Health Fraud

See also:    Biomedical    Chelation    Complementary Medicine    Unusual!    Vaccines   

Parents of autistic children are frequently courted by individuals making exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims for the effectiveness of biological treatments purported to "cure" or "treat" autism. This page contains links to information on health fraud in general; on disciplinary, regulatory and judicial actions pertaining to individuals and institutions marketing autism-related products, information and services; and critical analyses of alternative medicine.

This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Internet Resources

Let me cut to the chase - whoever wrote this "rebuttal" implies, but does not state (or show their work) that the vapor rising from the tooth in the video is not being acted on by gravity, that the molecules/atoms are rising because they are moving from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration, in keeping with 2nd Law of thermodynamics. Well, if gravity isn't involved, then why is the vapor RISING? In the absence of gravity (which would be the same as the absence of gravitational influence), an expanding vapor/gas expands radially - equally in all directions. Yet, clearly, the vapor in the video is rising - so obviously gravity is acting on it.
James Laidler et al
This site focuses SOLELY on the misuse of scientific articles by anti-immunization activists. Concurrently with this project, I am undertaking an online project to publish the significant findings in the autopsy reports of children of who have died as a result of immunizations.
Ed Friedlander
This ring is for sites that combat and debunk health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies, and are more interested in real, objective, scientific proof, than in the speculative, subjective, and unproven theories and anecdotes of so-called Alternative Medicine. If you are sympathetic to the aims of the National Council Against Health Fraud, and you consider Quackwatch to be a reliable source of anti-quackery information, then this ring may be just what you're looking for.
Exploitation is the taking advantage of parents who are vulnerable and willing to do whatever it takes to "cure" their children who have developmental delays or special needs.
Dad of Cameron
Is this metaphorical alchemy? Are families that have a child with autism a marketing target? I'm fairly certain that no one is going to hear Jim Adams barking, "Zeolite here! Get yer zeolite here!" anytime soon, but aside from the study, is it possible that the James Adams, PhD name has been incorporated into a clever sales pitch?
Dad of Cameron
The purpose of Autism Watch is to provide a scientific perspective on the many aspects of autism. Our goals are to: provide basic information about autism; iffer scientific analysis of autism therapies; discuss the merits of the many proposed causes of autism; identify reliable sources of help and information; report improper actions to regulatory agencies; help people seek legal redress if they have been victimized.
James Laidler
As a scientist and a parent of a child on the spectrum, I wear many hats thoughout the day. I believe the pursuit of understanding the roots of autism and other neurological disorders affecting children to be one of the most important things one might do with their professional and free time. Comments and debate are welcome, abuse is not.
Bartholomew Cubbins
Website of a company shut down by Washington State authorities in February 2006.
Barbara Brewitt
Barbara Brewitt PhD has been a figure in "autism biomed". She gave a presentation at the last Autism One conference, it was called, Cell Signaling: Fundamental Role in Healing and Relevance to Autism. There were all kinds of quacky ideas presented at that Autism One conference, Brewitt was just one of those promoting homeopathy... Huh? For some reason her web page of questions and answers about autism doesn't mention chanting, crystal bowls or the bathtub thing.
Autism Diva
The Department of Health says Brewitt allegedly represented herself as a medical doctor to a Seattle-based pharmacy in to obtain a drug used in the manufacturing process. Brewitt holds a Ph.D. in biological structure but does not hold a medical degree and is not a licensed physician. Reached Tuesday at her Seattle home Brewitt responded to the charges with an e-mail of her own. In a statement released to KOMO 4 News, Brewitt said she "takes great exception to today's action by the Washington State Department of Health." She also said that her company's products are "classified as homeopathic drugs and meet all regulations. There is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of the Department of Health."
