The History Of Quackery

History of Medicine

Dec 07
Snake Oil Poster

Mercury, the element, not the planet, was nicknamed “quicksilver” because it is silver in color and a liquid at room temperature. In German, the word is “quacksalber.”

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal.

In the fifteen hundreds, physicians were a highly untrained lot, having learned most of their trade as apprentices. Herbalism was the medicine of the time; herbalism, magic and a bit of prayer thrown in.

The Church was the government.

A physician of the time by the name of Paracelsus seems to be the first physician “lucky” enough to be labeled a quack. He made a salve that had a bit of mercury in it. He massaged it into a patient’s syphilitic rash, and the rash went away. Other physicians of the time claimed that the rash did not go away but went further and deeper into the patient’s body. They called him a quack for using quacksalber.

Since there were no spelling rules or conventions established at that time in history, there were a variety of spellings for quacksalber, quecksilber and quacksalver being just two more. Some dictionaries tell us that a quack was someone who applied a salve (from quacksalver) and boasted (quacked) about it. This is the sort of thing that happens when high school dropouts write dictionaries.

Other websites we’ve perused claim, anachronistically, that dentists using mercury fillings were the first to be called quacks. However, mercury amalgam fillings were not to be found in the fifteen hundreds when dentistry was handled by barbers, who, because of their strong stomachs, also did a lot of surgery in those days.

Being called a quack was actually not all that bad in the sixteenth century (fifteen hundreds). It was much better than being called a witch. If a physician cured someone who was obviously supposed to die, he could be called a witch and then burned. If a physician was called in to cure a dying member of the archdiocese, a priest or a bishop, and failed to do so, he too could be called a witch and get himself lit up like a candle. Quacks lived longer than witches, because, as we all know, witches are extremely flammable.

With the introduction of mercury into the pharmacopoeia, heroic medicine (and quackery) was born. Who would have predicted that mercury would be in our medicines right up to the late 1990s when the pharmaceutical companies would be forced to remove it from most  vaccinations. (They removed it first from animal vaccinations.) Science moves slowly when hindered by profits, it would seem.

Today, what is a quack?

According to the American Cancer Society’s Journal, “Quackery refers to treatments that are without value, offered by people who make claims that are untrue.”

It is generally accepted that conventional treatments have been tested following a strict set of guidelines and have been found to be safe and effective.

Sadly, what is generally accepted to be true oftentimes turns out to be totally untrue. Conventional treatments are not thoroughly tested (as you will soon see — just jump to the very last paragraph on this page) and as to their safety, well tell that to the quarter of a million people (low estimate) who die yearly from doctors, hospital stays, and drugs.

The year is 1847. Physicians, who are sick and tired of competing with Indians, quacks, and housewives (midwives) and who are barely squeaking by earning a living, get together to form the American Medical Association. The leader of the group is a young Dr Nathan Smith Davis, who had attained his medical degree at the tender age of 20.

Dr Nathan Smith Davis had a cause and a goal: to elevate the standard of medical education in the United States. A lot of physicians showed up because they were broke and were quite candid about their pecuniary situation. Dr Lawrence Wilson, MD in an article entitled: “Healing the Health-Care System,” gives us this excerpt from a report submitted at that first AMA convention:

The very large number of physicians in the United States has frequently been the subject of remark…. No wonder that the merest pittance in the way of remuneration is scantily doled out even to the most industrious in our ranks.

Medicine at the time, though called a “science” was really a philosophy. In fact, a few who headed a Medical School also chaired the Philosophy Department. The philosophy of medicine allowed for no dissenters.

Only “regulars” were allowed to join the AMA. The term “regulars” meant no herbalists, no midwives, no homeopaths, and no Indian doctors. In fact, soon bylaws would be enacted at the AMA in which any regular physician even dealing with a “non-regular” could be tossed out. It got to the point where one physician had his AMA membership revoked for buying milk sugar from a homeopathic pharmacist. [Divided Legacy]

The medicine of the time consisted of blood letting, blistering, mercury poisoning, and a lot of other nonsense we all can laugh at with hindsight. However, the goals of the AMA were rooted in decency and humanity:

  • In 1847 the AMA Committee on Medical Education was appointed, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics written and published, and the AMA sets first minimal standards for medical education.
  • In 1848 the AMA notes the dangers of universal traffic in secret remedies and patent medicine.
  • In 1849 the AMA establishes a board to analyze quack remedies and nostrums and to enlighten the public in regard to the nature and dangerous tendencies of such remedies. []

So there you have it, the biggest bunch of quacks in the nation get all worked up and start a quack hunt. Well, it must have been something to see, because it’s still going on today.

