Dr. Devra Davis is a highly distinguished medical researcher, epidemiologist and health activist who has served as an adviser on chemical safety to the Dept of Health and Human Services and CDC, the UN, the European Environmental Agency, the World Health Organization and other national and international bodies.  Currently, she is currently the founder and president of the Environmental Health Trust, the world's only nonprofit that conducts high level scientific research on environmental health hazards while communicating the same to governments, local communities and educators.   Dr. Davis holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, where she later founded the school's Center for Environmental Oncology, and received her doctorate from the University of Chicago, and an addition degree in public health from Johns Hopkins. She has taught at Hebrew University Medical School, Ondokuz Mayis Medical School in Turkey, Mt. Sinai, Oberlin and Carnegie Mellon universities.  She has published over 200 scientific papers and is the author several important books including "The Secret History of the War on Cancer", and "Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation". The Environmental Health Trust's website is EHTrust.org

 

Theodora Scarato is the Executive Director of the Environmental Health Trust where she coordinates scientific programs with international institutions and experts about wireless technology risks.  The Trust is a leading scientific health organization working on the risks of 5G technology, cell phone and tower radiation. It organizes and sponsors educational campaigns for policymakers and environmental groups as well as publishing scientific research. Theordora also manages the Trust's databases of research and policy data, one of the largest in the world, for efforts to reduce EMF exposure and monitor cities' actions regarding the 5G roll out. She lectures internationally on best practices for schools to follow to reduce EMF exposure and was largely responsible for the reduction of radiofrequency exposure in Maryland's school system. Her webinar to the United Educators of San Francisco for schools to reduce childhood exposure can be found online.    

Wikipedia's Culture of Institutional Bias

 

Richard Gale and Gary Null

Progressive Radio Network, June 11, 2019

 

Weekly, millions of people Google their concerns about their health and a large variety of illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, etc.  They expect, with speed and accuracy, to find the current scientifically based and clinically proven information. The majority of people begin to approach a personal health crisis by turning exclusively to established medical, drug-based protocols. However, these treatments do not always relieve symptoms nor reverse disease. Certainly they do not prevent it.

 

Increasingly people are seeking second and third opinions. More often than not Google will take a person immediately to Wikipedia. There is an assumption and a reasonable expectation that the information we find on Wikipedia is 1) accurate, 2) soundly researched and referenced from high quality and reliable resources, 3) written by credentialed writers and editors with expertise in the subject, 4) unbiased, and finally 5) object and balanced. Therefore it is at minimal assumed that at least the content on Wikipedia is scientifically validated and would appear on the National Institutes of Health PubMed database for medical information and research. Whether it is pharmaceutical, surgical or radiological approach, or perhaps a more natural medical modality such as lifestyle change, nutrition, medical botanicals, Chiropractic and Chinese Medicine, it is expected the information will be accurately provided and described. Then using our freedom of choice and informed consent, we can select the medical route that we believe would be most safe and effective.

 

Unfortunately, our two year investigation into Wikipedia's treatment of health issues reveals exactly the opposite. In fact, there are many individuals with outstanding credentials who are terrified of having their biographies appear on the open-source encyclopedia. Once a person's biography is added they will never have control over its content. Often he or she will be faced with slander, character assassination and denigration about their careers and life's work. All efforts by attorneys and experts in their field will not be able to change a single syllable on a Wikipedia page. Their biographies are frozen as if confined in a Russian gulag for a political crime. They will seek redress by reaching out to the media; but the media too is fully compromised.  They may seek open hearings on Wikipedia's back side to expose unfair behavior and misinformation but will be met either by deafening silence or censorship. They may even seek redress from the IRS or state's attorney generals for Wikipedia's gross serial violations of its non-profit status. Consequently, it becomes political and assumingly nothing will happen to correct the errors.

 

As a result, a relatively small group of uncredentialed, hate-filled individuals commonly known as Skeptics, empowered by Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales, have been using the encyclopedia as a social media platform to condemn all non-conventional and alternative medical therapies and its practitioners, even those who seek to benefit from these therapies.

 

There are hundreds of thousands of clinical trials, research papers and review analyses confirming the authenticity and effectiveness of these natural medical systems. However, for the Skeptics who control and edit these Wikipedia pages, knowing full well that they have Jimmy Wales’ unerring support, the truth is irrelevant. Today Wikipedia succeeds the worst of McCarthyism's witch hunts in the 1950s where there is no proper channel for redress. Even attorneys representing the Silicon Valley titans, Wikipedia among them, have gamed the system.

 

Should we ask the media -- 20-20, Nightline, 60 Minutes, the New York Times and all the other leading newspapers and magazines -- why they fail to protect the American and global public from misinformation on a social platform and indulge in a shameful complicity to permit Wikipedia’s deception to continue without proper review and public exposure? Yet none have the guts to undertake an objective investigation to uncover the truth.

 

Below is a detailed review about what we have uncovered. For deeper investigations about how Wikipedia is on all accounts an enemy of public health, we invite readers to read more thorough articles at http://prn.fm/garys-wiki-articles/

 

Wikipedia and the Medical Profession

 

In 2012, Americans spent $14.7 billion on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and non-conventional medical services, such as chiropractors, massage therapies, acupuncturists, and energy medical practitioners and healers. This is almost a third of what is personally spent on conventional medical services. In addition, $12.8 billion was spent on natural supplements, accounting for approximately 25% of what Americans spend on pharmaceutical drugs. The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, calculates that 9% of out-of-pocket healthcare costs are spent on alternative medicine and as of June 2016 the Center estimated that 38% of adults were using CAM and 44% in the 50-59 age bracket. Moreover, this increase is not limited to the well-educated but has been growing across all income levels and racial groups.[1]

 

These trends pose a serious dilemma for the pharmaceutical industry and the federal health agencies that promulgate only the drug-based paradigm. The gaining popularity of CAM therapies threatens drug company profits and the hospital and healthcare system. It also threatens the private insurance industry which limits itself, with few exceptions, to conventional medicine.

 

Therefore it is not unreasonable to find concerted efforts underway by the private medical industry to undermine CAM's and natural medicine's therapeutic benefits and its long history of safety.

 

A review of the many individual Wikipedia pages about alternative medicine and natural, non-drug based therapies, should immediately apprise viewers that Wikipedia supports and promulgates the pharmaceutical paradigm. The encyclopedia's treatment of CAM practices are both negligent and a misrepresentation of the actual peer-reviewed medical literature that confirms CAM's efficiencies in treating a wide range of diseases, illnesses, and physical and mental health conditions. CAM also provides a preventative strategy to prevent disease, which conventional medicine is neither equipped to prescribe nor has the expertise to advise. Consequently, the drug-based paradigm of medicine is solely therapeutic, and grossly limited at that.

 

Clearly, if the federal National Institutes of Health acknowledges CAM's health benefits and medical schools are increasingly offering CAM courses in their curriculum, we would expect this to be accurately reflected in Wikipedia. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Consequently we should take pause and question the reasons for these omissions. Our investigations clearly indicate that Wikipedia's exclusion of accurately presenting CAM therapies in a proper and balanced manner is not an act of carelessness or a lapse in editorial oversight. Instead, it is a personal bias that runs throughout the Wikipedia Foundation, starting at the top with its co-founder Jimmy Wales, and trickling down to a large loose-knit network of individuals who have an aggressive personal agenda to denigrate all CAM systems and alternative, natural medical modalities because they are contrary to the pharmaceutical paradigm. This agenda in turn strengthens the upper echelons of the federal health agencies, notably the Department of Human Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control that have become a revolving door with the drug industry.

 

Wikipedia mirrors the agenda of conventional medicine as it is perceived and lobbied for by the leaders and executives of conventional drug-based medicine. And Jimmy Wales has given his full support to the Wikipedia editors, who present themselves as objective volunteers, but in fact hold personal agendas, beliefs or conflicts of interest aligned with corporate medicine.

 

Jimmy Wales takes personal measures to protect the seeming integrity of his open-source encyclopedia. In 2018, Jimmy supported his editors' ban of the British newspaper the Daily Mail as a reliable resource for information to be cited as a reference in Wikipedia entries. There are sound reasons to believe that Wales’ banning the Mail was an act of conflict of interests and personal revenge. The Mail has on occasion published stories that challenge Wikipedia's claims of neutrality. One story accused Wales of being a neoliberal insider with the intention to destroy conservatism. Furthermore, Wales has sat on the Board of the Mail's major newspaper competitor The Guardian.  The Mail also published a story about research coming out of Campbell University about the widespread inaccuracy of medical information on Wikipedia’s 20,000-plus health-related pages. It is feasible to regard the Mail’s article as a public service to warn readers not to rely on Wikipedia for high quality medical research or to attempt to self-diagnose based upon Wikipedia’s misinformation. In 2017, the paper reported on a study by Oxford Internet Institute noting that algorithmic bots have been used for over a decade on Wikipedia pages to “enforce bans, check spelling, links and import content.” This includes the undoing of manual and robotic edits made to Wiki pages. And in 2014 the Mail instructed all of its writers and reporters to never rely on Wikipedia as a single source for conducting journalistic research.[2]

 

For many current and contemporary subjects, Wikipedia may be understood as both a large public relations behemoth as well as an open-source encyclopedia. Unlike the Encyclopedia Britannica, which relies upon highly learned experts and scholars in chosen fields, Wikipedia accommodates numerous amateurs and individuals with no solid background in the subject manner they have risen to administrate.  It is unnecessary for an editor to reveal his or her real name and identity, education level or professional background in order to climb the Wiki ladder to a senior administration position. Many senior editors keep their real identifies and affiliations hidden and only use anonymous names. Editors can even pretend to hold doctoral degrees or disguise themselves as medical professionals. The deep fundamental flaws and failures in Wikipedia’s structural base have been noted repeatedly by frustrated editors and observers since its founding. And the site continues to degenerate parallel with its growing worldwide popularity and deepening pockets of large donations. Some of the larger donors remain hidden or anonymous.

 

New York Times best-selling human rights author Edwin Black best described the dangers Wikipedia poses for social progress in his article “Wikipedia: The Dumbing Down of World Knowledge” published on the History News Network:

 

“…. Wikipedia, the constantly changing knowledge base created a global free-for-all of anonymous users, now stands as the leading force for dumbing down the world of knowledge. If Wikipedia’s almost unstoppable momentum continues, critics say, it threatens to quickly reverse centuries of progress… In its place would be a constant cacophony of fact and falsity that Wikipedia critics call a “law of the jungle.”[3]

 

Prior qualifications and experience in any given subject clearly mean little to Wales and the Wikipedia community. Wikipedia's original co-founder Larry Sanger has accused the encyclopedia of overt hostility toward credentialed experts. Sanger is far from being the only academic to be turned off by Wikipedia's behind-the-scenes chaos which is being led by a recruited group of Skeptics who tend to be disproportionately young and overwhelmingly male.[4]

 

Wikipedia's Misuse of Term "Pseudo-Science"

 

Wikipedia’s page describing its Arbitration Committee on Pseudoscience sets forth principles and criteria to determine what can be properly labeled as a “pseudoscience” on Wikipedia entries. The “scientific focus” of articles is expected to “reflect current mainstream scientific consensus,” however no further definition is provided. A “neutral point of view” is also required, which means “fair representation of significant alternatives to scientific orthodoxy… and legitimate scientific disagreement.” This would include “non-conventional” therapies that now have volumes of peer-reviewed research published in medical journals throughout the world. Skeptics repeatedly violate this rule. Only astrology is listed in the Arbitration rules as an example of what can properly be called a pseudoscience on a Wiki page.[5]

 

With respect to “questionable science,” if a theory, for example acupuncture or Chiropractic, has a substantial following, although some would allege it to be a pseudoscience, it should not be characterized as such. And finally, under “alternative theoretical formulations,” if a theory has a following “within the scientific community” then it must not be labeled a pseudoscience because it is “part of the scientific process.”[6]

 

Therefore, the many non-conventional medical modalities supported by clinical research, medical schools and hospitals, should not be framed in derogatory terms. Based upon these criteria alone, a living person who practices or follows any medical system that is not qualified as a pseudoscience should not be referred to as a quack or in Jimmy Wales’ terms a “lunatic charlatan.” Nevertheless, Skeptic editors break these rules repeatedly and the victims have no recourse to correct Skeptic biases and misinformation.

 

Wikipedia and Skeptics

 

Ever since Wikipedia came online, it has had its detractors and critics. Yet increasingly its reliability is being questioned by prestigious institutions and credible journalists, including the MIT Technology Review and the recently launched Wikipedia Project at Yale University. Writing for the Huffington Post, journalist Sam Slovick asked a question we should all be asking ourselves every time we click into Wikipedia. Slovick asks, "Has Jimmy Wales' marauding encyclopedic beast finally corrupted the Internet? Has Wikipedia lost all credibility, its purported neutral system compromised by toxic editors?”[7] The most toxic Wikipedia editors now terrorizing and sabotaging the encyclopedia’s pages more often than not are anonymous non-experts and computer hacks who identify themselves with an extreme form of scientific materialism known as Skepticism. These editors now control and dominate large numbers of Wikipedia entries dealing with non-conventional medicine, parapsychology and doctors, researchers and health practitioners who advocate these disciplines.

 

Wikipedia’s rules insist editors “assume good faith,” but this rule does not pertain to persons or subjects that Skeptic administrators personally disapprove of. Those who question both political orthodoxy and “accepted wisdom” in other areas – health and medicine, for example – are mercilessly targeted for the sole purpose of inflicting damage on the reputations of living persons.  

 

This prolific group of so-called Skeptics has embraced a mission to eradicate from all areas of science elements that they term "pseudo-science" or “woo.” Skeptics target not only alternative medical practitioners but entire disciplines. And they have Wales' utmost approval to carry out the Skeptic agenda.  Skeptic editors collaborate to declare a person or a topic “Fringe,” after which the standards for reliability and neutrality decrease substantially, allowing editors to add false and defamatory content without worry another editor will come along and revert their libel. “Fringe” articles are fair game for Skeptic editors to test out their efforts to discredit their opposition. It’s normal to see pioneering alternative medical and health doctors and practitioners, who have helped thousands of people, denigrated as “quacks,” and the problem is so widespread that over 11,000 users actually submitted a presentation to Wales urging him to address the problem. Wales effectively laughed in their face, responding that Wikipedia would not consider the work of “lunatic charlatans” – classifying all non-conventional health practitioners as such.[8]

 

Efforts to add reliable and well-referenced information that may taint the Wikipedia biographies of leaders in the Skeptic movement are immediately removed. Former stage magician and a leading Skeptic spokesperson James Randi’s bio is an example of the shameless flattery these editors offer their idols. Were it merely a case of both sides having a forum to criticize each other, Wikipedia would at least be fair. But permitting one side to break all rules in pursuit of ideological domination while the other side is trapped in an impenetrable thicket of rules destroys the myth of Wikipedia as a neutral platform.

 

Earlier in the year we had conversations with Wikipedia editor Rome Viharo who has been documenting his unsettling experiences on the encyclopedia for several years. On his blog Wikipedia, We Have a Problem, Viharo writes:

 

“A number of skeptic activists on Wikipedia believe that only they are qualified to edit a large swath of topics and biographies on Wikipedia, and they seek to purge other editors from those articles or Wikipedia itself. Skeptic activists take this very seriously and treat Wikipedia like a battleground for their activism, where online harassment, slander, bullying, character assassination, and public shaming are all used as tactics to control editing permissions on the world’s largest repository of knowledge.”[9]

 

Jimmy Wales has repeatedly shown his personal intolerance towards topics he disagrees with, particularly non-conventional and alternative medicine or whatever he decides is phony or “fake news.” Wales also presumes the prevailing pharmaceutical drug paradigm and the Skeptics' support of the Science-Based Medicine ideology is science’s final word for determining the diagnosis and treatment of disease; all other medical modalities outside Big Pharma’s purview is fair game for ridicule, incrimination and ultimately censorship.

 

It is not uncommon to find Skeptic sites praising Wales’s embrace of Skepticism and acknowledging him as one of their own. The site’s Skeptical Science and Skeptools portray Wales in glowing terms for his attack against energy psychology. “Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales this week” reports Skeptools, “sent a clear signal to skeptics who edit the user-created encyclopedia – he agrees with our focus on science and good evidence.” After giving undue applause to the success of Susan Gerbic’s network Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, the article continues,

 

”Wales makes clear what I have been saying all along – the rules of evidence on Wikipedia are pro-skeptic and pro-science. If you are pushing an idea that science rejects, Wikipedia will reject it too…. Paranormalists and pseudoscientists take note: skeptics are not bullying you off Wikipedia. We are only enforcing the rules of evidence as clearly stated on the service. If you cannot provide adequate evidence for your ideas, they will not be accepted. So says Jimmy Wales, so say we all.”[10]

 

The Skeptics are a very small contingent of individuals, who are unquestionably deviant from modern scientific norms, and who have been given direct permission and received inspiration and license from Wales to capture Wikipedia’s pages on natural and alternative health. Categorically their goals are to distort the debate in their favor. Instead of following Wikipedia’s rules to magically produce valuable and objective information out of conflicting analyses, arguments, and conversations, a tiny group of Skeptics have been granted permission to impose its own solutions for how Wiki pages should be reframed and according to their own unpopular ideological beliefs. None of the many non-conventional medical disciplines disparaged by Skeptic activists accurately qualify as pseudoscience based upon Wikipedia’s own arbitration criteria. On the other hand, Skeptics have moved the boundaries and evidence clearly shows Wales condones this.

 

Dr. Stephen Barrett and Quackwatch

 

The personal website of Dr. Stephen Barrett, better known as Quackwatch, has served as the primary resource for Wikipedia’s Skeptic editors to find information to stage personal attacks against their opponents in the non-conventional medical and natural health professions. As a trained psychiatrist, Barrett has no formal scientific background or credentials to qualify him as a pundit either for or against chiropractic, nutrition and supplements, herbal medicine, homeopathy, or many other alternative medical practices.

 

Barrett is widely recognized as an ardent Skeptic within the movement. One of his big fans is Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales. Both share their mutual support for the Skeptics' cause to advance scientific atheism and create a pharmaceutical regime. Furthermore Barrett has been the co-Chair of the Health Claims Subcommittee at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, perhaps the Skeptics' foremost flagship organization, since 1980. Finally, other prominent Skeptics such Steven Novella, are listed as advisers on Quackwatch.

