Can Scientology Cure Asthma?

“With the oil of Aphrodite, and the dust of the Grand Wazoo
He said you might not believe this, little fella
But it’ll cure your asthma too!”
– Frank Zappa, Cosmik Debris (1974)

The news is hardly ever good for ‘The Church’ of Scientology these days, and with the recent release of a tell-all biography of the current head of the organisation, David Miscavige, by no less a person than his own father, Ron Miscavige, the heat just got a little hotter.

While I personally don’t think Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige and Me will give as big a kick as some believe (it has too much the feel of a personal vendetta and remains largely pro-Scientology), it does contain a lot that is of great interest, not least of which is an answer to the question: what turned David Miscavige on to Scientology and set the wheels in motion for him to take over as head of the cult, becoming the alleged megalomaniacal bully of so many accounts?

The answer … is asthma. From The Hollywood Reporter:

“… Ron went back to the beginning of his and David’s story to describe how he introduced 9-year-old David to Scientology … and how the church’s auditing routines helped David with his asthma attacks. Ron described that as the key turning point in David’s life, the moment he decided he would dedicate his life to the church.”

The book has been widely reviewed, with many noting the fantastic asthma claim. Vulture has ten ‘strange stories’ from Ron’s book, including:

“David’s own eureka moment would come when his father took him to see a Scientologist to rid him of his asthma, which was successful.”

Popdust increases the boy’s age and adds allergies into the mix:

“The Miscaviges joined Scientology back in 1971, after the then-11-year-old David underwent a 45-minute Dianetics session which, he claims, miraculously cured his asthma and severe allergies.”

While from Publishers Weekly:

“Ron Miscavige … still appreciates founder L. Ron Hubbard’s philosophy and credits its auditing process – a kind of psychoanalysis, as he describes – with curing David’s boyhood asthma.”

And ‘critical thinker at large’, Chris Shelton, in his review of the book said:

“There’s a story that he relates about David Miscavige and his asthma, as a child, and how Scientology didn’t cure it, but certainly reduced its traumatic effects on him … and almost made it totally go away. And that’s pretty interesting … and I’m not going to sit here and refute it and say it didn’t happen … because it very clearly did.”

Scientology themselves, despite producing an entire website to try and discredit the book, at least agree with that bit:

“After an auditing session that lasted approximately an hour, the asthma attack Mr. Miscavige was suffering from completely subsided. From that moment Mr. Miscavige knew he had found the answer to both his ailment and what he would make his life’s pursuit.”

Now, we all know Scientology’s a bit weird, you know, with its thetans and e-meters and volcanoes and jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa … but, maybe, just maybe, there’s something to this. You quite often hear that Scientology hooks you in with some ‘workable’ ‘good’ stuff in its early levels, and something must have happened to David Miscavige for him to become so enamoured with it, right?

Asthma is one of those conditions that almost every ‘alternative medicine’ makes a claim on … homeopathy should be the treatment of choice for asthma …”, “asthma can be tackled with acupuncture in a variety of ways …”, “reflexology can reduce the severity of asthma, and the frequency of asthma attacks …”, “asthma is one of the conditions most commonly treated using magnetic therapy …”,“chiropractic care can be effective in alleviating the symptoms related to asthma …”, and so on. You could even try swallowing a live fish with the ‘100% cure’ offered by the Bathini Goud clan in India.

Scientology’s claim to be able to treat asthma should be viewed with as much seriousness as with any quack medicine, and by that I mean they should be taken very seriously, because such quack medicine is ineffective and asthma has the potential to kill.

Ron Miscavige himself is convinced that Scientology caused his son’s severe asthma to disappear. In the book (contradicting the ‘Church’s’ statement above – his son was not actually experiencing an attack at the time), the young Miscavige emerged from the 45-minute auditing session and …

“That was the end of David’s asthma. Throughout the rest of his childhood, he never again had a serious attack – some minor ones, yes, but never where he was gasping and couldn’t breathe. It was truly an amazing occurrence, a miracle actually … something had definitely definitely definitely worked.”

Got that? Definitely. Well, sort of.

Asthma was a target for cure by L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder, in the embryonic stages of the cult’s formation. In his 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, he explains how asthma and other ‘psychosomatic illnesses’ are a product of the ‘reactive mind’:

“Discharge the content of this mind’s bank and the arthritis vanishes, myopia gets better, heart illness decreases, asthma disappears … the whole catalogue of ills goes away and stays away.”