Of course, I’m being harsh. These physicians thought they were doing what was best given their level of understanding. Science had not even advanced to the point of testing an hypothesis yet. In fact, testing was considered quackery. The best physicians simply followed their teachings no matter what outcome because it was accepted at this time that their knowledge came from a higher source. The common person could not possibly understand the workings of their so-called “science.”

As you can learn in our article on the History of Medicine 1800 to the Civil War, there was not a single visitor from Europe who did not return home to tell others of the remarkable ill health of the average American. Our skin was sallow, our eyes were sunken, hair thin, and our teeth and jaws were crooked. Interestingly enough, these are all symptoms of mercury poisoning. The safest place to be during these years was on the frontier where you had only a few irritated Natives to contend with.

As long as there is a profit to be made, there will be profiteers. And profiteers don’t always supply you with the best goods. From the early eighteen hundreds to the present, there have always been quacks with wildly exaggerated cures that could never possibly live up to the hype. (Just look at the diet pill industry.) However, just because someone with authority calls someone else a quack does not make it so. This is the history of quackery: so-called authorities calling true healers “quacks.”

Today, quackery has become, for the most part, anything that takes money or prestige away from the one screaming “quack” or from those represented by the one screaming “quack.” This is the historical definition of quackery.

However, in any good witch-hunt, it is always advisable to gather up a real witch now and then so as to lend an air of honesty and credibility to the hunt. Quackery has little to do with the effectiveness of any treatment. If it did, all things labeled quackery would be tested fairly prior to the attachment of the label. Which they are not.

Traveling sideshows offering bottled cures show up in Westerns (remember Little Big Man?). Most early remedies just made you feel good because they contained alcohol. When heroin (and/or morphine; derived from heroin) was introduced to this country, many new patent remedies cropped up. Then there were the discoveries of cocaine and opium. Early Coca-Cola contained cocaine. Early 7Up contained lithium. Laudanum was a very popular cure-all consisting of alcohol and opium. Everyone got rich selling drugs. The first snake oil sold, however, was oil from a snake which was high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. The first nostrum (medicine) labeled “snake oil,” was an echinacea tincture. The hawker got bit by a few snakes, gulped down a good shot of the tincture, and nothing happened to him. He got rich selling his snake oil.

In 1905, Colliers magazine published an expose on the patent remedy industry in a series of articles called “The Great American Fraud.” The series uncovered the dirty little secrets of this industry, warning its readership of the cocaine, morphine, and alcohol contents of their “feel-good” remedies. You can read the entire article at the Gutenberg Project.

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, is located within the new Science Museum of Minnesota and holds the largest collection of medical quackery to be found anywhere. With the advent of electricity and gadgetry, also grew the medical device industry and if you are ever in Minnesota and need a few belly laughs, this museum is just what the doctor ordered.

There’s an online Museum of Questionable Medical Devices that is worth a gander or two.

However, the one thing these museums do not have is a collection of the thousands and thousands of pills with which conventional medicine once dosed and overdosed the American public. Pills are not that interesting, and if you consider the American Cancer Society’s definition of quackery: “treatments that are without value, offered by people who make claims that are untrue,” then we have to admit that our conventional medicine has engaged in much more quackery than anyone. The life span of any drug is just about ten years. Do drugs go out of fashion? Are they suddenly life saving and then suddenly not life saving? There is much more constancy in herbalism than in modern pharmacology. Those herbs discovered 200 years ago are still being used today.

Pills are not interesting. Electronic devices that look like space helmets from the movie Back to the Future which are supposed to grow hair and stimulate brain function are much more exciting than a jar of pills. Though, if one were to collect every single pill that turned out to be worthless and present them all in one big bottle, now THAT would be something.

