Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Internet Friends Are Strangers

One thing that has really struck me as odd about this whole farce is how many of Belle's followers talk about feeling "betrayed" by her.  Now, I am going to go ahead and assume that nearly all these people never even met Belle in real life.  Their entire relationship with Belle took place online, and that relationship was very one-sided, with Belle doing all the talking and them doing all the listening and praising.  Belle Gibson was a complete stranger to them and yet they still felt a huge sense of betrayal by this fraud.  The word "betrayal" got me to thinking.  Can a total stranger betray you?  Surely only a person who owes you any sort of duty to begin with can betray you.  Outside contractual obligations, those people are friends and family.  When you have a real friendship with a person, you also enter into an unwritten social contract where you promise not to harm your friends.  Sure, Belle Gibson owes us all a duty of care in daily life, and as a citizen of Australia she is required to follows its laws.   But even a breach of those two things is not a personal betrayal to anyone.  I hope this case serves as a lesson to everyone that people we only know online are not friends, they are strangers.  Belle's actual real life friends do not seem to feel all that betrayed by her, and I think that is because they knew her in real life, and so they have known for quite some time that something was wrong with her story.  In real life we get to see the people we know as they respond to a variety of situations.  How do they treat their spouse?  Are they flaky in their social obligations?  If you loan them money, do they pay you back?  Of course there are many more examples I could give, but you get the point.  The gist of it is that you have many opportunities to really judge the character of a someone you know in real life, and you don't have those opportunities with people you only know through the internet.  Somehow, social media has managed to trick people into not noticing that this very crucial step gets skipped when forming online "friendships".

160 comments:

  1. This a great commentary Violet. There is an alarming and growing apparent obsession with Instagram famous people who cannot always have their legitimacy verified. From the wellness crew to the fitness gals, people invest time, money and emotions into these strangers, many of whom are only on Instagram for a buck. What alarms me more is people taking health cues from unqualified strangers. Ill stick to my GP personally. Ill also stcik to me real friends to invest my emotions in. :)

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    1. And I acknowledge my terrible grammatical errors above !

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    2. Don't worry about it! Yes that was something my mother said. She said she could not understand the amount of emotion people invest in these strangers. What does that say about us? Do we really not have people in real life who we can invest our emotions in? I definitely think there are a lot of people out there (women especially) who kind of enjoy feeling emotionally connected to a "dying young" story.

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    3. I couldn't agree more. One of the things that has really struck me, reading what has been written by and about Belle Gibson, is the language of womens' social media. People claim to "love" Belle, to be her "soul sister." They call her "beautiful," "inspirational," "amazing." Even the media adopts this vernacular of awe and adoration. It's extravagant to the point of embarrassing. Belle and people like her are almost venerated as saints. Social media etiquette suggests that this is how you respond to a woman with cancer (provided she is "positive" about it and not "negative"), with gushing, almost worshipful flattery.

      It's a phenomenon that baffles me. What is it about Belle Gibson that makes us think we "love" her, or that we have some kind of kinship with her? I can only assume it's an aspirational thing. Belle is dying, but she doesn't look like it. She's not lying in a hospital bed, deathly pale, losing her hair, with in IV in her hand and a tube in her nose. She's not too thin, she's not poor, and she always looks deliriously happy. Belle is, in a way, the modern-day celebrity. Instead of being famous for wealth, talent or beauty, she's famous for suffering. I think she realised, years ago, that in the 21st century, suffering elegantly is a marketable commodity. In the world of social media, a young woman who is not noteworthy for anything else can be propelled to virtual stardom when she's dying of a rare disease. It's been far too easy for Belle to capitalise on that.

      The flipside of this phenomenon is that most genuinely sick people are not congratulated for their courage, they're penalised for not trying hard enough: "if Belle can do it, why can't you?"

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    4. You said it all, and so perfectly. This all goes back to people not really living in reality any more. I mean, people bought it hook, line and sinker. Here is a woman who they did not know, telling a story that was totally implausible, but people truly believed it and invested their time and emotional energy in it.

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    5. Thanks! And yes, part of the new etiquette is that you do not dare to question authenticity. Faux declarations of authenticity ("honest," "raw," "real," "genuine," "open") are another recurring feature of Belle's wellness lexicon.

      That alone probably should have roused people's suspicions. When someone says "hey, you wanna buy a genuine totally authentic Rolex?" you pretty much know what you're looking at is a fake Rolex.

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    6. I said this elsewhere on the blog, but it needs to be repeated: every person I know in real life who is ethical, truthful, genuine, real, open and authentic NEVER describes themselves like that on social media. It is only the people I know to be posers and liars who do that.

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  2. I remember last year when Peaches Geldof passed away. She had been very active on social media. I read a lot of emotional out pouring of grief on social media. Understandable at the tragic loss of a young mother. Many comments made it sound like followers knew her personally.

    My Sister tweeted how "utterly sad" she was about the loss of Peaches. This same Sister hasn't once contacted me since my own cancer diagnosis. Obviously the loss of a famous stranger is far more important. It's a strange old world.

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    1. And Peaches Geldof was another person who was playing the whole natural earth mother type in the media, but who was on methadone when she was pregnant.

      I think we all need to step back and understand that much of what we see on social media is simply not reality.

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    2. The outpouring of grief for Peaches Geldof was baffling to me. She made choices in her life that non-celebrities would have been crucified for.

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    3. I know (from personal experience) exactly what you mean! It's pretty messed up that we feel more empathy for these distant figures whom we don't know and will never meet than for the people close to us who genuinely suffer. It's so easy to pretend you're racked with sorrow about Peaches Geldof, and to make melodramatic professions of grief, but in real life people rarely follow through on that stuff.

      I remember reading a book about Jackie Onassis once. After JFK's assassination, she was overwhelmed with people she barely knew making extravagant displays of sympathy. She called them "drama wh*res."

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    4. Wow. Jackie is a badass. Thanks for sharing that!

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  3. Social media has definitely created this phenomenon. I would never refer to anyone that I communicate or follow with online as a friend but admit that I was affected profoundly by Belle's post last year saying her cancer had metastasised all over her body and equally when Jess Ainscough posted the 'brought me to my knees' post. Her death shook me no end. I guess I was mindful of my mortality having dodged a bullet a few times with my own struggles. These girls were not friends but there is such power with social media now that we have to re-learn basic thinking skills.

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  4. Your comment "I think we all need to step back and understand that much of what we see on social media is simply not reality." should be an automatic warning flashing up when computer screens are turned on.

    I'm beginning to think that whatever people gush about on social media is the exact opposite of their real life.

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  5. I think until you encounter your first "fake", most of us tend to assume other people are being honest. I became friendly with a young woman on a cancer forum a few years ago, bonding with her over our shared experience of parenting with a potentially life-threatening illness. I later saw her written up on the Warrior Eli hoax-busting site. The whole thing had been a massive lie, and she had lied to her children and other family members as well.

    It was strange to realize that I had been so taken in, as I think of myself as a pretty savvy person normally. I guess there is a rather steep learning curve for this sort of thing, as most of us want to be able to trust other people.

    I no longer trust anyone online, and tend to assume some level of deception unless proven otherwise. It's kind of sad.

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  6. Totally agree. I no longer have any personal social media accounts. After seeing one too many pictures of several real life friends posting one happy family shot after another when I knew each on of them was addressing major marital issues I realized it was an artificial environment that really wasn't contributing anything to my life. That said, I think many people are drawn to some of the instagram and other accounts for thee bloggers, esp health and wellness ones, because they are lonely and are made to feel that the blogger really does care about their "tribe" or "community" when in actual fact they are merely customers in an increasingly competitive "lifestyle" market. Lastly, I only classify a friend as someone I could pick up a phone and call. If I don't have their number, they are an acquaintance !

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  7. I think mutuality plays a significant role, as it does with any friendship. Online friends can exist, but it has to be a two way street. (Admittedly, I have never had an internet 'friendship', but I know people who have and found them to be meaningful and rewarding). Many of these wellness gurus ask you to be part of their community, refer to you as a friend, and expect your money for the privilege of a couple of photos of them eating or exercising. That's the key difference - you might get 'inspiration' in return but there is no sense of mutuality, or nothing tangible to the 'friendship' or 'community'. Rooting for Belle or Jess or any of the myriad of others means you have to hand over hard cold cash/prescribe unquestioningly to their belief system, and in return they may reply to your comment once in a blue moon, or send out a mass message of encouragement and that is seen as them 'giving back'. There is no real personal engagement, and everything you know about them is carefully constructed branding. I think the real danger in things like instagram/facebook is the fact that they are used as unregulated marketing and advertising tools, and unchecked leads to a false sense of intimacy. The people useing these think they are receiving inspiration or whatever in return - when all you are getting is a heavily censored product. I think there is enormous opportunity for isolated, lonely people to be taken advantage of, but I also can see how people going through adversity can find a lot of power in finding a 'online' community. Either way, friendship is mutual. It isn't paying someone for a recipes or wise words, and the ridiculous level of adulation that these wellness gurus get for, you know, throwing out a couple of quotes now and then is beyond the realms of the reasonable. I feel like every one of those type of accounts need to have bold and clear disclaimers that the content of this accounts will be at various points selling goods, or may be paid content or whatever. At the moment they succeed, I believe on the idea of intimacy.

