Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Monday, March 28, 2005

Praise Allah (a political joke)

Now for a change of pace...;-)

Praise Allah (a political joke)

While trying to escape through Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden found a brass lamp and picked it up.

Suddenly, a female genie rose from the lamp and with a smile said "Master, may I grant you one wish?"

"You ignorant unworthy daughter-of-a-dog! Don't you know who I am? I don't need any common woman giving me anything" barked Bin Laden.

The shocked genie said, "Please, I must grant you a wish or I will be returned to that lamp forever."

Osama thought a moment. Then, grumbling about the impertinence of the woman, said "Very well, I want to awaken with three American women in my bed in the morning, so just do it and be off with you!"

The annoyed genie said, "So be it !" and disappeared.

The next morning Bin Laden woke up in bed with Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, and Laura Bush. His penis was gone, his knee was broken, and he had no health insurance.

God is good.

Noel Batten exposed

Let's get right to the point. Fasten your seatbelts, because I'm not one to mince words when dealing with promoters of quackery and nonscience (nonsense):

Noel Batten claims to be able to treat and cure a number of medical conditions, without having the proper qualifications to diagnose or treat any medical condition!

He is not a medical doctor (although careless readers of his websites might get that impression), but a prolific writer of homegrown ideas related to healthcare. He is also in the earthmoving and landscaping industry, and is known as the "Rock Wall Wizard".

In other words, this unqualified guy is playing doctor, a very dangerous game, which places him squarely in quackland.

He also runs Energetic Solutions of Mooloolaba, "a division of the Australian Academy of Natural Health" (his own company). (It now seems to be closed, but even then he can't spell. Here's the old link from before it closed.)

Like many quacks and visionaries, most of what he says is common sense, IOW it's basically true, and nothing unusual at all. If it weren't, he wouldn't get much of a following. (The best deception is 99% truth, and 1% error, but a crucial error that leads hapless victims away from common sense and scientifically verifiable evidence.)

In this case, what he does say that is his special message, and which is far more than 1%, isn't common sense at all, but is his own homegrown nonsense.

Unfortunately he makes a lot of unfounded claims, and has large doses of anti-medical scaremongering, misunderstandings, inaccuracies and misinformation on his many websites. He is a classic example of someone who knows just enough to fool people with his "arrogance of ignorance".

Not only does he lack the proper qualifications to diagnose or treat any medical condition, he is in no position to accurately sit in judgment of medical science. Anyone of us can complain, and often rightly so, but he sits in judgment on matters which he doesn't understand.

His introduction (on his sites) includes this statement:

"While contemplating a medical career, I spent considerable time researching the medical approach to health and attending workshops at Mount Olivet Hospital. During this time I soon realised, any medical research that explained how to overcome disorders like [name of any of several diseases] without the use of pharmaceutical drugs is totally ignored and the medical research available is overwhelming to say the least."

He is a good example of what happens when someone with a little knowledge (but not the greater perspective gained after finishing a medical education) jumps to inaccurate conclusions based on their own limited experience, and then applies it to others. The founder of chiropractic, DD Palmer, did the same thing.

If Batten had actually gained a scientific medical education, he could have avoided making such huge errors in judgment. Instead he is apparently self-taught, and ends up mixing facts with his own home grown ideas of how things work. It's a mixture that can fool a lot of innocent people.

He has an interesting modus operandi that is also seen with certain other promoters of quackery, such as Hulda Clark. He uses a one-size-fits-all concept, as is evident from the following exercise in cyber investigation (at least what I'll reveal to the public....;-).

We'll start with some Google searches:

Noel Batten

A cursory check of these links reveals an interesting pattern, which is better exposed in the next search:

batten "The Greatest Medical"

He writes a lot, and sells a number of books. Even the titles are similar:

Parkinson's Disease: The Greatest Medical Blunder
Autism: The Greatest Medical Injustice
ADHD: The Greatest Medical Bungle
Multiple Sclerosis: The Greatest Medical Mistake
Diabetes: The Greatest Medical Misconception

They all have the same title (and much of the content is similar), where only two words are changed:

Parkinsons -- Blunder
Autism ------ Injustice
ADHD -------- Bungle
MS ----------- Mistake
Diabetes ---- Misconception

(He doesn't stop with these diseases, but even treats cancer, the disease most despicably exploited by the worst of quacks.)

He has even made this grandiose claim:

"We specialise in performing the impossible and curing the incurable."

(After this blog entry was written, he removed that statement, but it can be read here.)

Making a series of books using this method to entitle them - in and of itself - isn't necessarily odious. The problem is the erroneous content, much of which is identical, with only the name of the disease being changed. (I wonder if any of his other ebooks use the same formula?)

He simply follows the old One Cause, One Cure idea common to many forms of quackery, from Palmer's chiropractic to Hulda Clark's parasites (yes, he too recommends zapping them).

This guy is really on a roll, and he needs to be stopped!

When will he stop? Probably not before someone stops him.

Where are the Australian skeptics? Here's a job for them. Expose the guy! Make sure no Australians get suckered by him. The Australian newspapers and media should publicly nail his false ideas to the wall.

Why do I mention chiropractic in this connection? Well, he keeps mentioning vertebral misalignments as a cause of these conditions, when there is no good evidence for such claims. He even has some literature citations that are supposed to support his claims. Unfortunately he doesn't even get the citations correct, so it's hard to check out what he's referring to.

He mentions these three conditions as being partially caused or influenced by spinal misalignments: Parkinsons, MS, Diabetes.

I suspect he has read a lot of chiropractic literature and has absorbed their belief system, which is scandalously wrong. Such mislignments, if they really existed (only rarely), still wouldn't affect these conditions. Experiments have been conducted, where the spinal nerves have been totally severed, and the internal organs continue to function with no serious consequences (but where the muscles and skin sensations do suffer) .

If what chiropractors say were true, all persons with advanced spinal osteoarthritis would have these conditions, which is far from true. There is no proven connection.

Likewise these conditions could be affected or cured by the use of spinal "adjustments", but here too there is no proof that such is the case.

I would suggest that Noel Batten stick to his earthmoving and landscaping business, where he won't risk threatening people's health.

One part of his message is certainly true, and it is common sense: Get plenty of sleep!


PS: The comments left by some people who have read the above have been rather incredible, but understandable in a sense. When people receive an MS diagnosis they are desperate, and in spite of being warned, they are still willing to give him a try. I have deleted such posts and will continue to do so. This blog is not here to enable people to support or promote dubious ideas, or to exchange telephone numbers.

Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Plagues Nigeria

Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Plagues Nigeria

Islamic Preachers' Rejection of Vaccines Threaten Efforts to Combat Measles Epidemic in Nigeria

By OLOCHE SAMUEL Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

KANO, Nigeria Mar 27, 2005 — Accusations by Islamic preachers that vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot are threatening efforts to combat a measles epidemic that has killed hundreds of Nigerian children, health workers say.

Government officials play down the anti-vaccine sentiment, but all the measles deaths have been in Nigeria's north, where authorities had to suspend polio immunizations last year after hard-line clerics fanned similar fears of that vaccine.

Nigeria, whose 130 million people make it Africa's most populous nation, has recorded 20,859 measles cases so far this year. At least 589 victims have died, most of them children younger than 5 and all in the north, the Nigerian Red Cross and the U.N. World Health Organization say.

Southern Nigeria, which is mainly Christian, had only 253 measles cases, and no deaths.

Health services are much better in the south. But the anti-vaccination sentiment in the north, evident from interviews with parents, seems to be a factor.

"Since the polio controversy, I have not presented any of my children for immunization because my husband said I should not," said Ramatou Mohammed, who was at Abdullahi Wase Hospital seeking treatment for her baby, Miriam, for a measles rash.

"I heard on the radio that the vaccine was contaminated. I still don't trust any vaccine," the 28-year-old mother of four added.

Her views were echoed by others in the waiting room at the hospital in Kano, which is in the worst-hit state, with nearly 7,000 cases, including 155 deaths, since Jan. 1.

In 2003, Islamic clerics claimed the United States was using polio vaccine to sterilize Muslims or contaminate them with the AIDS virus. They ordered a boycott in messages disseminated from mosques, in radio broadcasts and by door-to-door campaigning.

The U.S. Embassy called the claims "absolutely ridiculous."

But three powerful state governors in the north joined the polio boycott, and it dragged on 11 months before authorities persuaded the governors in July to accept vaccine bought from the predominantly Muslim nation of Indonesia.

Homeopathy meet ends in a dramatic fashion

Ludhiana Newsline
Monday , March 28, 2005

Homeopathy meet ends in a dramatic fashion

The agenda of more than 2,000 pages, featuring 67 items, was torn and burnt at the meeting held in New Delhi

Express News Service

Ludhiana, March 27: THE 38th meeting of the Central Council of Homeopathy (CCH) in New Delhi recently ended in a strange manner when the agenda of more than 2,000 pages, featuring 67 items, was torn and burnt.

