Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, was convicted of defrauding investors and will be sentenced in October. Her partner in fraud, Sunny Balwani, was also convicted of fraud, but defrauding patients as well as investors. He’ll be sentenced in November. I predict both will get jail time, though far less than the maximum (20 years for each of them).
In this new piece from 60 Minutes Australia, the scandal of the fake blood machine is reprised, but the centerpiece is two whistle-blowers who came forward to report that the Theranos machine, called “Edison”, supposedly able to diagnose 200 diseases from a tiny amount of blood, didn’t work. Both, Tyler Schultz and Erica Cheung, were scientists given access to the inner sanctum of Theranos. Both quickly discovered that Edison didn’t work and the startup was a big hoax. Eventually, worried about patient safety, both began talking to John Carreyrou, a Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story on Holmes and Theranos and wrote the definitive book on the scam, Bad Blood. (Well worth a read!) Cheung also testified in court against Holmes and Balwani.
Schultz is involved in another way: his grandfather, ex-diplomat and businessman George Schultz, was both a patron of Holmes and an investor in Theranos. Because of Tyler’s whistleblowing, his relationship with his grandfather was damaged.
What’s new about this is that we get to hear from the whistleblowers themselves, who talked not only to Carreyrou, but to federal regulators and the prosecution. They’re admirable people whose lives were put on hold for a long time (and of course who put themselves out of business) because they valued the truth. They address several questions that have arisen in this saga, including Holmes’s defense that her fraudulent actions resulted from her being manipulated and dominated by Balwani. (Schultz and Cheung both reject that claim.)
If you’ve been following this saga, this is a nice 19-minute video that fleshes it out.
UPDATE: Thanks to reader CoffeeTime in the first comment, we learn that the Wikipedia page was trashed in 2016 because its subject wasn’t “notable”: his books weren’t given any attention and made little impact. So I was wrong in my speculation below. However, it must be nearly as bad to be deleted because you’re “not important” than because you were a plagiarist.
I can’t say the guy’s full name because I’ll owe readers money if I do, so just fill in the asterisks with two “e”s and then an “a”, successively. Or see this link. The man in question was once a writer for Alternet and Salon, an atheist (which he remains, I believe), and a critic of Islamic doctrine. Then he went off the rails, going after New Atheists in an unhinged book and being accused, with justification, of serial plagiarism (see here,here, here, and here). Alternet removed his pieces, though Salon (to its discredit) left them up, and the man was thoroughly trounced and disgraced. He didn’t even apologize, but fobbed off a lot of his plagiarism on “bad editing”, mistaken failure to use quotation marks, and even by making false counter-accusations that Sam Harris plagiarized too!
But the man found a new career, writing for The Middle East Eye*, begging for support on Patreon, and engaging in a protracted campaign of defending Islam, demonizing Israel, and blaming all the trouble in the Middle East on America. Only Glenn Greenwald comes close to W*rl*em*n’s vehement Islamic apologetics issued by a non-Muslim.
Let me finish briefly; W*rl*em*n once had a Wikipedia page, which was here. It is now gone. Why? The only two reasons I can think of is that he’s no longer important, which doesn’t ring true, or that somehow it was removed because it called public attention to his plagiarism. But other journalists who have been disgraced for plagiarism, like New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer, still have their Wikipedia bios online, along with sections on their literary thefts. Perhaps a reader can find out why this dude’s Wikipedia page somehow disappeared. I’m quite curious.