Comments from Quackwatch Visitors
- Here's a selection of e-mail comments received by Quackwatch. Although most of the comments we receive are favorable, this page contains a higher proportion of unfavorable ones because I think they are more instructive. Some have been edited to remove identifying information and, in some cases, to make them read a bit more smoothly. The links will take you to articles related to the comments. To return to this page, use the "back" command on your web browser. — Stephen Barrett, M.D.
From a desktop publisher in Bridgewater, Massachusetts:
Great site. I mean REAL GREAT. I never knew such an expansive source of information existed in one place on the web. There's so much myth about "what the Internet has to offer," but your site actually fulfills the information age's lofty claims of a worthwhile web environment. I see nothing about your site that is hacked, untrue, or willfully deceptive"and that shocks me a great deal, given the many places I've been (both online and in the real world).
I've always been suspicious about many of the subjects you listed on your page"now I KNOW. Thank you. I can't thank you enough... You're a ray of light in an otherwise murky ocean of ignorance, outright lies, and deceptive advertising.
From an engineer in southern Florida:
I found out about your site from the recent news about the Clinton's "snake-oil" salesman friend, A. Glenn Braswell (I've finally found something I can thank Bill and Hillary for). I will be recommending and visiting your site more often.
From a former researcher and assistant teacher for the Department
of Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy at the University of Minnesota:
I have just spent the last several hours being educated and thoroughly entertained by your Quackwatch web site! Bravo!!! Your work stands out as a lone beacon of reason in the darkness of a world devoted to dismissing reality in favor of whatever it pleases itself to believe. It is amazing to me that at a cultural high point in terms of scientific and technical knowledge - knowledge which continues to grow at an exponential rate - that this kind of fraud, mysticism and just plain bad thinking can be sold so easily! What ever happened to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment where Reason and it's application to the human condition were looked upon as having the greatest potential for the advancement of Mankind? The older I get, the more saddened I am to see the things such as you expose taking place. Gain strength from your detractors—and from your supporters, one of which I am delighted to call myself! Keep up your fine work as it is sorely needed in today's world!
From a distressed relative of someone undergoing chelation therapy:
Something else that amazes me about some educated people I know. The individuals in question are totally on board with alternative medicine and prefer to have as little contact with traditional Western medicine as possible. I have argued with some of these people and tried to point out the necessity of doing randomized double-blind studies on treatments with valid statistical analysis of the results, but they don't want to hear it. All they hear is that doctors are selling the public useless expensive treatments to pad their own pockets and are only against alternative treatments to protect their turf. Somehow I think the situation is reversed and its the alternative practitioners who are padding their pockets.
I wish I had found your web site when I did my internet search for chelation therapy information last year. Instead, I found hundreds of sites promoting it for everything from atherosclerosis to Parkinson's disease. What a fraud! Anyway, thanks again for your beacon of truth. I will be visiting your site a lot!
From someone with a deep concern about the propagation of pseudoscience:
- Not too long ago, a newsletter released by my Flexplan insurance spouted stuff about alternative medicine, including homeopathy. Now I don't think it's a good idea for such nonsense to come from something of apparent authority. I called up and told them so, that Homeopathy has no basis in science. You know what I was told? That it was "just my belief" and something to the effect that "not everyone wants to use science as a basis for their health." I was horrified and disgusted that something like this was coming from people who administer my health coverage!!! I have linked to your site.
I replied (in part):
- I don't know whether HMOs cover "alternatives" because of ignorance, delusion, or the idea that this enable them to compete better in the marketplace. I'm not sure which is the scariest of these factors. Thanks for the link.
From a frequent visitor to Quackwatch:
- I sure appreciate your web site! There's no other place I know of that deals with all of the extraordinary claims of alternative medicine. Thank you for being out there. . . . I scan it everyday looking for updates.
From an investigative reporter:
- Thanks SO MUCH for all the info on Herbalife!! YeeeooOWWW!!
- The background you've provided is INCREDIBLY helpful.
- Thanks again! And GOD BLESS THE 'NET!!
From a physicist in England:
As a researcher and educator, I have some sense of how much effort is involved in scholarly criticism. I wanted you to you know how much I appreciate yours.
From a medical librarian in Ohio:
We like Quackwatch so much we made it the home page on our public-access Internet station.
From a college student:
- Thank you for the time and obvious effort you've put into tracking, compiling, and reporting on implausible and possibly dangerous medical/quasimedical treatments. I just spent the past hour going through it. I know how desperate people can become when faced with illness, and I know how the glut of misleading information often muddies the treatment waters.
- Thank you for the time and obvious effort you've put into tracking, compiling, and reporting on implausible and possibly dangerous medical/quasimedical treatments. I just spent the past hour going through it. I know how desperate people can become when faced with illness, and I know how the glut of misleading information often muddies the treatment waters.
From a woman to whom I sent information about a multilevel company:
- Thank you so much for your reply to my E-mail. I will be looking up all that information. I am very appreciative of your research and the website you have with this info. Please be encouraged that it is a great help and people are in desparate need of education regarding this stuff.
From a general practitioner :
I'm delighted to find a voice of reason speaking against what appears to be an increasingly gullible, science-phobic (Is there such a word? There should be.) population that is willing to accept untried, possibly harmful, remedies if the right buttons are pushed. The most popular/effective of these is no doubt that magical word "natural." So are asbestos, rattlesnake venom and the plague. 'Nuf said.
From a visitor from Maine:
- Thank you for making your "Quackery Clearinghouse" available to the general public! Although many "health food" stores carry items I can't easily find elsewhere, I've often wondered why they set aside as much as 1/3 of their shelf space for various "pills and potions." You'd think that if you ate the food they offered for sale, you'd soon have no need for such "supplements"!
From an allergist in Connecticut:
I just wanted to thank you for having this website available to the general public. I am often plagued by quacks who are misinforming my patients and encouraging them to spend lots of money on fraudulent therapies. I will be posting your web site address in my office so that patients can use this as a valuable resource for themselves.
From a visitor from the state of Washington:
Too bad Quackwatch is probably visited only by people intelligent enough not to get quacked. I found the "jeers" column especially entertaining. It's obvious that what alternative "medicine" schools really need to be teaching is spelling and grammar. Not to mention the concept that personal attacks on the author are not legitimate replies to articles you don't agree with. If I can find it, I'll send you an article in our local newspaper written by the town chiropractor who claims that chicken pox can be prevented by spinal manipulation. . . . Keep up the good work.
To which I replied:
From a medical school applicant:
Thanks. We have heard from many people who are quite willing to learn. In fact, we have rescued several from very serious quackery. Incidentally, intelligent people are not necessarily hard to fool.
Thank you for providing such a comprehensive and honest web sight. It is the altruistic dedication of people like you who keep my desire to become a physician alive and well.
From an attorney in Utah:
A compliment on your superb Web page. This is really what the internet should be about. I've spend the last hour sending your URL to my (otherwise intelligent) friends who are exploring various "alternative" medicine treatments. I am also going to do my best to get my clients (all physicians) to somehow let their patients know of this great source of information. I have long been distressed about the general lack of critical thinking among the population. The vogue for alternative treatments/medicines is just one expression of this mental mumbo-jumbo. And yet the "herbal" and "vitamin" sections in the supermarkets grow ever larger....Your efforts on "Quackwatch" are well-appreciated and I hope may open a few eyes.
From an attorney in California:
I just wanted to send you a note saying how appreciative I am of your taking the time to present all this information at one location. How you find the time is beyond me, but I think I have learned more from your site than other site on the web.
