Website: Quackwatch

Quackwatch logo - duck and word

"Your Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions."
Quackwatch's motto.

Quackwatch is a medical skeptical website owned and operated by retired psychiatrist Stephen Barrett, MD, with the help of volunteer advisors. It specializes in uncovering, debunking and exposing "medicines" and "alternative treatments" of self-styled "practicioners" of "alternative medicine" (or "alt med").

Basically, it's the exact opposite of Natural News.

Its official website is at There are also affiliated sites for some specific "alt meds".

    Affiliated websites 

This is the complete list of affiliated websites (there is a grand total of 25 websites, including Quackwatch itself). First comes the name of and link to the websites (in alphabetical order, except for NCAHF, which comes first because it is the (former and now extinct) parent organization), second the motto of the specific website (if existent) and last the names of those who operate the specific website alongside Dr. Barrett (if existent) and, when applicable, says specifically when Dr. Barrett does not operate a specific website.

  • National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) - "Enhancing Freedom of Choice through Reliable Health Information"
  • Allergy Watch - "Your Guide to Questionable Theories and Practice"
  • Autism Watch - "Your Scientific Guide to Autism"
  • Acunpuncture Watch - "The Skeptical Guide to Acupuncture History, Theories, and Practices"
  • BioethicsWatch - operated by Elizabeth Woeckner (not by Dr. Barrett)
  • Cancer Treatment Watch - "Your Guide to Intelligent Treatment" - operated by Peter Moran, MB, BS, BSc(Med), FRACS
  • Casewatch - "Your Guide to Health-Related Legal Matters" - operated by Robert S. Baratz, M.D, DDS, PhD
  • Chelation Watch - "A Skeptical View of Chelation Therapy"
  • Credential Watch - "Your Guide to Health-Related Education and Training" - operated by William M. London, EdD, MPH
  • Chirobase - "Your Skeptical Guide to Chiropractic History, Theories, and Practices" - operated by Samuel Homola, DC
  • Consumer Health Sourcebook
  • Dental Watch - "Your Guide to Intelligent Dental Care" - operated by Robert Baratz, MD, DDS; and John Dodes, DDS
  • Device Watch - "Your Guide to Questionable Medical Devices"
  • Diet Scam Watch - "Your Guide to Weight-Control Schemes and Ripoffs"
  • Fibromyalgia Watch - "Your Guide to the Fibromyalgia Marketplace"
  • Homeowatch - "Your Skeptical Guide to Homeopathic History, Theories, and Current Practices"
  • Infomercial Watch - "A Critical View of the Health Infomercial Marketplace"
  • Insurance Reform Watch - "Your Guide to An Equitable Health Care System" - operated by John Hammond, PhD
  • Internet Health Pilot - "Your Gateway to Trustworthy Health Information" - operated by Robert S. Baratz, MD, DDS, PhD
  • Mental Health Watch - "Your Guide to the Mental Help Marketplace"
  • MLM Watch - "The Skeptical Guide to Multilevel Marketing"
  • Naturowatch - "The Skeptical Guide to Naturopathic History, Theories, and Practices" - operated by Kimball C. Atwood, IV, MD
  • NCCAM Watch - "An Antidote to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine"
  • Nutriwatch - "Your Guide to Sensible Nutrition" - operated by Manfred Kroger, PhD
  • Pharmwatch - "Your Guide to the Drug Marketplace and Lower Prices"

There is also a newsletter: Consumer Health Pilot, edited by Dr. Barrett with the help of William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H..

