Letters to the Editor (Priorities Volume 12 Number 3 2000)

By ACSH Staff — Sep 01, 2000
"Flip Little Article"? Dear Dr. [sic] Raso,

"Flip Little Article"?

Dear Dr. [sic] Raso,

How dare you let your own personal bias as an obviously narrow-minded allopathic practitioner allow you to label a whole group of dietary and/or weight-loss methods as "strange." [See "Strange Dietary or Weight-Loss-related Methods," PfH, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1999, p. 24.] How well did you bother to truly research or personally try Ayurveda or Chi Gong before you dashed off this flip little article of yours? These two ancient health care systems have been around for thousands of years and deserve more than a passing glance from you before you pronounce them "strange." Where's your bibliography? What scientific research from what scientific journals did you draw your conclusions from, doctor? The lay public will now think that this is a label that is deserved and is backed by scientific testing and therefore valid rather than what it really is just some off-hand remarks thrown together by just another medical doctor who thinks he knows it all and that allopathic medicine is the only real form of health care around. From one medical professional to another, I'm here to tell you that you are wrong if that is your assumption and you'd better open your mind to other possibilities or risk being left behind with the dinosaurs. Go ahead. Open that button-down mind of yours just a little bit. It won't hurt and who knows, maybe you might learn a thing or two. I'm one of the few nurses around who actually think that doctors are trainable. The ACSH does good work, but you all need to be looking at all the research that's out there, not just that research that happens to agree with your own personal bias. Thank you for listening.

Christine Fairchild, R.N., CPNP


Your display of presuming has offended me.

You wrote: "How dare you let your own personal bias as an obviously narrow-minded allopathic practitioner allow you to label a whole group of dietary and/or weight-loss methods as 'strange.'" In the context in which I used the word "strange," it means "unfamiliar, unusual, and/or exotic." All the methods I described in the sidebar in question are unusual in the United States, and several of them in the U.S. at least are exotic. What is strange is not necessarily bad. Perhaps a bias of yours was operative.

You asked: "How well did you bother to truly research or personally try Ayurveda or Chi Gong before you dashed off this flip little article of yours?" I have dealt with Ayurveda and chi gong (Qigong) significantly in two books. Recently, I co-wrote an article on Ayurveda for this magazine: "Ayurveda Isn't What It Used to Be: How Deepak Chopra and Other Alt-Med Mystics Have Made a Travesty of Traditional Indian Medicine" (Vol. 12, No. 2, 2000, p. 23). Further, I have personally tried external qigong, internal Qigong, and more than 30 other modes of alternative medicine.

You also asked: "Where's your bibliography? What scientific research from what scientific journals did you draw your conclusions from, doctor?" The 20 descriptions in the sidebar are intentionally nonevaluative. I drew 18 of them from writings that showed approval of the methods described. I derived one of the two remaining descriptions from an uncritical TV newsmagazine segment. Incidentally, I am not a doctor, much less a medical doctor.

You further wrote: "I'm one of the few nurses around who actually think that doctors are trainable." I believe that nurses are trainable. I propose that you seek training in nursing science and/or critical thinking. I doubt you will.

Jack Raso

Biblical Nutrition: A way to view food, nutrition, diet, and health that, allegedly, is as old as the world. The inferences that constitute the core of Biblical Nutrition are: (1) that God has "ordained" a perfect eating plan for humans, and (2) that eating the "wrong" foods can lead to unnecessary illnesses and premature death. The principles of Biblical Nutrition include: (a) that the more processed a food is, the less biblical it is; (b) that one should never add manmade chemicals to foods; (c) that all foods should be "grown organically as much as possible"; and (d) that one should strive to consume healthful foods named in the Bible.

Hallelujah Diet: Theistic vegetarian diet developed by Rev. Dr. George H. Malkmus, the author of Why Christians Get Sick (Treasure House, 1995) and Y2K: The Hallelujah Acres Way (Hallelujah Acres, 1998) and the coauthor of God's Way to Ultimate Health: A Common Sense Guide for Elimination of Sickness Through Nutrition (Hallelujah Acres, 1996). According the diet's theory, the only "substances" that nourish the human body are pure air, pure water, raw food, and "moderate amounts of sunlight," and anything else is a contaminant to the body.

Sunfood Diet: Centerpiece of The Sunfood Diet Success System. One of the diet's postulates is that raw plant food is the key to unlocking humanity's "dormant powers."

The Sunfood Diet Success System: Subject of The Sunfood Diet Success System: 36 Lessons in Health Transformation (Maul Brothers, 1999). David Wolfe originated and apparently named the method, whose theory posits divine power within humans.

From: Jack Raso, A Dictionary of Alternative-Medicine Methods (http://www.canoe.ca/AltmedDictionary/home.html)


Dear Dr. [sic] Raso,

As I am currently on my 7th day of the Lemonade or Master Cleanser, I found it amusing to find it listed as a Strange Dietary or Weight Loss System. [See "Strange Dietary or Weight-Loss- related Methods," PfH, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1999, p. 24.] It is actually extremely effective and makes perfect sense. As one who has followed this fast for up to 40 days and generally at least once a year, I must say . . . It Works! The salt water is difficult some mornings. But I just hold my breath and just think Liquid Popcorn! My energy level is incredible while fasting. I hold down a very physical full-time job, work out, and take care of our 89-year-old grandfather.

Please, I have a couple of questions. Do you have any idea if Stanley Burroughs is around? When I started following this fast in 1976, Mr. Burroughs was available for massage, light therapy, and other alternative help. Also, are there any chat type rooms or message boards where fasting folks can communicate with each other?

Thank you in advance for any help with my questions and for the interesting list of Strange Weight Loss Systems. I will be watching with interest for more articles from you.

Lynde Wawro


I have tried unsuccessfully to obtain information from the Internet on what Stanley Burroughs might be up to. Burroughs Books published the fifth edition of his book Healing for the Age of Enlightenment in 1993.


"Arrogant, Arch and Dismissive"?

Dear Mr. Raso,

I am a medical transcriptionist, with a strong medical AND alternative healing background. I have read parts of your on-line book, A Dictionary of Alternative-Medicine Methods, and several of your articles, and I have to take a moment to express my dismay at the arrogant, arch and dismissive tone of your writing about alternative modes. For example, why do you feel it necessary to put words and phrases like "Chinese medicine" and "healing" in quotation marks, as if they just aren't quite real things certainly not worthy of our great Western scientific notice?

I have met some lousy M.D.s, bad chiropractors, ridiculous proponents of Chinese medicine basically, quacks in every healing profession. And just as surely, I have met and worked with some amazing M.D.s, terrific chiropractors, excellent workers in acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Jo-Rei [sic], Reiki, reflexology, and so on.

In short, I do not appreciate your condescension and believe me, I will avoid your writing in the future.

Meridy T. Migchelbrink


Do try.

The expression "Chinese medicine" is not inside quotation marks anywhere in the latest version of my dictionary. It may be found in quotation marks in my Priorities article "A Bird's-Eye View of 'Chinese Medicine'" (Vol. 9, No. 3, 1997, p. 30). In that article I had the expression in quotation marks in some places to emphasize that Chinese medicine is not well delimited. In my dictionary, in all (or nearly all) instances of the word "healing" within quotation marks, the word was used in a source for the entry. I had the word inside quotation marks in some places because to heal persons does not entail improving them physically. For example, I describe "Bioplasmic healing" as a "[t]ype of 'healing' whose theory posits 'bioplasmic energy,' a 'bioplasmic body,' and chakras (invisible, glandular channelers of 'energy')." Would you consider my changing "Type of 'healing'" to "Type of alleged healing" an improvement? Would you prefer my simply removing the quotes? Simply removing the quotation marks would result in a statement implying that the method is efficacious.

All the entries in the latest version of my dictionary are intentionally nonevaluative. Indeed, some pro-alternative-medicine organizations have favorably referred to or borrowed from my dictionary. For example, the website of the Health Education Alliance for Life and Longevity (HEALL) features a version of my dictionary's main section.


