quackwatch
April 24, 2003 5:59 PM   Subscribe

QuackWatch.Org has long been a solid source for debunking medical claims by alternative health care practioners. But it turns out things are not all they are Quacked up to be, find out who is really behind the QuackWatch Conspiracy at QuackPotWatch.Org
posted by stbalbach (40 comments total)

 
I did a Google search on the guy behind QuackPotWatch.Org. Its a guy named Tim Bolen, and he is definitely someone with a grudge against anyone who dares to complain about shoddy "alternative medicine". His major case appears to be defending a woman named Hulda Clark, who claims to be able to cure any disease, and is now forced to run her 'medical' practice in Tijuana, Mexico, but he's also fronted for several other shady characters.

There's a lot to be found in the 'net about Bolen. Find out more about him at A Response to Tim Bolen or Tim Bolen - Publicist to Hulda Clark.

I've refered to QuackWatch several times, and I've found their information sound and recommendations very worthwhile.
posted by dragonmage at 6:28 PM on April 24, 2003


soild source favorite source .. nothing personal mmoncur I've used QuackWatch before myself yours was a good example post.
posted by stbalbach at 6:29 PM on April 24, 2003


Alternative Medicine philosophies fit the "American (I'll make my own decisions)" way of thinking. Allopathic Medicine philosophies fit the "Germanic (follow my orders)" way.

Great! It's nice to know my general practitioner is actually a Nazi. I guess that explains the snarled "Nein!" every time I ask if I can change my appointment.

</obscurereference>
He probably banks at the Fourth Reich Bank of Hamburg.
</obscurereference>
posted by deadcowdan at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2003


Wrongfully named? Yes. So-called "alternative medicine" is actually the health choice of planet earth. It is a combination of every good health idea invented by mankind, in every country and culture on this planet. There is nothing "alternative" about it. Labeling planet earth's health choice as "alternative" is, and was, a propaganda device.

Um, what?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:34 PM on April 24, 2003


You know, for a site that fights for "alternative medicine", you'd think they would be a little friendlier to an "alternative browser." Here's the message you get when browsing using Opera:
It appears that you are not using Netscape or MSIE. I suggest you download a copy of the program in order to properly view these pages.

Click Here to Forward to main page

Updated 06/23/2002 17:19:35   

Updated 10/08/2002 14:12:38
I'm probably missing out on some spectacular functionality (like a little pixie hovering over my cursor or a fade effect between pages) but I think I'll stick with Opera.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 6:42 PM on April 24, 2003


April 22, 2003 the State of California Appeals Court finds QuackWatch to be "biased and unworthy of credibility".

There are subjects on QuackWatch that I happen to personally know a great deal about and they have outright false information (not just white lies but plain bald face lies) and back it up with no support. The California Court case supports this. Do your own research come to your own conclusions but QuackWatch is on public record as being discredited by a US Court of Appeals.

Also read more carefully QuackPotWatch to see the ways they have ruined peoples lives ala Scientology just really evil tactics against the alternative health care doctors who don't tow the mainstream AMA line.
posted by stbalbach at 6:46 PM on April 24, 2003


I spent some time reading both sites, and I don't trust either of them.
QuackWatch.org spent far too much time slamming the perceived mental state of Lorraine Day, for example, rather than just sticking to the facts.
QuackPotWatch.org has just a wee bit too much "I'm gonna git you" for me to take it seriously.

I prefer simple facts; I'll make my own call. Both of these sites are spending too much time trying to sell me rather than simply tell me what's going on.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:02 PM on April 24, 2003


I used to work for a major health site and I dealt with QuackWatch a few times, talked to him on the phone even. Overall, I'd say that he's a pretty good guy, dedicated to his cause, if nothing else. Yes... he does go a bit too far in his dislike of alternative medicine, but he does serve a pretty important role in dispelling some of the myths about that stuff.
posted by ph00dz at 7:16 PM on April 24, 2003


In determining medical validity: stick to the science folks. Quackwatch is a valuable service that I've used for years.
posted by moses at 8:46 PM on April 24, 2003


I think we should call for a quackdown on this sort of thing.
posted by srboisvert at 9:27 PM on April 24, 2003


There are subjects on QuackWatch that I happen to personally know a great deal about and they have outright false information (not just white lies but plain bald face lies) and back it up with no support.

