Bogus Doctors

Elvira Brunt is a mysterious figure, born in Backa Palanka on the banks of the Danube in 1957. She allegedly claims to be able to cure cancer by redirecting blood flow through massage. People have told of the eerie power she holds over people, convincing them to believe in her work.

The clinic of a circulatory specialist. Pic: Tait Schmaal

To tell Elvira’s story, you don’t have to back to Backa Palanka, but you do have to go back to a day in 2009. It was one of the strangest days I’ve ever had in a newsroom – and trust me, they can be pretty bloody bizarre places.

This day, though, stands out. I was covering an inquiry into Bogus, Unregistered and Deregistered Health Practitioners. It was mostly about quacks offering dodgy cures for cancer, and people poured out their tales of loved ones frittering away their savings in vain hope.

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  • Richard says:

    06:53pm | 07/11/12

    @K^2, I’m with you buddy, 100%. People need to have the freedom to choose their own path and what happens to their own body. My own personal opinion is that chemo drugs are poisonous, and I would never ever ever consent to have them administered to me, except for perhaps… Read more »

  • Emergency Physician says:

    05:24pm | 07/11/12

    As is so often the case, Tim Minchin says it best - “It couldn’t be mistaken attribution of causation, born of a coincidental temporal correlation, exacerbated by a general lack of education vis-a-vis physics in Sam’s parish congregation. And it couldn’t be that all these pious people are liars. It… Read more »


The world is full of quacks. Legislation won’t work. Time for MyQuack.

Don't malign my chakras, man

Sorry, scrap that, bad connotations.

Time for a one-stop easy-access online information source where you can click on the name of the healer you’re visiting and see where they sit on a bullshit-barometer. This week the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission lawyers allege a man has claimed he can cure cancer with diet and exercise. The court has heard he claimed this treatment was more effective than surgery, chemotherapy and pharmaceutical drugs.

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  • St. Michael says:

    12:22am | 05/02/11

    I don’t need to or want to look up Google.  The burden of proof is on you.  Cite some sources or verifiable studies ...  for the third time.  Third strike, dear. Your Latin also gets a D minus.  “Ad hominem” is shorthand for “argumentum ad hominem”, which is an attempt… Read more »

  • Michelle says:

    06:08pm | 04/02/11

    St Michael. OK, I admit it, you’re right: my self-esteem is wrapped up in free-thinking. Call it a crime, if that’s what it is from your padded cell of “controlled studies is all there is, la la la I can’t hear anything else”. Ad hominem = appealing to personal considerations… Read more »


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