Is ACSH a Scam?

Here at the American Council on Science and Health, we have repeatedly found ourselves engaged in correspondence like the following, so we thought we'd share...

Dear Dr. Whelan,

I inadvertently came across your well-run website as I was searching for consumer protection information. As a highly educated woman with two children, I am appalled at the information your site puts forth as "fact." If your organization has to answer the question of funding sources influencing decisions, it is obvious they do. It is completely sad that you are spending your life energy defending this organization and the degradation it stands for (both in the "dumbing down" and pacification of consumers and in the destruction of the environment). While I agree wholeheartedly that decisions on policy should be made only with sound scientific fact, I find it to society's extreme detriment to turn to your organization as suppliers of this "fact." What your organization does is spin. When spin hurts others because it is dishonest, that is what all Americans call a "lie."


Tatyana Blankenship

P.S. Incidentally, this is the first "complaint" letter I have ever written in my entire life, and I thank you for allowing it. I also thank you for giving me a true wake-up call regarding who is claiming to represent consumers. With friends like you, who needs enemies?

ACSH replies:

Dear Ms. Blankenship:

I couldn't help but notice that among your complaints there was not one reference to an incorrect or inaccurate position we have taken. We don't do "spin"; we adhere to peer-reviewed science to support each and every statement we make, whether on our website (thanks for your kind words about it), via other electronic or print media, or through our own print publications.

"Spin" is the stock-in-trade of alarmist advocacy groups, whose membership and executive staffs contain no scientists which is appropriate, since their positions are supported by no science. Their methods can be called "science by press release," and sometimes by full-page ads sponsored by multi-million dollar agenda-driven foundations.

Our tiny organization (which we do not "defend" we are the organization, since Dr. Whelan founded it nearly twenty-five years ago) often issues position papers and statements directly counter to the interests of some of those who support us (with no-strings-attached contributions). We face questions about funding because we have no "environmental foundation" shield to hide behind. Perhaps you should try to extract funding information from some of these so-called "consumer advocacy" groups or "environmental non-profit" groups and see how forthcoming they are.

Once again, I call upon you to identify a scientific inaccuracy or misstatement in any of our publications or statements. Good luck! Instead of assuming that because others accuse us of accepting dirty corporate money we automatically become dirty corporate liars, try delving into the issues and facts before writing such smears.

Gilbert Ross, M.D.
Medical and Executive Director
American Council on Science and Health


November 9, 2003

Dear ACSH,

I would appreciate it if Gilbert Ross would say who he means when he refers to "alarmist advocacy groups, whose membership and executive staffs contain no scientists." And who are the "multi-million-dollar agenda-driven foundations" who sponsor them?

If an organization such as ACSH does not name the people it criticizes, we have no way of checking whether the criticism is evidence-based.

Rosemary Stanton, OAM, Ph.D.

ACSH replies:

You'll find good summaries of just how much dough scientist-less organizations like the Environmental Working Group are rolling in and how much money leftists like the folks at the Pew Charitable Trust have to bestow over at the site The Tides Foundation, which spawned EWG, is a particularly interesting incubator of start-up scaremonger outfits.