. He is a scientist, not a medical doctor, who has 25 years of research into health and the environment. Drug companies do not want any other views presented because IT DOESN’T PAY!! If we could have better health we would not need drugs. Then a massive industry would be out of work. … and that’s what pharmaceutical companies are – industries. Don’t get me wrong, many drugs are necessary and do work. My own daughter relies on supplements made by a pharmaceutical company in order to maintain her wellbeing, but not all drugs and supplements are like this.
    Dr Dingle just wants the realistic figures of drug research interpreted correctly. Many medical doctors do not understand the figures presented in research and therefore interpret them incorrectly. Is this not as diabolical for a patient as any other misinformation? The attitude of many medical doctors is “We’ll try you on this medication and just wait and see. If that doesn’t work we have others drugs we can try.” If they knew the drugs work why do they need to “wait and see if it works”.
    It’s really sad that you have gone out on a witch hunt just because of your own personal bias against someone who is trying to offer the human population the chance of living longer than the previous generation through eating healthy food, living a lifestyle where stress is managed and we are looking after the environment. Oh… hang on… isn’t that what the governements and health organisations all around the world have been trying to tell us to do for years now? Seems poor old Dr Dingle is just jumping on the bandwagon.
    I guess you also still believe the medical myth that we are living longer than our parent’s generation… Sorry…not true for this generation onwards. Hence the burden on our hospital and health systems. Seems we are determined to kill ourselves off. We will be just like the dinosaurs. Extinct…

  8. skyfacer9 says:

    Envorobot said “I’m disappointed at the vitriol poured on “alternative” therapies in this article. May I remind you that things like homeopathy and naturopathy have been around for a lot longer than ‘scientific medicine’?
    Yeah , so has witchcraft and Voodooism.

  9. Pingback: Anti-vaccine chiropractors 10 | reasonablehank

  10. Pingback: Anti-vaccine chiropractors 18 | reasonablehank

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