"Sufficiently Perturbed"

I was sufficiently perturbed by your series of articles posted at DrKoop.com to write a response and set of questions to you. As a practitioner and lecturer in homeopathy and homeopathic pharmacy I am accustomed to defending and addressing academic scorn from biochemists, physiologists, and pathologists and others within my faculty. However, what distinguishes them from you is that very few have taken the time and effort that you have to research the field. Hence, to read your thinly veiled bigotry to the subject, masked as objective intellectual criticism, is most concerning. Your statements and assertions regarding homeopathy denigrate the professional and personal integrity of thousands of practitioners around the world who are acutely aware of the methodological, systemic, and paradigmatic difficulties associated with high-dilution therapy that aims to treat disease with similars as opposed to contraries. Do you not for a moment consider that the homeopathic profession is constantly exposing itself to highly critical self-review in an attempt to reproduce the fantastic and sometimes unbelievable results seen in clinical practice for conditions that are not self-limiting, are life-threatening, or are the direct result of the iatrogenic effect of biochemical interventions? You, as a person who forms and informs public opinion, have a moral and ethical responsibility to remove your own bigoted, narrow-minded views from the articles that you write. Indeed it is much easier to pick on the obvious paradigmatic difficulties of ultra-high-dilution therapy. Naturally, your predominantly lay audience is going to "go with their gut" and agree with you. The real challenge and the mark of a writer/reporter of integrity is to get out of your little gray cubicle and visit the practices of quality homeopaths who work with high levels of personal integrity. Enough of them have well documented video cases of people that were rejected by the mainstream medical community as incurable or "beyond hope." Homeopathy has helped countless people in this situation. Explain to me how a person with a 20-year history of multiple sclerosis, wheelchair bound, can walk again after a little less than 5 months of homeopathy? Certainly, advanced multiple sclerosis prediagnosed by neurologists is not a "self-limiting" condition that is cured by placebo. I can go on to cite many cases, both personal and in the literature.

The scientific, reductionist study of medicine and disease is a very young venture in the long history of human civilization. We as a species have employed many varied methods of gaining reliable knowledge to treat ailments and disease. The double-blind placebo-controlled trial, whilst helpful, is certainly not the only way to develop reliable therapeutic information.

Perhaps it would be best to ask you to disclose your real agenda in writing for ACSH and perhaps even the sources of funding and that your organization receives? That transparency might in fact aid consumers better in making informed decisions about their health.

Dr. Sean Power

Lecturer, School of Homoeopathy

Technikon Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


I am partial to mainstream biomedical methodology and to scientific theories established in the scientific community. I do not veil this partiality.

I have no agenda in writing for ACSH, where I have worked (not in a cubicle, but always in an office of comfortable size) for nearly four years. Further, I am not aware of any instance of a funder incorrectly biasing any prospective ACSH publication.

I do not doubt that homeopathy has helped at least some persons with conditions for which no cure is known. I do, however, doubt that homeopathy (particularly homeopathy of the sort characterized by absence of an active ingredient) has cured such conditions.


"Appalling" Textbooks

Dear Jack,

Whenever anyone does anything to call attention to corruption in the schoolbook industry, and to the appalling state of the books that the industry produces, I applaud. I have read, in full, the original reports of the studies that William M. London summarizes in ["Handled with Insufficient Care: Environmental Health Issues in High School Textbooks," PfH, Vol. 11, No. 4, 1999, p. 18].

A comment: I wish that Dr. London had said something about why schoolbooks are so badly defective in their treatment of environmental-health topics (and nearly everything else). There are three principal reasons:

1. No matter what fraudulent representations are made on the books' title pages, the books actually are written by hacks who know little or nothing about the subject matter. The hacks develop their "information" by copying from earlier schoolbooks, by trying to repeat stuff that they have seen in newspaper articles and on television news shows, or by copying from press releases issued by commercial promoters, political organizations, religious organizations, and other advocacy groups.

2. In return for cash payments or other rewards, schoolbook companies knowingly print false or distorted "information" supplied by advocacy groups or by companies that sell consumer products.

3. Publishers continually use focus groups and other techniques to learn what will make schoolbooks attractive to teachers. (Remember: Schoolbooks are written for teachers, because teachers decide which books to buy. Students don't choose books, so students have no place in the publishers' calculations.) The publishers then make sure that the books reflect and promote whatever faddish notions, vulgar beliefs, superstitions, and politically correct fancies are prevalent in the teacher population.

William J. Bennetta

President, The Textbook League

Sausalito, Calif.


Source Notes:

Priorities Volume 12 Number 3 2000

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