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Who is Stephen Barrett?

by Dr. John Yiamouyiannis

[From] Fluoride the Aging Factor by John Yiamouyiannis Ch 17

Dr. Stephen Barrett, a psychiatrist, helped in the preparation of the 1978 Consumer Reports article and of the 1988 book Abuse of the Scientific Literature in an Antifluoridation Pamphlet. He has close ties with the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the U.S. Public Health Service. He is a recipient of the FDA award for "quack-busting" and is a coauthor, along with William Jarvis and others, of the 1993 book Readers' Guide to Alternative Health Methods, published by the American Medical Association. In this book, he cites, and gives summaries of, the two publications mentioned above to inform his readers about fluoridation. He is a science and editorial adviser to the American Council on Science and Health.

A glimpse into his character can be gained through his habitual use of words to mean their exact opposite. For example, in an article entitled "Poison Mongers," Dr. Barrett refers to people who are trying to stop the addition of fluoride, a poison, to the water supply as poison-mongers. Now a monger is one who sells something, e.g. a fishmonger is a person who sells fish. Therefore, it is quite evident that a poison-monger is a person who sells poison. Thus, one opposed to having fluoride added to the water supply is exactly the opposite of a poison-monger. The word usage of Dr. Barrett is comparable to the process called "Newspeak" described in George Orwell's 1984, where what is true becomes false and what is false becomes true. The first few paragraphs of Dr. Barrett's article "Poison-Mongers" is the best example of how Dr. Barrett has used "Newspeak."

"In hundreds of American communities citizens have voted against healthier teeth.
"They were confused by poison-mongers.
"These alarmists in our society are using confusion and a scare vocabulary as weapons against fluoridation. They are cheating all of us, but especially our children.
"The benefits of fluoridation are supported by 10,000 scientific studies which prove the poison-mongers are wrong.
"What do the poison-mongers say?
"Instead of telling you that fluoride is found naturally in all water, they call it a 'pollutant'.
"Instead of telling you that fluoride is a nutrient essential to life, they call it a poison'.
"Instead of the big truth, that fluoridation has never harmed anyone, they tell the big lie and say it causes hundreds of ailments."

This article was published in newspapers across the country and was printed in the November 1976 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. It has also been used by the U.S. Public Health Service in its 'education' of Congressmen and in its campaign to get various areas around the country fluoridated.

A closer look into Dr. Barrett's personality can be obtained by examining his correspondence in 1972 with a group of people in Minnesota interested in stopping fluoridation. On March 8, 1972, Dr. Barrett wrote to one of these people, saying:

"I read your letter in Prevention [magazine] with some interest. There have been other attempts to defeat the fluoridationists in court but most have failed. Before investing money, I would like to have full details of what you plan."
Thanks, Stephen J. Barrett, MD."

In another letter to these people, dated April 4, 1972, Dr. Barrett wrote:

"Thank you for your recent telephone call. I am sorry that I could not immediately make the financial commitment which you requested. I know how enthusiastic you are and did not want to raise your hopes until I had a chance to discuss the matter with my group.
I am part of a group which is vitally concerned about fluoridation and which has raised a considerable amount of money. We are not yet sure whether it would be more practical to lobby or to go to court in Pennsylvania. The reason your lawsuit interests us is because it might be more practical for us to join your effort rather than go it alone.
"Thus we would need to have a detailed, written description of the plans of your suit. Our attorneys would then be in a position to study how it would effect Pa. law and also to estimate the chances of your suit being successful. We would also need some detail as to how the Attorney General's favorable attitude will be used to advantage without this becoming apparent to the American Dental Association.
"We realize you are hesitant to say too much about your plans. On the other hand, we could not make a total commitment unless we had full knowledge of what we would be getting for our investment. We realize this asks a lot of you. On the other hand, we think we have a lot to offer.
"You may be assured that whatever information you send us will be handled with appropriate discretion.
"Sincerely yours, Stephen Barrett, M.D."

On April 12, 1972, he wrote another letter to Miss Mary Bernhardt, the person at the American Dental Association responsible for promoting fluoridation, and related the following:

"Dear Miss Bernhardt:
"At about 6:20 this evening, I received another phone call from Mike Liptak, the organizer of MOFF [Minnesotans Opposed to Forced Fluoridation]. He said that at 4.30, Judge Gordon McRae ordered an injunction 'to keep the fluoride out of Brainerd.'
"He said that there were 1500 people who watched the trial and that the judge had cautioned them about becoming emotional. They were very quiet. The case presented by MOFF included an affidavit from Dr. Waldbott. The attorney general of Minnesota defended and was given 'five days for rebuttal.' According to Mr. Liptak, who again said he went to school with the attorney general, the attorney general said he 'would not furnish a rebuttal'. He merely stated that the new Minnesota law required fluoridation.
"Mr. Liptak added that there was an additional legal action scheduled for September. In about two weeks, 500 local citizens were planning to gather at a meeting where the vice-president of a local bank would get from them '3 year notes for $50 each' to help finance the suit. He explained that such mass action would not get them much publicity in Prevention magazine and the National Health Federation. It was their plan to seek further injunctions of this type with eventual overturning of the new state laws. He again asked me for a contribution, even a token one. He added that there might be money left over for use in another state such as Pennsylvania.
"On 5/14, Dr. Gross will try to contact leaders of the pro fluoridation forces in the Minnesota Dental Society and will also call the American Dental Association attorney. We have Mr. Liptak's confidence and hope to continue to use it to our advantage. Perhaps the dental society should consider entering the suit as a guardian of the children. It might also be helpful if some quick way could be devised to dissuade the Brainerd residents from their imminent investment in foolishness.
"Best wishes, Stephen Barrett, M.D."

Ironically, Dr. Barrett is a co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud.

Subsequently, he and Mary Bernhardt got together and published a book called The Health Robbers, in which they refer to those opposing fluoridation as health robbers. Excerpts from this book, which consist primarily of the substance of his poison-monger article, were reprinted in newspapers around the country, as well as in Family Health Magazine.

Teaming up with others of his kind, including Drs. Thomas Jukes, Warren Winklestein, and Joel M. Boriskin, Dr. Barrett complained about and tried to prevent Dr. Yiamouyiannis from speaking before the Faculty Club of the University of California, Berkeley. Together they claimed that Dr. Yiamouyiannis was some disreputable person not deserving a forum at the University of California campus.

In another action, Dr. Barrett, Dr. Boriskin and Dr. William Jarvis, who also is on the board of the National Council Against Health Fraud, wrote letters of complaint to the National News Council concerning an article published in the National Inquirer which pointed out that higher cancer risks were associated with fluoridation.

An indication of how Barrett's 'Newspeak' is passed down the line to local dentists is evident from the experience Dr. Yiamouyiannis had when he was called in by local residents of St. Charles, Missouri for a debate on fluoridation. When Dr. Michael Garvey, a local dentist, heard that Dr. Yiamouyiannis was going to be the opposition speaker, he refused to participate in the debate.

According to the November 12, 1982 St. Charles Post: "Dr. Garvey said American Dental Association Officials had told him, 'running up against Dr. Yiamouyiannis is not recommended'. The man is well-known as an antifluoridation speaker, Dr. Garvey said. 'This guy is a terror.'"