 

In addition, Barrett's membership on the American Council on Science and Health's (ACSH) Board of Scientific Advisers for over four decades indicates that he has served as a spokesperson for private corporations. The organization's platforms are radically pro-industry and advocate for genetically modified foods and industrial agriculture, nuclear power, vaccine mandates, natural gas and the deregulation of toxic chemicals. Practically every Trustee member has direct ties to large corporations. Journalist Gary Ruskin has identified the ACSH as a front group for the "tobacco, chemical, fossil fuel, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries." It has defended Monsanto against lawsuits charging glyphosate or Roundup is carcinogenic. Court records revealed that Monsanto funneled money to the organization, and a Le Monde investigation found the ACSH lobbying on behalf of the agro-chemical industry.  Skeptics equally support the Big Agricultural agenda to persuade GMOs are safe and pose no health or environmental risks. A Mother Jones report uncovered that ACSH donors included Chevron, Coca-Cola, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Bayer Cropscience, Procter and Gamble, Syngenta, 3M, McDonald’s, and tobacco giants such as Altria and Phillip Morris. The organization initiated efforts to receive funding for lobbying services rendered from Pepsi, Monsanto, British American Tobacco, Dow Agro, Exxon-Mobil Foundation, and Reynolds American. It also cemented close ties with the Koch family, the owners of Koch Industries and the major funders of the Randian pro-industry American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC; this includes receiving funds from the David Koch Foundation, the Koch family-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation and Koch Industry's allied public relations firm the Bradley Foundation. This is the organization Barrett has been directly affiliated with and benefited from for over 40 years.[11]

 

Similar to the ACSH, Barrett's Quackwatch regards itself as a "consumer advocacy" organization and claims to support evidence-based science. Yet in fact it is a small and loose-knit group of Skeptics who focus their full attention on discrediting any all medical protocols contrary to the drug-based medical model. It functions as a surreptitious clearing house of misinformation and scientific denialism that has become the most referenced source by Skeptics on Wikipedia.[12]

 

The serious problem that Wikipedia repeatedly fails to address is the fact that the US Court System has ruled that Barrett is "biased and unworthy of credibility." In a separate legal case, Barrett v. Rosenthal, the California Supreme Court judge ruled that "Plaintiffs Stephen Barrett and Terry Polevoy are physicians primarily engaged in combating the promotion and use of 'alternative' or 'nonstandard' healthcare practices and products."[13]

 

This is sufficient reason for removing all references to Barrett and his Quackwatch faction as legitimate sources for scientifically reliable information. In the meantime, Quackwatch holds scriptural authority among Skeptics and continues to be a major resource for their aggressive efforts to eradicate alternative medicine by misleading and confusing the public.

 

Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia

 

Wales is steeped in Skeptic philosophy and has been an invaluable enabler of the movement. Richard Dawkins, the modern founder of the New Atheism and a principle thought-leader among Skeptics, attended Wikipedia’s tenth anniversary celebration; Wales was photographed alongside his hero. During a 2007 TED talk, Dawkins presented his case that only atheists can serve as the intelligentsia necessary to preserve civilization and continue its march towards progress. He scornfully made the call for “militant atheists” to become more aggressive in the fight against superstition.

 

Susan Gerbic, with the support of her Skeptic mentor James Randi, took up Dawkins’ call to arms by founding Skeptic Guerrillas on Wikipedia along with her colleagues Mark Edwards and Tim Farley. Farley, a software engineer specializing in internet security and a fellow of Skeptic James Randi's foundation, also runs the website Skeptical Software Tools. Farley's sole mission is to provide the virtual tools and applications for Skeptics to dominate the internet and sites such as Wikipedia in order to advance the Skeptic dogma.  During an interview at one of the Skeptics' Amazing Meetings, Gerbic stated, "We rewrite Wikipedia, and proof the pages, we remove citations that are not noteworthy, we add citations, we do just about everything in Wikipedia to improve content."[14] In a July 2018 issue of Wired magazine, the author reported, "The Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project has more than 120 volunteer editors from around the world, each of whom Gerbic has recruited and trained herself." And according to the newspaper Voices of Monterrey Bay, Gerbic claims that as of August 2018 the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project had written or fully rewritten over 600 Wikipedia pages, which had collectively received over 30 million views.[15]

 

Gerbic has earned Jimmy Wales' approval too. In her video posted on YouTube, Gerbic brags about her team’s success in “drastically” changing Wikipedia’s page on homeopathy and inserting the word “quackery.” She shares her success publicly about how she uses Wikipedia to increase the visits on external Skeptic homepages, primarily the James Randi Educational Foundation, which likely funds her organization. Elsewhere in her training lecture, Gerbic makes a Freudian slip, you can “change the rul (rules)…. er… pages.”[16] Bending the rules includes redefining reliable references, such as including the Skeptics' main journal, Skeptical Inquirer, which is not peer-reviewed and represents only a tiny fraction of America’s readership. Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch and the Science-Based Medicine blog started by Skeptic physicians Stephen Novella and David Gorski are also recognized as reliable resources. However, both sources are situated on the far margins of mainstream consensus. Both are deeply flawed scientifically, lack objectivity, and are written for the sole purpose of promoting a heavily biased ideological perspective about medical science and practice.

 

Gerbic’s work has received the highest praises from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and Center for Inquiry — the leading flagship organizations of the Skeptic movement. She was elected as a Center for Inquiry fellow to join other leading Skeptics such as Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse, Carl Sagan, Michael Mann among others. This network of Skeptic associations, along with the fringe Science Based Medicine organization, now serve as an influential deep state operating freely and with impunity on Wikipedia.

 

In a sermon to her fellow Skeptics, Gerbic reveals that her recruits do not require any professional expertise or knowledge in a field in order to edit Wikipedia pages. She writes, “Pick your topic, psychics, vaccines, cryptozoology or whatever gets your heart rate going. You can work with the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia team (we train) or hundreds of other ways to take care of these issues. Quit bitching in your beer, rolling your eyes and DO SOMETHING!”[17]

 

Gerbic’s guerrilla efforts also target the debate over the benefits and potential health risks of genetically modified crops or GMOs. Skeptics give their full weight in support of GMOs and the agricultural chemical industry. Wikipedia continues to argue that “there is a scientific consensus that currently available food derived from GMO crops poses no greater risk to human health than conventional food.” The entry makes no reference to French molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini ground breaking study first published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, and later in Environmental Sciences Europe, which reproduced Monsanto’s own research to prove that rats fed with genetically modified Roundup Ready corn had a dramatic increase in tumors and shorter lifespans. Since GMO crops are heavily laced with glyphosate or Roundup, and other pesticides, there is also no reference to the August 2018 California court ruling that glyphosate-based weed-killers cause cancer. Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million for its cover-up of this fact. Lawsuits are piling up rapidly against the company for deceiving regulators and users of its products.  For Wikipedia’s entry for Dr. Seralini’s biography there is far more emphasis on referencing criticism of his research. The actual results of his research are not mentioned. This is a case example of how Skeptics revert knowledge to align with and shield corporate interests by denying the readers the truths that could protect them.

 

There is a direct relationship between agricultural scientists shilling for Monsanto and Gerbic’s activists on Wikipedia. Kevin Folta, chairman of the department of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida, received his fellowship from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry alongside Gerbic. In 2015, a Freedom of Information Act submitted by the California organization US Right to Know caught Folta shilling for Monsanto and the agricultural industry. An article in Nature confirmed the details. In 2016, Gerbic interviewed Folta for the Center of Inquiry. The discussion confirmed that the Guerrilla Skeptics are also active on editing Wikipedia’s GMO pages. None of this is reported in Wikipedia.[18]

 

Gerbic's and Farley's efforts are having an enormously deleterious impact on Wikipedia and its credibility. In one of Gerbic's training videos, she states:

 

“So they’re getting their information from here, so, we can control this, this is so powerful you don’t understand when you put one of these guerrilla skepticism edits up on Jenny McCarthy’s page or Priceline, or Walmart or just some of these pages you’re like glowing inside it’s so powerful to feel like I’ve made such an impact , hundreds of thousands of people can be reading my edit, homeopathy, we’ve changed  that page drastically, the lead, the very very first couple of sentences of the page which most people it’s the only thing they read we use the word “quackery” I mean it’s so awesome.”[19]

 

And Gerbic doesn’t hold back her acknowledgement that her Guerrilla Skeptics own Wikipedia pages:

 

“Nobody owns their Wikipedia page, we control the Wikipedia pages, the editors.  Everyone. And because we’re organized and we have this project we as a skeptic since we’re focused on this we’re not updating bowling page or Internet fans or something like that . . . this is our thing, we need to have this, scientific pages are pretty dang good they’re in really great shape..."[20]

 

Gerbic makes it clear that she and Farley recruit through the international network of Skeptics who have no professional experience whatsoever in accurately editing a page on medicine or parapsychology:

 

"I can’t give my opinion on Wikipedia but I can through our spokespeople give an opinion of how I feel about a topic and so on so I’m writing through other people but I need that content first from the JREF [James Randy Educational Foundation] or the CSI [Committee for Skeptical Inquiry] or from Ben Radford or from Ray Hyman whomever, I need the content first.  And then I can [edit the page.]"[21]

 

Weiler concludes, "Much of skeptical sourcing is merely skeptics citing opinions from notable skeptics or from articles in skeptical publications. Rarely do they venture far outside of the skeptical echo chamber to get their information."[22] In no uncertain terms, Wikipedia distinguishes what are reliable and unreliable sources for reference purposes on its pages. Skepticism's newsletters, magazines and blogs do not qualify as legitimate, objective references. They are not peer-reviewed. None are acknowledged as mainstream publications. And their articles speak to only a tiny segment of the English-speaking public. Nevertheless, these sources are repeatedly found throughout Skeptic-controlled Wikipedia pages in order to promulgate their narrow perception of science and discredit others.

 

Gerbic has also launched a separate project called "We Got your Wiki Back Project!" The project's goal is to further improve Wikipedia pages solely for the benefit of Skepticism's leading spokespersons.  Speaking on a Data Skeptic podcast, she said that this is protect and increase the exposure of Skepticism's leading spokespersons when they appear in the media. She said, "When they are in the media's eye, we know that their Wikipedia page views are going to spike."[23]

 

Below are summaries of Wikipedia's tendentious treatment of the more important non-conventional medical systems. Each of these entries has viable research to support claims of efficacy and safety. However, Wikipedia pages on these topics rely solely on critical and negative citations in order to disparage the discipline. The sole purpose of this effort is to discourage visitors about the authenticity and benefits of these medical therapies.  Separately we have written more extensive summaries and analyses for each other subjects.

 

Chiropractic

 

Wikipedia's entry for Chiropractic begins immediately by associating it with "pseudoscience":

 

"Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine mostly concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. Proponents claim that such disorders affect general health via the nervous system, claims which are demonstrably false.... Its foundation is at odds with mainstream medicine, and chiropractic is sustained by pseudoscientific ideas such as subluxation and "innate intelligence" that reject science."[24]

 

Other noteworthy flaws and misrepresentations in the Wikipedia entry is that Chiropractic's premise that "disorders [that] affect general health via the nervous system" are "demonstrably false." And, "spinal manipulation was no more or less effective than other commonly used therapies such as pain medication, physical therapy, exercises, back school or the care given by a general practitioner. There is not sufficient data to establish the safety of spinal manipulations."

 

Again, the evidence is clear that Skeptics are controlling the Chiropractic page. Skeptics always leave their footprints because they place undeserved reliance upon their own generated sources as the final authoritative word on issues they criticize. Rarely would a non-Skeptic ever turn to Skeptic publications for acquiring objective and unbiased information. The majority of Americans have never heard of Skeptic's major publications. Consequently much of Wikipedia's erroneous claims are taken directly out of Skeptic textbooks, such as Eric Swanson's Skeptical Science and Society, a seriously flawed diatribe that regards anything outside of conventional medicine as quackery.  Swanson happens to be a professional physical astronomer with no credentialed experience in human biology and medicine.

 

However, based upon Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee on the matter of "pseudoscience," Chiropractic does not come close to qualifying.  According to the American Chiropractic Association, there are over 77,000 chiropractic doctors practicing in the US today and 2,500 new graduates from the 20-plus leading chiropractic schools enter the workforce annually. A joint Gallup-Palmer College poll in 2015 estimated that over 35 million people visit chiropractors. Therefore Chiropractic has an enormous following, its own theories, its own professional journals and acceptance by admirable percentage within the scientific community. According to Wikipedia's own definition, therefore, Chiropractic cannot and should not be labeled a pseudoscience because it is "part of the scientific process" by Wikipedia's own definitions.[25]

 

Homeopathy

 

Wikipedia vilifies the entire medical system of Homeopathy outright with blatantly derogatory language,

 

“….is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific. Homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any condition; large-scale studies have found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo, indicating that any positive effects that follow treatment are only due to the placebo effect, normal recovery from illness, or regression toward the mean…. Outside of the alternative medicine community, scientists have long considered homeopathy a sham or a pseudoscience, and the mainstream medical community regards it as quackery. There is an overall absence of sound statistical evidence of therapeutic efficacy, which is consistent with the lack of any biologically plausible pharmacological agent or mechanism. [26]

 

The remainder of Wikipedia's entry follows this fundamental strategy, and provides no references to support the rationale for why Wikipedia's opposition towards Homeopathy is so adverse that its entry is one of the largest among non-conventional medical practices referenced in the encyclopedia. It is based solely on literature and references that disparage the discipline while ignoring the huge body of other literature showing how and in what circumstances Homeopathy has been shown to be effective; Wikipedia cites are over 350 references about homeopathy.  In fact, a 2013 Rutgers University study, later reviewed in the Washington Post, concluded that homeopathy and Jesus were the two most controversial pages on Wikipedia that inflamed the most contentious debate. Yet among the greater than 1,000 clinical trials and 2,200 basic science experiments and observational studies in the homeopathic literature comprises none showing homeopathy's effectiveness for certain medical conditions is mentioned. Wikipedia editors have determined that magician James Randi is a reliable, accurate resource according to Wikipedia's editorial rules.  The article also makes the effort to denounce the late Dr. Peter Fisher, the personal physician, and practicing homeopathic doctor, for the current Queen Elizabeth II of England.

 

The publications of Edzard Ernst, an academic physician and researcher, are especially pronounced to support Wikipedia's anti-homeopathy stance. Ernst is regarded as a leading opponent of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Europe. He was a leading foe of the Smallwood Report commissioned by Prince Charles that concluded CAM was a cost effective strategy and should be included in the UK's National Health Service.  In some respects, Ernst is Europe's twin of Dr. Steven Barrett, the founder of Quackwatch. Ernst is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) in the US. Skeptics frequently rely on CSI articles and members of the organization as authorities to reference in Wikipedia entries. Harriet Hall, a member of the more radical and fringe Science-Based Medicine faction of Skeptics and a contributor to CSI's magazine Skeptical Inquirer, has called Ernst  "the world's foremost expert ... on CAM".[27]

 

Wikipedia ignores that fact that India has over 200,000 practicing homeopaths and approximately 12,000 new graduates begin their practice annually. Roughly 800 million people globally rely on homeopathy regularly. Moreover 95% of all French general practitioners, dermatologists, and pediatricians prescribe homeopathy.[28] Homeopathy is included in Switzerland's national healthcare program. When private drug interests succeeded in getting a policy on the Swiss voters' ballot to remove Homeopathy from its health system, Swiss voters unanimously defeated the effort.

 

The Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation in Kolkata, India, has been successfully treating severe brain, breast and lung cancers for several decades.[29]  The clinic now averages 800-900 patients daily, 300-400 are treated free of charge. Its protocols for brain and breast cancers have been studied at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Molecular Genetics in Houston, which confirmed that the Foundation’s preparations selectively killed cancer cells without harming normal cells. Their joint paper “Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: A novel treatment for human brain cancer” was published in the International Journal of Oncology and a joint-investigation with the National Cancer Institute was published in the journal Oncology Reports. Today, the Banerji model is being used in over 80 countries.[30] However, there is no reference to this homeopathic accomplishment on Wikipedia. Why not? Simply stated, the Skeptics who control Wikipedia's Homeopathy page will not permit it. There exists an institutionally conditioned bias against found positive by homeopathy throughout the Wikipedia's Skeptic editorial community.

 

In 2005, The Lancet medical journal published a meta-analysis of 110 placebo-controlled homeopathy trials and 110 matched medical trials based upon the Swiss government's Programme for Evaluating Complementary Medicine, or PEK. The study concluded that its findings were "compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects"

 

There is no question that Skeptic editors have taken control over Wikipedia's Homeopathy and have done so with Jimmy Wales' approval. This is known from sound evidence found in the public domain.

 

In 2013, Wales posted a letter on his personal page on the website Quora sharing his experience at a London pharmacy where he was offered the popular homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinium for a sore throat and cough. Besides writing that Oscillococcinum “is a complete hoax product,” Wales reveals his support for flu vaccines, his contempt for homeopathy, and offers his services to prevent its use. He wrote,

 

“What I want to know is this: why is this legal? Or, if it is not legal, then what can be done about it? … In The Guardian article, “Take-up of flu jab drops” it was reported that the percentage of high-risk elderly people in the UK receiving the vaccine was just under 50%. How many of the other 50% chose not to take it because they believe this hoax remedy will protect them? … My understanding is that the legal situation in the UK is particularly bad. Homeopathic remedies of no value whatsoever are legally marketed as cures for specific diseases. Who should I talk to about this in order to encourage the creation of a campaign to stop this? This is not my primary area of interest and so I am not the right person to lead it myself. But I would like to help.”[31]

 

For the record, a Cochrane Collaboration review of Oscillococcinum trials concluded that the remedy did not prevent the onset of flu; however four other trials “suggested that Oscillococcinum relieved flu symptoms at 48 hours.” Another statistical review of the published literature conducted by Sloan Kettering Cancer Center concluded that the same homeopathic preparation “probably reduces the duration of illness in patients presenting influenza symptoms.” This information is blocked from being posted on Wikipedia’s page for “Oscillococcinum.”[32]

 

Wales has provided plenty of assistance. Susan Gerbic replied to Wales’ offer:

 

“Jimmy you have already done more than anyone could possibly dream that can be done. You created the most amazing resource in the world. I mean that, not only in English but in every language possible. The English homeopathy page alone gets over 140K views EACH MONTH. That is a lot of people being educated about homeopathy. Thank you. Allowing us editors to ‘do our job’ and keep these articles honest and correctly cited is enough. I can’t imagine what else you can do, my brain is teeny tiny compared to your mighty brain, if you come up with something please oh please let us in on it, we want to help.”[33]

 

Gerbic clearly blows Wales' cover as an impartial observer of Wikipedia editing.  In a video of a lecture Gerbic presented at a Guerrilla Skeptic workshop, she informs participants about her team’s success in frustrating other Wikipedia editors who oppose their tactics and subsequently removed themselves as editors. The Guerrilla Skeptics are largely supported by James Randi who spearheaded the creation of this activist stealth group determined to take control over content in the encyclopedia that is contrary to their personal scientific and religious ideologies.