The Department of Health has ordered Barbara Brewitt to immediately stop her unlicensed practice of manufacturing drugs at Biomed Comm, Incorporated. This order, called a "Temporary Order to Cease and Desist," also directs Brewitt to stop acting as and representing herself as a medical doctor. Examples of Biomed products include "Cell Signal Enhancer -- Human Growth Hormone;" "Athletic Edge;" and "Naturally hGH." According to the order, Brewitt manufactures drugs and markets them as homeopathic medicines for conditions including Alzheimer's, autism, cancer, menopausal symptoms, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and HIV/AIDS. The drugs do not have the necessary federal approval. Brewitt also allegedly represented herself as a medical doctor to a Seattle-based pharmacy in order to obtain a drug used in the manufacturing process. Brewitt holds a Ph.D. in biological structure but possesses no medical degree or designation and is not a licensed physician in Washington.
Washington State Department of Health
Oh dear, it seems the autism biomed community may have lost another shining light guru... I have heard countless testimonials over the years about Barbara Brewitt and her Cell Signal Enhancers. She's presented at many autism conferences, and many parents say their kids have improved while taking her products... Barbara says: There is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of the Department of Health." Let's hope she's right so this matter can be resolved post haste. Just think of all of the kids missing out on $50 bottles of 99.9% water.
Not Mercury
"I think it's a scam," said Jeremy Adler. "I really do." Adler's claims of a scam come after working for three months as the manufacturing manager at a Seattle company called Biomed Comm. The company makes and sells a variety of homeopathic remedies advertised as treatments for autism, menopausal symptom relief, and boosters of immune systems and energy. Last week the State Department of Health ordered the company and it's founder and CEO Barbara Brewitt, PhD to cease and desist her making and selling of drugs without a license. They also directed her to stop "posing as a medical doctor." Adler, who says he was hired to help establish a small manufacturing facility in Woodinville, says many of the medicines were mixed by Brewitt herself in her own kitchen as she chanted over a crystal bowl. "She told all of us the magic is in the chanting and the crystal bowl," said Adler. "And that's what caused everything to work was the energy from the crystal bowl."
Kevin Reece, KOMO
Brian Deer bought 60 capsules for £21.15, and on checking the directions learnt that, if the product doesn't work, Dr Bradstreet recommends upping the dose, until parents could be spending £1,000 a year in Sea Buddies alone.
Brian Deer
Includes Center for Complex Infection Diseases "Condition level non-compliance causing immediate and serious threat to health and safety of patients."
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Proponents of hair analysis claim that it is useful for evaluating a person's general state of nutrition and health and is valuable in detecting predisposition to disease. They also claim that hair analysis enables a doctor to determine if mineral deficiency, mineral imbalance or heavy metal pollutants in the body may be the cause of a patient's symptoms. These claims are false.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
I confess to being a skeptic who is concerned about healthcare consumer protection, quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic quackery, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative Medicine" (sCAM). (In English and Danish.)
Paul Lee
The Hearing Committee, pursuant to the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law set forth above, unanimously determines that the Respondent's license to practice medicine in the State of New York should be suspended for a period of five years.
New York State Department of Health, State Board for Professional Medical Conduct
In September 1999, the Medical Board of California concluded that Robert Sinaiko, M.D., had "departed from the prevailing standard of practice of medicine" by using antifungal drugs and other questionable methods to treat three adults and a nine-year-old child for nonexistent "Candida" problems. Sinaiko was assessed $49,472.79 for administrative costs and placed on five years' probation with stringent supervisory conditions.
Stephen Barrett
Fudenberg's lack of a license does not appear to have stopped him from offering medical services to the public. His Neuro Immuno Therapeutics Research Foundation Web site offers the following services: review of past medical records ($750 per inch); determining what tests are needed, ordering the tests, and interpreting the tests ($750); and determining which therapy will work (usually 2 hours @ $750/hour).
Stephen Barrett, Quackwatch
This paper... asserts that 15 of 40 autistic children developed autism "within a week" of an MMR shot, and goes on to claim that Fudenberg healed children, with a quarter "fully normalised". One doctor closely involved with this project, who asked not to be named, angrily denied the claims in this paper, insisted that when Fudenberg's activities were discovered parents were advised to remove their children from his influence, and called Fudenberg - named on patent and ethical applications as co-inventor of Wakefield's proposed products - "a complete quack". Nevertheless, Fudenberg pioneered the transfer factor theory, now widely promoted, including by an organisation involving Wakefield, to introduce quack products to autistic kids' parents.
