Woo [WOO] - adj.
A term to describe claims that are dubious, at best.
Used to describe pseudoscience.
Wrestling catchphrase. (See fig a)
In the day of digital streaming, documentaries are a dime a dozen. Any subject you can think of, there's a documentary about it. Buuuut (and there's always a but) like any other genre in the digital marketplace where there is a high demand and a lot of content there are some quality control issues. The documentary film is supposed to present real-life, impartially, without bias. The audience has to form their own opinion. As the filmmaker, you need to maintain an arm's-length distance from your subject. It's a balancing act, but it's the only way you can tell a compelling story. Look at all of the hit true crime documentaries that have come out. They present both sides of the argument and leave the audience to make their own conclusion. Making a Murderer didn't tell you that Steven Avery is innocent. They interviewed people who thought he was guilty, people who thought he was innocent, and presented all the available facts and left you the audience to make your own conclusion. The same can be said about The Staircase, Wild Wild Country, even The Jinx ... Even though Robert Durst fucked himself over on that last one. The fact is, regardless of your personal opinion on the subject, the filmmakers never, ever, tell you what you should think.
Unfortunately, for every Werner Herzog, you've got an endless sea of Michael Moore's. Even the most well-intentioned cause, if you've lost objectivity then your film is shit. Then there are those who have an agenda. The worst of the worst in that department are those who deal in conspiracy. Which brings us to the subject of our inaugural edition of the Woo Review: Patient Seventeen.
Paging Doctor Leir, Paging Doctor Leir
The documentary follows the story of a man known only as "Patient Seventeen", who has a foreign object that has been embedded in his leg for years. Some people have told him that the object could possibly be an implant placed inside him by extraterrestrials. In order to try and learn the truth, he goes to see Doctor Roger Leir. Leir is a self-proclaimed expert on the surgical removal of alleged alien implants. Through the course of the documentary, we get to know a little about Patient Seventeen, why he thinks the object in his leg may be an alien implant. We also meet Doctor Roger Leir, the alleged "expert". After an examination, they find the object they are seeking and Patient Seventeen decides to have it surgically removed. The sample is then taken to Steven Colbern, a "material scientist" who examines the devices under an electron microscope to determine if the object is alien in origin. The results, as we like to say on the internet, will shock you. OR WILL THEY!?!
Well, the best way to find out if this is legit or just a pile of horseshit, let's start looking at the players. Involved in this story
Filmmaker: Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell
First of all, how many Jeremy Corbell's are out there, that make films, that you need to use both your middle names when crediting yourself? Also, who has two middle names? People with indecisive parents, that's who. Seriously though, this guy bills himself as an "investigative journalist". What sort of credentials does he have? Well according to his Wikipedia entry (which looks like it was written by Corbell himself) he attended the Harvard-Westlake School, no relation with the Harvard BTW. It's a prep school and not even a real university. It's located in Hollywood, and it actually was the alma mater of a lot of notable people in the entertainment and journalism industry. Which makes sense that Corbell went through this institution to get a degree in... quantum studies. So right, zero experience in journalism or investigative journalism.
Also, a Ph.D. in quantum studies does not make you an expert in quantum mechanics. Especially when you got said degree in 1995, went into martial arts. It gave him the qualifications to start what he calls "Quantum Jujitsu". Which sounds impressive until you actually read up on it. According to the official website, he is basically teaching normal jujitsu and using quantum mechanical terms to make it sound more impressive. That's like copying a book and replacing all the verbs and adjectives with synonyms and calling it your own work.
So this guy has no real qualifications as an investigative journalist, let alone an expert in quantum mechanics. To be an expert in that field of science, you need to you know.. study it beyond high school. Still, this guy had an obsession with the paranormal and conspiracy theories. Not exactly an impartial observer, his documentaries take an "artistic approach" (that's a fancy way of saying he couldn't be bothered to do some legitimate research) He's appeared at UFO conventions and been a guest on the infamous Coast to Coast AM. The syndicated radio show where you can hear people talk about UFOs, traveling gnomes, and all other sorts of nonsense on a nightly basis.
One of his inspirations is George Knapp, who is an actual investigative journalist, he has the credentials and has won a Peabody and a score of Emmy Awards. Knapp is a recurring host on Coast to Coast and is usually balls deep in the conspiracy movement. However, those prestigious awards and accolades only apply to his legitimate news reporting, and nothing to do with the supernatural nonsense he promotes on Sunday nights on AM radio. The guy can win a Peabody for uncovering voter scams, yet can't find the truth about UFOs and other conspiracies? Either his awards were incredible flukes, he's secretly bad at his job, or, I don't know, this is all just nonsense. The other is Bob Lazar, who has claimed to have worked in Area 51 and reverse engineered alien technology. Except for all of his credentials are bogus and his claims are dubious at best.
