National Congress on Medical Quackery

National Congress on Medical Quackery


Submitted by admin on Sat, 05/12/2012 – 20:43

In 1961 the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug administration sponsored an event for the purpose of stamping out perceived “quackery” and to erradicate the “food faddists and crackpots” from American society. The link above contains the entire official transcript of proceedings, a word-for-word account of the speeches given by medical experts and agency enforcers of the day. (Note that page two is not part of the original proceedings was added to the binding by Clinton Miller after the fact.)

Here is an excerpt from Every Essential Element on this subject:

Clinton and his family had arrived in Washington in the wake of a conference put on by the American Medical Association called the “National Congress on Medical Quackery” in October of 1961. It was co-sponsored by the FDA. Other headliners included the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the American Cancer Society, the National Better Business Bureau and others. The FDA’s endorsement positioned the AMA as a quasi-government agency, and it appeared they had the authority of the government.

The purpose of the conference was to stop quackery within the health food industry, and they labeled just about everything so. The book before us was a complete transcript of the proceedings.

Clinton read excerpts from speeches wherein bigwigs from the FDA, AMA, Harvard Medical School, and the Federal Trade Commission called us, “…a shrewd brand of huckster (operating) just within the bounds of the law—but well outside the realm of human decency and honesty,” “slippery targets,” “evil,” “quacks,” a “menace to the health and well-being of the nation,” and called a “crusade” to alert the public of “this menace to the health and well-being of the nation,” and to “inform them that the quacks of today are suited in the clothes of respectability…(but) their morals have degenerated to the point where they can blandly offer false hope where no hope exists.

That was just the first speech. On day two they said,
“Speaking for the American Medical Association and our 180,000 physician-members, I pledge our efforts to the final eradication of quackery and all its minions and satraps.”

In that conference, Clinton said the medical establishment declared war. He was warming up to something. “I don’t like bearing bad news, but this wasn’t just toward the industry in general. At that conference, they singled out sea water products. They slapped all those ugly labels on you.”

What did this mean? He thumbed to some marked pages. “See, right here.” He pointed to a transcript of the keynote address by Abraham A. Ribicoff, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

“Today, quackery is sophisticated. The old time hokum has assumed new disguises. The Food and Drug Administration, for instance, is now engaged in legal proceedings against certain vendors of bottled sea water priced up to $20 per gallon which has been offered as a modern preventative and panacea for virtually all human ailments…But quackery’s cost cannot be measured. The quack flirts with disaster. He challenges the sixth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ (Official program from Congress on Quackery, p. 3-4)”

So we were murderers too?

Clinton flipped to another speech, this one by Fredrick J. Stare. Dr. Stare ridiculed a letter he had received. It read,
“I dare you to write me defending your statement that there is no essential difference between enriched white bread and whole wheat breads in the health of man.” Dr. Stare called the writers of such letters, “food faddists and crackpots.”

Clinton’s eyes smiled, “I guess that makes me a crackpot. Now here’s where this one talks about you.”

“Recently, sea water has become popular with the food faddists. This is based on the old but widely held misconception that because such water contains numerous mineral and trace elements, and the body needs some of these elements, it will be healthful to take a little sea water every day. This is just another adaptation of the false premise that modern foods are nutritionally inadequate… Don’t be taken in. Have confidence in the skill and ingenuity of America’s great food industry. It deserves it.” (Official program from Congress on Quackery, p. 66-72)

We groaned at how they applauded the “skill and ingenuity of…America’s great food industry.” The heroes of that day were the makers of snack foods and TV dinners.

It was unsettling indeed to hear a story in which you are the bad guys. It sunk in. We had been marked by the government a full eight years before we had our first customer. The powers in charge had pledged our destruction calling us minions and satraps. They labeled folks like us, Clinton Miller and Bessie Shafer as evil. Make no mistake, anyone who blew the whistle on nutritionally bankrupt food had better watch out. They felt justified ridding the world of health food makers who held “morals that had degenerated to the point where they would dare offer hope where, indeed, no hope existed.”

Video Interview with Rhonda Lauritzen about Every Essential Element

Video Interview with Rhonda Lauritzen about Every Essential Element

Submitted by admin on Fri, 05/04/2012 – 07:57

Here is a new video interview discussing my new book Every Essential Element Rhonda Lauritzen Interview 
A big thanks to Like Rain Publishing for producing it and Ron Kusina, Executive Director of the Weber Economic Development Corporation for doing the interview.

Book Release Party



I can’t thank everyone enough for coming to celebrate the release of Every Essential Element. Over 100 people attended, and more than 70 were seated for a reading. My heart was full to have my mother, Gaye Anderson–subject of the book and in whose voice it is written–there to speak and sign books. She looked beautiful and I think she sparkled that night. My big brothers who opened their lives and allowed personal stories to be shared with the world joined with me in honoring her. I never feel safer than standing with my husband (ever behind the camera and not in front of it) and that group of fine men. The whole evening was one of those high points in life, a moment to relish that a book over four years in the making is finally out in the world. And can I also say how in love I am with Union Station’s grand lobby? It is where the opening scene of the book takes place and it echoes in almost reverent tones. The cathedral-height walls have Depression-era frescos of the transcontinental railroad’s construction which joined just west of here in 1869 and the wooden benches are beautifully worn from a hundred years of travelers. I wonder how many goodbyes and reunions took place there. How many people left for war and never came home? How many hearts burst with joy or broke forever in that hall? It is truly one of Ogden’s historic gems.

