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The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America (Consumer Health Library) Hardcover – 19 Oct 1993

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The "Health Robbers", featuring over twenty highly respected authorities, explains the dangers of quack medicine, "alternative" cancer remedies, health fads, and "miracle diets." It argues for stronger laws and more vigorous policing of the marketplace. The essays answer such questions as: Are "organic" foods worth their extra cost? Can acupuncture cure anything? Can diet cure arthritis? Will spinal adjustments help my health? Will amino acids "pump up" my muscles? The answers to some of these questions should seem obvious, but the details in this volume, written in an informative, highly readable and easy-to-understand style, will astound you. Quackery is often harmful because it turns ill people away from legitimate and trusted therapeutic procedures. However, its heaviest toll is the financial loss, not only of those who pay directly, but to everyone who pays for bogus treatments through taxes, insurance premiums, and other ways that are less obvious.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Science is just another word for ... the study of nature. 24 Feb. 2008
By Gregory E. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Look, you don't have to be a medical export, or a scientist, to understand what science is. Science is nothing more than the study of nature!

Scientific method: Experiment. Observe. Eliminate as many variables that may affect the results as possible. Study ALL results, expected and non-expected. Share ALL results with peers, who challenge your results by conducting independent experiments and observations to verify. Hypothesize based on the FULL body of verified results. Repeat.

Scientific method has yielded an astounding bounty of discoveries in the short amount of time since it has started to be widely practiced.

True modern medicine is just applying scientific method to the act of healing people. This method has enabled human life to overcome and endure many diseases on a scale unimagined just 175 years ago, when medicine was largely a hunch-based-on-anecdotes practice.

Are there bad practices and practitioners in modern medicine? Of course there are, as there are in any human endeavor, especially when so much money is at stake. But science and the foundations of modern medicine are not to blame for this. Modern medicine is there to serve you -- you just need to steer clear of bad practice and practitioners as best you can.

Turning to those who have abandoned science, never embraced it in the first place, and/or found they could make a lucrative living by taking a stand against it, is an enourmous gamble. Pointless at best, it is possibly harmful to your health, especially if you have a genuine health concern that is not self-healing and that requires truly effective therapies to provide a better outcome.

People can fool us into feeling things or believing things that have been repeatedly scientifically debunked. Sadly, nobody is better at fooling us then ourselves. That is the nature of self-awareness; we are no longer unbiased observers, especially when it comes to our own selves, which is why pseudo-science thrives in the alternative "health and well-being" industry. But, to paraphrase Richard Feynman, "nature cannot be fooled".

Read this book for a very educational look into the nature of the deceptions that accompany most alternative therapies. You may not believe it now, but this knowledge WILL bring you closer to nature, which is, by the way, just another word for reality.
35 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A Superlative Expose on Quackery in Alternative Medicine 8 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. It taught me much about why and how different types of scams are perpetrated by different types of alternative medicine huxters. It was very objectively written, with opinions that were backed up with excellent references. A great book to survey all forms of health quackery currently being hawked to the public.
35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
No one loves charlatans, except their customers 6 Jun. 2001
By The Sanity Inspector - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell the truth." That quote by H. L. Mencken accounts for much of the negative reaction to this fine compilation of medical quackery. The information in it has aged well; only some of the sales and marketing trends data have begun to go out of date.
It's a depressing tale, reading how quacks prey upon the ignorant. Desperate people are not skeptical people, so the svengalis adroitly use auto-suggestion, nature taking its course, and sheer chance to bolster their claims of wonder-working. A little appeal to paranoia helps, too: "The big bad meanie drug companies don't *want* you to have this _special_ treatment!"
The durability of quack remedies is well illustrated in the treatment here of chiropractic. The physiological basis for the central claim of chiropractic, "subluxation", has been debunked time and again. But facts are no match for marketing. "Chiropractic WORKS! Chiropractic WORKS! It WORKS! It WORKS! It WORKS!" is dinned into the public in response to criticism. And its popularity is higher than ever now.
What's extra-bemusing is how all these backwoods remedies and crank therapies have not only come into vogue in recent decades, but that they have acquired cachet. Things like herbalism, chiropractic, magnetotherapy, and such are now yuppie lifestyle accessories, even being pitched by famous author-physicians on public televsion. Author Stephen Barrett has a very good website about medical quackery, but given the credulity and scientific ignorance of the general public, his is quite an uphill battle. Sound medical advice, with its inevitable grey areas, equivocations, and responsible aversion to blanket generalizations, is frequently outshone by the upbeat flummery and soothing lies of the quack. But, if the reader is prepared to think critically about the allure of the quasi-medical fads popular today, this book is as good a nonsense detector as there is available today.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Negative reviews are personal attacks 29 Sept. 2014
By TheBanshee - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I had to laugh at the review by a presumed physician who said that chiropractors knew his job better than he did. If I were you, Doctor Adams, I wouldn't advertise that. But if Dr. Adams had bothered to read the book (something I doubt most of the negative reviewers did), he would have seen that Barrett said explicitly that he did not want to imply that all chiropractors were quacks, or that chiropractors didn't help people. What exactly did Dr. Adams want Dr.Barrett to say? The fact remains that some chiropractors make absurd claims about chiropractic's ability to cure a vast number of diseases, and he talks about successful lawsuits filed against chiropractors whose incompetence lead to the death of patients who trusted them to cure them of things like cancer.
Barrett's stance is reasonable. And where are the studies proving that chiropractic cures any disease?
Barrett is something of a polarizing figure, but I find him a lot more trustworthy than I do the people bashing him. My experience with Reiki, energy healing, shiatsu, polarity therapy and accupuncture line up with Barrett and company's assessment of them: it's nice to have another person paying special attention to you, and I may feel better for a very brief while afterwards, but these methods don't cure a damned thing.
I wish the book were a little more up-to-date, but I can't have everything. Anyway, I recommend this book for patients, or potential patients who don't want to be sold a bill of goods at extremely inflated prices. Use your common sense.
44 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Read this and help stop the insanity 25 July 2000
By John Marsilia - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a needed antidote to the thousands of hucksters who are fleecing the American public. Giving hope to people in trouble is commendable, but knowingly spreading false cures and making millions off the gullible is reprehensible. I urge you to read this so that you or anyone you love may not be taken by the frauds and fakes in the irrational alternative medicine movement.
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