Not understanding simple things

“Mark” from WordPress has already demonstrated that he doesn’t really get what constitutes libel. I was forced to change the wording of a post where I said Christopher Maloney is not a doctor. By reading the sort of stuff I’m getting from WordPress, one would think the sentence previous to this one was libel. Here’s the new email.

“I pointed out that Maine gives naturopaths like Maloney the rights of doctors. That doesn’t mean I have to say he actually is one.”

But you cannot say he is not one.

If he is a doctor you cannot say or infer he is not.

Mark

(The quote is from my email.)

Of course I can say or infer that Maloney is not a doctor. He has no legal (or moral) right to not be called a faux doctor or whatever else I please. What Mark has done is conflate insults (or accuracy, in my opinion) with libel.

All that has to be required of me in order to avoid libel is that I note that Maloney is considered a doctor under Maine’s law. I am entirely free to say Maine law is wrong and that according to the standards of the medical community at large, naturopaths are not doctors.

Christopher Maloney and all other naturopaths are only doctors by the low standards of Maine law. By reasonable standards (i.e., the opinions of the majority of the medical community), they all fail the test. I mean, come on. The guy went to a school which teaches Chinese Medical Astrology. That’s ridiculous.

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Be nice or I’ll sue!

I recently got an email from an irate reader concerning something I wrote about naturopathy. She sent her letter to the address I have set up for my paper, Without Apology, but I never printed anything of relevance in there. She also did not specify which piece of writing she was referencing. I’ve actually written several posts about naturopathic ‘medicine’. Probably the one with the toughest language, however, was this one. There I called Christopher Maloney, local naturopathic ‘doctor’, a charlatan, mountebank, and quack. All those terms were supported by clear refutations and short examinations of the lies Maloney was peddling. I can’t be sure if that’s what set off the reader, but here’s what she had to say.

Dear Michael Hawkins,

I am writing you a friendly letter to let you know that you might want to write an apology to Dr. Maloney for your article. I don’t think you really educated yourself on his medical education. And unfortunately for you, his wife is a lawyer. What you wrote is slander, and you definitely might be in a allot of trouble. Fact, he is a Naturopathic Doctor. People actually travel all over the country just to get an appointment to see him. But did you know you have to be a DO. or an MD. Oh, from your article it sounds like you might not know allot about the medical field. This type of doctor goes to medical school and study’s more osteopathic type of medicine. Thiers even a highly credited school in Maine called UNE :). And then you have an MD :) which is the one your probably more familiar with. Both study’s require at least 10 yrs. of medical schooling. Now a Homeopathic Doctor, or Naturopathic Doctor has to become a DO, or an MD before their aloud to study Naturopathic, or Homeopathic medicine. Which is usually an additional 2-4 yrs. of additional medicine. So yes, Dr. Maloney has been to over 12yrs. of medical school. And when he feels necessary, he will prescribe traditional medicine as you call it. But most of the time he try’s to heal threw more natural means because most people heal quicker threw natural means :). So a little bit more about him……. He went to Harvard, yup the big school of medicine LOL, and Brown LOL so he pretty smart and extremely educated. So yes, be careful before you put something in print OK :). The article made you look very silly :)

Wishing You The Best,
Cheryl :)

My favorite part is that after the threats and insults, she wishes me ‘the best’. No, really.

It’s perplexing that Cheryl has chosen to focus on Maloney’s medical education. I never raised that as an issue. I mean, creationists have completed bio programs from Harvard; that doesn’t mean I’m about to defer to them. But, at the least, she’s inaccurate. He did go to Harvard, but I see nothing about Brown. Also, notice the information Maloney includes as part of his education.

* B.A. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
* Diploma in Continuing Health Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
* Four year medical degree from National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland,Oregon.
* National science boards and clinical medicine boards.
* Year in Singapore and Malaysia studying medicine with homeopaths, naturopaths, and osteopaths as well as traditional Chinese healers.
* Licensed in the state of Maine as a naturopathic doctor.

First, noticed nothing about Brown. Second, I reject the overall legitimacy of naturopathic schools, even if they do manage to get accredited. Maloney’s school, for instance, teaches Classical Chinese medicine. What does that include, you ask?

Cupping: A type of Chinese massage, cupping consists of placing several glass “cups” (open spheres) on the body. A match is lit and placed inside the cup and then removed before placing the cup against the skin. The resulting effect is the burning of oxygen within the cup, creating a relative vacuum, that allows the cup to stick right to the skin via suction. When combined with massage oil, the cups can be slid around the back, offering what can only be thought of as a reverse-pressure massage.

And third, notice that two of the final three things Maloney lists are not parts of his education, but rather his C.V. And need I say anything of studying cupping and similar exercises with Malaysian homeopaths?