Last August, after an inspection of (Dr. W. John) Martin's practices, the government shut down his lab because of "immediate jeopardy" and ordered him to "cease and desist." Team Four Reports has learned Martin's federal lab certificate was suspended and his state license was revoked. The reports cite dozens of violations, including failure to maintain records and throwing out blood samples. The CDC says Martin's actions border on fraudulent activity. "He tested at least 650 patients a year according to federal records, 1,000 people a year according to state records ... I think it's quite dangerous if he's actually seeing that many patients," said Mahi.
The scoring system illustrates the complexity of quackery as a societal and public health problem.
The tests listed below have little or no diagnostic value. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are done primarily or exclusively by chiropractors. If you encounter a practitioner who uses any of these tests, you should seek advice elsewhere. Practitioners who do live cell analysis, biological terrain assessment, dental sensitivity testing, and cytotoxic testing in their offices are required to have CLIA approval for high-complexity testing. Except for freestanding commercial laboratories, blood banks, hospitals, and large medical offices, very few facilities have high-complexity approval. Only a few states restrict the use of unestablished laboratory tests. Nevertheless, if you encounter a practitioner who does these four tests and is not obviously running a laboratory, please ask your state laboratory department to investigate.
Stephen Barrett, Quackwatch
Georgia's licensing database indicates that on 12/23/02, Edelson settled a malpractice suit for $180,000.
Stephen Barrett
Scientific information abounds. New findings emerge daily. Imagine a study linking vaccinations to child autism: Should you believe it? Some government leader downplays the effects of global warming. Another claims that some hazardous waste material has been safely processed. The media report a study that cell phones may damage the brain. Science permeates choices in our lives, both public and private. No one can be expert in everything. The challenge, then—especially important for educators to appreciate—is learning how to deal with the information. Basic scientific concepts provide a framework. But one must also know about science -- how research is pursued, how conclusions are justified, even how scientists may sometimes err or be shaped by cultural biases. This deeper understanding of the nature of science may help us assess the reliability of claims.
Douglas Allchin
We use causal graphs and a partly hypothetical example from the Physicians' Health Study to explain why a common standard method for quantifying direct effects (i.e. stratifying on the intermediate variable) may be flawed. Estimating direct effects without bias requires that two assumptions hold, namely the absence of unmeasured confounding for (1) exposure and outcome, and (2) the intermediate variable and outcome. Recommendations include collecting and incorporating potential confounders for the causal effect of the mediator on the outcome, as well as the causal effect of the exposure on the outcome, and clearly stating the additional assumption that there is no unmeasured confounding for the causal effect of the mediator on the outcome.
Stephen R Cole, Miguel A Hernán
On October 17, 2002, FDA investigators accompanied U.S. Marshals in a seizure of dietary supplements making drug claims from the Humphrey Laboratories of Lake Oswego, Oregon, doing business as Kirkman Laboratories. U.S. Marshals seized hundreds of bottles of Kirkman's HypoAllergenic Taurine Capsules after FDA determined that Kirkman had made unsubstantiated claims that the product could treat autism.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
SerenAid's labeling suggests that it is useful in improving conditions of autism in children. The labeling suggests that the product is safe and effective for its intended use when, in fact, this has not been established.
Alonza Cruse
Skeptico mailed me today to draw my attention to a comment made on his site to the effect that the wearing of a tinfoil hat designed to prevent alien abduction can successfully treat autism. This is the sort of shit that one has to wade through to find decent research about autism. Is it on a par with the whole thiomersal/mercury thing? Well yes and no. No because I can at least see a theoretical connection even if I don't believe that theory and yes because its another example of a theory driven by anecdotal, unverified, untested belief. Up until Skeptico mailed me this story, my favourite other crackpot theory was the idea that plastic cups cause autism. Again, this is the sort of mindless crap that detracts from valid science, strips autistic people of the dignity they deserve and only extends ignorance.
Kevin Leitch
General Shared Characteristics: A priori - (knowable independent of experience); conspiracy; jargon; ad hominem; false analogy; Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (After this, therefore because of this); appeal to authority.