Well, then, how about backing up your statement?

Myself, I'd say there is no comparison between the two sites. Bolen comes across as a total shill for some awfully shady "alternative health" purveyors. The rest of this "support group" that accompanies him seem about as (un)trustworthy.

Besides, anyone who is supposed to be supporting someone who did her research at IU should know better than to call it "the University of Indiana" as he does in several radio interview transcripts.
posted by dragonmage at 10:53 PM on April 24, 2003


stbalbach, were you perhaps thinking of a different case? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that that particular trial is entirely irrelevant to claims that Quackwatch contains "outright false information."

First of all, the trial had absolutely nothing to do with the content of Quackwatch. It was a libel suit in which Stephen Barrett was the plaintiff. The court found against him, but noted:
While there is certainly a dearth of evidence of damages, because of the inability of plaintiff to respond trial and the presumption of injury should plaintiff prevail, the court cannot conclude the plaintiff did not plead the amount in controversy in good faith. If plaintiff can prove actual malice as discussed below, he may recover general or presumed damages without proof of actual injury to reputation.
The court found that Dr. Barrett could not prove that the statements he found libelous were intended maliciously (since the defendant apparently believed them to be true) or that they had significantly damaged his reputation (since during the four years in which the statements were published on the defendant's web site, Quackwatch's site traffic increased and Dr. Barrett reported an income).

Now, if you have disagreements with specific information on the Quackwatch site, that's fine--and I'd be interested in reading your rebuttals. But I honestly don't see how the trial you linked to supports your claims in any way whatsoever.
posted by Acetylene at 10:58 PM on April 24, 2003


I'm sorry--my mistake: I was looking at the second link on the page you linked to. I would like to point, however, that the quote you cited ("biased and unworthy of credibility") in fact refers to the expert witnesses in that case, not Quackwatch.
posted by Acetylene at 11:04 PM on April 24, 2003


Heres some more stuff about Stephen Barrett of QuackWatch:

Stephen Barrett MD, who the Pennsylvania licensing board officially classifies as "Not in Good Standing," operates the website www.quackwatch.com out of his basement in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Barrett, although claiming to be a retired Psychiatrist, was never able to become "Board Certified." He failed his test. Also, Barrett gave up his MD license in 1993. Yet he claims to be an expert medical doctor on just ebout every alternative health care practice in existence.

The whole California quackbuster attack was a hoax, and a scam, cooked up by Robert S. Baratz MD, DDS, and Stephen Barrett (of quackwatch.com) to pay themselves "expert witness fees."

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF), the quackbuster flagship, has sunk. It's currently headquartered in the back room of a Boston area hair removal salon. Hair removal salon. It used to be based at California's Loma Linda University - before it was rudely evicted.

In any case it looks like Quackbusters is in big financial trouble and probably won't be around much longer. The court system is on to the expert witness game.
posted by stbalbach at 12:20 AM on April 25, 2003


Sorry I support quack busters on issue. The mere fact Tim Bolen is behind this is bad enough. His association with Hulda "Liver flukes cause cancer" Clark is enough to put his credibility in the toilet forever. Here are more of his inane writings.
posted by PenDevil at 1:10 AM on April 25, 2003


Huh. It's like a flamewar, but in the real world and between participants whom you must choose between to safeguard your health. Scary as hell.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:32 AM on April 25, 2003


I think there is definately a problem with people being a little too eager to use alternative medicine. I mean it's alternative for a reason (it doesn't work). If it worked then regular doctors would use it.

