Motherboard has a series of articles entitled “Humans of the Year” in which they profile fascinating people who are passionate and dedicated to something that is really very interesting. They have just published an article all about Britt Hermes and so if you are curious to understand why somebody who once trained as a Naturopath because a whistleblower then you really should read the article.
I’ve quote mined a few snippets so that you get a feel for it.
Why did she become a Naturopath?
“I had had a bad experience with conventional medicine as a teenager, where I had felt pushed out of the system, and had turned to alternative medicine early in my life.” Hermes told me. “I had absolutely gone into naturopathy thinking this alternative system of medicine was a better way to go.”
What is Naturopathy?
Naturopathy is a form of alternative medicine that primarily uses dietary and herbal remedies to treat patients
started to discover that the world of naturopathy was not what she hoped it would be. In the span of a few days, Hermes found evidence that naturopathy was rife with problems, and practitioners who would knowingly give patients unapproved drugs, suggest expensive treatments for all kinds of ailments, and put profits over patients.
“It was world-crushing,” Hermes said. “I came to the conclusion that naturopathy is rife with unethical practices and undertrained professionals. It was really hard to process.”
She is now a whistleblower and exposes the unethical practises
she began sharing what she learned online and calling out examples of unethical behavior in the naturopathic world.
Her blog, Naturopathic Diaries, his gained her a huge following and attracts skeptics as well as staunch believers in alternative medicine.
Alternatively, you can listen to a recent interview with her on the Skeptics Guide the the Universe from Last December. That interview is quite fascinating – she tells the whole story of what happened and why she completely changed her mind. You will need to get the full podcast and then simply fast forward to the interview (or alternatively enjoy the entire podcast because it is all good stuff).
Britt is being sued by a quack
Right now she is facing a lawsuit and is being sued by a cancer quack named Colleen Huber that she exposed.
Here is the blog post that Britt wrote in December 2016 in which she is being sued over. She discovered that Colleen Huber was cybersquatting a website with Britt’s name and upon further investigation discovered that Ms Huber was a quack promoting fake cancer cures. She wrote that posting exposed all of that.
As a bit of independent verification here is a posting from the website “Science Based Medicine” dated last September that was written by Dr Stephen Novella, a clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. It explicitly backs up everything that Britt is saying about this Naturopathy cancer quackery. He points to what the clinical evidence says, what Cancer UK says, and what the Mayo clinic says – it all confirms that the treatments being offered by Ms Huber is indeed fraudulent quackery that does not work. He also pulls apart Ms Huber’s published study that claims success and points out what is wrong with it.
The response from Ms Huber was a lawsuit designed to gag Britt, but Britt refuses to roll over. The Australian skeptics started a legal fundraising campaign and that has been a resounding success.
The latest update is this – in just one week €50,000 has been raised.
To be clear, none of this goes the Britt, it will be used to directly pay her lawyer who is defending her. There is however a bigger vision here. As explained by Britt …
I am not the only skeptic writer to be hit by a SLAPP suit. In 2008, the British Chiropractic Association brought a defamation case against U.K. physicist and science advocate Simon Singh for criticizing the association for supporting chiropractors who use dubious therapies to treat children. In 2011, Australian physician Ken Harvey was sued for libel by weight loss company Sensaslim for bringing awareness about the company’s false medical claims. Most recently in 2014, U.K. blogger Andy Lewis was sued for defamation, and other ridiculous allegations, for his criticisms about Steiner schools. Singh and Harvey successfully defended themselves. Lewis’s case is still ongoing, although I believe that he will ultimately win.
There are others, though, who have not been able to afford to defend their right to free speech in court. As a result, these individuals have had no choice but to succumb to legal thuggery. Any legal fees not used in my lawsuit will either be donated to Sense about Science, a charity that played an active role in reforming U.K.’s libel laws, or the extra funds will be parlayed into a generalized skeptic defense fund. If you can afford to continue donating, please do. Your money will be put to good use.
It is also appropriate that the final few words on this posting should be these specific ones from Britt …
Thank you to the campaign advisory committee for the many hours of work dedicated to organizing this fundraiser. Eran Segev (ASI) has been a solid source of comfort and encouragement throughout this trying time. Tim Mendham (ASI) and Michael Marshall (Good Thinking Society) have been critical for media engagement. Steve and Jay Novella (Skeptics Guide to the Universe) have been strong supports since I started blogging and have frequently used their podcast to draw awareness to my blog and this campaign. Claire Klingenberg (European Council of Skeptic Organizers) helped me reach the European skeptic community and provided helpful guidance.
And, thank you to everyone who is supporting me through donations and words of encouragement. I am humbled by your generosity.