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  8. I don't think this is fair at all. I knew Belle personally but it took months upon months of cancelled play dates etc before she actually turned up. Most of our interaction was online. I don't think any of our in person conversations added anything to who I thought she was. Apart from being a little taken back that she wasn't the gracious, fun and sparkling person she appeared to be online. Vacant is a better description. But all inconsistencies and the fact she was a very poor friend were swept aside because... cancer. I dont think any of our mutual friend who hadnt had an in person friendship were any less connected to her. They sent her presents, they listened for hours. Don't blame the victim. This woman was a catfish of epic proportion.

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    1. I do not want to start using phrases like "blame the victim" because all that serves to do is shut down this entire dialog. People really need to take this in right now. It might be painful and a lot of people might feel stupid, but pushing it aside because it makes people uncomfortable will only lead to more of this in the future. Sometimes, it's okay to take a critical look at ourselves. It's really not the end of the world to experience a little self-criticism. I actually have no idea how people who never feel stupid about something they did ever mature and obtain wisdom.

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    2. I think the purpose of this post was to deconstruct the culture Belle exploited, not to blame her 'friends' for gullibility. Belle was almost universally adored, for a while. It's not unreasonable to ask how that happened, or to consider what needs to change in the future.

      The phrase "blame the victim" really started with rape culture, where a criminal does an unspeakable thing to an innocent person, and we start bickering about the victim's hemline or lipstick.

      This is quite different, in that the wellness culture itself is deeply flawed, and actively cultivates the gushing, superficial, no-questions-asked environment of which Belle was a product.

      In short, Belle did lie. But even if she hadn't, an internet culture that promotes gullibility and validates deceptive people is problematic.

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    3. Actually, it well pre-dates the rape culture critique. There were an awful lot of people in the 1930s and 40s saying the Jews brought it on themselves.
      I take the general point, but some historical memory would be nice.
      And speaking of historical memory, the young woman dying, elegantly and decorously of some tragic disease, as you mentioned earlier, is a trope as old as the hills. La Boheme? La Dame Aux Camellias? It's been marketable for at least 200 years and probably a lot longer.

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    4. I specifically said "The PHRASE 'blame the victim' really started with rape culture." I'm not suggesting no victim has ever been blamed in modern or ancient history or literature.

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    5. I seem to remember the phrase from my politics classes in the 80s, but never mind.

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  9. To the person who met Belle in person, I am curious whether you had any thoughts at the time that she may have been all she seemed. It is always easy after the event to see the signs, but I am interested whether you sensed anything odd or not quite right ?

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    1. I uncovered her lies well over a year ago. This was after I had an in-person friendship. But it was the online world that didnt add up. This is how we, and I say we as there was an ever-growing group of sceptics, dicovered the holes in her story.

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    2. She was incredibly manipulative. As soon as questions were raised, she would guilt you into backing down. She was not a friend, but a bully. People let her off because, once again... cancer

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    3. in what way would she guilt you? how did she react when she was question?

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  10. http://www.warriorelihoax.com

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  11. Does Belle really think she can just say nothing and this will all go away? A naive and self-centred response if ever I've seen one
    *pj*

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  12. CATFISH. this is why I think the dr. phil show should cover this. violet could you write into him? I have a feeling this will turn into something as big as lance Armstrong. I think its also a cautionary tale for social media at the moment, and I worry for our children growing up into the world of this.

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    1. I don't think Dr Phil would help. At the moment, this is partly a criminal matter, and Belle is Australian anyway. Dr Phil doesn't have a great reputation for credibility himself, and he's not really au fait with the social media culture. I think turning this into mere sensationalist tabloid fodder would be a pity, given that we have an opportunity to start asking some serious questions about how quackery flourishes online. I'd prefer to read a longform article about the whole story by a capable journalist than to see her on Dr Phil, where good stories go to die.

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    2. good points. but I think youll find that people that are vulnerable to catfishes like this are avid watches of dr. phil and shows of the like. (myself included!)

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  13. Contact Nev Schulman - the original Catfished guy who made the series.http://www.nevschulman.com/catfish/

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    1. Catfish Casting - Catfishnev@gmail.com

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  14. I think this case is particularly interesting as, unlike many other cases which are quite geographically confined in their reach to one state or region, this involved huge international companies like Apple, Penguin and Cosmopolitan which takes it to a whole other level ... The only thing I would hate is for Belle Gibson to get an ever bigger platform than she already has ...

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  15. Maybe this kind of adulation of people in the media is just part of an instinctive desire to follow and worship - if not God - someone. I think this whole New Age natural wellness industry caters to the kind of person who prefers faith and miracles to reason and evidence.

    At any rate there is an enormous market out there for it, which is being milked by so many frauds and mountebanks. Belle Gibson might go down in flames, but there'll be another young, pretty celebrity wellness heroine to replace her pretty quickly - I'm sure of it.

    The human desire to have faith knows no bounds.





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    1. I guess this is why I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this whole phenomenon. I do not understand how anyone can totally adore a person they have never even met. And I really do not understand this need to have someone to worship. I suppose that is just my own personal thing, so maybe that is why I find it so baffling. The idea of seriously following a social media star on instagram makes no sense to me at all.

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    2. I think you've hit the nail on the head, and I've mentioned that in a comment on one of Violet's other articles. I'm a Christian, and I don't think faith is intrinsically irrational, or that it precludes reason and evidence, especially in medicine. (In short, I believe in God, but if I ever have kids I will be vaccinating them).

      The religious people who actively pursue or supposedly practice supernatural healing have more in common with the New Age "wellness" gurus than they would care to admit. And it is really bizarre. I honestly don't know how any of these ideas are sustainable. You don't need a medical degree to understand that everybody, everywhere is susceptible to illness, regardless of what you believe. And I've yet to see a paraplegic leap out of a wheelchair.

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    3. this is what im saying about it. theres a psychology behind it. like women who meet these "lovers" and scam them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the fact that they've never met. I came into contact with a guy on myspace, he would send me long emails and then one day a lady contacted me saying she was getting the same and we compared them. then he just deleted his profile when I asked him "what the??". I was left with a sense of betrayal and loss at the time ! (crazy) I think when people have been intimate about their health its even more personal. this is where the betrayal lies. people think anyone showing any interest in them or someone they can relate to now is a "relationship". people become emotionally invested with people online.ii also think a lot of people are so naïve about bad people in this world. the public now are feeling no different to those people scammed by those Nigerians.

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    4. I usually have the same reaction as you Violet, but I've just been sitting here trying to put myself in these people's shoes and thought of two points just to play devils advocate.

      1. This will not be true of everyone but if I was diagnosed with an aggressive or terminal cancer I do not know anyone alive who is in the same situation. Although I am lucky enough to have friends and family who would do all they could to be supportive I doubt they could ever fully understand what it would be like without experiencing it themselves. I can't know for sure but perhaps if I was in that terrible situation I might go against my normal behaviour and 'connect' meaningfully with someone who I had only spoken to online if they we were able to relate to each other in a way I could not do with those i know in the real word?

      2. Let's say hypothetically that I found out tomorrow that Violet was actually working for a pharmaceutical company or in some other way had been being deceitful (Sorry Violet - I obviously do not think this at all!). I think I would feel somewhat betrayed. I don't know Violet beyond the posts here, and my only interaction has been to comment a handful of times anonymously , but from what she has written I know that we have many views in common and I have a lot of respect for her bravery and also the responsible careful manner that she has approached all of this with. Even though this is the internet I feel sure she is being honest. To find out it was all lies would most certainly make me feel some degree of sadness and perhaps betrayal - even though i have no 'relationship' as such with Violet herself.

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    5. I am certainly not against connecting with people you meet online. Indeed, I think one of the benefits of the internet is that you can talk to people who share your interests. I think it is wonderful that people can form little groups and have discussions about a shared interest. Take this blog. I have spoken to my mom and stepdad about it a little, but the thing we are discussing here is not exactly their thing, so it is a real positive to be able to discuss it here with all of you. I am sure that like the vast majority of people you meet in real life that the vast majority of people on the internet are decent people. The thing I am cautioning against is creating a deep emotional connection with someone you do not really know. I have chatted with strangers online and someone of them have shared details of their life. If I found out later that those were lies, I would just think the whole thing was a little weird, but I would not feel "betrayed". That is the part that is troublesome to me.

      Oh, and for the sake of full disclosure I have worked on a couple of pharma litigation cases in the past. (hey, what do you know!) What I can tell everyone is this: after sifting through thousands of emails of the top people at major pharma companies, I can assure everyone that there is no conspiracy. It is just a pharma company manufacturing drugs. That's it. And for full FULL disclosure, this blog actually costs me time and money. I make no profit from it whatsoever and not a single pharma company has reached out to me offering payment.

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    6. "Let's say...that I found out tomorrow that Violet...had been being deceitful...from what she has written I know that we have many views in common and I have a lot of respect for her bravery and also the responsible careful manner that she has approached all of this with...I feel sure she is being honest."

      The thing is, Violet hasn't told any of us she loved us. She hasn't thanked us for coming her on "this amazing journey," or called us her "sisters," or made this a personal, highly emotional crusade. And even though she's asked some really penetrating questions, what she is doing isn't "bravery" per se, it's quite simply what journalists should have been doing all this time: the dispassionate rendering of well-researched facts. It doesn't really matter whether you "feel sure she is being honest," because truth is not a feeling. We gauge truthfulness by "the responsible" and "careful manner" (to quote from your observations) with which they relay the facts in their writing, and how those facts square up with what can be known and proven.