Many people (some who have visited chiroprators themselves, usually for back pain) don't realize what some of these practicioners believe. They think they can really fix real medical problems by spinal manipulation. Not just crack your back. Go get a massage instead. (At least there'll be a chance of you getting a handjob instead of it being sure that you're being screwed.)
posted by QrysDonnell at 3:19 AM on April 25, 2003


Put me down firmly in the pro-Quackwatch camp. I am not familiar with Tim Bolen, but he certainly comes across as a hysterical conspiracy theorist. He also makes some false/misleading statements on his web site; for example, Stephen Barrett is entitled to be called Dr. by virtue of the fact that he graduated from medical school, his specialty certification and liscensure are irrelevant (although I can see how not having them does make him less credible). Bolen's refusal to call him Dr. is just a childish insult. Also, he comments that it seems unusual to call expert witnesses from far away; this is actually standard practice, as few professionals are willing to testify close to home and risk alienating colleagues with whom they work every day. Finally, the whole quacksalver story is made up nonsense that I have seen on other pro-quackery sites; according to dictionary.com. the true meaning of quacksalver is"One who boasts of his skill in medicines and salves, or of the efficacy of his prescriptions; a charlatan; a quack; a mountebank.; Obsolete Dutch  : Middle Dutch quac-, unguent or quacken, to quack, boast + Middle Dutch salven, to salve."

There are valid critics of groups like the AMA and of scientific, evidence-based medicine, but Mr. Bolen is not one of them.
posted by TedW at 7:13 AM on April 25, 2003


That Tim Bolen site is pure unfounded gibberish. There are no facts, just attacks and vague appeals to conspiracy.

"You mean my mother didn't have to die that horribly, or even die at all?" is a question more, and more Americans are asking...

It's sick of him to suggest that doctors don't do all they can to help someone continue to live. Most doctors are perfectly amenable to the suggestion of using "alternative" therapies in conjunction with the ones that are actually known to work. THe problem is when people forgo treatments that have proven to be effective in favor of those which statistically are equivalent to drawing a picture of a frog and asking it to help.

WEstern medicine is not very subtle - they're looking for dramatic results, and may miss some treatments that improve quality of life without extending life, or something - so some alternative therapies may do more than a placebo, just not enough for the AMA. But they won't save your life. That, the AMA would notice and endorse. MEdicine is not committed to a certain "type" of treatment - only to ones that can be shown to have results. If you can prove it works, someone will market it. Most drugs start from herbal remedies, in the sense that some compound is extracted from nature that has the desired effect... If herbal supplements could be shown to work, you bet drug companies would be selling them - etc.
posted by mdn at 7:43 AM on April 25, 2003


Stephen Barrett MD, who the Pennsylvania licensing board officially classifies as "Not in Good Standing"

Specifically, "Not in good standing due to 'Inactivity.'" Don't make it sound like something it's not. He's retired. There were no disciplinary actions taken against him.

Yet he claims to be an expert medical doctor on just ebout every alternative health care practice in existence.

No, he claims to be an expert on medicine. If alternative medicine practitioners want to be taken seriously, they'll need to get used to being judged by the same standards as allopathy.

Barrett, although claiming to be a retired Psychiatrist, was never able to become "Board Certified." He failed his test.

I don't know the veracity of this claim (haven't found an unbiased source of information about it online), but note that he's well within his rights to claim to be a retired Psychiatrist even if he wasn't board certified. Board certification is not the same as a license to practice.

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF), the quackbuster flagship, has sunk. It's currently headquartered in the back room of a Boston area hair removal salon.

It's currently headquartered at 119 Foster Street, Building R, Second Floor, Peabody, MA. Also known as Naumkeag Business Park. If you know otherwise, I'd be interested in seeing more information.
posted by Acetylene at 7:47 AM on April 25, 2003


"Not in good standing due to 'Inactivity.'" He's retired.

