NPR Letter


TO:  Blake Farmer, NPR reporter

RE: Military Pokes Holes In Acupuncture Skeptics’ Theory

Dear Blake:

I must protest this article. When I first heard it while driving to work, I was stunned and after a week of thought, I am furious about this blatantly one-sided and bigoted article.

If you had done your homework on pain management, especially back pain, you would realize research now demonstrates that the medical approach of drugs, shots, and surgery are not recommended except for the small percentage of cases that do not respond to conservative care.

As an author myself, I can easily substantiate this belief. The new research now endorses “hands-on” therapy such as chiropractic care, therapeutic massage and acupuncture over anything the medical world has to offer in terms of opioid drugs that have led to this pain pill addiction epidemic, epidural steroid injections that have been shown no more effective than placebo, and spine surgery that are based on the now defunct disc theory. For more insight into the changing paradigm in spine care, logon to .

Unfortunately, you not only failed to mention this changing paradigm, you also failed to interview anyone—a chiropractor like myself, an acupuncturist (not an MD cross-over), or even a licensed therapeutic massage therapist. Instead, you quote a renowned medical bigot, Harriet Hall who has the gall to defame these proven methods.

“‘We call that ‘quack-ademic’ medicine when it gets into medical schools,’ she says. The way she reads the science, acupuncture does no more than a sugar pill. To offer a placebo, she says, is unethical.”


Yet it is not unethical to slander without any proof or without any feedback from the opposition?

I find her statement both offensive and curious. First of all, it is well established that the medical profession considers everything non-medical as quackery, an epithet they use freely to discourage patients from seeking non-drug, non-surgical help. Secondly, it is known that only 85% of medicine is evidenced-based, which means most of medical care is placebo.

CBS Evening News aired a segment, “Attacking Rising Health Costs,” stating 30-40% of surgeries are unnecessary, mainly spinal fusions, angioplasty, hip replacement, and knee replacement.[1] The problem, according to Dr. Elliott Fisher of The Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy, is that patients are not given good information to make an “informed consent” decision as to alternatives and inherent risks of each procedure.

Certainly the inane comments by Hall are aimed to discourage information about alternative healthcare. This is the same medical bigot who objected to the non-discrimination section in Obama care.  Obviously this woman has a serious psychological problem about equality in healthcare and continues to lash out wherever she is given the opportunity.

Blake, is there no longer any sense of fair journalism at NPR?

If a Republican, for instance, were to call a Democrat an unsubstantiated epithet, the Fairness Doctrine and civil journalism would demand an equitable response. Knowing the politics of healthcare, it is obvious to most people that the medical profession has long waged a war against all competitors, using many illegal and unethical methods to defame non-MD professions.

Yet you gave this medical bigot the unfettered opportunity to slander the very healthcare professions that have proven superior to medical care for the majority (not all) of back pain cases specifically.

In the sense of fair journalism, I urge you to follow up with another article that actually addresses this issue of non-drug, non-surgical methods to help in this pain epidemic. You may find that you, like many Americans, have been duped by the likes of Harriet Hall.


JC Smith, MA, DC

Warner Robins, GA.



The medical war continues with another shot across the chiropractic bow.

Just this morning on NPR I heard the above broadcast featuring the military’s use of complementary and alternative healthcare. Of course, chiropractic got short shrift and the emphasis was on acupuncture as the miracle cure.

Excuse me, but in this era of evidence-based healthcare, I daresay there is more proof of chiropractic’s effectiveness than there is for the needles, drugs, shots or surgery. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had acupuncture treatments on myself and have referred patients to the local acupuncturist. My point is we should be at the top of this list rather than mentioned in passing.

Adding salt to this wound was the recent Stephen Barrett replacement, Harriet Hall, the newest medical bigot who stated her typical insults:

But Harriet Hall, a former Air Force flight surgeon, shares the skepticism found in many corners of the medical community.

“We call that ‘quack-ademic’ medicine when it gets into medical schools,” she says.

The way she reads the science, acupuncture does no more than a sugar pill. To offer a placebo, she says, is unethical.


[1] CBS Evening News, “Attacking Rising Health Costs,” June 9, 2006.