Stephen Barrett and Medical McCarthyism

Introduction
Dr. Stephen Barrett is a ubiquitous figure in the world of health and medicine with a unique talent.
A talent, described by Health and Human Services official, Dr. Thomas R. Eng, as a gift for widely
“[influencing] behavior change” via interactive media. Elaborating, Eng states that “[Barrett] tailors
information and interactions to the individual,” adding, “In print media, there is some kind of
vetting. In interactive, anyone or their brother can slap a Web page together.”

One assumes that Barrett, in his efforts and opinions, is authoritative and correct, speaking as a
retired physician / psychiatrist who’s been interviewed on innumerable occasions by CNN, The
New York Times, has testified as an expert before congress, and, in a larger sense, has been
adopted by mainstream media as the “consumer watchdog” du jour within the field of medicine.

Well, alternative medicine, more specifically.

He has authored reports on many of the most accomplished practitioners and experts in the
alternative health movement and in doing so, has generated a fair amount of controversy and mixed
media attention. So much, in fact, that the reports on his site have come to dominate web search
engine results, and in effect, preemptively tainting the reputations of hundreds of legitimate, well
credentialed alternative health practitioners. Upon discovering this, my curiosity was piqued and I
felt compelled to conduct some independent research on the matter, and hopefully, reach a
conclusion as to whether Barrett was, indeed, an expert, or guilty of what Dr. Eng describes as
“medical McCarthyism”.

My focus would be the history and relationship between Barrett and Dr. Gary Null. Null is
arguably the most respected, prolific advocate and high-profile voice in the alternative heath
movement, influencing a massively wide spectrum of people throughout a varied
hostofphilanthropic efforts and causes. The purpose of this paper is to not to bring direct challenge to
Barrett’s work or ideology, but rather to present facts and convey reasoned, journalistic
interrogation into the heart of this debate. To that end, we can look to Null’s extensive work and
research on the negative effects of fluoride, mercury, vaccines, sugar and caffeine, all of which,
Barrett has called in to question. Research will demonstrate that science firmly supports all of
Null’s conclusions and solutions on these topics. Fact checking and research is the cornerstone of
the journalistic process, yet, Barrett and those media outlets who would employ his subjective
opinion as scientific fact, quite simply, have not done their homework here.

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