Yes, there are quack remedies out there and people promoting them, but who among us can clearly state which is quackery and which works? I recall one quotation claiming “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Joseph Lister, who introduced aseptic surgical techniques, was attacked and called a quack. Ignaz Semmelweis was persecuted for urging doctors in 1859 to wash their hands prior to delivering babies. His life ended in an insane asylum. Pasteur was called a quack. Penicillin was looked down upon and the powers that be refused to test it for years.

Penicillin sat on my shelf for 12 years while I was called a quack. I can only think of the thousands who died needlessly because my peers would not use my discovery.

Dr Alexander Fleming

All medical innovations are “alternatives,” and all alternatives must go through an initial phase of being labeled quackery; this is one sad law of medicine.

The First Law of Quackery: Quackery is inversely proportional to the amount of money backing the drug or procedure.

The more money, the more valid the therapy and none dare call it quackery.

Take old Bill Rockefeller. He got tired of farming and decided to hang up a shingle and practice medicine. Well, somewhere between an office visit and a house call, the Rockefellers discovered oil. Bill was quite saddened that the automobile had yet to be invented, so he bottled up the crude oil, gave it a pretty name: Nujol, and sold it as a cancer cure. [Beal, The Drug Story]

Years later when the empirical sciences started blossoming (empiricism was quackery to the stodgy old school of medicine in most of the 19th century; empiricism meant “testing” one’s theories [and therapies] and one just did not test because good science was good science and that is that) someone informed the Rockefellers that they really shouldn’t call their Nujol a cancer cure since it wasn’t curing any cancer and all it did was give you a good case of diarrhea. So Nujol became a laxative.

Next a group of scientists contacted the Rockefellers and warned them that their Nujol was actually doing damage. It seems that it pulled fat-soluble vitamins from those using it. The Rockefellers responded by fortifying Nujol with some vitamin A and released the new improved version of Nujol, which still leached vitamins and most likely caused cancer, but by the time scientists were about to confirm that Nujol, or mineral oil (it had been cleaned up a bit), was not a substance humans should be ingesting, the Rockefellers had taken control of the pharmaceutical industry and they quietly dropped Nujol from their pharmacopoeia while promoting other remedies that would eventually fall by the wayside, but in the meanwhile, these drugs (all obsolete today) helped these people of humble roots to become the richest people on earth.

Never once was a Rockefeller treatment labeled quackery, and as an aside, there is no museum of quackery in which a bottle of Nujol can be found.

“Before doctors rush to condemn the weak evidence base underpinning these alternative therapies they should pause and consider the record of orthodox medicine.” Ulrich Trohler, Prof of history of medicine at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

Many stories from the annals of orthodox medicine involve a man who became the most powerful person in the history of modern American medicine, who for nearly 50 years ran medicine in America, a man whom we will discuss in depth (at a later date) in a biography, a man who “might” have been a physician (though we cannot prove this for sure though he seems to have flunked anatomy); a physician who never treated a single patient. His name is Morris Fishbein.

Morris Fishbein

Morris Fishbein

Morris Fishbein was a racketeer. If you wanted the AMA’s “Seal of Acceptance” on your product, you had to pay Morris for protection. If you did not pay, he destroyed you. We’ll discuss in depth Fishbein’s stranglehold on medicine as our series on the History of Medicine grows, I promise, but for now, the Land O’Lakes story is a gem.

They paid Fishbein’s price, got their Seal of Acceptance, and were allowed to advertise in the many journals the AMA oversaw. Then a little while later when some contaminated product from Land O’Lakes killed a few people, did the AMA drop their support? Not at all, because Land O’Lakes kept renewing their advertising/protection payments. [Beal, The Drug Story]

Another interesting book (that took the author, Eustace Mullins some thirty years of research to write) is Murder By Injection. It really digs up the dirt on the AMA and medical fraud.  Here is a piece from his book:

Under Fishbein’s editorship, the AMA health magazine, Hygiea, Carried the banner headlines, “PURE FOODS, HONESTLY ADVERTISED.” “The Seal of Acceptance of the Committee of Foods of the AMA is your best guarantee that the claims of quality for any product are correct and that the advertising for it is truthful. Look for the Seal on every food that you buy. White Star Tuna and Chicken of the Sea brand Tuna have this acceptance.” At the very time that Fishbein was running these advertisements, the Food and Drug Administration was repeatedly seizing shipments of these very brands of tuna, condemning them because “they consisted in whole or in part of decomposed animal substance.” So much for the Seal of Acceptance.