Not surprisingly, a lot of Jeremy's films involve the above people and similar subjects. All of his films feature people who have had their work routinely debunked and their credentials discredited. Something you'll notice about Patient Seventeen is that Corbell inserts himself and his opinions into this film. He already made a conclusion about what is happening. He also makes the bold statement in this (and his other "investigative" works) that he makew such films to "Weaponize your Curiosity". Why does my curiosity need to be weaponized, and what it's being weaponized for? This profoundly stupid statement can only be made by someone who lives in utter paranoia of the modern day "boogiemen" of the conspiracy theories. Weaponize curiosity? More like weaponize rigid irrationality.
Let's move on to our next subject shall we?
The "Expert" Roger Leir
As I said above, Roger Leir was a self-proclaimed expert on the removal and examination of objects that he alleges are implants that were put in people by extraterrestrials. So what sort of expertise did Roger Leir have? He was a fucking podiatrist. For those not in the know, that's a foot doctor. As far as his profession goes: He was only allowed to perform surgery on the foot, by law. He got this degree in 1964. So the question I have: If he was trying to become an expert in removing foreign objects from all over the body why didn't he continue to educate himself and earn the legal right to perform surgeries on other parts of the body? Instead, Leir would bring in a "team" of people to do these other surgeries then take all the credit. If you look around, you can't find the names of any of the people who have assisted in his surgeries. In fact, in the documentary, the surgeons who assist Leir (who doesn't do the surgery himself) is only identified on a first name basis. It all seems pretty shady. On the one hand, these are legitimate surgeons who don't want their full names known because it's shady, unnecessary, and possibly illegal. Or, Leir was performing illegal surgeries himself.
The above suggestion is not as preposterous as you'd think as, in 1999, Leir was sanctioned and had his license suspended until 2002 due to "repeated acts of negligence". This was uncovered by Penn and Teller. The Magicians. When a magician calls something out as being bullshit, they usually know what they are talking about, since bullshitting people is their reason. Some people have actually tried to investigate Leir's claims. Here is a detailed message board post on the matter. According to his book "The Aliens and the Scalpel" Leir was turned on to the world of woo by his cousin Dr. Kenneth Ring, another "celebrity" of the paranormal circuit. Ring's area of "expertise" is near-death experiences in order to learn what the afterlife is like, even though there is a rational scientific explanation for these experiences. Spoiler alert: Death is the ultimate high. The fact that Ring makes a killing on UFO and paranormal convention circuits and pandering for donations for his "studies", really tosses Leir's credibility under the bus considering the fact that he later set up the exact same model to make a living. Setting up a tax-exempt "research" organization and collecting donations to live off of.
Los Robles Hospital
The surgery took place at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. It is a for profit hospital. So it's a natural fit for someone like Roger Leir to get people to come in for unnecessary surgeries. A legitimate hospital, one that actually heals people, would never let a nut job like Leir near any of the equipment if he came in asking to remove an "alien implant" from a human body. The hospital hardly has a spotless reputation as well. For example, in 2017, it had its Medicaid funding greatly reduced due to a high rate of infections and patients getting injured after they got admitted to the hospital.
So what part of the hospital did this procedure take place?
That's right, plastic surgery, the only surgeries that deal only in vanity, and rarely any sort of legitimate health concerns. The doctor who assists in these surgeries is on John D. Matrisciano. Looking him up on the internet, he is a legitimate doctor with a spotless record. He doesn't do anything spectacular, just general surgeries. This isn't his first rodeo in the nutso world of Roger Leir. He's participated in other "implant" removal surgeries. When it comes to his involvement in these surgeries he smartly stays waaaay the hell away from all the alien stuff. His talking points are that he knows nothing about UFOs or alien implants. He skirts around the questions asked by the documentary crew about what he believes in. He sticks to talking about the very, bland, procedures he undertook. After dodging some questions about aliens we don't see him in this documentary again. Which is just as well, I wouldn't want my professional career within 500 meters of the crazy that unfolds.
Steven Colbern, "Material Scientist"
This portly fellow with the stain on his shirt is our expert on examining objects through an electron microscope and determining if they are alien or not. Say hello to Steven Colbern, the resident "scientific expert" that examines the object removed from Patient Seventeen's leg.
There are two things you need to know about this sloppy eater: First of all, back in 1995, he was arrested by the authorities during their investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing. According to the Associated Press, he was wanted for questioning for his part in the bombing and his association with Timothy McVeigh. Although there wasn't any evidence linking him to the bombing, Colbern had another brush with the law over weapons offenses and tried to run from the law. At the time, he was a known drifter and spouted anti-government and pro-Nazi rhetoric. He was also a huge fan of the Arizona Patriots. Which, in case you're wondering, is not a football team.