      If I found out tomorrow that Violet was actually Belle's embittered ex-boyfriend, who was trying to destroy Belle's empire for personal reasons, I would not feel "betrayed." It would actually make no difference to the information on this blog whatsoever.

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    7. Yes Ella, who I am is not particularly important to the discussion here. I write a blog post to get the conversation going, but we all can come here and freely discuss our opinions and ideas. Also, I do not care what any of you ate today and I hope the feeling is mutual.

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    8. "what she is doing isn't "bravery" per se" - Have to disagree there. The first post where Violet came out and said what everyone had secretly wondered - that takes bravery!

      "truth is not a feeling" you are completely right, truth is the truth, nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps I didn't express myself adequately, when I said "I feel sure she is being honest" I meant about her intentions, obviously the evidence gathered here remains the same no matter what.

      Perhaps we are just different people, personally I take comfort and inspiration from people who do the right thing in the world and will always be sad if i find out there is one less than i thought there was :)

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    9. yeah, I do know what you mean. But what I'm saying is that words like "bravery," "comfort," "inspiration" and "sad" are the kinds of emotionally-driven terms that Belle Gibson deployed to worm her way to the top of the wellness trash heap in the first place.

      A rational examination of Belle Gibson's implausible claims should not require exceptional courage. It only requires the most basic of journalistic integrity. What Violet is doing here is clearing away the sentimentality of the "wellness" fantasy and advocating for the plain old common sense of "reality based medicine."

      As you say, that is, in its own way, comforting.

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    10. From my own end, I had to overcome some nerves to post this but that is all. It turns out that I got a lot more support than I anticipated, and pretty much not one of Belle supporters telling me off. Obviously, something happened which I could not anticipate, but the thing I figured would be the most irritating (but still rewarding) would be to debate Belle's followers.

      Perhaps the only thing that has set me apart from some journalists and media types is that I do not worry all that much about offending someone when the stakes are high. If someone gets hurt feelings (including myself) but we got to a necessary truth when it really mattered, then I think it is acceptable to be direct.

      As Ella points out, fantasy does not belong in our medical care. There is a time and place in our lives for fantasy (cosplay, comic con), and to me those are the kind of outlets we need to engage in fantasy, but certainly not where our health and lives are concerned.

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    11. Comic con may not be a CURE for cancer, but you can't rule it out as a preventative.

      No, I'm kidding. I felt the mood needed lightening. But seriously, I think it is a bold thing you did, and nobody else was doing it, and you're doing it well. But there's a notable absence here of the kind of hysteria and emotionally-driven sycophancy that characterises the wellness phenomenon, and I'm grateful for that.

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  16. I don't find it that hard to understand why people think they know people online. This new breed of Instafamous people (and I'm just talking about those 'types' in the wellness industry here) have become the new famous people, yet followers have more access to them now than ever. They 'like' posts from their followers or respond to them personally or comment on their photos etc creating this feeling of intimacy - albeit a very 2015 definition of intimacy. Sounds like Belle took it further with some and became friends with them and interacted with them on Facebook too.

    At a recent wellness type festival in Sydney one of the wellness girls was there and all these people were running up to her as if she was actually famous. It is weird but I think social media has created this false sense of reality now.

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  17. Someone might have posted this already - but I just looked and TWP app is now off the Apple Watch and iPad pages on the US Apple site. Thank you, Apple! Well overdue, but at least they've finally removed them from the site.

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    1. Slow hand claps all round for Apples tardy response to this.

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    2. I'm sure the response was not immediate as they were probably having trouble contacting her, and were interested in confirming a few things before jumping to make decisions. There was probably a lot of legal stuff in the mix as well - contracts they may have had with her etc. Either way, they've made a good choice now and that's all that matters.

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    3. ^I assume you work for Apple? ;)

      When first questioned about the Belle Gibson crisis, Apple did initially say "that’s not something we will be responding to." They also stated that their "role is to make sure the app does what it says it does." In other words, they didn't particularly care about the veracity of Belle's cancer claims and didn't have any plans to do anything about it. It was only when customers began urging Apple to respond, angrily demanding refunds, and posting poor reviews of the product, that Apple withdrew the app.

      They should have responded immediately by reassuring the public that they took the issue seriously, and would be investigating it.

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    4. Looking back on it, they were gauging the public's reaction. No one in the public said, "yeah well if the app works like an app, that's cool." Nope, the public was livid. They were smart to just quietly pull it off their stores and devices. I am just happy that Belle won't get to profit any further from the despicable thing she did.

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    5. You probably know more about this than me. I would have thought a pinch of faux concern couched in the usual legalese might have diffused the public a little. "We at Apple were concerned to hear about the allegations against Belle Gibson. The Whole Pantry app is a great resource for accessing recipes or sourcing healthy food locally, and our understanding is that Ms. Gibson is no longer the managing director of the company." Something like that.

      Please note that I have just realized I have no idea what the TWP app actually does. Something about homemade Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, right? ;)

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  18. Belle possibly spotted in Melbourne outside the Herald & Weekly Times building today

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  19. Was it you who saw her ?

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  20. I disagree with this one. I am an established blogger and have form many close friendships online. Some friends I have met in person, others I chat to regularly online but we haven't hugged each other in real life. I have been catfished (which I recently blogged about) and am always mindful of how much I reveal of myself, and trust in others online. But I maintain online friends are real friends.

    As for Belle - she cunningly developed a persona that people trusteed, believed and felt something for. I think what she has done is awful. And if I had come to know her, and come to form an online relationship with her, I would have felt duped too.

    Thank you for your expose Violet - it is brave, and comprehensive. I have been following your blog closely.

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    1. I wanted the headline to be really firm and clear, but I hope you see that the overall gist of my post is that investing emotional energy in someone you only know through the internet is silly. I am not against meeting people online, or having little chats with people online. What I am against is people making the assumption that an online friendship has all the elements of a real-world one. The biggest difference to me is that in real life we can truly judge another person (yes, I used the "J" word). It is much harder to do that on the internet. Belle said she was authentic and real, and because she pretended to have a similar outlook as her followers, they believed her. She eats vegan donuts! She must be just so authentic! BTW, most of us are authentic and real. Being someone we're not is a ton of work that we're simply not going to do. Belle Gibson was obsessed with this concept because her whole life was a lie. Maybe people should think about that the next time one of these internet gurus spews this nonsense.

      Oh, one final thought: if any of these wellness people were truly being authentic, then they would be eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer at three in the morning. Almost everything they stand for is doing the opposite of what you really would rather be doing. I think that is what makes so many followers feel insecure and like they just aren't good enough. Unbeknownst to them, the Belle Gibsons of the world are leaving out huge chunks of their lives that would reveal a completely different aspect of the "wellness" industry.

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  21. Check out @kcIMT122's Tweet: https://twitter.com/kcIMT122/status/578398026886057984?s=09

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    1. Good points!

      It's interesting, though, that in the next few tweets they slam people who actively "wish Belle harm." In fact, Belle is the only one who has said people are wishing her harm. I haven't seen any evidence of it myself. Most of us just want justice.

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    2. I am @kcIMT122. My name is Karen. (I tried to reply here with a name other than Anonymous, but the only social media account I have is Twitter, which isn't one of the "Reply" username options.)

      I have seen people wishing Gibson harm since the story broke. Only a few, thank goodness. I think her claim of "fearing for her family's safety" is probably an exaggeration if not an outright lie (like so much else appears to be), in order to paint herself as the victim and her critics as bullies and aggressors.

      But there is some ugly stuff out there. Some examples from just a couple of minutes' searching:
      "i wish her only the worse in life"
      "she is going to be hated for the rest of her life!"
      And one that really shocked me:
      "let her child get cancer and see how her books help her then"

      I have seen more during the past few days, but I really didn't have the stomach to go dredging them up again.

      I agree with you, Ella: despite our anger, most of us just want justice, and fortunately most of the commentary I've seen reflects that.

      I'm particularly impressed with this blog. Violet has been a calm, fair, and rational voice, raising some interesting and important aspects of this case, such as the media's responsibility not to swallow preposterous stories whole. I've especially enjoyed reading Ella's thoughtful contributions. It has been a pleasant contrast to the Uncovered page on Facebook, which - although it has uncovered some interesting things, such as the plagiarism allegations - has crossed the line into the irrelevant and plain nasty. It was that page I was alluding to when I tweeted this: https://twitter.com/kcIMT122/status/577993414257598464

      I think the owner of that page did themselves a disservice by encouraging people to submit those photos. If you're going to set up a Facebook page dedicated to someone else's misdeeds, you need to make strenuous efforts to stay on the moral high ground yourself. You may not always make the right call, but you should try. I think they were just a little too eager to sink the boot in, and it overrode their better judgment.

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    3. Thanks Karen for stopping by. Whenever stories like this come out, there will always be people out there expressing their anger in a really immature way. Those really do not appear to be the majority of people though. Most people here at least have expressed only concern for her son. I just expect a certain percentage of people to say some really vulgar stuff.

      I looked at your twitter account. I am pretty sure that those photos of Belle drinking and eating junk food are from 2009, when she claimed that she was healing her cancer naturally using diet. The internet version of Healing Belle only had more recent photos, and no one had any clue what she was up to before then. Belle still has not come out and said that she never had brain cancer. Until she does that, people will find ways to prove that her story is bogus. The photos do that.

      Here is my take (for all it's worth): people like Belle Gibson open themselves up to public criticism and a public analysis of her life. Belle Gibson herself put her health and her lifestyle at issue, and she did so very publicly. Karen, if someone was discussing you the way they are discussing Belle, then I would be the first person to jump to your defense, because you never made yourself a public figure. When you make yourself a public figure, then you get all the benefits of being one but along with that you get all the detriments. Belle took a really huge risk when she did this, and she well knew of the potential downside involved and decided to do it anyway. The only person who should not be a part of this is her son. Belle put him out there is a public figure alongside herself and of course he has no ability to decide for himself if that is what he wants.

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    4. This is Karen again.

      I should clarify: an allegation of hypocrisy, IF there is evidence to support it, is relevant. You can't trade on your healthy lifestyle image, making megabucks out of it, and at the same point be putting away large quantities of booze and junk food in private. If that's the point BG Uncovered were trying to make, it's a valid one.

      The problem I had with what they put on the Facebook page is that most of the photos I saw were undated. They didn't explicitly say things like: "this was taken in Oct 2013, [n] months AFTER she launched her Whole Pantry app / wrote her book / whatever". That would provide evidence for a charge of hypocrisy.

      Rather, I perceived a tone of "hey, everyone, have you ever met Belle? Do you have any photos of her as a hard-drinking party girl? Send 'em in!"

      For example: "One of Belle Gibson's supporters messaged us complaining that the photos of her with alcohol were rare isolated incidents and that we were unfair. Well here's another one." No date. Just the photo.

      And I found that tone very distasteful. Who among us doesn't cringe at the thought of a photo from our misspent youth surfacing again? I've never drunk alcohol, but there are a couple of other things I'm less than proud of, and I sincerely hope no one ever digs up a photo of those. Fortunately I [mis]spent my own youth many years before the internet was a thing. And mobile phones.

      Apparently Gibson said her initial cancer diagnosis was in 2009 - but as we've seen, she's very hazy and contradictory when it comes to dates, not least her own birthdate. I'd be willing to cut her some slack with regard to exactly when she adopted this healthy diet. However, she wouldn't be able to deny things such as the date she set up her website, the date she launched her app, the date she signed a book deal, and so on. These things can be proven, and photos taken after those dates are relevant. But anything taken before then, or anything undated, is on shakier ground.

      I just felt people were starting to lose sight of what constitutes fair play, and were too eager to grab the nearest rotten tomato and fling it at her.

      Don't misunderstand me: I think what she is alleged to have done, if true (and the evidence does seem overwhelming), is appalling. I too have lost loved ones to cancer. Cancer quacks, anti-vaxxers, science-deniers, and other woo-peddlers enrage me, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will know. And I am even more enraged at Gibson than I was at Ainscough. For all her mad and dangerous ideas, Ainscough at least believed them. She deluded herself as much as anyone else, and paid a terrible price for it. Gibson, if the allegations are true, is not deluded at all, but is a calculating fraudster. And I am angry, and I want to see her brought to justice.

      But even in the midst of my anger, I try to cling to some standard of fair play. I don't always succeed, but I try. And I felt the Uncovered page was beginning to lose sight of that, and encourage a "let's sink the boot in" tone, and it disturbed me. At the very least, they were getting a bit lazy with their standard of evidence. I will readily concede I'm wrong if they can provide evidence that every photo they've posted was taken after Gibson's "Whole Pantry" public profile began.

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    5. Hi Karen! Thanks for your kind comments. I'm grateful to Violet too for creating this enclave of sanity.

      I can see both sides of this, and I understand your concern. I actually think the moderators of the 'Belle Gibson Uncovered' page on Facebook are doing a very good job of staying balanced, but as you pointed out, they are attracting some less balanced commenters, or outright trolls. They have to walk a fine line between deleting blatantly cruel or threatening comments and allowing some freedom of speech. They don't want to be like TWP's Facebook page, and systematically delete dissenting voices (I think even TWP gave up on this pretty fast).

      I take your point about the photos of Belle drinking or eating donuts, but I don't totally agree that dating the images is imperative, and here's why:

      Belle Gibson was not actually diagnosed with cancer in 2009 as she claimed. Her whole story is predicated on this myth that she was responsible for the care of a sick mother and a sick brother, that her dysfunctional childhood resulted in excessive consumption of junk food and in obesity, that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and responded badly to conventional treatment, and that she subsequently changed her diet and lifestyle, effectively cured her disease, and started The Whole Pantry to encourage others to do the same.

      This story is clearly not true. Whether photos of Belle eating donuts and drinking beer were taken before 2009 or after I think is beside the point, because the cancer/whole foods epiphany that was the catalyst for TWP never actually took place.

      What we're dealing with here is a girl who apparently decided that pretending to have cancer and to cure it with a trendy diet, to document that process publicly and to found a business on it, would be a great way to get famous and make money. She was right.

      Any publicly accessible data that exposes that fraud is fair game, and examining events that took place PRIOR to the founding of TWP is reasonable, especially when she herself has uploaded that information to the internet. She wasn't too worried about privacy when posting her address to the skateboarding forum, for example.

      Is it permissible for a young woman to eat junk food? Absolutely, I'm doing it right now. But when that woman has aggressively and publicly endorsed a restrictive diet as a cure for cancer, based on a myth about her own life, it's legitimate for the public to look at the evidence available to us and conclude that Belle Gibson has actually never been what she seemed. For example, she claims to have discovered a passion for organic vegetables age 12, but what we know of her later teenage and young adult years suggests she had a more relaxed attitude to diet.

      I do know what you mean about "putting the boot in." It would be a shame if this devolved into a revenge thing. But for seriously ill people out there who have been duped by one too many lifestyle gurus, a little schadenfreude might be a good thing, especially if it leads to a shakedown of the "fantasy-based medicine" industry.

      I thank you for making your point graciously - I think we're in agreement on essentials! I too hope Belle Gibson is brought to justice for what you rightly call calculated fraud, and I hope to see the end of the delusion that killed Jess Ainscough.

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    6. Yes, we do seem to be fundamentally on the same side here, Ella.

      I think what I'm trying to say, perhaps much too clumsily, is that I prefer the tone and the content here on this blog. Violet's thoughtful posts are attracting people who want to make a more valuable contribution to the discussion than "OMG, isn't she a bitch! How could she do it! Let's give her another kick, shall we?", which the Facebook page is attracting. I despise what Gibson has done, but there's only so much of that sort of comment that I can take. I'm trying to distance myself from that, and make it very clear that I do think she should be brought to justice, but I don't think every misdeed she's ever done in her life, especially in her childhood, is fair game. (I shudder to think how I would be judged if some of the unkind things I did during my teens were hauled out for public scrutiny.) I didn't have the timeline of events straight, and it seemed to me that the FB page admins were going back too far and dredging up irrelevancies. I accept that I have been wrong about the timeline of events, and that the things they have uncovered are indeed relevant to the current allegations, and I apologise.

      I think there's room, and a desperate need, to talk about SO much more than "Here's another photo! And another!" The credulity of the media. The credulity of the public. The apparent unwillingness of some journalists to do the most basic fact-checking. The responsibility that journalists have to provide accurate health information to the public, and not to uncritically promote every snake-oil merchant. The elevation of a story that will sell magazines - no matter how preposterous - over the rather dull truth ("Yet another claimed cancer cure doesn't work!") The ethics of Apple not dropping the app immediately because they thought what Gibson had done was immoral, but only later on, after they could see the backlash was damaging their brand. The question of whether book publishers have an obligation to establish the bona fides of their authors. The lack of scientific literacy among the general public, and what's causing it. The fallacy of "if it's natural, it must be good." The way we worship the young and beautiful. The idea of internet fame at any cost. The cult of positivity (cf. Barbara Ehrenreich's "Smile or Die"). The idea of a close friendship with, and subsequent betrayal by, a person you've never met (the subject of this page's post). The worshipful, more than slightly cultish language that many women use on social media (the subject of your first comment above). And much more.

      I haven't enjoyed watching Gibson's downfall. I find it desperately sad, and I've struggled to control my anger. I constantly monitor what I tweet about her: Am I being fair? Am I starting to bully her? Some media stories do provoke a bit of pass-the-popcorn schadenfreude in me, but not this one. Possibly because Ainscough's death is still so recent and even more sad.

      But although I haven't enjoyed any of that, I have been enjoying reading the discussions in this blog that have arisen from it all, and like you, I hope something good ultimately comes out of it.

      Thanks for your tip about the Name/URL option. I'm giving it a try now.

      Karen ( @kcIMT122 on Twitter )

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    7. I LOVE THAT BARBARA EHRENREICH BOOK. Highly recommended read for people enjoying this blog!

      And I couldn't agree more about all the topics you listed. I think that's what sets Violet's blog apart. It predated the Belle Gibson crisis anyway (and maybe partly precipitated it?), so it was already concerned with some of the larger issues surrounding bloggery-quackery.

      One of the things that really baffles me about this whole deal is how even professional, established journalists talked to Belle, and about Belle, like starstruck groupies. Like you, I'm also interested in the larger issues.

      I must admit, I'm not particularly sad. I'm sad about (and angry at) Jess Ainscough, but Belle is just a fraud. She's benefited far too much from her lies, for far too long, to be pitied. She may well have encouraged dying people to eschew life-saving treatment, and I'm overjoyed that she won't be in a position to do that anymore.

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  22. BTW, Karen, you can use a name by choosing the "Name/URL" option. You just leave the URL blank, click publish, then do the authentication thing. :)

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  24. Just a link to this article:
    http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/richard-cooke/2015/20/2015/1426809240/belle-s-hells
    To emphasise just how breath-taking Belle Gibson's charade has been and how easily media and followers swallowed it. I wonder if the social media scene will learn anything by it?

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    1. That's a good article. I'm glad people are starting to ask the right questions.

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    2. I agree. In particular, Richard Cooke does a good job of explaining why Munchausen's doesn't really fit as a reason for her behaviour. People with Munchausen's crave medical attention, but not Belle. A doctor poking his or her nose in would have been the last thing she wanted, because she wouldn't have been able to fool them for a moment.

      When I read the "Dr Phil who makes house calls" bit, I couldn't help laughing because I was reminded of something. Does anyone remember the TV ad for HBA (a few years old now), with young children telling wildly improbable stories of how they came to be injured? - "And then a crocodile came up, and he bit me in pieces, and my leg went that way, and my head went that way..." It's here, if you've never seen it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6ZKcwkfQHk

      That's what Belle reminds me of. She lies like a young child. She couldn't tell a sophisticated, plausible lie to save her life. And for that reason, I think any "open letter" from her, if it ever eventuates, will tell us little. It will either be full of more childish lies, provoking a backlash which will cause her to retreat from view again, or it will be lawyered and PRd to death and say no more than "Ms Gibson regrets any inconvenience caused, and would now like to spend time with her family, so she has requested privacy."

      The fact that she seems incapable of telling a sophisticated lie makes it all the more astonishing: HOW were so many people taken in by her? People who should have been in a position to know better. People whose JOB it was to know better. To me, delving into that question is far more interesting than speculating as to why she did it (because I think the answer to the latter is fairly boring: money, fame, and adoration).

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    3. I don't remember that ad (so cute) - but yes, that's exactly what she's like! A child who makes things up as they go along. And she seems to pile detail upon detail in a reckless, compulsive way.

      She tells the same story everywhere: mother and brother were sick, she became the sole carer, they moved from town to town, she was overweight, she left home at twelve, discovered organic vegetables, got cancer at twenty, disowned her mother, had a kid, started a business, then got some more cancer, and some more cancer, and after that, she got some MORE cancer! Not to mention all the fanciful details like passing out in the park.

      I've met people who compulsively overshare, and I've met people who are genuinely deluded (ie. friends with psychosis), but someone who so brashly spins such elaborate and ridiculous lies and gets away with it this long...that's unusual. Especially as she's not particularly bright. I think it was just a very strange convergence of different factors in Belle's favour. Belle herself isn't very complex, but that phenomenon is.

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  25. Whilst on a personal level I am not a fan of the old photos etc of Belle being used on websites, I think it is important to recognise that it is she and she alone that out herself in that position. As another contributor noted by encouraging and cultivating a public profile, she opened herself up to judgement - good and bad. I do not blame the admins of pages such as Belle Uncovered from placing what they believe is of interest to their readers. I may disagree with what someone may say or post, but I still believe (so long as no laws are broker) in their right to post such material, Similarly, we are all able to start our own Facebook pages or blogs if we believe existing forums are not providing responsible coverage or switch off/not read sites if we find them offensive, So far as the comments about potential bullying of Belle, I am afraid I have little sympathy for her. I prefer to focus that sympathy and support on people who, through no fault of their own, were deceived by someone they trusted,

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    1. I agree with you. I think the ethics of internet publicity are a bit fuzzy because it's all so new, but people need to understand that when they share personal data publicly on social media - for profit, fame or validation - you can't control it anymore.

      Belle clearly started using social media to her advantage years ago when she posted on the skateboarding forum. She told them she'd undergone heart surgery, and begged people to send her flowers, even posting her address online. It wasn't true, obviously, but she's discovered that could profit from sharing personal details with strangers. It's far too late, now, for her to take it all back.

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  26. OK, I am speechless.. Just saw on the BGU Facebook page that, in response to a post from Clare Bowditch on her site in relation to a fund-raising event, Belle (on her Harry Gibson account) has posted a message regarding donations !!! I checked the account and, yep, she has posted and Clare has replied ! I cannot believe it - she is taking us all for fools. Probably sitting back with a glass of wine and having a good laugh !!!

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    1. Well she must be much too busy to be typing out that 'explanation' then. Don't think we'll be seeing that from her anytime soon. Aside from the gobsmacking nerve of her, it's really sad how Belle Gibson has just turned Clare Bowditch's very kind efforts to support her cancer afflicted friend into a sideshow about herself.

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    2. Unbelievable! Where must her mind be?

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    3. Wow. I'm sure John would be just thrilled with another of Belle Gibson's notorious "IOU's."

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    4. Good insight into her personality. If you read the post by Clare she says 'there has been a lot of news about cancer lately... here is a true story'. Clearly calling out Belle. Clare Bowditch took Belle to Ubud with her business Big Heart Creative, so she has been taken in by Belle as well. Belles response is a clear challenge.

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    5. What was her response exactly to Claire?

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    6. BELLE: "Clare Bowditch, will there be a donation feed somewhere after the event?"

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    7. Did you notice Clare very pointedly replying to "Harry" by calling her "Belle"? Given that Clare needn't have addressed her by any name at all, I can't help thinking the "Belle" was code for "I know who you are, and just so we know where we stand, I'll make sure others do too. Don't think you can slide under the radar here as Harry." I'm trying to think of some other explanation, including that it might have been an accidental slip, but I can't think of one that fits.

      Regarding Belle sitting back and laughing at us, I'm not so sure. She must have known that people already know who "Harry" is, or soon would, even if Clare hadn't outed her. I think this may have been a pathetic attempt at "See what a nice person I am? See how I'm thinking of others in need, even in my own time of crisis?"

      Perhaps I'm reading too much into what some may see as a fairly innocuous comment, but the behaviour reminds me of a family member of mine (I won't name the relationship). This family member makes sure she's the first on the scene when someone is in need, is furious if someone else beats her to it, is furious if the needy person asks someone else for help and not her, constantly reminds us how helpful she is: "And then she said to me, 'X, you're my angel! I don't know WHAT I'd do without you!'" You get the idea. I'm sure many of you know someone like that.

      In Belle's case, posting this comment has the additional advantage of allowing her to say, after the inevitable outing and backlash, "Even when I try extra hard to be nice, everyone still hates me! I'm so misunderstood!" She gets to play the victim again.

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    8. I know someone just like your someone! We probably all do. (See my comment re Jackie Onassis above).

      I think/choose to believe you're right about Clare Bowditch's response. And I honestly get the impression Belle still thinks most people are on her side, and she's just dealing with a handful of haters. I think she's always defined herself as someone who battles opposition anyway. Her mother, her doctors, the friends and colleagues that dared to question the veracity of her story...she is always DEFYING somebody. It's part of the Belle Gibson myth. I don't think it's hit her yet that she's run out of credulous friends.

      It's ironic that she has often said, in these exact words, "I refuse to play the victim." But as you say, "playing the victim" is precisely what she's been doing all this time. The beautiful, tragic heroine who courageously proves her doctors wrong, builds a "gamechanging community" around her and magically living for years with a disease that usually kills in months.

      As a side note, I just returned to Amazon to find the quote I had seen there, but the Belle Gibson page is now ominously blank. No picture, no book for sale, just a customer comment that says "Uh oh. Turns out she's a fake."

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  27. Some good articles today, via the 'Belle Gibson Uncovered' Facebook page:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/the-curious-case-of-belle-gibson-1.2147035

    http://nypost.com/2015/03/20/simon-schuster-to-shred-cancer-curing-cookbook/

    http://www.entrehub.org/#!Department-of-Justice-on-the-trail-of-Australian-entrepreneur/c1fdu/550bbe4f0cf292acc4c7e994

    The comments from the public on the BGU Facebook are not always as civilised as they are here, but to admin's credit they have done a good job of staying on top of developing news and asking the right questions.

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  28. Unfortunately the Clare Bowditch incident with Belle highlights that soliciting donations via Facebook or other social media is in this day and day maybe not an appropriate way to raise funds, however, noble and honourable the cause may be. It would appear more prudent to provide funds to recognised agencies who can provide the support to cancer or other sufferers as required. I am not for a minute saying that many of these "stand alone" pleas for donations are not made with good intentions, but it is people like Belle Gibson who really taint the seeking of money by individuals or groups with no verification or guarantee where monies will end up.

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  29. Hi everyone! There are so many great comments and ideas here. So far I am really enjoying the dialog about how much privacy a public figure can reasonably expect (especially when their private life is the basis of their fame). I have not forgotten the blog and I hope everyone keeps stopping by. I have to work a lot this weekend so I don't anticipate any new posts or a lot of participation in the comments from my end, but I hope to be back here as soon as I can. I wish I had more time to join in on the discussion here, because it is just so good right now, but my boss is a real stickler about blogging when I am supposed to be working.

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    1. Hi Violet! :D

      I can't believe your boss expects you to do actual work. Here's something inspiring for you from Belle Gibson, regarding a friend who owned a small juicing company:

      'Her juices are just so alive, and so powerful, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out what it is. So I went and visited the place where she’s making them, and it’s so full of love, that is THE essential ingredient in everything she does. There are affirmations on pieces of paper on the produce, for example “these lemons are really cleansing”, “my beets are really beautiful” and “we’re grateful for our celery”. It’s something I’ve never done, but it really works!'

      Assuming you work in some kind of office environment, I recommend affixing post-it notes to various stationery items at your desk. For example, “these pencils have potential”, “my rulers are transcendent” and “I'm grateful for my stapler”.

