Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Rough Side of the Weirdness

May 15th, 2009 · 3 Comments

reishimushroomWhile Microkhan fully supports the idea of physical autonomy, this case in Minneapolis skeeves us out to no end. A 13-year-old boy suffering from Hodgkin’s disease is fighting for his right to avoid chemotherapy, in favor of a homeopathic alternative. Unfortunately, that alternative seems to be peddled by a man who strikes us as nothing more than a rank con artist. In the late 1990s, Philip R. Landis (aka Cloudpiler, aka Peopeo) apparently ran afoul of the law due to a Reishi mushroom scheme in Montana. From his 2002 appeal:

On the morning of April 25, 1998, more than twenty people from the [mushroom] co-op, together with observers from an interested Idaho group, gathered at Parker’s nursery for the planting seminar. Just before the seminar was to begin, Landis telephoned both Larimer and Parker and stated he had been in a vehicle accident and did not know the location of his vehicle or the spawn the co-op had ordered. The group attempted to locate Landis’ wrecked vehicle and the spawn in order to carry on with the seminar, but were unable to obtain any information about the accident or the whereabouts of the vehicle. The training continued that day and members of the group planted spawn Parker had obtained from a company not pre-approved by Landis.

After Landis’ failure to attend the April 25, 1998 planting seminar, Parker stepped down as the leader of the co-op. James Myers (Myers), a licensed professional counselor, assumed the leadership role. Members of the co-op continued making inquiries into Landis’ accident in order to locate and retrieve the spawn, and the relationship between Landis and the co-op deteriorated rapidly. On April 30, 1998, Myers sent Landis a certified letter requesting return of the co-op’s money. When Myers did not receive the money by May 6, 1998, he notified the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which initiated a criminal investigation.

Landis also claims to have discovered an ancient Mormon text.

More on Cloudpiler’s homeopathy business here. We find it sad and puzzling that anyone would entrust their lives to such an obvious charlatan. But then again, we’ve never suffered through a round of chemotherapy.

UPDATE: Somewhat to Microkhan’s surprise, the judge has ruled against the boy and his parents.


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Gramsci

    Classic cult dynamic. “What if they make him do chemotherapy and he dies from that?” In other words, his death from pseudo-medicine will at least be a better death than the one from chemo. The system works!

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Well put.

    The NYT piece contains an interesting stat: With chemo, the boy’s chances of recovery are 90 percent, but without they’re only 5 percent. Still, assuming this Cloudpiler folk has conned 20 Hodgkin’s patients into using his remedies, the odds are one has pulled through. And that survivor thus credits his recovery to those delightful herbs, and recruits a whole new bevy of dupes.

  • Jordan


    Again with the incomprehension of statistics. Which is an even greater shame when you’re literally dealing with matters of life and death.

    One of my parents’ friends recently died from cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs. This occurred after what was apparently successful treatment of the primary tumor in one of her kidneys. It’s a bitter irony that chemotherapy is both an excruciating process and can all too often make things worse when the primary tumor is dealt with and the signals that have repressed metastasized tumors are removed.