Although he is a biochemist, what is the most damaging about this guy's credibility is that he was Doctor Roger Leir's Patient Fifteen. Not exactly, someone, you would paint as an impartial observer for any of the scientific process involved in examining an alien implant.
Last but not least, we have "Patient Seventeen" himself. So named because he is the seventh person to have been talked into undergoing surgery by Doctor Leir and his believers. Who is he? You can't find his identity out there on the internet (at least not without your eyes glazing over scrolling through page-after-page of conspiracy websites praising this movie)
He starts the documentary as a god-fearing motorcycle enthusiast who just wants to have a piece of metal surgically removed from his leg. Suddenly, he goes from a skeptic to someone with vivid memories of being abducted by aliens. Referring to them as "alien gangsters", he apparently fought them off, but not before they put a strange object in his leg apparently. His doubts are so thinly veiled you have to wonder who he was trying to prove. By the end of this film, Patient Seventeen is suggesting that there is an "alien internet" and encourages people to try to hack into it. So if anyone has a TOR browser and some hacking skills to get into alt.binaries.zagnar.ufo, it looks like Patient Seventeen has a mission for you.
At best, this guy is making shit up to get some notoriety in an otherwise empty life. That's what a lot of these conspiracy theorists are. Sad, frightened people, who feel they have no control over the world around them. So much so to the point where they have to make up these fantastic stories to have things make sense. The conspiracy community feeds on these insecurities with confirmation bias that their crazy ideas are legitimate. The European Journal of Social Psychology has written a paper on that very subject.
At worst, he's an unintelligent man being taken advantage of by charlatans who prey on people with these kinds of insecurities. I'd be interested to know who paid for all this surgical work that was done. Did it all come out of pocket from Patient Seventeen himself? If so, was the bill made out to "sucker"?
The first chunk of this movie is, of course, regarding the surgery that Patient Seventeen undergoes. Now, I don't know about you reading from home, but if someone was going to perform surgery on my leg to remove a supposed alien implant. I'd expect them to be using some impressive, top of the line, scientific equipment to locate and remove the object. So when they get Patient Seventeen on the operating table, here's what they use to try and locate the object:
Yes folks, that is a stud finder. The kind you use to locate metal studs in walls. The kind that you can purchase off the rack at Home Fucking Depot for under 20 bucks. Apparently, this cheap piece of electronics can detect an object from beyond the stars. If your response was an comedic spit take, you are a rational human being. Here's the other thing about the use of a stud finder. It's a useless and adds nothing to the process. Why? Because they x-rayed his leg earlier and had it on hand when examining his leg. Apparently, this wasn't enough to convince everyone that there was a foreign object in P17's leg. That's when they did this one last test..
That's right, an ultrasound! While it can be used to get a better look at the skin and tissue around the bone, at this point it's hardly necessary because of the x-ray. I'm surprised they didn't plop this guy into an MRI and a CT Scan just to be certain!! Assuming this guy didn't buy into Obamacare when it was a thing (frankly he has that "look" to him) an x-ray of his knee would cost somewhere between $200-280, then add another almost $300 for the ultrasound. The surgery itself could have cost between $100-300. So right there, for services rendered, they made probably $1000 profit off this guy. Who knows how much Leir and his "team" charged for consulting.
After confirming that the object was in P17's leg was there, for reals, they then got right down to the real scientific process of removing it. Marking his leg with a Sharpie, waving a black light over the leg, then getting down to cutting.
Now I'm not an expert on performing surgery. I once removed a wart on my knee with a drywall scraper and that freezing solution you use to remove gum from carpeting. Although it was not the brightest thing I could have done, what I'm saying is that remove an object from within your body in such a non-sensitive area (such as the leg muscles) is not as difficult. One can find the tools needed to do so in a first aid kit. It's not like they're rooting around in this guy's brain or other important mushy bits. They're digging through muscle tissue, and maybe some fat. Needless to say, a doctor isn't running out to insure his hands to protect their skill in performing a procedure like this.
Once they remove the object, which looks like a sliver of metal, Roger Leir has it placed in a sterile container and shipped off to be examined with an electron microscope. For those who don't know what that is, it's a super fancy microscope that uses electrons to scan and determine the composition of small objects. Say, a piece of metal some idiot paid to have removed from his leg.
The process is run through a battery of electron microscopy tests to determine this composition. Now on the surface, it would seem that it is impressive. In fact, in the past, Dr. Leir has gone to some on the up-and-up facilities to scan past samples. Renown institutes and universities. Institutions of great prestige. However, this becomes less impressive that an electron microscope is a fairly common device used at these institutions. Name a legitimate university (IE: Not the kind you find in a shopping mall) and not only will you find out, but they are pimping the damn thing out. You can get your goopy mystery leg metal examined by technicians for an hourly rate ranging between $50-100.