According to Mullins, the AMA had no facilities to test any of the food products or drugs they put their Seal of Acceptance on; the only qualification was their ability to pay Fishbein his protection fees, or, advertising fees, as they were called then.

After the publication of “The Great American Fraud” in Colliers, something very significant occurred. It was touted as a boon to food safety. It was called: The Food Safety Act. Our first formal regulation concerning our food supply. However good it was to mankind, it was an absolute affront to the Constitution of the United States, but lately, what isn’t?


By regulating the drugs in this country, the profits left the hands of the many and were dumped into the hands of the few. This was out and out restriction of free trade, but in the name of “science” the government had to protect “the little guy” from being bamboozled by these purveyors of junk medicine. In reality, the laws protected the big guys who sold us our drugs. No one protected us from them then, just as no one protects us from them now.

We are told by the FDA, AMA, and NCI that the medicine we get is based upon science. Just how good that science is and while highlighting the prejudice built into the system is the main purpose of this essay.

Science, like justice, is blind. The answers cannot be bought, finagled, or cajoled. The answers given to us by science are objective and true, given the same parameters. This is true, objective science.

Progress is always shocking, always difficult. As Albert Einstein stated: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Great spirits are often called quacks by mediocre minds.

Having mentioned two famous quacks, Semmelweis and Lister, we can now tell you that the two innovations they gave us plus the advent of personal hygiene (women began to wash diapers right around the Civil War period; rather than just dry them out and reuse them) that added over 16 years to the average lifespan in America by the turn of the 20th century. When people tell you that the long life spans of today are due to modern medical science, you can say, yeah, sure, in the form of cleanliness, hygiene, and carbolic acid.

Health and longevity are all about preventive medicine, and we are told that one of our biggest eye-opening pieces here is called “Who Is the Father of Preventive Medicine?” You’ll find a brilliant physician in that article who saved over 82,000 lives with nutrition, hygiene, and hugs.

So, where are we today? Let us take a look at Racketeering in Medicine, by Dr James Carter, MD.

It’s always good to get the viewpoint of someone in the profession about that profession, for as for outsiders, like myself, we are often told that our opinions are invalid.

The Second Law of Quackery (also known as the law of skew): The chances of a study being skewed are directly proportional to the amount of money to be lost or gained by the outcome.

On just page three of his book, Dr Carter asks, “May we assume that objectivity goes hand in hand with scientific inquiry?” and answers, “No.” “Corporations now control the practice of medicine with the weight of their wallets. Driven by the stock market, medicine is embroiled in an economic turf war.”

He goes on to say, “The financial giants of business and industry and their corporate sponsored philanthropies, such as the American Cancer Society, spend and lobby mightily for laws representing their investments.”

As Deep Throat said to the two reporters for the Washington Post: “Follow the money.”

How do the entrenched power battle the encroachment of alternatives? According to Dr Carter, there are two main methods:

  1. “Negative peer review is usually authored by doctors and researchers who know little, sometimes nothing at all about the alternative methods they have been asked to criticize.” [see also, Quackbuster Stephen Barrett: “Not an Expert,” Declares Judge!]
  2. “Sloppy or contrived research has, at times, been used to debunk an alternative therapy.” [as demonstrated by the quackwatch website]

Then finally there’s the, what I like to call, Watergate approach:

To suppress alternative medicine, organized medicine resorts to bad behaviors: disinformation, smear campaigns of libel and slander, harassment, unwarranted IRS audits, enticement of patients and family members to sue doctors where there is no reason (even offering financial payment to do so), entrapment by undercover agents posing as sick patients who may persistently beg for alternative treatments, illegal wiretaps, and break-ins and records theft. [Carter, Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives]

Licensing of physicians can be viewed in a number of ways. For one thing, it allows the State to tell the individual what is good for that individual. Although there is little proof that the State really knows what’s good for the individual (and lots of historical evidence to the contrary), we the people have allowed this iniquity to occur.  [See also: Health Care for Dummies, or How the Rich Got Richer While the Sick Got Sicker]

Any licensing or regulating of medicine is unconstitutional because it restricts free trade. Attorneys for the very rich pharmaceutical companies argue that without licensing and regulations quackery would abound. Attorneys for the people, well, they don’t exist (or if they do exist, they’re all in hiding with the lobbyists for the people). However, continue reading and you will see that licensing and regulations have never really stopped quackery since there are many a licensed quack still practicing.