The meeting was held under Dr S.P.S. Bakshi. The agenda was torn and burnt in the House by Dr P.S. Ranu and Dr V.K. Dhawan, members of CCH from Punjab and Haryana respectively, on the issue of the inspection report dated November 30, 2004 of Bakson’s Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital owned by Dr S.P.S. Bakshi, president of the Central Council.

In a press release issued here today, Dr P.S. Ranu, member, CCH, who is also the chairman of the Punjab Homeopathic Council, Dr Jai Ram Rai and Dr V.K. Dhawan, members from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana respectively, said they took up the issue in the meeting that there were two inspection reports of the Bakson Homeopathic Medical College on the record, where one was signed and the other was unsigned without the names of the inspectors.

They said the Executive Committee of CCH in its meeting held on January 27 took up the matter and categorically mentioned the matter of the two reports and gave its decision on the signed report only after rejecting the unsigned one.

The members demanded a CBI probe in the matter as the unsigned report was printed on a computer generated letterhead of the Bakson’s Homeopathic Medical College, which was the institution in question for inspection.

They said this clearly reflected that the report was prepared beforehand by the college on its own computer and the inspectors had just signed the same.

As the college belonged to the president of the Central Council it was a serious issue and needed investigation, stated the members of CCH.

Getting annoyed on the descent note of these members, the president and vice-president outright refused to take up their descent note on record and the agonised members tore away the agenda in the house, stating it was a murder of democratic rights in the CCH.

As a protest, Dr P.S. Ranu, member of CCH from Punjab, burnt the agenda in the house and there were slogans against president Dr S.P.S. Bakshi and there began a clash between the supporters of the president and these members which led to the closure of the meeting within 45 minutes.

The meeting was hushed up by saying that all agenda stood passed by the supporters of the president, who enjoys the mandate in the General House.

After the meeting, a delegation of the dissident group of members of CCH led by Dr Ranu, who is also the key witness of the Commission of Inquiry, met Tara Datta, Joint Secretary, Department of Ayush, to apprise him about the situation of the CCH and demanded that the meeting be held under the supervision of the government observers.

The delegation alleged that as the office-bearers of CCH were under the scanner of the Commission, they had no moral right to hold a meeting till the final decision of the Commission.

The meeting had allegedly been held to clear certain crucial issues to save their skin and would allegedly hamper the finding of the Commission.

The authorities reportedly assured action and have asked comments from the Secretary of CCH on the complaint of the delegation of the CCH members.

Dr. Stephen Barrett on C-Health: Your Health and Wellness Source

Dr. Stephen Barrett on C-Health: Your Health and Wellness Source



PART TWO OF THREE Apr. 18, 2002

PART ONE OF THREE Apr. 11, 2002

Can testimonials be checked? Apr. 4, 2002

Diet not the answer for cancer Mar. 28, 2002

Quackbusters attack U.S. Presidential commission report Mar. 21, 2002

Benefits of full-body CT scans questionable Mar. 14, 2002

Insiders blast chiropractic brochures Mar. 7, 2002

Can reflexology cure illness? Feb. 28, 2002

Are HealthPrints like fingerprints? Feb. 21, 2002

Salves worthless against cancer Feb. 14, 2002

Neck manipulation may cause strokes Feb. 7, 2002

The dark side of multilevel marketing Jan. 31, 2002

Glucosamine for Arthritis Jan. 24, 2002

Magnetic device won't cure cancer Jan. 17, 2002

Health Canada Hits Ephedra Products Jan. 10, 2002

Antioxidant supplements may be harmful Jan. 3, 2002

What does homeopathic research tell us? Dec. 27, 2001

Laws of chemistry work against homeopathy Dec. 20, 2001

Homeopathy's "laws" are unproven Dec. 13, 2001

Notes on Homeopathy's History Dec. 6, 2001

Dubious claims for "Biostructural Medicine" Nov. 29, 2001

Phony breast enlarger facing court action Nov. 22, 2001

New Book Raps "Alternative" Cancer Treatments Nov. 15, 2001

Dubious "Yeast Allergies" Nov. 8, 2001

Contour Analysis is a Dubious Screening Test Nov. 1, 2001

Why Spam Should Be Ignored Oct. 25, 2001

Be Wary of "Holistic Dentistry" Oct. 18, 2001

Can a Low-Fat Diet Reverse Atherosclerosis? Oct. 11, 2001

Examining Advertising Claims Oct. 4, 2001

Oxygen hype is hot air Sep. 27, 2001

Be Wary of Disclaimers Sep. 27, 2001

Mail-Order Fakery Sep. 20, 2001

The Grape Cure Sep. 13, 2001

Alternative healer faces legal action Sep. 6, 2001

E-mail Health and Safety Hoaxes Aug. 30, 2001

Be Wary of "Enzyme Deficiency" Claims Aug. 23, 2001

Craniosacral Therapy Aug. 16, 2001

Vulnerability to Quackery Aug. 9, 2001

"Psychic" Hotlines Aug. 2, 2001

"Bulking Agents" and Weight Control Jul. 26, 2001

Kirlian Photography Jul. 19, 2001

Cellular Therapy Jul. 12, 2001

"Personalized" Vitamins Jul. 5, 2001

How to Choose a Chiropractor Jun. 29, 2001

Dubious Chiropractic Nutrition Jun. 22, 2001

Overselling the Spine Jun. 15, 2001

Chiropractic's Elusive "Subluxation" Jun. 8, 2001

Introduction to chiropractic Jun. 1, 2001

Secretin found ineffective for treating autism May. 25, 2001

Contact Reflex Analysis is nonsense May. 18, 2001

Live Blood Cell Analysis is bunkum May. 11, 2001

How to live forever May. 4, 2001

Strange healing systems unproven Apr. 27, 2001

Where to get professional nutrition advice Apr. 20, 2001

"Wilson's Syndrome": a bogus diagnosis Apr. 12, 2001

The Internet helps to foil a cancer quack Apr. 6, 2001

"Miraculous Recoveries" from Cancer Mar. 30, 2001

Negative reports on some "alternative" cancer treatments Mar. 23, 2001

Some Notes on "Therapeutic Touch" Mar. 16, 2001

Be Wary of "Fad" Diagnoses Mar. 9, 2001

Juice Plus+(r) doesn't live up to claims Mar. 2, 2001

Many mercury tests are scams Feb. 23, 2001

"Invisible Forces" Flunk Tests Feb. 16, 2001

Beware of multilevel marketing Feb. 9, 2001

Low-carbohydrate diets Feb. 1, 2001

Why homeopathy makes no sense Jan. 25, 2001

Hydrazine sulfate Jan. 19, 2001

Colloidal Silver: Risk without Benefit Jan. 8, 2001

Who will "Organic" certification protect? Dec. 27, 2000

Dubious Urine/Saliva Testing Dec. 20, 2000

The Allure of Multilevel Marketing Dec. 14, 2000

"Health Freedom" Dec. 6, 2000

How Cancer Quackery Fools People Nov. 29, 2000

Laetrile spammers ordered to stop Nov. 27, 2000

Muscle-Testing for "Allergies" and "Deficiencies" Nov. 16, 2000

What Does the HONcode Mean? Nov. 8, 2000

The Mercury-Amalgam Scare Nov. 3, 2000

Iridology is Nonsense Oct. 25, 2000

Don't Buy "Anti-Cellulite" Pills Oct. 18, 2000

The Cellulite and Body Wrap Scam Oct. 12, 2000

Hulda Clark's "Cure for All Cancers" Oct. 4, 2000

Aromatherapy Flunks "Court Test" Sep. 27, 2000

A Phony Magnetic Cancer Cure Sep. 20, 2000

Weight-loss product makes impossible claims Sep. 13, 2000

Be Wary of "Calorie-Blockers" Sep. 6, 2000

Questionable Treatments for Learning Disabilities and Autism Aug. 30, 2000

Be Wary of Multiple Sclerosis "Cures" Aug. 23, 2000

Quackery By Mail Aug. 16, 2000

The Florsheim Magnetic Shoe Story Aug. 9, 2000

Vitamin C Is Not Effective against Cancer Aug. 2, 2000

Ten Ways to Avoid Being Quacked Jul. 26, 2000

Ear Candling Jul. 19, 2000

Herbal Treatment Jul. 12, 2000

Hair Analysis: What Can It Tell You? Jul. 5, 2000

Is There a Conspiracy to Suppress Cancer Cures? Jun. 28, 2000

Endorsements Don't Guarantee Reliability Jun. 21, 2000

Back Pain: Does VAX-D(r) Therapy Make Sense? Jun. 14, 2000

Nutritional credentials questioned Jun. 7, 2000

Chelation Therapy: Long on Claims, Short on Evidence May. 31, 2000

Be Wary of Phony "Electrodiagnostic" Devices May. 24, 2000

How Quacks Can Fool People May. 17, 2000

How vitamins may protect your heart May. 10, 2000

Who Might Need Vitamin Supplements? May. 3, 2000

Can Vitamin C Help Fight Colds? Apr. 26, 2000


About Dr. Barrett

Stephen Barrett, M.D., a retired psychiatrist who resides in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is a well known author, editor, and consumer advocate. An expert in medical communications, he is medical editor of Prometheus Books and consulting editor of Nutrition Forum, a newsletter emphasizing the exposure of fads, fallacies and quackery.