After that, the computer spits out a bunch of numbers, this guy named "Christopher C." proclaims that the sample is "out of this world" and the figures are turned over to Corbern to study. Chris C. claims that he is a "nanotechnician", which is an impressive title for something that was made up. Although the scientific community and governments have been funding billions of dollars into the development of nanotechnology, we're not anywhere near the point where we'd need to train technicians.
Not a Hoax, Not a Dream: In This Documentary Somebody Dies!
It's Roger Leir. Roger Leir dies during the making of this film.
Leir died in 2014 just as the results of the examination were still underway. This makes Leir a "martyr" of sorts in that the conspiracy community now believe that his work is now untouchable. Like death all of a sudden makes your work immune to scrutiny. Which, I hate to be the one to tell you this, is not how the real world works. If that were true we'd still be tossing shit and dead bodies into our water supplies try and stop the black death. It's the idea that a dead man cannot defend himself or his record, so don't question it. Well, that's not the point when it comes to scientific discovery. It's not about you the individual, it's about the facts. As soon as you (or your fans) begin defending the sad record of a failed foot doctor in the face of legitimate science, then you're not looking for truth. You're looking for confirmation bias so you don't get excommunicated from the tinfoil hat brigade.
That said, Leir's death was like putting a pin through a balloon and watching it slowly deflate. You can watch the whole thing fall apart, almost like a train wreck in slow motion. See, Roger Leir is old school Woo. He managed to bilk people out of so much money to fund his bullshit that he had become something of a celebrity. Useless dickheads like Jeremy Lockyear and Steven Colbern would latch onto these guys and promote their ideas. Not for the sake of promoting said ideas, but for becoming part of that fringe celebrity group and scamming some of the cash. You can see these two numbnuts processing the fact that the coattails that they have been riding on have just been pulled out from under them. Roger Leir died before he could give his "expert advice" on camera and help them peddle this crappy "documentary" at UFO conventions. When a pop-singer dies, does anyone care about the backup singers? No. The same can be said about these conspiracy bozos.
Revelations, but not the Good Kind Like You Want
So Roger Leir is dead. We now get to watch as Both Steven and P17 have a sit-in to talk about their feelings and how Roger Leir impacted on their lives. This is when we find out that Colbern was Patient Fifteen. Also the results were inconclusive. Here's the thing about electron microscopy: If there is not enough of a material, it registers as an "unknown source", that doesn't automatically mean it's some undiscovered material from an alien world. All it means is that there is not enough data to form a conclusion.
However, Colbern insists that this is for-sures an alien implant. Conveniently, it has all the same readings as the implant taken from his own body. When they ask to go over the figures, Colbern suddenly vanishes, taking the results with him. Obviously, this guy saw that his conspiracy gravy train was coming to an end and decided it was time to fade away before he was called out on his bullshit. Some have said that the results have finally been published, I could hunt up a link but I'm sick of writing about this nonsense. Besides, any "evidence" presented by Coburn's after the fact could have easily been tampered with or manipulated to get the results he wanted. Already the conspiracy circles have deemed Colbern a member of the "Deep State", which is a less crazy way of saying shadow government or New World Order. They have already spun a fantastic tale of Steven Coburn being a government agent fighting off law enforcement agencies with government training (back in the Oklahoma Bombing days), when in reality he's just a huge fat fuck, and it takes a lot of cops to take down tons of fun like that.
Conclusion: Conspiratorial Grab-Ass
To close on this documentary, it's pure garbage. It's a vanity piece of some Hollywood prep-school prima donna who couldn't make it as a normal filmmaker so he jumped from art film house to conspiracy nut in the hopes of getting the quickest amount of cash on a fleeting idea. The conspiracy theory circuit is a system of frauds and phonies all trying to ride each others "fame" to get as much money as possible. I call it conspiratorial grab-ass because they're all pretending to be these "experts" who want to learn the truth. However, they have been at it since the mid 20th Century and found nothing conclusive because of one lame excuse or another. Usually, it's about the time that one of them could be exposed as a fake, and do a fade. This is fed upon by paranoid losers who then think that it's all part of some grander cover-up trying to discredit their work. It's almost like an illegal sex ring. Everyone has dirt on someone else, so they let themselves do a fade whenever someone points out how much utter bullshit they are because you knock down one of these idiots it's mutually assured destruction.
That said, Patient Seventeen, is hilariously bad. You don't watch this garbage for truth, you watch it to laugh and then feel depressed at how stupid people in our society can be for falling for this shit.
Although this is the first of The Woo Review, I have previously written some pretty woo-worthy stuff for Trouble City in the past. Check them out:
Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story - The laughable tale of a registered sex offender's quest to convince people he fucks aliens.