 

Botanical Medicine

 

The medicinal properties of plants and natural products found in nature are humanity's oldest known medicines. The practice of botanical medicine has developed into large, complex medical systems in China, Greece, India, and Persia among indigenous cultures throughout the world.  Indian Ayurveda and Classical Chinese Medicine are highly developed medical systems, with very large compendiums of medicinal plants and their properties that developed over the course over 2,000 years. It is estimated that approximately sixty percent of pharmaceutical drugs on the market are developed from bioactive molecules originally found naturally in plants and other living organisms.  Many of the more effect anti-cancer and tumor drugs such as Taxol, Vinblastine and Lapchol are plant derived. This not only the case for non-European civilizations, Dr. Norman Fanrsworth, who was head of the Pharmacology department at the University of Illinois at Chicago had compiled a database with thousands of botanical plants' bioactive properties for the purpose of conducting future drug discovery for diseases. In the 1990s, the publicly traded biotechnology corporation on Wall Street, Shaman Pharmaceuticals, employed ethnobotanists and anthropologists to visit healers and shamans in their native settings, such as the Amazon and the Andean mountains, to learn which plants were used and for which conditions.

 

Therefore, outside of the Skeptic movement, today the medicinal properties of plants are an unquestionable scientific fact.

 

Aside from Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, botanical medicine is primarily practiced as Naturopathy.  Wikipedia's description of the medical system begins:

 

"Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that employs an array of pseudoscientific practices branded as "natural", "non-invasive", and as promoting "self-healing". The ideology and methods of naturopathy are based on vitalism and folk medicine, rather than evidence-based medicine. Naturopathic practitioners generally recommend against following modern medical practices, including but not limited to medical testing, drugs, vaccinations, and surgery. Instead, naturopathic study and practice rely on unscientific notions, often leading naturopaths to diagnoses and treatments that have no factual merit."[34]

 

In an earlier article, based upon a market report published by the University of Minnesota, each of the top selling medicine plants sold in the US compared Wikipedia statements for those plants and the actual scientific evidence.[35] In every case for curcumin (the primary bioactive ingredient in the root turmeric), ginkgo biloba, resveratrol (the anti-oxidant compound found in grapes and berries), Wikipedia had grossly misrepresented and undermined the supporting scientific evidence. For example, for curcumin alone, the National Institutes' of Health (NIH) PubMed database records over 11,800 science papers investigating the plant's biochemistry, medical properties and use in traditional societies. On the contrary, the Wikipedia source to discredit curcumin's health benefits only looked at a single review of 120 studies.[36]

 

This is one example of how Skeptics deceive the public by selecting studies and analysis that only support their pre-determined biases against non-conventional medicine. However, the same is true for many other popular and research-supported botanicals that Skeptic editors attempt to discredit on Wikipedia. In addition, you are far more likely to discover Skeptic editors placing more evidence on possibly risks of medicinal herbs rather than their benefits.

 

Wikipedia Skeptics refuse to acknowledge that compared to pharmaceutical drugs, which account for countless injuries, the large majority of medicinal plants pose minimal dangers. The number of actual deaths caused by botanicals and reported in the federal government's Vital Statistics System is negligible.

 

Putting this into perspective, among American seniors alone, there are 9.6 million adverse drug reactions annually. It is estimated that for every day, over 4,000 Americans experience a serious drug reaction requiring hospitalization. Almost 8% of Parkinson cases are induced by drugs for treating other unrelated health conditions.[37] Approximately 61,000 seniors will come down with drug-induced Parkinsonism annually. Psychiatric drugs kill 50% more people than heroin overdoses; in 2014, psychiatric medications accounted for 15,778 deaths.[38]   In one meta-analysis of 19 trials following over 326,000 patients taking digoxin or Lanoxin, the most common prescribed form of digitalis for atrial fibrillation and heart failure, there was a 21% increase risk of death compared to patients not taking the medication.[39] And there are other US iatrogenic statistics showing that conventional pharmaceutical medicine poses far greater risks than botanicals: 41,000 hospitalized and over 3,300 dead from ulcers caused by NSAIDS; 163,000 cases of serious mental impairment, memory loss and dementia due to tranquilizers, high blood pressure and antipsychotic drugs; 2 million American adults addicted to sleeping pills; 73,000 cases of irreversible drug-induced tardive dyskinesia from antipsychotic drugs.[40] And this is only the beginning. With a growing awareness about drug health risks, a person would be foolish to not explore the benefits of alternative non-drug-based therapeutic regimens. Yet, Wikipedia's entry for "Iatraogenesis" fails to mention any of these alarming statistics and barely mentions the urgency of this humanitarian crisis being created by the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Scientists at the USDA-funded Western Human Research Center in Davis California are collaborating with university medical research labs around the nation to identify promising phytochemicals in herbs and foods to fight cancer. The Center's state of the art laboratory has already been able to identify half a dozen plant molecules to destroy cells in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. These include carnosol in rosemary, curcumin, resveratrol in grapes, and ellagic acid and kaempferol in strawberries.[41] And hundreds of other universities and laboratories throughout the world continue to explore the wonders and secrets of the plant kingdom that have yet to discovered.

 

Skeptic organizations favor pharmaceutical drug discovery over the use of nutritional supplements, including medicinal herbs, as employed in traditional medical systems. The pharmaceutical industry perceives the increasing popularity of the natural health movement as a competitive threat to their drug-based paradigm for treating disease.  Wikipedia's editors make their motivations well known, perhaps unknowingly: "Naturopathy is considered by the medical profession to be ineffective and possibly harmful, raising ethical issues about its practice."[42] In other words, Skeptics adopt the conventional medical position to undermine botanical medical practice by emphasizing its assumed risks over its confirmed benefits.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is a complete system, which includes distinct theories of human biology and disease, diagnostic methodologies, acupuncture and moxibustion, herbal medicine, dietary protocols, Qigong and other energy-based therapeutic techniques. Over the course of 5,000 years, it has developed and evolved into becoming the standard form of medicine practiced throughout Greater China. During more recent decades TCM has become increasingly interchangeable with and practiced alongside conventional Western medicine.

 

In May 2019, the World Health Organization officially recognized the therapeutic value of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an effective and valuable medical system. This happened after almost a decade of the Chinese government petitioning and lobbying the WHO for TCM to gain acceptance.  The consequence is that TCM will now be recognized as a viable medical intervention for treating medical disorders globally. Nevertheless, the WHO was verbally assaulted with outrage from the Skeptic medical community and conventional physicians associated with the pharmaceutical drug industry.[43]

 

Hundreds of millions of people turn to TCM for a variety of minor and severe health conditions. Off the China coast is Hainan, renowned for its TCM programs. A story in the magazine Nature reported that every year tens of thousands of tourists, mostly Russian, visit the city for TCM treatment.[44] Back in 2006, the Boston Consulting Group estimated that the US market for TCM was $13 billion. Now a decade later, TCM has continued to gain popularity as conventional medicine continues to fail to treat diseases.[45]

 

Wikipedia introduces its entry on Chinese herbology with:

 

A Nature editorial described TCM as "fraught with pseudoscience", and said that the most obvious reason why it has not delivered many cures is that the majority of its treatments have no logical mechanism of action..... Research into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese herbal therapy is of poor quality and often tainted by bias, with little or no rigorous evidence of efficacy."[46]

 

Wikipedia has a noteworthy amount to say about traditional Chinese herbal medicine. However, its major criticisms rely heavily upon dated five-plus year old reviews of the peer-reviewed research. Some references in fact have nothing to do with Chinese herbology. The majority of clinical research into Chinese botanicals and medical preparations are only found in Chinese databases. Therefore, Western analytical reviews, including the Cochrane reports, are extremely limited, inconclusive and biased. With over 181,000 peer-reviewed research papers and reviews listed in the National Institutes of Health PubMed database referring to TCM, it is disingenuous to assume Wikipedia's editors have any reliable knowledge in this massive body of science to make any sound judgement about TCM's efficacy.

 

Wikipedia's entry for Chinese botanicals notes one deceptive tactic employed by Skeptic editors who write about subjects they have no knowledge of.  For example, Skeptic editors reference an article from the South African Medical Journal to discredit Chinese medicinal plants. However, none of the six botanicals mentioned in the journal article are found in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Each was an African plant. Nevertheless, since the article was critical of medicinal claims associated with each of these plants, Wikipedia editors referenced it nevertheless as a means to confound visitors to the page.[47]

 

With respect to acupuncture, which is also central the TCM, Wikipedia relies upon the personal subjective writings of Skeptic and Science Based Medicine movement founder Stephen Novella, who calls this ancient medical practice a "theatrical placebo."48] Ignoring an enormous body of scientific literature confirming acupuncture's efficacy for treating pain, Skeptic editors instead emphasize its  "negligible clinical significance."

 

Energy Medicine and Psychology

 

Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology have developed into a broad discipline that includes energy healing, acupuncture, homeopathy, bio electromagnetic and magnet therapies, light therapy, electrodermal therapy, psycho-neuroimmunology, applied kinesiology, mind-body techniques such as meditation, and traditional hands-on healing techniques.[49] The latter can include traditional  therapeutic touch and massage, reflexology, cranial-sacral and polarity therapies, external qigong, and intentional faith healing.

 

According to Wikipedia’s entry,

 

"Energy medicine, energy therapy, energy healing, psychic healing, spiritual medicine or spiritual healing are branches of alternative medicine based on a pseudo-scientific belief that healers can channel healing energy into a patient and effect positive results... While early reviews of the scientific literature on energy healing were equivocal and recommended further research, more recent reviews have concluded that there is no evidence supporting clinical efficiency. The theoretical basis of healing has been criticized as implausible, research and reviews supportive of energy medicine have been faulted for containing methodological flaws and selection bias, and positive therapeutic results have been dismissed as resulting from known psychological mechanisms."[50]

 

In addition, Wikipedia sharply criticize energy medicine's scientific theoretical rationale, which is otherwise based upon the physics of bioelectrical and biomagnetic activity instead of conventional medicine's biomolecular chemistry. The encyclopedia states,

 

"Physicists and sceptics roundly criticize these explanations as pseudophysics – a branch of pseudoscience which explains magical thinking by using irrelevant jargon from modern physics to exploit scientific illiteracy and to impress the unsophisticated."[51]

 

Wikipedia references the biased and opinionated website Quackwatch for assessing Energy Medicine. On that site it denounces the therapy as completely senseless and the proposed mechanism of action impossible."[52]

 

In 2014, a volatile exchange occurred on the internet between Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and Debby Vajda, then President of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP). Skeptic Wikipedia editors had viciously ridiculed and condemned Energy Medicine and Psychology. Every effort to make changes to the Wikipedia entry, according to Vajda was "summarily deleted." Practitioners of these medical modalities were unsuccessful in their attempts to provide peer-reviewed scientific evidence of Energy Medicine's successes, nor Energy Medicine's positive endorsement by professional associations and science publications including the American Psychology Association, the Association of Social Work Boards, the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors, the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases among others.  Vajda concluded that the Wikipedia page for Energy Medicine and Psychology "is out of step with existing peer-reviewed research on this topic, and opinionated, self-described “skeptic” editors are resisting any change."[53]

 

Energy Medicine relies more upon physics and the theory of "biofields" rather than conventional molecular biology. This is an emerging field in medicine that Wikipedia Skeptics show no familiarity, expertise nor experience with. Even Wikipedia's entry on biofields reveals an extraordinary amateurish and uninformed knowledge about the subject. Wikipedia Skeptics write, “Biofield therapies are intended to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the human body. The existence of such fields has not been scientifically proven."[54] On the other hand, entries for other scientific subjects that directly support the theory of biofields, which are not being controlled or written by Skeptic editors -- such as electrophysiology (electrical properties of cells and tissue), electroreception (sensory electric fields of organisms) and bioelectromagnetics (organisms' sensor magnetic fields) -- are treated accurately.

 

In response, ACEP launched a campaign on the grassroots activist site Change.org to sign a petition that for signatories to agree to refrain from donating to the Wikipedia Foundation because of its prejudiced and preferential treatment given to Skeptics. The petition gained over 11,200 signatures.[55]

 

In retaliation, Wales replied publicly,

 

"No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back and check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual and truthful. Wikipedia's policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable journals, that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately. What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is equivalent of 'true scientific discourse.' It isn't."[56]

 

Vajda provided Wikipedia with 51 peer-reviewed studies from the scientific literature, 18 which were randomized controlled studies. These were published in highly respected journals including  the American Psychological Association, the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Psychotherapy Theory Research and Practice and others showing positive statistical results outside the range of chance.[57] For example, a University of Wisconsin review of clinical studies utilizing biofield therapies in cardiac patients found efficacy in reducing anxiety and stress, improved muscle relaxation, heightened sense of well-being, and a reduction in pain.[58]  Another review conducted in 2016 review found that while most “novel interventions” for PTSD treatment have not demonstrated efficacy, four energy-based or mind-body techniques (acupuncture, emotional freedom technique, mantra-based meditation, and yoga) had “moderate quality evidence from mostly small- to moderate-sized randomized clinical trials” and were worthy of further study.

 

Regardless of these references that qualify on all counts as a legitimate Wikipedia sources, Wales has continued to align himself with the Skeptics to describe Energy Medicine and Psychology as a "pseudo-science."

 

Wales' statement mirrors the same or similar ideological positions that flourish throughout the Skeptic movement and organizations. "Lunatic charlatan" is a common expression found in Skeptic literature and blogs. Furthermore, Wales’ response clearly indicates that he has absolutely no intention to interfere with the editorial process for Energy Medicine and Psychology and encourage the entry's Skeptic editors to properly review the literature and make the necessary corrections, additions and changes for a balanced and accurate explanation about this medical system.

 

This is one among many of the stronger evidence supporting Wale's extremely biased views about alternative health and substantiates claims that Wales' himself is providing preferential treatment for the site's content; in turn this treatment favors special interests in violation of Wikipedia's core principles.

 

In a study published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers at Campbell University in North Carolina conducted an analysis of references on Wikipedia for ten of the most costly disease conditions (i.e., coronary artery disease, lung cancer, depressive disorder, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, back pain and hyperlipidemia). The study randomly selected medical professionals to conduct the reviews. The results found statistically significant inconsistencies and discordance between Wikipedia’s cited resources and the corresponding peer-reviewed medical literature. The study concluded that “physicians and medical students who currently use Wikipedia as a medical reference should be discouraged from doing so because of the potential for errors.”[59]

 

Wikipedia and AIDS/HIV

 

The term "AIDS denier" has entered the medical lexicon to demean certain individuals, primarily medical experts and virologists, who have raised questions about the consensus view regarding the HIV virus and its bio-molecular activities as a causal agent for Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Because of the term's unflattering connotations, Skeptics have employed it to defame their enemies. Wikipedia’s entry for AIDS, HIV and in particular the primary drug of choice for treatment, azidothymidine or AZT, does not permit dissenting views. There remains a debate about how exactly this retrovirus causes the many horrendous life-threatening conditions associated with AIDS. One area where Skeptics show the least tolerance, reflected in the encyclopedia, is the AZT entry, which against all evidence is described as "the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system."[60]  In fact, the manufacturer's insert for AZT has a long running list of warnings and adverse effects including: hematologic toxicity to bone marrow reserve, aplastic and hemolytic anemia and neutropenia, rapid reduction of hemoglobin, myopathy and myositis with pathological changes, lymphadenopathy (an inflammatory disease of lymph nodes), pancreatitis that may lead to cancer, cardiomyopathy, hepatic encephalopathy and many other equally dangerous conditions that could lead to death. You will not find most adverse effects listed under AZT''s Wikipedia page; moreover, this what Skeptics define as a safe drug.

 

In fact, The British-French Concorde AIDS study was perhaps the largest AZT clinical trial ever conducted at that time and enrolled 1,749 patients over a three-year period. Rather than focus on patients displaying serious AIDS symptoms, it included patients testing positive for HIV but who had not shown symptoms. The participants were roughly divided equally to receive either AZT or a placebo. The results were significant. Among the AZT group there were 79 AIDS-related deaths but only 67 deaths in the placebo group. The AZT group also showed a lot more adverse effects. The study concluded that AZT was a waste of time.[61]

 

The Concorde study was very significant and presented strong clinical evidence that AZT is likely not the most effective course for treatment. Considerable debate arose within the scientific community and barely made known the public. Nevertheless, any reference to the Concorde study is absent in Wikipedia. The reasons are certain. It is intentional silencing of vital information that Skeptics are determined to keep hidden from the public. In the meantime, individuals who have raised questions about the course of conventional AIDS treatment, such Dr. Gary Null and French physician Emanuel Revici, are wrongfully branded as deniers in order to discredit their reputation and accomplishments.

 

Abuse of Biographies of Living Persons

 

The primary leaders and spokespersons for the Skepticism movement such as Quackwatch founder Stephen Barrett and Science Based Medicine’s Steven Novella have pristine Wikipedia biographies. The same is true for all of the leading spokespersons in the Skeptic movement, including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, Paul Kurtz, Daniel Dennett, James Randi, and Susan Gerbic, as well as the movement's more prominent medical doctors such as Jerry Coyne, David Gorski, Harriet Hall and Paul Offit. According to Wikipedia's criteria, both the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American are very reliable sources to reference. Nevertheless, attempts to cite criticisms about Jerry Coyne's seriously flawed research and books, for example, cannot pass the Skeptics guarding his bio. And there is plenty of criticism to cite for each of these individuals to bring balance to their biographies and permit users to decide for themselves. Just as factual evidence and references are not permitted to support the scientific credibility of alternative medicine, parapsychology and its proponents, nor can factual criticism of publicly visible Skeptic thought leaders be added for Wikipedia users to have a more accurate image about who these people really are and what they stand for.  Sadly, all biographies about living Skeptics are maintained and protected by Skeptics. There is absolutely no balance whatsoever in Skeptics' personal Wikipedia biographies. Criticisms, conflicts of interest and controversies are not permitted to be added. Editors attempting to bring a realistic balance to these people’s lives can be quickly banned.

