Why quacks ought to lie low

Now Andreas Moritz is featured by Orac. If he was concerned because a little criticism from a student got a fair amount of attention from Google, now he has Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence highlighting his quackery.

I hate to give hints to kooks, but really, you should study the Streisand effect. Attempts at legal intimidation, threats to silence web sites, and those kinds of nasty shenanigans to squelch bad publicity always backfire on the internet.

Oh, and WordPress? You still suck.


  1. Pris says

    Teehee. Orac’s post is the number 1 English Google rating.

    Unfortunately, all you get in German is quack sites.

    Maybe I should take up skeptical blogging in German…

  2. DLC says

    these crumbs are getting what they deserve.
    No, they deserve to be flogged in the public square and ridden out of town on a rail. Well, I’ll settle for just having them shown up for the quacks and low-down snake oil salesmen that they are.

  3. sonicboomslang says

    WordPress censoring the blog is the most heinous thing about this whole issue(other than Moritz actually practicing “medicine”). Quacks responding in such a way is not surprising. How can we get wordpress to explain thier act of cowardice? I will have to avoid wordpress blogs from here on out unless they recant somehow (if I find one that I like, I’ll just have to let the blogger know that I can’t read anymore by him/her because of the blogging venue that he/she has chosen).

  4. DavidCT says

    Maloney can’t be a quack, after all he has a license in Maine as an ND (Doctor of Nonsense). It shows the danger of giving these people official recognition. Moritz is just practicing without a license – only real quacks are allowed to do that.

    This slime cannot stand the light of day so bring it on. Many thanks to PZ and Orac!

  5. SQB says

    So, when is For the Sake of Science moving to ScienceBlogs?

    And doesn’t ND simply stand for Not a Doctor?

  6. Beatnikhusker says

    I would like to invite all other pharyngulites to join me in an “Andreas Moritz is a DANGEROUS QUACK” review spamming of Mr. Moritz’s fine work on Amazon.com!

    Please help… I can only write so many 1 star reviews.




    And for the Bi-lingual of you out there… please if you would a spanish review:


  7. kantalope says

    Uber-Quacker….makes it seem like something one would aspire to.

    We should just go with Quacker and hope we never meet Quackest.

    On the bright side: we get to say, “He’s just Quacker…get over it.”

    Everyone should start signing any blog or comment entry with: WordPress You Suck.

    Wordpress You Suck


  8. cervantes says

    Google has buckled to China, but so far they don’t censor blogs elsewhere. They only take them down for illegal content, i.e. child porn. But yes, I admit I’m being pollyanish — deliberately so. In other words the statement was hopeful, not convinced.

  9. cervantes says

    BTW, this is from WordPress’s terms of service — which very obviously were not violated in this case:

    What are the elements of a defamation claim?
    The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are:

    1. a publication to one other than the person defamed;
    2. a false statement of fact;
    3. that is understood as
    * a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and
    * b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff.
    4. If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice.

    Is truth a defense to defamation claims?
    Yes. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. But keep in mind that the truth may be difficult and expensive to prove.

    Can my opinion be defamatory?
    No—but merely labeling a statement as your “opinion” does not make it so. Courts look at whether a reasonable reader or listener could understand the statement as asserting a statement of verifiable fact. (A verifiable fact is one capable of being proven true or false.) This is determined in light of the context of the statement. A few courts have said that statements made in the context of an Internet bulletin board or chat room are highly likely to be opinions or hyperbole, but they do look at the remark in context to see if it’s likely to be seen as a true, even if controversial, opinion (“I really hate George Lucas’ new movie”) rather than an assertion of fact dressed up as an opinion (“It’s my opinion that Trinity is the hacker who broke into the IRS database”).

