Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spread the Word: Quacks Sue a Skeptic For Telling the Truth

[Thanks for posting this Hemant! Welcome, Friendly Atheist readers!]

Circle the wagons, because the U.S. now has its very own Simon Singh case. Stephen Barrett M.D. of Quackwatch is being sued by a group calling themselves "Doctor's Data", a bunch of wacky chelation therapy gurus. To be clear, chelation does have legitimate uses (most famously to get lead out of the blood stream with EDTA) but you can't use chelation for the things that the wackos at Doctor's Data say you can. Here's the write-up that brought their lawyers down on Barrett. A sure sign of quackery is overreaction to criticism.

As for Barrett's work - Quackwatch has been one of the venerable institutions in the world of internet medical skeptics. I remember corresponding with him back in 2000. He's been doing good work for skepticism and medicine for a long time, and he needs our help. Spread the word, post in the comments on blogs, and email big-time bloggers. And if you can, prove that rationalists support each other: donate.

H/T In the Pipeline, an excellent biotech business and technology blog by Derek Lowe. It should be noted that Lowe's skeptical credentials are also in order, and he has also recently been threatened by a company whose outlandish claims he dared question. Hint to easily offended nutjobs, with or without business plans: empirical reality is not based on legal zeal.


Liz Ditz said...

I've written up a post on the background and rationale for Dr. Barrett to have written the articles Doctor's Data objects to. As I sometimes do, I have a running list of blog posts and articles commenting on the issue. I've included yours.

Michael Caton said...

Awesome, thanks Liz!

Tim Bolen said...

Stephen Barrett is in big trouble in the Doctor's Data v Barrett case.

BIG trouble.

You can follow the case at There you can sign up for the newsletter, and follow the case as it happens.

Currently Barrett has filed a Motion to Dismiss the case, but there is little chance that will happen. His reason he wants a Dismissal? He claims he is "assisting the government..."

Next comes "discovery," a process where Barrett will have to cough up thousands of documents, then go into a video-taped Deposition where he will be forced to answer questions about his support network - those that helped him get his articles on the first page of search engines.

Barrett's lead attorney seems to have disappeared, and he has been LATE making EVERY filing deadline since the case began.

The fun has just begun.

Michael Caton said...

Tim, forgive the assumption, but you would seem to be on Doctor's Data side. You're not one of those people that gets paid to scour the internet for negative press, are you? I see a lot of court-action-based character accusations in your comment, but not a lot about the substance of the case, which would certainly reinforce the opinion that people have of businesses like Doctor's Data. If I'm wrong about this I welcoem your response, but please refer above: "A sure sign of quackery is overreaction to criticism."