For Hubbard and his followers, asthma is an idea that gets planted in the mind through some major or minor trauma; this could be at birth, or – in a development that came after Dianetics – it could even be from a past life. The only way to cure it (“and the word cure is used in its fullest sense”) is to clear that idea, the ‘engram’, through auditing. Erase the engram, cure the ailment.

In the late 1960s Hubbard created the ‘Allergy or Asthma Rundown’, an auditing process that was used to identify certain keywords that would reveal the root cause of the asthma which could then be magically audited away.

Ron and David Miscavige aren’t the only ones who believe Scientology is able to cure asthma …

“… in his twenties, my brother was able to rid himself of 19 years of asthma through Dianetics procedures. My first wife … was diagnosed as totally incapable of bearing children, yet later gave birth to our two beautiful girls as a direct result of Scientology spiritual counselling.”

“… my mom started a Dianetics session with me immediately … after some time I recalled an injury I had received to my chest and opened my eyes to look at my mom and said, “Mom, that’s why I have asthma!”  … I carefully took a deep breath, and I realised that my asthma was gone!”

One of the more famous devotees of the idea that Dianetics could cure asthma was John W, Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction. In the December 1949 issue he announced the impending arrival of Hubbard’s ‘new science’, claiming:

“… its power is unbelievable; it proves the mind not only can but does rule the body completely … physical ills such as ulcers, asthma and arthritis can be cured …”

The magician and skeptic James Randi met both Campbell and Hubbard, as part of the Trap Door Spiders writers’ group in New York. After recalling “nobody liked [Hubbard]” and that he thought him “an evil man … a wilfully evil man”, he said:

“… Campbell fell for him … he always claimed he was healed in his asthma … and he still went around using his inhaler all the time. Dianetics healed his asthma – right.”

Is this possible? Can someone believe they’ve been cured of an ailment at the same time as they’re experiencing its symptoms? Of course, the set-up and belief involved in an auditing session can produce a temporarily effective placebo response, a calming situation, and give the appearance of a successful treatment for a mild attack for a few hours at least. So it is not devoid of value, despite being pseudoscience.

But other things can play into the mind-game too – mythologising and cherrypicking the narrative over time to fit a belief in which you’re heavily invested, cognitive dissonance leading to the dismissal of any countering evidence, confirmation bias, the natural waning of the condition (either periodic or permanent), bare hope, and good old self-delusion.

There’s a glimpse of this doublethink in Miscavige’s book and in the extract above: in the space of a single sentence he claims the end of his son’s asthma, and then immediately backtracks to admit it wasn’t completely cured. Yet it was “a miracle”.

There’s a story concerning the young David Miscavige that is not told in his father’s largely pro-Scientology book, but does appear in Lawrence Wright’s more critical Going Clear. In the early 1970s the Miscaviges moved to England to train at Saint Hill in East Grinstead (I would have been there at this time myself, albeit as a small child), and for a couple of weeks David was left in the care of another Scientologist, Ervin Scott. Scott – whose wife also suffered from asthma – noted that Miscavige, then aged 12, owned two inhalers, and his parents had warned him that the boy could become violent during asthma attacks.

In fact Scott says he did experience David having some kind of severe attack one night, finding him with his face blue and his eyes rolled back in his head. In another incident he witnessed the young Miscavige storming out of an auditing session with his auditee, a young woman, following him out, clutching her arm in pain and in tears. The claim was that he had struck her. Karen de la Carriere, a fellow intern at the time, says they were told to keep the story quiet and that the incident was blamed on David’s asthma medication.

It doesn’t really matter, in this case, whose side you believe in these stories – both end up confirming that David Miscavige still suffered from severe asthma attacks as a child (the ‘Church’ claim he could not be violent at the same time as having one of his attacks).

From various accounts the asthma has continued into Miscavige’s adulthood. Hubbard’s daughter, Suzette, apparently noticed that David used to try and hide his inhaler when he used it, nicknaming him the Asthmatic Dwarf. At the age of 20, as recounted by his miracle-believing father, he was hospitalised by a serious asthma attack. Upon being released he was said to have stated “power is not granted … it is assumed” – an ominous phrase in the light of his subsequent takeover of the ‘Church’. And in a story from Andrew Morton’s biography of Tom Cruise, ex-Scientologist Jesse Prince recalls the intense stress Miscavige was under while working for Hubbard and how it would lead to asthma attacks:

“Sometimes he would get so upset that his eyes were bulging and he couldn’t breathe … He wouldn’t take medication or inhalers, so I would have to calm him down and then he would sleep for days after an attack.”

