Cancer quackery is about as low as you can go. Telling people you can cure cancer with baking powder and vitamin C is irresponsible, unethical and lethal. But these are staple claims of the Naturopathic health care trade. In the UK, naturopathy is not a prominent mode of alternative medicine, but in the United States, students can spend tens of thousands of dollars being told they are getting meaningful medical qualifications in naturopathic medicine that are somehow equivalent to a real medical training.
Britt Hermes has been exposing this exploitative trade for a number of years now. She knows about it because she has been through it. Her own story is that she invested years of her life, and lots of money, training to be a naturopath under the impression that this was a legitimate form of medicine. Her sudden epiphany came when she discovered her employer at a naturopathic clinic was importing banned quack cancer treatments. Britt realised that naturopathy was ‘ a system of indoctrination based on discredited ideas about health and medicine, full of pseudoscientific rhetoric and loaded with ineffective and dangerous practices”.
She had wasted her money and spent years learning useless and dangerous practices. But Britt is a strong character – she devoted herself to embarking on a life of science (she is now studying for a PhD in Kiel, Germany) and to doing her best to expose the naturopathic community for what it is – blatant, dangerous quackery.
She has been criticising the Universities on her blog that offer naturopathic medical qualifications along with the treatments they treat. Britt is using the tools of evidence based medicine to challenge the claims being made and to make people re-think their casual acceptance of these ‘natural alternatives’. Her honesty and bravery have been moving and she has been recognised in the UK for her indefatigability with an Okham Award.
This has caused near panic in the paranoid and deluded world of naturopathic medicine. She has been targeted, threatened and attacked. Web sites have been set up to try to discredit her. Bastyr University, her alma mater, sent her a cease and desist letter. And now, cancer naturopath, Colleen Huber, has actually issued a misconceived and illiberal libel claim against her in Germany.
Libel claims are almost always designed to silence and intimidate. They are used to punish and harass. Huber cannot be allowed to get away with such legal thuggery and so the Australian Skeptics Society have set up a legal defense fund to help Britt fight this awful action. Britt has representation, but this will be costly. I urge you to donate. If every reader offered the price of a few Friday night drinks, Britt will have no worries. Give more if you can. Defending such actions is vital as it shows quacks they cannot resort to legal actions without significant costs to themselves. Patient lives depend on active and vocal criticism of alternative medicine – this action is designed to stop that.
I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of misconceived libel actions. Not only is it costly, but it also saps time and energy. My libel experience is still ongoing with last-gasp attempts to appeal still going through the courts nearly three years after trial. It is demoralising and destructive. Britt deserves full support and recognition here. Good luck Britt and we are with you.