QuackWatch needs your help

| 23 Comments

Of interest to our fellow defenders of science: Steven Barrett, the proprietor of Quackwatch, is being sued for $10 million for criticizing pseudoscience, and he’s asking for donations to help in his legal defense.

23 Comments

Hmmm Steven’s email replies seem overly thought-out. I would have just replied, “Quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack quack.”

I’m not sure about this one, Timothy. A quick Googling produced a plethora of lawsuits Dr. Barrett has been involved in along with a notable list of inconsistencies in his approach to quackery. He doesn’t sound much more legit than the supposed quacks he points out.

A SLAPP suit? Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

In most states including mine, loser pays court costs and the other parties attorney fees. They can be expensive to bring about and lose. They usually lose.

These are routine with crackpots, religious kooks, and quacks. Their other common strategy is the usual, death threats.

I am glad there are people like Dr. Barrett exposing this metal toxicity pseudoscience for what it is. Granted there are individuals who actually do suffer from heavy metal toxicity, but chelation therapy can be a painful process that can have long term health consequences and should be a last resort. It reminds me of Hal Huggins who used to use urine tests and his “Amalgameter” to convince patients they needed all of their amalgams removed. The ADA ended up adding a section to their guide to dental ethics specifically addressing the removal of amalgam for health reasons, i.e. that it was unethical to do this in light of existing evidence. Sadly, there will still be many people who buy into the whole heavy metal toxicity scam, regardless of the evidence.

but chelation therapy can be a painful process that can have long term health consequences and should be a last resort.

It also can be and occasionally is fatal.

Chelators are used to remove toxic amounts of heavy metals from people exposed to large amounts from a source.

For normal, healthy people who haven’t been eating lead paint or working with mercury compounds, it is pointless and contraindicated.

Robin, I’ve only used his site a few times but I haven’t found anything inconsistent about it.

But that may be beside the point. In this particular case his reasons for disagreeing with them are clear, up front, and scientifically reasonable. When he makes claims about what the plaintiff knows or did, he provides references for those claims. I’m not saying he’s right, but I am saying that if you read the article the plaintiffs cite, I don’t think any reasonable person could classify it as libel. I gotta tentatively agree with Raven on this one - looks like a SLAPP suit to me.

Forget everything else. Only three things matter: 1) DD accused Barrett of posting fraudulent statements. 2) Barrett challenged DD to produce just one such statement. 3) DD was unable to do so.

It seems weird that the second “libleous” item in their list is a public court document. How is it lible to reproduce a public document?

Teresa said:

It seems weird that the second “libelous” item in their list is a public court document. How is it libel to reproduce a public document?

When the public document has information that will harm profits, of course.

Robin said:

I’m not sure about this one, Timothy. A quick Googling produced a plethora of lawsuits Dr. Barrett has been involved in along with a notable list of inconsistencies in his approach to quackery. He doesn’t sound much more legit than the supposed quacks he points out.

I don’t think you’d be happy if someone seriously posted something like, “A quick Googling of robin gave some inconsistencies on his/her approach to murder. He/she doesn’t sound much more legit than the supposed murderers he/she points out.” and then went to get a snack, would you?

Copying and pasting what you found and then outlining your case against Barrett wouldn’t take that much effort, would it? The fact that you didn’t bother makes me seriously question your ethics and motives. What you’ve written so far is just an unsubstantiated smear.

robin the driveby troll:

A quick Googling produced a plethora of lawsuits Dr. Barrett has been involved in..

Big deal. Barrett goes after quacks. There are whole fleets of quacks. They hate it when people with real medical degrees point out that they are quacks.

It most likely means Dr. Barrett is knowledgeable, effective, and scares them. A lot of quackery is on the edge of legal and these people are always on the lookout for the cops.

We saw something similar with the Terri Shiavo case, the decorticated woman in Florida. The fundie wackos said her husband had 50 wife abuse complaints lodged against him. That was so because the xian’s filed all 50 of them. They were investigated and found to be false. This is just lying in a round about fashion.

BTW, robin, hmmmm, that name sounds familiar. Aren’t the police looking for a serial killer named robin? Hah!!! Typing robin and serial killer into google yielded an astonishing 819,000 hits. Someone notify the FBI quick.

raven said:

robin the driveby troll:

A quick Googling produced a plethora of lawsuits Dr. Barrett has been involved in..

Big deal. Barrett goes after quacks. There are whole fleets of quacks. They hate it when people with real medical degrees point out that they are quacks.