Furthermore, he was said to keep an oxygen tank under his bed in case of emergency. Asthma was evidently still very much part of his life – even when fully immersed in Scientology. The stress and his heavy smoking didn’t help.

Still, when you’re led to believe that the cause of illness lies in the mind, and you truly believe in the power of your guru’s snake oil treatment (especially after investing so much time and money in it), the cognitive dissonance is enough for that mind to play some truly wonderful tricks in order to shove the reality of a chronic condition out of the frame. Plus, of course, there’s the Scientology idea that you pull in what you deserve, and if you’re some kind of ‘clear’ super-being, you can’t be having that asthma now, can you? Like so much alternative medicine, if it’s not working then it’s you who’s at fault, not the infallible magic cure.

At the time it was developed and written, Dianetics wasn’t too far from the mainstream view of asthma that the condition was one of several supposed psychosomatic diseases. Thomas French and Franz Alexander posited that the wheeze of the asthmatic was the suppressed wail of an affection-starved child for a mother who would not allow it to cry. Psychoanalysis was often the treatment of choice.

But asthma is not a psychosomatic illness, and the idea that it was almost certainly delayed any real progress in managing the condition, not to mention dumping a heavy weight of guilt on the sufferer for thinking they – or their parents – were somehow to blame for the affliction in the first place. Thankfully, advancing science, unlike dogmatic religion, is able to discard bad ideas and move on.

The total cure claimed by Hubbard is quite plainly complete hokum, and even the mild benefits of a formal counselling session (with or without added Xenu) do not mask the very real dangers of an ineffective treatment for asthma – whether it’s homeopathy, magnets, reiki or Dianetics and Scientology.

Gerald Baxter, a New Zealand-based Scientologist, considered that auditing had helped his asthma. When he started experiencing mild attacks again he was told by his ‘Church’ superiors that he had to handle it and was forbidden to use his inhaler (it’s all in the mind, remember?). After one severe attack, in which he couldn’t find his inhaler, he was congratulated on “doing the right thing”. The next attack he didn’t survive.

Genny Gray, another Antipodean (now ex-) Scientologist, recalls how she was told that auditing would cure her asthma and was ordered to abandon her inhaler. She did so, became ill, and was eventually hospitalised. Thankfully she did survive.

Stories of much-needed medication being taken away once a person is in the clutches of Scientology are sadly not uncommon, and this has also been reported to be the case within the Scientology ‘drug rehabilitation’ front group, Narconon.

A 2013 Oklahoma law suit detailed how a Lake Arrowhead Narconon ‘student’ was left for long periods without his inhaler, including in a room where smoking was permitted, resulting in an alarming increase in the severity of his asthma and no medical doctor present.

Service men and women who participated in the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, co-founded by Scientology-Jesus, Tom Cruise, and which, like Narconon, is based on Hubbard’s unproven Purification Rundown, were required by the project to stop using their inhalers and discard medication. One fireman, Robert McGuire, suffered a serious asthma attack while out shopping …

“They wanted me off my meds for 30 days before I started [the detox]. Two weeks into it I was by myself [in a store], my inhaler was in the car and I thought I was going to die. I was taken to the emergency room – it was really scary.”

As stated in my previous article, Narconon is pseudoscience, but it is especially dangerous for anyone who suffers from asthma. The overly-long sauna treatments are singled out as inappropriate for asthmatics, while the large doses of niacin are known to aggravate the condition – both are key aspects of the Purification Rundown.

Scientology might present itself with a glossy veneer of ‘science’, but in the end it’s just another peddler of wishful thinking, pushing flimflam with no actual research or expert knowledge to back it up. It has more in common with its fellow New Thought zealots such as Christian Scientists (who believe illness is an illusion) or Germanic New Medicine (which states that disease is caused by traumatic events which must be resolved in order to heal – sounds familiar!).

