A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similarconfidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception. (Wikipedia)
The Case of Gabor Maté: “power, insight, clarity, candour, compassion, humor, and warmth of … presentations.”
Fast forward a few years, and Gabor became a Student Senator, quoted with great frequency in the student newspaper Ubyssey. Then came the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and Gabor, as suddenly in his conversion as Saul on the road to Damascus, became a convert to the Arab cause. Israel was wrong, very wrong, criminally wrong. Wrong from the very beginning. This is what he confided to a campus audience, as reported in the Ubyssey of October 12, 1967:
The basis of the crisis was that to create the
state of Israel, an Arab country had to be taken
forcefully, Mate said.
“Palestine was not an empty country,” he
said. “The Zionists relied on the protection of
the British Empire, without which there would
not have been a Jewish state. ”
The alleged overwhelming force of the
Arabs is false, said Mate. In 1948, the total
Arabs armies had 47,000 men; the total Jewish
Maté did not give the source for his appraisal of the 1947 military situation. The authoritative work on the Israeli army by Edward Luttwak and Dan Horowitz puts the total of Haganah Jewish combatants in 1947 at 29,677. The Palestinian Arab fighters were augmented by the ground armies and airforces of Egypt, Jordan (under British command), Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, with additional forces from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Lybia.
Those were days in which it was still rare for a Jew to thunder against Israel, and Maté did receive attention. Now that he is sixty-nine years of age, he is still active in the anti-Israel movement of Canada. But this is no longer his primary claim on the attention of his fellow citizens. Gabor Maté has become a health guru.
For some years after graduating from the UBC medical school, Maté practiced medicine in the city of Vancouver. If memory serves, he was never certified in any medical specialty. I say if memory serves because he is no longer a licensed physician, so his qualifications are not available from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia which only lists licensed physicians. (I have not been able to find out why he is no longer licensed.) Nevertheless, and in contravention of BC’s Health Professions Act which restricts the use of “doctor” and “physician” to licensed physicians, Maté continues to call himself both “doctor” and “physician.”
Nor does he show undue modesty about his overall intellectual or humane qualifications. This is how he describes himself on his website:
Gabor Maté M.D. is a bestselling author whose books have been published in nearly twenty languages worldwide. Dr. Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics, from addiction and attention deficit disorder (ADD) to mind-body wellness, adolescent mental health, and parenting. A renowned thinker and public speaker, he addresses audiences all over North America, including professional and academic groups like nurses’ organizations, psychiatry departments, and corporate conventions, as well as presentations and seminars for local community groups and the general public. As a writer and speaker, he is widely known for the power, insight, clarity, candour, compassion, humor, and warmth of his presentations.
Unlike other such figures, Maté does not seem to sell nostrums or “supplements.” (But he has been warned by the Canadian government to cease administering psychedelic drugs). He seems to obtain his revenue from the four books he has published and the lecture circuit. He advertises these businesses on the internet; a search for his name yields a number of paid-for links. And, as he points out on his site, “Please note that Dr. Maté maintains a busy speaking schedule year-round and is generally booked well in advance.”
Maté is something of a public figure in Canada, where he is frequently quoted on his views on the etiology and treatment of various diseases. As his website says
Common to all of Dr. Maté’s work is a focus on understanding the broader context in which human disease and disorders arise, from cancer to autoimmune conditions like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, or fibromyalgia; childhood behavioral disorders like ADD, oppositionality, or bullying; or addiction, from substance abuse to obsessive gambling, shopping, or even workaholism.
A family friend of ours has been struggling with cases of severe ulcerative colitis in her family. She read some of Maté’s writings and now feels that, as a result of reading Maté, she understands the etiology of that disease: stress in childhood, and “intergenerational stress” due to the experience of European Jews in the nineteenth century. Note that Maté, though he was once a physician, has had no specialized training in this disease, nor, for that matter in cancer, yet he feels qualified to express himself on how all such diseases start: childhood stress. To overcome such stress, he urges psychedelic drugs and psychotherapy. (See WELLNESS | Dr. Gabor Maté: Can Psychedelics Help Treat Cancer?)
In addition to presenting himself as a “physician,” Maté also presents himself as a “gifted psychotherapist.” If he has either license or training in that field, these are not specified in his advertising.
Most of today’s medical charlatans seem to stay away from entanglements with extremist politics. Here Gabor Maté must be counted as an exception, although, as we have seen in the case of Linus Pauling, he is not a pioneer.
Addendum, July 27, 2014
Maté has weighed in on the current Gaza war, strongly supporting Hamas against Israel. The quality of his argument is perhaps best appreciated by this gem: The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto.
And no, he does not mention the Hamas Charter, available freely on the Internet and elsewhere, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of all Jews and which quotes, with great approval, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Maté has frequently referred to himself as very educated and very intelligent, so we must assume that he is familiar with this Charter. So here is my question to him and to his supporters: does he favor Hamas so much because of its Charter or just despite of it ?
Hat tip: Richard Klagsbrun