The Prestige Grift: How Fake Success is Manufactured to Sell Pseudoscience

Let me introduce you to Timmins’ Chiropractor: Timmins Chiropractor. Yes, he really has dubbed himself the chiropractor of Timmins. 

Timmins ChiropractorHenceforth, I’m Canada Blogger.

Dr. Luc Lemire appears to be your typical subluxation-based chiropractor. His philosophy identifies “vertebral subluxations” as misalignments of the vertebrae that are alleged to cause a wide array of illness not at all related to the spine. Of course, it’s a myth that is likely not even accepted by the majority of chiropractors.

That has not stopped Dr. Lemire from operating his clinic under this philosophy and advertising to the public that he can improve the “gut-brain connection” to aid various conditions including acid reflux, colic, and ear infections. This is nonsense, but it isn’t remarkable; there are many similar chiropractors across Canada selling nonsense that regulators fail to regulate. So, why are we talking about Dr. Luc Lemire?

Besides his absurd ASMR videos (sorry, this one seems to have been recently deleted, but I’m sure you can find some gold in there somewhere), Dr. Lemire makes some interesting claims in his marketing material. We will dive in, but first, a warning: we are about to peer into a world without shame.

My first sighting of Dr. Lemire was through his Facebook page. It’s odd, to be sure, but it doesn’t deviate far from like-minded chiropractors; there are unsubstantiated claims, misuses of science, and a handful of videos that feature 80’s themed testimonials. Seriously, go listen. Also, shout-out to Brenda; I’m glad you’re feeling better.

A number of links on his Facebook page direct would-be customers to a promotion on his clinical website, which is… interesting. He really has turned it up a notch. The page features a full color vibrant background of Dr. Lemire in his clinic with a center overlay of his current promotion.

Clinic Website
If we beat climate change and you are reading this in the distant future, check out the archive

That’s not all. Thought you were safe from ads since the entire page itself is an ad? Nope. You get another ad that – while remarkably similar to the underlying page – takes the full screen for itself. Amazing.

Clinic Ad
Free gift will include the entire first season of Luc Lemire: How to Smile in Portraits on DVD

By the way, have you heard of NASA? What’s NASA? Oh nothing, just a little organization that makes Space Technology. Have you heard of space? Well they make the technology for it. You wouldn’t call Space Technology a scam, would you? Because you would be calling NASA a scam, which is absurd.

nerve-scan-chiro
This machine was the first chiropractor in space

Too bad this expensive machine has no clinical validity. Subluxation-based chiropractors have employed all sorts of gimmicky devices to “demonstrate” their findings, but studies have failed to show that these chiropractors can reliably detect anything at all. Just think about that for a moment. There are chiropractors all across Canada who spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on elaborate machines that do nothing more than turn the patient into the clinical malpractice version of a Rorschach test.

Subluxation?

So what is a Certified Space Technology? Oh, well it’s a label purchased by brands to sell products. Just watch the video: “there are direct competitors with very similar products in Japan, and we outsell them 5 to 10 to 1, which is great.” They even certify a Texas Drinker’s Guide as a “Creative Product,” but I guarantee NASA astronauts do not drink space beer nor do they use gimmicky technology to play pretend medicine in space.

I went searching for more details about our great Timmins Chiropractor. Specifically, I wanted to know more about his “Award-Winning Bestselling Books.” As it turns out, the real winner is you, good reader, because this is where we dive deep into the grift.

Award
Oh yes, the well-known Quilly Award

According to his website (and Linkedin), Dr. Lemire was chosen as one of the “world’s leading experts” to co-author a bestselling book with “success expert” Brian Tracy, winning the “highly coveted Quilly Award” via a “red carpet event” in Hollywood. Wow. Sounds prestigious.

The book in question is “The Winning Way“, which features Brian Tracy on the cover and a list of “Leading Experts from Around the World” that is.. extraordinarily long.Authors

Don’t care to count? That’s 49 authors in total. That would be (on average) just under 10 pages per author. Amazing. 

Obviously, something is going on here. We have an unremarkable self-help book with a ridiculous number of authors and – perhaps most interestingly – the Amazon reviews are relatively negative overall (whether from fake reviews or a credulous audience, these types of books tend to at least have decent reviews).

Reviews
A selection of negative reviews

A this point, you’re probably wondering how a book with a 2.5 rating on Amazon from just 6 reviewers (2 of the 5-star reviews were not verified purchases and did not reference book specifics) that appears to be nothing more than an assortment of short stories from 49 unrelated authors ever landed our Timmins Chiropractor the prestigious Quilly Award. You’re probably also wondering what a Quilly Award even is. Don’t worry; you’re hardly alone. 