He's inactive as a Doctor for a reason, Nixon was retired also, and retired from what? I seem to recall he worked in low end jobs nothing that would give him any formal expertise on these subjects. You seem to hold him up as the standard for being an expert on medicine. On what grounds? That he has a PhD? Quacks with PhD's exist in this world. I want to know why he is an expert to comment so authoritatively on so many health practices.

Hair Removal Salon, 119 Foster Street, Boston

Call em up if you like to verify. I usually get my health advice from "retired" doctors who work in the back of Hair Removal Salons.

Back in the 70s a group of doctors tried to ban acupuncturists from working in Maryland. They claimed it was quackery. They lost in court and today many people use acupuncture with great success.

judged by the same standards as allopathy.

QuackWatch is NOT that standard of allopathy lol .. QuackWatch is a laughing joke when it comes to the standards of medicine. If you want to know if something is helpful to people or not reading a 2 page summary on QuackWatch is not going to give you an objective answer.
posted by stbalbach at 8:19 AM on April 25, 2003


it's alternative for a reason (it doesn't work). If it worked then regular doctors would use it.

This is misguided on many accounts. Alternative medicine is called that because it provides an alternative to the single paradigm presented by Western medicine. Western medicine is very good at some things and terrible at others. If there is a major trauma that needs immediate action, Western medicine can not be beat. It does not do a good job at prevention for example you only go to a doctor after you have a problem. That's one thing many alternative practices address is working with healthy people to stay healthy. I can tell you there are millions if not billions of people in this world using "alternative" care to keep from getting sick in the first place very successfully. Alternative Health often uses the bodys own natural healing abilities rather then relying on external drugs or surgery.

As for "regular" doctors using the methods that is not true. Regular doctors typically stick with what they are told they are allowed to do by a larger oversight body. Mainstream doctors are under a lot of public scrutiny and can not freely do whatever they want without fear of loosing their positions or license. As a result the major drug companies have lobbied the medical establishment to such an extent that often today a trip to a "regular" doctor amounts to getting specific drugs or procedures that ultimately may not be the best solution for the patient.
posted by stbalbach at 8:47 AM on April 25, 2003


stbalbach, brace yourself - beyond a placebo effect, acupuncture has not been proven effective in fighting any disease. Period.

Say what you want about Barrett's qualifications and motivations - it isn't his side that are reaching into Joe and Jane Average's wallets by making false and dangerous healthcare promises.
posted by John Smallberries at 9:04 AM on April 25, 2003


I don't think he's gonna trust your source John.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2003


He's inactive as a Doctor for a reason

Would you care to share that reason with us?

How's this for a theory: he got his license in 1958 and let it expire in 1992. 34 years is a pretty good run in any profession. And in those 34 years, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, not one disciplinary action was taken against him. You seem to know better, but thus far you haven't explained. Why, pray tell, did he retire?

You seem to hold him up as the standard for being an expert on medicine. On what grounds? That he has a PhD?

Do any of your sources have that much?

I usually get my health advice from "retired" doctors who work in the back of Hair Removal Salons.

Once again, 119 Foster Street, Peabody (not Boston) is a business park. Other tenants include A-1 Restaurant Trader, Electronics Supermarket!, and Boston Machinery. And, yes, a hair removal salon, too. Do you always judge organizations by the businesses they're located adjacent to, or is this a special case?
posted by Acetylene at 9:08 AM on April 25, 2003


It does not do a good job at prevention for example...I can tell you there are millions if not billions of people in this world using "alternative" care to keep from getting sick in the first place very successfully.

western doctors recognize certain basic preventive measures - eat right & exercise, for example. Take vitamin supplements if you can't get enough X in your diet. But preventive measures like claiming that you'll prevent cancer if you never eat broccoli after dark, and always have green tea on tuesdays - or whatever - well, there's just no evidence of it.