In the process of making this post I’ve noticed a second email. This one is from a J. Smith. It’s clear he’s referring to the letter I had published in the local paper. It’s also clear that he had a bit more to get off his chest. I’m not going to take the time (at least right now) to respond to all he’s had to say, but I will paste his email in the comment section of this post.

Correction: I did sort of bring up Maloney’s education when I spoke of his qualifications. But again, this goes back to the creationist analogy. A person can have a bio degree, but if he believes in instant creation, he’s unqualified to tell me anything about evolution.

Also, I had forgotten the email for Without Apology was listed under my letter to the editor.

Another letter

The Kennebec Journal (KJ) has done what has become rare and published something which is full of sense and science: a letter by me.

Naturopathic medicine is pure bull.

Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. Those who practice naturopathy are quacks. They may be sincere quacks, but sincerity does not translate to evidence — or your health.

The Ontario legislature is considering giving naturopathic “doctors” prescription rights. This presents a serious danger to the health of any Canadian ignorant enough to be duped into the “care” of these charlatans.

But it hits closer to home than that. Maine is just one of several states that give these vastly underqualified “doctors” such rights. This presents a serious risk. They have no relevant medical training for offering prescriptions; this makes them highly susceptible to blindly doling out contra-indicated drugs, among other dangerous possibilities.

I cannot overstate this fact: Naturopaths are not doctors and they are not qualified.

They cherry-pick evidence, often lie and misrepresent facts.

Recently, a local naturopathic “doctor,” Christopher Maloney, wrote a letter in which he committed himself to that third possibility. He implied H1N1 vaccination properties for black elderberry. The only relevant studies on black elderberry are for the regular flu, do not show vaccination properties, and far larger studies are needed (as noted by the original researchers).

I implore anyone considering naturopathic “medicine” to not do it and/or cross-check Maloney’s “facts.” Naturopathy is not a science in any sense of the word; it is not to be trusted.

A long laundry list countering false naturopathic claims can be found at the qualified page Terra Sig on http://scienceblogs.com/terrasig/2009/11/more_naturopathic_nonsense_in.php

If everyone began to demand evidence, we could do away with this naturopathic “medicine” malarkey. We’d be all the safer for it.

Michael Hawkins

Augusta

withoutapologyinmaine@gmail.com

I’m glad I was able to sneak that email address in there. Without Apology is my publication and the sister site to FTSOS. That little advertisement is probably the best I can do there since I’m sure the KJ won’t let me link back to myself.

Anyway.

I don’t know if it was because I recently laid out a short summary of the sort of antics this paper has been playing (and then subsequently emailed the link the head honcho), but it took me some time to get this letter published. I originally wanted a much more comprehensive letter published, but Jim Evans lied to me and wouldn’t admit that libel was his concern, so I settled for a pro-atheism letter. Seeing through Evans’ lies, I rewrote my letter so that I could call Maloney a charlatan without directly saying it and submitted that. And then resubmitted it. And again. It looks like persistence won the day. (And that’s fortunate for Evans because once finals were over I planned on paying him a personal visit to get him to just tell me the truth. I mean, goodness. Just say what you mean.)

In the comment section of this letter, “homesteps” of Chelsea speaks of his/her experience being treated by Maloney. S/he says this.

Chris is very good at looking at factors that may impact mysterious conditions. He helps patients with food diaries and elimination diets. He encourages them to embrace an all-around healthier lifestyle. On top of these qualities, he is focused on finding the true underlying problems and treating the whole patient. He often recommends that people see their regular medical doctors, as he recognizes the limitations of any one-size-fits-all approach. He is one of the most caring doctors we have been to.

Maloney is NOT a doctor by any reasonable measures – and Maine’s measures are not reasonable! He has NO qualifications which earn him that title beyond the state’s bogus measurements!** It’s all fine and dandy if someone wants to waste money on someone telling them to not eat crappy foods* (should I be charging you readers for that nugget of advice?), but let’s not pretend that these people are actually qualified to be doling out medical advice. As I note in my letter, people run the risk of taking contra-indicated drugs if we start treating naturopaths as real doctors.

*I’m not disparaging true nutritionists or implying that their advice is a waste. My comment is more specific; think of going up to some random schlub on the street and asking him for dietary advice. He may rightly tell you that eating a lot of trans fat is bad for you, but that doesn’t mean that he has done anything to earn payment from you.

**Maloney whined to WordPress to make me change this. I originally said he was not a doctor at all. Under the technicality of Maine law, he is a doctor. But he’s a dangerous one because he lies about the efficacy of treatments to suit his purposes. And, again, he is not allowed to practice naturopathy in two states.