As with most pseudoscience, these ‘philosophies’ are not harmless. At best they delay or interfere with real effective treatment, at worst they demonise it and withhold it completely. Asthma can be a difficult condition to live with, and many sufferers are understandably desperate to be free of it. They become prime targets for those vying to make a profit with their exclusive panaceas.

Over a quarter of a million people die from asthma every year – and though the fallacious claim that illness “goes away and stays away” with auditing is by no means the worst aspect of the toxic cult that is Scientology, care should be taken that mythical anecdote does not end up lending credence and promoting the false hope of a cure.

Walk the Kingdom, hide the truth

A 63-year old man is to spend nine months walking the entire coastline of the United Kingdom in order to raise funds for drug awareness lecturer Peter Dwan so he can continue visiting the nation’s schools and “reach the kids before the dealers do”.

News media near and far have lapped up the story, focussing on his age, the selfless act of hardship and charity, and the undoubted good cause. How could anyone criticise such a venture?

Well, I admit, it’s not easy, and I’m not writing this with much relish. Steve Cook, the 63-year old grandfather embarking on this epic trek, comes across as a sincere and affable chap, earnest in the belief of his cause. The same goes for Peter Dwan, a former Thai boxing champion and martial arts trainer who seems genuinely passionate about the issue he has set his sights on.

But there’s something not so benevolent underneath it all. Something questionable. Something hidden.

Steve Cook has mentioned in several interviews that his own awareness of drug issues came about because he worked with addicts himself. More detail on this aspect of his past is not forthcoming, but the truth is that this was with Narconon, the Scientology front group that uses the highly questionable methods of the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to try and get people off drugs.

Does it matter who’s behind the project? Surely getting information to kids and warning them of the dangers of drugs is more important than any strange spiritual beliefs someone might hold? Scientology themselves certainly profess that, and are constantly at pains to stress that Narconon is a secular organisation, totally separate from the “Church“, and only there to do good community work.

But there is a problem – in fact more than one. Narconon is not independent of Scientology, it is Scientology, and Scientology is a dangerous cult. Narconon exists in order to further spread the works and philosophies of L. Ron Hubbard – a very problematic individual, to say the least. And the programme is reliant on pseudoscience that can be genuinely dangerous – especially to addicts.

Narconon has its strongest foothold in the US, with at least ten rehab centres across the country, the most prominent of which is probably the controversial Lake Arrowhead complex in Oklamoma – the site of four inmate deaths, three within just nine months.

But what about in the UK? We have had Narconon centres here, most notably at St. Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, but none of these has really had any staying power (St. Leonards lasted from 2005 until 2009). Narconon UK now mainly seems to consist of a number of amateur and decaying websites – all with different names and identities, a few mostly out of date phone numbers, the occasional effort to restart it or introduce a worryingly dubious home self-help programme, sporadic leafleting, and a handful of individual educators who go out into schools to spread the Scientology message on drugs – such as Peter Dwan. (Update: On 5 Sep 2015 a new UK Narconon centre was opened in Heathfield, Sussex).

If you ask Dwan, or Steve Cook, or any of his supporters, they’ll tell you that his drug education project is now independent of Narconon and has nothing to do with Scientology. He just wants to get the information to the kids. If it’s good information, that would be fine, but unfortunately it is not good information.

The Narconon programme consists of several components including self-awareness, self-improvement, detoxification and life-skills. This holistic approach sounds great until you realise that it all comes straight from the mind of L. Ron Hubbard – a man who created his own science-fiction religion for the purposes of money and ego, who lied about and exaggerated his own history, who spent many years on the run from several international authorities, and ended his life, in hiding, as a sick, paranoid drug addict.

One of the first things a new patient (or ‘student’ as they are called) will do at Narconon is a ‘therapeutic training routine’ to improve their communication and attention span. The terms have been softened, but this is the same course that greets a new recruit to Scientology – the Communication Course, consisting of several ‘training routines‘ known as TR0, TR1 and TR2, etc. Scientology critic and author Jon Atack calls these drills a form of hypnosis, creating malleable minds ripe for indoctrination.

The detoxification scheme is the centrepiece of the programme, but also one of the most troubling aspects. It involves taking mega-doses of vitamins and spending long hours in a hot sauna. This is because Hubbard believed that drug residue becomes lodged in body fat and stays there for years, sometimes restimulating the individual and causing further harm. High doses of niacin are supposed to break up these deposits, the sauna is supposed to sweat them out, and then vitamins and minerals are replaced through supplements.

This so-called ‘New Life Detoxification programme’ is called the Purification Rundown in Scientology. It’s exactly the same thing and it’s pseudoscience. There is no evidence that drugs stay for years – or even months in most cases – in the body’s fat. Niacin and vitamins are both instructed to be taken in doses that are known to be dangerous. It’s part of the whole scam that is the detox industry.

One of the side effects of niacin is that it can bring on an uncomfortable hot prickly rash. As a child brought up in Scientology I can attest to this as my sister and I were made to do the ‘Purif’ when we were 11 or 12 years old in the early 1980s. Once it came out in sore patches around my eyes and the supervisor told me this was because it manifested in patterns that relate to past-lives – these were evidently echoes of the goggles of a WWII fighter ace! (Hubbard actually believed the reaction was old sun tans and that the niacin was eradicating radiation from the body – also not true.) Another side effect of high-dose niacin intake is liver damage. Imagine that on a recovering alcoholic.

Scientology’s misaligned worldview is evident throughout the rest of the course too: important medication (for instance, anti-seizure drugs) may be taken away from the participant (reflecting Scientology’s mistrust of mainstream medicine and psychiatrists), the person will be persuaded that the cause of their problems may be to do with the influence of other people in their lives, including family members (invoking Scientology’s policy of Suppressive Persons and disconnection), and a graduating ‘student’ will be encouraged to stay on as a staff member, to bring more people into the centre (for a commission), and to take further Scientology courses within the main organisation.

So should Peter Dwan and Steve Cook be trusted as drug educators to our nation’s schools? If teachers were aware of their connection to Scientology they would probably be more reluctant to let them have any influence over their pupils.

Steve Cook worked at the Hastings Narconon centre, and his wife was one of the directors there. Both have been Scientologists since the early 1980s. Peter Dwan was an ambassador and director for Narconon Manchester, and has been a Scientologist since 2003. All have strong connections to Scientology, Narconon, and support other Scientology front groups such as the deceptively named Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR, Scientology’s anti-psychiatry organisation).

In addition they come with the baggage that afflicts many Scientologists – an anti-scientific view of the medical profession and pharmaceuticals, and a strong tendency towards conspiracy theories. Cook supports the long-disproved notion that vaccines cause autism, but goes even further down the rabbit hole into the ideas of the so-called New World Order and its various false flag agendas – so much so that he’s become editor and writer for the UK edition of the Liberty Beacon website, a brand that’s fully immersed in the conspiracy and pseudoscience nut jar.

Peter Dwan is not averse to these sorts of ideas either, tweeting in support of the ridiculous and dangerous ‘MMS‘ – the industrial bleach concoction that its creator, ‘Bishop’ Jim Humble (an ex-Scientologist who has since created his own religion), claims will cure everything from AIDS to Malaria and Cancer. And again, like many Scientologists, he seems to be chasing the ‘quick-easy-fix’ in life – earning money off the questionable claims made by multi-level-marketing brand Juice Plus, and promising speedy mastery of several martial arts by selling Al Case’s highly dubious ‘Matrix‘ fighting system (Al Case is also a Scientologist). To guide him through all this, Dwan is in the thrall of American ‘get rich quick’ marketing guru Grant Cardone – another Scientologist.

The quick fix, the magic bullet … health in a tablet, the tincture that cures all ills, the DVD that gives you black belt in a year, the sure-fire marketing method, the complete by-numbers drug programme … and the answer to life the universe and everything in a single package: Scientology.

The erasure of Narconon from Dwan’s websites and printed literature and promotions is a recent thing. His current leaflets and hand-outs are the same as those used by Narconon, only now the Narconon logo has disappeared and been replaced with ‘Peter Dwan Drug Education’ and ‘Smart About Drugs’.

But there’s no doubt that Dwan is using “the very successful Narconon lecture format” – his flip-chart drawings are the same as those used by other Narconon lecturers and the information remains the same, including the blatant misinformation about toxins stored in body fat as well as other Scientology-related ideas about the reactive mind and drug restimulation. His mantras to “reach kids before the dealers do” and to give them “the truth about drugs” are straight from the Narconon script.

I do wonder if this is part of new strategy for Narconon UK. Director Lucy Skirrow announces that they “currently have eight active presenters who work in schools, youth clubs and businesses, based in Sussex, London, Manchester and York”. But the name Narconon is not as visible as it used to be. And if you want one of these lecturers you can expect to pay about £140 for a session (2006 price) – for many schools it’ll be your taxes that pay for it.