 

Skeptics act blatantly with malice aforethought. In a letter posted online to Dr. Deepak Chopra, biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake opines:

 

“… Wikimedia skeptics are the self-appointed frontier guards of science, a job for which they think they need no credentials except their fervor….. It is easy to be a media skeptic. You get the last word. You can say what you like. You don’t have to spend years doing actual research. And you yourself can remain immune from criticism, because those you criticize have no right to reply.”62]

 

The Wikipedia entries for Drs. Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Dean Radin and many others have been repeatedly victimized by radicalized Skeptics for many years. Although all of these individuals possess impeccable credentials and are visionaries in their own right, their positions on consciousness, non-conventional and natural medicine, mind-body theories and psychology have been anathema for Skeptics’ materialistic and reductionist beliefs. Earlier, Chopra and Sheldrake were forced to recruit the assistance of Wikipedia editor Rome Viharo to make editorial efforts on their Wikipedia pages and correct the blatant falsehoods. Viharo was largely unsuccessful and found himself silenced and censored by Skeptics controlling these pages at the time.

 

Rupert Sheldrake is a British biologist and author of over 85 scientific papers and 13 books.  He has been was a scholar at Cambridge University, where he earned his doctorate in biochemistry, and was later a fellow at Harvard University, where he studied the history of science. While at Cambridge's Clare College, Dr. Sheldrake was the Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. He is credited with co-discovering the functions behind the transportation of the hormone auxin in plants. He has also held positions at the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Trinity College at Cambridge University and is currently a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California. He was ranked among the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013 by the Duttweiler Institute, Switzerland's leading think tank.  As impressive as his Sheldrake's credentials are, however, you will not find many of them on his Wikipedia page. Instead his entry is largely devoted to discrediting his theories because they directly confront and debunk some of Skepticism's most cherished beliefs in radical reductionist Scientific Materialism.

 

If anyone, including Dr. Sheldrake himself, attempts to present the case for corrections in the biography on his Wikipedia "Talk" page, they will find the message:  

 

"The subject of this article is controversial and content may be in dispute. When updating the article, be bold, but not reckless. Feel free to try to improve the article, but don't take it personally if your changes are reversed; instead, come here to the talk page to discuss them.

 

"The Arbitration Committee has authorized uninvolved administrators to impose discretionary sanctions on users who edit pages related to living or recently deceased people, and edits relating to the subject (living or recently deceased) of such biographical articles, including this article.

 

"The Arbitration Committee has authorized uninvolved administrators to impose discretionary sanctions on users who edit pages related to pseudoscience and fringe science, including this article.[63]

 

Here we observe Wikipedia's own Committee aligning itself with a flagrant bias to identify Sheldrake's scientific research with "pseudoscience."

 

Very likely, Prof. Jerry Coyne, an American biologist, former professor at the University of Chicago, and a hardened Skeptic ideologue is a major administrator overseeing Sheldrake's entry. Coyne has also had a long-standing conflict with Rupert Sheldrake. However, more important, Coyne is closely affiliated with the internet militant group Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia and its founders Tim Farley and Susan Gerbic.

 

Deepak Chopra is a world renowned medical doctor, author and speaker best known for bringing Ayurvedic medicine to a mainstream audience. He is board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and focuses on mind-body spiritual healing through multiple modalities.  Wikipedia's introductory paragraph for Chopra makes no reference that he is in fact a medical doctor. The very lengthy entry is littered with the criticisms of Skepticism's most ardent ideologues such Richard Dawkins, David Gorski, Harriet Hall, Timothy Caulfield, Paul Kurtz, Jerry Coyne, Paul Offit, and others -- every name mentioned belongs to the same cultist club in the fringe movement of Skepticism. Not a single person in this list should be regarded as an objective unbiased voice to rely upon and reference for a legitimate encyclopedia.

 

Dr. David Perlmutter's Wikipedia page is nothing less than a Skeptic hit job. Criticisms far outweigh his actual biography and theories despite his receipt of the 2002 Linus Pauling Award, the National Nutritional Foods Association Clinician Award and the "Communications and Media Award" from the American College of Nutrition. Perlmutter is also a medical adviser for television's Dr. Oz Show. His biography fails to note he is a neurologist and simply calls him a "celebrity doctor."

 

Dr. Dean Radin is currently the Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and a distinguished Associate Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is on record stating that his role has been strictly that of a scientist investigating and researching para-psychological phenomenon. He was one of the first to develop the first computer-based artificial intelligence training system. He has held appointments at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Princeton University, the University of Edinburgh and the Stanford Research Institute International (SRI).   In Wikipedia's introductory paragraphs for Radin, there is no mention of his expert credentials bust simply labels him as a "parapsychologist." Again, Skeptics are prominent in the citations on Radin's Wikipedia entry, including a reference to The Skeptic's Dictionary, which is hardly a reliable or widely acknowledged source for objectivity. No mention is given to the fact that Dr. Radin's books have been praised by two Nobel Prize winners (Dr. Kerry Mullis who invented PCR technology and Dr. Brian Josephson, who received the Nobel in Physics at the age of 22 while at Cambridge University). Other noteworthy voices praising his work are molecular biologist and neuroscientist David Presti at the University of California at Berkeley, cognitive neuroscientists Mario Beauregard at the University of Arizona and Michael Block at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Paul Werbos (program director at the National Science Foundation), Stanford professor emeritus of physics Peter Sturrock, and the renowned public advocate attorney Daniel Sheehan, best known for his roles in the Pentagon Papers, the Silkwood Murder, Iran-Contra, Ten Mile Island and Standing Rock trials.

 

Dr. Radin's Wikipedia page, launched in August 2004, has been edited numerous times during the past 14 years. It is an excellent example of Skeptics' editorial strategies. The original biography was short and innocuous. Five short paragraphs containing a straightforward biographical profile of 11 sentences has now morphed into a lengthy essay devoted to referencing Radin's critics in a manner that promulgates the Skeptic doctrine that paranormal experiences do not exist and such claims are simply wishful thinking or hoaxes by charlatans.  In his page's editorial history, a typical Skeptical editor under the pseudonym Susha23 attempted to include the sentence, '''Dean Radin (born February 29, 1952) is a pseudoscientist who defrauds millions of people a day with his books The Conscious Universe." Fortunately Susha23 was banned from editorial privileges.

 

The National Vaccine Information Center was founded by health and vaccine activist Barbara Lo Fisher. The Center has been in existence as a watchdog organization since 1982 and played a constructive role in the passage of President Reagan's National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Oddly, the NCVIA has turned into a revenue boon for the vaccine industry because the bill excuses private corporations from lawsuits due to vaccine-related injuries and deaths.  But Wikipedia in its first paragraph describes the NVIC "as a leading source of fearmongering and misinformation about vaccines." Wikipedia is staunchly pro-vaccination and presents the argument that vaccines are unanimously safe and effective. This is the Skeptics' position as well. Consequently, Skeptic editors are quick to delete any and all scientific publications that cite studies that offer evidence contrary to this unscientific dogma.

 

Blame Jimmy Wales

 

Wales refuses to take personal responsibility for the gross disinformation, covert marketing, and editorial censorship that plagues Wikipedia. Rather, he consistently hides behind the ruse of the encyclopedia being an open invitation for anyone to edit content, or at least attempt to do so, and reaffirms his belief that truth will prevail through the infighting between Wikipedia editors. Wales consistently reassures critics that he is aware of the problems and that Wikipedia’s editorial process is not perfect. However, the fundamental corruption on the site resides within the administration of content, which is not based upon any expertise whatsoever in a topic under review, but on seniority based upon how many successful edits a person has made.

 

As noted in examples above, it is common to find Skeptics and their websites praising Wales’ embrace of Skepticism and acknowledging him as one of their own.  After giving undue applause to the success of Susan Gerbic’s Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia, the site Skeptools remarks,

 

"Wales makes clear what I have been saying all along – the rules of evidence on Wikipedia are pro-skeptic and pro-science. If you are pushing an idea that science rejects, Wikipedia will reject it too…. Paranormalists and pseudoscientists take note: skeptics are not bullying you off Wikipedia. We are only enforcing the rules of evidence as clearly stated on the service. If you cannot provide adequate evidence for your ideas, they will not be accepted. So says Jimmy Wales, so say we all.”[64]

 

There can be no doubt that the Skeptic movement has fully hijacked the encyclopedia. A deep analysis of Skepticism's strategy, its rhetoric and lines of logic incorporated into Wikipedia reveal that Skeptics are applying the very same tactics used by the tobacco industry. The goal is to generate doubt about cheaper, safer, effective, less toxic natural remedies that may compete with the pharmaceutical industry and its culture of drug-peddling. It is also an attempt to seduce Wikipedia users and persuade them to stay clear of anybody who offers a safer and perhaps more effective treatment for disease other than pharmaceutical drugs and surgery. To be clear, Skeptics, whether or not they receive direct funding from drug companies, are ardent supporters of the private medical industry and the drug-for-every-disease paradigm. And Wikipedia has served as a perfect vehicle to further profit the pharmaceutical's hold on conventional medicine and reduce the public information about healthier, non-drug-based, alternative medical regimens.

 

 

Death By Medicine, Revisited (introduction)

By Gary Null and Helen Buyniski

 

By any measure, we are in the worst health crisis in American history. Out of a population of 335 million people, two thirds of us – adults and children both – are suffering from a wide range of health conditions, the majority of which are preventable. Our first effort at explaining how serious the conditions were and indeed to verify that they were real using only the mainstream medical community and the government’s official figures took several years with a group of highly qualified board certified physicians and academics with PhDs with deep experience in research scholarship.

Up until that point, no one had compiled all injuries and fatalities occurring as a result of medical treatment. The best that had been done was by Dr. Lucian Leape, a professor from Harvard who had written a groundbreaking report that had gone virtually unchallenged and unreported in the medical press. Later, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) would publish an article by Dr. Barbara Starfield showing that iatrogenesis was the third leading cause of death. Dr. Martin Makary reached the same conclusions over a decade later, publishing his findings in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). However, it was surprising and disheartening to find that with all the medical and scientific research expertise at these researchers’ disposal, they left out several important causes of death from their statistics. This showed gross flaws in their research methodology.

Our report was the most comprehensive to date published in the US. Once completed, we sent it for feedback and comment to more than 7,000 scientific publications, health reporters, and federal agencies. Not one single response was received. How is this even possible? We expected legitimate challenges and corrections; even admonitions would have been welcome. Instead, we got dead silence. Why?

Years have passed, and the state of American health has only worsened. The latest official reports show more heart attacks, more strokes, obesity, and diabetes including in children. There is more dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cancer than ever before. And yet we spent more on healthcare in 2017 than we’ve ever spent – $3.5 trillion, 17.9 percent of the nation’s GDP, and a number that is on track to further increase in 2018.1 So now we’re perplexed – if we tell people that we have the best healthcare system in the world, with the latest technology, the most pharmaceuticals and medical procedures, state of the art hospitals, and special treatment centers, we should have a population that is far more robust and healthy – but just the opposite is the case.

Then it occurred to us that we were also missing a very important piece of this puzzle. Why are we not preventing disease? How much is all this disease actually costing the patient, corporations, and society? The figures are both staggering and heartbreaking, as there is no discussion of this. We only become invested in a person after they are sick. We have only focused as a society on how to alleviate the symptoms of that person’s illness. When we compare our healthcare program and state of health and longevity with other developed nations, we are near dead last. How is this possible? Those individuals who’ve brought these dire statistics to our attention (Makary, Starfield, Leape, etc) have initiated no wider call for action. Nothing has happened. They too have been shouting into the void. This is a dialogue we desperately need. Our new article expands on the first to include a discussion on iatrogenesis, its causes, prevention, and most importantly how to resolve in part or whole all of these problems.

Costs

Dr. Leape – the first well-known physician to bring the iatrogenesis “problem” into the limelight, only to be largely ignored by the medical industry – notes that while some progress has been made, the situation is by no means resolved. Indeed, it has gotten much worse since 2009, thanks to skyrocketing premiums introduced by the Affordable Care Act and unaccompanied by an increase in quality of care. Depending on the study, medical error is estimated to cost anywhere from $20 billion2 to $980 billion3 a year –a significant sum by any measure. Our calculations place those costs somewhere in the middle, at upwards of $440 billion – but that is probably a low estimate, given how few of the medical errors that take place are ever reported.  

But what about when everything goes according to plan? That $440 billion is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the staggering $3.5 trillion Americans spent on healthcare in 2017, more than twice the amount the next two countries spend on healthcare combined and almost 18 percent of US GDP. According to a study published in JAMA earlier this year that compared the US with 10 other wealthy countries, we spend more than four times more on administrative costs, up to three times as much on pharmaceuticals, and yet achieve the lowest life expectancy of the bunch, with the average American living to 78.8 years while the mean of all 11 countries was 81.7 years. We also have the highest infant mortality rate at 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births.4

According to the CDC, which does not track iatrogenic deaths, heart disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the US, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths and killing almost 634,000 Americans in 2015.5 When one adds the deaths from stroke to the total, the number climbs to nearly 800,000, amounting to one in three American lives lost every year.6 Heart disease and stroke cost the nation $555 billion per year in healthcare services, medications, and lost productivity. The American Heart Association (AHA) believes these costs could double by 2035,7 a possibility that “could bankrupt our nation’s economy and healthcare system,” according to AHA president Dr. Steven Houser.

”The fact that CVD could singlehandedly bankrupt our nation’s healthcare system is disturbing,” Houser said. “But it’s a real possibility if we don’t act soon to do a better job of preventing what are largely preventable disorders.”8

In our medical system, however, doctors are not rewarded for preventing diseases. There is no medical billing code for a clean bill of health. Doctors who keep their patients out of the hospital are, if anything, punished by being deprived of the cash that flows to their peers in in-demand specialty fields like oncology and cardiology. Thus, expecting doctors to shift to a preventative care model without also fixing a system that only rewards treatment of the already-sick is expecting doctors to take food out of their own mouths.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death according to the CDC, killing 595,930 Americans in 2015.9 Direct medical costs in 2015 amounted to $80.2 billion.10 Because more people develop cancer every year, total care costs are expected to reach $173 billion by 2020.11 While not as financially devastating as heart disease, this is another condition we are exacerbating as a society by failing to address the causes or arrest the onset of the disease until the patient is already sick. All of this suffering and expenditure could be avoided if the profit motive was removed from healthcare, but too many people are benefiting on too many levels from the current model for meaningful change to be enacted.

An appeal to the CDC

Since the publication of the original Death By Medicine in 2009, other reports have periodically surfaced to remind the medical industry of the scope of the iatrogenesis problem. Like ours, these warnings have gone largely unheeded, sinking without a trace in the ever-widening money pool of medical spending.

In 2016, Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins University wrote to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to request the agency include medical error on its list of causes of death published every year. Makary had published a study earlier that year in the BMJ revealing that a minimum of 251,454 deaths were attributable to medical error annually. He emphasized that this figure was a low estimate because it only included patients who died in hospitals and did not include outpatient deaths or deaths that occurred after discharge.

In his letter, Makary and his colleagues merely requested the CDC allow clinicians to list medical error as a cause of death on death certificates, given its prevalence. The current model limits recording options to diseases, morbid conditions, and injuries, as itemized by the International Classification of Disease billing codes, while causes not found on that list – those he calls “human and system factors in medical care” – are excluded. He recommends an additional field on death certificates that would indicate whether preventable complications of medical care were the primary cause of death, allowing a fuller picture of the circumstances without necessarily creating a legal liability.12

Bringing the high rate of medical error into the open, Makary hopes, will bring to bear the forces needed to begin to solve the problem. Government funding flows to cancer and heart disease research, while medical error is a forgotten backwater discussed only in hospital committees, the proverbial elephant in the room sucking up all the air while the medical profession hesitates to even speak its name. Being able to share best practices, and avoid worst practices, can only help both patients and doctors.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant – literally, in this case. He received no response from the CDC.

Progress?

Leape, who was honored by the National Patient Safety Foundation in 2007 with the founding of the Lucian Leape Institute to study healthcare safety, is losing patience with the industry he’s worked in all his professional life. “It’s incomprehensible to me that hospitals can continue to not follow practices that are known to make a real difference,” he told Health Leaders. He believes a depoliticized regulatory agency (he uses the Federal Aviation Agency as a model) is the solution to the medical industry’s problems, a group with powers to inspect and discipline but no conflicts of interest to prevent them from doing their job. And he suggests regulators not underestimate the value of “shaming” – public reporting – in encouraging compliance with safety standards.13

Like Makary, Leape believes it is time to leave the Institute of Medicine’s figure of 98,000 iatrogenic deaths behind and adopt a more realistic number. NASA toxicologist John T. James’ 2013 estimate of 440,000 deaths caused by medical error per year14 is supported by these and other experts. However, they admit that even the Global Trigger Tool James used does not catch all medical errors, particularly those that represent actions that should have been taken but weren’t. The true number of medically-induced deaths is probably much higher.15 Indeed, our calculations found it was more than double James’ statistic.

Yet the medical industry forges ahead with business as usual, in which they take credit for all healing but eschew responsibility for all complications, up to and including death. They cannot have it both ways, yet that has not stopped them from trying. An individual who receives the flu vaccine and does not get the flu is not praised for living a healthy lifestyle, adhering to a healthy plant-based diet, exercising every day, and getting enough sleep – but if he does get the flu, it must have been something he did. Writ large, this is the story of the entire medical system.

Defending the Indefensible

Dr. Haider Warraich, a cardiologist at Duke University, published an editorial in the New York Times that epitomizes this head-in-the-sand approach to medical harms. He reflexively defends ineffective treatments the medical establishment is starting to cast aside while dismissing patients who seek to better understand their condition by doing their research as gullible and superstitious peasants who need a medical specialist like himself to lead them out of the wilderness.

The graphic that accompanies Warraich’s op-ed says it all – an angry-looking overweight woman depicted in red tones, her face lit up even redder in the glow of her iPhone, towering over a white-coated doctor one third her size. Patients who research the treatments prescribed for them, even though they are clearly unhealthy and in need of (faith) healing, are questioning the received wisdom of the doctor as interpreter of divine will. They are effectively cheating on him with their iPhones, and that’s unforgivable. Even though the major scientific journals publish their studies online, “the internet” is reduced to a swamp of false information sure to lead the patient off the shining path illuminated by the medical professional.

Warraich focuses on statins in his paean to medical orthodoxy. He describes a patient who has a minor heart attack after neglecting to take her medication because of “scary things she had read about statins on the internet.” Claiming any of the drugs’ adverse effects can be ascribed to the “nocebo effect,” Warraich defends the drugs and even proposes criminalizing the spread of information on their harms.

In 2015, Diamond and Ravnskov destroyed the case for statins with a seminal article in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology that deconstructs how Americans were tricked into embracing statins as a “miracle drug” for preventing heart attacks. While they acknowledge the effectiveness of the drugs in lowering cholesterol levels, they call into question the accepted wisdom that high cholesterol is a causative factor in cardiovascular disease. The researchers cite dozens of studies published in peer-reviewed medical literature, and outline a diabolically clever campaign of statistical deception using a statistical tool called “relative risk reduction.” During the 2008 JUPITER trial of rosuvastatin (marketed as Crestor by AstraZeneca, which sponsored the study), a miniscule difference in the rate of heart attacks between the control and drug groups was recast statistically as an impressive drug effect, even though more people actually died of heart attacks in the drug group than in the control group:

“[R]egarding fatal and nonfatal CHD, less than one-half of 1% of the treated population (0.41%) benefited from rosuvastatin treatment, and 244 people needed to be treated to prevent a single fatal or nonfatal heart attack. Despite this meager effect, in the media the benefit was stated as ‘more than 50% avoided a fatal heart attack’, because 0.41 is 54% of 0.76.”16

Worse, the drug group displayed an increase in diabetes. Although the number of incidences were small, they were not treated to the same statistical magic as the dip in heart attacks. A patient’s cancer risk increases with statin treatment, and a link with central nervous system disease has also emerged. More than one statin trial ended with an increase in suicidal or violent deaths among subjects treated with the drug.17 18 19 20 The researchers note that low blood cholesterol levels are prevalent among “criminals, in people with diagnoses of violent or aggressive-conduct disorders, in homicidal offenders with histories of violence and suicide attempts related to alcohol, and in people with poorly internalized social norms and low self-control,” as well as other psychiatric disorders.21

Cognitive problems are closely linked with statin treatment, to the extent that discontinuing the drugs often alleviates the symptoms. Padala et.al tested their hypothesis in a 2012 study by discontinuing statins in a group of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Twelve weeks later, the study’s participants were performing markedly better on cognitive tests. When placed back on the statins, their cognition deteriorated to its previous level.22

Statins deplete the body of CoQ10 and selenium, two essential nutrients required for proper heart and nerve function. CoQ10 deficiency manifests in the muscle and joint pain experienced by many statin patients and contributes to aging, as the nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that normally protects DNA from free radical damage. As statins lower the body’s CoQ10 levels, heart and nerve function decline. The consequence is the neurodegenerative side effects so many researchers have observed. Selenium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cancer, another side effect of statins the medical-industrial complex has unsuccessfully tried to sweep under the rug. These are not mere chance events unrelated to the actions of the drugs, nor are they some “nocebo effect” conjured through the black magic of internet research.

The packaging and selling of statins to healthy people as “anti-atherosclerotic insurance” is one of the most egregious frauds perpetrated on the American public in recent decades. A 2012 advisory by the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ Collaborators suggested expanding the pool of patients recommended for statin therapy, since even the least at-risk population could be shown (using the aforementioned statistical trickery) to benefit. While a 2013 revision shifted the primary treatment criteria from LDL-C levels to a “risk assessment” that takes into account other health factors for individual patients, this refactoring had the effect of increasing the numbers of Americans taking statins, not decreasing it. By 2016, fully half of men ages 60 and older were taking statins – up from 36 percent 10 years ago. The percentage of women taking the drug has increased more slowly, from 33 to 38 percent.23

A further revision of treatment guidelines, issued by the American Heart Association earlier this year, actually emphasized a “heart-healthy lifestyle” before mentioning statin drugs. This was a monumental shift given the exclusively pharmaceutical focus of most of American medicine.24 Yet Dr. Warraich does not utter a word in favor of lifestyle measures such as a plant-based low-calorie diet and regular exercise. To posit that such natural interventions might have a beneficial effect on his cardiac patients is heresy to the pharmaceutically-faithful. It is not enough that the next nine points of treatment in the new AHA guidelines deal with when and how to prescribe statins.  Dr. Warraich and his colleagues cannot monetize a healthy lifestyle and it is anathema to their pharmaceutical-based view of medicine.

That the AHA guidelines for managing cardiovascular disease with cholesterol-lowering therapies even mention lifestyle changes at all is an encouraging development. Their common-sense recommendations represent an island of sanity in an ocean of big-pharma faith-healing.

“Patients should consume a dietary pattern that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, healthy protein sources (low-fat dairy products, low-fat poultry (without the skin), fish/seafood, and nuts), and  nontropical vegetable oils; and limits intake of sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. This dietary pattern should be adjusted to appropriate calorie requirements, personal and cultural food preferences, and nutritional therapy for other medical conditions including diabetes. Caloric intake should be adjusted to avoid weight gain, or in overweight/obese patients, to promote weight loss. In general, adults should be advised to engage in aerobic physical activity 3-4 sessions per week, lasting on average 40 minutes per session and involving moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity.”25

It seems so obvious, and yet it took decades of expensive, flawed medical research, policy and practice to reach this point. How many patients died needlessly because cardiologists like Dr. Warraich wanted to get more people on statins? How many cancer and dementia patients currently in the throes of their illness might have held onto a quality of life a little longer if they hadn’t had these drugs pushed upon them?

But “fake medical news,” to doctors steeped in the orthodoxy of the pharmaceutical based medical model, is more of a menace than the incompetence of their own profession. Similar to “fake news” in general, the menace has been blown wildly out of proportion as the latest trend in fear. Certainly confirmation bias is always a danger. If a patient is seeking out supporting evidence that their toenail fungus is terminal, they will find it somewhere online. However the volume of information available to patients on the internet is a valuable resource that should not be trivialized or demonized. Indeed, patients who do their own research before blindly accepting a doctor’s recommendations should be commended for taking care of their health. Even CNN – hardly considered a maverick when it comes to medical coverage – suggested patients discuss the risks of statins with their doctors before filling their prescriptions after a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this year suggested that the risks outweighed the benefits when the drugs are prescribed to prevent CVD.26

Dr. Warraich moralizes that “Silicon Valley needs to own this problem” and “be held responsible for promoting or hosting fake information.”27 Is this a call to suppress all criticism of medical modalities he favors?  Will he own up to his own field’s problems, which are far more numerous and deadly than a few misleading articles (and certainly more detrimental than the looming spectre of the Informed Patient)? While he admits the scientific community has a responsibility to patients to maintain trust, and chides a group of National Institutes of Health researchers who published a study on the benefits of moderate drinking funded by Big Alcohol, he saves most of his venom for the media. After all, the media didn’t have to cover that terrible study, did they? One might argue the traditional responsibility of the Fourth Estate is to warn the people when powerful interests are threatening them, but would Dr. Warraich rather journalists stick to publishing pharmaceutical company press releases?

And why should we subscribe to Warraich’s views? Does he think we are too dim-witted to make up our own minds about a particular treatment? His ideal patient takes the drugs they are given, regardless of their effects, even when they are contraindicated by published science. Even as official guidelines have shifted away from prescribing statins to treat moderately high cholesterol, and as the medical community is faced with incontrovertible evidence of the drugs’ negative effects, Warraich stands by this protocol. Why is he so concerned about who is taking statins, anyway?

Dr. Warraich, it turns out, is one of the authors of a 2017 study called “National Trends in Statin Use and Expenditures in the US Adult Population From 2002 to 2013.” Published in JAMA Cardiology, the study decries statin drugs’ “suboptimal uptake in higher-risk groups.” Researchers received funding from some of the largest pharmaceutical firms: Sanofi, Novartis, Amgen, and Regeneron.28 Elsewhere in his op-ed, Warraich scolds Tennessee physician Mark Green, recently elected to Congress. The Congressional candidate was the subject of an epidemic of media pearl-clutching when he responded to a town hall question with assurances that he would “get the real data on vaccines” from the CDC. Green stated, “there is some concern that the rise in autism is a result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines.” He never declared that vaccines cause autism, as he is being accused of doing, but merely echoed concerns his constituents had shared with him that the data might have been “fraudulently managed.” Green was forced to eat his words after being torn to pieces by Left- and Right-leaning media outlets alike. Concerns about the HPV vaccine, which has been linked to hundreds of deaths, as well as side effects including paralysis and sterility, are lamented as benighted superstition, even though there is no evidence the vaccine actually protects against the later-life cervical and other cancers it is advertised to ward off.30 By 2014, the CDC had already paid out almost $6 million to severely injured victims of Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine.31

Perhaps conceding that the old guard of the medical-industrial complex cannot win the battle for hearts and minds with science – because the science is not on their side – Dr. Warraich ends with a call to arms for other would-be propagandists: “physicians and researchers need to weave our science with stories.”  

A note on statistics

Wherever possible, we have updated the statistics used in the original book to reflect more recent studies. However, in many cases newer figures were not available. The vast majority of medical research is still funded by pharmaceutical companies uninterested in bankrolling an examination of how they are failing patients. In those cases where researchers did follow up on one of the studies we used, the updates were often light on statistics and heavy on rhetoric, suggesting their authors did not want to look too deeply into the matter lest they find nothing has changed.

Asked how he would grade the government response to 1999’s seminal Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human, one of the first to shine a light on the then-obscure problem of medical error, Dr. Leape was pessimistic. “I would give them an F, at best a D minus, as they have done very little. Although there was some increase in funding for research early on after the 1999 IOM report, since then the federal government has not done much to provide incentives, financial or other, to improve safety,” he said.32

In a 15-year follow-up of the IOM study published in British Medical Journal Quality & Safety, Mitchell et.al. found that while incident reporting programs had proliferated, patient safety had not improved at the same rate. Incident reporting systems fail to record most patient harms, and medical authorities estimate that only 10-14 percent of adverse incidents are reported.33

Our figures, then, while alarming, are extremely conservative. We are not optimistic that this current report will be any more honestly received and reviewed than the first, and we fully expect that this report and its authors will be challenged by those whose job is to defend all existing protocols and medical procedures, irrespective of how deadly they are. Still, we are obligated as principled researchers to call attention to this problem – nearly 1 million people dying every year at the hands of an industry that claims to cure people is a sick joke, a modern-day form of human sacrifice. We cannot dismiss these casualties as the cost of doing business, any more than we can dismiss so-called “collateral damage” in war as the cost of safety at home.

 

NOTES

1 National Health Expenditure Data. “NHE Fact Sheet.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-and-systems/statistics-trends-and-reports/nationalhealthexpenddata/nhe-fact-sheet.html Retrieved 21 Dec 2018.

2 Rodziewicz, TL et.al. “Medical Error Prevention.” StatPearls 27 Oct 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29763131

3 Andel, C. et.al. “The economics of health care quality and medical errors.” Journal of Health Care Finance. 2012 Fall;39(1):39-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155743

4 Papanicolas, Irene et.al. “Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries.” JAMA. 2018;319(10):1024-1039. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2674671

5 National Vital Statistics Reports. “Deaths: Final Data for 2015.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 Nov 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_06.pdf

6 Benjamin, EJ et.al. “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2017 Update.” American College of Cardiology. 9 Feb 2017. https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2017/02/09/14/58/heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics-2017

7 American Heart Association. “Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America – Projections Through 2035.” American Heart Association. 14 Feb 2017. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf

8 Fischer, Kristen. “Why Heart Disease is on the Rise in America.” Healthline. 3 Mar 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-is-heart-disease-on-the-rise

9 National Vital Statistics Reports, op.cit.

10 American Cancer Society. “Economic Impact of Cancer.” American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/economic-impact-of-cancer.html Retrieved 21 Dec 2018.

11 Mariotto, A.B. et.al. “Projections of the Cost of Cancer Care in the United States: 2010-2020.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2011 Jan 19; 103(2):117-128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3107566/

12 Makary, Martin. “RE: Methodology used for collecting national health statistics.” 1 May 2016. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2822345-Hopkins-CDC-letter.html

13 Clark, C. “Q&A: Lucian Leape Wants Tougher Patient Safety Regs.” HealthLeaders. 28 Mar 2013. https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/clinical-care/qa-lucian-leape-wants-tougher-patient-safety-regs

14 James, John T. “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care.” Journal of Patient Safety. September 2013; 9(3):122-128. https://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/Fulltext/2013/09000/A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

15 Allen, Marshall. “How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in US Hospitals?” NPR. 20 Sep 2013. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/09/20/224507654/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-u-s-hospitals

16 Diamond, D.M. et.al. “How statistical deception created the appearance that statins are safe and effective in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. 2015 Mar;8(2):201-10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25672965

17 Muldoon, M.F. et.al. “Lowering cholesterol concentrations and mortality: a quantitative review of primary prevention trials.” BMJ. 1990 Aug 11;301(6747):309-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2144195

18 Kaplan, J.R. et.al. “Assessing the observed relationship between low cholesterol and violence-related mortality. Implications for suicide risk.“ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1997 Dec 29;836:57-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9616794

19 Davison, K.M. et.al. “Lipophilic statin use and suicidal ideation in a sample of adults with mood disorders.” Crisis. 2014 Jan 1;35(4):278-82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25113893

20 Boston, P.F. et.al. “Cholesterol and mental disorder.” British Journal of Psychiatry. 1996 Dec;169(6):682-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8968624  

21 Diamond, op.cit.

22 Padala, K.P. et.al. “The effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on cognition in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia: a prospective withdrawal and rechallenge pilot study.” American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. 2012 Oct;10(5):296-302. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22921881

23 Carroll, Margaret D. “QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥20 Years Told Their Cholesterol Was High Who Were Taking Lipid-Lowering Medications,* by Sex and Age Group — National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2006 to 2015–2016.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 13 Jul 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6727a6.htm

24 Grundy, S.M. et.al. “Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol.” American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. 2018. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000625

25 ibid.

26 Howard, Jacqueline. “Are statins overprescribed? Why the risks and benefits are so complex.” CNN. 3 Dec 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/03/health/statin-side-effects-benefits-study/index.html

27 Warraich, Haider. “Dr. Google Is a Liar.” New York Times. 16 Dec 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/16/opinion/statin-side-effects-cancer.html

28 Salami, J.A. et.al. “National Trends in Statin Use and Expenditures in the US Adult Population From 2002 to 2013.” JAMA Cardiology. 2017;2(1):56-65. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2583425

30 Tomljenovic, Lucija et.al. “Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine policy and evidence-based medicine: Are they at odds?” Annals of Medicine. 2011; Early Online 1-12. https://www.scribd.com/doc/127818325/Annals-of-Medicine-HPV-Vaccine

31 Lind, Peter. “US court pays $6 million to Gardasil victims.” Washington Times. 31 Dec 2014. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/31/us-court-pays-6-million-gardasil-victims/

32 Buerhaus, Peter I. “Is Hospital Patient Care Becoming Safer? A Conversation With Lucian Leape.” Health Affairs. Nov/Dec 2007:26(6). https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.26.6.w687

33 Mitchell, I. et.al. “Patient safety reporting: a qualitative study of thoughts and perceptions of experts 15 years after ‘To Err is Human.’” BMJ Quality & Safety. Jul 2015:25(2). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/

James North is the editor at large of Mondoweiss, an independent news site informing people about developments in Israel and Palestine related to US foreign policy. Mondoweiss was founded by the progressive Jewish and veteran journalist Phillip Weiss in 2006 and has become a leading Jewish voice supporting the Palestinians struggle for human rights. In our opinion it one of best news and analysis sources committed to the highest standards of journalism that deals with events unfolding in the Near East. Prior to joining Mondoweiss, James was an independent journalist and author who has reported from Africa, Latin and Asia for 44 years. He is the author of "Freedom Rising: Life Under Apartheid Through the Eyes of an American on a Clandestine Journey through Southern Africa."  The website is Mondoweiss.net

 

Alison Weir is a journalist, author, civil rights and peace activist, and the president of the Council for the National Interest, which was founded by several former Congressmen. She is also the founder of the organization If Americans Knew, which analyses and reports on US media coverage of Israel-Palestine.  She has presented briefings before Congress on the US and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis,  and has lectured widely at numerous universities including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Berkeley and to academies and institutions overseas. She has received a variety of awards  including the Phi Alpha Literary Society for Courageous Journalism on behalf of human rights.  Alison’s articles frequently appear on Counterpunch and AntiWar.com, Project Censored, Global Research, and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Her book “Against Our Better Judgment: How the US was Used to Create Israel” is a thorough, meticulously sourced document bringing forth a story barely known about the history of US-Israel relations and the origins of the state of Israel. Her website is IfAmericansKnew.org

CONVERSATIONS WITH REMARKABLE MINDS

the Mueller report and the deep state exposed in the Trump years

 

Danny Sheehan is one of our nation’s most important and influential Constitutional and public interest lawyers.  During the past 45 years he has handled such public interest cases as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate Break In, Iran Contra and the Silkwood murder case.  He has represented victims of he Three Mile Island nuclear disaster and fought against the American Nazi Party on hate crimes. Recently Danny has been a lead attorney on behalf of the Native nations at Standing Rock and handling the dismissal of a case against Chase Iron Eyes for inciting a riot and felony trespassing. He is the founder of the Christic Institute and the Romero Institute, the latter being a nonprofit public policy center in Santa Cruz California. He holds a law degree from Harvard University and later returned to study at the Harvard Divinity School.. Danny is the author of “The People’s Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Defence Lawyer,”   And his websites are DanielPSheehan.com   AND   RomeroInstitute.org

Christopher (ChrisBlack is a Canadian attorney-activist, writer, author, community organizer and poet.  He has worked with the famous Toronto black activist attorney Charles Roach on criminal cases before entering international criminal law. He defended Rwanda's General Augustin Ndiniliyimana against dozens of genocide charges at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal leading to his acquittal. He was among the first lawyers to lay war crime charges against NATO for its attack on Yugoslavia, and went on to head the legal committee for President Milosevic's defense. Other crimes Chris laid down on behalf of the International Criminal Court include charges against Rwandan president Paul Kagame on behalf of Congolese groups, and charges against NATO for its invasion of Libya. Chris is currently an executive member of the Canadian Peace Council and Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity. His articles appear in the Near Eastern Outlook, Counterpunch, Global Research, the Toronto Star, the Journal of World Affairs and other outlets. His latest novel is "Beneath the Clouds" and he is a contributor to Cynthia McKinney's book "How the US Creates Shithole Nations." He holds a degree in psychology from McMaster University in Ontario and received law degree, specializing in international law, from York University, and his website is Christopher-Black.com

Derrick Jensen has become one of the nation’s leading voices of cultural and environmental dissent, who writes about civilization devastating impact upon the environment and the natural world, and our society’s denial of that fact. Utne Reader listed Derrick among the 50 visionaries changing the world. In sharp contrast to environmental optimists who believe working within the corporate system will offset the tenuous planetary balance threatened by climate change, Derrick has advocated for many years a “dismantling of civilization” which can include radical dissent as well as imparting wisdom to our children.  Derrick has written many books influential books. His recently released “The Myth of Human Supremacy” may be perhaps be one of his important that goes to heart of the rapid pace in environmental and ecological degradation. He also hosts a weekly radio program, Resistance Radio, on the Progressive Radio Network every Sunday evening at 6:00 pm Eastern time.   His website is www.DerrickJensen.org

