I get mail, too

I have to admit I was pretty disappointed when PZ got a cease and desist notice from Christopher Maloney and I didn’t. I mean, what am I, not good enough? Haven’t I been offensive enough? I know I don’t have PZ’s following, but I thought I had made a perfectly valiant effort to be as disrespectful as possible in my fight against the anti-science nature of naturopathy. Yet still, Maloney struck me a blow, an insult, a real dig to my ego. No notice. No letter. Woe was me.

But all that has changed. You see, Maloney has decided that the trickle of posts I make only in response to him nowadays needs challenging. (Click to enlarge.)

(The bottom two lines read: “…cherry-pick evidence, often lie and misrepresent facts. Recently a local naturopathic “doctor” Christopher Maloney…” You wrote this response in reply to Dr. Maloney’s editorial on October 29, 2009 which…”)

There is also a cover page (which would not scan for the life of me). Titled “NOTICE TO CEASE HARASSMENT & NO TRESPASS NOTICE”, it continues:

Pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 506-A(1), you are hereby being served with notice to immediately cease and desist from engaging in any course of conduct with the intent to harass, torment or threaten Dr. Christopher Maloney, N.D., 4 Drew St., Augusta, Maine, whether on or off of premises, in person, or via electronic means. Violation of this Notice is a Class E crime under the laws of the State of Maine, pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 506-A(1).

In conjunction with the foregoing Notice to Cease Harassment, you are also hereby prohibited from coming within 100 feet of the above-described premises for any reason. Violation of this No Trespass Notice may result in your arrest and/or civil and criminal trespass charges being filed against you pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 402(1)(D)-(E).

Where to start, where to start.

How about my publication, Without Apology? Never billed as a newspaper (I would never produce such a vile thing), it is a publication I put out from 2009-2010 over the course of roughly 6 months. Contrary to the lies implied by Maloney, the idea for the publication was hatched long before I had even heard of naturopathy. And even when I had heard of that quackery, the first 3 editions were about politics, social concerns, local issues, and science. It wasn’t until the forth edition that I even mentioned Maloney, and even then it was only in two articles. There was also an article about objective morality and another about poker. (A fifth edition came out that said nothing of the quack; a sixth edition featuring Ashley F. Miller will be out soon.) The paper was not made for him.

Next take a look at the fourth paragraph in the first image. Maloney says I add the keywords “Christopher Maloney” to all of my blog posts daily. To prove the point, March 25, 2011 is cited as an instance where I did this three times. Goodness. How wrong can one sentence be? First, it isn’t even possible to add the same keywords more than once to a single post. Get with the times, you old fogies. Second, I don’t even post about Maloney on a daily basis. Go ahead, do a quick search. The last time I posted about him was February 20th (and gee, wouldya look at that, it was a response to something he said; crazy that). Third, I didn’t make any post about him on March 25. Not March 25, 2011, not March 25, 2010, not March 25, 2009. So why mention that date in particular? Look near the top of the page. It was the date that Maeghan Maloney (once she was done creating the ugliest header in history) wrote the letter. Totally professional, huh?

Oh, and how about those “impeccable credentials”? It looks like some more bullshit to me:

Not that I doubt that a naturopath could come out of Harvard—the university has produced its share of creationists—but as a Harvard University alum, I had to see if Christopher Maloney was also one. I found one, but the one listed, who lives in Hawaii, earned an MBA and a MPA (public administration, probably from the Kennedy School) in 2006. None with a Diploma in Continuing Health Studies, whatever that is, is listed. I suspect Maloney took a couple of extension course in the Harvard Extension School (a night school opened to any and all who have the money) and possibly one which awards some kind of diploma. But it’s a stretch to claim as his lawyer/wife does that he has a “…pre-medical degree from Harvard.” Harvard issues no such animal.

And I thought the alt-med crowd was above reproach.

The most laughable part of the whole letter (aside from the @live.com email address) is the accusation that I make these posts in order to boost my search engine results. Trust me, Maloney is not the big draw on FTSOS. In fact, a ctrl+f look at all the search terms that have landed people here over the past year yields 16 results for the word “Maloney”. In contrast, searches that use the word “Hubble” number around 27,000.

Wondering about the CC at the bottom of the page? That would be my father, the good man. Apparently Maloney thought it would be okay to investigate my family, the sneaky little creeper pants. I think his point was to tattle on me, as if I haven’t kept my mother, my brother, my cousins, my aunt, my uncle, my grandmother, and, yes, my father, all in the loop about his shenanigans this whole time. Given Maloney’s endlessly immature actions, I guess it isn’t surprising that he would think an adult might be afraid of basic communication with his parents.