His 47 books include The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America and five editions of the college textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.

One book he edited, Vitamins and Minerals: Help or Harm?, by Charles Marshall, Ph.D., won the American Medical Writers Association award for best book of 1983 for the general public and became a special publication of Consumer Reports Books. His other book projects include Dubious Cancer Treatment, published by the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society; Health Schemes, Scams, and Frauds, published by Consumer Reports Books; The Vitamin Pushers: How the Health Food Industry Is Selling America a Bill of Goods, published by Prometheus Books; and Reader's Guide to "Alternative" Health Methods, published by the American Medical Association.

Dr. Barrett is board chairman of Quackwatch, a board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud, a Scientific Advisor to the American Council on Science and Health, and a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). He serves on several editorial boards and is a peer-review panelist for three of the world's leading medical journals.

In 1984, Dr. Barrett received an FDA Commissioner's Special Citation Award for Public Service in fighting nutrition quackery. In 1986, he was awarded honorary membership in the American Dietetic Association.

In 1999, U.S. News & World Reports rated his Quackwatch Web site as one of the top three medical sites on the Internet. In March 2001, he will receive the American Association for Health Education's Distinguished Service to Health Education Award.

For more information contact:
Stephen Barrett, M.D.Board Chairman, Quackwatch, Inc.
Telephone: (610) 437-1795

On the Net:


There are many more sites in the Quackwatch family of consumer protection websites:

Quackwatch Sites and Affiliates
Health care consumer protection when it is best!

Why Double-Blind Studies? - Steven Bratman, M.D.

Before you Believe Anything you Read
About Alternative Medicine, Read this:

I once took alternative medicine on faith. For decades, I practiced it on patients and myself and my family, and assumed that pretty much all of it worked. Then I learned about double-blind studies, and it was like a tornado blowing down a house of cards. I discovered that I, like most people who love alternative medicine, had made a huge (though understandable) mistake.

I had thought it was possible to know whether a treatment worked by trying it. I had also thought I could trust tradition, anecdote, and authority. I now see otherwise. The insights of the double-blind trial have cut through my wishful thinking and idealism, and turned me into a hard-nosed skeptic. Show me the double-blind studies, and I'll pay attention. Otherwise, so far as I'm concerned, it's little more than hot air.

Warning: This isn't an easy subject. But if you read this through, and think about it, you will never look at alternative medicine (or any form of medicine) the same way again.

Why Double-Blind Studies?

Although most people have heard of double-blind studies, few recognize their true significance. It's not that double-blind studies are hard to understand; rather, that their consequences are difficult to accept. Why? Because double-blind studies tell us that we can't trust our direct personal experience. This isn't easy to swallow, but it's nonetheless true.

The insights provided by double-blind studies have been particularly disturbing for alternative medicine. Most alternative medicine methods are grounded in tradition, common sense, anecdote, and testimonial. On the surface, these seem like perfectly good sources of information. However, double-blind studies have shown us otherwise. We now know that a host of "confounding factors" can easily create a kind of optical illusion, causing the appearance of efficacy where none in fact exists. The double-blind study is thus much more than a requirement for absolute proof of efficacy (as is commonly supposed) — it is a necessity for knowing almost anything about whether a treatment really works.

What is a Double-Blind Study?

In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a medical treatment, some of the participants are given the treatment, others are given fake treatment (placebo), and neither the researchers nor the participants know which is which until the study ends (they are thus both “blind”). The assignment of participants to treatment or placebo is done randomly, perhaps by flipping a coin (hence, “randomized”).

Why Double-Blind Studies?

The experience of the last forty years has shown that, for most types of treatments, only a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study can properly answer the question: “Does Treatment A benefit Condition B?” To explain why, I will work backwards, and illustrate the problems that occur if we attempt to answer this question any other way.

Common sense tells us that we can tell if a treatment works by simply trying it. Does it help me? Does it help my aunt? If so, it’s effective. If not, it doesn’t work.

Right? Unfortunately, no, that's not right. Medical conditions are an area of life in which direct, common sense observations aren't reliable at all. The insights brought to us by double-blind studies have shown medical researchers that they can't trust their own eyes. The reason why: a horde of confounding factors.

The Rogue’s Gallery: Eight Confounding Factors

Subtle influences called “confounding factors” can create the illusion that ineffective treatments are actually effective. It is because of these confounding factors that so many worthless medical treatments have endured for centuries. Think of the practice of "bleeding," slitting a vein to drain blood. Some of the most intelligent people in our history were sure that bleeding was a necessity, and the medical literature of past centuries is full of testimonials to the marvelous effect of this "medical necessity."

Today, though, it's clear that bleeding is not helpful, and no doubt was responsible for killing a great many people. Why did this ridiculous treatment method survive so long? Because, as I said, you can't trust your own eyes. People were sure they saw benefits through bleeding, but all they saw were confounding factors, such as:

· The Placebo Effect

· The Re-interpretation Effect

· Observer Bias

· Selection Bias

· Natural Course of the Illness

· Regression to the Mean

· The Study Effect

· Statistical Illusions

A full discussion of these confounders would take a book, but I'll give a brief introduction here.

The Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is the process by which the power of suggestion actually causes symptoms to improve. The original research that identified the placebo effect had some serious errors in it,29 but there is little doubt that some conditions are quite responsive to placebo treatment, such as menopausal hot flashes,5 symptoms of prostate enlargement,8 and many types of pain.16 While it's often reported that only 30% of people respond to placebo, this number has no foundation, and, in fact the response rate seen in some of the conditions I just listed reaches as high as 70%.

The placebo effect almost always comes as a surprise to those who experience it. Both doctors and patients are fooled. For example, surgeons used to think that arthroscopic surgery for knee arthritis really worked, and hundreds of thousands of such surgeries were performed every year. Then a study came out showing that fake surgery produces just as satisfactory and long-lasting benefits as the real thing.7 Surgeons were shocked and chagrined to find that people given the fake surgery (unbeknownst to them) were so pleased with the results that they said they would happily recommend the treatment to others!

People generally get angry if you tell them their benefits might be due to placebo. However, examples abound to show just how possible this really is. I'll give a few here.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 30 people with carpal tunnel syndrome, use of a static magnet produced dramatic and enduring benefits, but so did use of fake magnets.34

In a study of 321 people with low back pain, chiropractic manipulation was quite helpful, but no more helpful than giving patients an educational booklet on low back pain.35

In a randomized, controlled trial of 67 people with hip pain, acupuncture produced significant benefits, but no greater benefits than placing needles in random locations.33

And in a randomized, controlled trial of 177 people with neck pain, fake laser acupuncture proved to be more effective than massage.32

Note that these studies do not actually disprove the tested therapies. The study sizes might have simply been too small to detect a modest benefit. What they do show, however, is that comparison to placebo treatment is essential: without such comparison, any random form of treatment, no matter how worthless in itself, is likely to appear to be effective.

Beyond the Placebo Effect

At least the placebo effect produces a real benefit. Many, many other illusions can create the impression of benefit although no benefit has occurred at all. In this section I discuss a few of these more insidious confounders.

Even when a fake treatment doesn’t actually improve symptoms, people may re-interpret their symptoms and experience them as less severe. For example, if I give you a drug that I say will make you cough less frequently, you will very likely experience yourself as coughing less frequently, even if your actual rate of coughing doesn’t change. In other words, you will re-interpret your symptoms to perceive them as less severe. (This effect seems to have been the primary reason why people use over-the-counter cough syrups -- surprising as it may seem, current evidence suggests that they are not effective, even though people have relied upon them for decades.10)

Observer bias is a similar phenomenon, but it affects doctors rather than patients. If doctors believe that they are giving a patient an effective drug, and they interview that patient, they will observe improvements, even if there are no improvements. For a classic example of this consider the results of a study that tested the effectiveness of a new treatment regimen for multiple sclerosis by comparing it against placebo treatment.9 This was a double-blind study, and therefore the physicians whose job it was to evaluate the results were kept in the dark about which study participants were receiving real and which were receiving fake treatment (they were "blinded"). However, the experimenters introduced an interesting wrinkle: they allowed a few physicians to know for certain which patients were receiving treatment (they were "unblinded").

