Email about Whitcomb, and The Truth about Dr. Barrett

Picture courtesy of the Oxford Illustrated Science Encyclopedia

As specified in my
About The ICIE page, in the
Email republication policy section, the policy across The ICI Experience sites and blog is to reproduce any critical emails sent to any email address associated with me or this site, and also to reproduce any critical discussion of me or my activities which I see or become aware of on any outlets in any form of media.

The following email doesn't come across directly as all that critical of me, but it does insinuate that I have not bothered to research Dr. Barrett's reputation before throwing my lot in with him. And it quite blatantly suggests that Dr. Barrett is himself a quack.

The following is a copy of the email, and my answer.

On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 10:38 PM, Janis & Fred <janis_at cox dot net> wrote:

Hello Sherrill,

I was reading your blog. I wanted to know where the chiropractor Whitcomb is located as his name rings a bell from my support group and I know nothing about him. One thing I did recently learn though about Quack Watch and Stephen Barrett is that it seems he may be the quack. Have you ever done a Google search on Stephen Barrett? Apparaently he never practiced medicine and is an old bitter man involved in many shanghais. He could not pass the certification exam and has lots of bad press himself so makes him much less credible. He also attacks all forms of alternative medicine and treatments.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks. Janis

Hi Janis,

Whitcomb is located in South Lake Tahoe, CA, but he travels all over the country gathering "marks" with FM to come to his center for weeks at a time for excessive (6 to 8 times) daily chiropractic treatments. All you have to do is a Google search on him to see all of his good press and his website address... ? I wonder why you haven't done that. I don't include a link on my blog to Whitcomb's site or to his book because I don't want to take the chance of anyone skimming my blog and clicking to Whitcomb's holdings, thinking that I support them in any way.

RE: Dr. Barrett, I answered concerns rather eerily similar to yours on my blog post Blogging Humor (I can't for the life of me figure out why this person had to
put this comment (with the totally unsubstantiated "public record" quotes) on my funny t-shirt picture???). Here is a copy of that comment and my reply:

Fibromyalgia Advocate said...

Out of curiosity I'd like to ask what are Dr. Barrett's credentials? As an advocate for Fibromyalgia and other illnesses, I like to research in order to help the millions who suffer. I've googled him and was wondering if you have researched his background too? Apparently he's been in several court cases and the judge did not show him in favor for each case. Try looking him up by googling: Dr. Barrett, Court Case - and you'll see what I mean. There are quite a few links that are disturbing. If you are looking to him to help you, then maybe you better think again. Just from what I've read, he will not benefit you in the long run because of his prior court cases as well as his credibility. As we all know time is a valuable commodity and once it's spent , our time cannot be reversed. Just something to think about as you pursue this.
Here is something that I found on public record by googling:
At trial, under a heated cross-examination by Negrete, Barrett conceded that he was not a Medical Board Certified psychiatrist because he had failed the certification exam.

This was a major revelation since Barrett had provided supposed expert testimony as a psychiatrist and had testified in numerous court cases. Barrett also had said that he was a legal expert even though he had no formal legal training.

The most damning testimony before the jury, under the intense cross-examination by Negrete, was that Barrett had filed similar defamation lawsuits against almost 40 people across the country within the past few years and had not won one single one at trial.
It looks as if there are a lot of people in the United States who already know him by first hand experience. I thought this would be of great interest to you since you are dedicating your time and effort.

May 22, 2008 10:56 AM

Sherril said...

FM Advocate: When I google Barrett and look at the big picture I see that quite a few of those he has quack-busted have filed law suits against him in retaliation, trying to discredit him, but none of them have succeeded. On first glance, the main objective site (not produced by one side or the other) I see about Barrett is on Wikipedia. I'll go with what they say until I find a better source, or a source that adds something credible to the discussion.

Wikipedia's official policies and guidelines can be summarized as five pillars that define the character of the project:

The first pillar:

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia incorporating elements of general encyclopedias, specialized encyclopedias, and almanacs. All articles must follow our no original research policy, and strive for verifiable accuracy: unreferenced material may be removed, so please provide references. Wikipedia is not the place to insert personal opinions, experiences, or arguments. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, or a web directory. It is not a newspaper or a collection of source documents; these kinds of content should be contributed to the Wikimedia sister projects.

You get the idea. Verifiable; accurate; references.

One last point, FM Advocate - why are you writing anonymously? The only thing I can tell about you is that you joined Blogger in May of 2008. If you are so into "researching to help the millions" then where's your stuff? Or did you just join and leave this comment in order to try to confuse the issues about Whitcomb? And to suggest to me that I am wasting my time with Dr. Barrett? Please. Do you work for Whitcomb? That wouldn't surprise me at all. I've only been receiving anonymous comments since I started writing about Whitcomb. And I've also received some general name calling on the Amazon site for discussion of Whitcomb's book, and my first hate mail suggesting (twice) that I walk into oncoming traffic. Way to reasonably argue the point. That was the very first comment I ever rejected.

