Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quack of the Day: "Dr" Ben Rall

Ben Rall is one of over 175 Chiropractors who operate in an around the Sioux Falls area, and frankly he isn't even one of the most popular ones, so you are probably wondering why I would devote a post to him.  For all intents and purposes he is just another Chiropractor right?  The difference is, Ben Rall is the Chiropractor of choice for Lowell Hubbs, and Mr. Hubbs tends to put Mr. Rall on a pedestal as if he is capable of performing miracles.

Recently there have been a few comments left on this blog pertaining to Mr. Rall, and Lowell has talked about him numerous times in the past, so I figured it was time to put a little information together on Rall to determine what the whole story is.

In truth, I really don't have a problem with most Chiropractors.  I understand they have their place in the treatment community (even though they are not to be confused with medical doctors) and I understand they can and do offer relief for some conditions like lower back pain and some joint pain etc.  What I do have a problem with is Chiropractors who walk around suggesting, or even openly claiming, that they can treat, reverse, or even cure conditions ranging from heart disease to diabetes to ADHD or even autism.  Obviously these Chiropractors don't have the supporting evidence to prove their treatments can prevent or cure disease, but that doesn't stop many of them from making vague statements while avoiding making promises that they know they can't support with science.

So where does Rall sit in all of this?  To find out, we only need to visit his "Inspired Chiropractic" website, and the first thing we are presented with is a link to an online store, and the offer to purchase some "Daily Detox" nutritional supplements (with no scientific evidence to support that they do anything other than "detox" your wallet by removing $74.95 for a whopping 30 day supply).  If you click on the "Daily Detox" supplements and do a little reading, Rall tells you that once you start taking them you most likely will never be able to stop because of the following statement shown on the FAQ page:
 "Most North Americans are exposed to hundreds of toxins every day from foods, household and personal care products, and even the environment – so the majority of our customers choose to take DailyDetox long-term for ongoing protection". 
As is the case with any good snakeoil salesman, Rall refers to these mystery "toxins" and tries to sell some miracle pill that can remove them.  Funny how these alternative medicine types are always so focused upon toxins yet they never actually bother to list what those toxins are, or provide evidence that shows their miracle solutions are effective at removing them.  The simple truth is, the term "toxins" is a generic term used to sell products and scare the uninformed, but when you really examine the issue you realize the lack of detail is only paralleled by the lack of science.

The good news is if you sign up for the autoship program for Rall's miracle pills, it reduces your monthly cost from $74.95 to "only" $69.95 and they will ever ship them for free!  I have to wonder if Mr. Hubbs has signed up for this program since he seems to believe Rall can do no harm.  Then again Mr. Hubbs is also a huge fan of Andy Moulden, so he probably needs to take his "Brainguard" meds on a monthly basis too.  Then he probably needs to take some of the supplements Mercola sells on his site, and maybe a few of the miracle supplements that Sherri Tenpenny sells, and maybe even a monthly shipment of the "Brain Repair" supplements sold by Blaylock.

I have to admit, being a proponent of alternative medicine and an anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist sounds like it could get very expensive.  If you just follow the advice of those listed in the above paragraph would you need to spend over $300 a month on 'necessary' supplements.

Of course Rall doesn't stop at just offering supplements as that would be far too easy.  He also shows on his homepage an offer to purchase a do-it-yourself "Spinal Correction" kit for the low, low price of only $169.95.  Yes you read that correctly, Mr. Rall sells a kit so you can do your own spinal adjustments right in the comfort of your own home!  Does this sound at all legitimate?  If there is so much training involved in Chiropractic care and if what he can do to a patient is so incredible, I find it odd that he is willing to sell a kit for $170 where someone could basically replicate his treatment at home, but whatever allows him to make a buck I suppose.

The rest of Rall's online store includes offers for various videos, books, protein powders and other nutritional supplements, "at home" spinal care devices, clothing ($45 for a t-shirt that doesn't even come with sleeves??) and even downloadable audio files including one called "Vaccination Awareness" that is offered for the rather high, (and rather odd) price of $46.02.  I guess a flat $46 just wouldn't have been high enough to cover the costs of production.

I wish I could offer more insight on what you get for your $46.02, but unfortunately Rall's site only lists the title of the MP3 and doesn't list any specifics on what it might contain.  For all I know it could be an audio recording of him reading articles written by Mercola or Wakefield, but I would bet there is very little science involved and a whole lot of fear-mongering.  I'll also go ahead an assume Mr. Hubbs has already paid his $46.02 to listen to it. 

My personal favorite item in the Rall superstore however has to be the "Whole Body Vibration Plate" which sells for the astounding price of $1400.00!  I know that seems like a lot, but the list price is $1866.67 so if you buy now you will save $466.67!  So what does this miracle machine do?  Well you won't have any luck finding out on Rall's page, but if you dig around the web you will find dozens of different "whole body vibration machines" for sale out there ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.  What you won't find however is any peer-reviewed science showing the effectiveness of these machines, nor will you find any justification on why they seem to be so expensive.

I could write a series of blog posts on the questionable benefits of vibration training, but thankfully others have already done so, and thus I don't need to repeat what has already been said.  If you really want to learn about the theory behind these machines I would recommend a series of articles written by Sal Marinello which can be found here, here, and here.  Marinello has done several other articles on the subject including on entitled "More Evidence to Indicate Whole Body Vibration to be Ineffective" which is worth a read as well.

This just all goes to show what type of snakeoil Rall is willing to sell provided he can make a buck.  Aside from the fact that vibration machines are a silly gimmick with no proven benefits, the fact is the price Rall has affixed to the machines is simply incredible. 

