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Dr Stephen Barrett
board chairman of Quackwatch, and co-founder and vice president of the National Council Against Health Fraud


I cannot say that I thought of myself as taking up science. Science was included in my public educational programme, in elementary and junior high school. To get the best education, I applied to the best high school in New York City, which was the Bronx High School of Science. I then took its standard program.

I liked the science courses – mathematics, physics and chemistry – much better than the non-science courses, and decided to go in that direction in college. My high-school principal advised that no matter what branch of science I wanted to pursue, having a medical degree would open a lot of doors. So I took his advice. Up to this point, I had done little or no deep thinking about the nature of science, or what I would do for a career. I simply did what my cultural group expected of me, and what people whom I trusted advised.

My appreciation of medical science probably began when I took a college course in medical statistics, and learned what makes the difference between scientific thought and poor reasoning. Medical school brought me in touch with the rapid and amazing strides being made in the understanding and treatment of disease. My anti-quackery activities have intensified my interest and concern in distinguishing science from pseudoscience, quackery and fraud.

Stephen Barrett is coauthor of Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.