Quack attack: Mark H. Chandler
Michael T. Ricks, Sr. of Gemini Body Works (prior to his 2004 arrest) put up a site attacking me for stating that he is promoting a questionable hair removal device called the Super-Phaser Gold by Rejuvenu.
He has also published a letter from another Rejuvenu salesman and "medical consultant" Mark Chandler, criticizing the American Electrology Association (AEA), an electrolysis trade group:
Some background: Mark Chandler has been represented by Rejuvenu as a “dermologist,” which is a bogus medical specialty made up by Rejuvenu. Mark Chandler is not a dermatologist. Mark Chandler is, however, a quack who promotes a product with health claims that have not been backed up with published scientific data.
Because I am mentioned in the letter, I thought I’d respond to Mark Chandler’s many unfounded claims and misdirections. His quotations are followed by my responses.
“As you stated in your letter, the AEA is only rivaled by the hairfacts.com website in its bias against anything non-needle.”
I am not biased against any method. My standards of proof are based on accepted scientific principles. When a manufacturer like Rejuvenu makes a health claim, I expect them to back it up with published scientific data. Lasers have done this. Topical preparations have done this. Electrolysis has done this. Even temporary methods like waxing, shaving, and plucking are reported in the medical literature. I report all of this information, along with my analysis and the source material, and let consumers decide for themselves if my analysis of the data is correct.
“In fact, it is interesting that one of the AEA’s chief contributors to their website is Andrea James. Hairfacts.com is constantly quoted on the AEA’s website as a definitive source of reliable information. It makes you wonder who is paying who, doesn’t it?”
I’m sure these guys can’t fathom the idea that some people help others out of principle, rather than for money. I have allowed AEA to reprint information from my website at no charge, as I have for other manufacturers, distributors, individuals, and trade groups who have asked.
“You see, she and others think they are better than the FDA to determine whether something offers permanent hair removal, without ever even seeing the equipment.”
This “seeing the equipment” requirement is a common criticism. Let me give you an analogy to demonstrate the ridiculousness of this logical fallacy.
Let’s say Mark Chandler also claims he invented a car that gets 1000 miles to the gallon.
I say, “Prove it.”
Mark Chandler says, “Well, I say it’s true in this three-page report I wrote, so you have to take my word.”
I say, “That’s not how science works. Did you sleep through that part of school? Until you prove your claims with repeatable scientific testing under controlled conditions, your claim is not scientifically proven.”
Mark Chandler whines, “You’re just biased against my 1000-mile car!”
I say, “No, I expect proof based on accepted scientific principles.”
Mark Chandler tries another misdirection: “How do you know my car doesn’t get 1000 miles to the gallon when you haven’t even seen the car?”
I say, “I don’t need to see or test drive you car to say that your claim is questionable. And if your claim is true, all you have to do is submit your car to a reputable third party for testing. At that point, I will evaluate their test results and make a full report of the findings.”
Mark Chandler tries another misdirection: “What do you know? You don’t make cars, so your opinion doesn’t matter.”
I say, “Whether I make cars or not is irrelevant. The fact remains that you have not proven your car can get 1000 miles to the gallon.”
It doesn’t matter if I have seen their device or not. Mark Chandler can try to divert the topic as many ways as he wants. The fact remains that there is no published clinical data indicating the device can achieve permanent hair removal as they claim. That will still be true if I go there tomorrow and see their equipment.
“In 1875, when Dr. Michel first developed needle electrolysis, most of those in the medical professions scoffed at the idea of “electrocuting” hair. It was not until 25 years later that the mechanism of electrolysis action at the hair follicle level was understood.”
Quacks like to compare themselves to legitimate scientists. Dr. Michel published his findings in a reputable medical journal, based on 6 years of rigorous scientific research. Mark Chandler has never had anything published in a medical journal, let alone anything about Rejuvenu’s amazing patented discoveries.
“When Arthur Hinkel developed and patented the Blend method in 1945, he was thought of as a quack. The existing electrologists of his day said it couldn’t possibly work, that you couldn’t pass both galvanic and high frequency current at the same time. It took 15 years for the method to be accepted and now the Arthur Hinkel textbook published in 1968 is still the “bible” of electrology.”
