[lbo-talk] Doug Henwood's Critique of Gary Null

mitchelcohen at mindspring.com mitchelcohen at mindspring.com
Wed Mar 17 16:26:47 PST 2004

Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote about Gary Null:

>They still using that quack? The egomaniac who threatened to sue Pacifica because he was cut back from five days a week to four - even though WBAI made him rich & famous? Who got his PhD from a mail-order institution with a diss supervised by a geologist on the specific gravity of urine? Who claims he makes no money on books he earned over $1 million for? There's a sucker born every minute indeed.<

Doug, If you are going by Barrett's this 1999 essay as your source, it is very sad commentary on the level of medical critique.

Although I am critical of Gary Null in a number of areas, Barrett's statement is devious and, in fact, it exemplifies all that is wrong with the medical establishment that Gary critiques. http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/null.html

For instance, let's look at one section from the Quackbusters website (which you didn't post). Barrett writes:

> He [Null] promotes hundreds of ideas that are inaccurate, unscientific, and/or unproven. He has spoken out against fluoridation, immunization, food irradiation, mercury-amalgam fillings, and many forms of proven medical treatment. <

Aluminum Fluoride and other compounds were waste products of the aluminum industry in the 1940s and 1950s that they didn't know where to dump. If you read the original "studies," they literally invented the fluoride/tooth decay model out of thin air. See, for instance, a great article 10 years ago in Covert Action on this, among a number of others.

Immunization -- this is a hot topic, but there is growing evidence of the dangers of immunization, both in terms of impurities that may have played a role in all sorts of immune compromising diseases, autism, and so forth. Until very recently, vaccines were manufactured using mercury, among other compounds, let alone the fragments of DNA and viruses from other species. If you look at the rationalization for some of the vaccines, even by their own standards there is no medical justification for them, only an economic one. The medical community itself wisely rejected the involuntary smallpox vaccinations proposed by the Dept. of Homeland Security. This was a big debate in the Bush cabinet. With Clinton/Gore, they would have imposed forced vaccinations on everyone. Here is at least one area in which Bush and the rightwing were notably better than the Democrats.

Food Irradiation -- I don't know what studies Barrett relies on, since he doesn't cite ANY (just makes wild claims), but Radioactive Cesium, used in the original food irradiation models, is a byproduct in the production of nuclear weapons, which they could not dispose of easily in any other way. The same is true of the most recent proposed methods. Instead of attacking the mass use of pesticides, genetic engineering of crops, antibiotics in fertilizer and monocropping which leads to waves of diseased crops -- which food irradiation is supposed to then "correct" -- the onus is placed on the consumer. Food Irradiation changes the molecular composition of foods as well.

Mercury-Amalagam fillings -- This is now a proven danger to human health. I don't know why Barrett thinks that Null is off base here, or in the other areas he outlines.

Thus far, although Barrett writes, "He [Null] promotes hundreds of ideas that are inaccurate, unscientific, and/or unproven. He has spoken out against fluoridation, immunization, food irradiation, mercury-amalgam fillings, and many forms of proven medical treatment," there is nothing inaccurate, unscientific, and/or unproven in any of the above positions Gary Null has taken, and Barrett gives no evidence (other than his assertion) of what his claims are based on. He doesn't list the "many forms of proven medical treatment" that he says Gary Null has spoken out against. But if Barrett's assertions on fluoridation, immunization, food irradiation, and mercury-amalgam fillings are examples of what he means by "proven medical treatment," he is dead wrong, and other conclusions that he draws should be scrutinized extremely carefully, certainly not taken as fact.

Barrett goes on:

>His series on "The Politics of Cancer," which was published in Penthouse magazine in 1979 and 1980, promoted unproven methods that he said were being "suppressed" by the medical establishment.<

Why doesn't Barrett list the methods that he believes are unproven? If we jump to his later suggestions, Barrett includes chiropracty in that category. (I wonder what he thinks of acupuncture, Vitamin C drips, garlic, the elimination of pesticides/hormones/antibiotics in meats, and so forth. We learn a little later in his article what he thinks of Revici's methods for decreasing the acidity of one's blood and increasing the alkaline content, which is a crucial co-factor in making the body inhospitable to the generation and spread of cancerous tumors. Barrett stamps the word "Unproven" on it, as if that is a curse, when the medical establishment has no interest in studying a more holistic approach to cancer, and to why people are getting sick to begin with! Gary's Politics of Cancer articles were pathbreaking, and while one could argue with this or that proposition in them, they are serious contributions to understanding what's happening in this country with regard to cancer and other diseases.

> His lengthy series, "Medical Genocide," began appearing in Penthouse in 1985 with an article calling our medical care system a "prescription for disaster." Other articles in the series have promoted chiropractic and homeopathy, <

horror of horrors!

>claimed that effective nutritional methods for treating AIDS were being suppressed, < they certainly were ...

>claimed that chelation therapy was safe and effective for treating heart disease,< Along with EECP, the once experimental procedure for forcing the development of new blood vessels to NATURALLY bypass blocked arteries, chelation therapy is indeed becoming increasingly accepted as effective treatment of heart disease.

> recommended nutritional approaches for arthritis, Yes, what are they? Certain kinds of yams, of knowledge adapted from ancient cultures, are effective in treating arthritis. The fact that Barrett mocks this without even listing what they are is revealing as to his real agenda.

>and endorsed several treatments for cancer that the American Cancer Society recommends against. Such as? Let's hear from Barrett what these are, so that we can check out the studies for ourselves. But he doesn't do that, does he?

> His Web site, now sponsored by The Vitamin Shoppe, contains a huge amount of misinformation. Such as? Please give examples.