Asking “I wonder”

Asking “I wonder”

Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/07/2015 – 07:26

Inquisitive Part IV – Asking “I wonder”

To pick up where my last post ended, when I eased back to church again I could neither say “I know it’s true,” nor “I know it’s not true.” I only felt that church was where I needed to be. I only had questions, and heaps of them.

The abridged version of this story is tidier with a decade under the bridge, but I didn’t come to terms with going back right away. I mulled it over for a few months, not setting foot in church yet. I decided first to give up coffee and wine, figuring I shouldn’t let these details get in the way. After that it still took a few months to muster enough nerve to walk through the door. Fear had frozen me in place.

When I finally unstuck my feet, I was still not settled about any of it. (And this blog series covers many of the ways I still am not). I’d have to sort through my issues one at a time, examine each gear and cog, until I understood its purpose.

My reservations might have undone me if some dear friends had not reassured me that there was a place for people like me in churches of the world, even in the LDS faith. No kidding. They took my trembling hands in theirs and advised me to let my doubts simmer, give my questions air and explore where they led. I trusted and decided that this time I would not override “I don’t know.” I would replace it with “I wonder.”

Changing that mindset was powerful. A new sense of discovery filled me, thrilled me like a hike where each bend in the trail reveals aome vista or meadow. Desire to understand spirituality bubbled from inside me, curiosity blooming like wildflowers around a spring. I felt alive exploring the role of the church and perhaps what my place would be in it. I sidestepped pat answers from Primary and I didn’t get tangled in bitter questions leveled like indictments from once-believers.

New insights came rather quickly during this time and they began to shape not only my religious beliefs, but also my perspective on how the world works. Here is one small example.

One particular “I wonder” question arose from past discomfort with the institution itself, not only the Mormon Church but with all organized religion. Or perhaps it came from my perception that the institution had discomfort with nonconformists like me. Understand here that I left the church not only for doctrinal reasons, but for the structure itself. Religions run by humans are riddled with human flaws. I had heaped my reasons to leave pretty high.

So one of the questions I dealt with during this time was, “What purpose does hierarchy serve in the church?” I already understood the dark side of structure, the need for control and to keep a lid on dissidents. For the first time, now I asked the question giving the benefit of doubt. I was willing to explore the reasons a worldwide church might need consistency. As I let this question percolate, I opened my manual to prepare a Relief Society lesson. Did I mention they called me to teach Relief Society right away? (Funny, I thought.) The subject was unity.

Keep in mind here that the insight I gained did not come directly from the lesson plan. These prescribed discussions are meant to steer group conversation down a particular path, sidestepping controversial rabbit trails and they are, in a word, rather predictable. Perhaps all I really needed was just the suggestion. Just one word to turn over in my mind. It went to work on me. Unity. Unity. I ached for it in my life at that time, in my marriage and with my brothers at work. I wanted to understand it because I felt its opposite—contention—all around me and in my guts.

I looked up the definition of unity, found scriptures on it and thought of my own examples, scribbling notes on a yellow pad. It dawned on me that unity creates synergy. We lift each other, offering encouragement and inspiration. When we have it, we complement each others’ weaknesses and pull in the same direction. We are evenly yoked oxen, better together than alone. When we bicker, we each feel smaller, drained, and our creativity plummets. Contention drives out any spirit of God and with the spirit goes inspiration and light.

I realized that in my employment, the work itself never exhausted me, even with long hours. It was always the days when people argued that I questioned whether it was worth it and whether I was up to the task. Too many days like that in a row would leave me dusting off my resume. And I was, indeed, dusting off my resume at the time. With so many conflicts over strategy with my brothers (who I adored) and lawsuits brewing, I needed a reprieve.

Perhaps the idea of unity rang with such clarity because my ragged marriage was also coming apart. I left work each evening exhausted only to face fighting at home. Two stubborn oxen were yanking toward separate trails, leaving us both stuck in place and drained.

I craved peace. I yearned for the kind of joyful camaraderie that refuels a weary spirit. The word itself, unity, filled me with longing.

I already grasped the pitfalls in groupthink and of unquestioning obedience (those topics will get their due in later essays) but I had never considered the opposite. How does a church of millions move forward together without infighting unraveling the fabric? I understood this as a monumental challenge faced by church leadership and how certain guidelines for consistency were needed. It’s a lame example, I know, but the reason McDonalds became so successful was standardization. A Big Mac in Brigham City is the same as a Big Mac in Billings. That’s how “billions and billions” have been served.

Also, civility is not overrated and neither is showing decorum and respect toward leaders. Yes, of course I believe members need to consider tough issues and discuss them, sometimes even challenging the status quo in a public way. On the other side, I can also see how nit picking and criticism tears everyone down. Not to put to fine a point on it, but I already understood that there is a time to speak up and a time to walk out—I had lived it. It’s just that I had never considered the opposite. How would an organization function if everybody called the shots? Change happens slowly in any large institution, it’s the nature of structure (again, more on this later). Now I began to see wisdom in a Mormon framework that has a built in check-and-balance between personal revelation and institutional structure (yes, more on this later too.)

In short, here is the biggest insight I gained by considering the word “unity.” It was the enormous gap between the multiplicative power of when people function in unity compared to the diminutive effect of contention. That is why contention is so dangerous. Seeds of discontent grow like weeds and crowd out the spirit. Inspiration withers. Arguments drain energy and choke creativity. Infighting leaves people smaller than they were alone and far less than their synergistic potential together.

Perhaps for the first time I understood that there is a proper time to set aside one’s personal agenda and to support the whole. There is a time to support leadership. Belonging to a community has value, and making relationships work can require being supportive just for the sake of it sometimes.

This principle of unity was one small example of a new insight I gained by going beyond “I know” and asking “I wonder.”