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That kitchen must be hot! (1/5/2004)
It is not just Clark who likes to hide from critics. It is quite common for skeptics to be banned from alternative medicine mailing lists and bulletin boards, and hardly a week goes by without someone asking the skeptics in the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative (which was established for the discussion, pro and con, of alternative medicine) why they participate in the group. There seems to be this fear that any contrary opinions will destroy the edifice of alternative medicine. Surely, if they are so sure that they are right then criticism should not worry them.
Curezone.org claims to be one of the most popular alternative medicine sites on the Internet. It consists of a large number of forums devoted to every imaginable form of quackery. At about 11am on Friday, April 30 (Sydney time), I posted the following message in response to one of Clark's press releases about her clinic:
"With this letter, I am inviting you to visit me, and view my work at the medical facility known as "Century Nutrition" in Tijuana, Mexico on a date of your choosing.. Several patients of the facility will be available for interview between 10 and 4.at that time"
Pictures of this medical facility can be seen at https://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/clark7.htm
The forum software told me that my message had been accepted and the elapsed time since the last post was updated, but the message did not appear on the forum immediately. I assumed that the this was because the first message from a new member might be moderated, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Twenty-four hours later the message had still not appeared, but there were three messages posted after the time I had written mine. Person A had posted the same link as I had, Person B had wondered how long that message would last before it was removed, and Person A had commented that censorship seemed to be a problem at Curezone. I replied that I had posted something the day before, and this time my message was displayed immediately. Shortly afterwards I went back to the site and found that all four of these messages had been deleted by the forum moderator. I went looking for reasons why these messages were apparently so offensive and I found, under the heading "Rules of the Game" that the following should not be included in messages:
Links to quackwatch.com or to other similar websites pretending to be the "voice of skepticism", while in reality they are just a "voice of deception". Those web sites are created with one and only purpose: to scare people from natural and traditional therapies. Some of the therapies attacked on those web sites have been successfully used for many thousands of years. If those web sites would be the real voice of skepticism, then you would for sure expect to see some references to 150 medications removed from the market by the FDA every year (because of the side effects), while those same medications have been previously approved by the same agency! You would also expect to se some references to vaccination, amalgam, environmental toxins and other serious health threats ....but guess what: there is nothing like that on those web sites! Similar links will be removed unless posted in special forums for discussion on quackery and other subjects like: Medical Ethics and Medical Politics.
So there you have it. It seems that I have been lumped in with Quackwatch, and Stephen Barrett and little old me are so dangerous that the denizens of Curezone can't even talk about us. It made my day to find that these people have so little confidence in what they say, and their fear makes it obvious that they know they are lying. (At least iVillage had the courtesy to write to me when they censored me.) By the way, the forum where they allow mentions of us representatives of Satan has only had two posts allowed through this year, and one of them was off-topic.
A reader named Karsten sent this email following up on what I wrote last week about Curezone:
I had a similar experience with Curezone, except mine was actually posted, then removed. On their cardiovascular group, someone wrote that their doctors were suggesting surgery to correct his congenital aortic regurgitation, as his heart was entering heart failure in his thirties. He was looking for alternative therapies to correct this anatomical defect. I am medical student, who just happened to have covered this problem in class, and responded. My email was very careful not to tread on alternative therapies' toes, and pointed out that while anyone would want to avoid surgery, this is a very serious condition with poor prognosis. I also said since he was born this way, the rational of 'restoring the body to its natural state' doesn't even hold. Well, the service accepted the post, posted it, then when I checked for responses in a few days - no post! I can only hope this man ended up listening to his doctors, not the lunatic censors on Curezone.
Supporters of quackery like to use the term "complementary" to describe their favoured alternatives to medicine, but the truth comes out when they will not even countenance the possibility that there might be some value in real medicine or that there could be something for which there is no alternative treatment. There would be no problem if what was being offered was truly complementary and they let the doctors get on with the real cures, but the arrogance which causes all doctors to be classed as just money-hungry advocates of ineffective slashing, burning and poisoning will inevitably lead to needless deaths. You can read about a specific case of this here.