I really don’t see the point in all this. I have been crystal clear: If Christopher Maloney stops effectively begging me to post about him by virtue of his continued chirps, then I will stop. Threatening me, especially after whining about everyone on the Internet (rightly) calling him censorious, isn’t going to help anything. I’m not one to be intimidated, especially on such flimsy, pathetic, and unprofessional grounds.

P.s., Christopher Maloney is a quack.

Quack attack: A source of pride

Earlier this month I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper disparaging the practices of naturopathic ‘doctors’. They aren’t especially qualified. I would sooner go to a grad student than one of these guys. Of course, not everyone feels the same way. As such, a couple of people felt compelled to write their own letters. This first one is from Richard Maurer.

A fellow physician relayed a letter by Michael Hawkins, who used inflammatory language against an entire profession. Because his letter was printed, I am compelled to respond to his inaccuracies.

It’s a good thing Maurer didn’t read the original letter I wrote. I directly called a naturopathic ‘doctor’ a charlatan and quack, said he directly lied, and also effectively called him a mountebank. Fortunately for him, my local paper is concerned about libel (though it would never be honest enough to admit that), so I only managed to say that ‘doctor’ “misrepresented facts” in the letter that did get published.

Hawkins claims that Maine is only one of several states to license naturopathic doctors. He claims that naturopathic doctors “have no relevant medical training” and even questions the title “doctor.”

Maine is one of 17 states that licenses naturopathic doctors. Licensure here depended upon passage by the Business and Economic Development Committee, the Legislature and approval by the governor.

Yes, one of 17 is also “one of several” in my book. But I wasn’t making the point that Maine is “only” one of several states; the point was never to say that naturopathy is bad because so few states give it credence. I made that point in my previous letter, and did so in a far more direct, succinct way: I said two states actively prohibit the practice of naturopathy.

No, the point was instead that the fact that several states allow prescription rights to these ‘doctors’ is a dangerous thing. I pretty much directly said that. I was bemoaning the fact that so many lives are at risk, not pointing out the lack of validity in naturopathy amongst state governments.

Naturopathic doctors in Maine have a four-year undergraduate premedical degree, followed by a four-year residency-based naturopathic medical doctorate, more than 1,500 hours of clinical training, passage of both basic science and clinical board exams. Continuing medical education is necessary annually.

His last sentence is the closest thing that matters here. He just needs to change “annually” to “daily”.

Much of the training for naturopaths come from schools which also offer several false degrees: ones for chiropractics, acupuncturists, even one which features training in the practice of “cupping” – the ‘art’ of lighting a match inside a cup to create suction, removing the match, and then placing the cup on a person’s body. It’s obvious with what sort of practices naturopathic supporters are willing to associate.

Naturopathic doctors in Maine offer a wide range of proven natural therapies and can prescribe classes of medications such as hormones, antibiotics and immunizations when necessary.

Show me the evidence. The best anyone can expect from naturopaths is non-original research which becomes predictably distorted. And those prescription rights are dangerous given the lack of training from proper programs.

But wait! There’s more! Emily Albee of Readfield has written in.

Michael Hawkins Dec. 12 letter, “Naturopathic medicine is not science, untrustworthy,” infers that those who participate in naturopathic medicine are “quacks.”

To be fair, I did want to outright say it.

Specifically, Hawkins was referring to Dr. Christopher Maloney’s opinion on alternatives for combating and treating the H1N1 virus.

More specifically, I was referring to his non-medical opinion.

My experience working in public schools and having the privilege to work with tremendous young people has taught me illness is a risk.

As opposed to my statements that illness is all fun and water slides?

Dr. Maloney’s recommendation of a daily regimen of elderberry and garlic supplements has helped me maintain an excellent level of health during a very difficult flu season. I trust his opinion because his recommendations work.

I liked Maurer’s letter for not using anecdotes. I like this one for filling my expectations.

There is evidence for jack squat. Research does not indicate black elderberry acts as a vaccine. The nutritional benefits of garlic are well-known; it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. It also can help with infections. Beyond that, the research gets fuzzy. Naturopaths are willing to prescribe it for several different ailments without any proper evidence (and certainly no original research). They routinely go beyond what they know and delve into what they wish were true.

Recently, I suffered from extreme vertigo. Constant debilitating dizziness made for the worst six months of my life. Numerous non-naturopathic doctors and multiple antibiotic prescriptions ($45 per prescription) later, I was left with no relief or hope that this nightmare would ever be over.

There’s this constant, underlying notion that because real doctors cannot cure everything, pretend doctors must have the answers. It isn’t true.