When a licensed physician employs an alternative therapy in his practice (such as intravenous vitamin C or chelation therapy), organized medicine will target in on that physician in the following manner, according to Dr Carter:

  1. Negative, sometimes fabricated, evidence is presented to the state board of medical examiners with a request for an official investigation.
  2. The process results in prosecution.
  3. Intimidating pressures are exerted on doctors to cease their alternative approach or lose their licenses to practice medicine.
  4. The licensing boards engage in investigations and proceedings which are often confidential and kept secret even from the doctors.

The only recourse is to go through the process, and then go to court afterwards suing the medical boards, which many physicians have done, but only if they can afford the process. You see, the moneyed agencies (Board of Medical Practices, FDA, Post Office, IRS, you name it) can spend as much as they want because they have the bottomless pockets of the government to reach into. The accused (accursed) has only her/his limited income to fall back on. One way of destroying any practice is for the richer of the two combatants to continually file frivolous lawsuits till the poorer goes broke. Isn’t democracy grand?

“I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the 14th Amendment includes corporations.” Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black (1938)

The Modern History of Quackbusters Quackpots

Here is where the story really gets good. Sure there’ve been quack hunts for centuries. Anyone can call anyone else a quack, but once you get organized with a load of capital behind you, then you can not only call a person a quack, you can totally destroy that person and the therapy that person has to offer, despite the validity of that therapy.

The AMA created the Department of Investigation to hunt out quackery in 1906. The DOI was disbanded in 1975. In its sixty-nine years, the DOI went after a lot of true quacks as well as “enemies” of the AMA, such as those who would threaten their profits or the profits of the pharmaceutical interests. Dr Carter writes, “Files were kept on Dr Andrew Ivy, Dr Wilhelm Reich, the National Health Federation, the International Association of Cancer Victims and Friends (recovered cancer patients of alternative physicians), Dr Carlton Fredricks, and the Palmer Chiropractic College, among others. This department of the AMA also kept files on such subjects as health foods, vitamins, acupuncture, faith healing, and scientology.”

In 1963 the AMA Committee on Quackery was established by its Board of Trustees for the sole purpose “to study the chiropractic problem.” H Doyle Taylor, who had served ten years on the AMA’s Department of Investigation was appointed the Secretary of the Committee. In 1971, in a memo to the AMA Board of Trustees, Taylor wrote, “Your Committee has considered its prime mission to be the first containment of Chiropractic and ultimately the elimination of Chiropractic.”

In 1964 the AMA formed the CCHI (Coordinating Conference on Health Information) as an offshoot on their committee on Quackery. According to Dr Carter, the CCHI was a secretive, covert organization with no public scrutiny. It spawned the infamous NCHF, National Council Against Health Fraud. “The director of each regional chapter must actually swear an oath of secrecy.” The distance between the AMA and the NCHF was established just wide enough to provide “lots of plausible deniability to the mother organization, the AMA, which gave birth to it.” [Carter]

The CCHI was made up by many more than just representatives of the AMA. The list includes: members of the Federal Trade Commission, the FDA, the US Postal Service, the Arthritis Foundation, American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Cancer Association, and Better Business Bureau. Why would so many non-physicians join this club? Retirement is always easier on two incomes than just one.

The CCHI existed formally for ten years. Its goals became the goals of Congressman Claude Peppers (as you’ll see below). They disbanded, about the same time the Committee on Quackery also formally disbanded, but PJ Lisa, who wrote his book Are You A Target for Elimination? [Very rare book. There may or may not be a copy at that link.] suggests they did not really disband, but went underground. It seems that, according to Lisa, before disbanding, each member received a very thick document of the goals and objectives of the CCHI while turning over its functions to some other entity. Members were told that the proceedings were for the members only and that minutes should not be formally recorded.

