Imagine the Dewlap: Central Casting villain leads central planning boondoggle! With special all-choking featurette



Shawnee Hoover of the Exxpose Exxon campaign wants us to publicize former ExxonMobile CEO Lee Raymond's involvement in a new Oil and Gas Study sponsored by the Department of Energy. Raymond's ready-for-an-Oliver-Stone-movie petrovillain look, including a massive neck, have made him a favorite cartoon villain for petrorexia sufferers everywhere, who find it all too easy to believe the jolly oil tycoon is actually a 12-foot lizard. Exxpose Exxon is urging resistance to Raymond's heading the National Petroleum Council. Hoover warns:

Though President Bush has alerted Americans to our oil addiction, he is now putting the most successful pusher of that product in charge of determining our energy future. When many of our future solutions hinge on buying and burning less oil, it seems obvious that the last people that should be charting that course is the oil industry itself. Mr. Raymond's repeated criticism of U.S. energy independence, investments in renewable energy, peak oil, and policies to help combat global warming have made it clear exactly where he stands.

Fun stuff, but if I may go completely off-topic, this dustup reminds me that in my previous story about Raymond, his critics, oil panics, and crazy attempts to solve our "gas crisis," I made a passing reference to the Heimlich maneuver. This prompted a fascinating response from an emailer purporting to be Peter Heimlich, the son of the inventor of the legendary anti-choking technique. I've been looking for an excuse to publish that one for a while, so swallow this:

Three years ago my wife and I began researching my father's career. To our astonishment, we turned up a remarkable history of fraud. To make a long story short, he's a charalatan, albeit a singular one. Among other more serious issues, it's clear he didn't invent the Heimlich maneuver, but appropriated the idea from a colleague. Our original research has been the basis of dozens of articles in publications which include the New York Times, LA Times, Reuters, and many others. We were recently profiled in a two-part feature in Radar Magazine. For more information and for links to these articles, you may wish to visit our website.

You should know that my father's frequent claim which you repeated, that backslaps "push lodged objects down the esophagus," is dubious. The only scientific evidence supporting that claim is a 1982 study by the late pediatrician, Richard Day MD. My research uncovered that my father clandestinely paid for the Day study. The study was presented by Day and my father to a national committee of the American Heart Association (AHA) in 1985 which—after an overheated ten-year media campaign conducted by my father against the AHA and the American Red Cross—removed backslaps from choking rescue guidelines. Since then, in this country anyway, it's been the Heimlich maneuver and nothing else when it comes to choking rescue.

It's a different story in Europe and most of the rest of the world which continued to teach backslaps as the first step in choking rescue since backsalps are less invasive than abdominal thrusts (the "Heimlich maneuver") which has been associated with a variety of injuries. And my father's "celebrity doctor" image had little, if any influence outside the US.

Fast forward to December 2005, the AHA recently revised choking guidelines. Both backslaps and chest thrust are again in the guidelines and the phrase "Heimlich maneuver" has been deleted in favor of "abdominal thrusts." For more on chest thrusts as well as further commentary on my father's conduct, you may wish to read this recent letter. The editor's note that follows includes a link to the new AHA guidelines.

What's more, I have an e-mail from Roger White MD, a world-respected emergency medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic, who was chairman of the 1985 AHA committee, the one that eliminated backslaps. Dr. White wrote:

There never was any science here; Heimlich overpowered science all along the way with his slick tactics and intimidation, and everyone, including us at AHA, caved in…We were taken….

Finally, your article included a link to a 1988 article co-authored by my father and Dr. Edward A. Patrick. If you're unfamiliar with Dr. Patrick, he figures prominently in my father's career. Dr. Patrick was the subject of this 2004 Cleveland newsweekly cover story, "Playing Doctor," which raises questions about the legitimacy of his credentials.

So, sorry to say, the actual history doesn't bolster the point you were making in your column. Not that I fault you. For over 30 years my father has been relentlessly repeating the "deadly backslaps" myth and it has entered the popular history as an unexamined trueism.

Now imagine what combination of compression, backslaps, stomach pushes, and solid-fuel rocketry would be required to dislodge half a sandwich from Lee Raymond's throat.

