Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Traveling Medicine Shows in the 21st Century

Many of us have seen movies, read books or are aware of other references to what years ago was referred to as the traveling medicine show.

In the late 1800’s in the US, people hawking magical elixirs and powders would do so using a fast-paced, pressure-filled sales pitch that was accompanied by performing artists.

This blend of entertainment and product promotion was used to sell medicines that did very little of any use (and some were actually harmful).  This presentation style later became the original models for early Madison Avenue advertising agencies once radio and later on, television, arrived.

Years ago, people were often delighted when such traveling shows infrequently came to town.

The Shows Are Still Here

In the 21st century, such shows still exist.  The only difference is that now they are on-demand, appearing within your own home whenever you feel like watching them.

We have all seen advertising that is slightly over the top.  Things like mini food choppers that make you excited to eat again, rags that can soak up small lakes and other things are humorous to watch, sometimes functional and not expensive to buy.  If you are not happy with them, it hasn’t set you back too much.

However, there is a more insidious form of medicine show out there.  I’m referring to the people promoting products or concepts that allegedly contain miraculous powers and if you get on their band wagon, you will get to participate in a miracle-in-the-making. 

We have all seen these in various forms.  For example, there are people promoting chocolate that people claim cures cancer, diabetes and anything else that ails you.

There are people who promote mystical thought processes that, once you are exposed to the secret (no pun intended), will take you to a new level of existence in the universe.  These thought processes, interestingly enough, can also cure cancer, depression and anxiety but can also magically attract money, beautiful women, high-speed cars and whatever else you can conceive.

So Why Do People Buy This Stuff?

All of these products have customer testimonials describing how all of these outrageous claims are true.  When people see these testimonials, they assume “well, the claims must be true – a person named TJ in Arizona can vouch for it”.

What I find intriguing about all of this is that people buy this stuff without questioning it. 

And if you question it, people look at you in shock.  Why would you question it – who would ever make up such a bogus testimonial and who would ever sell a product that doesn’t do what it claims?

Well, just as the snake oil salesman would sell you an elixir with highly toxic mercury in it, people will sell you anything today.

The only thing that such people need are people who will buy anything.

Interestingly enough, if you take the “magic chocolate” and a high-end chocolate bar from your local supermarket, shave them down, put them in unmarked envelopes and send them to a lab for analysis, the reports will indicate that the content in both envelopes is the same.  Someone I know in the food industry did just that for an experiment.

So what makes such a product bogus?  The “magic chocolate” costs 3, 4 or more times as much as the regular chocolate and when was the last time a regular chocolate bar manufacturer listed “cures cancer” on the package?

The Secret

By the same token, people are making a fortune selling things like “The Secret” and other similar things.  I have often asked people who promote this stuff “why do people make more money selling The Secret than living it” and they just look at me blankly or respond with some wild-eyed response that makes me wonder if Jim Jones is sitting across the table from me.

There is also a danger in things like “The Secret” and other similar offerings.  For the kazillions of people who try these and discover they don’t work for them, they are additionally humiliated when they realize how much they paid some expert to help them and they feel like a failure when the concept that “is so simple that any idiot could do it” is actually beyond their ability to master. 

For some, their world collapses around them as they sit and think “positive thoughts”.

Some of these self-proclaimed experts also come up with some pretty unusual concepts as a result of their thinking process.

Take this video by Jeremy Bennett, (note on April 24/ 2010: Mr. Bennett has removed the video) for example, where he claims that by loving your anxiety, you can cure it.  In the video, he claims anxiety actually loves hate and because we allegedly hate anxiety, we fuel it with our hate and so simply by loving anxiety, it will fade away.

Ahhhhhh …..  if it were only that easy.

I have no issue with people promoting unusual thoughts out there – it is a free world where the exchange of knowledge must be allowed to flow freely.

However, when I watched this video by Mr. Bennett today, I challenged him by posting some comments under the video; comments along the lines of how some of his facts are incorrect and some of them are not based on any research or accepted theories.  I also expressed my thought that this video wasn’t very authentic for a number of reasons.

His response was to delete my messages and then to block me from writing any more comments.

Anything Real Can and Should be Defended

I believe that when someone has an interesting theory or idea to share, it should stand up to close scrutiny and questioning.  After all, if the promoter truly believes their material to be true, won’t they be happy to defend their ideas?