I am rather undecided about what to do about anonymous commenters. One of my other Skepticism heroes, Peter Bowditch of The Millennium Project,, has these things to say about anonymous comments and/or complaints:

"Anonymous complaints are ridiculed, laughed at, mocked and ignored. Complaints from real people are read, filed, published on this site and ignored unless evidence is offered of inaccuracy in something appearing on the site.

"…The only people who would be expected to complain about the contents of this site are those whose beliefs or practices are criticised or exposed by the information here.

"… whatever they have to say is worthless, because they do not even believe in it enough themselves to put their names to it. … because it is impossible to reply to the messages, they show that they are frightened of engaging in debate. Because of this, I will periodically declare a moratorium on receiving anonymous mail. Messages coming from email addresses which do not allow a reply or which do not originate at a traceable IP address may be deleted unread. This doesn't mean that people cannot write from Hotmail, for example, but only applies to anomymiser services. I get sick of wasting my time on lying cowards who are ashamed of what they have to say. When the filter is on, they can talk to someone else, because I'm not listening."

FM Advocate, I think that If you were really interested in helping people with Fibromyalgia, you would work to keep wolves like Whitcomb from preying upon them.

May 23, 2008 2:27 AM

Anyway Janis, that was probably way more information than you asked for - I am passionate about helping to put the "other side" of the Whitcomb story out there and once I get started I tend to go on until I am quite finished. I am a proponent of evidence based practice
. I want to see the proof. In traditional medicine as well as in alternative medicine.

RE: Dr. Barrett's credibility: He and his website, Quackwatch, are quite highly regarded in every reputable source I have come across.

Thank you for writing.


German Philosopher Schopenhaur once said,"All Truth goes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is vehemently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

In relentless pursuit of The Truth.

Here is another reputable link that I've found on Dr. Barrett, from Time magazine: "The Man Who Loves to Bust Quacks".

I would also like to add that anyone who has the audacity to say anything about Dr. Barrett like "Apparaently he never practiced medicine and is an old bitter man involved in many shanghais" should first disprove each of these items listed on his curriculum vitae first:

Professional Experience

  • Chief, Psychiatric Service, Scott Air Force Base Hospital, Illinois, 8/61-7/63
  • Psychiatrist, San Francisco Juvenile Court, 7/63-8/67
  • Psychiatrist, San Francisco Child Psychiatry Clinic, 7/63-1/66
  • Private practice of psychiatry, 8/63-12/93
  • Consultant, San Francisco Department of Welfare, 8/64-7/65
  • Consultant, school nurses, San Francisco Public Health Department, 8/65-12/65
  • Consultant, Parks Job Corps Camp, 12/65-1/66
  • Psychiatrist, Center For Special Problems, 2/66-8/67
  • Consultant, San Francisco Adult Probation Department, 8/66-8/67
  • Staff Psychiatrist, Allentown State Hospital, 9/67-7/77
  • Consultant, Pa. Board of Probation and Parole (research project), 11/67-2/69
  • Consultant, Lehigh Valley Mental Health Association, 12/67-2/69
  • Consultant, Lutheran Children's Home, 2/68-6/72
  • Psychiatrist, Allentown Hospital Psychiatric Clinic, 4/68-6/90
  • Consultant, Pastoral Institute of the Lehigh Valley, 11/68-1/71
  • Consultant, Allentown Counseling Center for Alcoholism, 6/69-6/72
  • Consultant, Lehigh University Centennial School, 1/70-3/77
  • Psychiatrist, Muhlenberg Medical Center Psychiatric Clinic, 6/71-6/86
  • Medical Director, Haven House (partial hospitalization program), 8/76-6/87
  • Consultant, Allentown Police Department (evaluation of police candidates), 8/80-3/85
  • Medical Director, NewVitae Partial Hospitalization Program, 8/90-3/91

Dr. Stephen Barrett

Note: Since I wrote the answering comment to FM Advocate above, I have decided on an Anonymous Comment Policy. It is now posted on my About The ICIE page, and this is what it says:

Anonymous Comments

Although I am frequently annoyed by complaints that are posted anonymously, I respect the
right to anonymous speech presumptively protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution . (See “Is anonymous speech a right?” at The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse.) Therefore I allow anonymous comments as long as they have, in my opinion, some intrinsic value.
Although I should really be the one posting anonymously, since I am the one in the "whistle blower" position here!


  1. Barrett didn't "pass his psychiatric exam" but was the Chief of Psychiatry at an air force hospital? Obviously, there are some fabrications about Barrett floating around out there. Whitcomb's fabrications are an even greater matter.

  2. Indeed. Thanks for commenting, PRCalDude.

  3. from all the evidence i can see it looks to me like it works for some and not for others but who are we to take away the hope from fibromyalgia sufferers? personally i think when its too good to be true it usually is


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