There’s a helpful website called Quack Watch. It’s run by Stephen Barrett, M.D and its mission among other things is:
Our Casewatch site contains a large library of legal cases, licensing board actions, government sanctions, and regulatory actions against questionable medical products.
So it’s a great place to find out what snake oil salesmen and their worthless (and sometimes dangerous) products are up to.
Enter in one Doctor’s Data a lab that is beloved by quacks for its willingness to post questionable results and findings that are used to promote all sorts of pseudoscience.
I first saw this pop up on Orac’s blog (and has since spread like wild fire through said blogosphere), Doctor’s Data is suing Quackwatch to shut them up. Yes, they are trying to intimidate Dr. Barrett for calling them out. This time specifically on chelation – a process to remove heavy metals from the body. Chelation gets touted in all kinds of miracles cures. From getting rid of Autism to cancer.
In cases where you have heavy metal poisoning chelation works – otherwise all it removes is money from your wallet.
This is a particularly stupid move on Doctor’s Data part. While this lawsuit will be annoying and a burden for Dr. Barrett, should it actually go to court Doctor’s Data will have to prove the efficacy of their claims. That’s a no-win situation since what Doctor’s Data promotes doesn’t work.
So what’s the end game? To become such a burden on Dr. Barrett and Quackwatch that they’ll be forced to settle out of court. In this manner Doctor’s Data can claim a win.
This same scenario has played out for two years over in the UK with Simon Singh and the British Chiropractic Association who sued Simon for libel after being called out for what they were - pseudo scientific crap. It cost Simon a small fortune, but in the course of it all he waged a massive libel reform campaign that put the BAC under such a spotlight that they dropped the case (since all their methods were being shown as pure bunk!).
So we find ourselves in a similar situation. Dr. Barrett will have to stay the course until Doctor’s Data crumbles… under their own worthless data.
Update: Liz Ditz of the I Speak Of Dreams blog has a fantastic breakdown of the science and story. Worth reading!