Lisa contends that the activities of the CCHI were turned over to the NCHF, California Council against Health Fraud, and the others. Dr Carter tells us: “The first official meeting of this group [a shadow organization of the CCHI], under the rubric of Clearinghouse for Health Information Against Fraud, was held in May, 1984.”

Though they would have us think they are a consumer advocate organization akin to Ralph Nader and his people, “when you analyze their make-up and how they came into existence, you soon realize that they don’t represent consumers at all.”

Their purpose? To preserve the monopoly enjoyed by Organized Medicine.

In the late 1970s, Congressman Claude Pepper sponsored his “Strike Force” bill (HR6051) calling for the establishment of a clearing house for information on medical quackery and a Strike Force to go after persons or groups accused of health fraud. The AMA had attempted to establish a secret strike force in the early seventies. However, because House Bills are not prepared in secrecy, the house was inundated with mail opposing the Pepper Bill, as pro-choice advocates in health care groups (like the National Health Federation) launched an all out effort to keep their health options opened. The bill failed to reach the floor.

In 1984, the AMA created their own strike force.

The amazing thing about this Strike Force was that, after the Pepper Bill failed to go anywhere, all the agencies that would have been involved in the working of the bill carried on as if it had been passed, only secretively and covertly. Dr Carter highlights a bit of disinformation inserted by the Strike Force into a speech by the Deputy Director of the NCI alleging that Dr Burton’s vaccine used in his immuno-augmentative therapy had been contaminated by the AIDS virus; the only mention anywhere of HIV was in this speech. Yet it was enough to close Burton’s clinic temporarily in Freeport, Bahamas.

One more example? Half a million dollars was awarded by the NCI to establish a database of “unproven” therapies, as was originally proposed by the Pepper Bill, that is the “failed” Pepper Bill.

The bill was never passed, but the agencies to be involved carried on their disinformation campaign.

Even the American Cancer Society got in on the action claiming that 28 billion a year was spent on unproven methods; a statement which was quickly picked up by USA today. The ACS claimed that this figure came from the OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). The OTA’s response: “We would be reluctant to give a figure as data are not available on which we could ground such an estimate. Thus we cannot support any figure, including $28 billion.”

During the sixties and seventies the AMA’s COQ (Committee on Quackery) launched a smear campaign fraught with such well-organized dirty tricks that would make Karl Rove blush.

Chiropractic colleges got faked letters that enticed them into making medical claims. If a claim was made, the letter was turned over to postal inspectors as evidence of mail fraud. Some students to Chiropractic colleges were plants from the AMA while other “observers” attended chiropractic conventions. The Committee on Quackery also pressured the Department of Labor to remove their chapter on Chiropractic in their Health Careers Guide Book.

And in a scenario that has been played out repeatedly throughout the history of Quackery, the AMA sponsored a study on chiropractic to be carried out by the Stanford Research Institute and then falsified the data to achieve negative results. (Remember the Second Law of Quackery? The chances of a study being skewed are directly proportional to the amount of money to be lost or gained by the outcome.) Then it got the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to accept the study as objective, independent research.

Though a successful anti-trust lawsuit played out against the AMA in 1976 by chiropractors, the AMA continued on in their conspiracy to restrict free trade. Finally, having gathered enough evidence of wrongdoing, the chiropractors sued the AMA. The FTC agreed with the chiropractors and ruled that the AMA was in violation of monopoly laws, but the lengthy battle of Wilkes v. AMA finally landed in a federal district court where Judge Susan Getzedanner, in 1987, ruled that the AMA had engaged in an illegal conspiracy to destroy the chiropractic profession by engaging in “systematic, long-term wrong-doing with the long-term intent to destroy a licensed profession.” The AMA was ordered to cease and desist. Judge Getzedanner also ordered “a permanent injunction against the AMA, forcing them to print the court’s findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Several other of the defendants settled out of court helping to pay for the chiropractors’ legal expenses and donating to a chiropractic non-profit home for disabled children, the Kentuckian Children’s Center.

“This decision was upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and again by the U.S. Supreme Court that same year.”

If you visit the quackpot websites, you’ll still find the AMA’s attack on chiropractic, but supposedly by people not associated with them. They still quote the faked study from Stanford.