From a physician in New Jersey:
Upon discovery of your Internet site, I have now found an invaluable source of information to assist my efforts in patient education in this new age of quackery and "alternative medicine." I thank you for being.
From a veterinarian in Virgina:
You are performing a valuable and noble purpose. Too long has alternative, questionable practice received a free ride from scientists and health care professionals unwilling to state that the Emperor has no clothes.
From another reader in California:
I am thrilled to see Web pages countering the proliferation antiscientific medical practices. My mother died of cancer at an early age, and, sadly, her opposition to so-called Western medicine may have contributed to her death. If ever there is a time for critical thinking, it is when lives are at stake. One of the most scandalous operations of the U.S. government is the Office of Alternative Medicine. Although I spotted a reference to this organization in one article, I thought perhaps it might merit a more prominent link with appropriate commentary. As if there were not enough quackery available on the open market, the government appears to be offering it sympathetic publicity as well.
To which I replied:
You are correct. I will eventually post a detailed report.
From a dentist in Iowa:
All I've had time to read so far is your "jeers" section, but from the selection of people who don't like you, I can tell that I do! I am looking forward to savoring the rest of your site. This material is the most refreshing I've come across since I first saw the Skeptical Inquirer. Keep up the good work!
From a corporate secretary in Texas:
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the truly amazing help I have received from you via your website, which I discovered "by accident" when I was looking for information on vitamin supplements. I am unable to adequately tell you how much your information has helped me. If I had not found your website when I did, I most likely would be several hundred dollars poorer right now since I had allowed myself to become convinced that I "needed" vitamin supplements to "fix" some of my more "bothersome" problems (low energy, not sleeping well, overweight, etc., etc.) Having recently been checked out by my family physician, I knew that I have no serious medical problems. Thus, a light bulb went off in my head after I read your article on vitamin quackery. I realized anew that I have been very much blessed with fairly good health, even at 59 years of age, and I think my mind is still working (for the most part), and your website helped me see how far off the track I was getting. Thank you a thousand times! Now instead of spending and even wasting my money at the local "health food" store, I've decided to get back into my daily walking program, and will be again buying (and then eating) those fresh fruits and vegetables from the local grocery store (like I used to do).
From a legal consultant:
Quackwatch has been very informative for the past two hours of my searching various topics, including my interest which is Criminal Medical Malpractice. I subscribe to a legal information service and pay hundreds of dollars monthly for some of the same information that I found "free" searching Quackwatch—a name that truly fits the cases presented. I have bookmarked your site and thank you for the information I read today.
From a neuropsychologist:
Just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Everything about this site is great. Content is great, it's a complete site (with general discussion of what science is, relevant links, legal issues, all that), well-organized and easy to use, and I'm grateful that such a site exists. I don't go to your site to feel validated. I use it because I really want to know what the evidence is re. a treatment I've heard of but don't know much about. I can use your description of the treatment to get oriented, and use your references to go beyond your site if I want more detail.
From pediatrician concerned about questionable pharmacy sales:
I must compliment you on your web site. I have found it very informative. I am a pediatrician in a new multispecialty teaching practice with our own web site. We have your web site as a link for our patient education. We also have a retail pharmacy in the same building selling some products we consider questionable to dangerous. Your site has provided me with information that may allow us to pressure the pharmacy to remove items from the shelves. I am aware the patients can go elsewhere to purchase these items, but by having them here I feel we imply approval.
From a biology student who hopes to become a physician:
My compliments to your wonderfully informative and rational site. It truly is a breath of fresh air. I recently watched a PBS program on which a doctor intermixed sound advice with a variety of really strange thoughts. I was saddened to see this network—which I have come to respect over the years (at least relative to the others)—duped by someone who is working in the fringe. I am writing because my Baloney Detection Kit (installed years ago by the writings of Carl Sagan and James Randi) went off several times during the program.
From what I have seen, PBS, both radio and TV, has more proquackery programs than antiquackery programs. Their managers either suffer from baloney detection deficiency or they don't care.
From a sixth grader in Phoenix:
I'm glad you posted this webpage because people lose all their money to quacks.
From a software engineer in Seattle:
Thank you for taking the trouble to establish this wonderful website! I discovered this site two years ago and since then it has been one of the most valued components of my Baloney Detector. You have saved me (and probably thousands of others) from wasting money and risking my health on questionable treatments and products. Thanks to you, instead of popping 12,000 supplements and having some chiropractor tie my spine up in knots, I simply eat a balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and I feel just fine!
From a medical laboratory technician in Australia:
Although I think the medical profession has its flaws, alternative medicine is a far greater problem. I have a science background and prefer to be drug-free where possible, but find that many alternative practices do not make sense. I appreciate your views as they reassure me that I'm not the crazy person.
From a nurse in Chicago:
I am so glad that this source is available. Sometimes I start to think that everyone out there is involved in alternative medical practices, no matter how ridiculous they are. I have many friends who will readily buy anything off the shelf for the quick fix with no regard for any proof or scientific study. My husband (a physician) and I feel like lone voices crying in the wilderness when we try to advise them or guide them to tested conventional modes of diagnosis and therapy. I will certainly refer those who are eagerly pursuing alternative therapies to your web site. Hopefully, those who have not been converted (as most of this becomes their religion) will be open to weighing the evidence you present. Keep up the good work, this is such a necessary and valuable service.
From another reader who felt reassured:
Is it just my imagination, or has the population of morons increased dramatically over the past few years? Perhaps I visit too many web sites frequented by dullards, such as AOL's "Survivors" and Feng Shui message boards. I am proud to have been banished from the latter forum of idiocy and gullibility because I attempted to elucidate some of Feng Shui's many logical pitfalls. I am confident that would never happen on Quackwatch. I am very pleased to find a site dedicated to intelligence, insight, logic, and common sense, attributes that so many deem unimportant, if not outright undesirable. Keep up the good work!
From a woman who works for a large pharmaceutical company:
I read of your website in TIME
magazine and was just thrilled to see someone out there debunking
unproven products & theories.
I chuckled out loud as I read the article. I work for a large pharmaceutical company and promote legitimate products. That is the extent of my medical training, aside from a BS in Genetics. I can not tell you how often friends of mine—people whom I value as wonderful intelligent individuals—question me on the validity of something they have seen or read. I do my best to give accurate information, but I now have a resource which I can direct them to. I have had to listen to my hairdresser espouse the wonders of the herb of the week, and I've never had the information handy to gently steer her towards the truth. Now I do.
From a South African couple with backgrounds in teaching, biology, and computing:
We bet your Quackwatch is the least-appreciated and most valuable public service on the web. Robbing people of their illusions when they would prefer to be robbed of health and money, is a thankless activity.
From someone considering a multilevel company:
I am new on the net, and have been reviewing your pages, surely there are some legitimate health products. Do you own stock in Pharmaceutical Companies? Don't take this personally. I am suspicious of people that take a totally hard-line stand one way or the other.
I replied (in part):
If you are talking about health-related products sold by multilevel companies, the percentage of legitimate products is extremely small and the percentage of MLM companies selling them nondeceptively is probably zero. I do not own stock in any drug companies, and I have severely criticized some of their marketing practices. I express my opinions clearly . . . as does Consumer Reports.
From an anonymous critic:
I think you are the quack! Are you getting paid by American Medical Association (Union) to put up this website?
From a chiropractic patient:
Have you heard about the decision of the supreme court in 1988 that no more bashing the chiropractic profession was permitted anymore. . . .You sir are definitely looking at a law suit for this. Your web site has been forwarded to two prominent attorneys defending this very law. At the same time your web site has been forwarded to an AOL attorney for the removal of your false articles on chiropractic. . . .
