Why does The Huffington Post let Dana Ullman write for them?
For the uninitiated, Dana Ullman is the self-described “Evidence Based Homeopath” (which I think is the literal definition of an oxymoron) who attempts to promote the benefits of homeopathy to cure all sorts of ailments. None with any actual evidence to support his claims, mind you. The only medical condition homeopathy ever cured anyone of was dehydration.
I’ve actually tangled with Dana before, so much so that he’s blocked me on twitter (his handle is @homeopathicdana). I assure you I’ve not engaged in any harassment or other behavior that violates Twitter’s terms of service, but the nearly constant calling of Dana’s bullshit must have finally gotten to him.
That was the last I’d heard of Dana until recently. I stumbled upon a few articles he wrote for The Huffington Post. How might you ask? Well I’m writing a post about the new “Pseudoskeptic” movement. More on that to follow, but essentially the pseudoskeptics (or rather the true skeptics in their minds) wish to point out that we skeptics (we who dismiss the claims of homeopathy, among other claims) are not true skeptics. Needless to say these people have become a champion of sorts for Mr. Ullman’s cause.
How it came about is this: while reading some pseudoskeptic blogs I found a post complaining about the bias found in Wikipedia. That post provided a link to an article written by Dana entitled Dysfunction at Wikipedia on Homeopathic Medicine. I’ll summarize the post as best as I can: Homeopathy works, Dana claims, and there is ample evidence to prove it, yet the editors of Wikipedia are suppressing it. There’s more to it but this is the gist. He has about five or so other blog posts, most of which from 2014, but one from April of 2016 entitled When Getting Arrested for Practicing Medicine without a License is a Good Thing.
What I can’t understand, and why I decided to write this quick post, is why the hell The Huffington Post, a legitimate news organization, give Dana a voice? Because, let’s be clear: homeopathy doesn’t work. Not only have centuries, literally two centuries of research shown absolutely no evidence beyond a placebo effect, but it can’t work, at least not with our current understanding of physics. If homeopathy were to be shown to work tomorrow, a lot of physics and medical textbooks would need to be rewritten. And they should, if it works. But, as of yet, there’s no evidence.
That’s not the point. The point is that Dana Ullman is not a credible source to speak on the merits of Homeopathy. Even if there were any merits, Ullman is not a dispassionate evaluator of the medical benefits of homeopathy. He is a zealot, and an anti-science zealot at that.
I will let the words of Judge Bryan F. Foster when he wrote his decision in the case of Rosendez v. Green Pharmaceuticals, a case for which Ullman served as an “expert” witness:
The Defendant presented the testimony of Gregory Dana Ullman who is a homeopathic practitioner. He outlined the theory of homeopathic treatment and presented his opinion as to the value and effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. The Court found Mr. Ullman’s testimony to be not credible. Mr. Ullman’s bias in favor of homeopathy and against conventional medicine was readily apparent from his testimony. He admitted that he was not an impartial expert but rather is a passionate advocate of homeopathy. He posted on Twitter that he views conventional medicine as witchcraft. He opined that conventional medical science cannot be trusted.
Mr. Ullman’s credibility was undermined by his admission that he advocated the use of a radionics machine, whereby a physician puts a picture of his patient on one side, and a few medicines on the other side, and then sees which of the medicines the needle points toward. He relied on his personal experience with a radionics machine.
Mr. Ullman’s testimony was unhelpful in understanding the purported efficacy of the ingredients of SnoreStop to reduce the symptoms of snoring. Although he is familiar with the theory of homeopathic treatment, his opinions regarding its effectiveness was unsupported and biased. The Court gave no weight to his testimony.
This is not a strawman fallacy. He said these things in open court, under oath. There is a record. This is not an Ad Hominem fallacy, as these statements pertain directly to his credibility as an “Evidence Based” advocate for Homeopathy.
What this is, simply put, is one of many reasons why The Huffington Post, or any other legitimate organization, shouldn’t give Dana Ullman a pedestal. He’s a quack, and a dangerous one at that.