IF something can be shown to be a preventive measure, there should be a way to show that this is true. It's true it would be a long term study, but you could get a group, half of which are given the actual treatment and half of which are given a placebo, and determine the statistical effect of the treatment. It might take thirty years to show results, but then we'd know for sure - why not do it? If it were shown, these treatments would be adopted by all doctors, not just the alternative guys.

As for "regular" doctors using the methods that is not true. Regular doctors typically stick with what they are told they are allowed to do by a larger oversight body.

I think the point was that the larger oversight body would adopt procedures or medicines previously considered fringy if they could be shown to have statistically relevant results.
posted by mdn at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2003


Hey, it's pretty obvious that stbalbach is riding a favoured hobby-horse here. T'ain't nuthin you're going to say that's going to change his mind.

I suggest you leave him smelling his aromatherapies and sipping his homeopathic dilutions, and instead share links to resources that can help us all make better medical decisions.

Alas, I have none to share.

I once created a new homeopathic remedy. Because homeopathics is based on the idea that "less is more" (its most powerful tinctures are so diluted that the chances of it containing any of the "active" ingredient are so statistically insignificant as to be nil (adherents claim the water "remembers" the active ingredient!)), I figure that the best therapy is a homeopathic dose of oxygen for about five minutes.

Never has a patient who has used my homeopathic oxygen reemdy ever complained again of their symptoms. Or any symptoms, in fact. Indeed, they just stop complaining...

posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on April 25, 2003


[insert appropriate Dr. Nick joke here]
posted by blue_beetle at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2003


Here is a more objective source on the quackery of QuackWatch. This site also claims to have no affiliation with Tim Bolen in case his style offended anyone. QuackWatch is being defeated in court case after court case.

John your just linking back to a QuackWatch site. This is typical of the kind of investigative Googelized research people are doing using the Internet. There are decades of peer reviewed research on acupuncture should you choose to really research what it is all about you'll need to spend a little more time than reading QuackWatch material.

It's more than a hobby horse I am living proof of how certain alternative health care has helped me. I'm not going into personal details on MeFi. And maybe some of the things QuackWatch says are Quacks really are. I agree there's a lot of bogus stuff out there. But a lot of it isn't and that's what makes QW a dubious source of information it is not objective it has an agenda.

Acetylene , Tim Bolen claims NCAHF is run out of the back of a Hair Removal Salon. It just so happens a hair removal salon is at the same address as NCAHF. While Tim could be lying, I see no reason why he would since anyone could easily walk in and verify and discredit Tim which would not be in his best interest over what is otherwise a fairly minor fact. QuackWatch does not seem to be defending against the claim. Of course none of this is proof, but do you have a reason why Tim Bolen would take the huge chance of lying about an easily verifiable fact? You'd think QuackWatch would have shot him down, invite people to stop by, or have QuackWatch supporters who have been to the offices post a rebuttal. None of this seems to be the case despite other rebuttals to Tim Bolen on the QuackWatch site.

BTW Barret has labeled two-time Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling as a "quack."
posted by stbalbach at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2003


stbalbach, I wouldn't call the website you cited an unbiased source of information about Quackwatch. From the website, it appears to be a legal firm that specializes in defending "alternative health" claims. As such, they've apparently tangled with Barnett on several occassions. I doubt that they're telling both sides of the story, as we've seen detailed above and as I've seen from other sources.

For that matter, it seems as though all of your sources are firm allies of Tim Bolen and his anti-Quackwatch crusade. Hardly unbiased at all.

And, I would remind you, you still haven't enumerated the outright false information (not just white lies but plain bald face lies) (your words) on Quackwatch.
posted by dragonmage at 10:58 AM on April 25, 2003


Tim Bolen claims NCAHF is run out of the back of a Hair Removal Salon. It just so happens a hair removal salon is at the same address as NCAHF.

