Quackbuster Report Card: D(-) and Sinking Fast…

Everybody in the North American Health Freedom Movement knows who the “quackbusters” are. It’s been said, often, “If you’re not on Stephen Barrett’s dubious “quackwatch” website, then you’re NOT IMPORTANT in REAL health care. The more space he gives you, the bigger the threat you are.”

Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen

But the question that’s always there is “who’s winning the war – us, or them?”

Well, believe it or not, the US Government did a survey through the National Science Foundation (NSF), in 2001, about our war, and the results will ASTOUND you.

So, let’s ask the obvious questions, the ones the NSF was finding the answers for, and have the NSF study answer them…

The Questions and the Answers…

(Q) How big an effect is the New York ad agency, and it’s array of lower “quackbuster” minions (i.e.; NCAHF, quackwatch.com), having on America’s thoughts about Alternative Medicine?

(A) The NSF says “In response to the 2001 NSF survey, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) agreed that “there are some good ways of treating sickness that medical science does not recognize.” (See appendix table 7-58.) The American Medical Association defines alternative medicine as any diagnostic method, treatment, or therapy that is “neither taught widely in U.S. medical schools nor generally available in U.S. hospitals.” However, at least 60 percent of U.S. medical schools devote classroom time to the teaching of alternative therapies, generating controversy within the scientific community.”

(Q) But the drug companies have INCREASED their TV advertising, the “quackbusters” have infiltrated all of the “AltMed” internet discussion groups, Barrett and his cronies have quadrupled the number of anti-health websites, and the quackpots at FTC have INCREASED their attacks on AltMed. Isn’t this having an effect?

(A) The NSF says “Nevertheless, the popularity of alternative medicine appears to be increasing. A recent study documented a 50 percent increase in expenditures and a 25 percent increase in the use of alternative therapies between 1990 and 1997 (Eisenberg et al. 1998) A large minority of Americans (42 percent) used alternative therapies in 1997 and spent a total of at least $27 billion on them.”

(Q) Are the “quackbusters” winning ANYWHERE?

(A) The NSF says “the authors of the study reported that the use of alternative therapies was: at least as popular in other industrialized nations as it was in the United States.”

(Q) Who, exactly, in the US is into Alt Med these days?

(A) The NSF says “more popular among women (49 percent) than among men (38 percent) and less popular among African Americans (33 percent) than among members of other racial groups (44.5 percent); and higher among those who had attended college, among those who had incomes above $50,000, and among those who lived in the western United States.”

(Q) But the “quackbusters” rail at herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy. Are they having an effect?

(A) The NSF says “Furthermore, among the 16 therapies included in the study, the largest increases between 1990 and 1997 were in the use of herbal medicine (a 380 percent increase), massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy. [60]” And they also say “”therapeutic touch,” was taught at more than 100 colleges and universities in 75 countries.”

(Q)  But the quackbusters call anyone who believes in AltMed “stupid.”  Are they right?  Is it just s few dumb people who believe in AltMed?

(A)  The NSF clearly shows in their report appendix table 7-58 “http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind02/append/c7/at07-58.pdf” just the opposite.  In fact, the study shows that 88% of all adults believe in AltMed, 90% of all Males, 88% of all Females, 83% of all “less than high school graduates,” 89% of all High School Graduates, 92% of college graduates, and 89% of those who are very interested and very well informed on the issue.

(Q)  So who IS buying into the quackkbuster scam?

(A)  According to the NSF Study, less than 1% of the population.

In Conclusion…

Despite all the money being funneled into the project through the New York ad agency, America isn’t much buying into the big lie.  Big pharma’s not getting their money’s worth.

Stay tuned…

Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate