Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Weird Medicine Reports

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Weird Medicine Reports

Article excerpt

Keep up with the latest scam at:

Sometimes medical claims are so strange, you don't even need a journalist's healthy skepticism to smell fraud. If someone pitches your newsroom an idea for a feature story on "iridology," your scam alarm rings as soon as you hear the definition: the bizarre belief that your health can be diagnosed by examining the color, texture and location of various pigment flecks in the iris of your eye.

Other possible quackery is not so obvious, because the terms are vague and sound scientific. Aromatherapy. Chelation. Colloidal Silver. Multiple chemical sensitivity.

Not only that, real doctors sometimes put their names to questionable medical procedures. It usually falls to health and consumer editors and reporters to sort out fact and fancy in this controversial, murky world of New Age medicine. Now a nationally known expert on the subject of health frauds is using the Web to lend a hand.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, author of 43 books on questionable medical practices, operates Quackwatch as a guide to health fraud, quackery and intelligent decision-making. Beside being a lively consumer resource, the site can be a valuable starting point for the pursuit of a story.

To use the service, visit the site at its memorable address and click on the "Search Quackwatch" option at the top of the page.

A search form invites you to enter a word or phrase. You can limit the look-up by specifying the search should be case sensitive or broaden the search by authorizing partial matches to the phrase. And you can instruct the database to find only files that have been modified within a certain number of days.

When you have the form as you want it, click the "Submit" option. The database lists all "hits' with hypertext links to the specific articles. Click, and the site takes you directly to the cited material.

Some 200 pages of data are online, ranging from lengthy articles to brief dictionary entries, and while the search option is the fastest way to reach it, you also may want to simply browse the site, looking at what Barrett has identified as "NEW" and "MAJOR UPDATE" to see the latest. Recent visitors found new articles on topics such as "Why Bogus Therapies Often Seem to Work," "Dubious Diagnostic Tests," "Alternative Cancer Treatment Registry" and "Low-Fat Diet: Practical Tips. …

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