And that same address is also shared by the three other businesses I mentioned in my previous message. It's a business park. Several businesses share the same building and the same address. Ever been to a mall?

BTW Barret has labeled two-time Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling as a "quack."

Pauling won Nobel Prizes in 1954 (Chemistry) and 1962 (Peace). In this page, Barrett questions Pauling's theories on the benefits of massive doses of Vitamin C in preventing colds and other illnesses. He notes, "At least 16 well-designed, double-blind studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin C does not prevent colds and at best may slightly reduce the symptoms of a cold."

In science, even Nobel Prize winners are subject to peer review.

Interestingly, Barrett does cite a letter from Pauling in his arguments in favor of water fluoridation. This is particularly interesting since the second case referenced in the page you linked to here pitted Barrett against an anti-fluoridation campaigner. I wonder how Tim Bolen feels about Linus Pauling, given that Pauling supports fluoridation. Seems Bolen and Barrett might have a common enemy. :)
posted by Acetylene at 11:30 AM on April 25, 2003


I am living proof of how certain alternative health care has helped me.

No offense, and I am honestly glad you feel better, but anecdotes aren't proof, one example isn't proof, and it's unlikely that there is any way to establish that your recovery was related to alternative health care and nothing else. The fact that you (understandably) believe that it was related to alternative health care doesn't make it so.

I agree that sometimes QuackWatch goes over the top, but most of the time I'm glad to have it as a resource. I see nothing wrong with having an agenda against people being misled.
posted by biscotti at 1:12 PM on April 25, 2003


favorite source .. nothing personal mmoncur I've used QuackWatch before myself yours was a good example post.

posted by stbalbach at 6:29 PM PST on April 24


Wow, where did my name come from here? I've never posted to this thread. Until now.
posted by mmoncur at 1:30 PM on April 25, 2003


AFter having looked through the site a bit more, I was disappointed with Quackwatch's attitude ("Tim", real name Patrick Timothy... - what's that about?) so I'm not sure I'd bother going to them. It'd be nice to have an alt med watch source with good research and friendly writing, like Snopes is for hoaxes. He's way too quick to assume things are ridiculous, before setting out in an orderly manner to research the particulars. It isn't as bad as the quackpotwatch site, but it's still pretty bad.

The thing is, people really do get taken advantage of when they're sick; they'll do anything just in case it helps, because you wouldn't want to always wonder, if only I'd gone to the philipines, maybe it would've worked out... even while rationally knowing that it makes no sense to suppose that. People get easily sold on ideas, once they've been instituted to a significant degree (just think of L Ron Hubbard's experiment...)

I was treated for a potentially fatal disease a few years ago and saved by western medicine. DUring that ordeal, I was given so many books and lectures about what could save me - apple seeds, urine, raw food diet, fish oil, no "night shade" veggies, yes garlic, no garlic (or onion or other "impure" tastes), etc etc etc. It was amazing how much literature there was, and none of it was peer reviewed or statistically proven.

It was such a jumble of empty claims, but people believed it because they wanted to - they wanted someone to have figured everything out, and be able to tell them how it is. It was just like religion; people had faith in what they wanted to work, and did not care about the rational explanations of things. One woman who I personally saw receiving chemo treatments in the same room as me later wrote an article for an online alt med site saying she was saved by I don't remember what, eating right or whatever it was. But I was there seeing her receiving the treatments - she was unhappy about it, fighting it (we got into a long talk about poison curing and all that) but taking them nonetheless.
posted by mdn at 1:39 PM on April 25, 2003


I just drink beer.

It cures everything.

:p
posted by linux at 5:38 PM on April 25, 2003


Umm stbalbach, i hate to break it to you, but making bogus comparison of the guy that runs quackwatch to Nixon's resignation are also bogus. Claiming that his office is in the same building as a hair removal place also doesn't do anything. it could very well be an office building, with dozens of offices. But since you asserted that he works our of his basement, are you also asserting that the hair removal place is also in his basement?