Dr. Maloney took the time to listen and, after a thorough exam of my ears, he diagnosed chronic ear infections as the source of my vertigo. He recommended a treatment of daily garlic supplements and garlic eardrops. This naturopathic remedy is the only thing that was able to stop the perpetual dizziness.

This isn’t evidence that naturopathy is at all valid. First of all, why were the real doctors prescribing antibiotics? They must have recognized some sort of infection. Second, the fact that they were prescribing something indicates that they did not miss a diagnosis only a naturopath could have made. Third, there’s no way to know if it was actually the garlic which cleared up the infection. Fourth, there’s no way to tell from this if Albee was taking some other medication prior to the garlic ear drops which had the side effect of vertigo.

Naturopathic medicine under the care of Dr. Maloney has brought innumerable benefits to my family and me. I would argue Dr. Maloney is a rare gem in this world of corporate and policy-driven medicine.

Ah, there it is. The real doctors are just evil and American health care sucks. Thus naturopaths.

I am safer for it despite Hawkin’s opinion that naturopathy is “malarkey.”

*Hawkins’.

More directly, my opinion is actually that unevidenced medical claims are malarkey. Incidentally, that includes naturopathy.

Naturopaths are dangerous quacks

Over at Terra Sig on scienceblogs.com there is an article about the current danger facing some people in Canada who may fall for the charlatan work of naturopaths. The Ontario legislature is considering passing a bill which will allow naturopathic quacks to give out prescriptions. It’s utter lunacy.

Naturopaths (I’m not sure if that’s the proper term, but they aren’t proper doctors, so fuck them) are not qualified to do anything substantial. These people run the risk of prescribing contra-indicated medicines, offering ‘treatments’ which actually ignore the real problem, and allowing them prescription rights will give them respect they have not earned. People may actually seek out these mountebanks thinking they are getting real help. They aren’t.

I recently wrote about Christopher Maloney, charlatan-extraordinaire. He wrote into the local paper implying that black elderberry has vaccination properties for H1N1. He completely misrepresented a small study (which wasn’t even directly on H1N1) and he has put people at risk. He’s a dangerous liar who is unqualified to be giving out medical advice in such a manner. The worst thing about him is that he isn’t an exception – he’s an example, an example of the sort of cherry-picking, misrepresenting, lying, dangerous people who populate the yellow pages under “naturopathic ‘medicine'”.

Here I am reposting a laundry list (originally by Steve Thomas) of why naturopaths should not be given the considerations we offer real doctors.

1) With 23,000 doctors in Ontario, and fewer then 1000 naturopaths, the argument that granting naturopaths prescription rights will ease the burden on the healthcare system is a bit silly.

2) The assertion that the body has the potential to heal itself is not a scientific one. When given “natural” support only, the body will die by the age of 45, probably of infectious diseases. Modern advances in medicine make long-life possible, not herbs and roots from a 2,000 year old playbook.

3) Saying “science” doesn’t make it so. The call of “the healing power of nature at work” to be not magic, but good science, is ridiculous on its face….the human body is really good at succumbing to pathogens and injury, and the “natural” world is really good at killing us.

4) Old and tradition do not a science make. Yes, herbal supplements have been around for centuries. So has prostitution. Old doesn’t mean effective. It means old. I want my medicine to be new, awesome, and if possible, administered by a robot from the future.

5) Regulation does not a science make, even if it was 85 years ago.

6) I wonder, what is the naturopathic remedy for a broken bone? For that matter, how effective is naturopathic birth control?

7) Why the natural fetish? If you’re dying from a disease, do you really care if your treatment is “natural” or not? Why take an herbal supplement that a person tells you *might* work, when you could take the most recent advances in medical technology that we know *will* work?

8) Natural doesn’t mean safe. It doesn’t mean effective. Arsenic, poisonous mushrooms, gravel and bird-crap are also natural and you don’t see me putting them into my body.

9) Lets not forget that many people see a naturopath because they’re dazzled by the word “Naturopathic Doctor, or ND”. Let’s be perfectly clear: Naturopaths are NOT doctors. The Naturopathy Act, 2007 allows them to be called “Naturopaths”, not “doctors.” You need to go to medical school to be called a doctor. Naturopaths just granted themselves that title as a subtle PR stunt.

10) What is the diagnostic method a naturopath uses to test if a body is “in balance”? What laboratory equipment can you use to check for “wellness”?

11) The calls that naturopaths aim to treat the root cause is nonsense, otherwise they wouldn’t be asking to prescribe pain-killers, and anti-inflammatories.

12) If naturopathy is just as effective as medicine, then why don’t these naturopaths just go to med school?

13) The medical community is constantly advocating good health, diet, nutrition and exercise…naturopaths don’t have a monopoly on knowing the merits of preventative health.