The results were a bit appalling. The unblinded physicians were much more likely to "observe" that the treatment worked compared to the impartial blinded physicians. In other words, the unblinded physicians hallucinated a benefit because they expected to see one! (I call this appalling because of what it says about so-called "professional objectivity." It implies that the considered opinion of a practicing physician may be highly unreliable when it is based on professional experience rather than double-blind studies.)

The term selection bias indicates that if researchers are allowed to choose who gets a real treatment and who doesn’t, rather than assigning them randomly, it is very likely that they will unconsciously pick people in such a way that the treatment will look better. For reasons that aren’t clear, this effect is so huge that it can multiply the apparent benefit of a treatment by seven times, and turn a useless treatment into an apparently useful one.3,4 This is why double-blind studies must be “randomized.”

Many diseases will get better on their own, as part of their natural course. Any treatment given at the beginning of such an illness will seem to work, and a doctor using such a treatment will experience what is called the illusion of agency, the sense of having helped even though the outcome would have been the same regardless. A good example is neck or back pain: most episodes of these conditions go away with time, regardless of treatment, and so any treatment at all will seem to be effective.

Regression to the mean is like natural course, but a bit trickier. It’s based on the fact that even for conditions that do not go away on their own, the severity of the condition tends to fluctuate. Blood pressure is a good example. For many people, blood pressure levels wax and wane throughout the day, and from week to week. Suppose a person’s average blood pressure is 140/90, but occasionally gets as high as 170/110. If such a person gets tested and found at the moment to have high blood pressure, he may be seen as needing treatment. However, if he happens to be more near his average blood pressure, or even lower, he won’t be seen as needing treatment. In other words, doctors will tend to treat people when they are at their worst, not when they are at their best. By the laws of statistics, after a while, a person is more likely to be near his average blood pressure than his worst blood pressure, regardless of what treatment (if any) is used. This will appear to be an improvement, though in fact it’s only natural fluctuation.

The study effect (also called Hawthorne effect) refers to the fact that people enrolled in a study tend to take better care of themselves, and may improve for this reason, rather than any specifics of the treatment under study. This is a surprisingly powerful influence. If you enroll someone in a trial of a new drug for reducing cholesterol, and then you give them a placebo, their cholesterol levels are likely to fall significantly. Why? Presumably, they begin to take better care of themselves, by eating better, exercising more, etc. Again, double-blinding and a placebo group are necessary,. because otherwise this confounding factor can cause the illusion of specific benefit where none exists.

Finally, illusions caused by the nature of statistics are very common. There are many kinds of these, and so I’ll give them a section of their own.

Statistical Illusions

Suppose you've invented a truly lousy treatment that fails almost all the time, but helps one in a hundred people. If you give such a nearly worthless treatment to 100,000 people, you’ll get a thousand testimonials, and the treatment will sound great.

Suppose you give someone a treatment said to enhance their mental function, and then you use twenty different methods of testing mental function. By the law of averages, improvements will be seen on some of these measurements, even if the treatment doesn’t actually work. If you’re a supplement manufacturer, you can use these results to support the sales of your product, even though in fact the results are merely due to the way statistics work, and not any mind-stimulating effect of your product. (In order to validly test the mind-enhancing power of a supplement, you have to restrict yourself to at most a couple of ways of testing benefit).

Suppose you give 1000 people a treatment to see if it prevents heart disease, and you don’t find any benefit. This frustrates you, so you begin to study the data closely. Low and behold, you discover that there is less lung cancer among people receiving the treatment. Have you made a new discovery? Possibly, but probably not. Again by the law of averages, if you allow yourself to dredge the data you are guaranteed to find improvements in some condition or other, simply by statistical accident.

Perhaps the trickiest statistical illusion of all relates to what are called observational studies. This is such an important topic, that again I’ll break for a new heading.

Observational Studies

In observational studies, researchers don’t actually give people any treatment. Instead, they simply observe a vast number of people. For example, in the Nurse’s Health Study, almost 100,000 nurses have been extensively surveyed for many years, in an attempt to find connections between various lifestyle habits and illnesses. Researchers have found, for example, that nurses who consume more fruits and vegetables have less cancer. Such a finding is often taken to indicate that fruits and vegetables prevent cancer, but this would not be a correct inference. Here’s why:

All we know from such a study is that high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with less cancer, not that it causes less cancer. People who eat more fruits and vegetables may have other healthy habits as well, even ones we don’t know anything about, and they could be the cause of the benefit, not the fruits and vegetables.

This may sound like a purely academic issue, but it’s not. Researchers looking at observational studies noticed that menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have as much as 50% less heart disease than women who do not use HRT. This finding, along with a number of very logical arguments tending to show that estrogen should prevent heart disease, led doctors to recommend that all menopausal women take estrogen. Even as late as 2001, many doctors used to say that taking estrogen was the single most important way an older woman could protect her heart.

However, this was a terrible mistake. Observational studies don’t show cause and effect, and it was possible that women who happened to use HRT were healthier in other ways and that it was those unknown other factors that led to lower heart disease rates, and not the HRT. Doctors pooh-poohed this objection (showing that even doctors often fail to understand the need for double-blind studies) and said that it was perfectly obvious HRT helped. However, when a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done to verify what everyone “knew” was true, it turned out that that HRT actually causes heart disease, rather than prevents it.6 It also increases risk of breast cancer. In other words, placing trust in observational studies led to the deaths of many, many women. This is not, as I say, an academic issue.

In hindsight, it appears that women who happen to use HRT are healthier because they tend to be in a higher socioeconomic class, and have better access to healthcare and also take care of themselves. However, it is also possible that the real cause of the spurious association between HRT use and reduced heart disease is due to some other factor that we have not even identified. The bottom line is that observational studies don’t prove anything, and they can lead to conclusions that are exactly backwards.

This is a lesson that the news media seems unable to understand. It constantly reports the results of observational studies as proof of cause and effect. For example, it has been observed that people who consume a moderate amount of alcohol have less heart disease than those who consume either no alcohol or too much alcohol. But, contrary to what you may have heard, this doesn’t mean that alcohol prevents heart disease! It is very likely that people who are moderate in their alcohol consumption are different in a variety of ways from people who are either teetotalers or abusers, and it is those differences, and not the alcohol per se, that causes the benefit. Maybe, for example, they are moderate in general, and that makes them healthier. The fact is, we don’t know.

Similarly, it has been observed that people who consume a diet high in antioxidants have less cancer and heart disease. However, once more this does NOT mean that antioxidants prevent heart disease and cancer. In fact, when the antioxidants vitamin E and beta-carotene were studied in gigantic double-blind studies as possible cancer- or heart-disease-preventive treatments, vitamin E didn’t work (except, possibly, for prostate cancer) and beta-carotene actually made things worse!17-28 (One can pick holes in these studies, and proponents of antioxidants frequently do, but the fact is that we still lack direct double-blind evidence to indicate that antioxidants truly provide any of the benefits claimed for them. The only evidence that does exist is directly analogous to that which falsely "proved" that HRT prevents heart disease!)

Double-Blind Studies, and Nothing but Double-Blind Studies

All of the information I’ve just presented has accumulated over the last several decades. After coming to a great many false conclusions based on other forms of research, medical researchers have finally come to realize that without doing double-blind studies on a treatment it’s generally impossible to know whether it works. It doesn’t matter if the treatment has a long history of traditional use -- in medicine, tradition is very often dead wrong. It doesn’t matter if doctors or patients think it works -- doctors and patients are almost sure to observe benefits even if the treatment used is fake. And it doesn’t matter if observational trials show that people who do X have less of Y. Guesses made on the basis of this kind of bad evidence may be worse than useless: they may actually cause harm rather than benefit.

To make matters even more difficult, double-blind studies are not all created alike. There are a number of pitfalls in designing, performing and reporting such studies, and for this reason some double-blind studies deserve more credence than others. Double-blind studies from certain countries, such as China and Russia, always must be taken with a grain of salt, because historical evidence suggests a pattern of systematic bias in those countries.31 Studies that enroll few people, or last for only a short time, generally prove little. And unless more than one independent laboratories have found corroborating results, there's always the chance of bias or outright fraud. Thus, a treatment can only be considered proven effective when there have been several double-blind studies enrolling 200 or more people, performed by separate researchers, conducted according to the highest standards (as measured by a study rating scale called the "Jadad scale"), carried out at a respected institution and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Weaker evidence provides, at best, a hint of effectiveness, very likely to be disproved when better studies are done.