Abby Martin is one of our leading international voices among younger American journalists and media activists.  She is the host of the investigative documentary news program The Empire Files that was aired on pan-Latin American network Telesur TV English out of Caracas Venezuela.  The Empire Files features hard hitting investigative history and insights into subjects ignored by mainstream corporate media. Earlier Abby was the host of Breaking the Set on the Russia Today network. She is a founder of the organization Media Roots that supports citizen journalism, and serves on the board of the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored, which airs on the PRN network. She also co-directed the film “99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaboration.”  Older Empire Files episodes can be viewed at TheEmpireFiles.tv and on Youtube, and Abby's personal website as an accomplished visual artist is AbbyMartin.org

THE WAR ON CHIROPRACTIC, Part 2

Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, April 8, 2019
CHIROPRACTIC’S SUPERIOR EFFICACY
The AMA did its best to undercut workmen’s compensation programs for chiropractic care, but it was fighting a losing battle on that front, because evidence mounted that for typical industrial injuries– the strains, sprains, and wrenched backs typically caused by lifting something too heavy—chiropractic is nearly twice as effective as any treatment by medical physicians, measured by the number of days it takes for workers with comparable neck or back injuries to go back on the job.
During the Chicago trial, the chiropractors relied only on those studies that had been done by medical physicians in order to obviate any argument of bias. There was a famous study done of 1,000 cases in California by C. Richard Wolf. M.D., of the California workmen’s compensation bureau. Dr. Wolf concluded that while it took 32 days for a medical physician to get the average injured worker back on the job, the chiropractors average time was 15.6 days for comparable injuries, or slightly less than one-half.
There was also a study by the Oregon Workmen’s Compensation Board, Dr Rolland A. Martin, an M.D and medical director of the board, found that chiropractors,
on average, got twice as many injured workers back on the job within a week as medical doctors
If you think about it, you’ll see why the workmen’s compensation boards have been relatively impervious to influence by the AMA. If, out of 1,000 workers, 500 of them take 30 days to get back on the job and 500 of them take 15, that adds up to a difference of over 20 years of lost time between the two groups, attributable to half of the patients having been unlucky enough to land in medical physicians’ offices rather than chiropractors.
Workmen’s compensation boards are under pressure from employers to see that employees get back to work quickly, because the cost of 20 years of workmen’s time when those workers are totally nonproductive is high. Moreover, society loses the workers’ productivity when they are laid up. Then there is the expense of the insurance provider in paying either the medical physician or the chiropractor. So, ultimately, the taxpayers’ money is wasted in paying for that extra 20 years of lost time in our sample group of 1,000 injured workers.
To millions of Americans, chiropractic adjustments are the only reasonable way of relieving chronic pain. If it were left to the American Medical Association, chiropractic would have ceased to exist many years ago. Claiming chiropractic to be a cult with no scientific validity, the AMA, in 1963, formed a special investigative unit which had as its assigned task the isolation and elimination of chiropractic. A plan for this was drawn up by an attorney named Robert Throckmorton, who worked with the AMA as its general counsel. His plan involved insurance companies, hospitals, state medical-licensing boards, public and private colleges, and lobbying efforts.
The legality of the AMA’s actions was finally challenged in 1975, when five chiropractors filed an anti-trust suit against the AMA and ten other medical organizations. The suit went to trial in federal district court in Chicago in late 1980, and the jury found the defendants not guilty. But in 1983, a federal circuit court judge ruled that the case must be retried.
The AMA was willing to go to great lengths to carry out its anti-chiropractic campaign. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in its “containment” of physicians’ studies on chiropractic that were conducted for workmen’s compensation boards.
The Oregon Workmen’s Compensation Board once scheduled a seminar for all providers of health care to industrial accident victims. These providers included osteopaths, medical physicians, company doctors and others involved in workmen’s compensation programs. A chiropractor was invited to address the group.
When the session was first proposed, the Multnomah County Medical Society and the Oregon State Medical Society, without the knowledge that a chiropractor was to be involved, planned to cosponsor the meeting in order to help build interest in it. Medical physicians who attended it, they announced, would receive continuing medical-education credit toward their license-renewal program. But when it became known that a chiropractor was going to address the session, the medical societies immediately withdrew their sponsorship, and notified prospective attendees that they would not receive education credit for attending. In fact, some of the medical panel members then backed out, and the program went forward with a much reduced attendance.
What a tragedy– that skilled physicians would refuse to listen to another licensed health-care provider explain how to treat injured industrial workers, when evidence indicated that his profession got markedly superior results in reducing human pain and agony and in reducing the costs of industrial accidents.
It is ironic that one of the AMA’s major arguments against chiropractic was that chiropractors do not do research in their field. At one time this was largely true when chiropractic was a profession struggling with limited resources, and was not able to support a cadre of researchers. The graduates of chiropractic colleges went out and practiced; they relied on clinical results rather than formal research. The AMA criticized their failure to publish.
But in academic parlance, to “publish” a paper often means to read it to one’s peers at a conference, where the work is subject to colleagues’ questions and criticism. Yet, in the case of the Oregon seminar — when medical physicians had the opportunity to examine and criticize the ideas of a chiropractor– they decided instead to boycott the session, effectively preventing the chiropractor from sharing his findings.
The individual doctors cannot be entirely blamed: They were under terrific pressure from their medical societies.
Another example of the AMA’s attempting to sabotage chiropractic education in a manner that was directly damaging to its own membership and their patients is the case of Dr. Philip R. Weinstein, a California neurologist. Dr. Weinstein had given many lectures to chiropractors on diagnosing illnesses of the spine before he learned of the extent of the AMA’s opposition to inter-professional exchanges with chiropractors. He testified at the trial that chiropractors– who often serve as portals of entry to the health-care delivery system– ought to be better able to recognize several, more exotic physical conditions. They would thus know when to refer their patients to their medical colleagues (thereby benefiting medical doctors as well as patients).
But pressure was brought to bear on Dr. Weinstein, and he canceled his lectures. His letter to a chiropractic group reads. “Please accept our sincerest apologies for this late cancellation due to circumstances beyond our control. We were unaware that delivering medical lectures to your [organization] was prohibited.” But the AMA’s efforts went far beyond canceling or undermining a few professional seminars.
Perhaps the most insidious and indefensible activities exposed at the trial were the efforts by medical groups to prevent chiropractors from expanding or improving their educational base. While the only issue in the court case was whether or not this was in violation of antitrust statues, the question for the public is much larger: whether a private organization hindered learning, study, and expression of ideas. In effect, the AMA sought to establish absolute control over the dissemination of medical and health information in the United States.
In its zeal to destroy chiropractic, the AMA had committed itself, through Robert Throckmorton’s master plan, to contain chiropractic schools: “To the extent that [the schools’] financial problems continue to multiply, and to the extent that the schools are unsuccessful in their recruiting programs, the chiropractic menace of the future will be reduced and possibly eliminated.”
The AMA maneuvered on many fronts. In order that “the [schools’] financial problems” should “continue to multiply,” the AMA tried to prevent the government from granting chiropractic students guaranteed student loans. More successfully, it also tried to put a stop to government grants for research and teaching at chiropractic colleges.
The AMA also sought to keep chiropractic schools from gaining accredited status, thereby discouraging the better students. For a long time, chiropractic colleges were accredited only by the chiropractors themselves. There were two accrediting groups: one sponsored by the International Chiropractors’ Association (representing “straight” chiropractors. who offer only spinal manipulation), the other sponsored by the American Chiropractic Association (the “mixers,” who provide additional modalities of therapy, such as nutrition counseling).
In the sixties, the AMA argued that chiropractic education did not meet minimal standards because the two accrediting organizations were not, in turn, accredited by any nationally recognized accreditation agency, such as the North Central Group or the New York Board of Regents. But at that time the chiropractic accrediting organizations had not been government-certified.
The AMA had publicly shed crocodile tears at what it said was the poor state of chiropractic education. Now it went into high gear to see that the status quo didn’t change. In every state, it lobbied to oppose the creation of a government-approved accreditation body. Accreditation is a quantum leap forward in status for any school, and the AMA feared that the designation of a national accreditation body for chiropractic colleges would make it hard to continue to criticize those schools. And it was right.
To the credit of HEW’s Office of Education, which was made up of educators rather than medical doctors, the AMA’s pressure was resisted. The educators’ response to the AMA was to insist that their job was to see that the proposed accreditation body met formal standards– not to become mired in a petty conflict between competing health-care systems. In 1974, the HEW Office of Education sanctioned the Council on Chiropractic Education as the national accreditation body for chiropractic schools.
This had a tremendous impact on improving educational standards at the chiropractic colleges. Whereas at one time faculty-student ratios were poor, there are now 129 professors for 1,800 students, for example, at the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.
Chiropractors across the United States cooperated in asking legislatures to pass laws that would require two years of pre-professional education before students matriculated into a chiropractic college. In other words, a total of six years of post-high school education would be required for the Doctor of Chiropractic degree. The chiropractic organizations supported that upgrading of their profession. Even though they feared that young people contemplating a chiropractic career, perhaps already intimidated by the AMA attacks, might be reluctant to submit to a six-year program. The chiropractic groups, nevertheless, took the risk of losing some less highly motivated students, because their commitment to serving the public and upgrading their profession demanded high educational standards.

LEANING ON THE UNIVERSITIES
The results caught the AMA and the state medical societies by surprise. As state legislatures endorsed pre-professional courses for chiropractors, educational institutions began to make arrangements to offer high-quality undergraduate chiropractic programs.
In New York State, C.W. Post College, a division of Long Island University, was asked by Indiana’s Lincoln College of Chiropractic to cooperate in establishing a pre-professional course, and indicated it would do so. The AMA decided to try to scuttle the program. A doctor on the AMA’s Committee on Quackery published a series of articles in the medical-society newsletters sent to physicians all over New York State.
With exaggerated bombast, the doctor intoned that “the lights of the Empire State have gone out,” because one New York school was contemplating teaching courses to chiropractic students. He implored medical physicians to pressure the academic officials at C.W. Post to drop their plans.
The AMA had a lot of ammunition it could bring to bear, since any school with a premed program or any other preparatory program for health professionals has to worry about maintaining its friendships with medical organizations. If a school can’t get its premed students admitted to medical schools, its program is worthless.
An example of the pressure tactics used on C.W Post appeared in the July 1972 issue of the journal of the Medical Society of the State of New York, in an article headlined: LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY SAYS IT WILL NOT TEACH PRE-CHIROPRACTIC STUDENTS. It reported that “the proposal was protested vigorously by the Medical Society of the State of New York in a letter which the Medical Society of the State of New York Executive Vice President … sent to medical and community leaders and the Deans of the State’s medical schools. Ernest R. Jaffe, Acting Dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, also added his disapproval in a letter to L.I.U. Dr. Jaffe said: ‘I urge you to take all appropriate measures to terminate any relationship with the Lincoln College of Chiropractic. It can only bring discredit to your university.”
Sadly, C.W. Post capitulated to this pressure, terminating all discussions with the chiropractic college. Thus the medical societies succeeded. This conduct strikes at the very foundation on which our health-care systems—indeed, our democratic traditions–are based. And that is education.
Nor was C.W. Post College the only institution pressured by medical organizations. Morehead State University in Kentucky also decided to add a pre-chiropractic curriculum. Members of the Kentucky State Medical Society, including a doctor who was a member of the AMA Committee on Quackery, informed Morehead’s president that the university’s accreditation would be reviewed if the chiropractic program went forward. To his credit, the president stood firm. Morehead offered the program.
The same thing occurred in St. Paul, where the College of St. Thomas entered into a cooperative program with the Northwestern College of Chiropractic. The AMA and the Minnesota Medical Society, the trial evidence showed, took steps to try to terminate that relationship.
It is difficult to understand how medical physicians and their trade associations, who have received billions of dollars in public funds for their schools and their services, had the temerity to work to prevent educational improvement for other health-care professions. Their concept of “medical ethics” apparently became so twisted that it no longer had any bearing on patient welfare– only on their own economic welfare.
The New York Board of Regents also came under intense pressure from the AMA. Many years ago, the Board of Regents had approved graduates of the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois, to practice in New York.
The New York State Medical Society, working at the behest of the AMA, tried to get the Board of Regents to revoke National’s accreditation. The board asserted that its decision would not be influenced by partisan, competitive considerations. Its responsibility was to carry out the mandate of the state legislature to impose minimum standards for anyone practicing in the health-care field in New York State. National College met its criteria in all respects.
But National was not so lucky in its relations with Illinois institutions. The school was involved in a television program sponsored by a group related to the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and the Illinois State Medical Society. When the AMA found out about it, the chairman of the board of trustees of the Illinois State Medical Society wrote to the executive dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine on January 11, 1974, as follows:
“I call this to your attention since the article implies that the University of Illinois College of Medicine is favorably disposed towards the National College of Chiropractic.” Any time chiropractors can gain a foothold by reporting on collaboration with the Medical Center, it will give them status. It might be wise to prohibit any contact of any kind at any time by persons at the Medical Center with any chiropractor. You might wish to discuss this with … others who have been involved in this problem. I would appreciate knowing the disposition of this matter.”
The University of Illinois is a tax-supported, public institution, and chiropractors and their patients pay taxes to support it. Yet the head of the Illinois State Medical Society asked the university to blatantly discriminate against members of a state-licensed health profession.
Placing this kind of pressure on academic institutions was central to the strategy of the AMA and the other medical organizations involved. If chiropractors had access to the same university privileges that the medical profession enjoyed– including internships and residencies in university medical-school hospitals– it would totally undercut the medical profession’s arguments that chiropractors lack the education necessary to diagnose or treat human ailments.

CHIROPRACTORS AND HOSPITALS
The AMA realized in the early 1960s that chiropractors would soon turn their attention to gaining hospital privileges. At the trial, one of the defendants’ attorneys told the jury that patients go to hospitals “for medical care.” The chiropractors’ lawyer, George P. McAndrews, replied– and the difference is more than semantic– that patients don’t go to hospitals for medical care, they go to hospitals “to get well.” The hospital is not supposed to be a low-overhead business office for medical physicians.
Hospitals take care of both acute and chronic cases. There are many people in hospitals that have difficulties with their neck or back. They may be in the orthopedic wards in traction. They may be in the general medical-care wards, where they are just obtaining bed rest. They may be in the presurgery wards, where, in all probability, they would benefit from a second opinion before undergoing surgery from a doctor highly skilled in musculoskeletal mechanics, such as a chiropractor.
Among the hospital patients most likely to be in need of chiropractic care are women in the maternity wards. This issue was raised at the trial during the testimony of the late Irvin Hendryson, M.D., a distinguished orthopedic surgeon who had been a professor of surgery at the University of Colorado and a member of the board of trustees of the AMA.
Dr. Hendryson had first become aware of chiropractic in the Army as a combat surgeon during World War II at Guadalcanal. A chiropractor serving as his orderly seemed to have very good results in relieving back and neck pain, at least comparable to those of the orthopedic surgeons in nonsurgical cases. Subsequent to his wartime experience, Dr. Hendryson made further observations about the value of chiropractic adjustments in other situations. He submitted a report detailing these observations to the AMA, which refused to publish it. In his testimony, Dr. Hendryson noted that women in pregnancy, particularly during the final trimester, have all sorts of mechanical problems involving the back and neck. This is the result of human evolution: Instead of the womb being suspended gracefully from the midpoint of a horizontal spine, its weight centered between the sturdy pillars of two pairs of legs– as it is in four-legged animals– the human womb is carried awkwardly during pregnancy, in front of a vertical spine. The dislocation of the spinal vertebrae caused by this off-center weight can cause tremendous pain and discomfort as the fetus’s weight increases.
His trial testimony illuminated the AMA’s attitude toward women. Literally tens of millions of women have had to suffer unrelenting back pain during their pregnancies, or risk the adverse effects of drugs on themselves or their babies, because they were not informed of the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and labor. To quote Dr. Hendryson:
“It is commonly known that in the third trimester of pregnancy, unrelenting, unmitigated back pain is one of the prices that are paid for perpetuation of the race. I have learned from personal experience that general manipulations of backs in this particular condition has given these women a great deal of physical relief. And has permitted them to go on to term and deliver without having to be bedfast during the latter term of pregnancy.
“I would not for an instant Indicate that it is manipulation alone that permits these women to go on and carry on normally, for at the present time we are giving them manipulation to relieve them of their acute symptoms and also fitting them with support, which is well recognized in medical practice. However, I must say that I am impressed by the many cases who are able to go on to term, to manage their households, to lead a comparatively comfortable third trimester without having to be hospitalized or given traction, heat, support and all the rest of it.”
This information, in the normal course of events, should have been published and made available to gynecologists and obstetricians. If it relieved back pain for five minutes in every woman who has delivered a baby in the 20 years since then, that would have been a significant contribution to health care in this country.
But if asked, few obstetricians would say that they have heard that chiropractic adjustments, either during the third trimester or during labor and delivery, would be helpful. They will most likely respond by saying. “No, and I don’t believe it would help, otherwise I would have read about it in the medical journals.”
The reason they have not read it in the medical journals becomes clear from the minutes of an AMA Committee on Quackery meeting, at which it was decided to suppress Dr. Hendryson’s report: “[One committee member] stated that many orthopedic surgeons have manipulated for years, and they probably learned these procedures on their own and not from chiropractors. He commented that there would be a strong likelihood of Dr. Hendryson’s report being misconstrued if his position were made public.”
The AMA, in effect, denied women knowledge of this conservative, noninvasive, nontoxic approach to relief of back pain during pregnancy because they didn’t want other medical physicians following Dr. Hendryson’s example of learning from a chiropractor.

