David Stephan is a proponent of the quackery of naturopathy that involves treating serious medical conditions with nutritional supplements and refusing real medical treatment. In 2016, he and his wife Collet was convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life after they had refused to take their young toddler Ezekiel (who was suffering and later died from meningitis) to the doctor.
David was sentenced to 4 months in prison and Collet got house arrest for 3 months. They both were ordered to 240 hours of community service. The reason for the difference was because Collet did call a nurse and looked up the disease on the Internet, whereas David just went out and bought more naturopathic fakery and showed extreme remorselessness at trial.
Even during the trial, the Stephan made up various nonsense rationalizations, both to explain away their crime and their trial. David wrongly said that it was somehow impossible to detect that it was meningitis unless they were under around-the-clock medical supervision and that therefore it was not negligent to wait almost two weeks before calling for emergency medical assistant. He also stated that they had “gone above and beyond where he has received exceptional care”, a statement that appears extremely delusional with the facts on the table. After they were convicted (but before sentencing), David created a conspiracy theory about how the government deceived the jury, about how the “flood gates are now open” for the government to criminally prosecute anything who disagree with them on parenting, that he is now worried for Canada was a whole.
It is a good thing that the Stephans were convicted. They grossly neglect their son and failed to provide the necessities of life. However, the prosecution wanted several years in prison both of them and all they got were a few months. For more information about this event and trial, read the previous article about it that was published on Debunking Denialism in July of 2016. The prosecutors decided to appeal the sentence because the punishment was too lenient. Because David Stephan refused to take responsibility and showed remorseless during the trial, it is not perhaps surprising that he continues to swim in the swamp that is alternative medicine fakery. So what has he been up to lately?
David Stephans and recent events
On January 10, he was scheduled to give a talk at Ave Maria Specialities, which is one of those “alternative health” stores (located in Prince George, a large city in British Columbia, Canada) that sells all sorts of untested and ineffective fake “treatments” for various kinds of diseases and conditions. Many people reacted negatively against this, but the store did not care. A CBC article reports that the store owner Dave Fuller claimed that Stephan had been there before and was appreciated by the customers who wanted him to visit again. Fuller also claims that Stephan had “helped a number of our customers”, that “we had a number of people request him to come back” and “we didn’t think that this would be an issue”. Fuller did not think this might be an issue? Inviting someone who basically let his own son die because of his ingrained and anti-medicine naturopathy ideology is low even for a story that sells fake treatments.
Fuller also stated that “[w]ho are we to say, because these are two different things – what happened to his child and his work itself are two different activities”, apparently totally oblivious to the fact that the strongest reason for why Ezekiel died was his parents naturopathic ideology and anti-medicine activism. They are not “two different things”. Fuller also rhetorically asked “[w]ho are we to not be compassionate to that and not be merciful? Here’s a man and his livelihood is affected.” Why on earth should we prioritize his “livelihood” over the people who get harmed or die because of his quackery? Fuller does not say, and frankly probably cannot answer this question coherently.
What is Truehope and why are their products nonsense?
David Stephan still works for a nutritional supplement company called Truehope and was probably there to hawk more of his fake treatments. More disturbingly, his visit would have focused on “how his family members suffered from mental illness and were made well”. In other words, Stephan promotes nutritional supplements instead of medication and therapy for mental illness. It is a clear case of crank magnetism between alternative medicine and anti-psychiatry.
Truehope has been covered before on Debunking Denialism when they tried to bully author and mental health writer Natasha Tracy with a frivolous lawsuit threat to get her to remove critical reviews she had written about their product EMPowerplus on her website Bipolar Burble. She stood her ground and they did not follow through with their lawsuit threat. Proponents of EMPowerplus have even tried to come to Debunking Denialism and try to defend their claims and were promptly refuted.
Truehope has been a thorn in the side to the Canadian government for years. Health Canada has repeatedly issued warnings about EMPowerplus pointing out that there is no evidence that it is safe or effective. They have also tried to get the product banned in Canada, but failed both times. Although Truehope claims that their products are “proven effective in reducing or eliminating the symptoms of bipolar, anxiety, depression, and ADHD”, they do not have any real evidence for either efficacy or safety. Yet, they deploy the classic quack Miranda warning of “[t]hese statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Anytime you see this warning, you know the product is not supported by scientific evidence. Do not use it. You have no idea if it is safe or if it helps. Just stay away from it.
One thing is clear: David Stephan is still in the world of naturopathic quackery. He is remorseless and refuse to take responsibility for failing to provide the necessities of life for his son Ezekiel. He continues to be involved with Truehope and support their abhorrent promotion of nutritional supplements against mental illness, despite the fact that there is no credible evidence that it is safe or effective. He has learned nothing from his trauma.