When people are afraid to answer questions and they don’t want others to see the questions either, then I question whether they have anything real at all.

Maybe …. just maybe ….. they are just selling another elixir.

When I was a kid, we used to be amazed at the stuff we could buy for 25 cents from a comic book: things like genuine x-ray glasses, wrist bracelets that gave you the strength to “karate-chop” a thick piece of wood and books that promised insight into the ancient wisdom of the universe.

While today’s technology is far more advanced, when it comes to being gullible, sometimes I wonder how much we have progressed.

In service and servanthood.


PS On his website, Mr. Bennett claims to have trained members of the White House.  Perhaps his theories on curing anxiety are part of the new Health Care bill.  I hope not.

April 21/2010 – I noticed that since my blog was published, Mr. Bennett has renamed his video to “Jeremy Bennett's 1st Two Steps To What Helped Him Manage His Anxiety” from the originally named “Unorthodox Cure For Anxiety”.

April 22/2010 - I noticed that Mr. Bennett just added a blue banner to his video citing "ALWAYS seek professional help as soon as possible. There are trained professionals that could change your life."

This is a good banner - I am glad that my blog and the comments and urgings of others are bringing a level of authenticity to his presentation. It's content is still questionable in my opinion but at least people are reminded to seek professional help and this is important.

April 23/2010 – Mr. Bennett has removed references from his bio regarding being an advisor to the White House and working with the stars of the movie “What The Bleep”. 

April 24/2010 – Mr. Bennett removed the video (the link I have now shows a “Video has been removed by the user” message.  I guess the video did not stand up to public scrutiny.

For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Traveling Medicine Shows in the 21st Century”, please click here.


  1. This is an interesting post and a side of the argument that we don't see often, somebody standing up against the wave of new age thinking out there.

    I watched the video in this blog and as someone who has suffered from anxiety for many years and faced suicide more than once the guy in the video doesn't know what he is talking about.

    Last night, I shared this with my therapist. I thought she was going to find it funny.

    She didnt. It made her very angry and she wnet off to see what this guys credentials are and if there is some way to get things like this removed from youtube.

    Too bad yur comments weren't still there. I would have liked to have seen them.

    The internet gives everyone a voice. This is not always a good thing.

    Thanks for your ppost.

  2. I have a response from Jeremy Bennett that I will post in two pieces as it appears it is too long for one post (it keeps generating an error).

    His post and my response to follow.

  3. or maybe ... multiple pieces. :-)

  4. Jeremy Bennett sent me an email asking me to post the following thoughts. I indicated to him that I was hesitant to post such thoughts on his behalf because I was concerned about how some of his comments would reflect on himself.

    After explaining this several times, Mr. Bennett was pretty insistent that these comments be posted.

    I therefore include his complete email below. I insert some comments between {-- --} rather than create a really complex follow-on post. I have tried to keep my comments to a minimum to adequately address his comments.

    The email follows.


  5. Here is the comment I was trying to post yesterday but your program for some reason wouldn’t let me know it. Can you post it yourself?
    {-- It's not "my program" (it's owned by Google). Your post has been shared via this posting. --}

    Hey Harry,
    I appreciate your comments but would love to take this opportunity to get down to what “actually” happened as what you wrote in this blog is very inaccurate.

    First of all it truly seems as though you watched my video along with a few others (by other people) and confused the videos OR in your mind combined them into ‘one video’ as (for the most part) your claims definitely do not add up.

    YOU say that I said:
    “so simply by loving anxiety, it will fade away”.

    {-- While there are a few places where you talk about making the anxiety go away, to quote one example, at 6:34 in the video, you claim (where it refers to anxiety) "The second you cherish it and give thanks to it, the brain changes, you're not feeding it the fuel it needs to survive" which implies by loving it, it goes away as it doesn't have what it needs to survive --}

    Anyone who watches the video will see VERY CLEARLY this was never said. What I say in the video (and please have a look at it again just to make sure I am not making this up) is that in “my” opinion the two steps that I proceed to talk about are the first two steps in REALIZING that you can overcome anxiety and ultimately curing it. I also say that implementing these two steps can help us BEGIN to overcome what most people think we can’t.

