Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Chiropractic board attacks physical therapist unfairly. The Arkansas State Board of Chiropractic Examiners has fined physical therapist Michael Teston, of Little Rock, Arkansas, $10,000 for allegedly practicing chiropractic without a license. The action was based on the claim that he had manipulated a patient's spine. The Arkansas Board of Physical Therapists has ruled that Teston's treatment was mobilization, not manipulation, and was therefore within the lawful scope of physical therapy. However, the chiropractic board concluded that because his treatment caused an audible "popping" sound, it was manipulation, which is reserved for licensed chiropractors and physicians. The chiropractic board's ruling is part of a longstanding chiropractic campaign intended to stop physical therapists from doing what chiropractors consider uniquely theirs. About two years ago, the American Chiropractic Association sought (unsuccessfully) to prevent Medicare from paying for manipulation performed by physical therapists. Teston has appealed the ruling to the Circuit Court and and would appreciate help with his legal costs. Contributions should be sent to ArPTA fund for Michael Teston, c/o Jennifer Coleman, 9 Shackleford Plaza, Suite 1, Little Rock, AR 72211. Details of the case are posted on Teston's Web site.
Lorraine Day helping Neo-Nazi hatemonger. In September 2003, Lorraine Day, M.D. testified at a hearing concerning Ernst Zündel, a hate propagandist whom Canada is trying to deport to Germany. Zündel has for many years funded neo-Nazi groups and published anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial tracts such as the 1977 book The Hitler We Loved and Why. [Ernst Zundel ADL Web site, updated May 7, 2003] [Kinsella W. Refugee Zundel. Warren Kinsella Web site, 2002] Zündel is detained in Toronto pending a Canadian Federal Court review of the government's declaration that he is a threat to national security, an order that would trigger removal to his native Germany, which has issued an arrest warrant for him. [Bonokoski M. U.S. may boot Zündel out: Wife fears key may be thrown away. Toronto Sun, Feb 16, 2003] Zündel's wife claims that he had used herbs to cure himself of "inoperable, terminal cancer" many years ago but has had a recurrence because detention authorities would not permit him to continue taking them. On September 23, Day testified that Zundel has cancer and high blood pressure and needs to be released from the detention center so that he can follow a non-drug treatment. [Habib M. Lawyer in Ernst Zundel detention review links him with some Holocaust-deniers. Ottawa Sun, Sept 23, 2003] Zündelsite lists Day among the signers of a petition to government officials which asserted that, "Mr. Zundel is an honest, outspoken man, and he does not deserve to be sent to Germany to face FIVE YEARS in prison merely because he has openly questioned the accuracy and veracity of what many claim to have been an historical occurrence." Day, a former orthopedic surgeon, is licensed in California but has not practiced medicine for more than 10 years. Her videotapes claim that she cured herself of breast cancer with diet and prayer and that standard medical treatment does more harm than good. [Barrett S. Some Notes on Lorraine Day. Quackwatch, revised Sept 28, 2003]
Spam opponent wins $250,000 judgment. Anti-spam activist Nigel Featherston has won a $250,000 default judgment in the Superior Court of Washington State for King County against a spam organization known for sending millions of spam emails ranging from multilevel schemes to diet pills. The judgment was against Charles F. Childs and Linda Jean Lightfoot, Ohio spammers doing business as Universal Direct, Mega Direct and Ultra-Trim, among others. An engineer and former Microsoft developer, Featherston began fighting spam in 1998 when he was deluged with unwanted emails that required him to change his email address. He filed numerous complaints, often getting the senders' web sites shut down. In March 2002, in retribution, spammers used his email address in spam sent to others, which resulted in thousands of bounced back emails coming to Featherston's address and overwhelming his system. Washington's anti-spam law statute permits asking for $500 per spam. In this case, Featherston could have sued for $29 million, but decided that a $250,000 request would be sufficient. The court concluded that he had sufficient evidence that he had received approximately 58,000 illegal e-mails due to the defendants' actions. [Washington State resident wins $250,000 spam e-mail case. News release, Sept 8, 2003] In 2002, the FTC obtained a temporary restraining order after charging Lightfoot and Childs with using spam to promote an illegal chain-letter in which most participants would fail to make any money. [International Netforce launches law enforcement effort: Sweep targets deceptive spam and Internet fraud. FTC news release, April 2, 2002]
Dr. Clark Research Association signs stipulation. The Dr. Clark Research Association (a nonprofit organization in California), Behandlungzentrum GMbH (a Swiss company), and Scientologist David Amrein (a Swiss citizen who is the sole officer and director of both entities) have agreed to abide by temporary order that would prohibit them from making unsubstantiated product-related claims that:
The agreement, which is awaiting court approval, would remain in effect until an October 30th hearing at which the court will consider whether to issue a preliminary injunction.
The above-mentioned claims are based on the notions of Hulda Clark, an unlicensed naturopath who obtained her "degree" from a nonaccredited correspondence school. In 2001, the FTC obtained a consent agreement with another company selling Clark-recommended products. [FTC prohibits marketers of herbal products and the "Zapper" from making unsubstantiated claims. FTC News Release, Dec 29, 2001] Quackwatch has documents from this case and extensive information about Clark.
Washington Attorney General sues another quack device operator. The Attorney General of Washington has accused Monte Kline and Pacific Health Centers of misrepresenting the significance of Kline's credentials and misrepresenting the diagnostic capabilities of electrodermal testing (EDT). The Attorney General believes that Pacific Health Center has administered this test to at least 3,000 consumers over the past two years, typically charging $395 for an initial test and $99 for a follow-up test one month later. The Consumer Protection Act authorizes a penalty of up to $2,000 per violation. The state is asking the court to order Pacific Health Center to discontinue electrodermal testing, provide restitution, and pay civil penalties and attorney's costs and fees. [AG suit claims company misrepresented machine's diagnostic capabilities. Washington Attorney General news release, Sept 29, 2003] EDT is a bogus procedure claimed to detect "imbalances" in the flow of "electromagnetic energy" through the body. The devices are fancy galvanometers that reflect how hard the operator presses a probe against the patient's skin. No such device can be legally marketed in the United States for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Kline has a "PhD in Nutrition & Wholistic Health Sciences" from Columbia Pacific University, a nonaccredited correspondence school that was ordered to cease operations in California in 2001. Quackwatch has posted a copy of the Washington Attorney General's complaint.
CSICOP "Skeptiseum" debuts. The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) has launched its "online museum of the paranormal," which features more than a hundred paranormal and pseudoscience artifacts collected by CSICOP staff member Joe Nickel. Among them are items related to acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, crystals, electric fields, healing springs, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and "snake oil."
Randi Foundation schedules second "Amazing Meeting."
The James Randi Educational Foundation will hold a major conference
in Las Vegas, Nevada, from January 15-18, 2004. The speakers,
who will cover many paranormal, pseudoscientific, and quackery-related
topics, include Penn & Teller, Ian Rowland, Robert Park, Michael
Shermer, Peter Bowditch, and Stephen Barrett. The
JREF Web site has details and a registration form.
This page was posted on September 30, 2003.