It most likely means Dr. Barrett is knowledgeable, effective, and scares them. A lot of quackery is on the edge of legal and these people are always on the lookout for the cops.

We saw something similar with the Terri Shiavo case, the decorticated woman in Florida. The fundie wackos said her husband had 50 wife abuse complaints lodged against him. That was so because the xian’s filed all 50 of them. They were investigated and found to be false. This is just lying in a round about fashion.

BTW, robin, hmmmm, that name sounds familiar. Aren’t the police looking for a serial killer named robin? Hah!!! Typing robin and serial killer into google yielded an astonishing 819,000 hits. Someone notify the FBI quick.

I certainly hope not!

dpr

Teresa said:

It seems weird that the second “libleous” item in their list is a public court document. How is it lible to reproduce a public document?

I am guessing they are offended by the introduction blurb at the top of the article particularly “He subsequently learned that the diagnosis was incorrect and that the test used to diagnose it…is a fraud.”.

I apologise for removing the middle of the quote but I am a gutless coward who doesn’t want to find himself a co-defendant with Mr Barrett. ;o)

eric said:

Robin, I’ve only used his site a few times but I haven’t found anything inconsistent about it.

But that may be beside the point. In this particular case his reasons for disagreeing with them are clear, up front, and scientifically reasonable. When he makes claims about what the plaintiff knows or did, he provides references for those claims. I’m not saying he’s right, but I am saying that if you read the article the plaintiffs cite, I don’t think any reasonable person could classify it as libel. I gotta tentatively agree with Raven on this one - looks like a SLAPP suit to me.

Ok. I sit corrected on this. Thanks Eric! And my apologies to you Timothy!

raven said:

robin the driveby troll:

Yo…seriously? This was deserved…how? I’ve contributed for quite some time to this site with legitimate comments and scientific research, never mind posting consistently over the course of time here, so I really don’t think that name calling was called for. I made a comment based on a brief search having not heard of Dr. Barrett. Apparently my brief search was insufficient. I recognized that and apologized. Nothing about my post even suggested trolling or some disingenuous agenda - I merely made a comment that I wasn’t so sure about the accuracy given alternative information.

So if you are going to accuse me of being a drive by troll and/or questioning of my motives given my lack of cut-n-pasting, you might consider your own behaviors with regard to doing the same.

robin (not the serial killer one)

So if you are going to accuse me of being a drive by troll and/or questioning of my motives given my lack of cut-n-pasting, you might consider your own behaviors with regard to doing the same.

raven:

BTW, robin, hmmmm, that name sounds familiar. Aren’t the police looking for a serial killer named robin? Hah!!! Typing robin and serial killer into google yielded an astonishing 819,000 hits. Someone notify the FBI quick.

The point of the google experiment was that typing a name and a few terms into google doesn’t by itself tell anyone anything. Robin says, “you might consider your own behaviors with regard to doing the same.” Didn’t like it, did you? So why did you do it to Dr. Barrett?

OK, you are here so you are not a driveby, you aren’t going to make up lies about Barrett so you aren’t a troll, let’s move on.

I’m sympathetic with Dr. Barrett, having dealt with quacks a lot in the past and having seen patients with very treatable diseases end up dead at young ages. They are the bottom of the barrel.

There is sometimes a lot of money involved, sometimes their customers end up dead or permanently damaged, laws are either being edged or broken and law enforcement is always a possibility.

They tend to be paranoid and get vicious when people criticize them. Quacks will make up lies about you and spread them over the net, hack your computer systems and install spyware, contact your employers and lie to try to get you fired. These are common, routine, and just nuisances.

They will also threaten to sue you and rarely actually file SLAPP suits. One of their last resorts which is frequently reached, is death threats. Nothing like death threats from criminals who hack your computer and know your address to wake you up in the morning. It is also a dumb move but that never stops them. Death threats are felonies as a group known to me once found out the hard way when the FBI picked them up.

raven said:

robin (not the serial killer one)

So if you are going to accuse me of being a drive by troll and/or questioning of my motives given my lack of cut-n-pasting, you might consider your own behaviors with regard to doing the same.

raven:

BTW, robin, hmmmm, that name sounds familiar. Aren’t the police looking for a serial killer named robin? Hah!!! Typing robin and serial killer into google yielded an astonishing 819,000 hits. Someone notify the FBI quick.