While a number of herbs and supplements have reached, or nearly reached the level of solid proof, most alternative therapies have not.* Again, this isn't an idealistic, ivory-tower standard useful only for academia: it's a necessity. Treatments that have not been evaluated in double-blind studies are so much hot air. Except in the rare cases when a treatment is overwhelmingly and almost instantly effective (a so-called "high effect-size" treatment), there is simply no other way to know whether it works at all besides going through the trouble and expense of double-blind trials.

Evidence-Based Medicine

The double-blind study has caused a revolution even in conventional medicine. Many old beliefs have been tossed out when double-blind studies were finally done. It’s been discovered, for example, that (as noted earlier) over-the-counter cough syrups don’t work,10 that immediate antibiotic treatment for ear infections is probably not necessary or even helpful in most cases,11-15, 30 and that cartilage scraping for knee arthritis is no better than placebo7 (but, as noted above, placebo is very effective!).

The understanding that medicine must be grounded in double-blind studies is called the “evidence-based medicine” movement, and it is the same movement that informs AltMedConsult’s approach to alternative medicine. According to evidence-based medicine, if a treatment has not been properly studied, it should not be advocated as an effective treatment.

This is true whether the treatment is an Indonesian herb or a well-accepted medical technique. Certain aspects of conventional medicine have scarcely been studied at all, for example, and for that reason are just as unproven as the latest herb from the rain forest. For example, traction, a common physical therapy treatment for back pain, has never been properly studied, and therefore does not belong in evidence-based medicine.2

However, conventional medicine, at least, has a certain reticence about offering unproven treatments. Alternative medicine, up until recently, has taken the opposite approach: offering a profusion of treatments without the slightest shred of double-blind support. Most of these, I’m afraid to say, aren’t going to stand up when proper studies are done, no matter how many testimonials (and plausible supporting arguments) they have now. Some will prove effective, though, and many already have.

For a comprehensive description of current double-blind studies regarding alternative medicine, see a product I helped develop: The TNP Natural Health Encyclopedia (The Natural Pharmacist). For a discussion of special issues relevant to herbal medicine, and why different samples of the same herb may have different efficacy, see Herbs and Supplements: Label Inaccuracy and Deeper Problems. Finally, for a list of the particular European standardized herbal extracts that have been tested in double-blind trials, see European Herbal Brands Tested in Double-Blind Trials, and their US Equivalents.

— Steven Bratman, M.D.

*To be fair, for some types of treatment, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and surgery, it isn't possible to design a true double-blind study: the practitioner will inevitably know whether real or a fake treatment has been applied. In such cases, most researchers settle for a "single-blind" design, in which the study participants (and the people who evaluate the participants to see if they've responded to therapy), but not the practitioners of the therapy. The problem with such single-blind studies, though, is that the practitioners may convey enthusiasm when they are providing a real treatment and lack of enthusiasm when they apply a fake one. The former might act as a better placebo than the latter, and thereby produce the results that really have nothing to do with the treatment itself. To get around this, Kerry Kamer D.O. has suggested using actors trained to provide fake treatment with confidence and enthusiasm, but, so far as I know, this has not yet been tried.


1. Devereaux PJ, Yusuf S. The evolution of the randomized controlled trial and its role in evidence-based decision making. J Intern Med. 2003;254:105-13.

2. Harte AA, Baxter GD, Gracey JH. The efficacy of traction for back pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003;84:1542-53.

3. Kramer MS. Randomized trials and public health interventions: time to end the scientific double standard. Clin Perinatol. 2003;30:351-61

4. Kunz R, Oxman AD. The unpredictability paradox: review of empirical comparisons of randomised and non-randomised clinical trials. BMJ. 1998;317:1185-90.

5. MacLennan A, Lester S, Moore V. Oral estrogen replacement therapy versus placebo for hot flushes: a systematic review. Climacteric. 2001;4:58-74.

6. Manson JE, Hsia J, Johnson KC, et al. Women's Health Initiative Investigators. Estrogen plus progestin and the risk of coronary heart disease. N Engl J Med. 2003;349:523-34.

7. Moseley JB, O'Malley K, Petersen NJ, et al. A controlled trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:81-8

8. Nickel JC. Placebo therapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a 25-month study. Canadian PROSPECT Study Group. Br J Urol. 1998;81:383-387.

9. Noseworthy J H, Ebers G C, Vandervoort M K, et al. The impact of blinding on the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled multiple sclerosis clinical trial. Neurology. 2001;57:S31-5.

10. Schroeder K, Fahey T. Over-the-counter medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;CD001831.

11. Damoiseaux RA, van Balen FA, Hoes AW, et al. Primary care based randomized, double blind trial of amoxicillin versus placebo for acute otitis media in children aged under 2 years. BMJ. 2000;320:350–354.

12. Rosenfeld RM, Vertrees JE, Carr J, et al. Clinical efficacy of antimicrobial drugs for acute otitis media: metaanalysis of 5400 children from thirty-three randomized trials. J Pediatr. 1994;124:355–367.

13. Del Mar C, Glasziou P, Hayem M. Are antibiotics indicated as initial treatment for children with acute otitis media? A meta-analysis. BMJ. 1997;314:1526–1529.

14. Little P, Gould C, Williamson I, et al. Pragmatic randomised controlled trial of two prescribing strategies for childhood acute otitis media. BMJ. 2001;322:336–342.

15. Alho O-P, Laara E, Oja H. What is the natural history of recurrent acute otitis media in infancy? J Fam Pract. 1996;43:258–264.

16. Solomon S. A review of mechanisms of response to pain therapy: why voodoo works. Headache. 2002;42:656-62

17. Clarke R, Armitage J. Antioxidant vitamins and risk of cardiovascular disease. Review of large-scale randomised trials. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2002;16:411-5.

18. Moyad MA. Selenium and vitamin E supplements for prostate cancer: evidence or embellishment? Urology. 2002;59(Suppl 1):9-19.

19. Heinonen OP, Albanes D, Virtamo J, et al. Prostate cancer and supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene: incidence and mortality in a controlled trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998;90:440–446.

20. Albanes D, Heinonen OP, Huttunen JK, et al. Effects of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on cancer incidence in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62(suppl):1427S–1430S.

21. Omenn GS, Goodman GE, Thornquist MD, et al. Effects of a combination of beta carotene and vitamin A on lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 1996;334:1150–1155.

22. Hargreaves DF, Potten CS, Harding C, et al. Two-week dietary soy supplementation has an estrogenic effect on normal premenopausal breast. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999;84:4017-4024.

23. Frieling UM, Schaumberg DA, Kupper TS, et al. A randomized, 12-year primary-prevention trial of beta carotene supplementation for nonmelanoma skin cancer in the physicians' health study. Arch Dermatol. 2000;136:179–184.

24. Malila N, Taylor PR, Virtanen MJ, et al. Effects of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplementation on gastric cancer incidence in male smokers (ATBC Study, Finland). Cancer Causes Control. 2002;13:617-623.

25. Virtamo J, Edwards BK, Virtanen M, et al. Effects of supplemental alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene on urinary tracct cancer: incidence and mortality in a controlled trial (Finland). Cancer Causes Control. 2000;11:933-939.

26. Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group. MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of antioxidant vitamin supplementation in 20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2002;360:23-33.

27. Albanes D, Heinonen OP, Huttunen JK, et al. Effects of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on cancer incidence in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62(suppl):1427S–1430S.

28. Lee IM, Cook NR, Manson JE, et al. Beta-carotene supplementation and incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease: the Women's Health Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999;91:2102–2106.

29. Hrobjartsson A, Gotzsche PC. Is the placebo powerless? An analysis of clinical trials comparing placebo with no treatment. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:1594-1602

30. Pappas DE, Owen Hendley J. Otitis media. A scholarly review of the evidence. Minerva Pediatr. 2003;55:407-14.

31. Vickers A, Goyal N, Harland R, et al. Do certain countries produce only positive results? A systematic review of controlled trials. Control Clin Trials. 1998;19:159-166

32. Irnich D, Behrens N, Molzen H, et al. Randomised trial of acupuncture compared with conventional massage and sham laser acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain. BMJ. 2001;322:1–6.

33. Fink M, Karst M, Wippermann B, et al. Non-specific effects of traditional Chinese acupuncture in osteoarthritis of the hip: a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2001;9:82–88.

34. Carter R, Hall T, Aspy CB, et al. Effectiveness of magnet therapy for treatment of wrist pain attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. J Fam Pract. 2002;51:38–40. However, identical benefits were seen among those given fake magnets.

35. Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Battie M, et al. A comparison of physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and provision of an educational booklet for the treatment of patients with low back pain. N Engl J Med. 1998;339:1021–1029.

36. Williams JM, Getty D. Effect of levels of exercise on psychological mood states, physical fitness, and plasma beta-endorphin. Percept Mot Skills. 1986 Dec;63(3):1099-105.

©2003 Steven Bratman, M.D.