      Have a life-affirming weekend.

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  30. Ella, you've made my day.

    My printer's out of black ink. I hate replacing ink cartridges. I've just told the new ink cartridge how wonderful I think it is and how splendidly black its ink will come out. Strangely, it's not going over to the printer and installing itself. Clearly, I need to make my affirmations more intense and heartfelt. I'll keep working on it.

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    1. Hey, maybe you only THINK your printer needs cartridges because that's what society has CONDITIONED you to think. Try incorporating more kale into your diet!

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  31. Girls, don't stress, I have an ebook about to be released that will cover these stationery related roadblocks. You'll be able to download it for free and one lucky reader will receive a free life coaching session. Please note, however, this session will need to be scheduled in the latter part of the year as I am booked in for B School and am attending an advanced workshop on creating the perfect selfie !

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    1. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to win that free life-coaching session. I've always felt like you were my soul sister, Anonymous.

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  32. Glad to hear it Ella !! Sorry for the delay in response - was just detoxing my liver by drinking some lemon in water. I think next time I'll try taking the skin off, was a nightmare trying to gulp it all down.

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    1. Don't EVER apologise for detoxing your liver.

      And yes, ideally you would peel the lemon. Otherwise you're essentially just eating a lemon, and then drinking a glass of water. But in fact I believe it is your intent that makes all the difference. If you have the right attitude, just gazing thoughtfully at a lemon can work wonders for your liver.

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  33. Select lemons with a post-it note stuck t the box next time. #cleansing #lovecancureappallingindigestion

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    1. Hey, we both just posted approximately the same thing at exactly the same time. That can't be a coincidence. Think we can spin a profitable empire out of this 'Love/Lemon/Post-it-Note Cleanse?' The marketing basically writes itself!

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  34. for some crazy reason Clive Rothwell is still accepting follow requests on Instagram. I was following him and he has deleted about 35 posts in the last half hour...including a picture of himself but not before I screenshot it - don't know how to post on here will try to put it on BGU facebook. He is a lot older than Belle and seems to have been with her for a few years. He seems to have teenage children who are also on Instagram. He posts alot about media manipulation and corruption which is rather ironic?! I have screen shot some hilariously hypocritical posts. He seems to be very smart - I think people's assumption that he may be the brains behind it all could be true. I just saw a video interview with Belle on the BGU facebook page from the apple even last year and she can barely string two words together?! she is what Australians call a 'Bogun'

    I just dont buy that Clive didnt know - of course he did. He has lived with her for years - i think you would know if she had a terminal illness!

    How can I post these shots?

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    1. You could create an account with Photobucket.com or something, upload the images to your account, and then copy and paste the URL here.

      You've done some good digging, May - I could find anything much on the elusive Clive Rothwell. He must be smart, and he must be involved, surely!

      I agree, Belle's slick, readily marketable images just melts away when she starts talking. Someone obviously advised her to talk as little as possible and smile as broadly as possible as often as possible, and it was good advice. Of course, even her veneers can't save her now.

      I'm certainly curious about Clive's tweets.

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    2. Clive's instagram is public and pretty easy to find, although I am hesitant to post a link here and almost all photos of Belle have been deleted from it. I find it curious that he follows neither TWP or healing_belle (nor do they follow him).

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    3. I couldn't find it, but I'm not actually signed up to Instagram, and I couldn't be bothered signing up just to look at pictures of Belle Gibson's boyfriend.

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  35. Unfortunately I don't think anyone will publish the photos.Whilst Clive Rothwell was heavily involved in the development of the apple and was happy to be referred to in a range of reports relating to the app, for some reason now the legitimacy of that same app is in the spotlight he is silent. I would have thought it was not unfair to question him and his involvement more. At this stage it appears obvious that Belle did not act alone and it would seem Clive at the very least should be under some scrutiny. That's not to say he should be automatically blamed, but to be totally removed from the discussions makes it all look even more usual. At this stage revealing more about Belle is the easy part. The more challenging part is now finding out who may be complicit in the whole scam.

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    1. Alex Benevento designed the actual App. Clive Rothwell played a major role and I suspect many at Apple helped out as well (which is why they were so reluctant to drop it).

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    2. It does seem strange though that Clive Rothwell has completely flown under the radar ... I am surprised none of the journalists have really mentioned him. Even if they were afraid of claims they were defaming him I am sure there are ways his role can be examined without placing themselves in a legal situation. The fact that he registered the domains for TWP, as publicly involved with the development of the app, and lives with Belle must make him a person of interest at least.

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  36. Sad article here:

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/family-of-desperately-ill-boy-fear-health-guru-belle-gibson-used-their-son-to-bolster-her-cancer-claims/story-fni0fit3-1227273020233

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    1. Really sad and so, so sick on Belle's part! The picture of the scan shows just how easy it would be for Belle to prove her brain tumor claims if it were true.
      Poor little fella:(

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    2. That was my thought, too. I imagine that was partly their purpose in showing the x-ray.

      This is why I hope Belle is brought to justice, somehow. The cancellation of her book and app and the inevitable collapse of her business are a good start. But those people she conned, the ones who really are dealing with serious illness, deserve vindication.

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    3. I certainly will not believe any scans Belle will come up with given what I have read so far. She is capable of coming up with anything, a photoshopped scan is not a remote possibility.

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    5. I think that for that very reason it would be impossible for Belle to dupe the public with a fake brain scan. People would be able to work out very quickly what kind of cancer it depicted and at what stage. In fact, Belle would have to provide pathology for her other cancers as well. So while it might be easy for Belle to find brain scans online, it would be impossible to find any that she could convincingly pass off as her own.

      She won't do that, at this point. She's already admitted that she was "deceived." Hopefully the authorities and the media will apply enough pressure that she'll soon have to admit to being the "deceiver."

      Delete
  37. I think it strange that there are virtually no photos of Belle and Clive together. I'd say it was to protect himself and solidify the young single mother image.

    Can you just imagine the kind of kitchen table conversations went on in their house if he was indeed in on it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you'd think there'd be photos of Clive Rothwell with Belle, showing support to his terminally ill partner. Or even joining her for an interview, and telling the journalist what an inspiration Belle is etc.

      I agree that it sounds as though it was a strategy he had in place from the start, to protect himself. He probably wanted to keep his image out of the media and distance himself from her when it all fell apart (which he probably anticipated it would).

      Initially I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the fact he hasn't spoken out makes it appear that, at the very least he supports what Belle has done, and at the worst was heavily involved.

      Delete
  38. Richard Cooke's article in The Monthly was smart and had some excellent points but I don't agree with his overall analysis. He begins by questioning how Belle managed to dupe the media for so long.

    Cooke argues that, "Lifestyle publications, colour supplements and women's magazines are supported by an advertising culture that can't acknowledge ageing, let alone getting sick and dying".

    He writes, "It's not an accident that the alternative cancer cure proponents these publications signal boost aren't hardy baby boomers getting a second go. Instead, they just look like the adds: young, white, blonde and with a fresh-faced, conventional Australian attractiveness that's equated with vitality".

    Cooke concludes by writing that Belle "made herself into the perfect avatar of this culture: all the inspiration of cancer, and none of the disease. No wonder she found her audience so receptive, and the media so grateful".

    Here's why I disagree....
    On 13 September, 2014, The Age wrote an article about Belle Gibson. It was shortly after Belle won her Apple deal. Since then, she's featured in Elle, Cosmo, Peppermint Mazagine and a whole range of other media etc.

    This article was NOT published in a Lifestyle magazine. It was written by two Age journalists - Racheal Jones and Gary Barker. In the article, Belle tells the journalists that in 2009 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given 3 months to live. Shortly after, she tells them, she gave up treatment and changed her diet and lifestyle. She says, "Six weeks after my diagnosis, I changed my diet. Like most Australians, I found I was eating too many refined sugars, red meat and refined foods".

    The article was published just after Belle had posted on her Facebook page about her secondary cancers (in her spleen, liver, uterus and blood) and yet the the article mentions a new cancer in her kidneys (?). This would have been a great opportunity to do a bit of investigating....

    Did these journos actually look at her FB profile and do some cross-checking? Did they notice that Belle basically made out that she was dying in her post about her secondary cancers and that her fans had no idea she was in the US working with Apple? And did they notice that a month later when Belle's book was released that the book doesn't mention a thing about her secondary cancers?

    In my opinion, the media just wasn't on the ball, full stop. I totally get that there are resource issues but you only have to go and google brain tumours and check out some of the survival stats, look at some brain tumour forums, use your intuition and bingo....FRAUD. You could also go and have a chat to a surgeon or an oncologist and establish very quickly that's it's pretty much impossible for a primary brain tumour to spread outside the CNS.

    You can't have aggressive cancer of any kind and simply just quit sugar, eat less red meat, more veggies etc. and still be alive 5 years down the track....

    Media Watch summed it up perfectly - "If it sounds too good to be true, it is".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can't have aggressive cancer of any kind and simply just quit sugar, eat less red meat, more veggies etc. and still be alive 5 years down the track....

      ^^^THIS^^^ Scrutinise EVERY such cancer story, people.

      Delete
    2. Insightful comment, Suzie!

      I hadn't seen that article in the Age, but you're exactly right: the newspapers that are now publishing exposé's of Belle have also published articles praising her. It's interesting that she compulsively told even the Age journalist, when being interviewed about the development of an app, "When I was first diagnosed - my mother fell into complete denial and fear and I had to let go of that relationship." It seems completely unprofessional and unnecessary to volunteer that information, but she obviously has an origin story that she feels she NEEDS to tell everyone to nix any queries about her history.