    {-- The original video title when I wrote the blog was "The Unorthodox Cure to Anxiety". I have a screen image of the original title as well as your Facebook page that shows the same title. I am happy to share it if people would like to see it. You also open your video with "I tell you one thing, you go to a doctor, you go to a psychologist, you go to a psychiatrist, they will not tell you this". With this opening line, you are suggesting one of two things:

    1. You have knowledge that other professionals don't have OR

    2. The professionals have knowledge that is being deliberately withheld from patients, suggesting a conspiracy on the part of the professionals.

    Either of these is potentially harmful to people seeking help and landing on this video and seeing this as the opening comment. --}

  6. I also go on to say that, “some people need to be on medication if they are in that state, it just didn’t work for me”.

    The two steps I talk about in the video:

    Step # 1
    Realizing that anxiety is in our life for a reason. In order for anything to exist there has to be a cause. Anxiety cannot “magically” appear. I believe most anxiety sufferers and Psychologists would agree to that (although not all explain this to their patients – me being one of them).

    {-- Anxiety can appear for many reasons, including trauma-based, disease-based, chemical-based, etc. Again you say in your comment here that psychologists agree to this but don't necessarily explain this to their patients. Why would you make such a generalization or again suggest a conspiracy to withhold information? Your experiences as a patient does not constitute the basis for a study on what psychologists tell their patients. By the way, your discussion on cause and affect incorrectly notes this as Einstein's thoughts when Newton is generally credited with being the 'cause and effect guy'.

    By the way, you say that anxiety cannot magically appear which is not necessarily correct. You have confused the definitions of anxiety and fear. Here is one definition of the two of them: "Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat." So based on this, anxiety can exist without an "obvious" cause --}

    Step # 2
    Realizing that anxiety is in our life to send us a warning sign that something is off balance. Understanding this (once again I say in “my” opinion) is very helpful in dealing with the anxiety. I go on further to explain that feeling gratitude towards the condition will help us manage and deal with the condition.
    I end the video by saying that using these two steps “we CAN BEGIN to overcome what most people think we can’t”.

    {-- As someone who suffered from anxiety for MANY years, for me it wasn't a warning sign that something was wrong. It was an overpowering feeling that there were many things out there that could hurt me or cause me to fail in some way. When I would be in one of my anxious moods (with no obvious source for the feelings), it was easy to feel so overcome by these feelings that it was impossible for me to stop and say "Hey - I think I will feel grateful for this feeling of dread and powerlessness that is preventing me from functioning". It is easy to make such a claim as an outside observer but many people who are gripped by strong anxiety may find it difficult to say "I feel grateful now" while in the middle of an attack. If it were this easy, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and certain drug companies would all be out of business - we wouldn't need any of them. --}

  7. Why you were blocked from commenting…
    First of all you are not blocked now. As I mentioned to you earlier “feel free to write whatever you want as long as it does not hinder the chances of someone dealing with or curing a condition they are suffering from”. Obviously what you wrote WOULD affect their decision to try something different. You commented under another video of mine a few weeks back. I didn’t agree with your comment but obviously kept it there…as I do with ALL other comments.

    {-- So if someone points out that your guidance is potentially harmful to others and may cause them to not choose other acceptable plans of action, such as speak to a professional first, you delete the comment. This is not the sign of an enlightened individual. Our exchange of a couple of weeks ago was minor compared to this. The fact remains that people should make decisions based on all information at hand. When I pointed out that your work was not based on commonly accepted theories, you deleted my comment. Showing one side of a position may in fact cause them to miss an opportunity for more appropriate treatment / management. --}

    Under this video you wrote about 4 or 5 sentences and did NOT go into detail at all. You mentioned that my video was not based in “reality”. Once again, are you sure you didn’t confuse it with other videos?? As most people would agree that step #1 and #2 are completely accurate. I lived 10 years of my life with a severe case of OCD and Depression. These steps helped me deal with and overcome this condition. Did you ever suffer from OCD. I assume you did as I don’t think you would comment about what works and what doesn’t work in overcoming something that you didn’t overcome yourself??