Quantum mechanics is a fascinating subject that is filled with apparent mysteries and paradoxes -- effects that are unfamiliar or even counter-intuitive for beings that inhabit our scale level. Despite its bizarre aspects, quantum mechanics is not magic. And magic is exactly what the "quantum promoters" are trying to claim. Mind reading, distant viewing, therapeutic touch, etc. all make use of jargon that includes liberal use of the word "quantum". This does not mean that they are quantum effects any more than repeatedly saying a cat is a dog will turn it into a Labrador Retriever. What they are describing is not quantum physics but magic, and magic does not exist outside of storybooks.
On psychics and quacks.
On life extension.
Thanks to some helpful readers for pointing out that I missed a few "Generally Shared Characteristics" of pseudoscience and quackery. Here they are, along with some others I found.
The most notorious of the Great Smokies tests is its 'comprehensive digestive stool analysis'... There is no mention of stool microbiology methods remotely resembling those offered by Great Smokies in the American Society for Microbiology's Manual of Clinical Microbiology, generally regarded as the gold standard of clinical microbiology texts.
Up to date information about consumer health fraud, cancer quackery, diet scams, herbal product dangers, chiropractic problems, alternative medicine and assorted fraudulent practices. Over the years we have also tackled the tobacco industry, sunbed promoters, and other public health issues.
If the FDA required homeopathic remedies to be proven effective in order to remain marketable -- the standard it applies to other categories of drugs -- homeopathy would face extinction in the United States. However, there is no indication that the agency is considering this.
Stephen Barrett
If you have been victimized, reporting your experience to us may enable us to help you or help protect others. All information sent to us will be held in strict confidence if that is your wish. However, it is far more useful for us to be able to share that information within our anti-quackery network, bring it to the attention of a law-enforcement agency, or post it so other can learn from your experience.
Stephen Barrett
Part 1: Finding a Niche -- Keep it simple; keep it vague; pick a winner. Part 2: Exploiting your niche -- Billing; bedside manner. Part 3: Dealing with the competition --
It is important to remember that many alternative medical treatments are not necessarily quackery and that, indeed, some might have utility in improving quality of life. However, none have yet been shown to provide a survival benefit in well-designed clinical trials. Unfortunately, though, there are too many "healers" out there who claims to be able to "cure" cancers without any plausible scientific rationale or clinical evidence to suggest that their methods do anything of the sort.
"As of Dec. 2005 a hat with velostat worn by autistic children has improved their performance markedly. Michael Menkin is seeking more autistic children in the Seattle, Washington area to try the hat. Some of the autistic children who improved after wearing the hat with velostat for over three months are not related to UFOs or any alien phenomenon."
Contrary to the credulous tone of the discussion of this story, I don't "fear" naturopathic results. Rather, I fear what such unfounded "therapies" can do to desperate patients. Before licensing the practitioners of such dubious techniques, I would just like some hard data from basic science experiments and clinical trials supporting those supposed naturopathic results and the claims of naturopaths to treat various diseases. As I've said many times before, I'd be more than happy to appropriate the use of herbal medicines for use in my practice--if someone can show me hard data that they are both safe and effective. (It also wouldn't hurt if they were either effective with fewer side effects than present medications available or if they were cheaper than present medications.) In the case of Sean Flanagan, they were neither. I've often heard the defense of treatments like UBI that go along the lines of "the patient is dying, so what has he got to lose trying something like UBI?"
Besides endorsing the use of hydrogen peroxide infusions. Dr. Buttar was said by a parent on the autism-mercury board to be offering IV ozone treatments. Back in November of 2005, Orac discussed Buttar's new treatment protocol and quoted an article that said, "When ozone is introduced into blood, it reacts with water in red cells producing hydrogen peroxide." This treatment is so illogical and so far from "standard of care," that parents really need to be prepared for bad and even fatal outcomes. The parents surely suffer when they see their children harmed outright by quack medicine, but it's the children who really pay the price. The way the legal system is set up and because of the way the family members can feel overwhelmed with guilt for being fooled, the quacks are seldom held to account for their death dealing recklessness.