      It's interesting that you mention the newspaper vs. lifestyle mag thing. I first read about Belle in Elle magazine, and I was so outraged that I nearly wrote a letter to the editor, but I decided the problem was just too big, and I wouldn't make a dent in it. Interestingly, it never occurred to me at the time that Belle might be lying about her cancer. I did think her life story was a bit far-fetched, and I assumed she'd just glossed-up some of the details to market herself more effectively as a "little Aussie battler" (Google it).

      But what really made me angry was that she was claiming she'd kept her cancer at bay for four years with diet and lifestyle changes, that she was advocating this treatment for all cancer patients, and that in spite of everything it clearly HADN'T WORKED in her case. She had just claimed to have been diagnosed with all the other cancers, that she was having multiple almost hour-long seizures, and that she was likely to die within weeks or months. But she was still leaving her son behind to travel to the US, saying "it's just something I have to do." She finished by saying to all of us, "Please don't try to carry me or my pain. I've got this."

      I had no intention of trying to "carry her pain." I was incensed that she was making a great deal of money on the back of a lie - that whole foods, hydration and "moving your body a little more" can cure terminal disease.

      ANY journalist should have been equally dubious, which is why I was so angry with Elle magazine.

      Delete
    3. I deliberately didn't buy that magazine because I knew it would have a really bad affect on me! :)

      I do think that Belle got her massive following on Instagram and Facebook because she is pretty and blonde and that, despite her apparent cancer, she always looked fresh and fabulous. This basically appealed to all those people who love to drink green smoothies and subscribe to the latest fad diet.
      So Richard Cooke is right there - Belle had a receptive audience.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  39. I find it hard to understand how any of the journalists writing up her story didn't have alarm bells going off...

    - Mother with MS
    - Autistic brother
    - Left home at 12
    - Heart surgery
    - A 3 minute death
    - Brain cancer
    - Family estrangement
    - Miscarriage
    - Everywhere else cancer

    Seriously it's a ludicrous story that was just ripe for the picking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - to be fair, the heart surgery and 3 minute death came out just recently through the skateboarder forums. I don't think Belle ever spoke about that to the media about that.

      Delete
    2. Ah yes that's true - sorry, I'm in a haze of disbelief:)

      Delete
    3. On the other hand, the information Belle posted on the skateboarding was readily accessible to the public online, so a savvy journalist might have done their homework anyway. I'd be really interested to know which (if any) of these things is true. Does anyone know who her parents are? Does her mother really have MS? Does she really have an autistic brother? Did her father really leave them? Did she really leave home at 12?

      I'm not suggesting WE answer these questions. Her mother, whether she has MS or not, may have long since let her wayward daughter go. But it would make an interesting longform article sometime.

      Another question: does anyone know if TWP had actual employees, besides Belle and Clive? I have an awful mental image of some nice young women in a really chic office-space somewhere (hardwood floors, a couple of ferns, silk-screened inspirational posters, a bowl of fruit) wringing their hands and waiting for Belle to produce a brain scan and reassure them that they're not going to lose their jobs.

      Delete
    4. *skateboarding forum.

      I need to either start proofreading, or stop writing such long comments. I keep making stupid typos. BUT AT LEAST I 'FESS UP AND MAKE AMENDS FOR MY MISTAKES PROMPTLY.

      Delete
    5. If you look at other prominent online 'teams' you will notice they make a point of peomoting individual faces in the team (take IQS for example). There has ever even been names, let alone faces of people from the TWP 'team'. I doubt there is such a thing. Although I do remember seeing a 'felicity' on one of the FB comments.

      Delete
    6. I read an article today that stated she had eight employees and was looking to take on three more. I doubt she would have been savy enough to make them sign confidentiality agreements if they did indeed exist. I also don't recall any social media pics of her 'team', which is also quite strange - a lot of similar organizations share a lot of behind the scenes and team pics.

      Delete
    7. I also want to know if she really ate only vegan/gmo free/white light infused food as she claimed!

      Delete
    8. White light is so expensive these days.

      Delete
    9. I read that her office space in North Melbourne was form of shared office space for small businesses. If that's true, it would be interesting to hear from someone that worked for one of the other companies in the same building.

      Delete
    10. Side note - I don't think she claimed she was vegan (I could be wrong). Some of the recipes on TWP certainly aren't vegan and I seem to recall a picture Belle posted at a cafe eating eggs.

      Delete
  40. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3001594/As-health-professionals-call-fitspo-stars-dangerous-warn-people-not-trust-ask-wellness-bloggers-doing-followers-harm-good.html

    Increasing scrutiny, not sure its the most reputable source but hopefully it ill be also picked up by other outlets

    ReplyDelete
  41. Most people are confused why someone would a) pretend to be terminally ill b).then post to a public audience about it c) claim to be healing themselves through 'alternative' therapies and special food d) then start selling services ( to their gathered public audience) of alternative therapies and food recipes and finally what confuses people most is e) after a period of time cause a sensation among their audience/buyers/ followers by upping the ante and claiming further illness (of which more sympathy and followers ensue)
    All of this technique is not munchausen or memtal illness its called "a long con" which is about creating a business around sympathy and even love. To keep up sales for a long time over years keep upping the sympathy levels by new illnesses and change stories to confuse

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Exactly! Thank you.

      If she was a middle-aged man, people wouldn't be rushing to attribute her deception to a mental illness.

      Delete
    2. Agree. And Belle got away with for so long. Still waiting for the 'Open Letter'...

      Delete
    3. Suzie I'll bet there never is an open letter to explain anything. Because grifter sociopaths never admit directly. They feel entitled because they're worked so long at the con and expect to be discovered at some stage so will close shop and just pop up again with another brand or entity. They usually btw work in partnerships with other cons to be really good at it

      Delete
    4. Definition of a scam artist / grifter " Grifters come in all shapes and sizes; their backgrounds are as varied as those of their potential marks. There is no common socio-economic factor, no religious belief or political stripe; not even sexual orientation distinguishes the grifter. No, the only common factor among all grifters is their natural ability to manipulate those around them. A grifter is, above all, a highly gifted liar"
      Interesting she uses the term game-changer alot for herself and to describe her followers read this:
      "Grifters are social creatures, but are in reality sociopaths.Grifters will often refer to their scams as "games," because to a grifter the scam is exactly that - an amusing and challenging game." A very lucrative game.

      Delete
    5. I never expected the "open letter" to explain everything, at least not to our satisfaction. But I'm still interested in reading what she THINKS is a satisfactory explanation of her conduct. I think you're giving her too much credit for playing the "game." While I agree that she is certainly a con-artist (I don't know if she can be both a "sociopath" and a "grifter" - you might have to pick one), she's really not a very good one. She's in a heap of very public trouble, she talks about herself compulsively, and there's no chance she can just disappear down the rabbit hole and pop up somewhere else.

      I have this mental picture of her turning up in a trench coat with a moustache and saying "Hello! My name is Gelle Bibson..."

      Delete
    6. Hahaaa! You win! (a box of live-activated lemons)

      Delete
    7. *love. How could I get the secret ingredient wrong?

      Delete
  42. Ella's earlier comments about the language of women's social media ("you inspire me", "you're my soul sister", "you're amazing"), and the practice of attaching affirmations to inanimate objects ("these lemons are really cleansing", "my beets are really beautiful", have got me thinking about another kind of language prevalent on wellness blogs.

    I'd call it the anthropomorphization of illness, for want of a better term. Your illness is a purposeful entity, separate from you. Moreover, illness is not only made human, it's made benevolent. Your cancer apparently loves you, and wants what is best for you.

    You see in writing such as this (a quote from Ainscough's website): "I’ve come to peace with the idea that I may live with cancer forever… It’s part me, here to guide me and teach me. However, at the same time I have faith that my body will completely heal once I’ve completely learnt the lesson that my cancer is here to teach me."

    This is such a weird way of thinking that I'm struggling to understand it. I'm disinclined to think that cancer is here to teach you anything. It makes no sense to me to think of a series of abnormal and uncontrollable cell divisions as wanting to teach me something. If I had cancer, I wouldn't be ascribing any kind of intent to it, and even if you pushed me to do so, it sure wouldn't be a benevolent one. If you MUST give it a motive, it makes much more sense to think of cancer as an evil bastard doing its best to kill us. If Ainscough's cancer really was trying to teach her something, it sounds like that lesson was "I'm going to kill you."

    It's rather like another phrase you often see in these types of blogs: "as nature intended". Nature doesn't intend anything. Nature is blithely indifferent to whether you live or die. Humans may care, but nature doesn't.

    I've read very little of Gibson's writing - most of what I know about Gibson is only what has surfaced in the past few weeks - and I wonder if she also uses this kind of "my cancer is trying to teach me something" language.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I seem to recall that she used to employ all sorts of flowery "wellness" buzz/weasel words, including stuff about "life lessons" (attributable to the 'special state' of being a 'cancer Thriver') throughout her blog.

      Unfortunately, I always felt that Belle Gibson was a fairly obviously greasy con-artist as opposed to Ainscough - hence I was amazed that it took so very long for her business empire to be exposed. I also thought that if I (of all people) could see it, surely others did and therefore a blog being written by an actual cancer sufferer touting such dangerous anti-science ideas which was followed by so many thousands of credulous people was probably the greater public health risk, on balance.