Truth be told, you can purchase a Black and Decker palm sander from Walmart for around $30, bolt it to the underside of a wood or metal base, fire it up and stand on it... and you will have saved yourself $1370. Because that is what those machines do... they simply vibrate while the user stands on them just as a palm sander vibrates as it operates. Yes you can get fancy with a heavy duty and weighted platform, some fancy isolating shock absorbers, a larger motor that will last longer etc, etc, but basically all these machine do is take the vibration technology built into most cell phones and make it bigger and heavier, and for that cranks across the globe fool an unsuspecting public into purchasing these machines for thousands of dollars when they can probably be manufactured for under $50.

Do these people have no shame?  (Don't answer that - it was a rhetorical question)

I'm actually surprised that Rall isn't selling a power bracelet of some type, because as trendy as those are you would think he would be all over it.  Then again the profit from a $30 bracelet isn't nearly as impressive as a $1400 vibration machine, so he probably has it figured out.

So aside from being yet another alternative medicine guru who sells various products on his website, what does Mr. Rall really offer? He doesn't have any peer-reviewed studies proving his treatments are any more effective than common physical therapy, he doesn't have his name on any research studies that have developed new and effective treatments, and he can't even offer evidence that his claims about weight loss can be verified via clinical study.  What he can do is talk a good game and convince vaccine conspiracy theorists such as Mr. Hubbs that he knows the truth while the hundreds of thousands of doctors, scientists, and researchers who study vaccines and disease across our nation are all in on some massive cover-up for the sake of personal profit.

The moral of the story?  Profit is apparently just fine... if Mr. Rall happens to be the one collecting it.

Maybe one of these days I'll find an alternative medicine practitioner who doesn't have a website packed full of various products that are pushed upon the ignorant and one who isn't continually trying to convince humanity that they need to ingest numerous supplements and vitamins on a daily basis or buy a variety of different machines and contraptions as if that will do anything other than reduce their disposable income... but apparently not today.

These people prey upon ignorance and fear... which probaly explains why Mr. Hubbs seems to be drawn to each and every one of them like a moth to a flame.  It doesn't matter that these pills and machines don't really have any scientific, medical, or health benefit.  It doesn't matter that the treatments are ineffective.  It doesn't matter that there is no supporting scientific evidence to support the theories or that they can't even clearly identify the root causes in the first place... what matters is that these predators tell medical conspiracy theorists what they want to hear and they play the role of being the alternative to modern, mainstream medicine while at the same time making a few bucks on the side.

Does any of this really surprise anyone?


  1. As for me personally, and as for chiropractic. I have many old accident related injuries, some fairly severe. I have degenerated discs in my neck and lower back. I came to Dr. Rall in not so good shape in regard to that; and even chiropractic can obviously not fix all of that, and is admitted to. Nothing can. I had seen chiropractors now and then but not often - for years, and always was an obvious benefit. As well, the beneficial improvements and changes it made for me, being adjusted by Ben, were amazing. I live in this body, and I do not need a peer reviewed study to tell me how much it helped. As for that vibrating plate, after I am on it, the benefits leave me feeling awesome, energized and all the sore spots freed up. I also do not need a peer reviewed study to show me what that did, but I am sure if I looked for it, there would be some proof of what it does; that of course you would never accept. That is because it is YOU that is clearly a denialist! No facts nor proof is enough for you, you are not going to admit you are wrong, nor that the whole system of modern medicines pharmaceuticals has been heading for an obvious train wreck for decades.

    The pharmaceutical train wreck is evident every day, if you were honest enough to look at what really goes on. Without that true knowledge and honesty, you will remain a denialist forever. And who in reality suffers for that, you? What large successes have you had with pharmaceuticals, please list them? How much experience can you actually point to in regard to that issue? Please let me know all about it, and don't give me some pharma spin story; I want to hear about all those actual real life successes with pharmaceutical drugs?

  2. You are making my case for me Mr. Hubbs. Casual observations or personal experiences are inherently biased and are never sufficient enough to determine causation. I’ve heard stories from people who have claimed smoking a cigarette relieves joint pain so does that mean smoking should be prescribed to those who have bad knees? I’ve know people who proclaim caffeine will stop a headache and they claim it works for them… does that mean coffee or Mountain Dew should be a legitimate prescription for migraines?

    I’m sorry Mr. Hubbs but personal experiences are not good enough when you are talking about matters of science and health. If a pharmaceutical company released a drug and said it lowers cholesterol but they didn’t have any scientific studies to support it – would you actually believe them? Of course not. So what if they came out and said they had a few hundred people who said they personally believe their cholesterol was lower after taking the drug – does that make any difference? No.

    If you don’t understand the power of the mind then so be it, but I have no doubt you will feel better after a visit to the chiropractor. I also have no doubt many people feel better after a visit to an acupuncturist, a hypnotist, or a faith healer either – but not because any of it actually does anything. The reality is the power of healing touch is very powerful which explains why people feel better anytime someone pays attention to them and actually touches them. It is a mental thing Mr. Hubbs, and it has been documented for decades.

    Since you don’t have any peer-reviewed studies showing the effectiveness of your treatments including that silly vibrating plate machine, nor do you have any studies that show the effect of consuming those various supplements… that tells us everything we need to know. Personal bias and observation and experiences will never be a match for unbiased legitimate science no matter how much you wish that not to be true. The fact that you misunderstand this very simple concept is evidence enough of how little you understand about science and medicine.

  3. Diddos to Mr. Hubbs


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