Autism Diva
In February 1998, the Lancet medical journal triggered a global scare when it published research claiming a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine and autism. The researchers' leader, Dr Andrew Wakefield called for the vaccine to be "suspended". Six years later, an investigation by Brian Deer revealed that there was more here than met the eye.
Brian Deer
Walter J. Stoll, Jr., M.D., practiced family medicine in Kentucky for about 30 years, during much of which he engaged in nonstandard practiuces, including chelation therapy. His Web site lists nine episodes of what he considers "harassment" by the state medical board, which finally revoked his license in 1994. Today he offers "health coaching" by telephone for $2.50 per minute. The 1994 revocation order is reproduced below.
Stephen Barrett
The Respondent has both delusions of persecution and delusions of grandiosity, i.e., the Respondent believes that she is being persecuted because she has a special ability to heal autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cancer and other autoimmune disorders...
Stephen Barrett
NCAHF is a private nonprofit, voluntary health agency that focuses upon health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems. Our positions are based upon the principles of science that underlie consumer protection law. We advocate: (a) adequate disclosure in labeling and other warranties to enable consumers to make truly informed choices; (b) premarketing proof of safety and effectiveness for products and services claimed to prevent, alleviate, or cure any health problem; and, (c) accountability for those who violate the law.
The "vaccines stole my child and made him Autistic" mentality does absolutely nothing useful and is incorrect. There are individuals who have been damaged by vaccines, and there are Autistic individuals. They are not the same... A profitable industry to “cure Autistics” is available to desperate and uninformed parents. This became apparent to me in the last two years. Profiteers of this industry contacted me frequently during the summer of 2004, when my son's name was in newspapers reporting on our civil action suit. Nearly every week, I received an unsolicited call from one company or another promoting their "cure" for my son. I questioned these telemarketers at length to discover that objective criteria and medically verifiable results were not available to substantiate their claims.
Gayle Fitzpatrick,
From the perspective of one of the "entrenched old fossils", a lot of the "thinking outside the box" looks like "not understanding the underlying principles of the field". This sort of error is not limited to the scientific novice, either. Linus Pauling, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) made almost laughable mistakes when he strayed into biology and medicine. In his article "Orthomolecular Psychiatry" (will need JSTOR access - see here and here, as well) and the book of the same name, he showed clearly that he hadn't a grasp of the probabilistic nature of biology when he dismissed concerns that his results were not statistically significant. If a winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry could be so wrong when he strayed "across the hall" into a somewhat related field, what are we to make of the lesser mortals who disregard the principles of science because they are "thinking outside the box"?
Parents of children with autism may be familiar with Garden Of Life and the probiotic product Primal Defense and many parents report good things with this product. I have never used it myself. Gross sales for these supplements were over $47 million... If you want to sell some sort of alternative medicine and dietary supplements, the lucrative autism market shouldn't be ignored. Nearly every questionable alt-med supplier, and by questionable I mean the FDA has questions, likes to market their wares to parents with autistic children. What is it about autism that makes parents so attractive to quacks and scammers? Do people get the impression we are all gullible or something?
Not Mercury
CAM remains, for the most part, "alternative" because its practitioners depend on subjective reckoning and user testimonials rather than scientific research to support what they do. They remain outside the scientific fold because most of their hypothesized mechanisms contradict well-established principles of biology, chemistry, or physics. If CAM proponents could produce acceptable evidence to back up their methods, they would no longer be alternative-they would be absorbed by mainstream medicine. It is my purpose in this article to draw attention to a number of social, psychological, and cognitive factors that can convince honest, intelligent, and well-educated people that scientifically discredited treatments have merit.
Barry L. Beyerstein
The following are some of the psychological features that characterize nearly all the systems and schemes that have bases in ideomotor action: Ideomotor Action; Projection of the Operator's Actions to an External Force; The Cause of the Action Is Attributed to Forces New to Science and Revolutionary in Nature; Delusions of Grandeur; To Be Forearmed Is To Be Disarmed; Self-Sealing Belief Systems.