The Quilly Award was founded by an organization called the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors. If you can’t tell from the website, both terms are registered trademarks. The award is “exclusively distributed at the Academy’s Annual Golden Gala™ in Hollywood.” If you don’t yet feel the prestige, allow them to remind you: “no award conveys Best-Selling Author® status as recognizably and elegantly as the Quilly® Award.” Well if “Best-Selling Author” is a legitimately registered trademark, surely no other award is even permitted to convey the status. 

The Academy’s Annual Golden Gala™ is nothing short of stunning. Here is our award winning author accepting his award at the event. Pay close attention to the applause. Do you think this audience was able to muster that much applause?

The audience
I modified the colours from the video to help you see just how empty the event is.

I hope you can intuit what is happening here. This entire ecosystem, from the book, to the award, to the gala, appears to be constructed entirely to create prestige for prestige’s sake. This is The Prestige Grift. 

Returning to Amazon, one of the primary authors listed is Nick Nanton, who also appears as an author on a large number of eerily similar self-help books featuring Brian Tracy and a large number of “expert” authors you have never heard of.

Brian Tracy Books
If there is a hell, this is it. I only realized after making this image that two of the books feature Jack Canfield. I am not sure how this happened considering how they look nothing alike.

Who is Brian Tracy, anyways? As a self-described “Speaker, Author, and Success Expert,” I cannot tell whether this is an earnest endeavor, or whether he is merely an actor in an elaborate money making scheme. Even his Wikipedia page carries this uncertainty. 

Brian Tracy Wiki
I have actually never seen this before on Wikipedia

Returning to our beloved Quilly, Nick Nanton and fellow author JW Dicks appear to be pulling the strings. Not only do they appear on a number of these books, but they co-founded the National Academy of Best-Selling Authors itself. Are they effectively handing themselves their own awards?

National Academy Founders

Award Process

You might be surprised to find that an academy created for “the purpose of recognizing and promoting the accomplishments of authors worldwide” has a testimonials page that seems to suggest the award is more a product than an independent recognition of excellent craftsmanship. Then again, you probably aren’t surprised. There are, after all, fees for these “services”.

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Promotional material from the first year of the award (formerly known as the Quill Award) describes in more detail what you can expect to receive by attending a the gala.

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Nanton and Dicks also appear to be involved in a number of similar ventures. In particular, as referenced in the testimonials, they run DNA, also known as Celebrity Branding Agency. It would not be a stretch to suggest that the Quilly Award and its supporting organization are projects of this branding agency, especially when the main page includes a guaranteed best-selling author service, which links to a page promoting – you guessed it – The National Academy of Best-Selling Authors. 

Become a Best-Selling Author

Best-Selling Service

I am certain there are rabbit holes still untraveled here. Even a brief search will reveal numerous related websites, domains, registered businesses entities, etc. If you have some time on your hands, I encourage you to see how deep and twisted these schemes go. 

I will leave you with two things. The first, is a press release featuring our protagonist, Mr. Timmins Chiropractor, promoting his best selling success. The release would be embarrassing under normal circumstances, but with the prestige grift laid bare, it is even harder to stomach (note that CelebrityPress™ is also run by Nick Nanton and the Dicks). The second item is an excerpt from a Glassdoor entry by an alleged former employee of Celebrity Branding Agency:

These people will not become celebrities by being featured in random books and promos by washed up professionals. You are trying to invent the word celebrity or make it mean something other than what it is and no, it is incredibly deceitful.

Well said.


4 thoughts on “The Prestige Grift: How Fake Success is Manufactured to Sell Pseudoscience

  1. David Reply

    Thank you for researching this Ryan! Once again we are left bewildered at the lengths these Chiropractors will go to promote their “profession”.

    1. Ryan Armstrong Reply

      If they cared about their profession, I doubt they would go to such great lengths embarrassing it. While the chiropractic profession does possess a large proportion of these types of practitioners compared to other professions, I suspect they are most driven by pure self-interest. Cheers!

  2. Dr. Dawn Armstrong Reply

    Great work on the subject of pseudo-success. Many in my profession ( no quotes needed) are embarrassed by these practitioners. I have met some of them, science is not their friend. Creating a perception of success is what any practitioner who lacks actual skills does. I’ve dealt with medical doctors who have the same personality problems, substituting hype for fact as they puff up their egos. It is pathetic coming from any healthcare provider, and, unnecessary to demean any specific profession as a whole.

    1. Ryan Armstrong Reply

      Absolutely. Further, regulatory colleges should be taking the initiative and ensuring that the professionals they regulate do not misrepresent themselves or what they can offer to patients. I have always maintained that this is not just in the best interest of patients and the public, but of the professions themselves, whose reputations are damaged and whose members must compete with against dishonest actors.

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