Quacks, snake oil vendors and other health risks


A reader recently informed me about two Web sites that offer useful lists of health care scams, quacks and general misinformation.

The first, Quackwatch, seems very extensive.  It lists all sorts of phony health care claims, practitioners, etc. in alphabetical order.  One can spend hours there going through the various sections.  There’s a Navigation Guide to make that easier, and a useful Search function that helps locate articles of relevance.  For example, I ran a search on “homeopathy”, and found several useful sources.

The second Web site, the Genetic Literacy Project, lists “8 advocacy organizations and websites spreading misinformation about technology, chemicals, agriculture, food and environmental risks“.  This is rather more controversial:  their list includes Greenpeace and Friends Of The Earth, which have many supporters and advocates.  Nevertheless, they provide evidence to support their inclusion in the list.  You’ll have to read this article for yourself, and decide which side to believe.

I’m sure there are more such resources out there.  If you know of one or more, please tell us about them in Comments.  We all need accurate information.



  1. Greenpeace is nothing more than subversive communist organization, purposely designed to cause problems for the Western World. (Nobody else pays any attention to their blathering, and sinks their ships when they try to interfere.) They are probably the most recognizable of the eco-terrorist fronts.

    Friends of the Earth was founded in 1969 in San Francisco by one of the founders of the Sierra Club, who left that organization because they weren't active enough for his tastes. Do I really have to say any more?

  2. The list put out by the GLP is pretty solid. There is a lot, I mean a lot, of really wrong information out there, and some of it is pushed by people who get big press. Can't remember the name of the guy, but he's been promoted on major mainstream 'news' media and he's a flat out quack. And he is not alone. Learning what sources to steer clear of is a good start to a healthy skepticism.

  3. very good to excellent on dental information
    I won't comment on COVID information except to say that the New York Times is considered a good source of information

  4. Quackwatch highlights obnoxious behavior and false claims made by "alternative" practitioners and ignores similar behavior and false claims made by conventional medical practitioners.

    The site is operated by Stephen Barrett, a retired physician. It is the successor to his Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud. The Committee was primarily funded by the drug industry; Quackwatch's funding is via a 501(c)3 organization that doesn't report its donors.

    In the course of a two year inquiry by the Government of New Zealand to determine whether chiropractic ought to be paid for by health insurance in New Zealand, the court heard Barrett's testimony and investigated other evidence.

    Regarding Barrett, the commission stated:

    We have considered material published over Barrett's name. The chapter on chiropractic in The Health Robbers (entitled "The Spine Salesmen") was written by him. It is plainly propaganda. What we have seen of the rest of his writings on chiropractic has the same tone. Nothing he has written on chiropractic that we have considered can be relied on as balanced.

    About Barrett's Lehigh Valley Committee:

    It is clear that the enthusiasm of the Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud is greater than its respect for accuracy, at least in regards to facts concerning chiropractic. We are not prepared to place any reliance on material emanating from the Lehigh Valley Committee.

    Needless to say, Barrett/Quackwatch disputes this. The Consumers Union also came off badly in the report.

    In line with the behavior noted by the New Zealand government, Quackwatch fails to mention an interesting paper on a study which used homeopathy as an adjunct in cancer treatment.

    Specifically, they were investigating whether homeopathic treatment had any effect on quality of life in patients with advanced lung cancer.

    "Lessons learned: Conventional medicine and homeopathy work well together. Quality of life improves with additive homeopathy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Survival improves with additive homeopathy in patients with NSCLC."


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