    {-- I indicated in one of my comments that you deleted that there didn't seem to be much research to back this up on a generally accepted level in the industry. You even say in the video that the information you provide is something that doctors will not tell their patients, so how can you now say that this is generally an accepted treatment alternative? Your generalization above of "as most people would agree" requires some substantial industry knowledge and research before I accept it. You are not considered to be a leading researcher, practitioner, speaker or writer in this space and so your generalizations require facts to back them up.

    I have indeed experienced OCD for many years. My particular one was with locks. Every time I locked something, I would wonder if it was really locked, so I would unlock and lock it again, which made me wonder if touching it caused it to be unlocked again ... and the circle continued. Your suggested treatment would never have helped me overcome this (to feel grateful for it as a sign of something and to stop hating it). --}

  8. When you wrote the comment under my video that my video wasn’t based on reality I knew deep down that people would take your comment (even though inaccurate) to heart and probably not even give those two steps a try.
    Every year I receive thousands of emails from people who have read my articles, came to my talks, or implemented my steps which ultimately helped them deal with their struggle.

    {-- If you believe that a simple comment about your work not being embraced in the industry, not having a lot of research to back it up or as being some secret that doctors won't share would derail thousands of people from trying it, then perhaps you need to explore why something so revolutionary is so easily dismissed. Strong, authentic material withstands a comment of a couple of lines wondering where the research is on such suggestions.

    If thousands of people each year are being cured by you as you claim, then you are in the wrong industry. Save the world as you claim you can and with the responsibility that is on your shoulders as the keeper of the cure. --}

    So if those thousands of people would have read your comment back then (if it was present) and took YOUR advice to heart some of these people would not be living to talk about it right now as many were in suicidal states.

    {-- To suggest that by asking you for proof of the strength of your theory could cause thousands of people to lose heart and kill themselves is staggeringly ignorant, amazingly ego-filled on your part and suggests an effort to inject fear into this conversation. --}

    So your comment was removed as I couldn’t allow myself to allow your comment to hinder their chance of recovery. These two steps worked for me and could work for someone else - As thousands would agree. Would you actually want to hinder the chances of someone dealing with an anxiety disorder? Once again these steps worked for me as well as many others.

    {-- My desire is for people to understand both sides of a story. Would you actually want to promote an alleged solution that does not stand up to scrutiny? Would you want to suggest to people who are suffering that professinals are withholding knowledge from them and therefore they should stick with you? This is a staggering demonstration of personal ego. Again, if you have the solution, then go save the world with it. --}

  9. I write many articles on different supernatural topics and religion. People question my beliefs all the time. Actually if you go into my Facebook page you’ll see many, many people question “me” and I’ve never deleted any comment made by anyone. I always write tasteful articles and keep others opinions and feelings in mind.

    {-- This has nothing to do with supernatural topics or religion. Questioning those is irrelevant and has nothing to do with people who are suffering with crippling anxiety. To say that you value opinions in these area is irrelevant - you deleted my opinions in this subject area. --}

    But if I write something that I know worked for me (in helping cure my anxiety) and I know worked for thousands of other people and someone said, “this is nonsense” I would not allow that comment to be seen in fear that someone desperately looking for help would take that comment to heart and not even give it a try and potentially end their life down the road because they gave up all hope.

    {-- I didn't say this was nonsense. I said it was inauthentic and not based on approriate research. Produce the evidence that you have saved thousands and share this with the industry. The industry will gladly embrace anyone who has a solution that works.

    Again you talk about my comment asking for the research being the reason that someone might take their own life. I find this to be extremely ego-focused on your part. Strong medicine, therapy, etc. always withstands scrutiny - public scrutiny. --}

  10. Some other thoughts…
    You say, “some of these self-proclaimed experts also come up with some pretty UNUSAL concepts as a result of their thinking process”.
    I can recall when you called me up last year. What you told me about your life, your thoughts and your beliefs was over-the-top unusual, even disturbing to some degree (as you explained it). I can recall the conversation as if it was last night. Although you didn’t tell me what you told me in confidence I won’t repeat it without your permission. Just to refresh your memory it had a little to do with your experience with clinical hypnosis and some experiences with Aliens, UFO’s, etc.