You assert that he "low end jobs nothing that would give him any formal expertise on these subjects", but can you please provide some 3rd party information on this? Also working jobs is not 'formal expertise' an MD is formal expertise.

If you are going to assert you have to back it up with actual information. You cant refer back to a source that just says "oo look this guy is bad!" This quackpotwatch.org thing doesn't have enough of anything resembling actual information to be useful as a reference. ITs just a rant page. Must like your 'dittoing' of the site onto metafilter. Learn to actually make a statement that can stand up or just get over yourself.
posted by MrLint at 7:49 PM on April 25, 2003


People who use alternative "medicine" are typically religious about it.

And rightly so, because faced with no scientifically valid test results, you're pretty much forced to go with pure faith instead of fact.

What is really upsetting, though, is that many of them are also raving evangelists, ultimately bringing more uninformed believers into the fold. This isn't necessarily a good thing: there are a lot of bogosity out there, putting people's health at risk.

It's a real shame, because it isn't all that difficult to run a scientifically valid double-blind test of most of the claims. The results would be generally rock-solid, ending any doubts. But because many of the claims would be proven fraudulent, their promotors won't dare test them.

Until such time, then, we're faced with endless contradictory claims, some of which are downright hazardous to one's health, and no real ability to choose one claim over another. It's a dangerous crapshoot, and the only truly safe alternative is to ignore the alternatives.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 AM on April 26, 2003


faced with no scientifically valid test results, you're pretty much forced to go with pure faith instead of fact.

While I absolutely agree with you, I'll point out that many of the alternative therapies claim that they have been scientifically tested, and many people aren't knowledgeable (or suspicious) enough to look at that data and recognise that it's unscientific bunk (anecdotal, too small sample size, not correcting for other factors, inaccurate interpretation of results, not double-blind, not published in a recognised, peer-reviewed journal, not repeatable, etc). In many ways, you have to be quite hard-headed and knowledgeable to avoid being taken in these days.

I'll say that I'm of the opinion that some alternative therapies may be helpful, or at very least fall into the "can't hurt, might help" category. I think it's possible that things like acupuncture may well prove to have uses, but if they work, they don't work because of "unblocking chi", unless what they really mean by "chi" is something other than the metaphysical. I am most frustrated and angered by these things when people eschew proven medical treatment in favour of them (as many of these therapies insist must happen), especially when they make that decision for those who can't decide for themselves, like their children (or pets, for that matter).

I agree with your assessment of this being religious in nature, I tend to refer to the really zealous followers of certain therapies and fads as "culties", because that's precisely how they behave and talk about their chosen therapy.
posted by biscotti at 11:07 AM on April 26, 2003


biscotti sez:
I'll say that I'm of the opinion that some alternative therapies may be helpful, or at very least fall into the "can't hurt, might help" category. I think it's possible that things like acupuncture may well prove to have uses. . .

"Can't hurt, might help" is fine when you are paying for all of your health expenses out of your own pocket. The controversy here has more to do with whether or not these treatments will be covered by health insurance. If these "alternatives" can clamber on the insurance money wagon they will instantly become more profitable as more people can afford access to them.

Other than that, I agree with you.
posted by monkey.pie.baker at 1:46 PM on April 26, 2003


The controversy here has more to do with whether or not these treatments will be covered by health insurance.

There's a lot more that's controversial about alternative therapies than just whether or not they should be covered by health insurance. The discussion here was mainly about the Quackpotwatch website, not insurance, and my comment was an addition to fff's, which also wasn't about insurance. I don't disagree with you that insurance is an issue, mind you, but that wasn't what my comment was addressing in any way (my comment was just about alternative therapies in general), so I'm not sure what your "other than that, I agree with you" means, since you seem to be addressing an issue I didn't even mention, so how could you be disagreeing with me?
posted by biscotti at 4:20 PM on April 26, 2003


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