Ray Hyman
Dallas-lawyer Brian R. Arnold wrote Playtex Products, Inc. in January alleging that a toddler became seriously ill and, eventually, "began to exhibit autistic behavior," after drinking from a plastic spill-proof cup made by Playtex... Dr. Cave, who runs a "holistic" general practice in Baton Rouge, diagnosed the child with "dysbiosis," a serious sounding medical condition. Dysbiosis means one's intestinal bacteria are somehow out of "balance." Dr. Cave says dysbiosis is associated with behavioral disorders and autism in children... William Shaw, Ph.D., who runs the Great Plains Laboratory, reported that the child had elevated levels of yeast by-products, indicating a "yeast/fungal overgrowth of the gastrointestinal tract." Dr. Shaw says such yeast infections cause autism Even giving Dr. Shaw's theory the benefit of doubt, the bacteria found on the Playtex cup was not the same kind that was found in the child.
Steve Milloy
Hundreds of treatments and other methods of intervention are available but few have been scientifically evaluated and there are still large numbers for whom there is currently no effective help. In many instances, exaggerated or misleading claims are made for specific approaches.
British Broadcasting Corporation
This site is intended to polarize opinions. Hopefully you'll choose to be a quack-buster, rather than a quack-booster. Neutrality is impossible, since not to choose is itself a choice.
Paul Lee
A nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies. Our activities include: investigating questionable claims; answering inquiries about products and services; advising quackery victims; cistributing reliable publications; feporting illegal marketing; zssisting or generating consumer-protection lawsuits; improving the quality of health information on the Internet; attacking misleading advertising on the Internet.
Stephen Barrett
To run the medical quacks and snake-oil salesmen out of town. (Lynching will be considered on a case-by-case basis.)
Peter Bowditch
Among Brian Deer's findings was that Andrew Wakefield had filed patent claims for a vaccine and a possible cure for autism, based on a fringe theory of "transfer factors". His collaborator and "co-inventor" was Hugh Fudenberg, who claimed in a 2004 interview with Brian Deer to cure autistic children with his own bone marrow. Here is Fudenberg's record with the South Carolina board of medical examiners. In November 1995, he was banned indefinitely from prescribing.
Brian Deer
"Alt-med" believers usually feel that they are in a privileged position when it comes to debate. Being in possession of a "revealed truth", they tend to feel that anyone who does not share their beliefs is obliged to defend their skepticism. This is expressed as a set of (until now) unwritten rules of debate that place the skeptic and rationalist in an inferior position.
James Laidler
Despite impressive gains over the past three decades in the development and evaluation of empirically supported psychotherapies, such treatments are not used widely by front-line practicing clinicians. In an attempt to address this science-practice gap, efforts have turned recently to constructing lists of empirically supported treatments (ESTs) and disseminating information about these treatments to professionals and the public. This effort has been met with criticism, however, by both practitioners, on one hand, and psychotherapy researchers on the other. The current procedures for identifying ESTs are critically reviewed, and recommendations are offered to improve the scientific viability of the process. It is argued that lists of ESTs are viewed most productively as one step toward the development of best practice guidelines.
James D. Herbert
The purpose of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine is to apply the best tools of science and reason to determine whether hypotheses are valid and treatments are effective. It will reject no claims because it fits, or fails to fit, some paradigm. It will simply seek justified answers to two questions: "Is it true?" and "Does this treatment work?"
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, seven professionals who had autistic children expressed concerns that (a) since injectable secretin is extracted from pig intestines, repeated doses might cause the body to make antibodies to secretin; (b) smaller protein fragments in secretin preparations might trigger immune reactions; (c) the amino acid cysteine, which is used to stabilize the preparations, could cause other adverse effects.
Stephen Barrett
1. The discoverer pitches the claim directly to the media. 2. The discoverer says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work. 3. The scientific effect involved is always at the very limit of detection. 4. Evidence for a discovery is anecdotal. 5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries. 6. The discoverer has worked in isolation. 7. The discoverer must propose new laws of nature to explain an observation.