Provides examples of

  • Nine out of Ten Doctors Agree: This 1994 ad purports to be based on a poll where 8 out of 10 doctors questioned use antioxidants for their health; the "poll" was actually a study on the letters sent to a trade magazine for doctors, with 8 of 10 letters talking positively of antioxidants.
  • The Nineties: the website has a quintessial nineties look without being ugly or unappealing but being a bit old-fashioned (and thus it violates Haig's Law since neither the site nor the man are crazy) and it was founded in 1996.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: He deals with a lot of these.
  • All There in the Manual: This page contains the instructions to navigate in the website. There are also two FAQ pages.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The Physicians' Committee on Responsible Medicine, which share ideologies with and is suspected of being a Covert Group with Mundane Front for PETA.
  • Artistic License – Awards: A rather strange form of this trope. Linus Pauling was one of the first scientists to ever work on molecular biology and quantum mechanics, having won the 1954 Nobel Prize on Chemistry and a Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his anti-war activism, both of which were unshared. Where this gets strange is when Pauling starts defending "orthomolecular medicine", a.k.a. vitamin C crankery. This is what Dr. Barrett calls the "dark side of Pauling's legacy" and The Skeptic's Dictionary calls it the "Nobel disease".
  • Artistic License – Medicine and Pharmacology: the site's raison d'étre. Called "quackery".
  • Back-Alley Doctor/Phony Degree: Mentioned in their article "Degree Mills"
  • Cool Old Guy: Stephen Barrett, born 1933, has devoted much of his career since the 1970s and in full since 1993 to exposing quackery and medical pseudoscience, also being an award-winning swimmer. (Click here for more.)
  • Conspiracy Theories/Conspiracy Theorist/Consumer Conspiracy: when you search for "Stephen Barrett" (SB) or "Quackwatch", you'll occasionally find either the Quackwatch website or people praising Quackwatch and/or SB, but the majority of those pages tell you that Quackwatch and SB are part of a Big Pharma conspiracy against "alternative medicine" that makes SB superrich... while SB is a destitute man who can't even dress himself nicely. The truth is here. This, of course, along with "information" on quack products "they" don't want you to know about...
  • Con Man (and woman)/Snake Oil Salesman (and woman): "Alt medders", especially those who overpromote themselves, do it for gain or should know better.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Owners of companies envolved in quackery (and yes, this includes some "big pharma" mainstream companies).
  • Corrupt Politician: The congresspeople who defend quackery through law.
  • Evil Inc.: Companies envolved in quackery (i.e. selling quack "medical" and other related products).
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: the long-running Stephen Barrett, M.D. vs. Tedd Koren, D.C. and Koren Publications, Inc. Although it was Dr. Barrett who originally filed the suit for defamation, Koren has dragged it in the court for years. ( Here, here and here is some more on this.)
  • Humans Are Flawed/Troll: Note these Nasty Comments from Quackwatch Visitors and the "Jeers" on the Comments from Quackwatch Visitors. Now compare them to the "Cheers" on the second link. On his FAQ about Quackwatch, Dr. Barrett states that the "Jeers" are what is being sent to him and that the highly negative comments exist because he's challenges these people's beliefs.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: All Quackwatch-affiliated sites have names ending in "-watch" (examples: Acunpuncture Watch, Casewatch, Homeowatch), except three of them (Chirobase, Internet Health Pilot and NCAHF). All have the same basic outlook and logo except BioethicsWatch, which is coincidently the only one of the affiliated sites not to be run or primarily written by Dr. Barrett (it's run by Elizabeth Woeckner, to whom Dr. Barrett makes server space avaliable and lets her site be affiliated with Quackwatch). (See the "Affiliated sites" at the beginning of this page for more examples.) And, of course, all articles show us who their authors are (Dr. Barrett, his volunteers or articles whose original authors allowed the articles to be published on the website).
  • Intrepid Reporter: Stephen Barrett himself (and his volunteers).
  • Insistent Terminology/You Keep Using That Word:
    • His opponents usually say he's "delicensed", which is what happens when a doctor is unethical or grossly incompetent. What he actually is is "active-retired" and the site also states that "No disciplinary actions were found for this license".