    What is a statement of verifiable fact?
    A statement of verifiable fact is a statement that conveys a provably false factual assertion, such as someone has committed murder or has cheated on his spouse. To illustrate this point, consider the following excerpt from a court (Vogel v. Felice) considering the alleged defamatory statement that plaintiffs were the top-ranking ‘Dumb Asses’ on defendant’s list of “Top Ten Dumb Asses”:

    A statement that the plaintiff is a “Dumb Ass,” even first among “Dumb Asses,” communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation. It is true that “dumb” by itself can convey the relatively concrete meaning “lacking in intelligence.” Even so, depending on context, it may convey a lack less of objectively assayable mental function than of such imponderable and debatable virtues as judgment or wisdom. Here defendant did not use “dumb” in isolation, but as part of the idiomatic phrase, “dumb ass.” When applied to a whole human being, the term “ass” is a general expression of contempt essentially devoid of factual content. Adding the word “dumb” merely converts “contemptible person” to “contemptible fool.” Plaintiffs were justifiably insulted by this epithet, but they failed entirely to show how it could be found to convey a provable factual proposition. … If the meaning conveyed cannot by its nature be proved false, it cannot support a libel claim.

  10. cervantes says

    Or I should have said, to be more precise, it is linked from the WordPress ToS page as an extended definition of what would constitute defamation and therefore be in violation. (The content is from EFF.)

  11. friendthegirl says

    Considering, as Andreas Mortitz believes, that cancer is caused by one’s negative emotional hang-ups, I wonder if its possible for a genuine sociopath to get cancer.

  12. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnAcwPcaAMqBBU4FBNuGZ_Co6ZljQYy2NY says

    This is Michael Hawkins. Continued apologies for the bad Google name.

    @SQB #11,

    I actually applied just hours before PZ’s first post. I’m not deluded or egotistical enough to think Scienceblogs is about to accept an undergrad very readily, but it certainly can’t hurt to try.

  13. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Right now the top five hits on a Google search for “Andreas Moritz” are:

    #5: Andreas Moritz is a cancer quack post on some blog called Pharyngula

    #4: ‘Andreas Moritz is a cancer quack’ by PZ Myers – Pharyngula on richarddawins.net

    #3: /andreas-moritz-is-a-stupid-dangerous-man/ on WordPress (cached)

    #2: Welcome to Ener-Chi Wellness Center Moritz’s website

    #1: Andreas Moritz and trying to shut down valid scientific criticism: A sine qua non of a quack which is Orac’s “Respectful Insolence” post.

    Seems like Moritz’s attempt to divert online criticism is failing.

  14. Ellie says

    I have sent a message to WordPress, I’m putting it here so people can just copy it for their own use if they wish automattic.com/contact:

    I am writing to complain about your spineless suspension of the blog http://forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com/ following a complaint from Andrea Moritz. This man is a peddler of dangerous anti-science pseudo medicine that advises people with serious diseases such as cancer to avoid taking the medicines that could treat and cure them and spreads disinformation and lies in a manner that can only be either willfully ignorant or malicious.

    It is very important that scientists and medics be able to argue with such people in order to demonstrate the evidence showing their errors and to save lives. With a man like Moritz, whose practice is so very dangerous, this is very far from an exaggeration.

    Scientists and medics base their practice on constant review of the ever changing evidence and on robust discussion. Men such as Moritz are threatened by such practices because they know the lies they peddle cannot stand up to such scrutiny and so they attack the people who dare to criticize them instead.

    The blog in question may well be “harmful to the reputation of the plaintiff” but when the published comments are a matter of verifiable fact and the reputation in question is founded on lies and has vast potential to cause immense harm and even death, I believe WordPress owes it’s bloggers (and the public they are trying to protect) a measure of support in their right to free speech.

    By taking down this blog you have shown yourselves to be cowardly and easily intimidated by those with a dishonest agenda. You have set a dangerous precedent for other peddlers of woo and you have damaged your own reputation amongst bloggers. I know of many people who will now be moving from or boycotting WordPress and I will also be spreading the word of this shameful reaction.

    Freedom of speech is central to the blogging community, do you really want to be known as a platform that restricts it?


  15. One Furious Llama says

    I have a WordPress blog. They have not taken it down. I should perhaps be counting the days…

    Chrisopher Maloney has found my blog and is… well, less than unimpressed with what I had so say.

    I think he’s commenting there because the people here are somewhat more… severe :)

  16. Ichthyic says

    I posted a comment, Llama.

    Llama fact:

    “Llamas don’t bite. They spit when they’re agitated, but that’s mostly at each other.”


