Naturopathy is bullshit woo, but in order to sustain the grift, it is important for them to sustain an appearance of legitimacy, and one way to accomplish that is through legislative alchemy: Since their claims are not evidence-based, they get no support from science or facts, but they can nevertheless push for state licensure, which would provide them with an illusory sheen of authority convenient for marketing purposes.
Fighting for state licensure is a major goal for the American Association ofNaturopathic Physicians (AANP), and in their fight for licensure, they receive the backing of supplement companies. “There’s a lot of excitement with the increase in consumer demand for natural remedies,” said Ryan Cliche, (then-)executive director of the AANP in connection with a national campaign in 2016. Dietary supplements are, for the most part, bullshit wooas well, but by prescribing or recommending various supplements, naturopaths and supplement companies can support each others’ grifts. It’s a win–win for the grifters (especially if they could offer reimbursement from Medicare for their nonsense products), and a loss for the rest of us. And since defenders of woo will bring it up: Yes, there are troublesome connections between real medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, too, and those are worth exposing, but there remains a crucial difference between that case and this: real drugs require evidence of safety and efficacy for approval, and there are legal constraints and potential legal consequences for marketing real drugs. Naturopaths and the supplement industry are under no such constraints. And no, we do not claim that naturopaths are all scrupulous frauds consciously taking advantage of their victims to maximize profit – many of them are certainly true believers: But when there are no other constraints (such as facts and evidence) on what you believe, people’s beliefs have a remarkable tendency to line up with whatever would serve their (e.g. economic) self-interests if they were correct. Here is Cliche giving advice on how to respond to opposition to naturopathic efforts to achieve recognition. It’s telling.
Cliche, by the way, who is currently Executive Director of The American Society of Breast Surgeons Foundation, is not a naturopath; indeed, Cliche appears to have no background in medicine or pseudo-medicine at all. But he does have a background in marketing, and he obviously has no intellectual honesty beyond, perhaps, a commitment to marketing on behalf of whoever employs him.
Diagnosis: As such, it is unclear whether Cliche can properly be deemed a loon – he probably just doesn’t care. But he has certainly been an important enabler of quackery and fraud, and for that, he clearly deserves as much exposure as possible.