Again, Hinkel’s book was based on 23 years of rigorous scientific testing. And again, Mark Chandler and company have published nothing of scientific merit, choosing rather to sell their device without scientific substantiation. That’s textbook quackery. Hinkel’s book was a watershed book due to its scientific rigor, but it has since been surpassed by other excellent electrology textbooks, notably Real World Electrology by his protégé Mike Bono and a voluminous overview by Dr. R.N. Richards. Chandler needs to drag himself into the new millennium with the rest of us.
“However, it appears that the AEA summarily dismisses anything new as being ineffective and harmful.”
On many issues, the AEA takes the same position as I do, that health claims require proof based on accepted scientific methodology. Quacks will claim this is “close-mindedness,” but this is the way science has worked for centuries. You test a theory under controlled conditions, submit the results to your peers, they see if they can get the same result, and a determination of validity is reached.
In the case of the AEA, they are a trade group, so they are naturally very interested in promoting their method and pointing out drawbacks of other methods, just as promoters of other methods do about electrolysis. The difference is that the AEA has taken the high ground and put a premium on scientifically proven results. They have also shown a commitment to consumer protection through considerable lobbying to get all methods of hair removal regulated. They are to be commended for these efforts, which is why as a consumer advocate, I am often in agreement with AEA.
Mark Chandler then quotes Nancy Ledins, an electrologist who became convinced that Rejuvenu’s “proprietary gel” was enough to make an electrified Q-Tip achieve permanent hair removal:
“The issue, interestingly, is not really controversy over currents, but the proprietary gel that acts as a catalyst in the formation of the sodium hydroxide.”
Here we get to the crux of the matter, and further evidence of Mark Chandler and Lee Cole’s quackery: reliance on patents and proprietary gels rather than published data. Patent-based medicine has a very long, sordid history in the U.S., and Chandler and Cole are simply carrying on in that unfortunate tradition. It runs parallel to accepted scientific methodology and has had a resurgence in recent years.
Some background: by the 19th century, the country was overrun with “proprietary” products that supposedly gave amazing health benefits. In fact, the biggest patent-medicine trade group was called the Proprietary Association of America. While it’s possible to own the rights to a chemical or formula used in a medicine, legitimate products are not secret like Rejuvenu’s supposedly proprietary gel.
Legitimate companies list their ingredients and license their technology to others rather than trying to protect their turf with “proprietary” gels and what-not. The FDA clearance for their device was with a standard electrode gel called Signagel. I hope they aren’t claiming this is proprietary now—that would adulterate their FDA clearance (again!).
Take lasers, for instance of how a legitimate patented technology is researched and sold. Much of the laser research and intellectual property comes from universities, who then enter into agreements with manufacturers to license their technology. Chandler and Cole have not done this because no one wants to license a scientifically unproven technology. Instead, they present it as some secret exclusive method only they can do. Textbook quackery.
I mean, come on, does Mark Chandler think most consumers are THAT gullible?
If some country doctor and a hairdresser had solved the problem of permanent hair removal, their product would be a household name, like Viagra or Rogaine. Companies would be lining up around the block to license their technology, and every hair removal practitioner in the world would be using it. Unfortunately, their quackery will always find a welcome audience in poorly-educated people like Michael T. Ricks, Sr. and unsuspecting beauticians who lack the ability to see through sophisticated doublespeak. All I can do is present the facts and hope that as many consumers as possible see the truth and avoid quacks like Mark Chandler and Michael T. Ricks, Sr.
Claiming that Rejuvenu’s transdermal or transcutaneous hair removal is permanent is a violation of federal regulations. If you have lost money to Michael T. Ricks Sr. or Rejuvenu, please contact me, and I’ll be happy to help you sue them in small claims court. I have already helped consumers recoup thousands of dollars.
For an interesting backgound on proprietary and patent medicines, check out The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation by Dr. James Harvey Young (1961, Princeton University Press). Available online at QuackWatch. I am proud to be listed on QuackWatch as their source for hair removal information