(Reproduced here by permission - PL)

Please visit Dr. Bratman's excellent website:

Alternative Medicine Consulting Services

Alternative Medicine Consulting Services - Steven Bratman, M.D.

Dr. Bratman is an alternative medicine expert who deserves commendation. Here is some information about him and his internet information resources:

Alternative Medicine Consulting Services
Steven Bratman, M.D.

I am a nationally regarded expert in the field of alternative medicine. My perspective is objective, unbiased, and grounded in encyclopedic knowledge of the field.

I am available to Answer your Questions about alternative medicine, such as the all-important, "which ones work and which are a waste of my time and money?" I also offer a variety of Professional Services, such as writing/editing, medical review, background information, expert witness testimony, and public speaking.

For encyclopedic information on alternative therapies, see The Natural Health Encyclopedia (once called TNP), a regularly updated database whose text was (and is) almost entirely written by me.


Steven Bratman, MD is a national expert on alternative medicine. He is both a strong proponent and vocal critic of alternative treatments. This even-handed approach has made him a trusted party on both sides of the debate.

Dr. Bratman earned his medical degree from the University of California at Davis. For 11 years, he ran a medical clinic that combined conventional and alternative therapies. He worked closely with a wide variety of alternative practitioners, and received training in acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, massage, osteopathic manipulation, and body-oriented psychotherapy.

In 1997, he instituted and supervised the research program that led to the creation of Complementary Therapies Database and associated books. He is the author or coauthor of more than ten books in the CAM field, including Mosby's Handbook of Herbs & Supplements and Their Therapeutic Uses and Mosby's Handbook of Drug-Herb & Drug-SupplementInteractions. He has written more than 400 herb and supplement monographs, and has been published in peer-reviewed professional journals and numerous national consumer magazines. Dr. Bratman has also appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs.

Dr. Bratman has been an expert consultant to the State of Washington Medical Board, the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners, and the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, evaluating disciplinary cases involving alternative medicine.


The Orthorexia Home Page
by Steven Bratman, MD
(inventor of the term "Orthorexia Nervosa")

What is Orthorexia?

It’s great to eat healthy food, and most of us could benefit by paying a little more attention to what we eat. However, some people have the opposite problem: they take the concept of healthy eating to such an extreme that it becomes an obsession. I call this state of mind orthorexia nervosa: literally, "fixation on righteous eating."

(there's more...)

Please visit Dr. Bratman's websites and make good use of his valuable resources!

(Reproduced here by permission - PL)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Carlos Negrete's malicious abuse of the judicial system

As a former defendent in a malicious legal cross-complaint (*) filed by Hulda Clark's lawyer, Carlos Negrete, the news that he is being personally prosecuted for his unprofessional, malicious and groundless conduct, is indeed good to hear.

Here is my position on the matter, written in Dec. 2002:

Regarding the investigation into whether Carlos Negrete has engaged in unethical behavior.

He certainly has! The charges made against me in the cross-complaint were completely trumped up. Even though this suit has been withdrawn, Negrete still has it posted on his website. Thus these charges are still being made on the Internet, and are being quoted and used against me by people, as if they were true and proven facts.

I have never done any of these things I am charged with doing. I have never met Hulda Clark, been anywhere near her, or contacted her by telephone or by mail. The cross-complaint reads like an exhaustive list of possible charges against a Mafia boss! Simply reading the long list of charges should be enough to get Mr. Negrete severely disciplined without those whom he has so falsely charged, myself included, even being questioned. The cross-complaint was obviously designed to cause expense, harass, distress, and damage the reputations of the people it named.

This type of thing should not be allowed to happen without negative consequences for the perpetrators. To start with, it should be enough to bring Negrete's professional qualifications into question before the State Bar of California, as well as his obvious lack of good ethical and moral values.

Even though Negrete has withdrawn the suit, I believe he acted with malicious purpose when he raised the case originally. The fact that he withdrew the suit without ever providing any evidence, would seem to indicate that once he was forced to choose between showing his hand or being sanctioned by the judge, he decided to retreat. But he shouldn't be allowed to get away with such tactics. There needs to be an investigation into his abuse of the legal system.

My only "connection" with Hulda Clark has been to ask some of her associates for scientific evidence to back the odd claims she makes. She claims that she can totally cure all diseases, including cancer and AIDS, and that the "cancer will never return." She claims to be able to do this with the use of her low voltage "Zapper," after using her subjective interpretation of the numbers produced by a simple and ordinary galvanometer, which she calls the "Syncrometer." I believe these are false and dangerous claims, and since the rules of scientific and legal matters requires that the claimant prove their claim, I have asked for some proof. It has never been provided.

Instead, I have received very public, nasty, and personal ad hominem attacks. I can see no reasonable grounds why it should be considered wrong or illegal to ask for proof of a claim, regardless of whether the claim is true or false. This is standard, everyday, and expected procedure among healthcare professionals and scientists. Nothing that I have said constitutes legitimate grounds for a suit of any kind. Even when commenting on Hulda Clark personally, which is very rare, I have always stated that I did not believe she was doing what she does for economic or deceitful reasons. I have only stated that I believed that she was in error, and I knew of no evidence for her claims to be true, and I have then asked for any evidence.

Negrete has never served me or contacted me to verify any so-called evidence he claims to have against me. My name ("true identity") and occupation were known by him at the time of filing (in spite of what is falsely claimed in the Cross-Complaint), and my address was and is easily available. Likewise my e-mail addresses, and website URLs are all known to Clark's associates and therefore easily obtainable by Negrete. All this information, as well as the address of my place of work, is all public and is easily available on the Internet for anyone who wishes to find it.

The fact that Negrete has not offered any evidence for any of these charges, or even stated their basis, is itself the best proof that Negrete knew that the allegations he set forth in the cross-complaint were not true at the time he filed the complaint. You can easily check whether Negrete knew the cross-complaint charges were incorrect. Just ask him the alleged factual basis behind them. And if he makes something up, ask for the alleged supporting evidence.


(signed by the sitemaster)

The List of False Charges:

Business Sabotage;
Campaign to discredit reputation;
Disseminating false and fraudulent information and documents to
agencies of the United States
Disseminating false information to the Mexican government;
Engaging in a campaign to discredit its primary author of books;
Engaging in a campaign to financially ruin its main author;
Engaging in a smear campaign in the country of Mexico;
False Advertising;
Filing false police reports;
Filing frivolous lawsuits;
Illegal influence of foreign government officials and/or agencies;
Illegal lobbying;
Industrial espionage;
Interception of confidential communication;
Interference with book sales;
Interference with Prospective Advantage;
Interference with Right of Free Speech and Association;
Internet Spam campaigns;
Internet Spam;
Invasion of Privacy;
Investigation without license;
Mail Fraud;
Making false claims about NCP;
Predatory Tactics;
Subornation of perjury;
Terrorist threats;
Trade Libel;
Vexatious litigation;
Violation of Civil Rights & Free Speech;
Web site tampering;
Wire Fraud

For more on this matter:

Bogus "Anti-Quackbuster" Suit Withdrawn

Appeals Court Upholds Malicious Prosecution Suit against Hulda

A Response to Tim Bolen

The Bizarre Claims of Hulda Clark

(*) The Cross Complaint, Case No. 833 021-5, Filed Nov. 3, 2000
I'm no. 22, on page 8. I was considered to be a big-time crook! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Chiropractic loan default problem

Defaulted Borrowers
Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)

Full list

By Profession
Note: MDs listed under Allopathic Medicine

Discipline ------------ Total --------- Amt Due

Allopathic Medicine ----- 177 ---------- $21,857,866
Chiropractic ------------- 734 --------- $67,412,405
Clinical Psychology ------- 33 ------------ $2,891,992
Dentistry ----------------- 262 ---------- $36,390,255
Health Administration ----- 3 -------------- $158,960
Optometry ----------------- 27 ------------ $1,817,239
Osteopathy ---------------- 27 ------------ $3,964,559
Pharmacy ------------------ 20 ------------ $1,088,140
Podiatry ------------------- 99 ----------- $17,241,235
Public Health --------------- 8 --------------- $812,824
Veterinary Medicine ------- 1 ---------------- $40,803

Total: ------------------1,391 -------- $153,676,278

An analysis of these statistics based on the numbers of members in the professions would be quite interesting. Chiropractic would fare far worse in such an analysis.

Related links:

Chiropractic college's top administrator steps down

The Student Loan Mess: Why Chiropractic Is in Trouble

Analysis of the Chiropractic Section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook

Chiropractic: A Risky Career

Can You Advise about Chiropractic Schools?,

Chiropractic college's top administrator steps down

Chiropractic college's top administrator steps down

Staff Writer

Last update: February 12, 2005

Gloria Niles resigned from her post as academic dean at Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida, the school announced Friday.