14) Naturopathic college of Ontario requires a 4-year Bachelor’s eduction, but does not require for a Bsc or any science pre-requisites. The historical GPA for entry to the CCNM is 3.3 (ranging from 2.8-3.7). Compare that to Med school, which is turning away people with 4.0 averages.

15) The length of time for training is meaningless if the education quality is so lackluster. I can study levitation for 20 years but it doesn’t mean that I could fly.

16) “Every review of our record has recognized the safety of the more natural approach of naturopathic care.” Every review? Really? Black Cohosh, anyone?

17) The authors conveniently left out the deaths attributed to naturopathic prescriptions in Washington and Oregon, showing once again their contempt for honest data-gathering and fondness for cherry-picking whatever information suits their pre-conceived narrative.

18) The CCNM is NOT associated with ANY Canadian university, and it’s dishonest to artificially conflate the two together, even if you’re being indirect about it.

19) “The need for NDs to have prescribing authority was accepted by every other regulated health profession” Not even close to accurate! The bill passed the first two readings because the relevant health care communities had approved of their OWN amendments, and was not reflective of the naturopathy amendments.

20) The CCNM also is also teaching homeopathy and colonic irrigation, neither of which do anything beyond a placebo effect….Back from your cherry-picking trip yet?

21) If passed, the committee to decide which drugs would be prescribed would be made up of naturopaths! Unelected naturopaths deciding what they can prescribe!

22) Since naturopaths *are unqualified* to prescribe medication, granting them these powers will create needless risk of drug contra-indications.

23) This is not about freedom of choice for the patient, and it never has been. This is about granting naturopathy legislative and legal legitimacy because it can’t do so under the rules of science and evidence.

The scientific community is crystal clear on medicine, yet these people would have our very modern system degenerate with some very 19th century modalities.

Oh, and this is actually a rather important post beyond trying to save the health of people. Whereas I had created a category specifically for Andreas Moritz, King Snake Oil Salesman, I think I can expand it to naturopathic ‘medicine’: all naturopathy posts shall go under Pure Bullshit from now on.

More naturopathy

Over at ScienceBlogs, Greg Laden has an excellent post concerning naturopathic medicine. Here he describes one incident of the sort of danger these quack practitioners pose.

The Naturopath treated John with various herbal and homeopathic medicines, and recommended other treatments such as massage. But during the last few months, John had become weaker and weaker, threw up more and more often, and despite a marked increase in the herbal treatments (which, unfortunately, were not particularly homeopathic, and thus not guaranteed to be as harmless as water) John started to lose weight at an alarming rate.

John had a gut obstruction in his small intestines which prevented him from consuming enough food and retaining proper nutrients. This could have been diagnosed and fixed when it first showed up. Instead, John would need emergency surgery. He almost lost his life because of naturopathic ‘medicine’.

Naturopathic medicine

I just submitted a letter to the local paper concerning another letter they recently published. Here it is.


On 10/29 “Dr.” Christopher Maloney wrote a letter praising Naturopathic medicine. As is so common with charlatans, he was dangerously misleading.

Maloney begins by telling us that the regular flu vaccine has no effect on H1N1. He intentionally mentions this piece of irrelevant pedantry because he is setting up his punch-line: flu vaccines only provide 6 to 15 percent protection. This is a lie. Healthy adults face upwards of a 90% reduction in their chance of becoming infected with the flu (CDC). Beyond that, vaccines also dull the intensity of the flu should an individual actually face infection.

For his next dangerous joke, Maloney claims vaccines have no effect on deadly complications in any group. The non-mountebank truth is that they reduce hospitalization in the elderly by 50-60% (CDC). Death rate falls by 80% (CDC).

Next this quack recommends black elderberry for those waiting for a flu shot. PubMed features two peer-reviewed studies to the efficacy of this treatment (and not for the H1N1 virus specifically). It has some positive results, but the researchers note (correctly) that larger studies are needed. It does not, however, “block” the H1N1 virus, as Maloney claims.

Finally, Maloney brings out some false, unsupported statistics about stress. This is nothing more than the usual mantra for alternative medicine supporters.

The most interesting thing about this “doctor” is that he doesn’t mention that Naturopathic “medicine” is actually illegal in two states. Another 30 do not acknowledge it.

His recommendations are borrowed from basic nutritional information at best (and it’s far better to get that from someone with a proper education) and are downright dangerous at worst.

Go to your regular doctor.

On the upside, Maloney is not the swindler Andreas Moritz is. He is a charlatan and a mountebank for all this bunk misleading, but his concern seems to be more genuine and less about money. But he’s still wrong.

In the interest of not making a big, ugly blog post, I will include Maloney’s letter in the comment section.