How dare you place a picture of a 25-year-old girl that was killed by a so-called cervical manipulation. I am thinking about starting my own web page where I have pictures of some of the 132,000 people a year that DIE from unproven medical treatments and at the hands of some very unqualified "quack"MD's. That's not to mention the other few hundred thousands that are maimed and crippled. . . .
So sir, I strongly recommend that you remove those articles from your page. At this very moment your web page is being mailed to DC's all over the country. Watch out!
I replied (in part):
Would you say that to her mother? There was no valid reason for her neck to have been manipulated. I not only examined the autopsy report but read the deposition given by the chiropractor. When she showed the early warning signs of vertebral artery injury after the first neck manipulation, he didn't have the slightest idea what they meant and administered the second one, which killed her.
From an herbal enthusiast:
You are highly mistaken about herbs sir, and I guess you probably don't truly understand that the human body is designed to heal by strengthening its OWN defense mechanisms, NOT by putting poisons into it. And you even had the nerve to say herbs had no nutritional value? WHEW! How ironic that you should write pages about quackery! . . . Unless you can correctly discuss the herbal issue, please do yourself and those of us who heal with herbs a favor and remain silent. Doctor your ignorance is showing. But I WILL pray for you. May God Bless.
From a licensed practitioner of Oriental medicine and acupuncture:
Sometimes I read the information and opinions you present with interest and sometimes with disbelief. The effort you put into this project is obvious, but it is apparent that many times you allow your very strong bias to pervert the truth. . . . I do believe there is much quackery in the alternative/complimentary medicine field, but there are also many positive aspects.Well-designed, randomized double-blind studies have been completed and continue to be done on various aspects of alternative medicine. Research into acupuncture has prompted the FDA to classify acupuncture needles as class II medical devices. . . . I believe no form of medicine is a panacea, and both allopathic and alternative medicine has its own variety of "snake oil", but to dismiss all alternative medicine as quackery is doing a disservice to the public you are attempting to protect.
Anyway, I am sending a jeer for your attitude towards the total of alternative medicine, and a cheer for allowing those that disagree with you a public forum to express their thoughts in your cheers/jeers section.
The FDA policy requires labeling for one-time use by practitioners who are legally authorized to use them. It states, in effect, that if states permit their use, manufacturers can legally market them. It does not permit manufacturers to make medical claims for them or to state which conditions they can be used to treat. The word alternative, as you use it, is ambiguous. I do not dismiss methods that are proven or legitimately experimental. Some methods fit into more than one category, depending on the claims made for them. The vast majority of methods labeled "alternative" are unsubstantiated and have no scientifically plausible rationale and are simply quackery by another name.
From an engineer who states that he believes
in reason and the scientific method:
You list many things as Questionable Products and Services with the notation "to be posted." This is very questionable practice on your part. If you're going to malign something in a public forum, you have the responsibility to explain why, especially since you claim to be the voice of reason and science.
Writing a warning takes only few seconds. Some articles take only a few minutes to write, while others take a few days. Even though I know that a practice is bogus, collecting the details necessary to write an informative article sometimes takes several months. In addition, I don't have the time to write about as many things as I'd like to. (It will probably take several years to produce all of the articles I now have planned.) Meanwhile, I think it is useful to warn people to be suspicious of the things I list as nonrecommended.
From a reader who thinks Quackwatch's information is
biased toward the medical profession:
Since you label your web site "Quackwatch," why don't you post the data about your vaunted medical profession's quackery, malpractice, misdiagnoses, morbidity rates, the number of unnecessary surgical procedures such as hysterectomies, the accidental surgical removal of the wrong limb, and the like? It seems to me that this is a GAPING, HYPOCRITICAL HOLE in your assault on quackery. Or don't you have the guts to attack quackery and worse in your own profession? You also seem to have forgotten that much of the American public distrusts the medical profession for its price-gouging, its occasional double- and triple-billing practices, its vested financial self-interest, and sometimes its blatant greed.
To which I replied:
Our current goal is to provide information that is difficult or impossible to obtain elsewhere and is needed to make intelligent consumer decisions. We emphasize practices that are related to bad science rather than to poor medical practice. (Poor medical practice and high fees are not the same thing as quackery, although the two can overlap.) We already have information on how to recognize improper treatment for mental problems. We are preparing articles on how to spot insurance fraud, how to minimize the risks of unnecessary surgery, and how to avoid certain types of unnecessary medical expenses. There is a limit to how quickly new material can be prepared.
From a chiropractor who chose to remain anonymous:
YOUR A QUACK,,,,,YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE WORLD,,,,,YOU LITTLE BITTER MAN,,,,GO CLIMB IN YOUR HOLE,,,,,I HOPE EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST SUES YOU GOOD. TAKES EVRYTHING YOU GOT YOU PIG.
From a chiropractor who specializes in treating animals:
I tried to be objective with your "service." In the final analysis I'd say your site is a waste of time and energy, fraught with errors (over 300 recognized errors), and just plain no good. Noting your dubious background, I'd further say you had (and probably) still have, sexual hang-ups that started when someone bullied you in grammar school and continued through adulthood. You have all the symptoms of a sexually frustrated, masturbator that enjoys pulling the wings off of helpless insects--and delights when they squirm with pain. Does your mother know what you're doing? PS Clean the toilet seat when you're finished.
From "email@example.com," whose identify I did not bother to attempt to verify:
I understand that you were a pioneer in this procedure [Intraventriciloquadrinary-CAT] and as a result your fucken head is still impacted in your fistula infested colon. You have not changed in all theseyears of making yourself and the syphilis invested progenitor that bore you [according to rumor] by alternative cyserian section—you were a rectal infant. In fact, an asexual xygote that never amorphied. Your life is based on that destroying that which you do not understand and that which you care not to comprehend.
From a woman who stated that her chiropractor "helped me very much with my health problems that were not helped by medical procedures." She also cited information from medical journals about hospital errors, adverse drug reactions, inappropriate prescribing, and high medical costs and said:
Dear MR. Barrett: If medical doctors and medicine is so great, than explain these staggering statistics....if anyone should be watched, it should be you, you quack!!!! All of these statistics have appeared in medical journals and all information has been referenced. I guess you won't have a response for this information....and by the way MR. Barrett, why haven't you listed this vital info on YOUR WEBSITE? I guess because you know everyone would definitely label you as the one who is a quack!!!!
From a "consultant pharmacist" licensed in three Midwestern states:
Your web page is the most biased piece of journalistic garbage that I have ever read. You are so slanted in your view of medicine that it blinds your sense of vision. You come from the old school of medicine. You are a bitter old man that is sour at what the medical profession has become. You are a dinosaur that has lost his dignity and autonomy to other health care practitioners. Get a clue . . . You MDs are not all gods. . . . It seems that people like you, Barrett, give MDs in general a bad name. Whose quacking who you old man!! Don't blame other health care professionals and let your kind (MDs) go clean. It is your kind that has been prescribing antibiotics for patients that do not need them in the first place. It is you zealot freaks with prescription pads and scalpel blades that have put the population is peril. . . . Barrett, you are definitely a disgrace to your profession and you should keep your big mouth shut. You should write unbiased articles and not fool people with your satire. It seems that you have some psychological fetish to controversy.....You should be psycho-analyzed or better yet lobotomized.