The AMA has been on a witch-hunt since its conception. In rare moments, it has been candid in its motivation: profit. The AMA has opposed all forms of medicine that have cut into its profits, not just non-traditional forms of medicine. They’ve attacked midwifery, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, massage therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, optometry, chelation therapy, and the list goes on. Since 1977, the National Council Against Health Fraud seems to have become their mouthpiece, along with a network of seemingly different organizations, though according to an article published in Vegetarian Times called “The Health Fraud Cops—Are the Quackbusters Consumer Advocates or Medical McCarthyites?”

“… leaders of each organization are on the boards of nearly every other affiliate group.”

  • The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCHF) – receives funding from the National Pharmaceutical Council, the AMA, and food industry.
  • The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) – funded by industry, National Agricultural Chemicals Association, duPont, Monsanto, Procter and Gamble, Dow Chemical, and many from the food industry: Frito-Lay, Burger King, Land O’Lakes, Oscar Meyer, Hershey Foods. Their main job is to counter all claims against pesticides, irradiated foods, genetically engineered foods, antibiotics, hormones, etc.
  • The Consumer Health Information Research Institute (CHIRI) – its constituency is the health insurance industry serving the industry by determining which therapies and disabilities qualify for insurance compensation. Disabilities that have been at odds with this organization include fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity/environmental illness, chronic fatigue. They maintain a database of some 40,000 physicians and health care using “questionable medical practices”
  • The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOPS) – its purpose is to debunk all forms of faith/spiritual healing as well as ESP and paranormal experiences.
  • International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is self described as a group “that conducts science for the public good and improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment. International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI, was outed by USRTK (US Right to Know) as being a food industry lobby group.

Dr Victor Herbert, referred to often as a legend in his own mind, was a long time member of the NCHF. His attack on Dr Warren Levin, MD in New York stands as a lesson in history. The only person with a complaint against Dr Levin was Herbert; no patients had any complaints. The battle began in 1980 and ended in 1994 with Levin coming out on top, if you consider being bankrupted, both personally and professionally, as coming out on top.

The NCHF created a list of 2,500 doctors they determined to be Quacks. Two time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling was on that list. There were, probably, a few on that list who were quacks. Always good to toss in one or two so you can prove your point.

Stephen Barrett (we won’t call him doctor as he is no longer licensed and no one seems to have come forward to stand up for him by telling us that he’s actually practiced medicine—heck, you’d think he’d have at least one patient who would stand up for him) is another so-called quackbuster, though we will refer to him as a quackpot from now on. He attacked Dr Shari Lieberman, RD, PhD, winning a slight victory against her; she was stripped of her credentials. However, it soon came to light that the charges against her had been falsified: “Under cross examination, Dr. Barrett admitted that he was not in fact, an expert in nutrition science, describing himself instead as an expert in ‘consumer strategy’ and a ‘journalist.’ This deposition clearly showed that Dr. Barrett did not have a thorough grounding in the scientific research relevant to the serious charges he made against Dr. Lieberman that caused her substantial harm,” writes Dr Julian M. Whitaker, MD []

Elizabeth Whelan of the ACSH is another name you should know about. Her job is to tell us that sound scientific principles, though funded by Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Burger King (see above), prove that we are safe little kittens consuming foods bathed in pesticides, herbicides, and whatever other chemical just happens to make its way into the food chain. She tells us emphatically that, “it’s wrong to terrify people about trace levels of chemicals that cause cancer in mice ….” Whenever someone, like Oprah for example, stands up to the food industry for trying to poison us, it’s the ACSH that will send out their pseudo scientists to tell us the exact opposite. []

This is where we stood on Quackery in America as of the year 2000.

After the AMA lost their battle against Chiropractic and were told to “cease and desist,” a true conspiracy began. Now, I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but what do you call it when, after being told to stop what you are doing, you continue doing it on the sly?

Tons of papers, files, lists had been written, compiled, and gathered despite the failure of the Pepper Bill to pass, as you’ve already read. The AMA could no longer continue it’s crusade, so suddenly it had a ton of materials to get rid of, and where did they go? It seems to have ended up in Stephen Barrett’s 1,800 square foot basement in Allentown, PA.”

Today the Bipartisan Report rates thus:

  • Overall, we rate Quackwatch a pro-science source with a moderate left-wing political agenda.

