Dr. Stephen Barrett has been a longtime force for good with his website Quackwatch. If there’s alternative medicine or pseudoscientific theories that need debunking, he’s always been on top of it. I remember first coming across it nearly a decade ago and it’s the first place I go to when I want to learn more about some particular alternative medicine.
Now, he’s in trouble because he’s pointed out possible fraud with Doctor’s Data, a lab that facilitates chelation therapy. They’re not happy with this and are suing him for the *completely* reasonable amount of $10,000,000.
For what it’s worth, chelation therapy has some legitimate uses, but it gets used for other ailments that have no business being treated with it. For example, it has been used by some practitioners to prevent coronary artery disease. But the American Heart Association said this about it:
We found no scientific evidence to demonstrate any benefit from this form of therapy.
Here’s just a bit of the email Doctor’s Data sent to Barrett:
It has recently come to the attention of our client, Doctor’s Data, Inc., an Illinois corporation, that you have, on a continuing basis, harmed Doctor’s Data by transmitting false, fraudulent and defamatory information about this company in a variety of ways, including on the internet and in other publications. Doctor’s Data is shocked that you would intentionally try to harm its business and its relationship not only with doctors but also with the public…
Barrett wrote back to them a very reasonable response:
I take great pride in being accurate and carefully consider complaints about what I write. However, your letter does not identify a single statement by me that you believe is inaccurate or “fraudulent.” The only thing you mention is my article about how the urine toxic metals test is used to defraud patients… The article’s title reflects my opinion, the basis of which the article explains in detail.
If you want me to consider modifying the article, please identify every sentence to which you object and explain why you believe it is not correct.
They didn’t do that. The lawyers just repeated what was said in the initial email.
As we saw from the Simon Singh case, this is how these so-called medical experts work when they promote alternative medicine. They don’t care what the scientific evidence says about their claims — and many of them suspect the general public, gullible as they are, won’t care.
Barrett said he would correct any mistakes he made — just point them out to him — and Doctor’s Data couldn’t name even one.
Here’s the lawsuit they filed:
Someone better versed in law can let us know how they think Barrett will fare from all this.
Orac also has a very informative writeup of what exactly is going on in this case.
Barrett writes what he considers the “Bottom Line” for all this:
Very few people provide the type of information I do. One reason for this is the fear of being sued. Knowledgeable observers believe that Doctor’s Data is trying to intimidate me and perhaps to discourage others from making similar criticisms. However, I have a right to express well-reasoned opinions and will continue to do so. If you would like to help with the cost of my defense, please follow the instructions on our donations page.
Hopefully, the lawsuit will be dismissed, but until that happens, we need to support Barrett and thank him for his courage in not bowing down to these bullies.
(via The Lucky Atheist)
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