If I'm not mistaken, science and medicine (two different fields, altogether) don't have all the answers. People are still very sick and until groups with their suppressive, anti-social, communistic approaches, stop trying to "protect the public," we are not going to get any closer to solving the health problems that palgue us. People are able to make their own decisions about what works for them and what doesn't. We don't need you playing mommy. I would be interested in knowing how many people didn't get the alternative care that would have helped them due to you site and its suppressive views. Either that or you and your subscribers are just a band of witch hunters that uses this URL as a meeting place. No matter, The AMA formally disbanneded its commission on quackery years ago (keep up, we're losing ya). This entire site is just science's fear that mabey just mabey they don't know it all! Send me an email as soon as imperical scientific wisdom cures cancer, heart disease or even the common cold or if it starts to treat the causes of illness instead of the symptoms or if it can ever be proven without using its own model (interesting how that works). Let me know when medicine starts to study health instead of disease. Wouldn't it be fantastic to know what makes us healthy instead of sick? If you prevent you car from breaking down, why not your body? I am not a medicine basher, I am a citizen that has had more health care wins with alternative care than I ever have had or will have with medicine. Until medicine stops believing that humans are a bucket of bolts, that we are just stimulus/response animals, and that we have no higher self, than it will never advance. My suggestion is to spend your time finding out what works not what doesn't. Best wishes and good luck.
From a reader who identified himself as someone
"in the "industry" of watching people die almost daily
from treatments that simply do not work":
I enjoyed your critique of alternative cancer treatments. After I read them I printed it and wiped my ass with it. I'm curious why you didn't have a description of the "highly effective and proven" treatments such as chemo and radiation. You could even show a few pictures of some underweight children before their hair falls out and in-between vomiting sessions to prove the effectiveness. Your web site is sure to lead some to certain death, you're a great humanitarian. I'm sure drug companies and funeral homes give you their thanks. Keep up the good work.
A herbal enthusiast who identified herself as a physical therapist wrote:
I feel that herbs are a much better way to help and cure many of todays dieases. I'm sure that many people jump for a cure. And yes herbs can be expensive. But to think that a herb is natural and not man made makes me feel alot better about taking them. And I'm sure you know that many of todays meds were once herbs. People should read up on herbs and understand them before taking them. I known many people who gave up on doctors and found great results from herbs. Todays medicine is so scary and facts are more people die from prescibed meds over herbs.
From an anonymous user of the nursing student lab at the University of Vermont:
I am sorry but if there is anyone here who is a quack it is you Mr. Bartlett. I would not even concider you a doctor. Your sites are truely rediculous. A general characteristic of a quack site is any site that promotes or sells herbs??!!! Get out of here. The reson why we have to rely on holistic healers is because you "doctors" can't seem to make any progress.
From an anonymous Canadian:
You are realy sick , and by looking to your recent picture, nutritional defiencies is on the way for you .... and may be in a short time .. the planet will by relieved of your very negativ and unconstructive presence!
From another imaginative Canadian critic:
I will be very happy the day I learn that mobsters like you are in prison for crimes against humanity for keeping the lies of the mainstream medecine on top and the truth regarding true healthy approches in the closets !!!! You always question who is behind any type of natural product, technology or approach ... Well, I wonder who is financing your darkness organisation and minds? The Rockfellers, Rotschilds, Monsanto, Merck Frost, and all these poisoners? Life will get you in the corner! beware... sooner or later. In this life or the next... This is not a threat, it's the way Life works, Karma as some calls it. But of course you don't mind about Universal Laws, Do you violate them all the time??? How can you sleep at night ???
A gentleman from New Jersey who says he was "greatly
helped by natural approach to health" and is now involved
in "exposing" people like me wrote:
I was just wondering how I can get to be in you quack list. Do I need to dedicate my life to helping people? I can see that Gary Null is on that list so I'm willing to be in that company. Hey maybe I'll help a bunch of people lead a healthier life? How about it? Maybe I'll start my own list of MD's like yourself, sorry you have written so many books to help people, right? Or you have just made yourself rich attacking others? I sugest you get your ass out of your little confort zone and help others, as Gary Null has done, maybe then I'll buy your line of bullshit.
From a man who considers himself "living proof" that drugs harm:
Dr. Barnett, I am sorry to tell you that natural medicine works wonders with the body. I am 25 years old and was a completely healthy person until my dermetologist prescribed me Accutane for my acne. Accutane has completey ruined my life, sure it is FDA approved but who cares. I have lost all of my hair and I only took it 2 months, and it has been a year now and my skin has burned extremely ever since I took the drug. Now much study was done on this drug?? I am warning everyone I come into contact with about this drug. I also know many people who have taken this drug and had horrible side effects. Wish I could have taken the natural way to cure my acne, I will never take prescribed Drugs again. I feel very sorry for you Dr. barnett.
From another "natural" enthusiast who has been "watching" me for years:
You are a health fascist and do a great disservice to all who need natural nutritional information. Many of the people you target are well respected and recommended by highly effective medical practicioners. I wonder what economic interest you have in trying to discredit the fabulous information from Adelle Davis and the many others who match(ed) her dedication to getting true nutritional information to the masses. Or perhaps you're just nuts. Megadoses of the B vitamins (esp. Pantothenic Acid) will help to cure your obsessiveness.
I can smell garbage from a mile away, and I have been following your smell for years. You haven't changed much, nor have your websites. You must spend every waking moment on these sites, including managing to get your Quackwatch homepage to pop up as every second item (it seems) in a search list for Adelle Davis. Well, Quackwatch, I am watching you, and this is war. See you on the highway, Creep!
From an accountant/computer consultant in Maryland who makes
own herbal products and believes that vaccination is ineffective and dangerous:
Wow! You have one bitter site against anyone questioning the dogma of the current medical/scientific mafia. Science is mostly crap! I go by my own science . . . . If I do something, and it makes me healthy, then it works. How can I deny that? I don't believe you any more than your other fellow quacks. What you claim about the forms of medicine that you dislike so passionately just is not true. I have observed homeopathy healing people, including myself. I have observed herbs helping conditions. I have seen these things working. You sound like the quack. Anyway, it was a free world until your type stepped in and saved us from our liberty. Sieg Heil!
P.S. Although I disagree with you, I applaud your lack of wishy-washy, please-everybody-all-of-the-time presentation. To be unbiased is to be ignorant.
From an acupuncturist in Alaska:
Although I am of the belief that natural/alternative/complimentary (or any other name it may go by) medicine is extremely useful, and has significant empirical, and scientific research to quantify and qualify its usefulness in a variety of disease states, I am somewhat embarrassed by those who write to the jeers section of your site. Intelligent, conversation, with specific research could be provided, but instead, most of the jeers are emotionally based statements filled with frustration, and anger. If I did not know the benefit of alternative therapies and was using your site to educate myself, I would not have anything to do with alternative medicine. This is unfortunate, and if you put this letter on your site, I would like to ask proponents of natural medicine to move away from the emotional "arguments" and provide information that is informative and results in further investigation by those reading your message.
From a naturopathic student who was nearing graduation:
I feel you are a bunch of self-righteous zealots. Allopathic practicioners are no better than common thieves with their hands in the pockets of the average american. It is people like you are causing the tides of medicine in this country to change - you are losing your battle, as you have lost the faith of your patients. I will gladly take them in, and treat them as real, living, breathing, individuals.Not like just another insurance claim. And I shall do so with respect, and vision. Something you seem to have lost along the way.
From another naturopathic student:
"Dr." Barret, I was disappointed in the content of your homepage after looking through many of your "articles." It is obvious that you are close-minded and have no idea how effective natural, alternative therapies really are. It is because of people like you that our country is one of the most unhealthy countries in the world, even though we are the most technologically advanced. If you had researched correctly, you would find that alternative therapies have much more clinical proof and applications than any drug on the market. This is true, because they have been around for hundreds of years. Again I am sorry that you are so uninformed in this area, that you have to attack therapies that improve the lives of people daily. I thought that is why we became doctors.
From a family physician in Indiana who used to prescribe allopathic medicines but now thinks that herbs and homeopathic remedies "are safer and have much fewer side effects and by far heal the body more naturally (as God intended)":
Once again you doctors throw up flags to anyone who doesn't thing the way you do. Well you are an IDIOT. I have seen doctors treat symptoms and forget about cause too many times. You people think you have all the answers and you are gods. The real God put cures on the earth for us to use. Not man-made chemicals, God-made ones. And where do you think man gets the stuff he uses to make medicine?? There are NO nutrients in the soil anymore so there are none in our foods. Read your own medical journels...... they will tell you the same thing. You had better get on board or you will be left out in the cold.
From a homemaker whose "passion for researching research that is readily available" gives her "the right to contest fallacies":
After spending over an hour on your site and reading your biased opinions, I can only make the comment the comes to mind: You seem to be a spawn of satan himself, and he must be laughing his head off each time you denounce everything that isn't "traditional medicine" as quackery. I will not deny that there are obvious, genuine quackeries [crystals, psychic surgeries, etc.] available to unsuspecting people, but to dump all "alternatives" in the quackery bin; well, you might as well just go and sign a few million death warrants. Traditional medicine leaves a big void in contributing to finding the root causes of illness; they put a band aid on the boo-boo and cover it up by writing out a prescription which can ultimately cause more harm than good in a multitude of situations. I agree in a few instances that a drug may be appropriate (i.e., a patient's blood pressure is sky-high and must be brought down immediately, but get it down, then find the cause and eliminate it! Don't just write a lifetime prescription out for it. Good grief! It should be just plain common sense.) I agree that no one should take anything without doing research on it themselves (the bible even says to test the things set before you!) but you dangerous in your own way by turning people from an avenue that may prove to be a choice of life over death! Can you wash the blood from your hands?
From a browser intested in "complementary" methods:
Mr. Barrett: Your insights are ridiculous to say the least! How many times have you tried any of the treatments you speak of? How many more people are injuried or KILLED by medical treatments than are by complementary? These deaths seem to be pushed under the rug and forgotten. There is a great need for medical practices but no room in health care for close minded physicians!! Grow up and quit turf- protecting!
From a woman who felt that Quackwatch's advice insults her intelligence:
Thank you so much for your vigilance for all of us millions of gullible, moronic idiots who have purchased and consumed supplements for decades. We are evidently SO STUPID we don't know that the supplements are doing us NO GOOD whatsoever and the unscrupulous health food industry is lying to us and running to the bank with all of our money while laughing up their sleeves all the while. And evidently those of us also who have regularly seen chiropractors are also unaware of the fact they're quacks who are helping us not at all. How KIND of you to supply us with the information that the only reason REAL doctors (MD"s) go into "Quackery" is boredom, low professional esteem, PARANORMAL tendencies, they're paranoid or psychopathic or just plain greedy. I cannot wait to find out which of these MY MD who believes in alternative therapies is...why is there not ANY information on you site about the tens of thousands of people who die every year at the hands of allopaths? Why don't you talk about the spokesperson for the company that makes "Viagra" saying (after men started DYING) "We EXPECTED some deaths."!!!!! Really? Were the men prescribed the drug warned of this? Hardly. Hey, I'll make a deal with you. I won't stop you from seeking any kind of medical help you wish...do me the same favor. By the way...I take supplements and have for YEARS, I go to chiropractors AND homeopaths and am perfectly satisified with the treatments and remedies and I am not stupid nor gullible nor self-deluded about the results I'm having and I resent your insulting my intelligence by saying so!
From a woman in Colorado who reported that acupuncture and
homeopathy remedies relieved her of two very painful conditions:
I like to know who keeps an eye on YOU. Having used several of the alternative methods that you list as quackery, and having had wonderful success with them when western medicine didn't have a clue, I resent people like you who seek to take away my options. I also found your site to be a mish-mash of carefully selected pieces of misinformation. Only articles supporting your point of view are listed, and anything support the various alternative therapies are carefully excluded. What humbugs you are! In the name of patient protection, you seek to impose your will on the rest of us. I can make up my own mind, thank you; I'm intelligent, highly educated, and, what's more, open minded--which you, sir, obviously are not.
From someone from Tennessee who is fond of chiropractors
and wrote using someone else's name and email address:
What is the criteria for you being "an expert"? My guess is that your expertise is based on the opinions of "medical physicians." It's your brand of doctoring that scares the piss out of the world. Medical doctors are not gods. Your profession on the whole sure prances around like a bunch of primadonnas.
My opinion of you personally is that you are an asshole. Threatened and insecure your ugly head rises only to attempt to make chiropractors and any other non-medical healers look bad. In a society where drug addiction prevails, your profession doesn't have a prayer's chance in hell of escaping criticism. Your profession doles out drug prescriptions like lollipops and greatly added to addiction rate.
This web page makes me wonder how anyone would have ever referred a patient to you. Your smugness is unsightly. It overshadows the good side to medical doctors. Your colleagues should be outraged at this article. An attitude adjustment should be in order. And I know a great Chiropractor!
From an Australian who says he has seen friends and relatives
die of cancer "after receiving 'treatment' from the charlatans
call themselves oncologists and profess to be able to treat the
You must be kidding!! You have either been very mislead or you are actively taking part in a conspiracy to mislead the public and ensure the profitability of your sick profession. Do you not agree with the US Senate findings on the Hoxsey treatment???. You people (doctors, or the AMA more prcisely) were ordered to let that man get on with the business of CURING CANCER with his 80% TOTAL CURE RATE and yet the AMA and your mates the FDA shut him down. If there is a God in heaven you will all die agonising deaths witrh cancer at the hands of your so called therapies!!!!! ROT IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Excerpt from a woman who was
very upset about our article on juicing:
From the very beginning your opinions are tainted with disbelief and "it can't be true" attitudes, not to mention lies. You know, I know the truth and gibberish can't convince me of any lie. Juicing is very beneficial to health and the body does heal itself when given the enormous amounts of God-made nutrients which were designed for the body.
Drugs do not heal, they only block symptoms and KILL. In fact why don't you acknowledge that FDA approved drugs KILL 100,000 knowingly each year and put over 1,000,000 in the hospital EACH YEAR, referencing a Ralph Nader report on KNOWN cases. Why doesn't the public get that warning in QUACKWATCH. We never hear about that. . . .
I know, I am not deceived and it is a fact I can trust my life with this truth: that there are therapies that will reverse ALL DISEASES without harming one cell in the body. I can only assume that the true purpose of your quackwatch and denial of honest healing modalities is the love of money which is the cause for all evil. Not money, but the love of it.
From a woman who trusts her homeopath:
You are nothing but propaganda. I went to every specialist in the MD roster. No one could ever find anything wrong with me. YET, the drugs were always forthcoming. These are the quacks you should be reporting on, apparently, people like yourself with God Complexes.
Since I began with a homeopath, my health has improved 100%. He can link my symptoms, way of life, and emotional baggage to determine what my body needs to help my whole person heal. I don't know how he does it. I don't care. It was used to heal people long before white man claimed stake in our public health. I am not afraid to take anything he prescribes to me. Whereas, I have a drawer full of unfilled prescriptions from the Men Deities of the world.
Based on this one blind judgment of yours, I would not trust anything that comes out on your webpage.
Go serve your blind and weak. Those of us with open minds will continue to heal.