Robert Park, Chronicle of Higher Education
The Skeptic Ring consists of sites that examine claims about paranormal phenomena and fringe science from a skeptical point of view. These sites believe that such claims should be examined rationally and objectively. Topics include UFOs, psychic powers, ghosts, crop circles, astrology, telepathy, repressed memories, creationism, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, hypnosis, homeopathy, nonexistent chiropractic subluxations, dowsing, and conspiracy theories.
Many of you have seen the shocking video of "mercury vapor" being released from an extracted tooth with a well-aged amalgam restoration ("filling"). In this video, the tooth is warmed to body temperature in a water bath and the "mercury vapor" coming off of it is made visible by holding the tooth in front of a fluorescent screen and illuminating it with ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light, strongly absorbed by the "mercury vapor", shows the shadow of a vapor plume rising from the tooth. Ever since I saw the video, I felt that there was something wrong with it...
James Laidler
Ever since I began the Herculean (some might say Quixotic) task of exposing the quackery and pseudoscience surrounding autism, I have had people ask me, "Are you the same Jim Laidler who used to talk about chelation at autism conferences?" To them, the idea that I could once have been an impassioned supporter of the very thing I am now trying to debunk is hard to fathom. Well, everyone has something in their past that they are embarrassed about -- and that is mine. I consider myself to be a very scientific person. While growing up, I was skeptical and inquiring and naturally gravitated to the sciences. My first brushes with pseudoscience and quackery in medical school left me convinced that "it could never happen to me." I was sure that my background and training would keep me from making the same mistake as "those people." I was wrong.
James R. Laidler, M.D.
Includes Pediatric Vaccines and Autism: Despite the consensus of the overwhelming majority of scientists to the contrary, public concern persists that vaccines may be causally linked to autism, a situation worsened by the popular press's failure to let sleeping dogs lie. Although the possibility of a vaccine/autism link has been soundly and repeatedly debunked by professional analyses of numerous studies, the press continues to capitalize on parents' fears about the link by ignoring the science, and by presenting mixed messages.
Ruth Kava, American Council on Science and Health
Quacks seek political endorsement because they can't prove that their methods work. Instead, they may seek to legalize their treatment and force insurance companies to pay for it. One of the surest signs that a treatment doesn't work is a political campaign to legalize its use.
Stephen Barrett, Victor Herbert
Martin preyed upon patients who were desperately ill, telling them that he knew what they had (a "stealth" virus) and only he could save them from their "fatal" disease. His therapeutic regimen included antibiotics, antivirals, diet and vitamins, neurontin, and other medications, including anti-depressants, that have all been tried before and are not new. What was different, was that he wanted you to be "monitored" closely which includes lot of tests that he does and not "to conclude a lack of long term benefit" for at least 4-6 months. He thoroughly frightened many by telling them that without funding for him, they had no chance.
National CFIDS Foundation
Materials from a documentary investigation by Brian Deer for the UK's Channel 4 Television exposing the bizarre true story of British gut surgeon Andrew Wakefield and his strange crusade against a children's vaccine
Brian Deer
The therapeutic claims on your web site establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases. The marketing of these products with these claims violates the Act.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration
A little time on your part will pay big dividends as you seek to help your child. Remember, there's no rush to make a decision. It won't make any difference if you wait a few days to start a treatment plan.
Floyd Tilton
Magnets and "catalysts" for softening water, magnetic laundry balls, waters that are "oxygenated", "clustered", "unclustered" or "vitalized" (purporting to improve cellular hydration, remove toxins, and repair DNA), high zeta-potential colloids and vortex-treated waters to raise your energy levels, halt or reverse ageing and remove geopathic stress— all of these wonders and more are being aggressively marketed via the Internet, radio infomercials, seminars, and by various purveyors of new-age nonsense. The hucksters who promote these largely worthless products weave a web of pseudoscientific hype guaranteed to dazzle and confuse the large segment of the public whose limited understanding of science makes them especially vulnerable to this kind of exploitation.