AMA CONTROL OVER HOSPITALS
The Hendryson report indicated that chiropractic could be of use in the orthopedic wards, in the general wards, and certainly in the maternity wards. Yet, instead of trying to meet that need for the sake of patients, the AMA moved to prevent chiropractors from gaining access to hospital wards.
It succeeded primarily through an organization called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH), which is sponsored by the AMA, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, and the American Hospital Association (all of which are defendants in the five chiropractors’ suit). It is the JCAH– a private group– which accredits, and thereby controls, hospitals in the United States.
From accreditation, many benefits flow. From lack of accreditation, many problems can arise. Any hospital that loses its accreditation faces the loss of its internship and residency programs, its nursing affiliations, and its automatic check off for direct insurance payments. Its malpractice-insurance rates would soar, and the interest on its financial bonds for building would probably increase. The JCAH also apportions work (and hence, income) among medical specialists. For instance, the JCAH can require that all hospital X rays be read by a radiologist. Even though, in many cases, a family practitioner could do it at a savings to the patient.
In the late 1960s, the AMA asked the JCAH to add a new standard as a condition for accreditation. The new standard sounded innocent enough. It simply required all members of the medical staff in an accredited hospital to adhere to the ethics of their profession. The footnote to the standard referred to the AMA’s Principles of Medical Ethics, which prohibited its members from all forms of exchange with chiropractors.
This was the barricade that the medical societies used to keep chiropractors out of hospitals.
Most medical physicians need hospital privileges. They must have access to a hospital when their patients’ conditions require it. Years ago, a sole medical practitioner could ordinarily survive without worrying about the AMA. But that changed dramatically when the JCAH made hospitals agree to enforce the AMA’s Principles of Medical Ethics on all its attending physicians.
This put a tremendous burden on the individual M.D. who might want to consult with or refer a patient to a chiropractor, even in his private practice. The fact that he didn’t associate with the chiropractor at the hospital would be immaterial. He would still be considered an unethical practitioner. The ethics committee at the hospital would then be required to call him in and say something like the following: “Because you are dealing with a chiropractor, you are unethical. Our choices are to dismiss you from the medical staff, or to run the risk of losing accreditation for the hospital.”
When doctors were faced with this threat– that association with chiropractors would mean committing professional suicide– the outcome was predictable.
When the AMA was able to get that standard instituted, chiropractors’ efforts to obtain consultative or support services were dealt a staggering blow. The JCAH aided and abetted the AMA, as the following letter, dated August 13, 1974, from the commission to a hospital administrator, shows: ‘”Any arrangement you would make with chiropractors and your hospital would be unacceptable to the Joint Commission. This would be in violation of the Principles of Medical Ethics published by the American Medical Association that is also a requirement of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.”
Since most legislators feel uncomfortable dealing with medical matters, the medical profession has been allowed to grab almost complete power in regulating the health-care industry. That this private power can then be turned back to thwart the will of the people is demonstrated by another letter, dated January 9, 1973, from the JCAH to a hospital in Silver City, New Mexico: “This is an answer to your letter of December 18 referring to a bill which may be passed in New Mexico that hospitals must accept chiropractors as members of the medical staff. You are absolutely correct– the unfortunate results of this most ill-advised legislation would be that the Joint Commission could withdraw and refuse accreditation of the hospital that had chiropractors on its medical staff.”
The medical trade associations were able to enhance their members’ incomes by restricting the use of publicly subscribed facilities and equipment to their members only. The radiologists and orthopedic surgeons, for example, have free access to all of the facilities of a hospital for the care of their patients. They invest nothing in the purchase of hospital equipment. The cost of X-ray equipment does not have to be added to the costs of doing business.
On the other hand, the chiropractor down the street, who may be taking care of a patient with the same type of back or neck problems, has to invest $5,000 to $25,000 in X-ray equipment and add that amount to his overhead. It should be obvious that the medical physicians, with less overhead, realize a substantial profit from having their costs covered by a tax-supported or publicly subscribed hospital.
Moreover, since most hospitals pride themselves on their status as community health-care centers, it seems anomalous that patients can seek health care at such facilities only if they choose health-care providers whose trade associations have gained control of the facility.
Here is a reason given by one medical physician for keeping chiropractors and their patients from using hospital facilities: “Once chiropractors can freely send their outpatients to our hospitals, they’ll soon be able to admit inpatients. Once they can get all the scientific studies they order, it will be hard to refuse them medical staff membership on the ground that their practice is unscientific.”
Note that the doctor made reference to the hospitals as though they belonged to the medical physicians. He referred to “our” hospitals. If this viewpoint is widely held, then it would seem that the time has come for state legislators to reclaim hospitals for their owners and for the patients who rely on them for health care.
It is not only state legislatures that have been bamboozled by the AMA through the JCAH. Congress, and even another powerful lobby, the veterans associations, have not been immune to the AMA’s arm-twisting.
Many veterans, victims of trauma resulting in disabling neck and back injuries, seek care from chiropractors. These veterans and their organizations have repeatedly asked Congress either to allow chiropractic care in the VA hospitals or to reimburse hospitalized veterans for outpatient chiropractic services.
Yet the medical trade associations have been able to thwart the veterans’ organizations and even Congress on the chiropractic issue. They have been able to do this by simply stonewalling congressional suggestions that the veterans’ hospitals authorize increased use of chiropractic care, and by threatening Congress with a potential disaffiliation of all medical schools from veterans’ hospitals. This unelected “government”, composed of medical physicians, can intimidate even the Congress of the United States with letters such as that sent to a congressional committee on June 12, 1979, which states: “The fact that the Federal Government now pays for chiropractic services in a variety of programs including Medicare does not persuade this Association [of American Medical Colleges] that the practice should be extended to the programs of the VA. Previous decisions to include chiropractic services among those that are paid for by the Federal Government were improper; to now make them available to beneficiaries of the VA would simply compound the original mistake.
“Once this Pandora’s Box is opened, there would seem no logical basis for refusing to include chiropractic ‘physicians’ on the medical staffs of the VA or the house staffs. Should this happen the medical schools of the nation might well reconsider the propriety of continuing the mutually beneficial affiliations of the last three decades.”
As of today, state and federal governments do take seriously the accreditation body like the JCAH.

THE FUTURE: COOPERATION
The decision by the Illinois State Medical Society not to back the AMA’s position on chiropractic was heartening evidence that the future will bring increasing cooperation and communication between M.D.s and chiropractors, and that chiropractors will eventually be welcome in hospitals. Of course, the transition will demand goodwill on both sides.
The medical organizations have spent decades indoctrinating their members to believe that chiropractors should not be allowed to participate in the delivery of health care– particularly when that health care is delivered in an institutional setting. Efforts will have to be made by all parties to break through this legacy of suspicion. Trust requires communication. Good communication requires understanding. There will be a period when medical physicians and chiropractors size each other up and learn the particular terminology used by the other profession. But in the long run, medical physicians who are concerned for their patients’ well-being will be pleased to refer cases they can’t treat to chiropractors competent to do so. And vice versa, of course.
The commission was very specific in analyzing the limitations that stemmed from the isolation imposed on chiropractors by the medical organizations: “In the public interest and in the interest of patients, there must be no impediment to full professional cooperation between chiropractors and medical practitioners.
“Chiropractors should, in the public interest, be accepted as partners in the general health care system. No other health professional is as well qualified by his general training to carry out a diagnosis for spinal mechanical dysfunction or to perform spinal manual therapy.”
The AMA’s actions in the health-care field are a classic illustration of a powerful special-interest group imposing self-serving rules on supposedly public institutions.
When such groups go so far in their arrogance as to severely cripple an important health-care profession, such as Wikipedia and Skeptics like Jimmy Wales, as to malign, denigrate and libel an entire healing profession, even suppressing valid scientific studies, they then, we believe, seriously damage the public interest, and we must respond. It is our hope that when 77,000 chiropractors and their 35 million patients boycott Wikipedia and demand Congressional investigations and request the Investigative General of the IRS to inquire into what we believe will prove that Wikipedia, its co-founder and its Skeptic editors will uncover extreme bias in a modern day form of slander, character assassination and alienation of all alternative and natural healthcare providers. As George Santayana wrote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Today we can look at Stephen Barrett as Throckmorton and Jimmy Wales as a modern day Doyl Taylor, and Wikipedia as the transformed AMA. The witch hunts continue.
To the multitude of parents with vaccine-injured children and the millions more diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and taking psychiatric medications, this is an important lesson. These power individuals and organizations are permanent. Wikipedia promotes the long-term hegemonic cause of pharmaceutical dominance. They trust the word of Barrett and the AMA. We need to abrogate our allegiance to them and remain suspicious of their motivations, because they are not us.

THE WAR ON CHIROPRACTIC, Part 1

Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, April 8, 2019
The Chiropractic profession is the second leading healthcare field in modern medicine. As of 2018, there are over 77,000 practicing chiropractors, approximately a 75 percent increase since 2012. One reason for its continual growth and popularity is because, quite simply, it works. There are sufficient studies in the scientific literature to validate this non-invasive therapy now treating over 35 million patients.
But it was not always this successful. In fact, until a surreptitious source, working within the American Medical Association (AMA) headquarters in Chicago, smuggled hundreds of documents to confirm that the AMA’s secretive Department of Inquiry had been orchestrating a strategy and operations to destroy the profession for over 25 years. If these documents had not been provided to journalist Joseph Lisa and me, there is a high probability that Chiropractic would have disappeared long ago.
Why is this important today?
There continues to be three forces, loosely working together, that continue an offensive to marginalize and ultimately discredit Chiropractic. First, there is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia that misrepresents and denigrates Chiropractic medicine. In effect, Wikipedia acts as if it were still the 1960s when Chiropractic was almost abolished as an “unscientific cult.”
Second, there is Stephen Barrett, founder of the National Council on Health Fraud and Quackwatch, who carried out a four-decade long campaign to discredit the practice and harass chiropractors. Barrett has continued his animosity towards Chiropractic even after a lawsuit brought against the AMA found the organization guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act and restraint of trade. However, never has Barrett himself been critically evaluated for his association with pro-pharmaceutical groups, nor in what we believe his irresponsible and unfounded writings and statements, by either the scientific medical community or the mainstream media.
Finally, there is the AMA itself. Although the organization is restricted by law from attacking Chiropractic medicine, it is still the umbrella organization for many American physicians who oppose Chiropractic therapies and all other non-toxic natural healing modalities, including alternative and complementary medicine.
Condemning Wikipedia, Barrett and the AMA for promulgating misinformation and false propaganda in and of itself doesn’t tell the whole story because the devil is in the details. We will take you step-by-step through this story why this happened three decades ago. It remains relevant because a culture of medical dominance, favoring only one discipline of medicine that is hailed as sacrosanct – the pharmaceutical paradigm – which has expanded to demonize those who question the safety and efficacy of vaccines, GMOs and factory farming, the health risks of junk food, the over-prescribing of medications, and the psychiatric pathologizing of normal behaviors. Unfortunately this trend is rampant and gaining steam.
For generations now, organized medicine has been at odds with Chiropractic. The American Medical Association—the largest and most powerful organization of doctors anywhere in the world—has denounced the profession of chiropractic as quackery and cultism, and in 1965 took the position that it was a violation of medical ethics for medical physicians to have any professional association with chiropractors whatsoever. Chiropractors maintain that by manually manipulating the spinal column, they can relieve pressure on a nerve, thus allowing the resumption of a normal flow of energy to an afflicted organ.
The AMA’s prohibition carried with it strong sanctions against any doctor who violated it, including loss of hospital privileges. By AMA decree, no matter what value a doctor may personally have believed Chiropractic could have it was still outlawed. Doctors who referred patients to chiropractors were risking their medical practices. In 1976, after years of efforts by chiropractors and professional associations to achieve a satisfactory relationship with organized medicine without resort to the courts. Dr. Chester A. Wilk of Chicago and four other chiropractors brought suit against the American Medical Association as well as ten other medical organizations, and four individuals.
The five plaintiffs charged that the AMA and the other defendants had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, personally damaging each of the five, not to mention all other chiropractors and the public. They accused the AMA of attempting- and here I quote from an AMA Board of Trustees document presented at the trial- “to first contain, and then eliminate the profession of chiropractic in the United States.” The chiropractors asked the court to rule that the AMA’s institution and implementation of this policy hindered chiropractors’ efforts to compete in the marketplace and to earn a livelihood, and constituted an illegal conspiracy to establish a monopoly and unreasonably restrain trade. By presenting secret Internal AMA documents, the trial exposed to public view aspects of the inner workings of one of the most powerful lobby groups America.
The chiropractors’ evidence, which included testimony by medical school professors and other highly respected physicians, strongly supported their accusations. The evidence suggested that the AMA had, for over 25 years, systematically attempted to undermine, isolate, and eliminate Chiropractic. The trial revealed that the AMA had carried out a lengthy and vindictive campaign: sometimes public and more often covert, to persuade the medical community, the press, and the lay public that chiropractic had no scientific or clinical validity.
The AMA succeeded in preventing chiropractors from gaining the same hospital privileges that other doctors enjoy. This has given many people the impression that chiropractors operate somehow illicitly or sub rosa. In fact, chiropractic is a state-licensed health-care profession, chiropractic colleges are government accredited, and chiropractic patients are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, and workmen’s compensation insurance. As you will see, this would not be the case if the AMA had had its way.
The chiropractors’ charges were quite specific. The courts eventually ruled that they are valid and the American Medical Association stood publicly condemned- not only of violating specific antitrust statutes, but, in order to eliminate a source of economic competition, of manipulating the delivery of our healthcare system in such a way as to deny patients the ability to freely choose their medical treatment.
During depositions and discovery over 1 million documents that showed a systematic campaign against Chiropractic. The lead plaintiffs’ attorney George P McAndrews of Chicago summarized the decision that “finally, at least in Illinois, the country’s largest and second largest health-care provider groups have decided to shake hands and work in harmony. That’s not to say there won’t be any rocky times during the period of rapprochement. But at least the professional organizations will now allow each physician to decide for him or herself what’s in the interest of their patients.”
After four years of taking depositions, the case was first tried in December 1980 and January 1981, in Chicago.
A key issue in the case was the substance of the Judge’s instructions to the jury. One of the most important charges made by the chiropractors was that the AMA had deceived Congress and the public by secretly and illegally prejudicing a congressionally mandated “objective study” on Medicare reimbursement for Chiropractic. The AMA argued in court that, like any other group of citizens, it had a right to petition Congress, and that any such actions on its part would not fall under the purview of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The judge hearing the case, U S. District Court Judge Nicolas Bua, sided with the interpretation urged by the AMA, and instructed the Jury that, even if it believed the AMA wanted to prevent Chiropractic inclusion in Medicare, it must ignore all evidence presented by the plaintiffs that the AMA had acted illegally in its attempts to bias the study.
Following Judge Bua’s instructions, on January 30, 1980, the jury found the defendants not guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. (The case did not deal with violations of any other laws). Maintaining their objections to Judge Bua’s interpretation, the five plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
On September 19, 1983, this court ruled that the instructions given to the Jury had been inadequate, and sent the case back to the lower courts for retrial. In doing so, it commented that the evidence presented at the trial, if believed by the jury, was sufficient to support a finding that there had been a conspiracy among all of the defendants in violation of antitrust law. So the purpose of a new trial would be merely to evaluate the credibility of the five chiropractors’ evidence.
When the case returned to district court the parties were informed that it might take a year or two before the case would come to trial again. The trial judge suggested the contestants use that time to explore out-of-court settlements.
Due to likely negative outcomes, two smaller groups decided to settle with the chiropractors, American Osteopathic Association and the physician members of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Those that held out were the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Hospital Association, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, the American College of Radiologists, the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Physicians. However weighing in favor of the chiropractors was ironically the Illinois State Medical Society, which was no longer willing to defend the AMA’s policy concerning Chiropractic.

OBTAINING THE EVIDENCE
In 1963, the AMA announced the formation of its Committee on Quackery. It quickly became apparent that chiropractors were the committee’s main target. As a series of closed meetings it sponsored around the country issued a flood of press releases condemning Chiropractic. There was little the chiropractors could do about this other than try to defend the integrity of their profession to the public. After all, the AMA had a constitutional right to express its opinion, right or wrong, subject, of course, to libel and slander laws.
Then, in 1972, a book called In The Public Interest was published, bearing the byline of William Trevor. The book contained what purported to be internal AMA memoranda. One of the memoranda talked about a program to “contain and eliminate chiropractic.” The authenticity of the document was not confirmed by the AMA.
Two years later, in 1974, an anonymous source humorously nicknaming him or herself “Sore Throat”- possibly the same person who compiled the documents included in the book-supplied packages of AMA documents on many subjects to the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Postal Service. The documents included internal AMA memoranda on the AMA’s attitude toward chiropractors. These are the same doctors Joseph Lisa and I received.
One of the documents in particular led chiropractors to begin discussing among themselves the possibility of bringing antitrust litigation against the AMA. That was the alleged AMA Board of Trustees document. It states explicitly that the primary purpose of the Committee on Quackery was to first contain and then eliminate the profession of chiropractic in the United States.
Nor were chiropractors the only ones questioning whether the AMA’s activities were legal. As a result of the release of the documents, a congressman asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine whether the AMA was in contravention of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and if it was why the FTC had not taken action against the AMA. Eventually, the issue was again quietly dropped.
Encouraged by these developments, a group of chiropractors and their supporters- despite the enormous risk of tackling a powerful, wealthy institution like the AMA, which can use its vast resources to influence public opinion and pay for lengthy, expensive litigation decided to pursue the matter. They formed the National Chiropractic Antitrust Committee. Its purpose was to raise funds for any chiropractors who might want to challenge in court the AMA and the other medical organizations campaigning against chiropractic.
By 1976, five chiropractors who met the requirements and were fed up with their treatment at the hands of the AMA and those under its influence had asked to initiate litigation. The five were Dr. Chester A. Wilk of Chicago, Dr. Patricia Arthur, at that lime of Estes Park, Colorado, Dr. Steven Lumsden, then practicing in Newbury, Michigan, Dr. Michael Pedigo of San Leandro, California, and Dr. James Bryden of Sedalia, Missouri.

THE CHIROPRACTORS’ COMPLAINT
On October 12, 1976, the five chiropractors filed a 38-page complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, located in Chicago, where most of the country’s national medical organizations are headquartered. Their charges, very briefly, included the following:
• That the AMA had attempted to contain and eliminate chiropractic.
• That it had cooperated and worked with the other defendants for the common goal of boycotting chiropractors– to totally isolate them from other members of the health-care community.
• That the AMA attempted to prejudice government studies on chiropractic.
• That, operating through private organizations, it barred chiropractors from access to public facilities such as hospitals and universities.
• That it urged and abetted insurance companies to deny chiropractic patients coverage.
The legal process of discovery– the issuance of subpoena, the tracing of the claimed conspiracy, the examination of hundreds of thousands of documents– took the next five years and involved travel to 34 states and the taking of some 160 sworn depositions. Finally, on December 8, 1980, the trial began.