From an accountant in Illinois:
It is obvious you and your associates are interested only in increasing the incomes of the medical doctors—and not in putting incompetent, uncareing, medical doctors out of business. Your whole "quack- mecicine" matter just is another medical doctor scheme to put altenative medicines or whatever in bad light. The fact is most persons do not like, and do not trust, medical doctors—and "death only" hospitals. "Death Only" because their "staff" are "don't care, and really "don't know" doctors—which no conscientious MD belongs to.
You, and your death dealing—blood sucking, parasites brothers and sisters, should be guioletined. But you bastards have "rigged the law". You killers can contine—no matter what. Honest, working persons, have no chance against you gready, incompetent , deceptive, articulate, politically connected bums. Your group steals all the money you can from everyone—government and estates of the persons you and your brothers have murdered—thieves.
Have a fun—and extremely profitable day—for all of the incompetent, murdering, lying, deceptive bastards in you "medical doctors" cliques. May you rotten thieves roast in hell.
From nurse who "has done alot of research . . . into things such as herbal remedies":
I must say, I totally agree with those who sent their jeers. How one person can become so synical is unbelievable. I only hope that people are not scared away from recieving the help they need through the many good reliable "alternative" therapies out there. Some of these methods have been tried and proven through centuries of use, which is more than I can say for many "modern" medical therapies. I have done alot of research myself into things such as herbal remedies..As a physician surely you are aware that most of our "modern medications" are actually derived from plant or "herbal" sources. Anyway I have way to much to say on this issue to actually say it all here. I do believe in freedom of speech..even when I don't agree with it. Some times though I wish I didn't so that I could advocate censorship of sites like yours.
From an "alternative lifestyle counselor/healer":
I must say that after looking at the site, I find you to be a complete moron. Do you actually read the nonsense that you post? The medical community is scared shitless of the fact that all of the 'sheep' that you have been slowly poisoning, brainwashing, & taking money from are beginning to wake up out of your 'trance'. It is unfortunate only that this revolution didn't begin sooner; I can only imagine the number of lives that could have been saved. Anyway, enjoy your ignorance, "doctor", and please do write back.
From a pharmacist enamored with "natural" products:
Who paid you to write bullshit about natural products, I am a pharmacist, and I wish I've never became one, because I dispense drugs that kill millions people, and are responsible for most ER admissions due to side effects in the USA and billions in health care costs. How dare you to write negatively about natural medicines, they save lives of millions of people, most of the European countries practice natural medicine and have hundreds of homeopathic hospitals. Do your research before you publish bullshit, idiots!!!!
From a financial analyst who "believes in the integration
of alliopathic medicine
and various successful forms of alternative medicine for the good
of the patient":
On behalf of all the people whose health and lives have benefited greatly from so-called alternative medicine quackery, as well as all of those who have suffered at the hands of "orthodox western medicine" greed-driven butchers, I wish to take this opportunity to point out that you are misguided, unauthoratative, probably greed driven, low class white trash, and society will benefit greatly when the day comes that your health finally gives out.
From a man who thinks my mother should be ashamed of me:
You are simply the most ill-informed man in America and your webpage is lined with more crap than the average American's intestines. The disservice you do to your profession and the public at large by continuing to espouse this moronic drivel is more sickening than the standard fare found at most neighborhood grocery stores. But keeping the public in the dark will certainly pay for the Bentley, and the trip to Rio, and the sundry accoutrements of affluence, so shelve the truth and keep fanning the flames of the Big Lie. You have the audacity to badmouth the "vitamin pushers", and yet you are the lowest common denominator, a SHILL for the FDA (the single most ignorant and back-assed group of nitwits on the planet). If your mother isn't ashamed of you, she should be. No need to reply, I've set my e-mail filter to instantly delete garbage of the variety your ilk churns out with blind allegiance to tha almighty buck.
From an "alternative" practitioner in the United Kingdom:
Just a short note to the person who writes all of the paranoid articles on alternative health. Have you considered that you also might be an obsessive/compulsive neurotic. Think about it Barrett.... I would also add some manic tendencies as well. You totally over react to everything you don't believe in, and it looks like you believe in very little. Having been treated by a number of these quacks, I can report that some of these alternative procedures often work and very well in deed. Oh, by the way, I am myself, an alternative practitioner from the world of quacks, and can only laugh at your foolishness.... Certainly, with all of your hangups, you must have ulcers, heart trouble and hemmorhoids by now. Alas, I have run out of words, but I am sure you will not. Wishing you a case of writers cramp, I remain . .
From an osteopath who apparently was offended by our articles
ANYONE IGNORANT ENOUGH TO QUESTION THE BENEFITS OF MANIPULATION THERAPY IN 1999 SHOULD HANG THEMSELVES IN THEIR UTILITY CLOSET. 95% OF DOCTORS THAT PRACTICE CHELATION THERAPY ARE M.D.s. CHELATION THERAPY IS 85-95% EFFECTIVE IN ALL PATIENTS THAT TAKE A FULL COURSE OF THERAPY. WHOEVER THE STUPID MOTHERFUCKER IS THAT MADE THIS WEB PAGE SUCKS DICKS AND DESERVES TO DIE OF THROAT CANCER. PLEASE USE ALL MAINSTREAM METHODS TO ATTEMPT TO CURE THE ESOPHAGEAL CANCER I HAVE JUST WISHED ON YOU. I TRULY HOPE THEY HAVE TO REMOVE YOUR MANDIBLE AFTER YOUR RADIATION THERAPY. DIE MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!
From a chiropractor who dared me to respond:
I hope one day you are faced with cancer and the terrible treatmnent options available thanks to the AMA/FDA Parmaceutical Alliance and their collective efforts to ban all treatments that are not surgical chemical or involve ionizing radiation. The standard AMA approach to treatment of cancer in no better than those who chose no treatment at all. Your treatments offer sickness, poisoning and the harm of free radical radiation..all of which suppress the immune function of the patient in the name of "treatment." You must knowe that this is criminal and harming the immune system is the last thing one want to do when treating cancer. Barret, yuou are so prejudiced in your blinded walk with the medical lie. God help you if you ever have cancer...you will come running for help after the medical cartel finishes with you...you do a great diservice to humanity.
From someone who believes that amalgam fillings are dangerous:
The extent to which you seek to discourage people from exploring alternative health systems is irresponsible. You're advocacy of unnecessarily toxic materials is deplorable. You are quite obviously an entrenched member of the financially motivated elitist medical establishment, which seems to be incapable of providing effective affordable health care to the nation. This is evidenced by the undeniable healthcare crisis we now face. Your attitude reeks of arrogance. I don't see how a psychiatrist is even qualified to decide what practices constitute medical fraud, especially in the case of healing systems which have been practiced for thousands of years. Perhaps they are in need of some serious revision after millenia, but they are no less legitimate in principle. No healing system is free of error, certainly not allopathic western medical theories. Now go fuck yourself.
From an I Ching admirer:
Donation? I wouldn't give you guys a nickel. The biggest QUACKERY of all is mainstream medicine. When was the last time you guys discovered a cure for anything?
From a "vibrational medicine specialist" who "balances the body" with EAV and various other quack devices:
I find your info and articles to be a shame reporting of the facts concerning Alternative Medicine Therapies. It is obvious that you are being funded or payed of by Conventional Medicine.