    {-- I am quite happy to discuss this although I don't know why you wish to drag a personal item into this. Yes, when we first met, I discussed some thoughts I had on the alien and ufo phenomena. I expressed then, as I still believe, that it falls into one of three areas:

    1. Military programs

    2. Extraterrestrials - we are in fact, not alone. Whether any of them are here is for some expert to determine.

    3. The greatest human psychosis to ever envelop the planet.

    I had some things in my past that I was curious about and, not knowing which of the above three it could fall into, I did indeed see a hypnotherapist to explore this space.

    I transparently admit this and have no issue doing so. The result of the session with the therapist, which was witnessed by others, met my expectations and I have moved on.

    I have no idea what this has to do with this conversation. --}

    If you care to talk about that I would love to offer some feedback as this area is a passion of mine.

    {-- I do not know your credentials in this space and like I said, I have moved on in regards to this subject. --}

    P.S. You emailed me a while back and said, “are you interested in doing a you and I – Tag Team presentation at some point soon”?
    Wondering what possessed you to want to do a “tag team” presentation with someone who you think is so “unusual”? 

    {-- I believe you have some interesting talents and passions and thought you might have an interest in exploring my passion around authenticity. However, in recent months, I see more ego than authenticity in your approach. Your deletion of my comments and your above explanation bears this out. With this in mind, a tag team presentation is not possible as I cannot be associated with someone who is promoting an ego-focused solution to a problem that afflicts millions and who allows ego to determine who is allowed to comment on it (or not) --}

    Jeremy Bennett

    {-- Thank you for your comments. They are posted here in all transparency. I do not delete comments from people who disagree with me. --}

  11. My response to "Anonymous".

    Mr. Bennett reached to me asking if I would ask you to identify the name of the therapist.

    As Mr. Bennett noted in his email to me:

    "Would love to know the name of his/her therapist as I highly believe any therapist would agree with my words.

    If you could comment back to him/her and just ask for the Therapist’s name that would be great!

    So if you want to share this information for the purpose of sharing it with Mr. Bennett, please send me an email at info@harrytucker.com.

    Many thanks for your comment.

    Take care ande create a great day.


  12. He "Reached out to me", I meant to say. :-)

  13. Wow .. I didn't realize this was so long.

    Here it is here in once piece for ease of reading: www.harrytucker.com/extras/jeremybennett.txt

  14. I agreed to post this long response out of fairness.

    However, they sure can consume TOO much of one's time.

    Shame on me.

  15. An interesting note. Mr. Bennett indicated in his response that I could now post comments on his video and so I tried and received a nebulous "Error, try again" and my comment would not be posted. Oh well ... time to move on to matters more important. :-)

  16. I noticed that Mr. Bennett just added a blue banner to his video citing "ALWAYS seek professional help as soon as possible. There are trained professionals that could change your life."

    This is a good banner - I am glad that my blog is bringing a level of authenticity to his presentation. It's content is still questionable in my opinion but at least people are reminded to seek professional help.

  17. Harry,

    I have to say that I really enjoyed your thoughts on these inauthentic people. I went to see what Jeremy Bennett was about and I have to say I am personally digusted with the crap (in my opinion) he is trying to pass off to the public.
    My mother has suffered from depression, anxiety disorders and many other similar challenges simce she was 15 or 16. I grew up with her challenges and have had my own moments of anxiety. Having said this, I feel Mr. Bennetts strategy's to be very unfounded and unfeeling towards those with such issues. The fact that Anxiety is seen- at least to me- as a fear based emotion, and he used the word fear in his response to this blog, suggests to me that he has not conquered or overcome his anxiety, he has just transformed it into another variation of the same emotion.
    I would also like to know what his credentials are as he seems to be very young and his life experience seems to be lacking. Between the lack of life experience and lack of qualitative facts I believe this video and anything else Mr. Bennett says on this topic should be banned from the public as I believe it will do more harm than good.
    People who have anxiety and depression issues, in my personal experience which I will say is limited to personal experiences, tend to be willing to try anything to stopp feeling these things, but Mr. Bennett's solution will do more harm than good in my opinion.
    Thank you again Harry for standing up and giving people the ok to go against the tide of New Age crap that seems to be taking over common sense.


  18. Thanks, Rowan.

    I ordinarily don't make a big deal over such inauthenticity. There is so much in the world that you could wear yourself out doing so ... but this was and it's potential impact on people seeking medical help seemed important to me.

    Take care and create a great day.