The point of the google experiment was that typing a name and a few terms into google doesn’t by itself tell anyone anything. Robin says, “you might consider your own behaviors with regard to doing the same.” Didn’t like it, did you? So why did you do it to Dr. Barrett?

I’m well aware of what your point was - note my response to Eric who corrected me on pretty much the same point. He, otoh, didn’t call me a troll. Had you taken a page from your book of recommendations and actually done a search on my name on this site, you might have concluded I wasn’t a troll. But even beyond that, how did my post - as incorrect as I might have been in it - garner such an accusation?

OK, you are here so you are not a driveby, you aren’t going to make up lies about Barrett so you aren’t a troll, let’s move on.

Fair enough.

I’m sympathetic with Dr. Barrett, having dealt with quacks a lot in the past and having seen patients with very treatable diseases end up dead at young ages. They are the bottom of the barrel.

There is sometimes a lot of money involved, sometimes their customers end up dead or permanently damaged, laws are either being edged or broken and law enforcement is always a possibility.

They tend to be paranoid and get vicious when people criticize them. Quacks will make up lies about you and spread them over the net, hack your computer systems and install spyware, contact your employers and lie to try to get you fired. These are common, routine, and just nuisances.

They will also threaten to sue you and rarely actually file SLAPP suits. One of their last resorts which is frequently reached, is death threats. Nothing like death threats from criminals who hack your computer and know your address to wake you up in the morning. It is also a dumb move but that never stops them. Death threats are felonies as a group known to me once found out the hard way when the FBI picked them up.

All quite true. And believe me, having been involved with the health industry for the last 40 odd years or so I’m well acquainted with charlatans, predators, and quacks. I agree, they are some of the bottomest of the bottom dwellers in my book. Again I apologize not more thoroughly researching Dr. Barrett’s work before I questioned it. I just had not heard of him and when I did a Google, I came across what appeared to be legitimate criticisms of him. Clearly my skim was way off the mark.

Robin said: Again I apologize not more thoroughly researching Dr. Barrett’s work before I questioned it. I just had not heard of him and when I did a Google, I came across what appeared to be legitimate criticisms of him. Clearly my skim was way off the mark.

Sockpuppetry sometimes comes in the forms of multiple “different” TV or print ads, web pages, legal complaints, etc…

Don’t feel too bad. The reason “sling a lot of mud in the hopes that nonpartisan bystanders will assume some of it must be deserved” is such a common tactic is because it often works.

eric said:

Robin said: Again I apologize not more thoroughly researching Dr. Barrett’s work before I questioned it. I just had not heard of him and when I did a Google, I came across what appeared to be legitimate criticisms of him. Clearly my skim was way off the mark.

Sockpuppetry sometimes comes in the forms of multiple “different” TV or print ads, web pages, legal complaints, etc…

Don’t feel too bad. The reason “sling a lot of mud in the hopes that nonpartisan bystanders will assume some of it must be deserved” is such a common tactic is because it often works.

True that.

Wow. Rule 11 city. “Defendant refuses to remove statements he knows to be libelous (since he knows which ones are false and fraudulent, we don’t have to identify them). We win.”

Shebardigan said:

Wow. Rule 11 city. “Defendant refuses to remove statements he knows to be libelous (since he knows which ones are false and fraudulent, we don’t have to identify them). We win.”

SCO tried that tactic against IBM and got slapped down by the Magistrate Judge when IBM asked for specifics. (Details are at groklaw.net)

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Shebardigan said:

Wow. Rule 11 city. “Defendant refuses to remove statements he knows to be libelous (since he knows which ones are false and fraudulent, we don’t have to identify them). We win.”

Sounds familiar… “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.”

but chelation therapy can be a painful process that can have long term health consequences and should be a last resort.

not only directly dangerous, but indirectly as well:

In February 2010, in a suit against naturopath Mathew Schlechten, a Montana jury awarded $501,007.68 to the widow of John Sisson, who died of a heart attack at age 52 [31]. Testimony in the case indicated that although Schlechten knew that Sisson had anginal pain, he failed to refer him for medical evaluation. Instead he administered chelation therapy after using a provoked urine test to persuade Sisson that he was toxic.

http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quacker[…]e_toxic.html

This is the key thing many of us keep pointing out about why homeopathy/naturopathy is dangerous: It distracts from getting REAL treatment, often with catastrophic results.

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This page contains a single entry by Timothy Sandefur published on July 1, 2010 1:38 AM.

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