    • He uses quotation marks (or Scare Quotes, if you will) when referring to "alt med" practicioners. He does have a point, though - "alt med" is not science nor medicine.
    • And, of course, we have "alt med" practicioners calling their area of "expertise" "alt med", which as already told ad nauseum IS A FUCKING LIE! in the sense that it is not even medicine. (Oh crap, does screaming obvious truths feel so good!)
    • "Alt med" people tend to call Barrett a "quackbuster" or a "quackpot", names he doesn't take very kindly. The funniest thing is that Barrett is a "quackbuster", i.e., busts and debunks quacks, and they are the "quackpots" (call it Psychological projection, if you may).
    • "Alt medders" tend to put themselves in a "cruzade" for "health freedom". More like freedom to con...
  • I Thought It Meant: When anti-quackery activists and "alt medders" talk about "detoxification", they mean "alt med" "treatments" against supposed (non-existent) toxins, not actual treatments for the treatment of alcohol, drugs or tobacco vices. And, of course, Quackwatch is not about watching ducks quacking.
  • Malicious Slander: The same conspiracy theorists who were referred a while ago also have an habit of spreading slanderous "information" about Dr. Barrett and his fellow skeptics, such as they're not actually doctors (they are), that Dr. Barrett was delicensed (he wasn't; he's retired), that he's not an actual expert witness (technically he was indeed declared "not an expert" in a lawsuit on homeopathy he was a witness on, but this is because, in Simple English, a person who claims to be an expert on homeopathy has to be an homeopath, i.e.: a quack; read more here at ScienceBlogs).
  • Ponzi: The targets of MLM Watch.
  • Rogues Gallery: "Alt medders" in general (on the main Quackwatch page, go to the section titled "Nonrecommended Sources of Health Advice", where you have the several "galleries"), but here are some of the more "important" (i.e. insistent on their quest against Barrett and Quackwatch) ones:
  • Science Hero: Stephen Barrett himself (and other anti-quackery activists), since he is teaching people about the realities of "alt med" (and thus making it so desease decreases).
  • Science Is Bad: Averted and outright criticized; if anything, the general feeling of the site is that Science is Good. By the way, Science is Bad is the feeling of the "alt medders".
  • Shown Their Work: Dr. Barrett always cites his sources - except for some older articles which were mainly written for newspapers or magazines and were then republished in Quackwatch.
  • Take That: To the "alt medders".
  • The Other Wiki: here. Also, NCAHF and Dr. Barrett
  • This Is Reality, i.e. science-based medicine, but his opponents don't like hearing that for a tiny little minute.
  • Token Evil Teammate (of Quackwatch and the skeptical movement, or of scientific organizations)/Trojan Horse:
  • Token Good Teammate (of "alt med")/Worthy Opponent: Any form of "alt med" which is scientifically proven to work, i.e., that is actually medicine (of course, if it is medicine, then it's no longer "alt med").
    • Of those things which he still considers forms of "alt med", the Token Good Teammate of "alt med" is chiropractic. He believes it to have a lot of potential, especially in the treatment of acute low back pain on adults, but chiropractors are involved in too many pseudoscientific things and they go themselves beyond what should be their field of competence (back pain).
  • Trademark: Quackwatch (both the word itself the grafic version of word) and the "duck logo" shown in the beginning of this page are "service marks" (basically the services version of the trademark) of Dr. Barrett.
  • Urban Legends: Here, he has some medical urban legends, linked from other sites (including Snopes).
  • Viewers Like You: Here, he states: "Quackwatch operates with minimal expense, funded mainly by small individual donations, commissons [sic] from sales on other sites to which we refer, and profits from the sale of publications. The money supports research, writing, and legal actions that can protect many people from being misled. [...] Quackwatch also receives support when visitors to our site place an order through some of the links listed below." He repeats that Info here.
  • Website Decay: According to the first FAQ (go to "All There in the Manual" in this page), Dr. Barrett originally established the Quackwatch website in order to "provide source material for students and instructors who were using [his] Consumer Health textbook" but then expanded his focus after realizing himself of the potentials of the Internet. Today, the source material is at the Consumer Health Sourcebook website (go to the "Affiliated Sites" folder on the beginning of this page for the links).