      As such, I made a middling cache of "Health articles" etc. written by Ainscough as I was fairly sure her blog might be sent down the memory hole after her demise. Fortunately the folks over at BGU seem to be on top of things...

      Peta

      Delete
    2. Karen, I couldn't agree more about anthropomorphic illnesses. I think it all comes from this 'Law of Attraction' nonsense, where you 'attract' the thing you need. If you get cancer, it's because there was some life lesson you had to learn in able to become who you were meant to be, the universe senses that need, and sends you the cancer to sort you out.

      Then, if you cure the cancer, congratulations! It's because of your own positive attitude. If you do not cure the cancer, you have not learned your lessons, you do not pass 'Go,' and you do not collect $200.

      I'm inclined to agree with you that if cancer has a personality at all, it's the evil bastard kind of personality. Please note, I am not a doctor, so "evil bastard" may not be the preferred technical term.

      Peta, you're right about the wellness buzz words. She used them ALL. I first read about her in Elle magazine last year, and while it honestly never occurred to me that she might be lying about having cancer (I did think she might be exaggerating the original prognosis), I was outraged at the level of woo the mainstream media was accepting uncritically. Fighting terminal cancer with dietary and lifestyle changes? Come on. Using your own illness to sell an app? Straight-up con. I couldn't, and still can't, believe people are so gullible.

      Delete
  43. I'm finding it really odd that the BGU page is friends with harry gibson (belle gibson) on fb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can a business page have friends?

      Delete
    2. That sounds really weird. Could it be because Belle/Harry wants to keep an eye on the BGU page and that friending the page is the most convenient way for her to do that? (sorry, I really don't know much about how FB works).

      Delete
  44. I've worked up a head of steam over this piece I've just read, which doesn't allow comments, so I'm going to rant about it here.

    http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/shaming-belle-gibsons-supporters-is-as-useless-as-it-is-unfair-20150324-1m6i42.html

    Darmody writes:
    "So when I read comments that the well-meaning publishers and supporters of Belle Gibson should have been somehow icily vigilant; that Gibson's apparent health and youth and unusual-sounding diagnoses should have led to immediate fact-checking and distrust, I want to ask, how? How exactly do you say to a young person who tells you that they were ill and are now looking to help others, "Sorry, I just don't buy it..."?"

    How? HOW?

    Firstly, you use a little common sense. Cancer victims with only four months to live, or whatever it was, don't normally look as perky and pretty and healthy as Gibson. That's Red Flag #1.

    Secondly, you realise that Gibson's claims are highly unusual. Think back over everything you've ever read on brain tumours; can you ever recall a case of one being cured by diet alone? Even if you don't have a medical background, this should raise Red Flag #2. Darmody's story, in contrast, is utterly normal: the BRCA gene was discovered by medical science, and many women carry it. There is nothing in Darmody's story that medical science would contradict or even be suspicious of.

    Thirdly, if you're a journalist, a publisher, Apple, or someone either with a financial interest in Gibson's story or a role in promoting it, you seek out an oncologist, and present her claims to them. You listen as they explain that this is story is so very unusual that it should not be taken at face value. Proof should be sought. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Then perhaps you'd like to talk to a second oncologist, to confirm the opinion of the first. You'll have no trouble finding one. I'm prepared to bet that agreement will be almost universal.

    Armed with this information, you return to Gibson, and put these medical opinions to her. You explain politely that the onus is on her to prove her extraordinary claims. If she can prove them, she has little to worry about. This isn't bullying a sick woman; it's simply called doing your job. You may be uncomfortable doing it, but it will save an awful lot of egg on face later on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, yes. All good points. I would add that Belle Gibson wasn't "looking to help others," she was running a profitable, high-profile business. When I buy quinoa from a supermarket, the supermarket isn't "trying to help" me. When I purchase antiobiotics, it's not because the pharmaceutical company "loves" me.

      We need to stop entangling the terminology of charity, empathy, and "love" with business, because that's when you stop asking the critical questions. When a dying woman says she wants to help others, and assures you that "most" of the proceeds of her business are going to charity, asking the hard questions makes you feel guilty and heartless. Belle KNOWS that, and that's why she co-opted that terminology.

      Even now she is suggesting that the good TWP did far outweighed the bad. The good of encouraging people to eat more vegetables, apparently, cancels out the bad of lying, stealing money from charities, and making a profit by encouraging vulnerable people to eschew necessary conventional medical interventions.

      I would also add that "vigilance" needn't be "icy." And fact-checking isn't so much "vigilance" as "due diligence." Darmody is an idiot. Sorry, Darmody.

      Delete
    2. Yes Karen, and Ella: I also read Darmody's piece, and concluded that in her headlong rush to claim the moral high ground - as she dimly perceives it - she apparently parked her commonsense in a galaxy so far away she may never find it again.

      I don't see any need to apologise for calling Darmody an idiot. I read the thing through marveling at the self-righteous stupidity of it .

      Delete
    3. I don't know Sarah Darmody, and this is the first thing she's written that I have ever read, so I'll withhold my judgment of her intelligence and just say that she hasn't thought this one through too well.

      I wonder why the article doesn't have provision for comments. Daily Life articles usually do, but not this one. I'm unsure on what basis the editorial decision is made. Perhaps it's the author who is tasked with the moderating of comments, and Darmody didn't want to do it? If that's the case, I think it's a mistake. People will just vent in other forums such as this one.

      Another quote from Darmody's article:
      "The world holds together largely through social contracts; on a willingness to believe in the best of each other."

      It does. I don't dispute that for a moment. But the world also works best when we apply a modicum of common sense and rational thinking, and don't swallow preposterous stories whole. If someone says they see a unicorn, I want some evidence. Gibson's claims, right from when she first entered the public eye, were unicorns.

      "I deserved to be taken at my word, and our book did a lot of good."

      Darmody was taken at her word because her claim - that she had had a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction because she was carrying the BRCA gene - was completely unremarkable and well within the bounds of medical science. But it's utter nonsense for Darmody to suggest that in the interests of peace and harmony we should accept everyone's claims equally, without asking for evidence. To do that is to enter a Bliss Ninny world: http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com/warriorshtm/blissninny.htm

      Hey, I'd like people to be able to get along in peace and harmony too! I'd like them to sort out their differences without killing each other. But I don't want to abandon my critical faculties in order to do it. I don't want to live in a Bliss Ninny world. And if that means hurt feelings occasionally, so be it.

      Delete
    4. "Darmody was taken at her word because her claim - that she had had a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction because she was carrying the BRCA gene - was completely unremarkable and well within the bounds of medical science."

      ^This.

      Delete
  45. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Or alternatively, you read her Facebook page for 5 minutes....(before all the deleted posts).

    What bugs me it that a lot of these people who are engaging with this debate don't appear to have followed Belle for very long or they have only just heard about her now. Her FB page last year was full of all her dodgy claims, the red flags etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why does that bug you? (Genuine question. I'm not being snarky, I'm just curious.) It's hardly people's fault if they hadn't heard of her until recently.

      I can't recall having heard of Gibson before the not-giving-money-to-charity story broke a few weeks ago.That's probably because I don't read the kind of fluffy publications (Elle, Cosmo, etc.) that promoted her, and my quack radar was pretty much taken up with Ainscough, Burszynski, Dorey, Beattie, Messenger, Wakefield, McCarthy, Mercola, Hari, and quite a few others. There are many, many people around pushing deluded and dangerous health messages; it's not surprising that Gibson got a bit crowded out.

      The day the Gibson story broke (still only the charity story, not the faking cancer one), I read her claims and thought "What a pile of..."

      Does having only just heard of her, but coming up to speed fairly quickly, make one unqualified to weigh in to the debate?

      Delete
    2. No, you're right Karen. I wrote that comment without really thinking.

      Delete
    3. "My quack radar was full" perfectly explains why I didn't write the angry email to the editor I should have written when I first read that article about Belle in Elle last year. I just thought "ugh, if she's already on board with Apple and Penguin, she's gone mainstream, and my teeny tiny little letter to the editor won't make a dent."

      I think "our quack radar is full" should be the motto of Violet's website.

      Delete
  46. Karen....My quack radar is almost identical to yours. Add Tenpenny and Clements.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! And Evans! Good ol' Pete, the man of the moment. How could I forget him.

      Delete
  47. Hi All!

    I am still quite busy with work at the moment, and so I was wondering if anyone might be interested in writing a guest blog post. I want to keep the blog fresh and have new topics of conversation flowing all the time. Let me know if you're interested. violetrealitybased@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. Maybe someone might like to look at the very interesting theory that Belle might have been in part 'inspired' by what was happening to a photographer in the Sk8 community.

    It's a theory which the founder of BGUU suggested on BGU, but the admins shut her down and blocked her.

    She pointed out the similarity in tumour/timing with this poor man's story. I looked at the 2014 dates and even more fits in. On July 17 he made a public announcement that he was ceasing treatment after exhausting his options, and he died a little over a month later. Belle's Insta-tragedy post about her recurrent cancer was July 29.

    I am not suggesting any personal link with this poor, much lived man: rather that she might have taken a wee bit of inspiration there too ?

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    1. *loved. Bloody phone/fingers.

      Delete
  49. Belle Gibson Uncovered Uncovered is a nut job. Maybe the theory is correct, however it is just plain hilarious to start an 'uncovered uncovered' page. That first rambling post is enough to make me stay as clear of them as I would of Belle Gibson.

    ReplyDelete