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Quackwatch is a nonprofit that combats and keeps tabs on all manner of quackery. They started with medical woo and have expanded to all manner of woo. It is largely the work of Stephen Barrett, a longtime critic of alternative medicine. The website has great content, but could use the work of an adept website designer to bring the aesthetics up to date.


[edit] Sister sites

Quackwatch also runs a number of other sites, including:

It also manages the site of the National Council Against Health Fraud, to which it is affiliated.

[edit] Lawsuit

Interestingly, if you do a Web search for Quackwatch, you're likely to come across a large number of blaring announcements like this: "Quackwatch founder loses in court!" "Quackwatch exposed as quack!" "Quackwatch loses lawsuit!" Nearly all of these accusations are on pseudo-scientific and untrustworthy "medical" Web sites of dubious quality. This also means that if you attempt to use Quackwatch as a verifiable source to prove that a "medical" Web site is lying or worse, they will immediately point to this accusation in order to "prove" that Quackwatch is not a reliable source. (For example, here's a link to The Cure Zone's mirror of the announcement calling the Quackwatch site untrustworthy: [1]) This all springs from one lawsuit that has been dragged through the courts for years – not by Quackwatch, but by Koren Publications, a chiropractor supply company. Quackwatch explains this lawsuit at these pages:

The short answer seems to be that Stephen Barrett sued Koren for defamation, but his case was dismissed; he then appealed, but the appeal was denied. One side of the case (namely Koren) made a lot of noise about it, repeatedly trumpeting bulletins such as this on many different quack-medicine Web sites:

There's even a Web site out there especially dedicated to slamming QuackWatch, called Quackpotwatch. Take three guesses as to who's managing and contributing to this Web site.

[edit] Criticisms

[edit] A woo rodeo of detractors

  • Our Response to the Quackwatch Article – from a supplier of "HGH Human Growth Hormone." Their response is summed up as, "Spend $60 on our product first and try it out!"
  • Is Stephen Barrett a Quack? – by Ray Sahelian, M.D., who has authored books on "natural supplements" and "herbal products." His opinion is that Dr. Barrett is reliable but terribly biased…and besides, he hasn't embarked on a crusade against "the worthless cold and cough medicines sold by pharmaceutical companies and drug stores" the way Dr. Sahelian has. So nyahhh nyahhh nyahhh.

[edit] Factually inaccurate statements

In his zeal to fight woo Barrett sometime fails to understand the difference between the misuse of material and the material itself being pseudoscience. One such example is his "My Concerns about "Holistic" and "Biological" Dentistry" article where he not only makes untrue statements but ignore relevant facts about the work he is denouncing.

Barrett: While extolling their health, he [Weston Price] ignored their short life expectancy and high rates of infant mortality, endemic diseases, and malnutrition. While praising their diets for not producing cavities, he ignored the fact that malnourished people don't usually get many cavities.

Price: "since 1870 the average length of life has been increased by fifteen years, that marked reduction has occurred during this period in infant mortality and in mortality due to tuberculosis, typhoid, smallpox and many other diseases." ((1923) Dental Infections, Oral and Systemic)

Price: "This physician stated that there were about 800 whites living in the town and about 400 Indians, and that notwithstanding this difference in numbers there were twice as many Indian children born as white children, but that by the time these children reached six years of age there were more white children living than Indian and half-breed children. This he stated was largely due to the very high child mortality rate, of which the most frequent cause is tuberculosis." ((1939) Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects Paul B. Hoeber, Inc; Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers; Chapter 6)

More over Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was originally published by the Paul B. Hoeber, Inc; Medical Book Department of Harper & Brothers so the work went through peer review and was published by a recognized scholarly publisher.

Finally, the relationship between tooth health and nutrition was still being researched when Price published his work.

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