After reading just that one paragraph, I am extremely skeptical about anything else this "researcher" has to say. We do know that Barrett, from Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania, claims to be a retired psychiatrist -- he gave up his medical license in 1993 (although he still records an M.D. after his name on his website) and has taken on the role of a self-proclaimed "QuackBuster".

However, recent court decisions have ruled against Barrett and challenge Barrett's credentials.

Barrett claimed to be an expert on homeopathy, denouncing it (as he does in his blast at Gary Null). Now, I'm not one to normally take judicial statements on face value without further investigation, but since he poses as such an expert in his diatribes against Gary Null -- diatribes that Doug Henwood seems to agree with -- let's look at what one judge wrote:

"As an expert on FDA regulation of homeopathic drugs, the Court finds that Dr. Barrett lacks sufficient qualifications in this area. Expertise in FDA regulation suggests a knowledge of how the agency enforces federal statutes and the agency's own regulations. Dr. Barrett's purported legal and regulatory knowledge is not apparent. He is not a lawyer, although he claims he attended several semesters of correspondence law school. While Dr. Barrett appears to have had several past conversations with FDA representatives, these appear to have been sporadic, mainly at his own instigation, and principally for the purpose of gathering information for his various articles and Internet web-sites. He has never testified before any governmental panel or agency on issues relating to FDA regulation of drugs. Presumably his professional continuing education experiences are outdated given that he has not had a current medical licence [sic] in over seven years. For these reasons, there is no sound basis on which to consider Dr. Barrett qualified as an expert on the issues he was offered to address. Moreover, there was no real focus to his testimony with respect to any of the issues in this case associated with Defendants' products."

Keep reading, Doug:

"C. Credibility of Plaintiff's experts

"Furthermore, the Court finds that both Dr. Sampson and Dr. Barrett are biased heavily in favor of the Plaintiff and thus the weight to be accorded their testimony is slight in any event. Both are long-time board members of the Plaintiff; Dr. Barrett has served as its Chairman. Both participated in an application to the U.S. FDA during the early 1990s designed to restrict the sale of most homeopathic drugs. Dr. Sampson's university course presents what is effectively a one-sided, critical view of alternative medicine. Dr. Barrett's heavy activities in lecturing and writing about alternative medicine similarly are focused on the eradication of the practices about which he opines. Both witnesses' fees, as Dr. Barrett testified, are paid from a fund established by Plaintiff NCAHF from the proceeds of suits such as the case at bar. Based on this fact alone, the Court may infer that Dr. Barrett and Sampson are more likely to receive fees for testifying on behalf of NCAHF in future cases if the Plaintiff prevails in the instant action and thereby wins funds to enrich the litigation fund described by Dr. Barrett. It is apparent, therefore, that both men have a direct, personal financial interest in the outcome of this litigation. Based on all of these factors, Dr. Sampson and Dr. Barrett can be described as zealous advocates of the Plaintiff's position, and therefore not neutral or dispassionate witnesses or experts. In light of these affiliations and their orientation, it can fairly be said that Drs. Barrett and Sampson are themselves the client, and therefore their testimony should be accorded little, if any, credibility on that basis as well."

There's more, from a different situation:

Darlene Sherrell ( http://www.rvi.net/~fluoride ) has a web site dedicated to fighting Fluoride Poisoning. She has been under attack by Stephen Barrett for some time. She fought back and attacked Barrett. Barrett filed a libel lawsuit against her. He's threatened many people with defamation of character lawsuits but this was the first time it has gotten to court.

Here is the background, from the Health Freedom Law web site (www.healthfreedomlaw.com):

In the summer of 1998, Darlene Sherrell, challenged Barrett to come forward to name a study demonstrating the safety of current fluoride levels in drinking water and the effect excessive daily intake of fluoride as a possible cause to chronic fluoride poisoning. At the time, in response to Sherrell's challenge Barrett was "careful to state that he is and was aware of hundreds of studies pertaining to the safety of fluoridation of drinking water..." However, "...He did not testify that any study demonstrates the safety of current fluoridation levels..." Barrett had rebuked Sherrell's continuous challenges and sent a message to her stating that she (Sherrell) was "delusional."

Long story short, Barrett's lawsuit against Sherrell was dismissed. Barrett who claims to be backed by the FDA, FTC, DHHS, NCI, HIH, AMA, and ADA showed up with one witness and his own lame testimony. Barrett claimed to have hundreds of studies, but couldn't produce one.

Next, Barrett attacked Dr Hulda Clark. Barrett lost his case against her too!

Because there are laws against filing frivolous lawsuits and Barrett is just beginning to feel the backlash of his programmed stupidity. He's been slapped left and right with lawsuits for filing frivolous lawsuits, and it is estimated that he now owes somewhere close to half a million dollars.

And now that he's been losing in court, people are starting to return the favor and sue HIM. Century Press recently filed a $10 Million lawsuit against him (Hulda Clark's publishing company).

After years of threatening everyone and everything with lawsuits, Barrett is on the losing end of every single one of them. This being the case, he dropped his lawsuit against Dr Joseph Mercola, who runs one of the best alternative medicine websites: <http://www.mercola.com/> and who has been very helpful to those of us fighting against the mass spraying of toxic pesticides in New York City to, ostensiby, kill mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile Virus while poisoning the urban population and the environment (such as it is in NYC).

Finally, we come to Barrett's claims about Gary Null's dissertation and schooling. Since I do not believe anything that Barrett says based on his history of false accusations and unsupported claims, I am disturbed that Doug Henwood and others rely on Barrett as their primary source. I would hope that folks making accusations against someone -- Doug Henwood called Gary Null a "quack", among other things -- would document their claims, especially when we are talking about figures who are battling against the medical establishment and pharmaceutical juggernaut.

My two cents ....

Mitchel Cohen

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list