From a woman who has seen remarkable recoveries among people who took her supplements:
You must be one of those overeducated idiots that has had the common sense educated out of them. It is doctors like you that hold hands with the Pharmeceutical Companies and all of their lies. After all, we all know that 50% of everything a doctor learns in college is no longer accurate by the time they graduate. Doesn't say much for your education does it? Let's also not forget that 1/3 of all psychiatrists are nut cakes themselves. I did a research paper a fews years ago and found that to be quite interesting. There is a one in 3 chance you are a nutcake. Your website proves it. I don't believe anything on your website because there is absolutely no information against the overuse of drugs by doctors or the misconceptions given to people by the Phameceutical Companies. I have seen and felt the effects of these alternatives you call quackery. I have sold and taken nutritional supplements for over 12 years now (never at a profit unlike doctors and probably yourself, always at cost). . . .Today's doctors are nothing but leagalized drug pushers. Who's the quack here? YOU. What kind of bubble do you live in?
From someone who thinks that "Quackwatch is for idiots who can't think for themselves."
FUCK YOUR QUACK WATCH! Conventional medical doctors offer no hope for certain conditions. That is why I look to alternative treatments that work. Fuck the FDA also and the motherfucking communist principles it adheres to.
From another anonymous fan:
You are one sick man. it does not surprise me that you are a psychiatrist. everyone knows that a shrink goes into the profession to cure himself. how much are you being paid by the ama, the drug companies, the chemical companies? I hope you rot in hell you worthless piece of scum.
From an Australian who didn't like our article about ear candling:
Users of your site seem to enjoy rubbishing others that can make a difference, as it is the user's only opportunity of a claim to fame - maybe you get relief this way. This condition fortunately has a title and can be recognised and treated. S(k)cepticaemia, a pernicious acceptance of opinions which only match your own, and which doesn't allow the opportunity to let your mind think laterally, making sufferers feel superior to those who have other opinions. It gets into the blood and can cause aggravation and aggression. Those who have the disease are usually unable to relate to its existence until it is gently brought to their attention. This can enhance the paranoia of the sufferer in extreme cases. In most cases, the symptoms of paranoia remain the same. Sufferers are usually already showing these signs, and give the outward indications of being angry people. While not generally violent, they should be avoided. Fortunately, even though the condition has usually taken several years to become full blown in adulthood, often being initiated by a cosseted and protected upbringing from childhood, it can be fairly easily reversed, leaving no permanent scars, to those who want help. The sufferer though, must be prepared to accept that being open-minded can be healthy. Unfortunately, the sufferer usually interprets this as letting go of all personal beliefs, and is therefore usually unable to be helped. Even though cure is readily available, sufferers are usually intolerant of those who question their dogma, and narrowmindeness continues to flourish. A shame!
From several people who did not identify themselves:
You will have to answer to God someday!
From a woman in Massachusetts who
was appalled by some of the jeers:
I want to pass on a GIANT THANK YOU for having the courage to stick to your convictions. I just spent the first of what I know will be many enjoyable hours reading your research and you have done a super service by creating this web site for everyone. Sadly I also read the "jeers" section and, although it is fair that everyone have their own opinion, I was truly appalled at the vile wishes some of the writers had for you and your beliefs.
From a psychologist in Texas:
I found your web site from a mention in the New York Times. I have enjoyed reading the reports and following up on the related articles. One of the most interesting to me is the "Cheers" and "Jeers" section. As a psychologist myself, reading the "Jeers" confirms my belief that PARANOIA is rampant.
From a Texas businessman:
I read the cheers and jeers page. Judging from the jeers, it looks like the quacks won't be running out of suckers any time soon.
From a teacher in Florida:
It certainly seems that you struck a nerve with some people. Instead of debating their position with reason and research, many of them resorted to childish and personal attacks including a lot of profanity. From the tone of a lot of the letters it seems a lot of naked people were mad that you informed them they had no clothes.
From a computer programmer in Michigan:
I had read in the recent article in People Magazine that a lot of folks were offended by what you are doing, so I feel obligated to balance the scales by congratulating you on your efforts to educate people about nonsensical medical practices and the danger of false cures. I had always thought that laws and common sense would abolish the sale of Snake Oil, but here we are approaching the next millenium and foolishness abounds. Speaking of the next millenium, did you know civilization was going to collapse because of the Y2K computer bug? -:) Keep up the good work; and just remember: if you're ticking people off, you're probably hitting pretty close to the mark!
From a family practitioner in Malaysia:
Your excellent web-site is really helpful to me. A number of the quackeries listed in your site are trying to victimise our citizens here. If you have the opportunity, kindly pass my word to your country's politician that, whatever decision they made will not only affect the peoples of your country, but also the peoples of other countries, like us. One example being Homeopathy. To quote your words: " Homeopathic remedies enjoy a unique status in the health marketplace..." and so it is present here. Tahitian Noni is currently selling like hot cakes in our countries, thanks to U.S.A and not Tahiti :-). I spent hours in your web-site, so I believe you had spent more than 10 or even 100 times of effort setting it up and maintaining it. I feel that cults & quackeries share something in common. Especially the mentality and psychology of their followers. Web-sites debunking or criticising the cults receive similar kind of "jeers." And, of course, "cheers" as well.
From a general practitioner (family physician) in northern England:
I enjoy reading your site and find the information very useful The "jeers" section amazes me, and I think makes two points. Firstly, much alternative medicine is in fact religion and any form of rational discussion generates the extreme emotions that discussing religion produces. Secondly, alternative medicine is very big business indeed - it is a bit rich for your correspondants to accuse orthodox medicine as being motivated purely by money when billions of pounds/dollars are spent annually on alternative medicine, and clearly anyone who questions these vested interests is going to be the focus of a great deal of personal animosity. There are other issues involved (I am personally very disturbed by the completely uncritical coverage, frankly little better than thinly disguised advertising, of alternative medicine in even "quality" newspapers) but these are my main thoughts.
From an Australian physician:
Science is a slow and difficult process, and desperate people are vulnerable when there is no immediate answer to there health problems. It is easy to take advantage of that vulnerability. Not everyone can digest scientific data and not all docters are scientific.Your site allows a quick reality check before enthusiasm for something new takes over. You are also courageous in the face of vested interest and threats of litigation . Some of the negative comments demonstrate the level of feeling science arouses when commercial interst is threatened. Keep up the good work.
From a woman with serious heart disease whose condition
has been vastly improved by appropriate drug treatment.
I noted, with mirth, the person who claims that our soil has "no more nutrients," yet claims herbs are superior to drugs. My goodness... I wonder if he knows that herbs are grown in soil??
From a social worker in Texas:
Gee, the people who vehemently strike back at you don't seem to get it. Nothing on your site negates the fact that "traditional" doctors may also maim, cripple, and kill. That's just not your topic. As a psychiatrist, you have to believe in the power of the spoken word or faith in something. I don't think you would rule out that snake oil might help some people. You work with some chiropractors, so called "alternative practitioners." I think you are just trying to give people a fair way to evaluate "snake oil" therapies. At least you have the guts enough to publish both ways.
From a marketing representative for a utility company in Georgia:
I see you receive a number of scathing communications. But hopefully you realize how much you are appreciated. I still believe there's the silent majority out there that have a good sense of suspecting "something amiss" in sales pitches. Your writings are the solid, credible source of fact (with details) that we can turn to for the bottom-line truth.
A litigation lawyer from Canada wrote:
I note with interest how so many of your opponents attack you personally rather than critically and intelligently. This resort to the "ad hominem" fallacy of reasoning always says more about the attacker than the attackee. When reason and logic fail, attack the person with the opposing view. I find your site informative and useful. Alternative treatments are not dismissed out of hand but put to the test and challenged for their authenticity.
I have seen too many people victimized and exploited out of desperation for help. It is disturbing that the worse the disease (and so the worse the desperation), the worse the exploitation and the more opportunists and con artists only too willing to extract from decent people their life savings. I believe that your site can prevent at least some future victums from such exploitation, but there will always be those out there looking for answers anywhere they can find them. Unfortunately what they will often find is someone very willing to take their money without a great deal of care for truly helping them, or those that do indeed care but are not informed enough or unbiased enough to advise their "patients" of the valid criticisms of their methods. The fact that some "traditional" doctors may also be guilty of this does not invalidate these legitimate and well researched articles.