And yet the articles at this site, though claiming to be the word of God, are full of misinformation and disinformation that it is best to believe the exact opposite of what is touted there. Barrett is not very bright; he could not have written all those articles. And even though his site is given the seal of approval by the URAC and is even listed by AARP to be one of the top ten medical sites on the web. But then AARP and the URAC are still running interference for the drug companies that pay their fees.

Barrett and his minions are currently being exposed for who and what they are: Judge Declares: Quackbuster Not An Expert.

Millions of health freedom fighters suddenly realize that this network of quackbusters is really just a handful of quackpots whose most recent annual meeting at a Super 8 motel in Missouri proved laughable. They are, indeed, “paper tigers.”

And finally there is the public outrage. People are up in arms that a relative had to die because of a suppressed therapy. In December of 2002 the New England Journal of Medicine came down hard on chemotherapy and boosted interest in alternatives. In fact, it seems that conventional treatment of multiple myeloma ranked no better than no treatment at all in a study published in the British Journal of Cancer [2000;82:1254-60]

In November of 1993, the state of Wisconsin finally gave up in its case against a chelation doctor while at the same time dumping the quackbusters (quackpots). We’d love for you to read the original article here: State Drops Case Against Alternative Medicine Doctor, but the news station reporting the story took it off the web. “It is a victory for freedom of choice, and I think it’s a victory for complementary and alternative medicine and, quite frankly, I think it’s a victory for Dr. Kadile, personally,”

Yes, a victory for the people as now the State Board of medical licensing must allow physicians to use chelation therapy, but mainly it was a great victory for all humans as the quackpots were shown to be the ludicrous, frothing, liars that some of us have known them to be all along. The icing on the cake is that the quackpot originating the malicious lawsuit in the first place against Dr Kadile was sued in Federal court, butthis story has been removed from the web too.

So what is quackery? Quackery is fraud. What is science? Science is truth, or at least a search for truth. Though somewhere along the line science turned into fraud and humans turned into cadavers, unable to get the health care they needed, their health freedom being abrogated by those who “know better.” [An interesting read and thorough representation of science can be found here: Studies Show.]

The Third Law of Quackery: Beware of the person calling another a “Quack,” for that person is most likely to be what they would dignify the other.

The Times, They Are a Changing

Stick around. We’ve got more on the many frauds perpetrated upon the American public, ostensibly in the name of science, but truly in the name of greed, avarice, and power. If you want to know how “conventional medicine” got its monopolistic hold on health, read  Health Care for Dummies, or How the Rich Got Richer While the Sick Got Sicker.

However, if you would like to truly understand the width, breath, and depth to medical fraud in America, all done under the supposed name of “science,” you might wish to peruse a publication by the Office of Technical Assessment. We learned from Dr Carter, in his book, Racketeering in Medicine, that, “in 1978 [the OTA] published a report that only 10 to 20% of all medical procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious [effective] by controlled trial.” Furthermore, “The OTA further notes that [these 10 to 20% medical procedures] which purport to having been proven effective are in some cases based on flawed research.” We found the publication on the web, and if you want to do some homework, here it is: Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies. Oh, and please don’t write to me that 1978 was a long time ago, because all signs show that the situation has gotten even worse since then.

Today, we are killing, according to Dr Carolyn Dean MD, ND, author of Death By Modern Medicine, 784,000 people yearly in America. Saddam Hussein did not kill that many people each year. No one in conventional medicine has a right to point any fingers.

References and Further Reading:

Divided Legacy, Harris L Coulter (Fascinating book…must read)

Racketeering in Medicine: The Suppression of Alternatives

The Drug Story, Morris A Bealle (Out of Print – but you can find it with the link) 

Murder by Injection, Eustice Mullins  (especially if you like conspiracy theories, but you’ll want to fact check some of this.)

Death by Modern Medicine, Dean, Carolyn, MD, ND (Very expensive, out of print, but I could not have written this piece without it.) r

Fifty Years of Folly and Fraud “In the Name of Science”: by Irwin Bross, PhD (We cannot even locate a copy of this today, but the link will send you to AbeBooks where you can find other books he’s written.)

  • Teah Coffaro says:

    Thank you!

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