Before she was placed on a paid temporary leave in December, she had been the No. 1 campus administrator at the Port Orange campus. The college would not comment on her departure.
Niles did not return calls for comment.

When she was placed on leave, the school said it was 'gathering information' about issues that had 'come to light' about Niles. Neither the school nor Niles ever commented about her name appearing on a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site identifying her as being in default of a student loan of more than $97,000.

In July 1997, the department paid off the loan for Gloria Y. Niles-Hasty, a 1990 graduate of Life Chiropractic College-West, said Kevin Ropp, a spokesman for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

She was added to the defaulted borrowers list in September 2000, before she was hired at Palmer.


Related link:

Chiropractic loan default problem

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Physiotherapy for elderly, youth covered under OHIP after government backs down

This is good news for PTs, but bad news for chiros. | Top Stories | Politics | Physiotherapy for elderly, youth covered under OHIP after government backs down

March 24, 2005 - 18:26

Physiotherapy for elderly, youth covered under OHIP after government backs down


TORONTO (CP) - Physiotherapy for the young and elderly will not be removed from the provincial health plan after all.

Ontario's Liberal government backed down Thursday from a controversial plan to delist the majority of physiotherapy services, saying it would not exclude people over 65 and under 19. "We're improving our physiotherapy program so that the dollars we spend help those who need it most: seniors, children, people with disabilities and people needing service in their home and after they leave the hospital," Health Minister George Smitherman said in a release.

In last year's budget, the government said it would delist physiotherapy services for all Ontarians except seniors receiving home care, those in long-term-care facilities and people collecting disability support.

That brought on a storm of protest from stakeholders who warned of ballooning health-care costs down the road.

Non-specific promises from government that society's most vulnerable would still be covered failed, for the most part, to silence that discontent.

On Thursday, the government delivered the details of that promised protection.

As of April 1, government-funded physiotherapy will be limited to the following groups:

-All seniors 65 and over.

-All people aged 19 and under.

-Long-term care residents of all ages.

-People of all ages needing short-term physiotherapy in their home and through a Community Care Access Centre.

-People of all ages requiring physiotherapy after overnight hospitalization.

-People of all ages receiving physiotherapy who are recipients of Ontario's Disability Support Program, Ontario Works, Family Benefits and Workplace Safety Insurance Board.

That news was encouraging to the Ontario Physiotherapy Association.

"We are pleased that the government is recognizing the importance of physiotherapy to the health of Ontarians," association CEO Dorianne Sauve said in a release.

But Ontarians aged 20 to 64 will not be eligible for government-funded physiotherapy as of April 1, a point of contention for another group of physiotherapists.

"We are still concerned that millions of taxpayers between the ages of 20 and 64, without private health insurance and who cannot afford to pay out of pocket, will be denied OHIP-covered physiotherapy," the Schedule Five Physiotherapy Clinic Owners' Association said in its release.

"Do our students, working single mothers, low-income families and new immigrants not deserve physiotherapy services?"

Last year's budget also put chiropractic care on the chopping block. Those services were delisted in December.

That only the physiotherapy plan was amended Thursday raised the ire of the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

"We call on Premier McGuinty to do the right thing and treat chiropractic patients in an equitable manner as with those patients treated by other health-care professionals," association president Dr. Dean Wright said in a release.

"Government should take action, as they have just done for physiotherapy patients, to protect those chiropractic patients."

But a government spokesman says chiropractic care will continue to be delisted despite those demands.

William Hammesfahr's false claim to Nobel fame

Anne is doing a great job of exposing this self-promoting character:

* Dr. William Hammesfahr is a quack, it is beyound doubt

* Florida neurologist that claims that he can help Terri Schiavo might be a quack

She writes:

"I therefore conclude that Bilirakis is not qualified to nominate Nobel Prize winners. This is the letter signed by Congressman Michael Bilirakis, and it's not legitimate as a nomination, much less as support for a claim to have been nominated."

I agree! Isn't it about time that Dr. Hammesfahr quit this self-promoting charade? It's unbecoming and distasteful.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Mark Geier Untrustworthy: Autism, Thimerosal, Vaccinations

Among the few medical doctors and scientists, and the many other misguided individuals who are fanatically opposed to vaccination, and who attempt to prove (without proper evidence) that vaccinations (and the preservative Thimerosal) are the major cause of autism and related neurological disorders, one often finds the names of Dr Mark Geier and Mr David Geier, his son, from the Genetic Centres of America.

I have emphasized the name Geier in bold, as well as highlighted the relevant passages in red, to ease the perusing of this blog entry.

In the "vaccinations-cause-autism" community, they are considered to be trustworthy sources of information. Well, they aren't trustworthy, and here's some information related to that matter.

Autism Diva also writes about them.

The following Weiss case contains a number of unfavorable statements regarding Mark Geier and his lack of qualifications:

In the United States Court of Federal Claims


October 9, 2003




No. 03-190V


After receiving petitioners' expert Dr. Mark Robin Geier's two affidavits, the undersigned issues this preliminary ruling. The evidence in the medical records contemporaneous with the events at issue in this case show that Christopher Weiss did not have an acute encephalopathy on January 25, 2000, which was the 15th day after he received MMR vaccine on January 10, 2000. The records state that he had had fever on the night of the 24th, cried a lot, had a temperature of 101°, or otherwise less than l00.2°, and was teething. On physical examination, Christopher was alert and in no acute distress. His temperature was 100.7° and he had several new teeth. His left tympanic membrane was red with excessive fluid. The doctor diagnosed Christopher with left otitis media. He had several tiny white spots at the bottom of his jaw (gingiva) and was prescribed Amoxicillin.

Three days later, Christopher saw the doctor again. He was still alert, but irritable with a blister on his tongue. He refused to eat or drink, had very red gums, but no fever. His left tympanic membrane was better, the white spots were gone, and he had three new teeth. His temperature was 99.1°.

Petitioners' amended petition includes an allegation of a Table encephalopathy. 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-14, as modified by 42 CFR § 100.3(b)(2), states:

(i) An acute encephalopathy is one that is sufficiently severe so as to require hospitalization (whether or not hospitalization occurred).

(A) For children less than 18 months of age who present without an associated seizure event, an acute encephalopathy is indicated by a significantly decreased level of consciousness lasting for at least 24 hours.

Section I00.3(b)(2)(i)(D) states:

A "significantly decreased level of consciousness" is indicated by the presence of at least one of the following clinical signs for at least 24 hours or greater....:

(1) Decreased or absent response to environment (responds, if at all, only to loud voice or painful stimuli);

(2) Decreased or absent eye contact (does not fix gaze upon family members or other individuals); or

(3) Inconsistent or absent responses to external stimuli (does not recognize familiar people or things).

Section 100.3(b)(2)(i)(E) states:

The following clinical features alone, or in combination, do not demonstrate an acute encephalopathy or a significant change in either mental status or level of consciousness as described above: Sleepiness, irritability (fussiness), high-pitched and unusual screaming, persistent inconsolable crying, and bulging fontanelle....

Christopher's mother states in her affidavit and in the amended petition that on the night of January 24, 2000, Christopher became very ill and developed a fever. ¶ 3 of Mrs. Weiss' affidavit. She states that, on January 25, 2000, at the doctor's office, Christopher was not his normal happy, cheerful self. He was extremely sick and miserable. She concedes he was awake. ¶ 4 of Mrs. Weiss' affidavit.

Dr. Geier, who is a geneticist and an obstetrician, is not qualified to give a neurological diagnosis. (NOTE 1) Nonetheless, he has opined in his first affidavit, that Christopher had an acute encephalopathy beginning on the night of January 24, 2000, 14 days after receipt of his MMR vaccination based on the information in paragraphs 3 and 4 of Mrs. Weiss' affidavit. In his supplemental affidavit #1, he discusses in depth how MMR can cause acute encephalopathy and encephalitis. Those portions of his supplemental affidavit #1 discussing acute encephalopathy and encephalitis are hereby STRICKEN from the record as irrelevant since Christopher had neither an acute encephalopathy nor encephalitis. A child who is alert and in no acute distress does not have an acute encephalopathy or encephalitis. See Duncan v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-3809V, 1997 WL 7529 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. Feb. 6, 1997) (without holding a hearing, special master dismissed case asserting measles encephalopathy because petitioner's affidavit contradicted contemporaneous medical records as to onset of symptoms and physician's report in support of petitioner was insufficient). See also, Bunting v. Secretary of HHS, 931 F.2d 867, 873 (Fed. Cir. 1991) ("the conclusions of a medical expert are not binding on the decisionmaker...."); Sternberger v. US, 401 F.2d 1012, 1016-17 (Fed. Cl. 1968) ("Even uncontradicted opinion testimony is not conclusive if it is intrinsically unpersuasive.").

