On August 1st, The New York Times ran a pseudo-science piece by OB/GYN Jen Gunter, M.D., called, “Worshiping the false idols of wellness.” In it, Dr. Gunter railed against some of the most ridiculous examples of so-called “wellness” you’ve never heard of — such as coffee enemas and earthing mats.
In my 40-year medical career, I’ve never promoted such nonsensical practices.
But Dr. Gunter positioned them, without any evidence, as somehow being the “backbone” of the wellness industry.
Which would be laughable — if it weren’t so terribly damaging…
Now I’m not saying that wellness isn’t an industry. It absolutely is. But coffee enemas certainly aren’t part of its backbone. (I recommend consuming coffee from the other route.)
However, there is an industry that thwarts and even covers up solid science — and a multi-trillion-dollar one at that. And that would be big pharma and its mainstream co-dependents.
Dr. Gunter also trundled out all kinds of whacky “alternative” beliefs to attack — such as bras causing breast cancer and AIDS as a construct of big pharma. She called these theories nonsense.
Well, of course, they’re nonsense! No respected practitioner of natural approaches would ever promote them…
It’s clear she’s using the classic “straw man argument” here — a rhetorical technique where one refutes a ludicrous argument never even posed by the opposing party. Basically, she distorted what alternative health really stands behind, just to make it easy for her to attack and discredit it.
Blatant bias from the grey lady
The failing New York Times calls itself “the paper of record.” And before they desperately resorted to color print, they used to call the paper “the grey lady.” Since 1896, their slogan has been: “All the news that’s fit to print.”
But clearly, more than 120 years later— The New York Times of 2018 is no longer an honest source of news (and not just when it comes to health and medicine).
I used to enjoy reading it on Sundays back in the 1980s. But even then, my late father-in-law, Jack O’Leary (1930-2003), a lifelong “newspaper man,” warned about its bias.
The paper’s clear bias on all fronts has only become immeasurably worse over time — without even a pretense of fairness or objectivity. And sadly, it now extends to their health and medical coverage.
Once upon a time, the paper employed competent medical writers like my colleague Gina Bari Kolata. But all the recent health news seems to be written by hacks. Worse yet, the health correspondents seem to sit squarely in the pockets of big pharma — attacking, ignoring, and misrepresenting the real science that reflects the safety and effectiveness of natural approaches.
In my view, Dr. Gunter doesn’t understand a darn thing about who practices “alternative” medicine, what they do, and the potentially lifesaving results that patients experience.
Expert rebuttal hits the bullseye
The publication’s blatant disregard for reporting the facts was so aggravating that my colleague, Ron Hoffman, M.D., penned an insightful rebuttal one week later entitled, “New York Times columnist gets it wrong again about integrative and complementary medicine.”
Ron is a lifelong New Yorker who typically ignores this kind of nonsense and lets it roll of his shoulders. But not this time…
Specifically, Ron pointed out several logical fallacies and rhetorical tricks Gunter used to ignore the actual science.
Because, as you know, the actual science on “alternative and complementary” medicine continues to accumulate…
Each week, I bring you reports from the front lines of research — published in prestigious journals like the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — which show the efficacy and safety of countless natural approaches.
I thought Ron summed up the Times’ hit job pretty accurately when he said, “Gunter is a tourist in the exotic land of alternative medicine. Or worse yet, she hasn’t even bothered to take the trip; it’s as if she’s stayed at home and casually browsed an Instagram page to form an opinion without so much as setting foot in a foreign destination.”
Twenty years ago, Ron interviewed me on his radio show on WOR-New York, when the first edition of my medical textbook on complementary medicine came out. Back then, the modern scientific evidence for alternative and complementary medicine was still new (although the historic evidence was thousands of years old).
I remember being very impressed with the patients who called into the show — they actually knew more about alternative medicine than their doctors!
But now, more than 20 years later, Gunter still hasn’t caught up. I’d even wager she gets all her information from the junk literature big pharma hands her when they visit her posh office and take her out to meals.
And it’s a real shame…
I should send Gunter (and the entire New York Times staff) a copy of the new, 6th edition of my medical textbook, Fundamentals of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. It has 750 pages and several thousand published scientific references on “alternative and complementary” medicine. In fact, everyone should check it out.
As for me, there’s one publication you know I’ve crossed off my reading list for good…
The New York Times.
P.S. On Thursday, I’ll continue my reporting of another one of The New York Times’ hit jobs. This time, they go on the attack against vitamin D. Stay tuned.
“Worshiping the False Idols of Wellness,” The New York Times (nytimes.com) 8/1/2018
“New York Times columnist gets it wrong again about integrative and complementary medicine,” Intelligent Medicine (drhoffman.com) 8/9/2018