THE AMA CALLS CHIROPRACTIC A “CULT”
The evidence presented at the trial indicated that by 1963, when the AMA started its Committee on Quackery, it was well aware that Chiropractic had become the second-largest health-care delivery system in the United States. The “mixed chiropractors” had broadened their appeal by including nutritional counseling and other modalities of treatment among the therapies they offered.
As a result the AMA did a study to find out how best to “contain and eliminate” the growth of chiropractic in America, and concluded that the most important strategy was to isolate chiropractors from other health-care providers and from public facilities such as hospitals. This would not be easy: Many medical physicians and chiropractors, particularly in rural America, freely referred and consulted back and forth.
The AMA began by instructing its state societies to remind their members that its Principles of Medical Ethics required a practice of medicine based on science, and that it was unethical to deal with any unscientific practitioner or with a “member of a cult.”
This action was not effective because, at that time, the only practitioners the Principles of Medical Ethics had been interpreted to ban were osteopaths, optometrists and podiatrists. Osteopaths are trained to put much more emphasis on the musculoskeletal system than medical physicians are. Optometrists compete with ophthalmologists. Optometrists can hardly be called “unscientific” since optometry is based on the laws of optical physics, but that didn’t stop the AMA from banning professional cooperation. And podiatrists compete with orthopedic surgeons for patients with foot problems.
The new economic threat, Chiropractic, was not mentioned by name in subsequent interpretations of the Principles of Medica1 Ethics. So, in 1966, the AMA drafted a policy statement on the subject. Its wording was designed to apply a passage of the Principles of Medical Ethics directly to chiropractors. The statement’s opening sentence reads: “It is the position of the medical profession that chiropractic is an ‘unscientific cult’ whose practitioners lack the necessary training and background to diagnose and treat human disease.” Parenthetically, it is interesting to note that the AMA felt called upon to define medical ethics not just for its own members, but, as the statement says, for the medical profession as a whole. The crucial words in the policy statement “unscientific” and “cult” made it unethical for a medical physician to voluntarily associate professionally in any capacity with a chiropractor.
This prohibition was far-reaching and included teaching, lecturing, accepting referrals from, referring patients to, consulting with, sharing a practice with, jointly treating or cooperating with a chiropractor in the care of a patient, allowing hospital privileges to a chiropractor, and having virtually any kind of professional communication. Physicians were to boycott chiropractors totally. The AMA hoped that without collective sharing of knowledge and facilities with other health professions, chiropractic would– and here again, I quote from an internal document presented at the trial– “wither and die on the vine.”

CONSEQUENCES FOR PATIENTS
The isolation of chiropractors from other health-care professionals has profoundly limited their education and the growth of their profession. The AMA has acknowledged that chiropractic was stunted by its actions– as it intended. A chiropractor was literally not allowed to communicate with a medical physician. But such communication between medical professionals is necessary, on a day-to-day basis and as a matter of course, for the sake of patients’ welfare. For example, if a family practitioner sends a patient to a gastroenterologist or a cardiologist, he or she expects a report back on the disposition of that patient’s care– or at least to be aware of the patient’s continuing medical history. lmagine a family practitioner not receiving any report from a patient’s cardiologist on the details of, say, a heart operation! Subsequent treatment of the patient could amount to dangerous groping in the dark.
Yet chiropractors, who are sometimes their patients’ primary health-care providers, were denied this routine courtesy. If a patient goes to a chiropractor and says, “I had some back surgery 20 years ago” the chiropractor would like to be able to pick up the phone and call the surgeon and ask him to describe the back operation. “What vertebra was involved, if any? Was a cyst removed, or a disc? I intend to manipulate a certain vertebra in his back: what are your recommendations? Do you think the surgery would interfere with that procedure?”
That’s a dialogue that should be earned on for the benefit of the patient. But the chiropractor was denied the right to communicate with the medical physician. Or rather, I should say, the patient was denied the benefit of that communication.
THE AMA’S MASTER PLAN
Perhaps the most telling document made public at the trial was written even before the AMA had instituted its Committee on Quackery. Dated November 11, 1962, it was drafted by Robert Throckmorton, an attorney who was at that time General
Counsel for the Iowa Medical Society, and delivered as a paper to a group of medical executives.
Throckmorton’s proposal is an amazing document. It laid down a master plan for, quote, “what medicine should do about the chiropractic menace.” Before reviewing excerpts from the document, I will tell you that Throckmorton’s suggested machinations were, unfortunately, not dismissed by the AMA national officers at the time– as of now they all regret it. Not only did the Iowa Medical Society adopt the plan, but the AMA offered Throckmorton a job as its general counsel. All the rest of the evidence presented by the plaintiffs at the trial seemed to indicate that the AMA did, indeed, put into practice most of Throckmorton’s proposals.
The plan was in the form of an outline. Here are some of its points:
“F. Encourage chiropractic disunity.
“G. Undertake a positive program of containment if this program is· successfully pursued. It is entirely likely that chiropractic as a profession will ‘wither on the vine’ and the chiropractic menace will die a natural but somewhat undramatic death. This policy of ‘containment’ might well be pursued along the following lines: … 4. Encourage ethical complaints against chiropractors. 5. Oppose chiropractic inroads in health insurance. 6. Oppose chiropractic inroads in workmen’s compensation. 7. Oppose chiropractic inroads into labor unions. 8. Oppose chiropractic inroads into hospitals. 9. Contain chiropractic schools·. . . . Any successful policy of ‘containment’ of chiropractic must necessarily be directed at the schools. To the extent that these financial problems continue or multiply and to the extent that the schools are unsuccessful in their recruiting programs the chiropractic menace of the future will be reduced and possibly eliminated.”
Under the section listing conclusions:
“C. The mixers may achieve their goal of emerging as ‘medical men’ if organized medicine remains apathetic to this problem.
” D. Any action undertaken by the medical profession should be directed toward: … 2. Containment of the chiropractic profession. 3 The stifling of chiropractic schools.
“E. Action taken by the medical profession should be… 1. Behind the scenes whenever possible… 3. Never give professional recognition to Chiropractors.
“F. A successful program of containment will result in the decline of chiropractic.”
That’s all from trial Exhibit 172. The evidence shows that the AMA pursued goals in line with these proposals. The AMA worked with the National Association of Blue Shield Plans regarding coverage of chiropractic care, even in those states that had passed so-called “insurance equality” laws. The AMA worked with the Health Insurance Association of America– a trade association of some 400 private insurance companies–to adopt policy statements that encouraged member insurance companies to cover only those health-care practitioners whose methods were based on “scientifically established methods.”
One aspect of the case raised the questions of whether the AMA had had a hand in a supposedly objective study of Medicare, done for Congress by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), which delayed Medicare coverage for chiropractic patients by five years, and whether the AMA had virtually written the supposedly independently-arrived-at position statement of the private Health Insurance Association of America. The AMA showed Blue Shield how to word its policies so state legislatures and consumers wouldn’t realize that chiropractic coverage was being omitted from their policies
Perhaps the most influential of the AMA’s political intrigues was the alleged end run it pulled around Congress in 1968 by covertly controlling, from start to finish, the supposedly objective HEW study on the subject of Medicare coverage
In 1965, when the nation’s basic Medicare laws were passed, they included coverage for services of physicians, osteopaths, and some other health practitioners Chiropractors were excluded, although chiropractors and their patients were avidly seeking inclusion.
In 1967, Congress asked HEW for an unbiased study of the need for including chiropractic services in Medicare. In retrospect, what happened should have been anticipated. After all, a hundred or so MDs worked for HEW in the Public Health Service. One or more of them might have been expected to leak to the AMA that Congress wanted a study that would not reflect the AMA’s known bias against chiropractic.
The AMA, its internal documents reveal, was very alarmed about this study. They believed it had the potential to set the pattern for all healthcare insurance coverage for chiropractors for the next 20 years, and they were determined that it oppose coverage. The AMA had its own agenda for the study– to turn it into a blanket denunciation of chiropractic as lacking scientific validity. The AMA’s Committee on Quackery went so far as to prepare an outline of the course the study panel should follow.
HEW had assigned the Job of assembling a panel to conduct the study to a special advisory committee, the Health Insurance Benefits Advisory Council (HISAC). The evidence indicates that the AMA immediately went to work on the members of HIBAC.
In correspondence between Doyl Taylor, the secretary to the Committee on Quackery of the AMA (who also worked in the office of general counsel of the AMA as head of the AMA’s department of investigation), and Dr Samuel Sherman, the AMA representative on the committee. Taylor wrote· “I am sure you agree that the AMA hand must not ‘show’ at this stage of the proposed chiropractic study.” Five months before the study even commenced, on March 11, 1968, Dr. Sherman answered Doyl Taylor with a letter following a HIBAC meeting:
“Dear Doyl: … There was complete acceptance of the concept of preparing the decision on the basis of lack of scientific merit.” At least one future member of the panel staff was present at that HIBAC meeting and was given the AMA materials that Dr. Sherman reported HIBAC had already committed itself to using.
When the panel was finally chosen, in August 1968, it consisted largely of men sympathetic to the AMA’s position on chiropractic. For example, the chairman of the panel was Dr. Donald Duncan from the University of Texas Medical School at Galveston, who, at the very first organizational meeting of the panel– according to the testimony of Dr. John Mennell — a member who eventually voted in favor of covering chiropractic — made a speech indicating that he was opposed to chiropractic inclusion in Medicare.
Another panel member, Dr. James J. Feller was a former president of the American Society of Internal Medicine. He testified at the trial that he had a preexisting bias against chiropractic going all the way back to his medical school days, and that no one had asked him if he had any preconceptions that might interfere with his service on the panel. Dr. Feller was asked by the AMA to keep it advised of the progress of the committee’s work. A letter to Dr. Feller from an AMA representative requesting the documents reads in part:
“Dear Jim: … As indicated in our conversation, it would be helpful if we can be kept informed as to the progress of your committee work. Any reports or proceedings received will be quickly reproduced or transcribed and returned to you.” And a blind copy was sent to Doyl Taylor of the AMA Committee on Quackery.
The AMA took no chances: They made arrangements to contact not only those members they believed to be soft, but even those who were already on their side– including the chairman, Dr. Duncan. Exhibit 228, dated August 23, 1968, is a letter from a friend of Dr. Duncan’s, a Texas physician named Dr. William L. Marr, who had been requested by the Texas Medical Association to visit with Dr. Duncan and supply him with an AMA packet of materials relating to chiropractic. Dr. Marr wrote. “I called on Dr. Donald Duncan and talked with him concerning the chiropractic situation. He is most anxious to do everything he can and is completely sold on the idea that chiropractic benefits should not come under the Medicare program.”
This letter, written seven days after the first organizational meeting of the panel on August 16, confirms Dr Mennell’s testimony that Dr Duncan had made up his mind on the benefits issue before having reviewed the evidence.
There was other evidence of elaborate plans made by the AMA to contact, coach, and supply each of the panel members with its own materials denouncing chiropractic.
At least a few panel members resented the AMA’s secret approaches. One of them, Dr. Mennell– one of the world’s leading authorities on orthopedics and joint pain-took action against the AMA’s pressure tactics. In a report to Public Health officials, he complained. “I was very disturbed in the past four weeks to receive two telephone calls indirectly from but quite clearly inspired by the American Medical Association, implicitly suggesting what the tenor of my paper should be. I can only assure the consultant group that my conclusions are arrived at through my independent research, thinking and experience, unaffected by extraneous pressure.” Certainly chiropractors should not be penalized simply because of the bitter bias of the American Medical Association, when there is substantial evidence that manipulative therapy brings relief to sufferers of mechanical pain which only manipulative therapy can relieve.”
Dr. Mennell also mentioned these contacts at one of the sessions. Seated around the table with him were the chairman, who had been approached, and the other panel members, at least some of whom had also been approached. None of the other panelists mentioned attempted contacts from the AMA.
Despite all its efforts to bias the panel, when the formal vote of the expert review panel was taken, Dr. Mennell testified at the trial, it was split four to four on the issue of chiropractic inclusion. He assumed that the vote would then be reported to HIBAC, and the panel would be left to iron out its differences. But, he testified, during the time between the formal vote and the presentation of the report to the parent group by Dr. Duncan, one of the panelists changed his mind, and Dr Duncan was able to report, as he had hoped, that the panel had decided against including chiropractic in Medicare.
As if it weren’t bad enough that the AMA had tried to control the panel from start to finish, HEW and the AMA carefully obliterated all traces of the AMA hand from Congress’s view. All along, the evidence showed MDs at HEW had been collaborating with the AMA in the cover-up. For example, the AMA asked to be represented at one of the panel’s public sessions, just as the chiropractors were. An internal AMA memorandum recording a private phone call from HEW indicates that someone at HEW told the AMA not to testify: An AMA appearance would create problems for the report on Capitol Hill.
HEW’s final document– an abstract discussion, just as the AMA had wanted, of the scientific validity of chiropractic theory– didn’t sit well with either the Chiropractors or Congress. On November 21 and 22, 1968, a group of representative chiropractors had been politely, if curtly, received by the committee, and had presented their experience of the clinical value of Chiropractic for elderly patients. A month later, they were greeted with the first evidence that their testimony had been a fool’s errand. Outraged, they submitted a point-by-point white paper to Congress rebutting the HEW report. Congress, under pressure from elderly constituents to get chiropractic covered, asked for a response from HEW.
This was just the contingency HEW had feared when it told the AMA it was better off not testifying. Over and over in its answer, HEW baldly asserted that in order to fulfill Congress’s request for an objective study, it had prevented the AMA or other medical organizations from having any input or influence on the ultimate report. As evidence of its good intentions, HEW pointed to its refusal to let the AMA appear at a public session of the panel! Of course, HEW knew very well where the blueprint for the study had come from; HEW chose to confuse Congress– and the public– by mentioning the canceled public appearance to conceal the active cooperation between HEW and the AMA on the study.
Incidentally– foreshadowing practices of the Nixon administration– records of the HEW study were subsequently lost or destroyed.
The AMA had the temerity to argue in court that its Byzantine maneuvers to make Congress believe it hadn’t been involved in framing the HEW report should be seen as an exercise of its constitutional right to petition Congress.
The impact of the HEW report to Congress, as the AMA predicted, was enormous. It made the AMA’s actions to isolate chiropractic appear respectable, because a blue-ribbon panel of experts had supposedly reached an independent conclusion that chiropractic lacked a scientific foundation. Thereafter, the AMA could say, it’s not the AMA, but the government that has reached these conclusions.
After five years of intense congressional lobbying by chiropractic organizations, Medicare coverage was established. Uncounted thousands of elderly people without the money to pay their own medical expenses were no doubt forced to do without chiropractic care, perhaps suffering needless pain as a result. And, of course, they were lost as patients to the chiropractors they might otherwise have chosen to consult.
Buoyed by their success in preventing Congress from granting Medicare coverage to chiropractors, the AMA moved, in 1969, on private-sector insurance. As mentioned earlier the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) is a trade association for 400 private insurance companies, and provides the kind of services for insurers that other trade associations do for their sponsoring industries- lobbying, public relations, etc. The companies that belong to HIAA are independent, but any policy it urges on its members to adopt is influential.
In 1969, the AMA’s Doyl Taylor used the same kind of maneuver with the HIAA he had with the HIBAC panel. He wrote a letter to HIAA– it was presented at the trial as evidence– suggesting the exact wording for their position statement on chiropractic. It was very risky for the HIAA to adopt his statement, and they knew it. In the field of insurance, boycotts are subject to antitrust laws.
The HIAA published a very cautious statement, not naming chiropractic as such, but broadly opposing insurance for manipulative therapies. This was word-for- word, the language Doyl Taylor had proposed. The AMA gleefully seized on the statement and published it in its newsletter, American Medical News, under a headline announcing that it was directed at chiropractors.
When the chiropractors objected to the HIAA”s allowing the AMA to interpret its policy statement as an attack on chiropractic, the HIAA replied to the chiropractors with the same bland hypocrisy that characterized HEW’s dealings with Congress. The HIAA coolly informed the chiropractic organizations that it had no control over the manner in which the AMA elected to use its statement. What it didn’t mention was that the AMA”s Doyl Taylor was the author of the statement, and the HIAA, like HEW, was allowing the AMA to pull its strings. The AMA’s strategy– which by now was beginning to work– was obviously to orchestrate a veritable puppet chorus of seemingly independent public voices, all filling the air with ringing denunciations of chiropractic thereby legitimizing the AMA’s private attempts to eliminate it.
In 1967, the AMA Committee on Quackery had commenced work on the Blue Shield Association, the parent group for all the Blue Shield plans in the country. From a Committee on Quackery internal document, we read: “Staff will continue to maintain liaison with the National Association of Blue Shield Plans in regard to chiropractic attempts to gain coverage under Blue Shield (Note: A productive meeting was held with representatives of Blue Shield on this point. They are actively considering various methods of excluding chiropractors from Blue Shield coverage.)”
Blue Shield, together with Blue Cross, is the most important insurer in the country. Its boards are dominated by medical physicians. Therefore, Blue Shield cooperated with the AMA to eliminate nationwide coverage. A Blue Shield review of 1969 says, “We have filed and may use in six states an exclusion deleting manipulative services and subluxations for the purpose of removing nerve interference. Basically, the exclusion extends to services of a chiropractor by definition.” Similarly, a New York Blue Shield representative wrote to Blue Shield national headquarters on December 10, 1971: “I regret to report that . . . New York State did amend … the insurance law . . . to include chiropractic care provided through a duly licensed chiropractor as part of the definition of medical expense indemnity … U.M.S. [another Blue Shield-allied insurance company] anticipated this problem some years ago by adding an exclusion to its contract which, repeated word for word the statutory definition of what chiropractors are licensed to do ”
Blue Shield policies, then, were very misleading. They did not carry a clear cut statement, such as “Chiropractic is excluded”. Instead, there was vague language, understandable only to a lawyer, quoting the statutory language defining chiropractic, without mentioning it by name. Patients who thought their insurance covered all their health-care expenses might go to a chiropractor and run up a bill of several hundred dollars before being informed by Blue Shield’s computer that it wasn’t covered.
This exclusion, for obvious reasons, was very damaging to chiropractors. No one who can get a service from two sources is going to go to the one that doesn’t have insurance coverage. Bear in mind that upward of 90 percent of hospital charges are covered by third-party payers, most services performed by medical physicians are covered by insurance. In this day and age, only a small portion of the public can afford to patronize a provider group not covered by insurance.
Many chiropractic patients, as mentioned earlier, are elderly people living on Social Security. They may have terrible, agonizing, unrelenting back pain. If their insurance company tells them: if you go to the chiropractor, you’ve got to pay for everything out of your pocket, but if you go to the medical physician or the orthopedic surgeon, your care will be covered by insurance, the result is obvious. Economic necessity will force them to see the orthopedic surgeon and to forego the chiropractor.
So effective was this policy that in 1973, when Blue Shield did a survey of the various states to see which states covered chiropractic care, it reported: “Resistance to chiropractic payment may be indicated by the fact that fewer plans make payment than the laws require.” This would appear to be an acknowledgment that even though state legislatures had ordered Blue Shield plans to pay for chiropractic care, the Blue Shield Association and local Blue Shield plans that were working with the AMA actually paid on fewer plans than the law required.


Progressive Commentary Hour

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