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Royal Raymond Rife (May 16, 1888 – August 5, 1971) was an American inventor and early exponent of high-magnification time-lapse cine-micrography. In the 1930s, he claimed that by using a specially designed optical microscope, he could observe microbes which were too small to visualize with previously existing technology. Rife also reported that a 'beam ray' device of his invention could weaken or destroy the pathogens by energetically exciting destructive resonances in their constituent chemicals.
Rife's claims could not be independently replicated, and were ultimately discredited by the medical profession in the 1950s. Rife blamed the scientific rejection of his claims on a conspiracy involving the American Medical Association (AMA), the Department of Public Health, and other elements of "organized medicine", which had "brainwashed" potential supporters of his devices.
Interest in Rife's claims was revived in some alternative medical circles by the 1987 book The Cancer Cure That Worked, which claimed that Rife had succeeded in curing cancer, but that his work was suppressed by a powerful conspiracy headed by the AMA. After this book's publication, a variety of devices bearing Rife's name were marketed as cures for diverse diseases such as cancer and AIDS. An analysis by Electronics Australia found that a typical 'Rife device' consisted of a nine-volt battery, wiring, a switch, a timer and two short lengths of copper tubing, which delivered an "almost undetectable" current unlikely to penetrate the skin. Several marketers of other 'Rife devices' have been convicted for health fraud, and in some cases cancer patients who used these devices as a replacement for medical therapy have died. Rife devices are currently classified as a subset of radionics devices, which are generally viewed as pseudomedicine by mainstream experts.
Little reliable published information exists describing Rife's life. In 1929, he was granted a patent for a high-intensity microscope lamp. On November 20, 1931, forty-four doctors attended a dinner advertised as "The End To All Diseases" at the Pasadena estate of Milbank Johnson, honoring Arthur I. Kendall of Northwestern Medical School and Rife, the developer of the 'Rife microscope'. Moving microorganisms from prepared, diseased human tissue were reportedly seen, still-photographed and also filmed with motion-picture equipment.
In a 1932 report in Science, Mayo Clinic physician Edward C. Rosenow wrote that in addition to other small particles viewable with the standard lab microscope, small turquoise bodies termed 'eberthella typhi' not visible with the standard lab microscopes were seen in filtrate using a Rife microscope. Rosenow attributed their detection to "the ingenious methods employed rather than excessively high magnification". Subsequently, one of Rife's microscopes was mentioned in the 1944 Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.
Rife claimed to have documented a "Mortal Oscillatory Rate" for various pathogenic organisms, and to be able to destroy the organisms by vibrating them at this particular rate. According to the San Diego Evening Tribune in 1938, Rife stopped short of claiming that he could cure cancer, but did argue that he could "devitalize disease organisms" in living tissue, "with certain exceptions".
Rife's work and claims were ultimately discredited by the medical community, a result which Rife blamed on powerful conspiracies against him. An obituary in the Daily Californian described his death at the age of 83 on August 5, 1971, stating that he died penniless and embittered by the failure of his devices to garner scientific acceptance.
Interest in Rife was revived in the 1980s by author Barry Lynes, who wrote a book about Rife entitled The Cancer Cure That Worked. The book claimed that Rife's 'beam ray' device could cure cancer, but that all mention of his discoveries was suppressed in the 1930s by a wide-ranging conspiracy headed by the American Medical Association. The American Cancer Society described Lynes' claims as implausible, noting that the book was written "in a style typical of conspiratorial theorists" and defied any independent verification.
In response to this renewed interest, devices bearing Rife's name began to be produced and marketed in the 1980s. Such 'Rife devices' have figured prominently in several cases of health fraud in the U.S., typically centered around the uselessness of the devices and the grandiose claims with which they are marketed. In a 1996 case, the marketers of a 'Rife device' claiming to cure numerous diseases including cancer and AIDS were convicted of felony health fraud. The sentencing judge described them as "target[ing] the most vulnerable people, including those suffering from terminal disease" and providing false hope. In 2002 John Bryon Krueger, who operated the Royal Rife Research Society, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a murder and also received a concurrent 30-month sentence for illegally selling Rife devices. In 2009 a U.S. court convicted James Folsom of 26 felony counts for sale of the Rife devices sold as 'NatureTronics', 'AstroPulse', 'BioSolutions', 'Energy Wellness', and 'Global Wellness'.
Several deaths have resulted from the use of Rife machines in place of standard medical treatment. In one case, a U.S. court found that the marketer of a Rife device had violated the law and that, as a result of her actions, a cancer patient had ceased chemotherapy and died. In Australia, the use of Rife machines has been blamed for the deaths of cancer patients who might have been cured with conventional therapy.
In 1994, the American Cancer Society reported that Rife machines were being sold in a "pyramid-like, multilevel marketing scheme". A key component in the marketing of Rife devices has been the claim, initially put forward by Rife himself, that the devices were being suppressed by an establishment conspiracy against cancer "cures". Although 'Rife devices' are not registered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have been linked to deaths among cancer sufferers, the Seattle Times reported that over 300 people attended the 2006 Rife International Health Conference in Seattle, where dozens of unregistered devices were sold.