Stephen Lower
Drummond is an autistic patient whom psychiatrist Donald Dudley treated with drugs and hypnosis in what plaintiff attorneys called a deranged attempt to turn him into a trained killer. Dudley was allegedly planning to build an army of his patients to take over schools, police forces, and hospitals... Between 1989 and 1992, Dudley administered dextromethorphan (a synthetic derivative of morphine) to Drummond and injected him with sodium amytal, a powerful and widely discredited sedative that renders patients suggestible. Drummond gradually became comatose and today requires around-the-clock care.
Janet L.Holt
This web site has been created as a voice of reason in response to the substantial amount of uncritical media coverage currently being given to alternative medicine. It is the aim of this web site to alert consumers to questionable alternative health practices whilst encouraging them to always seek evidence-based medicine (EBM) first.
A pseudoscience is an established body of knowledge which masquerades as science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy which it would not otherwise be able to achieve on its own terms; it is often known as fringe- or alternative science. The most important of its defects is usually the lack of the carefully controlled and thoughtfully interpreted experiments which provide the foundation of the natural sciences and which contribute to their advancement.
One of the reasons that "alternative" medicine and "pseudoscience" appeal to the "average person" (i.e. people with little or no formal education in the sciences) is that they offer simple (some might say simplistic) answers to difficult and complex questions. People who find science intimidating and impenetrable (i.e. most of the population) want a simple answer to their questions. They don't like long, complicated answers riddled with probabilities and conflicting or ambiguous data. And they especially don't want to be told that nobody knows the answer yet. Regretably, most simple answers to complex questions are also wrong. If you ask one of these "renegades" how to slow (or even stop!) aging, what causes autism or how to "cure what ails ye", they almost always have very concrete, definite anwers. Many of them will also sell you the goods you need to carry out their advice. What they won't tell you is that they have no data - other than their own "clinical experience" - to support what they say.
When scientists appeal over the heads of their peers directly to a public lacking in scientific expertise there are dangers of manipulation. I have attended conferences at which speakers have addressed parents in scientific jargon so dense as to be incomprehensible. Though the object of this exercise appears to be to demonstrate the intellectual authority of the speaker, it means using science to impress rather than to explain and it often leaves parents bewildered and confused. There is also a danger that scientists whose work is not of adequate quality to satisfy the standards of mainstream academic institutions may be able to secure recognition - and increasingly funding - from parent groups. The danger of abuse is greatest when there are links among scientists, parent groups and commercial interests, providing diagnostic tests, specialised dietary requirements, food supplements and medications. The common feature of all these interventions is that they are inordinately expensive and may constitute a substantial financial burden for some families with autistic children, whose resources are already severely stretched.
Michael Fitzpatrick Spiked Online
We all know someone that's intelligent, but who occasionally defends obviously bad ideas. Why does this happen? How can smart people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic? Having spent many years working with smart people I've catalogued many of the ways this happens, and I have advice on what to do about it. I feel qualified to write this essay as I'm a recovering smart person myself and I've defended several very bad ideas. So if nothing else this essay serves as a kind of personal therapy session.
Scott Berkun
Annie Mennicucci was desperate to find help for her 8-year-old autistic son, and in October she thought she found it in Nancie Fisher, a Manahawkin woman who advertised expertise in the disorder. "She said she'd have my son talking in two weeks," said Mennicucci, a Beachwood resident who paid Fisher $1,500 to serve as an "advocate" during special-education meetings with Toms River Regional School District officials. Leanne Laboy, a mother in Barnegat, paid Fisher $125 an hour to work as an advocate for her two children who have Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. But according to authorities, Laboy and Mennicucci were deceived by Fisher, who stands accused of using fake credentials to win the mothers' trust.
John Vandiver, Asbury Park Press
Always claim that the other guy is "closed-minded" and that you're as free-thinking as a newborn baby. Other woo-woos love the concept of "open-mindedness" and will take you into their inner circle without question. They have no tolerance for those "mean old nasty" types who demand evidence for everything.
Reality Check

Opinions expressed by the authors of pages to which this site links do not necessarily reflect this site developer's opinions. In other words: Sublime or ridiculous? You decide!
Copyright © 2004-2008, Kathleen Seidel. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on 5 November 2008, 3:48 pm
Hosted by TextDrive