How to Spot a “Quacky” Web Site


Stephen Barrett, M.D.
April 10, 2017

The best way to avoid being quacked is to reject quackery’s promoters. Each item listed below signifies that a Web site is not a trustworthy information source. The hyperlinks will take you to articles on Quackwatch that explain why. The same criteria can be used to identify untrustworthy books, talk-show guests, etc.

General Characteristics
  • Any site used to market herbs or dietary supplements. Although some are useful, I do not believe it is possible to sell them profitably without deception, which typically includes: (a) lack of full disclosure of relevant facts, (b) promotion or sale of products that lack a rational use, and/or (c) failure to provide advice indicating who should not use the products. During nearly 50 years of watching the health marketplace, I have never encountered a seller who did not do at least one of these three things.
  • Any site used to market or promote homeopathic products. No such products have been proven effective.
  • Any site that generally promotes “alternative,” “complementary,” and/or “integrative” methods. There are more than a thousand such methods. The vast majority are worthless.
  • Any site that promotes “nontoxic,” “natural,” “holistic,” or “miraculous” treatments.
  • Any site that promotes “detoxification” through fasting or “internal cleansing.”
False Statements about Nutrition
False Statements about “Alternative” Methods
False Statements about Other Issues

This page was revised on April 10, 2017.