Consumer Health Digest #09-16

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 16, 2009


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.


Matthias Rath severely criticized. British Guardian columnist Dr. Ben Goldacre has published more details about the connections between Matthias Rath and the government officials who failed to implement a science-based program to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. A few months ago, Rath dropped a libel suit against Goldacre and the Guardian and was ordered to pay costs amounting to several hundred thousand dollars. The suit involved three newspaper articles that condemned Rath's solicitations to AIDS sufferers in South African townships. Goldacre's new article is based in part on evidence uncovered during the libel suit.


Libel suit against Dr. Barrett dismissed. The libel suit filed against Dr. Stephen Barrett by Don Harrison, D.C., founder/developer of Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP), has ended. CBP is based on the concept that spinal curvatures that deviate from a mathematically derived "ideal" value should be corrected regardless of whether the patient has symptoms. [Barrett S. A skeptical look at Chiropractic BioPhysics. Chirobase, updated April 5, 2009] The lawsuit, filed in 2006, charged that an article posted to Chirobase had defamed Harrison and improperly criticized CBP. In 2007, the lower court granted a simple "motion on the pleadings," which pointed out that the statements the suit targeted were opinions based on reasonable evidence and were not defamatory. Harrison appealed, but the Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the dismissal. A detailed article about the suit will be posted later.


Catholic bishops blast reiki. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued guidelines that sharply criticize reiki. Reiki is based on the idea that the body is surrounded or permeated by an energy field that is not measurable by ordinary scientific instrumentation. Reiki practitioners claim to facilitate healing by strengthening or "balancing" this alleged force. The USCCB guidelines state:

Quackwatch has posted additional information about reiki.


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