From a freelance writer in New York City:
If I only read the "Jeers" without perusing the rest of your Web site I would salute you for inflaming such a pathetic, obscene crowd of Luddites. In fact just on principle I would support almost anything that these retardates oppose. But your brilliant site also provides a badly-needed antidote to the numerous scam artists and charlatans who have been mining the mother lode of misery and suffering for centuries. I imagine, however, that you must frequently be frustrated at the intransigence of many people when you challenge their cherished beliefs, regardless of how preposterous or illogical they may be. So I want to assure you that you are providing a vital service that is deeply appreciated and one that is undoubtedly saving lives. Please never retire from Quackwatch. The work is much too important.
From an educational consultant in Oregon:
Reading the "Jeers" section on your site confirms something I had suspected for some time: "Alternative healing" is a religion, not a science of health. And religious zealots have always sought to punish and destroy scientists because science demands proof and they just want to believe whatever they believe. Their motto is : "Don't confuse me with the facts." I say fine, believe whatever you want to believe. Your religion is protected by the constitution. Just don't expect me to subsidize your religion with my insurance premiums.
From a cancer radiologist in New Zealand:
After reading the cheers and jeers section, I wonder whether another description applies to true quacks and their supporters: "When their beliefs or methods are challenged, these people often react, not with reasoned argument, but with anger, personal abuse and frequently foul language"
From a woman, searching for "balance," who lives in Arkansas:
After reading "Cheers and Jeers," I would simply like to ask you, in the interest of fair play, to balance these replies. It is understandable that detractors will by reason come across negatively, and it is most unfortunate that many are so rude and crude. However, you have obviously selected, from what must be an enormous amount of mail, the absolute worst, most offensive comments.
To which I replied:
Although I can't take the time to do an ongoing mathematical analysis, I believe that the current mix actually reflects what I receive.
From a biology student who hopes to pursue a medical career:
I read the jeers section and found myself laughing out loud a number of times. I especially enjoyed the pharmacist who dispenses "drugs that kill millions people," but still doesn't quit; the "chiropractor who specializes in treating animals," who gives you a very informative psychoanalysis, and the "massage therapist in Texas whose web site claims that massage can increase red and white blood cells," who spells maybe "mabey" twice. I searched through the jeers thoroughly, and the closest I came to a reasonable response was the woman who admonished the other jeerers for resorting to impassioned attacks rather than indisputable facts. Each message was simply a personal attack . . . wrapped in indignant, self-righteous comments. Perhaps you can dispel some of these critics with a huge, flashing message reminding them that quackery and malpractice are not the same thing and that while the medical profession deals in percentages in terms of success rates, many homeopathic healers blame the patient for their negative energy if the "cure" is unsuccessful. I wish you luck and continued success with your website.
From a librarian in New Mexico:
It's interesting that in so many of the jeers, people bring out that these natural healing methods must be effective because they've been used for centuries. Yet, strangely enough, the increase in mankind's life expectancy seems to coincide with the advent of modern medicine. That can be verified with any encyclopedia, which also can be used to show that the less access a population has to modern medicine, the lower its expected life span. I, for one, would rather live my expected 79 years with modern medicine than rely only on cures known a thousand years ago and die before thirty—man's pre-Renaissance average.
From a German observer:
I find your critics most amusing who label you a "bitter old man" or as a stooge to "big business" or the medical associations. If you were as money hungry as most of them accuse you then I would assume you would be selling magic magnets to fools somewhere and raking in the dough. It doesn't speak well of you critics when they assume that the AMA or some large pharmacy concerns are paying you to write what you do. With all the money that these organizations have I would assume they could fund a far more effective campaign against quacks. Also, I would assume with all of that money you are getting from the big corporations that you couldn't possibly be that bitter. Ha ha . . .
In fact, the whole argument that physicians are money grubbing stooges is completely turned on its head in a system of socialized medicine. In this system, according to our snake-oil selling friends, the government are the stooges to the large pharmaceutical concerns and the physicians (these poor morons who somehow stumbled their way through medical school) are hapless fools and dupes.
From "a well educated and level-headed stay at home mom"
who believes in some forms of alternative medicine:
I find it very interesting how you chose to include probably the most vile comments you received from people in your "jeers" section. I'm sure you received some equally vile comments from people who agree with you and hate alternative therapies or practitioners. Yet, you chose only to include in the cheers section people who seem level headed and polite. I feel this is very biased on your part. . . Even the way you described the title of the people who wrote in your jeers section was very leading towards making them sound like idiots before one even reads their comments. I am sorry that some people who wrote in to give you a "jeer" were so immature and insensitive and idiotic with their insults and foul language.
I do think that you have chosen to include more of those dopey comments than reasonable ones in the jeers section in an effort to make yourself and your web site look more credible by demonstrating how all of us who think there is some validity to alternative methods are crazed, profane lunatics. Perhaps there are a lot of quacks out there in alternative medicine but there are also just as many in traditional medicine. . . .
I replied (in part):
The posted comments reflect what I get. I have never received a similar comment from people who agree with me. The number of insulting and what you call "idiotic" comments I get is really scary, when I think that these people probably also vote and can help elect the people who run our country. . . .
Your definition of quackery is too broad. It is not meaningful to include substandard medical practice in the definition. It is a problem, but a separate one. See Quackery: How Should It Be Defined?
From a biochemist in Wales:
My girlfriend (a medical doctor) and I would both like to thank you for your humorous and satirical dismantling of everything that scarf-wearing tree-huggers hold dear. If these warriors of "natural" treatment wish to be taken seriously, they should test their treatments using the same parameters that would be expected in major scientific journals. We also note with interest how "practitioners" that accuse you and your associates of robbery in relation to payment for treatment. Does that mean your accusers provide their services free of charge???
From an Australian chiropractor/naturopath:
I would have to agree that there are numerous alternative health practitioners that are simply duping the public. I find it incomprehensible that some of the comments in the jeers section of your website were actually written by 'professional' people. Any 'professional' practitioner who resorts to name-calling shows a lack of courtesy and intelligence. Though I disagree with some of your content I believe that your site fills a valid role. Intelligent people are never fearful of reading opposing viewpoints and can determine for themselves what is right. I enjoyed reading your material.
From a psychology professor:
After reading your "Jeers" page, I became concerned that emotional dyscontrol, scatalogia, and a precipitous decline in general IQ may be heretofore unrecognized side effects of homeopathy, chiropractic therapy, herbalism, and the like. Someone should look into this.
From another supporter:
When I was young and idealistic, I wanted to save the world. Every now and then, I hear some heartwarming story of the mankind's decency and intellectual prowess, and I think maybe we'll survive. And then I read the "Jeers" section of your website, and sadly realize that most people are still mentally trapped in the medieval ages. And I just can't bring myself to spend years of my life trying to help these people, realizing that no matter how much truth you can uncover at the end of a microscope, somebody somewhere will always convict you of being part of the vast medical conspiracy which exists to convince us to buy drugs and vaccines. I swear, you could discover the cure for AIDS in a pill, and hundreds would still die from the disease because they're scared that it came from a test tube rather than a grapefruit. How do you do it? How do you find the strength to help a society that refuses to believe in the value of your work?
One factor is realistic expectations. I don't expect to save the world. My goal is to help people who are interested in living in the real world. I hear from lots of them.
This page was revised on November 30, 2006.