As I said earlier, Peter Dwan is evidently passionate about teaching children the dangers of drugs, and he almost certainly believes he’s giving good information. But he’s been hoodwinked by Scientology’s usual ways of pulling people deeper and deeper into their clutches and then utilising them for dissemination, recruitment and financial gain.

However, Dwan does have another aspect to his story that is much more positive. After drugs (alcohol, cannabis and speed in his case) he found focus in life with martial arts – a noble endeavour – and he was successful at it. As he says in his lectures, the buzz of training and winning the British Thai boxing title was greater than anything that could be provided by some chemical high.

If he could fortify this enthusiasm and experience with some proper training as a drug counsellor and educator, utilising up to date, peer-reviewed science, and recognise the reality of mental health problems that often accompany addiction, incorporating modern education methods rather than out-dated propaganda, scare tactics and misinformation, then he’d truly be a welcome positive force in the UK’s schools.

In the meantime, Steve Cook Walks the Kingdom to fight the “UK drugs epidemic”. If you want to donate then there’s a button to pay through PayPal, but no public accounting, such as there would be if a service such as Just Giving was used. (Update Jul 2015: almost two months into the walk Cook started a GoFundMe page – not linked to from his website; it has, to date, raised £100, with a target of £20,000).

How much has he raised? I have no idea, as of this writing there doesn’t seem to be any way to know. How many people have seen the dozens of articles and heard the radio interviews and donated? Well, Cook says that all donors will be publicly acknowledged online, and I count 14 listed on the website at the time of writing (8 days into the walk) – at least ten of whom are Scientologists.

I wish this were for a better cause – it’s an astonishing thing to walk over 4,000 miles of rugged coastline, especially when you’re 63 and a smoker (not very drug free!). (Another Scientologist, Danny Fitzgibbon, is planning to row unaided across the Atlantic ocean for Dwan in September, a feat he has abandoned once already). Cook’s early diary videos gave a hint that perhaps he was having doubts about his ability and stamina, and his schedule doesn’t appear to include a single rest day. I can’t help but have some admiration for the guy. (Update: Cook has ended his walk halfway through, see updates at the end).

As for Narconon, it is a gateway drug to philosophies that were born out of the skewed mind of L. Ron Hubbard – a man addicted to cigarettes (3 or 4 packs a day – he actually believed they could help prevent lung cancer), who popped “pinks and greys” (benzedrine), and who died with the psychiatric tranquilliser Vistaril in his bloodstream; a man who claimed to have travelled to Venus, and that an intergalactic overlord called Xenu had ruled the Galaxy 75 million years ago and dropped billions of his citizens into volcanoes on Earth from spaceships that closely resembled DC-8 aircraft.

Scientologists believe that only they have the “tech” to save the planet, and that the thoughts and ideas of Hubbard are infallible. If what they taught about drugs was true, if it was evidenced science, could anyone take this data and lecture it in schools? Or administer the Purification Rundown in their own centres? I think it’s more likely that Scientology would try and take them to court for infringing on their exclusive system.

I know Dwan and his fellow lecturers aren’t going into schools and administering Hubbard’s Purification Rundown to children, but they are almost entirely informed and backed-up by Narconon and Scientology, and the schools who pay for these lectures (how much of the fee goes to Narconon/Scientology?) are allowing poor science, outdated educational methods, and questionable philosophies into their classrooms.

Bad information about narcotics and alcohol will lead to bad decisions by kids when they eventually come face to face with drugs, and schools should be 100% certain of whose ideas are influencing their young pupils. They should know if it is Scientology.

Update Jul 2015: Cook got as far as North Queensferry, just across the Forth from Edinburgh, before a bad foot caused him to return to East Grinstead on 11 July 2015 – this has not been updated on his website, which still shows him in Scotland.

Update Aug 2015: It seems the walk is over for now, as Cook has announced on Facebook that he plans to possibly get back to the walk in Spring 2016, though the Walk the Kingdom website has not been updated with this news. (20 Aug: his website has at last been updated. Aug 2016: no mention or continuation of the Walk.)

For good science on drugs please visit DrugScience.
For good advice on drugs for youths please visit Talk to Frank.