Friday, April 17, 2015

#1343: Matthew Baral

Matthew Baral is an ND (a “naturopathic pediatrician”, in fact) and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, as well as a “certified” Defeat Autism Now! practitioner. DAN! practitioners are a diverse group of people encompassing homeopaths and naturopaths and what have you, and their goal is to defeat autism using the DAN! protocol, a set of “autism biomed” quackery notable for frequent occurrences of “this is not medical advice” for legal purposes in the information material, even though what they suggest are definitely medical advice. DAN! practitioners accordingly apply apparently every non-working, dangerous and idiotic tool available, from ayurvedic medicine to chelation and polarity therapy (which works with “the Human Energy Field”).

Though Baral isn’t exactly the loudest or most aggressive proponent of woo out there, he is, as mentioned, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and thus at least partially responsible for quite a bit of naturopathy being administered to children. His research concerns “the correlation between heavy metal toxicity, chelation, and autism” – which is none, of course, but Baral’s “research” suggests otherwise; apparently he has published three papers on the issue, but doesn’t say where. He is also the author of the textbooks Fundamentals of Naturopathic Pediatrics (with Jared Skowron), Integrative Medicine for Children (with May Loo) and Integrative Pediatrics (with Timothy Culbert). Even more insidiously he serves as the medical director of the Hamilton Elementary School Clinic, a free pediatric clinic that provides care to the students of one of the poorest school districts in Phoenix. Since everyone knows that what poor kids deserve is snake oil and woo.

Baral is also a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Here is a discussion of their 25th Anniversary Convention.

Diagnosis: No, Matt Baral is not a flaming internet kook with a poorly designed webpage, and hasn’t, as far as we know, made any grand, silly claims in public. But as a promoter of pseudoscientific bullshit he is definitely in a position where he would be able to exert notable, harmful influence on the world, much more so than most all-caps internet kooks.

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