Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Reader e-mail: Nothing like a little intelligent criticism to start my day

While I’m holed up in my Sanctum Sanctorum grinding out prose that I hope will keep my lab funded for another three years, I’m going to fall back on a lazy blogging trick to keep the posts flowing for one more day, namely the obnoxious reader e-mail. (Don’t worry, there’ll be new insolence tomorrow.) This time, I’m feeling the love from a reader named Shawn, who, unlike yesterday’s correspondent, was not polite. It’s not as wingnutty as some of what P.Z gets (come on, guys, you can do better!), but it’s entertaining nonetheless:

You and Stephen Barrett should be butt buddies. Mr quackwatch himself has been exposed as a fraud numerous times ( , and his rampant campaign to discredit anything that doesn’t have to do with drug based “medicine” is very similar to yours. You guys are birds of the same feather: quacks!

Your sphere of influence is rapidly shrinking buddy. Can you feel it?

No, but I can feel the heat of the burning stupid emanating from your e-mail. But you did give me an opportunity to insert a link for Quackwatch into this post, thus doing my small part to improve its Google ranking while using the rel=”nofollow” tag for any link to your favored site.

In any case, Shawn appears to be someone who frequents the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation Bulletin Board. If he is representative of the scintillating wit and sterling intelligence that characterizes those forums, it looks like we’re looking at another or I had previously been unaware of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, but, thanks to Shawn, I promise to take a look in the near future, even though looking at the dubious diagnosis of and treatment for chronic lyme disease is usually one area that I leave to my blog buds PalMD or Steve Novella. Thanks, Shawn.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

16 replies on “Reader e-mail: Nothing like a little intelligent criticism to start my day”

I’d never heard of Thanks for the ref. It’s a goldmine!

So what if you and Stephen Barrett WERE “butt buddies”?

Not only does that not address the point, it wouldn’t matter if it were true.

I’m with Iason, it’s pretty pathetic. And just another sign of how poorly homosexuality is viewed in this country. Imagine if instead of insinuating that you were gay, he were to suggest you were BLACK. Would anyone consider that an insult (aside from the insult to our intelligence?)? No, people would wonder, “What in the world are you talking about?”

But when it comes to gay, oooh, that’ll show’em!

Gay still has a stigma attached to it. Maybe someday it will change. But not as long as their are clueless idiots like Shawn.

(not gay myself, but I did just join the Lesbi-Gay Vet Medical Association as a “friend” level membership)

I was actually just about to search your blog for what you’ve said about these dubious lyme diease treatments. 🙂

As I’m writing, my mom is going on to some other people behind me about chronic Lyme stuff and how to get on amoxicillin blah blah blah hypoerbaric oxygen blah blah. How can I snap her out of this nonsense? 🙁

Quackwatch has been one of my ‘go-to’ sites for some time, for infomation with which to debunk such things as Dr Barrett covers. Good luck on the grant proposal.

My only complaint about Quackwatch has been the infrequent appearance of new material (though I, as one of the world’s laziest bloggers, shouldn’t whine). I see the Mission Statement has been updated in May, so there’s cause to hope.

I’m confused as to what is going on at the hatemailer’s link; was the owner of Quackwatch really sucessfully sued? And why? My bad for clicking the link of a clear nutter, but claiming that someone is a fraud and linking court cases does have me a little worried…

He wasn’t sued, Barrett was actually suing some chiropractor for defamation. In the process, the “shocking revelation” was that Barrett was retired and no longer had a license to practice medicine.

Katherine, I wouldn’t worry. Shaun overstates. The link has nothing to do with any fraud, nor any case where Barrett has been successfully sued (I don’t believe he has been successfully sued either…he lost one case but he was the one doing the suing).

Shaun’s link has to do with a court case which is spun to read like what Koren said about Barrett was the truth after all. In fact, what really happened was that Barrett failed to demonstrate that Koren had acted with “reckless disregard of the truth”. Demonstrating this kind of motive is tricky in a court of law as the person can just claim ignorance or that they weren’t aware of the truth. This certainly doesn’t mean what Koren said was true…it just means the judge didn’t think Koren lied/libeled with “reckless disregard”. Barrett is currently appealing that decision.

Here’s a link which you will find helpful.

Note that it has links to depositions, emails (in other words, “evidence”, something that Shaun’s link sorely lacks–surprise surprise). Information on other cases is found here:

You’ll notice there’s a long history of people saying Barrett is a fraud or lost his licence, all of which are demonstratably false (again, that pesky little thing called “evidence” helps verify this) ;P

I am somehow not surprised that they would act as though being gay was an insult. I am also not surprised Shaun’s link would be disingenuous and leave out important factual information. I am happy to see the other commenters here are able to supply the full story.

This does remind me that I have never really taken a good look at Quackwatch, only reading the occasional article. I really must sit down in the next few days and read some of the content on there.

Quackwatch is a great compendium of research and other information about alternative medicine. My complaint would be that the design of the site is a bit antiquated, but Dr. Barrett is doing this by himself (with the usual suspect contributors from around the anti-woo blogosphere).

Editing battles on Wikipedia over both the Quackwatch and Stephen Barrett articles are legendary, causing the implosion of several good (and terrible) editors. There are so many pathetic strawman arguments about Quackwatch that can be read in the Wikipedia discussions that you can quickly debunk intellectually inferior individuals like Shawn.

I always find the homophobic commentary to be amusing. In a different time, we would have used some other denigrating terminology to demean someone. It’s hard to take someone like that very seriously.

Back to gay-as-an-insult:

I heard on the radio today that John Travolta is considering leaving the Church of Scientology (and stop sending them checks!), and they are threatening to out him as gay (based on his recorded “audits”) if he does.

Aside from the fact that such claims are not even new (admittedly, previous reports of gay affairs have been reported in the Star and the Enquirer), Travolta could just stand up and call their bluff, saying, so what if I am gay/did have a gay encounter? That’s YOUR problem, not mine. I’m not ashamed.

Unfortunately, in American society, such things still matter. However, I don’t think it matters as much as many would like, and I don’t think Travolta would lose much in terms of public perception if it were revealed. Especially if he did it while standing up to the Co$

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