Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sCAM invades SourceWatch!

I've often used SourceWatch in investigating people and organizations. The information can be dated and incomplete, and you have to follow up on the references, but overall it's an extremely useful resource. So, after reading posts about the ACS' rejection of atheists, I was following a link trail there originating at the American Cancer Society page (there are, of course, several legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at the ACS) and becoming increasingly disturbed. I reached the Alternative Medicine page and couldn't choke back the outrage.

Most of it is taken up with attacks on "mainstream" medicine. Now, I've never been shy about my opinions of health care in the contemporary US and elsewhere. I believe a comprehensive and fully functioning clinical trials database is important, but only one of the radical changes that need to happen for medicine to serve people rather than profits. But even if every claim about mainstream medicine made on the page were accurate, which is not the case, this would in no way validate CAM. The article suggests, for example, that randomized clinical trials can be twisted and suppressed, which is true.* However, in arguing this, the article's editor(s) are saying nothing to challenge RCTs scientifically, and in fact implicitly accepting the RCT rationale. The discussion of rigged, cherry-picked, and dubious trials is followed immediately by:
Orthodox practitioners and various related and profitable industries, may also spin facts to make the strong and solid features of a minority practice appear strange and eccentric. For example, the very small doses used in homeopathy must be ineffective. Also, the fact that they have employed medicines for over 200 years as evidence that the field has not "progressed". However, another interpretation might be that these 200 year old remedies (along with other non pharmaceutical, toxic and surgical remedies) still work and have not led to serious injuries and deaths. Incredibly, the fact that homeopaths conduct detailed, personal patient interviews has been portrayed as "quirky" because it revels in "inane facts" about a patient.
This is ridiculous enough, but it's the section on HIV-AIDS that had me fuming. A few excerpts:
Since the first hypothesis by Robert Gallo of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at an April 23, 1984 press conference, there has never been any proof that HIV caused AIDS. In fact, Gallo only announced that he had discovered the virus which probably caused AIDS. Others claimed that he had discovered the “AIDS virus” and he never corrected them.

...[T]here has been no well-funded, empirical research regarding the true cause of AIDS. In spite of this, evidence exists to conclude that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, according to critics of the orthodox HIV/AIDS paradigm. Furthermore, the HIV test is so inaccurate and misleading, it has never made a real connection between HIV and AIDS.

...After his challenge to the the AIDS orthodoxy in 1997, Dr. Duesberg was ridiculed, marginalized and denounced. Years later, other medical practitioners and scientists are realizing the inherent fallacies in the HIV/AIDS paradigm. The most obvious is the lack of scientific documentation.
And most eye-spittingly infuriating:
In November of 1999, President Thabo Mbeki publicly questioned the HIV/AIDS paradigm, causing intense domestic debate in South Africa. It was the first challenge to the paradigm that the HIV virus caused Aids. Most people in U.S. and global "markets", were healthy and alive prior to their HIV positive death certificates and died within a year of taking prescribed medications. Like most contrary “AIDS” debates, it was largely ignored or censored by U.S. media.**
Needless to say, the citations are utterly ridiculous. This CAM SourceWatch invasion might be the work of just a few individual cranks, but it can't be allowed to stand. People visiting the site for information about the doings of ALEC or the Koch brothers should not also find these lies.

*The various techniques for doing so are described in detail by Ben Goldacre in Bad Science and Irving Kirsch in The Emperor's New Drugs.

**Goldacre's Bad Science is also the best source on this.


  1. Dear Sir or Madam:
    I received this alert about the SourceWatch article discussed above.
    Based on your note, I have placed the article under review. Its contents have been re-located to the talk page of the article, pending that review. If you have edits to that page that you would like to make or suggest, while this review is pending, you can make them there.
    Without the Google alert, I might not have discovered your criticism of one of the tens of thousands of articles on the site. If you have future suggestions for correction or improvement, please help us in updating the article at issue or alert us to the issue. We are a small ngo with a small staff of editors along with some who volunteer on SourceWatch.
    Lisa Graves, the new Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy/SourceWatch

  2. Dear Ms. Graves,

    Thanks you for your quick response and for informing me of the review. I have posted about it

    and am contacting others to participate in improving the page.