NOTE 1: It is doubtful that Dr. Geier fulfills the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines for expert witnesses: H.265-994 Expert Witness Testimony: (3)(a) "Existing policy regarding the competency of expert witnesses ... (BOT Rep. SS A-89) is reaffirmed, as follows: The AMA believes that the minimum statutory requirements for qualification as an expert witness should reflect the following: (i) that the witness be required to have comparable education, training, and occupational experience in the same field as the defendant; (ii) that the occupational experience include active medical practice or teaching experience in the same field as the defendant; and (iii) that the active medical practice or teaching experience must have been within five years of the date of the occurrence giving rise to the claim." American Medical Association, Policy Compendium (1999). In addition, the AMA "Code of Medical Ethics" states at 9.07 Medical Testimony: "Medical experts should have recent and substantive experience in the area in which they testify and should limit testimony to their sphere of medical expertise.... The medical witness must not become an advocate or a partisan in the legal proceeding." AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, "Code of Medical Ethics" (2002-2003 edition). Dr. Geier's expertise, training, and experience is in genetics and obstetrics. He is however a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience. Petitioners must seriously consider whether they want to proceed with a witness whose opinion on neurological diagnosis is unacceptable to the undersigned. When we reach the end of this case and the question of expert fees arises, there will be serious doubt whether Dr. Geier should be compensated for his time devoted to diagnosing an acute encephalopathy where none exists, and discussing (in his first supplemental affidavit) the MMR reactions of acute encephalopathy and encephalitis when neither is relevant in this case because Christopher, who was alert and in no acute distress on the 15th day after his MMR vaccination (when Dr. Geier opines his acute encephalopathy began on the 14th day, less than 24 hours earlier), could not possibly have had a Table acute encephalopathy or encephalitis. Moreover, three days later, he was also alert and in no acute distress. He was, however, miserable on January 25th with left otitis media, a fever, and new teeth, and on January 28th with a blister on his tongue and very red gums (with three new teeth).

In other vaccine cases, Dr. Geier's testimony has similarly been accorded no weight: Thompson v. Secretary of HHS, No. 99-0436, 2003 WL 221439672 (Fed. CI. Spec. Mstr. May 23, 2003); Bruesewitz v. Secretary of HHS, No. 95-0266, 2002 WL 31965744 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. Dec. 20, 2002); Raj v. Secretary of HHS, No. 96-0294V, 2001 WL 963984, *12 (Fed. CI. Spec. Mstr. July 31, 2001); Haim v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-1031V, 1993 WL 346392 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. Aug. 27, 1993) ("Dr Geier's testimony is not reliable, or grounded in scientific methodology and procedure. His testimony is merely subjective belief and unsupported speculation."); Marascalco v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-1571V, 1993 WL 277095 (Fed. Cl. Spec. Mstr. July 9, 1993) (where the special master described Dr. Geier's testimony as intellectually dishonest); Einspahr v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-923V, 1992 WL 336396 (CI. Ct. Spec. Mstr. Oct. 28, 1992), aff'd, 17 F.3d 1444 (Fed. Cir. 1994); Aldridge v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-2475V, 1992 WL 153770 (CI. Ct. Spec. Mstr. June 11, 1992); Ormechea v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-1683V, 1992 WL 151816 (Cl. Ct. Spec. Mstr. June 10, 1992) ("Because Dr. Geier has made a profession of testifying in matters to which his professional background (obstetrics, genetics) is unrelated, his testimony is of limited value to the court."); Daly v. Secretary of HHS, No. 90-590V, 1991 WL 15473 (Cl. Ct. Spec. Mstr. July 26, 1991) ("The court is inclined not to allow Dr. Geier to testify before it on issues of Table injuries. Dr. Geier clearly lacks the expertise to evaluate the symptomatology of the Table injuries and render an opinion thereon.").

Petitioners may proceed in this case on their alternate allegations, a Table measles infection and causation in fact autism from either MMR or thimerosal-containing vaccines. Their allegation of a Table encephalopathy is hereby DISMISSED for failure to prove a prima facie case of an acute encephalopathy occurring within 5-15 days of Christopher's MMR vaccination.


Oct. 9 2003

Laura D. Millman Special Master


This article is also important:

Vaccines and Autism

Updated: 09/20/2004

Thimerosal does not cause autism; nor does the MMR vaccine. This is the conclusion reached by The Institute of Medicine's Immunization Safety Review Committee in its report, Vaccines and Autism. (1)

The report states that "the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism" as well as a "rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

The hypothesis that the MMR vaccine was associated with autism was originally proposed in a highly publicized series of case reports published in The Lancet in 1998. (2) The authors suggested that the onset of the symptoms of autism with gastrointestinal problems was temporally associated with the receipt of the MMR vaccine.

The IOM committee confirmed that this study by Wakefield and colleagues did not provide evidence that the MMR vaccine could cause autism. Indeed, in 2004, ten of the thirteen authors of that study formally retracted their suggestion of a possible link between MMR vaccine and autism. (3)

In a previous report in 2001, (4) the IOM’s committee had rejected any causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism at the population level—that means the MMR vaccine did not cause autism in the general population. However, the available evidence at that time was not sufficient to exclude the possibility that MMR could contribute to autism in a small number of children with a genetic predisposition to that disorder.

More recent epidemiological studies, which are assessed in the new IOM report, have consistently shown no evidence that the MMR vaccine was associated with autism. (5)

The IOM report described two studies by Geier (6) which had reported an association between MMR and autism as “characterized by serious methodological flaws and their analytic methods were nontransparent making their results uninterpretable, and therefore non-contributory with respect to causality.”

In other words, the studies by Geier could not establish a causal relation between MMR and autism because of their methods—such as using statistical measures incorrectly and omitting facts about their research approach. Similar problems were found in six other studies by Geier (7) and one study by Blaxill (8), which reported findings of an association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. In addition, Geier’s expertise in neurological disorders has been questioned. (9)

Five large studies in Sweden, Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom consistently found no evidence of an association between thimerosal and autism. (10) For that reason, the IOM’s committee favored rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

This rejection differs from the conclusion of a 2001 report (11) by the same committee on thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders.

The 2001 report stated that at that time the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal and the disorders of autism, attention deficit, and speech and language delay. The evidence now favors rejection of a relationship between thimerosal and autism. The current report did not evaluate the other disorders.

The IOM committee recommended that immunization schedules remain unchanged.

The IOM committee also recommended that research funding for autism be channeled towards more productive areas, such as the better understanding of the genetic causes of autism. (12)

1. Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Washington, DC: National Academies Press 2004.

2. Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson DM, Malik M, Berelowitz M, Dhillon AP, Thomson MA, Harvey P, Valentine A, Davies SE, and Walker-Smith JA. (1998). Ileal-lymphoid-modular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet, 351(9103), 637-641.

3. Murch SH, Anthony A, Cassen DH, et al. (2004) Retraction of an interpretation. Lancet, 363: 750.

4. Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review: Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine and Autism. Washington, DC: National Academies Press 2001.

5. Wilson K, Mills E, Ross C, McGowan J, Jadad A (2003). Association of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: A Systematic Review of Current Epidemiological Evidence. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 157:628-634.

Smeeth L, Cook C, Fombonne E, et al (2004). MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a case-control study. Lancet, 364(9438):963-969.

6. Geier M, Geier D 2003. Pediatric MMR Vaccination Safety. International Pediatrics, 18: 108-113.

Geier M, Geier D 2004. A comparative evaluation of the effects of MMR immunization and mercury doses from thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines on the population prevalence of autism. Medical Science Monitor, 10(3): PI33-39

7. Geier MR, Geier DA. Thimerosal in childhood vaccines, neurodevelopment disorders and heart disease in the United States. J Am Physicians Surg. 2003;8:6-11 (See AAP's review of the article)

8. Blaxill M (2001). Presentation to Immunization Safety Review Committee. Rising Incidence of Autism: Association with Thimerosal. Washington DC.

9. U.S Court of Federal Claims. Office of Special Masters. October 9, 2003 (See footnote 1 on page 3).

10. Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, and Simpson D (2003). Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: Lack of consistent evidence for an association. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(2): 101-6.

Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, Thorsen P, Plesner A, Andersen PH, and Mortensen PB (2003). Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data. Pediatrics 112: 604-6.

Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F, Lieu TA, Rhodes PH, Black SB, Shinefield H, and Chen RT (2003). Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases. Pediatrics 112(5): 1039-48.

Parker SK, Schwartz B, Todd J, and Pickering LK (2004). Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Critical Review of Published Original Data. Pediatrics, 114:793-804.

11. Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review: Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Washington, DC: National Academies Press 2001.

12. Muhle B, Trentacoste SV, Rapin I (2004). The Genetics of autism. Pediatrics 113: e472-86.