NEXT: And They'll Cry If They Want To

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  1. Err, nice segue. I think I have whiplash. 🙂

  2. Ahh, Exxon, in no other industry could a company with 5% marketshare be so thouroughly vilified.

  3. Many posters the other day were saying they did not believe in God but did belive in science. Obviously science has it demagogues as well as religion.

    Does the story about Heimlich shake the faith of any of the science crowd?

  4. Pope – nope. Because through research (some might call it “science”), Heimlich’s son discovered the truth.

    For some reason, after thousands of years, god still hasn’t come down and told us anything to make us believe in his greatness (or even his lack of greatness, for that matter). In fact, I find it funny that god used to interact with our world quite a bit but has been pretty quiet over the last 2000 years. I wonder why that is?

    And as Timothy (I think) said yesterday: “…if God’s talking to you, you’re a schizophrenic.”

  5. The refuting of bad theories is science. This means the process works.

    OTOH, charlatan’s can be found in every avenue of life, right? I guess religion has their share who get ousted like ol’ Heimlick, too.

  6. “Does the story about Heimlich shake the faith of any of the science crowd?”

    Um, no. Because the Heimlich maneuver for choking on food seems to still be accepted. The son’s big beef is with the idea of using the heimlich for drowning victims, and with his father’s other kooky ideas.

    Apart from the heimlich for choking on food, none of his ideas seems to have gained wide acceptance. For his anti-AIDS theories, he seems to have about the level of support of most charlatans – he can parlay his name into funding and do ‘research’ (in countries where it’s cheap and easy to operate unethically), but it will most likely never be scientifcally supported and accepted into the mainstream.

  7. Don’t know about the veracity of it but at my last Red Cross first aid training session I was told that “The Heimlich Maneuver” is a copyrighted service mark of The Heimlich Institute. According to our instructor, the Institute demands that use of the term “The Heimlich Maneuver” be accompanied by a royalty payment to the Institute.

    More here (I don’t have time to read the whole thread but Snopes has some stuff to say on this):;f=44;t=000834;p=1

  8. A pointless tangent to the pointless tangent:

    One day, when he was about six or so, my brother started choking on a piece of candy. My dad freaked out and started slapping him on the back harder and harder (this was the early ’80s, so we’d never heard of The Maneuver). My grandfather wanders into the room and, not realizing what’s happening, starts yelling at my dad for beating the crap out of a defenseless little boy.

  9. Is this similar to the Heineken Remover?

  10. Lee Adama on Galactica has better looking fat makeup.

  11. Jeff P.,

    Yeah, Lee’s fake fat for sure. They added too much to make it believable.

    Petrorexia – Abnormal or inappropriate appetite for oil?

  12. What the heck is this about again?

    All I walk away with is something about lizards and the Exxon Maneuver.

  13. JW — Don’t worry, it’s just another one of Tim’s far-out, free-associating jive sessions (snapping fingers in approval). I’m gonna miss that crazy beatnik.

  14. Does Lee Raymond have his own Serpent Crown?


  15. PL,

    It’s not fat at all, but rather an air bladder which inflates with carbon dioxide to approximately the size of a basketball when he is threatened. Markings on its underside (which becomes visible only when inflated) and behavioral observations appear to indicate that upon inflation, it becomes a bulbous and oversized fake head and is used to scare away predators and environmentalists.

  16. You know, for a boring topic, you’d think Tim would find a more parsimonious way to say all this. Or just not say it all. That would be the best.

  17. From: Red Cross Reverses Policy on Choking Aid, 10-23-06, by Abram Katz, New Haven Register Science Editor

    For years, the American Red Cross recommended the abdominal thrust, a posterior hug with a fist just below the sternum, popularly known as the Heimlich maneuver. This stand was supported in part by a 24-year-old study at Yale University, which appears to have been assisted by the object of the study, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich himself…Nevertheless, this year, the Red Cross amended its first aid instructions for choking by introducing the back blow. The new recommendation is to first call 911 and then administer five sharp blows to the victim’s back with the heel of the hand.

  18. Matt –

    No, the neck waddle is actually like Batman’s utility belt in that it contains a month’s supply of rations, an anti-personnel cannon (with ammo), and a getaway mini-copter, among other fantastic accoutrements supplied by Q.

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