  17. davem says

    His Amazing Liver flush book is on google books, almost in its entirety. No need for anyone to buy it. Page 191 is especially revealing – Andreas is apparently, a wizard. Mayb the Amazon reviews should include the whole of page 191?


  18. ekolog says

    I spread the word in Polish. Interesting thing – there is Polish quack (with similar will to intimidate critics) who suggests aloe extract, vegetable oil and grapefruit extract as a cure for leaky gut syndrome. Maloney and Moritz won’t be able to remove all blogs in every language.

  19. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlEIi5v7mzdbIuLNUa6X1N9WcVRwgkpW4c says

    Look folks, I’m on the side of science and atheism, so consider me a nagging gadfly for secular conscience, and consider this one small fact before you continue:

    The blogger said “Maloney is NOT a doctor.”

    Maloney provide Maine’s criteria, a license number and the official Maine department of state job title…

    These two facts, assuming the blogger did not change his post, violate item 2 of the WordPress TOS.

    Now, you can rip Maine a new a$$hole for pandering to Naturopoaths. You can say Maloney is a “Doctor in Maine only” or “Doctor by Job Title, not by degree.” etc. There are many ways to continue the righteous and CORRECT whipping of Maloney’s quack remedies and bad science… all while simply correcting the small “factual” error.

    I think that, along with Maloney, the entity that deserves our derision more than WordPress is the State of Maine for their absurd acceptance and legitimization of Naturopaths as “ahem, Doctors”.

    But hey… Maloney’s just working a tried and true strategy: co-opt a trusted term in order to gain the trust vicariously and undeservedly.

    Apparently the global word police, or licensing board for use of the Term “Doctor” did not write tight enough terminology to guarantee “Dr.” would never be misused. Perhaps contact Linus Torvalds and ask his help in writing an inviolable Open Source Licensing agreement to protect the term from misuse.



  20. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlEIi5v7mzdbIuLNUa6X1N9WcVRwgkpW4c says

    P.S…. It’s the same tactic used by Creationists who are (even as we type) working on having their peers review their hogwash, so that they can publish “peer reviewed science” to prove intelligent design.

    You can’t say it wasn’t “peer reviewed” any more… Look out, George Orwell’s turning in his grave.


  21. Acronym Jim says

    Another case of woo debunking and advocation of personal rights by PZ.

    From crackergate to quackergate, oppressive woo peddlers beware.

  22. Ichthyic says

    These two facts, assuming the blogger did not change his post, violate item 2 of the WordPress TOS.


    just like “Mark” from wordpress, you too failed to actually READ the maine statute regarding said license.

    a licensed naturopath IS NOT ALLOWED to title themselves “Doctor”, full stop, period. They MUST at all times refer to themselves as Naturopathic Doctor, or Doctor of Naturopathy.

    ONLY licensed MD’s are legally entitled to use the single title “doctor”.

    I think that, along with Maloney, the entity that deserves our derision more than WordPress is the State of Maine for their absurd acceptance and legitimization of Naturopaths as “ahem, Doctors”.

    they don’t. READ the FUCKING LAW.

    just because someone gets a damn business license, doesn’t mean there is any state legitimization of said business.

    no more than if I had a contractor’s license and claimed to be an “engineer”.

  23. Ichthyic says

    aww, hell, sorry to be so testy, but seriously, how hard is it?

    I’ll make it even easier, so hopefully we won’t continue with any more confusion about how incredibly WRONG WordPress is in this instance:

    Under Maine Revised Statutes, Title 32, §12521, it states, “A licensee must use the title “naturopathic doctor.” Naturopathic doctors have the exclusive right to the use of the terms “naturopathic doctor,” “naturopathic,” “naturopath,” “doctor of naturopathic medicine,” “doctor of naturopathy,” “naturopathic medicine,” “naturopathic health care,” “naturopathy” and the recognized abbreviation “N.D.” Use of the title “physician” by the licensee is prohibited.”

  24. co says

    This’ll get lost in the noise, I’m sure (is there a more effective place to post it?), but the Legion of Moritz have shown up on Amazon. In the last 24 hours, each of his books has got about 25 new, content-free, 5-star reviews. What’s so maddening is that each is so boilerplate.